Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Blackhouse by Peter May (SilverOak)

Detective Fin Macleod has been assigned from the Edinburgh Police Department to help solve a grisly murder on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. The murder resembles the work of a serial killer from the Scottish mainland. The murder in Lewis is not only similar, but the victim is Fin’s childhood bully. As Fin digs deeper into the murder, he knows he will run into people from his childhood including his best friend and his one and only true love. 
Peter May does a terrific job of melding the past and the present as Fin battles the ghosts from his past as he battles to solve the murder.

—Steve Bank

Friday, January 25, 2013

Evil in All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson (Forge)

In the third book in the Lily Moore travel journalist, series Lily joins a group on an all-expense paid trip to Acapulco. Unfortunately, the city has fallen on hard times with a rising crime rate and infiltration of drug cartels. The luxury hotel where the group will stay is in a remote location and has very few guests. Upon arrival, Lily meets an old friend and fellow journalist, Skye McDermott. Skye is very upset about a broken relationship with a man she claims is involved in illegal activity, but she will not name him. She plans to expose his company to get revenge. Skye disappears and the staff refuses to contact the police saying the police are corrupt. 

Lily discovers the hotel is owned by her ex-boyfriend whom she suspects is involved. The manager's claim that there are no other guests because the hotel is being renovated does not make sense because there is no construction being done. The manager also claims that the hotel is booked solid for the next year, but all the shops are closed. Lily wants to leave the hotel but is afraid if she leaves no one will look for Skye. When Lily does try to leave she discovers that she is the bait in a deadly trap and is faced with some terrible choices.

The story has unsavory characters, twisted relationships, and hidden agendas. While it’s not essential to read the series in order, in this case, I recommend it. The first is Damage Done, the second is The Next One To Fall.

—Helen Jones

FTC Disclosure—This book was provided by the publisher.


Speaking of Carolyn Hart, she just sent me an email saying she has extra copies of Motherhood Is Murder, featuring novellas from her, Mary Daheim, Jane Isenberg, and Shirley Rousseau Murphy. She'll sign them and send them to the 10 (count 'em, that's T-E-N!!!) Meritorious Mysteries readers who send me a reason that proves the title. Just a few lines will do. Please put "CONTEST" in the subject line and include your name and snail mail address. Good luck!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What the Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart (Berkley)

Carolyn Hart is at the top of my list of all time favorite authors. I know when I pick up one of her books I will not be disappointed.  What the Cat Saw is quite different from Hart’s  Death on Demand series, but possesses the elements that make her books so readable.

What the Cat Saw is set in Carolyn Hart’s beloved Oklahoma. This affection is reflected with Sooner trivia sprinkled throughout the book and is a fun aspect for those readers familiar with the great state of Oklahoma. The story begins when Nela  Farley answers her flaky sister Chloe’s call, asking her to substitute as a receptionist for her at the prestigious Haklo Foundation. Nela hopes leaving Los Angeles  will help her heal from the grief caused by the death of her fiancé. Adding to her unhappiness is the loss of her job as a reporter at a small daily California newspaper.

Chloe arranged for Nela to stay at the apartment of the late Marion Grant (who was head of the Haklo foundation), to care for Marion’s cat Jugs. Shortly after her arrival in Oklahoma, Nela has a feeling all is not as it appeared in Marion's sudden death. Is Nela’s reporter intuition kicking in or does she have a sixth sense regarding this death? Is there a psychic connection between Nela and the cats?

—Karen Kiley

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thin Ice by Bill Stackhouse (Lulu Press)

Ed McAvoy was a homicide captain in Detroit until he was forced into retirement when a drug dealer's bullet shattered his left leg.  He moved to the Catskills and became chief of police in the small village of Peekamoose Heights—a place where he didn't think there could be much crime in such a sleepy village.  He was wrong.
For the first time, the National Figure Skating pre-trials are being during the Peekamoose Heights Winter Carnival. Business owners and residents hope this will be an annual event, bringing in lots of tourists and their money; however, the friendly, fun atmosphere is shattered when food vendors get in a fight that escalates to vandalism, murder, and assault on three-time National Champion Dallas Conover. 

The plot has a lot of twists and turns including “The Mob” involvement.  The characters are interesting and the relationships well developed.  I have not read the previous five books in this series and while I was (and still am) curious about a character introduced in the being and who didn't reappear till the end, I did not have any trouble following the story.  The author was kind enough to send me the previous book, Candle Snuffer, which I plan to read very soon, but I think I may need the next book to be published to satisfy my curiosity about that character.

—Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the author.

Edgar Nominees Announced

The Mystery Writers of America have just announced nominees for the Edgar Awards. There's a great list, and for a change, I've read many of them and have already recommended them in Molly on Mysteries programs. I'm just glad I don't have to vote! The awards will be given on May 2, in New York.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

McIntyre's to Sponsor Soho Crime

SOHO Night featuring 

Juliet Grames and Paul Oliver

Wednesday, February 6, 6:00
Grames is senior editor of Soho Press and Oliver is director of marketing and publicity. They'll visit Mcintyres to talk about mysteries and writing. Soho Crime is renowned for both foreign crime novels in translation (like the NY Times bestselling Danish thriller, The Boy in the Suitcase and Japan's 2012 Oe Prize-Winner The Thief) and culturally rich and atmospheric books by English-language authors set in foreign locals (like the March 2012 IndieNext selection Murder at the Lanterne Rouge, set in Paris, and 2010 LA Times Book Prize-Winner, The Ghosts of Belfast, set in Northern Ireland).

Cara Black, Murder Below Montparnasse

Saturday, March 9, 11:00
A long-lost Modigliani portrait, a grieving brother's blood vendetta, a Soviet secret that's been buried for 80 years—Parisian private investigator Aimée Leduc's current case is her most exciting yet.

When Aimée's long-term partner and best friend Rene leaves their agency for a new job in Silicon Valley, Aimée knows she can handle the extra workload. At least, that's what she tells herself. Repeatedly.

But, all bets are off when Yuri Volodya, a mysterious old Russion hires Aimée to protect a painting. By the time she gets to his Montparnasse atelier, the precious painting has already been stolen (Aimée smells a rat!). The next day, Yuri is found tortured to death in his kitchen. Plus, it looks like Aimée isn't the only one looking for the painting. Very dangerous people are threatening her and her coworkers, and witnesses are dropping like flies. Now, Aimée has to find the painting, stop her attackers, and figure out what her long-missing mother (who is on Interpol's most wanted list) has to do with all this.

Obviously, Aimée has things under control!

Cara Black is the author of thirteen books in the bestselling Aimée Leduc series.

Soho is running a promotion, "Win a Killer Trip Sweepstakes," that in every first edition copy of Murder Below Montparnasse, there is a ticket to a raffle for a trip to Paris touring the city with Cara. She will bring a special entry form to all her events that will allow a second entry to anyone who buys a a copy at the event.

Triangle SinC Writing Workshop

The Triangle Chapter of Sisters in Crime will sponsor a writing workshop at the Page-Walker Cultural Arts Center in Cary (NC) on Saturday, March 9, from 10:00 until 4:00. Instructors will be Sarah Shaber, Ruth Moose, Karen Pullen, Suzanne Adair, and Sharon E. Wood. The cost is $35 for SinC members (I'm not sure if this price is for all SinC members or those in the Triangle Chapter; $45 for non-members. Further information will be published on the chapter's website soon. 

While budding mystery authors won't want to miss this workshop, it will be an excellent one for all writers.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Laura Bradford to Visit Triangle

Mystery writer Laura Bradford will visit the Triangle Area on March 27-28. She'll be talking about the research she did for her new Amish series. Her new book in that series is Assulted Pretzel. Although two events are brown bag lunches, that's just so folks who are working and will come on their lunch hours can have an opportunity to listen and eat. Of course, feel free to bring a brown bag even if you're not on your lunch hour! Laura and I will be at the following venues:
The Halle Center, Apex, March 27, 11:30
West Regional Library, Cary, March 27, 2:00
Page-Walker Cultural Arts Center, Cary, March 28, 11:30
As always, events are free and open to the public. Books in the Amish series will be available for purchase—and Laura will be happy to sign books brought from home.

RED VELVET CUPCAKE MURDER by Joanne Fluke (Kensington Books) —

Hannah Swensen’s least favorite person, Dr. Bev returns to Lake Eden, Minnesota. Dr. Bev, Hannah's boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, is now engaged to millionaire Roger Dalworth. Roger has just renovated the Albion Hotel into luxury condos and Hannah's sister is the real estate agent selling them. During the grand opening, a guest falls off the penthouse roof but survives, but with head injuries. She seems disoriented and confused about the events leading to her fall. Naturally, Hannah tries to discover what is really going on. When a murder occurs, Hannah is involved in ways she never thought she would be.

As with any good series you do not need to read them in order. This is a good cozy with romance, murder, and unknown family connections. Hannah's two boyfriends are too good to be true. I want her to marry whichever one she happens to be with at the moment—they both are good guys. I love her cat, Moishe, and all the characters in her family and life. The book is full of yummy recipes—I know I gained 10 pounds just reading them. I haven’t gotten out the baking pans yet, but am seriously thinking about it!

—Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.

Remember: The contest for an advance copy of Red Velvet Cupcake Murder is still running. Just email me (mystery heel @ a photo or recipe of a favorite cake or cupcake. You do not have to make the cake yourself!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hold the Date!

Triangle Sisters in Crime will hold a writing workshop at the Page-Walker Cultural Arts Center in Cary NC on Saturday, March 9, from 10:00 until 4:00. More details will follow. I know some of the instructors—you'll enjoy working with them!

THE TWELVE CLUES OF CHRISTMAS by Rhys Bowen (Berkley Prime Crime)

Lady Georgiana Rannoch (35th in line to Victoria's throne) is always getting herself into and out of interesting situations. This time, Georgie has found a position as hostess to a country Christmas house party. Like iron filings to a magnet, murder follows Georgie‚ even to tiny Tiddleton-under-Lovey. The snowy season helps provide the perfect clues to solving a series of crimes. Even the traditional house party games and delicious recipes would not be enough without Georgie's gift for identifying the culprit.

I enjoyed this book so much I bought a copy as a gift for a family member. Her thank you note said that she, "…loved the book!"

—Betty Lipscomb

—FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.

Friday, January 04, 2013


Did I scare you yesterday with the rules for the contest? Please note that I didn't say you had to make the cake or cupcake! You can use an old, tried-and-true recipe or just take a photo of a cupcake you managed to avoid while dieting. You might even pull something from Pinterest. I just want lots of entries for the contest). Notice further notice that I didn't say how many winners would be chosen.

I'll get you started by posting Dame Agatha's favorite cake, "Delicious Death." I found the recipe and photos on Not Quite Nigella.

Now. Get busy. Send me some photos and/or recipes!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Joanne Fluke to Visit NC

It's a great pleasure for me to announce that Joanne Fluke, author of the Hannah Swenson mysteries, will visit North Carolina in March—and I get to take her around the Triangle area! The folks at Kensington Books have graciously offered to sponsor a contest for advance readers copies (ARCs) of Joanne's newest mystery, Red Velvet Cupcake Murder. Let's make the contest fun—send me photos OR recipes of your favorite cake or cupcakes and I'll let my favorite cake eater choose the winners. Send the entries (along with your snail mail address) to me at MysteryHeel @
Here's Joanne's tentative schedule for her North Carolina tour:
Wednesday March 13, 2013 PARK ROAD BOOKS 7:00 pm 4139 Park Road Charlotte, NC 28209, (704) 525-9239

Thursday March 14, 2013 PAGE-WALKER ARTS & HISTORY CENTER (in partnership with Molly-on-Mysteries), 2:00 pm 119 Ambassador Loop Cary, NC 27512, (919) 460-4963

Thursday March 14, 2013 THE REGULATOR BOOKSHOP (in partnership with SOUTHWEST REGIONAL LIBRARY) 7:00 pm 720 9th Street, Durham, NC 27705, 919-286-2700
Southwest Regional Library, (919) 560-8594

Friday March 15, 2013 QUAIL RIDGE BOOKS & MUSIC 7:30 pm, 3522 Wade Ave,Raleigh NC 27607, (919) 828-7912

Saturday March 16, 2013 McINTYRE’S BOOKS 2:00 pm, 220 Market Street
Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, NC 27312 Contact: (919) 542-3030

I look forward to seeing photos of your favorite cakes and cupcakes and I hope to see you at one of the events!

The First Rule of Ten & The Second Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay (Visions, Ray House)

These are the first and second books in the Tensing Norbu Mystery series. Tensing Norbu (Ten) is a former Buddhist Monk and LAPD detective who has decided to become a private investigator after being shot while on the job. Ten is as complicated as the murders he investigates. While growing up in a Tibetan monastery he dreamed of becoming a modern day Sherlock Holmes. Ten lives by the dharma (which is about inner peace and nonviolence) and is a strict vegan; but, he loves his custom made gun, drives a yellow vintage mustang, and does not shy away from physical altercations. Ten’strouble with relationships—mostly female— adds romance to the stories.

In First Rule, Ten becomes involved in an insurance fraud, hippy cult, and a land scam scheme. Ten’s First Rule of Ten is "Don't ignore intuitive tickles lest they reappear as sledgehammers.” He quickly learns that when he breaks this rule all heck ensues! The plot has lots of twists and turns, but the authors bring everything with a great group of characters.

In Second Rule, Ten is struggling to make a living as a PI while waiting to get his license. He gets involved in investigating the unexplained death of a former client, a famous Hollywood producer; worries about two childhood friends in India he cannot contact; and hunts for a Holocaust survivor. When he breaks his second rule, "Be on the lookout for unconscious beliefs. They are blinders that prevent you from understanding what is actually happening,” he gets in trouble with his former LAPD partner and becomes the target of some very rough people.

The only problem I had with the series is the time given to Ten’s meditation and self analysis. I found myself skipping over these parts to get to the action—which really liked . I just did not want to slow down for the inner thoughts! Ten is a very different type of detective and this series is truly one of a kind. I enjoyed both books even if I did skim over the slow parts!

--Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: Both books were provided by the publisher.

Merciless by Lori Armstrong (Touchstone)

Mercy Gunderson, a former Black ops army sniper (female Rambo), is the FBI's newest special agent in training. After completing her basic training in Virginia she is back home at a small mid-western FBI office. She is stuck doing paperwork, attending boring training lectures, and being a gopher for her training officer/partner, Agent Shay Turnbull. When a bizarre murder occurs on the Eagle River Indian Reservation, the tribal president and police chief ask the FBI for help. Turnbull and Mercy are assigned to the case. When there is another strange murder, Turnbull and Mercy disagree on the direction the investigation should take. To further complicate the situation, Mercy's boyfriend is the newly elected county sheriff and because of confidentiality they cannot discuss the cases. The tribal police, county sheriff's office, and the FBI do not play well together as the crimes fall under different jurisdictions.

Mercy gets caught up in hidden political agendas and old family feuds while trying to maintain a balance between her personal life, the FBI, and her Indian heritage. When the killer targets her and her family, she is forced to make a decision between her commitment to law enforcement and releasing her Rambo personality to protect her loved ones.

This is not a story for faint of heart. There is a lot of action and the murders are frightening. The relationships between Mercy and her family and friends are interesting and help bring the story together. There are a lot of suspects and motives but the ending is shocking! This is the second book in the series, I have not read the first one but plan to do so.

--Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.