Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Rooted in Deceit

Washington Acres Farm has a new addition - a wood-fired oven set in a renovated barn. All ingredients for the pizza are from locally-sourced farms including her own, and Megan is excited about the opening. In Rooted in Deceit by Wendy Tyson, Megan's excitement is dimmed by the arrival of her estranged father and Sylvia, his Italian, high-maintenance wife. (Rooted in Deceit will be released on September 4. It is published by Henery Press.)

Megan's grandmother Bibi is saddened to learn her only son Eddie and his wife are not staying on the farm, but in the new high-end yoga retreat center in the next town. Part owners of the center are  former friends of Megan's, now an up-and-coming artist Thana Moore and Ray Cruise, the boyfriend Thana stole from Megan in high school.

When Thana winds up dead on the grounds surrounding the retreat, police want to question  Eddie's wife Sylvia. She had been heard arguing with Thana earlier in the day and cannot account for her whereabouts the afternoon of the crime.

The yoga retreat is a gorgeous place and expensively decorated leading Megan to wonder who
financed the place. It appears Thana's artwork, though not critically acclaimed, was extremely popular in Europe and gaining in popularity n the U.S.

When Eddie asks her to try and clear Sylvia, Megan decides to investigate. She learns that Sylvia was trying to purchase some of Thana's work to take back to her boutique in Milan, but Thana was resisting.

Before long the police discover the long-ago estrangement of Megan, Thana and Ray and suddenly Megan is in the spotlight. Feeling vulnerable because her beau Denver has flown off to Scotland to care for an elderly aunt for several weeks, struggles to clear her name.

This series is farm fresh and I wish there was a farm like this near where I live.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

The Death of Mrs. Westaway

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware is a deadly, dark mystery. The reading of her will leads to a dangerous deluge that cannot be stopped. When Hal receives a letter from an attorney telling her she is mentioned in the will of Mrs. Westaway, Hal knows there has been a mistake. But threatened by a loan shark and with her tarot business facing the winter doldrums, she decides she can use her skills to claim some of the money promised.

When she arrives at the funeral and meets the family, she discovers there may be a link with her after all, but her appearance opens up some long held deadly secrets. The three sons of Mrs. Westaway - Harding, Ezra and Abel - appear to have a tenuous relationship with each other and speak of their mother's non-maternal form of raising them.

Hal soon discovers there was a sister who disappeared 20 years before and tries to figure out what has happened to her. The Mrs. Danvers-like housekeeper Mrs. Warren hisses at Hal to leave while she still can. She chills Hal, but doesn't scare her. Trudging up to the freezing attic bedroom, Hal becomes worried when she discovers two locks on the door - on the outside of the room.

As the will is read and Hal discovers she will inherit the house and the money, she can't continue the charade of being Mrs. Westaway's granddaughter, but how can she tell the family about her deception?

A excellent, twisty, tangled mystery. It will keep you guessing until the end

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Friday, August 10, 2018

River City Dead

The San Antonio Riverwalk has been a special places to visit and it is also the setting for one of my all-time favorite movies - Miss Congeniality. In River City Dead by Nancy G. West advice columnist Aggie Mundeen is hoping to spend some quality time with her San Antonio Police Department detective boyfriend Sam Vanderhoven.

Unfortunately the penthouse suite reserved for them is occupied - by a dead body. As Aggie is heading toward the hotel, Sam calls and tells her she urgently needs to get downtown. This sends Aggie into a tizzy of self doubt.

Sam begins the preliminary investigation and discovers no trauma or bleeding on the woman who appears to be in her late twenties. Indentations on the carpet show drag marks. The hotel manager identifies the woman as Monica Peters, a guest of the hotel every year during Fiesta Week.

Aggie and Sam both know finding another room nearby would be next to impossible, and Sam urges
Aggie to go home, but the manager offers them two "utility-closet sized rooms" and Aggie decides to stay. How else could she investigate, to Sam's consternation.

The best place for Aggie to begin her investigation is with some of her friends in The Fabulous Femmes, a group of women who participate in philanthropic activities in the city and like to party. They are hosting a convention during Fiesta Week and are staying at the hotel.

Aggie soon learns there's lots of friction between the various  subgroups of The Fabulous Femmes leading to many suspects. When another person is found dead, Aggie doubles her efforts, much to Sam's displeasure.

Risking her own life and her future relationship with Sam, Aggie disguises herself and joins the Femmes in their dance at Arneson River Theater. When everything goes haywire, Aggie is right in the midst of it, solving the mystery.

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Dim Sum of All Fears

Lana Lee yearns for a job outside of her parents' Chinese restaurant and, in fact, has a job interview for an office manager position. In Dim Sum of All Fears by Vivien Chien, her mother upends those plans by announcing she and her husband have to return to Taiwan to care for Lana's grandmother. Guess who ends up managing the restaurant, and to her on surprise, she is quite good at it. (Dim Sum of All Fears will be released on August 28.)

Newlyweds Isabelle and Brandon own the souvenir shop next door and Lana has become friends with Isabelle. But an apparent murder-suicide next door to the restaurant sets Lana off on another investigation. Of course her sort-of boyfriend Detective Adam Trudeau discourages her involvement.

The more Lana learns about the husband of her murdered friend, the more she wants to solve the crime. There are several ex-wives in the picture and Brandon's long absences from the store make Lana suspicious of him.

When the police discover it wasn't a murder-suicide, but two murders, Lana and her roommate Megan decide to put their newly acquired investigating skills to the test. When Brandon's ex-wives begin to show up demanding possession of the souvenir store, Lana doubles down on investigating.

Lana discovers Brandon spent a lot of time at the local casino and when one of the wives decides she wants to liquidate everything from the store and return to New York, something doesn't sound right with Lana. The other ex-wife is an aggressive bully and she wants to take control of the store immediately so she can turn it into a high end purse store.

Surprising information from a loan shark appears to point in another direction and confuses Lana even more. With Detective Trudeau on the case, Lana quietly tries to solve it without getting herself in trouble with him

Another smart, sassy mystery for Lana. Even though her mother is thousands of miles away, her presence is felt in this book in her usual quirky fashion.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

A Visit from Lucy Burdette

Big news Lucy Burdette's latest Key West mystery Death on the Menu is out today. My husband and I were lucky enough to meet her in Key West last winter to discuss the new book.

Tell me about the book. How did you make the Cuban connection for your next book? 
Death on the Menu takes place in Key West, but the main event is a joint conference between the city of Key West and Havana, Cuba. Much of the action takes place at the Harry S. Truman Little White House, and Hayley‘s mother Janet has been tapped as the caterer. So naturally Hayley is pressed into service along with fan favorite, Miss Gloria. Things get off to a bad start when Hemingway’s Nobel prize gold medal (which belongs to Cuba and is on display for this weekend only) disappears. And they only get worse when a murderer strikes.

Does some of the action take place in Cuba? I didn’t think I could pull off setting a book in Cuba. For one thing I don’t know the country that well. And I certainly don’t know how the police would operate – I was afraid to tumble into a black plot hole that I would never climb out of! I am happy with the compromise, because I was able to talk about Cuba and have Cuban accents in the food and the politics, without running into insurmountable plot problems.

How does the Cuban Coffee Queen coffee shop/restaurant figure in the story?
As you know, Hayley’s favorite coffee shop is the Cuban Coffee Queen. (Actually there are two of them now in town. And it’s my favorite too!) But in addition to visiting for her caffeine fix, in this book, one of the workers at the CCQ is also on the catering crew for the conference. And it turns out her family has deep Cuban roots, and gets deeply involved in the murder.

Have you been to Cuba?
My husband and I were lucky enough to make the trip to Cuba in 2014, right before President Obama opened up relations between the two countries. Since Key West is only ninety miles from Havana, we hear a lot about the island and many Key Westers have an intense curiosity about Cuba and what life might be like for its inhabitants. In fact, frequently we heard news stories about Cubans who attempted to reach the US in a variety of homemade, unseaworthy vessels— even windsurfers—with some disastrous results. I wove some of that backstory and conflict into Death on the Menu.

Christine, thanks so much for hosting me here—it was such a pleasure to meet you and your husband last winter!

Enter to win Death on the Menu.  https://mapyourmystery.blogspot.com/2018/08/keywestgiveaway.html

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Death on the Menu

Enter to win Death on the Menu.  https://mapyourmystery.blogspot.com/2018/08/keywestgiveaway.html

Havana and Key West have had a long association with writer Ernest Hemingway. If you have been to either location, there are very visible signs of his life in both places with houses in each. In Death on the Menu by Lucy Burdette, food critic Hayley Snow is excited to be participating in a three-day conference at Harry Truman's Little White House, even if it is a a staff person for her mother's fledgling catering company. On sale today.

The event brings together dignitaries from Havana and Key West in a rare moment of friendship. But there are protesters planning demonstrations with hints of a major disruption, and Hayley's police detective boyfriend Nathan Bransford asks her to step aside from catering the event. Of course, Hayley doesn't take that advice and neither does her mother.  On display is Hemingway's Nobel prize gold medal for The Old Man and the Sea, which has been in Cuba and is on loan to the Key West event.

At the very beginning of the event, the medal is discovered
missing, creating a major political catastrophe. The curator of the Little White House tries to convince everyone the medal was misplaced or overlooked in the unpacking and the search is on. When Gabriel, a family friend and a server at the event goes missing, suspicion naturally falls on him. His family left Cuba when he as young and he has expressed anti-Cuban government sentiments.

When Gabriel is found stabbed to death in a storeroom and the medal is still missing, his family begs Hayley to help them prove he didn't do anything wrong. Conflicting interests among the Key West delegation causes Hayley to look in their direction.

Another excellent contribution to the Key West Food Critic series. Check out Lucy Burdette's interview on Wednesday, August 8.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Friday, August 3, 2018

Map Your Mystery on Vacation in Colorado

Giveaway for Death on the Menu starts Monday, August 6

My husband and I took a short break to visit Colorado. We spent time in Colorado Springs and Denver and drove up the 14,115 feet to the top of Pike's Peak. A twisty, turny ride up and a scary ride down.

Sorry for the staggered photos. Someday this software will let me place photos where I want them. Grrr

First stop Garden of the Gods
Inside the Chapel at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Replica of George Washington's Mt. Vernon garden (staying on my Hamilton kick)

Needing oxygen on the way up to Pike's Peak.
And at the summit

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Read and Gone

It takes a share of a $20 million jewel heist into get Jim Singleton back in his daughter Carrie's life. In Read and Gone by Allison Brook, that's not exactly the reunion she had in mind.  When she catches him breaking into her cottage after her housewarming /birthday party, she's as stunned to lay eyes on him as he is to see her. (Read and Gone will be released on September 11.)

Years before, although he continues to deny it, Jim was involved in a multi-million dollar jewel heist in town and he is back to reclaim his half of the money. It seems he and local jeweler Benton Parr robbed the store and Benton decided to hid the jewels until things cooled down.

Benton is the model of propriety; he even serves on the library board, but no one thinksmost people think he had nothing to do with the jewel theft. Jim knows better. And rumors persist that he stole his mother-in-law's emerald and diamond necklace, but his wife hushed things up and got her mother's gems back.

Before long it becomes apparent that Jim needs Carrie's help finding the jewels. She is none-to-keen
to help, but thinks if she does, she can keep Jim out of trouble. When Benton is found dead in his store, the day after his library presentation and Jim is arrested for the murder, Carrie is quick to jump in.

Complicating matters is Carrie's boyfriend Dylan, an insurance investigator, who might in fact be investigating her father. Torn by her attraction to her boyfriend and her loyalty to her father, Carrie quietly tries to solve the case with the help of library's resident ghost Evelyn Havers.

Can Carrie and her cat Smokey Joe solve the case before Dylan finds evidence of Jim's part in the heist? An entertaining mystery with a ghost, a library cat and an absent father complicating Carrie's life.

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