Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bearly Departed by Meg Macy

It's been eight years since John J. Lamb's Bear Collectors mystery series ended, but I still remember them with fondness. Now, Meg Macy (half of the D.E. Ireland team) steps in to launch "A Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear Mystery". Bearly Departed, set in a small town in Michigan, features history, manufacturing, and sales of teddy bears. How can a teddy bear be involved in murder?

Sasha Alexander manages the Silver Bear Shop and Factory, while her more organized sister, Maddie, runs the office. It's a family enterprise. Her parents own it, but her father has turned the day-to-day running of it over to Sasha. That's one more reason it comes as a shock when their salesman, Will Taylor, announces he's talked with her father, and they're laying off employees, and going to outside some of the manufacturing to China. Sasha can't believe her father would do it, and tells the employees that has to be wrong. Her Uncle Ross, in charge of the sewing team, tells everyone he'll kill Will before that happens. When Sasha and Maddie find Taylor's body on the floor of the factory, stuffed with teddy bear fluff, she's afraid Ross will top the suspect list. But, why is there a teddy bear, cut open, on the floor as well?

Gossip runs rampant in a small town. Rumors abound about Will's infidelity. There are stories of drug buys and missing young men. Other than Ross, who hated Taylor enough to kill him? Because the homicide detective isn't from Silver Hollow, Sasha takes it upon herself to talk to friends and neighbors. Soon, she's hearing stories that shake her confidence. There are even stories about Maddie's plans to leave the family business.

While Sasha Alexander comes across as impulsive and disorganized at times, she's an ideal amateur sleuth with a dog she needs to walk, and connections to people throughout the community. Bearly Departed is a charming debut, about family and community. Cozy mystery readers who appreciate family connections might want to try Macy's new book.

Meg Macy's website is www.megmacy.com

Bearly Departed by Meg Macy. Kensington. 2017. ISBN 9781496709639 (paperback), 288p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review it for a journal.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Book Chat - Cozy Mysteries from Berkley

There's a motor in the background of this month's book chat. Believe it or not, that's Jinx purring. He just loves being the center of attention.




Here's the list of mysteries discussed in the book chat. Enjoy!

Lorna Barrett - Title Wave - 10th Booktown Mystery
                         A Just Clause - 11th Booktown Mystery - hardcover
Kate Carlisle - Once Upon a Spine - 10th Bibliophile Mystery - hardcover
Elizabeth Lynn Casey - Patterned After Death - 12th Southern Sewing Circle Mystery
Kate Collins - Yews with Caution - 18th Flower Shop Mystery
Kay Finch - The Black Cat Sees His Shadow - 3rd Bad Luck Cat Mystery
Victoria Laurie - A Grave Prediction - 14th Psychic Eye Mystery
Kylie Logan - French Fried - 2nd Ethnic Eats Mystery
Maggie Sefton - Knit to Be Tied - 14th Knitting Mystery
                           Only Skein Deep - 15th Knitting Mystery - hardcover

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Have You Heard? - Braking Points by Tammy Kaehler

It just seems appropriate today to post one of Sandie Herron's reviews of Tammy Kaehler's audios in the Kate Reilly series. After all, the Indianapolis 500 is today. Both Sandie and Tammy are race fans. And, what can we say about Kate herself?

Braking Points AudiobookBraking Points
Series: A Kate Reilly Mystery, Book 2
Written by Tammy Kaehler, Narrated by Nicole Vilencia
Unabridged Audiobook
Listening Length: 10 hours and 37 minutes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio (April 2, 2013)
ASIN: B00C56GTL6
**** stars

It is abundantly clear that Tammy Kaehler has done her homework when following auto race driver Kate Reilly.  Kate relishes her team’s role racing Corvettes, but during a practice session at Road America, she tangles with a popular NASCAR driver landing him in the hospital.  Kate ends up the butt of nasty e-mails, threatening blog posts, and intimidating broadcasts of her performance.  

Next she arrives in Atlanta to train for the ten-hour Petit Le Mans race with her fellow drivers and team.  She is excited to meet and catch up with two women with whom she spent her early racing career.  One leaves for a moment, and when she doesn’t return, Kate goes to look for her only to find her dead body in the parking lot.  Police determine the drink Kate had ordered which her friend actually drank contained a drug which caused a fatal reaction.  Kate is devastated and wonders who, of all the people being nasty to her, is trying to kill her.  

After hiring a publicity firm to handle the worst of the bullying, Kate cherishes her private role with a cancer survivor charity.  She is angered when her involvement is shared with the press who focus on her racing persona, detracting from the charity.  A car almost runs Kate down, but she escapes any physical injury.  She was spending the day being pampered and receiving instruction from the cosmetics company for whom she is now a spokesperson.  Kate learns she can accent her feminine appearance without diminishing her racing profile.

Kate’s estranged father has been hanging around the track, getting in snippets of conversation around Kate’s functions.  She isn’t making it hard for him to reach her, but she sure isn’t making it easy.  She has little desire to be involved in his life, yet he wants to introduce his family and involve her in their activities since they are all benefactors of a family trust.  Kate meets some family at nearby Chateau Elan only to find they are brats and bullies of a different kind.

Kate is riding a stream of emotions that keep her juggling her responses to the nasty retorts of a race blogger who does not like women in the driver’s seat to the new sponsor who welcomes her into their fold to her new boyfriend Stuart whom she is not sure she can trust.  She finds herself grieving her friend in snatches between the many activities leading up to race day.

Kate’s driving presents as bare bones streaming, silent dialogue of the actions needed in each spot on the track.  Under Kate’s helmet, her focus is solely on the driving task at hand.  She barely exits the driver’s seat when the world crowds in again -- a fan with access to pit road, reporters angling for the best photos and interviews, sponsors and team owners looking for excellent results.  Kate is able to take her excellent starting position to a stunning finish.


Reviewed by Sandie Herron

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Beach House Cookbook by Mary Kay Andrews

I do understand the meaning of Memorial Day, that it's a day to honor those who served and died in our wars. However, we've also made this weekend the kickoff to summer. That means it's also the perfect time to discuss Mary Kay Andrews' new book, The Beach House Cookbook.

Andrews' preface is charming. It's her life story as it connects to the beach and beach houses. And, each recipe begins with a story that's as chatty as that preface, welcoming readers to summer and beach and summer foods. Between the pictures, the chatty descriptions, and the titles of each section, readers will recognize a chance to relax. If you don't think of cooking as relaxation, you may after reading Andrews' recipes. It there are a number of ingredients, most of them come from the seasonings. She's tried for beach simple.

Mary Kay Andrews has recipes for a Low Country Boil, a Fourth of July Dinner, a Lazy Weekend Brunch, a Beach Picnic. And, the recipes are from the South - Savannah Red Rice, Fried Okra Cakes, fried chicken and potato salad, garlic shrimp, pimento cheese. And, of course, there are biscuits. Andrews has a story to tell about those as well. There are stories and gorgeous photos of food that are guaranteed to make you hungry.

Andrews even has interesting names for some of the dishes, ones that you probably recognize if you're from the South, such as Pig Candy, which is brown sugar-spiced bacon. The one recipe I can attest to is one I've made before, but with the recipe in front of me, I made it again for a potluck at work, and it was a hit. I hadn't heard it called "Trailer Trash Dessert" before, though. But, it consists of layers of ice cream sandwiches, hot fudge topping, caramel topping, whipped topping and chocolate toffee bits. It's the perfect ending to a beach lunch or supper.

The Beach House Cookbook is bright, cheerful, and filled with delicious looking Southern food. It's just right to take to the beach, or to make easy recipes so you can pretend you're on vacation at your own beach house.

Mary Kay Andrews' website is www.marykayandrews.com

The Beach House Cookbook by Mary Kay Andrews. St. Martin's Press. 2017. ISBN 9781250130440 (hardcover), 254p.

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


Friday, May 26, 2017

Winners and The Next Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Tracee de Hahn's Swiss Vendetta is going to Judi M. from Portland, OR. Linda K. from Woodstock, MD won the copy of A Puzzle to Be Named Later. The books are going out in the mail today.

This week, there's no giveaway. I'll be in New York City most of next week for Book Expo. If you're just here to check on the contest, come back next Friday. I will start one on Friday.

If you come to my blog for book reviews or discussions, come back tomorrow. There will be a post.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What Are You Reading?

I just started Eloisa James' romance, Seven Minutes in Heaven. It's delightful, but I'll probably be reading it every Thursday when we talk for the next few weeks. I'm in the middle of the mystery reading for the July issue of Library Journal, and next week I'll be in New York City for Book Expo. So, there isn't a lot of time to read a romance.


For the next couple weeks, what are you reading is going to depend on you. So, today, while I'm around during the day, tell us all what you're reading. I'm looking forward to our conversation.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Have You Heard? - Miranda James' Murder Past Due

Sandie Herron has been listening to a series I enjoy, Miranda James' Cat in the Stacks mysteries. Here's her review of the first audiobook in the series, Murder Past Due.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61HyeKNVzmL._AA300_.jpgMurder Past Due
Series: Cat in the Stacks Mystery Book 1
Written by Miranda James
Narrated by Erin Bennett
Unabridged Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 46 minutes
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: February 25, 2014
ASIN: B00IMW17KA

I very much enjoyed Miranda James's (Dean James) first entry in the Cat in the Stacks series MURDER PAST DUE.  This was a relatively simple story that gained speed as it unfolded.  By the end, we had been treated to several twists and surprises that pointed to an unlikely conclusion.

Taking place in the college town of Athena, Mississippi, we are introduced to Charlie Harris, who is widowed and whose adult children are on their own.  Living in a large home, Charlie took in boarders who attended Athena College.  This semester just one boarder - Justin Wardlaw, son of school and college classmate Julia Wardlaw - lived with Charlie and his cat.  Diesel was a Maine Coon cat; therefore he was large among cat breeds.  In fact, Charlie almost always took Diesel wherever he went bound by a harness and leash.

Another classmate of Charlie and Julia, Godfrey Priest, had gone on to become a famous and popular author.  He returns to Athena for several reasons.  He is to do a signing of his new book just published.  He also wants to donate his "papers" to the college where Charlie was the head archivist.  A dinner was planned to thank Godfrey for his donation; however, he never made it. Several people stopped by to see Priest, with his final visitor being Charlie Harris, who found Godfrey dead in his hotel room.

First we discover that Charlie’s boarder Justin is Godfrey's son from an affair he and Julia had many years ago.  From there clues began popping up, or at least now that there was a murder to solve, they became more apparent.  If I shared them now, there would be no reason for you to enjoy this cozy mystery.

There were some things that strained believability.  Justin acted younger than 18, but then he's just been told that the only father he ever knew is not his father and then his biological father, Godfrey Priest, is killed, all in one day.  Charlie tries to help since he knew everyone, but his involvement was unnaturally formal and friendly at the same time.  On getting to know Charlie better, we discover that he is a southern gentleman which explains the importance of proper manners to him.  Julia was around a bit too often, hovering over Justin.  When the Will was read, Julia wanted to know how much was in the estate, in dollars, a rude question at the time.

While there might have been some flaws, I felt the clues to the murderer were well placed and plausible.  Their presentation was unpredictable yet believable.  When we learn more behind the motives, clues came together to support the final resolution, even though my jaw dropped once or twice on the way.  


A great first mystery in the Cat in the Stacks series.  I would enjoy seeing Charlie and Diesel in a certain sequel.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love by James Runcie

Although this latest book by James Runcie is part of "The Grantchester Mysteries", Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love really has very little mystery in it. At least, not mystery as crime fiction readers think of it. The stories in this collection are really about the mystery of life.

Readers who follow the series know this is the sixth book in the series that has been turned into the Grantchester series on PBS. That series features Sidney Chambers and his friend, Detective Inspector Geordie Keating, and it's centered on crimes that can be dark at times. However, these stories are heavy on details of Sidney and Geordie's personal lives as well.  Set from 1971 to 1976, this collection includes a murder, a missing teen, a missing book. There's a scandal at the church. And, there is a wealth of religious elements in it as Archdeacon Sidney Chambers contemplates faith, handles services, deals with a woman who wants more of a role in the church. There's music and family and friendship. Sidney spends a great deal of time contemplating his relationship with his wife. There's a surprising final chapter in this book that wraps up the series.

I was actually disappointed in this addition to the series. I haven't read the recent books, and maybe the books have been trending more towards religion and Sidney's personal life. But, that's not why I read the books. I'm looking for Sidney and Georgie to tackle crimes, and, if those crimes involve the mysteries of life, of personal relationships, that's fine. But, I wasn't expecting a book that focused on Sidney's religious and personal life with very few crimes.

I'd recommend Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love to Jan Karon's fans. This is a book about religion and faith. I wouldn't recommend it to readers looking for the next crime fiction collection.

James Runcie's website is www.jamesruncie.com

Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love by James Runcie. Bloomsbury. 2017. ISBN 9781632867940 (hardcover), 368p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received this book to review for a journal.






Monday, May 22, 2017

Have You Heard? - Tammy Kaehler's Kiss the Bricks

Sandie Herron has a timely book review for us, just before the Indianapolis 500. Herron reviews a recent book release, Tammy Kaehler's Kiss the Bricks. Thanks, Sandie!

Kiss the Bricks (Kate Reilly Mysteries Book 5) by [Kaehler, Tammy]KISS THE BRICKS
By Tammy Kaehler
Scottsdale, AZ:  Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date:  May 2, 2017
Trade Paperback Original

Tammy Kaehler takes us to see Kate Reilly race in the Indianapolis 500, one of the most popular auto races in the world.  Kate Reilly would consider winning the race a dream come true, while finishing the race is still a lofty goal.  The world would probably see her as the first female driver to win, one of Kate’s biggest gripes as well.  She wants to be considered a driver, just as any other male or female.  

Anyone who races in the Indy 500 participates in a series of events throughout the month of May.  Days of practice culminate in qualification in order to determine which 33 drivers are in the race as determined by their lap speeds.  Kate is shocked to find herself as the fastest driver of the field! Unfortunately, Kate’s next day of practice is a difficult one, and she finds herself near the bottom of the field.  Now Kate must contend with being compared to PJ Rodriguez, the first woman to be fastest on qualification day in 1987, followed by days of being in last place and ending with her death five days later.  The official cause of death is suicide, but many who knew PJ well believe it was murder.  

No investigation into PJ’s death thirty years ago was ever done.  The family comes to Kate with their feelings on PJs death and asks Kate to look into facts that might substantiate murder as the cause of death.  Kate’s reputation as an amateur sleuth has preceded her to the track.  Kate agrees to look into PJ’s death partly because she knows the tenacity needed to make it to the top and believes that PJ would not give up before meeting their mutual goal.  PJ bore the same pressures on being a “girl” driver as Kate does, so comparisons run rampant.

Kate is thrilled her grandfather is in Indianapolis for the weeks up to and including the race.  He stays with Kate and Holly, Kate’s roommate, her assistant, and best friend.  The three form Special Team Kate to investigate PJs murder.  They begin by trying to place who was at the race that had access to PJ and who would benefit by her death.  They are joined early in this task by Ryan, Kate’s FBI boyfriend, who is in town for the race.  He lends a professional quality to their research.

Many activities follow qualification day that involve Kate and bring her in touch with many people involved in Indy thirty years prior.  First Kate’s position in the field of drivers must be determined.  Next is a day of media and public relations where the Indy league sends teams of drivers to various major cities.  A team competition to see who has the fastest pit stop follows.  Numerous interviews with TV, radio, and print ventures keep Kate on her toes and busy between official events.  A festival parade is held on the Saturday prior to the race with the usual floats and participants as well as all the drivers.  

All these activities are interrupted by the murder of the man who had owned PJ’s team, also the father of one of Kate’s team owners.  Relationships between the people involved in present day mix and intertwine with those of thirty years ago.  Special Team Kate now considers viable possibilities for both murders.   

Everything culminates in the running of the Indy 500 race.  The twists and turns we have taken with Kate bring us to the conclusions of both mysteries.  Does Kate run the race to the end?  Is PJs death considered murder and if so, whodunit?  

I very much enjoyed this complex and detailed perspective on the Indy 500.  I found KISS THE BRICKS to be another step up in Tammy Kaehler’s writing skills, bringing us closer to the action and everything that makes up the Indy 500.  Definitely recommended.

Reviewed by Sandie Herron

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes

Plum Sykes, author of Bergdorf Blondes, now sets her sights on Oxford, England in the 1980s, and a group of college students who are pretentious, too wealthy for their own good, and only interested in partying. Party Girls Die in Pearls is the first Oxford Girl mystery, introducing Ursula Flowerbutton.

Ursula is a "Fresher", a new student at Christminster College at Oxford. She hopes to be a reporter for  Cherwell, the college newspaper, but she wouldn't mind meeting some posh students and attending some parties. Although Lady India Brattenbury doesn't invite Ursula to a party, another "Fresher", Nancy Feingold begs her to attend. Nancy, part of a wealthy gardening tool family from the United States, is dying to meet some of the upper-class British students. But, it's Ursula who finds India's body the morning after the drunken party. Now, she has the idea for a story for Cherwell. And, she has a reason to play "Nancy Drew".

While her nights are filled with parties, and her mornings with rowing, Ursula fits in time to pry into the stories of the students, and even her tutor. She and Nancy team up to discover who might have wanted India dead. A few too many people had reasons to dislike Lady Brattenbury, and some of them were too drunk to remember what they did the night of the murder.

Sykes' book is so caught up in the big hair, fashions, music and culture of the 1980s that there are numerous footnotes explaining '80s culture and Oxford slang and history. At times, it feels as if it's a Nancy Drew goes to Oxford mystery. I wasn't the right audience for Party Girls Die in Pearls. I'd recommend it only for new adults fascinated by the '80s.

Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes. Harper. 2017. ISBN 9780062429025 (hardcover), 352p.

*****
FTC full disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.




Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson

Romance, history, matchmaking, humor. It's all there in Penrose Halson's enjoyable account, The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London. Before eHarmony and Match.com and Tinder, there was the Marriage Bureau, founded in London by Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver in 1939.

In 1986 author Penrose Hanson took over Katharine Allen Marriage and Advice Bureau in London. It had been founded in 1960, modeled on the Marriage Bureau. In 1992, Heather Jenner's daughter asked the author to take over her clients.

It all started with Audrey Parson's Uncle George. Audrey, a farmer's daughter, had sailed from England to marry a young man who worked for her uncle in India. But, Audrey wasn't ready to marry. She returned home to England and took a number of tedious jobs, until her uncle invited her back to visit. On that visit, he suggested there were so many British men in Ceylon and India who were desperate to marry British women. Maybe she should start a marriage agency.

Audrey talked to a friend Heather Lyon, an ex-debutante who was divorced if she wanted to join her. Both women changed their names to family names. Audrey became Mary Oliver and Heather became Heather Jenner. They couldn't advertise in the newspapers, but fortunately their new business became news stories, and remained newsworthy over the years. The Marriage Bureau survived several locations, the inexperienced owners, and the war years. It survived marriages and a changed partnership. And, the two women and future employees survived with humor and tears.

The Marriage Bureau is a riveting story. There are funny stories - judging at a baby show, accounts of some of their more difficult clients. And, there are stories of tragedy and death. The Second World War and the Blitz destroyed lives. But, throughout the first ten years of the business, covered in this book, love and marriages flourished.

This is not a World War II story. It's a story of two enterprising young women, and their matchmaking business. But, some of those first ten years were during the war, so it reflects the changing times, the changing occupations for women, the men who were destroyed. The Marriage Bureau is a compelling book.

The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London by Penrose Halson. William Morrow. 2017. ISBN 9780062562661 (paperback), 320p.

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


Friday, May 19, 2017

Winners and Give Me an H Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. The signed copies of Lori Rader-Day's The Day I Died will go to Helen T. from Evansville, IN and Chuck B. from Garnet Valley, PA. The books will go out in the mail today.

This week, it's a Give Me an H Giveaway. A Puzzle to Be Named Later is by Parnell Hall. If you aren't familiar with the Puzzle Lady mysteries, there are crosswords and a sudoku by Will Shontz to help you solve the mystery. Yankee fan Cora Felton is ecstatic. A recuperating Yankee rookie sensation invites her to a pool party. And, she gets to meet Derek Jeter. Oh, and she had to solve a puzzle, and a few guests were killed.






Tracee de Hahn's debut mystery, Swiss Vendetta, is a little more serious. Swiss police detective Agnes Luthi finds herself trapped in a chateau during the blizzard of the century when she's called out on her first homicide.

Which mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read either "Win A Puzzle" or "Win Swiss Vendetta." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, May 25 at 6 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What Are You Reading?

It's Thursday! That means it's time for What Are You Reading. I look forward to this day every week. I'm just about to start the August release, Continental Crimes, edited by Martin Edwards. That means I can't tell you anything about it other than it includes stories from the Golden Age of Mysteries, ones by Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and G.K. Chesterton, among others.


More important than what I'm reading, what are you reading or listening to right now? Let's kick off this week's discussion of books. And, thank you for dropping by to participate.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Walking on My Grave by Carolyn Hart

It's hard to believe that after thirty years Carolyn Hart is wrapping up the Death on Demand series. Walking on My Grave is the last case for Annie and Max Darling. But, the traditional mystery wraps up perfectly, first with the gathering of suspects, and then with the books behind the monthly watercolors at the bookstore.

Annie's in the midst of a project for "The Incredible Trio". Her mother-in-law, Laurel, Emma, the mystery author, and the island's civic volunteer, Henny, have compiled chapbooks, and Annie is editing them. But, she always has time for friends who are in trouble. Ves Roundtree is in the way of a group of people who all need money. She has control of the money from her late husband, but, when she dies, it will be distributed between a small group of people. When Ves suspects one of those people tried to kill her, she gathers them together for dinner. And, she warns them she can defend herself.

Ves isn't quite as confident when she tells Annie that she knows one of that crowd wants her dead. Is the artist who can no longer paint? Is it his wife? There's the bank clerk. One man can no longer afford his lifestyle. Gretchen wants the money for her son, but she feels threatened. There's the young woman and her boyfriend, hoping to marry soon. Then, one of Ves' dinner guests dies, and Ves herself disappears. Who is desperate enough to kill for money?

I'm going to miss Annie Darling and the Death on Demand bookshop. With this book, Hart ends the series on a strong note. I always respect the formula for Hart's books. Walking on My Grave is a perfect example. She's always given us intelligent, responsible police. And, Annie Darling works with the police, not against them. The gathering of suspects is at the request of the police chief. And, Carolyn Hart wraps up with a list of Classic Crime novels and authors. Carolyn Hart and the Death on Demand books should be right there on that list.

Thank you, Carolyn Hart, for Annie and Max, the Death on Demand bookshop, and Broward's Rock, South Carolina.

Carolyn Hart's website is www.carolynhart.com

Walking on My Grave by Carolyn Hart. Berkley Prime Crime. 2017. ISBN 9780451488534 (hardcover), 246p.

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




Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Edited Out by E.J. Copperman

Although E.J. Copperman's Edited Out is fun with its dry humor and old movie references, I'd still recommend that readers start with the first in the series, Written Off. It's easier to suggest that than to explain how Rachel Goldman, a mystery writer, with a series about a police consultant named Duffy Madison, now has to cope with the missing persons consultant named Duffy Madison who insists she's his creator. He has no memory of existence previous to five years earlier when she started the series.

Duffy's latest suggestion boggles Rachel's mind. She wrote that he went to high school in Poughkeepsie, New York. The high school yearbook only shows a blank space where his photo should be. Why don't they go to Poughkeepsie and see if anyone he graduated with recognizes him? Or, was he really the student with the same initials who bears a resemblance to the adult Duffy Madison? Rachel is so confused between the fictional character and the actual man that she's having a hard time putting her character in jeopardy. That's exactly what happens to the two of them when they  talk to people in New York. No one remembers Duffy Madison. But, that man with the same initials? He disappeared five years ago, and no one has seen him since. Duffy is convinced the man is dead. As Rachel and Duffy get deeper and deeper into the past, they put themselves in jeopardy. Duffy's arrested, and Rachel doesn't know what to think.

Copperman's latest mystery is a dialogue-rich, convoluted romp. Rachel Goldman tells the story, but sometimes Duffy Madison's actions and thought patterns get away from her. She understands him better than anyone else. She created the character that bears a striking resemblance to the man she now deals with, so she recognizes his idiosyncrasies. But, she's still confused whether the absence of a history will prove she wrote Duffy Madison into existence. It's a conundrum that leaves her struggling with her storytelling.

When it comes to storytelling, Copperman's humor is original. Rachel Goldman can be sarcastic, but her humor rolls right off of Duffy Madison, who is a Sherlock Holmes caricature. If there's something that is dry slapstick, Copperman writes it in the latest Mysterious Detective story, Edited Out.

E.J. Copperman's website is ejcopperman.com

Edited Out by E.J. Copperman. Crooked Lane. 2017. ISBN 9781683311300 (hardcover), 336p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.


Monday, May 15, 2017

My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul

Bob = Book of Books. Of course, Pamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review, is a reader. She's also compulsive, as many of us are, about keeping a list of the books she reads. Paul has kept that list since 1988 when she was a junior in high school. It's kept in "Bob", a book that lists all the books she's read since then. Now, she examines her life, based on the books she read at certain times, the places she went, and the relationships she had. They were all based on books, and Bob knows all her secrets. Her story is My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues.

Paul admits she was a failure as a diary writer. "Diaries contained all kinds of things I wanted to forget...Bob contains things I wanted to remember: what I was reading when all that happened." It's what she was reading in high school, in college, including her time in Paris. It's what she was reading when she decided to live in Thailand, not knowing anyone there, but inspired by a book that said women should be unafraid to travel. Her friendships and love life were based on the books they shared. And, perhaps the only disappointment she had with her children came about because they didn't like the books she liked as a child.

Classics, children's literature, memoirs, travel books. Pamela Paul devoured all of them. And, she found a way to put her passion for books to work, first as a writer, then as the children's book editor for The New York Times Book Review. Her children, who benefited from the books she brought home, saw it as a demotion when she went from children's book editor to editor.

If you're a passionate reader, some parts of Paul's book will undoubtedly strike your heart. As someone who met and married her husband at the library, and always said we only married to read, that connection with books resonated. The part about the reader only wanting to be left alone to read is so true. The "inner fangirl" moments when meeting authors is spot-on. But, perhaps most of all, Paul's book expresses that always present need for the next book. "My personal catch-22 was the unquenchable yearning to own books - to own books and to suck out the marrow of them and then to feel sated rather than hungrier still. I couldn't have been more deluded."

Passionate about books? Obsessed with them? Do you keep lists of what you read? Have books influenced your entire life? Pamela Paul's My Life with Bob is a book lover's companion.

Pamela Paul's website is www.pamelapaul.com, and she's on Twitter @PamelaPaulNYT

My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul. Henry Holt and Company. 2017. ISBN 9781627796316 (hardcover), 242p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Called to Justice by Edith Maxwell

Edith Maxwell's historical mysteries, like Donis Casey's, evoke a certain time and place. The history brings the setting and period to life, while the mystery elements involve the character of the sleuth. Maxwell's Called to Justice is the second book featuring Quaker midwife Rose Carroll in Amesbury, Massachusetts in 1888. It's not long after the Civil War, and Amesbury is a flourishing mill town, both important elements to this story.

On Independence Day, Rose hopes to enjoy the parade and the evening fireworks. Instead, it's a troubling day, and a worse evening. Hannah Breed, a young Quaker woman who works at Hamilton Mill with Rose's niece, meets with Rose during the parade because she needs help. She's pregnant and won't tell Rose who the father is, but she broke off with the nice young man who was interested in her. Hannah is upset, and Rose hopes to help her. But, by that night, Hannah is dead, shot by someone in the crowd during the fireworks. Accident or murder?

Rose is appalled at the death, but she's angry when a fellow Quaker is accused of killing Hannah. A witness claims to have seen Akwasi Ayensu, a colored Quaker, with a gun. Rose doesn't believe her friend, a successful furniture maker who had been mentored by John Whittier Greenleaf, is the killer. Instead she suspects prejudice when a man in the crowd calls Akwasi "boy" and says the Negro in the crowd should be thrown in jail.

Rose Carroll's life couldn't be more complicated at the moment. She's dealing with her own personal relationship and resulting issues while juggling her work as a much-in-demand midwife. Now, there seems to be trouble all around her, from stories of theft to threats, prejudice, and Hannah's secrets and murder. Rose feels unsettled, and, at times, even feels lost and in despair.

But, it's those feelings that make Edith Maxwell's Quaker Midwife mysteries special. Rose Carroll isn't superwoman. She's an ordinary woman with a gift of seeing into someone's heart. Her faith and strong zeal for justice, along with her feelings of loneliness and uncertainly, make her realistic and an appealing amateur sleuth. She's a caring woman who knows the community and all the classes of society because of her profession as a midwife.

Rose Carroll refers to her calling as a midwife, and says that includes the role of counselor. In Called to Justice, it also means she's called to find justice for a victim, justice in the case of a man arrested for a crime he didn't commit.  It's a satisfying historical mystery from Edith Maxwell who successfully calls on her amateur sleuth to tell a story of the late 19th century, its working class, its women, and a prejudice that is still with us.

Edith Maxwell's website is www.edithmaxwell.com

Called to Justice by Edith Maxwell. Midnight Ink. 2017. ISBN 9780738750323 (paperback), 312p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Option B sounds as if it's a title about tests. Actually, it is about the tests life throws at us, and how we conquer them. Sheryl Sandberg, the author of Lean In, along with Adam Grant, psychologist and professor, talk about "Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy". It's about moving on with life after tragedy, in this case, the sudden death of Sandberg's husband.

Sandberg, the chief operating officer at Facebook, faced the death of her husband and father of her two young children with tears and anger, and never thought she and her children would be able to go on with life after Dave Goldberg died. But, once she found a way to put one foot in front of another, with the help of family, friends, therapists and co-workers, she founded OptionB.org. If Option A is the life you've been living before loss or abuse or another tragedy, Option B is about the alternatives, the way to go on with life, and, in some cases to make a better life.

As a widow, I found Option B to be moving, and on target. Sandberg talks about the "elephant in the room". No one wants to talk about the dead person, or the divorce, or the assault. People want to encourage others to get on with their lives, and leave the tragedy and memory behind. It's not going to happen. There's discussion of grief, and the ways to talk to others about their losses. There's a question, not "How are you doing?", but, "How are you doing today?"

Although she would have screamed at people, and objected if they originally talked to her about growth after loss, Sandberg now realizes some people can experience that. My wise mother, a widow herself, told me after my husband died that things will be different. She said life won't be the same, but it can be just as good. And, she was right. Sandberg observed that many people succeed when they choose to move beyond the tragedy, not past it, but grow from it.

I appreciated Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In about women in the workplace, but at times it felt as if she didn't realize everyone didn't live in as a couple. It may have taken a tragedy in her life, but in Option B, she acknowledges that she didn't have all the answers she thought she did. Option B is a more honest, accessible book. Don't give it to a grieving person right now. But, read it yourself as to how to handle the grief you see in others, and how to help them face trouble.

There's an Option B community at Facebook.com/OptionBOrg and OptionB.org

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. Alfred A. Knopf. 2017. ISBN 9781524732684 (hardcover), 226p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Friday, May 12, 2017

Winners & a Lori Rader-Day Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Rosalind L. from San Antonio, TX, and Karen B. from Bloomington, MN won copies of David Rosenfelt's Outfoxed. Tari H. from Mount Sterling, OH won Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James. The books are going out in the mail today.

When Lori Rader-Day was here earlier this week, I bought two copies of her latest book, The Day I Died, and had her sign them. So, two people will win copies of this terrific book. 

Here's a paragraph from my review of the book.  "Anna Winger and her son, Joshua, have been on the run for thirteen years. As a handwriting analyst, she can work and communicate with her government contact from any location. Whenever she feels threatened, she picks up and moves. Did someone recognize her in Chicago? Move on. But, it's in a small town, Parks, Indiana, where everything falls apart." Anna agrees to help with a kidnapping case, upending her life.

If you would like to enter to win one of the two signed copies, email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read "Win The Day I Died." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, May 18 at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

What Are You Reading?

"For a girl who often felt like she lived more in the cozy world of books than in the unforgiving world of the playground, a book of books was the richest journal imaginable; it showed a version of myself I recognized and felt represented me." I'm reading Pamela Paul's My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues. Bob is actually her list of books read, kept since she was a junior in high school. Okay, honesty here. How many of you keep a list of your books read? It can be Goodreads, or whatever. I've been keeping a list of my books read for years, first in junior high, and then later. One of my favorite possessions is the list my grandmother kept of the books she read. And, I love the sentence I quoted from Paul's book. Because I certainly wasn't a playground person, that sentence speaks to me.

I'm reading about Bob right now. It's Thursday! My favorite day of the work week. I get to talk about books for an hour with other librarians and readers. Our conversation is on Twitter at #AskaLibrarian. It's for one hour at noon Eastern time. And, usually on Thursday, I get to talk about books with you. What are you reading or listening to this week? Is it a book that speaks to you? Is it something for fun? It's Thursday, and some of us would like to know what you're reading.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Recap - Lori Rader-Day on Book Tour

Lori Rader-Day is on book tour for her third standalone, The Day I Died. She's a terrific speaker with a sense of humor, which made the audience appreciate her all the more. In fact, when a couple women in the audience introduced themselves as "just a reader", Lori was quick to point out that they are not "just readers". Readers make the world go around. Without readers, writers are out of work, and then they're "just writers".

Rader-Day's The Day I Died came out April 11. Here's her summary of the book. Handwriting analyst Anna Winger is on the run from her past life. She has a job she can do anywhere, and she works for the FBI and corporations. It's a job she can take with her. She's even consulted by people she calls her "Lonelyhearts". My boyfriend is in prison. Has he changed? No. There's a kidnapping in the town she's now living in, and she's asked by her FBI contact to help with it. Some aspects of the case remind her of things she ran from. Her secrets start to unravel.

Asked about her own background as a writer, Lori told an interesting story. The Black Hour was published in 2014. It took her two and a half years to write it. She got and agent, and sold it. It was her first published book, but not her first novel.

The Day I Died, her current book, was actually the first novel. It started as a story in 2007. She was working on her master's degree in creative writing, her M.F.A. She wanted to write a short story over Christmas break so she'd have something for workshop. She went to the local library and trolled the nonfiction section, looking for something of interest. She found a book on handwriting analysis on display. Rader-Day wrote a long short story, thirty pages or so, and it kept getting longer. By the time her instructor looked at it, she said, it's great, but it's not a short story. It's a novel. Keep writing. But, Lori didn't have time. Her thesis dealt with short stories. She finished the entire draft right before going back to work, and it took two years from short story to draft. Lori wrote on it too long. She was too close to it, and her changes were not for the better. She put it in "the drawer", which is where authors put their failed novels. In fact, she has a file on her computer called "The drawer". The manuscript sat there for seven years. Her first published book, The Black Hour, came out in 2014. It took her two and a half years. Little Pretty Things came out in 2015. That took her two years to write.

She needed a 2016 book. In the mystery field, you should have a book a year. The best way to promote yourself is to have a book every year. She tried to fix The Day I Died, but she just wasn't proud of it. She put it away, and didn't have a book in 2016.

She had a demanding job at the time, and finally decided she needed a break from the job. During the missing year, she was writing intensely for ten to twelve hours a day. There was no cleaning, no cooking, very little showering. But, when she finished HarperCollins wanted the book, and she signed a two book deal with them.

Now, she's on her way to 2018. She's already turned that manuscript in. Next year this time, her fourth book should be out. But, The Day I Died was the first novel she ever wrote, just the third one published.

Asked about where she was from, she said Lebanon, Indiana in Boone County. She writes about small-town Indiana. In fact, her first published book, The Black Hour, was about gossip at the university, based loosely on an Indiana university.

Rader-Day went to Ball State in Muncie, Indiana, and loved it. She wrote stories, and the others in
her dorm wanted to read them. She had an audience. She quit writing when she graduated and no one wanted to read her stories. She lost her audience. She moved to Chicago on 9/11, and she had a job writing at work. There were five years or so when she was not writing for herself.

In 2006, Lori started writing again. She had a friend from high school, and she had beaten him in a writing competition. Then, he published a book. She was so excited for him, but also green with envy. It wasn't his fault. He did work at it. He spent all his time writing. Rader-Day was writing great articles for Advocate Health Care. She had to do something about that. So she took a day off, and wrote a short story. Then, she was accepted into the MFA program. She had an audience again. You have to have stories for workshop. She forced herself to write, and she had an audience.

Rader-Day talked about her writing style. There are two types of writers in the mystery field, plotters and pantsers. Plotters such as Jeffery Deaver, plot out the book before writing it. But, Lori is a pantser, who writes by the seat of her pants. She doesn't know a lot about the story when she starts it.

In The Black Hour, a professor is attacked by a student she doesn't know. He died. She lives. So readers know whodunnit, but not why. Lori started with, what if a professor was attacked. What does her first day back on campus look like? She scared of the students. Rader-Day didn't plan on the student narrator taking over the book, but he shares the narration with the professor. But, Lori didn't know why the student did it. "The dark night of the soul" lasted for three weeks before she realized why.

Little Pretty Things was the second published novel. It features a young girl who, while she was in Nickel and Dimed. She said she had several of those jobs. She once worked in a tinsel factory, making Christmas tinsel. She also worked in the recycling department of a company that made plastic spools for wire. They took in old wooden spools, and used sledge hammers to break apart the wood. She thought about doing a series with the character from these books, a dirty job series. But, Elaine Viets writes a "Dirty Job" series. Her jobs just don't come across as dirty, such as working in a designer dress shop.
high school, was a runner. She always came in second to her best friend. Because she's a good runner, she gets to leave her small town and go to college. But her dad dies, and she's forced to leave school. Lori wondered, if she had been forced to leave school, and had been from her small town, who would have she been. She probably would have had a crappy job. So, that's what she gave her character, a crappy job in a small town. She cleans motels. Lori said she did think of making this a series, similar to all the low-paying jobs in Barbara Ehrenreich's 2010 book,

Lori did say she likes writing and reading standalones. She's sort of OCD when it comes to reading mysteries in series. She wants to read them in order.

One audience member told Lori she should read her audio books. She replied that she has a good voice for radio, and loves to do radio, but doesn't really like to do TV.

Asked about more short stories, she said she has a story in an upcoming anthology, Unloaded 2. They stories are crime stories in which no guns are used, and the profits go to gun violence charities. Short stories take a different muscle than novels.

When asked about Chicago, she answered that it's a great city. In the summer, it's the greatest city on earth. And, it's a great place to be a crime writer. You could go to events more than three times a week.

Lori said she's the current President of Mystery Writers of America's Midwest Chapter that covers three states. When she went to her first Bouchercon convention, she only knew one person there, and she asked how to be more involved and learn more. Someone directed her to MWA, and said sign up for that.

Lori Rader-Day ended by talking a little bit about revisions and the editing process, then signed books.

*****
On a personal note, four of us went to dinner after the event, Lori, her publicist, Julie Powers Schoerke, a wonderful friend in the mystery community, Kathy Boone Reel, and myself. It was a fun evening talking about books, theater, mysteries, pearls. Lots of laughter, and we just about closed down the restaurant. So great to spend the evening with people connected through a love of mysteries, and, in this case, with a couple other people who think Lori Rader-Day is wonderful.

*****
Lori Rader-Day's website is www.loriraderday.com

The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day. William Morrow. 2017. ISBN 9780062560292 (paperback), 432p.

NOTE: I already have a giveaway scheduled for this Friday. Next week, though, I'll kick off a giveaway for two signed copies of Lori's latest book, The Day I Died. Watch for it, beginning Friday, May 19.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The Graves by Pamela Wechsler

It's obvious that Pamela Wechsler has legal background and television writing experience. She's written for Law and Order and other legal TV shows. She was a criminal prosecutor. She brings all of that knowledge to The Graves, following up, Mission Hill, the book that introduced Boston Assistant District Attorney Abby Endicott.

Abby's background in a privileged Boston family is not usual for an assistant district attorney who prosecutes criminals. In fact, Abby's family has cut off her funds after her injury on her last case. She's recuperating, spending time with her musician boyfriend. But, she can't resist when Detective Kevin Farnsworth calls, saying they found a body, quite possibly the second from a killer. She's the second college girl to disappear, be raped, murdered, and left posed at a crime scene. When another girl goes missing, Abby and Kevin, and the city of Boston, are guessing there's a serial killer.

The case takes an interesting turn when the team discovers the girls were working as call girls. Then, they discover a senator's son is involved. Abby faces political pressure from her boss, who is running for mayor, and from other people with clout. At the same time, she's dealing with her family's disapproval of her career choice, and personal problems. But, she's determined to bring the case to court. For Abby Endicott, the victims are her clients, and she wants justice for them.

The Graves is a fast-paced novel that combines the investigation and the legal case. Wechsler develops the storyline and the characters as adeptly as Law and Order did. If you appreciate Linda Fairstein's legal novels, Wechsler's books will be right up your alley. If you read Hank Phillippi Ryan for the Boston setting, try The Graves. Setting, character and suspense are successfully combined in Wechsler's latest.

Pamela Wechsler's website is www.pamelawechsler.com

The Graves by Pamela Wechsler. Minotaur Books. 2017. ISBN 978125007782 (hardcover), 304p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review it for a journal.


Monday, May 08, 2017

Your Killin' Heart by Peggy O'Neal Peden

Peden's debut mystery, winner of The Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, introduces a sparkling amateur sleuth. Campbell Hale is bright and loyal. She's also a little too nosy and, she admits, "a little too honest". She's the delightful narrator of Your Killin' Heart.

Campbell owns a travel agency in Nashville. She doesn't work in the music agency, but when her lawyer friend, Doug, says he's picking up some paintings at Jake Miller's house, she begs him to take her. Jake Miller was a country music icon, a man who drank a lot, married a lot, and died young. That alone could have made him famous, but Campbell's father still idolizes his songs. She tags along, and, although Doug warns her to stay close, she's dying to see Jake Miller's house. She opens one door too many, though, and finds a woman in bed. It's only later, when they learn Miller's widow, Hazel, is dead, probably murdered, that Campbell realizes she saw the victim.

Sure, Campbell could let that very capable Detective Sam Davis investigate. But, she's already established she's nosy. And, she saw the victim. She knows a few people in the music industry, and she saw a few people at the Miller estate. What would it hurt to ask a few questions? Campbell Hale's interview techniques leave something to be desired, though. When she's threatened, she and Detective Davis both know she may know the killer. And, the killer certainly knows how to reach Campbell.

The conversations between Campbell and Sam are priceless. When he checks the locks on her windows, she attempts humor, warning  him his fingerprints are all over the locks. He answers, "What makes you think I haven't though of that? Now, when I murder you out of sheer frustration, I'll have a police homicide detective as witness that there's an innocent  reason why my fingerprints are everywhere."

Amusing conversations are just one part of this entertaining book. It's rich in the music and atmosphere of Nashville. The characters are fun. Despite Nashville's size, Peden manages to bring a homespun feel to the debut mystery. Watch for Your Killin' Heart, Campbell Hale, and future books by Peggy O'Neal Peden.

*****

Your Killin' Heart by Peggy O'Neal Peden. Minotaur Books. 2017. ISBN 9781250122681 (hardcover), 272p.

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

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Love & Death in Burgundy by Susan C. Shea

Susan C. Shea launches the French Village Mystery series with Love & Death in Burgundy. Filled
with descriptions of a charming village, eccentric characters, and humorous conversations, readers who miss Rhys Bowen's Evan Evans mysteries might want to check it out.

Katherine Goff and her musician husband, Michael, have lived in Reigny-sur-Canne in the Burgundy region for three years now. Despite her French language skills, Katherine still feels isolated. And, the insecure artist is desperate to fit in with the villagers. She tries hosting the village fete, an art show, pushes Michael to perform. But, nothing seems to work until an elderly resident dies, falling down the steps of his chateau. Then, everyone flocks to talk about the death. Rumors fly. Katherine desperately tries to stop the gossip, while still trying to stay involved. It's too late. The gendarmes are still investigating. But, it must be Nazi assassins, tourists, or Gypsies. None of the villagers believe one of them could be behind the death.

The story is as much about Katherine's desperate attempts to feel as if she belongs, as it is a mystery. She tries to mother a teenage girl, daughter of the local thief. She tries to host a luncheon, with disastrous results. Her attempts to please the elderly woman who rules over the village only lead to criticism. For a while, it seems as if every conversation Katherine has ends in an argument.

As Katherine seeks approval, Jeannette, the teenager, watches everyone. She knows the village secrets, and holds the key to the true story of the old man's death.

Love & Death in Burgundy is a dialogue-driven account of the day-to-day life and squabbles in a small French village. As I said, it's an atmospheric mystery with humor and gossipy townspeople. Cozy mystery readers might enjoy the setting and characters.

Susan C. Shea's website is www.susancshea.com.

Love & Death in Burgundy by Susan C. Shea. Minotaur Books. 2017. ISBN 9781250113009 (hardcover), 288p.

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




Saturday, May 06, 2017

What Are You Reading?

What are you reading this weekend? I'm finishing up Carolyn Hart's last Death on Demand mystery, Walking on My Grave. There's something sad about reading a book when the author says she's wrapping up the series. And, it's sad to see Carolyn Hart and Margaret Maron, two of the masters of the traditional mystery, wrapping up their careers. Neither have said they're done writing. Maron said she's going to write short stories. And Carolyn Hart still has the Bailey Ruth books. But, it feels as if they're wrapping up. Granted, they've had long, distinguished careers, and they deserve some downtime - not on deadline, not going to bookstores and conferences. I'm just a little melancholy about it.


So, it's a rainy, blah weekend here. It's been rainy for over a week. I'm heading to a friend's house to watch movies. Are you huddled at home with a good book? Or, do you have decent weather? What are your reading or weekend plans?

Friday, May 05, 2017

Winners and A Cat & Dog Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last giveaway. Page I. from Fairview, NC won Deanna Raybourn's A Curious Beginning. Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen is heading to Caitlin M. from Minden, NV. The books are going out today.

This week, I'm giving away mysteries that feature a cat and a dog. Diesel, the Maine Coon cat, is back in Miranda James' Twelve Angry Librarians. Charlie Harris reluctantly acts as host for a conference for academic librarians. But, when a librarian he's disliked for years is killed, Charlie is one of the suspects.








I have two copies of David Rosenfelt's Outfoxed to give away. One is an ARC, and the other is the hardcover. Lawyer Andy Carpenter is involved in a county prison program where inmates help train dogs that his foundation, the Tara Foundation, has rescued to make them more adoptable. But, one of the prisoners makes an escape, taking a fox terrier with him. When the man is caught, the man who testified against him is found murdered. Andy takes him on as a customer, and takes in the dog.

Which book do you want to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. You subject line should read either "Win Outfoxed" or "Win Twelve Angry Librarians." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, May 11 at 6 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.


Thursday, May 04, 2017

Too Lucky to Live by Annie Hogsett

Annie Hogsett's debut mystery is one of the most entertaining I've read this year. When Allie Harper, the narrator says, "I have always felt that with some training, I'd make an excellent P.I. A cross between V.I. Warshawski and Kinsey Millhone, with a dash of Stephanie Plum, Bounty Hunter, thrown in for insouciance", she hits the nail on the head. When she teams up with blind college professor Thomas Bennington III,  in Too Lucky to Live, they're a match made in heaven.

Or, in this case, their own version of hell. Allie meets Tom when she's waiting at a bus stop in Cleveland, and a Hummer driver beeps at the blind man in the crosswalk. He's startled, drops his groceries, and Allie runs out to block traffic and help him gather up cans. Then, she takes the handsome guy home, fixes dinner, and is just starting to really enjoy his company, when he hears a TV broadcast the winning lottery numbers. Most people would be ecstatic to learn they won over $500 million. But, Tom had bought one ticket to prove to a young boy that gambling doesn't pay. And, then he realizes, Rune, the boy who lives in the projects, is in jeopardy. He knows Rune will announce to everyone that he picked the numbers for the winning ticket.

It's only the beginning of a nightmare for Allie and Tom. They quickly get to know each other as they hunt for a missing boy, hide in hotels to escape from thieves, killers, an ex-husband and former girlfriend, and try to protect each other. People all around them end up dead. Danger can have its sexy side though, as the couple learn. They also have to learn to trust each other, while Allie has to learn that a blind man can be adept at fending off trouble.

Too Lucky to Live is a treat. The debut introduces Allie's refreshing voice, and a sexy, hot couple. It's a delightful caper, and the beginning of a promising series.

Annie Hogsett's website is www.anniehogsett.com

Too Lucky to Live by Annie Hogsett. Poisoned Pen Press. 2017. ISBN 9781464207860 (hardcover), 316p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Random Road by Thomas Kies

When I like a debut mystery, it's because the characters have depth and come alive. Meet Geneva Chase in Thomas Kies' Random Road. Geneva is almost forty, back on her hometown newspaper on Connecticut's Gold Coast. And, she's back because Geneva has almost hit bottom. She's an alcoholic whose choices are disappearing, just as newspapers are.

She's just lucky she's the only reporter covering a mass slaying in an exclusive concave. The Sheffield Post's article will read, "Six people were found brutally murdered, their nude bodies mutilated, in the exclusive gated Sheffield community of Connor's Landing." Geneva relates the story of her crumbling career, the stories she covers, and the meeting that will change her life. While her primary story will be the slaughter of three couples, she also has to cover the sentencing of a young man who killed a woman in a hit-and-run accident, the young man who receives a slap on the wrist because his wealthy father has influence. There's the interesting story of a blind woman who thwarted a burglary. The police have an on-going case involving burglaries done by the Home Alone gang. And, it's a trip to hunt for ghosts that will tie everything together in Geneva's mind.

While many writers can tell an interesting story of a reporter investigating murders, it's the rare author who can bring the sleuth alive in a debut mystery. Geneva's itch for the next story is almost as big as her urge to take the next drink. But, a reunion with an old friend from grade school, a fellow alcoholic, becomes important to her. Kies' story of damaged people coming together is an essential element of the novel. It reveals the depth in a woman who, on first glance, comes across as a hardened alcoholic reporter.

Looking for a compelling story with a complex investigator? Pick up Thomas Kies' debut, Random Road.

Random Road by Thomas Kies. Poisoned Pen Press. 2017. ISBN 9781464208003 (hardcover), 318p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received a copy to review it for a journal.