The Bartender's Secret: A Cruise of Deception

by Jody Valley

At last—the newest nail-biting Kera Van Brocklin mystery/thriller by Golden Crown Literary Society nominee Jody Valley.

Feeling depressed and needing a change in her life, Private Investigator Kera Van Brocklin’s identical twin, Deidre, decides to clear her head by taking a job with a small adventure cruise company in Alaska.

When Kera learns that Deidre has been seriously injured, she immediately flies to Alaska—only to find her sister unconscious and unable to communicate. Hospital and senior cruise staff try to convince her that Deidre’s fall off a steep cliff was either a tragic accident or a botched suicide attempt. Knowing that Deidre wasn’t suicidal and had a terrible fear of heights, Kera suspects something more sinister. But what?

With only a few days left of the cruise, Kera devises a risky plan to join the ship with her partner, Mandy, so that they can determine what really happened to her sister. Now trapped on a cruise filled with people they can’t trust and surrounded by the frigid Alaskan waters, Kera and Mandy are about to discover that Deidre’s “accident” is just the tip of the iceberg—and they have created their own personal Titanic.

A Kera Van Brocklin Series Book 3.



In stock



Genre Mystery/Thriller
Length 298 pages
Publication Date December 12, 2019
Publisher Bella Books
ISBN 9781642470802
Editor Chris Paynter
Cover Designer Kayla Mancuso



"My previous two Kera Van Brocklin novels, A Venomous Cocktail and Twisted Minds, took place in Michigan where I live. In Twisted Minds my protagonist started a detective agency. The idea to have her find trouble in Alaska in the The Bartender’s Secret came from a trip my wife and I took on a small adventure cruise ship that navigated the Inside Passage of Alaska. I thought it was a great place for something bad to happen for Kera Van Brocklin, and sure enough it was!

My protagonist, Kera, has a Shepherd/Rottweiler mix dog, Lakota, that helps Kera stay calm and focused, given she suffers from PTSD. Lakota is named for a dog my wife and I had for all too short a period of time, of the same mixed breed and name. Both the Lakota of my novel and the real-life Lakota were rescue dogs but contrary to the Lakota in the novel, the real Lakota was young and hyper and bolted out of our house one day and was struck down by a car and died. Even the short time we had her, she stole our hearts so I brought her back, calmed her down, and made a service dog out of her for Kera. Lakota made her first appearance in A Venomous Cocktail, rambunctious like the real Lakota, but had not yet been named or found a home with Kera. In Twisted Minds, she’d become Kera’s service dog and she found her way to Alaska with Kera in The Bartender’s Secret.

In my previous novels, my wife’s and my beloved sixty-pound white labradoodle, Sacari—who died a premature death from cancer—had cameo roles. In each novel, somewhere along the way, you’ll find her and always with two women. It’s been my way of keeping Sacari with me. Sure enough, Sacari made it to Alaska in The Bartender’s Secret as well—and yes, with two women—so keep an eye out for her.

The seeds for my trilogy were planted years ago when I worked with another lesbian woman who had an identical twin sister who was living a straight lifestyle. My coworker claimed that her sister was living a lie. My Van Brocklin twin sisters have the same issue and work it out, almost, through the three novels while confronting the chaos and difficult times in their lives."

—Jody Valley


Rachel B. - Great protagonists are empty vessels without a gripping, expertly constructed narrative and Valley hits the mark here. This is a taut mystery/thriller that shows off the best of lesfic and the wonderful talents of Jody Valley.

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