Wednesday, January 14, 2009

LIVING THE VIDA LOLA by Misa Ramirez (Minotaur)

Move over, Stephanie Plum, there's a new kid on the block! Sacramento PI Lola Cruz who wanted to be an investigator since she was 14 is saucy, sassy, and competent. Unlike typical PIs though, she shares an apartment above her parents' home with her brother. Naturally, everyone in the family is involved in her life and none of them believes Lola should be a detective. Even though Lola refuses to carry a gun, she is a master (mistress) of martial arts, so she feels well able to look after herself. 

When her boss assigns her a missing person case, Lola is thrilled, and she tackles the case with enthusiasm. The case is complicated, nearly as much so as Lola's personal life. As Lola makes progress, she finds that someone is willing to harm her and her family to keep her off the case. 

Lola, her family, some of her co-workers, and her incredibly hunky high school crush are definitely folks I want to spend more time with. So will you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

THE WITCH'S GRAVE by Shirley Damsgaard (Avon)

If you think a small town librarian's life is dull, routine, and boring, you're wrong! Ophelia is a good, but reluctant, witch. Her septuagenarian mother, Abby, and her daughter, Tink, have Opelia sandwiched between them with their psychic capers making it impossible  for Ophelia to ignore her own talents. 

Ophelia is ready for romance with author Stephen Larsen, but he is shot on their first not-date. The sheriff wants her to butt out, but a second shooting leaves her no choice but to meddle. When she becomes a target herself, Ophelia begins to trust herself and her gifts. 

I like Ophelia and her family and would enjoy knowing more about their psychic abilities and the way they use them. Though this is my first book by Damsgaard, I will read more of them--especially if they have "witch" in the title. I do like witches!

Diane Esterly

Sunday, January 11, 2009

PRIME TIME by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Harlequin Next)

It should come as no surprise that the winner of numerous journalism awards knows how to tell a story! Charlotte "Charlie" McNully is worrying that her age is endangering her career as an on-screen TV reorter. She and her producer are out to find a great story for sweeps week. Little do they realize that a series of email spam will send them both on a life-threatening journey.

This delightful book is populated with well-drawn characters who provoke strong feelings--both good and bad--from the reader. Here's hoping this will be a  l-0-n-g series!

Crime Beat Program

Another second Thursday, another program at the Cary, NC Library. This time our focus was on sleuths who are journalists. For a look at the authors we talked about, download the Crime Beat handout.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

THE CASE OF THE DECEIVING DON by Carl Brookins (Five Star)

He's ba-ack! Twin Cities detective Sean Sean doesn't have to look for cases. Sometimes they almost literally drop in his lap. Case in point: A senior citizen from the nearby assisted living facility is wheeling about in his motorized wheelchair when he's blown up! Sean feels an obligation to look into his neighbor's death. When he realizes the deceased was actually a mafia don, it's too late to back out of the investigation. Suddenly Sean is having to look over his shoulder as well as into a case. 

Sean Sean has moved into my top ten of fictional detectives.

LEFTOVER DEAD by Jimmie Ruth Evans (Berkley)

Things should be settling down for Texas waitress Wanda Nell Culpepper. Her older daughter and grandson have moved out of Wanda's trailer and her new husband Jack has moved in. When Jack, who writes true crime books when he's not teaching, comes home from a morning run, he's bristling with excitement: The school custodian has just told him about a 30-year old murder that was hushed up by town officials. The newlyweds feel obligated to put a name to the unidentified dead girl. Their research, quite naturally, uncovers secrets that some folks wantto remain hidden.

The "Trailer Park" series is a welcome addition to the Southern traditional mystery genre.

News from Steve Brewer

I got an email from mystery author Steve Brewer about his weekly humor column. It's moved to aNewsCafe, an online magazine. If you've enjoyed his wild and wacky mystery novels, you'll probably like hearing about his life as a Mr. Mom.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

DEAD MAN DANCING by Marcia Talley (Severn House)

Reading DEAD MAN DANCING on New Year's Eve was even better than dodging the happy revelers who used to bump into us when we went out on the busiest dance night of the year. Hannah's sister is getting married soon and wants to have a band at the wedding. In order to get a group rate for classes, she ropes in family members to join the lessons. 

Ruth's fiance competed in ballroom while in college, so the couple is quickly singled out to compete for a slot in the reality TV show "Shall We Dance?" Hannah relates their progress and problems (including a mugging and two murders) and gives a realistic view of dance classes (even though her characters learn extremely quickly!). As in all of Marcia's books, characters are well drawn and the dialogue crisp.

As Katherine Murray use to say, "Put a little fun in YOUR life: Try dancing."