Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One Dog Night by David Rosenfelt (Minotaur)

It takes something special for wealthy, and, admittedly lazy, defense attorney Andy Carpenter to take a case, but when the proposed defendant turns out to be the former owner of Andy's wonder dog Tara, he is compelled to action. Making the case difficult from the beginning, his client, Noah Galloway, is determined to plead guilty to a horrific crime he thinks he may have committed while under the influence of drugs. Also in play at the same time is political and judicial corruption with far-flung influence.

Rosenfelt's fans won't be surprised that Andy's team is well up to the challenge, but will delight in the clever solutions—and the delightful canines which enrich the series. I always look forward to a visit with Andy Carpenter and the surprisingly light manner that reveals the dark secrets.

FTC Disclaimer - This book was provided by the publisher.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Silent Oligarch by Chris Morgan Jones (Penguin)

Behind the doors of some of the world’s richest companies lie secrets that the owners want secret. An entire industry has grown up whose only purpose is to ferret out information on the shenanigans that go on behind those doors. These companies are called business intelligence agencies; Jones worked for one 11 years before writing this book. His initial effort is a spine-tingling international thriller, as we follow Benjamin Webster on his hunt to bring down a nondescript but powerful bureaucrat named Konstantin Malin.

Webster is lucky to be alive after he is captured during an earlier investigation into the dealings of a company in one of the former Soviet Socialist Republics. His reporter companion was not as lucky. The book then jumps into the future to 2009 where Webster still concentrates on bringing down Malin.

Webster is approached by a Greek magnate who wants Malin brought down because he has lost millions to Malin’s illegal deals. Ben must use all his resources to track down Malin and his corporate front man—with one additional problem: His boss wants him to stay out of Russia and do his digging from Europe.

I was pleasantly surprised at the talent shown in this debut. For those who love international thrillers, here’s another page turner.

—Steve Bank
Cary Community Library

FTC Disclosure — This book was provided by the publisher.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Books Make Great Gifts!

For many years I volunteered at my "home" independent bookseller, Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, NC. My official duty was wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve, but I frequently wandered over to the nearby mystery section to offer suggestions for last minute gifts. I'm unable to volunteer in-store this year, but I thought I'd suggest some of my recent reads that would make great reads for your gift-giving—to others and to yourself.

World War II Settings
Escape from Paris by Carolyn Hart (Oconee Spirit Press LLC)
In Carolyn's words, This, "is the story of a year of war, the year that France fell to the Germans and England awaited invasion. It is also the story of people around the world, touched by war." The fictional story is laid over real history.

Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause by Mignon F. Ballard (Minotaur)
This sequel to Miss Dimple Disappears tells the stories of folks in a small Georgia town and their efforts to support the cause while dealing with crimes during a fund raiser.

Louise's War by Sarah Shaber (Severn House)
Murder and intrigue in the OSS Office in Washington DC.

Amateur Sleuths
Physical Education by Maggie Marbieri (Minotaur)
This "Murder 101 Mystery" features a liberal English professor at a small, conservative Catholic college who has a propensity for finding bodies—on and off campus. Fortunately, the Bronx is large enough to escape the Cabot Cove syndrome.

Skating Over the Line by Joelle Charbonneau (Minotaur)
Some reviewers compare this series to that of Janet Evanovich; I think it's more believable—and there's a wonderful, hat-wearing, retired circus camel.

To Catch a Leaf by Kate Collins (Obsidian)
Planning a wedding, running a florist, and keeping her assistant out of jail for murder give Abby Knight all she can handle in the 12th outing in this strong cozy series.

British Village Traditional
Wicked Autumn by G. M. Malliet (Minotaur)
Everyone will know who's going to be killed during the Harvest Fayre, but whodunit is what drives this first in series featuring former MI5 agent-turned vicar Max Tudor. Dame Agatha would be proud.

Comic Noir
Ranchero by Rick Gavin (Minotaur)
Self-deprecating repo man Nick Reid could be in over his head but he keeps rising to the top in this hilarious look at Mississippi Delta crime.

North Carolina Favorites
Three-Day Town by Margaret Maron (Grand Central Publishing)
Fans have begged for this: Judge Deborah Knott and Sheriff's Deputy Dwight Bryant finally meet NY Homicide Lieutenant Sigrid Harald when the newlyweds take a delayed honeymoon trip to New York City. Guess who's in charge of the investigation of the murder at the apartment next door? A wonderful blend of Maron's series characters.

Under the Skin by Vicki Lane (Dell)
Lane left us hanging on the proverbial cliff in the Elizabeth Goodnight series when she wrote a well-received stand-alone, The Day of Small Things. This resolution was worth waiting for as all questions are answered—but not before a whole new crop of crimes appear on the mountain. As always, there's a fascinating mystery set in the past, this one in 1887 about spiritualists, related to the contemporary story.

Rizzo's Fire by Lou Manfredo (Minotaur)
The sequel to Rizzo's War follows NYPD veteran Joe Rizzo as he nears retirement. Much like the late Dell Shannon and Ed McBain, Manfredo features not only one major, over-arching crime, but the several other crimes that make up the weeks of the novel. Rizzo's mantra continues: "There's no wrong. There's no right. There just is."

Ghost Hero by S. J. Rozan (Minotaur)
Chinese-American PI Lydia Chin accepts an unusual assignment—to track down rumored new paintings of Chinese artist and political activist Chau Chun, who's been dead for 20 years. Investigating the "Ghost Hero" works takes Lydia and her partner Bill Smith into a new area—the high dollar art world. Clever glimpses of humor enliven this engaging mystery.

Northwest Angle by William Kent Kruger (Atria)
The latest outing in one of the few series I suggest reading from the beginning takes Cork O'Connor on a planned vacation of healing with his family. Their leisurely houseboat trip is interrupted by a deadly derecho (a unique storm system generating straight-line winds of hurricane force) that is just the beginning of several days of terror. Kruger never disappoints.

Damage Control by Denise Hamilton (Scribner)
High-powered public relations executive Maggie Silver learns the meaning of the phrase "power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely" when she tries to spin the story of the murder of a California senator's aide. Complicating her efforts are her mother's illness, her former relationship with the senator's family, and her growing dissolution with her job.

Lassiter by Paul Levine (Bantam)
Even "second-string linebacker turned low-rent lawyer" Jake Lassiter isn't immune to repercussions from his past. After a woman accuses Jake of being the last person to see her sister alive (18 years ago) he feels morally obligated to defend her of murder. The case is complicated, sordid, and impossible to put down.

FTC Disclaimer - Most of these books were supplied by the publishers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guest Blogging Today

I hope some of you will check out Kaye Barley's delightful Meanderings and Muses blog today. I'm her guest and I'm talking about Christmas in our small town when I was growing up during the 1950s. Read the comments, too. Mark de Castrique's made me laugh out loud!

Happy holidays to all of you!


PS Noel is home and progressing well. I think he's just about recovered from cable withdrawal!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Magnolia Queen

OK, this has nothing to do with mystery, but it's my blog—and my daughter! Erin's holiday magnolia business, Weston Farms, was featured on WUNC-TV's "North Carolina Now" Wednesday night. The link is to a YouTube copy of the segment. She's got a new website now, too. She and her dad harvested magnolia yesterday morning before joining family from across the state for a lovely Thanksgiving dinner in Wake Forest.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Margaret Maron Book Launch

For more than twenty years, Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh has "launched" Margaret Maron's novels, and this one—Three-Day Town—is a special one in which our two heroines, Deborah Knott and Sigrid Harald, meet in New York City while Deborah and Dwight are on their delayed honeymoon. You'll not want to miss the fun or the delicious homemade cake!
Friday, November 18, 7:30
Quail Ridge Books & Music
3522 Wade Avenue, Ridgewood Shopping Center
Raleigh NC

I've read this one—it's absolutely everything fans wanted and more. If you've not read the Sigrid Harald series, you've got another grand adventure ahead of you. Of course, the Deborah Knott series should be required reading!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Medieval Noir?

The delightful Jeri Westerson will bring medieval times alive to the Triangle this weekend. Westerson is touring the country by car from her home in California to bring (part of) her collection of medieval weaponry and talk about her latest mystery, Troubled Bones. She will have three visits.
Friday, November 4, 4:00 - Eva Perry Regional Library, Apex
Saturday, November 5, 11:00 - McIntyre's Books, Fearrington Village
Saturday, November 5, 3:00 - Cary Public Library

The Crispin Guest series is one for both adult and young adult readers.

I had dinner with Jeri last fall in San Francisco. She bubbles with enthusiasm for her work. I look forward to hearing her talk about it without being interrupted by servers!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A New Sherlock Holmes

Don't bother looking for me on Tuesday, November 1. I'll be curled up with the first Doyle family-sanctioned Sherlock Holmes novel, The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. Horowitz talks about the canon in this interview with Publishers Weekly.

Like Horowitz, I've read the canon several times over the years. I expect this new one will inspire me to do it all over again this winter.

The game is afoot!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Wolfe Pack's Black Orchid Banquet

NEW YORK, NY—The Wolfe Pack, an organization devoted to mystery writer Rex Stout and his most famous creation Nero Wolfe, will hold its 34th annual Black Orchid Banquet and Weekend on December 2, 3, and 4, the organization has announced. The highlight of the weekend will be the Black Orchid Banquet on Saturday, December 3, which will include the presentation of the Nero Award for the year’s best mystery novel and the Black Orchid Novella Award, presented in conjunction with Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, for the year’s best unpublished mystery novella.

December 1, 2011 will be the 125th anniversary of the birth of Rex Stout, and several members of the writer’s family will attend the banquet.

The Black Orchid Banquet will be held at the Vanderbilt Suites in New York City, and will feature television personality and mystery writer Al Roker as the keynote speaker. Roker will be introduced by mystery novelist and past Nero Award-winner Linda Fairstein. The Nero Wolfe character was famous for his love of food, and the menu for the banquet will be drawn from dishes described in Stout’s mysteries or included in The Nero Wolfe Cookbook.

The Nero Award is presented annually for literary excellence in the mystery genre. This year’s finalists are: Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen; The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds; Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny; The Midnight Show Murders by Al Roker & Dick Lochte; and Think of a Number by John Verdon. Previous Nero Award winners include Lee Child, Walter Mosley, Laura Lippman, and Julia Spencer-Fleming. The Black Orchid Novella Award (BONA) is presented for an unpublished novella that best celebrates the mystery traditions of the Nero Wolfe stories. The winning story is published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

A Full Weekend Schedule of Events
The Wolfe Pack will host a series of events for Black Orchid Weekend, including a book discussion on Friday night, a series of speakers on Saturday afternoon, a social hour prior to the banquet, and a Brunch ‘N Pun Contest on Sunday.

The Wolfe Pack schedules five book discussions per year, including one to coincide with the annual Black Orchid Weekend. These discussions work their way through the entire corpus of Nero Wolfe works in order of publication. On Friday, December 2, the Pack will lead a discussion of the novella “Christmas Party,” which was published in the collection And Four to Go. The discussion will be held in a private room at Pete’s Tavern in Manhattan, and will include a buffet dinner.

The organization’s annual Assembly will be held the afternoon of Saturday, December 3 at the Vanderbilt Suites and will feature a series of speakers on Wolfe-related themes. It will be followed by a social hour at La Fonda Del Sol prior to the start of the banquet. The weekend will conclude with a brunch on Sunday, December 4 at Pete’s Tavern; this event will include a Nero Wolfe Pun Contest.

More information about these events, including how to register, is available at The Wolfe Pack’s web site.

Support Your Local Bookstore

Parnell Hall has a new video promoting local bookstores—and he's filmed numbers of generous mystery writers who also support Indies. I think you'll enjoy "eBook vs Book" by Parnell Hall!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Carolyn Hart

I got a note from Carolyn Hart yesterday. She'll be guest blogging on Lipstick Chronicles Friday, October 28, and she hopes lots of readers will drop by. Mark your calendars to log in and visit with one of the genre's nicest ladies.

Crime Fiction Subgenres Explained

Earlier this week, I used the term "cozy" when introducing the Dangerous Dames at a library. Immediately, a hand was raised. "What's a cozy?" the lady asked. I suggested we wait to explain the term rather than take time away from the authors' time with the group. Serendipitiously, I found a link to Beth Foxwell's article in The Washington Independent Review of Books. Her blog post, "What's in a Name: Mystery Subgenres Explained" should help readers better define their tastes. Thanks, Beth!

Beth with friend and sometimes co-author Dean James.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Scottish Mystery Writers Tour

The indefatigable Kathy Ackley, Professor Emerita of English at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, is at it again. This time, her wonderful Mystery and Crime Writers program, September 4-18, 2012, includes the Highlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling; historic and mystery-related sites; talks by Scottish mystery and crime writers; and attendance at the inaugural "Bloody Scotland" festival. A flier about the trip is now available.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dangerous Dames Tour

Prepare for a perilously good time when the “Dangerous Dames’’ visit the Raleigh-Durham area for a book tour, Oct. 13-17. Deborah Sharp, Julie Compton, and Joanna Campbell Slan live up to their billing: They kill people for a living -- at least fictionally. In reality, the three nationally known mystery authors are perfectly nice women with families and pets and houses with mortgages. There’s not a homicidal maniac among them, except when it comes to plotting their novels. However, at least one of the Dames confesses to considering murder while undergoing editing. Several appearances are scheduled throughout the area. (See schedule below.)

Most will feature the “Dangerous Dames’’ in a panel discussion. Moderating is Molly Weston, who blogs and lectures about mysteries. An avid Tarheels fan, Weston also edits the Sisters In Crime journal, inSinC.

Here’s more on this lethal literary trio:

Julie Compton mined her training as a lawyer to write her debut, Tell No Lies. Aptly described as part Scott Turow and part Jodi Picoult, the legal thriller earned a starred review from Kirkus, which called it a "taut, tense cautionary tale … with courtroom drama and a surprise ending." Her most recent release, Rescuing Olivia, was praised by Publisher's Weekly as an "intense, entertaining second novel" with a "super-satisfying resolution."

Compton, who left the practice of law to write full-time, now considers herself a recovering attorney. She hopes to never fall off the wagon. She lives near Orlando, Florida. 

Deborah Sharp, a former reporter for USA Today, traded in sad news stories for funny fiction. She sets her ''Mace Bauer Mysteries'' in a sweet-tea-and-barbecue slice of her native Florida. Sharp rode a horse across the state to research her second book, and landed on NBC's Today show in a tacky wedding veil for her third. Mama Sees Stars, her fourth, garnered a starred review in Library Journal: “This zany fourth entry . . . is a feature worthy of the big screen.’’

Sharp and her TV reporter husband, Kerry Sanders, live in Fort Lauderdale. No kids. No pets. They had goldfish once. Turned out badly.

Joanna Campbell Slan is the author of the “Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series’’ and a dozen other books. Paper, Scissors, Death -- the first book in the mystery series -- was an Agatha Award Finalist. It is also one of Kindle's top 50 bestselling books. Her most recent release in the series is Make, Take, Murder. Slan’s newest mystery series starring Jane Eyre as an amateur sleuth will be released in July 2012 from Berkley. When she isn't traveling with the Dangerous Dames, she divides her time between Washington, DC, and Jupiter Island, Fla.

Dangerous Dames Schedule
Friday, October 14, noon — Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill
7:00 — Page-Walker Cultural Arts Center, Cary, co-sponsored by the Cary Library

Saturday, October 15, 2:00 — McIntyre's Fine Books, Fearrington Village, Pittsboro

Sunday, October 16, 2:00 — Halle Center, Apex, co-sponsored by Eva Perry Library

Monday, October 17, noon — Holly Springs Library (brown bag lunch)
3:00 — West Regional Library, Morrisville

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

VEIL OF LIES by Jeri Westerson (Minotaur)

Veil of Lies is Jeri Westerson’s debut novel. Uniquely described by the author as "medieval noir," this book combines the elements of a locked room mystery, Sam Spade and Brother Cadfael under one cover.

Having been stripped of his knightly rank and lands for treason, Crispin Guest is forced to scrape out a meager living using his wits. He accepts a distasteful commission from a wealthy cloth merchant, Nicholas Walcote, to ascertain if his comely young wife is dallying with another man. Before Crispin is able to disclose his findings and collect his silver coins, he discovers Walcote murdered. Attempting to fulfill his knightly obligation to his benefactor Crispin becomes immersed in international intrigue and a search for a missing religious relic.

Veil of Lies is told in a contemporary voice so the reader is not bogged down with excessive archaic language. Dark shadowy settings, interesting plot twists and historical references give the reader an interesting journey back to medieval London.

If you enjoy the classic noir style of Dashiell Hammett and the historical mysteries of Sharon Penman or Michael Jecks you’re in for a treat with Westerson. Although Veil of Lies is darker and grittier than my usual cozy mysteries, I highly recommend it.

Mark your calendar to meet Jeri Westerson at the Cary Community Library Saturday November 5, 2011 3:00 pm. Jeri’s fourth book in the series, Troubled Bones, will be available October 11.

--Karen Kiley

Monday, September 12, 2011

Volunteer for Murder by Tim Myers

A typical day in Jackson's Ferry has taken a deadly turn. A tardy volunteer staggers in the local soup kitchen, crashes against a table in an apparent drunken state. She falls to the floor, her hand clutching the handle of the knife buried in her chest! The police aim their sights on a homeless woman as the quilty perpetrator of the stabbing. Engaged couple, Seth and Gillian, volunteers at the kitchen are not so sure. Pleadings from a friend of the suspect, they decide to do some further investigating. Their questioning of the victim's family & others leads to bullets flying.

A cast of characters and possible motives that could rival the boardgame Clue! Our duo is in for a race to find answers before murder happens again! This story is fast paced, fun and filled with unexpected twists to its concusion. Tim Myers has given us another fine mystery!

I hope Seth & Gillian make a comeback.

—Karen Sayre

FTC Disclosure - The book was provided by the author.

This book is available in paperback from Amazon and in all ebook venues.

Charles Todd Duo Live Broadcast

New York Times bestselling writing duo, Charles Todd, will be speak at the National World War I Museum on Tuesday, September 20th at 7 PM. The event will be broadcast online live from the museum.

Charles Todd will discuss how investing in research has made possible two outstanding series with two individually unique characters. Both Ian Rutledge, a Scotland Yard Inspector who has returned from fighting and suffers from shellshock, and Bess Crawford, a young nurse serving in The Great War, offer readers a chance to revisit a pivotal event of the Twentieth Century. Sometimes it is fiction that makes a period more accessible to the casual reader and yet offers a student of the era a new perspective.

Todd's latest in the Bess Crawford series is A Bitter Truth.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Sisters in Crime Reading Challenge

Barbara Fister, secretary of Sisters in Crime, has issued a reading challenge as part of the organizations' 25th anniversary. I've signed on and I hope many of you will join me. Check it out at the Sinc blog site. Let me know how you respond!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

THE GILDED SHROUD by Elizabeth Bailey (Berkley Prime Crime)

The late Regency writer Georgette Heyer lives—and she's writing mysteries as Elizabeth Bailey! While delivering breakfast to her ladyship, a lady's maid finds the body of her mistress. Her screams awaken Lord Francis Fanshawe, who is shocked to realize that not only was milady brutally murdered, but that it was obvious she'd entertained a late-night visitor. Complicating the situation, the Marquis of Polbrook, Fanshawe's older brother, had left home, totally unexpectedly, before dawn.

Meanwhile, in the Dowager Lady Polbrook's home nearby, Otillia Draycott, a young widow of considerable intellect, is being interviewed for the temporary position of companion. When Fanshawe tells his mother the distressing news, Otillia's immediate questions and suggestions convince the dowager to include her in the subsequent investigation. The result of the collaboration is a well-drawn mystery set in Regency London.

I look forward to spending more time with Otillia and Fanshawe.

FTC Disclaimer - This book was provided by the publisher.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

2011 Shamus Award Nominees

I never seem to learn anything first, but thankfully, I have friends who do. Thanks to Judy Bobalik for posting this list!

Best Hardcover P.I. Novel
No Mercy, by Lori Armstrong (Touchstone)
The First Rule, by Robert Crais (Putnam)
Voyeur, by Daniel Judson (Minotaur)
If the Dead Rise Not, by Philip Kerr (Putnam)
Naked Moon, by Domenic Stansberry (Minotaur)

Best First P.I. Novel
In Search of Mercy, by Michael Ayoob (Minotaur)
One Man’s Paradise, by Douglas Corleone (Minotaur)
Rogue Island, by Bruce DeSilva (Forge)
• Random Violence, by Jassy MacKenzie (Soho)
City of Dragons, by Kelli Stanley (Minotaur)

Best Paperback Original P.I. Novel
Hostage Zero, by John Gilstrap (Kensington)
Nightshade, by Tom Henighan (Dundurn Press)
• Mister X, by John Lutz (Pinnacle)
The Panic Zone, by Rick Mofina (Mira)
Asia Hand, by Christopher G. Moore (Grove/Atlantic)
The Little Death, by P.J. Parrish (Pocket Star)

Best P.I. Short Story
• “The God of Right and Wrong,” by Steven Gore (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, January/February 2010)
• “The Lamb Was Sure to Go,” by Gar Anthony Haywood (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, November 2010)
• “The Girl in the Golden Gown,” by Robert S. Levinson (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March/April 2010)
• “Phelan’s First Case.” by Lisa Sandlin (Lone Star Noir, edited by Bobby Byrd and Johnny Byrd; Akashic Books)
• “A Long Time Dead,” by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (The Strand Magazine, June-Sept. 2010)

I'm glad I'm not on any of the committees to choose the winners—it's a great list! Congratulations to all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

THREE SECONDS by Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom (Sterling Publishing)

Some of the best Crime Fiction today is coming out of the Scandinavian countries! And this book is a very good example. It's a real page turner with action quickly switching back and forth among the leading characters. Piet Hoffmann is a little different than many protagonists—he's a small-time criminal with some special talents.

On his release from a Swedish prison, Piet established a security firm. Members of the Swedish intelligence service are aware of Piet and his criminal contacts throughout Eastern Europe and their own "Mafia" dealing mostly in illegal drugs. Intelligence agent Erik Wilson enlists Piet in an undercover sting which would place Piet back in a Swedish prison as a hardened criminal. His goal: ferreting out information that will allow the Swedish intelligence stop the Polish Mafia from invading Sweden. Before all the pieces can be put in play, Piet witnesses a murder which thoroughly complicate the situation.

Of course, anyone in prison who finds out he is a snitch will find a way to kill him!

--Steve Bank

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

Monday, August 08, 2011

Blogging at Sisters in Crime

I'm writing today at the Sisters in Crime blog about my trip to the American Library Association summer conference in New Orleans. It was a great trip and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the long days. One of the added benefits was getting to know more of the wonderful folks who are members of SinC. I've come to realize more and more that folks who write mysteries have to be incredibly sharp people!

Everyone knows that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so Cathy Pickens, SinC president, arranged some great dinner meetings for us. She's on my right—just before we dined in style at the Palace Cafe.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

TOMIE dePAOLA Wins Laura Ingalls Wilder Award

I've had the pleasure of escorting Tomie in North Carolina and have truly enjoyed getting to know this delightful children's author/ illustrator. I was delighted to see the announcement of this prestigious award in PW ShelfTalker.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

World War II and more… from Carolyn Hart

I just got an email from Carolyn announcing the reprint of many of her out of print for many years early books on Kindle. I'm sure many of you will join me in downloading some of these titles. (Remember, the Kindle application can be downloaded free and used on smartphones, computers, and more.)

ESCAPE FROM PARIS -The story of two American sisters in Paris in 1940 and their race to save downed airmen from the Gestapo . . .

BRAVE HEARTS - A woman caught between duty and love after the fall of the Phillipines of the Japanese . . . .

A SETTLING OF ACCOUNTS - A woman's determination to unmask the man who betrayed her lover to the Nazis . . .

Out of print for many years, my early books are now available as ebooks from Kindlle.

The books include my first published juvenile mystery, The Secret of the Cellars, and my first adult suspense novel, Flee from the Past.

Newly released juvenile titles:
The Secret of the Cellars
Dangerous Summer

Newly released YA suspense novels:
No Easy Answers
Rendezvous in Veracruz
Danger, High Explosives!

Newly released WWII suspense novels:
Flee from the Past
A Settling of Accounts
Escape from Partis
Brave Hearts.

The ebook of Escape from Paris features the never before seen complete uncut ORIGINAL novel. The first publication was cut from 94,000 to 55,000 words.

Standalone mystery novels:
The Rich Die Young
Death by Surprise
Castle Rock
The Devereaux Legacy.

Newly released short story collections:
Crime on her Mind
Secrets and Other Novels of Suspense (which includes A Settling of Accounts)

If you are a Kindle reader, I hope you will enjoy one or more of the early books.

Thank you - Carolyn Hart

Saturday, July 30, 2011


The first Sisters in Crime Guppy short story anthology (Guppy refers to the "great unpublished), Fish Tales features 22 tales of murder and mayhem from the rising stars of mystery. Taking its theme from the Guppy name, all stories are water related and feature locked room puzzles, police procedurals, cozy characters, and hardboiled detectives.

Four of the Fish Tales writers will read in the Triangle on Friday, August 19.

2:00 - McIntyre's, Fearrington Village, Pittsboro
7:30 - Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh

Come out and meet these new authors. It's a great way to brag later, "I knew them when"!

Free E-Books

Tyrus Books is giving away a free crime fiction ebook every week in a "Summer of Crime" promotion. Downloads are available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon. I just downloaded Dead Deceiver by Victoria Houston. That one's available through August 1.

Please let me know what you think. If you're interested in reviewing one of these books, please let me know when you post your comment. Happy reading!

The upcoming schedule follows:

Hello Kitty Must Die by Angela S. Choi (8/1 – 8/8)

Late Rain by Lynn Kostoff (8/8 - 8/15)

The Wind Knot by John Galligan (8/15 – 8/22)

Untouchable by Scott O'Connor (8/30 - 9/6)

Friday, July 22, 2011

LOUISE'S WAR by Sarah R. Shaber (Severn House)

It's been a long wait, but this first in a new series is well worth it! Young widow Louise Pearlie has landed a government job in World War II Washington. For the first time in her life she's not only making good money but she's doing something she considers worthwhile—she's a file clerk for the Office of Strategic Services, charged with handling "for eyes only" documents.

Louise is horrified to see the name of Rachel Bloch's husband on one of these documents. Rachel was not only Louise's college roommate and best friend; she is now living in Vichy France. Realizing Rachel and her family must be in peril, Louise takes the file to the only person she knows who can act on it. Before any action can be taken, the file disappears and someone dies.

While Louise is trying desperately to help her friend, Shaber is giving the reader an excellent lesson of war-time Washington—from the boarding house where Louise lives, to race relations, to paranoia, to rationing, and even to a glimpse of the ultra wealthy.

Now, after devouring this slim volume, I dread the wait for the next one!

CHIHUAHUA OF THE BASKERVILLES by Esri Allbritten (Minotaur)

I love it when an author makes me overcome a bias! Folks who know me know I'm too much a pragmatist to read paranormal mysteries. So, when I saw a halo above the white chihuahua on the cover of this one, I almost passed on it. Having just read a thriller, I was ready for something light and decided to give Chihuahua a chance while soaking in the tub. The bath proved to be longer than planned—I was hooked.

Tripping Magazine focuses its articles on vacation spots which feature paranormal activities. Just before the low-budget rag folds, the owner's wife gets a phone call from her cousin. Charlotte Baskerville owns a company that designs and sells high-end clothing for small dogs. She's convinced that her late dog, Petey, has been appearing (and calling) to her and she's willing to have Tripping's reporters document the appearances.

The Tripping team arrives in Manitou Spring, Colorado just before the annual Emma Crawford Coffin Race (just one of the paranormal events sure to delight their readers). Very soon they realize that encountering a ghost dog might be the most pleasant event during their stay.

Chihuahua is a great read for a hot summer—its not quite over-the top characters are well drawn, genuinely funny, and the puzzle is perfect. I look forward to more adventures with Angus, Michael, and Suki—the Tripping crew.

FTC Disclaimer - This book was provided by the publisher.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


This delightful debut mystery was literally a lagniappe, tucked in with a book I had requested from the publisher. The setting, France's Aix-en-Provence, delivers mouth-watering descriptions of gourmet food and excellent wines.

The death of a nobleman—a fall from an attic window at his crumbling ancestral chateau, brings former lovers Antoine Verlaque (investigating magistrate) and Marine Bonnet (law professor and childhood friend of the deceased) together for a sparkling investigation. Although thoroughly contemporary, the story's telling is a throwback to the Golden Age. Characters are incredibly well developed, even those with minor roles. Readers are drawn into the everyday life of Verlaque and Bonnet, yet no detail fails to propel the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Chateau Bremont. What a relief for a hot summer day!

FTC Disclaimer - Book was provided by the publisher.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Sorry I forgot to post this earlier. The winner is Stephen Bank of NC. Congratulations, Stephen!

Friday, July 15, 2011

KILLED AT THE WHIM OF A HAT by Colin Cotterill (Minotaur)

Jimm Juree, first-person narrator of this excellent mystery, is a crime reporter out of a job—not because of the economy nor that she's a poor writer. Her mother, who's showing signs of early onset dementia has sold the family home and business and relocated to southern, rural Thailand, where the local paper already has a crime reporter. Jimm's grandfather, a retired cop, rarely talks and her younger brother who wants to be a world-class body builder moved with the family; her older brother, a transgendered former beauty queen stayed behind in the city where s/he is in seclusion running a computer hacking business.

Jimm feels her life is over before she hardly got started on her career, but suddenly, things begin to happen in her new village. First, a Volkswagon van, complete with two skeletons, is discovered by a well-digger. Then, a visiting Buddist abbott is violently murdered shortly after Jimm meets a nun and a monk who become suspects in the case.

As Jimm works the case, hoping to break back into news, she finds allies in unexpected places.

The charm of Whim isn't the crime story. It's the characters, the whimsey, and the humor woven subtly through the novel that make it a cut above the rest. Of course, the chapter headings, quotes from President Malaprop, are well worth the read. Don't miss the beginning of this excellent new series!

NOTE: Many readers will remember Cotterill's wonderful series about Dr. Siri, a 70-something Laotian county coroner. I predict even more fans for Jimm!

FTC Discloser - This book was provided by the publisher.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Jeff Abbott Talks about ADRENALINE

International best-selling author Jeff Abbott's latest thriller, Adrenaline, became available to U.S. readers last week. Already garnering rave reviews (Starred Review in Publishers Weekly, a Good Morning America Summer Read an Entertainment Weekly Book of the Day, and an Amazon Best Books of July pick), Adrenaline is an absolute page-turner from beginning to end.

First in a new series, Adrenaline introduces CIA agent Sam Capra, a young man who has it all—great beginnings of a new career, a post in Paris, a beautiful wife, and a baby on the way. Suddenly, with just one phone call, he loses everything—everything except his life and the skills he will employ trying to find out what went wrong.

After spending hours on the edge of my seat with Sam in his horrific quest, I spoke with Jeff about Adrenaline, Sam, and Sam's future.

You've always written stand-alone thrillers. How did you decide to let Adrenaline be the beginning of a series? And why did it debut first in Britain?

Two years ago, I switched publishers. I've always wanted to write series and take what I learned about suspense and apply it to series characters. The new publisher didn't have a spot available in the U.S. last year. It came out in Britain in 2010.

Did you plan the arc for the series before beginning to write?

Before I wrote a word, I though about it a lot. I didn't want to write to a market. I wanted to differentiate this from other thrillers. Trust me, it serves readers bests if the author knows what a character is going to be like over different books. I sold the book on a one-page proposal: Sam would be young, ex-CIA, and I knew he would own bars.

Then, I had to decide how he could get this way. How could someone this young be so focused, so comfortable owning businesses. So, I gave him parents who'd worked at relief agencies around the world, a nomadic childhood where he picked up languages, friends, skills (he learned how to pick pockets in China because he was bored). His brother followed in their parents' footsteps, was kidnapped and killed.

I wanted Sam to have the connection, the comfort of having been a spy—but I wanted him not bound by bureaucracy. I wanted him to have baggage but be taken into a world where he would find his own quests. That's why I centered on finding his wife and child. He had a good life, but I had to strip that away.

Your characters are always so well defined readers don't have trouble knowing who is speaking. Do you have a special gift for this?

Anything I do is a result of work, not nature. Alternating first and third person narrators helped. And I tried to make every character very distinct. Because in future books, Sam will be based in different bars in different countries, there will be different characters in each book—but that will also allow me to bring back those characters who resound with readers.

Sam himself has two sides—and we'll see more of both sides as the series goes along. If you can describe a character in one sentence, it feels like you've struck gold when folks react, so it's interesting that some people are already referring to him as Jason Bourne meets Rick Blaine from Casablanca. He owns a bar where interesting things happen, yet he has to fight his way out of situations. Of course, the bars are the ticket to further adventures.

Sam's workouts take running to an extreme level. What exactly is parkour?

It's actually a popular sport in France, and there are runs in London. It's fascinating because you don't have to go to a special place. The city is the arena. The whole point is to make a run using the least amount of distance—not running around a building but through or over it to accomplish the goal. It's both graceful and dangerous. I wanted Sam involved in parkour because it's a good metaphor for going over seemingly impossible obstacles. He's young, green—just starting his life rather than being settled. He's still discovering the person he's going to be. I became interested in the sport when it was featured in Casino Royale and then I saw it live. It's now in programs in schools to help kids develop confidence.

You've chosen great cities as locations in Adrenaline. How familiar were you with them before writing?

I'd been to New York and London often over the years, but I'd never been to Amsterdam. I not only went for research, but my Dutch editor actually told me about some real dives after I asked "what's an awful bar?" I found places so gross I couldn't have made them up—and they still had karaoke!

Fortunately, I already knew what kind of action Sam would be involved in, so it was easy to recognize the place once I saw it.

How far do you think this series can go?

The Brits have already bought books three and four. Three is due in a month. I know what number five will be. Sam is a character who seems to be generating ideas for me. The settings and characters will change and give lots of openness. Ideas are simply frothing up with me. Hopefully I'll keep writing them as long as people want to read them. He's fun to write.

Judging from personal experience, I'd say it's even more to read about him!

I have a copy of Adrenaline for someone who convinces me s/he's interested in burning the midnight oil with this fantastic new thriller. Just email me at mysteryheel @ and tell me. I'll pick the lucky winner next Tuesday evening, July 12.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

THE BODY IN THE GAZEBO by Katherine Hall Page (William Morrow)

Set in picturesque Aleford Massachusetts, Katherine Hall Page continues her Faith Fairchild mystery series featuring amateur sleuth and caterer Faith Fairchild and her minister husband Tom.

Pix Miller, Faith's best friend is reluctant to leave for South Carolina to meet her son's future in-laws. In her absence Faith has agreed  to watch over Pix's ailing octogenarian mother, Ursala. Knowing Faith's ability to solve mysteries, Ursala slowly reveals the story of an unsolved crime that occurred in the summer of 1929 on Nantucket Island. It is a story with a family secret Ursala does not yet want to reveal to Pix.

Meanwhile, church funds are missing from an account to which only Tom has access. Tom and Faith work together to clear his name before his reputation is ruined. When Faith's assistant Niki unburdens her secret, Faith is soon "sick with secrets." The reader is never lost as the author skillfully shifts between the two time periods and the voices of Faith and Ursala.

In all her books, Katherine Hall Page includes recipes for the mouth-watering meals Faith prepares. You can find more of these recipes in Page's Agatha-nominated cookbook, Have Faith in Your Kitchen.

-- Karen Kiley

FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Knew Her When...

Just got an announcement that Diane Gilbert Madsen won an Honorable Mention Award in Fiction at the 2011 New York Book Festival for Hunting for Hemingway, the second in DD McGil Literati Mystery series. I met Diane when I judged the St. Martin Press/Malice Domestic Best First Mystery contest several years ago. Way to go, Diane!

SHAKEN, STORIES FOR JAPAN, Tim Hallinan, ed. (Kindle)

Here's an opportunity to read some great short stories by some outstanding authors and give a little to relief for the people of Japan. None of the authors included in the book will receive anything for their efforts—all profits will be given to the relief fund. I just downloaded my copy—and I hope you'll do the same. It's a steal at $3.99!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Edgar Winner Steve Hamilton in Triangle

Edgar winner Steve Hamilton will visit Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh on Tuesday night, June 14, at 7:30. His great new book, just out, is Misery Bay.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Lilian Jackson Braun

I just noticed that "Cat Who" author Lilian Jackson Braun died recently at 97. Yum-Yum and Koko fans may want to read her obit.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

DUFFER AWARDS 2011: You Be the Judge

Alafair Burke writes great crime fiction. She also exhibits a great sense of whimsy. Today she's announcing the first Annual Duffer Awards... and you get to be the judge!

For the entire month of June, her website will host the first annual Duffer Awards. Each day will feature two beloved crime fiction characters, matched head-to-head for very, very serious award categories like Most Likely to Win a Hot Dog Eating Contest and Best Shoes.

Post a comment beneath your vote, and you'll automatically be entered to win weekly prizes including signed copies of my books and $50 gift certificates to your favorite bookseller! The more you comment, the more you're entered to win.

First Up? Most Likely to Marry His Ex-Wife! To see the nominees, click here and start voting today. Be sure to come back every day in June to vote on a new Duffer Award. (And please help spread the word. This should be fun for anyone who reads crime fiction!)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ladies on the Lam Tour

LADIES ON THE LAM, Jane K. Cleland, Rosemary Harris, Stefanie Pintoff, are coming to the Triangle next weekend. We'll be at several venues and hope to see you at one!

Friday, 6/3
noon - Lunch (catered by Foster's) @ Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill (This is a ticketed event. Call Flyleaf at 919.942.7936 to register.)

Saturday 6/4
10:00 - Storyteller's Bookshop, Wake Forest

2:00 - McIntyre's, Fearrington Village

Sunday, 6/5
3:00 - The Halle Center, Salem St., Apex (Co-sponsored by Eva Perry Library)

Monday, 6/6
12:30 - Holly Springs Library (Brown Bag lunch)

7:00 - Page Walker Cultural Arts Center, Cary (Co-sponsored by the Cary Library)

Tuesday, 6/7 - 8:00 - Continental Breakfast @ The Carolina Club

Library events are free and open to the public, but please register. The number for the Eva Perry Library is 919.387.2100, the Cary Library is 919.460.3350, and the Holly Springs is 919.577.1660 (press 4 to bypass message & talk all library lines).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Blogger Vicki Delany - When Life Imitates Art

One sunny summer’s day last year, I finished Among the Departed, the fifth Constable Molly Smith book, and sent it off to my editor at Poisoned Pen Press for her suggestions and comments. I leaned back in my chair, relaxed and happy, with the wonderful feeling of satisfaction at having finished the book.

My mother was visiting me, and that evening we had friends over. I learned over the course of dinner that night that there really is nothing new under the sun.

Very briefly the plot of Among the Departed is as follows: When Molly Smith was thirteen years old she had a sleep-over at her best friend’s house. She ate breakfast the next morning with the friend’s family and then her mom picked her up. Shortly thereafter her friend’s father went to the convenience store. He was never seen again. No trace of him was ever found, no one reported seeing him after he walked out the door; he did not have a criminal record and no known criminal contacts. Fifteen years later his remains are found in the British Columbia wilderness by Constable Molly Smith of the Trafalgar City Police, Constable Adam Tocek of the RCMP, and Norman the police dog, while searching for a child who has wandered away from his family’s campsite in a brave search for bears.

Over dinner, my friend, whom I shall call Jane, started telling us about her father.

Who disappeared into the B.C. wilderness and wasn’t found for seventeen years. 

He was driving from Ontario to Southern B.C., last seen at a gas station in Calgary. His car was found far north of his expected route. Although in this case his car was found, for seventeen years there was no trace of Jane’s father himself. And then the body was found by a hunter. In the B.C. wilderness.

Isn’t that just too weird? I think if I hadn’t already written the book, I wouldn’t want to use the story because it would look like I was stealing my friend’s tragedy.

In Among the Departed the focus of the book is, as well as on the reopened police investigation, the fallout of the man’s disappearance and how it pretty much destroyed his wife and two children. 

My friend Jane was older than the children in the story, being in her mid-twenties at the time, but the disappearance had a devastating impact on her mother. Jane’s mother was suspected for a while of being involved in the disappearance of her husband and thus her bank accounts were all frozen. In Among the Departed the insurance company won’t pay out of course, and the wife has no source of income so is dependent on welfare and what she sees as condescending charity of the women of her church. 

In the real life case, Jane and her brother are considering approaching the police to get what documentation they can, so they can try and find out the truth about the disappearance and death of their father.

In the fictional story... Well, you’ll have to read Among the Departed to find out what happens there.

The fifth and newest book in Vicki Delany’s critically-acclaimed acclaimed Constable Molly Smith series, Among the Departed, was released on May 3rd 2011. Vicki is also the author of the Klondike Gold Rush series (Gold Fever) and standalone novels of psychological suspense (Scare the Light Away, Burden of Memory).

Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Vicki is settling down to the rural life in bucolic, Prince Edward County, Ontario where she grows vegetables, eats tomatoes, shovels snow, and rarely wears a watch.

Library Journal gave Among the Departed a starred review saying: “Her exceptional ability to create characters, both realistic and sometimes creepy, makes this another terrific addition to her outstanding body of work.”

Visit Vicki's website. She is on Facebook and twitter @vickidelany.

Vicki left a copy of the fourth Constable Molly Smith novel, Negative Image, for a Meritorious Mystery reader. Send me an email at mysteryheel @ and tell me why you'd like to win it. This contest will end at midnight on Monday, May 30.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mystery Tours This Weekend

LETHAL LADIES (Elizabeth Lynn Casey, Hannah Dennison, Kate Carlisle)
5/13 - 9:00 - Coffee @ The Carolina Club, Chapel Hill (Carolina Club members and their guests)

- noon - Lunch (catered by Fowler's) @ Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill (Carolina Club members and their guests)

5/14 - 2:00 - McIntyre's

5/15 - 3:00 - The Halle Center, Salem St., Apex (Co-sponsored by Eva Perry Library)

5/16 - noon - Brown bag at West Regional Library, Morrisville

- 7:00 - Page Walker Hotel, Cary (Co-sponsored by the Cary Library)

Monday, May 02, 2011

"So Much in Common" by Mary Jane Maffini

Mary Jane won the Agatha Award for her short story "So Much in Common" on Saturday night in Bethesda MD. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine has very kindly allowed you to view it without charge. I'm delighted to suggest you give it a read!


What's going on folks? I posted the winners of the Carolyn Hart & Hallie Ephron books on Monday, April 25. They haven't contacted me with their snail mail addresses. I'll give you until Sunday, May 8 to email me at mysteryheel @ (don't put in the SPACES!). If you don't contact me by then, I'll announce new winners from those posts.

On the other hand, Prentiss won the latest contest for The Ambition. He included his mailing address, so his copy will go out immediately.

Thanks to all of you for playing. I'll be posting more contests soon.

Happy reading!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Agatha Awards

The Agatha Awards were presented last night at the Malice Domestic banquet in Bethesda MD. Winners were as follows:

Best Novel - Louise Penny, Bury Your Dead (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Best Nonfiction - John Curran, Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: 50 Years of Mysteries in the Making (Harper)
Best Children's/Young Adult Novel - Sarah Smith, The Other Side of Dark, (Atheneum)
Best First Novel - Avery Aames, The Long Quiche Goodbye (Berkley)
Best Short Story - Mary Jane Maffinni, "So Much in Common" (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Congratulations to all the winner! Happy reading!

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Contest!!!

Occasionally publicists offer copies of books for me to give away on my blog. Today's contest gives you a chance at a book that won't be available in stores until May 17. Here's how The Ambition the debut novel by by Lee Strobel is described.

A corrupt judge in a mob murder case. A disillusioned pastor, hungry for power. A cynical reporter, sniffing for a scandal. A gambling addict whose secret tape threatens the lives of everyone who hears it. New York Times bestselling author Lee Strobel weaves these edgy characters into an intricate thriller set in a gleaming, suburban megachurch, a big-city newspaper struggling for survival, and the shadowy corridors of political intrigue. The unexpected climax is as gripping as the contract killing that punctuates the opening scene.

You can read more about Strobel, a pastor and former journalist, at his website. There's also a book trailer.

Post a comment and let me know why you like to try new authors. This winner's book will be sent directly from Strobel's publicist.

Good luck, all!

PS More contests are upcoming!!!

PPS The contest closes at midnight Sunday, May 1.

Winners - We've Got Winners!

Thanks, everyone for entering! We had some great reasons for receiving either of the two books—Dead by Midnight by Carolyn Hart and Come and FInd Me by Hallie Ephron. And the winners are

Lynn who loves, "to read a book that's so intense you can't put it down…"
Doreen who vacations in Beaufort SC every May.

If these folks will contact me at mysteryheel @, I'll get the books out to them.

Congratulations, Lynn and Doreen!

Watch the next posting (above) for details of a new contest!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Triangle Mini Mystery Tours

Folk, I've got a series of three mini tours lined up for the Triangle area of North Carolina, beginning this Saturday, April 22.

OLDER, HOTTER, DEADLIER (Vicky Delany, Elizabeth J. Duncan, Mary Jane Maffini)
4/22 - noon - Lunch (catered by Fowler's) @ Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill

4/23 - 2:00 McIntyre's, Fearrington Village

4/25 - noon - Brown Bag Lunch @ The Halle Center, Salem St., Apex (Co-sponsored by Eva Perry Library)

- 7:00 - Panel Discussion @ Page Walker Hotel, Cary (Co-sponsored by the Cary Library)

4/26- 5:30 - Wine, Wit, and Lit @ The Carolina Club, Chapel Hill (Carolina Club members and their guests)

LETHAL LADIES (Elizabeth Lynn Casey, Hannah Dennison, Kate Carlisle)
5/13 - 9:00 - Coffee @ The Carolina Club, Chapel Hill (Carolina Club members and their guests)

- noon - Lunch (catered by Fowler's) @ Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill (Carolina Club members and their guests)

5/14 - 2:00 - McIntyre's

5/15 - 3:00 - The Halle Center, Salem St., Apex (Co-sponsored by Eva Perry Library)

5/16 - noon - Brown bag at West Regional Library, Morrisville

- 7:00 - Page Walker Hotel, Cary (Co-sponsored by the Cary Library)

LADIES ON THE LAM (Jane K. Cleland, Rosemary Harris, Stefanie Pintoff)
6/3 - noon - Lunch (catered by Fowler's) @ Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill

6/4 - 2:00 - McIntyre's

6/5 - 3:00 - The Halle Center, Salem St., Apex (Co-sponsored by Eva Perry Library)

6/6 - 12:30 - Holly Springs Library (Brown Bag lunch)

- 7:00 - Page Walker Hotel, Cary

6/7 - 8:00 - Continental Breakfast @ The Carolina Club

Library events are free and open to the public, but please register. The number for the Eva Perry Library is 919.387.2100, the Cary Library is 919.460.3350, and the Holly Springs is 919.577.1660 (press 4 to bypass message & talk all library lines).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Winners and Another Contest!

Ta da da da ta da! The entries in the drawing for J. T. Ellison's So Close the Hand of Death were drawn from the virtual hat this morning. If you see a reference to your entry, you're a winner! Please email me your snail mail address so I can forward the book. The winners are
Pat R from the Midwest
Shirley who wants to read after dark…

I'll give you until Thursday to send your information to me (mysteryheel @ before drawing another winner.

New Contest
I was lucky to receive extra copes of Carolyn Hart's Dead by Midnight, a Death on Demand Mystery, and Hallie Ephron's Come and Find Me, a novel of suspense. I haven't had a chance to read either book yet (I'm hosting 9 authors this spring and moderating a panel at Malice Domestic, so my reading's been planned for me!), but I can guarantee both of these will make fine reading. Carolyn's books are excellent examples of the traditional mystery. Hallie's are the kind of suspense that requires to read them in one sitting.

To enter, post a comment below telling why you're ready for which type of crime fiction. I'll announce the winners next Sunday, April 24. Again, watch this blog for winners. (I've got at least one more contest for the future.)

Happy reading—and thanks for entering!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Drawing for J.T. Ellison's SO CLOSE THE HAND OF DEATH

I'm always glad to offer readers an opportunity to win a book! Today I'm announcing a drawing for J. T. Ellison's latest homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson's psychological thriller, So Close the Hand of Death. You don't have to do much: Just post a comment telling me why you'd like to read this "hideous echo of a violent past. Across America, murders are being committed with all the twisted hallmarks of the Boston Strangler, the Zodiac Killer and Son of Sam. The media frenzy explodes and Nashville homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson knows instantly that The Pretender is back...and he's got helpers."

Entertain me with your reasons! I'll announce the winner on Sunday, April 17, asking him/her to email me a snail mail address.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH by Carola Dunn (Minotaur)

I just had a great visit with amateur sleuth the Hon. Daisy Dalrymple and her husband DCI Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard. While Alex is busy investigating the murders of three men buried in Epping Forest, Daisy is safely out of the way visiting their daughter Belinda at her school. While folks at the Yard are fully convinced there's no way Daisy could possibly intrude on their case, readers won't be at all surprised when she comes upon a body—and since she's already involved, she might as well solve the crime, wouldn't you think?

Dunn weaves the two cases beautifully, leaving cliffhangers every time she switches from one to the other. I found myself reading "just one more chapter" until I wasn't even making excuses.

FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.

Mystery Awards Announced at Left Coast Crime

Thanks to Marcia Talley and Kathie Felix for today's post on the Sisters in Crime blog in which they reported some more mystery award winners. I hope you'll check out the blog, but in the meantime, I'll list the awards:
The Lefty - Best humorous mystery novel
Donna Andrews, Stork Raving Mad (Minotaur Books)
Laura DiSilverio, Swift Justice (Minotaur Books/Thomas Dunne Books)
Donna Moore, Old Dogs (Busted Flush Press)
Kris Neri, Revenge for Old Times' Sake (Cherokee McGhee)
J. Michael Orenduff, The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein (Oak Tree Press)

The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery - Best historical mystery novel, covering events before 1950
Rebecca Cantrell, A Night of Long Knives (Forge Books)
Robert Kresge, Murder for Greenhorns (ABQ Press)
Kelli Stanley, City of Dragons (Minotaur Books)
Jeri Westerson, The Demon's Parchment (Minotaur Books)
Jacqueline Winspear, The Mapping of Love and Death (HarperCollins)

The Hillerman Sky Award - The mystery (short story to novel length) that best captures the landscape of the Southwest
Sandi Ault, Wild Penance (Berkley Hardcover)
Christine Barber, The Bone Fire (Minotaur Books)
Margaret Coel, The Spider's Web (Berkley Hardcover)
Deborah J. Ledford, Snare (Second Wind Publishing)

The Watson - Mystery novel with best sidekick
Sandi Ault, Wild Penance (Berkley Hardcover)
Rachel Brady, Dead Lift (Poisoned Pen Press)
Chris Grabenstein, Rolling Thunder (Pegasus)
Craig Johnson, Junkyard Dogs (Viking)
Spencer Quinn, To Fetch a Thief (Atria)

Congratulations to all nominees, winners, and, especially to readers! More books!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guest Blogger- SARA ROSETT

Today I'm joined by the delightful Sara Rosett whose new book Mimosas, Mischief and Murder will be on bookstore shelves this week. I'm delighted to welcome Sara to Meritorious Mysteries!

Drawing the Line
by Sara Rosett

When I’m reading fiction I sometimes wonder how much of the story was drawn from the author’s life. If the story has a snarky mother-in-law, did reality inspire the author?

Probably not, if those dedications and acknowledgements hold any truth. You know the ones. They go something like this, “Even though the main character in this book lives next-door to the neighbors-from-hell, my neighbors are the nicest people on earth!”


While I’ve never taken anything from real life and transplanted it into a book, I do take bits and pieces—a mannerism here, a physical description there—and blend those things into my story. While I’ll admit that I have very limited artistic abilities, I think it’s a bit like a painter who layers color onto the canvas, blending shades and texture to create certain effects.

If I start off with an idea or characteristics drawn from real life, those details mutate into something unique to the book as I write. In MIMOSAS, MISCHEIF, AND MURDER, Ellie goes to visit her quirky Southern in-laws and becomes embroiled in a mystery when the patriarch of the family passes away and there are questions about whether the death is natural or not.

When I was plotting out the story, I decided that the local book festival would take place while Ellie was in town. I created a character, an author of a middle grade mystery series, who lived in the same town and signs a copy of one of her books for Ellie’s daughter, Livvy. My real life experience with Accelerated Reading programs (AR) in my kid’s elementary schools inspired the part of the story where Ellie’s daughter is in a reading contest and always has a book with her. The reading competition at my kids’ school was as intense as some Olympic events, so I wanted to put that passion into the story. My kids loved the Magic Tree House books, but I wanted something completely new, so I had my author write The Infinity Mysteries, a series about three friends who solve mysteries using math.

Then I had some fun writing about Ellie’s encounter with the author, Margaret Key. I thought back to the first writer’s conference I attended. I was surprised because so many of the authors looked nothing like their author photos. I fictionalized that incident and incorporated it into MIMOSAS. I made up a physical description of an author who looks like no author I know in real life. In her author photo, Margaret has silky, smooth blonde hair that frames her unlined face. When Ellie meets her, Margaret has slightly frizzy blond curls with dark roots, crows feet, and the beginning of a double chin—no air-brushing or Photoshop!

Since I write about a family with kids there is some crossover between my real life and the fiction I write, but the books are mostly fiction. Rarely do I take an incident and repeat it verbatim in a book. Instead, I try to think back to what it was like when my kids were younger and recapture the feelings I had then—how repetitive the daily routine was at times (the laundry never ends!), the joy of naptime, and the anxiety I felt about raising my kids. I distill those emotions into a few fictional incidents for the books.

There are certain things that are totally off limits. The other day a funny incident occurred in our family that would make wonderful blog material. But I’m not going to write about it because it would embarrass one family member. I won’t fictionalize it and put it in a book either. Keeping things private is almost a foreign concept in today’s tell-all, expose-all world. We have people taking lie detector tests on TV, exposing themselves and their families to pain. And then there’s countless people making fools of themselves on other shows, just for a few minutes in the limelight. I don’t want to regret anything I put in a book.

So many of us share events about our lives on-line through Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Where’s the line privacy line for you? If you’re a writer, how much of real life makes its way into your writing? What won’t you write, blog, or post about?

You can find out more about me and my books at my website. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and the Girlfriends Book Club blog.

A shorter version of this post originally ran in the Good Girls Kill blog.