Thursday, January 31, 2019

Murder in an Irish Pub

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A poker tournament comes to Kilbane, but where there are poker players there are sharks. In Murder in an Irish Pub by Carlene O'Connor, Garda Siobhan O’Sullivan isn't feeling like a poker tournament in town isn't such a good idea. She keeps that feeling to herself and heads to Rory's Pub where it is being held.

Three of the most famous poker players are in town: Eamon Foley, the Octopus; Clementine Hart, the Queen of Hearts; and Shane Ross, the Shane of Spades. They beginn playing a few hands when suddenly Eamon finds himself holding the famous "Dead Man's Hand"- black aces and black eights.  Legend has it Wild Bill Hickok was holding that exact hand when he was murdered.

As Eamon leaps to his feet another deck of cards is found on his seat and everyone begins arguing. Nathan Doyle, the poker official, says he will review the video and make a decision about disqualifying Eamon the next day. There's a quarter of a million Euros at stake, so the decision is important.

When Eamon is found hanging in the bar’s storeroom the next morning, it’s thought to be a suicide, but  Siobhan thinks it was murder. Eamon's wife Rose was about to have a baby and Siobhan doesn't believe he would kill himself. The difficult with proving it was murder was the locked storeroom. As she and MacDara Flannery investigate, she begins to find clues that make it ore likely to have been murder.

Another entertaining entry into the Irish Village Mystery series

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Interview with Catherine Maiorisi

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
I’ve published four books. The Blood Runs Cold, the second in the NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli Mystery series, is my newest. I’ve also published A Matter of Blood, the first Corelli mystery, and two romances.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
Drafts of the Corelli mysteries, the first fiction I’d ever written, were completed more than ten years ago. When I started writing the series the goal was two detectives in the style of Elizabeth George’s Lynly and Havers. But over the years I rewrote the characters many times, so Corelli and Parker are very different from the original versions and not at all like George’s detectives. For example, rather than have Parker be poor and less polished like Havers, she is a private school, Yale, Harvard Law graduate while Corelli is from a working class Italian family and got her college degree at night. Also, I’ve layered Corelli and added depth to her character by having her reflect what was happening in the world around her, like the World Trade Center bombing and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

As for location, I live in New York City and I believe it’s the greatest city in the world. The city is so varied that there many, many places to set a story besides the familiar ones like Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and the High Line. For example, the United Nations comes into play in The Blood Runs Cold. And, I’ve used Penny Park and the 79th Boat Basin, a marina in the middle of Manhattan where people live on their boats, as locations in short stories. Why make up a small town or write about a real small town, when within the five boroughs of New York City there are so many fascinating communities to set a murder investigation?

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?
My schedule is flexible. I don’t write everyday, and when I do, I don’t have a fixed time or a fixed number of words. Some days I spend on promotion, some days I just read, some days I do household chores, some days I do all of the above as the mood strikes me.

I start the day with coffee, breakfast and The New York Times. The Times can be a time suck so I’m careful to not spend the day on it. I generally sit down to work around ten thirty or eleven a.m. Depending on my mood I write either in my living room or I go out to my favorite breakfast/lunch place, Edgar’s CafĂ©, and write under a huge painting of Edgar Allan Poe. If I’m on a roll, I write until I run out of words, sometimes midnight or later. I’m the cook in my house so usually I write until around five when I start to prep dinner.

Around seven thirty or eight I may continue to write or pick up the book I’m reading. At nine I’ll watch news for an hour and then go back to what I was doing. I go to bed around midnight but if I’m really into what I’m reading I’ll stay up until the early morning to finish it.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
As I indicated earlier, I started out modeling my two main characters after Elizabeth George’s characters but as I became a better writer they changed, and with each rewrite they changed, and now they are my creations, my characters.

Occasionally, someone I’ve known will inspire a character but that’s as close as I get to real people. My characters are derived from my experience and knowledge of human nature. They come to me as I need them and evolve as I write them. It’s an amazing process that I don’t quite understand. For example, in The Blood Runs Cold a newspaper reporter just showed up out of nowhere and became an important part of the story. And then there are the hero kittens. My books aren’t cozies so I certainly never thought of including kittens, but there they were right in the middle of the action just when they were needed.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Right now I would say Rachel Weisz who I saw recently in The Favorite. I think she can project Chiara’s strength and her vulnerability, her warmth and her anger, and her determination. I also think she’s beautiful but unusual looking.

Who is your favorite author?
In mystery, Elizabeth George is still one of my favorites. I also enjoy Val Mcdermid, Laura Lippman, and Karin Slaughter, but there are so many new, really good mystery writers that I can’t name just one.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
Michelle Obama – for her warmth and brilliance
Nancy Pelosi – for her political acumen
Radclyffe Hall – for her bravery in publishing The Well of Loneliness
Eleanor Roosevelt – for her activism and living her life her way
Toni Morrison – for her writing

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I’ve already had another career in technology that I loved. I owned a small technology consulting firm for a number of years, and then worked as a management consultant myself. And now, I love writing novels. And publication is the icing on the cake.

But if I were choosing a career today I would run for political office. I believe we have an opportunity to make real change in our society and I’m inspired by the number of women jumping into the political fight at all levels of government.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A Killer at the Cult

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Reverend Annabelle Dixon finds herself in the middle of another investigation in Killer at the Cult by Alison Golden. Promising to give up her beloved baked goods to try to lose a little weight, Annabelle decides to take her mind off the promise and visit some new people in her parish,

She discovers they are called The Brotherhood, a loose collection of quirky, diverse people, and they have taken up residence in an old vacant house. As is typical in some small towns, newcomers, especially an unusual collection like this one get labeled as a Cult. Their charismatic leader Theo seems friendly and welcoming, especially turning on the charm when Annabelle shows up to their house. 

Theo invites her to stay for dinner and to watch them perform their monthly ritual in the woods. Dinner is an odd mixture of foods, but Annabelle manages to make it through the meal, though has second thoughts about the ritual.

As Annabelle watches, the men, dressed as wild animals and the women are in simpler costumes, cavort through the woods singing, chanting and chasing each other around and generally making a lot of noise. As her comfort level begins to decrease, Annabelle decides to leave the woods, but stumbles across a body -Theo, the leader - dead in the woods.

Annabelle digs deeper and learns all is not well. Theo turns out not to be the charismatic, friendly leader she assumed, but is fascinated by Nazi memorablia. The more she digs, the more unsettled she becomes.

Annabelle is a charming character and her ability to handle her non-traditional role as a female reverend in a small village make the books fun to read. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

A Stew to a Kill

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Its Halloween and everyone in town is excited about the Crystal Bay first annual Halloween Walk. In A Stew to a Kill by Jenny Kales, Greek-American foodie and business owner Callie Costas is working her magic in the kitchen. You can almost smell the Greek stew bubbling on the stove.

Part of the Halloween Walk festivities is a Halloween Gala benefitting the local food pantry, a favorite of Callie's She is also busy baking desserts for new business owner Christy Strouse, who owns Tea for Two.  As Callie delivers her desserts to the shop, she encounters someone from her past she would sooner forget. Ben Lucas, a man she dated briefly after her divorce, is in town. What was he doing here, she wondered.

He tells her he is working on a business deal to open a new mall outside of town. This strikes terror in her heart. Would customers flock to the new mall and leave their charming downtown shops?

When someone poisons an employee at Tea for Two and then injures one of the other locals, Callie worries about the events. Murder has a way of scaring away customers. With her detective boyfriend away, not urging her to mind her own business, she dives right in. With a threatened mall being planned not far from the downtown shops. Callie and her fellow business owners are worried about more than the murder.

Besides the delicious Greek dishes Callie serves at her restaurant (recipes included in the book), the mystery is enticing too. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Last Time I Lied

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A tense drama right out of the box with a huge sense of foreboding. In The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, you just knew bad things were going to happen. Thirteen-year-old Emma Davis is a late arrival at Camp Nightingale so she is housed in a cabin with three older, more experienced campers. 

The girls are lead by queen bee Vivian, a daredevil who orchestrates their activities. She takes the teen under her wing, and Emma, a lonely girl, is thrilled by the attention. One evening in the middle of the night, Emma awakens to see the three girls disappear out of the cabin. Vivian turns back and shushes Emma with a finger to her lips. The next day, the lone camper left in the cabin is Emma Davis. 

A massive search is launched including the FBI because one of the girls is the daughter of a U.S. Senator and the other two are from wealthy families. The three girls were never found. Questioned by the police, Emma accuses the eldest son of the camp owner of harming the girls even though she doesn't really know whether he is guilty or not. 

For fifteen years Emma is haunted by what happened. After the incident, Emma has a mental breakdown and is sent to a mental facility to recover. She does and becomes a well known artist in the New York art scene. But all her paintings have the same starting point - the three missing girls - then heavy woods and atmospheric forests painted over them to make them disappear. 

To her complete surprise Franny Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, plans to re-open the camp and she invites Emma back to serve as the art instructor. Not sure why she is drawn back, but she knows something is wrong at the camp. When Emma returns to Camp Nightingale, she digs and discovers there are secrets from long ago buried at the camp. An excellent book with an ending that will leave you breathless 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

For Better and Worse

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When Natalie and Will met in college, they wondered if they were smart enough to commit the perfect murder. In For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt, Natalie and Will may have a chance to see if they are smart enough.

Fast forward 20 years, their marriage is stagnating. Natalie is sure Will is cheating on her because of his secretive behavior with his phone, but she almost doesn't care. What she does care about is their pre-teen son Charlie.

When a student at his school accuses the principal of molesting him, Natalie is freaked. She hasn't noticed any signs of withdrawal in her son so she wants to believe he was not a victim and does not question him right away.

As a criminal attorney she has seen the destruction a case of child molestation leaves on everyone - especially the child. Defense attorneys don't handle the case with kid gloves and more times than not the child is not believed or blamed. 

Natalie doesn't want to see her son victimized by the courts. Tormented by not knowing, Natalie asks Charlie if he has ever been alone with the principal. He tells her about a time during a weekend camping trip and confesses that the principal touched him inappropriately and said not to say anything to anyone.

Natalie is enraged but has no patience for the wheels of justice to turn. She plans her own solution and sets out to settle the score. Things don't go as planned and both Natalie and Will recognize the trouble they are in.

Who will crack first - Natalie, Will or the truth? An interesting dilemma and a frightening solution.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Interview with Sarah Fox

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

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

For a review of Wine and Punishment, click here.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening?
I try to write 1500 words a day, six days a week. I prefer to write in the morning, but on weekdays I’m usually working at my day job in the morning so most of the time I write in the afternoon.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Blood Runs Cold

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Silent Patient

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

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

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

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

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

 A slow burn to a shocking climax.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Lacemaker's Secret

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Murder in the Oval Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Interview with Sara Rosett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Killing by the Sea

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Golden Tresses of the Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

Literal Mess

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Pruning the Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Interview with Barbara Ross

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My newest book is Steamed Open, the seventh novel in the Maine Clambake Mystery series and my
eighth published book overall. There are also two novellas in the series. They are in the holiday anthologies Eggnog Murder and Yule Log Murder.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
The location was a natural. My husband and I have owned a Victorian house at the head of the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine for many years. It’s such a natural location for a cozy mystery series. The character of Julia Snowden came from the location. I wanted her to be both an insider and a outsider, so she became the daughter of marriage between a summer person and a local, as well as someone who’d been sent to boarding school for high school and just kept going.

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?
When I’m writing a first draft I try to write 1500 words a day. Late afternoon is my most productive time. I try to do “the business of writing,” —answering emails, blog posts, etc., in the morning.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
Julia Snowden is half my age, so in the beginning I thought a lot about how she would think and talk. My daughter pointed out the character was a lot like my niece, Julia. Now, Julia’s voice comes pretty naturally to me.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I always say Anna Kendrick as the answer to this question because she’s a Mainer and she’s small and also I love her work. She doesn’t look like he Julia in my head, but that’s okay.

Who is your favorite author?
Such a hard question. Living author, I would say Louise Penny. Of course, I am in the middle of The Kingdom of the Blind, which I am loving.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
Let’s have a mystery author party. I would invite PD James, Ruth Rendell, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie and Louise Penny. It might be a little tense at first. Ruth has said some not nice things about Agatha’s work. But then I think we would all settle in for a great discussion.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I’ve already had another career, as a Chief Operating Officer in three successful software companies. At this point, if I wasn’t an author, I’d be enjoying my retirement.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Past Due for Murder

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In Past Due for Murder by Victoria Gilbert, life as a library director in Taylorsford, Virginia, has suited Amy Webber well. Her new boyfriend, the gorgeous Richard Muir, is attentive until suddenly he is not. (Past Due for Murder will be released on February 12 by Crooked Lane Books.)

Amy has organized a storytelling session around a campfire in the woods with folklore expert and lecturer at Clarion University Mona Raymond. When one of the college students working with Mona goes missing from a library function, Amy sets out to find out what happened to her. Lacey's friends mention she has hinted at a relationship with an older man and that worries Amy. 

When Amy's former boyfriend arrives on the scene newly grieving the death of his girlfriend who was killed by a hit and run driver, Amy tries to be sympathetic, but she recalls his manipulative ways. Richard, Amy's current boyfriend, is acting very distance and she is puzzled by this

When a folklore expert is found dead with the missing teen
unconscious next to her, Amy tries to track down the killer. Signs seem to point to Richard as he is Lacey's dance instructor and cannot account for his whereabouts the night Mona was killed. 

With Lacey in an induced coma, she is not able to give any details of how she ended up near the body or what actually happened. The police do notice that Lacey, although she was supposedly missing for five days, she did not look like someone who had been in the woods that long. This leads them to think she was hiding in someone's house.

Using her research techniques as a librarian, Amy digs deeper into the stories of the people involved to get at the truth. I like the development of Amy as a character and I look forward to others in this series.

Monday, January 7, 2019

A Baker Street Wedding

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When Reggie Heath Q.C. and actress Laura Rankin finally get married, the paparazzi crash the wedding and it is pandemonium with cake flying. In A Baker Street Wedding by Michael Robertson, law clerk Lois inadvertently reveals the location of the wedding and the press invades. This forces Laura and Reggie to hop into a small plane and fly to who knows where.

Surprising Reggie, too, Laura expertly lands them in Bodfyn Moor in Cornwall - not exactly a honeymoon destination. As suddenly as she flew them here, Laura reveals she had spent a year here in boarding school when she was younger.

Waiting for them as they land is Mrs. Hatfield, her former theater teacher. Reggie is stumped by this change of plans, but allows Laura to lead him to their lodging. It seems Mrs. Hatfield had written to Laura about replacing someone in the local theater production of MacBeth.

The next morning, Laura disguises herself and auditions for the role. She learns she is replacing an
actress who died in am accidental fall. Reggie tries to occupy his time without access to his cell phone or internet, wandering around the town.

Reggie continues to wonder how they ended up here and then Laura confesses to reading a letter she found at the Baker Street Chambers addressed to Sherlock Holmes, saying, "Something is terribly wrong in Bodfyn. Please send Scarecrow." Laura knows she is Scarecrow and she wants to discover what is wrong. She sends him out to discover what he can about the dead actress.

Meanwhile back on Baker Street Lois is beside herself because she has not been able to reach Reggie or Laura. Where did they go and have they landed safely? When a strange man named Sig coaxes Lois to join him to search for Laura and Reggie, they head for Bodfyn.

A Baker Street Wedding is fifth in the series about two brothers who rent 221B Baker Street and wind up answering letters delivered to the address and addressed to Sherlock Holmes even to this day. Funny, clever and and fun for fans of Sherlock Holmes.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Death is Coming to Town

Now that all that Christmas cheer is over, this is a book you will not feeling guilty about reading. Death is Coming to Town by Eleanor Cawood Jones brings readers four murderous holiday tales.

In the first one entitled "He's Making a List," Marcie Burns is hoping for a lovely Christmas with her husband Kelly. It is her favorite time of the year and she is looking forward to the decorating, baking and all the presents.

When she discovers Google searches for creating new identities and obtaining fake IDs, you wonders which of her husband's clients needs this information. After she overhears a phone call, she knows what this means.

In the second story entitled "Checking it Twice." Divorce is hard on everyone including the husband who is left behind for his younger co-worker. Roger seems to be handling it pretty well and he has made an effort to keep things sane with his daughters, following holiday traditions from when they were children.

When he learns from his daughter's that the new husband wants to leave their mother for another woman, Roger sees red and decides to confront Mark. That's where the trouble begins.

The other two stories entitled "Gonna Find Out" and "Who's Naughty or Nice" follow along in the same vein. Author Eleanor Cawood Jones has a diabolical mind. Four mysteries designed to give bad people their comeuppance. Loved it

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Murder at Blackburn Hall

After concluding her first case successfully, High Society Lady Detective Olive Belgrave thinks she will be flooded with interesting cases. In Murder at Blackburn Hall by Sara Rosett, Olive has been relegated to searching for missing pets, note the cases she was hoping for. (Murder at Blackburn Hall will be released on January 14 by McGuffin Ink.)

She is eturning from a job interview as a hat model when she encounters her friend Jasper Rimington. He laments her foundering detective work, but encourages her to call Vernon Hightower, owner of Hightower Books.

When she does Hightower hires her to discover why his celebrated author R.W. May, whose real name is Mayhew, has missed a deadline for the latest book in his series. The recluse author has never been to Hightower's office and he follows a clandestine method of submitting his manuscripts through his solicitor.

As her cover Hightower sends Olive to Blackburn Hall under the
pretense of discussing Lady Holt etiquette book. Olive discovers R.W. May has lived like a recluse in the village of Hadsworth and no one has seen him close up. Many have seen him wandering the lanes dressed in his tweeds with a colorful tie and pocket square. Most prominent is the mask he wears to cover a war injury. 

His typist has never seen him either. Anna Finch, daughter of the local doctor, types the manuscripts and returns the typed pages to May by dropping them through the mail slot at the cottage. Even she has not seen him. 

Olive is determined to meet him, but Anna says he left her a note saying he was going to be away for a while. This sends Olive to his cottage to snoop. After a thorough search she realizes the cottage doesn't look like someone was planning to be away. As she walks back to Blackburn Hall, she discovers Lady Holt's eccentric sister Serena clambering up the riverbank. Serena announces that she has found a body. 

And there, my friend, the plot thickens. 
I love this series and cannot wait to read the next one The Egyptian Antiquities Murder.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Foul Play on Words

When Charlee Russo's friend Viv invite her to Portland to give the keynote speech at a mystery writers conference, Charlee is nervous but thrilled by the opportunity. In Foul Play on Words by Becky Clark, Charlee meets a man at the airport who gives her a tip for her speech. (Foul Play on Words will be release on April 9, 2019.)

He writes ACHIEVE on a piece of paper and adds: A - for ability to write a story, C - courage, H - hocus pocus to make the magic work, I - imagination, E - editor writing and rewriting and you need an editor to trust,V - voice and E - earnings. Sage advice Charlee thinks and quickly stores it in her phone.

She finally meets Viv at the airport, but Viv shocks her with her news. Viv's daughter Hanna has been kidnapped. Charlee's first response is to call the police, but Viv says no police. She asks Charlee to help with the conference while she tries to raise the ransom.

Charlee soon learns most of the volunteers are ill from food poisoning so much of the works falls on
her. In her spare time, she decides to investigate and discovers plenty of suspicious characters. With her mystery writer's imagination she caroms from suspect to suspect.

Complicating the coordination of the conference and the search for Hanna is the hotel's mistake. They have double booked a dog show with the writers conference. Soon there are dogs in the lobby practicing obstacle course tricks.

Foul Play on Words is a riotous mystery with plenty of laughs that gives Charlee more ammunition for her mystery writing.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

More Reviews to Come in 2019

Happy New Year to all my readers, friends and authors. I have plans to read and review many books in 2019. If you have a new book and would like me to review it, please email me at and I will try to add it to the schedule.

In 2018 MapYourMystery published almost 200 book reviews, interviewed 50 authors, held several giveaways and published a few recipes.

On the list for 2019 are books by Julia Henry, Sara Rosett, Michael Richardson, Eleanor Cawood Jones, Victoria Gilbert, Edith Maxwell, Catriona McPherson and that's only the first two weeks.