Monday, October 15, 2018

A Scandal in Scarlet

An auction to rebuild the West London, Massachusetts, History Museum leads to murder. In A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany. Gemma and Jayne offer the cafe as a place to hold the auction. There are many moving parts to the auction and through some maneuvering, Kathy Lamb ousts the previous chairperson and has herself appointed. (A Scandal in Scarlet will be released by Crooked Lane on November 13.)

This does not sit well with some of the volunteers, but Kathy is a whirlwind of planning and she gathers all the pieces together and the auction is being organized without a glitch. That is until the day of the event. Organizer Kathy Lamb is found dead minutes before the fundraising auction is about to occur with a series of miniature teacups on a pink rope.

Gemma wants to investigate, but her relationship with Detective Ryan Ashburton and her adversarial relationship with Detective Louise Estrada holds her back a bit. When all the auction items are confiscated by the police, including a priceless book owned
by her uncle, Gemma decides to quietly investigate. Of course nothing is done quietly in a small town and Ryan catches wind of her efforts. He is not pleased, but his partner Det. Estrada is enraged. She warns Gemma off the case.

There are plenty of suspects including all the back stabbing members of the committee, Kathy's ex-husband and his new wife. An excellent mystery.

Preorder purchase link

Friday, October 12, 2018

Premeditated Peppermint

Leaving New York and returning to Amish Country in Ohio has been a huge adjustment for Bailey King, but she has managed to slow herself down and discover the joys of a quieter life. In Premeditated Peppermint by Amanda Flower, Bailey is busy making peppermint cakes, fudge and other goodies for the annual Christmas Market.

A word of caution, if you are a peppermint fanatic, such as myself, do not read this without a stash of peppermint patties or candy canes nearby. 

Bailey and Deputy Aidan Brody have been tiptoeing around each other even since she arrived, though his mother Juliet practically has them engaged. Trouble in the form of Bailey's obnoxious ex-boyfriend strolls into her grandmother's shop, Swissmen Sweets.

It seems celebrity chef Eric Sharp needs to rehabilitate his edgy reputation by softening his image and he thinks filming in an Amish Christmas candy shop is the answer. Bailey wants no part of it, but is pressured by the high-powered executive producer of the show Rocky Rivers into at least asking her grandmother if they can use the candy shop.

Bailey knows her Amish grandmother would not want to be in any of the filming, but she also knows
the bishop and the deacon of the church need to make the final decision. Suddenly a spin-off series featuring Bailey and the shop takes form and before she knows it, Bailey is thinking of the money she can make for her grandmother.

One gigantic problem rears its head - Rocky is found strangled in the gazebo and a local farmer is thought to be the killer. Something doesn't seem right to Bailey and she sets out to find the real killer.

Life in an Amish community is so different than anything I have ever experienced and I enjoy this series immensely, especially the candy aspect of it.

Purchase link 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Bells, Spells and Murders

Fresh from her stint as TV psychic, Lee Barrett finds herself as a field reporter for her hometown television station WICH-TV in Salem, Massachusetts. In Bells, Spells and Murders by Carol J. Perry, Lee is set to interview Albert Eldridge, the popular chairman of the Historical Charities of Salem.

When Lee and her camerawoman arrive for their appointment, they find Mr. Eldridge slumped over his desk. As Lee taps him, he sinks to the floor. She knows he is either unconscious or dead and immediately calls 911. Two police officers quickly arrive on the scene and determine Mr. Eldridge is dead, but refuse to say if he was murdered.

With some many holiday events being planned by the Historical Society, it's a difficult time to be leaderless. Nevertheless the efficient Ms. Jeffry leaps into action (think Miss Lemon from Poirot mysteries) and second in command Conrad Gillette steps in quickly.

Lee's boyfriend is Detective Pete Mondello and as he is charge of the investigation, she hopes to get
some information she can use on her live report for TV. Pete is tightlipped and refers her to the press conference being held by the Chief. Although the Chief declares it murder, he refuses to say more.

This sends Lee into reporter overdrive as she tries to uncover information about Mr. Eldridge and the various charities the organization benefits. With disturbing psychic visions interrupting her day and night, Lee tries to piece together the clues she is seeing, while covering the holiday events in Salem.

Bell ringing Santas, a holiday boat parade and all the other colorful stories of the holidays in Salem intrude on Lee's ability to investigate. When she covers a prospective jumper on a building, thinks there's more to the first murder than robbery.

An engaging mystery set in Salem, Witch City of America, and if the readers have visited Salem, it is a nostalgic walk through the city. Even if you have never been there, you will enjoy the descriptions.

Purchase link

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Interview with EJ Copperman

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
I’ll have two books (!) coming out on October 9: The Question of the Dead Mistress is the fifth in
the Asperger’s mystery series about a man on the autism spectrum who answers questions for a living, and Bird, Bath and Beyond is the second in the Agent to the Paws series about a woman who acts as a theatrical agent to non-human clients. In all, I believe that makes 25 mysteries (and two non-fiction books) published.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I am from New Jersey and have lived here all my life, so the Jersey attitude and locations come naturally. Kay Powell (Agent to the Paws) works in New York City, but lives in Northern New Jersey, and Samuel Hoenig (Asperger’s mystery) lives and works in Piscataway, New Jersey. Pretty much all my books take place here.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening?
I write 1000 words a day when I’m working. No days off, not weekends or holidays. That gets you a book in about three months, all told. Time of day is not important; I can write anytime I’m not doing something else. I tend to write in the afternoon, but that’s hardly a set rule. I’ve written in doctors’ offices, at the DMV, on vacation in Scotland and with an IV of chemotherapy attached to my left hand. So don’t tell me you would write if you could find the time. You have the time.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I talk to other writers who are friends, but I’m not involved with a group. I’ve never attended a writer’s retreat. I often wonder why writers never want to go on the advance.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Not really. Samuel has Asperger’s (or whatever we’re calling it this week) and so does my son, but they have very different personalities. Kay isn’t based on anyone at all. She’s a kind of brassy heroine from a 1940s comedy, I guess.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Anybody who could act the role. I would LOVE to see a movie (or better, TV series) based on my characters, but I’m happy with anyone the producers might hire.

Who is your favorite author?
Besides me? I’m a big fan of Irwin Shaw. In mystery I don’t read much when I’m writing, which is most of the time. But I recommend my friends Chris Grabenstein, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Kellye Garrett, Con Lehane, Toni Kelner… I’m leaving people out and that’s going to bother me. And of course Catriona McPherson because she’s amazing.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
It’s not easy. I keep a “bible” of the Samuel series especially because he’s so precise about his habits. Mostly I forget what kind of cars people drive and things like that. Readers will (rightfully) get on you about those sorts of things.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
Well, playing second base for the Yankees seems out of the question at my age. Writing is really the only thing I know how to do. Sad, isn’t it?

For a review of Bird, Bath and Beyond, click here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Under a Dark Sky

Once again, Lori Rader-Day has scared the living daylights (no pun intended) out of me. In Under a Dark Sky, Eden Wallace, newly widowed and suffering from a fear of the dark, finds a reservation for a dark sky park in Michigan. It was in her late husband's name and was for a date around their wedding anniversary.

Deciding Bix would want her to go the park, she packs up and heads to the upper peninsula of Michigan, aiming to arrive before darkness falls. When Eden arrives, she discovers her suite is part of house that is occupied by a group of twenty-somethings. She thinks about returning home, but knows she will not reach Chicago before dark and that's where the trouble begins.

The group consists of six college friends lead by the charismatic and charming Malloy, his lovely new girlfriend Hillary, and his old friends Dev, Paris, Sam and Martha. There's a strange aura surrounding the friends and they don't seem to care for Hillary and appear jealous of Malloy's attention to her.

When a scream awakens Eden in the middle of the night, she races to the kitchen to find Malloy with a screwdriver protruding from his neck and Martha keening over the body covered in blood.

While Eden battles her fear of the dark at a dark sky park (how ironic), she also tries to figure out who among the friends in the murderer. During her introspection, she learns more about herself and her relationship with her late husband, and maybe finds a way to move her life forward.

A relentlessly surprising mystery by a fantastic storyteller.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Peppermint Mocha Murder

Chocolate whisperer Hayden Mundy Moore visits New England in the hopes of enjoying a traditional Christmas. Her financial advisor Travis Turner invites the California girl to his hometown for the holidays.  In The Peppermint Mocha Murder by Collette London, Hayden soon discovers trouble seems to follow her.

Hayden is excited because she didn't have a traditional upbringing and is looking forward to the Currier and Ives New England setting she imagines Sproutes, Massachusetts, to be.  She and Travis are in town for the highly touted opening of Albany Sullivan's lightly fictionalized memoir, but when she finds a woman looking remarkably like Albany face down in the punch bowl at the B&B where she is staying, apparently dead, she is queasy about their visit.

When it turns out not to be Albany, but Melissa Balthasar, one of the producers of Christmas in Crazytown, Albany's musical, Hayden is relieved it wasn't Travis' friend, but concerned about the actual death. The police believe Melissa had had too much to drink and accidentally pitched forward into the punch bowl, but after a couple of other incidents, Hayden is not
so sure. What she also discovers is that Albany isn't the only tall, lanky brunette in the B&B and maybe Melissa died by mistake.

This plunges her into an investigation that includes her best friend's childhood friends. What she discovers might be damaging to her relationship with Travis and maybe even her own life.

Hayden is a fun character and a chocolate whisperer is a new one on me. I'd love to be one, although I'm still not sure what it is.

When Hayden is stressed, she bakes. Among her chocolate treasures are chocolate-peppermint truffles, peppermint mocha fudge and cookies with peppermint frosting. (Recipes included.) 

Purchase link 

Friday, October 5, 2018

BOLO Books Composite Sketch

My fellow blogger Kristopher Zgorski writes a BOLO Books Composite Sketch of various people. Today he chose me.

Here is the link to the BOLO Books Composite Sketch

Neighborhood Book Club

Our neighborhood book club met last night and we discussed Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.  Everyone loved it and our discussion was excellent. But there's always one person who doesn't read the book. This month we gave him a pass as he is only two months old.

Here's a brief review of the book:
A powerful book with an amazing lead character who at the start of the book is six years old. A heart warming tale of self reliance, loneliness, friendship and love. A wonderful debut novel.

If you haven't already read Crawdads, I recommend it. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A Gift of Bones

It's nearly Christmas in Zinnia, Mississippi, and Sarah Booth Delaney is looking forward to her first Christmas as a couple with sheriff Coleman Peters. In A Gift of Bones by Carolyn Haines, there's even a hint of snow in Zinnia. (A Gift of Bones will be released by Minotaur on October 16.)

Preparing for the holidays, Sarah Booth hopes the season will be quiet and peaceful. First Madame Tomeeka aka Tammy Odom, frightens Sarah Booth with a dream featuring two babies and something dangerous, Then suddenly her friend Cece bursts in asking for help for a dire situation. It seems Cece received a box with a lock of hair, a photo of a very pregnancy young woman and a ransom note. The young woman is Cece's cousin who she lost touch with years ago. Cece always loved Eve, but her parents didn't want Cece around, especially after Cecil transitioned into Cece. Cece lost track of Eve and has no idea where she might be now.

Sarah Booth naturally wants to involve Coleman, but the ransom
note says no police. Along with her partner Tinkie, Sarah Booth tries to find Eve's last known location. She decides to interview Will and Carla Falcon, Eve's estranged parents. Carla is a horrible person and threatens to call the police on the partners. They know they will not learn anything from this angry, vindictive woman, nor her meek husband.

It's a race against time to find Eve before the ransom has to be paid and as Sarah Booth digs deeper she uncovers a plot that would frighten even the most hardened hearts.

Another suspenseful mystery by one of my favorite authors, Carolyn Haines. I'm happy Sarah Booth's relationship with Coleman has moved forward, but I wish she'd stop teasing us about Tinkie. Carolyn, you are in charge of your characters lives, give Tinkie a baby!

 Pre-order purchase link

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Interview with Isis Crawford

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My latest book is A Catered Cat Wedding. I’ve written 14 books under the name of Isis Crawford
and 10 books under the name of Barbara Block.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I’m an only child, but growing up I spent my weekends with my three cousins. They were always either arguing or plotting adventures. Being there was always the highlight of my week which is why I thought it would be fun to write a book about two sisters who see things differently. Sometimes they agree and sometimes not so much, but they are always there for each other when it counts.

The Catered series is set in the imaginary town of Longely, which is located in Westchester. The town is based on a number of towns I’ve visited over the years. It’s hovering on the brink of gentrification, but it isn’t quite there yet. I liked the concept of a small town because everyone knows everyone or if they don’t, they know someone who does.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening.
I usually write in the morning because that’s when I do my best work. For some reason, if I start later in the day I’m distracted by my to-do list. I wake up, eat breakfast, walk my dogs, then grab a cup of coffee and spend a little time chatting with the group of people who hangout the diner in the a.m. I’m at my office around nine (a room in a house I rent from a friend of mine)), work until two when I go back home, feed and walk the dogs, go to the gym, or do errands. In the evening, I stay home or meet friends for dinner and a movie. Usually I’m in bed somewhere between eleven and twelve.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I belonged to a writer’s group for a number of years. I don’t anymore, but it certainly helped when I did. In fact, I miss it. I found that reading my material to other people and seeing their reactions helped me figure out whether what I was writing worked or not. It also helped to be with people who had the same focus I did.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
There are bits and pieces of myself, my family, and my friends in my main characters. For example, I like clothes (Bernie) but one of my best friends couldn’t care less about them (Libby). I’ve always had an interest in food, as have several of my friends. In fact, I ran a catering business that specialized in deserts for two years. That said, those bits and pieces have come together into a different whole. Bernie and Libby are definitely their own people now.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I think I’d like to see Anna Kendrick as Libby and Amy Adams as Bernie.

Who is my favorite author? 
That’s a tough one, but if I had to pick I’d say I love Ross Macdonald and John MacDonald and always will. Currently, I look forward to reading Donna Leon, Michael Connelly, and John Le Carrè.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
Keeping track of my character’s foibles is an interesting exercise, one that would be easier if I were more organized. I usually write important things down in a notebook and then go frantically paging through it to find what I need. Of course, I could organize the information on my computer - I keep on saying I will – but somehow that hasn’t happened yet.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
If I couldn’t be an author what would I be? That’s simple. I would run an animal sanctuary.