Thursday, May 31, 2018

In Prior's Wood

The Right Reverend Bishop Nigel St. Stephen is wonders why Max Tudor is involved in another murder. Max, the handsome MI5 agent turned reverend seems to be in the middle of several murder cases since he arrived. In Prior's Wood by G.M. Malliet Max finds himself involved in another messy situation.

The village is populated by a assortment of odd characters. Among them is David, Lord Duxter of Monkslip, who was knighted for his efforts in the arts and publishing. When his wife is found in a compromising position with a married man, the village is atwitter with rumors.

Is it suicide, murder or misdirection in Prior’s Wood? Max Tudor isn’t sure when a young man and the lady of mayor are found together in an apparent suicide pact. Max finds the liaison troubling and so out of character, he decides to investigate  further. 

Lady Duxter has had her bouts of depression and had tried to commit suicide before, but no one figured she was having an affair with the married cybersecurity expert Colin Frost. When other suspicious events happen, Max decides to ask for the exhumation of Colin's grandmother and discovers she was poisoned. Suddenly Poppy, Colin's teenage
daughter is missing along with her boyfriend and a fire breaks out in at the writer's retreat.

Events seem to be spinning out of control until Max discovers the subplot behind all the problems. A diabolical mystery with many twists and turns.

  



Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Interview with Linda Wiken

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

My newest book is Marinating in Murder. It’s book #3 in the Dinner Club Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime and it’s the eighth book I’ve had published. I’m also very excited about a new series I’ve started, the Castle Bookstore Mysteries, the first book coming out early next year from Crooked Lane Books. BTW, I’ll be writing as Essie Lang.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
Developing a new character takes a lot of time just letting everything gel and come together. I start with a name – that’s important to me – and also a visual description. My main character is always female. Next comes her job and then I choose her friends and cohorts. The rest, her backstory and her preferences, appear as I let her develop in my brain.

The location, these days totally for my own gratification, must include water and some place that is an easy drive. Also, I try to find locations that are seldom used in mystery series. Burlington, VT fulfilled those criteria. Besides, I had a cousin who used to live there and I loved visiting her.

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 typical day for me, at this point (I say that because it’s changed over the years), is to fill my mornings (after my second espresso) with the business of being a writer. That includes answering emails, writing guest blogs, catching up on Facebook, etc., and any office work. I also try to schedule appointments in the morning. The afternoon is for writing. I try to do a minimum of 1000 words a day but I don’t beat myself up about it. Weekends are sacred – no writing unless I’m up against a deadline.  

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing? 
I have been a member of the Ladies’ Killing Circle for over 25 years! We started out together as six unpublished but eager writers, meeting weekly to critique each other’s work. And we were brutally honest with each other. We needed that non-family honest input. At this point, we still get together on a more irregular basis, as friends to enjoy lunches, go to movies, and generally celebrate all the ups and downs in our lives. We still support each other in everything we do. And, I’m pleased to say that we are all published.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
I gave my character J.J. Tanner some things in common with me, for instance our love of collecting and reading cookbooks. The ones with many colorful photos in them! Also, neither of us are great cooks … but we’re trying. Other than that, she’s her own woman.

Who is your favorite author?
This may sound like a cop-out but my favorite author is based more on what I’m in the mood to read and who I go back to the most. But I will mention that Martin Walker and Andrea Camilleri are on that favorite list. I love their settings, the mentions of food, and their quirky detectives.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
I keep lists of details from the color of hair to food preferences, a favorite song, or the color of their cars. This is all part of the backstory I do for my main characters. It’s totally necessary as I’ve been known to get very creative in describing someone, only to find that person doesn’t exist!

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I had toyed with the thought of being a police officer but I know I don’t have the temperament for that. Or a musician but I don’t have the talent. I am taking art classes these days, so who knows!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Lowcountry Bookshop

A chilling addition to the Lowcountry series by Susan M. Boyer. Lowcountry Bookshop seems to revolve around a possible hit and run accident. When mail carrier Poppy Oliver is accused of running down Phillip Drayton, a wealthy man in the neighborhood, Liz Talbot and her husband/partner Nate Andrews are hired to prove Poppy wasn't the driver. (Lowcountry Bookshop is available today.)

Poppy is an unassuming character who takes pride in knowing everyone on her mail route. She was on the scene when the police arrive, but insists she did not hit Drayton. Poppy also tells the police she believes Drayton was abusing his wife and claims to have seen bruises on Mrs. Drayton.

As the investigation proceeds, Liz finds Drayton to be involved in the food and beverage scene in Charleston and he even wrote a blog about it. His wife rarely appeared in photos with him, making Poppy's suspicions plausible.

The police investigation reveals Drayton was pepper sprayed and stunned with a taser before running out into the heavy rain without a coat. What was going on in his home before the accident? Mystified by this bit of evidence, Liz and Nate pursue the leads they have discovered.

Her investigation leads her to a charming bookshop along the waterfront. Inside there are numerous copies of The Ghosts of Charleston. When a bookmark slips out with a meeting time on it, Liz is intrigued by this new clue. As she stakes out the bookshop, several women who are integral to the case appear at different times.

When there are dark secrets at stake the desire to do good sometimes leads to harm. Lowcountry Bookshop reveals the struggle.

Purchase link

Monday, May 28, 2018

Malice Domestic: Mystery Most Geographical

The 13th anthology produced by Malice Domestic takes the reader on a journey around the world. In Mystery Most Geographical, 30 mystery authors journey to far flung place like Burkina Faso (Edith Maxwell), Hawaii (Eleanor Cawood Jones), Axebury Cove, England (G.M. Malliet)  or Tahiti (Susan Breen). Or another century Washington City 1860 (Verena Rose), Upper New York State in the 1960s (Triss Stein), Pennsylvania coal country in the 1899 (Harriette Sackler), Jamaica (John Gregory Betancourt) or a honeymoon in the Maryland shores (Shawn Reilly Simmons), there's adventure and mayhem aplenty.

Each bite-sized story takes you on a journey into the mysteries many people face around the world. Malice Domestic Mystery Most Geographical is the perfect book for some light beach reading and a just-before-bed quick read. No need to read until the next chapter because each short story is self contained.

The anthology includes a Preface by Nancy Pickard and was published by Wildside Press. The authors and the titles of their stories are list below.

The Barrister's Clerk, by Michael Robertson

The Belle Hope, by Peter DiChellis

Arroyo, by Michael Bracken

Muskeg Man, by Keenan Powell

The End of the World, by Susan Breen

To Protect the Guilty, by Kerry Hammond

Dying in Dokesville, by Alan Orloff

The House in Glamaig's Shadow, by William Burton McCormick

Summer Smugglers, by Triss Stein

The Jamaican Ice Mystery, by John Gregory Betancourt

Death at the Congressional Cemetery, by Verena Rose

Cabin in the Woods, by Sylvia Maultash Warsh

Mad About You, by G. M. Malliet

What Goes Around, by Kathryn Johnson

Summer Job, by Judith Green

Death in a Strange and Beautiful Place, by Leslie Wheeler

We Shall Fight Them, by Carla Coupe

Marigold in the Lake, by Susan Thibadeau

Murder on the Northern Lights Express, by Susan Daly

Czech Mate, by Kristin Kisska

Keep Calm and Love Moai, by Eleanor Cawood Jones

Isaac's Daughters, by Anita Page

A Divination of Death, by Edith Maxwell

Payback With Interest, by Cheryl Marceau

Island Time, by Laura Oles

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Murder, by Josh Pachter

The Breaker Boy, by Harriette Sackler

Death on the Beach, by Shawn Reilly Simmons

Ridgeline, by Peter W. J. Hayes

Ho'oponopono, by Robin Templeton

Friday, May 25, 2018

S'More Murders

When Val and her grandfather are hired to cater a Titanic re-creation dinner on board a yacht everything seems to be going smoothly. In S'more Murders by Maya Corrigan, the wealthy yacht owner Otto Warbeck wants his guests to also participate in a murder mystery game he wrote.

Unfortuntely some of his characters reseble the real peopl too . closely. Included in the guest list is his curent wife, his ex-wife, her son, a neighbor couple, an antique dealer and a last minute substitution. Otto hid the solution to his mystery game somewhere on the ship, but when Otto disappears and is found dead, there are plenty of suspects.

As an aside, I never understand the fascination with the Titanic and why people would want to replicate any event related to it. Titanic to me means an epic tragedy. Anyway back to the book.

Uing the script booklets, Val tries to find a clue to the murderer. Is Otto's death related to some
missing Titanic artifacts or is there something more sinister going on.

Complicating issues for Val is a new wrinkle in her relationship with her boyfriend Gunnar, accountant/actor. This situation pulls her in two directions, but she still manages to solve the murder.

Another fun read from Maya Corrigan.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Single Malt Murder

After her uncle dies unexpectedly, Abigail Logan inherits his whiskey distillery in Scotland. In Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet, the people of Balfour take distilling seriously and don’t think it is a place for a woman. 

Several threats and sabotage make this clear, but Abi is not deterred. She wants to learn about the business before she decides whether to sell or not. The sharks are circling though and several distilleries are anxious for her to sell. Could one of them be behind the sabotage and the threats?

The Haven, as the home is called, is perfect and could have been decorated right out of Country Living, and Abbey Glen, the distillery, is quaint yet modern. Abi has been on the road so long, she has forgotten what living in a comfortable house means.

Her uncle's head distiller Grant MacEwan doesn't make her feel
any more welcome, but Abi is the owner so she prods him for answers on how the operation is run. When she asks to see the Abbey the distillery is named after, she is shocked to learn her unlce Ben named it for her. With a lump in her throat, Abi decides to learn as much as she can about the distilling process before she makes her decision to stay or go.

A murder brings the issue to a head. It frightens Abi to think someone in the village if behind the sabotage and now the murder, but as a journalist, she knows she can dig deeper and try to solve the puzzle. 

An excellent book with great details about whiskey distilling. Who knew there were other subtle flavors in single malt whiskey. Anxious to try some now! The second in the series is Death Distilled: A Whisky Business Mystery is out now.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Interview with Mary Feliz

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

Disorderly Conduct is the fourth mystery in my Maggie McDonald Mystery series featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her side-kick golden retriever.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
I initially thought of my story as a way to cope with a divisive local issue plaguing the school system in my community. Residents were choosing sides and vilifying those who disagreed with them. “What if…” I wondered. “What if people really were as evil as everyone is saying? What would that mean for our town? How would we fix it? Is it even possible?” The story quickly morphed into a murder mystery but then shifted focus away from the real-life situation I felt I was too close to. Real people are seldom interesting enough to make good characters in fiction. I wanted my fictional town to be filled with people who were more nuanced than the way adversaries were referring to one another in the real town on which Orchard View is based. Silicon Valley, where I’d lived for more than 30 years had become a popular subject in the news, movies, and television dramas. But those media tended to portray the mega rich, and I wanted to reveal the world of ordinary people.

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?
Every day is a little different, depending on the demands of the rest of my life, but I typically have breakfast and read the paper, then work on my work-in-progress for at least an hour without interruption. Once I’ve done that, I may extend the writing period or work on promotion or schedule for the rest of the morning. In the afternoon I do my workout. The life of a writer can be very sedentary, and I try to log at least 10,000 steps and some weight training to balance things out. Afterwards, I may go back to the computer, especially if I’m close to a deadline. I try to wrap things up by 5:30 pm and spend the evening with my husband, but that doesn’t always work out according to plan.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I’ve belonged to writers groups online and in person, but don’t currently write with others. I do get together with a group of mystery writers in Santa Cruz County (Santa Cruz Women of Mystery), but it’s more about drinking coffee and sharing tips on the business of writing than it is a writing group. I’m also a member of Sisters in Crime, particularly the Guppy Chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and the Authors Guild. Writers need other writers, and the internet has been a boon to us, because we can still work in isolation while still having an instant connection with others.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know? 
While friends tell me that the recognize me in the character of Maggie, I think of her as totally different from me, but maybe she’s an idealized version of me (younger, thinner, more organized). It’s difficult for any of us to view ourselves objectively

Who is your favorite author? 
Most days it’s Louise Penny, but I also love all of Madeleine L’Engle’s books, the Lincoln Rhyme books of Jeffrey Deaver, the Andy Carpenter series by David Rosenfelt, and the books of Anne Cleeves. I’m a promiscuous reader and will read any well-written book regardless of genre.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
When I started the series, I made collages for all the main and secondary characters with their likes, dislikes, favorite quotes, their car, and some of their physical characteristics and quirks. I posted those collages to the walls of my office where they were handy for easy reference. But then I moved. My new office is tiny with no room for the collages. So far, I’ve had luck with a spreadsheet outlining my characters, their details, backstory, and reasons for wanting the victim dead, along with where they were and what they were doing when the murder occurred. But I’d be in deep trouble without the sharp-eyed copy editors employed by Kensington.

As far as physical characteristics go, though, I tend to under-describe the people in my books because I think their appearance is the least interesting thing about them. I know exactly what they each look like, but none of those details tells me anything about their motivation, goals, friendships, personality, strengths, fears, and flaws.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
I’ve become fascinated with the natural world surrounding my new hometown on California’s Central Coast. Known as the Serengeti of the Sea for the richness of its wildlife, Monterey Bay is a national marine sanctuary. The wetlands on the shore and the redwood forests team with wildlife, some of it rarely seen by humans. I’d love to know much more about the geology, natural history, and life of the region, and hope to take a naturalist course next year. The fifth book in the Maggie McDonald series, Cliff Hanger, will release in June 2019, and takes place on Monterey Bay.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Springtime in New York 1

Last weekend, I spent a few days in New York City with my sister and my daughter. My sister and I were born and raised there, but I have not been back in years. One of the first places we visited was the storefront on 74th and Madison that had once been our father's restaurant. It is now a Christian Science Reading Room in a very ritzy neighborhood now! Who knew.

We also visited the New York Pubic Library and were awed by the beautiful ceilings and the WPA murals. And, of course, the books.

Naturally I went right for the new mysteries. Saw many books from some of my author friends.

The WPA murals are astonishing. They are huge and so beautifully painted.
















Of course you cannot visit New York (especially if you are a Hamilton fanatic) without a visit to The Grange.

We headed Uptown and visited The Grange in Harlem. The house is operated by the National Park Service and is free. That little person standing in front of the building is me! The big guy in the picture on the right, of course, is Alexander Hamilton.

Spent a rainy day at the New York Botanical Garden and saw the new Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit of her time in Hawaii. Walked around the grounds and saw beautiful peonies of every shade then into the Conservatory to see orchids of all kinds.

And last but not least, the setting sun shining on one of my favorite buildings - the Chrysler Building.