Saturday, March 30, 2013

THE TOOTH TATTOO by Peter Lovesey (Soho)

Detective Peter Diamond is back with a new challenge. During a vacation to Vienna (where his favorite movie The Third Man was set) a body was found in a canal. Peter paid little attention, after all, he was on vacation and reveling in finding where every scene was filmed, but one fact about the body became important when he returned home: a tooth tattoo of a musical symbol. On his return to Bath, he's faced with similar victims on his own patch—and with a major crisis in his personal life. Diamond knows about murder victims, but his lack of musical knowledge makes his case extremely demanding and his personal uncertainties complicate things further than usual.

Mystery lovers will enjoy Diamond's latest adventure. Those who are also mystery lovers will welcome it.

FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Winner & Addresses Needed

Sandy G265 is the winner of Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke.

I'm still waiting on addresses for Booklady and Petite from previous contests.

Please email me your snail addresses and I'll get the books to you ASAP. Please identify your alias in the email so I'll get the books to the appropriate person. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Workshop - Making Crime Pay

Making Crime Pay is a workshop for aspiring mystery writers offered by the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex on Saturday, April 20. Widely published authors Marcia Talley and Kate Charles will offer "Making Crime Pay," a workshop for aspiring mystery writers. 

Talley, who has written 12 Hannah Ives mysteries, is a past president of Sisters in Crime, Inc. Like her protagonist, she lives in Annapolis, Maryland. Charles, a former Chairman of the Crime Writers' Association (U.K.), is the author of Deep Waters and two previous novels featuring Anglican cleric, Callie Anson.  Her earlier novels include the Lucy Kingsley and David Middleton-Brown "Book of Psalms" mysteries and three stand-alones. Originally from Ohio, Charles now lives and writes in Ludlow, Shropshire, U.K. 

The two will share their expertise in an intensive, one-day workshop. Expect to work hard as Kate and Marcia take you through the four fundamentals of writing a crime novel: plot, character, dialogue, and narrative. The day will conclude with a nuts and bolts session during which the subjects discussed will include: preparing a manuscript for submission, agents, reference books, working methods, and publicity. A boxed lunch will be provided, but to make the best possible use of time, everyone will eat while working. Full cost for the workshop is $50. Registration  (click on tickets)  is through the Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem Street in downtown or Etix . For questions, contact the Halle Center at 919.249.1120.

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Contest

I mentioned that I escorted Joanne Fluke while she was in the Triangle last weekend. She spoke at the Page-Walker Cultural Arts Center in Cary, The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, and McIntyre's Fine Books in Fearrington Village. We had great crowds at all her events—and folks were doubly rewarded for their attendance.

In addition to hearing her entertaining talks, Kensington Publishers sent red velvet cupcakes as a special treat.

Joanne graciously signed a hardcover of her latest Hanna Swenson mystery, Red Velvet Cupcake Murder for our last contest for Women's Mystery Month winner. Remember the rules:

List one of your favorite women mystery writers and write a comment about her or why you like her books.

Contest Winner

I'm proving that I can't do things on schedule. Events fell in on me last week, and I didn't even think about posting a winner until yesterday (while hearing debut mystery author Karen Pullen talk about her great new book, Cold Feet).

But, to get back to business, Booklady is the winner of last week's contest. Just shoot me an email with your real name and snail address and I'll get your prize out to you.

The Good, the Bad, and the Wichy by Heather Blake (Berkley)

The Good, the Bad, and the WitchyDarcy Merriweather is the witchy sleuth in this new witchcraft mystery. She's a newcomer to the town of—where else?—Salem, Massachusetts. Any wannabe witches will delight in this book that has all the 'm' ingredients for a good mystery, i.e. Magic, Murder, Mystery, Moonlight, Midnight, and Motives galore. There's magic everywhere in the Enchanted Village with unique shops like Lotions and Potions, Bewitching Boutique, the Black Thorn, The Trimmed Wick, and As You Wish. 

Darcy is a "wishcrafter," a witch who can grant wishes for others. She's new to the craft and is learning, not only about her own magic, but also about others' magical talents. Hariette Harkette, a magical florist, decides to throw herself an 80th birthday party and Darcy's role in that celebration puts her right in the middle of mystery and murder. Much of the plot revolves around the Black Witching Hour Rose, the first all-natural black rose.
The plot becomes more convoluted when Michael, the young cake delivery man, is found dead. He once worked for Hariette, and his extra-curricular activities throw suspicion on others. The many witches involved in the story require extraordinary effort for Darcy, since she's the one who found the victim. Because she found him, his ghost imprints himself on Darcy, and they are bonded until she finds his murderer. Michael was a witch with extraordinary powers of light. His talents in creating the black roses are mysterious and
unknown to most people.
There are, of course, colorful and quirky characters in this paranormal mystery and the many detours taken by each one take readers on an unusual ride, weaving a pretty good plot. Of course, some of the detours are dead ends. (Ahem! Pun intended!)
This is a good read. Murder and attempted murder are some of the main ingredients,
making it fun, interesting, and quirky. After all, who wouldn't like to be vicariously in Salem, Massachusetts?
—Dian Esterly

FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.


That Old Flame of Mine by J. J. Cook (Berkley)

That Old Flame of MineThis is the first in a new paranormal series (Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade) and the sleuth/ firefighter is a woman whose cry could be, "I am woman; hear me roar." At least that's what came to mind when the beginning explained how Stella Griffin roared into the small town of Sweet Pepper, Tennessee on her Harley motorcycle. 

Back in Chicago she caught her boyfriend cheating on her, knocked his lights out, and hopped on her Harley after accepting a temporary position to train the fire brigade there. She goes on be be elected fire chief after impressing most of the people in this town. Of course, there's a romance trying to bloom, too.
Since this is a mystery there has to be something to solve, and, of course, it involves a fire where a friend is discovered inside, dead, but not from the fire. Naturally, Stella realizes this and her suspicions of arson and foul play need to be pursued. She is renting a cabin of the former fire chief that everyone says is haunted. She discovers the truth of this, but in a twist from the usual ghost stories, she finds that he can and will help her. There are people who don't want her to find the truth, and she knows she's in danger and that time is limited.
This book is a good read with the usual "m" words of any paranormal mystery: Murder, Mystery, Motives, Messy relationships, and unique to this book, a Motorcycle and accidents.  The ending is satisfying, but leaves the reader with a hint about the story in the next book of this series.
For anyone interested in pepper recipes, there are a few included. Even if you don't cook, the recipes are fun to read.
—Dian Esterly
—FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher

Monday, March 18, 2013

CONTEST - Read the Rules!!!

Several folks have responded to the contest with lists of favorite authors. That's great. BUT. The rest of the rules say
a COMMENT about A favorite female mystery author. 
 That means you don't have to pick your very favorite. Just say why you like one favorite author.

This is a blog where I want folks to learn about new authors and their work. I'm offering readers a chance to help me spread the word about women mystery writers.

Good luck—and happy reading!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Women's Mystery Month - WINNER

Whew! I'm glad I used the phrase "or there abouts" when I said I'd announce winners on Fridays. I was  with mystery author Joanne Fluke most of yesterday and I just didn't get around to announcing. Sorry. But—drum roll please—this week's winner is "Petite." So, whoever "Petite" is, just shoot me an email and I'll get a copy of a new book by a woman mystery author in the mail to you.

There are two more weeks in March and one partial, so I'll continue the contest for three more Fridays (or thereabouts). 

Just post a comment about a favorite female mystery author and I'll choose a winner from the entries. You don't need to email me to enter, the blog site does that automatically. I've got several great new books waiting to go to good reading homes!

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Another Contest

My friend Carolyn Hart is having a contest on her Facebook page with other mystery writers! They’re giving away books and a $25 gift card to the bookstore of your choice. Go to her Facebook page and click the Mystery Contest tab at the top.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Winners! Women's MYSTERY Month Contest

It was a short week for the contest, so I'll reward both folks who left comments.

Julie & Judy Dee, please email me your snail mail address and I'll get a book out to each of you.

For those who tuned in late, I'm running weekly contests in March to celebrate Women's MYSTERY Month. I've got copies of new mysteries written by women to send to posters here on Meritorious Mysteries.

  • Just post a comment or factoid about one of your favorite female mystery writers. 
  • I'll announce winners every Friday (or thereabouts) in March. 
  • Watch to see if you're a winner, then email me with your snail mail address.
  • Please don't email UNLESS you've been listed as a winner.

Good luck—and happy reading!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

WHAT A GHOUL WANTS by Victoria Laurie (Berkley)

Now this book is good. The setting is northern Wales—in a haunted castle ! WOO-HOO and WOO-WOO ! It's creepy book filled with evil that M.J. Holliday has to battle. She has an unusual ability, of course. She can talk to the dead. She and her cohorts have a ghost-hunting  cable TV show about ghouls. She and her friends just may be in over their heads at Kidwella Castle which is haunted by the Grim Widow who allegedly drowns unsuspecting guests in the moat. 

Soon after M.J. and her friends arrive, two bodies are found in the moat—frightening castle guests and cast alike. They realize they are dealing with an evil ghost who captures her victims and chains them to her for eternity. It is M.J.'s goal to free them so they can go to the light and cross over to the place they are meant to be. Doing this means that M. J. and her staff have to put themselves in very real danger where their lives are in the balance. The local inspector suspects a serial father-son duo, but M. J. thinks he is wrong. In order to catch the real murderer she has to dive deep into the castle's past and bring long-buried secrets to the surface.

The plot is thick, convoluted, and good. The characters are well-developed and real. This is a thrilling and chilling story that surprised me with its magnetism. It's also dotted with fun and human flaws which deliver believability.

A good, creepy read.

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

Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti by Bailey Cates (Berkley)

Here's another magical bakery mystery with new witch, Katie Lightfoot. She's just discovered her witchiness and is experimenting with her abilities in the magical kingdom. She is living the good life in Savannah as part-owner of an enchanted bakery with her aunt Lucy and uncle Ben. She loves everything about her new life of freedom and the coven (operating as a book club as far as the general public is concerned) of which she's a part. She and Declan, a handsome fireman who is in love with her, are on a breakfast picnic in the park when she discovers a dead man. YIKES!  

The dead man was a member of  a small secret society of Druids who was identified by a strange tattoo. The hunt for a missing object—and the reason for his murder—takes readers on a not- so-merry but interesting chase and entrance into the dark and frightening world of black magic. When another corpse is found the chauvinistic Drogohs accept the help of the witchy women because they need all the power they can muster to overcome the evil murderer in a remote cemetery at midnight.

The characters in this series are quirky and delightful and all are amusingly portrayed. The bakery is the magnet for all sorts of usual and unusual activities.  

The book is a blend of suspense, romance, and even familiars that provide insights into interspecies communication; the paranormal becomes quite normal as these delightful witches use their unusual abilities to solve crimes. 

Enjoyable and fun !

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

A Haunting Dream by Joyce & Jim Lavene (Berkley)

Who wouldn't want to know about the people in a small town on the North Carolina coast called Duck? It's a charming town, as it turns out, with the usual variety of citizens in any town or community plus some quirky characters that make the story more interesting. The characters are mostly likable, if quirky. Dae O'Donnell, first mayor of this newly-incorporated town is a woman who has visions and a gift for finding lost things or people. She runs a store named Missing Pieces because she truly cares about the things in it—many are antiques. Her gift for finding lost things leads her to murder in this paranormal mystery. The plot is convincingly convoluted and fun, as well as mysterious, since her gift changes during the course of trying to find the murderer. 

Her fiance's "ex" turns up after a stint in a psychiatric hospital.  She, too, has a gift and unlike Dae, has been trained all of her life to turn her visions into helpful advice for the FBI's challenging cases. Of course, her appearance complicates her romantic life with Kevin, but Dae and Anne have to pull together to try to find a little 6-year-old girl who's gone   missing after her father was murdered.

Meanwhile, Dae is running a campaign for re-election against a jerk called Mad Dog. Obviously, he's stupid and mean and arrogant, but some people in this charming town actually like him! It does make you wonder !

This is a good read, made better if you like small towns on the coast, North Carolina, and women who stick to their intuitive guns while making a difference.

—Dian Esterly

FTC Disclosure — This book was provided by the publisher

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Peach Pies and Alibis by Ellery Adams (Berkley)

The Charmed Pie Shoppe is in the town of Havenwood, Georgia, thus the peach inference. Ella Mae laces her pies with enchantments, but she is new to her unusual talents and is still experimenting and discovering their extent. Everyone in Ella Mae's family of women have different atypical skills. Ella Mae has had her Awakening later than her mom and aunts—hey had almost given up on her becoming on of them.
The story is rife with relationships that are not what they seem, paranormal adventures, the need for someone to sacrifice herself to the Lady of the Ash (an evil presence clothed in normal clothes and role), a death, and a deep emotional/romantic attachment to a handsome man who her aunts say is not good for her (who knows why?).

Even though she's a newcomer to town, Ella Mae, a gifted baker of pies, is invited to cater a wedding that will cement her reputation. When a member of the community dies, she has to prove that her pies didn't contain a deadly ingredient. In the course of preparing to defend herself, gun-toting aunt Reba makes sure she is a crack shot and supplies her with a needed weapon. Reba is feisty and funny and takes no prisoners.

This is an enjoyable Southern cozy set in the mountains of northwest Georgia.  A few pie recipes are included which sweeten the tangy book.

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

Women's MYSTERY Month - Contest Too!

This March, as part of Women's History Month, the celebration of heroines who have changed history, we're also celebrating Women's Mystery Month, paying homage to the women writers who are as tough as their detectives.

Open Road Integrated Media has a great video mash-up of interviews featuring several bestselling women authors, including Laura Lippman, Anne Perry, Jane Langton, Susan Dunlap, and Susan Isaacs, who speak about breaking into the male-dominated and previously considered "unladylike" mystery and crime genres.

They have a Women's Mystery Month page where you can explore a list of participating authors and titles.

I just got back from our Eva Perry Library in Apex where Librarian Lynn Wolfgram and I gave a short program on women mystery writers from the Golden Age to the New Golden Age. I've got copies of some new mysteries written by women to send to posters to Meritorious Mysteries. Post a comment or factoid about one of your favorite female mystery writer and I'll announce a couple of winners every Friday (or thereabouts) in March. Watch to see if you're a winner, then email me with your snail mail. Please don't email UNLESS you've been listed as a winner. Thanks.