Wednesday, November 21, 2007

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES by Maggie Barbieri (St. Martin's Minataur)

For a small Catholic college English professor, Alison Bergon has a lot of murder and mayhem in her life. In her first outing(Murder 101), she was suspected of murder. This time, she finds a victim in her kitchen, another in her neighbor's yard, and there's a mob boss popping up all over the place. Her boyfriend is not-quite divorced; her best friend, the priest, is trying to fix her up with his brother; and her next-door neighbor had an affair with Alison's husband. Did I mention the elderly deli owner who's got a crush on her?

Barbieri is writing mysterious chick lit at its best. You'll see why I sat up 'way too late finishing this one.

DYING TO BE THIN by kathryn Lilley (Obsidian Mystery)

In the first "Fat City" mystery, young Kate Gallagher comes to Durham NC to change her life. She's just out of a job (even having won an award as a TV producer; she's without a boyfriend; and she's up 50 pounds. She's investing part of her severance pay into a live-in diet program, and she's convinced a local TV station to let her do an ongoing segment about her progress on the air. Her plans change almost as soon as she checks in--not only does she find the director's body, but she realizes that there are many inconsistencies within the program. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced romp through the world of weight loss and local TV programming.

STRING OF LIES by Mary Ellen Hughes (Berkley Prime Crime)

The second in the "Craft Corner" mysteries was just as enjoyable as the first (Wreath of Deception). When local developer Parker Holt begins buying up small businesses on her street, craft store owner Jo McAllister has reason to be concerned. Her worries escalate when her dear friend and husband of her best friend is the prime suspect in Parker's murder. Once again Jo galvanizes her customer-friends in her beading class to ferret out clues which will clear Dan's name.

I like Jo and her friends.The mystery is reasonable, with fair clues, and the tips on beading add color to the pages. I'd recommend this series to any cozy-reading crafter.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

SONNETS by Robert K. Brown (Brown Books Publishing Group)

A small college town newspaper holds a poetry contest. The first week's winner is a sonnet. Turns out the poem is the clue to a murder victim. Subsequent poems arrive at the paper entirely too fast. Folks in this Georgia town aren't ready for a serial murderer. A young English professor at the college has recently published a volume of—sonnets. Is he an expert in deciphering the clues or a suspect? Brown leads his reader on a gruesome chase that twists, turns, and cleverly misleads.

This first mystery is a real page-turner. I've recommended it every time I've spoken to a group.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Senior Sleuths Handout

I posted an invalid link to my "Senior Sleuths" handout for a library program. I'm sorry for the inconvenience it caused. I emailed the pdf file to everyone who let me know about the problem, but I hope others will still be interested. Anyway, I'm reposting a corrected link.
Download PDF here

Sunday, September 02, 2007

LITTLE FAITH by Michael Simon (Penguin)

Austin, Texas had a lot happening in 1995. A former child star turned porn actress is murdered. A 13-year-old boy runs away from his foster home. The new governor is a man who helped bankrupt an oil CEO who is now forced to be just the husband of an ardent pro-lifer whose preacher said of her, "The church's resources come from God. But…Mrs. Wade signs his checks." And. The Austin Police Department has a huge banquet to announce promotions. Dan Reles knows he should be promoted to lieutenant, but as the only Jew on the force (and a loose cannon to boot), he's not surprised when he doesn't hear his name called. Dan doesn't have long to worry about his rank--especially when his home life changes quickly, he's assigned a new partner, and he's suspected of murder.

This is a fast-paced police procedural which exposes the bad side of several strata of society. Block out some time to finish this one.

THE ALEHOUSE MURDERS by Maureen Ash (Berkley)

I thought I was burned out on Templar Knight mysteries, but Ash proved me wrong. This book isn't about far-fetched conspiracies; rather, it's a good, old-fashioned mystery featuring Bascot de Marins, a Templar Knight who is recovering from wounds suffered during and escape from imprisonment by the Saracens. Just before a midsummer fair is to begin, an woman discovers four bodies in the alehouse. Lady Nicolaa de la Haye, wife of the sheriff and owner of Lincoln Castle charges de Marins with solving the crime. Before he can finish his initial inquiries, a priest is stabbed. Then, nearly every time new evidence is uncovered, a new murder complicates the puzzle.

The gentle history lessons about life in thirteenth century England are skillfully wrapped in an excellent mystery. I look forward to more from Maureen Ash!

CASHED IN by Jackie Chance (Berkley)

After becoming an instant Texas Hold 'Em winner, Belinda Cooley splurges on a gambling cruise for herself, her new man, her twin brother, and her parents. Her recent win in Vegas awarded her a free buy in for the "Sea Gambler's" tournament, but she'd have been much better off going to Disney! Things start to go wrong even before she gets to her cabin: Her lover is a no show, her girl crazy brother surrounds himself with sweet young things, and her mother starts talking (loudly!). When champion poker players start disappearing, things get crazy fast.

Chance does a good job of identifying the huge cast of characters so the reader doesn't spend much time thinking about who is who. Poker players and light cozy fans should have fun with this light-hearted series.

Monday, August 27, 2007

IN COLD PURSUIT by Sarah Andrews (St. Martin's)

Nobody every said I can't take a hint. My friend Diane Esterly has told me several times that Sarah Andrews is one of her favorite authors. When this new book arrived in my mailbox, I asked Diane to tell you about it. She was happy to comply. I know you'll enjoy what she says.

Andrews has written another mystery, but with a new sleuth. Valena Walker is an acquaintance of Em Hansen. I happen to an Em Hansen fan, but I found Valena to be a worthy successor. The setting of this mystery is Antarctica. My dislike of frigid weather, notwithstanding, I found myself fascinated by her account of this severe and strange land. As usual, the author has admirably combined education and entertainment. There is no mistaking her intent to teach. Her passion for geology and teaching is evident, and her research for this book is thorough. She combines science, suspense and female sleuthing easily and has a style that is compelling, even when your natural curiosity does not include either the setting or the content. I was fascinated by the information she conveyed about glaciology and geology and their relevance to current issues such as global warming, politics, overpopulation, and our consumeristic lifestyle which uses fossil fuels at an alarming rate despite scientific evidence that it is depleting the earth’s resources. Most fascinating was the amount and kind of information that can be gathered from this frigid land and her glaciers. Her main character again reveals the author’s interest in women who are struggling with their non-conformist lives at the fringe, their struggles to come to terms with themselves, and their innate strength and intelligence which eventually overcome their inner doubts.

Sarah Andrews is a woman of integrity and her books show her to be passionate about her interests and field of knowledge, geology. All of her books have this mark of integrity, but this latest one is most compelling. She describes “the last continent” as painfully, astonishingly, joyously, and severely beautiful. Her descriptions ring true and this book, like the author, is authentic and powerful.
--Diane Esterly

Friday, August 24, 2007

GUN SHY by Ben Rehder

I wouldn't have thought it could be done. Ben Rehder pokes fun at both sides of the gun control issue while spinning a first-rate crime story. The National Weapons Alliance is holding a rally at country crooner Mitch Campbell's Texas ranch this coming weekend. That is, if all the outside forces don't combine to make a hilarious mishmash of the event: Mitch Campbell isn't really Mitch Campbell. Dale Stubbs, director of the NWA, has something going on the side. There's a dead Mexican immigrant to explain. And then there's the team of good ol' boys who just want a little recognition. Blano County, Texas is the place you'll want to be this summer. I surely enjoyed my trip!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

THE CHOCOLATE JEWEL CASE by Joanna Carl (Signet)

It's now a well-known fact: Chocolate is good for you. Personal study (I've read the entire series) has shown that reading Carl's delightful chocolate-themed mysteries provides everything necessary for a well-crafted cozy. Lee and Joe should be on their honeymoon at a cool resort; instead, they're in the middle of remodeling a house during a Michigan heat wave, hosting several house guests, and dealing with business crises. To add more tension to the situation, a man turns up claiming to be Joe's dad (presumed dead for 30 years), Lee and Joe are dinner guests where the entertainment is a major jewel robbery, and one of the house guests is a prime suspect for murder. The metaphor must be made--the "chocoholic mysteries" offer a delightful sampler of crime fiction at its best.


Ed Gaffney always puts defense attorneys Zack Wilson and Terry Tallach in untenable positions--they just have a knack for having the wrong clients. Even Zack acknowledges it this time when he admits to Terry this one "might be something of a challenge." It is, in fact, a petition for a retrial of a convicted serial killer who's been requesting a retrial for nearly 20 years. A recent killing nearly identical to the earlier crimes has convinced a bar association committee that the request has merit. You don't need me to tell you that our intrepid team will take the case. The reader soon follows not only the defense team and the police, but also the killer as he stalks future victims. I don't usually like to see the killer's viewpoint nor attend the crime, but I was mesmerized. Put Ed Gaffney on your list of "must read" legal thrillers. I certainly have.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

REDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES by Vincent H. O'Neil (Thomas Dunne Books)

Winning the St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest may turn suspense and thriller readers away from O'Neil's works, but they'll be missing a bang-up read! O'Neil proves that gratuitous sex and foul language aren't essential to a compelling thriller. Frank Cole is facing bankruptcy after his high-tech business failed. He's living under the radar in Florida, working as a taxi dispatcher at night and a computer fact checker by day. When a young boy who flagged down a Midnight Taxi near a hotel drug bust disappears, things start happening fast and Frank's visitor list explodes—from a sexy teenage girl to a couple of thugs to a private investigator to the godfather of the Southern mafia. Cole is definitely a sleuth who uses his brain. I look forward to visiting the Florida Panhandle again--from the comfort of my easy chair.

THE CLIFF HOUSE STRANGLER by Shirley Tallman (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Sarah Woolson faces a severe challenge. 19th century San Francisco simply isn't ready to embrace a female attorney. Her brother faces a totally different challenge: The son of a well-to-do judge has to keep his occupation secret—he's an investigative journalist writing under a pseudonym. When Sarah attends a seancé to gather information for a story for Samuel, she gets more than either of them had planned. A murder at the spooky Cliff House not only brings clients to her law practice, but repercussions from the crime involve their family in political scandal. Tallman brings a different outlook to a familiar 19th century theme. I look forward to more visits with Sarah Woolson.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MURDER ON THE MENU by Miranda Bliss (Berkley)

The "cooking class" mysteries are fun, light, well-plotted reads for culinary lovers. Nose-to-the-grindstone Annie and drop-dead-gorgeous Eve make a great pair of amateur detectives as they join forces to help their former cooking school teacher make a go of his new restaurant. In this second outing, the two discover a body which the police assume is suicide. The friends, however, believe differently, and set out to prove it. Washington politics, tempting restaurant fare, and a well-plotted mystery make this paperback original essential in beach bags and travel carry-ons. There's an added bonus: recipes for a full-course gourmet meal are included at the back.

SAFE AND SOUND by J. D. Rhoades (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Bounty hunter Jack Keller is totally goal oriented. While this dedication makes him the best in the business, it frequently interferes with his personal relationships. A missing child—the daughter of an AWOL member of the Army's Delta Force—claims his focus as strongly as a bail jumper. The resulting chase leads him to the mountains of North Carolina and into combat with hit men worthy of 007. Body count is high, but psychological damage may be even higher, not only for Keller, but for those closest to him. If you think you're having a bad day, spending a few hours with Jack Keller will make you reconsider. Don't start this book at bedtime!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Culinary Mystery List

A discussion on Dorothy-L about culinary mysteries prompted me to offer to share the handout sheet I gave to folks who attended my "Cooking Up Murder" lecture at a local library. As promised, here's the link to the PDF. I hope you find some new authors.

Download PDF here

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

BRUSH WITH DEATH by Hailey Lind (Signet Mystery)

This delightful "Art Lover's Mystery" series will have a wide audience even beyond the art world. Annie Kincaid is a talented artist who's outside the realm of respectibility--partly because of her own talent and partly because her grandfather is a world famous forger. Annie's trying to stay on the straight and narrow, but her faux finishing business just doesn't bring in enough capital. When an opportunity for a profitable job arises, she has to take it, even if it is in a columbarium adjacent to a graveyard. Grave robbers, suspicious suicides, and a missing Old Master provide the framework for a crackerjack mystery. A hunky art thief, a drop-dead goodlooking security expert, and an unscrupulous developer add romance and suspense. Quirky sidekicks and genuinely likeable cameo characters "kick things up a notch." Finally, there's Annie, a hard worker who frequently finds herself between a rock and a hard place. BRUSH WITH DEATH not only escapes the dreaded third book curse, it is surely the best yet! Hailey Lind is a must read.

DEATH AT THE OLD HOTEL by Con Lehane (Thomas Dunne Books)

Serendipitity plays a big part in my life. On the same day I received an early copy of DEATH AT THE OLD HOTEL by Con Lehane, I got an email from Rene Martin at Quail Ridge Books asking if I'd like to introduce him when he came to the store. I'm so glad of this opportunity. Con will be at the store on Tuesday, June 19, at 7:00.

Con's protagonist is Brian McNulty, a bartender in NYC. The hotel where Brian works is old, and the workers are not adequately represented by their union. After a strike begins, murders ensue, a baby is kidnapped, mobsters intervene, and the IRA extends its reach.

Lehane knows his characters well, and so will his readers. This third book in the series will have you begging for more.

Monday, June 11, 2007

OLD WOUNDS by Vicki Lane (Dell Mystery)

Vicki Lane doesn't churn out four books a year; rather, she writes carefully worded Southern sagas that pull the reader into the lives of her characters in the manner of Lee Smith. In this outing, Elizabeth Goodweather is about to put widowhood in her past; she's ready to begin a new relationship. Her daughter Rosemary changes that when she is compelled to investigate the sudden disappearance of her childhood friend more than 20 years ago. Once again Lane explores the lives of people who keep their own council--Cherokee and Appalachian mountain folk. OLD WOUNDS is not just a cracking good mystery; it's a worthy piece of Southern literature. If you can't visit the North Carolina mountains in person, enjoy this literary journey.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

FORESTS OF THE NIGHT by David Stuart Davies (Thomas Dunne Books)

When London policeman John Hawke volunteered for duty during World War II, he dreamed of serving his country. He never considered the possibility of being wounded during training, losing an eye, and, consequently losing his ability both to serve his country and to return to his profession. Chosing to make virtual lemonade from life's lemons, he sets up as a private investigator. A job investigating the disappearance of a young woman offers an opportunity to prove his skills in his chosen profession. A chance meeting with a runaway boy awakens him to his humanity. More Johnny Hawke, please!

THE STAR by David Skibbins (Thomas Dunne Books)

What's an aging hippie to do? After being underground since 1970, Warren Ritter is still trying to keep a low profile in Berkeley. But when the daughter he never knew he had until this year asks for help, he knows he has to be there for her. After all, her underlying problem, bipolar disorder, is his problem too. Fran's marriage to a police officer is going down the tubes, and Orrin is trying to get custody of six-month-old Justin. Warren pulls out all the stops in his efforts to help Fran—including allowing his therapist to drive his prized Aprilia motorcycle. When I saw "A Tarot Card Mystery" on the front cover, I was skeptical. Once I met Warren, I was in for the ride. Now I'm going back to the bookstore to find EIGHT OF SWORDS and HIGH PRIESTESS.

So many books, so little time!

THE BLIGHT WAY & AVALANCHE by Patrick McManus (Simon & Schuster)

Stuck in a doctor's waiting room about 20 years ago, I idly leafed through a "Field and Stream" magazine trying to find something to fill the time. An article's title struck me as vaguely funny, so I began reading. In that few moments, I was hooked. I wrote the name Patrick F. McManus in my Palm Pilot and began searching for anything he had written. I devoured every book of outdoor essays and read them aloud to anyone who would listen.

Later, I drove an hour to hear him speak at a booksigning. The store was packed. He was an hour late but nobody left. We knew, from reading his books, that he'd probably gotten lost.

When I learned he'd moved on to write mysteries, I immediately ordered them from Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. Meeting Sheriff Bo Tully was much like being introduced to an old friend. Once again, I reveled in being in the wild Rocky Mountains with a competent yet self-deprecating guide. Even as I laughed aloud, I appreciated the strength of the story-telling and the skill of dropping clues and placing red herrings. Welcome to the mystery world, Mr. McManus!

TRIAL AND ERROR by Paul Levine (Bantam)

When a new Soloman and Lord novel appears in my mailbox, I clear my docket for the rest of the day. Their cases are always wacky, always clever, and always endearing. Steve Soloman will try almost anything to win acquital for his clients; Victoria Lord will follow the law to the letter. When they're together, pandemonium is always waiting in the wings. What elevates this series, for me, is the overriding love they both have for Steve's brilliant nephew who has autism. This time, Bobby brings the case to his uncle—somebody has freed the dolphins from Cetacean Park. Of course, it's not that easy, and there's much more to it than appears on the surface.

Drag out your hammock, pour yourself a cool one, and kick back and relax with Florida's most loveable law team.

JIGSAW by Jerry Kennealy (Thomas Dunne Books)

Imagine Drew Carey as the entertainment critic for a San Francisco newspaper. Give him a zany mother, a dashing father, and a set of emails from someone giving clues to Alfred Hitchcock movies. Then watch as the clues foretell the murder of an industry friend. Imagine Drew's, er— Carroll Quint's, consternation as he investigates, only to find indicators that point him to his mother as the killer, while the police think they point to him. JIGSAW is a wonderfully plotted, charming look at murder. I hope to see more of Quinn.

BEADS OF DOUBT by Barbara Burnett Smith & Karen MacInerney (Berkley Prime Crime)

Family name and old money don't necessarily isolate one from trouble. Just ask Kitzi Camden, former Texas state senator and daughter and granddaughter of Texas governors. On the first day of a huge weekend fundraiser that she will host at her 8000 square foot mansion, she learns her cousin is trying to evict her from the family home and that a body was found in a nearby dumpster. Throw in a handsome man, a terminally ill friend, and an aging mother, and Kitzi has just about all she can handle.

Barbara Burnett Smith was nominated for an Agatha for the first in this series, BEAD ON TROUBLE, as she was for her first cozy several years ago. Sadly, she was killed in an accident before finishing this entry. Kaaren MacInerney did a fine job of completing the manuscript.

Barbara's sister died with ovarian cancer months before Barbara's accident. BEADS OF DOUBT was an attempt to raise awareness of the disease and, at the same time, to pay tribute to her sister. I miss my email correspondence with Barbara and miss seeing her at conferences. Still, this book brought back warm memories of my friend.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Highly Recommended

THE FINISHING SCHOOL by Michele Martinez (William Morrow)
Federal prosecutor Melanie Vargas has a tough new case: Two dead teenaged girls in a Park Avenue penthouse. Melanie also has a tough home life. She's not quite divorced and her baby daughter is sick. This one is a nail biter--don't start it at bedtime!

PIECE OF MY HEART by Peter Robinson (William Morrow)
Robinson frequently pairs an old crime with a contemporary one. In this outing, a young woman is murdered at a 1969 rock music festival and DCI Alan Banks and DI Annie Cabbot investigate the murder of a freelance journalist who's writing a story about one of the bands that played the weekend of the festival. As always, Robinson ties the stories together beautifully, revealing that the 60's weren't all peace and flower power--and that the past is always with us.

THE SPELLMAN FILES by Lisa Lutz (Simon and Schuster)
This quirky novel isn't really a mystery, but it is about a family-run detective agency in San Francisco. Family members follow each other, pick locks on bedroom doors, and leave the house through windows, but they rally round when one of their own is in peril. If you'd be embarrassed by laughing aloud, don't read this in public.

MURDER AMONG THE OWLS by Bill Crider (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Don't you hate it when you have to start work before you even get there? Sheriff Dan Rhodes' day began when a cat slipped into his back door. When he tried to return it to his elderly neighbor, he found--well, you know what he found. Who on earth would want to kill a member of the Older Women's Literary Society? Rhodes soon found that like in academia, the battles in clubs are often extremely bitter because the stakes are so low. Rhodes learns a lot about his town and the people who populate it when he investigates this murder. Dan Rhodes is my number two favorite sheriff of all time--right behind Andy Taylor!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

DAMSELS IN DISTRESS by Joan Hess (St. Martin's)

I've read all of the Claire Malloy series, and I honestly think this was the best. Claire is beset on both sides when a high school history teacher requires next year's students (including Caron, who's prone to speaking in capital letters) to participate in a renaissance fair and the fair's jester wants to stage performances in front of the bookstore. Somehow Claire can't get too enthusiastic about the sponsoring organization--Association for Renaissance Scholarship & Enlightenment (ARSE), but once compelled to comply, she realizes the acronym is extremely accurate. In such a setting, murder is inevitiable.

Satire drips from the pages like honey from a comb, reminding us that when we take ourselves too seriously we usually provide others a good laugh.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Mardi Gras Murder & Louisiana Too!

While the Eva Perry Library is closed for renovation, we've moved the monthly ""Molly on Mysteries" programs to the Apex Community Center. Last month's program was on mysteries set at Mardi Gras and/or in Louisiana. I didn't get the reading list done in time to take with me, so I'm posting it here. I hope you find some new authors to try.

Download PDF here

Virginia Festival of the Book

Whew--I've been too busy reading to post reviews! I was fortunate to be asked to moderate two panels (which totaled 10 great mystery writers) at the venerable Virginia festival. Fortunately, for the time involvement, I was familiar with all the works of the writers on the "Small Towns Are Murder" panel and several on the "Stop: You're Killing Me with Laughter" panel. Two members of the humor panel were brand new to me, and I was glad to find new authors to read even though I was forced to go into marathon reading mode. (Tough job, huh?)

The small town panel included Marcia Talley, Sharon Short, Heather Webber, Denise Swanson, and JB Stanley. I've known everybody but JB for several years--in fact all of them have visited me for mini NC tours--and JB's publicist has done a good job of ensuring that I knew her series.

The humor panel folks were Donna Andrews, Elaine Viets, JD "Dusty" Rhoades, Bob Morris, and Linwood Barclay. Even though Dusty is an NC neighbor, I hadn't seen his books, and I hadn't come across Linwood's either. Fortunately, both of them have very responsive publicists, and I was fully caught up on everyone's writing by the time of the conference last month.

I'll be sharing reviews of everybody's books in the coming days. Claim your easy chair now. You're in for some great reading.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

RED CAT by Peter Spiegelman (Alfred A. Knopf)

Shamus-Award-winner Spiegelman brings back private detective John March in a gritty New York novel. Even though John's brother (who followed the family business path) still openly despises him, he needs him. David is being harassed by a young woman whom he met online and subsequently had a seedy affair. Soon after John takes the case, a body washes up in the East River and David becomes the chief suspect. Family secrets unfold about not only the victim, but about David, and even John. The stark white New York winter provides a fitting backdrop for red hot crime.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

SNIPPED IN THE BUD by Kate Collins (Signet)

It seems that my favorite florist isn't everybody's favorite! When Abby Knight delivers a special order to an old law school professor with whom she's had a recent altercation, he is murdered—and she's the chief suspect. Somebody's seeing to that. Abby's troubles don't end with the police. Her air-headed cousin Jill has moved in temporarily, crowding Abby and her roommate beyond endurance. Plus, Jill's started a home fashion business, with her entire inventory in the apartment. When Abby has to go undercover to find other suspects, Jill proves her worth. SNIPPED has plenty of action, nice touches of romance, and enough red herrings to confuse us all. I enjoy this refreshing series.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

BERMUDA SCHWARTZ by Bob Morris (St. Martin's Minotaur)

It's not just an invitation to a seventieth birthday party that draws Zack Chasteen to Bermuda. It's not even the opportunity to sell the birthday gal eight palm trees at an exhorbitant price. Mostly, it's the opportunity to drink rum on the island with Barbara Pickering. Zack ignores the old adage, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Before he even unpacks his suitcase, he's discovered a body. Soon he's tangled up with not only a local treasure-finding legend but the local mafia. Bob Morris proves that writing about brutal murder can be done with a light hand. I'm going back and reading this series from the beginning!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Baby, It's Cold Outside"

For once, the North Carolina weather cooperated with the topic for a program. Everybody was shivering as we came into the Eva Perry Library in Apex Sunday afternoon. It wasn't quite snowing, but the rain was COLD--especially since we'd been in the 70's four days earlier. I'm posting a pdf file of the handouts for the program here:


Free file hosting from File Den

THE CHEMISTRY OF DEATH by Simon Beckett (Delacorte Press)

Nobody in the rural English village asked David Hunter about his past. Most of him accepted him as their physician when the couldn't see his employer. When two young brothers discover a young woman's remains, Hunter is forced to reveal some of his former skills. He was, in fact, one of London's leaders in forensics. As more murder follow, Hunter is drawn more closely into the investigation, first as a suspect, later as a target. CHEMISTRY provides a chilling look at village life and a grisly look at human remains.

BONES TO PICK by Carolyn Haines (Kensington)

Sarah Booth Delaney's mama "raised her right," but she also taught her to think for herself. It's hard for Sarah Booth to conform to Southern Belle standards, but when a finishing school graduate is horribly murdered (Quentin McGee had just launched a scandalous tell-all book before her death), Sarah Booth has to resort to conservative clothing and panty hose. Sunflower County (Mississippi) Sheriff Coleman Peters is on leave, the acting sheriff arrests Quentin's lesbian lover for murder, and the suspect's brother hires Sarah Booth to prove her innocence. This is one of the Delta Darling's most dangerous cases, but, in my humble opinion, one of her most rewarding. Sarah Booth is my kind of gal!

METRO GIRL and MOTOR MOUTH by Janet Evanovich

Ms. E. certainly doesn't need any help from me, but I thought I'd mention her new series featuring Alexandra Barnaby. The debut, METRO GIRL, is out in paperback. Barney, as she's called, gets a frightening call from her brother BIlly which compels her to rush to Florida to come to his aid. Evanovich readers know there's nothing simple about any quest, and Barney is plunged into a side-splitting rampage that puts her life at risk in nearly every chapter. Hooker, a definitely dreamy racecar driver ensures there will be romantic tension on nearly every page. MOTOR MOUTH takes up where METRO left off, with Barney and Hooker trying desperately to help a friend while getting rid of an incriminating body. This new series is perfect for fending off the winter blahs.

GRAVE WRITER by Mark Arsenault (St. Martin's Press)

Billy Povich has lost a lot in his life: his wife (because of his gambling), his job as a journalist (he now writes obituaries), his money, and his home. He's gained a couple of people though—his disabled father and his 7-year-old son. Billy's consuming force in life is to kill the man he holds responsible for ending his ex-wife's life in an auto accident. Well, it's the consuming force until he is summoned to jury duty. Billy very quickly becomes involved in an incident that will not only change his focus but change his entire outlook on life. I look forward to watching Billy Povich, his crusty father, and his charming son Bo. (First in a new series.)

COPPER RIVER by William Kent Krueger (Artris)

Kruger's third Anthony winner, MERCY FALLS, left lawman Cork O'Conner painted into a really bad corner. Because I'd read it in advance form, I was left in trepidation until COPPER RIVER came out in hardcover. O'Conner had, if you will, jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. He is wounded, but the unwelcome guest with a cousin. Some people draw trouble like a dog draws fleas, so it's no surprise that Cork is quickly involved in another nasty scene. A young girl's body washes ashore, Cork's young cousin and his friends are in deadly peril, and professional hit men haven't given up on collecting their bounty for Cork's life. This is another stellar offering from one of my favorite writers.

FLESH AND BONE by Jefferson Bass (William Morrow)

Following the NY Times bestseller CARVED IN BONE, which was a great forensic mystery, Bass has produced one of the best forensic stories I've ever read. In this outing, Dr. Bill Brockton and his University of Tennessee's body farm are at the center of the crimes—in more ways than one. The crimes themselves will appease the most blood-thirsty reader, and the peril will stump the most avid suspense reader. I'm not going to give a hint of the story—you'll just have to take my word for it: This newe series is NOT TO BE MISSED!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Virginia Festival of the Book

I just got off the phone with the great folks at the Virginia Festival of the Book. I'm totally excited to announce that I'll be moderating the panel "Small Towns are Murder" during their "Crime Wave" session on Saturday, March 24, at 2:00. The panelists will be Sharon Short (MURDER UNFOLDS), J. B. Stanley (A FATAL APPRAISAL), Denise Swanson (MURDER OF A BOTOXED BLONDE), Marcia Talley (THROUGH THE DARKNESS), and Heather Webber (A HOE LOT OF TROUBLE). Needless to say, I'm really looking forward being with these great authors.

There will be a plethora of mystery authors at the Festival—Raymond Austin, John Billheimer, Ellen Crosby, John Lamb, Vicki Lane, Frankie Bailey), Louis Bayard, Cordelia Biddle, Dana Cameron, Jane Cleland, John Hart, David Rosenfelt, Kermit Roosevelt, Tess Gerritsen), Laura Lippman, Twist Phelan, George Pelaconos, Lee Child, and Willetta Heising. My only problem will be deciding whether to catch up with old friends or to try to meet new folks. I know, I know—that's not really a problem!

The Festival runs from Wednesday, March 21 through Sunday, March 28. Check it out—I've added a link. Oddly enough, I've put it in the "Links" box at right.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Upcoming Events

Feb. 5, 2007 - 7:00 Jefferson Bass at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh (919.828.1588).

Feb. 15, 2007 - 2:00 Molly will present "Old Murder" (antiques theme) at the Cary (NC) Public Library. PLEASE NOTE DATE CHANGE.

Feb. 18, 2007 - Molly presents "Also Known As" (authors with pseudonyms) at the Eva Pery Library in Apex, NC.

Feb. 22, 2007 - Tim Dorsey at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh (919.828.1588).

March 1, 2007 - Sarah Shaber Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh (919.828.1588).