Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Interview with Sarah Fox

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Wine and Punishment is my latest book. It’s the first in the Literary Pub Mystery series. I’ve also published three books in the Music Lover’s Mystery series and four Pancake House Mysteries.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
It felt like Sadie developed her own character as I wrote Wine and Punishment. I started with a few basic ideas about her, but it was as I wrote the first draft of the book that she really came to life. As for the location, I knew I wanted the story to center around a beautiful renovated grist mill in a gorgeous autumn setting, so that’s why I chose a small town in Vermont.

For a review of Wine and Punishment, click 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 try to write 1500 words a day, six days a week. I prefer to write in the morning, but on weekdays I’m usually working at my day job in the morning so most of the time I write in the afternoon.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
I try not to do that with any characters. That said, there’s likely a few bits and pieces of me in all of my main characters. They’re all far more interesting than I am though!

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
That’s a tough one. Molly C. Quinn is a bit younger than Sadie, but she’s got red hair and I know she’s a good actress, so I’ll go with her.

Who is your favorite author?
Another tough one! I have so many favorites, but I’ll go with Agatha Christie since she’s the author who got me hooked on mysteries many years ago.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
My critique partners, Sarah Blair, Jody Holford, and Nicole Bates. Maybe Kathy Reichs and Louise Penny as well, as they’re both writers I admire.

If you could not be an author, what would you like to do as a career?
A scriptwriter, but if I couldn’t be a writer of any sort then maybe a film/tv editor.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Blood Runs Cold

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Detective Chiara Corelli is not much loved by her fellow police officers after an investigation into corruption she uncovered. In The Blood Runs Cold by Catherine Maiorisi Chiara is called to investigate the ritual murder of a young gay man who happens to be the son of the Italian Ambassador to the U.N. Bickering with her partner PJ Parker adds to the drama. (The Blood Runs Cold will be published on FEbruary 19 by BellaBooks.) 

While investigating the murder scene, Chiara discovers wine and cheese set out as if the victim knew his killer and had planned to entertain. Interviewing the co-workers of the victim, Chiara finds he was in a relationship and would not be likely to pick up a random stranger and bring him back to his apartment. This almost points to someone he knew.

Pushing back against the investigation are the Ambassador and his wife. They don't want the publicity of their gay son being killed because the Ambassador is in line to become the next Prime Minister of Italy.

When another gay man is found dead in the same position Chiara thinks they might have a homphobic killer on their hands. Kate Burke, the lesbian Speaker of the City Council, wants to be kept in the loop, but Chaira thinks she is just inserting herself because she is newly elected to her seat, so she delays meeting with Kate.

After a third victim is found, Chiara thinks it might be time to pay Speaker Burke a visit. When she arrives at the office, Chiara is shocked to see a photograph that includes the Speaker, the three victims and several people close to her personally.

An excellent police procedural with twists, turns and surprises. Looking forward to other mysteries featuring Chiara Corelli.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Silent Patient

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This week veers off the cozy mystery path briefly and reviews some not-so-cozy mysteries. They will include The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, The Blood Runs Cold by Catherine Maorisi, For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt and The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager. Hope you enjoy this little diversion. 

In The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, Alicia Berenson was a successful painter and her husband Gabriel was a well known photographer. What caused her to shoot him him in the face five times.? No one knows because Alicia hasn’t spoken a word.

Psychotherapist Theo Faber wants to help a patient who has not spoken since she killed her husband six years prior. He applies for a job at the facility where Alicia is a patient in the hopes that he can break through her silence.

Because she had been an artist, he proposes art therapy, which had been tried by other therapists and failed miserably. Alicia acted out and even attacked another patient, so the therapists gave up on trying to help her and decided to just house her in the institution.

But Theo persists. He spends hours talking to Alicia, but she doesn't respond. When he is about to surrender to the idea that he cannot reach her, she gives him her diary. In it she details how she has been followed by a strange man, it escalates into standing outside her house for hours at a time, then everything unravels to a shocking conclusion.

 A slow burn to a shocking climax.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Lacemaker's Secret

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Weaving a tale between current day events and the arrival of Belgian settlers to Wisconsin, Kathleen Ernst provides valuable insight into their hardships, their triumphs and tragedies. In The Lacemaker's Secret Curator Chloe Ellefson accepts a consulting job at Green Bay's Heritage Hill Historical Park where an old Belgian-American farmhouse is being restored.

Her love of history and restoration takes her to many interesting places, but this time she is in for more than historical re-creation.

On her way to the B&B where she is staying, she spots what looks like a bake house oven. Her curiosity overwhelms her good sense and she clambers over the deserted farmland to see what she can see. What she finds is a body stuffed and locked in the bake oven. The body turns out to be Hugh LeJeune, owner of the property. He is the uncle of the B&B owner where Chloe is staying, but no one knows why he would be murdered.

The story flashes back to the early days in Belgium for two sisters recently orphaned. They are Seraphine and Octavie Moreau and are sent to the school of the Apostoline Sisters in Bruges where they are taught the art of Belgian bobbin lacemaking. Seraphine dreams of being able to make a living as a lacemaker and when her fiance Jean-Paul Lejeune asks her to leave with him for America in 1849, she agrees, not knowing what is in store from them when they arrive in the forests of Wisconsin.

As Chloe researches the Heritage Hill Historical Park, she finds her research overlapping the history of the Belgian immigrants including Seraphine Lejeune and lacemaking. When Chloe's co-worker goes missing, Chloe is sure there is a connection between the murder and the disappearance.

An exceptional historical telling of the lives of Belgian immigrants and the female lacemakers in the late 1850s and the hardships they endured to keep the craft alive and survive the wilderness.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Murder in the Oval Library

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If Washington, D.C. is considered a figurative cesspool now, it was a true cesspool in 1861. In Murder in the Oval Library by C.M. Gleason, the city of Washington, D.C. had no paved roads and when it rains, the roads turn to mud. The interior of the White House is tattered, carpets are threadbare and walls are in need of paint. More dramatically, the South secedes from the Union.

With fears that the Southerner army will invade Washington, D.C., old friend and Senator Jim Lane organizes a motley crew of over 100 men to guard the President and the White House. They are garrisoned in the East Room and they include President Lincoln's trusted aide Adam Quinn.

The Frontier Guard, as they are dubbed, keeps a watch and waits for the inevitable attack. When morning comes and no attack has taken place, everyone heaves a sigh of relief until they find one of the Frontier Guard dead in the oval library.

When the body is examined by Dr. George Hilton, there is indeed a surprise. The body is that of a
woman and Quinn sets out into Washington to see what he can discover. He also stumbles across newspaper reporter Sophie Gates alone in the castle of the Smithsonian. He knows she is not safe in the city and forces her to return with him to the White House. She is more inclined to want to investigate.

Another of Quinn's female admirer also makes her presence known in the form of Southern belle Constance Lemagne. She volunteers to draw a likeness of the deceased woman in the hope that someone will recognize her.

While President Lincoln and everyone else who supports the North wait in fear for the rebels to invade Washington, Quinn, Hilton and Gates continue to investigate.

A fascinating look at the early days of the Civil War and the colossal blunder the South made by not invading Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Interview with Sara Rosett

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Murder at Blackburn Hall is out January 14. It’s my 25th fiction book.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
The character of Olive Belgrave grew out of my love of Golden Age mysteries. I enjoy reading classic mysteries and wanted to write something similar. Because I love reading books set in England, I decided it was the perfect location for the High Society Lady Detective series. I’d already written a cozy series set in modern-day England and decided it would be interesting to visit the village of Nether Woodsmoor in the early 1920s.

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 tend to work in cycles. I write a draft, revise, and edit it over several months. During that time I do the minimum on admin tasks. When the manuscript goes to my editor and proofreader, I work on other aspects of being an author like marketing and advertising. On days I’m writing, I usually get up around 5:30 and use dictation to get the first draft of the story down. Later that day or or the next day I’ll edit it. I take breaks to run errands and exercise in the afternoon—either a walk or a weight workout—then it’s back to writing until dinner. I aim for around 2,000 words a day, but I often fall short of that, especially in the beginning stages of a book. As I near the end, it goes faster.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
No, I try to come up with a unique character. I may take bits and pieces of myself or a friend or an acquaintance, but I always try to “mix and match.” Sometimes a historical figure will inspire a character, but I will fictionalize that character, changing details and adding new traits and sometimes mixing up the personality. A person in real life or a historical figure is a jumping off point for me.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Oh, I don’t know. I’ve been asked this question before and can never come up with a good answer. It would have to be someone who’s good at accents. I’d love to hear suggestions!

Who is your favorite author?
It’s hard to pick just one, but I’ll settle on Mary Stewart’s books. I’ve re-read them many times. Those novels made me want to be a writer.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
A dinner party with some of my favorite authors like Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart, Elizabeth Peters, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Patricia Wentworth would be a night to remember.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I’d be a librarian so I could always be surrounded by books!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Killing by the Sea

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A Killing by the Sea by Kathleen Bridge takes place in a lovely setting on a barrier island off the Florida coast. Liz Holt has moved back to Melbourne and her aunt's eclectic beach hotel to continue her writing and forget about past problems. So far the writing is going well but somehow new problems seem to crop up.

The Melbourne Beach Theatre Company had been using the Indialantic by the Sea Hotel as their rehearsal location until the new theatre could be completed. Aunt Amelia had been an actress appearing in many famous television shows. Her chief competitor during that time is Susannah Shay and she is still in the picture. living at the hotel temporarily.

On a walk along the beach, Liz discovers the body of a missing young fisherman on the beach. It turns out to be the likable young man named Dylan, who was the nephew of one of her aunt's friends and an ardent underwater photographer.
Liz and her sort of boyfriend Ryan Stone quietly investigate while Agent Charlotte Pearson, girlfriend of Liz's father, investigates officially. There are pirates, treasure and possible drug smuggling underlying the investigation and an impending hurricane puts everyone in jeopardy.

My only complaint was the use of former actors as descriptions of the characters. I realize it was part of her aunt's cachet to reminisce about all the old-time actors she knew, but I had to look up some of them to even have a feel for what the characters looked like. Anyone under 40 would have no idea what these characters looked like i.e. Edward Mulhare. Otherwise an enjoyable mystery

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Golden Tresses of the Dead

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Flavia de Luce has joined forces with her late father's valet Dogger to form Arthur W. Dogger & Associates and that can only lead to trouble. In The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley. Flavia's sister Ophelia is finally getting married.(The Golden Tresses of the Dead will be released on January 22 by Delacorte.)

Thrilled to finally be rid of her annoying older sister and her fiance Dieter, a former German prisoner of war, now turned British resident. Flavia is not your average 12-year-old. Since she was ten she has been solving crimes and now she's decided to turn pro.

As her sister is cutting her wedding cake, she shrieks and claims she has discovered a finger in the cake slice. Flavia quickly makes the finger vanish and convinces her sister there was nothing to see. Of course Flavia has other ideas on how to handle the finger and races to study it in her laboratory.

When she cannot seem to get the attention of her hero Inspector Hewitt (husband of the lovely Antigone) about the finger, she and Dogger, along with new sidekick Undine, try to discover who the finger belonged to and why it was included in the cake.

After thorough study, Flavia finds herself enmeshed in a dark secret and some nasty dealings with other body parts and miracle cures.

Hijinks and adventure for the clever Flavia and her new sidekick, Undine, her younger cousin.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Literal Mess

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A two AM phone call brings the news Allie Cobb has been dreading - her father has passed away. In Literal Mess by J.C. Kenney, Allie flies home to Rushing Creek, Indiana, from New York City where she is a literary agent.

It was hard to make her own way back home with her father being a prominent literary agent and even though she loved living in Indiana, she knew she had to leave. Now returning for her father's funeral has tugged at her heart.

Attending his funeral is his best friend and longest client Thornwell Winchester, a best selling author of historical fiction, also the not-so-attentive father to Allie's best friend Sloane. Their relationship had been tenuous and caused Sloane many tears and much heartache while she was growing up, but Thornwell seems to be trying to repair the damage.

Just as he and Sloane are getting to know each other again, he is found dead under the Rushing Creek Bridge. At first it seems like an accident, but then it is thought to be murder. Naturally all eyes focus on Sloan, but there are plenty of suspects to go around.

With trying to close down her father's literary agency and the Fall Festival bringing more people to town, Allie speeds headlong into finding the killer.

The first in a new series - I hope there are more Allie and her family and friends are entertaining characters.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Pruning the Dead

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After her husband's death, Lilly Jayne has isolated herself from everything and everyone. Finally after several years, Lilly comes out of the fog and rejoins society. in Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry, she plans a huge garden party at her beautiful home in Goosebush, Massachusetts. (Pruning the Dead will be released on January 29 by Kensington Publishing.)

Many of her old friends and neighbors are delighted to see her entertaining again. Even her ex-husband and his third wife, the annoying Merilee, show up as well as town grinch Pat French. Ever the gracious hostess, Lilly doesn't let them get under her skin.

When she is coaxed out to a live poetry reading at The Star, her friend Stan's theater and restaurant, she learns the poet is a friend of hers as well - Callisto Pace. Always a little avant garde, he has a slide show to accompany his poetry. Unfortunately the slide show doesn't show Goosebush in its best light and that gets Lilly thinking about renewing her commitment to community beautification.

Lilly and her pals Tamara, Delia and Ernie (the Garden Squad) dive into planning to spruce up Alden Park. When they get the grudging approval of the town council,
they gather volunteers, equipment and plants and prepare to clean up and beautify the park. Unfortunately someone decides to kill Pete's wife Merilee in the shed on the property making the park a crime scene.

The police believe Pete killed Merilee because they were seen arguing earlier in the day, but Lilly isn't so sure. She and her Garden Squad set out to find the real killer and quietly beautify small parts of the town. With Pat French looming over their shoulder and threatening to fine them every step of the way. the Garden Squad sneaks out under cover of darkness to work their magic and to find the killer.

This is the first in the Garden Squad series and I enjoyed immensely. Wish I had my own Garden Squad to work on my untended garden.