Monday, October 05, 2015

Ghost to the Rescue by Carolyn Hart

Desperation. Why else would an emissary from Heaven be dispatched to earth except when someone is in desperate need? And, that's really the only reason Chief Wiggins of the Department of Good Intentions would ever want to dispatch Bailey Ruth Raeburn. In Carolyn Hart's Ghost to the Rescue, he dispatches Bailey Ruth when a child sends up a desperate plea.

Bailey Ruth is always eager to return home to Adelaide, Oklahoma, step in and help.  Deirdre Davenport is a single mom, a struggling author with no inspiration at the moment, and a job seeker. Now, Deirdre is at a writers' conference where she's hoping she'll be announced as the latest member of Goddard College's English Department.  This time, Bailey Ruth may be too late to help. By the time Bailey Ruth arrives, Deirdre is already fending off advances from the faculty member who holds her future in his hands. Jay Knox is the spoiled, youngest son of a powerful family in Adelaide, and he gets to select the new instructor. Bailey Ruth is just in time to hear him threaten with innuendo.

Bailey Ruth's plans to help Deirdre might just backfire. When Knox is found murdered, and Deirdre's fingerprints are on the murder weapon, a few people remember Bailey Ruth's comments about the primary suspect. Now, the young woman is forced to team up with the ghost who makes her uneasy as the two try to find the real killer. Between fellow faculty members and aspiring writers, there are a number of people who wouldn't miss Jay Know.

Is there a more charming, well-meaning ghost than Bailey Ruth Raeburn? She's a ghost with a sense of fashion who delights in every wardrobe change. She has a soft spot for romance, and pushes people together when she can. And, no matter what she does, she can't seem to obey the Precepts for Earthly Visitation. She isn't even in Adelaide for ten minutes before she's in trouble with Precept 1, 3 and 4 about avoiding public notice, working behind the scenes and becoming visible only when necessary. Oh, Bailey Ruth!

It's obvious that Hart knows the writing world. The writing conference brings in all sorts of aspiring writers including those who are already traditionally published, and those who are self-published. It's fascinating to read about the conference, its workings and its attendees.

Hart's Bailey Ruth Ghost mysteries are entertaining, with an amusing sleuth. And, Bailey Ruth assists the police, who she sees as intelligent people who just lack her ability to go behind the scenes. It's always a pleasure to see sleuths who work with the police and not against them.

Once again, it's Ghost to the Rescue, as Bailey Ruth uses her own wiles to interview suspects, coerce cooperation, and help the desperate in Carolyn Hart's latest amusing mystery.

Carolyn Hart's website is

Ghost to the Rescue by Carolyn Hart. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425276563 (hardcover), 275p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

A Triple Boost of Appreciation

Credit where credit is due. Kristopher Zgorski of BOLO Books had an interesting idea. What happens when three established book bloggers join forces to call attention to some underappreciated writing? You get this: the start of an occasional feature where Dru Ann Love, Kristopher Zgorski and Lesa Holstine gather together to highlight books which might have been missed.

In the first post of this type, we have decided to discuss underappreciated series. We determined that we would each choose five of our favorites and share them on each other's blogs. In order to see the entire list - and why would you not want to see the entire list? - you will have to visit each of the participating blogs.

Visiting Lesa's Book Critiques today is Dru Ann Love of dru's book musings, Dru Ann's blog is a 2015 Anthony Award nominee for Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work, so you'll want to pay attention to her selections. Included with each of Dru Ann's suggestions is a list of the books in the proper order. Here's what Dru Ann has to say about each series.

Main Street Mystery Series by Sandra Balzo

Sleuth: AnnaLise Griggs, returning to her hometown of Sutterton, North Carolina, to care for her aging mother.

I love the down-home feeling I get when I visit with AnnaLise and her friends in her small southern town. She returns to help her mother and we find a town full of eccentrically quirky residents that will envelope you with a warm hug where you want everyone to be safe from harm.

Running on Empty (2011)
Dead Ends (2012)
Hit and Run (2014)


Wishcraft Mystery Series by Heather Blake

Sleuth: Darcy Merriweather, from a long line of witches who can cast spells by making a wish, in the Enchanted Village section of Salem, Massachusetts.

This is a light paranormal mystery that has taken control of my heart with such tenderness that I'm always sad when the last sentence is read. It's both emotional and heartwarming and you care for all the characters as they take their place in their small little village. A series that should be read if you enjoy a little bit of magically delightful fun.

It Takes a Witch (2012)
A Witch Before Dying (2012)
The Good, the Bad and the Witchy (2013)
The Goodbye Witch (2014)
Some Like It Witchy (2015)


Southern Sewing Circle Mystery Series by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Sleuth: Tori Sinclair, a Yankee librarian relocated to Sweet Briar, South Carolina

What I like about this series is that the residents of Sweet Briar took a stranger into their home and made her feel very welcome and as each story is told, we learn more and more about this eclectic band of friends who embody what true friends are who, no matter what, will have your back through sorrow and happiness. A series that should be read if you're looking for a diverse cast of characters that oozes southern hospitality.

Sew Deadly (2009)
Death Threads (2010)
Pinned for Murder (2010)
Deadly Notions (2011)
Dangerous Alterations (2011)
Reap What You Sew (2012)
Let It Sew (2012)
Remnants of Murder (2013)
Taken In (2014)
Wedding Duress (2015)


The Seaside Knitters Mystery Series by Sally Goldenbaum

Sleuth: Isabel "Izzy" Chambers, a lawyer who leaves Boston to open the Seaside Knitting Studio, in Sea Harbor, Massachusetts.

This is a series featuring friends that span several generations and in each book one of the ensemble cast is featured as we get to learn more and more about this terrific cast of characters. When I'm reading the latest book in the series, it takes me to a nice and friendly atmosphere where all I want to do is pull up a chair and dine at Nell's place. With the recent addition of Gabby, this series continues to delight and entertain me. A series that should be read if you like a varied group where friendliness is part of the pleasure of reading.

Death by Cashmere (2008)
Patterns in the Sand (2009)
Moon Spinners (2010)
A Holiday Yarn (2010)
The Wedding Shawl (2011)
A Fatal Fleece (2012)
Angora Alibi (2013)
Murder in Merino (2014)
A Finely Knit Murder (2015)
Trimmed With Murder (2015)


The Someday Quilts Mystery Series by Clare O'Donohue

Sleuth: Nell Fitzgerald, a former Manhattan publishing professional now helping her grandmother, Eleanor Cassidy, run a quilting store in the Hudson River town of Archer's Rest, New York.

I enjoy this series that has a diverse cast of characters where the commonality is their love of quilting and the friendship that has developed among them. When a situation calls for it, not one, not two, but all of them will pitch in and help solve the latest caper that occurs in Archer's Rest. A series that should be read if you enjoy character development with a strong voice among good friends.

The Lover's Knot (2008)
A Drunkard's Path (2009)
The Double Cross (2010)
The Devil's Puzzle (2011)
The Double Wedding Ring (2013)


Dru Ann Love is owner/writer at dru's book musings and at her daytime situation is a research analyst. A New Yorker, Dru Ann is an avid reader, writes poetry, quilts and loves attending reader/fan conventions.

Thank you for stopping by Lesa's Book Critiques today. Please check out dru's book musings and BOLO Books to see more of our suggestions.

The Skeleton Haunts a House by Leigh Perry

Leigh Perry's latest Family Skeleton mystery is a delightful Halloween treat. However, The Skeleton Haunts a House will be delightful whenever a reader has time to pick it up. In this case, the emphasis isn't on Halloween or the skeleton, although they're both essential to the story. But, the emphasis on family is even more important.

Adjunct professor Georgia Thackery isn't a big fan of haunted houses. However, her sister, Deborah, is in charge of this year's Halloween Howl at McQuaid University where McQuaid Hall becomes McHades Hall. And, Georgia's daughter, Madison, is one of the volunteers. So Georgia does dress up and accompany her best friend, Sid the skeleton. It's the one time of year when Sid can put on a costume and leave the house. No one counted on a murder in McQuaid Hall, though. And, Sid is trapped in the haunted house, dressed as Scooby-Doo, while the police interview workers, actors, and the tour groups.

The entire family rallies to cover for Sid, including Georgia's parents, newly returned from their sabbatical from the university. And, Georgia is relieved to know they can turn the case over to the police. But, when Deborah pushes for Sid and Georgia to investigate so McHades Hall can reopen, they agree. Georgia knows the suspect arrested has to be innocent. Sid just enjoys the challenge of the investigation and the opportunity to search for answers on the Internet.

Sid and Georgia make an amusing detective duo. They're definitely amateurs, fumbling through the investigation as they come up with odd solutions. And, Georgia knows they're amateurs. When Deborah complains that their methods aren't methodical, Georgia points out, "You can't expect us to act like professional detectives." They try out solutions, until they find the right answer. And, Georgia and Sid take care to protect each other as they try to make sure there is always back up.

Georgia's family is unconventional with three professors, a locksmith, a teenager, and a skeleton. The family is supportive of each other, which makes for an appealing cast. Sid's addition to the family makes the personalities amusing and quirky.

The Skeleton Haunts a House has the perfect setting for a mystery, a college campus with a haunted hall at Halloween, and a carnival next door. But, underneath the light atmosphere created by the enjoyable setting and attractive cast, there is a serious crime. And, Perry deftly handles the shocking background for the murder.

Sid and McHades Hall, the light touch of the Scooby-Doo costumes, and the carnival, are all perfect for a Halloween mystery. Actually, though, The Skeleton Haunts a House, will be a treat, not a trick, any time of year.

Leigh Perry's website is

The Skeleton Haunts a House by Leigh Perry. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425255858 (paperback), 289p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Winners and A Deceptive Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Bill Crider's Half in Love with Artful Death is heading to James P. in West Monroe, LA. Robert R. from San Antonio, TX won Terry Shames' Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek. The books will go out in the mail tomorrow.

There's a short timeframe for the next giveaway since I'll be heading to Bouchercon. But, I have two terrific books to give away. The theme? Appearances are deceiving. The sleuths, one professional and one amateur, discover everything isn't always what it appears to be. Bruce DeSilva's sleuth, Liam Mulligan, isn't exactly an amateur, though, since he's an investigative reporter. In A Scourge of Vipers, the governor of Rhode Island wants to legalize sports gambling. But, her plan has unexpected consequences, and Mulligan goes rogue when the newspaper isn't interested in the story. And, someone is bent on destroying the rogue reporter.

Jean-Luc Bannalec's A Death in Brittany introduces a traditional police inspector in an idyllic French seaside village, Commissaire Georges Dupin. When a legendary hotelier is found dead, murdered, Dupin and his team identify five suspects. But, Dupin also uncovers a web of secrecy and silence in that quaint French village.

Which mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Your entry should read either "Win a Scourge of Vipers" or "Win A Death in Brittany." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

As I said, there's a quick turnaround for this contest. The giveaway will end Monday, Oct. 5 at 6 PM CT so I can get the books in the mail on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

November Treasures in My Closet

There are some terrific authors releasing books in November, beginning with the first on the list. Let me know which books you're anticipating.

Bestselling author Mitch Albom brings us his latest novel, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. Frankie Presto was a war orphan raised by a blind music teacher in a small town in Spain. When he's only nine, he's sent to America at the bottom of a boat. But, Frankie has a gift. He'll eventually become the greatest guitarist ever, and his life is woven through the history of music in the twentieth century. But, that gift becomes a burden when he realizes his music has the ability to change lives. (Release date is Nov. 10.)

Another bestselling author, Isabel Allende, shares The Japanese Lover. It's a novel that explores race and identity, the story of the relationship between a Polish girl sent to San Francisco at the time of the Nazi invasion and a Japanese-American boy sent to an internment camp run by the U.S. government. Their love can't be shared publicly, but their devotion lasts a lifetime. (Release date is Nov. 3.)

Bohemian Gospel is Dana Chamblee Carpenter's debut historical novel. It's set in thirteenth-century Bohemia where a girl, Mouse, breaks church law to save young King Ottakar. She accompanies him to Prague to be his personal healer while the two young people search for answers. Who is threatening him? And what are the secrets to Mouse's past? She was born with unnatural senses and an uncanny intellect. Some call her a witch; others call her an angel. Who is Mouse? (Release date is Nov. 15.)

Donis Casey's Alafair Tucker mysteries are some of my favorites. The U.S. has finally entered the First World War, and it's reached Boynton, Oklahoma in All Men Fear Me. Alafair is caught in the middle when her brother shows up, a union organizer fresh out of an internment camp for participants in an Arizona miners' strike. Alafair's oldest son enlists, while her German-born son-in-law finds his farm vandalized by a "Knights of Liberty" group. And, there's sabotage at the factory where her youngest son works. (Release date is Nov. 3.)

In Charles Cumming's The Hidden Man, two brothers seek justice for their murdered father. Christopher Keen, was once a master spy. When he's murdered, his sons are drawn into this life, although they hadn't seen him in twenty years. Now, they set out to find the truth and avenge their father's death. (Release date is Nov. 10.)

The author of The Hours, Michael Cunningham, now has a collection of fairy tales for our time, A Wild Swan and Other Tales. There are stories of a girl whose long hair causes catastrophe, a house made of gumdrops deep in the forest, a poisoned apple. A gifted storyteller retells our bedtime stories into stories that are even darker. (Release date is Nov. 10.)

In Charles Finch's Home by Nightfall, a death in the family brings gentleman sleuth Charles Lenox back to the country house where he grew up. And, he's just in time to confront an odd, unsettling crime in a nearby village. (Release date is Nov. 10.)

We're back to the world of spies in Brian Fremantle's The Cloud Collector. It's a thriller set in the world of cyber warfare as the U.S. and the UK recognize a global jihadist attack, and lead the counterattack. Now, government hackers must follow an elusive electronic trail to stop a global terrorist plot. (Release date is Nov. 3.)

The Mare by Mary Gaitskill is the story of a Fresh Air Fund girl from Brooklyn, her host family, and the horse that changes her life. It's about people from different races and different socioeconomic backgrounds trying to meet each other honestly. (Release date is Nov. 3.)

Peter Golden's Wherever There is Light is a sweeping novel of the twentieth century, chronicling the decades-long love affair between a Jewish immigrant and the granddaughter of a slave. Kirkus calls it "A love story of love, loss and reconciliation." (Release date is Nov. 3.)

Detective Chief Inspector Konrad Simonsen returns in the latest thriller from Lotte and Soren Hammer, The Girl in the Ice. When a body is found in Greenland's ice cap, hidden for twenty-five years, Simonsen is flown in from Denmark to investigate. He realizes the girl wasn't the killers only victim, and his investigation uncovers truths that some powerful people would like to keep hidden. (Release date is Nov. 10.)

I have no cover art for Carolyn Hart's romantic suspense novel, High Stakes. It's set against the buildup to the Cold War. According to Hart, "Considering U.S.-Russian relations currently, it has a certain aura of deja vu. (Release date is sometime in November.)

Actor and author Ethan Hawke brings us a medieval tale, Rules for a Knight. In 1483, a Cornish knight, Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke, is about to ride into battle, and he doesn't expect to return. So he writes a letter to his four young children, sharing twenty virtues necessary to live a noble life, and the lessons as to how to live that life. (Release date is Nov. 10.)

Literary icon John Irving has returned to the themes that established him in Avenue of Mysteries. Juan Diego grew up with his younger sister in Mexico, a girl who thinks she can see the future. But, she can see the past. It's a story of how, as we grow older, we tend to live in the past, in particular with what we remember and what we dream. Sometimes, the past is more vivid than the present. (Release date is Nov. 3.)

I've always found the Bible story of Esther to be fascinating. Now, Rebecca Kanner introduces Esther, the story of the young Jewish girl who married a Persian king. When the king's most trusted advisor promises to pour vast wealth into the royal treasury if the king allows him to wipe out all the Jews, Esther must find the strength within to "violate the king's law, risk her life, and save her people". (Release date is Nov. 3.)

Adorable cover isn't it? Beth Kendrick's Put a Ring on It features Brighton Smith, an insurance actuary with a job all about assessing risk and avoiding bad investments. But, one night when her life takes an unexpected turn, she snaps. When she meets a man in a bar, she kisses him. And, by dawn, they're exchanging vows. She's in way over her head, and has to decide if she's going to take a leap of faith, which is against everything she's ever done. (Release date is Nov. 3.)

David Kirk's Sword of Honor picks up where Child of Vengeance left off, telling the story of sixteenth century samurai Musashi Miyamoto. The historical novel brings the historical figure to life as he travels to Kyoto, hoping to deal a crushing blow to the traditional samurai dogma. But, when he falls in love, it makes him vulnerable. (Release date is Nov. 3.)

Woman with a Blue Pencil is Gordon McAlpine's story within a story. On the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sam Sumida, a Japanese American academic, becomes an amateur PI, investigating his wife's murder, a death ignored by the LAPD. But, Sam is actually a discarded, fictional creation, now on a collision course with the Korean American PI who replaced him in a novel by a young Nisei author. And, controlling all of them is the book editor in New York, the woman with the blue pencil. (Release date is Nov. 10.)

Lindsay Marcott's The Producer's Daughter is the story of Hannah Doran, a paparazzi's dream. She's the wild child of a charming Hollywood producer and a society woman who died mysteriously. Her Hollywood and celebrity friends are perfect fodder. And, then there's her conviction for grand theft after a night of glamorous excess. Hannah insists she's innocent, but everyone else has a stake in keeping her in her old role. (Release date is Nov. 10.)

Nancy Martin launches a new series with Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything. Meet Miss Ruffles, a Texas Cattle Cur who is suddenly a wealthy dog when her owner dies, leaving everything to Miss Ruffles. But, Miss Ruffles is left in Sunny Mckillip's care. And, Sunny, who is concerned for Miss Ruffles' safety, begins to suspect that Honeybee Hensley's death might not have been natural. (Release date is Nov. 3.)

The Restoration of Otto Laird is Nigel Packer's debut novel. It's a story of a retired architect, Otto Laird, and his attempt to reclaim the past. He's living a peaceful life in Switzerland when he learns that his most significant building, Marlowe House, a 1960s estate is South London is scheduled to be demolished. Outraged and determined to do everything he can to save the building, he returns to London, and embarks on a remarkable journey that will change everything he thought he knew. (Release date is Nov. 24.)

Actress Mary-Louise Parker makes her debut with Dear Mr. You. It's the story of her life, told through letters to the men, real and hypothetical, who made her the woman she is today. It begins with a message to the grandfather she never knew, includes a letter to a beloved priest, notes to former lovers, and a letter to the uncle of the infant girl she adopted. (Release date is Nov. 10.)

"Is it better to forget our greatest mistake or to remember, so it's never repeated? James Renner asks that question in his novel, The Great Forgetting. Renner blends science fiction and conspiracy thrillers with a touch of fantasy. Meet Jack Felter who reluctantly returns to Franklin Mills, Ohio because it's there he fell in love, but his girl ran off with his best friend, Tony. Now, Tony is missing. It's a search that takes him from Manhattan to secret facilities under the Catskills to a forgotten island in the Pacific, the final resting spot for a missing plane. (Release date is Nov. 10.)

White Collar Girl by Renee Rosen takes readers to 1950s Chicago where a female journalist struggles to make it in a man's world. Jordan Walsh comes from a family of esteemed reporters, and she's eager to make her name in the field. But, in 1955 at the Chicago Tribune, she's relegated to the society news. Everything changes when she connects with a source in Mayor Daley's office. Now, careers and lives hang on every word from Jordan. (Release date is Nov. 3.)

Meet Ben Sanders, a New Zealand author whose American debut, American Blood, has been sold to Warner Brothers, with Bradley Cooper scheduled to star and produce. His character, Marshall Grade, is an ex-NYPD officer forced to enter the witness protection program. Grade is now living in Santa Fe with instructions to keep a low profile. But, when he investigates the disappearance of a local woman, word of his efforts spread. It isn't long before the worst elements of his former life close in on him. (Release date is Nov. 17.)

Something here must tempt you. Donis Casey? Mitch Albom? Ben Sanders? Nancy Martin? Which books do you want to read in November?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse

Together with Anna Waterhouse, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar relates a story of Sherlock Holmes' older  brother, telling of his first adventure when he was only twenty-three. Mycroft Holmes is an intricately plotted, dramatic account. And, it's marvelous, with the tone of the original stories.

While his younger brother is in college, Mycroft is already making a name for himself as secretary to the Secretary of State for War. He aspires to work for Queen and country, marry his gorgeous fiancée, Georgiana, and settle down in a nice house to raise three children. In appearance, he's the opposite of his brother, well-muscled, good-looking and blond. He may be as brilliant as Sherlock, but Mycroft is much more practical. However, he throws all of his practicality to the wind when his best friend, Douglas, and Georgiana both decide to return to their homes in Trinidad after learning of trouble there. Along the waterfront in Trinidad, people have disappeared. Legend says douens have called to children, and then a lougarou (a giant mosquito) sucked the blood out of them. Mycroft and Douglas plan to sail on the same ship as Georgiana, but, once they board, they never see her. Instead, they encounter unexpected violence, and the beginning of an adventure that neither man anticipated.

The authors introduce Holmes into a world that is far different than the London he knows. And, the young Mycroft's character and future role is defined by his experiences. Georgiana had started to change his opinions. Now, the events in Trinidad do force him to "Look at social inequalities not as curiosities to be catalogued, but as wrongs to be righted." And, Mycroft and Douglas do have wrongs to right, criminal activities that have long tentacles. But, Holmes comes to realize how young he actually is, and that he hadn't encountered true evil before.

It's fascinating to see the build-up of Mycroft Holmes's character. He shares so many traits with his brother, the intellect, the patterns of observation. There's a dry humor in his observations, such as "Given the great number of Adam's spawn in the streets..." But, Sherlock is a loner, a self-centered man. Mycroft wanted to serve the Queen and country, so he went into civil service. And, it's intriguing to read about the relationship between the two brothers in those young years.

Mycroft Holmes is a dramatic account that builds in intensity. There's a menacing atmosphere that permeates the book. With it's complex characters and compelling story, this novel is worthy of every Sherlock Holmes story that preceded it. And, Mycroft proves to be just as capable of deception, cleverness, and action as his better-known brother. Mycroft Holmes is a wonderful debut novel.

Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. Titan Books. 2015. ISBN 9781783291533 (hardcover), 328p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What Are You Reading?

It's been a couple weeks since we've discussed your reading. What are you reading today? I'm halfway through Mycroft Holmes, a terrific debut novel by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. The authors send Sherlock Holmes' older brother to Trinidad. It's a fascinating introduction to a young Mycroft who is already working for "Queen and country". I'll discuss Mycroft's personality and the storyline in my review. It's terrific so far.

I hope you're enjoying your current book. Tell us about it, please.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dead with the Wind by Miranda James

Some amateur sleuths seem out-of-place and awkward when they leave their home environments. Not so with Miranda James' octogenarian Ducote sisters, An'gel and Dickce. The two Southern grandes dames are perfectly at home on a plantation in Louisiana. And, they're perfectly capable of solving a complex case in Dead with the Wind.

An'gel and Dickce travel to Willowbank with their ward and their two pets, a Labradoodle and an Abyssinian cat. The plantation is the ancestral home of their cousin, Mireille Champlain, whose granddaughter, Sondra, is getting married. Sandra is eager to inherit her trust and fortune, and everything must be Sondra's way or no way at all. The Ducotes are appalled at Sondra's behavior, and they worry about their cousin's health in dealing with the spoiled bride-to-be. The housekeeper and others even warn Sondra of bad luck with the upcoming storm and the wedding day she selected, telling a story of a post-Civil War bride-to-be who was blown off her balcony during a storm. While An'gel and Dickce scoff at the legend, the anger in that household swirls around, portending trouble. After one near-fatal miss, and then death, the Ducotes are convinced the tragedies at Willowbank are not accidental.

There's a great deal of drama and anger in James' latest Southern Ladies mystery. Dead with the Wind is a polished, character-driven story featuring two spirited, determined amateur sleuths. The ambience is also perfect for this story set on a Southern plantation, with emotions riding high as a storm hits. All of the elements combine to create a foreboding atmosphere. Fortunately, James tempers the evil with a sweetness, created by the presence and actions of the pets and a toddler.

An'gel Ducote thought "It pained her greatly to see her cousin's family unraveling in so nasty a fashion." It may have pained the Ducote sisters, but the family drama and tragedies make for an excellent mystery. And, the sisters are capable, admirable sleuths in Miranda James' Dead with the Wind.

Find Miranda James at

Dead with the Wind by Miranda James. Berkley Prime Crime. 2015. ISBN 9780425273050 (paperback), 291p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.