Friday, June 28, 2013

THE FAME THIEF by Timothy Hallinan (Soho)

Get ready to laugh in public! Hollywood burgler turned private detective Junior Bender is justifiably concerned when he's hauled before mob boss and movie king Irwin Dressler. Irwin wants Junior to investigate a nearly 70-year old crime. (That Irwin is obviously older than the crime makes no difference to his threat and influence.) Junior's task: To find out who released compromising photos of starlet Dolores La Marr which caused her promising career to tank.

Because no one today would blink an eye at the story, it's particularly funny to see how far some folks will go to protect it. Hallinan, naturally, brings a deft hand to the telling, and humor bubbles over from the beginning. The Fame Thief will keep you laughing long after you close the cover.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shamus Award Finalists 2013

The Private Eye Writers of America has announced the finalists for the Shamus Awards for works published in 2012. The winner will be announced at the PWA Banquet at Bouchercon in Albany NY on Friday, September 20.

Robert B. Parker's Lullaby by Ace Atkins
Taken by Robert Crais 
Hunting Sweetie Rose by Jack Fredrickson 
Blues in the Night by Dick Lochte
The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan  

Hush Money by Chuck Greave
Murder Unscripted by Clive Rosengren
Black Fridays by Michael Sears
Racing the Devil by Jaden Terrell
The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter  

Death Warmed Over by Kevin J. Anderson
And She Was by Alison Gaylin
Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough
False Negative by Joseph Koenig
Pulse by John Lutz  

"The Sequel" by Jeffrey Deaver in The Strand
"After Cana" by Terence Faherty in EQMM
"O'Nelligan and the Lost Fates" by Michael Nethercott in AHMM
"Illegitimati Non Carborundum" by Stephen D. Rogers in Crimespree
"Ghost Negligence" by John Shepphird in AHMM  

Stranger in Town by Cheryl Bradshaw
Enamorted by O'Neil De Noux
One-Eyed Jack by Christopher J. Lynch
White Heat by Paul Marks 
Devil May Care by James Mullaney

Judges for the contest were Douglas Corleone, Jack Fredrickson, Michael Bracken, Stephen D. Rogers, Ted Fitzgerald, Dorothy Rellas, Colleen Collins, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, Tom Sweeney, Andrew S. McAleer, Paul Marks, Troy Nooe, Robert Randisi, Steve Hamilton and Jan Grape. Gay Toltl Kinman served as chair.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Traveler, send me your snail mail!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

DEADLY FORECAST by Victoria Laurie (NAL)

Abby Cooper is a psychic. She is trying to prepare for her wedding (the description of her sister's ideas for her wedding in itself is worth the read—best one-word description is "circus")! Abby is a consultant for the FBI and other policing organizations and her fiancé, Dutch Rivers, is an FBI agent. He has been assigned to a case involving suicide bombers. To her terror, Abby has been advised by her spirit guides that Dutch is in mortal danger. She does everything in her power to keep him safe, but it appears that she might not prevent the catastrophe that will take his life. 
There are several sub-plots that keep this book full of suspense—and even fun—not the least of which are the details of wedding preparations. Her friends, who have their own paranormal talents, are part of the wedding party, but they are also part of the plot. The wedding deadline provides suspense, but there's also the deadline of Dutch's possible murder. The final suspense and resulting resolution to the suicide bombers series involves Abby's being kidnapped.
The book offers mystery and suspense, but also warmth and the support of friends, and even tough love among them. Teamwork and friendships and romantic relationships and the attempt to give her sister a memorable wedding all add to this surprising paranormal who-done-it.
This is a good read, with a plot complicated enough to capture the reader's involvement until the end. Without giving away the ending, suffice it to say that Abby and Dutch do NOT give in to her sister's idea of a wonderful wedding. Obviously, Abby is not murdered, but you knew that already, right?
—Dian Esterly 
FTC Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Another Winner - Another Contest

Petite, please email me your snail address!

I've got several trade paperbacks of titles I read when they were first published and I want to share them with other readers. Post a comment telling which end of the crime writing spectrum you like better (hard boiled, traditional, culinary, etc.) and I'll try to match something to your tastes. There's no set number of winners this time. Surprise me with your posts!

Happy reading!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Winner Announced - A New Contest Begun

Thanks for so many great comments! After a very scientific study (I pulled the names from a hat!—ur, pile on my desk), Barb Goffman is the winner of Her Last Breath. Barb, send me your snail mail in an email at MysteryHeel at

No,  a new contest is announced: My friend Brynn Bonner has a great new Southern traditional mystery from Gallery Books. She's offering a signed copy of Paging the Dead to a lucky reader of Meritorious Mysteries. The rules are always simple:

Post a comment about why you like one or more of the following:
  • New authors  
  • Southern mysteries
  • Traditional mysteries 
Leave your comment by noon on Sunday, June 16. 

Good luck—and happy reading!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Accidents Happen by Louise Millar (Simon & Schuster)

Kate Parker has experienced unbelievable tragedy in her life.  Her parents were killed in a traffic accident on her wedding night and her husband was murdered five years ago in a home invasion robbery.  She is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and OCD.  Kate has a young son, Jack.  After her husband's death, to have help with Jack, she moved from London to a college town to be near her in-laws.  

Her OCD causes her to constantly run statistics about accidents and death and ways to pick the safest path.  Kate also has a feeling that she is being stalked.  Her behavior is having a detrimental effect on Jack ,and her in-laws are concerned and threatening to call social services.  This threat motivates her to try to turn her life around because she really wants what is best for Jack—and her old life back.  The problem though, is she really just imagining the threat to her and her son are is it real?

The suspense builds as the story progresses. The only problem I had was the ability of one man to change her so rapidly.  OCD and PTSD do not resolve that easily although his methods were unorthodox to say the least.  The characters are well developed, the plot is good, and I had trouble putting this one down—just had to know how it would all end!

—Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Linda Castillo - Most Recent & First

Her Last Breath

by Linda Castillo (Minotaur)

Anyone who thinks the Amish are boring should take a look at Linda Castillo's Amish Thrillers! A hit and run accident that leaves the farmer and two of his children dead and one child in critical condition brings Chief of Police Kate Burkholder back to Castillo fans. Kate is dismayed when she realizes the victims' wife and mother is an old childhood friend. Further crime scene analysis proves deliberation by the vehicle's driver. Kate's memories of growing up Amish pepper her investigation; at the same time, her relationship with Investigator Tomasetti moves to the forefront of her life.

This is an edge-of-the-seat thriller that you don't want to start reading at midnight!

Because I read and advance copy of Her Last Breath, I have an extra hardcover on hand. I'll send it to a Meritorious Mysteries reader who posts why s/he (1) already enjoys the Amish Thriller series OR (2) looks forward to reading it. Publication date is June 18. Our contest ends on Sunday June 9 at noon EST. I'll post the winner that evening in time for the lucky one to email me the snail address.

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.

For those of you who must read books in series, read on!

Breaking Silence

by Linda Castillo (Minotaur)

Kate Burkholder, police chief in a small Ohio town, gets an emergency call one winter evening. Three members of an Amish family are dead in a barn. The father, mother and the father's brother who have perished in a poorly ventilated cesspit in the barn. Kate musst investigate the accident and inform the family's four children that their parents are dead.
This is will be especially difficult because Kate was once Amish and she understands that community. When the medical examiner examines the bodies he discovers evidence of blunt force trauma indicating a possible triple homicide. Kate discovers there have been multiple incidents of Amish people being harassed and beaten. Because the Amish just want to be left alone, cooperation will be very difficult.

Because the incidents against the Amish can be considered hate crimes the state sends an Investigator John Tomasetti to assist Kate. The pair have worked together before—both professionally and privately.
Two quick points, I am very pleased to find a mystery author who writes a solid narrative; and, I must say that I learned much about the Amish. Please give a look at Linda Castillo and Breaking  Silence.

—Steve Bank

Death of a Dowager by by Joanna Campbell Slan (Berkley)

As a fan of the Kiki Lowenstein contemporary mystery series and nonfiction scrap booking books, I was eager to read Slan's new Jane Eyre Chronicles. I began with Death of a School Girl, the first in the series, preferring to read sequentially to learn the character's nuances and back story; however, as a well constructed mystery, Death of a Dowager can stand on its own.

The Jane Eyre we meet in Slan's series has a feisty approach to life as a wife, mother, mistress of Ferndean Manor—and amateur sleuth.  After a fire damages Ferndean Jane, Rochester, and their son embark on an extended stay in London with their dear friend Lucy Brayton.  Despite Lucy’s guidance through the perils of the social set of London, Jane encounters a very public snub from her nemesis Lady Ingram. As a result, Jane is unwittingly drawn into the intrigue of the court of King George IV.
Slan skillfully takes her readers back to the seemingly gentle times of Jane Eyre. She stays true to the iconic characters, themes, and time period. Her vivid descriptions of London's and Ferndean's physical settings are captivating. Characters are so well developed that readers emotionally connects with them. Conversation among the characters flowed naturally and was never stilted. Slan’s occasional touches of humor make for a very readable mystery.  Death of a Dowager will also appeal to fans of well-researched historical fiction.
Put your feet up, brew a cup of tea to go with a scone and get ready for a very pleasant time with Jane Eyre and The Death of the Dowager.
—Karen Kiley

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Fregoli Delusion by Michael J. McCann (Plaid Raccoon Press)

This is the third novel in the Hank Donaghue and Karen Stainer crime series but the first that I have read.  As with all good series it was easy to follow even though I had not read the previous books.

On a bike path in a very prestigious neighborhood, a billionaire has been murdered. The only eyewitness, Brett Parris, suffers from a rare psychotic disorder, Fregoli Syndrome which causes him to misidentify people.  Brett, is the son of one of the directors of the victim's company. Brett insists that the killer is another employee of the company whom Brett has falsely identified on several occasions as stalking him.  The man has an alibi so no one believes Brett.  The relationship between the victim and his wife is suspect since they had an “open marriage.”  In this high profile case, many influential people are being questioned and the chief wants them handled with kid gloves. Hank knows most of these people because of his family background, but Detective Stainer, who has a very different investigative style, wants to step on toes. 

The suspense really builds as the story develops and I could not put this one down.  I was not sure I was going to like this story because of the witness’ being mentally ill.  The author handled that aspect very well and I enjoyed the novel.  I plan to read the first two and look forward to the fourth!  The only problem I had is that Stainer needs to stop using the "f" word so much.

—Helen Jones

FTC Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher.