Saturday, September 30, 2006

Award winners at Bouchercon

Congratulations to Louise Ure, author of Forcing Amaryllis. She just won the Shamus Award for Best First Novel. Very deserving!

Robert Fate, author of Baby Shark, was nice enough to send me the list of award winners presented so far at Bouchercon, as announced by Mystery News from Black Raven Press.

The Shamus Awards were presented by the Private Eye Writers Association:

The Eye - Award for Lifetime Achievement: Max Allan Collins
Best Hardcover: The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
Best Paperback Original: The James Deans by Reed Farrel Coleman
Best First Novel: Forcing Amaryllis by Louise Ure

The Macavity Awards, voted on by the members of Mystery Readers International:

Best Novel: The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
Best First Novel: Immoral by Brian Freeman
Best Nonfiction: Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak
Best Short Story: "There Is No Crime on Easter Island" by Nancy Pickard
Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award: Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

The Barry Awards, voted on by the readers of Deadly Pleasures;

Best Novel: Red Leaves by Thomas H. Cook
Best First Novel Published in the U.S. in 2005: Cold Granite by Stuart Macbride
Best British Novel Published in the U.K. in 2005: The Field of Blood by Denise Mina
Best Thriller: Company Man by Joseph Finder
Best Paperback Novel: The James Deans by Reed Farrell Coleman
Best Short Story: "There Is No Crime on Easter Island" by Nancy Pickard
Don Sandstrom Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in Mystery Fandom: Janet A. Rudolph

The American Crime Writers League announced that Dick Adler is the recipient of this year's Ellen Nehr Award for mystery reviewing. Adler reviews for the Chicago Tribune.

Friday, September 29, 2006

For One More Day

Mitch Albom's third novel does not measure up to Tuesdays with Morrie or The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I'm sure it will make the bestseller lists, but it won't stay on the lists as long as either of the others.

Albom's story of Chick Benetto, a failed baseball player, is the story of a man who didn't realize how much his mother loved him until it was too late. After his parents divorced, Chick continued to strive to please his absent father. Even on the day his moahter died, he was playing in an Old Timers Game because his father called. When he realizes his life has fallen apart, he decides to commit suicide, and once again, his mother steps in to be there for him.

This novel isn't even maudlin because Chick Benetto is actually a dislikable character. As the reader watches Chick reject his mother, time after time, it's hard to feel sorry for him. Instead, I felt as if he should grow up and take some responsibility for his life. The premise, "Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever," doesn't even work. Chick doesn't show any love for his mother until it's too late. I thought it was a faulty premise, and a weak story.

Mitch Albom's website is

For One More Day by Mitch Albom. Hyperion, c2006. ISBN 1401303277 (hardocver), 197p.


Ken Jennings, the author of this enjoyable book, is, to date, the champion with the longest run on the game show, Jeopardy. His book is subtitled, "Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs." Jennings' book isn't just about his Jeopardy experience. That story is mixed in with stories of college quiz bowls, trivia nuts and authors, and even an entire town that holds a trivia contest for fifty-four consecutive hours.

I'm a librarian and a mystery lover. This journey into the world of trivia was a fascinating book. When it shows up as one of my top nonfiction books of the year, don't be surprised. It won't be a lasting piece of literature, but it's an engrossing book for anyone who has every felt like a nerd because they enjoy knowledge, trivia and odd facts.

Jennings offers a well-written book, filled with trivia questions and fascinating stories about the trivia world.

As an aside, I had fantastic service in a local restaurant when I took this book. The waiters kept stopping at my table, asking if everything was OK, and would I ask them another trivia question.

Ken Jennings' website is

Brainiac by Ken Jennings. Villard, ©2006. ISBN 1400064457 (hardcover), 269p.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wreath of Deception

Mary Ellen Hughes introduces her Craft Corner Mystery series with Wreath of Deception, an enjoyable cozy with a likeable heroine and supporting cast.

Jo McAllister moved to Abbottsville, Maryland following the tragic death of her husband in a fire. With the support of her best friend, Carrie, she's opening a craft shop in the small community. Despite her misgivings, opening day is a resounding success, until Jo returns after dinner and finds the body of Kyle Sandborn, the man she hired to be a clown for the afternoon. This second tragedy makes Jo the primary suspect in the eyes of the local police, but it brings her a strong support network of women who become regulars in her crafting classes.

Knowing Jo is under suspicion, the women of the crafting group push her to start her own investigation. She's not sure she should snoop, but with the help of Charlie, Carrie's fifteen-year-old son, Jo pries at the local country club and little theater. In a small community, everyone seems connected, so Jo's suspicious of everyone's story.

Wreath of Deception is an enjoyable mystery, with a great supporting cast.

Mary Ellen Hughes' website is

Wreath of Deception by Mary Ellen Hughes. Berkley Prime Crime, ©2006, ISBN 0425212246 (paperback), 260p.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Colonel's Tale

The Colonel's Tale is S.H. Baker's third mystery to feature Dassas Cormier, who is Chief of Police in his small hometown of Marshall's Bayou, Louisiana, in 1924. Since the woman does not return his feelings, he has turned his attention to his community and his extended family. When his sister, Coralee, writes that she's stranded in Lake Charles, Texas, with her guest, Colonel Jedidiah Gilmore, Dassas goes to bring them home for the Thanksgiving holidays. When he arrives, he finds that Gilmore, the famous journalist, has witnessed a bank robbery, and become the target of muggers. However, the more he listens to Gilmore's tall tales, the more he begins to distrust his version of the truth.

Cormier becomes involved in the puzzle because someone follows the trio back to Marshall's Bayou. With a family and community to take care of, Cormier dislikes prowlers and violence in his own backyard. His investigations will take him back to Lake Charles before the truth is discovered.

Dassas Cormier is a warm, caring man. The story is a slight mystery, with an easily discovered ending. Cormier's relationship with his brother's family, and, eventually his sister, is the strength and charm of this story.

The Colonel's Tale by S.H. Baker. Zumaya Publications, ©2006. ISBN 1554003002 (paperback), 160p.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Drowning Man

Margaret Coel's mysteries, set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, are not comfortable books to read. The protagonists are troubled people, living in a world where the Arapaho and Shoshone tribes are continuously fighting for their rights. At times, there is a feeling of futility in these books, even when there is a successful conclusion. There are always more battles to be fought.

A sacred petroglyph, The Drowning Man, has been stolen from Red Cliff Canyon. Father John O'Malley, pastor at St. Francis Mission, is contacted. Someone offers the petroglyph back to the tribes, using Father John as the intermediary.

Seven years earlier, another petroglyph was stolen. Two Indians were suspects, and one was murdered while the other went to prison. Now, that young man's grandfather insists to Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden that his grandson could not have done it, and needs a new trial. Even though Vicky is in the middle of a fight for the tribes, a fight to keep the Bureau of Land Management from building a road through the sacred canyon, she's willing to work for a wrongly convicted man.

While Father John and Vicky fight to preserve the sacred places, the mission itself is under a threat when a retired priest takes up residence there. One threat after another piles up - the mission is threatened, Vicky is threatened and followed, and Father John's job is once again in jeopardy. Father John's prayer could sum up the wishes for the tribe, Vicky, and himself. "Don't let the people lose any more than has already been lost."

Margaret Coel's books are thoughtful examinations of the problems for the tribes in today's world, as well as the examination of two troubled people, Father John and Vicky. In all of her books, including The Drowning Man, she presents flawed people fighting to preserve and build a better life. Coel's books can be read for the tribal history, the mysteries surrounding the tribal life, or the ongoing stories of Father John and Vicky. They are compelling books, telling an important story. No matter why a reader seeks them out, they'll come away with a greater appreciation of the value of the past and vanishing cultures.

Margaret Coel's website is

The Drowning Man by Margaret Coel. Berkley Crime Club, ©2006, ISBN 0425211711 (hardcover), 321p.

Heads Up!

Tuesday is publication day for the new Dick Francis, a treat for those who thought Francis was done writing after his wife died.

Under Orders by Dick Francis (Putnam, $25.95, 0399154000). Jockey turned detective Sid Halley returns in this new novel by the equestrian mystery master.

According to the New York Times, Delacorte Press will publish Hannibal Rising, a novel about the early days of Hannibal Lecter, on December 5. The novel by Thomas Harris will precede by two months the release of a movie of the same name for which Harris wrote the screenplay. Instead of Anthony Hopkins, Gaspard Ulliel will play the young Dr. Lecter.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Baby Shark

Robert Fate's first novel is a made for the movies page-turner. It's violent with a stark world, and a gritty heroine. Baby Shark was meant to be a film, so moviegoers can stand and cheer when Kristin Van Dijk faces down her opponents.

Kristin was only seventeen when her father, a pool hustler, was killed by a motorcycle gang. She herself was dragged back into the pool hall, beaten, repeatedly raped, and left for dead when the bikers torched the place. If it hadn't been for Henry Chin, the Chinese owner of the pool hall, who dragged her out, she would not have survived. Henry was also responsible for her emotional survival. He took her home, gave her a dog and trainers to teach her self-defense, survival and shooting. She and Henry prepared for the day they could avenge themselves against the gang. When they found out the cops were looking the other way about the deaths and fire, they knew they were on their own. They hired a private investigator, Otis Millett, to find the gang members, while they waited.

In the months they waited, Kristin turned herself into Baby Shark, a pool hustler who drew a great deal of attention in Texas in 1952. Texas was a cruel place in 1952, a place of motorcycle gangs and crooked cops. It was a world where a Chinese man and a white woman living on the same property would not be accepted. It was a world where female pool hustlers were rare, and violence was common. Kristin became Baby Shark, a denizen of this world.

Robert Fate has created a fascinating world inhabited by intriguing characters. Baby, Henry and Otis have to become cold-blooded killers to seek vengeance. Readers will find themselves cheering for Baby Shark in her fight against evil.

Robert Fate's website is

Baby Shark by Robert Fate. Capital Crimes Press, ©2006. ISBN 0977627691 (paperback), 270p.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Trouble With Witches

In each of Shirley Damsgaard's Ophelia and Abby mysteries, she allows librarian Ophelia Jensen to learn more about her psychic abilities. The Trouble With Witches is another fast-paced story about the two women as they use their psychic powers for good vs. evil.

Ophelia is frustrated with her inability to provide answers when a cop asks for help finding a man who is disappeared. So, she's extremely reluctant to help Rick Delaney when the investigative reporter calls and asks her to come to Minnesota, along with her grandmother Abby, to find a troubled teen who disappeared when she became involved with a group claiming to do psychic investigation and paranormal research. He believes the two witches can infiltrate the community and the group better than he can. However, Ophelia herself was a lonely teen who had her grandparents to turn to, so she and Abby agree to help.

Upon arrival, they discover Walks Quietly, an American Indian with his own unusual powers, an isolated cabin with the feeling of evil, and a second teen, Tink, who is lonely and reaching out to Walks Quietly. Ophelia is soon overwhelmed with headaches as she and her grandmother search for the truth behind the family group. When Ophelia's library assistant, Darci, arrives, she ably assists in the research and investigation.

Shirley Damsgaard continues to write compelling books in this series. Each one allows Ophelia to grow a little more. Readers looking for timely mysteries involving the paranormal can't go wrong with the Ophelia and Abby stories.

Shirley Damsgaard's website is

The Trouble With Witches by Shirley Damsgaard. Avon Books, c2006. ISBN 0060793589 (paperback), 292p.

Monday, September 18, 2006

My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet)

Here's the other review that appeared in the Sept. 15, 2006 issue of Library Journal.

Devens, Toby. My Favorite Midlife Crisis (Yet). Sourcebooks Landmark: Sourcebooks. Sept. 2006. c.352p. ISBN 1-4022-0747-6 [ISBN 978-1-4022-0747-1]. pap. $14. F

Dr. Gwyn Berke and her two best friends, Kat and Fleur, are in their fifties. Gwyn's husband left her for another man, Kat's husband died, and Fleur has never been married. All three discover it's not easy to find available, attractive men. Fleur will try anything, from online dating services to supper clubs. Gwyn has a medical practice and a father with Alzheimer's. Where can she find the time for a relationship? And Kat's grown daughter objects to her dating. Devens's debut novel is an enjoyable story with a few problems, one of which is that there are too many characters interacting with Gwyn. The tired story line doesn't help either: a friend has cancer, and everyone rallies around her (see also Lorna Landvik's Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons and Mary Alice Monroe's The Book Club). However, the book does cover an age group usually left out of the literary loop, and there's also a great deal of humor. Recommended for all public libraries.—Lesa M. Holstine, Glendale P.L., AZ

Copyright © 2006 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Library Journal's website is

The Last of Something

The September 15, 2006 issue of Library Journal included two reviews I wrote for fiction titles. Here's one of them.

Kelly, Susan. The Last of Something. Pegasus. Sept. 2006. c.191p. ISBN 1-933648-08-2. $21. F

Old college friends Bess, Claire, and Shotsie still stage reunions that include their families, 20 years after graduation. Shotsie narrates the story of their latest meeting: five days on the North Carolina coast one summer. The shadow of an approaching hurricane hangs over the gathering but no more so than the absence of their friend Ian. As Shotsie recalls the group's college days, she shares the memories they each treasure of their respective relationships with Ian. Ian has finally married, and his young wife, Nina, arrives, but Ian continues to be delayed. Shotsie's introspective story reveals that at age 42, each one of these women has regrets. But they also cherish their secrets and Ian stories, stories that are caught up in the longing for a time when they were all young with a world of possibilities ahead of them. Kelly (How Close We Come) has written a thoughtful, bittersweet novel of female bonding, though it's not a necessary purchase, as the premise is better executed in other novels. Still, this is enjoyable enough to be recommended for public libraries where women's fiction is popular.—Lesa M. Holstine, Glendale P.L., AZ

Copyright © 2006 Cahners Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. Reprinted with permission.

Library Journal's website is

Friday, September 15, 2006

Poison to Purge Melancholy

What could be worse than facing your boyfriend's family and sullen daughter at Christmastime without him? How about also facing a house full of ghosts?

After an absence of five years, author Elena Santangelo brings back Pat Montella in a fascinating mystery, set in colonial Williamsburg. Montella's boyfriend, Hugh Lee, has invited her to his mother's home, the Carson House, in Williamsburg, for the Christmas holidays. As Pat deals with modern day problems of her future in-laws, the historic house with electrical problems, and the sudden appearance of her gynecologist at the family Christmas, she also experiences feelings of sickness and the presence of a ghost when she enters certain parts of Gladys Lee's home. The parallel storyline from December of 1783 tells of Benjamin Dunbar, a music master residing in the Carson house, who witnesses a slow sickening and death of another resident of the house. Pat, who is sensitive to ghosts, feels fear and illness when she's in the old parts of the house. However, she's promised Hugh that she will no longer discuss her knowledge of ghosts. When tragedy strikes during a holiday meal, a murder two hundred years earlier could provide answers.

Santangelo does a wonderful job utilizing two storylines in a riveting mystery. Anyone who enjoys history mixed into stories, along with a little bit of paranormal, should welcome these books. There's something for everyone - mystery, romance, history, and a touch of humor, all wrapped up in a beautifully written package.

Elena Santangelo's website is

Posion to Purge Melancholy by Elena Santangelo. Midnight Ink, c2006. ISBN 0738708909 (paperback), 407p.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Three Dog Life

Abigail Thomas tells the heartbreaking story of her life after her husband, Rich, was hit by a car and suffered brain damage. She tried to care for him in her home, but discovered that his anger and behavior were too much for her to handle. At times, she suffers from guilt that she isn't taking care of him herself. But, despite his often insightful comments, he no longer lives with memories of the past or hopes for the future. Rich's life remains in the present, and Abby has learned to live with that. Her three dogs are the greatest comfort in her life, animals that are just "there" for her, surrounding her with warmth and love.

This is a sad memoir of a woman working to maintain the warmth and love she had shared with her husband of twelve years, when he was no longer the same person inside. This is a story of courage, love, and poignancy.

Abigail Thomas' website is

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas. Harcourt, Inc., c2006. ISBN 0151012113, 182p.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman

Nora Ephron's bestselling collection of essays is definitely a book for women. Men just wouldn't identify with a woman's physical signs of aging or the chapter, "I Hate My Purse." I found it hard to identify with the money she spent on an apartment in New York City.

But, I did appreciate her sections on reading books. I already quoted her about the importance of reading in her life. I also identified with the essay, "On Rapture." It begins with the sentence, "I've just surfaced from spending several days in a state of rapture - with a book." She discusses the books that sent her into raptures as a child, among them the Oz books.

I remember reading the Oz books, three of them in one summer day while laying on my bed. I had such a headache afterwards. I loved Little Women because my father bought it for me when I was in first grade. I can still smell the pages of the book. I also loved Alcott's Eight Cousins. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was another book that totally took me away. I've loved books since, but nothing like the books I discovered as a child.

What books sent you into raptures?

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman by Nora Ephron. Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. ISBN 0307264556, 137p.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


This quote from Nora Ephron's current bestseller, I Feel Bad About My Neck, was too good to pass up.

"Reading is one of the main things I do. Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel I've accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss." Nora Ephron, p. 52.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Elena Santangelo's books

It's been five years since Elena Santangelo's last book in the Pat Montella mystery series, and I've been waiting. I just started the new one, Poison to Purge Melancholy, so I won't be reviewing it right now.

Instead, I'd like to urge you to look for her two earlier books. Since it's been that long, you might have to check with your local public library.

By Blood Possessed and Hang My Head and Cry introduced Montella. She's a warm Italian from Pennsylvania, but Magnolia "Miss Maggie" Shelby brought her to Virginia so that she could inherit Bell Run Plantation from her. In the two earlier books, Pat discovers that she can "see" ghosts, ghosts who need her help in their distant pasts. Somehow, by aiding them, she also links a current problem to the solution. These are fascinating stories, with a glimpse into history.

Poison to Purge Melancholy is set just eight months after By Blood Possessed. Colonial Williamsburg at Christmastime is the setting, both in the present and in 1783. I'm sure you don't need to read either of the previous books to appreciate this one. But, Pat Montella and Miss Maggie are characters you'll want to know from the beginnings of their story. Check out the earlier books before reading Poison to Purge Melancholy.

ADDED NOTE: Elena Santangelo tried to add a comment, and the blog didn't take it. This is what she wanted to say.
"I tried to add a comment under "Elena Santangelo's books" but after I previewed it, it disappeared, so I'll tell you if you want to add it. Basically I just said that the first 2 books are now back in print in lovely trade paper editions from Bella Rosa Books. Folks can view them on my web site or go straight to"

Elena Santangelo's website is

Friday, September 08, 2006

Cattery Row

Clea Simon didn't suffer from the sophomore jinx. Her Cattery Row is a much stronger mystery than Mew Is For Murder. And, Theda Krakow continues to grow as a character.

Krakow, a freelance journalist, is suffering from a lack of work and a fight she had with an editor. She's also suffering from relationship problems as she tries to determine what she wants from her boyfriend, Bill. He's a cop, and she doesn't think he understands her world of music, friends, and her cat

It looks like her luck may change when she's offered the chance to follow up on an article profiling four women. Instead, she finds that a couple of those women have received threats. Rose Kelly, who breeds and raises cats, has been threatened. Jan "Cool" Coolidge, a blues performer is being blackmailed. And her relationship suffers more when Rose is murdered, and Bill insinuates she might have been part of a ring of cat thieves who have stolen purebred cats.

With time on her hands after her breakup with Bill, and her lack of work, Theda has time to look into kitten mills, cat shows, and the world of purebred cats.

I had problems with Mew Is For Murder when I concentrated on Theda's immaturity for her age. However, she's making an effort to grow as a person. And, how can you dislike a woman who is a fan of music and cats, and truly loyal to her friends? Theda's loyality and friendship are her strongest assets, and those are traits that help her find her friend's killer, and connect up the issues in the story.

Cattery Row is a much stronger book than Simon's first mystery. This is a book for lovers of cats, music, or just strong, growing women.

Clea Simon's website is at

Cattery Row by Clea Simon. Poisoned Pen Press, c2006. ISBN 159058306X (hardcover), 227p.


Donis Casey's new mystery, Hornswoggled, is just as fascinating as the first book in the series, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming. Oklahoma life in 1913 comes alive in her books. Her attention to historic detail is wonderful, but it doesn't distract from the story. I loved Easter dinner for sixty-five. Canning vegetables hasn't changed in eighty years, as I know from watching my parents can.

In Alafair Tucker's life, family comes first. So she doesn't worry too much when her sons find the murdered body of the local barber's wife floating in the creek. She said the murder doesn't have anything to do with "me or mine." However, when her daughter, Alice, sets her cap for the widower, Alafair grows concerned. Once again, the mother of ten, flings herself into a murder investigation because it involves her family.

Hornswoggled is a mystery with surprising twists, reminiscent of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. Readers will enjoy the return to Alafair's life, and her attempt to find a murderer.

Donis Casey's website is at

Hornswoggled by Donis Casey. Poisoned Pen Press, c2006. ISBN 1590583094 (hardcover), 242p.

Brown Bag Luncheon

Next Wednesday, Sept. 13, I'm hosting my quarterly brown bag luncheon. It's an opportunity for me to share some books I enjoyed, and that others might. Here are the fifteen titles I'm featuring on Wednesday.


Bloom, Elizabeth – The Mortician’s Daughter – (Adult Fiction) Ginny Lavoie is a suspended cop with the NYPD, but she hurries home to investigate when her best friend’s son is murdered.

Dalby, Robert – Waltzing at the Piggly Wiggly – (Adult Fiction) Charming story about a group of wealthy widows who decide to save a failing grocery store in a small southern town by offering dancing in the afternoon.

Damsgaard, Shirley – Witch Way to Murder – (Adult Mystery Paperback) Ophelia Jensen isn’t a typical thirty-something librarian. Instead, she shares psychic abilities with her grandmother. Together they determine to find a killer in their small Iowa town.

Daniels, Casey – Don of the Dead – (Adult Mystery Paperback) It’s only after she hit her head on a tombstone that cemetery tour guide Pepper Martin sees the ghost of a Cleveland mobster who wants her to find his killer.

Greene, Bob – And You Know You Should Be Glad – (92 Greene, Bob) – Greene tells the warm story of his lifelong friendship with Jack, a friend who is dying.

Gulley, Philip – Almost Friends – (Adult Fiction) Pastor Sam Gardner asks for a leave of absence from his Harmony Quaker meeting, only to be dismayed when the members like the new female Pastor.

Harris, Lee – The Cinco De Mayo Murder – (On order, Adult Mystery Paperback) – Chris Bennett accompanies her former Mother Superior to Arizona, where she investigates the death of a high school classmate on Picacho Peak near Tucson.

Kimberly, Alice – The Ghost and Mrs. McClure – (Adult Mystery Paperback) – The first haunted bookshop mystery in which bookstore owner Penelope McClure meets the ghost of private detective Jack Shepard, who was murdered in her bookstore fifty years earlier.

Lynn, Jackie – Down by the Riverside – (Adult Fiction) – Bestselling author Lynne Hinton writes her first mystery about a widow who is stranded in a campground in Arkansas and becomes interested when she witnesses a body being pulled from the nearby Mississippi.

Meade, Amy Patricia – Million Dollar Baby – (Adult Fiction) – In 1935, in the midst of the Depression, mystery writer Marjorie McClelland teams up with a millionaire when they find a body on his new property.

Montgomery, Sy – The Good Good Pig – (636.40887 M788g) – Wonderful story about Montgomery, a naturalist, raising Christopher Hogwood, a runt to be over 700 pounds and 13 years old.

Parker, Ann – Silver Lies (Adult Fiction) – The first Silver Rush mystery, winner of numerous awards for historical fiction. Set in Leadville, CO, in 1879-1880, it introduces Inez Stannert, owner of the Silver Queen Saloon, who investigates when the body of a friend is found in the alley nearby.

Paul, Harry & Ross Reck – Revved! – (658.314 P324r) Rev up your workplace by caring about the staff.

Spencer-Fleming, Julia – In the Bleak Midwinter – (Adult Fiction) – First in an award-winning series in which Episcopal minister Clare Fergusson and Chief of Police Russ Van Alystyne when she finds an abandoned baby on the church steps in Millers Kill, NY.

Tracy, P.J. – Snow Blind – (Adult Fiction) – A police procedural sure to chill you when the Minneapolis police find the bodies of two cops in snowmen.

I'd really like to thank Ann Parker, author of Silver Lies and the sequel, Iron Ties. She sent a nice package of pens and bookmarks to distribute to the group. I know they'll appreciate them!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Heads Up!

I realized I forgot to include a nonfiction book that comes out October 10. John Grisham's forthcoming book, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, is his first nonfiction book. Don't expect a novel, but the summary I read referred to it as a legal thriller.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Heads Up!

As promised, I'm back at work with the tools needed to alert you about forthcoming books. This month, I'll do September, October and November publications so you have time to reserve them at your library, or order them from your favorite bookstore. Normally, I'll just keep you posted a couple months ahead, but I didn't want you to miss the books coming out in September and October.

Let's start with today. Brad Meltzer's new novel, The Book of Fate, is due out today. This sounds just like the kind of book my husband, Jim will enjoy - a conspiracy novel involving the presidency, Masonic history, and a code invented by Thomas Jefferson.

Here are the forthcoming books you might enjoy, alphabetical by author.

Albom, Mitch - For One More Day (Sept.) - What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?

Baldacci, David - The Collectors (Oct.) - The Camel Club returns to unravel a secret that could bring the U.S. to its knees.

Berg, Elizabeth - The Handmaid and the Carpenter (Nov.) The events of the Christmas story, retold.

Bryson, Bill - The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir (Oct.) Bryson recreates the life of his family in the 1950s.

Connelly, Michael - Echo Park (Oct) Harry Bosch returns.

DeMille, Nelson - Wild Fire (Nov.) Det. John Corey and his FBI agent wife must stop a conspiracy to detonate bombs in two American cities.

Evanovich, Janet - Motor Mouth (Oct.) Alexandra "Barney" Barnaby returns.

Parker, Robert B. - Hundred-Dollar Baby (Oct.) Spenser returns.

Patterson, James - Cross (Nov.) Alex Cross pursues a psychopath.

Spencer-Fleming, Julia - All Mortal Flesh (Oct.) Police Chief Russ van Alstyne is the primary suspect when his wife is murdered.

Trigiani, Adriana - Home to Big Stone Gap (Sept.) The next chapter in the Big Stone Gap series.

Woods, Stuart - Short Straw (Oct.) Readers are reintroduced to attorney Ed Eagle, who married a woman who disappeared with all his assets.

There are alot of other books coming out in the next few months, but this will give you a "Heads Up" about some of the big authors.

Mouth Full of Bullets

To quote the editor, "MOUTH FULL OF BULLETS is a free quarterly online mystery magazine that features short stories, flash fiction, and poems from some of the best new and veteran voices in the business. We publish well-written mysteries of all types. If it includes a crime and we like it, we will publish it. We will consider articles and columns relating to writing. We provide book reviews by Kevin R. Tipple and author interviews by BJ Bourg." BJ Bourg was kind enough to link to this site from the new online mystery magazine.

If you're interested in reading mystery short stories, poems and book reviews, check out

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Sweetest Hours: Love Stories...of a Kind

I haven't read Laura Pedersen's novels, but, after reading her collection of short stories, I'll be looking for her fiction. This was a warm, enjoyable book. Pedersen has an offbeat sense of humor, and it comes through in all of these charming stories.

Dog lovers need to check out the first story in the book, Gus Hunts for a Job. It's the story of an English mastiff who needs a purpose in life after the children in his family leave home. There are a number of animal stories with sad endings. This isn't one of them.

My favorite story in the whole book is a story for booklovers, True to Her Word. It's the story of Muriel, a recluse who inherits a bookstore when her sister dies. My copy of this book is an Advanced Readers Copy, so pagination might be different in the actual book. But anyone who loves to share or recommend books, any librarian or bookseller, should appreciate the paragraph on page 141. It's a paragraph for Readers' Advisors.

It says, "Customers had begun to notice that the books she chose changed their lives in all sorts of peculiar and yet wonderful ways, or at least so they thought. A selection by Muriel could calm down an unruly teenager, cheer up a child confined to bed with a fractured back, make the different feel ordinary and the ordinary feel special, give a fresh outlook to someone caught up in those clouds of darkness that occasionally descent upon an otherwise vigorous psyche."

Looking for a feel good story? Try The Sweetest Hours.

Laura Pedersen's website is

The Sweetest Hours: Love Stories...of a Kind by Laura Pedersen. BookSurge Publishing, c2006. ISBN 1419616897 (paperback), 312p.

Heads Up

After I was told that a few regular readers check out my site to find out what's coming out, I realized I could help with planning future reading. Whether you're looking for your favorite authors to buy from a bookstore, or books to reserve at your public library, I'll try to give you a heads up as to what will be coming out.

I'll be back to work tomorrow, and I'll start to keep you posted.

Watch this space!


Dennis Lehane's collection of short stories shows why he is a master of the English language. His words just roll through your mind. Although these are grittier, darker stories than I usually read, Lehane has a way of forcing a reader to continue. His language just forces you through a story.

Coronado includes the play that Lehane wrote for his brother, along with the background of the play. And, the longer I'm away from reading the play, the more it lingers in my mind.

Dennis Lehane is a true master. And, he'll be here at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale in November. Jim & I plan to be there.

Lehane's website is

Coronado by Dennis Lehane. William Morrow, c2006. ISBN 006113967X (hardcover), 232p.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Alibi Club

I found Francine Mathews' book to have an intriguing premise, but it's a confusing book. And, the flap copy is deceiving. After reading the flap, I expected that Irene Curie would have a larger role in the book than she did. The flap made it sound as if four women were the main characters.

The Alibi Club is set in 1940 as the Germans have just broke through and are starting to invade France. Sally Kind's boyfriend, a lawyer, has died, and she's convinced he was murdered. Memphis Jones is a blues diva, and owner of The Alibi Club. Nell Bracecourt, is a Comtesse and owner of a vineyard. All of these women are caught up in the attempt to move uranium and heavy water so that the Nazis cannot capture it and use it to create a bomb. The entire plot actually revolves around the attempt to keep these materials from the invading Germans. The book introduces a number of American and French characters caught up in this attempt.

This was a confusing book, with so many characters involved. The ending was exciting, but I plodded through the book to get there.

Francine Mathews' website is at

The Alibi Club by Francine Mathews. Bantam Books, c2006. ISBN 053380331X (hardcover), 309p.