Thursday, January 31, 2013

Out of Circulation by Miranda James

Miranda James' latest mystery, Out of Circulation, brings back two of my favorite mystery characters, Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat, Diesel. Or, the people of Athena, Mississippi probably think of the pair as Diesel, and his companion, librarian Charlie Harris. It's always a treat to return to Charlie's southern world where manners, food, and family are important.

Charlie and Diesel both appreciate those finer points of life in Athena. That's why they're both uncomfortable when the doyennes of society, all members of the board of the Friends of the Athena Public Library, have a nasty argument before the annual fundraising gala. Naturally, Miss An'gel Ducote and her sister, Miss Dickce, will beat out Vera Cassity, and hold the gala once again at their home. Once Vera loses that battle, she tries another tactic and tries to force Charlie to give her access to the Ducote family archives at the local college where he is the archivist. When Charlie refuses, he finds out why Vera has so many enemies in town. She can be quite hateful, and even threatens Charlie's beloved cat, Diesel. Everyone in town seems to have a story about Vera, from one of Charlie's boarders to his housekeeper, Azalea Berry. No one has a good word to say about her. But, the Ducote sisters promise Charlie they have plans to take Vera out of circulation permanently.

Even so, it comes as a shock to Charlie when Vera ends up dead at the bottom of a staircase the night of the gala.So many people at the party have motives, but the sheriff focuses on Charlie's housekeeper, Azalea. Azalea's daughter, Kanesha, should be the investigating detective. However, with her mother as the primary suspect, she's forced to turn to Charlie for help. And, despite their dislike for Vera, the Ducote sisters put pressure on Charlie to find out who killed her in their house. With Diesel by his side, Charlie sets out to learn who might have the best reason to kill Vera Cassity.

As always, it's a pleasure to read about Diesel and his role in Charlie's life. He doesn't solve the mystery. He doesn't talk. But, he accompanies Charlie on his daily rounds, to work at the college and to volunteer at the public library.  He charms people, and he always has an essential role in the story, because he is a vital part of Charlie's life. Charlie Harris wouldn't be the man he is without Diesel in his life. 

Out of Circulation is a novel of family, so important in southern life. James deftly illustrates contrasting families, beginning with the one Charlie has built from family and boarders at his home. Over the course of the series, readers have seen Charlie move from a lonely man with only his cat, to a family man surrounded by loving friends who value him and Diesel. And, Diesel has been the force that brought people to Charlie, a mountain of a cat who warbles and chirps and understands people's needs. In contrast to his own family group, in this book, Charlie discovers family secrets, and one secret that led to murder.

It takes a skillful author to show even the most hated woman in town as a victim. Charlie continues to grow as an amateur sleuth who truly cares for the feelings of the people he investigates, victims and suspects. All of the elements of the Cat in the Stacks mysteries, from Charlie and Diesel, to the community politics and gossip, to the prickly relationship between Charlie, his housekeeper, and her daughter, are carefully developed. All along, cat-lovers have appreciated Diesel and these mysteries. However, anyone who appreciates a small town mystery should try Out of Circulation. James' mysteries are built on secrets and contrasts, bitterness and anger that contrast with the warmth of the life that Charlie Harris and Diesel have managed to find in Athena, Mississippi. Miranda James continues to write irresistible mysteries that delve into family and community secrets.

The series website is

Out of Circulation by Miranda James. Berkley Prime Crime. 2013. ISBN 9780425257272 (paperback), 289p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley

There are two types of readers of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce mysteries; those who love the girl, and those who just don't get her appeal. Count me in the first camp. It's hard to resist this almost twelve-year-old girl with her love of poisons, chemistry, death, and her passion for her family who she just doesn't understand. She's immature when it comes to the ways of the world, yet wise beyond her years at times. And, it's all evident in Speaking from Among the Bones, the latest book in the series.

It's the week before Easter in 1951. Flavia's sister, Feely, is going to make her debut at St. Tancred's since the organist disappeared. But, before that, a team of archaeologists are due to arrive at the church in Bishop's Lacey to dig up the bones of the saint on the five hundredth anniversary of his death. A long dead body is just up Flavia's alley. So is the dead body, that of the organist, that she finds in the church crypt.

Flavia and her trusty steed, her bicycle, Gladys, spend a great deal of time in the cemetery and church in this mystery. It's a story that brings together all of Flavia's knowledge of chemistry, her knowledge of death, and the secrets of the village of Bishop's Lacey. Bradley also introduces a new character to provide Flavia with local history, Adam Sowerby, a "Flora-archaeologist", a man with a mysterious background. Even with a new investigator and the return of Inspector Hewitt, it still takes the wisdom of a prodigy to tie all the clues together.

Little changes in Flavia's world. She's still almost twelve, living with her father and two sisters at Buckshaw, the house her mother, Harriet, inherited. However, when Harriet disappeared, Flavia's father could no longer pay the taxes and the upkeep. It's this family life that makes Flavia a sympathetic character. She longs for love in a family where everyone is living isolated lives. Her older sisters tell her horrid stories while she longs for their affection. She's left to fend for herself in her daily life, while the only person who truly understands her is her father's "man", Dogger. Flavia may be a brilliant prodigy, but she's a needy child at the same time. If she were only a child detective, she might be an impossible character to like. It's the child in her that makes her sympathetic.

Little changes in Flavia's world, as I said. But, this time, Alan Bradley has a trick or two up his sleeve as Buckshaw goes up for sale, and Flavia's father has the final word, leaving readers hanging at the end of the book. Flavia de Luce fans will definitely want to return after reading Speaking from Among the Bones.

Alan Bradley's website is

Speaking from Among the Dead by Alan Bradley. Delacorte Press. 2013. ISBN 9780385344036 (hardcover), 388p.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

With Josh

Nothing wrong. Josh and I just fell asleep early on a rainy evening, so I didn't get to finish my mystery.

So, today, I'll just share my favorite Josh picture. A love of books runs in the family.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Beth Hoffman's Note

It's no secret that Beth Hoffman and I became friends after I reviewed her debut novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, for Library Journal. I treasure our friendship, our correspondence, and the memories of our visit when Beth came to see me in Arizona. A long time ago, a friend made the comment that he never saw two people glory in each others' successes the way my college roommate and I did. That's how I feel about Beth. She worked hard for the success of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and she deserved it. Now, I can't wait to read her May release, Looking for Me. I'm sure I'll be writing more about it. In the meantime, just check out the gorgeous cover. That says "Beth Hoffman" to me.

And, what did Beth write in my gift book? Beth sent a handwritten and designed card, showing a cat in a suitcase ready to travel. (She's met my cats.) Thank you, Beth, for this note.

"Dear Friend, Lesa,

You are a true friend and a valued voice in the book world.

I'm wishing you every success in this new chapter of your 'Life Book'.

Much love,

Thank you, my friend. And, for those who don't know about the "Life Book", you'll want to pick up Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. (I own three copies.)

Beth Hoffman's website is

With Beth Hoffman at the Velma Teague Library

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister

I made a mistake when I picked up Erica Bauermeister's latest novel, The Lost Art of Mixing. I had read a fourth of the story before I realized it was the sequel to her enchanting book The School of Essential Ingredients. Don't make the same mistake. Take the time to immerse yourself in that first book before picking this one up. Only a few characters reoccur, but you'll want to know Lillian and her restaurant before you fall under the spell of her world.

There are so many tantalizing tidbits in this story. As before, Bauermeister writes of the experience of food, and the changes it brings in people's lives. But, this time, food and recipes serve side by side with memory and stories. If food stirs up memories for you, recalls stories of your past, you'll want to savor the accounts in this book. Bauermeister allows a number of people to tell their stories, and then she mixes them together for a book that has no end, just a future. There's Lillian herself, who has owned the restaurant in the Pacific Northwest for eight years. There's Al, Lillian's accountant, who keeps his love of Lillian's food from his rigid wife, Louise. You'll meet Chloe, a twenty-year-old who cooks at Lillian's restaurant, and lives with a wise housemate, sixty-three-year-old Isabelle. It will take a little while to learn the surprising story of Finnegan, a dishwasher who loves Chloe. In this book, Isabelle is the binding ingredient who mixes all the people together. She's in the early stages of Alzheimer's, but still has people to bring together, and stories to tell, memories to share.

As always, Bauermeister's writing is filled with sensuous details of food and nature. Her characters come to life against a vivid background. This isn't a novel of action. It's a story of characters living ordinary lives against a background of their past. Lillian "had taken over a wreck of a building and turned it into a place where people ate or took classes and remembered, or learned, why they loved each other." It's a book for "memories turned into recipes, recipes turned into stories." This isn't a book about cooking, or recipes. The Lost Art of Mixing is about allowing life to unfold at it's own pace. It's about memory, and ritual, and the stories we tell ourselves. It's a beautiful book for those of us who enjoy a quiet novel of life and character connected by food. The Lost Art of Mixing is a perfect, comfortable book to bring warmth to the winter season.

Erica Bauermeister's website is

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister. G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2013. ISBN 9780399062114 (hardcover), 275p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Arrivals

Time to share the books that arrived in the mail this week. It's a terrific group of books. I hope there is a book or two here that you'll want to read.

I'm listing these according to release date, beginning with Elsa Watson's The Love Dog. When Samantha Novak loses her job, she agrees to investigate a reality show that features a loveable golden retriever, Apollo, who helps couples fix their relationship problems. Samantha's problem? She falls in love with Apollo, and the show's producer. Now, how can she expose the show as a sham?

The Eldritch Conspiracy is the fifth book in Cat Adams' popular Siren Song series. It's a fairy tale match, but many suspect Princess Adriana of bewitching the king. After the second attempt on her life, she turns to her cousin, Celia, for help. Celia provides personal security, and she's perfect to protect Adriana, if she's not distracted by her own problems.

I love the cover of Mary Ellen Taylor's The Union Street Bakery. Daisy McCrae's life is a mess. She lost her job, broke up with her boyfriend, and is now living in the attic above her family business, the Union Street Bakery, while she learns the business. However, the bakery isn't doing well, and Daisy has never felt as if she was a real McCrae since she was adopted. When a customer dies and leaves a journal from the 1850s, Daisy is compelled to dig into the past of the town and her family.

Triss Stein takes readers into a more recent past in her mystery Brooklyn Bones. Erica Donato is a widow who only wants to work on her PhD research. But when her daughter discovers a skeleton behind the wall in their Brooklyn home, their curiosity and interest in the past lead them in to the pre-gentrification days of their neighborhood. And, there are some people who want that past to stay buried.

The Territory by Tricia Fields won the Tony Hillerman prize when it first came out. Now, the debut mystery will be released in paperback. No one in Artemis, Texas suspected it would become an entrance into the United States for Mexican drug runners. But most locals would rather take the law into their own hands than get help from police chief Josie Gray. However, as she investigates and makes arrests, it becomes clear that Josie is up against forces on both sides.

Did you ever wish you could be someone else? In Allie Larkin's Why Can't I Be You, Jenny Shaw impulsively answers to someone else's name, and steps into Jessie Morgan's life. But, when she digs into Jessie's past, she discovers a secret that forces her to make another leap into the unknown.

Patti Callahan Henry's latest novel, And Then I Found You, is due out in April. It's based on her personal family history with adoption. It's told from the points of view of birth mother, Kate Vaughn, and her thirteen-year-old daughter, following twenty years and the characters as they move through their lives. Kate's memories keep holding her back until she decides to conquer her past and visit the father of the baby she gave up for adoption. Their reunion, and a Facebook post trigger events that will change a number of lives.

Which one of these books will go on your TBR (To Be Read) list?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Julie Hyzy's Note

I just reviewed Julie Hyzy's bestselling mystery, Fonduing Fathers. Julie has written three series. Her White House Chef mysteries feature Olivia (Ollie) Paras. The first of the five books, The State of the Onion, won the Anthony and Barry Awards for Best Paperback, and I was lucky enough to be in the audience when Buffalo West Wing won the 2012 Anthony Award for Best Paperback. That weekend at Bouchercon was also the first time I met Julie Hyzy, although it seems as if I've known her since 2008 when The State of the Onion came out. Julie's website is

Thank you, Julie, for this note in my book.

"Dear Lesa,

Evansville is so lucky! And you know what? I am too, because now you're a little bit closer to my hometown? Not like I'm looking at this selfishly or anything <grin> Congratulations on your new position! You bring sunshine wherever you go and we all love you for it. Funny how this Internet works - I've considered you a dear friend for years even though we only met in person for the first time this year. I can't tell you how hapy I was to finally get a chance to give you a real hug.

Best of luck, Lesa. You don't need it, of course. You are the best. Thank you for all you do.

Big hugs,
Julie Hyzy"

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sophie Littlefield's Note

This week, I helped to bring two of my favorite things together, an author and a program. Sophie Littlefield is going to be the guest speaker for Maricopa County's "Back to the Beach" program. Sophie started out with a bang. Her first mystery, A Bad Day for Sorry, won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and was nominated for three other awards. She's gone on to write urban fantasy and YA novels as well. I recommended her for "Back to the Beach" for all those reasons, but particularly because she'll have a new book out. Once again, Sophie is branching out with her novel, Garden of Stones. Here's the overview of the book, as seen on Barnes & Noble's website.


In the dark days of war, a mother makes the ultimate sacrifice

Lucy Takeda is just fourteen years old, living in Los Angeles, when the bombs rain down on Pearl Harbor. Within weeks, she and her mother, Miyako, are ripped from their home, rounded up—along with thousands of other innocent Japanese-Americans—and taken to the Manzanar prison camp.

Buffeted by blistering heat and choking dust, Lucy and Miyako must endure the harsh living conditions of the camp. Corruption and abuse creep into every corner of Manzanar, eventually ensnaring beautiful, vulnerable Miyako. Ruined and unwilling to surrender her daughter to the same fate, Miyako soon breaks. Her final act of desperation will stay with Lucy forever…and spur her to sins of her own.

Thank you, Sophie, for saying yes when I suggested your name for "Back to the Beach". And, thank you for saying yes when Chantelle Osman asked you to write in my gift book. Here's Sophie's note.

From Sophie Littlefield -

"Dear Lesa,

You were among the first in the mystery community to make me feel like there was a place for me. I was encouraged and buoyed by your warmth and kindness then, and you remain one of the reasons that I love my job. As a former Hoosier, I'm delighted that you'll be making Indiana your home! In the words of the old Hoagy Carmichael song, 'Back in Indiana I will find/ All the folks so dear to me.' Adventures ahead!


Thank you, Sophie. And, may all your adventures bring excitement and joy.

Sophie Littlefield's website is

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller & Bill Pronzini

The mystery world's only living couple to be honored as Grand Masters by Mystery Writers of America join forces for the fourth novel written together. Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini have a fascinating collaboration in The Bughouse Affair. Pronini has written novels featuring John Quincannon, a former United States Secret Service Agent. Together, Muller and Pronzini wrote a story collection, Carpenter and Quincannon: Professional Detective Services. Now, fifteen years later, they bring their characters back for two diverging cases that find them meeting up with an interfering man, an Englishman claiming to be Sherlock Holmes.

In 1894 San Francisco, Qunicannon has been in business with Sabrina Carpenter, a former Pinkerton detective, for three years. Although they're business partners, he would like to be more, but the attractive widow has refused his advances. She does see through his tough exterior, though, to see the sensitive man. But, a recent news story by Ambrose Bierce finds Quincannon blustery. Bierce proclaims it a lie when a San Francisco visitor claims to be the late Sherlock Holmes who reportedly died three years earlier at Reichenbach Falls. Quincannon doesn't believe that Holmes was the greatest detective, and he's even angrier when the claimant foils Quincannon's attempt to catch a burglar. The man's pontifications only convince Quincannon that the man is nuts.

Quincannon is attempting to catch a burglar who is stealing from customers of the Great Western insurance company. Sabrina Carpenter has her own case, the search for a female pickpocket who has been targeting male customers at a local amusement park. The two cases seem to have nothing in common, but as the two detectives deal with escapes and murder, they find their searches leading in similar directions. Their cases may be frustrating, but not as frustrating as trying to deal with the "scrawny gibbering imitation" of Sherlock Holmes.

It's evident why Muller and Pronzini are masters. They deftly handle the historic San Francisco, the mystery, two fascinating private investigators, and the interesting addition of Sherlock Holmes. The Bughouse Affair is a serious story with comic moments. Anyone interested in historical mysteries or Sherlock Holmes pastiches will appreciate the latest effort of this wonderful team. Here's hoping we won't have to wait years for the next Carpenter and Quincannon mystery.

Marcia Muller's website is

The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini. Forge. 2013. ISBN 9780765331748 (hardcover), 276p.

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chris Grabenstein's post

Too much time watching the inauguration yesterday to finish my book. So, today I'm going to share the post in my guest book from one of my favorite authors, Chris Grabenstein. Many of you may not know Chris, but I've been reading his Ceepak mysteries for years, as well as his juvenile mysteries. His first Ceepak mystery, Tilt-a-Whirl, won the 2006 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. His Zack Jennings mysteries for juveniles are fantastic. I've frequently told Chris the books have the best step-mother in them that I've seen in books. In that series, three of the four books won awards for Best Children's or YA Mystery. And, he and I share a love of an obscure Disney series The Scarecrow.of Romney Marsh. (If you know the series, you'll recognize the cover of The Black Heart Crypt.)

Thank you, Chris, for this comment in my book.

"Here's to Lesa who has written the best reviews of all my books. And I don't say that because she usually likes what I have written. I say that because they are the best written reviews in the world.

Lesa is such a trusted voice about what works and what doesn't, she is actually one of the few people to ever read the manuscript for a book called TO DIE FOREVER. In fact, the book was called LAZLO (after the main character) until Lesa gave me that much better title. If it ever gets published, look for LH on the dedication page.

Thanks for being such a fan of the mystery genre. The mystery genre is a big fan of yours!

Chris Grabenstein"

Don't we look young? This was at the first Thrillerfest in Phoenix in 2006.
Chris Grabenstein's website is

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Llama of Death by Betty Webb

Once again, Betty Webb combines mystery, humor, and animal knowledge in her latest Gunn Zoo Mystery, The Llama of Death. Don't hesitate to pick it up even if you haven't read the two earlier books. Teddy Bentley is truly on her own in this murder investigation, and readers won't have problems picking up the background.

Theodora "Teddy" Bentley, a zookeeper at the Gunn Zoo in California, is tending Alejandro, a llama, at the Gunn Landing Renaissance Faire. Alejandro's appearances with children raise money for the zoo, and Teddy is his caretaker because Aster Edwina, the wealthy ruler of the Gunn Trust, the Gunn Zoo, and other properties, bullied her into doing it. Teddy, whose father embezzled money and fled to Costa Rica, leaving his wife, Caro, and daughter to fend for themselves, was easily bullied. But, Caro, whose beauty brought her a number of ex-husbands, was not so easily bullied. And, she snapped when the Reverend Victor Emerson, playing Henry VIII, picked a younger woman to portray Anne Boleyn at the faire. Caro wasn't happy to be a lady-in-waiting.

When Alejandro found the body of the reverend, Teddy was too busy tending to his needs to realize her mother would be a natural suspect in the reverend's murder. And, with Teddy's fiance, Sheriff Joe Rojas, in Virginia at a Homeland Security refresher course, it falls to an incompetent deputy, Elvin Dade to mess up the crime scene and take the lead on the investigation. Once humiliated by Caro, it doesn't take long before he arrests her, accusing her of killing Emerson.

Despite repeated calls to Joe, Teddy can't get through to him, so she decides she has to investigate, find the killer, and get her mother out of jail. It doesn't help that her father, a fugitive from the law, shows up to try to help his beloved ex-wife. At times, Teddy comes across as the only mature figure in the book, as she searches for a killer, while juggling the childish behavior of her parents. Her father refuses to stay hidden, and her mother faces thirty days in jail for stirring up trouble.

Betty Webb's Gunn Zoo stories are always intriguing mysteries. However, it's the characters and the animals that stand out in her books. Webb skillfully introduces information about zoo animals; llamas, honeybadgers, Mojave rattlesnakes, lemurs. The information is fascinating, and she blends it beautifully into the plot of the book. Teddy's daily job, as well as her television segment, provide opportunities for animal background. Those animals are vividly described, and they become important characters, just as the humans in the books do.

And, the humans in Webb's mysteries are fascinating. So many of them have secrets. Teddy Bentley, the daughter of a fugitive, is not only good at keeping secrets. She's good at uncovering them. With Joe gone, she has to rely on her own knowledge and skills to uncover a killer. When she does, her life is once again endangered at her favorite spot, the Gunn Zoo.

If you like zoo animals, eccentric characters, humor in mysteries, and a solid plot, you'll want to pick up The Llama of Death by Betty Webb. It's another success from a master of the comic mystery.

Betty Webb's website is

The Llama of Death by Betty Webb. Poisoned Pen Press. 2013. ISBN 9781464200663 (hardcover), 257p.

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

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Everyone has been understanding that I've moved and am settling in to my new home and new job. That doesn't mean I don't feel guilty because there hasn't been a daily blog. So, here's a potpourri for all of you who meet me over coffee, tea or hot chocolate in the morning.

So, let's start with another note from an author in my gift book. Brad Parks, author of the Carter Ross mysteries, sent a note. And, speaking of Carter Ross, the latest book in that series, The Good Cop, is due out March 5th.

Brad's note - "Lesa, I know you'll miss sweating out those referendums -- and sweating, in general -- but I can't help but think this is a great move for you. And for all the friends you'll miss in Arizona, just think of all the friends (like me) who will be with you anywhere you go. Congratulations to the mystery community's favorite library scientist...and thanks for being you. Fondly, Brad"

Thank you, Brad.I hope you know the feeling is mutual.

Because I haven't finished Betty Webb's The Llama of Death yet, I'm going to talk about the new arrivals. Before I lost time, I regularly posted "New Arrivals" on Facebook, the new books that arrived in my mailbox. So, here's a teaser, the books that arrived in my mailbox this past week.

I'll be reviewing Melodie Campbell's The Goddaughter in a couple weeks. Gina Gallo would love to just run her little jewelry shop. Unfortunately, she's also connected, "the Goddaughter", and, when she has to handle a situation for her cousin after he's shot by rival mobsters, it only gets worse. Gina and her best friend have to team up to recover some stolen gems.

Kate Watterson's Frozen is the first in a trilogy of mass market suspense novels that will star Wisconsin Detective Ellie MacIntosh. The book follows the small town detective racing to catch a serial killer before another woman is taken, while trying to prove the main suspect is innocent.

I received three books that come out in April. Hallie Ephron's There Was an Old Woman is a novel of psychological suspense in which a young woman becomes entangled in a terrifying web of deception and madness involving her elderly neighbor.

Katie Fforde is one of my favorite authors of romantic comedies. In A Perfect Proposal, a young Englishwoman, whose family never takes her seriously, gets an unexpected proposal from a dashing American, but it's not what you think. (Can't wait!) Fforde's books always have strong heroines, humor, and happy endings.

Henery Press is a small press publishing delightful mysteries. Their late April release is Kendel Lynn's Board Stiff. Elliott Lisbon is director of the Ballantyne Foundation on Sea Pine Island, SC. She normally scratches her detective itch by performing discreet inquiries for Foundation donors. But, when the board chair is accused of murder, Elliott's investigations take a deadly turn.

And, the other book from Henery Press, Gretchen Archer's Double Whammy, comes out in May. Davis Way thinks she's hit the jackpot when she lands a job as part of an elite security team at a fabulous casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Instead, she ends up in jail in a case of mistaken identity, until her landlord steps in to help her fix a high stakes game.

I hope to have that book review for you tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope you had time for a hot drink while you caught up with my books.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fonduing Fathers by Julie Hyzy

Julie Hyzy's latest White House Chef mystery, Fonduing Fathers, could certainly be read as a standalone, but for all of us who have been faithful readers of the series, this book is a treat. Olivia Paras is still at the White House, however this book is a personal story. Hyzy has been hinting at secrets about Ollie's father. Now, Ollie and the reader has the chance to dig into his past.

Ollie's father died when she was little, and she only knew he was buried at Arlington. She visited his grave there, knowing he served his country. She couldn't believe her mother when she finally revealed that Ollie's father had actually been dishonorably charged from the army, and a friend found a way to get him buried there. She was shocked, though, to learn that her father had been murdered, shot and left for dead. Ollie certainly wasn't going to let those two stories alone. She knew in her heart that her father was a hero, and she was determined to dig into the past and find the truth.

Over the course of the series, Ollie has been involved in a number of threatening situations that dealt with national security. She's sure investigating her father's background will really only matter to her and her mother. However, when her boyfriend, Gav, introduces her to a secretive man who warns her against digging too deep, Ollie realizes her father may have  been a bigger hero than she ever realized. Once again, Ollie Paras' actions set her on a dangerous path.

Hyzy has won Anthony and Barry Awards for this series. Deservedly so. Ollie and her friends are well-developed characters with complex lives and relationships. And, the course of investigations and romance have not always been smooth. Now, Hyzy wraps mystery, romance, and undercover investigations into an excellent story with secrets that haunt survivors decades later. Some readers will complain there isn't enough of the White House kitchen in this book. However, those of us who have grown to love Ollie will be pleased that Ollie's investigation is rewarded with answers and love. As I said, Julie Hyzy's Fonduing Fathers is a treat for readers who delight in Ollie Paras' perilous adventures as White House chef.

Julie Hyzy's website is

Fonduing Fathers by Julie Hyzy. Berkley Prime Crime. 2012. ISBN 9780425251812 (paperback), 293p.

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Edgar Nominees

Mystery Writers of America just announced the nominees for this year's Edgar awards. Here's their announcement.
Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce as we celebrate the 204th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, its Nominees for the 2013 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television, published or produced in 2012. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 67th Gala Banquet, May 2, 2013 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn (Crown Publishers)
Potboiler by Jesse Kellerman (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Sunset by Al Lamanda (Gale Cengage Learning – Five Star)
Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
All I Did Was Shoot My Man by Walter Mosley (Penguin Group USA – Riverhead Books)


The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay (Random House Publishing– Ballantine)
Don’t Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman (Minotaur Books - Thomas Dunne Books)
Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal (Random House Publishing– Bantam Books)
The Expats by Chris Pavone (Crown Publishers)
The 500 by Matthew Quirk (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Reagan Arthur)
Black Fridays by Michael Sears (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Complication by Isaac Adamson (Soft Skull Press)
Whiplash River by Lou Berney (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow Paperbacks)
Bloodland by Alan Glynn (Picador)
Blessed are the Dead by Malla Nunn (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books - Emily Bestler Books)
The Last Policeman: A Novel by Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books)


Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted

the Last Days of Old China by Paul French (Penguin Group USA – Penguin Books)

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
by Gilbert King (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)
More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers’ Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered
by D.P. Lyle, MD (Medallion Press)
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre (Crown Publishers)
The People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from
the Streets of Tokyo – and the Evil that Swallowed Her Up
by Richard Lloyd Parry (Farrar Straus & Giroux Originals)
Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: The Hard-Boiled Detective Transformed
by John Paul Athanasourelis (McFarland and Company)
Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest
Mystery Novels edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke
(Simon & Schuster – Atria Books – Emily Bestler Books)
The Scientific Sherlock Holmes: Cracking the Case with Science and Forensics
by James O’Brien (Oxford University Press)
In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the
Creation of an American Hero edited by Otto Penzler (Smart Pop)


"Iphigenia in Aulis" – An Apple for the Creature by Mike Carey (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books)
"Hot Sugar Blues" – Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance
by Steve Liskow (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Mulholland Books)
"The Void it Often Brings With It” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
by Tom Piccirilli (Dell Magazines)
"The Unremarkable Heart" – Mystery Writers of America Presents: Vengeance
by Karin Slaughter (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company – Mulholland Books)
"Still Life No. 41" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Teresa Solana
(Dell Magazines)


Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O’Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind
by Tom Angleberger (Abrams – Amulet Books)
13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau (Abrams – Amulet Books)
The Quick Fix by Jack D. Ferraiolo (Abrams – Amulet Books)
Spy School by Stuart Gibbs (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
(Penguin Young Readers Group – Dial Books for Young Readers)

Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak
(Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – Roaring Brook Press)
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (Penguin Young Readers Group – Viking)
Crusher by Niall Leonard (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte BFYR)
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
(Penguin Young Readers Group – Dutton Children’s Books)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Disney Publishing Worldwide - Hyperion)

“Pilot” – Longmire, Teleplay by Hunt Baldwin & John Coveny (A&E/Warner Horizon Television)
“Child Predator” – elemeNtarY, Teleplay by Peter Blake (CBS Productions)
“Slaughterhouse” – Justified, Teleplay by Fred Golan (Sony Pictures Television/FX Productions)
“A Scandal in Belgravia” – Sherlock, Teleplay by Steven Moffat (BBC/Masterpiece)
“New Car Smell” – Homeland, Teleplay by Meredith Stiehm (Showtime/Fox21)

"When They Are Done With Us" – Staten Island Noir
by Patricia Smith (Akashic Books)

Ken Follett
Margaret Maron

Oline Cogdill
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, San Diego & Redondo Beach, CA
Akashic Books

(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, May 1, 2013)

Dead Scared by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur Books)
A City of Broken Glass by Rebecca Cantrell (Forge Books)
The Reckoning by Jane Casey (Minotaur Books)
The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)
Sleepwalker by Wendy Corsi Staub (HarperCollins Publishers - Harper)
Congratulations to a couple friends on this list!

Carolyn Hart on New Books and Old

Carolyn Hart sent a peek at a few recent books, some forthcoming titles, and a piece she wrote about new books, and old. Thank you, Carolyn!

 Published in 2012: 
 Reprints: FLEE FROM THE PAST and RENDEZVOUS IN VERARUZ, Oconee Spirit Press;  SKULDUGGERY, Seventh Street Books.
 Forthcoming new in 2013: DEAD, WHITE AND BLUE in May, and GHOST GONE WILD in October. 
 Forthcoming Reprints: THE DEVEREAUX LEGACY, February, Seventh Street Books; A SETTLING OF ACCOUNTS, Oconee, March; ESCAPE FROM PARIS, Seventh Street Books; June; THE SECRET OF THE CELLARS, Oconee, July, and BRAVE HEARTS, Seventh Street Books, August.
All of the abone is why I wrote the piece below:

    I'm not a fan of reunions. It isn't that I don't enjoy remembering those out of my past, it is more than I want to remember them as they were, young, vibrant, so many exciting adventures ahead of them. I like to live in the present, which may be the only Zen quality of someone who is challenged to sit still for more than a few minutes at a time. 

    True to this mantra, I've never given much thought over time to old books. In my case, that would be 14 books published prior to Death on Demand in 1987. The 34 books since 1987 have remained in print since publication.

    The advent of ebook technology changed my attitude and gave me an appreciation for remembering past loves, the books that I thought were consigned to dusty garage sales. 

    Authors who hold the rights to their early works have many avenues open to them. They can self publish as ebooks, which provides better monetary reward, or they can explore posting the ebooks on Amazon exclusively for a year then deciding what platforms to add, or they can seek a small press that would take both print and ebook rights. 

    In 2011, Amazon posted all 14 early books plus two short story collections with exclusive rights for a year. Sales were respectable but the unexpected outcome for me meant a great deal more than accruing royalties. Two small presses - Seventh Street Books and Oconee Spirit Press - are now republishing between them seven of those titles. 

    I love this because I am still an old fashioned want to-hold-the-book-in-my-hand reader. 

    There have been other huge - not monetary - rewards for me.

    Finally, after 29 years, ESCAPE FROM PARIS, a WWII suspense novel set in Occupied France in 1940, is available as it was first written. To make the initial sale to a small pub house in England, i cut 40,000 words from a 93,000 word ms. When some of my backlist was previously reissued, I refused to have Escape from Paris republished unless in its entirety. When the offer came from Amazon to post the backlist as ebooks, I included the book on the understanding I would provide the complete original ms. 

    Sometimes our author's angel sits on our shoulders. The book was written before computers and all I had were the tattered bond paper pages. In 2001 - for no good reason, no one wanted the book or as far as I knew ever would - I hired a typist to put it in an efile. That file resided untouched in my computer for years but it was there when I needed it. I plunged into revising and improving the book. 

    I had not reread the book since I finished it in 1980. I came into the house one evening and my husband asked me what was wrong. I suppose the strain was evident. I said I'd been reading Escape from Paris and discovered I used to write tougher, harder books. His response summed it up: Readers will find a Carolyn Hart they never knew. The first edition of the complete book was briefly published last year and will be reissued in both paper and ebook by Seventh Street Books in June.

    I didn't do many revisions to the other earlier titles. Re-reading Rendezvous in Veracruz, a light romantic suspense novel set in Mexico City in the early '80s, was a different experience alotgether. I  told the editor that rereading it was better than a trip to the Fountain of Youth. The background was drawn from time I spent as a freshman at Mexico City College. When I read the galleys I felt once again that I was eighteen and living in Mexico City. Oconee Spirit press published it in 2012. 

      The rebirth of early titles either as ebooks or as ebooks and paper prompted me to look in my closet. All old wirters have closets and in mine were several never before published mss. Berkley put out Cry in the Night last fall as an ebook only, but it will soon be published in paperback. 

    Another early ms. - which might possibly shock my readers - is a very sexy novel of danger and suspense in first century Rome and my agent has just submitted it. I'll let you know what happens.

    My advice to writers is to be sure that you get reversion of rights of all OP books if at all possible. A negative aspect of ebooks is that publishers can retain rights by keeping books available as ebooks but with no paper copies available. I think some agents are now trying to inlcude in contracts a provision that a certain number of ebook sales must be made or the rights are reverted.

    Many writers are doing their own self pub of ebooks and doing very well with them.

    As almost everyone agrees, no one in publishing is sure of how much ebooks will transform our world. To my surprise, the ebook revolution has brought the past close to me and now my books are available if there are any readers who wish to seek them out. I don't foresee a big audience or big sales, but the nicest part for me is remembering books that I'd not thought about in years and rediscovering the writer I once was. 

Carolyn Hart's website is

Monday, January 14, 2013


I can't thank my mom and sisters enough for all their help getting my apartment to feel like home. Pictures hung, furniture in place, clothes unpacked. They're back in Ohio today, and I start work at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library. I'm ready, thanks to them!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sisters Arrived!

My sisters arrived on Friday afternoon. The moving van arrives first thing this morning. We'll be unpacking for quite a while. Yay! Beds, chairs, a table. Good to have my clothes for work. Back to the blog soon.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Patricia Penton Leimbach - RIP

Most readers here will not have heard of Patricia Penton Leimbach. But, she's an author I've mentioned before, an author who made an important contribution to my life, although she never knew it.

My Aunt Gerry gave me an autographed copy of Patricia Leimbach's first book, A Thread of Blue Denim. She heard her speak at a conference. I was a new Library Director in Huron, Ohio, and I invited Pat to speak at the library. A Thread of Blue Denim was the first autographed book I ever owned, and Pat Leimbach was the first author who ever spoke for me at a library. To this day, although I bought her other books, that book remains a comfort read for me, the book I turn to when nothing else will suit. On top of everything else, I used some of her pieces when I did readers' theater in Florida. Any of the librarians who performed with me would recognize some of the pieces.

Rest in Peace, Patricia Penton Leimbach. You touched and changed my life, and never knew it.

Here is her obituary, as it appeared in The Chronicle-Telegram.

Patricia Penton Leimbach, 85, of Brownhelm Township, passed away on Saturday, January 5, 2013, following a short illness.

She was born in Amherst in 1927 and graduated from Amherst Central High School in 1945. She graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, did graduate studies at McGill University in Montreal, and taught for a couple of years at Henrietta High School.

Upon marrying Paul Leimbach in 1950, Pat moved to End O’Way Farms in Brownhelm Township, where she lived for the rest of her life, serving as an active partner in the family’s potato, vegetable, and grain farming operation. Her community activities included church, historical society, and book club. She enjoyed art museums, skiing, theater and cinema, and was an avid reader.

Pat was known nationwide in the U.S. and Canada as the Country Wife. She wrote a weekly rural life column for the Chronicle Telegram of Elyria, for 38 years. Her articles were also published in farm publications nationwide and were compiled into her three books: A Thread of Blue Denim, All My Meadows, and A Harvest of Bittersweet.

Pat’s notable accomplishments were honored as she was elected to the Amherst High School Gallery of Success, named a Distinguished Alumna of her college, featured in Country Woman magazine as an outstanding farm woman, presented with the Leaven Award by American Agri-Women, and inducted into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Pat is survived by her brother, John; her son, Orrin (Cathie); her grandchildren, Kelly Bristow (Tom), Sarah, Lisel, Paul, Erika, and Shannon Leimbach; and great grandchildren, Michayla Burke, Riley Bland, and Preston Dudek. She is preceded in death by her husband, Paul; her sons, Dane and Ted; her sister, Mary Alice Kovach; and her brothers, Erik, Ted, Henry, and William Penton.

Pat donated her body to Case Western Reserve’s school of medicine for research and education. A memorial service, celebrating Pat’s life, will be held on Saturday, January 26, 2013, at the Brownhelm Congregational United Church of Christ at 11 AM. There will be visitation at the church on Friday, January 25, 2013, from 6:30 to 9 P.M.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in honor of Pat may be made to the Brownhelm United Church of Christ, 2144 North Ridge Road, Vermilion, OH, 44089; or the Brownhelm Historical Association, P.O. Box 303, Vermilion, OH, 44089.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Post

Good morning! No post today, just a note that I've been doing a lot of running around trying to get things organized. Busy!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Arrived in Evansville

Mom, the cats, and I arrived in Evansville on Sunday night. Monday, we moved into my new apartment. The furniture isn't here yet, but I have Internet!

Just to let everyone know, the cats were wonderful on the trip. They did a great job on the entire trip across country. No cat capers to report.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

A Note from Libby Fischer Hellmann

I love the note Libby Fischer Hellmann put in my gift book. Libby appeared at Velma Teague a few times for me. Libby writes the Ellie Foreman and Georgia Davis series set in Chicago, as well as standalones, Set the Night on Fire and A Bitter Veil. Thank you, Libby.

Not sorry your library couldn't hold on to you.
Not sorry you're leaving Arizona.
Not sorry you have to pack everything up...
Not sorry you're moving to Indiana...

Because you'll be MUCH closer to ME in Chicago!! Yay!
Consider me dancing with joy!! Can't wait for you to come up and visit.


Monday, January 07, 2013

Guest Review - Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Ella MacNeal

I bought both of the books in this series, and haven't had time to read them. I'm so glad Cindy D. reviewed the second one for you. (My sister raved about the first in the series.) Thanks again, Cindy, for the guest reviews.


Some historical novels/mysteries are very loosely based in the period in which they are set.  Others are very true to the period.  PRINCESS ELIZABETH’S SPY is in the latter category.

Maggie Hope was previously a secretary to Winston Churchill (MR. CHURCHILL’S SECRETARY).  She is recruited by British Intelligence and after failing the training to be dropped on the continent, is assigned to be a maths tutor for fourteen year old Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle.  A lady in waiting dies and Maggie investigates and gets drawn into a complicated scheme involving German secret codes, Nazi spies, members of the household staff who aren’t who they appear and ending on board a U-2 submarine. 

MacNeal uses her extensive research into life at the castle to write about daily life and the austerity of wartime in fascinating detail.  The setting, especially the sense of the period, is the strong point of the book.  The mystery is complicated and well developed, but sometimes a bit unbelievable. However,  the details of the period and ways that Maggie figures out what is going on and what she must do next make compelling reading.

There are frequent references to events in the first book, especially Maggie’s almost fiancee, which will make the reader want to read the first book, and the third book (HIS MAJESTY’S HOPE, due out in May 2013) more or less begins in the ending of this one, so the books in the series are tightly tied together.  Readers who like historical mysteries will want to read all three.
Susan Elia MacNeal's website is
Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal. Random House. 2012. ISBN 9780553593624 (paperback), 384p.