Monday, November 20, 2017

Passport to Murder

Poor Emmeline Prather. All her life she has dreamed of going to Paris and now she is on her way. In Passport to Murder by Mary Angela Em is on the plane with her students and some faculty members flying to Paris. Suddenly one of the professors goes into anaphylactic shock from a peanut allergy.

Outspoken Professor Molly Jaspers and her husband Bennett are on the trip because she is going to speak at the Sorbonne on organic gardening. Right before they board the flight, Molly and Andre Duman are overheard arguing. He says, "One day Molly is going to offend the wrong person and find herself in trouble."

One day comes and Molly dies on the plane from her peanut allergy, but everyone thinks it is an accident.  The plane turns back to Minneapolis and everyone thinks it is an unfortunate accident.

When the autopsy shows Molly had not ingested any peanuts and there was no peanut residue on her
clothing, the police change the verdict from accidental to murder. Naturally Em is devastated about having to return and she refuses to believe it was murder and especially doesn't believe Andre should be a suspect.

The sad group returns to South Dakota and their dreams of a week in Paris are dashed forever. As Em investigates, it seems dear Molly was not much loved by her colleagues. When someone else from the group dies, Em is determined to prove Andre is not the murderer.

The one plus in her misadventure is the opportunity to get to know her colleague Lenny Jenkins. While in Minneapolis, Em is invited to hear Lenny play guitar at First Avenue, where Prince got his start. Em even ropes Lenny into helping with the investigation.

When small pieces start to fall into place, Em knows who the killer is and works with the local police to solve the case.

Em is a terrific character - outspoken, funny and fearless except in the affairs of the heart. I hope to read more of Mary Angela's Professor Prather books.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Murder is Her Hobby

Murder is her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death will be at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery (Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW) until January 28, 2018.

Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962) crafted her extraordinary “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death”—exquisitely detailed miniature crime scenes—to train homicide investigators to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.” These dollhouse-sized dioramas of true crimes, created in the first half of the 20th century and still used in forensic training today, helped to revolutionize the emerging field of homicide investigation.

To learn more about this exhibit, click here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sun, Sand, Murder

Special Constable Teddy Creque is the only police presence on his sun-drenched island in the British Virgin Islands. Crime has been non existent on Anegada and Teddy is happy with that status. In Sun, Sand, Murder by John Keyse-Walker, Teddy's life is about to turn upside down.

An hysterical phone calls sends Teddy to the beach to investigate a murder. When he arrives, he finds De White Rasta, a drug addled idler, nearby and the body of biologist Paul Kelliher baking in the sun. All around the body are holes dug in the sand.

Rather than leave the body exposed to the elements, Teddy drags it back to a nearby tent and returns to call in his superiors. When the British Virgin Islands Police Force deputy commissioner arrives to investigate the crime, Teddy is dismissed as non essential, especially after he discovers Teddy disturbed the scene of the crime.

Teddy has problems in his personal life as he has been having a blazing affair with a sultry helicopter
pilot named Cat Wells. She shuttles visitors to Anegada and occasionally stays on the island. Teddy knows this is a dangerous affair because Anegada is small island, but he persists. 

Relegated to useless and asked to track down next of kin, Teddy tries to find out more about Paul Kelliher. Kelliher had been coming to the island for five yeas, staying for part of the year and then leaving. He said he was a biologist from a university in Boston. As Teddy tries to trace Kelliher, he discovers he didn't exist and his address and identification were fake.

When the Joint Interagency Task Force South lands on Anegada with heavily armed, they are sure this island is a drug hotspot and Teddy is the drug king. Teddy worries about his job and his freedom and he doubles his efforts. He finds a notebook with what looks like code, and Teddy finds an unlikely ally, De White Rasta who it turns out is a well-educated, titled Englishman with a knack for codebreaking.

Sun, Sand, Murder is a well-written gripping mystery that kept me guessing throughout. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Seeds of Revenge

It's the dead of winter and the farm is quiet at this time of the year, but Megan Sawyer is drawn into another murder. In Seeds of Revenge by Wendy Tyson, Megan stumbles across a young woman stranded in the snow not far from town. She turns out to be Merry Chance's niece, Becca.

Becca Fox is in Winsome to stay with her aunt and develop her business The Love Chemist. Her product is a mix of pheromones and perfume to produce the love potions. Megan is not sure it's a viable business plan, but she listens attentively.

When she drops off Becca at Merry's place, a man steps out of the shadows and Becca begins shouting that she doesn't ever want to see him and her aunt should not have tried to bring them together. As Megan drives away she wonders what conversation is going on behind close doors.

Megan learns from her boyfriend Denver that Becca's family had lived in Winsome in the past. Paul
Fox was hired by Eloise to work with some of her patients suffering from trauma, but unexpectedly Eloise asked him to leave the practice and the family moved away.

When Paul is found dead under unusual circumstances, Megan arrives at the crime scene and all windows are wide open on the house. Worrying that this means there was a gas leak, she hurries to speak with police chief Bobby King. Megan notices a faint odor in the room, but it is not natural gas.

Days later it appears Paul died from phosgene poisoning, a plot stolen from one of Megan's aunt Sarah's mystery books.There are plenty of other suspects because Paul took sadistic pleasure in wounding others. especially his daughter Becca.

More incidents occur that seem to be from Sarah's books. What is the killer trying to say? Megan finds herself plunged into the middle of the mystery and a string of other crimes.

For a review of another Wendy Tyson book, click here

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Death at the Emerald

Lady Frances Ffolkes finds herself in the middle of a 30-year-old missing persons case. Newly commissioned (by herself) as a consulting detective, she takes on the case in Death at the Emerald by R.J. Koreto.

Surprised to receive a summons from Lady Torrence, Lady Frances learns the woman wants her to find her missing daughter Louisa. Thirty years prior, Louisa abruptly left her family home because of her tyrannical father, but no one has heard from her since.

Louisa always had a love for the theater as a child and when she expressed an interest in becoming and actress, her father made plans to send her away. Before he could, she ran away and was never heard from again.

Using her maid Mallow as her Watson, Lady Frances 
assumes Sherlock Holmes' techniques and tries to discover what has happened to Louisa. Faced with a road block at the theater, she knows the men of the theater are lying about knowing Louisa. When one of them is found murdered outside the theater, she knows she is on the right path.

She finds a flyer in the belongings of the murdered man that promotes The Halliday Mission,
Maidstone, Kent, and discovers The Mission is now based in London. The Hallidays themselves are long dead, but their son Reverend Samuel Halliday is the vicar at a church in Wimbledon.

Unsure what if any connection there is to Louisa, who she now knows was an actress named Helen, Lady Frances sets out to meet the Reverend. When she discovers a grave with a huge monument towering over it, Lady Frances enlists of the aid of Scotland Yards' Inspector Eastley to help with the exhumation.

What she discovers leads her on a clever path of deception and mistaken identity. Another terrific adventure for Lady Frances Ffolkes and the dependable Mallow.

For another review of a Lady Ffolkes book, click here

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Molly Murphy Sullivan has been caring for her mother-in-law in suburban Westchester County with plans to spend the Christmas holidays there. When plans change, Molly, her mother-in-law and her family find themselves invited to Scarborough, the home of wealthy Cedric Van Aiken in The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Bowen.

Excited to be spending the holidays in such a lovely mansion, Molly soon realizes there is much tension in the household. She learns the couple's toddler daughter Charlotte walked out of the house 10 years ago at Christmas and has not been seen since.

Winnie Van Aiken is a shadow of her former self, thin, gaunt and pale. She has never given up hope about her daughter, but no one else seems to believe the little girl could still be alive.

Winne's elderly aunt, a somewhat doddering woman, confuses Molly with Winnie's long-lost sister. Startled when Winnie's father claims she has no sister, Molly is
not sure what is going on. Later on in the visit Aunt Clara asks about young man that provokes another outburst from Winnie's father. Is Aunt Clara confused or are the residents of the regal house hiding something.

When Aunt Clara dies in her sleep, Molly worries about her own family. Unable to resist a mystery, Molly spends her time investigating the disappearance of the little girl. After 10 years there are hardly any clues left to discover, but she persists.

On Christmas Eve there is a knock on the door and standing there is a young girl who announces, "I am Charlotte." This throws the entire household into tizzy. Could this be Winnie's long-lost daughter or a carefully prepared imposter?

A definite page turner and the resolution will surprise the reader. I enjoyed The Ghost of Christmas Past very much

Monday, November 13, 2017

Death in the Manuscript Room

Libraries are usually quiet, calm places, but add librarian Raymond Ambler to the mix and there is room for trouble. Con Lehane's Murder in the Manuscript Room is a taut, tense mystery full of secrets and lies where people's rights are infringed upon in the name of national security.

Caught in the middle of a custody battle for his grandson Johnny with his socialite grandmother, Raymond is in a foul mood when he reaches the library on 42nd Street. He is greeted by two people; one he knows - Mike Cosgrove, an NYPD detective, and another he doesn't - Paul Higgins, an amateur writer and former police intelligence officer.

Higgins wants to donate his papers to the library's crime fiction collection. Although Ray doesn't think there is much value in the papers, he is intrigued when Higgins wants some of the papers restricted from view. And when he mentions the name of a long-dead truckers union leader, Richard Wright, Ray is all ears. Ray's childhood friend Devon Thomas was accused of the murder and is serving a life sentence.

Days after the papers are brought to the library, research assistant Leila Stone is found murdered in Ray's office. The police leap to
arrest an Arabic doctoral student for the crime. Gobi Tabrizi is researching the origins and evolution of Islamic law, Sharia. He seems unassuming and not the least bit interested in murdering a library researcher.

Tabrizi is carted away by a mysterious government unit and Ray decides to get more involved. As he digs deeper he finds gains soe scary insights into the world of secrecy and political expediency.

When someone else dies, Ray feels himself in danger and worries about his grandson and his library colleague Adele. Murder in the Manuscript Room is an excellent puzzle with a frightening outcome.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Character Study in Great Detail

If you have ever wanted to know more about a certain character in your favorite book, check out the
links below. Author Alison Golden goes into great detail about her characters in a way I have not seen before. The character sketches have always interested me because sometimes I feel as if the characters are people I know, but I have never seen such detail (no offense to other authors who do this).

If you have read any of Golden's Inspector David Graham books, the detailed backgrounds fill in so much information about each character.

If you are interested in these background sketches, click here. The titles are shown below.

For a review of The Case of the Fallen Hero, click here.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Death on Paradise Island

National rugby hero Josefa Horseman returns home to Fiji from one year rehabbing his knee in the United States. When he returns home, he discovers he has been promoted Detective Inspector at his day job on the Fiji Police Force. In Death on Paradise Island by B.M. Allsopp, Joe is thrown right into the case of a drowned woman.

Without so much as a chance to sleep after his 24-hour plane ride, Joe is sent to a luxury resort called Paradise Island to investigate the drowning of one of the maids. Most everyone thinks Nisi accidentally drowned, and her family has already prepared her for burial, clearly destroying any exterior evidence. But the postmortem reveals, Nisi did not drown and she had had either a miscarriage or an abortion in the previous week.

There are plenty of suspects including her uncle Jona, an angry man tasked with keeping an eye on his niece; Dr. Vijay Chakra, who has disappeared from the scene; Maika, Nisi's boyfriend; and Bill Burgermeister, a scientist
leading the marine reserve project. Joe and his team including Sergeant Susila Singh fan out on the island to look for a motive.

Even in Paradise there are secrets, lies and hidden jealousies that lead Joe and his team on a strange path to solve the crime.

In the back of Joe's mind is his rugby career. He is positive he will be recovered enough to play again after resting this season, but nearly everyone he meets comments on his retirement from the game and his promotion in the police department.

This is an interesting mystery that shows even Paradise can be a place where bad things happen, and there are people who seem to have a perfect life wishing for more. I enjoyed Death on Paradise Island and hope there are more books in this series.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Frances Evesham Interview

How many books have you published?
I've published seven books in all. Two are set in Victorian England (The Thatcham Hall Mysteries),
and a series of five 'Agatha Christie' style murder mysteries set in the present day in a small English seaside town in Somerset.

How did you become interested in writing?
I've always loved reading, the first step to becoming a writer. The first books I remember loving were The Borrowers, the Moomins, the Narnia stories and any book about horses. I began to scribble in notebooks, and when, later, I heard about the Bronte sisters, I developed tiny notebooks, like the ones they used, in the hope that their genius may rub off on me!

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, etc?
I write in fits and starts, as I can't stop once I get into a story, and when it's finished I like to take a break. Also, a writer these days has to spend considerable time marketing, so I devote one day a week to non-book writing activities.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
I plan very carefully, because there needs to be a coherent thread throughout the book, leading to the murderer. I plan the overall story line, and then write short synopses of each scene. Then, I begin to write, and often completely change the story as better ideas pop into my head. Like many writers, I find my characters develop a life of their own, and I've even had to change the identity of a villain. In that case, I had to go back and revise the entire book, but I was delighted with the result.

Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
I set each story in a place I know. The Exham on Sea books are set in Somerset, and Libby, my amateur detective, lives in a small town very like my own, but with a different name. I don't want to offend any neighbors! The characters begin with characteristics of people I have known, but these develop and change. I write a background for each person in the story before I begin writing the book, so they are very real to me.

Who is your favorite author?
I love other mystery writers, and Agatha Christie is at the top of the pile, for her plots and wicked sense of humor. I adore the author character who appears in several of her books, called Ariadne Oliver, who gives wonderfully stringent opinions on writing that I suspect must be some of Christie's own opinions. She's especially good in "Mrs McGinty's Dead" where she describes one of her own inventions, a Finnish detective: "Of course he's idiotic, but people seem to like him." Perhaps Christie felt like that about Hercule Poirot.

How do you promote your books?
I invite people to sign up to my newsletter, (at so I can tell them directly about new books and , especially, any special promotional prices. I send a free Kitchen Cheat Sheet to all new members of this VIP group, as a welcome. I occasionally speak at events in the local area, and have strong links with some other writers. That means we can introduce our readers to each others' books, which is a win-win as my readers hear about other authors they might enjoy, and new readers can hear about my books. I'm thrilled when a reader contacts me, through my website or directly through email after I send out a newsletter, and I've discovered readers all over the world who are rapidly becoming friends. I don't do very much social media, but maintain a Twitter and Facebook account.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Importance of Being Urnest

Maggy Thorsen has moved her shop, Uncommon Grounds, into the refurbished train station just outside Milwaukee. In The Importance of Being Urnest, by Sandra Balzo, business has picked up since the move, to Maggie's relief.

New for Maggie is the proposal from her boyfriend Sheriff Jake Pavlik. Unsure whether she wants to get married again, Maggie is agonizing over the decision.

When Maggie meets some new customers in her shop, she wonders how difficult it is to care for two older women. It seems Hannah Bouchard is caring for her aging mother Celeste and her mother's friend Nancy Casperson in their home as opposed to the Brookhills Manor senior living facility. Several other customers of Uncommon Grounds live in the senior apartments and it seems like a good place.

Unfortunately all is not what it seems. A former con man, Jack Anderson, lives there and his brother,
Pauly Anderson, is wanted by the police. He has been spotted at Brookhills Manor and the police are called. Before too long a shoot out occurs and Sheriff Pavlik and two other police officers are shot; Pauly, using his brother as a hostage, escapes.

Suddenly Celeste Bouchard dies and Hannah is left caring for Nancy, but needs to have some money from mother's trust to pay for cremation services. (The cremation aspect of this book is a whole other story and very unusual.) Maggie believes there is something odd in the way Hannah is acting, but she cannot place what it is. When she asks Maggie to visit the attorney with her, Maggie jumps at the chance. Nancy is the surviving trustee, but she is suffering from the death of Celeste and has early stages of dementia herself. When she refuses to sign papers to give Hannah money, Maggie wonders what will happen to them.

This near miss with Pavlik sends Maggy's heart into a tailspin, and when he moves in so she can care for him, there are bumps in the road. 

There is a lot going on in this book and at the conclusion, you will be able to understand the title and how it relates to events. I've always enjoyed the Maggie Thorsen books, but this one was unnecessarily busy with many, many characters and subplots.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Handmade, Holiday, Homicide

Kiki Lowenstein and staff from "The Island of Broken Toys" are back for another go at solving a mystery and teaching crafts. In Handmade, Holiday, Homicide by Joanna Campbell Slan, Kiki and friends are planning their Christmas craft schedule. One class is something called Zentangle and Kiki has to take the class to an off-site location.

Attending the class are two older sisters; one sweet and nice, the other nasty and spiteful. Ester is eagerly awaiting the class, but Eudora is confrontational and disruptive. At the second class Laurel, one of Kiki's instructors is accosted by the security guard Brad Oxdemann, who has been stalking her. He wants to be a police officer, but she filed a complaint about him and that is preventing him from being hired.

When Eudora suddenly clasps at her chest and falls forward, the others try CPR, but by the time the paramedics arrive, she is dead. Everyone including the EMTs who arrive believe it is a death by natural causes.

Kiki discovers most everyone in the class had a motive to kill Eudora and she relates this information
to her Detective fiance. Meanwhile, although she is nearly ready to deliver her new baby, Kiki is dashing around in a flurry of activity. One time she slips and falls on the ice and manages to slide underneath the frame of a car. I had a hard time picturing this and when she deliberately does it again to avoid the murderer, I feared for her life and her unborn child's.

I always loved these books especially the concept of a craft shops with classes, but this last book did not appeal to me. It appears as if the author is deliberately throwing all kinds of oddities into Kiki's life. She is raising her teenage daughter, now she has adopted her fiance's ex-wife's mixed race child (not even his child), her mother-in-law is acting out again and Kiki, herself, seems bent on overdoing everything. Maybe I was a slacker, but when I was nine months pregnant, the last thing I did was traipse around carrying craft supplies and avoiding murderers.

I'd like to see all the complications toned down a little for the next book, but I do not foresee that. Too bad because this was an excellent series in the early books.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Book Club

Last night our neighborhood book club met for the first time. My friends and I have been planning to do this for a while, but couldn't seem to get it together until now. 

Starting a book club is always difficult - what book should we read, how many people should be invited, should there be snacks, how frequently should we meet, what if I recommend a book and no one likes it?

Our group decided to meet once a month and we thought we would read general fiction, historical fiction and nonfiction. Not very interested in fantasy or gory murders.

The first book we chose was The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. It is told in flashbacks, something I do not enjoy in a book, and deals with events that happened to four teenage girls at a boarding school in England. The father of one of the girls was an art teacher at the school and the girls spent many weekends at his house.

The Lying Game comes from how the girls always tell other people lies about themselves, including Isa Wilde who tells people she is a descendant of Oscar Wilde. One lie they tell is that Ambrose, Kate's father disappeared one day.

Our book club felt manipulated by the authors to believe something else happened to Ambrose. Don't want to give away the plot in case you haven't read this book. 

For our next couple of books we decided to read Camino Island by John Grisham and Hum if You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais.

Overall everyone had a chance to talk about how they felt about the book. Sometimes we veered off talking about other books we had read (which to me is the fun of book clubs). Many of us were busily scribbling down the titles of books our co-club members had read.

Some others on the future list include Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan, The History of Bees by Maja Lunde and Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray.

It was a fun evening, and yes we had snacks and wine.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Death in St. Petersburg

Lady Emily Hargreaves has accompanied her husband Colin to St. Petersburg, Russia, while he is on a mission for the Crown. It is the winter of 1900 and Lady Emily has never experienced such cold weather. In Death in St. Petersburg by Tasha Alexander Lady Emily's experience will include the violent death of one of the ballet's premier ballerinas.

As one of the most beautiful cities in the world, St. Petersburg's Neva River and its system of canals gracefully wind their way past palatial palaces, fabulous churches and gorgeous museums. Peter the Great built his city to emulate the capitals of Europe, but one area in which St. Petersburg stands above all is the ballet.

Legendary ballerinas have danced at the Mariinsky Theatre and none so elegant as Irina Semnova Nemetseva. This night she was to dance the dual roles of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, but someone ended her sparkling career in a brutal way out in the snow, still wearing her Swan Lake costume.

Death in St. Petersburg is a carefully crafted mystery told from the point of view of Lady Emily and secondary dancer and friend of Irina, Ekaterina Petrovna. There's just enough historical background to understand the turbulent times that are facing the Tsar and his family in Russia with whispers of what is to come.

Who would have wanted to kill Irina? Was it one of her discarded lovers, a jealous ex-boyfriend or Ekaterina herself? Tasha Alexander spins a beautiful tale of the hard work and sacrifice it takes to become a prima ballerina and the single minded devotion it takes to become a star.

I very much enjoyed this book, not just for the story, but for the fact that I had visited St. Petersburg recently and could so perfectly visualize the city and its beautiful buildings. Although this is book #12 of the Lady Emily series, I think this one can stand alone if you have not read the others. But caution, you will probably want to go back and read the others.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Alison Golden Interview

How many books have you published?
Thirteen so far, four in the Inspector Graham and Diana Hunter series, five in the Reverend
Annabelle Dixon series.

How did you become interested in writing?
As I child I wanted to write stories for the magazines my mother read. I thought they were so lame and I thought I could do better. But then life took over and I forgot all about the idea. I didn't start thinking about writing again until I volunteered for fundraiser rummage sale my kids school was running in 2010. We'd had trouble the previous year getting volunteers so I decided to blog about our latest efforts in an attempt to motivate other parents. It was well received and we ended up raising over $30,000 in one weekend. That made me think I might be on to something. I started blogging, writing newsletter for other people, ghostwriting, and eventually published a few non-fiction books. Finally, I decided I wanted to write fiction and came up with the ideas for the three series and it went from there.

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, etc?
I write in the morning. Writing is harder for me than marketing so I do that first. I go over and over a draft many times before I'm satisfied that it is ready. The first few are the hardest and take the longest. So I might write or edit over two or three hours per day for the first few drafts then as the copy gets cleaner I move quicker and work longer on it. I end up reading the entire book in a day at the end of the process just before publication. I read all the drafts aloud, walking around my house.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
80-90% is plotted beforehand. I don't always know the odd fine twist but they come to me as I work. However, I have been known to make drastic changes during the editing change if the story doesn't feel right. I've even changed who the murderer is after I've written the whole book.

Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
Quite often a character will contain a kernel of a real person or may be amalgam of several. I often use situations that I've come across in real life that have struck me as unusual as inspiration but nothing is directly lifted.

Who is your favorite author?
Ooh, so many: Jane Austen and Charles Dickens have written my favorite classics. I like Kate Atkinson and Deborah Crombie. I'm about to start Louise Penny because so many of my readers recommend her.

How do you promote your books?
I have my lovely reader email list, I run AMS ads, put my books in box sets with other authors, run the occasional promotion including BookBubs.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Dead of Winter

As a murderer dumps a body into the lake, Bella Jordan just happens to be staring out her window, not really seeing anything. It's winter in Lily Dale and there are not many tourists in the town of mediums. In Dead of Winter by Wendy Corsi Staub, Bella notices something along the lake the next morning and discovers it is a body.

With a killer loose in Lily Dale, Bella worries about her six-year-old son Max and his pal Jiffy. Jiffy is a wandering child with a spirit guide; his mother Misty is a medium but not a very good one.

While Bella readies Valley View, the B&B she rents for visitors, she worries about the boys walking home from the bus stop by themselves. As they are wandering home on their own, Jiffy tells Max he is going to be kidnapped and he wants Max to tell the TV people that Jiffy is brave.

Bella tries to laugh it off, but she knows Jiffy has special abilities and wonders what he really knows.
When a blizzard threatens Lily Dale, and school is dismissed early, Bella wants to walk down the lane to meet Jiffy, but Max is home sick and she doesn't want to leave him. When Jiffy doesn't turn up, everyone is worried he is lost in the snow storm, which is raging.

While the police search, Misty is unable to wait for the police to find him, she wanders out into the snow to Inspiration Stump to "sense" what might have happened to Jiffy. There she encounters a desperate killer and a fight to save her life and find Jiffy.

I always enjoy the Lily Dale series and Dead of Winter gave me the chills each and every step of the way. The atmospheric air to Lily Dale and the many mediums present in the town hint at supernatural events. I very much enjoy this series.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gin and Panic

In a screwball mystery that takes place in the Roarin' Twenties, Maia Chance has given us Lola Woodby and Berta Lundgren. Gin and Panic find them involved in a murder and stolen diamonds.

Lola's goals this week are to mail her sister's wedding invitations and find a caterer for the society wedding of the year. How difficult could that be especially as Lola has a weakness for baked goods, the creamier the better.

Their real business is The Discreet Retrieval Agency, a sort of detective agency. Lord Sudley hires them to retrieve a stuffed rhinoceros' head from Montgomery Hall. He gives them a long involved story about why the rhino head trophy is really his, but his friend Rudyard Montgomery claimed it. Sounds like a easy job and when Lord Sudley presents them with a check, they agree to retrieve the trophy.

They head to Montgomery Hall in Connecticut where a hunting parting is taking place on the estate.
Lola and Mrs.Lundgren bide their time with a gin and tonic observing an array of visiting guests. When they approach the study where the trophy is mounted, they discover the room is filled with rhino head trophies and some unexpected surprises.

Suddenly they hear a pop which sounds like a gunshot, then an argument between a man and a woman, then another gunshot. They race inside to find their host Rudy Montgomery dead of an apparent suicide.

All is not as it seems as Lola and Mrs. Lundgren dash hither and yon between Connecticut and New York to solve the crime. A funny, goofy kind of mystery. Caution: do not read without a pastry or something sweet in your hand!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Gator Earrings

Author Ellen Byron knows I am a huge fan of New Orleans and all things from the bayou. In a creative spree, Ellen fabricated some cool earrings for me with Mardi Gras colors and, of course, gators.

If you have read any of Ellen's books you know they take place in Cajun Country in Louisiana, and are filled with family heritage,  life in the south and, of course, a mystery. Ellen's latest book is a Cajun Christmas Killing and it is loaded with Cajun traditional holiday lore.

Check out the review by clicking here.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Vineyard Victims

Lucie Montgomery is driving back to her vineyard when she sees a car racing straight at her. In The Vineyard Victims by Ellen Crosby, Lucie flashes back to her accident at the very same spot 10 years prior. She veers off the road and hears a crash. Lucie races to the car and discovers Jamie Vaughn, recent candidate for president of the United States pinned behind the wheel.

As she tries to pull Jamie from the car, he seems to resist her help and says, "Tell him I'm sorry. Tell Rick I need him to forgive me." While she struggles with the door, a MedicAlert bracelet slips from his hands. Neighbor and friend Mick Dunne arrives on the scene, grabs Lucie and carries her away as the car bursts into flames.

Did Jamie deliberately crash his car into the pillar or was it an accident? He smelled of alcohol and seemed unfocused, but Lucie knows she cannot accuse the man who nearly became president of killing himself.

Who is Rick and why does the family not want Lucie to talk to the press? With the help of her
newspaper friend Kit Noland, Lucie soon discovers all was not  well at the Vaughn family business and maybe even in the campaign headquarters. The campaign manager and Jamie's wife insist Rick is a large donor, but somehow that doesn't sit well with Lucie.

Before long Lucie discovers a connection between Jamie and some of his old friends with a 30-year-old murder. As she probes, she learns "Rick" is someone named Taurique, a young black man who was charged with the murder of Webster Landau, one of Jamie's college friends. What is the connection between Jamie, Taurique and the death of Webster Landau?

The more Lucie digs, the more dangerous her discoveries become. Another exciting book from Ellen Crosby. I always enjoy the journey into viticulture as well.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Julie Mulhern Interview

How many books have you published?
With the publication of Cold as Ice, my mystery total is six. Book seven
will make an appearance next June.

How did you become interested in writing?
My seventh grade English teacher told me I should be a writer. I can
remember everything about that moment--where I stood in her classroom,
the writing on the chalkboard, and a feeling of elation. Truth is, my
teacher scared me a bit and praise from Dottie McCord was something to
be cherished.

It took me a while, but I did it. I became a published author. I like to
think Mrs. McCord is smiling down on me.

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, etc?
My writing day begins early. I stumble downstairs, start coffee, and let
the dog out. He requires watching. With his business complete, we come
back inside and I add a healthy (or unhealthy) dollop of cream to my
coffee, spend a few minutes posting 70s pictures on Facebook, then


Sometimes words flow like a river in springtime. My fingers can hardly
keep up.

Other days words are scarce. Those days, I set a timer and see how many
words (even rotten-destined-to-be-deleted-words) I can write in 20

At a quarter till seven, Monday through Friday, I hear my daughter thump
out of bed. Water runs. A toilet flushes. A few minutes later she
arrives downstairs.

Our exchange usually goes something like this:

Me: “Good morning.”
Her: Grunt. She opens the refrigerator. “We don’t have anything to eat.”
Me: “Of course, we do. There’s cereal (don’t judge), toast (don’t
judge), fruit, and eggs.”
Her: “It takes too long to make eggs.”
I don’t argue.
Her: “We don’t have any good cereal. We never have any good cereal.”
Me: “I buy what you ask for.”
It’s true. I do. It’s not my fault if she leaves four flakes in a box
and puts it back on the pantry shelf.
Her: “I want to make my lunch. We don’t have any food.”
Me: (looking up from a gnarly sentence with gritted teeth) “We have ham,
turkey, and Swiss cheese, two kinds of bread, carrots, apples, sweet
potato chips, and those little containers of hummus.”
Her: “None of that sounds good.” She shakes her head at my abysmal
failure as a mother.

The difficult sentence wins. I save whatever words have been added and
get ready for my day job.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
May I answer both? I know the major plot points before I begin. What
happens between those points is always an unplanned surprise.

Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
That daughter I mentioned...Is it any wonder I felt the need to give
Ellison a sometimes-problematic teenage daughter?

Who is your favorite author?
THAT is a hard question. One of the wonderful thing about being an
author is becoming friends with other other authors. It's too hard to
pick just one.

How do you promote your books?
My books are set in the 1970s--an era of questionable taste in food,
clothes, and even wine. I post 70s pictures on Facebook every morning.
Some are funny. Some are cringe-worthy. Some (I'm looking at you Jello
molds) are icky. Everyone seems to enjoy the pictures and its a great
way for me to interact with readers. As for other promotions - blog
tours, interviews, and book clubs (I LOVE book clubs).

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

And the Winner is . . .

Congratulations to Anna Loomis Russell. She is the winner of the raffle for Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander. Thanks to Ellie Alexander and Minotaur Books for the book.


Watch for another giveaway in November!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Much Ado About Murder

Operating a small theater in the Catskills has its ups and down. When the Catskill Shakespeare Theater Company begins its latest season, there are issues with the director. In Much Ado About Murder by Elizabeth J. Duncan costume designer Charlotte Fairfax not only has a new lead actress, but a new director.

Audrey Ashley, visiting British actress, decides she doesn't think she can work with the current director and wants to replace him with Edmund Albright. Albright is hired and he immediately decides to stage the play in a Civil Wat setting. The cast is reluctant at first, but then after Albright presents the case, they grudgingly agree it might be an interesting approach.

In the back of Charlotte's mind is how can she turn the Shakespearean costumes into Civil War era costumes. But when Albright is found dead, an apparent suicide, Charlotte has her hands full trying to find another director and solving the crime.

Charlotte has to ask the previous director to please come back to the theater company, and he comes
back grudgingly. Wade Radcliffe is also smitten with the Civil War theme so he smoothly takes over.When it appears Albright might not have been a suicide, Charlotte plunges into the investigation.

This news makes Audrey Ashley extremely paranoid and she begins making 911 calls to the police to report prowlers, asking especially Charlotte's boyfriend Ray. Trying to settle the actress down, keep her away from Ray and calm the remainder of the cast almost gives Charlotte another full time job.

When other odd events begin to happen, Charlotte is puzzled as to who could have killed Albright and why someone is terrorizing Ashley.

Shakespeare in the Catskills would be such a fun event. That's why I enjoy this series so much.

Monday, October 23, 2017

An Invitation to Murder

Being a matchmaker for a mild mannered, bug collecting young woman is not what Lady Katherine Irvine had in mind for herself. In Leighann Dobbs' An Invitation to Murder, Lady Katherine uses the matchmaking opportunity to investigate the murders of two young women, called the Pink-Ribbon Murders.

Both women were murdered at recent house parties and many hostesses have stopped holding parties. Lord Northbrook's mother decides she will buck concerns and hold a house party to find a wife for her son. Knowing this is the only way she will be invited to a party, Lady Katherine accepts the matchmaking job for Annie Pickering.

Spurring Lady Katherine's desire to solve the murders is her father's promise that he will turn over her dowry to her if she solves the case. Of course Lady Katherine wants to be a detective, but an earl's daughter isn't usually employed in that field.

The house party draws several young women looking for husbands and many men looking for wives
or just looking for a good time. There's much competition among the matchmakers and the young women. Although Katherine tries her best in the matchmaking arena, her heart is interested in solving the case.

When Katherine's arch enemy Dorian Wayland turns up at the event, she is sure he is trying to solve the case before her. She has never trusted him and even though he is charming and handsome, she wants no part of him or his desire to collaborate.

The plot weaves in and out and Katherine begins to despair that nothing will happen at this party when a young women is injured in an assault. This focuses Katherine and she sets out to solve the case.

The customs and habits of the aristocracy are a fascinating study and Leighann Dobbs portrays them well.  Life for women in this era was definitely interesting, but limiting. Katherine's spunk and intelligence sets her apart.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

GIveaway Ends Tuesday

The MapYourMystery Giveaway ends on Tuesday. Enter today!

Check out this giveaway thanks to Ellie Alexander and Minotaur Books! We will be giving away one copy of Ellie's newest book, Death on Tap. Be sure to read my review about the book.

Can't wait for the giveaway to end on Tuesday 10/24 to get a copy? You can find Ellie's books on Minotaur Books'' website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 20, 2017

Secrets and Pies

Once again Callie is up to her neck in work. In Secrets and Pies by Jenny Kales, Callie, thanks to her father George, is baking enormous amounts of Greek food for the Greek church festival. 

Her ex-husband Hugh asks her to meet him at one of the Gilded Age homes he is renovating to pick up their daughter Olivia. While she waits Callie decides to browse around the house and stumbles across the body of Olivia's teacher, Holly Tennyson. Holly was a grad student working on an F.Scott Fitzgerald thesis.

Thrust as usual into the crime, she promises her daughter she will find the murderer, but her boyfriend Detective Ian Sands discourages her involvement. And life at Callie's Kitchen is crazy. Besides the church festival, she is roped into Beats at the Bay, a musical evening, by her grandmother, and baking for the every day tourists who are visiting the area is almost overwhelming.

When her right hand man Max tells her he has to quit to work at his father's farm, Callie panics.
There is still so much prep work for the festival and she wants to continue her investigation. Without Max in the kitchen Callie has to ask her father for help. Two Greeks in a kitchen. What could go wrong!

When another grad student is attacked, Callie is sure the solution has something to do with the graduate work and the Fitzgerald connection. Putting herself in jeopardy, she finds the killer.

The Callie Costas books take me back to my days in the kitchen learning how to cook with my Greek-American mother. We made almost all of the goodies Callie makes and to this day, I still make most of them. Still working on my pie crust, but I'm getting better.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Song of the Lion

The last thing one might expect to find in the Shiprock High School parking lot on the Navajo Reservation is a bomb in a car. In Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman, Navajo Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito is off duty and enjoying an Alumni basketball game when the building shakes. The sound she soon realizes is coming from the parking lot.

She rushes outside to find a car in flames and twisted metal all around. Managing to keep everyone inside the building while she waits for reinforcements to arrive, Bernie wonders if it was a bomb. When a seriously injured young man is found adjacent to the car, Bernie fears there might be another bomb in the gym.

The owner of the BMW turns out to be Aza Palmer, a lawyer. He the mediator at the large meeting to determine whether a huge resort on Navajo land at the edge of the Grand Canyon should be built. He's positive someone is out to kill him.

Jim Chee, Bernie's husband, is assigned as a bodyguard for Palmer while the mediating meetings are
going on in Tuba City. There are a wide range of groups at the meeting - some pro, some con. Most believe Palmer is not going to be a fair mediator. There are acts of sabotage at the Navajo Justic Building where the meeting is being held. First the electricity goes out throughout the building, then someone tampers with the heating system. 

When the dead man is identified as Richard Horseman, the name rings a bell with Lt. Joe Leaphorn. Aza Palmer also remembers him as a young man he knew as a child. As more is learned about young Horseman, Aza's son Robert and two businessmen involved in the development come under suspicion.

Song of a Lion beautifully loops Bernie, Jim and Lt Leaphorn together in true Hillerman form. When I met Anne Hillerman, I commented on how much her books have the voice of her late father, Tony Hillerman. She laughed and said she heard his voice all her life! Naturally she can continue his series in the same voice.

I look forward to more in this series, especially as Bernadette Manuelito is front and center in the books.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cold as Ice

It's really not Ellison's fault that she keeps finding bodies, despite what her mother says. In Cold As Ice by Julie Mulhern, Ellison finds Laurie Michaels dead in the freezer of the country club. Her husband, naturally, is suspected. For Ellison there is more at stake here as Tom owes her late husband's bank one million dollars. 

Ellison tries to keep her promise to Detective Anarchy Jones to stay out of it, but that doesn't happen.When she arrives home one evening and finds a full-fledged teen party raging in her home, she confronts her daughter Grace and discovers Trip Michaels, son of Laurie, was the instigator of the party. 

Try as much as she can, Ellison cannot convince Grace that Trip is not to be trusted. Grace, though, finds out for herself how fickled he is when she encounters a weeping girl who claims to be his girlfriend. 

More worried about the bank's solvency not that Laurie is dead and Tom could possibly be arrested
for murder, Ellison confronts the bank manager Sherman Westcott. He tries to condescend to her and brush off the issue, but Ellison is not satisfied. When someone else is murdered, Ellison searches harder to find the connection.

As always her mother keeps trying to push lawyer Hunter Tafft at Ellison, telling her she needs a man to take care of her. I always find these books so funny for their early 1970s point of view. It's hard to remember the days when all women despite their age were called "girls" and women needed their husband's approval for most everything. 

Ellison's mother is the keeper of this mentality and it drives her crazy, especially as she tries to save her daughter's inheritance.  The other little 70s tidbits make these books so fun to read. 

Don't forget to enter the giveaway.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Giveaway Ends Tuesday!

Don't forget the MapYourMystery Giveaway ends on Tuesday. Enter Today!


Check out this giveaway thanks to Ellie Alexander and Minotaur Books! We will be giving away one copy of Ellie's newest book, Death on Tap. Be sure to read my review about the book.

Can't wait for the giveaway to end on Tuesday 10/24 to get a copy? You can find Ellie's books on Minotaur Books'' website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Case of the Fallen Hero

The death of the bridegroom on the morning after his wedding has Inspector David Graham and his small team investigating the crime in Orgueil Castle on the island of Jersey. In The Case of the Fallen Hero by Alison Golden, What he finds is a fleeing bride, reluctant parents of the bride and an ex-wife. 

Inspector David Graham left big-city policing behind to come to the Channel Islands. His days are now filled with minor offenses, but on a Sunday visit to the Castle, he hears a woman screaming and finds her kneeling over the body of a man. As he approaches the man, he realizes he is beyond help, and then surprisingly enough, the woman flees.

Complicating the investigation is the disappearance of the musical quartet who had been hired to play at the wedding. Having to split his four-person force to handle both issues is difficult, but Graham and Sergeant Harding take the lead on the death.

George Ross, the bridegroom, appears to have fallen or jumped from the battlements of the Castle.  During the investigation, Graham learns the bridal suite was not used and the champagne was still chilling in the ice bucket. There had to be some unusual reason for this.

Further into the investigation he finds an uncooperative mother and father of the bride and a mentally ill sister who turns out to me the ex-wife of the groom. Delving deeper into their past, he learns the bride's family were neighbors of George Ross' family when he was a child. A long-ago murder-suicide factors into the investigation.

As he delves deeper he learns the secret that has been kept for so long and this points the way to a stunning conclusion. Meanwhile the musical quartet has managed to lose its way deeper into the Castle, and their rescue reveals another stunning event.   

An excellent, well plotted mystery.