Marnie Reilly

Writer T.L. Brown’s Book Review: Torn Veil

A sequel every bit as good as the first book – possibly even better!

Tracy Brown, Author

It’s difficult to write a sequel worthy of a great first book, but Shari T. Mitchell did just that with the latest installment of the Marnie Reilly Mysteries, Torn Veil.

In this book, the reader is treated to so many layers building a strong plot. How did the author keep track of them all? Luckily for readers Mitchell manages this well, creating an intricate storyline with many moving parts while not losing the reader for a minute.

This time around we join a main character (Marnie Reilly) who is more willing to accept help as her life is turned upside down once again with the discovery of a dead body. She’s still tough, she’s still smart, and she’s definitely confident – but we’re diving into a complex character. Marnie’s not superwoman and she has fears, too. There’s also the matter of a blockage of sorts with her sixth sense. This limitation puts her at risk even more. We also find a Marnie who must work out which players are her friends, and who is the fraud. Author Mitchell does an EXCELLENT job of keeping the reader guessing.

Mitchell is a master of bringing in the bits: Here’s a character – let’s allow her to brush by – this will be important later. Or, here’s a snippet of conversation that will eventually point to a big piece of the puzzle. (Did you catch it, reader?) That’s part of the magic happening when you read a book by Shari T. Mitchell: you develop a habit of noting everything because it just might be important later and you are rewarded with an “aha!” moment. And again, the author delivers it in such a way that you are not lost.

It seems that author Mitchell is building a family for Marnie in Torn Veil – which really feels good. Marnie has been through so much already. This eclectic family-building isn’t just a safe haven for Marnie’s mental well-being, it’s a comfort for the reader as we become further invested in her story. We’re scared for Marnie more than once, and we hold onto the belief that the love surrounding her will provide the much-needed safety net when the time comes.

Returning readers to this series will recognize a favorite cast of supporting characters: the lovable and loyal Detective Tom Keller, and of course, the sexy, strong, and supportive Detective Danny Gregg. It may be getting colder outside, but it’s heating up between Marnie and Danny. This developing relationship is such a nice side story that does not overwhelm the drama and mystery. Other familiar – and new faces – fill in the population of Creekwood. We’re also glad to see Tater, Marnie’s beloved border collie, playing with some new pals.

The paranormal is definitely present in this latest installment, and we get some peeks into a darker side of people who operate in this world. And yet, Mitchell uses her characters to remind us that some evil only has power if you give up yours. How the paranormal is related to the events in the book – or not – is quite clever. There are some solid twists that make so much sense when all is revealed!

Torn Veil is crafted in such a way that you want to try and figure out who is who, and what is really at play. How did I do? I had my ideas, but ultimately Mitchell dished out some big surprises. There were a few things I did not see coming but worked perfectly with the storyline. That’s so much fun for a mystery reader!

Marnie Reilly Mysteries

If you haven’t yet started the Marnie Reilly Mystery Series, don’t wait a second longer. This is the perfect season to get familiar with Mitchell’s bunch! Fatal Vow, the third book in the Marnie Reilly Mysteries, is due out in 2022. I’m on pins and needles waiting for it. I know I’ll definitely be ordering the book as soon as it’s available for pre-sale. I. Can’t. Wait!

T.L. Brown (Writer Tracy Brown) is the author of the Door to Door Paranormal Mystery Series. She was born in snowy Western New York where she developed a love of reading and writing – her mother never denied her request for a book. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh in History – Political Science.

After college she moved to Rochester and began to create a story about an average thirty-year-old who was caught between two worlds: the known one and a new, often dangerous place known as the Empire. That character became Emily Swift.

Tracy now lives in the beautiful Finger Lakes of New York State dreaming up new stories and quirky characters that make life all the more interesting. She believes magic still exists, you just need to look in the right places.

Book Review: Divine Guidance grabs you and does not let go!

The author moves the drama from one place to another while keeping the tension high. 

Tracy Brown, Writer


Divine Guidance, by @ShariTMitchell

Divine Guidance grabs you and does not let go!

It’s been a long time since a book kept me up and reading past midnight. I just could not put down Shari T. Mitchell’s “Divine Guidance.”

Let me be frank: Mitchell crafted a story that scared the bejesus out of me – and it wasn’t the paranormal aspects of the story making my heart race! The murders and attempted murders happening around main character Marnie Reilly made me jittery. With ingredients like an abusive ex-boyfriend, a wild ice storm closing the roads, and a stalker-murderer running loose, you certainly have a recipe for a solid creep fest!

But the author doesn’t rely on bumps in the night to create a compelling tale. She’s also written a sound mystery-thriller with a flawed main character, who despite her rough edges, is good and kind at heart. She’s also believable.

We meet Marnie in an off-beat setting right before she tips the apple cart – angering her “peers” while taking the high road. From the get-go we understand that Marnie is not only tough, but also willing to do the hard things. And yet, she’s not this larger-than-life superwoman we can’t imagine as being real. She’s experienced significant loss and struggled with a frightening past (abusive relationship revealed in memories / current discussions). She’s human.

While the paranormal is present in this story, the mundane is what takes center stage. Imagine this: You are trapped at home with a maniac running rampant – but the ice storm prevents help from coming to you. At first the reader thinks: thank goodness police officers are stuck at Marnie’s house, too.

The author moves the drama from one place to another while keeping the tension high. There was literally one scene at Detective Gregg’s house that scared me because the buildup to the scene was so well done that when it came, I was wishing it wasn’t dark outside. (I was also glad I didn’t have an attic!)

Author Mitchell also brought in some complex relationships. Early on Marnie calls another character a charlatan – a “soul-sucking trickster” and the reader would agree. And yet this character displays a completely different side, helping Marnie when she’s in danger. This “relationship” of sorts has many layers, and it was intriguing to sort out what the current status between Marnie and this other really meant. There is a scene in Marnie’s home that involves a pipe (tobacco pipe). These little touches keep the reader wondering who was who and who was friend or foe.

As a reader, I want to know more about The Collective. Marnie has clearly angered this group of psychics and they have some power – but how much of it is real and how much of it depends on the fragility of the mind of their target? This could be why Marnie is wary but not openly fearful of this group. I hope to learn more in the follow-up to “Divine Guidance.”

With all the “normal” drama, there is a paranormal element, of course. For me it wasn’t the biggest part of the plotline but added to it. And a reminder: while it might be useful to learn from the dead (ghosts), it’s not always a happy experience.

Lastly, the supportive cast of characters around Marnie – her lovable dog Tater, the police, the detective, and her friends – certainly round out the story. There are a couple of big surprises at the end that beg the questions: In the circle of family and friends, who can you trust? Who is lying and who is dangerous?

T.L. Brown (Writer Tracy Brown) is the author of the Door to Door Paranormal Mystery Series. She was born in snowy Western New York where she developed a love of reading and writing – her mother never denied her request for a book. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh in History – Political Science.

After college she moved to Rochester and began to create a story about an average thirty-year-old who was caught between two worlds: the known one and a new, often dangerous place known as the Empire. That character became Emily Swift.

Tracy now lives in the beautiful Finger Lakes of New York State dreaming up new stories and quirky characters that make life all the more interesting. She believes magic still exists, you just need to look in the right places.

My BCs

The Inspiration(s) for Tater the Border Collie

When I began writing Divine Guidance, my heroine, Marnie Reilly, needed a side-kick. It couldn’t be just any side-kick, though. This side-kick had to had to be loyal, intelligent, funny and loveable. It didn’t take long for me to write the character of Tater – Marnie Reilly’s devoted Border Collie, and her loyal, intelligent, funny and loveable canine side-kick. Tater was one of the easiest characters to create because, well, I love Border Collies.

I have been blessed with four Border Collies in my life – Murphy, Finnegan, Dougal and Callee.  The breed is unlike any other. I do believe in my heart that once a person has been the proud slave to a BC, no other breed will ever quite add up.  I know! I have and have had other dog breeds in my world – there’s just something about a Border Collie. All dogs are special. Border Collies are exceptional – outstanding – remarkable. Their intelligence, capacity for reasoning, cheekiness, and intensity is unmatched, and when a Border Collie flashes one of their trademark smiles, it melts my heart – every single time. Each Border Collie has taught me something important about life. They are funny characters.

Border Collies
Murphy, Finnegan, Dougal and Callee

Tater, Marnie Reilly’s faithful Border Collie, is bits of each of my Border Collie family – mostly Murph and Finnegan, but bits of Dougal and Callee appear in his character in Torn Veil.

Tater from Marnie Reilly Mysteries Torn Veil and Divine Guidance


Murphy was my first BC. Oddly enough, Murphy means sea warrior in Irish. I didn’t know that when I named him, but Murphy did love the ocean.  My happiest times with Murph were the lazy Saturdays and Sundays we would spend at the beach playing fetch and running in the sand. He was my faithful co-pilot, and happily jumped into the passenger seat of my Jeep when I jingled my keys. He was always ready for an adventure.  

Murph, Murphenstein and Murphymeister were just a few of his nicknames. He answered to all.  My mild tempered boy rarely barked – unless something was amiss. He was calm, steady and loyal. Murphy crossed the Rainbow Bridge far too young. A snake bit Murph, and he died several hours later. The vet couldn’t help him. I consider myself blessed to have shared 5 wonderful years with Murph. His friendship kept me sane at a time when I needed a best buddy.

Murph’s memory lives on in Divine Guidance. Do you remember the bit in Chapter 26 where Danny asks him to shake, and Tater literally shakes like he’s shaking water from his coat? Yup. Murph did that.

What did I learn from Murphy? It is okay to take the day off, go to the beach and play in the sand. Oh… only bark when necessary.

About two weeks after Murphy died, a good friend called to tell me that there was a farmer near her giving away Border Collie pups. They had 8 pups, and didn’t want them because the mother was a champion working dog, and the father was a champion show dog. You see, the pups’ parents were never meant to breed, but, well, they did. The owner of the mother and the owner of the father didn’t want the pups – the father’s owner only wanted pups of show breeding, and the mother’s owners only wanted pups of working dog breeding.

Of course, I was more than happy to take one of the pups off their hands.

Enter Finnegan!



 Finnegan means fair-haired in Irish. His face was mostly white, so his name was perfect for him. Like Murph, Finnegan had many nicknames – Finn – Finnie – Finnster – Little Man – Boomba Boy. Finnegan was handful. He was high energy, stubborn, incredibly vocal, and whip-smart.

One afternoon I watched Finnegan trying to bring a huge stick up onto our back deck. The “stick” was actually a tree branch that had fallen in a storm. He kept catching the branch on the step railings. Each time the stick would catch on the railings, Finnegan would take a step back, put the stick down, and try another strategy. After his third attempt, Finnegan picked the stick, set it vertically on the first and second steps, he walked up the third step, and pulled the stick up vertically. He then pulled the stick to where I was sitting, and barked at me to throw it.  Clever boy! 

Finnegan was 6 weeks old when he rescued me. He was 17 when he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I miss him – and I miss Murph, too. I think of them both every day. Whenever Tater flashes his smile or stares intently at something, I see Finnie’s face, and it makes me smile.

What did Finnegan teach me? He taught me that persistence is the key to success.

When Finnegan died, we missed his huge personality and his cheeky smile. Losing Finnegan left a huge hole in our hearts and our home, and it wasn’t long before I decided that we couldn’t go another day without a Border Collie in our lives. We could never replace Finnegan, but we could welcome another Border Collie into our home. I found a beautiful Border Collie puppy named Calabash on Best Friends Animal Sanctuary’s website. I filled out adoption paperwork, and waited… and waited.

Finally, about a week later, I received a call confirming that we could adopt Calabash. I ran into my other half’s office, and informed him that we would be driving to Utah on Friday. He asked why, and I thrust a picture into his hands, and said, “To pick up this puppy!”  He said, “Okay. Let’s go!” 

Enter Dougal!



“Dark stranger” is the Irish meaning of Dougal’s name. It is quite apt because Dougal’s is main color is glossy black with bits of white and sable. “Stranger” does fit if we are speaking of extremes of strange – which he is – in a good way. Dougal is stealthy – one minute he isn’t there, and then suddenly he is.  It freaks me out daily. Punctuality and order are of extreme importance to Dougal. Yup. He has OCD. There is no denying it, but that’s all just fine because Dougal is all love. I don’t know how else to explain my boy. He gives hugs – he actually asks for hugs. He is also incredibly smart, athletic and lightning fast – especially when chasing his archenemies, the squirrels.

Dougal, like our other pups, has a few nicknames – Dougally, Doogie, Dougal boy, Little Man, Baby Boy, and Boofhead, to name just a few. 

Anytime Tater places a paw on Marnie’s leg or when he shows sympathy for another character, that’s all Dougal. That’s my boy!

What have I learned from Dougal? Give and receive hugs often.

When Dougal came to live with us, we already had three other pups – Pip, Midget and Mags. Pip (Pippy Lou) crossed the Rainbow Bridge about 8 months later when she was 17. She was a wonderful girl – a Jack Russell/Kelpie cross – and Finnegan’s best friend. When we lost Pip it left a huge void. I know! We had three other dogs!

Midget and Mags were rescued together – they are sisters, and were found in a cardboard box on an old dirt road in the middle of Palm Desert. They are crazy, playful Parson Jack Russell cross something or other.  Problem was, they didn’t like to play with Dougal. They excluded him from their shenanigans.

Enter Callee!



We rescued Callee from Carolina Border Collie Rescue. Her name was originally Lilly. The original owner’s daughter surrendered her to Carolina Border Collie Rescue because the original owner had been abusive. Her foster mother named her Carly. We didn’t want to change her name too much, and so we named her Callee – which in Irish means “from the forest” – which is perfect because we live at the edge of a forest.

Callee, also know as Psycho Bullet, Crazy Callee, Cal Cal, Calster, Daddy’s Girl, and Baby Girl, is our funny, lovely, silly, LOUD, beautiful, snuggle monster. She is also Dougal’s best friend, and Midget’s and Mag’s archenemy.

Callee is quite boisterous and bossy. She yells at us when we don’t do as she wants, she “sings” when she’s happy, she speaks her own crazy language, and she warms our hearts with her silly antics.   

When Tater rolls on his back and sleeps with his legs in the air in Torn Veil, that’s all Callee. All Border Collies do this, but Callee does it more than most.

What have I learned from Callee? It’s okay to be crazy because others will join in, and everyone will have fun being silly for a while.

You may have noticed that all of my Border Collies have Irish names. That’s an homage to my maternal grandmother. Her family was originally from Ireland before they settled in Canada. Plus, their names suit them, and that is all that matters.

Every Border Collie has their own unique personality, but every BC I’ve been lucky to know have a few things in common – a high degree of intelligence, cheekiness, compassion and agility. If you ever do have the chance to be owned by a Border Collie, don’t pass it up. A BC will change your life for the better. ❤️🐾🐾❤️


Border Collie Facts

Here are few facts about Border Collies with some help from the American Kennel Club.

The Border Collie is one of the most talented and hardworking dogs there is. A BC will impress you with their intelligence and win you over with their eagerness to please. Here are 10 fun facts about Border Collies:

They Are Extremely Smart Dogs

We cannot talk about the Border Collie without talking about his/her intelligence. Dog experts widely agree that the Border Collie is an intelligent workaholic. They are capable of learning a remarkable number of words and commands, and they are happiest when they are put to work every day.

Dougal and Callee both have jobs. Dougal’s job is keeping his sisters, Callee, Midget and Mags, under control.  He herds them and watches over them. Dougal is also in charge of keeping Callee quiet. When she gets too loud, Dougal scolds her. It works – she usually stops barking when her big brother tells her to do so. Callee’s job is to keep Dougal busy. Together, Callee and Dougal patrol the yard to ensure squirrels are not eating out of the bird feeders.  Callee also entertains the cardinals. She plays chase with them for as long as they are willing to flit from tree to tree.

Each time we leave home, we tell Dougal he’s in charge. He’s never failed us – he keeps the others in line brilliantly.

Their Name Comes From Their Home Region

The Border Collie was originally developed in Scotland and thrived in the region on the border of Scotland and England. The word “collie” is a Scotch word used to describe sheepdogs. Because this breed flourished in the border region, it was christened the “Border Collie.”

They Are Champion Herders

Border Collies were originally bred to herd sheep. They excel at the task because of their strength, stamina, intelligence, and work ethic. Border Collies are famous for using “the eye”— staring intensely at members of the flock to intimidate them. When the earliest recorded sheepdog trial took place at Bala, Wales, in 1873, the crowd was astonished that the Border Collies were able to herd sheep into a small pen, guided only by hand signals and whistles from their owners.

Dougal and Callee both have the intense stare for which Border Collies are famous. That intense stare is used most often on their humans when they want a treat. It works 90% of the time.

Callee has a slinking posture when she has her sights set on the object she intends to herd – like a squirrel, or Midget and Mags. Dougal is more of stalker – he stands tall, watches and waits. This is typical of an Aussie Shepherd – have I mentioned that Dougal is BC/Aussie Shepherd mix? That’s why he’s a bit more muscular than my other BCs.

Auld Hemp

Auld Hemp was a stud dog considered to be the progenitor to the Border Collie breed. He was owned by Adam Telfer, and was used as a working dog to herd sheep. His style was different from that commonly seen during his era, as he worked far more quietly than the other sheepdogs of the time.

Auld Hemp
Old Hemp

Queen Victoria Loved Them

Queen Victoria was a true dog lover who took a liking to many breeds, but in the early 1860s she became an active Border Collie enthusiast. At this time, the Border Collie began to separate and become distinguished from the modern Collie.

One Was Featured in Scottish Poetry

The famous Scottish poet Robert Burns (If you don’t know him, think: “The best laid schemes of mice and men . . .”) owned a Border Collie named Luath that he loved dearly. Luath’s tragic death inspired one of Burns’ best poems, “The Twa Dogs,” which captured the special bond between dog and man. Multiple statues of Robert Burns include Luath right by his side.

They’ve Broken All Kinds of Records

A Border Collie named Chaser has been widely recognized as the world’s most intelligent dog; she knows the names of more than 1,000 objects. Another Border Collie, named Jumpy, holds a Guinness World Record for dog skateboarding: 100 meters in less than 20 seconds. Striker, a Border Collie from Quebéc City, set the canine record for rolling down a manual car window. In 2008, a Border Collie-mix named Sweet Pea set a record for dog balancing; she balanced a can on her head and walked 100 meters in only 2 minutes and 55 seconds.

They Make Great Actors

Border Collies have been cast in many films and TV shows. The film “Babe” — about a little pig that defies the odds and becomes a sheepherder — features Border Collies, as actors and as herders. Border Collies have also been cast in the movies “Animal Farm” and “Snow Dogs,” and in the hit ’90s television series, “Mad About You. Remember Murray?”

They Also Make Great Search and Rescue Dogs

In addition to herding, another common job for Border Collies is search and rescue. A Border Collie named Blitz recently saved a 51-year-old woman’s life in England. The woman had been missing for more than one day when Jess Ellsmore, a volunteer search and rescue handler, brought her dog Blitz in to search the area. Blitz found the missing woman under some thick foliage, where she wouldn’t have been visible to human searchers alone.

Border Collies Can Be Official Goose Masters

Border Collies have all kinds of jobs, but one career you probably haven’t heard of is “goose master.” One Florida company trains Border Collies to keep geese off people’s property. The University of North Florida hired a Border Collie named Bee to be the goose master for their campus. Bee keeps geese away from high-traffic areas.

Border Collies Talk

That’s right. They use varying tones of barking, whining, trilling and whimpering pending what they are trying to convey.  While it may sound silly, I carried on conversations with Murph and Finnegan, and my other half and I carry on conversations with Dougal and Callee – and yes, they do respond. We don’t bother spelling words like park, or walk, or truck – they know exactly what we are talking about when we spell. Border Collie’s are just too smart to be fooled by a little thing like spelling.

Shepherd’s Lantern

The white tip on the tail of most Border Collies is called a shepherd’s lantern. It allows shepherds to follow their BC home at night in the dark. The long fur around their necks is often white, too. It’s referred to as a shawl.

I hope you enjoyed this little blog about the inspiration(s) for Tater, and the fun facts about Border Collies. Yes, I am a crazy dog lady – but I’m okay with that. Callee told me it’s okay to be crazy.

Interested in learning more about Border Collies? Click the link below.

Border Collie Dog Breed: Facts, Temperament and Care Info

You can read more about the characters in Divine Guidance and Torn Veil here:

More useful links are below:


Torn Veil – Read the first 7 chapters

Torn Veil – View on

Torn Veil – View on

Torn Veil – View on

Torn Veil – View on

Torn Veil – View on Barnes and Noble

Divine Guidance – Read the first 7 chapters

Divine Guidance – View on


Murder mystery, Torn Veil – Officially on the way to the editor…

That’s right! Murder mystery, Torn Veil was sent off to the editor on Friday. That’s excellent news for readers because that means we are one step closer to release. November 2020 is just around the corner. And it’s excellent news for me because I can now start pouring my energy into the third book in the series.

As I read through Torn Veil for the fifth time, I picked out a few passages that resonate with me. Does that sound strange? Shouldn’t they all resonate? Perhaps, and the paragraphs, dialogue and chapters do, but there are moments when I write and I don’t remember typing specific sections of text. Something takes over and the words appear on the screen in front of me. It’s kind of like auto-pilot I suppose. Then again, I wrote a story that has been played out in my head for the better part of 5 years – I suppose I was on auto-pilot. The fact that I love my characters probably has something to do with it too. I do love my characters. Even the bad ones.

The character interaction is so much fun. I have conversations in my head about how they will discuss a certain subject or how Marnie will react to something Danny has done or something silly Tom has said. Their chatter is in my head when I fall asleep, brush my teeth, have a shower, cook dinner… They are with me a lot! Writing dialogue between Danny, Marnie, Tom, Carl and Tater is a breeze because of this. And the characters are bits and pieces of the many people I have met throughout my life. My characters are pieces of friends, relatives, acquaintances and of course, some people I don’t particularly like.

Adding new characters, one with a pronounced stutter and one with a Southern drawl, gave way for interesting interactions. And of course, writing for Gram is a heap of fun. Researching her Irish brogue and the colloquialisms of the Emerald Isle delivers better dialogue for her character. Watching a bit of ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’ was great inspiration too.

Writing Tater’s actions and behavior is such a joy for me. Tater is a cross between my first border collie, Murphy, and my second border collie, Finnegan. There are also a few character traits from my current border collies, Dougal and Callee, as well. Border Collies are such intelligent cheeky dogs. I do love writing Tater. He is my favorite character after all – and then Tom.

And then there is the genre… Having been introduced to mysteries at a young age, murder mysteries are my favorite genre to read and write. Starting with Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, then moving on to Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, Ruth Rendell and so many others, I have consumed mystery novels for over four decades. It’s the same when it comes to television and movies. Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder, Mystery 101, Murder 101… you name it, I will watch it. I love figuring out the mystery before the end.

With all of that said and/or written, I better get back to focusing my energy on Fatal Vow – the third in the series.