Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Death by Tradition

Detective Inspector Josefa Horseman is watching his Suva Shiners rugby team facing the toughest team in the area and worries about the result. In Death by Tradition by B.M. Allsopp Joe concerns are swept aside when the boys perform admirably, although they did not win, they scored and that makes them happy.

Before Joe can celebrate with the boys, he is called away to investigate the murder of a young man up in the hills in the Tanoa village. Also on Joe's agenda is some long awaited vacation time and a visit from his friend Melissa who is coming from the U.S. to the Fiji Islands. He is undecided about canceling the trip because of the investigation.

Hoping he can solve the case quickly, Joe doesn't postpone Melissa's visit but hurries up to the hills and the village. With his new assistant Tanielo Musudroka and Sgt Susie Singh, Joe begins the investigation of the murder of a young man.

Viliame was an ambitious man who worked a day job at the National Land Trust Board and
commuted back to village on weekends to maintain his nutmeg and vanilla business. He had established quite a thriving business and was able to share in the profits with his workers. Why would someone want to kill him and display his body in such a public manner?

Joe is blocked in his investigation by the elders who don't really want to cooperate with the police. The chief is focused on making amends for the murder of a missionary 100 years ago. He has invited the missionary's descendants to the village for a ceremony showing their remorse.

When another death occurs, Joe is in a race to find the killer and salvage some of his vacation time with Melissa.

I enjoy this series because of the exotic locale and portrayal of life in a Fijian village, a series steeped with tradition. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Shattered at Sea

Glass shop owner Savannah Webb has a change of venue and spends a week on board a cruise ship. In Shattered at Sea by Cheryl Hollon, Savannah and Edward are heading to the Mediterranean after a visit with his parents. Lucky Savannah has been hired to do glassblowing demonstrations on the ship. (Shattered at Sea will be released on August 28.) 

It has been a while since she has actually blown glass, but that doesn't deter her. After a few practice tries, Savannah is able to produce some interesting pieces that will be auctioned at the end of the cruise. Trying to get the hang of the delicate art on a moving ship seems to be only one of the issues she has to deal with.

The second is the disappearance of Edward's cousin Ian after the first night of the cruise. The security staff are not too worried as they think Ian hooked up with a woman and will surface in his own time. After several days of no sight of Ian, Savannah becomes more worried especially as she discovers Ian was taking anti-depressant medication and has not been taking it.

Could he have jumped off the ship or is something else going on?
Suspicion turns toward Edward, but Savannah cannot believe her boyfriend could be involved in his cousin's disappearance. She doubles down on her investigation.

When Edward reveals some difficult things from his youth, Savannah starts to piece together what may have happened to Ian and it might include someone on the ship.

Someday I would love to be a a cruise shop with glass blowing demonstrations. I can only hope Savannah shows up on one of my cruises.

Purchase link

Friday, July 27, 2018

Congratulations to the Winner

Della Williamson from Lebanon, Oregon is the winner of Custom Baked Murder and the doggie cookie cutters. Dogs treats not included. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Masterpiece

A wonderful blending of two eras in the life of Grand Central Terminal. Fiona Davis skillfully weaves the story of two women into The Masterpiece. (The Masterpiece will be published n August 8.)

One begins in 1924 when the Grand Central School of Art was formed. Few women were able to teach but Clara Darden, an illustrator breaks through. She becomes a successful illustrator for Vogue until the Depression hits.

Clara finds herself attracted to two men: poet and wealthy scion of New York society Oliver Smith and  Art School genius and flamboyant artist Levon Zakarian. Oliver introduces her to the right people and her career as an illustrator begins to blossom. As her career blooms, Oliver still refuses to publish any of his poems, dedicating all his energy to her illustrations.

Fast forward to the 1970s when it won’t be long until the wrecking ball tumbles down the illustrious building. Working at the information booth in a rundown Grand Central Terminal, newly divorced Virginia Clay tries to find her way. The staff at the information booth are a motley crew of dedicated Grand Centralers and they include Terrence and Totto, who look enough alike to be brothers, Winston, the southern gentleman and Doris, crabby and nasty.

On her break while wandering the upper floors, Virginia stumbles on the former Grand Central School of Art and finds a watercolor painting with Clara Darden's signature. Intrigued by this, she tries to discover what had become of Clara.

Although a plan has been developed to demolish Grand Central and build a skyscraper, Virginia falls in love with the building and joins the fight to save the station. Along the way she discovers she is fighting along Jackie Kennedy Onassis who was a leader in the fight.

Following her investigation into the art of Clara Darden, she uncovers some startling information about the artist and her friend Levon Zakarian.

An intriguing adventure with a beautifully blended story from two different eras in the history of Grand Central.

Purchase link 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Interview with Laura DiSilverio

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?

My newest published book is That Last Weekend. I have 21 published books.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I develop my characters and choose my locations differently with each novel. It depends on what the book is about, and what kind of book it is. Mostly, I prefer to use locations that I'm familiar with (and I'm familiar with a lot since I grew up in an Air Force family and then spent 20 years as an Air Force officer) because I'm lazy and don't want to have to do a lot of research. :-)

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?
Writing is my job, so I get up every morning, take a walk, eat breakfast, and sit down at my desk. I write at least 2000 words a day when I'm drafting, and then I work on the business end of things, like doing blog posts, newsletters, social media stuff, etc.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I'm a member of Sisters in Crime (and former President of the organization), and a founding member of Career Authors.com, a blog for writers, so I'm in touch with other writers frequently. I also exchange critiques with a writer friend. It helps me to have someone to bounce ideas off of, and also to realize that everyone struggles with every book, no matter how many books they've published, or how experiences they are.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
I do not model my characters off of myself of anyone I know. I might use a gesture I've observed from someone, and verbal tics from someone else, but I don't ever base a character on a real person.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
If the book I'm working on now, The Empty Nesters Club, were to be made into a movie, I'd want Amy Poehler to play Samantha, Jason Bateman to be Elliott, Allison Janney to be June, and Zoe Saldana to be Coral. Dream casting!

Who is your favorite author?
John Steinbeck.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
I use a different notebook for every book, and I keep track of character details in there. Each main character gets a few pages when I first start developing the book, and I go back to the notebook when I get halfway through the manuscript and can't remember if my character had blue eyes or brown eyes, or if her first husband was named Zach or Zeke--stuff like that.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I'd be an event organizer if I couldn't be an author, or maybe a personal trainer. I'd like to have more people contact than I have as a writer, but I'd like to keep a semi-flexible schedule, too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Against the Claw

Still home in Mystic Bay, Connecticut recuperating from ankle injury, dancer Allie Larkin helps out at her aunt's popular lobster shack, the Lazy Mermaid. In Against the Claw by Shari Randall, life is anything but leisurely along the Connecticut coast.

On one of the days she is out on the water collecting lobsters with Bertha, they find a body of a young woman. With no identification, it is difficult for the police to find out who she is. No one seems to have any idea who she was or where she went into the water.

In the meantime, Stellene Lupo, the owner of a large modeling agency in New York, who owns a house in Mystic Bay, wants Aunt Gully to cater a special event for her.  Although Aunt Gully doesn't usually cater, she ropes her nieces into helping out. Preparations are underway, but Allie wants to keep her hand in performing. She takes a small, non-dancing role in an experimental production called Ondine with a mystery guest as the lead singer.

Excitement builds as the Lupo 4th of July party draws closer and the opening of Ondine nears. Everyone is trying to guess which famous guests will be at the party. Even Allie is excited except when she discovers her sister Lorel is back with her bad-news boyfriend Patrick, owner of New Salt, a bar/restaurant rumored to be involved with selling drugs. Trying not to get into an argument with her sister, Allie throws herself into the catering event and her role in the performance. In the back of her mind she wonders who the drowned woman was.

The night before the party, Allie overhears Lorel and Patrick having a huge argument and breaking up again. Relieved, but feeling sorry for her sister, she stays busy with the party preparation. When the evening of the party arrives, Allie and Lorel head to the house to help with the party. Later in the evening someone is found dead and there are only four suspects: Allie, Lorel, and two guests.

A very enjoyable second book in The Lobster Shack Mystery series. Looking forward to my trip to Boston (sadly not the Mermaid Lobster Shack) for lobster rolls.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Close Call

A mix-up with cell phones throws Sidney Ellison into the path of a hired killer. In Close Call by Laura DiSilverio, Sidney doesn't realize she has the wrong phone until she receives a call confirming a hit on a Senate candidate. (Close Call will be published in September.)

Paralyzed with fear and the memories of her past political shaming, she decides not to mention the call to anyone. Unfortunately "the client" and the hitman discover their mistake and decide to eliminate Sidney Ellison. This leads to a tragic case of mistaken identity and forces Sidney into the public eye once again.

As a college student fifteen years ago, she was involved in an affair with the Speaker of the House in Washington and suffered through the infamy that caused. Her father, a successful lawyer, had a debilitating stroke as a result of the scandal and her sister was the reporter who broke the story.

She tries to contact the Congressman who is running for Senate, Fidel Montoya, but he recognizes
her name and thinks she is trying to undermine his campaign. Frustrated by his refusal to listen, she soon discovers someone was murdered in her townhouse, execution style.

Chilled to the bone, she learns it was her fiance Jason and Sidney is sure the hit was meant for her - a case of mistaken identify. As she pulls at a thread to try to unravel the murder, more and more strange events begin to occur leading to a startling conclusion.

An excellent mystery with just the right amount of twists and turns.

Purchase link 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Read Herring Hunt

When North Harbor, Michigan football star Dawson Alexander’s girlfriend Melody is found strangled and he is arrested, mystery book store owner Samantha Washington decides to investigate. In Read Herring Hunt by V.M. Burns, Dawson is more than just an employee to Dawson, her rents his small apartment above the shop from her and bakes goodies for her mystery bookstore.

Melody was known as a “honey trap” around the campus because she latched on to athletes with potential. Dawson, finally seeing the light, decides to break up with her. Unfortunately she lashes out and scratches his face. When she is found dead, the police turn right to him as a suspect.

Sam enlists her aggressive lawyer sister Jenna to defend Dawson.  Along with her grandmother Nana Jo and the “girls” from the Sleuthing Senior Book Club, Sam tries to prove Dawson is innocent. 

While she worries about Dawson, Sam finds time to work on her
second novel set in the English countryside between the world wars. In it someone tries to murder the Duchess of Windsor, better known as the American divorcee Wallis Simpson and wife of abdicated King Edward VII. Sam has been afraid to send the first novel she has written, but decides to keep writing just in case she changes her mind about submitting it.

In her own life, Sam is still mourning the death of her husband, but her grandmother is aiming to get her to start dating again. Two candidates include British professor Harley Quin and restaurant owner Frank Patterson. 

The fun subplot of Sam's novel makes this an entertaining mystery inside another mystery. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Widows of Malabar Hill

An excellent book with a insider’s look at India in the 1920s. Perveen Mistry wants to study law but law schools did not admit women. In The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey, she persuades the law school to let her take classes without being admitted but the men in the class force her to quit.

In an act of defiance, she falls in love with a man who her parents do not know and suffers through a terrible marriage before she returns home. On her return, her parents send her to England where graduates from Oxford. She returns to Bombay several years later to work for her father’s firm. Because she is a woman and can meet with the cloistered widows, she is assigned a case that deals with three Muslim widows married to the same man.

When Perveen examines the will, she notices that all three widows have signed over their entire inheritance to a charity. Positive the women are being swindled, especially as one is obviously illiterate as
she signed with an X, she tries to determine who is trying to steal from them. Is it the male guardian or someone else?

When there is a murder in the secluded house, Perveen finds herself in the middle of the investigation. Because of her own personal history, she is dedicated to assisting women.

A beautifully written book and an intriguing look at the sheltered life of these women and the murder that threatens them.

Purchase link

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Interview with Victoria Gilbert

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?

My most recent book is Shelved Under Murder  (July 10). It is the second book in my Blue Ridge Library Mystery series. The first book, A Murder for the Books, was published in Dec. 2017 and the third book (which I have already written), Past Due for Murder, will be released in Feb., 2019. This series is published by Crooked Lane Books.

That means I have published two mysteries (as of July). However, I also published a few other books in another genre (and under a different author name) so overall, I’ve had seven books published, small press and indie releases included.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
My characters tend to develop as I’m writing the books. I have a general sense of who they are before I begin, and I do map out their life histories prior to writing, but the true essence of their personalities doesn’t become clear until I write about them. Sometimes they surprise me by turning out a little (or a lot) different than I’d originally planned!

My setting for the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series is based on the area where I grew up—in a small, historic, town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Virginia. I chose this location because it was not only something I knew well; it also lent itself to incorporating historical elements into my contemporary stories.

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? 
For me it varies, depending upon where I am in the writing process. If I am planning a book, or doing initial drafting, I may only work on any particular book for a few hours a day. Since I’ve retired from my previous full-time career as a librarian, I spend the rest of the day doing regular chores, like cooking, gardening, and cleaning, as well as working on writing-related things such as my social media outreach, general book promotion, critiquing for my author friends, and so on.

However, once I am deep into writing the book, and especially if a deadline looms ominously, I tend to concentrate only on the writing. At that point I may be writing and/or revising eight hours a day or more. (So not much else gets done!)

I don’t write a certain number of words a day. I find that I do better when I set page or chapter goals rather than word goals. I try to write at least half a chapter a day when I am drafting, which translates into around five to seven pages. At that rate, and including time for edits and revisions, I can complete a manuscript in approximately five to six months.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
Yes, I belong to my local chapter of Sisters-in-Crime and attend their meetings once a month. I also attended Malice Domestic back in April—that’s a big conference focused on cozy and light mysteries—and will be attending the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in September. I meet numerous authors through these events. I find it’s always helpful to talk about the writing process with other professionals, as I’m continually learning more from their unique skill-sets and experiences.

I also belong to Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, but so far have only connected with my fellow members in those organizations online.

I have two wonderful critique partners, Richard Taylor Pearson and Lindsey Duga. We’ve worked together for several years now reading and critiquing each other’s’ works, as well as providing support throughout our writing journeys. Although we all write in different genres, I learn a lot from just critiquing their (wonderful) books.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
No, I actually try very hard NOT to do this. Of course, I draw on my background and experiences to portray certain things, such as library work and small-town settings, but I deliberately make my characters their own unique selves. I do incorporate traits and characteristics from people I’ve known, as well as my own knowledge on certain topics, but no character is exactly modeled after a specific person.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I really can’t answer that question, for a good reason—Sony Pictures Television has optioned A Murder for the Books and Shelved Under Murder and, if a production goes forward based on my books, I’d rather not go on record with my own personal picks. I prefer to allow the production team to decide who would be best actor/actress for any of the roles.

Who is your favorite author?
This is an impossible question! I love so many different authors, for different reasons. So I’ll just list a few (in no particular order): John Crowley, Dorothy Dunnett, Anne Tyler, all the Brontes, C.S. Lewis, Josephine Tey, Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, R.A. MacAvoy, John le Carre, and Mary Stewart.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
Files and notebooks! I create and maintain a lot of information on the characters, such as ages, family trees, relationship connections, and so on. Because my books include references to historical elements as well as contemporary events, I have to be particularly diligent about keeping the age charts and “relationship trees” accurate.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I just retired from a thirty-year career as a professional librarian, so… Animal rescuer, maybe? I’d love to have a set-up where I could take-in rescued animals and find them new homes. Or professional traveler? Of course, if I had the money, I would do both!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A New Place, Another Murder

When Sheridan Hendley left Cold Creek College and married Brett and moved closer to Appomatox, Virginia where he worked, she thought life would be pretty dull. She hadn't counted on the drama surrounding a teenaged girl. In A New Place, Another Murder by Christa Nardi, Sheridan finds herself thrown into another investigation.

Teenaged Maddie is attending a summer camp with her friend Alex. When she comes home highly disturbed and reports Alex has been arrested for stealing money, Sheridan is worried about Maddie as well. When Alex, then Maddie are implicated in the thefts and a murder, Sheridan dives right in to solve the case.

As she investigates, Sheridan discovers the teens were implicated by a pair of locally well-connected teenagers. The Buchanan family is powerfully connected not only to municipal government but to law enforcement as well. Without wanting to jeopardize Brett's job, she plunges into the investigation.

As the investigation unfolds, Sheridan learns Luke Buchanan has been sexually harassing Maddie during the school year. Nothing riles a police officer more than this type of behavior, especially to his own daughter, but Brett knows he is stymied by the family's clout.

In the midst of her investigation, Sheridan also is trying to find a job at a new university. Worried about her involvement in previous murder investigations at Cold Creek College, she tries to keep that aspect of her career quiet. Unfortunately it doesn't stay quiet.

I'm so happy to have Sheridan back on the scene.

Purchase link. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Rituals of the Dead

Another excellent adventure for Zelda Richardson. In Rituals of the Dead by Jennifer S. Alderson, Zelda is working for Amsterdam's Tropenmuseum as an intern in the Ethnology department and is assisting in the preparation of a large Asmat bis pole exhibition.

The bis poles were discovered warehoused in the Wereldmuseum's building and had remained unopened since they were shipped from Dutch New Guinea in 1963. The Asmat region of Papua is also where a famous American anthropologist disappeared in 1962.

When Nicholas Mayfield's journal is found inside one of the bis poles, the museum is eager to transcribe it and discover what possibly happened to him. Museum director Albert Schenk is adamant that the journal cannot be included in the exhibit. He calls Mayfield a second-rate anthropologist.

Zelda wonders why there is such animosity toward Mayfield as Schenk worked as a translator with him during his time in New Guinea. More conflict arises as Victor Nalong, the official representative for the government of Papua, has been breathing down the necks of the staff at the museum for repatriation of the artifacts and bones also discovered mixed into the crates. 
The scene switches from current day to the 1960s when Nick Mayfield and his colleagues were working in New Guinea. Murder and intrigue make this an exciting peek into the world of museums and the artifacts they contain.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Custom Baked Murder

When a murder occurs at her mother’s engagement party, Kristan "Stan" Connor already has her hands full trying to open her organic pet bakery. In Custom Baked Murder by Liz Mugavero, Stan needs to figure out who killed an old work rival.

First, Stan is surprised to see so many of her former co-workers at the engagement party and second, her ex-boyfriend Richard and his new girlfriend are in attendance. When Stan's sister Caitlyn finds the body of her former co-worker Eleanor in the master bedroom, she is shocked to see her mother's gigantic engagement ring in her mouth. 

Caught in the midst of this emotional turmoil is Eleanor's young adult daughter Monica who appears to be either drunk or on drugs. 
The person who is not present is her mother’s fiancĂ©, the mayor of Frogs Ledge. When he does turn up, he isn’t very forthcoming and cannot explain why he was late to his own engagement party. 

Eleanor has been hired to be a PR coordinator for Mayor Tony Falco, but why would a newly-elected local mayor need a campaign coordinator? Stan has always felt there was something secretive about Tony, but now she needs to dig into his past. 

Stan's life is complicated enough with trying to open the bakery, but her mother wants her to investigate and micro manage the design of the bakery. Jake, her boyfriend, takes it all in stride and tries to keep thing sunder control on the home front. When Richard is arrested for the murder, Stan knows, even though they parted on acrimonious terms, he is not a killer. 

Through it all, Stan is trying to design her bakery and keep her mother from driving her crazy. The opening day is inching nearer and there are so many details to complete, but first she needs to clear Richard and find the killer.  

A fun mystery with some dog great recipes I might have to try for my buddy Beau.

Win a copy of Custom Baked Murder by clicking here

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Baking Dog Treats with Beau

Beau, his Mom and I baked dog treats from Custom Baked Murder by Liz Mugavero. As you can see Beau was a big help. Making the Parmesan cheese bones (left) and rolling the blueberry biscuits.

Enter to win Liz Mugavero's Custom Baked Murder and the cookie cutters you need to make the bones .



Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Interview with V.M. Burns

Don't forget to enter the Giveaway.  https://mapyourmystery.blogspot.com/2018/07/custom-baked-murder-giveaway.html

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
I write three mystery series. There are two books out in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series. The Plot is Murder and Read Herring Hunt. The third book in this series, The Novel Art of Murder will release in November. On July 1st the first book in my RJ Franklin Mystery series, Travellin’ Shoes will release. I also have an eBook only Dog Club Mystery series. The first book in that series, In the Dog House, will release on August 21st.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
The character and the location for this series came from my own life. At the time that I started writing the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series I was living on the shores of Lake Michigan in Southwestern Michigan. The protagonist in this series, Samantha Washington, dreams of one day owning a mystery bookstore and writing British historic cozy mysteries. That is also my dream. I don’t own a mystery bookstore (yet), but I can live out both of those dreams through my characters.

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 don’t know if my day is typical of most authors, because I still work a full-time job. Although I’ve heard most authors have a full-time job or a spouse to provide a steady income and insurance. I’m not a morning person so I don’t write in the mornings (even when I don’t have to go to work). My writing begins when I get home from work. I try to look at writing like a second job, because it is my second job. I set a weekly goal of writing 7,500-10,000 words per week. I’ve found looking at my word count from a weekly rather than daily view helps me not stress too much if I have a slow day or if I miss a day during the week. I know I can always make up missed days on the weekend. The weekly goal equates to 1,000-1,500 words per day so that’s the target. I write the first draft quickly and then go back and fix plot holes, add clues and red herrings during the revision process. When I write, I don’t worry about making it perfect. My goal is to get the words on the page. Everything can be fixed during edits and revisions, but you can’t edit a blank page. So I focus on getting the words onto the page and telling the story.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I got my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. One of the best things about that program was the fantastic community of writers I had the pleasure to meet. Through the wonders of social media I can have as much or as little contact as I want or need. Whether it’s participating in daily writing sprints or critique groups, I can choose the level of interaction I need at the time. Most times, my interactions are limited to posting or responding to questions. There are doctors, lawyers, police officers, martial arts gurus as well as military and FBI agents in the program. It’s wonderful to have access to experts who can help answer questions and provide information as needed. One of the alums from the program lives nearby, and we often get together for writing sessions. I’ve also been fortunate to have connected with other writers that I chat with on a regular basis.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
My characters share a lot of my same dreams, fears and aspirations. Samantha Washington dreamed of owning a mystery bookstore and writing British historic cozies. That’s also my dream. She has one older sister and her sister has two children. We share all of those things in common. RJ Franklin from my RJ Franklin Mystery series was born and raised in the church in northwestern Indiana, which is the same as my own background. Both, Samantha Washington from the Mystery Bookshop series and the protagonist from my Dog Club Mystery series, Lillie Echosby, own dogs, poodles to be specific. I own two poodles. So, there’s a lot of me in all of my protagonists.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I would love to see Tyler Perry or Will Smith as RJ Franklin. I would cast Halle Barry as Lillie Echosby because…well, its Halle Berry. Samantha Washington is harder for me to cast. I never describe her race because I want readers to imagine her however they want. However, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is the right age. Although, I’m guessing she’s a bit busy right now,

Who is your favorite author?
I have a lot of favorite authors, but if I had to limit to one, I’d say Agatha Christie. She is the reason that I fell in love with cozy mysteries in the first place and I have a great deal of respect for her books. If I can include more than one, I would include Rex Stout, Victoria Thompson, Patricia Wentworth, Dorothy Gilman and Jane Austen.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
One of the things my agent requires is a character list and a timeline. This has been invaluable and I keep a character list for each book which includes details about the characters.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
If I couldn’t be an author, my dream job would be to work at a bookstore so I could be surrounded by books and hopefully get a discount.

Watch for a review of Read Herring Hunt on Thursday, July 12 on www.MapYourMystery.com

Monday, July 9, 2018

Death Over Easy

Whenever I read the Country Store Mysteries by Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell) I know I'd better have eaten breakfast. Robbie's country store and cafe, Pans ‘N Pancakes, in South Lick, Indiana, delivers mouthwatering meals. In Death Over Easy the annual Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival in neighboring Beanblossom is always a hit for Robbie’s cafĂ©. (Death Over Easy will be published on July 31.)

This year Robbie has converted the three bedrooms above her store to B&B rooms hoping to add another revenue stream to her business. Little does she know how many problems that will create. Her first guests include some of the performers and her father Roberto and his wife Maria, visiting from Italy. 

Robbie's boyfriend, Abe, plays in a band with a woman named Pia who has stirred up trouble right from the start. She gets into a very visible argument with Abe as well as an altercation with Sue, the festival organizer. It seems Pia, although and excellent musician. is not that popular.

When Pia is found strangled in the small covered bridge in an unincorporated area outside town, the
sheriff's department handles the case. Although Robbie's police officer friend Buck has been asked to be part of the investigation, she isn't really included, but that doesn't necessarily stop her.

Robbine finds Pia was not that nice a person and she also discovers her stepmother knew Pia in Italy. That puts her father and his wife into the frame. Robbie diligently seeks to keep them safe and find the killer.

Don't forget to enter the Giveaway. Click on https://mapyourmystery.blogspot.com/2018/07/custom-baked-murder-giveaway.html

The Corpse at the Crystal Palace

A day at the famed London Crystal Palace turns into a nightmare for Daisy Dalrymple and her children's nanny in The Corpse at the Crystal Palace by Carola Dunn. With teen cousins visiting, Daisy decides to take her step-daughter Belinda and her twins for an outing. Of course, Nanny Gilpin comes along to mind the twins.

When Nanny leaves the twins with her assistant and mysteriously starts following another Nanny, the teens follow along. They briefly lose sight of her as they track her on the grounds of the Crystal Palace. But when they spot her again, Nanny Gilpin is floating in a fountain and they pull her out to save her life.

In the meantime Daisy heads to the ladies room and stumbles across a body, also dressed as a Nanny. Fortunately for her, ex-detective sergeant Tom Tring is with them on the excursion and immediately notifies the police.

When the police discover the Nanny found dead was a man, Daisy
is determined to investigate, but is stymied by her husband Detective Inspector Alec Fletcher. To complicate matters, Nanny Gilpin doesn't remember anything about her wanderings or the dip into the fountain, and could possibly not ever remember what happened.

Frustrated Daisy enlists the aid of her friend Sakari Prasad to pursue their own investigation. Daisy has a vague feeling she knows the victim, but can't place how she knows him. Enlisting her aristocratic contacts she starts to track down an unsavory story about the victim.

Another excellent adventure for Daisy and friends.

Purchase link

Friday, July 6, 2018

Shelved Under Murder

It's Heritage Festival time in Taylorsford, Virginia, and library director Amy Webber is in the swing of setting up the arts and crafts festival. In Shelved Under Murder by Victoria Gilbert, Amy, her boyfriend Richard and her assistant Sunny are trying to accommodate the demands of the Friends board president Melody Riley and include some fine art in the festival.

As much as she would like include paintings by her late uncle's artwork, but she knows her aunt Lydia would never part with any. Throughout his life her uncle struggled to sell his paintings and Lydia still holds an idealized vision of his ability.

Instead of her uncle's painting, they are able to acquire two paintings from an internationally-known local artist Rachel LeBlanc. Amy and Sunny head to her studio to pick up the donated paintings and discover Rachel stabbed to death with her own palette knife.

As the police are searching the studio they find a cache of paintings, some resembling well-known masterpieces, but obviously forged. When chief deputy Brad Tucker asks Amy to use her art history knowledge to investigate the painting. It's seems clear that Rachel would not need to forge paintings because she was highly successful, but as Amy investigates, she finds her uncle might have been involved. Amy knows this would devastate her aunt Lydia so she treads softly.

There are plenty of other suspects including an unscrupulous art dealer, the husband of the murdered artist, the Friends president and several others. A fun and fast-paced mystery.

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Tail of the Dragon

Astrologer Julie Bonatti finds herself temping briefly for the law firm for which she worked in the past. Her former boss David Meyers needs someone to cover for his vacationing secretary and since several new bills have popped up in her life, Julia decides to take the job. In Tail of the Dragon by Connie di Marco, there's palpable tension in the office among the other employees, but disaster awaits in the form of a dead partner found in his office.

David is an astrology client of Julia's and when doing his chart recently she saw some difficult transits in it. A few days later when a second attorney is found dead, Julia worries the problems may be more down to earth. Julie learns that these two attorneys and another have received threatening letters. The only common denominator among them is a long-ago insurance case involving a fire at the Bank of San Francisco.

Still grieving over the death of her fiance, Julia learns that an elderly neighbor may have seen the car that hit Michael. When she finally is able to find the man, he has passed away, but his children have photos he had taken for the day of the accident. With high hopes, she reviews the photos, but they don't really show anything.

Meanwhile at the law office Julia tries to speak with the widows of the lawyers, but finds them to be indifferent to the deaths. As she tries to unravel the connection with the insurance case, she finds herself in a dangerous situation in this thrilling book.

An excellent adventure in the Julia Bonatti series.

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Souffle of Suspicion

It's Crush Week in Nouvelle Via in the Napa Valley and tourists are flocking in to Maison Rousseau and the Bistro. In A Souffle of Suspicion by Daryl Wood Gerber, the week-long Sweet Treats Festival is about to begin and the kitchen is busy.

Chef Camille or Chef C as she likes to be called, is hard at work  in the kitchen and her sister Renee is heavily involved in the festival. Two altercations first, with Renee and the former festival planner Allie and second, with Renee's husband Rusty occur before the festival begins. Both are angry with Renee about the festival and the tension rise.

When Chef C returns home and finds her sister dead on the floor of the chef's house, Mimi swoops in the try to solve the murder. With her fledgling business growing slowly, an incident like a murder could have a damaging impact on business. Trying to return Chef C to Maison Rousseau's kitchen and find the killer are vitally important.

Although Renee left her husband Rusty Wells, a local chicken and egg farmer, he insists he is still in love with Renee, even though she left him.
The other person looking like a suspect is Allie O'Malley, the former festival coordinator. Renee had big plans for the festival and her social media interactions were encouraging many more people to attend. Allie was angry and claims she had been cheated out of the event.

While Mimi investigates, Rusty slips into the role of festival organizer and appears to be doing a great job. Against her better judgment, Mimi hires Allie to help in the kitchen, still unsure who killed Renee and why.

Another entertaining mystery with loads of terrific recipes from Maison Rousseau. I made the Poulet Dijonaise and it was so wonderful, we forgot to take a picture until after we had eaten the entire meal (as you can see by the photo).

A Souffle of Suspicion will be released on July 10.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th of July

Happy Fourth of July and remember what one of the Founding Fathers said, "I'm just like my country, I'm young, scrappy and hungry and I am not throwing away my shot. . ." Oh wait that was Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton.

Any way I had the opportunity to go back to my hometown New York last month and I meandered up to Harlem to visit The Grange, Hamilton's home, which is a National Historic Landmark. When I was in the building this cute little book entitled Where Was The Room Where It Happened by B.L. Barreras jumped out at me.

It is filled with points of interest historically relevant and mentioned in the musical. Of course the most famous is The Room Where It Happened. Jefferson claimed "He arranged the meeting, the venue, the seating" at his residence on 57 Maiden Lane in NYC. Hamilton wanted to convince Jefferson and James Madison to support his plan for the federal government to assume states debts in exchange for the relocation of the capital to the Potomac. He got what he wanted and he proceeded to form the beginnings of the Federal Reserve Bank.

The actual 57 Maiden Lane building doesn't exist any more, but you can see a plaque on 59 Maiden Lane commemorating Jefferson's residence.

There are lots of points of historical interest and some walking itineraries. Where Was the Room Where it Happened is a wonderful tie-in between Hamilton as the man and Hamilton, the musical.

Happy 4th of July to everyone.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Interview with Alex Erickson

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Death by Espresso. It's the sixth book in the Bookstore Cafe mystery series.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
Characters, for me, develop naturally as I write. I might get a general idea of what kind of person someone will be before I write, but they don't form until I see them in action. They have to talk to me. Sometimes, that means a character might be flat, or change personalities three or four times in the first draft. Eventually, they feel right and I fix it in later drafts.

Locations require a little more thought ahead of time, but I still like to develop them as I go. Even if a location is based on a real place, it has to feel right. I'm big on feel. Names, locations, and personalities need to work for me on some subconscious level. Even if I like the way a place is described, if a part of me feels it is out of place or awkward, I'll adjust it.

Pine Hills was developed based partly on where I live, where I went to school (it was tiny,) and partly made up entirely in my head. I'd say 90% of it is pure fiction, with only 10% having any basis in reality.

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?
For me, I have a set time, in a set place, with a set drink (orange juice if you're curious,) with a certain laptop. I tend to start writing at around 10 a.m., and finish up when my brain starts to feel like mush. Sometimes, I hammer out 4,000 to 5,000 words within two hours and stop because I've run out of steam. Sometimes, I work at a slower pace. I rarely work anywhere outside my usual spot and usual time. It can be done, but I'm far less productive. My rituals are important to me; they help me get into the right frame of mind.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
Yes and no. I make infrequent visits to two writers groups nearby, made up of people in different stages of their writing careers. Some are completely new. Others have been working at it for years. Some are dedicated writers, working to hit the big time, while others are dabblers. I often do best dealing with other people online (thanks social anxiety!) so I do struggle meeting people face to face too often.

I still find, however, that these interactions do help. Getting with others, listening to what causes them trouble, and helping them get through it, works for me as well. It also helps being around others, seeing how they act, speak, think. And if ever I need guidance, if I'm struggling with a plot or idea, I can get input from all these wonderful people.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Not on purpose. Certain elements might seep in, like perhaps a personality quirk. Sometimes if a character acts a certain way, I might think of someone else who is similar and use their mannerisms, their way of speaking and acting, to help mold the character so that they are more believable. I have used first names of people I know, but the personalities are completely different.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Someone new. I'd love for them to cast a virtually unknown actress, one who not only acts the part, but looks it as well. Someone who could put their heart into it. I'd prefer people to see Krissy Hancock when they watched the movie, not Famous Actress 003.

Who is your favorite author?
I don't have a single favorite. I read a lot of genres and have favorites among them, sure, but that list would be huge. I do have only a couple of authors who are release day buys. Stephen King was the author who made me want to write, so he's there. Brandon Sanderson is my big fantasy author. I also rush out and buy every Kathy Reichs book I can get my hands on. I think those are the big three. There are other authors whose books I've collected and will buy everything they publish, but I believe these three are the ones I get most excited about whenever a new release hits.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
After the book has gone through all the edits and has been proofed, I go back and reread it, plucking out all the details. I have a sheet dedicated solely to characters, another to locations, and another to chapter summaries. So, if in book 7, I need to look up a detail that happened early in book 3, I can bring up the document, and it's right there. Need to know what color someone's hair is? What quirks they might have? Where they were injured in book 2? Bring up the character sheet and check!

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I'm not sure I could be anything else. I have other interests, sure, but nothing I'd want to do as a career. Screenwriter, maybe? Yeah, we'll go with that, even though it's kind of cheating!

For a review of Death by Espresso, click here. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Chess Queen Enigma

Holmes and Stoker are at again, Not the Holmes and Stoker you are thinking of. In The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason, Alvermina Holmes, daughter of Mycroft and niece of Sherlock, joins forces with Evaline Stoker, sister of Bram Stoker to solve crimes in the late 1880s England.

Mina as she prefers to be called is a true Holmes, superior intellect, uncanny observation ability and the Holmes arrogance; Evaline is a Venator, or vampire hunter. Stronger, faster and more powerful than most people, but she is still a rookie in vampire hunting.

The books are called steampunk which is defined as "a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology." There are so many unusual gizmos and gadgets, it is a challenge to figure out what they are representing, but so much fun. And it is illegal to use electricity in this era of steam power!
They are a daring duo and embark on missions for Princess Alexandra, supervised by Irene Adler, the
British Museum's Keeper of Antiquities (and yes, that Irene Adler). This mission is more mundane. They are to be the chaperone for Princess Lurelia from Betrovia. England and Betrovia have had terrible relations for centuries and the King of Betrovia has arrived to deliver a letter with the location of an ancient chess queen that's been missing for centuries.

The letter was written by Queen Elizabeth I, but has been in Betrovia for centuries. It reveals the location of the chess queen, which is not only an historic symbol, but it has literal power. The queen will unlock a gigantic chessboard with either treasures or ancient secrets. No one knows for sure.

When the letter disappears again, Holmes and Stoker are lead on a wild chase that includes killing vampires, saving a police officer's life with bread mold and resuscitating another character with a makeshift defibrillator.

An entertaining series and I look forward to Holmes and Stoker's next adventure.

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