Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins Died

Molly Ivins, the political wit and columnist, died today at age 62 of breast cancer. She'd been fighting a battle with cancer since 1999 when she announced it in one of her columns.

Here's a personal commentary. If you don't want to read a political note, please skip this. I admired Molly Ivins and her fight against bad government. In recent years, she called George Bush "Shrub," and, just in the last couple weeks demanded that readers speak up against the war in Iraq. I appreciated her humor, used to poke fun at poor government, and asking for reform. She was my source for the ridiculous in Texas politics.

The only tribute I can imagine is to repeat her request. Women - get the damn mammogram.

Books read during January

Well, my time's getting short to finish another book this month, so I'll post the books I've read during January. Two of the books, Terrier by Tamora Pierce and Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn will probably make my best of 2007 list, even though it's early in the year to say that.

I only read eleven books this month.

Terrier by Tamora Pierce - First in the Beka Cooper trilogy about the Dog (cop) in training in ancient Torvall.

Bento Box in the Heartland by Linda Furiya - Memoir of her Japanese girlhood in Versailles, IN in "Whitebread America."

Head Games by Thomas B. Cavanagh - Mike Garrity, an ex-cop with a brain tumor, looks for a runaway teen singer, and answers to his own life.

Digging for the Truth by Josh Bernstein - Two years of travel filming archaeological mysteries for the History Channel.

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn - First mystery introducing Lady Julia Grey and inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane as they look for her husband's murderer in 1886 London.

Behind Closed Doors by Natalie R. Collins - Jannie Fox ran from the Mormon Church, and when her best friend disappears, she fears her own secrets have led to her friend's death.

Suspicious Circumstances by Sandra Ruttan - A reporter & a cop are forced to work together to investigate a corrupt town.

The Land of Mango Sunsets by Dorothea Benton Frank - ARC of an April publication in which a bitter divorcee changes her ways after visiting her mother on Sullivan's Island.

Pimpernel Gold by Dorothy Baden-Powell - True story of the Norwegian race to smuggle gold out of the country before the Nazis could capture it.

Murder in Metropolis by Lonnie Cruse - Sheriff Joe Dalton investigates the murder of a town hero in Metropolis, IL.

The Book of Bunny Suicides by Andy Riley - Black humor in a sick collection of cartoons about rabbits committing suicide.

Novelist Sidney Sheldon is dead

Sidney Sheldon died yesterday afternoon of complications from pneumonia. The bestselling author was 89. Sheldon wrote novels about strong women who triumph in a hostile world of ruthless men. I'm quoting from the Associated Press news release.

"Sheldon's books, with titles such as Rage of Angels, The Other Side of Midnight, Master of the Game and If Tomorrow Comes, provided his greatest fame. They were cleverly plotted, with a high degree of suspense and sensuality and a device to keep the reader turning pages."

"I try to write my books so the reader can't put them down," he said in a 1982 interview. "I try to construct them so when the reader gets to the end of a chapter, he or she has to read just one more chapter."
I have the best mother a reader could ever ask for. She never censored my reading or told me I couldn't read a book. But, when The Other Side of Midnight was popular in 1974, I was just a junior in high school. I wanted to read it, and, after reading it herself, my mother said she would prefer that I not read it at that time. She only ever said that about one other book, The Exorcist. To this day, I've never read either one. I know I'm old enough (way old enough!), and mature enough to read both now, and I've read a number of Sheldon's books. But, I've always respected my mother for not telling me I couldn't read those books. She only said, she would rather I not at that time. Thanks, Mom! I never thought of Sidney Sheldon without thinking of you.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ann Brashares at Changing Hands Bookstore

Today, we took a field trip from the library and took some teens to see Ann Brashares at Changing Hands Bookstore. Brashares, author of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, has her last book in the series out now, Forever in Blue.

We had rented a bus and bought twenty-four copies of the books from Changing Hands, hoping we would have twenty teens and the four chaperones. We were disappointed that we only had four kids sign up. I guess we just don't have the right audience among our kids. Instead, when we left the library, the police were rounding up some of our teens. Wrong audience for Sisterhood, you think?

Those of us who went had a great time. Even when I found out the low number, I wouldn't have cancelled the trip because I knew there were some very excited kids. I wouldn't disappoint them. It took us almost an hour to get there, and we had to stand in the back in a very crowded room, but it was fun to see all the excited teens in the room. Our kids were excited, picked up patches for their jeans, posters, and had their books personalized and autographed. They all appreciated it, so it was well worth it. We had the rest of the books just autographed, and we'll give them away as prizes in teen programs.

Brashares was just fine, talking about a wedding dress she shared with three friends. She answered questions about worrying about the aging of her characters, and mature situations while she still has young readers. I was just pleased that we were able to give four kids the chance to meet and hear an author.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Romantic Times Award Nominations

I'd like to congratulate two authors for their nominations for Best First Mystery of 2006 by Romantic Times Book Reviews. Blown Away by Shane Gericke, and A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read are two of the nominees. Five titles have been nominated in that category.

BLOWN AWAY by Shane Gericke (Pinnacle)
SEQUENCE by Lori Andrews (St. Martin's Minotaur)
THE FIRST CUT by Dianne Emley (Ballantine)
A FIELD OF DARKNESS by Cornelia Read (Mysterious Press)
THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER by Jed Rubenfeld (Henry Holt)

Winners will be announced in the June issue of Romantic Times magazine, which will appear just prior to the RT Booklovers Convention in Houston April 25-29. Winners will be honored at a special luncheon on Friday the 27th.

Other nominees in the category of Best Mystery & Suspense Novels 2006:

Contemporary Mystery

KIDNAPPED by Jan Burke (Simon & Schuster)
TWO LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster)
THE LAST SPYMASTER by Gayle Lynds (St. Martin's)
KEEPER OF THE KEYS by Perri O'Shaughnessy (Delacorte)
DIRTY BLONDE by Lisa Scottoline (HarperCollins)
SNOW BLIND by P.J. Tracy (Putnam)


THE MEPHISTO CLUB by Tess Garritsen (Ballantine)
THE ART OF DETECTION by Laurie R. King (Bantam)
THE FINISHING SCHOOL by Michele Martinez (Morrow)
END IN TEARS by Ruth Rendell (Crown)

Historical Mystery

MARK OF THE LION by Suzanne Arruda (NAL)
NORTH BY NORTHANGER by Carrie Bebris (Forge)
DARK ASSASSIN by Anne Perry (Ballantine)
TOMB OF THE GOLDEN BIRD by Elizabeth Peters (Morrow)


THE KILL by Allison Brennan (Ballantine)
GONE by Lisa Gardner (Bantam)
PRIOR BAD ACTS by Tami Hoag (Bantam)
WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME by Andrea Kane (Morrow)
THE CRIMSON CODE by Rachel Lee (Mira)
COPYCAT by Erica Spindler (Mira)
KITTY GOES TO WASHINGTON by Carrie Vaughn (Aspect)

Amateur Sleuth

ANTIQUES ROADKILL by Barbara Allan (Kensington)
SIZE 14 IS NOT FAT EITHER by Meg Cabot (Avon Trade)
STEAMED by Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant (Berkley Prime Crime)
UNPLUGGED by Lois Greiman (Dell)
DEFINITELY DEAD by Charlaine Harris (Ace)
ALL MORTAL FLESH by Julia Spencer-Fleming (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

New contest for humorous mysteries

Last week's contests were won by entrants in Utah and South Carolina. Jim picked their names out of forty entries. Congratulations!

This week I'm offering two fun mysteries. One is an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of Sarah Strohmeyer's Bubbles A Broad. The other is Elaine Viets' paperback, Just Murdered, one of the Dead-End Job mysteries.

If you'd like to win either of these books, email me at Email me!. Your subject line should read Win...whichever title you want. Please include your name and mailing address in the body of the email. Contestants only in the U.S., please.

You have until next Saturday to enter the contests, when Jim will draw the names of the winners. Good luck!

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Book of Bunny Suicides

Andy Riley's small book of cartoons is as sick as any humor in The Far Side. If you enjoy black humor, check out this great little book of "Little fluffy rabbits who just don't want to live any more." I can't describe the cartoons. You'll have to read it yourself. The back of the book shows a sequel, Return of the Bunny Suicides, "the definitive compendium on bunny depression and its aftermath."

The Book of Bunny Suicides by Andy Riley. Plume, ©2003. ISBN 0-452-28518-6 (paperback).

Murder in Metropolis

In Lonnie Cruse's debut mystery, Metropolis, IL is the hometown of a fifteen foot Superman. It's also the home of Sheriff Joe Dalton who finds the body of an old friend dressed in his Superman costume, draped over the statue. Over twenty years after their high school triumphs, the townspeople still view Jack Hatfield as a hero. He was not only an athlete, but the man who took his brother and sister under his wing when their father killed their mother and her lover. Since Hatfield was so admired, it was hard to find someone in town who might have wanted to kill him. It proved to be equally as hard to find the parents of a newborn, killed and buried. But, when a witness was murdered, it was suspected that he might have seen Jack Hatfield's murderer.

Cruse brings a small midwestern town to life, with all its flaws and strengths. Her police procedural shows the daily grind of the officers while working an important case, but it also delves into their personal lives. In a small town, everyone knows each other's secrets and past. Or, do they?

Cruse's attention to detail, and her excellent character development, bring this mystery and the town of Metropolis to life. She has two additional books in the series, Murder Beyond Metropolis and Married in Metropolis. There's a fourth on the way, Malice in Metropolis. Anyone interested in small town life and police departments will enjoy Lonnie Cruse's mysteries.

Lonnie Cruse's website is

Murder in Metropolis by Lonnie Cruse. NaDaC Publishing, ©2003. ISBN 09785880-0-2 (paperback), 216p.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Snow Treasure and Pimpernel Gold

Marie McSwigan's Snow Treasure is listed on my profile as one of my favorite books. This children's book was a favorite for three generations in my family. My mother read it. My sisters and I read a copy to pieces. My niece and nephews read it. It's the story of how Norwegian children smuggled gold out of Norway on their sleds during World War II, right under the noses of the Nazi soldiers. When I read the book, it said it was based on a true story. Now, current versions of the book no longer claim that. No matter what, it's one of the most exciting stories I ever read. (In 1968, a movie came out based on the book. It starred James Franciscus, and it stunk. DO NOT watch the movie.)

There were recent conversations on DorothyL, the mystery list, about Snow Treasure. Those of us who read it, universally loved it. Finally, someone wrote to say there was a nonfiction book about the rescue of the Norwegian gold reserves in 1940. Pimpernel Gold by Dorothy Baden-Powell is that story.

The Germans had been told that the Norwegians would not fight back when they were given an ultimatum as their country was invaded. They made a mistake. The Norwegians fought back. The Germans were delayed by ten hours in attacking Oslo. King Haakon, the Crown Prince, and the Government escaped and headed for the west coast and rescue. Eighty tons of gold bullion were taken from the bank under police escort, and started on a frantic journey to the coast. A small group of volunteers headed west with the gold, travelling via lorries, trains, and finally ships, hiding from the Nazis, and sometimes tricking the Germans in order to keep the gold moving.

I read Pimpernel Gold with the same sense of urgency I felt when reading Snow Treasure. This is a page-turner, a nonfiction adventure story of unknown Norwegian people who fought to preserve their country. It's no longer in print, but there are a number of copies available in libraries throughout the country. If you're interested in a wonderful story, ask a librarian about interlibrary loan.

Pimpernel Gold: How Norway Foiled the Nazis by Dorothy Baden-Powell. Ulverscroft, ©1978 (Large Print Edition), ISBN 0-7089-0700-8, 353p.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Warm Up with a Good Book - 2007

I do a quarterly brown bag luncheon for a small group of patrons at the library. I talk about fifteen books that I read in the last quarter, ones I want to promote. Starting last quarter, I also do a second luncheon for the staff up at our Main Library. These are the books I'm featuring tomorrow at my branch, and next week at Main.


Adair, Suzanne – Paper Woman – (Adult Fiction) What happened to the neutral parties during the American Revolution? Sophie Barton only wanted to run her father’s printing press, but she found herself running from the British in a story filled with adventure, romance, mystery and suspense.

Berg, Elizabeth – The Handmaid and the Carpenter (Adult Fiction) The story of the romance and marriage of Mary and Joseph.

Bryson, Bill – The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (92 Bryson, Bill) Bryson’s anecdotal story of his childhood in the Midwest in the 1950s.

Cavanagh, Thomas B. – Head Games (On order, Adult Fiction) Retired cop Mike Garrity has a brain tumor, and nothing going for him, until he looks for the lead singer in his estranged daughter’s favorite boy band.

Collins, Natalie R. – Behind Closed Doors (On order, Adult Paperback) A suspenseful novel of a young woman, estranged from the Mormon Church, but forced to confront her past when her best friend disappears.

Cook, Troy – 47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers (Adult Fiction) Lefty Award nominee about a young girl who robbed banks with her father, until she fell for a small-town sheriff’s son.

Fate, Robert – Baby Shark – (Adult Fiction) When a teenager is left for dead, and her father is murdered, she carefully plans revenge against a motorcycle gang.

Flora, Kate – Playing God – (Adult Fiction) Joe Burgess, “The meanest cop in Portland, Maine, investigates when a universally disliked doctor is murdered.

Furiya, Linda – Bento Box in the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America – (92, Furiya, Linda) The author grew up in the only Japanese family in Versailles, IN, and tells of her life, and the importance of traditional food to her family and culture.

Penny, Louise – Still Life – (Adult Fiction) In a traditional mystery, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache brings his team to investigate the suspicious death of an older woman in a small town in Quebec.

Pierce, Tamora – Terrier – (Teen Fiction) The first in a new series, featuring Beka Cooper, a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost’s Guard in the kingdom of Tortall.

Raybourn, Deanna – Silent in the Grave – (Adult Fiction) An outstanding Victorian era historical mystery in which Lady Julia Grey teams up with inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane to find her husband’s killer.

Read, Cornelia – A Field of Darkness – (Adult Fiction) Nominated for an Edgar for Best First Mystery, Madeline Dare gets caught up in the investigation when the bodies of two girls are found nineteen years after their murder.

Stern, Jane & Michael – Two for the Road – (394.12 S839t) The columnists for Gourmet magazine talk about their life exploring American roadfood.

Thornton, Betsy – A Whole New Life – (Adult Fiction) Lives change when a woman is murdered, and her husband arrested in a southern Arizona town.

Congratulations to Louise Ure

Louise Ure, winner of the Shamus Award for Best First Novel for Forcing Amaryllis, has signed a two book contract with St. Martin's Press. Estimated publication date for the first of the two books, The Fault Tree, is early 2008.

We'll be waiting, Louise! And, congratulations!

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Dresden Files

The Dresden Files premiered on the SciFi network last night, and mystery fans all over the internet tuned in. It was OK, but not great. Paul Blackthorn made a very good Harry Dresden. But, as other people said, what in the world happened to Bob? The network couldn't handle a talking skull that has a sense of humor and is a pervert? Where was Harry's VW that broke down all the time? Harry never could have glass doors and electric lights. I missed the first part of the show because I was at a retirement party, but the second part didn't live up to my hopes. I'll check it out again, though, to see if it gets better.

My point? Check out Jim Butcher's books in The Dresden Files. Harry Dresden is the only wizard that advertises in the Chicago Yellow Pages. The books are wonderful, and, I guess, no television show would live up to the books. They are true good vs. evil, which is why I look at them as mysteries. The books are:

Storm Front (2000)

Fool Moon (2001)

Grave Peril (2001)

Summer Knight (2002)

Death Masks (2003)

Blood Rites (2004)

Dead Beat (2005)

Proven Guilty (2006)

Jim Butcher is scheduled to appear at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale on April 15. I hope to be there.

You still can't beat a good book.

Barbara Seranella

If you're a mystery fan, you may be familiar with Barbara Seranella's Munch Mancini books. You may also know that Barbara has been fighting a battle for her life in recent years. Today, Barbara's publicist published this on DorothyL. It's a loss to the mystery community, and the world community. I'm sorry.

Barbara Seranella
Born April 30, 1956
Died January 21, 2007

Barbara Seranella, 50, bestselling mystery author and resident of Laguna
Beach and PGA West in La Quinta, died peacefully on January 21, 2007, at
4:15 p.m. EST (1:15 PST) at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, with
her husband Ron Seranella and her brother Dr. Larry Shore at her side.
Barbara, who died of end-stage liver disease while awaiting a liver
transplant, leaves behind her husband Ron, brothers Larry Shore of San
Francisco and David Shore of Woodacre, parents Nate and Margie Shore of La
Quinta, and stepdaughters Carrie Seranella and Shannon Howard.

Private funeral arrangements are being made by the family. A celebration of
Barbara’s life is being planned for February; details will be announced

For information, please contact Debbie Mitsch, Barbara’s publicist, at

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Suspicious Circumstances

Sandra Ruttan's debut mystery is filled with twists and turns to satisfy any reader of crime fiction. Reluctant allies work together, not even completely trusting each other in a town enveloped in secrets.

Lara Kelly is a new reporter at The Ledger in Oakridge, CT when a man brings her a video that looks like a woman committing suicide. When her editor pushes her to connect that video with crooked cops, her story in the newspaper draws the attention of the police. Detective Tymen Farraday shows up in her office, a man with a bitter history with reporters. Reluctantly joining forces, they find a possible crime scene that is violated, and a file is stolen. Farraday and Kelly follow their clues and instincts into a case muddled in politics, violence, and threats. The corruption in Oakridge seems to touch countless people as reporters dig into stories about drugs and missing women. Soon, Kelly and Farraday realize there are very few people they can trust as they doggedly continue to dig for answers.

Kelly and Farraday are strong characters, persistent detectives determined to do the legwork and brainwork necessary to solve crimes. Ruttan's first book shows excellent police and journalistic skills at work in a story that will satisfy all of us who enjoy watching cases slowly reveal themselves.

Sandra Ruttan's website is

Suspicious Circumstances by Sandra Ruttan. TICO Publishing, ©2006, ISBN 0977768899 (hardcover), 310p.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Winners and new contest

Congratulations to B.J. from Kyle, TX, winner of Joanne Fluke's Cherry Cheesecake Murder, and Caroljane from Deland, FL, winner of Curiosity Killed The Cat Sitter by Blaize Clement. The books will be going out in the mail today.

This week, I have two paperbacks to give away. Blown Away is Shane Gericke's thriller, introducing rookie cop Emily Thompson searching for a serial killer with something personal against her. Most Wanted is Michele Martinez's debut novel of suspense, introducing Melanie Vargas, a prosecutor investigating the high-profile case of a lifetime.

If you'd like to win either of these books, email me at Email me!. Your subject line should read Win...whichever title you want. Please include your name and mailing address in the body of the email. Contestants only in the U.S., please.

You have until next Saturday to enter the contests, when Jim will draw the names of the winners. Thank you again to the fifty-one people who entered this week's contest. Good luck!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Edgar Award Nominees

The Edgar Award Nominees were announced for this year. The awards will be presented on April 26, 2007 in New York City. Here are the nominees.


The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard (HarperCollins)
The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Gentleman and Players by Joanne Harris (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Dead Hour by Denise Mina (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown and
The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard (Random House –
Ballantine Books)
The Liberation Movements by Olen Steinhauer (St. Martin's Minotaur)


The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson (Random House)
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Crown - Shaye Areheart Books)
King of Lies by John Hart (St. Martin's Minotaur – Thomas Dunne Books)
Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith (St. Martin's Minotaur)
A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read (Warner Books – Mysterious Press)


The Goodbye Kiss by Massimo Carlotto (Europa Editions)
The Open Curtain by Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press)
Snakeskin Shamisen by Naomi Hirahara (Bantam Dell Publishing – Delta
The Deep Blue Alibi by Paul Levine (Bantam Dell Publishing – Bantam
City of Tiny Lights by Patrick Neate (Penguin Group – Riverhead Books)


Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger (W.W. Norton and Co.)
Finding Amy: A True Story of Murder in Maine by Capt. Joseph K.
Loughlin & Kate Clark Flora (University Press of New England)
Ripperology: A Study of the World's First Serial Killer by Robin
Odell (The Kent State University Press)
The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe and the
Invention of Murder by Daniel Stashower (Dutton)
Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson
(HarperCollins – William Morrow)


Unless the Threat of Death is Behind Them: Hard-Boiled Fiction and
Film Noir by John T. Irwin (Johns Hopkins University Press)
The Science of Sherlock Holmes: From Baskerville Hall to the Valley
of Fear by E.J. Wagner (John Wiley & Sons)


"The Home Front" – Death Do Us Part by Charles Ardai (Hachette Book
Group – Little, Brown and Company)
"Rain" – Manhattan Noir by Thomas H. Cook (Akashic Books)
"Cranked" – Damn Near Dead by Bill Crider (Busted Flush Press)
"White Trash Noir" – Murder at the Foul Line by Michael Malone
(Hachette Book Group – Mysterious Press)
"Building" – Manhattan Noir by S.J. Rozan (Akashic Books)


Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake by Jennifer Allison (Penguin
Young Readers – Sleuth/Dutton)
The Stolen Sapphire: A Samantha Mystery by Sarah Masters Buckey
(American Girl Publishing)
Room One: A Mystery or Two by Andrew Clements (Simon & Schuster Books
for Young Readers)
The Bloodwater Mysteries: Snatched by Pete Hautman & Mary Logue
(Penguin Young Readers – Sleuth/Putnam)
The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy
Springer (Penguin Young Readers – Philomel/Sleuth)


The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks (Scholastic – The Chicken House)
The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson (Penguin YR – Sleuth/Viking)
Crunch Time by Mariah Fredericks (Simon & Schuster – Richard Jackson
Buried by Robin Merrow MacCready (Penguin YR – Dutton Children's Books)
The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum-Ucci (Harcourt
Children's Books)


Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure by Steven Dietz (Arizona Theatre
Curtains by Rupert Holmes (Ahmanson Theatre)
Ghosts of Ocean House by Michael Kimball (The Players' Ring)


The Closer – "Blue Blood", Teleplay by James Duff & Mike Berchem
(Turner Network Television)
Dexter – "Crocodile", Teleplay by Clyde Phillips (Showtime)
House – "Clueless", Teleplay by Thomas L. Moran (Fox/NBC Universal)
Life on Mars – Episode 1, Teleplay by Matthew Graham (BBC America)
Monk – "Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink", Teleplay by Hy Conrad (USA
Network/NBC Universal)


Conviction, Teleplay by Bill Gallagher (BBC America)
Cracker: A New Terror, Teleplay by Jimmy McGovern (BBC America)
Messiah: The Harrowing, Teleplay by Terry Cafolla (BBC America)
Secret Smile, Teleplay by Kate Brooke, based on the book by Nicci
French (BBC America)
The Wire, Season 4, Teleplays by Ed Burns, Kia Corthron, Dennis
Lehane, David Mills, Eric Overmyer, George Pelecanos, Richard Price,
David Simon & William F. Zorzi (Home Box Office)


Casino Royale, Screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade & Paul Haggis,
based on novel by Ian Fleming (MGM)
Children of Men, Screenplay by Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton,
David Arata, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby, based on a novel by P.D. James
(Universal Pictures
The Departed, Screenplay by William Monahan (Warner Bros. Pictures)
The Good Shepherd, Teleplay by Eric Roth (Universal Pictures)
Notes on a Scandal, Screenplay by Patrick Marber (Scott Rudin


William Dylan Powell
"Evening Gold" – EQMM November 2006 (Dell Magazines)


Stephen King


Books & Books (Mitchell Kaplan, owner)
Mystery Loves Company Bookstore (Kathy & Tom Harig, owners)

Bloodline by Fiona Mountain (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Good luck to all of the nominees, but special wishes go out to two of them, Nancy Pickard and Cornelia Read. Nancy is up for Best Novel for The Virgin of Small Plains. I haven't read it, although it's received a great deal of praise. These are personal best wishes. Nancy was kind enough to appear at the Lee County Reading Festival for me some years ago. She even agreed to come back a second time, but had to cancel due to her mother's illness. That was understandable, and, because she had to cancel, Mary Anna Evans, author of the forthcoming mystery, Effigies, made her first appearance as an author at our festival. Thanks to both of them. Good luck, Nancy.

I'd also like to wish Cornelia Read good luck. We had a wonderful time at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale when she made her first appearance with Lee Child. Again, her novel, A Field of Darkness, is well-deserving of praise.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Behind Closed Doors

Jannie Fox ran from her Mormon wedding, and her previous life in the Mormon Church after her fiancế raped her. Five years later, she works in a YWCA Women's Shelter in Salt Lake City helping other victims, but she hasn't found a way to help herself. When her best friend, Melissa, disappears, apparently the victim of spousal violence, Jannie is forced out of her isolation. Detective Colt Singer of the Salt Lake City Police Dept. forces her to confront her fears, when he needs her help searching for Melissa. Unfortunately, Melissa's husband and Jannie's ex-fiancế are entwined in the case, and Jannie must also face her past and her history with the Mormon Church.

The only flaw in Collins' book is the speed at which Jannie, a scared woman, falls for Detective Singer. However, this is a fast-paced, intriguing book with a revealing look into a world most of us have not seen. It's the story of a woman betrayed by her church and her family. Collins' information about the Mormon Church, its rituals and beliefs, is fascinating to an outsider. Behind Closed Doors is a suspenseful novel with a likeable heroine.

Natalie R. Collins website is

Behind Closed Doors by Natalie R. Collins. St. Martin's Paperbacks, ©2007. ISBN 9780312934866 (paperback), 336p.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Silent in the Grave

Deanna Raybourn's Silent in the Grave is one of the best historical mysteries I've read in a long time. Set in London in 1886, it introduces Lady Julia Grey and inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. Fortunately, these two intriguing characters will be back since this is the first in a series.

When Lady Julia's husband collapsed and died during a dinner party, Brisbane carried him out of the room, and stayed with him. It was only later that Brisbane revealed that he had been hired by Lord Edward Grey to investigate threatening notes sent to him. Although it took time for her to accept that her husband may have been murdered, eventually Lady Julia hired Brisbane to look into her husband's death.

Silent in the Grave is not only an outstanding mystery, with revealing stories of the Victorian era, but it introduces wonderful characters. Lady Julia is a conventional woman, forcing herself into a mold that she desperately wants to fit into. Her father, Lord Hector March, her nine siblings, and her extended family is an eccentric group. Lord March is a no nonsense person with modern views on women and education, a man who treasures his children. Lady Julia tries to escape her family eccentricities, but it's only when she decides not to conform that she becomes a real person. Nicholas Brisbane is a mysterious character with secrets in his past.

If you're looking for a fast-paced,fun, well-written mystery, with attractive characters, you can't go wrong with Silent in the Grave.

Deanna Raybourn's website is

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn. MIRA, ©2007, ISBN 978778324102, (hardcover), 509p.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Winners and The Next Contest

Congratulations to Carol B. from North Carolina, and Cindy M. from Utah. They won ARCs of Meg Cabot's Size 12 Is Not Fat and Don't Look Down by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. Cindy seems to have very good luck in these contests. Honest! There have been multiple entries, and Jim picks the winners, but Cindy seems to be lucky.

I have a new contest this week for two hardcover titles. Blaize Clement's second Dixie Hemingway mystery is due out soon, so I'm giving away the hardcover of her debut novel, Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter. Joanne Fluke will have a new Hannah Swensen mystery out soon. I'm giving away a hardcover of the eighth title, Cherry Cheesecake Murder.

If you'd like to win either of these books, email me at Email me!. Your subject line should read Win...whichever title you want. Please include your name and mailing address in the body of the email. Contestants only in the U.S., please.

The contest will run until next Saturday morning, when Jim will draw the two winners. Good luck, and, keep reading!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Digging for the Truth

Digging for the Truth is currently the highest rated original series in the history of The History Channel. Josh Bernstein, the host, is the author of this book that takes the reader inside the filming of the show. If you're a fan of the show, interested in archaeology or the mysteries of ancient history, this will be an intriguing book.

Bernstein, the owner of the Boulder Outdoor Survival School (BOSS) in Boulder, Utah, thought he was well-prepared to explore the world. Instead he found himself alone on an iceberg, filming in the rainy season in the Amazon, and riding camels. It's all worth it for the chance to host the show and discuss archaeological discovery and preservation, and educate the viewers and readers about the mysteries of the pasts. He and the film crews looked for the Lost Ark of the Covenant, followed the trail of the Vikings, explored Stonehenge. Bernstein covers two years of filming and travel in this enjoyable book. Armchair travelers will enjoy two years of adventures, travelling to remote areas of the world.

Josh Bernstein's website is

Digging for the Truth by Josh Bernstein. Gotham Books, ©2006, ISBN 1592402771, 200p.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Head Games

"I have a tumor in my head. I call it Bob."

The opening sentence of Thomas B. Cavanagh's mystery sets the tone. Mike Garrity, the ex-cop, has two ex-wives, an estranged fifteen-year-old daughter, and a brain tumor. He also has a dry sense of humor, and knows that he really has lost everything in life. He's just biding his time until he dies.

So, when a teen singer goes missing, and Mike's asked to discreetly investigate, it's nothing more than something to do while he suffers. Then Garrity discovers that TJ, the missing singer, is his daughter's teen idol. Suddenly, the case is personal, a way to reach out to his daughter. And, when chases ensue, and mobsters appear, the case is even more personal than Mike would like.

Cavanagh has done a wonderful job with a tough subject, and a tough character. He doesn't pull punches with the illness caused by the brain tumor. Mike's illness is very real, and painful for him and those who love him. Mike's life has also become very painful to him. There aren't any easy solutions for Mike Garrity - in his life, his investigation, or his illness. He does his best to handle it all with humor and grace. There's something about Garrity that draws people, and, will draw readers.

Thomas B. Cavanagh's website is

Head Games by Thomas B. Cavanagh. Thomas Dunne Books, ©2007, ISBN 9780312361327 (hardcover), 304p.

What Kind of Reader Are You?

According to Kate's quiz, What Kind of Reader Are You?, I'm a Dedicated Reader, always trying to find the time to get back to my book. I'm convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

What kind of reader are you?

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Winners and New Contest

Congratulations to Calie, winner of the ARC of "Wicked" Women Whodunit, and Cindy M., winner of an ARC of Deborah Turrell Atkinson's The Green Room.

This week, I'm running a contest for the ARCs of two fun mysteries. One is Don't Look Down by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. The other is Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot.

If you'd like to win one of these two ARCs, email me at Email me!. Your subject line should read ARC of...whichever title you want. Please include your name and mailing address in the body of the email.

The contest will run until next Sunday, when my husband, Jim, will draw two winners. Good luck!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bento Box in the Heartland

Linda Furiya's memoir is subtitled "My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America." Furiya grew up in Versailles, Indiana in the only Japanese family in town. It was in the elementary school lunchroom that she discovered that her family was different than others. The lunch her mother packed, obento, a Japanese-style boxed meal of rice balls, wasn't the same as the lunches brought by her friends. And, as Furiya grew up, she discovered a need to protect herself and her family. It took years for her to learn pride in her Asian identity.

It was the love of Japanese food that brought her family together. As they ate, sought stores that carried Japanese food, and shared the spiritual aspect of the food, Linda heard the family history of her parents' arranged marriage, their separate arrival in the United States, and, over time, discovered the burdens her parents carried.

Linda Furiya's story looks backwards to a time when she did not respect her culture. Her "Food Memoir", with recipes for traditional Japanese food, shows her eventual acceptance and respect for her family history and culture. This is a thoughtful, not to be missed story of one family. It's also a story of pride and acceptance.

Bento Box in the Heartland by Linda Furiya. Seal Press ©2006, ISBN 9781580051910 (Paperback), 308p.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Nominees for the Dilys Award

Yesterday the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association announced its nominees for the 2007 Dilys Award. This award honors the book that IMBA members most enjoyed selling during the previous year. The Dilys Award winner will be announced during the Left Coast Crime convention in Seattle at the beginning of February.

The books nominated are:

Billy Boyle by James R. Benn (Soho)
Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith (St. Martin's Minotaur)
The Mournful Teddy by John J. Lamb (Berkley Prime Crime)
Still Life by Louise Penny (St. Martin's Minotaur)
The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard (Ballantine)
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (Atria)

I've only read Still Life from this list, so I can't say which book I'd pick as the winner. I can say that Still Life was the best mystery I read during 2006.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Tamora Pierce, who writes of some of the strongest women characters I've ever read, starts a new trilogy with Terrier, the first book about Beka Cooper.

Beka's story predates the Alanna books by hundreds of years, but it's still set in the kingdom of Tortall. After growing up in the poor section, the Lower City, Beka is stationed there as a rookie in the law-enforcing Provost's Guard. Beka is a Puppy, a rookie in her first year as a Dog. What Beka lacks in years, she makes up with her abilities to communicate with dust spinners and pigeons. She is also aided by Pounce, a cat with his own unusual talents.

Beka tells her own story in the form of a journal of her first year. Her trainers are two wise, experienced Dogs, Tunstall and Goodwin. They're wise enough to listen to her when she nervously reports that she's heard the spinners and pigeons talk about death. Children have disappeared from the Lower City, and there are whispers about the Shadow Snake, up until now, a story to scare little ones. And, according to the pigeons, they are carrying the souls of people who died digging for the valuable fire opals.

Terrier is an enthralling story of the training year of a Pup, and two mysteries that haunt the Lower City. Once again, Pierce has brought captivating characters to life in a powerful story of mystery and dogged police work. And any cat lover will want a Pounce. If you're looking for powerful female characters, you can't go wrong with Tamora Pierce's books.

Tamora Pierce's website is

Terrier by Tamora Pierce. Random House, ©2006. ISBN 9780375814686 (hardcover), 581p.

Fiction Nation

If you are a booklover and have XM Radio, have you checked out Fiction Nation? It's a link on my blog, so you can easily check out the website to see what Kim Alexander's show is all about. Congratulations are in order to Kim, whose show will now be a regular feature on Saturday nights, repeated on Sundays on XM 155. Here's her news release, so you can check it out for yourselves.

“What are you reading?”

If you ask that of Kim Alexander, she’ll have a different answer every week. As the host of Fiction Nation, her short form reviews have been heard on Take Five, XM 155 for over a year. She’s talked about everything from chick lit to science fiction to historical fiction to horror.

“I try to keep an open mind and read a little of everything,” says Kim, “and the best part absolutely has been discovering amazing writers on their first or second books. It’s become a sort of personal crusade to get the word out about people like Sara Gran and Lila Shaara.”

Now, XM and Take Five, are pleased to announce that Fiction Nation will expand to a half hour, premiering on Saturday, January 20th at 6PM East, with a rebroadcast on Sundays at 10:30 AM East.

“Kim has a satirical vantage point on a wide range of fictional genres that is insightfully funny and always entertaining. The first time I heard Kim on-air, I knew she fit the sensibility of Take Five perfectly—outspoken, funny, and smart!” says XM’s Director of Women’s Programming, Amy Reyer.

Fiction Nations will feature essays, reviews, commentary and interviews with authors, actors, librarians – anyone involved in the literary life. Kim adds, “Really, I’ll talk to anyone who has a passion for books. If someone stops you on the metro and asks you what you are reading, it might be me.”

Fiction Nation on Take Five, XM 155 Saturdays at 6PM East, Sundays at 10:30AM East.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

February Treasures in My Closet

Earlier today, I mentioned the books coming out in February that are predicted to be bestsellers. I also have five ARCs in my closet, books that always have the potential of breaking through. They'll also be published in February. Reserve these books now at your local public library, or pre-order them from a bookstore. You never know when an ARC will be an undiscovered treasure!

By The Time You Read This by Giles Blunt - The award-winning author returns with the latest book in his Detective John Cardinal series.

Kiss Her Goodbye by Robert Gregory Browne - A thriller in which an ATF agent races against time to save his teen daughter's life.

The Conjurer by Cordelia Frances Biddle - An intriguing sounding debut for a historical crime series. In Philadelphia in 1842, an heiress' search for her missing father brings her together with the mayor's assistant as he investigates a famous conjurer.

Glass Houses by Jane Haddam - The latest Gregor Demarkian novel in which the retired Demarkian looks into the case of a serial killer, and a man who confesses to the crimes.

The Water Thief by Ben Pastor - A historical mystery set in Rome involving murder and a lost letter by Hadrian.

Good luck to all the authors and their readers!

Heads Up!

What are the projected blockbuster titles for February? There's always room for a surprise, but these are predicted to be bestsellers. Place your reserves at the library now, or pre-order them from your favorite bookstore.

Steve Berry - The Alexandria Link
Barbara Delinsky - Family Tree
Michael Palmer - The Fifth Vial
James Patterson - Step on a Crack
J.D. Robb - Innocent in Death

A little shorter list than January's. Check them out!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Contest to win ARCs

Welcome to 2007, hopefully a great year for books!

ARCs are Advanced Reading Copies that the recipient is not allowed to sell. How do you dispose of ARCs after you've read and enjoyed the books? I've given some away to friends in the past, so 2007 represents the year I can give some away to my friends here at Lesa's Book Critiques. Every week or so, I'll hold a contest to give away two more ARCs, or copies of books. I'd love to keep all of them, but I just don't have room at home!

This week, I have an ARC of The Green Room by Deborah Turrell Atkinson, a mystery set in Hawaii. I also have a story collection, "Wicked" Women Whodunit, featuring stories by MaryJanice Davidson, Amy Garvey, Jennifer Apodaca and Nancy J. Cohen. It's autographed by Nancy J. Cohen.

If you'd like to win one of these two ARCs, email me at Email me!. Your subject line should read ARC of...whichever title you want. Please include your name and mailing address in the body of the email.

That's it! Good luck. Winners will be drawn on Sunday, January 7, and mailed out on January 8.