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She is happily involved with LA’s higher echelon art community while he has returned to hosting his TV interviews of leading artists. However, Nicole’s worst fears are confirmed when her ex-husband goes missing in China as a mysterious disease is killing thousands when she and lover James are being stalked by a series of mysterious Ninja motorcyclists. Girlfriend Merra joins in to help unravel the reasons behind the quirky attacks as the trio has no choice but to throw caution to the wind, follow their instincts and go rogue as everything goes off kilter. In this suspense-laden second book in the James Terra Mystery Trilogy friends and lovers unite to make an engaging and heartwarming partnership that shares a kind of magic alchemy in abundance. A delicious contemporary romance thriller that does not flinch from danger. Nicole, James and Merra are up to the task in this whip-smart, relevant, tightly plotted amateur sleuth story with suspects galore. Author M. Lee Musgrave has created a satisfyingly complex whodunit full of surprising twists and he ensures the story’s momentum stems not just from the plot or its thrills but rather from its perfectly formed characters.

M. Lee Musgrave recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, OFF KILTER.

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
Off Kilter is the sequel to my first novel, Brushed Off, so it continues the story picking up at the start of the pandemic.

M. Lee Musgrave

A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
Because I wanted see where and how the pandemic would affect the lives of the main characters (whom I love).

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
I start each writing session listening to classical music (Beethoven, Strauss), then move into jazz (Dorsey, Basie) and as I warm up and get into a frenzy of fast typing I switch to rockin’ blues and stay with it until I finish the segment.

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
Yes, while there have been a few murder mystery novels set in the art community, none of them have an actual artist as the protagonist … and being an artist myself and a great admirer of mystery novels I wanted to see what I could create by bringing those two things together.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
A much better understanding and appreciation of artists and their contribution to society.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?
I’m currently writing a murder mystery set in 1912 Cairo and Berlin. It centers around the discovery of the world famous Nefertiti bust sculpture. The novel will be released in October.


U.S. National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient M. Lee Musgrave has had his art exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions, lived most of his life in Los Angeles, was born in Australia. As a former professor of art and curator, he organized hundreds of exhibitions at museums and galleries involving artists, collectors, critics, gallerists and an array of related enthusiasts. His writings related to those exhibitions contributed to their success and to his ability to relate that community to others. Those many experiences and his ongoing art activities inform his creative writing about the exciting contemporary art community. He is the author of novel Brushed Off and many short stories including Quitessence.

To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.