Friday, September 28, 2018

Assault and Beadery

Cora and her partner Jane are prepping for their bead-making retreat when they receive an urgent phone call from their friend Zee. She has been arrested for the murder of the disagreeable community theater director Stan Herald. In Assault and Beadery by Mollie Cox Bryan,  Cora, still struggling to control her panic attacks, is torn between helping Zee and providing an excellent retreat for her attendees for her Craft Moms' Escape Weekend.

When her star instructor Lena shows up looking worse for wear, Cora starts to worry about the classes. She has scheduled several classes including making rose beads, fabric beads and even paper beads. As the guests begin to arrive, Cora relaxes until the caterers provide her with a luau instead of her North Carolina food favorites.

Ruby's attorney son Cashel is trying to get Zee out of jail, but something in her background is causing her to spend another night in jail. Although the evidence against her is circumstantial - Zee was founded unconscious next to Stan with a knife in her hand - the
police insist on holding her longer.

When Cora discovers a bloody scarf in a wastebasket at her home, her worries about Zee turn to true anxiety about possibly harboring a murderer at her retreat. The list of potential suspects is long because it seems many of the attendees have a morbid fascination with the murder.

Indigo Gap, North Carolina is filled with interesting characters and I would love to be able to attend one of Cora's workshops. Assault and Beadery has plenty of excitement and the book even has craft instructions and recipes, although I don't think I could manage the bead making without Cora at my side.

Purchase link 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Decaffeinated Scandal

It's Neewollah Festival (Halloween) time in Honey Springs, Kentucky, and everyone is busy decorating, baking or planning for the holiday. In Decaffeinated Scandal by Tonya Kappes, Roxy's prep is in full swing at her Bean Hive coffeehouse.

With her competitive mother and aggressive aunt nagging her to let them plan her wedding, she can't make any plans without offending one or the other. She decides to do nothing for the time being even though she wants desperately to marry Patrick Cane.

News spreads around town that someone wants to purchase the Bee Farm in Honey Springs and try to change the entire character of the town. Roxy, in full on Save the Town mode, ramps up her efforts after she meets the obnoxious businessman involved.

When she meets Ron Harvey and his wife and young grandson, her opinion of him doesn't change. He boasts about having money to invest and looking for a good place to do that. His wife confides in Roxy that Ron has had a volatile relationship with his a daughter and is trying to compensate for his lack of attention when she was growing up.

When Ron is murdered and someone looking like his daughter is seen running away from the crime, Roxy plunges in to save the farm and her town.

And oh by the way, she decides to marry Patrick in a clever, tricky way. Another entertaining mystery in this series.

Purchase link 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Interview with Nancy Coco

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published? 
Forever Fudge and its the 6th in the series and my 28th Book.
Nancy Coco (photo credit
Allison Page Photography)

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I grew up in Michigan and loved Mackinaw Island and the movie Somewhere in Time that was filmed there. So I wrote to the Mackinac Island bookstore - and we asked their readers what would a protagonist do for a living if they moved to Mackinac - the number one answer was fudge shop owner. Then Allie arrived in my head and we've had a blast together ever since.

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.
 A day in my life - includes a day job. I'm up at 5:30 - get ready for work and take Little dog to the doggie daycare. Then I take a bus into the city and a streetcar to arrive at work by 8 am. I work until 5 pm - bus home. Then I walk Little dog, fix her dinner, do some social media and then I write. If I have revisions, I'll work on those after I get my word count usually 1,000 words to 2,000 words per day. On my weekends I walk Little dog, write, revise, and test new fudge recipes. Today, I tried apple cinnamon fudge - tasted great but it was a little soft. So next time I'll tweak it until it comes out just right. I also made dark chocolate lemon fudge and that came out great.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing? 
Oh gosh, yes, I talk to other writers daily. There are so many really great people out there. Sometimes we bounce ideas off each other. The Cozy community is the best. I also belong to writer's groups and get involved when I can.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know? 
Oh my, there is some of me in all my characters. In my gluten free series, Grandma Ruth was as true to my actual Grandma Ruth as possible. She was a lot of fun to write. With Allie McMurphy, she started out sort of a female version of the lead character in the old TV series Northern Exposure and then she developed into her own self. I'm lucky in that my characters show up with a lot of back story and hopes and dreams and challenges. It's fun to watch them grow. I've enjoyed growing the "family" that Allie is building through friends and coworkers. I find I have a lot of "fish-out-of-water" characters. I moved a lot as a kid and I think I identify with the desire to belong and to fit in.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character? 
Wow, great question. I think Anna Kendrick would make a great Allie.

Who is your favorite author?
Oh dear, I always hate this question. I know so many wonderful authors- their stories inspire me and make me laugh and make me cry and make me wish I had written that... I can't pick just one. So, I guess I always go back to my childhood and Laura Ingalls Wilder. She inspired me to write my first book in 5th grade. Also - she moved a lot as a kid and her stories made that seem like an adventure.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
I have a big bible that I keep, and then there are details in my head. That said, my system isn't perfect, so I have great editors and readers who help. (Plus I've been know to go back and reread my own books.)

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career? 
I always wanted to be an actress. I think I was inspired by how they got to tell other people's stories. Now, I get to do it without stage fright. :) My day job is in Marketing - even there, I'm telling stories about products and the people who buy them or inspire them.

For a review of Forever Fudge, click here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Ask Me No Questions

Countess Lady Philomena Dunbridge has finished her prescribed period of mourning for her not lamented husband and travels to New York to enjoy a visit with her wealthy socialite friend Beverly Reynolds. In Ask Me No Questions by Shelley Noble, Lady Philomena reaches the dock at the same time Beverly's husband is shot dead in his car. (Ask Me No Questions will be published on October 16 by Macmillian-Tor/Forge.)

Crying hysterically in the car next to him is his Florodora girlfriend Mimi LaPonte. There's chaos surrounding the shooting with people trying to blame Bev for Reggie's death. Along with her exotic maid Lily and formidable butler Preswick, they gather Beverly up and sweep her away from the scene, but not before Phil does a little investigating herself. She encounters a scruffy man who identifies himself as Detective Sergeant John Atkins of the New York Police Department and he orders her not to touch anything at the scene. 

Back at Bev's house, they ponder what could have happened to
Reggie. Bev is positive he wouldn't shoot himself because he has a horse running at Belmont next week in a very big race. Cooped up in the house because of Bev's mourning period, Phil decides she needs to find Reggie's killer. To her surprise the next morning, a clean shaven, smartly dressed handsome Detective Sergeant John Atkins turns up at the door to ask questions concerning Reggie's death.

When another body is discovered in the library, the police investigation focuses in closer on Bev. This worries Phil for more reasons than just murder. Phil had hoped to be introduced to New York society by Bev, but now with a double murder investigation, she is concerned for her own future. That stiffens her resolve to find the true murderer and it leads her into the world of race fixing.

An entertaining look at New York society in 1907 and the world of horse racing. Lady Dunbridge is not afraid of thumbing her nose at society's conventions and she is a strong-willed character in search of the truth, but also wanting to have fun. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Go to My Grave

Donna Weaver and her mother had invested heavily in turning The Breakers into a luxurious bed and breakfast along the coast. When their first guest arrive for the weekend, they all have a sense of deja vu. In Go to My Grave by Catriona McPherson, the tension never leaves this book. (Go to the Grave will be published by St. Martin's Press on October 23.)

As the couples and cousins arrive at The Breakers, their sense of having been here before begins to worry them. This is supposed to be a 10th anniversary celebration for Sasha and his wife Kim, but the recognition of the old house leaves them all a bit uneasy.  Is someone planning something sinister and who brought them here?

Long ago Sasha celebrated his 16th birthday here and his cousin Peach remembers beginning her life of alcoholism. What else do they remember? They remember two local girls being invited to the party, but no one recalls what happened to them.

After the cousins trashed the house during the birthday party, Sasha’s parents hustled the children out of the spotlight. And as for the kids themselves? They made three vows of silence – “lock it in a box, stitch my lips and go to my grave”.

Has someone engineered this weekend seeking revenge or is it a harmless coincidence? McPherson will keep you guessing throughout the book. This is the first Catriona McPherson book I have read, but it will not be my last.

A spine-tingling mystery.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Special Delivery

Christmas came early to my house as these holiday-themed books arrived from Kensington Publishing thanks to Santa's elf Larissa Ackerman. The books include Premediated Peppermint by Amanda Flower, an Amish Candy Shop Mystery; Bells, Spells and Murders by Carol J. Perry, a Witch City Mystery; Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke, A Hannah Swensen Holiday Mystery; The Peppermint Mocha Murder, by Collette London, a Chocolate Whisperer Mystery; Murder in her Stocking by G.A. McKevett, a Granny Reid Mystery.

Watch for reviews in the coming weeks. Very excited to begin reading although I'm happy with the current warm weather we are having and not looking forward to snowy, winter days.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Bearly Departed

Hand sewn, made in America teddy bears have been Sasha Silverman life for several years. When the sales rep for Silver Bear Shop and Factory announces that he plans to ship the manufacturing overseas, Sasha says, "Over my dead body." In Bearly Departed by Meg Macy, it's not Sasha's dead body, but Will Taylor's.

Running the Silver Bear Shop and Factory with her sister Maddie and her uncle Ross, Sasha believes in enabling community groups to tour the factory, but she and Will have been bickering about it for years. When he announces he already spoke with her father about moving the production overseas, Sasha tries in vein to contact her parents. Leaving message after message on their phone, she starts to be concerned about them as well as the factory.

Adding to the drama, at the staff meeting her uncle and Will get into
a knock down drag out shouting match. Ross accuses Will of selling the pattern for their bears to a competitor and trying to get rid of him. One of the woman who sews the bears also threatens him.

When Sasha finds Will dead in their shop, she worries her uncle or employee will be charged with murder. She knows Will isn't the most popular person in town and has been known to cheat on his possessive wife, but who would murder him?

Still unable to reach her parents, she starts asking questions about Will and discovers some incriminating evidence. The Silver Bear Shop and Factory is an adorable place and making teddy bears is so sweet. My one concern about the book is the numerous extraneous characters named, but not really incorporated into the plot of the story, otherwise it is an exciting mystery.

Purchase link

Interview with Melinda Mullet

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published? 
My latest book is called Deadly Dram. It will be available on September 4. Deadly Dram is the third book in the Whisky Business series and also my third published book. I am currently working on book four in the series, Died in the Wool, and I am also writing a separate historical mystery set in pre-WWII England. (A review of Deadly Dram can be found here.)

How did you develop your character and choose your location? 
Well, my father was Scottish and a lover of single malt whiskies so my attraction comes naturally I suppose. At one point while touring a distillery in Scotland with my husband, I looked into the huge wooden vat that holds the barley water as it ferments and it occurred to me, as these things do to mystery lovers, that it would be a great place to find a body. My protagonist Abi Logan really came along after. She’s a journalist and gifted photographer. She has a strong instinct about people and a compulsive attention to detail that serves her well as a sleuth. I also felt it was important for her to have had some experience in a male dominated profession before coming to Scotland. Until recently whisky making in Scotland was very much a male dominated profession in large part because of the prevailing wisdom that women don’t like whisky. Now there are so many women enjoying Scottish whisky and as a result more and more women are staking out their place in the industry. Abi is a tribute to all the women blazing trails in the distilling world.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening?  
 I try to write every day, although it doesn’t always happen. (Two kids, a dog and a 90-year-old mother can throw a monkey wrench into the best laid plans on any give day.) I tend to write in the morning, but if I’m on a roll I’ll write anytime. Of course, there’s nothing like a deadline to get the juices flowing. When I’m getting to that point I will often set a goal of a certain number of pages per day. At the moment I’m striving for ten to fifteen pages a day. Practically speaking, I do my research first then I spend quite a bit of time outlining the story and blocking out scenes on index cards. After that I’ll move through a first draft and start editing for flow and continuity. From there it’s a matter of polishing the prose and tightening the language.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing? 
 I do not belong to a writers group that reads each other’s works in progress. I think that would be lovely, but I barely have time for my own work let alone giving adequate attention to someone else’s. I am an active member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Writing is a very isolating profession and it is really nice to have the companionship of a group of people who share the ups and downs of the creative process. They are also very supportive when you sell new books and sympathetic when you are struggling with the publication process.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know? 
Not consciously, but I know that there are bits and pieces of people I know well scattered into the soup that makes up each of my characters. I do name incidental characters after friends just to see if they are paying attention.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character? 
Rosamund Pike. I loved her in Beirut. She was just the kind of journalist I would imagine Abi Logan being.

Who is your favorite author? 
Wow. That’s a tough one. It changes on any given day, but in the mystery genre Dame Agatha is still the queen even after all these years, but I’m also a big fan of Elizabeth George and Colin Dexter. On the contemporary side I love Louise Penny, Dan Brown and Ann Cleeves.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent? 
I keep a file with general character profiles and then I add relevant quotes from each book as I’m doing the final edits. I’ll a moment to skim through the notes before I beginning writing that particular character just to get myself in the right head space.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?  
I’d love to be an illustrator. Anything that would allow me draw and be creative.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Murder at Archly Manor

Olive Belgrave is looking for a job, but investigating a murder isn't what she had in mind. Her socialite cousin Gwen asks her to come to her home to help her with her sister Violet. In Murder at Archly Manor by Sara Rosett it seems Violet has gotten herself engaged to a young man no one really knows.

Her family wants to know more about Alfred Eton, but he is cunningly oblique about his past. He claims his father was a civil servant in India and his parents were killed in a ferry accident. Society photograph and all around part animal Sebastian Blakely is his godfather, but as for any other information, he has been cagey.

Olive's aunt hires her to investigate Alfred's background, but he is very tight-lipped about his past. When she asks him questions he is very vague, which frustrates Olive. She recruits the assistance of her old friend Jasper to see what he can find out through his connections.

When Olive and her cousins are invited to a weekend party at Sebastian's estate Archly Manor, Olive eagerly accepts with hope of learning more about Alfred. But once at the Manor, a murder occurs and Olive is forced to defend her cousin Violet.

Murder at Archly Manor is the first in the High Society Lady Detective series. Looking forward to more.

Purchase link

Monday, September 17, 2018

168 Days Until Mardi Gras

If you have read Ellen Byron's newest book Mardi Gras Murder, you know Mardi Gras means different things to different areas of Louisiana. To give you an idea what Mardi Gras means in New Orleans, Ellen Byron relates her experience at the Mardi Gras balls and MapYourMystery tells you about riding a float during the Morpheus parade  in 2018.

MapYourMystery: Tell us about your experience at a Mardi Gras ball.
Ellen: One of best friends was queen of Proteus and a maid at Rex, so I got to go to the balls.

MapYourMystery: What type of dresses did you wear?
Ellen: Here’s the thing about Mardi Gras balls, at least back in the day when I went to them, a day that will not be named due to aging me. You dress in formal attire – see photo of my roommate and me – whether you get a “call-out card” or not.

MYM: What’s a call-out card? 
Ellen: That’s when a krewe member on the ballroom floor sends you a card inviting you to join him to dance. One friend of mine who was quite a sexy little number, got a call-out card. So yes, there was dancing, but not for me or my other friends. Dressed in our finery, we watched the court’s festivities from the Municipal Auditorium’s balcony.

MYM: What happens at midnight?
Ellen: The thing that’s cool about Rex is that at midnight on Mardi Gras, they open the walls dividing Rex and Comus. The two kings greet each other – I believe the king of Rex goes to Comus because it’s the older Krewe – and the balls combine. I have a vague memory of actually going onto the ballroom floor after that, but I honestly can’t say if that’s true or not. Maybe wishful thinking on my part! But I’m pretty sure it happened. (It’s NOLA – I’d probably knocked back quite a few cocktails by then!)

At each ball, the court is announced and presented one maid and escort at a time, culminating in the appearance of the queen. Remember, since they’re debs, they’re all about twenty-one while the kings are middle-aged NOLA grandees. I have a vague memory of someone telling me that her king was the family gynecologist. You have to shelve the creep factor and just play along with the fun of it.
(Note: Shameless Shilling of Ellen's new book in photo.)

Ellen: What was float riding like?
MYM: Let's put it this way, it is not for the faint of heart. My husband, our daughter and I decided to ride the float after we talked with a friend of ours from the Krewe of Morpheus. We loaded ourselves and our thousands and thousands of beads onto the float around 5:00 pm. Oh did I mention the before party which started at 2:30 pm. The Morpheus parade did not begin until 7:00 pm and we did not get off the float until around midnight. And remember you are standing the entire time or maybe sitting on several bags of beads. And the after party that went on until who knows when

Our Krewe float leader supplied us with food, soft drinks and water on board. Anything else was up to each rider. And yes there was a restroom on board, phew!

Ellen: What are the crowds like?
MYM: The crowds on St. Charles Avenue are right below you as the float drives by and the sound is deafening. Hands reaching up almost to where you are standing for beads. It was crazy. People are standing 10 deep on the sidewalk. I used my old baseball throwing skills to reach some of them. Some people walked along side the float as we inched our way down the street. When the parade paused briefly, there were crowds of people surrounding the float chanting "Throw me something."

Ellen: Did you run out of beads?
MYM: We were so lucky though we ran out of beads pretty much at the end of the parade on Canal St. We never threw bunches of beads out, we just threw one strand at a time. If we had tossed handfuls, we would have run out of beads before we turned on to St. Charles!

Ellen: How did you feel about the experience?
MYM: It was an incredible experience and we might do it again, but not for a couple of years!

For a review of Mardi Gras Murder, click here.

Purchase link

Friday, September 14, 2018

Forever Fudge

Allie McMurphy finds a dead man in the alley behind her business on Mackinac Island and a chess clue seems to challenge her to solve the case. In Forever Fudge by Nancy Coco, Allie isn't sure why she is the target. (Forever Fudge will be released on September 25 by Kensington Publishing.)

To make matters worse, a film crew has pitted each side of the street against one and other for the opportunity to be featured in the opening credits of the TV show. Allie has been saving money to remodel the roof to include a patio, and she doesn't want to use the money to pay a TV series to be included in their shooting schedule.

When the handsome leading man appears on the island, the residents double down on their desire to be included. Dirk Benjamin, the heartthrob from Hollywood has been shadowing local cop Rex Manning so he can learn the fine points of investigating for his role on TV. Not especially pleased with this arrangement, Rex wants to keep Allie out of the investigation.

When her dog unearths the severed toe of the victim in a flower bed
along with another chess move, Allie feels compelled to investigate. Naturally Rex doesn't want her involved, but she takes the chess clues as a personal message for her to get involved, especially as they refer to other events in which she has solved the mystery.

Adding to Allie's problems is the growing affection she has for Rex and the lingering feelings for Trent Jessop. Allie wants a life on Mackinac Island, Trent does not.

Another entertaining mystery withe fudge recipes to die for!

Purchase link

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Permanent Sunset

Against her better judgment Sabrina and her partner Henry take on the management of lavish Villa Nirvana on St John. In Permanent Sunset by C. Michele Dorsey, Sabrina is sure the villa is going to bring unwanted attention to them. After the last brush with "fame", Sabrina wants to lay low and just manage their 10 Villas.

The Keating family gathers for the wedding of son Sean, but the bride, on the eve of the wedding, has a meltdown and refuses to sign a prenuptial agreement. She storms off and is missing on the day of the wedding. Sabrina begins to look for Elena and wander down to the beach to search. The plans for a glamorous wedding are ruined when the bride turns up missing, then dead, drowned at the water's edge.

Of course the murder brings Sabrina to the attention of the police but this time it is not her friend Detective Janquar, but the allegedly corrupt and ambitious Detective Vernon Hodge. He tries to tie the previous murder in the 10 Villas to this one and accuses Sabrina and Henry of not providing enough security for their guests. He even threatens to revoke their real estate license, thereby terminating their ability to manage the Villas.

The wealthy family members are all suspects, but Sabrina’s own past keeps cropping up. With the assistance of lawyer (not licensed the Virgin Islands) Neil Perry, it is soon discovered Elena was not who she claimed to be. With Jack Keating's wife and ex-wife present, two angry sons and lots of competition for the business, the Keating family has plenty of suspect to go around. An excellent adventure in paradise

Purchase link 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Interview with Lori Rader-Day

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My fourth novel is Under a Dark Sky, the story of Eden Wallace, a young widow who finds in her husband’s effects a reservation to stay at the guest house at a dark sky park, where people go to stargaze. Despite the fear of the dark she’s developed since he died, she keeps that reservation, only to find six strangers also staying at the guest house. Before she can leave, one of them is killed, and so she’s a suspect, drawn into the investigation. Someone called it And Then There Were None crossed with The Big Chill, and that’s pretty close, if The Big Chill was mostly Millennials.

(Editor's note: Lori won the Anthony for the Best Paperback Original at Bouchercon for The Day I Died.)

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
For Under a Dark Sky, the location came first. I heard about dark sky parks and had to find out more. This location seemed so fraught with potential—a place set up to be dark? Perfect location for a murder mystery. The character came second for this book. I wanted to write about something that scares me, so I chose to write about a young widow. I couldn’t get a handle on the character until one day when I realized her name was Eden. I started researching the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Michigan, which I used as the model for my park, and discovered their guest house’s reservations were a little hard to figure out. Once I imagined Eden going to the park to be alone and being stuck with a group of friends with their own agenda and in-fighting, I began to write. Eden developed as I wrote. I never know everything about a character when I start. If I did, I don’t know if I’d want to write about them.

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 write about 2000 words a day more days than not. Sometimes I don’t write at all, especially when I’m launching a book (like right now, as I’m typing this in a hotel room in Indianapolis). I’d rather be writing, but the job isn’t just writing. There’s a lot of extra work involved, and it’s easy to get that work done and never get to the blank page. But if I’m there doing 1000-2000 words more days than not, that’s not a bad way to get a book written. I used to have to be much more strict with myself because the only time of day I could write was during my lunch hours. I have more flexibility at the moment. I usually do email and promotions stuff in the morning and then write after lunch, sometimes after dinner if that’s the only time I have left. Right now, I’m touring for the book, so a day in my life is primarily spent in my car.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I’m not in a writers group at the moment, but I am in touch with many other writers through Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. Chicago is also a great place to meet writers of all kinds. Writing is a lone pursuit up to a point, but it doesn’t have to be lonely. Having friends who are also writers is great for when you need to commiserate or celebrate. Other writers get what you’re going through better than anyone else.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Eden isn’t based on myself or anyone I know. That’s not to say that I never sneak in autobiographical touches here and there (especially in my earlier books) but Under a Dark Sky is probably the novel that is least based on my life, the most purely fictional character and situation.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I think Reese Witherspoon should option all my books and sort out the roles she wants. She could rock Eden Wallace. Or Charlize Theron. Or Kristen Bell, just because I love her.

Who is your favorite author?
If I only had to pick one, it would be Agatha Christie. But I’m also a fan of Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, and other classic mystery authors. I also read widely and am always up for a new novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, TC Boyle, Michael Chabon, Tana French, Megan Abbott, Susan Orlean, Lou Berney, Kelly Link, Laura Lippman, and Annie Proulx.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
I don’t write a series, so I get to start over each book with whatever character I need, whatever traits they develop as I write. I keep track of details I need to note or use later in a separate word document. Ideas, reminders, specific character details I need to work into the whole all goes in the notes document. I also keep a notebook with me for each novel, and notes can go there if I’m away from the laptop.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?

I make a pretty good communications officer for not-for-profits...that’s what I did for twenty years while I launched my fiction-writing career.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Mardi Gras Murder

It's nearly Mardi Gras time in Pelican, Louisiana, but one thing not on the list of festivities is a dead body. In Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron, Maggie Crozat is in the thick of an investigation. After a flood plants the body of a man behind her grandmother's house, Maggie tries to discover who is was. When it is learned the body found after the flood was murdered, not a drowning victim, the police get involved. (Mardi Gras Murder will be released on October 9).

The flooding has delayed the opening of the controversial opening of the Louisiana Orphan Train, a little-known piece of history. Battle lines are drawn between those who do not want the exhibit to open and those who feel is is necessary to tell the story of the past.

One of the opposed is Gerard Damboise, head judge of the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen contest and self-proclaimed president of the St. Pierre Parish Historical Society. A fussy man who believes his heritage entitles him to be in charge.

When Gran backs out of being a judge for the contest, Maggie is coerced into taking her place. Gerard is vehemently oppose to the Orphan Train exhibit and tries to delay its opening. He is opposed to telling people about the grimy undergarments of the poor immigrant children who came from the Lower East Side tenements of New York on the Orphan Train. This offends his gentile southern sensitivities.

Not everyone agrees and someone decides to kill Gerard. As Maggie is driving home, she discovers him driving erratically and when they both stop, he tumbles out of the car. With Pelican residents in full Mardi Gras preparation, and Maggie's dad in overdrive, this is a difficult time to be investigating.

As usual, Ellie Bryon adds just the right amount of spice to her gumbo and makes Mardi Gras Murder an enticing mystery. Laissez les bon temps rouler.

For a review of the previous Maggie Crozat book, A Cajun Christmas Killing, click here.

Purchase link 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Past and Present: A Marketville Mystery

Opening Past & Present Investigations seems to be the right path for Callie Barnstable after her last investigation. But the new case puts her in the line of fire with her estranged grandparents. In Past & Present by Judy Penz Sheluk, her new client wants Callie to find out all she can about her grandmother who emigrated from Germany in the 1950s and how she died. (Past & Present will be released on September 21 by Superior Shores Press.)

Louisa Frankow had her grandmother's immigration card from 1952, her passport, photographs and letters, but did not have enough information to learn the full story. That's how she landed at Past & Present Investigations. Her own mother was raised in foster care from age three and she died before she was willing to tell Louisa much about her grandmother.

A train case in her mother's closet held some documents and now
she wanted Callie to use this material to find out more about how her grandmother died. Her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, came to Canada on an ocean liner and married a man in Canada and had
Louisa's mother.

Through careful research, Callie discovers Anneliese was killed when Louisa's mother Sophie was three. Her husband Horst Frankow was accused of killing her even though young Sophie said it was "a bad man" that killed her mother, not her father. Horst was convicted and died in a prison fight a few months later.

Callie uses her research skills only to find herself pointing at her own family in a not positive way. Another excellent mystery for Callie.

Purchase link

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Dinner List

If you could invite any five people - living or dead - to a dinner party, who would they be? For her birthday, Sabrina Nielsen invites her close friend Jessica, her on again-off again boyfriend Tobias, her estranged father, a favorite college professor and Audrey Hepburn. In The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle, we soon learn why these five people were brought together.

Through flashbacks of her life, we learn Sabrina's story.  Her father Robert left her mother when she was five and failed to make any contact with them. Pushed out of the marriage by her mother, he was an alcoholic and wouldn't get help. Sabrina can't wrap her head around that fact that he had another family - two daughters with his new wife.  

Troubling Sabrina is the distance that has developed between herself and her close friend Jessica since Jessica married and had a baby. Even at the dinner, Jessica has to run to the ladies room to pump breast milk and Sabrina is annoyed by the disruption of their dinner. 

Her almost ten year relationship with Tobias has so many starts and stops, she can't keep up with the
changing directions and the total lack of communication. Tobias is always willing to let silence speak for him and that drives Jessica crazy.

The sweet spot in the group is Professor Conrad, Sabrina's favorite college professor at USC. He taught philosophy and is thrilled to learn Sabrina is a book editor for a New York publishing house. Although there might be some changes with an upcoming merger between two publishing houses. 

And, of course, Audrey Hepburn, everyone's favorite. She is as charming as everyone believed, but with an iron will that did not bend under World War II circumstances. 

Before long, it becomes apparent why this group of people has been assembled. It is a charming, sweet story - sometimes sad, sometimes funny, but most times an enjoyable read.

My five would be Alexander Hamilton, Agatha Christie, Michelle Obama, Cary Grant and my mother Rena. They know why they were chosen. Who are your five?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Under a Mulberry Moon

Psychologist Ben Pecos transfers to St. Augustine, Florida from his home in New Mexico to work at an Indian Health Service facility. He is hardly unpacked when he encounters a crisis in one of the schools.

An eight-year brought a gun to school, pointed it at the forehead of his teacher, and pulled the trigger. Fortunately there was no bullet in the chamber and teacher Maureen Beltzer was unharmed, physically. Ben works with both the boy and Mo to help them through this traumatic event.

The boy insists a clown gave him the gun and told him to shoot Ms. Beltzer, but he cannot identify the person except to say it sounded like a woman. The school suspends her for injuring the student because no one actually witnessed his actions and a teacher's aide claims Mo overreacted. Mo is traumatized and refuses to leave her house for weeks.

When her sister finagles a job for Mo at the prestigious Whitney Labs in the botanical gardens, she
slowly comes out of hiding. Surrounded by exotic orchids, Mo is in her element and begins to relax from the stress. When the boy who threatened her is kidnapped, her fears grow. Why and who would kidnap Toby?

Quietly working with the orchids, the handsome director of the Labs seems to have some interest in Mo. She knows this is not a good idea and tries to discourage his attentions.

When Mo witnesses some priceless orchids being stolen and is shot at by the perpetrators, Mo worries that some of the staff might be involved. With the police investigating, they discover the security at the lab isn't very thorough and there are no security cameras working. Hundreds of thousands of orchids were stolen.

Planning for an huge fundraising event, Mo and Dr. Mitchell load the van with thousands of dollars of orchids to take to the event. At the end of the evening an explosion takes place in the van and Dr, Geoffrey Mitchell and two others die in the explosion.

The plot thickens as they say.  An excellent mystery which leaves the reader guessing until the end.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Interview with Marilyn Levinson/Allison Brooks

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Read and Gone  is the title of my book that's being released September 11. It's the second in the Haunted Library mystery series that I'm writing as Allison Brook. This is my eight published mystery. I've published 7 YAs/books for young readers.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
Carrie Singleton is my sleuth in the Haunted Library mystery series. I knew that Carrie was about to turn thirty, had grown up in a dysfunctional family, and was about to take an important position in the Clover Ridge Library in the town of her father's family. Carrie matures and changes through her work, her relationships, and her sleuthing. It's fun watching her develop into a responsible young woman.

Most of my mysteries take place on Long Island, where I live, but the Haunted Library series is set in Connecticut. That could be because my family had a summer home in CT, and I've a great fondness for the state. While Clover Ridge is a town I made up, I initially had a real town in mind. Of course now Clover Ridge is nothing like the "real" town.

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. 
People often think that a writer leads a very exciting life, but the truth is we spend a lot of time alone in a room writing our Work In Progress. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings I go to aerobics, perhaps run an errand or two, and spend the rest of the day in front of my computer. That is not to say I'm working on my book all that time. First off, I check my email, which might require work such as agreeing to write a guest blog or agreeing to read a friend's new book in order to give her a blurb. I check my Facebook page and that of my agent and author friends. I might post something about a new review I've received or mention my up-and-coming Facebook party. I admit that I also do some "window shopping" or shall I say "monitor shopping" for clothes.

Then it's time to get to the book I'm writing. I do my best writing in the afternoon. I try to write between 2 and 4 pages a day, or more if a deadline is upon me. Often, I have to work on edits of a previously published book. Edits come when you least expect them and need to be returned within a very short period of time. I'm also in constant communication with people from my publishing house about various issues such as a book's cover. Reviews. And now I write a newsletter almost every month. Just setting that up takes time.

And did I mention the virtual blog tour I'll be on in September? That meant writing blogs and answering interview questions that various bloggers post. This is so more readers can become familiar with my work.  

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I co-founded a local chapter of Sisters in Crime some years ago, but that did not survive. I still belong to Sisters in Crime, the Guppies, and to a small group of writers. We've been together over 16 years now, and while the purpose of forming this group was to help each other with plotting problems, we chat about every kind of problem you can imagine. Over the years we've supported each other through losses and illnesses and other calamities. I'm also in touch with many other writers. Some I've gotten to meet at the few conferences I attend. Others, I probably will never meet in person. All of these friendships are valuable. They help my writing in concrete ways like giving advice when needed, as well as offering care and support when they are needed.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
I don't consciously model my sleuth after myself or anyone I know. I've written mysteries with sleuths of all ages. Carrie isn't me. After college she moved from place to place and dressed very Goth—purple hair, long earrings, clunky boots. I never went through a faze like that when I was her age. But I'm sure that Carrie, like every one of my characters, has aspects of me in her personality.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I'd like a young, spunky, pretty actress to play Carrie. Someone like Emma Stone.

Who is your favorite author?
Two of my favorite books are Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy, and Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth—two very different books. I read so many mysteries, I find it difficult to say who is my favorite author. Recently, I read a mystery that I thought was outstanding called The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey. (Editor's note: An excellent book for a review click here.)

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
Because I've been writing my new series over a relatively short period of time, I can remember many details. When I'm not certain, I check out the previous book or manuscript. Believe it or not, remembering names can be a problem. My agent had me write a list of characters in my first book. I find myself often referring to that, especially where a character's age is concerned. Of course I add to this list with each new book that I write.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
If I were not an author, I'd be retired! My non-author friends don't work any longer.

For a review of Read and Gone, click here. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Pint of No Return

I wish there really was such a place as Leavenworth, Washington. The German-themed village with its local breweries would be so fun to visit. In The Pint of No Return by Ellie Alexander, it's Oktoberfest in town. Having grown over the years, the festival stretches over multiple weekends. (The Pint of No Return will be released on October 2 by Minotaur Books.)

Even though Nitro microbrewery doesn't fit the German theme, Sloan and Garrett want to tempt visitors with some of their interesting brews. Sloan has been developing food treats as companions to the brews Garrett has created.

A documentary crew stumbles into Nitro and decides to feature them in the film about German brewing techniques, much to the dismay of "town ambassador" April Ablin and director Payton Smith. The host Mitchell Morgan has an outsized ego and thinks he should be the center of the documentary. Most of his TV credits include games shows.

Also causing his usual amount of trouble is Sloan's ex-husband
Mac. Although she still adores her former in-laws, Ursula and Hans Krause, Mac is troublesome and still thinks she is in love with him, no matter how much she tries to dissuade him of that. He has grand ideas about how he can be a co-star in the documentary, but his schemes usually cause trouble.

When the obnoxious host turns up dead, no one is really surprised, although there are plenty of suspects, including Mac. In the hopes of clearing Mac, Sloan's investigation leads her to the documentary crew.

Pull a a pint of Cherry Weizen and enjoy this latest excellent mystery by Ellie Alexander.

Purchase link

Monday, September 3, 2018

Murder in the Lincoln White House

It's March 1861 and Abraham Lincoln has been inaugurated as president in a turbulent time in American history. Six southern states have already seceded from the Union and there is war in the air and a murder inside the Inaugural Party. In Murder in the Lincoln White House by C.M. (Colleen) Gleason, President Lincoln hires a young friend, Adam Quinn, to solve the murder.

Adam, a frontiersman from Kansas, is used to turbulence as he lost his left arm in pro-slavery violence back home, but the complexities of Washington have him spinning. He has to rely on a free man of color and a female reporter to help him navigate the diverse points of view in the capital.

The descriptions of 19th century Washington are amazing. Who would believe that the capital of the United States would have mud streets and no sidewalks, the White House would be threadbare and there is absolutely no security surrounding the President. Lines of people are waiting outside the White House to have a chance to speak with President Lincoln to try to find jobs or assist in some way.

The lack of security concerns Quinn especially after the body of Custer Billings is found a few short steps away from the Inaugural party. Quinn must weave his way through the treacherous plots to kill the President and the hostile pro-slavery Southerners.

A gripping mystery with an historical perspective that will make you cringe at life in the 1860s.

C.M. Gleason's next book in the series Murder in the Oval Library will be released on August 28.

Purchase link - White House

Purchase link - Oval Library

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Kensington Cozy Convention

Aanda Flower and Ginger Bolton
with Deputy Donut hat
Spent Saturday afternoon at the Kensington Cozy Convention at Forest Park Library. Look who I ran into.  Amanda Flower and Ginger Bolton (with her Deputy Donut hat), MapYourMystery and Cheryl Hollon and some other Sisters-in-Crime friends Lori Rader-Day Books and Victoria Thompson. 
MapYourMystery, Lori-Rader Day and Victoria Thompspn
MapYourMystery and Cheryl Hollon

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Map Your Mystery in Top 50 Mystery Blogs

Wow, we're excited to be named to the Top 50 Mystery Book Blogs.

Congrats to cohorts Dru's Book Musings and Cozy Experience for making the list.

Here's the link