Wednesday, October 27, 2010

THE SHIFTERS from Alexandra Sokoloff

I got this letter in my email today. Thought I'd pass it along to you!

Dear Readers:

With The Shifters I’ve had the opportunity to write something in a completely different, though parallel, genre from what I usually write. My amazing friend, bestselling paranormal mystery/romance phenomenon Heather Graham, asked me to develop a paranormal trilogy with her and our sister dark suspense author Deborah LeBlanc, and together we spun a story spanning three interconnected books, set in our favorite city, New Orleans, about three extraordinary sisters who must fight to keep the peace between the fractious supernatural communities who live there under the radar.

Fair warning: The Shifters is spooky and suspenseful and colorful but not necessarily as dark as what I usually write. In fact, there may even be that elusive happy ending (note man on cover!). If you’re looking for something bloodier, I hope you’ll check out my latest supernatural crime thriller, Book of Shadows (read on below). But if you’ve been too scared to read my other books (and you know who you are), I think you’ll love The Shifters.

- Alex

Book One is The Keepers, a USA Today bestseller, out now from Harlequin Nocturne. Book Three is The Wolven, coming November 25.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Elaine Viets' Uplifting Contest

Win a shopping spree for your mind or your body to celebrate An Uplifting Murder. Josie Marcus mystery shops a lingerie store in my sixth mystery shopper novel. Enter a drawing to win a $100 gift certificate to the bookstore or the lingerie store of your choice. Gentlemen, we don't discriminate. You can win either the bookstore gift certificate or dazzling under-duds for yourself or the woman of your choice. Just go to, click on "contests" and fill out the form.

The contest is open through Nov. 20

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Calling All British Crime Fans

Kathy Ackley is leading another of her wonderful British crime fiction tours—this time featuring
A tour of Hereford, where you will see the 14th century Mappa Mundi in the cathedral and meet Phil Rickman for lunch

A tour of Shrewsbury, setting for the Brother Cadfael series; lunch with Edward Marston, who will talk about his novels set in the Welsh borders; visits to the abbey of St. Peter & St. Paul and Stokesay Castle, a fortified medieval manor house

An exploration of the villages that inspired Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series and a walking tour of Ludlow (often called the "prettiest town in England"); tea with Kate Charles in Ludlow; supper and a wine tasting at the Bodenham winery

A visit to Monmouth, on which Andrew Taylor’s Lydmouth series is based; a drive into the Forest of Dean; lunch at the Speech House with Andrew Taylor; visits to Hellens, a 13th c. monastery, and Berkeley Castle

A visit to Hengest Court, home of "Black" Vaughn, which inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles; a drive along the line of Offa’s Dyke to Hay on Wye for free time to explore the bookshops; tea at the Skirrid Inn

Attendance at CrimeFest in Bristol, 19-22 May, with panel sessions, interviews of featured guest authors, book signings, a Gala dinner, and a Sunday buffet dinner

A panoramic coach tour of Bristol and a short guided walk of the city

A day trip to Torquay for a private tour of Greenway, Agatha Christie’s summer home, with Christie expert John Curran as our guide

For more information about he wonderful tour, see Kathy's website.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Macavity Award Winners

Janet Rudolph's Mystery Readers International nominate and vote on these awards (named for the "mystery cat" in T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats) every year. Janet presented the awards at the Thursday evening opening ceremonies at Bouchercon in San Francisco. This years winners—ta da:

Best Mystery Novel: Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman: Tower (Busted Flush Press)

Best First Mystery Novel: Alan Bradley: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Delacorte)

Best Mystery Nonfiction: P.D. James: Talking about Detective Fiction (Alfred A. Knopf)

Best Mystery Short Story: Hank Phillippi Ryan: "On the House" (Quarry: Crime Stories by New England Writers, Level Best Books)

Sue Feder Historical Mystery: Rebecca Cantrell: A Trace of Smoke (Forge)

If you're looking for new authors these winners are a great place to start! For a great mystery blog, check out Janet's "Mystery Fanfare."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Anthony Winners

Thanks to Janet Rudolph for posting this on "Mystery Fanfare"!

The Anthony Awards, named after writer/critic Anthony Boucher, for whom Bouchercon is also named.

Best Novel: The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny ( Minotaur)

Best First Novel: A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur)

Best Paperback Original: Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley (Touchstone)

Best Short Story: "On the House" by Hank Phillippi Ryan in Quarry: Crime Stories by New England Writers (Level Best Books).

Best Critical Non-Fiction: Talking About Detective Fiction by P. D. James (Knopf).

I'll post other winners announced at Bouchercon when I've had a moment to catch my breath!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

FUNDRAISING THE DEAD by Sheila Connolly (Berkley)

The first in her new "museum mystery" series is a winner for Connolly. Nell Pratt is the director of development (read fundraiser) for the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society in Philadelphia which houses treasures of national importance. On the day of the largest-ever fundraising gala, Nell is dismayed when third-generation board member Marty Terwilliger insists on a sit-down meeting to report missing items from a collection recently donated by her family. Nell manages to dismiss Martha physically, but a cloud of worry remains behind. The cloud turns stormy the next day when Nell finds a body. As Nell looks further into Marty's claims, she realizes that the death may not have been an unfortunate accident.

Nell is not perfect, but she's smart. Marty can be annoying, but she's not only smart, but she's related to half of Philidelphia's old guard. Fundraising the Dead promises to be the beginning of a great new series.

FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.

A CUP OF JO by Sandra Balzo (Severn House)

Excitement is brewing at Uncommon Grounds—the historic depot site will be a stop on the new commuter route to Milwaukee, and Maggy Thorsen is ready for the coffee shop to become an essential part of the run. To advertise the business, she's commissioned a huge inflatable coffee cup emblazoned with the new logo. Unfortunately, the cup is large enough to hold a body. Once again, Maggy is drawn into a murder investigation that affects her livelihood. Suburban lifestyles, partner switching, and eccentric characters enhance the action. Nothing is predictable in Brookhills, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Guest Blogger - Vicki Lane

My newest book, The Day of Small Things, is firmly rooted in the beautiful place I call home. Though it’s not another Elizabeth Goodweather book, the setting is very much the same. There’s still a lot to learn about Elizabeth’s Marshall County and its folks, living and dead.

I’ve always enjoyed wandering through old graveyards, reading the headstones and speculating about the lives of those lying there. The fact that a family cemetery borders one of our pastures has allowed me to learn a good bit about my departed neighbors – and to imagine even more.

One of the saddest things about the burying places in our rural western North Carolina county is all the markers for babies – sometimes little more than a rock, or a homemade concrete rectangle.

High infant mortality was a fact of life less than a hundred years ago – a fact of life brought home to me when we first moved to our farm. Our neighbor, a weathered old great-grandfather, took a look at my year-old son.

“Hit’ll make a fine man… if it lives.”

Chilling to me – common sense to my neighbor.

Of course this shows up in my books. And in The Day of Small Things, Miss Birdie has her own special grave yard to visit.

Here’s a scene from the book – set in the graveyard on the hogback ridge. . .

Black clouds is gathering over the old fields and the dark smell of coming rain is growing strong but still I climb, step by slow step, up to the burying ground high on the hogback ridge. …

I gain the ridge and stop to catch my breath and count the familiar markers -- all sorts and all ages sprinkled over the easy crest of the ridge. When I’m rested, I pass by the granite markers, from the last forty or fifty years. They are all right fancy, deep-carved with names, dates, and bible verses. Luther and Cletus and the angels is here – one stone for me and Luther and one for Cletus and the angels. And there’s all the worn-out flowers I come to gather up, some blown and scattered by the wind across the ridge top, some still planted in the dirt of the graves, but faded to ugly now.

I get up this way several times in the year to tend my graves—I’ll clear away the Decoration Day flowers long about August and put sunflowers on each grave – big cheerful things—and though they’re plastic, they look so real I’ve seen the birds light on them. Then come December, I’ll bring poinsettias for Christmas -- red for Cletus and Luther and white for the angels.

I don’t let my family graves look as sorry as some of them up here. But law, so many folks lives away now and can’t get back but once a year for Decoration Day and sometimes, not even that.

The oldest ones are over here up at the top of the ridge – no fancy headstones, just homemade sand concrete markers and these white-painted slabs. The best folks could do, I reckon. Jacob Honeycutt’s stone is leaning some; I’ll ask Bernice’s boy to straighten it when he comes to mow.

There’s many an unmarked grave here too – but those dead lie as quiet as the rest. I’ll give every one of them a flower, come Decoration Day.

The church people sometimes looks at me kindly funny when they sees me go to jabbing them plastic flowers all around in the grass. ‘Birdie, honey,’ one asked, ‘don’t you want me to help you find where your family lays?’

Thought I was growing simple in my old age. But she didn’t mean nothing by it, just trying to be helpful. She don’t know how I can hear those who was laid there. Yes, even though their bodies has gone to earth and their bones has crumbled away, they still whisper to me, thankful to be remembered.


Talking to the dead is just part of it. There’s a lot more to Birdie than we’ve seen before this, and quite a lot her neighbor Elizabeth Goodweather never suspected. The quaint little woman who looks like everyone’s idea of a granny has had a surprising past and she’s not done yet.

No wonder she needed her own book!

Vicki Lane is the author of The Day of Small Things and of the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries—Signs in the Blood, Art's Blood, Old Wounds, Anthony-nominated In a Dark Season, and Under the Skin (coming from Bantam Dell in 2011.) Vicki draws her inspiration from the rural western NC county where she and her family have lived on a mountainside farm since 1975. Visit Vicki at her daily blog, her website or go HERE to learn more about The Day of Small Things.

LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED IN A DRAWING FOR A SIGNED COPY OF THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS!! Check the comments on this post on the 8th for the name of the winner.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

ALL THINGS UNDYING by Marcia Talley (Severn House)

Lucky for me, I got ahold of an early copy of Marcia's terrific new Hannah Ives mystery. I like Hannah nearly as much as I like Marcia, so I'm always glad to give a shout out to the two of them. This morning this letter from Marcia landed in my mailbox. I thought you'd enjoy reading it before you read All Things Undying.

Fall greetings from Annapolis, Maryland!
I’m delighted to announce that the ninth Hannah Ives mystery, All Things Undying, has just been released in the U.S. At the same time, you can buy the previous book in the series, Without a Grave, in trade paper format.

Way back in 1998 when I wrote the first novel in the series, I consciously made Hannah's husband, Paul, a math professor at the U.S. Naval Academy because I knew the Academy had a faculty exchange program with Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England. I'd have to do research in England, right? Alas, by the time I got around to writing the book that became All Things Undying, the exchange program between the two schools had been discontinued. I'm not easily discouraged, however, so I sent Hannah and Paul back to Dartmouth to visit friends they'd made during an earlier visit.

But, Hannah’s holiday on “the English Riviera” turns topsy-turvy when a stranger stops her on the street to deliver a message from her long-dead mother. Stunned and curious, Hannah’s inquiries lead to a budding friendship with Susan Parker, a popular television medium whose accurate predictions leave fans and critics alike puzzled and intrigued. In spite of her skepticism, Hannah schedules a private reading. But on the morning they are to meet, Susan is struck by a hit-and-run driver.

Hannah’s passion to right a wrong soon draws her beneath the surface of the seemingly idyllic community where more than one person has a reason to want Susan dead. Or, does the answer lie in the past, in the final, desperate days of World War Two? Has a disaster that was covered up for decades claimed yet another victim? Did a message from beyond the grave lead Susan Parker to a cold-hearted killer?

"Told in the first person by the likable Hannah, the novel combines present and past effectively, with vivid details of wartime in the English countryside woven throughout the engaging story.” – Booklist.

“Hannah is so endearing that even readers who scoff at second sight will be touched.” – Kirkus.

Click here to visit my website for details!
To launch All Things Undying, I will have several book-signing events. For my hometown friends, please mark your calendars for the Annapolis launch party at 7:00 pm on Thurs., October 7 at the Barnes and Noble in Annapolis Harbour Center. On Friday, October 22, at 7:30 pm, I'll be doing a reading/signing at The Annapolis Bookstore on Maryland Avenue. Be there or be square!

Later in the month, I'll be attending Bouchercon, the world mystery conference, in San Francisco.

If you can’t make a signing, autographed copies can be ordered from a fine Independent Bookstore near you, like my good friends at Mystery Loves Company, Mystery Lovers Bookshop, or The Poisoned Pen. You can also order copies from Barnes & Noble or from You Know Who. All Things Undying, is a first-edition hardcover, so you'll be doing a kind deed for me—and a lot of other people—if you request that your local library order a copy for their mystery collections.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, please visit my website, or drop by my blog, which I update from time to time with news, ruminations and photographs.

And since some of you have asked, allow me to mention that my next Hannah Ives mystery finds Hannah back in her home territory—Annapolis, MD -- with all the usual suspects. In the meantime, to help ease you into a British frame of mind, why not stir up a batch of

Janet's Scones
"Horn Hill House" Dartmouth, Devon

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup raisins, currents or dried fruit bits
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg

Combine dry ingredients. Grate butter into flour mixture on large holes of a box grater, using your fingers to work it in ‘til mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in raisins. In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth. Using your hands, knead sour cream mixture into flour mixture, pressing dough against the bowl until it forms a ball. Turn out on lightly floured board. Pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. of sugar. Cut into 8 rounds or triangles. Place on a cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake 400˚F ‘til golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. While still warm, split, slather with Devonshire clotted cream and top with strawberry jam.

Enjoy while reading All Things Undying, and know how grateful Hannah and I are for your support.

Fair winds and following seas,

Saturday, October 02, 2010

King of Kindle by Parnell Hall

Great author and overall funny man of mystery has a delightful video on YouTube. I think you'll enjoy it.

Let me know how many other mystery authors you can identify. There's a prize for the one who gets the most named.