Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Blackmail Can Be Dangerous

Private detectives Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon, as usual, are going their separate ways on there cases. In Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini's The Dangerous Ladies Affair, there are plenty of dangerous ladies. Sabina is heavily involved in the suffragette movement and her friend Amity Wellman is the leader of the most active local organization.

John is hired to find the person blackmailing banker Titus Wrixton.Wrixton has already paid $5,000 to the blackmailer who is demanding another $5,000. He wants John to find the black mailer and retrieve his money.

Sabina's case takes a turn when Amity Wellman is shot at. Many of the anti-suffragette leaders are likely suspects, but when Amity confesses to having an affair with a married man, Sabina searches in a different direction.

With both cases taking Sabina and John out of the office, they rarely see each other. This frustrates John as he was feeling they might be making some progress in their relationship. Although she has resisted his charms for five years, Sabina has finally allowed her thoughts to stray to John and a possible relationship.

For his client John arranges another bag drop for the ransom money with the plan to follow whoever picks up the money. John follows the man to a Gunpowder Alley and watches him enter a shop called Cigars, Pipe Tobacco, Sundries. Sonderberg, prop. Within minutes shots ring out and John finds Sonderberg dead in the classic locked room.

The plot thickens as both Sabina and John race to find the answers to their cases. One thing I learned from this book is that it rains a lot in northern California.

For other books by Marcia Muller, click here.

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Victorian San Francisco Mystery

When Annie Fuller's husband left her a widow and broke at age 26, she wasn't sure whether she would have to rely on the "charity" of her in-laws or find another way to survive. In Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke, Annie luckily inherits a house in San Francisco from her deceased aunt and moves across the country.

Turning the house into a respectable boarding house saves her until she receives Hiram Driscoll's letter. He claims to have lent her husband $300, but now with compounded interest, the amount has grown to $1,380 and he wants to be repaid soon. Annie believes she has no hope except to sell her house.

To augment her income from the boarding house, Annie has been posing as Madam Sibyl, a clairvoyant. When her favorite client Matthew Voss dies unexpectedly, she learns his assets are missing. She knows this is not true because she has helped him invest and decides to investigate. She goes undercover as a maid in the Voss household to try to find the killer and Matthew's missing assets.

The family lawyer Nathaniel Dawson, despite his better judgment, abets her plan to investigate with scary results.

Maids of Misfortune offers a glimpse of life for women in Victorian California. I look forward to other books in this series. For books by M. Louisa Locke, click here.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Bodies of Art #4

There should be an official warning label on books by Ritter Ames: Do not read out of order! I love the Bodies of Art books, but they have  highly involved plots with many references back to events that happened in previous books. If you read them out of order you will spend more time in the dark trying to figure about what is going on then actually enjoying the plot. Do yourself a favor and start at the beginning. You will enjoy the series much, much more.

In Fatal Forgeries, Laurel Beacham and her Gorgeous Geek Nico are in the midst of retrieving a stolen Caravaggio - in the middle of the night through cat burglar techniques. When she arrives back at the Beacham Foundation headquarters, she discovers she may have disrupted a project Jack Hawkes was working on for  whichever secret organization he works for.

When Nico goes missing, Laurel is worried about him, but Jack,
ever the suspicious one, believes Nico has gone to the "other side." When video appears showing Nico being lead willingly away with to "bad guys", Laurel is deeply distressed. Had she misjudged Nico or was Jack right that Nico would be easily tempted to switch sides.

Throughout the book we run into some of Laurel's "charming" acquaintances - the shadowy Moran, newspaper reporter Lincoln Ferguson, her boss at the Foundation Max and the ever-unpredictable Rollie. You just know there will be a #5 in this series.

For the first book and others in this series, click here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gargoyles, Potions and Paree

Hello again from MapYour Mystery. Spent 12 days visiting Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Stockholm, Amsterdam,  Helsinki, and Skagen, Denmark. Back to reading and reviewing. 

In The Elusive Elixir by Gigi Pandian, Zoe Faust sets off on another tense race to find the elixir that will save the Robert, the gargoyle. As an alchemist, Zoe Faust has tried to find the right combination to keep Robert from turning into stone to no avail. 

She believes the answer to the backward alchemists lies somewhere in Notre Dame Cathedral so she speeds to Paris to try to discover the alchemy secrets that might save him. Once there she encounters a woman who threatens Zoe's own secret. 

Madame Leblanc claims she knew Zoe's grandmother during the war and is struck by the resemblance she sees in Zoe. Concerned that Leblanc may discover her secret, Zoe tries to convince her the resemblance is natural, but Leblanc is not to be swayed. She swears she will find out about Zoe. Then suddenly she apologizes and offers to treat Zoe to lunch.

When a policeman appears at their table, Madame Leblanc introduces him as her grand-nephew and they tell Zoe about a body found in the 1942 fire in Elixir, the shop Zoe's "grandmother" owned. Feeling a huge amount of pressure to keep her secret, Zoe decides to leave Paris on the first plane she can reserve. With only five hours until her flight, she battles to find something that will help Robert.

The chase leads her back to Portland and connections from her past threaten everything she loves. An exciting, fast-paced adventure into a totally different world.
For other books by Gigi Pandian, click here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Vacation Time

MapYourMystery will be on vacation for a few days. Check back on May 24 for more reviews.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Interview with Victoria Thompson

How many books have you published? 
I have published 20 historical mysteries and 20 historical romances

Under what names do you publish?
Just Victoria Thompson

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 spend my mornings on Facebook and other social media, doing promotion and having fun. I usually write in the afternoon. I try to write at least 5 pages every day. The words usually come slowly early in the book, and by the end, I’m writing 10-20 pages a day because by then the story has crystallized and I’m typing as fast as I can to keep up with it.

Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
I don’t really plot the whole book up front. I usually choose the victim and the suspects. I figure out what each suspect’s motive is and what their secret is. They all must have a guilty secret. Then I start writing. As I go along, the characters reveal things to me that I had never suspected. Sometimes they aren’t who I thought they were at all. About halfway through, I choose one of them to be the second victim, and by then I usually know who the killer is, although sometimes I don’t decide until nearer the end. I figure if I don’t know myself, the reader won’t be able to guess either!

How do you promote your books? 
I have a website, I’m on Facebook (Victoria.Thompson.Author) and Twitter (@gaslightvt). I do guest blogs when I have a book coming out.

Who is your favorite author? 
Usually, my favorite author is the one whose book I just read. I have so many favorites that I actually keep a list so I don’t lose track and forget to check when they’ve got a new book out.

Do you write with pen and paper or a computer? 
I wrote my first novel in pencil in spiral notebooks back in the early 1980s, but I bought a computer for the second book and never looked back.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Where There's a Will

Charley, Charley, Charley you spent you entire high school career mooning over Marcus Trenault and now that you have him, you are reckless and interfering. In Leslie Nagel's The Antique House Murders, Charley Carpenter is looking over the clothing, handbags and shoes once owned by the late Augusta Mulbridge at her estate sale. She is giddy with the find and has visions of how much this will add to her shop Old Hat.

An altercation at the Mulbridge House between the members of SOAP (Sustain Oakwood's Architectural Past) and Pamela Tate, Calvin Prescott's shop assistant, breaks out at the estate sale. Millicent Peache is sure Augusta left a will donating Mulbridge House to SOAP. Holland Mulbridge begs to differ. She has plans to demolish the house and build high-end homes. Before Charley can fully appreciate the vintage clothing and accessories, she finds her friend Calvin dead in his shop.

As Detective Trenault begins to investigate, Charley does too. Before long the murder is linked to a
string of robberies plaguing Oakwood. Trenault heads in that direction, but Charley continues to think the murder is linked to the missing will and the large land deal awaiting approval.

Warned by Marc not to interfere, interfere she does and nearly loses her life for it. She believes Holland Mulbridge and her brother Jameson are planning more than 14 houses presented to the Oakwood Planning Commission and she wonders if they have destroyed a will their mother might have made to get their way. She recruits her friend Dmitri and his sister Vanni to ferret out information about the land deal.

This is a fast-paced mystery with many twists and turns. Time is ticking on the demolition and Charley races to find the answers.

For my review of another Leslie Nagel book, click here. For other books by Leslie Nagel, click here.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Maddy and Juliet

Working in a low-end motel in a dead-end job is bad enough, but when the woman who beat her in every race she ever ran in high school turns up, Juliet Townsend thinks her life looks pretty grim. In Lori-Rader-Day's Little Pretty Things, Madeleine Bell's appearance at the motel accentuates Juliet's failure. Maddy is still gorgeous and is sporting a huge diamond ring. When Maddy tries to befriend Juliet again, Juliet shuts her down and leaves the motel.

The next morning determined to apologize for her rudeness, Juliet finds Maddy dead, hanging from the balcony. Before long Juliet becomes a suspect. After 10 years away why had Maddy returned and who would want to kill her?

When they were in high school Juliet and Maddy had been on the track team, Maddy was the golden girl and Juliet was always one step behind her. They were headed for big things when the Indiana state finals came around. But the day of the meet, Maddy lay convulsed in pain on the floor of their room, unable to compete. Instead of letting Juliet take her place, Coach and his assistant Fitz thought Juliet should go with Maddy, essentially crushing her dream.

While the motel where she worked is closed for the investigation, Juliet works as an assistant for the high school track team. She notices odd behavior in some of the girls and begins to piece together things from her past track experience. Soon she discovers disturbing signs that all is not well on the current girls track team.

Lori Rader-Day paints a grim picture of life in a small town and for those who remain behind after high school. I enjoyed Little Pretty Things and I look forward to other books by the author.

For books by Rader-Day, click here

Monday, May 1, 2017

The World of Counterfeit Wines

For wine sommelier Katie Stillwell being invited to taste a $19,000 bottle of wine is a once in a lifetime event. In Uncorking a Lie by Nadine Nettmann, the title lets you know where this book is going. With one taste Katie recognizes this wine is not what it is purported to be.

Her host Paul Rafferty has held the 1975 Chateau Clair Bleu wine in high esteem because of its sentimental value to him. With his motley assortment of guests surrounding the dinner table, Paul asks Katie to open and decant the bottle.  As Katie looks at the wine she realizes the color is different than what she expected. It is darker, stronger and does not taste the way it should. One thing she knows for sure, this is not a 1975 Chateau Clair Bleu. A wine that was over 40 years old would not be fruit forward and would probably be fading in the rim color.

Katie confides in Cooper, Rafferty's assistant, about the wine and
he says there is a second bottle from the same dealer in the wine cellar. When Katie discovers Cooper unconscious deep in the wine cellar, she fears this wasn't an accident. When Rafferty asks her to investigate the counterfeit wine and the death of Cooper, Katie dives in.

Here investigation leads to a web of counterfeit wines and murder.

I like the wine pairings suggestions at the top of each chapter heading and learning about wines from someone with more expertise has been fun. The counterfeiting of wines appears to be a widespread problem and if collectors are only collecting and not drinking, it becomes harder to discover the counterfeits.

For other books by Nadine Nettmann, click here.