Thursday, December 27, 2012

City of Exiles by Alec Nevala-Lee (Signet

This international thriller involves two foreign assassins—one Russian, one Finn. Both are involved in several gruesome murders but they probably are working on different political agendas. Most of the action takes place in London where the police are working with FBI agent Rachel Wolfe.

The key murder involves international investor James Morley, who has invested a great deal of money in Russian companies. He has apparently discovered that the Russian government is in league with Russian criminals to insure the success of their natural gas companies. The government hopes to control the European market for natural gas, which, in essence, would allow them to control Europe.

Wolpe and her compatriots in the British police must gather clues left by the multiple murders and tie them to the Russian mob. The clues also may be tied to the decades-old murders of 10 hikers lost in the Russian mountains.

There are hints of several factions within the Russian government that may be vying for ultimate control of the government or the new- found power given to them with the control of the natural gas industry. It is a complicated plot, but the pieces will eventually coalesce and you will enjoy Alec Nevala-Lee's thriller.

--Steve Bank

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

Not Dead Yet by Peter James (Minotaur)

Brighton's Senior Investigating Officer Roy Grace has a lot on his plate in Peter James' latest thriller. He has a trial coming up where he has to help put away a criminal, an unknown body found in a tunnel under the river, and a headless-armless-legless body found at a barn at a chicken farm. But his life is going to get a whole lot more complicated!

Movie star, Gaia Lafayette, born in Brighton, is coming back to her home town to film a movie about George IV and his mistress. There is a death threat hanging over Gaia and there has been an attempt to murder her in California. The British police must go all out in protecting her.

Amis Smallbone who promised to kill Grace for sending him to prison is being released from his life sentence. Grace is in a loving relationship (they are expecting a baby) with Medical Examiner Cleo Morey. Cleo's car is vandalized and a threatening message left as a warning to the couple.

One might say James gives one a lot to consider and sometimes you may feel like you need a scorecard to keep track of all the players. But I can promise: You won't regret picking up Not Dead Yet!

--Steve Bank

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Fatal Winter by G. M. Malliet (Minotaur)

This mystery takes place in a small English village named Nether Monkslip where murders have taken place at the century’s old Chedrow Castle during the coming Christmas holidays. The castle is inhabited by Lord Oscar Footrustle, his sister Lady Letitia Baynard, and a young woman named Lamorna. A raucous, money hungry group of their grown and young children have gathered at the castle for the holidays. Ah, so many motives for murder in one place! The main protagonist is Reverend Max Tudor who in his former life worked for MI5. Murder and death is the order of the season, but of the many suspects—who committed the crimes? Detective Cotton has requested that Max turn his attention away from his religious duties and affairs of his own heart to solving the baffling murders. The story twists and turns among each of the family members. The ending, appropriately, is a surprise!

This is a well written whodunit that keeps you guessing. There is a cast of characters and family tree presented before the start of the story, so you can keep track of the relationships and names. I enjoy English mysteries the most, especially those written by Dick Francis.

--Nancy Petrillo

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gray Matter by Shirley Kennett (Open Road)

This novel was recently released as an e-book and is the first of five books in the P J Gray series. Penelope Jennifer Gray, known as PJ, is a newly divorced psychologist and expert in computer simulation. She and her 12year-old son have just moved to St. Louis where she will be working for the St. Louis Police Department as head of a new division, CHIP (Computerized Homicide Investigations Project), to use virtual reality (VR) to solve crimes. PJ is developing a software program that reenacts the crime using VR. The plan is to have several months to set up the program prior to actually using it. However, when a famous pianist is found dead, decapitated with his head missing and a strange craving of a dog on his back, she is assigned the case on her first day in the office.

PJ’s police partner is Leo Schultz, a veteran cop fast approaching retirement, who has been a desk jockey for several years. Schultz has no desire to have anything to do with computers or PJ, but he does want to return to field work. As more victims are discovered it becomes a race against time to identify and capture one of the worst serial killers of all time. PJ and Schultz work the case, using traditional police techniques and VR to enter the mind of the killer. The suspense becomes almost unbearable when PJ and Schultz make some serious mistakes and the killer realizes they are on to him.

The characters are very well developed, the relationships seem real, and the murders are very frightening and bloody. It is not difficult to visualize the crime scenes, but I could not put this book down. I read to the wee hours of the morning—good thing I am retired! I can't wait to read the other four books.

--Helen Jones

FTC Disclosure -- This book was provided by the publisher in e-format.

PS from Molly - I read and reviewed this book when it came out in hardcover. I totally concur with Helen's assessment!

The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron (Grand Central)

Even if there were no crime in the Deborah Knott novels, I would still love them. The people Maron writes about are people I know; the relationships within Deborah's family are as familiar to me as are the societal situations that are very real to North Carolina as we change from rural to urban.

In this outing, Sigrid Harald and her mother are in Colleton County visiting Sigrid's ailing grandmother, Mrs. Lattimore. Deborah Knott and her husband Deputy Dwight Bryant are invited to a dinner party at Mrs. Lattimore's elegant home where they meet Sigrid's long-lost cousin, an ornithologist who is studying Southern vultures.

Combine all the family members with a missing realtor and a badly injured teenager and you'll find yourself settling in for a wonderful read. In my opinion, The Buzzard Table is quite possibly the best in an outstanding series.

FCT Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.grand

Edge of Black by J. T. Ellison (Harlequin Mira)

This is the second book in the Dr. Samantha (Sam) Owens series. Sam is a forensic pathologist who gets involved in solving the crimes that put the bodies in her lab. She has sold her house and resigned from her job as chief medical examiner in Nashville TN, in an attempt to start over after the drowning death of her husband and children two years ago. She is moving to Washington DC where she will teach at Georgetown University and to be near her new boyfriend, Xander Whitfield, an ex-army ranger.

Sam is asked to consult on a case with the DC police when three people die after an unknown pathogen is released into the Washington Metro system. While many are ill—why are there only three deaths? Sam's gut tell her something is not right and leads her to investigate the lives of the three victims to determine if it is coincidence or if these unrelated people are somehow connected. Her boyfriend has an unusual relationship with several of the suspects that puts Sam and Xander on the firing line.

This is an adventure with lots of action (that only an Army Ranger can provide) and complex characters. While you do not need to read the first book, A Deeper Darkness, to get into the story, I recommend that you read it first. This will allow you to better understand the relationship between Sam and all the major characters and the hang-ups that each have. Both books are exciting and difficult to put down.

--Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Edgar Grand Masters & Ravens

Ken Follett and Margaret Maron have been chosen as this year’s Grand Masters by Mystery Writers of America (MWA). MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. Mr. Follett and Ms. Maron will be presented with their awards at the Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, May 2, 2013.
When told of being named a Grand Master, Follett said, “I am delighted and honoured. My first successful book, Eye of the Needle, won the Edgar for Best Novel more than thirty years ago. I’m thrilled to know that my fellow writers still hold me in such high regard.”

Follett is the best-selling author of twenty novels, and has sold more than 100 million books since he began writing in the 1970’s. His career has been wide reaching and after mastering the mystery genre, he expanded into literary epic fiction, TV, movies and children’s books. Following Eye of the Needle Follett’s string of suspenseful and original thrillers included Triple, The Key to Rebecca, The Man from St. Petersburg and Lie Down with Lions. His sweeping historical drama Pillars of the Earth has been on bestseller lists for years, followed by World Without End, Fall of Giants, and Winter of the World. Follett lives in the U.K. with his wife Barbara Follett.

Margaret Maron is the author of twenty-six novels and two short story collections. Her first mystery, One Coffee With, was published in 1981, and was the beginning of her Sigrid Harald series featuring a New York City police officer. But it wasn’t until 1992, and a fictional return to her North Carolina roots, with Bootlegger’s Daughter (the first of the Deborah Knott series), that Maron was awarded an Edgar, Agatha, Anthony and Macavity award. Maron’s works are on the reading lists of courses in contemporary Southern literature and have been translated into 16 languages. She has served as president of Sisters in Crime, the American Crime Writers League, and Mystery Writers of America. She and her husband live on her family's century-old farm a few miles southeast of Raleigh, which inspired the setting for Bootlegger's Daughter.
On learning she was a Grand Master, Maron said, “Me? It still hasn’t fully sunk in. I keep remembering my first MWA dinner when I was half-afraid that I would be asked to leave because I only had a few short stories and a half-published book to my name, so how could I possibly belong there with those luminaries? Grand Master? Wow!”

Previous Grand Masters include Martha Grimes, Sara Paretsky, Dorothy Gilman, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Bill Pronzini, Stephen King, Marcia Muller, Dick Francis, Mary Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie.

One mystery bookstore and one outstanding individual supporting the mystery book genre will be honored with the 2013 Raven Award. Established in 1953, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. The Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego and Redondo Beach, California, and veteran newspaper journalist Oline Cogdill will receive the 2013 Raven Awards.

The Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego was opened by Terry Gillman, Maryelizabeth Hart and Jeff Mariotte in 1993. The bookshop has not only served their customers, but has contributed to their community with several successful literacy programs benefiting local schools, libraries and businesses. In 2011, they opened the Redondo Beach store, in the greater LA area. This store has a state-of-the-art media room and adjoining café, and stocks some 15,000 to 20,000 books in a renovated 4,000 square-foot facility. The two stores comprise the only mystery bookstores in Southern California.

Maryelizabeth Hart said, “From the day we opened our doors almost twenty years ago, we've believed that bookstores are the bridge between the (sometimes overlapping) community of readers and the community of authors and publishers. We've tried to serve both communities well, and are delighted and proud of this recognition from MWA.’

Oline Cogdill has been a journalist for more than twenty-five years, and is the mystery columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. She was awarded the 1999 Sun-Sentinel's Pettijohn Award and the 1999 Ellen Nehr Award for Excellence in Mystery Reviewing by the American Crime Writers League. Her reviews are syndicated nationwide.

Cogdill said, “This recognition is an honor that has left me nearly speechless with gratitude. I have always felt privileged to be a part of this community and this validation bestowed by people I respect so much is an overwhelming gift. In these times when the industry is in such flux, it is doubly appreciated that MWA recognizes and endorses the steadfastly ethical relationship between critics and writers.”

Previous Raven winners include Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Chicago, Once Upon a Crime Bookstore in Minneapolis, Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, PA, Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA, and The Poe House in Baltimore, MD.

The 2013 Ellery Queen Award will be given to Johnny Temple, founder and editor of Akashic Books. The Ellery Queen award is given to editors or publishers who have distinguished themselves by their generous and wide-ranging support of the genre.

In 2004, Akashic Books launched their Noir Series of short stories about a particular city. Brooklyn Noir was the first to be followed by fifty-five more. Pete Hamill, Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, S. J. Rozan, George Pelecanos, Ken Bruen, and Joyce Carol Oates are among the many contributors. Two stories published in the Series have won the Edgar for Best Short Story, and the Series has been recognized with nominations and awards throughout the mystery and literary world, from the Shamus, Derringer, Macavity, and Anthony Awards to the Pushcart Prize. Under the guidance of Johnny Temple, the Noir Series has become an important presence in the mystery community. Upon hearing the news of his award, Johnny Temple said, “It’s wonderful, and it’s monumental.”

Previous Ellery Queen winners include Joe Meyers of the Connecticut Post/Hearst Media News Group, Kate Stine and Brian Skupin, co-publishers of Mystery Scene Magazine, Carolyn Marino, Vice President/Executive Editor, Harper Collins, and Ed Gorman.

The Edgar Awards, or "Edgars," as they are commonly known, are named after MWA's patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories. MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses more than 3,000 members including authors of fiction and non-fiction books, screen and television writers, as well as publishers, editors, and literary agents. For more information on Mystery Writers of America, please visit the website.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Nero Award

The Nero Award is presented each year to an author for the best American Mystery written in the tradition of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories. It is presented at the Black Orchid Banquet, traditionally held on the first Saturday in December in New York City. The "Nero" is considered one of the premier awards granted to authors of crime fiction.

This year, the winner is Dana Stabenow for Though Not Dead (Minotaur Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Publishing Group). Her award was presented by Jane K. Cleland, chair of the Wolfe Pack's literary awards.

The Black Orchid Novella Award is presented jointly by The Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine to celebrate the Novella format popularized by Rex Stout. This year's winner is Robert Lopresti for "The Red Envelope."

About the Wolfe Pack

The Wolfe Pack, founded in 1977, is a forum to discuss, explore, and enjoy the 72 Nero Wolfe books and novellas written by Rex Stout. The organization promotes fellowship and extends friendship to those who enjoy these great literary works of mystery through a series of events, book discussions, and a journal devoted to the study of the genius detective, Nero Wolfe, and his intrepid assistant, Archie Goodwin. The organization has more than 500 members worldwide.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Cathedral Windows" by Clare O'Donohue Penguin Group Inc.- Plume e-Book

This "Someday Quilts Mystery" is a short Christmas story. The school children in the small town of Archers Rest are making quilt squares to raise money for the local Fire Department. Nell and her grandmother, who own the local quilt shop, are sewing the squares into quilts that will be auctioned on Christmas Eve

When an arsonist strikes and the 3rd grade teacher becomes a suspect, the quilters rally behind him. Nell decides she must use her amateur detective skills to find the real culprit before the big party on Christmas Eve.

This is an entertaining, feel good, cozy mystery Christmas story. I don't quilt but I enjoyed the activity in the quilt shop, the characters, and the small town community.

--Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

BEAR BAIT by Pamela Beason (Berkley)

This is an interesting, well-written environmental mystery featuring Summer "Sam" Weston. Like Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon, Sam is a single, mid-thirties, self assured woman with an environmental nterest and the ability to go anywhere and do anything. She is a wilderness writer who, in this second outing, is working at Olympia National Park, hired as a temp by the National Park Service to do a usage plan for a new addition to the park.

Everyone is not happy to have the federal government taking the land. Trouble follows with hunters, workers, and environmentalists causing problems. Sam not only finds a body in a burned area, but she also has near death experiences as she in investigates ways she shouldn't.

The story includes charactrs similar to those in a Barr novel, including relatives, confused teenagers, questionable co-workers, and an on-again, off-again romantic interest. The romance involves an FBI agent who just happens to be working in this area who provides both investigative assistance as well as some intimate enjoyment.

As the title implies, there is a bear that Sam is trying to protect which provides her an opportunity to show her love of nature and appreciation of the wilderness and its inhabitants.

This is a good story, interesting, exciting, romantic, and intelligent—-with an appreciation of the wild world and the strength of a real outdoor woman. If you enjoy the writing of Nevada Barr, as I do, you will enjoy this series. I look forward to Undercurrents, which is set in the Galapagos Islands.

--Rodney Vashaw

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

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Debut novel from Dick Wolf

As a long-long-time fan of "Law and Order," I'm delighted to be part of the contest to spread the word about The Intercept, the debut novel from the show's creator Dick Wolf.

In The Intercept, NYPD Detective Jeremy Fisk becomes New York City’s last hope against an ingenious terrorist attack. Dick Wolf brings the same keen storytelling skills that keep viewers watching his shows each week to his debut novel—plot surprises, believable characters, and page turning suspense.

William Morrow is offering three copies of the book to readers of Meritorious Mysteries. Of course, they have to know about you, so you'll need to comment on this post! The Intercept will be released on December 26, so we'll need your comments by December 20. If you don't want to publish your email or snail address, send me an email with "The Intercept" in the subject line.

I'm looking forward to reading this one myself!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A Thrill & an Honor

What a nice surprise that the delightful Ellery Adams dedicated Written in Stone—a Books by the Bay Mystery to "These Mavens of Mystery: Kaye Wilkinson Barley, Lesa Holstine, Doris Ann Norris, and Molly Weston"! Ellery was then kind enough to send each of us a signed copy.

I'm so delighted with this honor that I'm offering a copy (unsigned, of course) to one of you. Just drop me an email with "Contest" as the subject or put a comment below. Tell me why you enjoy mysteries which fit into the "cozy" end of the crime fiction spectrum.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Jo Nesbo in North Carolina

On Friday, November 16th at 6:30pm, McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village, Pittsboro is thrilled to host bestselling Edgar-nominated mystery author and cult favorite Jo Nesbø for a reading of his latest Harry Hole mystery, Phantom. Pete Mock, McIntyre’s book buyer and mystery guru, says “Right now, in my opinion he is the best mystery writer in the world. He writes high powered, complex stories that keep you riveted for hours upon hour. We are his only tour destination in the Southeast, which is pretty exciting.” Nesbo’s books will be available for purchase at the event, and anyone interested in getting a signed copy of Phantom or any of Nesbo’s previous works, should call the bookstore 919.452.3030. And yes, McIntyre’s ships books anywhere in the US.

Photo by Arvid Stridh on

Saturday, November 03, 2012

It Takes Two To Strangle by Stephen Kaminski (Cozy Cat Press)

Former baseball player Damon Lassard is head of the Hollydale Citizens Association; therefore, he is the local liaison to a traveling carnival that has been contracted to put on a fair in this Washington DC suburb. When one of the owners of the carnival is murdered, Damon decides to help his friend, Detective Gerry Sloman, find the killer. While his efforts are not always appreciated by the local police, he does uncover long hidden crimes that may be connected to the current murder. There are a lot of suspects and twists in this tale of money, greed, and murder. The story also has a bit of romance as Damon's best pal is Rebecca (a cooking instructor), but he has crush on the local weather girl, Bethany.

This is good cozy mystery, easy to read. At times Damon seems to be too nice or naive but he is very likable. The other characters and plot are well thought out and believable. The background and descriptions seem very real. The author keeps you guessing, but in the end all the loose ends come together. This is the first book in the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series—and I look forward to reading the next installment.

--Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the author.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Deborah Sharp "Mama" Titles Giveaway

Deborah Sharp, author of the delightful redneck traditional "Mama" series just announced that Mama Gets Trashed will appear in bookstores in the fall of 2013. To read the full announcement, which is nearly as much fun as the books themselves, sign up for Deborah's newsletter on her web site.

To go directly to Deb's contest, continue reading…
Did you think I forgot the contest? I've been thinking about Mama Rides Shotgun and Mama Gets Hitched, the series' second and third books. I remember how it was, growing up as a middle kid. The oldest grabbed the firstborn attention. Then, adoration focused on the newest arrival, the baby. Not that I'm bitter. I wanted to throw some love at the ''middle kids'' in my series, shine the spotlight they deserve.

By the end of this week (10-28), email me at:
Write 'MIDDLE CONTEST' in the subject line. Four entrants will be chosen at random to win a personally inscribed copy of Book 2 or Book 3. If you've already read that title, I'll sign it and send to anyone you choose. The contest is restricted to entries in the USA.

Happy reading!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Whole She-Bang

I just watched a delightful trailer for a new short story anthology from the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime. The trailer contains the first sentence from each story. I think the hooks are clever and that lots of folks will want to follow through reading the rest of the stories. Let me hear what you think.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Elaine Viets National Bridesmaid Dress Contest

Murder Is a Piece of Cake, Elaine Viets’ eighth Josie Marcus mystery shopper mystery, will be published November 6. In this novel, Josie’s interfering mother-in-law is locked up for Murder One, and Josie has to find the real killer before she can marry Dr. Ted Scottsmeyer.

Elaine is holding a bridesmaid dress contest to celebrate Josie’s wedding. The prizes include two $100 gift certificates to the bookstore of the winner’s choice.

Did you wear a bridesmaid dress you can't believe a bride would inflict on a friend?

Enter the "I Can't Believe I Wore This Dress. It’s outrageous" category.

How about one so pretty you'd want to wear it again?

Enter it in the "I Can't Believe I Wore This Dress. It’s gorgeous" category.

Winners in both categories will receive $100 gift certificates to the bookstore of their choice, for e-books or tree books, and an autographed copy of Murder Is a Piece of Cake.

Second place is a $25 gift certificate and an autographed copy of Murder Is a Piece of Cake.

Third place is an autographed copy of Murder Is a Piece of Cake.

Stop by Elaine's website and see Elaine’s bridesmaid dress and wedding photo from 1971. Remember, that pale orange chiffon was cutting edge in Florissant, Missouri.While you're there, enter the Elaine Viets National Bridesmaid Dress Contest now through November 1, 2012.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Meet Dru Ann Love

I was delighted to meet mystery blogger Dru Ann Love at Bouchercon in Cleveland. I've seen Dru Ann at conferences for several years, but we've never formally connected. She stopped by the registration table for the Raleigh Bouchercon where I was trying to interest folks in the 2015 conference. I hope some of my readers will drop by Dru's Book Musings, where "reading is a wonderful adventure."

Barry Award - Best British Crime Novel

Congratulations to Peter James for the Barry Award for Dead Man's Grip! I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. James at the Cleveland airport after Bouchercon. Sadly, I hadn't attended the awards ceremony, so I didn't know to congratulate him in person.

Macavity Award Winners

Thursday evening, October 4, Janet Rudolph presented the Macavity Awards at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland during Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. Janet is the driving force behind Mystery Readers Journal. A list of the nominees can be found on Janet's Mystery Fanfare. Winners are listed below.

Best Mystery Novel
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran
Best First Mystery Novel
All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen
Best Mystery Related Non-Fiction
The Sookie Stackhouse Companion, edited by Charlaine Harris
Best Mystery Short Story
"Disarming" by Dana Cameron
Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery
Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains
by Catriona McPherson

By way of congratulations, how about reading the winners' books?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Molly-on-Mysteries Schedule

After taking off last spring due to surgery, I'm delighted to restart my Molly-on-Mysteries programs in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Each program will feature 15-20 crime writers whose work is related to a general topic. No registration is required—nor is any preparation on your part. Programs will be on the second Thursdays of each month October through May at 2:00 p.m. at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center, 119 Ambassador Loop in Downtown Cary. Dates are October 11, November 8, December 13, January 10, February 14, March 14, April 11, and May 9.

I hope to see many mystery readers at these events!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Trickster's Point by William Kent Krueger

Every new outing in this fantastic series is better than the last. This time, Cork O'Connor is suspecting of murdering a lifelong friend, a man who many think will be the first Native American governor of Minnesota. Politics, bow hunting, and old feuds come together at the secluded monolith known as Trickster's Point. Get ready to light the midnight oil!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Game Giveaway!!!

I don't talk about all my habits here, but I've been addicted to computer games for nearly 25 years. Before you start laughing, I'm not into the role-playing games or those where you get totally involved for weekends at a time. I like those where I play against myself—card games, finding hidden objects, looking for clues, and logic puzzles.

Serendipity set in this week when a reader suggested that perhaps I should run a series of contests rewarding Meritorious Mysteries readers with free online games from Big Fish Games. Meritorious Mysteries will hold three contests. Each contest will run for two weeks, with one winner for each contest. Each contest winner will receive a pack of five codes redeemable on the Big Fish Games website. The cool thing is you'll be able to choose your own games.

All you have to do is "like" Big Fish Games on Facebook or follow them on Twitter or post a comment on Meritorious Mysteries either about mysteries or why you think gaming and mysteries have a lot in common. You can increase your chances of winning by following me on Twitter @MsMystery.

We'll post winners of the first contest on September 28.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Suzy's Case by Andy Siegel (Scribner)

Readers learn what happened to Suzy long before personal injury and medical malpractice attorney Tug Wyler does. It's a medical mistake of life-changing proportions—six-year-old Suzy is in the hospital related to her sickle cell disease. When she leaves, she has irreparable brain damage. As Tug begins his fight for the very special young girl (and her beautiful mother), he has no idea how many obstacles he'll encounter—nor the diversity of the help he'll receive in working for Suzy. 

While this is labeled a "legal thriller," most of the thrills take place out of the courtroom. You'll enjoy meeting Tug Wyler.

FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.

Murder Most Austen by Tracy Kiely (Minotaur)

You don't have to be a Jane Austen fan to enjoy this delightful mystery set in Bath at an Austen conference—but you probably will be when you finish. Elizabeth Parker and her aunt are dedicated Janeites who plan to make the most of their opportunity with like-minded folks. Enjoyment is shoved to the back burner, however, when murder rears its ugly head. There are plenty of suspects who would have liked to do away with the obnoxious Professor Baines who claims to expose sordid hidden meanings in the Austen novels. Amateur sleuth Elizabeth has her work cut out for her.

FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Murder & Mayhem Tour

Don't forget to mark your calendar for this great tour! Unfortunately, Nancy Martin is ill and won't be with us in person. We'll try to have her on Skype for some of our programs. We'll certainly have her in spirit!

I'm looking forward to hosting great mystery authors Deborah Coonts, Nancy Martin, and Hank Phillippi Ryan in several venues around the area. Plan to hear these great authors at one of the following events:
Friday, Sept. 21, 10:00 - East Regional Library, Knightdale
Friday, Sept. 21, 2:00 - Southeast Regional Library, Garner
Friday, Sept. 21, 7:00 - Chapel Hill Library, Chapel Hill (co-sponsored by Flyleaf Books
Saturday, Sept. 22, 10:30 - North Regional Library, Raleigh
Saturday, Sept. 22, 2:00 - McIntyre's, Fearrington Village, Pittsboro
Sunday, Sept. 23, 3:00 - The Halle Center, Apex (co-sponsored by Eva Perry Library)
Monday, Sept. 24, 2:00 - West Regional Library, Cary
Monday, Sept. 24, 7:00 - Page-Walker Cultural Arts Center, Cary
Tuesday, Sept. 25, 11:30 - The Carolina Club, Chapel Hill (luncheon event--members/guests)
All authors will be happy to sign their books after the panel discussions. Bring your own or purchase them at the event. We look forward to seeing you!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Going to the Bad by Nora McFarland (Touchstsone)

Just because TV photographer Lilly Hawkins is working the assignment desk during the Christmas holidays, it doesn't mean she'll stay in the station. When she hears her own address over the police scanner, Lilly bursts into action. Investigating the multiple gunshot crime leads Lilly from the hospital emergency room to the walled estate of a multi-millionaire to seedy pawnshops. She learns more about her uncle Bud's early life than she wants to know (and a lot about herself) while dealing with rumor and fact—in less than two days.

Lilly Hawkins is a character to follow!

This book was provided by the publisher.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Stay Close by Harlan Coben (Dutton)

Sometimes we think our pasts will stay buried, but too often our past transgressions come back to bite us. Ray Levine was once a top photographer and now uses his talent for cheap assignments. Megan Pierce once led a wild life as an exotic dancer named Cassie, but is now a suburban housewife with two kids. Broome is an Atlantic City detective still brooding over a 17-year-old case—an event that connects the three of them. Ray and Megan have tried to bury the past, but Broome has never let it go. Now those events will make their lives miserable in the here and now.

Ruth Green's life has never been the same since her husband disappeared 17 years ago. The strange circumstances of his disappearance have haunted Broome all these years. Although Broome is divorced from his ex-police partner, Erin, he still keeps in touch. Now a new disappearance causes Broome to look at the old case again. Erin's research has discovered a link between these two cases and the disappearance of men who disappeared on or within a day of Mardi Gras.

Harlan Coben's latest thriller is a bit darker than his previous writings showing readers the underside of the glamour of Atlantic City. Stay Close poses the question: Are any of us truly either all good or all bad?

—Steve Bank

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Informationist by Taylor Stevens (Crown)

The pace is frantic, the situation truly unusual, and our heroine is like no one else! Vanessa Michael Munroe grew up in harshest Central Africa and fought for her very survival. She killed her main tormentor when she was 14 and managed to escape to the United States.

Michael used her survival skills and quick mind to grow into a competent, special person. Her occupation is obtaining information —by any means possible. She can pose as a man or use her beauty as a woman to accomplish her missions. Now she may be facing the most dangerous assignment she has ever accepted. Billionaire oil titan Richard Burbank wants her to find out what happened to his daughter, Emily, who disappeared five years ago in Africa. He insists on sending his ex-military #1 assistant, Miles Bradford, along to aid her in the search.

From her arrival in Africa, Michael senses that she is being followed. She’s right: There are forces working not only to hinder her but to remove her if necessary. When Michael and Miles rush to verify news that news that Emily is alive, their lives become endangered, but doing so may result in their being murdered.
The pace never slackens as Michael must not only find Emily but she must face some of the demons from her childhood.

Author Taylor Stevens had to fight to escape her own upbringing. Her debut novel is a fantastic ride through modern, chaotic Africa. It is a book that’s hard to put down until finished!

—Steve Bank

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Caravan of Thieves by David Rich (Dutton)

Rollie Waters is every inch as smart as his father, but one difference is that Rollie is honest while his dad is one of the biggest con-artists of his generation. Rollie has been a hero in Iraq and worked as an undercover agent for the Marines in Afghanistan. But now he is being asked to help find his father. who may be responsible for the disappearance of $25,000,000!

Rollie senses his father might not have stolen the money but he knows darn well that his Dad knows where the money is. Rollie is immediately caught between two competing forces: Colonel Gladden of the Marines who wants the money back and Major McColl, whose gang may be responsible for the theft. And each side will do anything to get the money back. Rollie knows he will have to look at his past, first to find his dad and then to follow any clues to find the money.

Rollie soon realizes that Gladden may be no more honest than McColl and he fully realizes that his own life is very much in danger! He is driven to find the money but he knows he will have to use all of his skills to prevent being caught in this web. It takes awhile before Rollie realizes that this assignment is tied up with the uncover work he did in Afghanistan but it takes some time to put the puzzle pieces together.
David Rich's fast-paced debut is a page turner and surprises await at almost every turn.

David Rich has done himself proud!!

--Steve Bank

FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blog Giveaway

I just noticed that Joyce and Jim Lavene are giving away copies of their new Renaissance Faire Mysteries title, Treacherous Toys, at their website this month. The Lavenes are prolific writers in several genres—-and three mystery series.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Deadly Grind by Victoria Hamilton (Berkley Prime Crime)

This first book in a new series, is a sort of kitchen mystery, complete with a recipe for all you culinary specialists. It has a small-town setting where Jaymie Leighton lives and works as a cookbook and cookware collector. There's some information about the actual definition of a Hoosier cabinet. Who knew? Jaymie lives in a house with her sister and their differences highlight the mystery and their different approaches to life, the universe, and everything. A man is murdered in their home after Jaymie successfully bids on this Hoosier—something she loves! Along with her 3-legged pooch, a Yorki-Poo, Jaymie does a little investigative work to help the police find the killer. She obviously has to help since the murder took place on her sun porch and the killer used the meat grinder that is part of the Hoosier. The plot reveals that many people interested in the cabinet were involved in much more than antiques. Who knew the Hoosier hid valuable information?
This is lightweight reading, but the many nuggets of information, gleaned from descriptions of estate auction items and Jaymie's love of history, make this an interesting mystery. The vintage recipe for Queen Elizabeth Cake might be a bonus.
—Diane Esterly

FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Murder & Mayhem Tour - Triangle Area, NC

I'm looking forward to hosting great mystery authors Deborah Coonts, Nancy Martin, and Hank Phillippi Ryan in several venues around the area. Plan to hear these great authors at one of the following events:
Friday, Sept. 21, 10:00 - East Regional Library, Knightdale
Friday, Sept. 21, 2:00 - Southeast Regional Library, Garner
Friday, Sept. 21, 7:00 - Chapel Hill Library, Chapel Hill (co-sponsored by Flyleaf Books
Saturday, Sept. 22, 10:30 - North Regional Library, Raleigh
Saturday, Sept. 22, 2:00 - McIntyre's, Fearrington Village, Pittsboro
Sunday, Sept. 23, 3:00 - The Halle Center, Apex (co-sponsored by Eva Perry Library)
Monday, Sept. 24, 2:00 - West Regional Library, Cary
Monday, Sept. 24, 7:00 - Page-Walker Cultural Arts Center, Cary
Tuesday, Sept. 25, 11:30 - The Carolina Club, Chapel Hill (luncheon event--members/guests)
All authors will be happy to sign their books after the panel discussions. Bring your own or purchase them at the event. We look forward to seeing you!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sad News for John Dunning Fans

Many long-standing (you notice I didn't say older!) mystery fans enjoyed the Cliff Janeway series by John Dunning. Sadly, he won't be able to continue the series after the partial removal of a large benign brain tumor six years ago. Dunning wrote slowly, so a six-year wait wasn't unusual for his fans. The first in the five-book series is Booked to Die. If you have a first edition of this one in good condition, take very good care of it. They're rare—and costly! I'm grateful to Alice Duncan for posting the link to Bronson L. "Bo" Parker's blog, Cobbledstones.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Craig Johnson Update

I started reading As the Crow Flies yesterday—as usual it's terrific. Can't wait to get back to it. I enjoyed the electronic short story that came out in April, "Divorce Horse." Craig will be at McIntyre's in Fearrington Village Tuesday night, May 29, at 6:30. I'll be there. I'm sure he'll have plenty to say about then upcoming A&E TV series, "Longmire," which premieres Sunday, June 3, at 10:00 pm Eastern.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Attention Animal Lovers!

NEW YORK, NY – May 1, 2012 – Following in the footsteps of the successful Read Pink™ and Read for the Heart™ initiatives, Penguin Group (USA) has created a new initiative called Read Humane™ in honor of National Pet Month. Read Humane will feature an assortment of six animal-themed mass market fiction paperback titles by some of Penguin Group (USA)’s most popular authors in special Read Humane editions that will be available in participating stores beginning today. The authors whose books comprise the initiative are Nora Roberts, Rebecca M. Hale, Alison Pace, Miranda James, Linda O. Johnston and Sofie Kelly, and special editions will be printed featuring Read Humane seals on the covers. In an exclusive video, #1 New York Times best-selling author Nora Roberts, spokesperson for Read Humane, says she's proud to stand with Penguin in their effort “dedicated to protecting the lives of all animals and fighting animal cruelty.” In addition, Penguin Group (USA) is including information in the back of each book in an effort to make readers aware of The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team and encourage them to become actively involved in supporting the organization. Penguin Group (USA) also announced a $25,000 donation to The Humane Society of the United States to support the work of its Animal Rescue Team. The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, and it was recently ranked by Philanthropedia experts as the most effective animal group in the country. “All of us at Penguin care about animals — it’s in our name! Penguin is glad to share the work of The Humane Society of the United States with our readers. We hope this program encourages our readers to take action in their own communities to support animal welfare,” said Leslie Gelbman, President of mass market publishing, Penguin Group (USA). “Anyone looking at the faces of the animals brought to safety by The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team will immediately understand the importance of this work,” noted Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “We’re so grateful for the generosity of Penguin and these wonderful authors in supporting animal rescue.” For more details about the Read Humane initiative and to view a complete list of the participating retail outlets, please visit Penguin's website.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ready, Scrap, Shoot by Joanna Campbell Slan (Midnight Ink Books)

Joanna Slan has combined two genres—crafts and amateur sleuth mystery—beautifully. Single mom Kiki Lowenstein is part owner of and chief designer for a scrapbook store. She also has a reputation for finding bodies. In this outing, Kiki actually films a victim being shot—at the May Day festival at her daughter's private school. Keeping Kiki and daughter Anya safe at her mother-in-law's house is complicated by the unannounced visit of Anya's demanding, unpleasant other grandmother. Making Kiki's work life more stressful is the appearance of a new by-the-book store partner and a time-sensitive workload. Fortunately for the reader, Slan keeps her chapters short, intersperses crafting tips appropriately, and gives plenty of prompts about story lines as they weave along to a dramatic conclusion. Crafters, mystery fans, and animal lovers will enjoy this well-crafted series. FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Next One to Fall by Hilary Davidson (Forge)

Travel writer Lily Moore is visiting Peru with photographer and best friend, Jesse Robb. Since the death of her sister from a drug overdose three months ago, Lily has been depressed and feeling lost. At the Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, they find a woman dying at the bottom of a stairwell. Her final words convince Lily that she was murdered but the official investigation rules it an accidental death. Unable to accept this, Lily begins investigating and uncovers a pattern of dead and missing women connected to the dead woman's traveling companion. Her investigation sets in motion a series of events that will surprise and shock you. Just when you think you know what is going to happen something totally unexpected occurs

This is the second book in a series. Davidson's first, The Damage Done (which I have not read but plan to do so) won the Anthony Award. If you like a mystery that takes you to places you would love to visit and at the same time make you glad you were not there, this is a book for you!

—Helen Jones

FTC Disclosure - This book was provided by the publisher.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Unseen by Heather Graham (Mira)  

The pollsters say (but who believes them?) that almost three-quarters of us believe in some form of the paranormal. They also say that almost half of us say we believe in ghosts. Paranormal, then, is normal—or something.
I am one who believes. I wear a Santa hat that says "I believe." It's more than belief though. That aside, this book is about ghosts and the author writes with confidence and knowledge, not only about ghosts, but about the San Antonio locale where this novel is set. A Texas Ranger and a US Marshal with paranormal abilities are recruited
to head a team to investigate the remains of eight women. The band of agents with special abilities embark on a macabre journey to catch a serial killer. They must move quickly, as another young woman is missing and may be dead. This current mystery is connected to an occurrence that took place in1835 at the Longhorn Inn in Room #207.

Both US Marshal Kelsey O'Brien and Ranger Raintree have the ability to commune with the dead and both have unusual ability to "see" the dead as they were in life and even to clearly see the last final—and painful—moments. Kelsey is sensitive enough to receive visions of the past when she stands in the locations where powerful psychic events took place. She, herself, is staying at the Longhorn Inn in Room#207, the site of a murder in 1835 when a woman was strangled for refusing to reveal the whereabouts ofa priceless diamond.
The connection between that past event and a current situation, namely, another woman who was murdered in that same room less than a year, compels the team of investigators to move as quickly as possible because Raintree and O'Brien also believe that the Longhorn murders are also connected to eight recently uncovered cadavers.
Ghosts and the psychic abilities to communicate with the dead provide a rich canvas for this macabre mystery. I find ghostly tales relevant to our human understanding of life and everything. Our spirits go on. Life is eternal. Nothing dies, but only changes form. Ghosts are not, then, irrelevant—or are they ?
I found this book to be highly readable and enjoyed the feeling, again, of being freed of constructs that are being questioned more and more. There are tales to be told about the past and not only when murder is involved.
—Diane Esterly

FTC Disclaimer—This book was provided by the publisher.

Threadbare by Monica Ferris (Berkley)

Monica Ferris has been writing the Needlecraft Mystery series since 1999. The series protagonist, Betsy Devonshire, is the owner of Crewel World, a needlework shop in Excelsior, Minnesota. Each title focuses on a different type of needlecraft and aficionados will greatly enjoy this aspect of a well written mystery series.

Threadbare is a bit of a diversion for this cozy series. Monica Ferris thoughtfully tackles the uncomfortable social issue of homeless women. She handles it with compassion and avoids maudlin sentimentality while bringing to light some of the fundamental causes of homelessness. The homeless characters are presented realistically and sympathetically, at the same time pointing out the decisions and adversities that led to their very unfortunate situation.

The story begins in a snowy alley behind the Excelsior movie theater, when a teenager unexpectedly stumbles over the body of Carrie Carlson, a local vagrant and petty thief. The presence of an empty bourbon bottle appears to be the obvious cause of her death. Surprisingly, Carrie’s death is ruled not to be an accident. Her cousin Margaret, and friend of Betsy, is accused of causing Carrie’s death. Hoping to clear Margaret of these allegations, Betsy’s investigation uncovers the deaths of several other homeless women. Is there a connection between their deaths? Who would want them dead and why? --Karen Kiley

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Atria Great Mystery Bus Tour

I just got this note from Kent Kruger that should interest mystery readers across the United States.

Years ago, as I understand it from talking to the old-timers in this business, touring authors en masse wasn’t uncommon. Crossing the country in a bus, stopping at bookstores along the way, introducing audiences to the faces behind some of their favorite books—the result was usually great enjoyment by those on both sides of the experience. But this kind of tour hasn’t been seen in a very long time. Until now.

Late last fall, I received an invitation from my publisher, Atria Books, to be a part of the renewal of this exciting enterprise. The Atria Great Mystery Bus Tour will get underway on Thursday, April 12, with a launch at the Mystery Bookshop in New York City. My fellow authors on this excursion will be John Connolly, Liza Marklund, and M.J. Rose, all exceptionally fine writers in the crime genre.

The tour will take us first into New England for stops in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and northern New York, then through the Midwest with events in Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and my home state of Minnesota. We’ll wend our way south with a visit to Kansas before winding up the tour in the Saint Louis area. We’ll make twelve appearances in eight days, a true whirlwind of an affair.

For specifics of times and places, check the Events link on my website.

We’ve already had terrific media coverage in USA Today and Publishers Weekly, and the buzz just continues to build. Man, am I stoked! This should be nothing short of fantastic. I’m encouraging you to mark your calendars for the date we’ll be in your area, and get to the bookstore early. It’ll be crowded, you betcha! Hope to see you all somewhere along the way.


Of course, I'm bummed that the bus won't come through North Carolina—but maybe next year!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy (Berkley)

Ollie is up to more than menus and cooking as White House executive chef. The First Lady has assigned Ollie and her arch nemesis, Peter Everett Sargeant, to plan an event for the secretary of state's birthday. Peter, the prissy sensitivity director, has made it his mission to have Ollie ousted from her position as chef, which makes for an uncomfortable partnership.

They arrive at the site chosen to host the affair, only to discover the murdered bodies of two White House employees.
The press are quick to hint at an affair between the dead colleagues. This case becomes even more personal when a blotched attempt is made on Ollie's and Peter's lives. She remembered a rude man who had rushed past them on the sidewalk before they reached the crime scene. Could he be the killer? Was he out to silence them forever?

Now, with their lives in danger, Ollie and Peter must work together to find the killer—before they end up being his next victims!

--Karen Sayre

FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.

Damaged by Alex Kava (Anchor Books)

This eighth book in the Maggie O' Dell series kept me awake till I finished it! Damaged is really two stories. First a cooler, containing body parts, is found floating in the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola Beach. Next, returning war veterans who have lost limbs are dying from an unidentified viral infection. O'Dell, sent to investigate the body parts, soon finds herself in circumstances that require her to confront not only a serial killer but her own fears. To add more tension a Category 5 hurricane is about to hit Pensacola. As the hurricane approaches, the danger from the storm and the killer creates so much tension I really could not stop reading!

The characters are very well developed, easy to love or hate, and the story is very believable. I'm looking forward to reading Kava's latest, Hotwire!

--Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.

Thursday, March 08, 2012


I didn't expect to like this book all that well. The ghost stories I've read are more or less the same. They tend to be superficial and obvious in their attempt to scare you.
I didn't expect anything different from this one. (You can hear the "But" coming, right?......). Well, here it is—BUT—this book was creepily enjoyable or enjoyably creepy and I found myself hooked without having to read pages and pages. It is a book set in the 1920's and I usually don't like these historical types. Here's another "BUT"—
BUT, this book was historically but definitely not dusty.

About halfway through the book, I wondered what in the world could possibly happen that would require pages and pages of writing. I felt that it had to end very soon, but the twists and turns continued to capture my attention, and by the end of the book, I had even more serious thoughts and "what if's" roiling around in my head.

I liked this book immensely. It was well-written and well-crafted. I look forward now to her next book, also, I believe, about ghosts. To me, this story creates many questions about consciousness, about life, about death, about the universe and everything, to coin a phrase.

I heartily recommend this book, even to those who don't normally tend to read "woo-woo" stuff. It isn't a book that takes you so far out that you feel you're in the outer reaches of the lunatic fringe. There is something very real that the author says in this deliciously scary novel. If you don't believe in ghosts, but still have lingering
questions, read this book. It is fast-paced and believable.

The heroine is led to a life very different from her threadbare, dismal existence in 1920's London by saying "yes" to Alistair, a ghost hunter. Maddy Clare is a 19-year-old ghost who has haunted an old barn ever since she hung herself there. Alistair is an experienced ghost hunter and realizes that she is authentic. His side-kick, Matthew, is enigmatic and has War scars that are internal and external, but Sarah, the heroine, and Matthew are drawn to each other; theirs is a torrid romance. Together they work to discover Maddy's secrets—who she was, where she came from, and what is driving her to downright terrifying revenge. They are running out of time and know that Maddy could destroy
them all.

I like this book. It's riveting, suspenseful, and real. Don't believe in ghosts? Read this.

—Diane Esterly

FTC DIsclaimer - This book was provided by the publisher.

THE REAL MACAW by by Donna Andrews (Minotaur)

Meg Langslow hits the floor running. She's not letting the birth of twins nor the lack of sleep slow her down. It's the middle of the night and strange sounds are drifting up the stairs of her farmhouse. In the living room she is greeted by numerous dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and assorted other creatures. She knew the answers to this circus would certainly involve her father and grandfather!

Meg begins the task of ridding her home of the animal kingdom by seeking out the man who was a no show in picking up these critters. Her discovery of his body definitely put an end to any transport!

Meg has a slew of suspects to question including a cursing macaw. This bird knows more than he's telling. A cast of characters provide hilarious interruptions in Meg's dangerous quest for a killer!

Dive into the pages of The Real Macaw as Donna Andrews once again takes us on a exciting ride.

-- Karen Sayre

FTC Disclaimer - This book was provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cat Sitter’s Pajamas by Blaize Clement (Minotaur)

The Dixie Hemingway series is one of my favorites. Its covers or titles are quite misleading causing the reader to expect very light and fluffy cozy mysteries.

When I read Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, I discovered the first book in a very complex, skillfully written and at times heart-wrenching series. These books are brimming with sensitively portrayed characters who deal courageously with trauma and adversity. The Cat Sitter’s Pajamas is Clement’s most recent book in this series.

Living on the tropical barrier island of Siesta Key, located off the coast of Sarasota Florida, pet sitter Dixie Hemingway has a propensity for stumbling across bodies. Entering the home of famous football star Cupcake Trillin to care for his pampered cats, Dixie unexpectedly encounters a beautiful semi-dressed woman claiming to be Cupcake’s wife. There’s a problem with that assertion because Dixie knows Cupcake is vacationing in Italy with his wife Jancey.

When the police arrive to arrest the intruder, they discover the body of a woman; however, it’s not the body of the woman claiming to be Cupcake’s wife. So begins the tale of past secrets, deception, and people not being who they seem or claim to be.

Cat Sitter’s Pajamas can be read as a stand-alone mystery; however, I strongly recommend you read the series in order. Doing so will help you better appreciate Clement’s characters’ development and the back story of the family relationships that have shaped Dixie. You’ll have more opportunities to feel the soft breezes of Florida, hear the gulls squawking as parakeets fly by and smell the salty air of Siesta Key which is a character and place you will want to embrace and return to again and again.

Sadly, Blaize Clement passed away in July 2011. Her eighth book is about half completed, with an extensive outline, according to her son John Clement.

--Karen Kiley

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Live Book Chat - M. J. Rose

You are cordially invited to take part in a LIVE BookTrib author chat with M.J. Rose on Tuesday, March 6th at 3 p.m. as she discusses THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES and her other bestselling novels. Here's a chance to chat and win a copy of the book—as well as the fragrance it inspired.

Mark your calendar!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Mystery Losses

It's always sad when we lose favorite mystery writers. Our latest is Dorothy Gilman, author of the "Mrs. Pollifax" novels, who died February 2. Gilman was named Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master in 2010.

Today, Karen Kiley of the Cary Public Library told me that Blaize Clement who wrote the popular Dixie Hemingway pet sitter series had died in July. Clement's latest, The Cat Sitter's Pajamas, was just out in January. Karen promises a review of that one soon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Elaine Viets to host Internet radio show

The “Dead-End Jobs Radio Show”

Bestselling mystery author Elaine Viets will host a half-hour talk show on Radio Ear Network, starting Monday, January 30. “The Dead-End Jobs Show,” named for her award-winning mystery series, will feature the extraordinary secrets of ordinary jobs, offbeat jobs and unusual jobs.

Radio Ear Network (REN) is Internet radio, bringing innovative talk and independent music to more than 6 million listeners around the globe. In keeping with the show’s global theme, guests for the first shows include yacht chef Victoria Allman, international hairstylist Mario Ortega, and world traveler Kay Gordy, who will discuss how to be a guest or a host for SERVAS, an organization in more than 100 countries.

Elaine will host a different guest each week and the show will air three times:
Monday 1 p.m. EST
Tuesday 10 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time, 5 a.m. EST
Wednesday 6 p.m. EST

REN is a member of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, with members in 115 countries, including NPR. It’s owned by Amanatee Group LLC of Chicago and Sarasota, Florida.

Listeners can hear REN’s shows on their computers. Elaine’s show can be downloaded to iPods, iPads, Nook, Kindle, Kobo or other e-tablets. Download podcasts or for tablet computers

Elaine Viets hosted the syndicated “Travel Holiday Radio Show” and was a commentator for National Public Radio station KWMU. She is a frequent guest on local, national and international radio shows. She hosted a primetime television program, “Viets Beat,” for KMOV-TV in St. Louis and won two local Emmys.

Elaine writes two national bestselling mystery series. Her critically acclaimed Dead-End Job series is a satiric look at a serious subject – the minimum-wage world. Her Fort Lauderdale character, Helen Hawthorne, works a different low-paying job each book, from telemarketer to hotel maid. Publishers Weekly called her hardcover debut “wry social commentary.” Elaine’s second series features St. Louis mystery shopper Josie Marcus. Its debut tied with Stephen King for first place on the IMBA bestseller list. Elaine has won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards. Visit her website.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blood Country by Mary Logue (Kindle edition)

Serendipity strikes again! I just happened to see the notice that this first-in-series is a free download through Sunday, January 21. I've recommended this series for years, and I'm delighted that new folks can be introduced to Logue's Claire Watkins.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Mystery Loss

A note from Kathryn Kennison and Ruth Dudley Edwards brought the sad news of Reginald Hill's passing. The Telegraph has a lovely obituary.

Friday, January 06, 2012

The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin (Little, Brown)

Inspector Malcolm Fox and two assistants have been sent from Edinburgh to investigate police corruption in the town of Kirkcaldy, County Fife. Fox is a member of what we in the Colonies call Internal Affairs and in Scotland is known as Complaints—a division of all police departments despised by other coppers. Their only responsibility is the investigation of police corruption.

Fox and his crew are to widen the investigation of Paul Carter (already confirmed as a policeman willing to exchange sexual favors from women in order to overlook minor offenses). Several other policemen may be involved with Carter, if for nothing but overlooking his misdeeds. Carter was turned in by his uncle, ex-cop Alan Carter. As Fox and his team widen their investigation, Alan Carter turns up dead—an apparent suicide. To complicate matters it appears that Alan Carter was looking at a case he was involved in back in 1985.

The team must decide the investigation’s width and whether there is any connection between the two cases, realizing they will be stepping on official toes!

There is good reason Ian Rankin is considered among the best writers of the genre.
--Stephen Bank