Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No Guest Blogger Today, but…

Our good friend Carolyn Hart sent me a link to a guest blog she's doing today at "Dear Reader." The column is called
"For Love of Cats." I'm sure if you love Carolyn or cats, you'll want to take a look!

Monday, July 26, 2010

HOW TO CRASH A KILLER BASH by Penny Warner (Obsidian)

Events planner Parker Presley is back in another well-intentioned party gone bad. In this outing she's planned a fund-raising event for the deYoung Museum in San Francisco hosted by philanthropist Mary Lee Miller. What could be more relevant for a murder mystery play than the exhibit halls featuring old weapons? Naturally, the setting is too relevant, and the play's victim is murdered for real before the play gets rolling. When Parker's best friend is arrested for murder, Parker must prove once again that the same skill set used for planning events can be used to solve crimes. The Killer Party series is delightful and is a good primer for anyone planning a trip to San Francisco. Enjoy your trip!

FTC Disclaimer - This book was provided by the publisher.

THROUGH THE CRACKS by Barbara Fister (Minotaur)

Former Chicago cop Anni Koskinen has turned her investigating skills to locating missing children and teens. Her newest client, however, wants a missing criminal found—the serial rapist who attacked her more than 20 years ago. She feels her wrongful identification put an innocent man in prison. Anni doesn't want to take the case, but her sense of justice overcomes her own wishes.

Through the Cracks is a hardboiled story with action and sadness. Fister gives readers an authentic look at the backstory of crime, justice, and ambition. She is a writer to watch!

FTC DIsclaimer - This book was provided by the publisher

Guest Blogger - Bill Crider

Texas writer Bill Crider will join us next Tuesday, August 3. His latest book is Murder in the Air, and it's just as great as all the others featuring Sheriff Dan Rhodes. I always enjoy a trip to Blacklin County, Texas.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lipstick Chronicles Expands

Fifteen top-notch authors are joining forces to create a one-of-a-kind blog for book lovers -- and the roster of contributors includes bestselling award winners from across the mystery and women’s fiction genres. The bloggers -- several of whom are New York Times and USA Today bestsellers -- have won every award in the industry: The Edgar, Agatha, Macavity, Anthony, Barry, Dilys, the Canadian Arthur Ellis and the British Dagger.

The bloggers are blockbuster: Brunonia Barry, Diane Chamberlain, Heather Graham, Harley Jane Kozak, Margaret Maron, Nancy Martin, Me, Margie, Louise Penny, Nancy Pickard, Cornelia Read, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Sarah Strohmeyer, Kathy Reschini Sweeney, Elaine Viets and Jacqueline Winspear.

How did it happen? The renowned and successful Lipstick Chronicles -- which just celebrated five years as one of the industry's must-reads -- is now expanding to include different authors to appeal to a broad fiction audience.

Bestselling author Nancy Martin, one of the creators of The Lipstick Chronicles in 2006, says: "Our readers have bonded with the authors, booksellers and fellow fans to create a community of book lovers. Our regulars come every day to be entertained, to exchange ideas, to talk about writing and reading and anything else that’s important to them and to us. We're so excited to expand to include a real Who's Who of the genre."

Five of the original TLC members: Martin, Harley Jane Kozak, Elaine Viets, Sarah Strohmeyer. Kathy Sweeney, and the mysterious (and irreverent) Me, Margie will remain with the new group. Double Agatha-winner Hank Phillippi Ryan joined in 2009.

"Our goal is to help readers find great books," Martin says. "We do that by providing entertaining content every day, written by some of today’s most interesting, thoughtful (and often hilarious) authors. The addition of such bestselling talent will expand and strengthen our community and our reach. And we eagerly look forward to the new friends we’ll make."

For authors, readers and booksellers, The Lipstick Chronicle is part of the daily routine. One never knows what subject will come up – only that both the blog and the comments will be smart and entertaining. The Blog Community at TLC is an interactive bunch with no shortage of topical subjects and clever responses. There is something new every day, and with the addition of new authors and guest bloggers, there is something to talk about 24/7.

Check them out at their website .

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Guest Blogger Meredith Cole

Making It Real and Making It Up

Settings in mystery novels can be divided into two neat categories—those that are written about a real place, and those that are set in a fictitious place. But the division is not as clear-cut as you might think. Some fictitious places are actually real places, only thinly disguised as an imaginary place (here I'm thinking of Ed McBain's "Isola" which is clearly Manhattan). And some real places become fictional places of their own. I doubt if I went to Italy I would really get to see Donna Leon’s Venice.

My books Posed for Murder and Dead in the Water are set in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It's an industrial neighborhood that's never been particularly well-off or beautiful. Williamsburg has been a home for immigrants for 150 years or so, and in the past 30 years it's been home to Hasidic Jews, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Sicilians, and the Polish. In the early 1990's, another group discovered the neighborhood. Attracted by the empty warehouses, cheap rent, and one stop on the subway to Manhattan, artists moved in. They were quickly followed by galleries (more than 37 at one point), music venues, bars, coffee shops and funky boutiques. My amateur sleuth, Lydia McKenzie, is a photographer who longs to hang her work in galleries and give up her day job as an administrative assistant to two private eyes.

But Williamsburg, like every true place, did not stay still or the same. In 2000, the housing boom hit. Landlords began jacking up rents, and building condo buildings on every empty lot. NYU built a dorm for their students. Williamsburg became a tourist destination, and even more restaurants squeezed into storefronts. Artists started moving farther into Brooklyn (or moved away), and the neighborhood continued to evolve.

After 10 years of living in Williamsburg, and setting my books there, I also made the decision to move away. My husband and I had moved there to make our art, but now the rent was no longer cheap. We also wanted to move closer to family. So I started to wonder how my move might affect my third book (tentatively called An Artful Death). When I got stuck on some detail in the first two books, I would go for a walk and observe all the fun and ridiculous sights in my neighborhood and then scribble them down.

But then I realized something important about my Williamsburg. Although the neighborhood in my books is a real place, it is also fictitious. The place in my book is recognizable to anyone who has been there, but it's really more about how the place was 10 years ago when I moved there rather than it is today. I make up the names of the businesses (to protect the innocent) and basically ignore all those condo buildings when it suits me. I also can return (which I did in May of this year) to walk the streets and see how much it has and has not changed. And I can also visit every time I write another book in my Lydia McKenzie series.

Meredith Cole started her career as a screenwriter and filmmaker. She was the winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Malice Domestic competition, and her book Posed for Murder, was published by St. Martin’s Minotaur in 2009. She was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Mystery Novel in 2010. Her second book, Dead in the Water, continues the adventures of photographer and amateur sleuth Lydia McKenzie in Brooklyn. She teaches mystery writing and screenwriting and lives in Virginia. You can visit further with Meredith at her website.

Monday, July 19, 2010

SUSPENSE MAGAZINE offers free issues

Warm up your e-reader! Suspense Magazine is offering four free electronic issues of "the inside source in fiction writing for suspense/thriller/mystery and horror." Look for interviews, bookstore highlights, true stories, contests, stories by favorite and new authors, and more. I've signed up for my free subscription. Why don't you? (Look for email instructions below the July cover.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Free Mystery Writing Workshop

Sunday, August 8, 5:00
Malaprop's Bookstore
55 Haywood Street, Asheville NC

Editor and award-winning author Chris Roerden will discuss both her books, Don’t Sabotage Your Submission and Don’t Murder Your Mystery.

Chris is a great speaker and knows how to help budding mystery writers. This is a great opportunity!

BOOK OF SHADOWS by Alexandra Sokoloff (St. Martin’s Press)

Boston homicide detective Adam Garrett and his partner Carl Landauer are investigating the horrific death of a wealthy college girl. Her headless body with Santanic markings is found in the city dump. The evidence points to a fellow student, Jason Moncrief, who was either dating or stalking the girl. After the arrest of Jason, Tanith Cabarrus, a Salem Witch, approaches the detectives and insists that Jason is innocent and other people may die. Garrett becomes involved with the witch in more ways then one as he races to uncover the truth and prevent additional deaths.

Normally I do not read science fiction because I do not believe in vampires, witches, spells and demons, but this story sucked me right in! The author does an excellent job of convincing the reader to believe the impossible. There are a lot of twists and turns with the lives of both detectives at stake. I could not put this book down.

—Helen Jones

FTC Disclosure—This book was provided by the publisher

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summertime: The Reading is Easy!

The weather has been awful in North Carolina this summer—June broke all records for heat. Even staying inside with air conditioning doesn't seem to help. It's just too plain hot to do most anything—anything except read, that is. Somehow, I still want light reading when the temperature outside reaches (and gets higher than) the 90s. I've gone through several books that haven't strained my fried brain.

Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts (Forge)
Lucky O'Toole is head of customer relations for the Babylon, the "newest, most opulent megacasino and resort on the Strip." When she catches a newscast showing a young woman falling from a helicopter into Treasure Island's lagoon, she immediately recognizes this isn't an accident: First, she recognizes the woman; secondly, the copter belongs to the Babylon. Sin City and its assorted wackos play important roles in this debut novel and Lucky just wants to ensure that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Wanna Get Lucky? is a fun, irreverent look at Vegas from an inside point of view.

Rolling Thunder by Chris Grabenstein (Pegasus Books)
Up on the Jersey Shore, the seedy resort town of Sea Haven is about to make the big time. Big Paddy's Rolling Thunder, the all-wooden roller coaster is about to open, filled with local dignitaries and a live broadcast by a DJ. Straight-as-an-arrow cop John Ceepak and his partner Danny Boyle (heir apparent to Archie Goodwin) have their hands full managing the crowd waiting for the second ride. Unfortunately, this wait will be longer than anticipated—a passenger in the front car suffers a heart attack and dies. As in all good mysteries, this is just the beginning of a series of death and other crimes. As always, Grabenstein softens mayhem with impeccable comic relief. I'll say it again: If I'm every in big trouble, I want John Ceepek on the case!

Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's Press)
Cousin Vinnie has been kidnapped; the bond agency is about to go under; and it's up to Stephanie, Lula, and Connie to make things right. In what may well be the best since One for the Money, Sixteen delivers, plot, story, and belly laughs just right for summertime reading. There are some brand new bad guys, a Mr. Jiggles to overcome, and a whole series of bail violations to trace. Once again, I found myself waking my husband by laughing out loud well after he'd gone to sleep. If you haven't visited Trenton recently, now's the time to make a return.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Virtual Meeting with Tana French

Penguin Books invites readers to join the celebrated mystery author, Tana French, for a chat at the Penguin Water Cooler on Tuesday, July 20th at 1:30 PM ET, hosted here on the Penguin USA website!

With two novels (both New York Times bestsellers) under her belt, Tana French has certainly made a name for herself among American psychological mystery readers—not to mention readers who just enjoy a great story that’s beautifully told. Her first novel, In the Woods, won a slew of prestigious mystery prizes: the Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity, and the Barry awards for Best First Novel. As with In the Woods, critics took note of The Likeness, declaring that “The Likeness [is] a book even better than the first, which was very good indeed. . . . The suspense is gut-grinding, but it may hurt more to know who did it. That’s an awful dilemma—and a wonderful book.” (New York Daily News)

Now, she’s back, this time focusing on Frank Mackey, the hard-edged, straight-shooting and fearless boss whose insane, brilliant idea for Cassie to go undercover lent The Likeness its intriguing premise. FAITHFUL PLACE (Viking; strict on-sale: July 13, 2010; 432 pages; $25.95; 978-0-670-02187-1) takes Frank Mackey back to 1985, when he was nineteen, growing up poor in Dublin’s inner city, and in love with his neighbor on Faithful Place, Rosie Daly. Unlike so many members of the large, poor Catholic families that share their neighborhood, Frank and Rosie have bigger dreams. They hatch a plan to escape one night and depart for London, never to return to Faithful Place or the anguish of poverty and abuse of their families. Except Rosie doesn’t show up, and in her place Frank reads a letter that leads him to believe that she’s abandoned him instead. He leaves Faithful Place on his own, determined never to come home again.

Twenty-two years later, Frank, the grizzled head of his own police squad, gets a call from one of his sisters. She is frazzled and barely able to get the words out that a suitcase has been recovered behind a fireplace in the same abandoned house where Frank was supposed to meet Rosie so many years before. By the time Frank arrives at Faithful Place, the case has been identified as belonging to Rosie.

Frank is immediately sucked back into the dark tangle of relationships he left behind so long ago: alcoholism, wife-beating, the most profound emotional abuse imaginable. The cops working the case want Frank out of the way, and Frank finds himself caught between the woman he loved and the family he has spent his adult life denying.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guest Blogger Susan Wittig Albert

Meet the Darling Dahlias

I love launching a new series (for the record, this is number four, after China Bayles, the Robin Paige Victorian/Edwardian series, and the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter ). I love the excitement of exploring new settings, creating a new character ensemble, and embarking on new and different research. And I take a special delight in introducing a new series to readers.

So—meet the Darling Dahlias!

The Dahlias are a garden club, named for their founder, Mrs. Dahlia Blackstone, who recently died and left them her house and gardens. Darling is a small town in southern Alabama. The year is 1930, the first year of a challenging decade, and the Depression is already beginning to take its toll. In the first book, The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree, the town is fretting about the health of the Savings and Trust, the sheriff is hunting an escapee from the local prison farm, and cosmetics clerk Bunny Scott has turned up dead in a stolen car. But never mind: the Dahlias are on the case, with probate clerk Verna Tidwell, legal secretary and newspaper reporter Liz Lacy, and Ophelia Snow, the mayor’s wife, handling the investigations—with other Dahlias lending eager assistance.

The thing I’ve loved most about writing this series is the opportunity to read and research and think about the 1930s, an era that had a profound influence on my parents and grandparents. I have tried to include as period detail in the books as I could--clothing, furniture, cars and trucks, slang, music, the arts, the political environment--all the things that made the 1930s so unique. And there’s the Southern detail, too: regional dialects, regional cookery, Southern plants and gardens, and the lingering effects of the War Between the States and (sadly) of slavery.

As an added bonus for readers, I’ll be sharing my resources both in the series’ books and on the Dahlias’ website—where you’ll also find a map to the town, a collection of good Southern recipes, and (as time goes on) bits of 1930s’ history.

And speaking of series books, I’m happy to tell you that the second book is already finished! It’s called The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies. It’s scheduled for publication in July 2011, with the third book (The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose) planned for July 2012.

And just in case you’re wondering about my other work, here’s the scoop. The Tale of Oat Cake Crag, the seventh book in the eight-book Beatrix Potter’s Cottage Tales series, will be out in early September, 2010--at the same time that my newest nonfiction book, An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days, will appear. And China Bayles wants me to be sure and let you know that her series is continuing. The latest is Holly Blues ; the next, Mourning Gloria, #19, will be published in April, 2011.

Now it’s your turn! I’d love to hear from you and will be dropping in regularly over the next few days to respond to your questions and comments. As a special treat, we’ve set up a book drawing page where you can enter your name to win a signed copy of The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree. The drawing will close on Thursday, July 15 at noon, so click on over there now, before you forget!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Visit me at Meanderings and Muses

Stop by to visit with me on Monday as I'm the guest blogger on Kaye Barley's Meanderings and Muses. I'll be talking about my love affair with gadgets.

On Tuesday, Susan Wittig Albert will guest blog here on Meritorious Mysteries. Please join us!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


For years, I've enjoyed the Southern novels by Fannie Flagg and Lee Smith. Now, Susan Wittig Albert has drawn on her own Southern heritage and given readers the beginning of a new series that will delight fans of both authors. People around Darling, Alabama aren't seeing too much difference in their daily lives in the midst of the Depression—few of the folks have ever been wealthy, and they've always had to "make do."

When the members Darling Garden Club inherit a house from their founder, Dahlia Blackstone, they change the name of the club to "The Darling Dahlias." Naturally, there's controversy from the Blackstone family about the bequest; the resident Confederate ghost is sighted on several occasions; there's trouble at the local bank; people begin whispering about the mayor's visits to a cousin's young wife; an escaped convict is at large; and, the wreck of a stolen car reveals a death. Members of the garden club pool their various clues to reveal the culprits.

Unbelievably, for a mystery, solving the crimes is not the best part of this novel. The people and their time star in the wonderful story. I can't imagine a better way to spend a hot summer day than visiting with the Darling Dahlias!

FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.