Friday, November 30, 2018

Murder in the Dark by Simon R. Green

If you haven't yet discovered Simon R. Green's Ishmael Jones mysteries, Murder in the Dark is a good place to start. It's not quite as graphically violent as some of the earlier ones in the series. In fact, this one is reminiscent of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None with the addition of Green's trademark black humor.

In 1963, Ishmael Jones crashed to Earth in an alien space ship. Now, he lives in England in human form and works as a field agent for the mysterious Organization, investigating weird and unusual cases. There are more than you would expect in an ancient country with a history packed with "monsters and mysteries". The latest mystery involves a mysterious hole in the side of Brassknockers Hill near Bath. Ishmael and his partner, Penny Belcourt, are dispatched with an urgent assignment to protect the scientists now working at the site. An archaeologist working at a dig fell into the hole and disappeared.

Ishmael and Penny find an odd group of scientists who have been coerced into their latest work with a promise of grant funding. But, as usual with one of Ishmael's assignments, it goes wrong very early. When one scientist who is eager to investigate the hole jumps into it, it's one more sign that people can be stupid in slasher films and genre-blended novels. Ishmael admits, "It's always the ones who go off on their own who end up getting killed." In book after book, Ishmael warns people to stick together, but like all the others, the scientists don't listen, and they're picked off by the hole, one by one. Jones is getting a little frustrated.

Ishmael's dry humor and his recognition that he has a hard time understanding human emotions is part of the appeal of this series. In this case, as the scientists die and Jones' extraordinary senses seem affected by some power in that black hole, he says, "I'm getting really tired of watching good people die on my watch because I couldn't solve the mystery fast enough."

Looking for a blend of science fiction, horror and mystery, with a dash of humor? That's Simon R. Green's latest Ishmael Jones adventure, Murder in the Dark.

Simon R. Green's website is www.simonrgreen.co.uk

Murder in the Dark by Simon R. Green. Severn House, 2018. ISBN 9780727888235 (hardcover), 192p.

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

Thursday, November 29, 2018

What Are You Reading?

It's Thursday! The end of the work week is in sight! I hope you're all reading good books (or in Glen's case, I hope he's reading books that he'll summarize with snarky one-liners that make us laugh.)

I'm reading Cora Harrison's A Gruesome Discovery. It's a Reverend Mother mystery set in Cork, Ireland in the 1920s. Reverend Mother opens a trunk that has been delivered to the convent. It reeks, and, inside is the dead body of a well-to-do local businessman. I'm not far, only on page 58. But, I love this series for Reverend Mother, the history, and some of the recurring characters.

What are you reading this week?



Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Frame-Up by Meghan Scott Molin

Welcome to the world of geek culture in Meghan Scott Molin's fun, fast-paced mystery, The Frame-Up. Even if you don't attend cons or read comic books, MG Martin's world is entertaining. It's repetitive to say it, but this is just a fun mystery.

MG (Michael-Grace) Martin is totally immersed in geek culture. Her parents disowned her when she dropped out of law school to write comic books. And, it's that knowledge of comics and their history that involves her in a criminal investigation. She's in a coffee shop when she sees a crime scene on a man's computer and says it looks like a crime scene from an old comic. She's right, and Detective Matteo Kildaire of the LAPD is interested both in her personally, and in her knowledge. And, once she talks with Matteo, she admits "Witty banter is my Kryptonite."

MG recognizes Matteo's crime scene as one starring her favorite superhero, the Hooded Falcon. She quickly becomes his consultant for the drug-related crimes where a golden arrow is left behind. But, MG keeps dangerous secrets from Matteo when her best friend, a drag queen, appears to be a suspect.

This fast-paced debut stars a kick-butt heroine and a cast of unconventional characters in a geek environment of comic books, superheroes and cons. MG's friends include other comic book artists, her gamer roommate, and a number of drag queens. While she's employed in the comic book world that she loves, costuming is her true passion, and the drag queens are willing models. The likable, sometimes awkward characters are well-developed in this humorous, engaging novel.

The Frame-Up is an original mystery. I can't wait for the second in the series. As I said, this one is just fun.

Molin's website is www.MeghanScottMolin.com

The Frame-Up by Meghan Scott Molin. 47North, 2018. ISBN 9781503904187 (hardcover), 343p.

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




Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

It's always difficult to review one of Louise Penny's books. The plots are so entwined with the characters that it's not easy to summarize the book without revealing too much. It's release date for Kingdom of the Blind, the first book Penny wrote after her beloved husband died. There are traces of Michael, traces of loss in the book. But, there's also courage and determination. David Singleton from the Charlotte Mecklenberg Public Library said "It may be her most personal book."

Armand Gamache is presently suspended from his position as Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Quebec pending investigation into events the previous summer. But, he and Reine-Marie are quite content in Three Pines, the home that has become their refuge. That doesn't mean Gamache is idle. He's still planning to retrieve the drugs, the opiates that have not yet been released into the streets. He's watching for their distribution.

Gamache also receives a strange letter inviting him to a desolate spot. Penny opens the book on a suspenseful note as Gamache pulls in by a deserted house, and there's a figure watching. But, Gamache is soon joined by Myrna Landers, the bookstore owner in Three Pines. It seems they are two of three people named as executors of a will, and neither of them knew the deceased.

As always, Penny plays with the reader, laying out several storylines. There's the will. There's Gamache's watchfulness for the opiate distribution. One string in Penny's web involves a former cadet at the police academy who is back on the streets. She also plays with poor Jean-Guy Beauvoir's emotions. He's Acting Head of Homicide, but also Gamache's son-in-law, a husband and father. And, the government continues to interview Gamache's team, including Jean-Guy, as they search for answers to their dilemma. What are they going to do about Armand Gamache?

One reviewer said "Kingdom of the Blind is easily one of the best in the series." I'm afraid I have to disagree. How the Light Gets In and A Great Reckoning are the two best, in my opinion. I found a few problems with this book, and, towards the end, it felt a little repetitive. But, a Louise Penny book, even a lesser one, is still better than 90% of the books I read.

Louise Penny always challenges the reader to understand there is light and kindness in the world. She brings together a group of characters we've grown to love, and shows that their love and community is strong, a fortress against the evil in the world. Her books are about love and kindness and people who care. There are whispers of her own loss in this book. She makes no secret that her husband had dementia, and some of her whispers tear at the heart. "The memory of the heart was far stronger than whatever was kept in the mind."

Maybe that's what Kingdom of the Blind, and Louise Penny's other books really say to readers. "The memory of the heart was far stronger than whatever was kept in the mind."

Louise Penny's website is www.louisepenny.com

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. Minotaur Books, 2018. ISBN 9781250066206 (hardcover), 389p.

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

Monday, November 26, 2018

Just Plain Murder by Laura Bradford

Whatever you do, don't enter Laura Bradford's Amish world in Pennsylvania expecting it to be the same as Linda Castillo's world in Ohio's Amish country. Just Plain Murder, the sixth in Bradford's Amish mystery series, is a cozy set in a community that usually resembles it's name, Heavenly. Then, there are the troubles that disrupt any community, murder.


Romantic moments between Claire Weatherly and Jakob Fisher are infrequent because of his job as a police detective. So, they steal the chance to have a picnic, but that peaceful time is one that Jakob comes to regret. He had ignored a phone call from the man who once mentored him, retired police chief Russ Granger. Granger is in town visiting his widowed daughter. Jakob knew he'd catch up with him later. But, he never had the chance because someone killed Russ outside his daughter's home.

Jakob beats himself up because he wasn't there for the man who watched over him, the man Jakob admired enough to follow into the police field, despite the loss of Fisher's Amish family. All of Claire's friends know it's important to be there for Jakob whle he struggles through the murder investigation. It's sometimes her thoughts that set him on the right track in the case.

Laura Bradford's cozy mystery succeeds in doing what cozies attempt to do. It shows how violence and murder can tear a community apart. Make no mistake about it. Bradford has built a community in Heavenly. The characters in this series become important to returning readers. We care about Claire and Jakob. And, like Claire, we want to see good things happen for her friends and family members. We can root for her aunt, Diane, to find a late-life romance. We're happy for the widower, Benjamin Miller, to have a chance at love. Each time Jakob's family members make a move to show their acceptance of him, we're happy for him. He understands why he's shunned for leaving after he was baptized. Readers, along with Claire, have a harder time watching family rejection of a good man.

Bradford has built her world in this atmospheric homespun series. Just Plain Murder is an intricately plotted, character-driven story that welcomes readers back. It's time to catch up with the beloved characters of Heavenly. As in all good cozy mysteries, we want good to triumph over evil, and justice for the victim. That's just right.

Laura Bradford's website is www.laurabradford.com

Just Plain Murder by Laura Bradford. Berkley Prime Crime. 2018. ISBN 9780440000402 (paperback), 304p.

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


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Death and Daisies by Amanda Flower

Before I frustrate blog readers by once again reviewing the second in a mystery series, I wanted to congratulate author Amanda Flower. Like other writer/librarians before her, such as Jenn McKinlay, Amanda is leaving her library job in Ohio to devote herself entirely to her writing career. Congratulations, Amanda. Flower is the author of a number of series. Death and Daisies is the second in her Magical Garden series set in Duncreigan, Scotland.

When Fiona Knox inherited her godfather's cottage and magic garden in Scotland in Flowers and Foul Play, she thought she'd be welcome in the village where his family, the MacAllisters, had lived for centuries. Instead, the village rector, Quaid MacCullen, refuses her admittance at the church door. He disapproves of the family and the magical garden. Then, on the eve of the opening of her new Climbing Rose Flower Shop, he threatens her.

Despite the rector, the opening of the flower shop is a success. At least it's successful until the volunteer village police chief announces he found the minister's murdered body. Although Chief Inspector Neil Craig never treats her as a suspect, Fiona feels accused. She knows some villagers suspect her because she had been a suspect in another murder investigation soon after she arrived in Scotland. After losing her flower shop in the U.S., Fiona is determined not to lose another shop to rumors and suspicion. She'll turn sleuth for a second time, if she must.

Flower's Death and Daisies has charming characters and an atmospheric setting. It has that setting in Scotland if you like the Scottish cozies by Paige Shelton or Molly MacRae. The characters remind me of Laura Bradford's in her Amish mysteries, characters who welcome readers back. And, of course there's the magical garden. In other words, fans of cozy mysteries might want to try Flowers and Foul Play or Death and Daisies.

Amanda Flower's website is http://www.amandaflower.com

Death and Daisies by Amanda Flower. Crooked Lane Books, 2018. ISBN 9781683317814 (hardcover), 320p.

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


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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Lost Lake by Emily LIttlejohn

We should count the number of times I've said start at the beginning of a series. You don't have to with Emily Littlejohn's Gemma Monroe series, but that doesn't mean I really like starting with the third book. Lost Lake, set in a small town in Colorado, is an atmospheric mystery. Those who appreciate mysteries that emphasize the natural setting will enjoy this one.

Gemma Monroe is a police detective who responds to a call about a missing person. Four people had been camping at Lost Lake, and when they get up in the morning, one woman is missing. Gemma doesn't know if the it's the story the three friends are telling that makes her uneasy, or Lost Lake itself. There are stories about the lake, and young women who committed suicide there. Now, Gemma wonders about the missing woman, Sari Chesney.

When Sari's boss at the local history museum is killed soon after she reports the theft of a historic journal, Gemma's convinced there's a connection between the murder, the theft, and Sari's disappearance.

The investigations are made even more difficult by the mistrust within the police department itself. Someone is leaking information to the local newspaper, and the police chief asks Gemma to investigate. It's only been six months since the birth of Gemma's daughter. She's still dealing with a lack of sleep, and the discovery that her partner had an affair. The case load and Gemma's emotions make the investigations even more difficult.

Lost Lake is an intricately plotted police procedural with a strong emphasis on the atmosphere. If you're interested, I'd still suggest you start at the beginning of the series with Inherit the Bones.

Emily Littlejohn's website is https://www.emilylittlejohn.com

Lost Lake by Emily Littlejohn. St. Martin's Minotaur. 2018. ISBN 9781250178305 (hardcover), 320p.

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

Friday, November 23, 2018

What Are You Reading? and A Christmas Giveaway

Today's blog has two purposes, the weekly "What Are You Reading?" post, and also the last giveaway of the year. First, the discussion of what we're reading. Then, check below the line for this week's giveaway.

Some of us are lucky enough to have a long weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday. To me, that means extra reading time! I have a stack of books beside me as I write this. I've just started Michelle Obama's Becoming. I'm also reading two forthcoming books, so if either of these sound interesting to you, write them down to get at your library or pre-order at your favorite bookstore. Julia Kelly's The Light Over London has two storylines. One is about an antiques dealer who discovers a diary from World War II. The other storyline is about the woman who wrote the diary, a young woman who defied her parents to join the women's branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit. It's a January 8 release.


I'm also reading Wine and Punishment, the first in Sarah Fox's new Literary Pub mystery series. Booklover Sadie Coleman is excited about her new life as the owner of a pub with a literary theme. But, her ex-husband shows up, a man with a gambling addiction. And, he's found dead near her pub. I love mysteries with a literary connection, so I'm looking forward to getting deeper into this one. Release date is Dec. 18.

I'm hoping to spend a good part of the weekend reading. Now, if you stopped back again today, off schedule, tell me what you're reading. I'd love to know.




*****
I am NOT giving away the two books above. But, I do have two Christmas mysteries to give away. This is the last giveaway until January. I usually stop the contests during December because I don't like to go to the post office and stand in line during the Christmas shipping season. So, I hope you enter the contest, and come back for the next one in January.

Lark! The Herald Angels Sing is this year's Christmas book by Donna Andrews. Meg is helping out with Caerphilly's festivities. While directing a nativity pageant, she finds a surprise in the manger, a live baby. The mother left a note saying Meg's brother is the father, and it's his turn to take care of baby Lark. When Meg searches for the baby's identity, she uncovers something that could endanger her friends and family.






Or, you could enter to win Maia Chance's Naughty on Ice. Set in the 1920s, society matron Lola Woodby and her Swedish cook Berta return for the latest addition to the Discreet Retrieval Agency series. An anonymous Christmas card asks them to recover an antique ring at a family gathering in Vermont. When the two women find the ring on a woman's finger, she drops dead, and the police show up to catch them red-handed with the ring. It's an obvious set-up.





Which Christmas 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 Lark" or "Win Naughty on Ice." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, November 29 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving




This year, I'm going to give thanks in reverse. I usually end my Thanksgiving post by thanking you, my blog readers and friends. Instead, I'd like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and say I'm grateful for you. I'm thankful you spend a little bit of time every day or every week with other people who like to read and talk about books. Thank you for dropping by, even if you don't comment. I hope you've found a spot to discover a new book or author, or even another reader who likes similar books. Thank you for stopping here.

I'm grateful for the love of family and friends. Several family members commented that we're blessed. The author Daniel Palmer recently posted a YouTube video, and I'm going to share the link here. If you have time, stop and watch it. It might seem to be a Christmas video, but it's really a video about gratitude. There are so many blessings in life.




I'm grateful for my cats, for the ability to travel, for my life.

And, I"m grateful, of course, for books and the opportunity to share my love of books with you. Thank you for allowing me to talk about books. And, if you want to talk about what you're reading, stop back tomorrow.

Today, I just want to thank you for stopping by. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Homeward Hound by Rita Mae Brown

Rita Mae Brown's foxhunting series is not for every reader. I enjoy the stories, although I haven't read all of them in the series. It really is the scenes of the foxhunting that I enjoy the most. Now, don't get angry about foxhunting, unless you've read these books, and see how humanely all the animals in the books are treated. Although I hadn't read one of the books in a while, I enjoyed returning to "Sister" Jane Arnold's world at Christmastime with Homeward Hound.

Despite the threat of a blizzard, Jane Arnold, Master of the Jefferson Hunt in Virginia, won't stop the Christmas hunt. Jane, known as Sister, even welcomes Gregory Luckham to the hunt. Luckham is president of an energy company that proposes to put a pipeline right through the heart of foxhunting country. Some of the local property owners are wealthy enough to sue the company, so Luckham's appearance is met with only lukewarm enthusiasm.

When the blizzard does hit sooner than expected, everyone returns to their trailers, but Gregory Luckham has disappeared. A search is mounted after the storm. However, it's a local man who is found murdered. With the help of her friends, Sister and the local sheriff hope to track the killer.The most knowledgeable among the group suspect the murderer may be a member of their hunt.

There's a large cast of characters in any of the books in this series, because the hunt attracts local people as well as riders from other hunts. The list of characters in the front of the book is essential for anyone hoping to keep straight the names of hunters, horses, hounds and foxes.

As I said, Homeward Hound isn't for everyone. There's the mystery, but there are also animals who communicate with each other. And, of course, there's the hunt itself. Be careful when suggesting this book to readers.

Rita Mae Brown's website is www.ritamaebrownbooks.com

Homeward Hound by Rita Mae Brown. Ballantine Books, 2018. ISBN 9780399178375 (hardcover), 336p.

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





Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Harvest of Secrets by Ellen Crosby

I have a confession to make. I actually sent my copy of Harvest of Secrets by Ellen Crosby to a friend who is a big fan. That means I don't have my copy in front of me to refer to. It feels as if the review is missing something when I don't have the book in hand.

Lucie Montgomery's workers at her Virginia vineyard may be right. It might be unlucky to find a skull. After a shed was destroyed during a storm, two of the men went to clear it. That's when they find a skull buried outside the family cemetery. They claim it's bad luck, and someone will die. Lucie discounts it, but then events start to snowball.

When the rest of the skeleton is found, the forensic anthropologist identifies it as a woman who was murdered. Lucie becomes emotionally involved as she tries to uncover the woman's story, knowing she must have been a relative. At the same time, her DNA results come back, revealing a living relative. Now, Lucie really has worries because she never told the family she had sent in for her DNA results, and she's concerned about family secrets.

Then, there's that skull. Lucie's workers had been worried. A neighboring winemaker stirs up trouble before he is killed. As a hurricane bears down on the region, Lucie's workers pressure her to find the actual killer. She has to investigate while keeping secrets she should share with loved ones.

The story was enjoyable, and I wish I had known more. It's a character-driven mystery with an introspective amateur sleuth who struggles with her past and her insecurities. Although I hadn't read any of the previous Wine Country mysteries, I didn't have a problem catching up with Lucie and the background of the stories. Even so, I still suggest other readers start at the beginning of the series.

Ellen Crosby's website is https://ellencrosby.com/

Harvest of Secrets by Ellen Crosby. Minotaur Books, 2018. ISBN 9781250164834 (hardcover), 352p.

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




Monday, November 19, 2018

Lies Come Easy by Steven F. Havill

Crime takes no holiday. That's obvious in Steven F. Havill's twenty-third Posadas County mystery, Lies Come Easy. It's set at Christmas, but the small sheriff's department in the county has to cope with child endangerment, family issues, and murder.

As the story starts, Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman welcomes late night calls. One son, a world famous musician, is in Germany. One son is in college. And her physician husband is out of town at a conference. So, she responds when Deputy Tom Pasquale reports finding a two-year-old, Derry Fisher, walking along a snowy road. The boy's father dumped him out of his pickup and took off. Poor Derry won't have the best Christmas. His angry mother confronts his father at the hospital, and, while both parents are cuffed, it's Darrell Fisher who is arrested. The judge tears into him at his bail hearing, and his brother bails Darrell out. Fisher doesn't have long to celebrate. His wife's at work when Pasquale finds Darrell dead in his truck, shot. It may appear to be suicide, but Sheriff Robert Torrez suspects otherwise. And, the sheriff's suspicions are enough to disrupt the holidays for everyone in the department.

When her sons say they're flying home for a couple days, with a few surprises in store, Reyes-Guzman is desperate for some family time. But, investigations don't wait. There's a missing Forest Service tech, and a body is found at the home of his girlfriend, in the same small community of Regal where Darrell Fisher lived. Just as when Fisher's body was found, neighbors gather. A few of them have stories and guesses, just enough to confuse the investigation.

Lies Come Easy is a story of contrasts. The step-by-step police investigation follows the trail of dysfunctional family and community problems, lies, and murder. On the other hand, Undersheriff Reyes-Guzman is eager to celebrate Christmas with her family, a family gathering steeped in tradition and surprises and gifts of love shared with a growing family and her mentor, retired Sheriff Bill Gastner. At eighty-four, Gastner still has a few surprises in store for his Undersheriff.

Havill's latest is the twenty-third Posadas County mystery. The complex story brings together well-developed beloved characters, a police procedural, a Christmas setting, and a murder investigation. There's a little of everything for Havill's fans.

Lies Come Easy by Steven F. Havill. Poisoned Pen Press, 2018. ISBN 9781464210310 (hardcover), 300p.

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

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Elevation by Stephen King

I read Stephen King's early books. Then, he wrote Misery, and it was too much for me. I did read The Green Mile, but nothing else until his latest novella, Elevation. In just 146 pages, Stephen King gave us a story about kindness, persistence, our own blindness, and one person who makes a difference. He also made me cry.

Scott Carey leads an ordinary life in Castle Rock, Maine. He's a divorced website designer who lives with his cat Bill D. Cat. But, he's caught up in his latest well-paying project, and hasn't really paid too much attention to his neighbors, Deirdre McComb and Missy Donaldson, other than to complain when their dogs pooped on his lawn. But, the rest of the town notices the women are married, and they shun their restaurant, Holy Frijole.

Scott has his own problem that he only confides to his friend, a retired doctor. He's losing weight, about a pound a day, but he doesn't physically appear to have lost any weight. That's a problem if you choose to consider it one. Scott doesn't view it as an issue. There's nothing he can really do about it, and he'll live with it. But, Dr. Bob Ellis wonders what will happen when the weight loss ends.

An overheard remark catches Scott's attention though. It's a comment about his neighbors. He might not always get along with DeeDee, but he wasn't aware of the town attitude. And, DeeDee doesn't appreciate it when Scott stands up for them. Scott's determined to do more than that. When the right time comes, he challenges DeeDee about her own attitude.

And, I'm going to challenge readers. If you haven't picked up a Stephen King book, if he's scared you off, as he did for me with Misery, try Elevation. It's a book of our times. It will make you think. It will challenge you to examine your own blindness. It might make you cry. What do you have to lose? It's only 146 pages.

Stephen King's website is www.stephenking.com

Elevation by Stephen King. Simon & Schuster, 2018. ISBN 9781982102319 (hardcover), 146p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book




Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

How many of you had heard of the fire that destroyed almost half a million books and damaged several hundred thousand more at the Los Angeles Central Library? It happened on April 29, 1986, but the Chernobyl accident occurred on April 26, 1986, so the eyes of the world were focused on that earlier accident. But, Susan Orlean covers the library and the fire in  The Library Book. I'll admit, I had a difficult time with the first thirty-nine pages. I had to quit, and come back to the book later because I found a scene too difficult to get through. The library staff had to stand outside and watch the library burn. "According to librarian Glen Creason, the breeze was filled with the smell of hearbreak and ashes."

Although Orlean begins with the fire, the subsequent investigation, and the suspicion that a man named Harry Peak started the fire, there's so much more in the book. She covers the history of the Los Angeles Central Library, the eccentric and practical librarians who managed the building, the building itself, and some of the current staff and customers. She also mentions the campaign to raise funds to replace the lost books, valued at fourteen million dollars.

Orlean has done her research. She not only deals with the history of the Los Angeles Public Library, she's written a history of libraries, and discusses the future of libraries. She treats all of the staff, the customers, and the characters that circle throughout the building's history, with a great deal of respect.

As with so many other people who love public libraries, Orlean's love was instilled by her mother. Several times, she mentions her trips to the library with her mother. She says her mother always said if she could have chosen any profession in the world, she would have been a librarian.

The Library Book may have started out as an exploration of a mystery. What happened and who set the fire that burned the Los Angeles Central Library? But, Orlean's book became deeper and more compassionate than just one fire and one library. It became a search for the purpose and value of libraries. Why do people use and cherish libraries? In examining that second question, Susan Orlean has told the story of a love and respect for knowledge and information, a story shared worldwide.

Susan Orlean's website is www.susanorlean.com

The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Simon & Schuster, 2018. ISBN 9781476740188 (hardcover), 336p.

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


Friday, November 16, 2018

Winners and the Sherlock Holmes Connection Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Jana B. from Smyrna, TN and Marie R. from Horseheads, NY won copies of Dig Your Grave. Charlotte W. from Covington, GA and Bill T. from St. Clair Shores, MI won the copies of The Guilty Dead. The books are going out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away mysteries with a Sherlock Holmes connection. I have one ARC of Sherry Thomas' latest Lady Sherlock mystery, The Hollow of Fear. Charlotte Holmes uses the cover of "Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective" to investigate crimes. This time, the estranged wife of her dear friend Lord Ingram is found dead on his estate, and all of society suspects him. Charlotte disguises herself to find the truth.






I have two copies of Bradley Harper's A Knife in the Fog. The debut mystery brings a young Arthur Conan Doyle to London where he teams up with his mentor, Professor Joseph Bell, and a journalist, Margaret Darkness to search for the killer who will become known as Jack the Ripper. It's an intriguing story featuring actual people.







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 line should read either "Win The Hollow of Fear" or "Win A Knife in the Fog." Please include your name and mailing address. The contest will end Thursday morning, November 22, at 10 AM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

What Are You Reading?

It's Thursday! I'm excited about the book I'm going to share today. My best friend, Donna, pointed this one out to me. I bought it as a gift to myself. It's a perfect gift for book lovers. It's called Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount. She illustrated books, bookstore cats, beloved bookstores. There are all kinds of lists, quizzes, and gorgeous pictures. This is scary, though. The first line of her introduction says, "The goal of this book is to triple the size of your To Be Read pile." Ha! I'd be in trouble. This is a browsing book. I even bought a box of notecards with piles of books. The notecards include classics, children's picture books, mysteries. (Don't tell Donna, but she's getting the first notecard.)

What are you reading today? And, what's your weather? As I'm writing this on Wednesday night, we're expecting over three inches of snow through tomorrow. If any of you know me well, you know I hate snow, cold weather, and winter.

So, let's talk about books so I don't have to look out the window.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

William Ian Grubman - Author Interview

William Ian Grubman has a fascinating background. He doesn't quite touch on it enough in his
answers, but I think you'll find the author of The Storm Over Paris is an interesting person. Here's our interview.


Q - William, you have so many aspects to your life, it's hard to know where to start. Would you introduce yourself to readers?

There are many aspects to my life - - - frankly, I'm a work in progress. I spent the greater part of my life in corporate America. From board rooms to factories to construction sites, I've worn many hats. Additionally, I've done a great deal of volunteer work and fundraising for those in need. When I decided to retire, I began a new journey, one that would include performing and writing. I'm pretty much a Renaissance man.


Q – Tell us about Mori Rothstein.

Mori is focused and smart. He knows his craft. Unfortunately, he’s missed the signs of impending destruction and finds himself and his family, whom he loves dearly, in the center of a Nazi occupied city, and at the mercy of Hitler’s highest ranking officer. He quickly learns how to balance on the fine line he walks.


Q – Would you tell us about The Storm over Paris, without Spoilers?


In 1942 Paris, Mori Rothstein—an art dealer and expert in master paintings from the Renaissance to Realism—has been sought after by every major museum in the world. Also hunting him down is Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering.

Goering intends to exploit this Jew’s knowledge in service to the Fuhrer. Reluctantly, Mori cooperates to keep his family safe and begins the task of appraising stolen French art. As his friends and fellow Jews disappear, he forges a questionable relationship with one of the most notorious Nazis in Europe—his fidelity and morals tested daily.

Amidst the plundered art that shows up in Mori’s workspace is a painting Mori himself procured for a client. As more and more of his clients’ paintings appear, Mori’s sense of duty, and his ire, change the course of his work for Goering. With the help of his son Emile, Mori sets in motion a plan, walking himself and his family into a web of intrigue, kidnapping, and murder.


Q – How did your knowledge of art history influence this book?

I can’t really say my knowledge of art history influenced this book, but certainly it made the task of research much easier.


Q – Everyone has a different story about their publishing journey. Would you tell us about yours?

The road to publishing was much longer than I imagined. Because this is my first book, I naively thought I would just send my manuscript to an assortment of agents and presto, they would be begging for my story. I learned very quickly the meaning of rejection. I even found in a few instances, I received rejections within five minutes of submitting my work. Some of those agents must be really fast readers.


Q – The next question comes from my own interest, and that of some readers, in theater. Would you tell us about Act Three?

Several years ago, I joined with two friends to begin a new journey. All three of us had dreamed of a life in musical theater, but real-life responsibilities moved us along different paths. At a time when most people would be planning for retirement, we made a bold decision to resurrect our faded dreams. Our trio, ACT THREE, performs standards from Broadway, Jazz, and The Great American Song Book. We have performed at UC Irvine, The Samueli Theater at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, The Metropolitan Room in New York, Vitello’s Supper Club, The City of Beverly Hills Concerts In The Park series, and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

ACT THREE is also the subject of the award-winning documentary film, ONCE UPON A DREAM, directed by Carl Borack and narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, which chronicles the group’s journey to Carnegie Hall. Our debut CD was recently released.

Q – What has been the highlight of your writing career?

Well, this is it. Finally my novel is being published. Now on to the next book. The Storm over Paris is the first installment of three books based on the same family.

Q – what Authors influenced your work?

I can’t say for sure that I was influenced in writing The Storm over Paris, however, Hector Feliciano’s “The Lost Museum,” gave me a great deal of insight regarding the art world of Paris and the Nazi looting of art during WWII.

Q – What author or book do you think is underappreciated?

My taste for reading material tends to lean toward thrillers and mysteries. I also like historical fiction. As far as works or authors being underappreciated, I enjoy all the books I read and I appreciate the time and effort the authors put into creating something that entertains me.

Q – I’m a librarian, so I always end with this question. Would you share a story about a library or librarian?

When I was a child, around five or six, I recall my mother taking me to the library. I loved stories and a trip to the library was like being taken to a candy store. The choices were endless and I was only allowed to check out five books at a time. I would search through every book until I found the perfect one with the best pictures.


Thank you, William. William Ian Grubman's website is https://www.williamgrubman.com/

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany

It's always a treat to catch up with Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. Vicki Delany has given us a delightful, idiosyncratic character whose brain resembles Holmes'. She lacks empathy and social skills, though, and just doesn't understand why people don't appreciate her matter-of-fact comments. She's doing a little bit better in the fourth in this charming series, A Scandal in Scarlet.

Gemma is walking her dog late one evening when they discover the Scarlet House, a local museum, is on fire. Because so much of it is destroyed by the fire, the museum needs to host a fundraiser. Gemma's friend Jayne Wilson, co-owner of Mrs. Hudson's Tearoom, offers to hold an auction there. Before the auction even starts, the chair of the Scarlet House board, Kathy Lamb, has an argument with one of the shop owners, Maureen Macgregor. When Gemma finds Kathy murdered int he backroom, all the witnesses point to Maureen.

Gemma and Maureen dislike each other, but that doesn't mean Gemma will allow Maureen to be wrongly accused. Kathy had her share of people who didn't like her, including her ex's new wife. But, even Gemma, with her uncanny ability to analyze people, comes up blank. There are too many suspects, although Gemma has her theories. However, a second murder throws Gemma off her game.

Although it's fun to laugh at Gemma, and entertaining to follow her thought processes, there are times the reader feels sympathy for her. She's knows she bungled her earlier romance with Police Detective Ryan Ashburton, just by being the all-knowing Gemma. But, she sums up a common problem in mysteries featuring amateur detectives. "The path of true love never runs smoothly, but never less than between an ambitious and very good police detective and a well-meaning but highly perceptive member of the law-abiding public."

Anyone who enjoys quirky amateur sleuths or Sherlock Holmes pastiches should try Delany's A Scandal in Scarlet. It's fun to read the entire series, but there's no reason you can't start with this one.

Vicki Delany's website is www.vickidelany.com

A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany. Crooked Lane Books, 2018. ISBN 9781683317906 (hardcover), 304p.

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

Monday, November 12, 2018

In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon

Joy Avon's debut mystery, In Peppermint Peril, is the first "A Tea and a Read Mystery". This one is set in the Christmas season, while the second one will take readers back to Heart's Harbor, Maine, for the Fourth of July celebration. Meet Callie Aspen and her Great Aunt Iphegeneia (Iphy).

Iphy owns the vintage tearoom Book Tea. She loves mysteries and puts clues on her pastries. When Callie, who is visiting for the Christmas holiday, is dispatched to Haywood Hall with a special cake, she's curious about Aunt Iphy's mystery with this one. But, neither mystery fan realize they'll be caught up in an actual murder mystery at Haywood Hall.

There's a lot of tension. Mr. Leadenby, the retired gardener, doesn't get along with Sheila, Callie's childhood friend. They're snipping at each other at the door. Dorothea Finster, the oldest resident in town at 93 is throwing the tea party at her beloved home. She's about to read her will, and she's invited family and the important people in town, while Iphy and Callie are catering the party.  Sheila has her own plans. She wants her daughter's boyfriend to propose to Amber during the party, and she puts a ring box in the center of the cake.

But, everything goes wrong during the party. The ring is missing; the young people are upset about the pushy engagement plans. Dorothea never gets to read her will after Amber finds a body in the conservatory. Callie, who loves Haywood Hall and her memories, believes she has to do something to  make sure the killer is caught, but she doesn't want to put anyone under suspicion of murder. "In true Agatha Christie style, the will reading had led to murder." And, Callie isn't willing to share information with Deputy Falk who seems too inexperienced to solve the case.

The setting of In Peppermint Peril has potential, but this first mystery is weak. It feels rushed, as if the author threw in everything she knows about cozy mysteries. While there are comments about Agatha Christie and Ellis Peters, it feels more like the game of Clue, with a character stabbed in the conservatory. All the characters are amateur sleuths, even the deputy, who relies too much on Callie for information after initial conflicts. Every character lies, and they all rush around trying to cover their tracks. Avon tries for the cozy hometown atmosphere, but she's trying too hard. Let's hope the next mystery in the series is warm and cozy with characters who have a little more depth.

In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon. Crooked Lane Books, 2018. ISBN 9781683317937 (hardcover), 283p.

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




Sunday, November 11, 2018

Beyond Absolution by Cora Harrison

Cora Harrison's Reverend Mother mysteries, set in Cork, Ireland in the 1920s, are certainly realistic. She doesn't sugarcoat the conditions of life at that time, or the brutality and deaths during the period of rebellion. She doesn't hesitate to injure or kill characters that the reader has grown to care for, because that's life. It's one more reason to encourage readers to start with the first book in this series, A Shameful Murder. Once you've read the first couple books, the repercussions of a murder in the third book, Beyond Absolution, are all the more shocking.

When Reverend Mother Aquinas sees Father Dominic's body in the confessional at Holy Trinity Church, she knows he was murdered. She sends for the police doctor so he can confirm that the priest's death was not accidental. He was stabbed through the ear by someone on the other side of the confessional. The murder of a priest becomes the talk of Cork. Reverend Mother wants to find the killer, but she wants to know what Father Dominic did in the days leading up to his death that led someone to be so desperate as to need to kill a priest.

Why would a Capuchin Friar who took a vow of poverty spend time at a local antiques shop? Reverend Mother once again calls on her acquaintances and former students to help in her probe for answers. Dr. Scher is not only the police doctor; he regularly calls at the convent to treat the nuns. Reverend Mother's cousin, Lucy, is well-married and still connected to society. Inspector Patrick Cashman, a former student, can be advised and encouraged in his investigation. Another former student, Eileen MacSweeney, is a member of the Republican Party, and knows all of the people involved with the antiques store. Reverend Mother knows how to pull strings to get answers.

Reverend Mother Aquinas may be able to pull strings and solve murders, but she can't prevent accidents or murder. As I mentioned earlier, these books reflect a realistic view of the brutality of life in 1920s Cork with it's poverty, disease, and death. But, Reverend Mother's depth of knowledge and understanding, and the authenticity of these books, will draw readers who appreciate historical mysteries.

Cora Harrison's website is http://www.coraharrison.com

Beyond Absolution by Cora Harrison. Severn House, 2017. ISBN 9780727887139 (hardcover), 250p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan

There's a list of twenty-four other novels by Jenny Colgan in the front of Christmas on the Island, but I've only read one, The Bookshop on the Corner. I've picked up, and even brought home some of the books. The titles can be appealing -Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris. But, this one takes place on a small Scottish island. Since I hope to go to Edinburgh in September, it was time to try another one of Colgan's novels. This is the third in a series, but, of course, I picked up the third because it's new and it said "Christmas".

Mure is a tiny island off the coast of the north of Scotland. As the story opens, Bramble, the retired sheepdog that belongs to the MacKenzies, makes his way around, a perfect introduction to the center of town. Flora MacKenzie is the owner and baker at Seaside Kitchen. She's in her thirties, and returned home from London a year earlier. She fell back in love with the island, and with the lawyer, Joel Binder. That's Flora's problem. She's pregnant, and afraid to tell Joel because he was a foster child who never knew a loving family, but only abuse.

Flora's best friend is Lorna MacLeod, headmistress of the primary school. She longs for a man who became her best friend, but has distanced himself since discovering how much she loves him. Saif Hassan is one of the two doctors on the island. He's a refugee from Syria, living on Mure with his two young sons. But, his wife may be alive. He doesn't know, and he can't move on with his life.

Colgan's moving novel is about love, loss, and moving on in so many ways. Joel's employer is Colton Rogers, a wealthy American who moved to the island with the intention of changing it. Instead, he fell in love and married Flora's brother, Fintan. But, Colton is dying of cancer. When Tripp, Colton's brother from Texas shows up in the village, he only comes to ask for money for the family.

Everyone is going to change in the course of the few weeks before Christmas. The newcomers, Colton, Joel, Saif,Tripp, and even some Russian sailors, change the islanders and island life. Every encounter affects the life. Even those chance meetings are important to the world.

Christmas on the Island is a loving, emotional story of life. How do strangers change us? The world moves on, whether it's because of a death or anger or love. Although everyone doesn't have a happy ending in the book, the stories and their conclusions are appropriate. That's why Colgan's book is so moving. It's about realistic people, trying to deal with day-to-day life while sometimes fumbling with their feelings and relationships.

Looking for a story set at Christmas, without the syrupy feelings of so many Christmas stories? Jenny Colgan's Christmas on the Islands, beginning with a dog's tour of Mure, might just be it. Or, if the setting and Flora's story appeals to you, you might be smarter than me and start with the first in the series, The Cafe by the Sea.

Jenny Colgan's website is www.jennycolgan.com

Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan. William Morrow, 2018. ISBN 9780062869203 (hardcover), 340p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Friday, November 09, 2018

Winners and a Police & Partner Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. John S. from Iowa City, IA won Death in the Stars. Carola Dunn's The Corpse at the Crystal Palace goes to Robin C. from Ashtabula, OH. The books are going out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away copies of book that feature the police working with an outside partner. I have two copies of each book, so there will be four winners. The latest Monkeewrench book is P.J. Tracy's The Guilty Dead. Minneapolis police detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are investigating the death of a philanthropist. But, when they team up with the software experts at Monkeewrench, they discover a link between that death and a larger plot.






Or, you could head to Arizona for Steven Cooper's Dig Your Grave. Phoenix Police Detective Alex Mills doesn't hesitate to ask for help from a friend who is a psychic, Gus Parker. Several prominent victims have been discovered in graves they seem to have dug themselves. Ghoulish signs warn of more deaths to come so Mills is going to need Gus' help. And, then Gus disappears.







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. Your subject line should read either "Win The Guilty Dead" or "Win Dig Your Grave." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, November 15 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

What Are You Reading?

It's Thursday! Time to share what we've been reading this week.

I'm just starting the fourth Reverend Mother mystery by Cora Harrison, A Gruesome Discovery. This is a fascinating historical series set in Cork, Ireland in the 1920s. Reverend Mother Aquinas is a prominent figure in the city. She came from a well-off family, and knows many of the people of Cork, from the wealthy to the poorest people whose children often attend the convent school. She taught a young woman who is one of the rebellious Republicans, and she taught an inspector with the Civil Guards. Unfortunately for me, I read the fifth book first, so I'll be finished with the series until a new one comes out.

What are you reading this week? Any books you'd like to share with the rest of us?

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Sandie's Corner - Fool's Moon by Diane A.S. Stuckart

Sandie Herron and I both read Diane A.S. Stuckart's new mystery, the first in a series, Fool's Moon. It's not my type of book because I'm not fond of talking animals. However, Sandie had a much better reaction than I did. So, instead of sharing my review, I'm sharing Sandie's today.

FOOL’S MOON
Written by Diane A. S. Stuckart
The Tarot Cats Mystery Series #1
Midnight Ink
November 8, 2018

FOOL’S MOON is the charming first entry in the Tarot Cats Mystery series.  The action starts immediately with two sibling black cats being thrown away in a box onto the streets.  While they’d been adopted as kittens by a wealthy, elderly woman and had enjoyed her mansion and grounds, she recently died. The two are split up right away with Ophelia being rescued by a white pit bull on her walk with Ruby Sparks, half sister to the owner of Botanica Santa Rosa, a New Age shop offering tarot card readings.  Brandon is taken in by a pawn shop owner nearby.  However the brother and sister do not know where the other has gone.

Zuki, the gentle pit bull, introduces Ophelia to her home and housemates which include a psychic koi who will answer but one question a day, in verse.  The animals talk to each other but not aloud in human language.  However, a suspension of disbelief is required to follow the animals communicating with each other.  Ophelia closely watches Ruby do tarot card readings and discovers a hidden talent for turning cards herself.

Zuki helps Ophelia find Brandon with clues from Philomena, the koi fish.  My own heart quickened during these journeys, and I cheered at their reunion.  They immediately put together the clues from their life at the Palm Beach mansion with what their former housekeeper Luciana had shared during her own tarot reading with Ruby. She suspects her former employer, Hilda, did not die an accidental death but was murdered. When Luciana dies under suspicious circumstances, Ruby gets involved because of what she had shared during their reading. Hilda’s family members also get involved as does the pawn shop owner Luis who claims Brandon is his cat.

Four special animals and two human beings all are looking into why the two women died.  The journey from mansion to new age shop was quite compelling, and the journey from shop back to the mansion is more gripping.  First the cats return with secret help separately from Zuki and Luis and Ruby, and then they return covertly with the same three, but this time all are searching for answers together.  What they find is a surprise to all but the koi, who knew all along.


Diane Stuckart, also the author of the Black Cat mystery series written under the name of Ali Brandon, has penned a delightful and enchanting adventure.  The reader learns a bit about tarot card reading while getting to know the cats and pit bull.  When not just one but two suspected murders take place, the animals deploy their skills and get their humans involved.  All together they solve both mysteries in a surprising and satisfying finale.  I highly enjoyed this heartwarming story and hope for many more entries in the Tarot Cats Mystery series.



Diane A.S. Stuckart's website is https://www.dianestuckart.com

Fool's Moon by Diane A.S. Stuckart. Midnight Ink, 2018. ISBN 9780738757087 (paperback), 336p.




Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Sandie's Corner - A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle

You're used to seeing Sandie Herron's name connected with the audio book reviews here under the topic, "Have You Heard?" Today, she has a review of Kate Carlisle's lastest book, A Wrench in the Works. (Thanks, Sandie!)



A WRENCH IN THE WORKS
Written by Kate Carlisle
A Fixer-Upper Mystery, Book 6
Berkley Prime Crime, November 6, 2018
·         Mass Market Paperback

Contractor Shannon Hammer is happy to welcome her contractor sister Chloe back home.  It’s been ten years since she last lived in the family home in Lighthouse Cove.  She left after high school to find her way in Hollywood, and she became one of the stars of the Home Builder’s Network show “Makeover Madness.”  They want to film several episodes in Lighthouse Cove focusing on the Victorian architecture so prevalent in this historic town.  Chloe co-stars with Blake Bennett, an older man with whom she has a terrific stage presence.  They are complimented by a devoted crew headed by Sergio, a strong, handsome carpenter full of charm. 

It isn’t until the entire crew arrives in town that Shannon meets the executive producer, Bree Bennett, wife of star Blake Bennett.  Bree keeps the show running, making most of the important decisions and carrying them out.  However, she has a nasty temper and is rude to most of her immediate staff as well as the stars and workers on the show.  Bree routinely fires them, never meaning for the firing to stick, until she fires her husband Blake.  The network has decided to start a new show without Blake and featuring Chloe and Sergio as soon as these segments are complete.

Chloe has recruited Shannon to be on the show while in town.  They arrive at the Bloom house, a rundown but appealing, well-designed Victorian home, early on the first day of shooting.  As they examine the house, they discover Bree’s dead body on the fireplace hearth.  Shannon calls the police chief, Eric Jensen, who promptly arrives and cancels any shooting within the home.  As Jensen processed the scene with his own crew, a search is made to find Blake Bennett.  He is discovered drugged in his trailer where he slept the night before.  Could he have killed Bree in his present state?  How many other disgruntled employees could have done the deed?

The next day Shannon discovers another dead body on the porch of the mansion.  The town’s rich kid, now an annoying adult, is actually the reason Chloe has stayed away so many years because of an incident in high school.  Later, while filming some outdoor shots, Chloe falls from an extension ladder rigged to fail.  Who would want Chloe dead?

This was a charming, very cozy mystery centering on Shannon and Chloe yet involving many other characters with distinct roles.  The plot advanced smoothly with several twists to follow.  The suspense ratchets up when Chloe becomes a target.  There is speculation on which the villain is, townspeople or TV crew, as everyone discusses events, yet this is not excessive.  The action keeps going without stalling on any one event or person. 

A very delightful journey following our charismatic and compelling heroines in the sixth entry of the fixer-upper mystery series.  I hope to visit with them again soon.


Kate Carlisle's website is http://katecarlisle.com/

A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle. Berkley Prime Crime, 2018. ISBN 9780399586484 (paperback), 304p.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Terrence McCauley - Author Interview

I know this will sound odd for me, but I recently bought Terrence McCauley's new western, Where
the Bullets Fly. I read an article he wrote for Criminal Element, and the book appealed to me. I just haven't read it yet. But, it was one more reason to interview him.

Thank you, Terrence, for taking time to answer questions.


Terrence, would you introduce yourself to readers?

I’m an award-winning writer whose work spans across several genres, including crime fiction, spy thrillers and westerns. I’ve written about ten novels and several short stories.

Tell us about Charlie Doherty.

Charlie Doherty is a character who appears throughout my 1930s series PROHIBITION, SLOW BURN and THE FAIRFAX INCIDENT. He’s a corrupt Tammany Hall cop; part of the political organization that ran New York City for decades. He’s the kind of character that wouldn’t steal your wallet, but would try real hard to talk you into giving it to him. He also discovers that he’s more than that as the series of novels go on. He doesn’t change, per se, but he definitely learns more about himself as the reader learns more about him, too.

Would you tell us about The Fairfax Incident, without spoilers?

The Fairfax Incident is a complicated novel set in 1933 New York City. It’s a rich tale of noir, espionage and good old fashioned mystery. That’s about as much as I can say without giving up too much of the plot, except to say that the book has received some solid reviews that might make it worth your time.

I read a recent piece you wrote for Criminal Element, “The Old West: A New Frontier in Crime Fiction”. I won’t ask you to summarize the piece, but talk about your fascination with “the Old West”. 

I think the Old West is one of the least understood eras of our history. Some only want to concentrate on the conquest of the Native American people. That’s certainly part of it, but far from all of it. Some want to focus on the gunfights on Main Street at high noon. Those didn’t happen often, either. You’d probably be more apt to be beaten to death or knifed in a bar fight than duel with your enemy. My fascination with the Old West is its vastness in that it’s almost impossible to encompass all of it in a single setting. It often reflects the sensibilities of the era that’s examining it. For example, in the 1940s and 50s, they had patriotic themes. In the 60s and 70s, we saw an increase in counter-cultural and revisionist westerns where Custer was seen as a lunatic and the cavalry were butchers. In the 1980s and 1990s, we saw more action-oriented stories, whereas the 2000s have given us more reflective westerns. I’m fascinated by how one time period can be so well documented, yet so misunderstood.

Would you tell us about Where the Bullets Fly? How would it fit in the crime fiction genre?

Where the Bullets Fly is definitely a traditional western with plenty of crime and action elements to it. The town of Dover Station, Montana might be fictional, but it’s accurate enough to be lots of towns of the time. It’s a town that enjoys a healthy cattle industry, mining and logging all with access to a train line to bring their goods to market. Sheriff Aaron Mackey and his deputy Billy Sunday are put to the test when marauders lay siege to the town and make off with captives. It’s a solid western tale that’s familiar enough to be relatable for people who like westerns, but different enough to attract people who aren’t familiar with the genre.

There are so many ways to research now. You’re writing historical fiction, in several genres. What’s your favorite research tool?

The internet is my favorite tool. Google is indispensable, particularly Google Maps to help me get the feel of a place I’ve never visited like London or Germany.

You have several different publishers. Would you tell us about your publishing journey? Everyone’s is different.

My journey is as long and heartbreaking as many other writers. I lost out on a big publishing contract in 2008, couldn’t get a publisher to take on my work and never gave up. I wasn’t just persistent. I took every bit of criticism I received and used it to make my work better. Ultimately, my work found a home with a small publisher – Airship 27 – and, eventually, I caught the notice of larger publishers who have been very good to me. I’ve been very fortunate.

What authors influenced you?

James Clavell, James Ellroy, Richard Stark/Donald Westlake, Nelson DeMille, Elmore Leonard and Richard Matheson all come to mind.

What author or book do you think is underappreciated?

Richard Matheson is a great writer who a lot of people might not realize they know. If one were to Google him, I think they’d realize they’ve either read or seen at least one adaption of his work in one form or another. Not all of his books were five stars, but the diversity of his voice and talent are admirable and worthy of study.

I’m a librarian, so I always end these interviews with the same question. Do you have a story about a library or librarian that you can share?

I certainly do. I was never a big reader as a kid. I got bored quickly and preferred to draw or write or watch movies. It wasn’t until college that I was able to fully enjoy a library, not only because of the books I needed for research, but as a quiet place to study. I spent some of the best times in college in the library, where the peace and quiet allowed me to concentrate on my studies and become the person I am today.


Thank you, Terrence. Terrence McCauley's website is http://www.terrencepmccauley.com/