Saturday, May 31, 2008

Stone Creek

I reviewed Victoria Lustbader's Stone Creek for the June 1 issue of Library Journal. The review appears below, reprinted with permission.

Lustbader, Victoria. Stone Creek. Harper: HarperCollins. Jun. 2008. c.384p. ISBN 978-0-06-136921-6. pap. $13.95. F

Lustbader's second novel (after Hidden) is a story of troubled lives and misunderstandings in which everyone is looking for love. Danny Malloy, father to five-year-old Caleb, misses his dead wife. Paul and Lily Spencer are a wealthy couple whose marriage suddenly hits a snag when they find they're unable to have children. Lily escapes to the couple's country home for the summer, needing someone to love—and finds herself on a collision course with Danny and Caleb. Lustbader, whose husband is thriller writer Eric Van Lustbader, shows promise with this effort, and her characters are certainly interesting. However, Lustbader tries too hard to present everyone's point of view; the narrative's third-person present tense only distances readers from the story. Additionally, there is not enough action to move the narrative along, and the combination of tension and introspection makes the writing feel cold at times. An optional purchase for large public libraries only. [Eric Van Lustbader's new thriller, First Daughter, publishes in August.—Ed.]—Lesa Holstine, Glendale P.L., AZ

Copyright © 2008 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mysteries and The Snatch

A couple of us stopped for Chinese food for lunch on Tuesday, and my fortune in my fortune cookie was so perfect for this blog that I saved it. It said, "There will always be delightful mysteries in your life."

Bill Pronzini's first mystery, The Snatch, is one of those delightful mysteries. It was time I read a Nameless Detective book, so I borrowed the first in the series through interlibrary loan. I wasn't too far into it when I realized I actually had read it before. But, even Pronzini's early work is worth reading. So, I've started seriously reading the series, and I just have to pick up the second one now.

This first Nameless Detective book was published in 1971, when Pronzini was a twenty-seven-year-old bachelor, not yet married to Marcia Muller. It will be interesting to see how the books change over thirty-seven years. Let's start with the fact that it's old enough I couldn't find a book cover online to use on the blog.

The private detective in the book was a cop for fifteen years before he went out on his own. He's also an avid collector of pulp magazines. His business is slow, but, even so he's reluctant to accept a case. He's called to a wealthy community south of San Francisco where a millionaire's nine-year-old son has been kidnapped. Since Louis Martinetti doesn't want to call in the police, and needs someone to make the money drop, our hero agrees.

Even in this first book, Pronzini is able to build tension and suspense. He creates a fascinating hero, whose girlfriend describes him when she leaves him. "You're too honest, too ethical, too affected by real corruption and real human misery to be the kind of lone wolf private eye you'd like to be." In one way, she's wrong. The Nameless Detective is just the type of private eye the reader would like him to be. Even as a first mystery, The Snatch, and its detective, intrigues the reader. I'll be looking for the second book.

The Snatch by Bill Pronzini. Random House, ©1971. ISBN 0-394-47226-8 (hardcover), 213p.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Winners and the Contest - B is for...

Congratulations to the winners of the autographed copies of Louise Ure's The Fault Tree. One copy will go to Lori B. in Tooele, UT, and the other to Erin A. in Morton Grove, IL. The books will go out in the mail on Saturday morning.

This week, I have ARCs of two interesting crime novels. B is for Bill Floyd, author of The Killer's Wife. On the cover, it says, "Do You Know Who You're Sleeping With?" It takes the reader into the life of a serial killer, as viewed from his wife's vantage point.

B is also for Benjamin Black's The Silver Swan. Benjamin Black is John Banville's pseudonym for writing about Quirke, a pathologist in 1950s Dublin. In The Silver Swan, he tries to make sense of the suspected murder of a shop girl.

Which B would you like, Black or Bill? If you'd like to win one of the books,email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read Win Killer's Wife or Silver Swan. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will end Thursday, June 5 at 6 p.m. PT. Jim will draw the winners at that time. The winners will be notified, and the books will go out in the mail the next morning. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Not Quite What I Was Planning

Fans of Frank Warren's PostSecret books might want to pick up this intriguing book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure. The editors of SMITH Magazine compiled the short biographies sent to their website in a collection of around 1,000 memoirs.

Does this summarize chef Mario Batali's life, his career, or both? "Brought to a boil, often." Just as with the PostSecret books, this one brings out the voyeur in readers. It's hard not to feel for the writer of "Thought I would have more impact." There's triumph is the statement, "Outcast. Picked Last. Surprised them all." The writers have put thought, and often, their hearts, into the little summaries of their lives.

There are more memoirs at SMITH Magazine's website, www.sixwordmemoir.com. The book, and the website, might just inspire your own six-word memoir.

Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure. HarperCollins Publishers, ©2008. ISBN 9780061374050 (paperback), 225p.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember

Sports writers tend to specialize in one sport or another, but John Feinstein writes about different sports, and does every one equally well. However, his latest book, Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember, is definitely for readers who are more than just casual baseball fans. It's for those readers who are passionate enough to want to read about the 2007 season, following each pitch made by Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina. I'm one of those baseball fanatics.

When Feinstein picked Tom Glavine of the New York Mets and Mike Mussina of the New York Yankees, he selected two experienced pitchers who were very different. He knew if one was injured during the year, he still had another pitcher to follow. Glavine, a lefty, who never went to college, is a future Hall of Famer who spent his career in the National League. Mike Mussina, a righty, went to Stanford, and pitches in the American League. By selecting these two men, Feinstein could also examine the culture of the two New York baseball teams.

Feinstein sets the scene for his book by telling about the careers for these two masterful pitchers. Since Glavine and Mussina both cooperated with the author, it makes for a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the lives and careers of the two players. And, then 2007 proved to be an interesting year. Tom Glavine went for his 300th win, and the Mets went down to the wire in their Division. Mike Mussina struggled to find his pitches after spending time on the Disabled List, and the Yankees' woes jeopardized Joe Torre's career. Feinstein's writing is so good that even those of us who remember how 2007 turned out are left hanging on every pitch.

John Feinstein's Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember is one book for baseball fans to savor, and remember.

Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember by John Feinstein. Little, Brown and Company, ©2008. ISBN 978-0-316-11391-5 (hardcover), 526p.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Wednesday Sisters

In a book perfect for book clubs, Meg Waite Clayton tells the story of five young women, wives and mothers, who find each other, and a lifelong friendship, in a children's park in Palo Alto, California. Frankie, Linda, Kath, Brett, and Ally are The Wednesday Sisters, women who support each other in the turbullient, changing years of the late '60s and early '70s.

Mary Frances O'Mara, Frankie, tells the story of five women who share an unspoken dream. When Frankie meets Linda, and then the others, she learns they all love books. Their book discussions eventually turn to a discussion of writing, and a dream no one dares whisper, that of being published someday. So, The Wednesday Sisters are born, when they agree to meet at the picnic tables on Wednesday mornings to write and critique the writing. This honesty about the writing forces them to share other secrets. Over the years, they gradually reveal more to each other. Readers learn early about the death of Linda's mother. But, why does Brett wear white gloves? Each woman will eventually share her deepest fears.

Frankie's voice is the right one to tell the story of five women who grow and change with a changing country. Her story looks back at the early years of lifelong friendship, friendship that grows and reflects changes in the early '70s. The Miss America pageant that links their lives is a perfect vehicle to show the changes in these five women, as well as the country.

I read the first two paragraphs of The Wednesday Sisters, and I knew it would be a wonderful book. Who can resist the second paragraph? "That's us, there in the photograph. Yes, that's me-in one of my chubbier phases, though I suppose one of these days I'll have to face up to the fact that it's the thinner me that's the "phase," not the chubbier one. And going left to right, that's Linda (her hair loose and combed, but then she brought the camera, she was the only one who knew we'd be taking a photograph). Next to her is Ally, pale as ever, and then Kath. And the one in the white gloves in front-the one in the coffin-that's Brett."

Frankie, Linda, Ally, Kath and Brett. It's worthwhile meeting them in The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton.

Meg Waite Clayton's website is www.megwaiteclayton.com

The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. Ballantine Books, ©2008. ISBN 978-0345502827 (hardcover), 304p.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Here Lies the Librarian

Is there any librarian who could resist the title of Richard Peck's young adult novel, Here Lies the Librarian? I honestly think Peck writes his books with the adults in mind who still remember being young, rather than writing them for young adults.

It's a story that begins with a tornado and has a climax at the Hendricks County Fair's dirt-track race. In Hoosier Grove, Indiana, in 1914, Peewee McGrath and her older brother, Jake, have hopes of establishing a garage for the coming automobile age. That age comes faster than they expect when four young women, students of Library Science, have a flat tire in front of their garage. And, the two young people find their future out of their own hands, when two of those determined librarians take an interest in their lives.

Peewee (Eleanor) McGrath tells her own coming-of-age story, in a book filled with library puns, and an eye on the future. Once again, in Here Lies the Librarian, Richard Peck works his magic, bringing the past and a young character to life.

Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck. Penguin Young Readers Group, ©2006. ISBN 9780142409084 (paperback), 145p.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Fault Tree contest and Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the Death contest. Death at the Old Hotel by Con Lehane will go to Harry K. from Columbus, OH. And, Elizabeth Zelvin's Death Will Get You Sober was won by Kat B. from Winterset, IA. The books will go out in the mail tomorrow.

After Louise Ure spoke twice this week here in the Valley, I hope you're interested in her latest mystery, The Fault Tree. I have two autographed copies of the book, a mystery about a blind auto mechanic who is the only witness to a murder.

If you'd like to win The Fault Tree, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read Win The Fault Tree. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will end Thursday, May 29 at 6 p.m. PT. Jim will draw the winners at that time. The winners will be notified, and the books will go out in the mail the next morning. Good luck!

Twenty Wishes

I enjoyed Debbie Macomber's The Shop on Blossom Street so much that I talked it up, and our library's book club discussed it. The next two books in the Blossom Street series let me down. Nice stories, but nothing great. With Twenty Wishes Debbie Macomber may have written the best in her series. Pull out the tissues, and prepare for happy endings with tears.

At 38, Anne Marie Roche is a widow, and the owner of Blossom Street Books in Seattle. Despite some marital problems, she and her husband had reunited before his death, and a year later she still feels desolate. She looks to the other shop owners on Blossom Street, along with three widows in her book group, for friendship.

Valentine's Day hits Anne Marie and the other widows hard. At a small party at the bookstore, Anne Marie's idea of a list of twenty wishes inspires the other women. They all want someone to love again, and that will be on their list, along with nineteen other ideas, some whimsical and some realistic. Even with the lists in hand, it isn't easy to find love, and recover from loss.

Debbie Macomber writes warm books of friendship and love. The right ones bring tears, because they move the reader. For me, Twenty Wishes is one of those books, satisfying when finished. My first wish? That you find a good book that moves you. Twenty Wishes might be it.

Debbie Macomber's website is www.debbiemacomber.com

Twenty Wishes by Debbie Macomber. Mira, ©2008. ISBN 9780778325505 (hardcover), 360p.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Louise Ure, Back to the Beach, and Two Days of Books

What a terrific two days! I've been waiting for these two days for quite a long time, and I'm sure there will be a letdown afterward. It was two perfect days for a book lover. I had dinner with an author, an author appearance at the library, breakfast with the same author and two representatives from the publishing world, and then a wonderful afternoon while they all presented book talks to librarians.

Louise Ure, author of The Fault Tree, was in town to speak at Back to the Beach, an annual program sponsored by the Maricopa County Library Continuing Education Committee. She was kind enough to agree to appear at the Velma Teague Library in Glendale the night before. Louise and I had a very nice dinner before her presentation.

Since the temperatures here in the Valley of the Sun are about 108 degrees, Louise started her program with a reference to the heat. Although she is from Tucson, she lives in San Francisco now, and said now she melts in the heat.

Louise said she loves doing openings. She said she'd be glad to write them for other authors. It's the other 400 pages that are difficult, not the opening.

The protagonist of The Fault Tree, Candence Moran, is blind. Why write about a blind character? Stephen King said write about what scares you the most. Since Louise already has poor eyesight, losing her sight would rank as one of the top ten scariest things. How scary would it be to witness a murder, and be blind? According to Louise, Audrey Hepburn did it in Wait Until Dark. The Fault Tree brings it into the 21st century, with a character with more skills. How could she help the cops with her other senses? She's able to identify sound - a man had corduroy pants on because she could hear them, or smell - the smell of antifreeze. Ure alternates chapters with Candence's viewpoint, that of the cops, and that of the killer because a blind character can't tell everything the reader needs to know.

Candence Moran is a blind auto mechanic. Ure said she did everything that Candence does, with a blindfold on, to learn how Candence did it. She found four auto mechanics who were blind, and like Candence, they adjust autos with their ears.

When Louise Ure writes a book, she starts with the title. Forcing Amaryllis, her Shamus award-winning first mystery, came about after she saw directions for forcing amaryllis at a garden shop. She came up with the title of The Fault Tree on Feb. 1, 2003, the day the Columbia shuttle crashed. She heard a NASA scientist talk about fault tree analysis, a scientific term. She decided to write about a fault tree, all the ways things could go wrong in a murder investigation.

Last week, Ure turned in the manuscript for her next book, Liars Anonymous. The book should come out in April 2009. Louise said there's no twelfth step program for liars, and she was a liar as a child. She said she was happier lying than telling the truth. She made up stories that would start simple, and grow in the retelling.

Liars Anonymous is the story of an OnStar operator, who responds when a driver has an accident. She talks to him. He says he's fine, and will go see how the other driver is. And, she hears him killed. So, all she has to go on is what she heard. Since Louise loves to write openings, here is the opening of her next book. "I got away with murder once, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen again. Damn. This time I didn't do it. Well, not all of it anyway."

When asked why she writes crime fiction, Louise said she was always a voracious reader, and she always loved mysteries. She said librarians hate it, but she arranges her bookshelves geographically, by area in which the mysteries are set. She begins with Alaska and Dana Stabenow, and goes down to California. She said there are two mystery authors who are the bane of her existence - Martin Cruz Smith and Lee Child. Smith's are set in Russia, Japan, and Cuba. Child's Jack Reacher never stays in one place. He travels all over the country, and even to England. She has a complete set of first editions of John D. MacDonald's books because she's a big fan. Setting is so important to Louise. She wants a sense of place, and people she can care about. She likes to see "An ordinary person in an extraordinary situation."

She wrote her first book at seven, The True Book of Fairy Tales, after she got into the Brothers Grimm. Each story featured a piece of fruit, and each protagonist died tragically.

Louise Ure writes standalone mysteries. She likes the idea of a protagonist in jeopardy. Will they really come out alive? Is there even a good guy in the story? She said authors who write a series do have an advantage in that the readers have established relationships with the series characters, but the authors have to keep them fresh, and try to attract new readers.

She starting writing after 9/11, when she had a drink with a girlfriend, and they talked about, if it all ends now, what would you most regret not doing? She said writing a book. And, her friend said the three little words every woman wants to hear, "I dare you." She convinced her that her character and voice would be different from anyone else's. She took a class, Eight Weeks to Stronger Fiction, taught by Gillian Roberts, and then she wrote Forcing Amaryllis in five weeks. She writes on computer, and edits in longhand.

When asked, she said the hardest thing in getting published is getting an agent. And, you have to have an agent for most publishing companies to even look at your work. She found an agent by following the rules in Publishers Marketplace, sending a one page letter. When asked, she recommended Gillian Roberts' book, How to Write a Mystery, as the best book on the subject. Following the rules, she sold her first book in three weeks.

The Fault Tree has been optioned for a film by someone who wants to film in Tucson.

Could the week get any better? Yes, since I went to Phoenix this morning to meet Louise, and two people who are probably two of the nicest people in the publishing world. Talia Ross is the Director of Library Marketing for Macmillian, and she and I have been corresponding for about two years now. This was the first chance I had to meet her. She introduced me to Bobby Brinson, Manager of Academic & Public Library Marketing for HarperCollins. Following a fun breakfast, I took a picture. Left to right - Louise Ure, Bobby Brinson, and Talia Ross.



Along with Barbara Peters, owner of Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Louise, Talia, and Bobby were our speakers at Back to the Beach, the annual program held at the Burton Barr Library in Phoenix. Librarians from all over the valley look forward to the program, a discussion of books.

Louise kicked off the program by saying she moved away from Arizona thirty years ago, but she still considers Arizona home. She's one of those people who doesn't appreciate a place until it's at a distance, and now she can write about it. Her grandmother came from Italy to Tucson in 1901, and there are five generations of the family there. With 400 relatives, only two of them have ever left town. Her program was very similar to the one she presented at Velma Teague on Monday night.

Talia and Bobby were so generous in bringing piles of ARCs for giveaway to the audience. Talia Ross highlighted books from Macmillan's upcoming publishing list. The list included titles such as Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain, The Catch by Archer Mayor, Ken Bruen's Once Were Cops, and Julia Spencer-Fleming's I Shall Not Want. I'm also excited about White Nights, the forthcoming book by Ann Cleeves.

Talia and Bobby both mentioned websites for the publishers. Bobby Brinson's discussion of HarperCollins books included The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry, The Given Day, the first novel from Dennis Lehane in five years, and A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire. The title that seemed to catch the most attention? Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani, due out Feb. 3, 2009.

Barbara Peters, from Poisoned Pen, started out by saying they are trying to bring authors to libraries around the valley to give them the most exposure when they come to town, so people don't have to drive as far with the gas prices. She said Poisoned Pen Press, their publishing company, is no longer considered a small press, because they publish 36 books a year. She said large publishers are not interested in building authors, so they sometimes allow a small press to "test-drive" authors before picking them up.

Barbara said she sees three big trends in mysteries this summer: Romans, Russia, and Spy Stuff/James Bond. Barbara said she'd present her list of 30 books, but next week it might be thirty different books. Her titles included a debut novel, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, a book for Mary Stewart fans called The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson, Julie Kramer's debut with Stalking Susan, and the last Vicky Bliss novel by Elizabeth Peters, The Laughter of Dead Kings.

Thank you, Louise, for speaking at Velma Teague and Back to the Beach. Talia, thank you for the ARCs, speaking at Back to the Beach, breakfast, and an online friendship. Bobby, thank you for breakfast, Back to the Beach, and your joy and laughter. The ARCS and books for Back to the Beach were great, from both of you! Barbara, thank you so much for promoting books and authors, and asking libraries to join you. Thank you for supplying the books for all of our programs at the Velma Teague Library.

Four good speakers. Lots of book talk. Two great days!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mighty Old Bones

Jane Thistle and Phoebe Twigg, the two mismatched friends from Thistle and Twigg, return in Mary Saums' new mystery, Mighty Old Bones. It's a cozy story, with action hero and ghostly overtones.

Although she's only lived in Tullulah, Alabama, for a short time, Jane Thistle inherited land and a forest from her neighbor, Cal Prewitt. Along with the land, she inherited boxes that tell stories of the forest she has come to love. After a terrible storm rips up trees, Jane and Phoebe find a skeleton in the roots of a tree. Since she spent years working on archeological digs, Jane informs the police, and contacts a friend who is an anthropologist. While Jane approaches the situation academically, Phoebe takes a different approach.

With her love of storytelling, Phoebe tells the story to a local journalist, and doesn't realize that she's attracting trouble. Jane had already been mugged leaving the grocery store, losing her purse. Now, Jane's property and the story of her discovery makes the front page.

Saums' latest book is an odd mix of humor, suspense, and ghost story. Odd, because the story seems to work beautifully when it comes to Jane Thistle and her passion for the land. However, at times, Phoebe and her adventures seem to be stuck in just for the sake of comic relief. In fact, one chapter about Phoebe's babysitting seems totally unnecessary. Phoebe is needed to lighten the story, and connect Jane to the town and its past. However, at times, she seems to just be needed as a sidekick.

Despite its flaws, Mighty Old Bones is a beautiful, thoughtful book at times. And, I'll be waiting for the next adventures of Thistle and Twigg.

Mary Saums' website is www.marysaums.com

Mighty Old Bones by Mary Saums. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2008. ISBN 9780312360641 (hardcover), 288p.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Battle of the Labyrinth

The Battle of the Labyrinth, the fourth book in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, is just as riveting as the other books. If you're a fantasy fan, or interested in Greek mythology, and you haven't discovered Riordan's books, you're missing a wonderful treat.

I always read the Percy Jackson books quickly, and, in a state of anxiety. Percy's adventures always make me nervous for him and his friends. Good characters do die in these books, so, although Percy has to go on for a couple more books, there are no assurances any other characters will.

Percy's fourteen, and attending orientation at one more school before he leaves for Camp Half-Blood. As usual, with poor Percy, school's disrupted when monsters attack Percy and his friend, Rachel, have to run for their lives. Rachel Elizabeth Dare is a very unusual mortal who seems to be able to see through the mist, and recognize monsters. Despite her ability, Rachel isn't a half-blood, and Percy's ready for summer vacation at Camp Half-Blood, the retreat for children who are half-mortal, children of the gods.

When Percy and his friend, Annabeth, arrive at camp, they discover that Luke, the rebel, is trying to locate Daedalus' workshop in the labyrinth, in order to bring the monsters through to destroy Camp Half-Blood. For Luke, it's one more step in the uprising against the gods, in an attempt to overthrow Olympus and bring Kronos back to power.

The Battle of the Labyrinth is another fascinating book in the series. As in any good fantasy, it has a terrific battle scene. It marks the return of old friends, Percy and Annabeth, Grover and Tyson, Rachel and Nico de Angelo, as well as old enemies. It also introduces a wonderful pet who, I'm sure, will be returning, Mrs. O'Leary, the hellhound. My biggest complaint about the Percy Jackson & The Olympians books? Now, it will be another year until Percy returns.

Rick Riordan's website is www.rickriordan.com

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan. Hyperion Books for Children, ©2008. ISBN 978-1-4231-0146-8 (hardcover), 361p.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Lady Killers

What could be better than a mystery blog? How about a blog that features seven female mystery writers, each with their own day to talk about mysteries, writing tips, travel experiences, and, whatever's on their mind? One of my links is to The Lady Killers.

Who are the authors? Rhys Bowen is the award-winning author of the Molly Murphy mysteries, the Evan Evans series, and a series featuring a minor member of the British royal family. Sharan Newman is the author of the award-winning Catherine Levendeur mystery series, set in medieval France, and a new series set in Portland, Oregon in the nineteenth century. Ann Parker's award-winning Silver Rush mystery series, featuring saloon owner Inez Stannert, is set in the 19th-century silver-mining boomtown of Leadville, Colorado. Carola Dunn writes the Daisy Dalrymple series, set in England in the 1920s. Jane Finnis sets a series in Roman Britain, one that features a woman innkeeper. Mary Anna Evans writes mysteries starring bi-racial archeologist Faye Longchamps who digs up dirt in the deep South. And, Cara Black writes the Aimee LeDuc series set in contemporary Paris.

Seven intriguing women, who are also mystery authors. Check out their blog, The Lady Killers to learn more about their books, their mysteries, and the authors themselves.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Spring Brown Bag Luncheon

Once a quarter, I hold a brown bag luncheon in my office, and invite the public to enjoy lunch while I talk about fifteen books. Naturally, the list tends toward mysteries. Here are the books I talked about on Wednesday.

The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg - The story of Rick Bragg's father, and his new relationship with his stepson, by the bestselling author of All Over But the Shoutin'.

Antiques to Die For by Jane K. Cleland - Josie Prescott, antiques appraiser, has to help a young girl whose sister was murdered.

The Alpine Traitor by Mary Daheim - Emma Lord is shocked when someone tries to buy her newspaper in Alpine, Washington, and ends up dead.

Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke - A family reunion spells murder in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and Hannah Swensen investigates with the help of her family.

Bulls Island by Dorothea Benton Frank - Work sends Betts McGee home to Charleston, SC to see the family she hasn't seen in years, and work with the man she ran away from.

State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy - A White House Assistant Chef stops an intruder with a frying pan, and suddenly finds herself immersed in intrigue and trouble.

Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs - Just because she's reached fifty, Gus Simpson isn't giving up her Food Network job without a fight, even if it means working with a former beauty queen.

Charm City by Laura Lippman - In the re-release of this mystery, Baltimore's Tess Monaghan investigates when the business tycoon bringing pro basketball back to the city ends up dead.

The Blood Ballad by Rett MacPherson - Local historian and genealogist, Torie O'Shea, leans there might be some kinks in the family stories about her grandfather, a renowned Missouri fiddler.

The Teacher's Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts by Richard Peck - It looks like a miracle when fifteen-year-old Russell Culver's teacher dies, but the Indiana one-room schoolhouse is in for some major changes when the new teacher takes over.

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny - The latest Inspector Armand Gamache takes him back to Three Pines when a woman was scared to death.

Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA by Kris Radish - When a woman's husband has emergency surgery just before their vacation to Costa Rica, she needs her friends to help her revive her dreams, and, hopefully, her marriage.

A Pale Horse by Charles Todd - Inspector Ian Rutledge searches for a man no one wants found in post-World War I England.

Desert Cut by Betty Webb - Lena Jones encounters a community unaware of the tragic deaths of young girls in Arizona.

Chiefs by Stuart Woods - A riveting story of three police chiefs in Delano, GA.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Winners and Contest for Death

Congratulations to the winners of the Betty Webb books. Carol G. from Chelsea, OK won Desert Wives, and Joan O. from Palmyra, NJ will receive Desert Run. They will go out in the mail tomorrow.

This week, I'm offering two books with "Death" in the title. One features an alcoholic, and one features a bartender.

Elizabeth Zelvin's debut mystery is Death Will Get You Sober. When Bruce Kohler wakes up in a detox on Christmas Eve, he doesn't realize that detox will change his life. He witnesses the death of a new friend, and can't accept the death, so along with two friends, he pries into secrets to discover a killer.

Death at the Old Hotel is the third Bartender Brian McNulty mystery by Con Lehane.
I have an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of this book, another mystery set at Christmas. Likable bartender Brian McNulty has to solve the murder of his boss, before he himself ends up behind some different bars.

Would you like Zelvin's mystery about an alcoholic, or Lehane's about a bartender? If you'd like to win either one, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read Win Zelvin or Win Lehane. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will end Thursday, May 22 at 6 p.m. PT. Jim will draw the winners at that time. The winners will be notified, and the books will go out in the mail the next morning. Good luck!

Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA

Kris Radish's latest book, Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA is for every woman who, after years of marriage, looks at her husband, and wonders who he is. It's for every woman who walks into her house, and wonders what it would be like if she lived there alone. It's for every woman who wants a little spice back in her life. And, it's for every woman who knows she has sisters and friends she can count on.

Once again, Radish, author of Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral , brings us a wonderful cast of women. Addy Lipton has been married twenty-eight years. She's fifty-two, a third grade teacher, beloved in the small town of Parker, PA. Her son, Mitchell, is in college. And, she can't remember why she ever loved her husband, Lucky, especially when she thinks of "The Kingdom of Krap," the overstuffed garage where she hasn't been able to park in years. And, she's all set to fulfill her deepest need, to slam her car straight into those garage doors, when Lucky appears in front of her, saying he won a trip to Costa Rica. Even her dreams of recovering her marriage, through a trip to the paradise of Costa Rica, are shattered when Lucky has a accident that ruins his back, and lands him in the hospital. Facing months of time at home with Lucky, Addy just can't take it anymore.

Enter Hell and the Sweat-Hers. No, it's not a musical group, but Addy's sister, Hell, and the women she works out with, best friends and a needed support network. As Addy and Lucky struggle with the disaster of their marriage, Hell and the other women are there to support Addy, with humor, wine, and hugs. Lucky also faces the consequences of years of neglect of their marriage, with the support of the men in the neighborhood. Eventually, all of Parker, PA is drawn into the story of Addy and Lucky's marriage.

Like Barbara Samuel, Kris Radish creates supportive women who are there for friends. These are strong women with a sense of humor, necessities when facing the disasters of life. There's warmth, humor, and philosophy in Radish's enjoyable books. Radish's Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA is a treat for the heart.

Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA by Kris Radish. Bantam Books, ©2008. ISBN 9780553805307 (hardcover), 343p.

Louise Ure at The Velma Teague Library


Louise Ure, author of The Fault Tree and Forcing Amaryllis, will be appearing at The Velma Teague Library in Glendale, AZ on Monday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m. as part of The Authors at the Teague series. Please join us for this free program, if you're in the Valley of the Sun on Monday evening.

Ure is a Tucson native whose mysteries are set in Tucson. The Shamus award-winning novel, Forcing Amaryllis, was the first in her proposed Arizona trilogy. Monday night, Louise will discuss both books, including her current crime novel, The Fault Tree, and sign copies of the new book. Thank you to The Poisoned Pen Bookstore for furnishing books for the program.

The Velma Teague Library is at 7010 N. 58th Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85301. Call 623-930-3431 for more information.

We'd love to welcome you, along with Louise Ure.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

I'm sure that Kate Summerscale's nonfiction account, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective, will win all kinds of awards. It's already had rave reviews. I thought it was as dry as dust.

In 1860, the body of a three-year-old boy was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy at Road Hill. It was plain that someone in the household, family or servants, was responsible for the death. Scotland Yard sent Detective-Inspector Jonathan Whicher, one of their best investigators, to handle the case. When Whicher made an accusation, all of England rose up in protest. He returned to his job, but finally faded into retirement, a broken man. Five years later, the killer confessed.

Summerscale said she modelled this account on the country-house murder mystery. And, she told about the development of interest in mysteries and detection because of this case. Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins were just two of the interested audience members in England. However, Summerscale's account lacks the character development of those murder mysteries. Instead, we have a long, drawn out narrative, with details repeated over and over again. For me, the book read much more like a textbook than a true crime narrative.

I found The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher to be long, dry, and repetitive. However, reviewers in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus all loved the book. In fact, the Kirkus reviewer referred to it as, "A bang-up sleuthing adventure." I'll leave it up to you.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale. Walker & Company, ©2008, ISBN 9780802715357 (hardcover), 360p.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What Burns Within

What Burns Within by Sandra Ruttan marks the debut of a police procedural series, one that is a must-read for anyone who appreciates the genre. The reader follows RCMP Constables Tain, Hart and Nolan through the investigation of three difficult cases, until the officers discover their cases converge.

Tain, Hart and Nolan are three officers who "share a common tendency toward insubordination and independence." They were split up due to fall-out from a difficult case. Now, the Vancouver officers have tough new cases. Tain is dealing with child abduction cases in which young girls have been snatched off the street. Ashlyn Hart works arson fires, until the body of one of the abducted girls is discovered in a fire. And, Craig Nolan is handling the investigation into a serial rapist. Despite their supervisor's attempt to keep them apart, the three investigators discover common links in the cases. Suddenly, they're in the middle of a case that could blow up for the Vancouver RCMP.

Ruttan has created three strong-willed characters, strong officers with a dedication to their job, and an unwillingness to deal with fools. They may share that trait, but Ruttan has given them distinct personalities and backgrounds. She skillfully handles the minor characters as well, from Sergeant Daly to key witnesses, and the abducted girls. The cases are fascinating in this excellent police procedural. What Burns Within is an outstanding debut for a new series. Fans will be waiting for the November release of the follow-up, The Frailty of Flesh.

Sandra Ruttan's website is www.sandraruttan.com

What Burns Within by Sandra Ruttan. Dorchester Publishing Company, Incorporated, ©2008. ISBN 9780843960747 (paperback), 384p.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Memories are Murder

Those of us who are mystery readers in the United States probably don't know the Canadian writers of crime fiction as well as we should. Yes, we've been reading Louise Penny lately. But, Lou Allin took readers to an area of Canada most of us are unfamiliar with, northern Ontario. Memories Are Murder was the last in the Belle Palmer mystery series, but it's never too late to discover the series.

Belle Palmer owns a small realty company in Sudbury, lives with her German Shepherd, and visits her father in a nearby nursing home. A small business owner is always on pins and needles, but it doesn't help when her employee has to leave unexpectedly, and turns her job over to a young woman named Yoyo. Belle's peaceful life is also rattled when an ex-boyfriend shows up. They're discovering their adult friendship when Gary drowns on a trip to study the behavior of elk. What else could go wrong? How about a break-in, a gas poisoning, and threats from a meth user?

Belle Palmer is an admirable character, loyal to her father and friends, while trying to make a living in a struggling economy. Don't miss the chance to get to know her in Memories Are Murder, or any of the previous five books in Lou Allin's series about Belle Palmer. She'll be missed.

Lou Allin, the author of the series, retired and moved from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. So, she left Belle Palmer behind, and she's starting a new series featuring Holly Martin, a female RCMP corporal in charge of a small deetachment in Fossil Bay. Since Allin is now living on Vancouver Island, let's hope there are a number of crimes for Holly Martin to investigate.

Lou Allin's website is www.louallin.com

Memories Are Murder by Lou Allin. RendezVous Crime, ©2007. ISBN 978-1894917339 (paperback), 283p.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Blood Ballad


Rett MacPherson's The Blood Ballad perfectly fit my reading mood. It has mystery, a likable character with a strong family life, and the cold case angle.

Torie O'Shea is a genealogist and local historian in New Kassel, Missouri, a small tourist town on the Mississippi River. She's traced her family history back generations, along with that of other families. So, she's a little shaken when a man shows up with old recordings, saying they prove her grandfather was actually part of the Morgan Family, not just a fiddler with the group. His claims cast doubt on all of her previous research. Naturally, she can't let the mystery rest, and the arrival of an unknown recording, arriving a week after the sender's murder, only increases her curiousity. Torie O'Shea isn't the type to let an old case rest.

Torie O'Shea, and her family, are the greatest strengths of this series. Other readers must appreciate them as well, because this one is the eleventh in the series. Let's hope we can continue to read about Torie, her daughters' fights, and her disagreements with her stepfather, for many years to come. Rett MacPherson continues to show them to their best advantage in this latest mystery, The Blood Ballad.

Rett MacPherson's website is www.rettmacpherson.com

The Blood Ballad by Rett MacPherson. St. Martin's Minotaur. ©2008. ISBN 9780312362225 (hardcover), 228p.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Chloe Anne: Force of Nature

Any cat lover will appreciate Chloe Anne's wit as she tells her own story in Chloe Anne: Force of Nature, with the help of her owner, Valerie Oblath. Oblath has carefully studied her cat's behavior, and she and Chloe cleverly tell about their life together.

With her original owners, Chloe Anne lived a pedestrian life, with a pedestrian name, Penny. She was horrified to discover she was going to be sent to the Humane Society, or, as she thinks of it, "the Big House," because her owners were moving. The treatment wasn't as bad as she had anticipated, after watching too much television, but it was a joy to be discovered, adopted, and told that she was "too beautiful for words." Her name was changed to Chloe Anne, and she went home to meet the other cat, Cinders.

Chloe's tale will bring smiles and laughter. There's her story of being a voluptuous cat, thanks to the Food Network. There are her adventures with a duck, the washing machine, and the fireplace. She's an adventurous cat, who is just plain fun. She's Valerie Oblath's Chloe Anne: Force of Nature.

Chloe Anne's website is www.chloeanneforceofnature.com

Chloe Anne: Force of Nature by Valerie Oblath. Three C's Publishing LLC, ©2008. ISBN 978-0980062328 (hardcover), 148p.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Winners and Betty Webb contest

Congratulations to the winners of the autographed copies of Jane K. Cleland's Antiques to Die For. John M. from Sunset, UT won a copy, as did Melissa P. from Lafitte, LA. The books will go out in the mail tomorrow.

This week, I have autographed copies of two of Betty Webb's books to offer to readers. When Desert Wives first came out, it preceeded the news stories about Warren Jeffs and his polygamist sect. Now, it seems to be right out of the headlines. When private detective Lena Jones helps a thirteen-year-old girl escape from a polygamy compound on the Utah/Arizona border, she's forced to go underground as a wife, in order to find a killer.

Because it's a cold case for Lena Jones, Desert Run is one of my favorite in this series. On Christmas Eve, 1944, a group of prisoners tunneled out of a German POW camp in Arizona, and escaped. Now, over fifty years later, when a movie is being filmed, one of the former escapees is murdered. Is there a secret that someone still wants kept, all these years later?

So, Desert Wives or Desert Run? If you'd like to win either one, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read Win Desert Wives or Win Desert Run. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will end Thursday, May 15 at 6 p.m. PT. Jim will draw the winners at that time. The winners will be notified, and the books will go out in the mail the next morning. Good luck!

The Night Tourist

Katherine Marsh just won the Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery for The Night Tourist. It's an intriguing story, one that I would recommend to fans of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

At fourteen, Jack Perdu is a Classics prodigy whose father is chair of the Yale's Archeology Department. He's also a lonely teen, whose mother was killed in an accident when he was six. After Jack is hit by a car, his father sends him to an unusual doctor in New York City. Since that's where his mother died, Jack's fascinated by the city. His one attempt at tourism ends when he's taken into the underworld by a ghost named Euri. As he explores the unknown world with his new friend, he encounters Charon, who ferries the dead to the underworld, and Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the gates. Even though he discovers he only has three days there, or he can't return to the real world, Jack's hopeful he can find his mother.

Like Riordan's books, Marsh capitalizes on classic mythology, and the story of a lonely teen. The Night Tourist is a compelling mystery, involving love, friendship, and mythology.

The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh. Hyperion Books for Children. ©2007. ISBN 9781423106890 (hardcover), 232p.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

When We Get to Surf City


Bob Greene's books make me nostalgic for a past that I never knew. He brought the Homefront to life in Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen. His novel, All Summer Long, made me want to take off across country. And, he manages to bring the music world of the 1960s to life in When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through American in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams.

In 1992, Greene opened a letter from Gary Griffin, another reader who was caught up in his book, Be True to Your School. Griffin, who made his living as a musician with Jan and Dean's touring band, noticed an entry in that diary of 1964 about Greene's purchase of one of their albums. He invited Greene to meet the band, and suddenly, Greene's life, and his summers, took a dramatic change. For the next fifteen years, Bob Greene spent his summers meeting up with Jan and Dean, and their band, so he could first watch, and then perform, with them.

In midlife, Greene found himself living a dream. Each summer, he escaped with a group of "Lost Boys," men who lived to play and sing on stage, and enjoy their own company. In fine detail, Greene discusses life on the road, the good and the bad. He met the idols of his teen years, the Beach Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, the Everly Brothers, and, of course, Jan and Dean. He tells the tragic story of Jan Berry, his car accident, and the changes in his life and career. At the same time, Greene observed Jan's courage, and his determination.

Every time I read Bob Greene's books, I feel as if I'm reading my husband's past. Greene is about the same age, and shares similar memories of rock and roll, small town Ohio, and growing up in the fifties and sixties. Greene and my husband could both be "Lost Boys," still searching for their youth. Bob Greene is able to bring that past vividly to life. He's also unashamed to talk about the small details of male friendship, something most men never talk about. In all of his books, and, When We Get to Surf City is no exception, Bob Greene "captures the freedom and the exhilaration and the blithesome mornings of our world."

When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams by Bob Greene. St. Martin's Press, ©2008. ISBN 978-0312375294 (hardcover), 352p.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Cats in May

Cats in May is a reprint of Doreen Tovey's 1959 story about her two Siamese cats, but it's just as charming and funny now as it was almost forty years ago.

Tovey's book tells about her life in a small British town, shared with her mechanically inept husband, Charles, and their two Siamese cats, Solomon and Sheba. Life is sometimes a disaster for them, between Charles' incompetence with gadgets, and the boisterous nature of the two cats, rivals for attention. Along the way, Doreen discusses her eccentric grandmother, adventures with a pet squirrel, and the stories of some of her odd neighbors.

Dan Brown has added enchanting pencil drawings for this latest edition of a timeless book. With the British expressions and spellings, along with Doreen Tovey's despairing voice, Cats in May is an enjoyable visit to country life, reminiscent of the best of authors such as Miss Read and James Herriot.

Cats in May by Doreen Tovey. St. Martin's Press, ©1959. ISBN 9780312376499 (hardcover), 224p.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Small Favor

If you only know the Dresden Files from the television show, you've missed the pleasure of Jim Butcher's books. Small Favor, and the other books in the Dresden File series, are so much better than the television series was. These are wonderful fantasy books, with a wizard private detective, and likable characters. I read them for the suspense, and the characters. It's good guys vs. bad guys with Harry Dresden and his strong supporting cast.

It's hard to define Small Favor for people who haven't read the Dresden Files. The book starts out with the humor the series is known for, a snowball fight that suddenly turns to terror, as Harry and his apprentice's family are attacked by monsters. It takes a while for Harry to realize that Chicago's snowy winter is caused by Mab, the Winter Queen. Harry owes her a couple favors, and she's ready to call one in.

Why is Mab interested in the disappearance of Gentleman Johnnie Marcone, the lord of Chicago's criminal underworld? Marcone's disappearance coincides with the explosion of a downtown building, an event that brings in Karrin Murphy, a police officer who often works with Harry. She calls on him when she knows magic is involved.

Non-stop action, black humor, myth, magic and religion. The Dresden Files combine all of these elements in riveting books. Jim Butcher's latest, Small Favor, is just another exciting novel in an outstanding series. Fans of Harry Dresden are already waiting for the next one.

Jim Butcher's website is www.Jim-Butcher.com

Small Favor by Jim Butcher. Penguin Group, ©2008. ISBN 9780451461896 (hardcover), 423p.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Everyday Cat Excuses


Every cat owner knows that we're completely manipulated by our cats. If you're not a cat person, you'll never understand why our cats don't listen to us. Molly Brandenburg's cartoon cat explains why cats never hear us in the book, Everyday Cat Excuses: Why I Can't Do What You Want.

Brandenburg's cats are simple line drawings, with little expression. These are not cute cats. However, every cat person will recognize the excuses. Doesn't the cat always have something better to do than listen to a human? There are lots of reasons not to do what a human wants. Anything's better - hairballs, waiting at the door to go out, waiting at the door to come in.

This small book is designed for cat lovers, people who know the cat is too busy with catnip highs, and cat naps. No cat pays attention. They just have Everyday Cat Excuses.

Molly Brandenburg's website is www.everydaycatexcuses.com

Everyday Cat Excuses: Why I Can't Do What You Want by Molly Brandenburg. Sterling Publishing Co., ©2008. ISBN 9781402759031 (hardcover), 64p.

The picture is Josh, our vampire kitten.

Friday, May 02, 2008

June Bestsellers?

It's time for a heads up. What are the expected bestsellers from those books that are due out in June? Julia Spencer-Fleming's I Shall Not Want isn't the only hot book scheduled for publication. It's time to reserve these June titles at your local public library, or order them from your favorite bookstore.

Would it be June without a Jack Reacher novel? Lee Child's latest book, Nothing to Lose, takes Reacher to Despair, Colorado, where he discovers an entire town that wants him gone.

And, Lincoln Rhyme returns in Jeffery Deaver's The Broken Window. Rhyme and his partner, Amelia Sachs, face their toughest opponent, whose vicious crimes lead to evidence that implicates innocent men.

Fearless Fourteen promises a lighter note. It's the return of Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovich's latest book. Naturally, it's non-stop action, with exploding cars, junk food, wacky characters, and a viewing at a funeral home.

There are also books due from Robert B. Parker (Resolution), James Patterson (Sail), W.E.B. Griffin (Death and Honor), and Anne Rivers Siddons (Off Season). It's a busy June, filled with books for summer reading. Order your books now. It's just too bad we don't have the entire month of June off in order to read!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Edgar Winners

The Mystery Writers of America announced this year's Edgar Award winners tonight. Congratulations to all of the winners.


BEST NOVEL - Down River by John Hart (St. Martin's Minotaur)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR - In the Woods by Tana French (Penguin Group Viking)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL - Queenpin by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)

BEST FACT CRIME - Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
by Vincent Bugliosi (W.W. Norton and Company)

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL - Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower and Charles Foley (The Penguin Press)

BEST SHORT STORY - "The Golden Gopher" - Los Angeles Noir by Susan Straight (Akashic
Books)

BEST JUVENILE - The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh (Hyperion Books for Young Readers)

BEST YOUNG ADULT - Rat Life by Tedd Arnold (Penguin - Dial Books for Young Readers)

BEST PLAY - Panic by Joseph Goodrich (International Mystery Writers' Festival)

BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY "Pilot" - Burn Notice, Teleplay by Matt Nix (USA Network/Fox Television Studios)

BEST MOTION PICTURE SCREENPLAY - Michael Clayton, Screenplay by Tony Gilroy (Warner Bros. Pictures)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD - "The Catch" - Still Waters by Mark Ammons (Level Best Books)

Antiques to Die For Contest & Winners of High Plains

Congratulations to the five winners of autographed copies of Baby Shark's High Plains Redemption. Robert Fate, author of the books, will be sending your prizes. Thank you, Bob!

Books will be going to Kathleen A. of Mount Vernon, WA, Sandra S. of Uniondale, PA, Pattie T. of St. Louis, MO, Roxanne G. of Beech Grove, IN, and Esperanza D. of Albuquerque, NM. Congratulations!

Antiques to Die For is the latest Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery by Jane K. Cleland. This week, I have two autographed copies, courtesty of the author. Now's your chance to escape to New Hampshire and discover the life of an antiques appraiser. Josie's world is more dangerous than you would expect. How well did she really know the friend who was murdered?

If you'd like to win Antiques to Die For, email me at Email me!. If that link doesn't work for you, the email address is: lholstine@yahoo.com. Your subject line should read Win Antiques. Your message should include your mailing address. Entrants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will end Thursday, May 8 at 6 p.m. PT. Jim will draw the winners at that time. The winners will be notified, and the books will go out in the mail the next morning. Good luck!

Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

In an election year, Lee Iacocca's Where Have All the Leaders Gone? may be the most important book you could read. Iacocca, like so many Americans, is outraged at our government, and has had enough.

He's willing to speak out about his anger. "We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car." At 82, Lee Iacocca is willing to tackle all of those issues, from the government to corporate greed to the problems with the auto industry and the unions. No matter what issues he tackles, though, he says, "It's a call to action for people who...believe in America."

If you're not already angry, take a look at the cost of the war in Iraq. When Iacocca's book was written a year ago, the cost of the war was estimated at half a trillion dollars, while experts predicted the cost would go as high as $2 trillion. So, Iacocca shows "a conservative estimate of what half a trillion dollars would buy here at home.

"*We could hire 8 MILLION SCHOOLTEACHERS.
*We could give FREE HEALTH CARE to everyone for one year.
*We could provide 25 MILLION COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS.
*We could give every American FREE GAS for one year.
*We could build 3 MILLION AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS.
*We could hire 8 MILLION POLICE, FIRE, AND EMT WORKERS."

We could fix some of our problems here in this country, with the money spent on the war in Iraq.

But, we also need to fix ourselves. We need to see what has happened to our government. But, we are also part of the problem. "You don't have to be a genious to see that a nation full of overeating, pill-popping, TV-watching, iPod-wired, shopaholic, attenion-deficit-disordered people is not going to make it." Iacocca knows we need to change from a country that gets what it wants, to a country that demands from its leaders, and itself, what it needs to survive in a changing, global world.

And, he insists, it begins with our leaders. Where Have All the Leaders Gone? begins and ends with Lee Iacocca's Nine Cs of Leadership, those traits we should be looking for in a new President. No one person will have all nine traits, so, before you vote in November, look for those traits you feel are important for the person who will lead us, and inspire us, in the next turbulent years. Iacocca's Nine Cs of Leadership are: Curiosity, Creativity, Communication, Character, Courage, Conviction, Charisma, Competence, and Common Sense. He believes we need a leader who can communicate a vision to the country, and move us forward, with competence.

So, ask yourself, Where Have All the Leaders Gone? Lee Iacocca asks, and answers some of the important questions that need to be addressed if this country is going to survive.

Where Have All the Leaders Gone? by Lee Iacocca. Scribner, ©2007. ISBN 9781416532477 (hardcover), 274p.

June Treasures in My Closet

There's an enormous pile of June books in my closet, so you should be able to find a treasure in this selection. Now is the time to place your holds at your local public library, or pre-order the selections from your favorite bookstore. All of the following books are scheduled for June publication.

Start with Julia Spencer-Fleming's I Shall Not Want. Fans have been waiting to see what happens with Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson and police chief Russ Van Alstyne now that his wife is dead. In the latest book, Clare is drawn into Russ's investigation when a Latino man is murdered, a death that ignites fear of a serial killer, and tensions with the migrant community.

L.L. Bartlett's Dead in Red brings back Jeff Resnick who uses his "sixth sense" to investigate when the bartender at his local drinking place is murdered. It takes Resnick and his brother into the dark side of Buffalo.

Sacrifice is the debut thriller from S.J. Bolton. Tora Hamilton, a stranger to her
new home in the Shetland Islands, uncovers a centuries-old bog body, that leads back to a history of missing women, abandoned children, and dark secrets.

It's A Reunion to Die For in Lauren Carr's mystery. In a small West Virginia town, the new prosecutor, Joshua Thornton, finds that the killing of a cheerleader brings back memories of an earlier killing, that of a cheerleader Thornton had a crush on years before.

Bobbie Faye's (kinda, sorta, not-exactly) Family Jewels brings back Toni McGee Causey's Bobbie Faye Sumrall, only to find her running from the law, a band of psychos and thieves, accused of murder, and looking for missing diamonds. Just a normal day in south Louisiana.

For a change of pace, try The Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman. In the Bodleian library, Elizabeth Staveley might have found the key to a story that has been locked away for four centuries - the story of a British sea captain's daughter held captive in the sultan's harem in sixteenth-century Constantinople.

Daniel Judson takes the reader to The Water's Edge, where Jake Bechet teams up with a retired P.I. to find out who is behind two mob-style killings. It's a tough assignment, for a twenty-four hour period.

The Seven Sins is the title of Jon Land's latest book, and the name of the most extravagant casino in Las Vegas. Michael Tranno, owner of the casino, has secrets he and his attorney buried. Now, they're threatened by an unknown enemy from Tranno's past.

Elizabeth Sims debuts a new series with The Actress. What really happened the night that a tabloid star supposedly killed her little girl? A struggling actress is dragged into the case, only to find her life and her son's in danger.

In the Light of You is said to be an explosive novel by Nathan Singer. It's a coming-of-age story for a group of teens. What happens when a group of Neo-Nazi skinheads encounter a group of young leftist radicals? It makes for a bloody, explosive climax.

There are treasures in this pile. Don't forget to reserve the books at your library or order it from a bookstore.