Phyllis Entis

Award-winning mystery writer and food safety microbiologist

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Book #5 has a name

Some books evolve from the title. The Green Pearl Caper was one of those.

Some titles evolve from the book.

And so it has been for Book #5 in the Damien Dickens series.

I started writing this book with a tentative idea for a title, but without feeling certain it was the correct one. I thought the perfect title would suggest itself naturally, as I drafted the first couple of chapters.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

It has taken the better part of a year, and more than 55,000 words of text, before I could bring myself to decide what to name my current work-in-progress.


The opening paragraphs of the Prologue contain a clue to the title. See whether you can figure it out.

Colin Hewitt wrestled the 1976 Ford pick-up truck off Route 99 and onto County Road J22. The power steering was anemic, the tires almost bald. The transmission grated, the brakes squealed, and the suspension was shot. Nevertheless, he counted himself lucky. The truck had only cost him $500.

He pulled over to the side of the road and consulted his map. Luna Azul was about 10 miles dead ahead. He put the Ford into Drive, muttering an oath as the gears ground, then caught. With the suspension bottoming out at every bump and rut in the poorly maintained pavement, Colin drove the rest of the way to his destination.

Luna Azul wasn’t a town. It didn’t even qualify as a village. A tiny speck on the map, it lay some 40 miles north of Bakersfield and consisted of no more than a dozen weatherbeaten one- and two-storey buildings clustered around the junction of J22 and Avenida Agua Caliente. Crossing the intersection, he drove slowly past an orchard and two cattle feedlots. After about a mile, he spotted his turnoff, and swung the truck into a short dirt lane. At the end of the lane, he parked the Ford between a faded yellow panel truck and a refrigerated trailer bearing the name “Rancho Luna Azul”.

Colin stepped out of the pick-up, adjusted his imitation aviator sunglasses, and donned an Oakland Raiders cap to go with his faded blue jeans, white t-shirt and scuffed biker boots. His heart was racing. He needed to get this right. He needed to land this job. Everything – his wife, his child, his entire future – depended on it.

The action in this Caper begins in California. Before long, however, Damien is on the move again, leaving Millie behind to cope with their Carmel client while he heads back to Atlantic City to help Bruno, who has managed to get himself into trouble.

More than that, I shall not tell. Yet. 

Oh, I almost forgot. I was going to reveal the title of this Caper.

Have you figured it out yet? No? Then let me put you out of your misery.

The title of the fifth Damien Dickens book is




Wake up and smell the roses, etc.

What better activity for a Sunday afternoon than to take a walk around the garden.

I hope you’ll join me for a stroll as I sample just a few of the abundant variety of trees, shrubs and flowers in our private park.


No Victoria garden would be complete without roses. It seems as though each time I look, I find yet another shrub peeking out from among its neighbouring plants.


I found this beauty surrounded by a plethora of other shrubs and flowers. I’ve not yet managed to identify its neighbours, but I intend to.


Small rose

This little one was hiding under our boundary shrubs, enjoying the dappled sunlight


Patriotic Roses

I thought this was a single rose bush, until the red flowers started to blossom. Now I have a Canadian rose bush, displaying the red and white of our flag


Japanese Maple


There are several types of Japanese Maple. Our garden boasts a pair of the lace-leaf variety.


Pure Purple


Meet my Cotinus Royal Purple shrub, trying to hide behind the hydrangea.



Can’t you imagine the Cotinus flower bedecking a lady’s hat on Opening Day at the races?



The fuschia also qualifies in this category. Can you see the purple hearts in the flowers?


A Flower of a Different Nature




I hope you will tune in to my podcast interview with Don McCauley. Our 15-minute conversation about my journey as a writer will run continuously from 12:00am to 11:59pm (Eastern Daylight Time) on Tuesday, July 30th.

To access the interview, go to The Authors Show and click on the live link next to my name.



Bruno signs for Book #5

Fans of the Damien Dickens Mysteries will be relieved to learn that Bruno Caravaggio has agreed to appear in Book 5 of the series.
While not a title character, Bruno has been a stalwart supporting player, coming to the aid of Damien and Millie in each of their first four adventures.
Terms of the contract have not been disclosed; however, it is rumored that Bruno insisted his role in Book 5 must be more than simply a cameo appearance. “I have much more to offer than being a bit player,” he explained. “I refuse to be shunted into a minor role.”
When asked what he thought about Damien and Millie’s move to the West Coast, Bruno replied, “Suits me. I always wanted to learn how to surf.”
Stay tuned for more breaking news about the next installment in the Damien Dickens Mysteries.


Room for one more – project, that is

I thought my plate was full. I was wrong.

I found a tiny empty spot and decided to do something with it.

As those of you who follow me know, I am a split personality writer. Part of my time is spent concocting mysteries; the balance goes to covering food safety issues for my eFoodAlert blog and for Food Safety News, an on-line news outlet.

More than a decade ago, I wrote – and ASM Press published – a textbook, Food Safety: Old Habits, New Perspectives. To my great delight, that book is still in active use today.

Last week, I had an epiphany.

Why not write a companion book on pet food safety issues?

Version 2

As ‘Momsy’ to an Australian Cobberdog, I know first-hand the angst involved in deciding what to feed our furry family members. Kibble or canned? Cooked or raw? Do-it-yourself or rely on a commercial source?

I have already started jotting down some ideas. If there is anything you would like to see included in this book, please drop a comment or email me.

As for the mystery side of my personality, fear not. I shan’t abandon Damien and Millie. There is a fifth Damien Dickens Mystery in my future.

Now, if I can just figure out what to make for dinner…


The Gold Dragon Caper wins Readers’ Favorite 5-star seal

5star-flat-webI don’t post every single review my books receive. This one, however, was special.

Here is the review that greeted me when I logged onto my computer this morning.

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite

A boy vanishes from a ski slope in Vermont, a father disappears after leaving work, a valuable gold nugget is stolen from a Las Vegas casino, and a private eye must connect the seemingly unrelated events to solve the enigmatic puzzle before someone dies in the exciting sleuth mystery, The Gold Dragon Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery) by Phyllis Entis. Damien and Millie Dickens are having trouble with their private investigation agency, due to the unscrupulous and destructive devices of their wealthy enemy, Turpin. When the building their office resides in is a casualty of arson, Damien suspects Turpin is at the bottom of it and is considering throwing in the towel. While Millie and Damien sort out their professional future, Artie, the nephew of a close friend, is kidnapped. At the same time, Millie receives a strange phone call about her brother Colin; he and a valuable item simultaneously disappeared from his workplace. Dropping everything, Millie immediately flies to Las Vegas to help Colin, leaving Damien to search for Artie on his own. Frustrated, Damien continues his hunt that spans the continent and is surprised when his clues lead him to Nevada. Is it coincidence or are the two disappearances connected?

TGDC Cover image 6 x 9 cropTwists and turns abound in the fabulous sleuth mystery novel, The Gold Dragon Caper (A Damien Dickens Mystery) by Phyllis Entis. Damien and Millie Dickens are a dynamic sleuthing team and following their escapades quickly becomes addictive. It is a fantastic series that has a touch of the noir feel that I absolutely adore in sleuth mysteries. From the moment when Dickens’s office is burned, to the dramatic confrontation with their arch-enemy, Turpin, the excitement escalates to a smashing and surprising conclusion; it is an episode you don’t want to miss. With fascinating characters and a thrilling and intricate plot, this book is a riveting read! Even though this the fourth book in the series, it is a great standalone. That being said, I am anxiously awaiting the next Damien and Millie mystery. I highly recommend this novel to whodunit aficionados who enjoy delightfully twisted plots and characters.


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A Special Offer

TGPC hi-res bkgd – ebook crop

Searching for a great beach read, or a book to pass the time while en route to your Memorial Day weekend destination?

You need look no farther.

The Green Pearl Caper, first book in the Damien Dickens series, is the answer to that empty feeling in your Kindle. And, better yet, it is FREE from now through May 25th on Amazon.

Click on the cover image to navigate to the Amazon site, and download my first novel, no strings attached.

Ready….. Set…..


If you enjoy Damien and Millie’s first adventure and want to get to know this PI couple in more depth, there are three more Damien Dickens Mysteries available for your reading pleasure. You can find them right here on my website.




The Blank Page

There is nothing more daunting to a writer than a blank page that refuses to fill.

For weeks, I have been hiding behind preparing for, then initiating, the April 16th launch of The Gold Dragon Caper, fourth book in the Damien Dickens Mysteries series. Once the book was released, my excuse was the need to promote it. To ‘connect’ on social media, to seek interviews, to solicit reviews, and to spin wheels on Facebook.

This week, I made a decision.

The procrastination must come to an end.

The first blank page, and its followers, must fill up.

Work on the new Damien Dickens Mystery must begin.

As is my wont, I have been jotting down potential plot and sub-plot ideas in a spiral-bound notebook. I’ve also tried out a couple of opening scenes.

The clock is ticking, and work on THE **** **** CAPER. A Damien Dickens Mystery (Book 5) has begun.