Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Two Chances to Win and Interview with Sujata Massey

Want to read The Widows of Malabar Hill? Comment below for a chance to win one of two copies. Winners will be drawn at random on Friday, December 21 at noon. U.S. and Canada only. 

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My current release is The Widows of Malabar Hill. It’s my fourteenth work of fiction, but I’ve been
writing for 21 years, so I don’t quite write a book every year. Widows is my most successful book to date—it’s a novel set in 1921 Bombay, where the city’s first woman solicitor, Perveen Mistry, is in practice with her father. Perveen goes to advise the three widows of a deceased client who live in a beautiful estate in the city’s poshest neighborhood, Malabar Hill. However, the simple meeting to discuss their rights turns to murder.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I love to write about India, which is the country where my father was born in the waning days of British rule. I have been all over India and decided to set the story in Mumbai (Bombay at the time of my book). Many beautiful old buildings are still in use, so it’s great for research, but most importantly, this is a place an area where modern ideas took hold, and women had the freedom to study and work in the early 20th century. To answer the question about my protagonist, while researching women’s lives in British India, I found an article explaining that the very first woman lawyer in the whole British empire was an Indian woman, Cornelia Sorabji. Cornelia practiced from the late 1880s through the 1920s. I was amazed by her perseverance in an area where most men refused to accept her. Fortunately, Cornelia wrote memoirs that give me a realistic idea about the kind of family law cases that Perveen might handle.

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 good writing day for me begins after I’ve taken care of my two dogs and my son has gone off to school. That’s about 7:30 a.m. and I try to work on my book in progress until 10, at which point I take a necessary exercise break, either yoga or aquatics. I might write more after lunch, but I frequently use that time to catch up on on errands as well as necessary emails. A significant portion of time is spent on blogging, media interviews, and editing, and I prefer to do that in the afternoon. I actually have maps of the locations in the front of my books, and that involves quite a lot of drafting and back and forth work with a cartographer. Creative details make books special.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
The fictional Perveen Mistry has obvious similarities to Cornelia Sorabji, India’s first woman lawyer, and Mithan Tata Lam, who was the second Indian woman lawyer. All three ladies are in the Maharashtra region of India, went away to Oxford to study, have supportive parents, and a passion to improve women’s lives. I never practiced law, so I had a lot of heavy lifting to do to learn how Perveen would look at a contract, and how a courtroom scene unfolds. But it was really fun to learn.

 If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
Actually, The Widows of Malabar Hill is being read by producers and studio executives right now. Rather than point to a particular actor, I’d like to take suggestions that come out of these talks. Fortunately there are so many talented actors in India and the rest of the world, that I’m sure someone great will be found. My hope is to have a smart web TV series with a similar feeling to the Australian series, Miss Fisher’s Mysteries, but I am open to a feature film as well.

Who is your favorite author?
I don’t have a single favorite writer, but I love the short stories by the late Sadat Hassan Manto, and I adored the mysteries of another deceased writer, Josephine Tey.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
Five people to a dinner party: I'd avoid inviting professional writers because I wouldn’t want shop talk. Instead I’d go for accomplished people who also have a sense of humor and true love of humanity. I’d lead off with Barack and Michelle Obama; place Rachel Maddow near my husband (of course he’s got to be there!) and have Malala Yufsazai closest to my chair. I would serve Indian food, because I’m pretty sure they all like it.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
If I didn’t already have the wonderful blessing of this career, I would get a thrill out of being a book editor discovering unpublished writers. If I couldn’t get a job doing that, I might go to library school and become the lady behind the desk who helps you find things. I also have a fantasy of opening an independent bookstore in Honolulu Chinatown! The important thing for me is to be surrounded by books.

For a review of The Widows of Malabar Hill, click here.
Purchase link: The Widows of Malabar Hill

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

And the winner is . . .

Congratulations to Pam Flynn, the winner of Murder on Cape Cod by Maddie Day. Plus as a special Holiday event, there's a second winner. 

Congratulations to Liz Caldwell, the second winner.

Special thanks to author Maddie Day for her cooperation.

For a review of Murder on Cape Cod, click here.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets

Being a vulnerable heiress in 1889 could lead to death. Prudence Mackenzie and her ex-Pinkerton detective partner Geoffrey Hunter are hired to investigate the death of an opera singer’s twin sister. In Let the Dead Keep Their Secrets by Rosemary Simpson, Claire Buchanan shows the detectives a postmortem cabinet photo of her late sister Catherine.

Claire and her sister Catherine were very close as girls, but when Catherine quickly married Aaron Sorensen, he cut them off from each other. Before she knew it, Catherine was pregnant, then died along with her one-day-old child. Claire cannot accept that her sister would cut her off and doesn't believe her death was natural.

She hires Mackenzie and Hunter to find the truth. They start with the postmortem photographs, a morbid trend in the late 1880s. With the aide of their friend journalist and photographer Jacob Riis, they discover how the eyes of the deceased are made to look real. What they also discover stuns them. 

They find small blood vessel ruptures in the eyes which in many cases is indicative of suffocation.
They soon discover the new widower has quickly remarried and his current wife, a heiress, is very pregnant, and possibly in danger. 

An aside about postmortem photos. They were very popular and some photographers specialized in this type of photography. Photographers were usually called by family members when the person was near death so they could be posed before rigor mortis set in. In this book the photographer Bartholomew Monroe and his sister are well known for their work. But Monroe is completely obsessed with capturing the soul leaving the body and has been accused of helping along some of his clients.

As they continue to investigate, they find a murderous fortune hunter who marries then kills his new wives. Add to the mix a mentally unbalanced death photographer and you have a potent mystery.

An excellent book with a unique take on fortune hunting con men. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Just in Time

The Etonville Little Theatre joins forces with the Creston Players to perform Bye, Bye Birdie and Dodie plans to coordinate her menus to the musical. In Just in Time by Suzanne Trauth, Dodie's Windjammer Restaurant is presenting themed meals including a pre-show picnic that could put Etonville, New Jersey on the map.

Rehearsals seem to be running smoothly except for a new romance between lead actress Lola Tripper and lead actor Dale Undershot Lola's former love Walter Zeitman is the ELT director and he seems disturbed by the new romance. Dodie wants to help, but she has her hands full at the restaurant.

Her boss Henry was coerced into hiring a newly minted sous chief named Wilson. Wilson has excellent credentials, but he has the unfortunate fault - he is clumsy and drops and spills things - especially when Henry is around. Wilson has an outsized personality and everyone loves him despite his clumsiness.

Before the show opens, the rehearsal accompanist Ruby is found dead in her car. She had been a grumpy, chain-smoking pest, but according to the cast,
a musical savant. At first her death is thought to be cased by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, but a second look shows someone deliberately cut the pipe to expose Ruby to the fumes. But why would someone kill a seventy-year-old piano accompanist?

Despite being cautioned by her Police Chief to stay out of it, Dodie is knee deep in trying to solve Ruby's death. Before she knows it, she is in serious danger.

The interplay with Dodie and Wilson is hysterical and promises more funny antics in future books

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Lady Helena Investigates

When Lady Helena's husband Justin dies, she is thrust into managing his estate. In Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen, Lady Helena is being pressured by her brother to let him manage her estate. She knows most women virtually have no power, but widows have some power until they remarry. That stiffens her desire to manage the estate.

Justin's sudden death appears at first to be an unfortunate accident. He was thought to have slipped into the river while trying to save a ram. When a young French physician named Armand Fortier, Justin's private physician, comes to call on Lady Helena he dispenses a theory that shakes Helena to her core.

He tells her he is not sure Sir Justin's death was an accident. Dr. Fortier had examined the body and found bruising around his face, neck and upper torso, not consistent with a slip and fall into the river. Dr. Fortier believes Sir Justin might have struggled with someone and had been held down in the water and purposely

Lady Helena is shocked and unsure what to do next as she is still in mourning. To take her mind off her loss, she tries to revive her interest in her mother's herbalism.  Reading through her mother's journal leads her to some disturbing secrets about her family and the truth about her husband's death.

An excellent first novel in the Scott-DeQuincy family series.

Purchase link 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Interview with Betty Hechtman

What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
My newest book is Hooks Can be Deceiving and it came out this week. It was a lot of fun to
write and I was thrilled to see the good review from Publisher's Weekly. "A lively ensemble cast led by Molly Pink, assistant manager of Shedd & Royal Books in Tarzana, Calif. lifts Hechtman's entertaining well paced 13th Crochet Mystery." It's the twentieth book I have published.
There are excerpts of all my books on my website

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I picked the Monterey Peninsula for the Yarn Retreat series because I love it there and it's an excuse to keep making trips. Casey Feldstein just showed up in my imagination and started telling her story. The Crochet series takes place in Tarzana which is where I live, though I created a lot of the stores and changed the names of some of the real places. Molly just kind of showed up as well. After a while the characters just start talking and at seems say things that totally surprise me.

What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening?
I find I write best in the morning, but sometimes other commitments get in the way. But when I have a deadline I work all day into the night. I don't have a quota of words and often will start by writing on a yellow legal pad. Supposedly you use a different part of your brain when you hand write. The words seem to tumble out when I hand write.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
I do have some qualities in common with Casey. I have done a lot of different types of jobs and tried all kinds of crazy things like taking tap dancing and a magic class. There are people who think Molly resembles me, but she is younger and braver than I am. We do share nosiness in common.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I think Jenna Fischer would be great as Casey and I'd love Julia Roberts to play Molly.

Who is your favorite author?
It keeps changing. Right now I'm reading Mary Poppins.

If you could invite five people – living or dead – to a dinner party, who would they be?
Agatha Christie, Princess Diana, Michelle Obama, Oprah and Florence Atwater, my high school French teacher who wrote Mr. Popper's Penguins

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
Maybe a dessert chef like Casey or work in a bookstore. I love to bake and I would totally enjoy spending my days surrounded by books.
Hooks Can Be Deceiving (Crochet Mystery #13)
Inherit the Wool (Yarn Retreat Mystery #6)
On the Hook (Crochet Mystery #12)
FB: Betty Hechtman Author Fridays

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Murder on Cape Cod

A new series from Maddie Day is set on Cape Cod. In Murder on Cape Cod, the first in the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, Mackenzie “Mac” Almeida’s bicycle shop is ready for the influx of summer tourists. Being located in the quaint, seaside hamlet of Westham, Massachusetts, the bike shop is in the perfect spot for summer fun.

Returning home one evening, Mac stumbles across the body of Jake Lacey, a down-on-his-luck handyman. To Mac's dismay, she recognizes the knife used to stab Jake. It or something like it belongs to her brother and he soon becomes a suspect.

Mac’s only experience with murder investigations is limited to the
cozy mysteries she reads with her local book group, the Cozy Capers. To clear her brother’s name, Mac asks her mystery book club for assistance in solving the case. Many of the members have opinions, some just want to meet Louise Penny.

For a chance to win a copy of Murder on Cape Cod, click here a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Day on Cape Cod with Maddie Day and a Giveaway

Welcome to a new series by Maddie Day (or Edith Maxwell as many of you know her). There's also a chance to win a copy of Murder on Cape Cod in a giveaway at the end of the interview, so be sure to enter. 

Why is Cape Cod a good setting for your new series?
Cape Cod is a nationally known attraction in the Northeast with something for everyone. It’s a
popular destination for its beaches, natural seacoast beauty, lighthouses, and iconic shops. Couples flock there to get married. Photographers appreciate the unique light. Artists and writers find solitude and community to produce their work. Nature lovers explore the wide variety of birds, other wildlife, ponds, and shorelines. Families visit in the summer to get away from the city. There are many historic sites to visit, and the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians are also located on the Cape.

Tell me about your experience on the Cape.
Because I live on the New Hampshire border, as far north in Massachusetts as the Cape is south, I don’t venture down there in the summer. Instead I rent a Quaker retreat cottage in West Falmouth during the off season for solo

writing retreats. I walk on the Shining Sea bike trail or rent a bike and tool around. I watch the ospreys fish and generally soak up the delectable sights, sounds, and smells of a coastal town. I staged my fictional town of Westham somewhere near there.

Why a bike mechanic protagonist and how does that work with the setting?
I’m always looking for an unusual occupation for a cozy protagonist. Because the Cape is generally flat, lots of people bike, so I knew Mac Almeida would have repair customers year round, not just during tourist season. Being a local business owner makes her a regular in the book group, too.

How did you choose Cape Verde Island as the character’s ancestry?
I knew that a number of people with Cape Verdean ancestry live on the Cape year round, and I have some familiarity with the language (I speak Portuguese and it’s a partly Portuguese Creole). The echo of “Cape” matches, too, and I thought, why not?

Love the Book Club reading only cozies. How will they be involved in future books? Will they
ever meet Louise Penny?
Ooh – great question! I don’t know if Louise will vacation on the Cape, but she might, or maybe the Wicked Authors will go on retreat there and help solve a crime. The Cozy Capers will certainly be involved in every investigation.

What are your plans for the future of the series?
Book two, Murder at the Taffy Shop, is complete and submitted. It takes place during the height of the tourist season in August. Book three will take place in early fall but I’m not yet sure what’s going to happen. I hope to have contract renewal after that.

The book releases December 18 in a paperback exclusive from Barnes & Noble. It will rerelease a year later in all formats on all platforms. This is an experimental deal between B&N and Kensington and none of us is quite sure how it will fly. In the meantime, I’d love to give away a signed copy to one commenter here today.

Readers: Where’s your favorite waterside getaway? Do you ever rent bikes and ride along the shore? What about book groups? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Dish!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Agatha- and Macavity-nominated Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning short crime fiction. As Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Maxwell lives north of Boston with her beau and two elderly cats, and gardens and cooks when she isn’t wasting time on Facebook. Please find her at the Wicked Authors, on Killer Characters and her web site, and on social media:

twitter: @MaddieDayAuthor
Instagram: MaddieDayAuthor

Friday, December 7, 2018

Inherit the Wool

Yarn retreat business owner, part-time magician's assistant and community baker Casey Feldman does the worst thing you can do to yourself - invite your long-lost college friends to town for a reunion/yarn retreat. In Inherit the Wool by Betty Hechtman, Casey has inherited her aunt's yarn retreat business along with her house in beautiful Cadbury by the Sea, California.

She holds her retreats in the very rustic Vista Del Mar resort. Many visitors are shocked to learn there is no WIFI, no cell service and no TV. Needless to say this does not go over well with some of Casey's high-powered college friends.

When she meets up with her friends again Casey's feelings of inadequacy are increased by business owner Vanessa Peyton who owns a chain of car dealerships; Courtney Arlington, a high powered attorney; Lauren Clark, a fundraiser for good causes;  Elizabeth Bronsky, only a little more neurotic about her state in life than Casey and an unknown guest.

When the guest arrives, it turns out to be a guy they all knew who now is a journalist. He claims he was invited to the retreat to be part of a news scoop. No one admits to luring him to the retreat and he happily joins the knitters waiting to see what happens. Tensions are high without total access to their smartphones, but Casey convinces them that knitting will relieve the stress.

A bomb scare at the resort empties the building, but when Casey returns, she finds the body of Vanessa slumped on the ground. The doctor rules it a heart attack but Casey's policeman sort of boyfriend hears rumors about air bubbles in the victim's bloodstream.

Because of her past crime investigating experience, Casey jumps right in trying to figure out who the killer is. There are some very funny scenes with Lieutenant Theodore Borgnine, especially when he pretends to teach the suspects how to meditate.

All in all a very entertaining book and I look forward to others in the series. I might even pick up knitting again.

Purchase link

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Mystery of Three Quarters

Hercule Poirot has returned from an excellent lunch to be confronted by a very irate Sylvia Rule. In The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah, Ms. Rule is waving a letter in his face that accuses her of murdering Barnabas Pandy, claiming she doesn't know who Barnabas Pandy is.

A stumped Poirot cannot understand how this horrible mistake has occurred. When three other accuse him of the same "crime", M. Poirot uses his little gray cells to discover first, who sent the letters, second, who was murdered and third, who is the murderer.

But there is also trouble brewing at one of Poirot's favorite spots - Pleasant's Coffee House. Run by a young woman with the unlikely name of Euphemia Springs, or Fee, as she asked to be called. Poirot always enjoys her excellent coffee and delightful cake, but it seems someone has stolen the recipe for Church Window Cake, Fee's special family recipe.

Besides being tasked to discover who stole Fee's recipe, M. Poirot
also needs to find Barnabas Pandy and determine if he was murdered or not. At the coffee house, Poirot meets a young man named Hugo Dockerill, who it seems, also received a letter declaring him a murdered, but he, in fact, knows this Barnabas Pandy. He tells Poirot that Pandy was nearly one hundred years old and he drowned in his bathtub recently.

This leads M. Poirot on a merry chase to discover if a crime was committed. As it turns out, there was a crime committed, but not the one everyone is accused of.

Another exceptional novel by Agatha Christie - not really - but Sophie Hannah does a great impersonation of the Grand Dame.

Purchase link