Wednesday, November 06, 2013

It's a Book, (Jackass)

Join a host of authors reading from Lane Smith's It's a Book. The video, a project devised by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, is in support of the printed book—and it's two minutes of sheer fun. Nobody cares if you view it twice! BTW, I often read on my iPad, but never in the bathtub where I do a good part of my reading.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013


That's what Pete Mock says in his mystery newsletter from McIntyre's in Fearrington Village (Pittsboro NC). He makes a good case, too. Pete and I have shared mystery opinions for many years now. We don't always agree, but we do always respect! Take a look and see what you think. Let me know.

Happy reading.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Skeleton in the Attic by Leigh Perry

Many families have a skeleton in their closet. You know, the family member who was a thief, an alcoholic, a rapist, or a schizophrenic. People hide them so that their own good reputation isn't tarnished by admitting that we all have a dark side. Georgia Thackery's family is one who has a skeleton, not in their closet, but in the attic, where he enjoys reading and other pursuits usually reserved for the living. This family has given him a name and keeps him hidden for his own sake. Sid, walks and talks, makes bad jokes that aren't funny, but generally he is a good guy. Oh, yeah, they know he's a he. What they don't know is who he was before he dead. 

Georgia is an adjunct professor at the same college where her parents teach. They are on sabbatical and Georgia has moved back home for awhile. She is a single mom with a daughter, Madison, a bright 14-year old. They are happy to live here and reconnect with Georgia's sister. Georgia has known Sid almost her whole life and he is actually her best friend. Well, Sid talks Georgia into attending an anime convention, disguised as......what else?.......a skeleton !  Don't know what an anime is? The book will explain. 

While at the convention, Sid sees a woman who triggers vague memories of his past, and he is determined to find out who he is and how he died. He needs Georgia's help and their adventures are worth discovering. Needless to say, there's a killer on the loose, and the
mystery leads Sid and Geogia on a chase that could be lethal. Luckily, Sid has abilities as well as a sterling character that leads to an ending that isn't easily figured.
This is a fun read and before you go making assumptions about skeletons that walk and talk—think about it !!
—Dian Esterly

FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.

Editor's secret: Leigh Perry is a pseudonym for my good friend and North Carolina native Toni L. P. Kelner. As Dian indicates, she's still got her funny (dare I say it?) bone!

Keep No Secrets by Julie Compton (Fresh Fork Publishing)

If you liked Jillian Flynn's Gone Girl, read until 4AM to finish it, Keep No Secrets is its equal. Here's the portrait of a modern marriage caught in the balance of careers, demands of raising children, and just keeping your head when your world comes apart. Keep No Secrets is a shell game of who is the hero, whois the villain. Compton's skill as a writer in her third novel keeps the reader's sympathies on a seesaw. Who is telling what lies? Who is keeping the most and biggest and worst secret of all?   

A fantastic read!

--Ruth Moose
FTC Disiclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.

Ruth Moose won the St. Martin-Minotaur-Malice Domestic Award for Best First Novel in May. Her debut mystery, Doin' It at the Dixie Dew will hit shelves next spring from Minotaur.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Noah’s Rainy Day by Sandra Brannan (Greenleaf BookGroup)

This is the fourth book in the Liv Bergen Mystery series. The suspense begins on page one with the prologue and continues throughout the book.

Liv Bergen has finally become an FBI Special Agent entrusted with the handling and training of the bloodhound, Beulah. Liv is back home in Colorado for Christmas with her family. Noah, Liv’s 12-year-old nephew, has cerebral palsy. He cannot speak or walk, and has very limited eye site and use of his arms. Noah’s brain functions very well, in fact better than some of us. His only means of communication is with smiles for “yes” and frowns for “no”. He worships his Aunt Liv “Boots” Bergan and wants to be a spy like her. Liv gives him a secret gift of a “spy pin” that records sound.

Liv and Beulah’s Christmas visit is interrupted when five-year-old Max is kidnapped from the Denver airport. Working with veteran agent Street Pierce, enigmatic agent and lover Jack Linwood they fear the worst when no ransom demands are made. They are on a time clock to find the boy before it is too late.

Meanwhile, Noah, housebound, spends a lot of time looking out his special window to the world—a floor to ceiling window installed by his father. Noah’s active mind and curiosity notices everything that happens in his small world. When he sees a small child watching him from his neighbor’s window he has a mystery to solve and a spy pin to use. Noah’s “investigation” may lead down a very dark path for him and his family.

If the first three books in the series are as good as this one, I have some serious reading to do! As with all good series, I did not have any problems following the story and character relationships. 

—Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.

Friday, August 30, 2013

BDP (Blatant Daughter Promotion)

I know this isn't mystery-related, but it's my blog, so…

Our daughter Erin has been nominated for the Martha Stewart American Made award. We'd surely appreciate your SIX votes each day (I have no clue when the contest is over). As Andy Griffith used to say, "I 'preciate it—and good night."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WIGGLE ROOM Amazon Free Book 8/28–30/13

I ran into Darden North at Killer Nashville this weekend. His new book, Wiggle Room, is just out and his publisher is offering the Kindle download free today through Friday (August 28–30). I just downloaded his new medical thriller featuring Air Force surgeon Brad Cummins. I suggest you grab it, too!

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Crocodile on the Sunbank has been won—but I hope you'll all participate in "Buy a Friend a Book Day" at your local bookstore!

Happy reading!

Buy a Friend a Book Day - August 31

I was invited to this event on Facebook and I hope you'll join the effort. One new thing:  Let's all be sure to buy that book at a local INDEPENDENT bookstore. Support local economy — at least with one book.

The mystery community lost one of the greats this week. Barbara Mertz (Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels) died on Thursday. To honor her, I've ordered a copy of Crocodile on the Sunbank for Saturday, August 31. I'd like to make a new friend by sending this copy to the first responder who has never read the Amelia Peabody series. You'll have to get the rest of the books on your own, because I know you'll be hooked!

Just email me with "Crocodile" in the subject line. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Elizabeth Foxwell has written a beautiful tribute to her friend.

Friday, August 09, 2013

CAT IN AN ALIEN X-RAY by Carole Nelson Douglas (Forge)

“Cats rule—dogs just wish they did, and people are fooling themselves.”  Yes, Midnight Louie is back with his whole clowder— feline and human with just a touch of canine. OK, I confess, I’m a fan of Las Vegas mysteries, but Louie is definitely my favorite and Carole Nelson Douglas continues to keep us guessing in Cat in an Alien X-Ray.

This time Louie’s dealing with the “usual”----murder, mobsters, Max --with a twist of disappearing buildings. Is it science or aliens or just Vegas? Is that body really an Aztec astronaut somehow back from space or is the old-time  mob related to his murder? And were all those ancient space travelers really cats in disguise? Louie has all the answers. 
--Doreen Weaton
FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.

COMPOUND MURDER by Bill Crider (Minotaur)

Reading Bill Crider is like sitting by a cozy fire—in sweats and fuzzy slippers! Every time I see "a Dan Rhodes Mystery" on the cover, I know I'm in for a good time.

When the body of an English instructor at the community college turns up behind a Dumpster one morning before classes, Sheriff Dan Rhodes is off to another rib-tickling adventure. This time he's dealing with a survivalist compound, a wild pig, and a beauty shop break-in—not to mention Dr. Pepper withdrawal.

Dan keeps the peace in and around Clearview, Texas with a supporting cast as outrageous as that in Sheriff Andy Taylor's Mayberry.  Y'all have fun, now, ya hear?

FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Ophelia Cut by John Lescroart (Atria)

Dirty NYC cop Anthony Xavier Ricci is about to get a second lease on life, after being caught up in a Federal sting. If he cooperates with the Feds, he will not be charged with any crime and will be given a new persona, a new name, and he will be placed in the Federal  Witness Protection Program. And so, Ricci becomes Tony Solaia and is born anew and relocated to San Francisco. Thus begins John Lescroart's latest novel, The Ophelia Cut.

Meanwhile, our main protagonist, attorney Dismas Hardy is facing a mid-life crisis. The kids are grown, his practice is shrinking, and a six-year old secret may raise its ugly head. His brother-in-law, Moses McGuire, and his best friend, Detective Abe Glitsky, are both nervous about this secret. Only six people know the secret and from time to time it threatens to come to the surface.

Everything is going to become more complicated. Moses McGuire's daughter, Brittany is brutally raped by Rick Jessup,a councilman's chief of staff. McGuire roughs up Jessup, and a couple of months later, Jessup ends up dead. Quite naturally, McGuire is the prime suspect. Hardy will defend McGuire, but his friendship with Glitsky will be called into question and the six-year-old secret involving all of them may yet surface!

John Lescroart's latest book starring all his leading characters may be his best yet. Please enjoy The Ophelia Cut!

—Steve Bank

Thursday, August 01, 2013

THE KILL ROOM by Jeffrey Deaver (Grand Central)

Chubby Checkers has nothing on the twists in Jeffery Deavers’ The Kill Room. It’s the latest in his Lincoln Rhyme series and it will keep you reading. 
Just then you think he’s told you everything about the good guys and the bad guys, there’s another twist. Is he really a good guy or really a bad guy? Think you know? You’re probably wrong.
“Are you a patriot or a traitor?” This time Deaver goes political, but not with opinions—with facts. You decide which side the National intelligence and Operations Service (NIOS) with its “targeted remedies” is on. 
I couldn’t wait to finish it, but didn’t want it to end. You’ll think about this one long after you finish reading. 
--Doreen Wheaton
FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I read a lot of great books, but this one is outstanding! I resented every moment I had to be away from it—and I read it from cover to cover today.

Literary agency Jo Donovan has a gift for choosing winning manuscripts and nurturing her authors. Unfortunately, she also has to say no more often than not. One aspiring author, however, just won't take no for an answer—"Sam Spade" accosts her outside her office, insisting she's the only agent for him. Quickly, Jo's whole world is turned about—from sabotage to her agency to her personal life. 

While telling her story, Jo gives the reader a full insight into the publishing business as only an insider could. She should—her creator, Barbara Rogan once owned a literary agency. She now teaches writing.

A Dangerous Fiction will get my vote for best mystery novel next year.

FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rosemary & The Camel

In a comment to my guest blog today at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen Rosemary Harris mentioned a yard sale we went to when she toured in this area a few years ago. I responded that she should have bought the life-sized camel—and the comments continued from there.

I thought I'd better post what I was talking about

—and then I remembered that Noel and I had visited Don Shadow's fabulous place in Tennessee where I fell in love with the real camels.

I wasn't brave enough to let one of them kiss me though—I've heard they spit!

Friday, July 19, 2013


Titles and being heirs to the throne didn't mean much to most British families during the Depression years: Lady Georgiana Rannoch is 35th in line and her brother is a Duke, but the coffers are quite empty. Georgie has tried several unsuccessful careers during this delightful series, but usually the most she earns is her room and board—and the opportunity, urh—obligation to solve a murder.

In this outing, Georgie thinks she may have landed in a comfortable spot when the Queen suggests she help a dowager duchess groom her son's newly discovered heir (from the Outback of Australia) to to be in position to take his place in society. No reader will be surprised when Georgie finds a knife in the back of the current Duke; I suspect few, however, will suspect the perpetrator.

The "Royal Spyness" series gets stronger with each title. I always look forward to Georgie's adventures.

FTC Disclaimer -- This book was provided by the publisher.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Iconic NC Bookstore Has New Owner

RALEIGH, NC. — A member of a well-known Raleigh family is the new owner of Quail Ridge Books & Music.  Bookstore owner Nancy Olson turns the reigns over to Lisa Robie Poole, a 49-year-old mother and wife. Poole is the wife of Ven Poole, CEO of Waste Industries in Raleigh.

Poole is a Raleigh native, who grew up in the same neighborhood as humorist David Sedaris. Her father was the beloved pediatrician, Dr. Bill Robie. She’s excited about starting this new chapter in her life as a bookstore owner. “I have two daughters departing the nest, leaving just one behind, and the opportunity to add something to my life seemed interesting,” she says.

Poole says she will continue the tradition of Olson. “I am in awe of everything that goes on in that store,” she says. “From the author events, to the book clubs, the award winning children’s section, and the wonderful collection of Southern writers…I can’t imagine changing the book store into something other than what Jim and Nancy Olson have made it.”

“I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to carry on the traditions of Quail Ridge Books,” says Poole, who hopes to add new books to her large children’s book collection intended for her future grandchildren.

“I know they will be good stewards of the bookstore,” Olson says. “They are very down-to-earth and easy to work with. We are going to have a good time.”

Olson will serve in an advisory role to the store to help the new owner make a smooth transition. The new owners also will inherit the store’s 24 full- and part-time staff members, which have an average of 15 years of book-selling experience.

“I think we are really fortunate to find a new owner with roots in Raleigh who values books, and values the store the way it is and wants to keep it a strong presence in the community,” says Sarah Goddin, the store’s manager. “Nancy will still be involved for a long time and the staff will continue as well. So, there will really be little visible change except some new faces. I know our customers will find Lisa and her family a delight to get to know.”

There will be lots of new people for Poole to meet. The store has nurtured scores of North Carolina writers, including Lee Smith, Kaye Gibbons and Jill McCorkle. Many of them had their first readings at Quail Ridge Books. Olson’s taste for good books has earned her a national reputation for turning hard covers such as Charles Frazier’s “Cold Mountain” into best-sellers. The store sold 6,000 copies of his first novel, 1,200 of them at his first reading.

Olson created a gathering place for the Triangle’s book-loving community. For 28 years, she’s been wooing customers to her store again and again with genuine Southern hospitality, a knowledgeable staff and a carefully curated selection of books. This is no small feat in the competitive book-selling climate of e-books and Amazon. More than 17,500 households belong to the store’s loyalty program, and her staff can call most customers by their first names.

In 2011, Quail Ridge Books, located in Ridgewood Shopping Center, sold $3 million in books, cds, stationery, calendars and gift items. The 9,400-square-foot store also has a children’s book and music department and stocks about 70,000 titles.

Since its founding in 1984, the bookstore has attracted local and national authors, including Michael Chabon, Amy Tan and Walter Mosley, and celebrities including President Jimmy Carter, humorist David Sedaris; and radio host Garrison Keillor. The store also sponsors hundreds of events each year, including community discussion groups and town hall meetings.

Quail Ridge Books has received numerous awards. In 2001, the store was named Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year. That same year, the store also received the Pannell Award for Excellence in Children’s Bookselling and the Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling. Poole plans on keeping up the tradition.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

THE MAN FROM BERLIN by Luke McCallin (Berkley)

It's the latter part of WW-II in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. A German officer  and a popular Yugoslavian  photographer, Marija  Vukic have been murdered. Both bodies turned up in her apartment. Now it is the job of German detective Gregor Reinhardt to try to solve the double homicide. His competition is the local police in the form of a detective named Padelin. Although it appears that they  are  working together,  Padelin has his own agenda. He is interested only in getting  Vukic's killer while Reinhardt wants to solve both murders.

Reinhardt is complicated. He served his country proudly in WW-I but is definitely unhappy with the way Germany has evolved in the 30s and 40s. He declined working with the Gestapo and is reasonably content to work as a detective. Many factors are playing into this case: The Croats are looking for a scapegoat whil Reinhardt’s personal internal conflicts will complicate things.

The Man From Berlin is McCallin’s first book. It appears that his research is solid. For those who love mysteries with a mixture of historical fiction, I believe this author has created a well-written book.
—Steve Bank

FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

SIX YEARS by Harlan Coben (Dutton)

OK, you lost the love of your life and she is marrying some guy named Todd. You can't make up your mind, but you decide to attend the wedding. When Julie tells you, "Promise me, Jake, promise me you'll leave me alone," you return to your job as a professor at a small liberal arts college.

Thus begins Harlan Coben's latest thriller.

Now six years later, Jake Fisher is still single. He reads on his office computer that Todd has passed away. He  decides to attend the funeral to see if there is any spark left from that long ago romance. But, there are very strange discrepancies: There are two teenage children and the widow is not  Julie! As Jack digs into the past to bring it in line with the  present nothing fits nor is there anyone who can help him. 

Ask yourself what would you do if EVERYTHING you knew to be true six years ago does not exist anymore—that's where Jake Fisher is!
If possible, Harlan Coben gets better with age. This one kept me guessing for the length of the book. You will have to pay attention in this fast-paced novel to help Jake put together all the pieces.

—Steve Bank

Note from Molly

I don't often get NYT and Edgar winners ask someone to make a photo of him with me, but Harlan did just that at Malice Domestic in May. We've been friends since he was writing paperback originals.

Friday, July 05, 2013

TROUBLE VISION by Allison Kingsley (Berkley)

The play on words in the title—double vision/trouble vision—alludes to the protagonist's dubious paranormal gift. She wishes she didn't have this interited special ability, the "Quinn Sense." Clara Quinn resists the visions that come to her without warning or permission, mostly because they seem unhelpful and unpredictable. Clara has grown up with her cousin, Stephanie, and they are like sisters, being only weeks apart in age and both being only children. 

Clara moved to New York City but returned to Finn's Harbor, Maine when she was jilted by an obviously unscrupulous man. She hasn't told anyone why she's moved back home, but those who know her know it must have been for a profoundly painful reason. Stephanie owns the Raven's Nest bookstore and the cousins run it. Stephanie would love to have the Quinn Sense, so that every time Clara has a vision, Stephanie is right there, wanting to know the reason and meaning while Clara tries to ignore it.
In this story, a hotel resort is being built on the edge of town and there's plenty of conflict and opposition. The mayor calls a meeting to give citizens the opportunity to express their concerns and to voice opinions. The meeting escalates into an actual fistfight, and Clara gets a premonition and vision that spells nothing but big trouble.
When a customer comes into the bookstore talking about a man's fatal fall from the scaffolding at the construction site, the profound sadness about his widow and young children leave Clara no choice but to pay attention to the Quinn Sense. The sheriff has concluded the death was an accident, but a vision tells Clara he was murdered. Clara's realizes she will have to do something. She sticks her nose into the whole nasty and dangerous situation, riling the sheriff and putting herself in danger with her questions. People who think it's OK to murder someone are not people who take her nosy questions lightly. Clara soon faces a life or death situation.

A nice twist to Clara's paranormal talents is that she and her dog Tatters can understand each other. Tatters plays a role in the resolution.The plot has an interesting-but-not-heavy peripheral mother-daughter relationship situation (Clara is living with her mother until she can get her feet on the ground after coming home).

For book lovers, dog lovers, and paranormal mystery aficionados, this is a treat.
—Dian Esterly

FTC Disclaimer - This book was provided by the publisher.

TARNISHED AND TORN by Juliet Blackwell (Berkley)

Juliet Blackwell is a pseudonym, but there's nothing pseudo about her paranormal mysteries. Although paranormal mysteries have twists that most crime fiction don't, usually there's a sleuth with special abilities. In Blackwell's books, there's a further twist because there IS a protagonist with witchy abilities, but there are also a bunch of other witches, male and female. 

The setting is San Francisco and there probably isn't a city that has more quirky characters. The protagonist is Lily Ivory, owner of a popular vintage clothing store. Off Lily goes to a gem show, in search of antique jewelry for her store. It turns out not to be that simple because she meets Griselda, a vendor at the gem show, who gives her faint, vague signals about something she can't describe. Lily wonders if Griselda is a fellow practicing witch, but about the time she decides that's probably the case, Lily finds Griselda murdered. There's no doubt it's murder because the way in which she died is the way witches were put to death centuries earlier during the infamous witch hunts. Pressing!! I'll leave you to read the book to discover this awful way of dying.
Lily was brought up by her grandmother and hasn't seen her father in years, but wouldn't you know that he turned up during this time, shocking Lily into reliving painful memories and wondering about her father's activities. This was certainly a blast from the past, and although she wanted to talk to him, she was fairly sure that he didn't appear at this time just to get to know her. He is a powerful witch himself and pitiful person that he is, he begs Lily to help him. He obviously doesn't deserve it, but Lily is determined to clear his name and solve a murder that's muddy with emotions and people and all sorts of witchy characters. 
During the process of trying to solve the mystery of Griselda's death, the strands of many peoples' lives are intertwined and it's up to Lily to tease out the ones that will help resolve this horrible murder. Many paths seem to have potential but turn out to be dead ends. Even those are very interesting and create the plot and subplots. Somewhere along the way, a former boyfriend shows up and Lily is drawn to him again—or yet.
The book is entertaining and even informative, if you want to delve into the many facets of paranormal abilities. It's infinitely fascinating to contemplate the limitless potential and unusual qualities of humankind. The reality of the invisible world is there for us to question—and maybe even begin to answer.
Blackwell is an anthropologist who has studied systems of spirituality, magic, and health across cultures and throughout history. Her credentials for witchcraft are apparent as she weaves the many unusual facts into her mysteries.
Read her and then look for her other series. One series is written with her sister. Interesting author!

—Dian Esterly

FTC Disclosure—This book was provided by the publisher.

DYEING WISHES by Molly MacRae (Berkley)

Welcome to Blue Plum, TN or welcome back. This is the second book in this haunted yarn shop mystery series. The story has many quirks, not the least of which is Geneva the ghost who more or less lives with Kath Ruthledge, owner of The Weaver's Cat yarn shop which she inherited from her much loved grandmother, who had paranormal abilities and a proclivity for solving murders. Geneva lives in the attic and has a mind of her own. She is dismal, direct, droopy and as much a hindrance as a help in all things.

The hub of this delightful small town is the yarn shop and the TGIF (Thank Goodness It's Fiber) needlework and fiber group which meets regularly learning the art of dyeing. This group is close-knit—as ardent in their friendships as in their needlework love. Kath is unsure of her special abilities but is drawn into the paranormal because of Geneva. The communication between Kath and Geneva is two-way—they understand and sort of take care of each other. Despite Geneva's tendencies toward drama and doom, she loves to play assistant sleuth,  so she watches out for Kath.
The story opens at Cloud Hollow Farm where the TGIF group is meeting. The friends head out to greet the sheep, owned by Debbie, a member of the group who is recovering from a broken marriage. The sheep are all standing near a tree in the pasture and not paying attention to the women. This is unusual, so the women decide they have to investigate. They find two dead bodies—and one is someone they know.
Each woman's story is disclosed as they try to solve the murders. Naturally, they fear for their lives when another murder pops up. Romantic relationships muddy the waters (literally and figuratively) before the mystery is solved.
The small town setting is one where everyone cares about others. The TGIF club has unusual and very different characters—and all their quirks and sometimes droll senses of humor make the book a nice read.
I'll be happy to return to Blue Plum, TN for the next adventure.

FTC Disclaimer - This book was provided by the publisher.

MURDER ON THE ROCKS by Allyson K. Abbott (Kensington)

For anyone who loves bars and bartenders, this is a good read. Drink recipes included !

Mack's Bar is on of those nice friendly places where everybody knows your name. The Mack is a woman—.real name MacKenzie. Her father, Mack, owned the bar and when his wife died, he brought his daughter, Mack, up in the bar. It sounds like a bad idea, but in reality the regulars were upright citizens and helped keep little Mack occupied when she was awake. Mack received lots of attention and was never neglected and she learned how to mix drinks and run the bar by the time it was necessary for her to take over. Everyone loved her dad. He was an upright and good man, so the fact that he was murdered and found in the alley behind the bar made no sense. Obviously, someone didn't like him. The case was still open many months later when Mack found another body in the Dumpster in the alley behind the bar.

The story evolves in the bar due to the presence of a hunky cop who pretends to be a new employee as he tries to eavesdrop on the many customers. He and Mack, herself a wily and intelligent amateur sleuth, work together to solve the mystery of the second murder, a woman known to Mack and to the customers. The woman was involved romantically with her father and Duncan, the cop-turned-bartender, believes the murders are connected. Lily herself is a suspect, as are several regulars, including her bouncer with a police record. All her regulars have suspicious lives that could lead to murder, yet they all have the appearance of normal people.
Mack's bar is in Milwaukee and Mack has unusual abilities. Her special "thing" is that she has synesthesia, an unusual neurological glitch that gives her extra perceptive senses. Her sensory perceptions are mixed. She can hear and smell various things when she sees something or someone. These abnormal senses are confusing and she's spent a lifetime trying to avoid them. Sometimes she isn't sure if they're real or if she has sensed things normally. To solve this case, she has to try to use them and, more importantly, discern their meaning.
The author's name is a pseudonym for a woman who works as an ER nurse and lives in Wisconsin.
This is interesting thriller, partly because synesthesia is a departure from witches, psychics, and othernormal paranormal sleuths.


—Dian Esterly
FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

FREE e-book Give Away

A. J. Hartley just announced that he's giving away copies of his first archaeological thriller (and it definitely IS a page-turning Thriller!!!) on Amazon July 3-4! That's today and tomorrow only. This is a perfect holiday read—on the beach or in your backyard hammock.

Friday, June 28, 2013

THE FAME THIEF by Timothy Hallinan (Soho)

Get ready to laugh in public! Hollywood burgler turned private detective Junior Bender is justifiably concerned when he's hauled before mob boss and movie king Irwin Dressler. Irwin wants Junior to investigate a nearly 70-year old crime. (That Irwin is obviously older than the crime makes no difference to his threat and influence.) Junior's task: To find out who released compromising photos of starlet Dolores La Marr which caused her promising career to tank.

Because no one today would blink an eye at the story, it's particularly funny to see how far some folks will go to protect it. Hallinan, naturally, brings a deft hand to the telling, and humor bubbles over from the beginning. The Fame Thief will keep you laughing long after you close the cover.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shamus Award Finalists 2013

The Private Eye Writers of America has announced the finalists for the Shamus Awards for works published in 2012. The winner will be announced at the PWA Banquet at Bouchercon in Albany NY on Friday, September 20.

Robert B. Parker's Lullaby by Ace Atkins
Taken by Robert Crais 
Hunting Sweetie Rose by Jack Fredrickson 
Blues in the Night by Dick Lochte
The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan  

Hush Money by Chuck Greave
Murder Unscripted by Clive Rosengren
Black Fridays by Michael Sears
Racing the Devil by Jaden Terrell
The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter  

Death Warmed Over by Kevin J. Anderson
And She Was by Alison Gaylin
Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough
False Negative by Joseph Koenig
Pulse by John Lutz  

"The Sequel" by Jeffrey Deaver in The Strand
"After Cana" by Terence Faherty in EQMM
"O'Nelligan and the Lost Fates" by Michael Nethercott in AHMM
"Illegitimati Non Carborundum" by Stephen D. Rogers in Crimespree
"Ghost Negligence" by John Shepphird in AHMM  

Stranger in Town by Cheryl Bradshaw
Enamorted by O'Neil De Noux
One-Eyed Jack by Christopher J. Lynch
White Heat by Paul Marks 
Devil May Care by James Mullaney

Judges for the contest were Douglas Corleone, Jack Fredrickson, Michael Bracken, Stephen D. Rogers, Ted Fitzgerald, Dorothy Rellas, Colleen Collins, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, Tom Sweeney, Andrew S. McAleer, Paul Marks, Troy Nooe, Robert Randisi, Steve Hamilton and Jan Grape. Gay Toltl Kinman served as chair.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Traveler, send me your snail mail!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

DEADLY FORECAST by Victoria Laurie (NAL)

Abby Cooper is a psychic. She is trying to prepare for her wedding (the description of her sister's ideas for her wedding in itself is worth the read—best one-word description is "circus")! Abby is a consultant for the FBI and other policing organizations and her fiancé, Dutch Rivers, is an FBI agent. He has been assigned to a case involving suicide bombers. To her terror, Abby has been advised by her spirit guides that Dutch is in mortal danger. She does everything in her power to keep him safe, but it appears that she might not prevent the catastrophe that will take his life. 
There are several sub-plots that keep this book full of suspense—and even fun—not the least of which are the details of wedding preparations. Her friends, who have their own paranormal talents, are part of the wedding party, but they are also part of the plot. The wedding deadline provides suspense, but there's also the deadline of Dutch's possible murder. The final suspense and resulting resolution to the suicide bombers series involves Abby's being kidnapped.
The book offers mystery and suspense, but also warmth and the support of friends, and even tough love among them. Teamwork and friendships and romantic relationships and the attempt to give her sister a memorable wedding all add to this surprising paranormal who-done-it.
This is a good read, with a plot complicated enough to capture the reader's involvement until the end. Without giving away the ending, suffice it to say that Abby and Dutch do NOT give in to her sister's idea of a wonderful wedding. Obviously, Abby is not murdered, but you knew that already, right?
—Dian Esterly 
FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Another Winner - Another Contest

Petite, please email me your snail address!

I've got several trade paperbacks of titles I read when they were first published and I want to share them with other readers. Post a comment telling which end of the crime writing spectrum you like better (hard boiled, traditional, culinary, etc.) and I'll try to match something to your tastes. There's no set number of winners this time. Surprise me with your posts!

Happy reading!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Winner Announced - A New Contest Begun

Thanks for so many great comments! After a very scientific study (I pulled the names from a hat!—ur, pile on my desk), Barb Goffman is the winner of Her Last Breath. Barb, send me your snail mail in an email at MysteryHeel at

No,  a new contest is announced: My friend Brynn Bonner has a great new Southern traditional mystery from Gallery Books. She's offering a signed copy of Paging the Dead to a lucky reader of Meritorious Mysteries. The rules are always simple:

Post a comment about why you like one or more of the following:
  • New authors  
  • Southern mysteries
  • Traditional mysteries 
Leave your comment by noon on Sunday, June 16. 

Good luck—and happy reading!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Accidents Happen by Louise Millar (Simon & Schuster)

Kate Parker has experienced unbelievable tragedy in her life.  Her parents were killed in a traffic accident on her wedding night and her husband was murdered five years ago in a home invasion robbery.  She is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and OCD.  Kate has a young son, Jack.  After her husband's death, to have help with Jack, she moved from London to a college town to be near her in-laws.  

Her OCD causes her to constantly run statistics about accidents and death and ways to pick the safest path.  Kate also has a feeling that she is being stalked.  Her behavior is having a detrimental effect on Jack ,and her in-laws are concerned and threatening to call social services.  This threat motivates her to try to turn her life around because she really wants what is best for Jack—and her old life back.  The problem though, is she really just imagining the threat to her and her son are is it real?

The suspense builds as the story progresses. The only problem I had was the ability of one man to change her so rapidly.  OCD and PTSD do not resolve that easily although his methods were unorthodox to say the least.  The characters are well developed, the plot is good, and I had trouble putting this one down—just had to know how it would all end!

—Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Linda Castillo - Most Recent & First

Her Last Breath

by Linda Castillo (Minotaur)

Anyone who thinks the Amish are boring should take a look at Linda Castillo's Amish Thrillers! A hit and run accident that leaves the farmer and two of his children dead and one child in critical condition brings Chief of Police Kate Burkholder back to Castillo fans. Kate is dismayed when she realizes the victims' wife and mother is an old childhood friend. Further crime scene analysis proves deliberation by the vehicle's driver. Kate's memories of growing up Amish pepper her investigation; at the same time, her relationship with Investigator Tomasetti moves to the forefront of her life.

This is an edge-of-the-seat thriller that you don't want to start reading at midnight!

Because I read and advance copy of Her Last Breath, I have an extra hardcover on hand. I'll send it to a Meritorious Mysteries reader who posts why s/he (1) already enjoys the Amish Thriller series OR (2) looks forward to reading it. Publication date is June 18. Our contest ends on Sunday June 9 at noon EST. I'll post the winner that evening in time for the lucky one to email me the snail address.

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.

For those of you who must read books in series, read on!

Breaking Silence

by Linda Castillo (Minotaur)

Kate Burkholder, police chief in a small Ohio town, gets an emergency call one winter evening. Three members of an Amish family are dead in a barn. The father, mother and the father's brother who have perished in a poorly ventilated cesspit in the barn. Kate musst investigate the accident and inform the family's four children that their parents are dead.
This is will be especially difficult because Kate was once Amish and she understands that community. When the medical examiner examines the bodies he discovers evidence of blunt force trauma indicating a possible triple homicide. Kate discovers there have been multiple incidents of Amish people being harassed and beaten. Because the Amish just want to be left alone, cooperation will be very difficult.

Because the incidents against the Amish can be considered hate crimes the state sends an Investigator John Tomasetti to assist Kate. The pair have worked together before—both professionally and privately.
Two quick points, I am very pleased to find a mystery author who writes a solid narrative; and, I must say that I learned much about the Amish. Please give a look at Linda Castillo and Breaking  Silence.

—Steve Bank

Death of a Dowager by by Joanna Campbell Slan (Berkley)

As a fan of the Kiki Lowenstein contemporary mystery series and nonfiction scrap booking books, I was eager to read Slan's new Jane Eyre Chronicles. I began with Death of a School Girl, the first in the series, preferring to read sequentially to learn the character's nuances and back story; however, as a well constructed mystery, Death of a Dowager can stand on its own.

The Jane Eyre we meet in Slan's series has a feisty approach to life as a wife, mother, mistress of Ferndean Manor—and amateur sleuth.  After a fire damages Ferndean Jane, Rochester, and their son embark on an extended stay in London with their dear friend Lucy Brayton.  Despite Lucy’s guidance through the perils of the social set of London, Jane encounters a very public snub from her nemesis Lady Ingram. As a result, Jane is unwittingly drawn into the intrigue of the court of King George IV.
Slan skillfully takes her readers back to the seemingly gentle times of Jane Eyre. She stays true to the iconic characters, themes, and time period. Her vivid descriptions of London's and Ferndean's physical settings are captivating. Characters are so well developed that readers emotionally connects with them. Conversation among the characters flowed naturally and was never stilted. Slan’s occasional touches of humor make for a very readable mystery.  Death of a Dowager will also appeal to fans of well-researched historical fiction.
Put your feet up, brew a cup of tea to go with a scone and get ready for a very pleasant time with Jane Eyre and The Death of the Dowager.
—Karen Kiley

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Fregoli Delusion by Michael J. McCann (Plaid Raccoon Press)

This is the third novel in the Hank Donaghue and Karen Stainer crime series but the first that I have read.  As with all good series it was easy to follow even though I had not read the previous books.

On a bike path in a very prestigious neighborhood, a billionaire has been murdered. The only eyewitness, Brett Parris, suffers from a rare psychotic disorder, Fregoli Syndrome which causes him to misidentify people.  Brett, is the son of one of the directors of the victim's company. Brett insists that the killer is another employee of the company whom Brett has falsely identified on several occasions as stalking him.  The man has an alibi so no one believes Brett.  The relationship between the victim and his wife is suspect since they had an “open marriage.”  In this high profile case, many influential people are being questioned and the chief wants them handled with kid gloves. Hank knows most of these people because of his family background, but Detective Stainer, who has a very different investigative style, wants to step on toes. 

The suspense really builds as the story develops and I could not put this one down.  I was not sure I was going to like this story because of the witness’ being mentally ill.  The author handled that aspect very well and I enjoyed the novel.  I plan to read the first two and look forward to the fourth!  The only problem I had is that Stainer needs to stop using the "f" word so much.

—Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.