Sunday, May 19, 2019

Have You Heard? Julie Hyzy's Hail to the Chef

Because I'm on my way home today from a quick out-of-town trip, Sandie Herron stepped in with a Have You Heard? post. She reviews the audiobook, but, of course, you can always pick up the book itself. Today, she's reviewing Julie Hyzy's Hail to the Chef.

Hail to the Chef                                                                              
White House Chef Mystery, Book 2
Written by Julie Hyzy
Narrated by Eileen Stevens
Unabridged Audiobook
Audible Studios (February 11, 2014)
Listening Length:  9 hours, 2 minutes

Thanksgiving is only days away.  Executive Chef Olivia Paras is meeting with the First Lady when a Secret Service agent abruptly escorts them into the bunker along with the First Lady’s nephew Sean.  Ollie concocts a delicious lunch for the three from rations and freeze dried food. Hours later they rejoin others in the White House and learn it was a faux bomb that set off the alarm.

Returning to the kitchen, Ollie resumed working with her staff only to see lights flash and hear a scream.  She rushes toward the sound and finds the head electrician electrocuted. Ollie does what she can until the medical staff arrives.  No one seems to know why this happened.

Ollie is working late when the First Lady calls her to prepare an informal dinner for three.  Co-owners of a medical research facility with the First Lady are trying to coerce her into selling it.  A heated discussion over dinner ensues with Ollie privy to all of it. She knew from her time in the bunker that the First Lady’s nephew Sean is against the sale, as is the First Lady, but pressure from others is mounting.  Ollie is as shocked as others when a Secret Service agent appears in the room with bad news. Sean is dead, possibly by suicide.

Teaching everyone on staff about explosives and how to spot them is difficult to squeeze into the holiday schedule.  After working late one night Ollie is walking to her apartment from the Metro when she is attacked by two men. Showing up to work the next day with bandaged hands, she cannot prepare food so gets Christmas decorations out of storage.  When she puts the empty boxes back, she notices a box out of place. Inside she discovers an incendiary device and evacuates everyone in the area. Secret Service takes over once alerted. Ollie’s training is paying off; the bomb was live.

At this point I could not put this book down.  I listened to over half the book without a break.  I was enthralled with the action and how tension mounted, especially as the opening of the White House for all to see the decorations approached.  All of the plot lines turned out to intersect and twine around each other until an explosive conclusion. This is an excellent mystery that made sense, was substantial, realistic, and full of suspense.

Eileen Stevens did a superb job narrating.  Her style is quite clear and precise without bringing any attention to herself with deep breaths or swallowing.  Her portrayal of several distinct voices was excellent. I couldn’t believe how she could switch from narrator/Ollie to the male electricians and Secret Service agents.  The transition to the Southern drawl of the First Lady was astounding.

I very much enjoyed Hail to the Chef, and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Have You Heard? - Donna Andrews' Cockatiels at Seven

Sandie Herron has done a terrific job organizing her reviews so they are easier for me to access. Thank you, Sandie, for sharing your review of the ninth Meg Langslow mystery. Cockatiels at Seven was reviewed from the audiobook.

Cockatiels at Seven
Meg Langslow Mystery Book 9
Written by Donna Andrews
Narrated by Bernadette Dunne
Unabridged Audiobook
Dreamscape Media, LLC (April 18, 2017)
Listening Length: 7 hours and 18 minutes

When her friend Karen drops by with her two-year-old son Timmy asking that Meg Langslow babysit “just for a little while,” Meg takes on the challenge.  After all, what’s so hard about playing with a toddler?  Meg puts away the blacksmithing project she’d just begun in preparation for a craft show, and goes through what Karen left with Timmy, finding several sets of clothes, diapers, bedding, Timmy’s favorite blanket, and a bedraggled stuffed kitty named Kiki.  After dinner, Timmy is still with the Langslows, and Karen isn’t answering Meg’s phone calls. 

When Karen hasn’t shown up for Timmy by morning, Meg begins to investigate.  Taking Timmy with her, she starts her search by visiting Karen’s workplace in the financial offices of the college.  A paranoid supervisor is more intent o
n where Timmy’s hands are going than talking about Karen.  Later a co-worker pulls Meg aside and confides that something is seriously wrong.  Police are raiding Karen’s rundown apartment when Meg arrives.  She chides Chief Burke for treating Karen like a criminal when she is missing.  Karen’s ex-husband had supposedly left town, but perhaps he has taken her.  Could Timmy be the target of kidnappers?  Could Karen be hiding from bad guys?  Could she be a bad guy?

Meg continues to follow clues with the help of her large extended family.  Meg’s brother Rob has been slowly moving into a third floor bedroom and has been missing for blocks of time.  Meg’s dad and her newly discovered grandfather, Dr. Montgomery Blake, renowned zoologist, have been hiding some finches on the third floor and snakes in the basement.  Meg learns of an old bird farm out in the country next door to a relative of Karen’s husband.  Just what has her father been up to?  Meg seems to be one step ahead of Chief Burke at every new discovery.

Babysitting alone is topic for a funny mystery, but Donna Andrews has expounded on this theme in so many ways.  Embezzling, kidnapping, killing, and real estate schemes round out this zany story.  While being hilariously funny, this ninth outing of Meg Langslow and family are a tad less madcap.  With the welfare of a child at stake, the investigators are following all leads.  They can’t control the trouble they get into checking them out! 

Thoroughly enjoyable, and highly recommended.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Winners & Humorous Mystery Giveaways

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. A Deadly Turn is going to Kara M. from Adrian, MI. Headlong goes to Trish R. of Decatur, GA. The books are going out in the mail today.

This week, I have humorous mysteries to give away. Antiques Ravin' by Barbara Allan puts antique
dealers Vivian Borne and her daughter, Brandy, into the middle of an ill-fated Edgar Allan Poe festival. Vivian is now county sheriff, so she's called in when some businesses in Antiqua are broken into. But, when bodies are found, the two realize someone is recreating Poe's mysteries.

Or, you could win Jill Orr's The Bad Break. Riley Ellison gave up her job at the Tuttle Corner Library for the world of print journalism. When her former co-worker Tabitha finds her soon-to-be father-in-law dead, Riley is asked to write the obituary. Then, when they discover Tabitha's finance's knife sticking out of his father's chest, Riley finds herself with a murder investigation to cover as well.

Which book would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Your subject line should read either "Win Antiques Ravin" or "Win The Bad Break." Please include your name and address. The giveaway will end Thursday, May 23 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

What Are You Reading?

Are you reading or have you read any of the Anthony Award nominees? The award nominees were announced yesterday, and they will be voted on, and presented at Bouchercon 2019 in Dallas on November 2. Before you tell us what you're actually reading, here's the list of Anthony Award nominees.

Bouchercon 2019 — “Denim, Diamonds, and Death” — will present this year’s Anthony® Awards in five categories at the 50th annual Bouchercon® World Mystery Convention to be held in Dallas, October 31 to November 3. The Anthony Awards will be voted on by attendees at the convention and presented on Saturday, November 2.


Best Novel 
Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott (Little, Brown and Company)
November Road by Lou Berney (William Morrow)
Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier (Minotaur Books)
Sunburn by Laura Lippman (William Morrow)
Blackout by Alex Segura (Polis Books)

Best First Novel
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday)
Broken Places by Tracy Clark (Kensington)
Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver (Pegasus Books)
What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix (Midnight Ink)
Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin (Ecco)

Best Paperback Original Novel 
Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin (William Morrow Paperbacks)
Hiroshima Boy by Naomi Hirahara (Prospect Park Books)
Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day (William Morrow Paperbacks)
A Stone’s Throw by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street Books)

Best Short Story 
“The Grass Beneath My Feet” by S.A. Cosby, in Tough (blogazine, August 20, 2018)
“Bug Appétit” by Barb Goffman, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (November/December 2018)
“Cold Beer No Flies” by Greg Herren, in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press
“English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (July/August 2018)
“The Best Laid Plans” by Holly West, in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)

Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work 
Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin (William Morrow Paperbacks)
Mastering Plot Twists: How To Use Suspense, Targeted Storytelling Strategies, and Structure To Captivate Your Readers by Jane K. Cleland (Writer’s Digest Books)
Pulp According to David Goodis by Jay A. Gertzman (Down & Out Books)
Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s by Leslie S. Klinger (Pegasus Books)
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (HarperCollins)
The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman (Ecco)

The Anthony® Award is named for the late Anthony Boucher (rhymes with “voucher”), a well-known California writer and critic who wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times Book Review, and also helped found Mystery Writers of America. First presented in 1986, the Anthony Awards are among the most prestigious and coveted literary awards. Bouchercon®, the World Mystery Convention founded in 1970, is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization celebrating the mystery genre. It is the largest annual meeting in the world for readers, writers, fans, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, and other lovers of crime fiction. 

So, what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Cleaning the Gold by Karin Slaughter and Lee Child

This past weekend, I actually read an eBook. I don't often, but Karin Slaughter and Lee Child teamed up for a short story, Cleaning the Gold, and I can handle reading short stories digitally. Best of all, for those of you who don't care to read eBooks, it will be available as a paperback next week.

Slaughter's character, Will Trent, is an investigator for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation based in Atlanta, but his boss sends him to Kentucky to work on a cold case. More than twenty years earlier, there was a shooting of a policeman in a small Georgia town. That policeman just died, so now it's a murder investigation. And, the local librarian described a man that fits Jack Reacher's description.

After someone pulls a few strings, Trent is sent to Fort Knox where he's assigned a physically taxing job working next to Jack Reacher. Trent may be tall, but Reacher is taller and bigger. Neither man is much for conversation while they spend their days cleaning and moving gold bullion. But, when Reacher tracks an officer, and Trent follows Reacher, they have a discussion. Jack Reacher also has a case. He's looking into an officer who is an enforcer when someone gets over their head with a loan. But, this man enjoys picking on women and children.

While both men are interested in a resolution to their cases, it soon becomes clear there is something seriously wrong at Fort Knox. If they team up, Trent and Reacher might be able to handle the trouble without throwing the entire country, and the world, into chaos.

Cleaning the Gold is a short story designed for those of us who are already familiar with both characters. There's little introduction because there's none needed for fans of the two bestselling authors. Just settle in for an entertaining story if you pick up the book.

Karin Slaughter's website is

Lee Child's website is

Cleaning the Gold by Karin Slaughter and Lee Child. Harper Collins, 2019. ISBN 9780008358938, 120p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought a copy.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Roger Wall, Guest Author

When Wiley Saichek of Saichek Publicity asks if I'll host a guest author, he usually suggests that the author write about libraries. Wiley knows how much I appreciate those types of posts.

Today, I'm hosting author Roger Wall, whose novel, During-the-Event, is speculative fiction. Here's Wall's biography.

Roger Wall lived throughout the United States before ending up at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied fiction writing. He lives in New York City and the Catskills. During-the-Event is the 2018 Permafrost Book Prize in Fiction selection. Visit his website at

Here's the summary of During-the-Event.

For D.E., only two certainties exist: his grandfather is dead and life will never be the same.    
During-the-Event is a dystopian adventure that roams across a fallen United States, introducing an unforgettable cast of characters along the way. In the near future, climate change has ravaged the United States, leading the government to overcorrect through culls and relocation. Those who survive the mandated destruction are herded into “habitable production zones,” trading their freedom for illusions of security. The few who escape learn quickly that the key to survival is to stay hidden in the corners of the country. For seventeen years, During-the-Event, or D.E., has lived free in a pastoral life with his grandfather in North Dakota. But when death reaches their outpost. D.E. is forced on a journey that will change his life—and reveal surprises about his past.
Once taught that strangers are only sources of pain, D.E. must learn to trust the people he meets on his journey. During-the-Event is a soaring coming-of-age story that grapples with achingly familiar issues: coming to terms with loss and loneliness, finding what our identities really mean, and searching for love in an often strange and bewildering world.

Thank you, Roger, for taking time to write the following post.

Books and libraries, then and now

As a child, books, except for the Bible and two sets of encyclopedias, were not omnipresent in our household. The Bible was a source of stories early on, as was perhaps an anthology of children’s stories. My elementary school bookshelf didn’t contain literature, though, but a collection of manuals on how to survive in the wild. It’s hard to believe anyone actually tested this information, or used it; I read it as adventure writing. It stoked my imagination for grand backyard adventures.

When I was fourteen, I read J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. It wasn’t a school assignment but the first novel I bought on my own—a maroon paperback from a mall bookstore. I read it one Friday night, alone in bed.

I suppose I liked what a lot of people like about the book: the first person voice, the disgust with phonies, and the adventure of trying to be seen as an adult in a New York that no longer exists. Salinger’s personal mythology, a hermit in the Vermont woods who shunned people and wrote, also appealed to me.

In college I sought out libraries for their tranquility and privacy, an escape from group living and dormitories. Yet, it wasn’t until I began going to the library with my own child that I came to appreciate the book-lending service of libraries. Once or twice a week we spent a few hours in the Philadelphia Free Library before loading the stroller with the allowable limit of books. My son never minded walking home.

For a few years in New York I made a home in NYU’s Bobst Library. Early in the morning or during academic breaks the Bobst Library was quiet, and the stacks were filled with rarities. Once I found a book from the early twentieth century about the country Chad, with hand-drawn maps of exploration routes. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t in a rare book collection. Now I wonder if it has been sent off-site for deep storage or scanned into a digital file with the original thrown out to make room for more computer terminals and collaborative work areas. A realtor once stood in my apartment and pointed to the bookshelves. “Books,” he said, “you don’t see many of them anymore. It’s a nice touch.”

Most recently two of my favorite authors published books. Haruki Murakami (Killing Commendatore) and Michael Ondaajte (Warlight). Both of these works share the characteristic of creating realities that the reader can’t resist occupying. A another book, Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders, also achieves this state, as does HernanDiaz’s In the Distance.

Roger Wall - Credit Heather Phelps, Lipton Photography

Monday, May 13, 2019

Girl Gone Missing by Marcie R. Rendon

Marcie R. Rendon's Girl Gone Missing, the second Cash Blackbear mystery, is a strong followup to Murder on the Red River. Only a member of a Native American nation, as the author is, could tell such an authentic story of a brooding, displaced young woman.

Although she's most comfortable drinking and playing pool in her favorite bar in Fargo, North Dakota, Renee "Cash" Blackbear is enrolled in college at Moorhead State in Minnesota, thanks to Sheriff Wheaton. He's taken an interest in the nineteen-year-old ever since he pulled her from a car accident when she was three.

Now, Cash has aged out of the system, escaped foster homes and abuse. She's called Cash because she works for cash, and pays cash. She's a loner at school, one of a handful of Indians enrolled there in the late 1960s. Before she even learns about a girl's disappearance from school, Cash dreams about a blonde girl calling for help. Then she hears the stories of Janet Tweed's disappearance. Cash's dreams change to include two blondes when another girl disappears. Neither young woman is the type to run away. They're good students with families and small communities that are proud of them.

Because of her dreams, Cash asks questions at school and at work, but it isn't until she makes her first trip to the "Cities", Minneapolis and St. Paul, that she herself is pulled into the room where the lost girls are kept.

Rendon looks back at a tragic period in American history. She juggles white slavery, Vietnam, the American Indian Movement, and young Native Americans lost to their families. Girl Gone Missing offers a strong sense of place and historical atmosphere. It's a bittersweet, melancholy mystery with an unusual amateur sleuth.

Marcie R. Rendon's website is

Girl Gone Missing by Marcie R. Rendon. Cinco Punto Press, 2019. ISBN 9781947627116 (paperback), 208p.

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

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault by Cathy Guisewite

What better day than Mother's Day to review Cathy Guisewite's Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault? The essay collection, like Guisewite's "Cathy" cartoons, is filled with family relationships and guilt. It's subtitled "Essays from the Grown-Up Years", but anyone who read "Cathy" will recognize the adult and her relationship with her parents.

There are some differences. Even though "Cathy" wasn't Guisewite, there are enough similarities that many of us recognize the relationship with food, the body image issues. Those are still there in the collection of essays, along with list after list of 5 reasons I haven't exercised today. Guisewite may not be drawing cartoons, but she still sees into the heart of those of us who have aged with her.

However, there are some differences and changes from the "Cathy" we all thought we knew. Guisewite adopted a daughter, who was nineteen at the time this book was written. But, she reveals a little about the adoption, and even more about coping with a teen going off to college. She always writes about it with humor. She doesn't have a lot to say about her relationship with her two sisters. (Who even knew she had sisters?) But, all three women are united in trying to cope with parents who are ninety.

Driving, technology, working in the kitchen. Although Cathy Guisewite's parents are in their nineties, her storytelling in essay form brings back the loving parents her readers will recognize from the cartoons. But, now, instead of her parents taking care of her, Guisewite is attempting to care for parents who don't want changes in their lives.

No matter how much Cathy Guisewite tries to distance her self from the cartoon figure of "Cathy", the humor, the family relationships, the drama over small worries is still present in her essays. It's fun to feel as if we're catching up on a friend's life in Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault.

Cathy Guisewite's website is

Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years by Cathy Guisewite. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2019. ISBN 9780735218420 (hardcover), 323p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy

Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy, is the latest collection of dark stories from Akashic Books, who specialize in noir anthologies. There's nothing positive nor uplifting about Milwaukee, if these stories are any indication. However, that's the point of noir, to illustrate the gritty, bleak side of life.

The violent, dark stories in this collection fit the bill perfectly with the intention, as editor Tim Hennessy says, to be social commentary. Hennessy's introduction is worth reading all by itself, providing background, history of authors who once called Milwaukee home.There's also a map that illustrates the location of each selection to point to the setting of each disturbing story or crime.

Stories by Jane Hamilton and Christie Clancy stand out, evidence that even the ordinary middle class person can get swept up in hatred. Those type of stories are the most memorable ones, because they do not start out with violence, drunkenness or poverty. While some of the male authors included, such as Reed Farrel Coleman, may turn to violence as a solution to problems, many of the female authors use more subtle methods. It's that quieter savagery that creates a bleaker more haunting atmosphere.

Milwaukee Noir is a well-written anthology, with an excellent introduction.

Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy. Akashic Books, 2019. ISBN 9781617757013 (paperback), 256p.

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

Friday, May 10, 2019

Winners and Police Procedural Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Joni W. from Nappanee, IN won Murder at the Palace. Alicia K. from Stacyville, IA will receive Scot & Soda. I'm mailing the books today.

This week, I'm giving away two police procedurals. Although they're both part of series, they can certainly stand alone. One was a first I'd read by an author, and the other was a second. If I can do that, so can you. (smile) Or, if you're a true addict, check for earlier ones at the library.

Claire Booth's A Deadly Turn is a Sheriff Hank Worth mystery set in Arkansas. Worth pulls over a speeding car one night, a car filled with teenagers. He only gives them a warning, but, when he answers a call just minutes later, he finds the car wrecked, and everyone dead. He's blaming himself, but, as he investigates, he finds there may be more to the story than his mistake.

I do have a warning about Headlong by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. It was the first DCI Bill Slider mystery I read, and now I'm totally hooked. One of London's best-known literary agents is found dead. Slider's boss hopes it can be called an accident, but evidence points to murder. Slider's team discovers a number of people might have wanted the man dead. Headlong has all the cop humor while working a serious investigation that police procedural fans could want.

Which police procedural would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Your subject heading should read either "Win A Deadly Turn" or "Win Headlong." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, May 16 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

What Are You Reading?

It's Thursday! My favorite day of the week, thanks to all of you. I know it sounds weird to say Thursday is a favorite day, but it is. I'm looking forward to reading about your books this week.

I read a book that doesn't come out until July, but someone else was also given it to review for a journal. That means I can talk about it. I will be reviewing Garry Disher's Under the Cold Bright Lights here on my blog in early July, but at least I can mention it now.

Garry Disher is an Australian author, winner of the Ned Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award, which is equivalent to being named a Grand Master here in this country. I met him in 2009 when he toured the U.S. on book tour. He's written over fifty books; police procedurals, cult favorites, juvenile books. His new one is a standalone, but I wish it was the first in a series. I think you'd like it, Glen. You'll have to watch for it because I've promised my copy to my brother-in-law.

Under the Cold Bright Lights features Alan Auhl, a cop who was retired from Homicide for five years, and goes back to work on cold cases. And, he's determined that there will be justice for the victims. I like the police investigations, but I also like the community Auhl has built for himself. He has a large sprawling house, and he takes in waifs and misfits. His college-age daughter lives there. His ex-wife comes back once in a while. But, there are also international students, women and children who have left abusive men, and even a co-worker for a short time. He's an interesting character.

What about you? What did you read this week? What attracted you to the book you read? I'm looking forward to seeing what you've been reading.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Breaking the Dance by Clare O'Donohue

I loved Clare O'Donohue's first World of Spies mystery, Beyond the Pale. I'm sure it didn't hurt that most of it took place in Ireland. But, I loved her accidental spies, the American college professors Finn and Hollis Larsson. This time, though, while the couple is still charming, they seemed as confused as the reader in Breaking the Dance.

Finn and Hollis are a little bored after their adventures in Ireland. In fact, they're both daydreaming as to how they could apply their escapades to their writing or teaching assignments. Then, Hollis' grad assistant hands her a plain envelope. When she and Finn open it, there are passports inside. Their pictures are on them, but the names say Tim and Janet McCabe. They translate a note from Spanish, something about death and a friend in trouble. They assume it's talking about Irish art forger Declan Murphy, who saved Hollis' life. Finn doesn't trust him, but Hollis feels she owes him. Now, they just have to figure out what he needs.

In the middle of the night, Hollis wakes, knowing something is wrong. They creep downstairs, and find South African spy Peter Moodley making tea in the kitchen. He claims he doesn't know who the young man is who is dead in their living room. Peter's looking for Declan, and a mysterious code book the Irishman has. Someone else might be looking for it, too. That someone sends a small group of gunmen to kidnap Finn and Hollis, put them on a private jet, and fly them to Argentina. While Peter and Declan pop up now and then, it's up to the "McCabes" to learn what their assignment is because a wealthy criminal hired them to do a job for him.

It may sound like a joke to say, a criminal "sat in a hotel room eating cookies and drinking tea with a couple of Dutch honeymooners, an Irish art thief, a South African spy, and two American college professors." Crowded scenes in hotel rooms and a men's restroom were some of my favorite moments in this confusing book. It seemed to take forever for anything to happen, while Finn and Hollis switched hotel rooms, were locked in a mausoleum, and attended a private party where Hollis was told the secrets of the tango.

I do think Breaking the Dance reflected the atmosphere in Argentina. It was a sad, melancholy book that fit the setting O'Donohue describes.

I still like Finn and Hollis. If they return in another World of Spies adventure, I'll travel with them again. But, I hope the next book has a faster pace.

Clare O'Donohue's website is

Breaking the Dance by Clare O'Donohue. Midnight Ink, 2019. ISBN 9780738756547 (paperback), 360p.

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

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Such a Perfect Wife by Kate White

It's been a little while since I read one of Kate White's Bailey Weggins mysteries. This series just gets better, and there's no reason you can't pick it up with Such a Perfect Wife. I have a weakness for mysteries featuring journalists, and this one was a page turner that I couldn't put down.

Bailey Weggins has been writing true crime books lately, so when a new online magazine asks her to cover a story in Lake George, New York, she's eager to turn investigative reporter again. Shannon Blaine went jogging one morning, and never returned. Because she's a beautiful blonde wife and mother, her disappearance caught the eye of Bailey's editor. Shannon has only been gone for two days when Bailey arrives in town. She has the chance to see the search parties, talk briefly with a couple family members, and get a motel room before more media moves in. She does catch the eye of a local reporter, though. Alice Hatfield has been covering the story, and she's not happy to share her sources with an out-of-town reporter. But, Bailey gives Alice the respect she's earned, and the two form a grudging partnership.

When Bailey receives an anonymous phone call with a tip saying Shannon wasn't such a good Catholic girl, she turns to Alice for suggestions. The two reporters end up at an old retreat center owned by the local diocese. It's there they find multiple bodies. Although they're both aware they might have made themselves targets for a serial killer by finding the bodies, Bailey and Alice are determined to stick with their investigations and their stories.

This riveting story kept me turning pages. Yes, when I look back at it, it all makes sense, even the death I wasn't expecting. I should have expected it. But, isn't that the point of a good story? It distracts the reader enough that even the reader used to crime novels can be surprised.

As I said, even if you've never read any of the Bailey Weggins mysteries, there's no reason you can't pick this one up. If you're looking for an entertaining mystery, try this one.

Kate White's website is

Such a Perfect Wife by Kate White. Harper, 2019. ISBN 9780062747495 (paperback), 368p.

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

Monday, May 06, 2019

A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary by Terry Shames

I'll tell you the truth. I actually read Terry Shames' latest Samuel Craddock mystery last November. At the time I received it to review for a journal, it was scheduled for a January release. Then, release date was changed. This won't be a typical review because I haven't reread the book. However, I didn't want to miss the chance to mention A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary.

It takes Police Chief Samuel Craddock a little while to realize his friend, Loretta Singletary, is missing. He's used to seeing her every day or two, but he's been caught up in business. There's a feud going on between two brothers. A new preacher in Jarrett Creek, Texas is stirring up trouble about the local goat rodeo. Eventually, it dawns on Craddock that Loretta hasn't brought him baked goods in a few days.

Then, Loretta's women friends start to worry and mention it to Craddock. When he asks questions, they confess Loretta found an online dating site for seniors. She disappeared after telling others she was meeting a man. When a woman from the nearby town of Bobtail is found dead, and she used the same dating site, Craddock ratchets up his search for his missing friend. But, he's going to need to work with his younger officers on this one. He doesn't have the computer skills and familiarity with sites. He's hoping they can find clues that will lead to the discovery of a living Loretta, rather than her body.

A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary is a suspenseful homespun mystery, but Shames always deals with current issues, such as dating sites. The account of the new preacher in town is a timely story as well, but, without spoiling the mystery, it's better not to discuss too much. In Shames' capable hands, a small town mystery has a great deal of relevance.

These books feature authentic characters, especially Samuel Craddock, who narrates the story while he's candid about his own shortcomings. Fans of the late Bill Crider's Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, or Steven Havill's lesser known Posadas County mysteries, will definitely want to pick up Terry Shames' entire Samuel Craddock series.

Terry Shames' website is

A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary by Terry Shames. Seventh Street Books, 2019. ISBN 9781633884908 (paperback), 272p.

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

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Agatha Award Winners

MALICE DOMESTIC announced the winners of the Agatha Awards over the weekend.
Congratulations to all of the winners!

Best Contemporary Novel 
Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
Best Historical Novel 
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
Best First Novel 
Tie: A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington)
Curses Boiled Again by Shari Randall (St. Martin's)

Best Short Story 
Tie: "All God's Sparrows" by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"The Case of the Vanishing Professor" by Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)

Best Children's/Young Adult Mystery 
Potion Problems (Just Add Magic) by Cindy Callaghan (Aladdin)

Best Nonfiction 
Mastering Plot Twists: How to Use Suspense, Targeted Storytelling Strategies, and Structure to Captivate Your Readers by Jane Cleland (Writer's Digest Books)

The Body in the Wake by Katherine Hall Page

I'm the first to admit I haven't read all twenty-five Faith Fairchild mysteries. But, twenty-five books in any series is cause for celebration. Katherine Hall Page manages to throw in a celebration as well as an issue-oriented, hit-close-to-home traditional mystery with The Body in the Wake.

Wife, mother, caterer, friend. Faith Fairchild fits all of those roles in the latest book in the series. However, it's been quite a long time since she had so much time to herself. She and her husband, Tom, are spending the summer on their beloved Sanpere Island in Maine. But, he's writing a book in an office on one side of the island, and she's alone, with time for friends, on the other. Their son, Ben, is working on a college summer research project. Their daughter, Amy, is on the island, but working long hours in the kitchen of a new conference center. Faith has time to listen to her friend, Sophie, worry about the lack of a baby. And, her best friend, Pix Miller, is worrying over her daughter's upcoming wedding. She has a lot to worry about when Samantha's future mother-in-law shows up, out of the blue, with over-the-top plans for a wedding that doesn't fit Samantha and Zach's lifestyle.

It's while spending time with Sophie that Faith discovers the first body of the summer at her favorite swimming pond. They try to save the man, and it's while doing CPR that Sophie recognizes him as a biker she saw with some others in town one day. She remembers his tattoo. When Faith and Tom find a second body, this time in the water off an island, the victim has the same tattoo. Both men are from Lowell, Massachusetts, a link in the drug chain that extends from Colombia to Maine, and into Canada. But, drugs and the opioid crisis strike even closer to home for the Fairchilds and their friends. It's not just bikers who are involved.

The Body in the Wake is a well-written traditional mystery, the twenty-fifth in a series that celebrates friends and family with a concluding wedding. However, the author emphasizes the opioid crisis, addiction, and the problem it has become for every community. While it doesn't take long to guess who the addict is in Faith Fairchild's circle, it's a dramatic scene when the moment of discovery occurs. And, the discussion of addiction is worth reading by itself.

Katherine Hall Page's The Body in the Wake is a satisfying mystery, and a satisfying celebration for readers who appreciate longevity with continued high standards of writing.

Katherine Hall Page's website is

The Body in the Wake by Katherine Hall Page. William Morrow, 2019. ISBN 9780062863256 (hardcover), 240p.

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

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Night Watch by David C. Taylor

David C. Taylor's author's note in Night Watch says that it's the third book in the Michael Cassidy series, but the second in chronological order. Although I haven't read either of the other two, including the Edgar Award nominated Night Life, if you want to read the series in order, start with Night Life. It's set in 1954. Night Watch is set in 1956, and the time period is crucial to the story.

In 1956, New York City police detective Michael Cassidy handles several Cold War-related investigations while also attempting to discover who is trying to kill  him. During rush hour, someone tries to push Cassidy in front of a subway train. His partner brushes it off, saying he should know better than to stand in the front row during rush hour.

Their first case is the death of a hansom cab driver in Central Park. It appears to be a mugging, but forensics says otherwise.Then, a biochemist throws himself through a window in the Astor Hotel, and the stories told by several of the man's acquaintances don't add up. As Cassidy, along with his lover, a reporter from The New York Post, ask questions, the same people seem to pop up. And, they seem to have powerful connections with the CIA. When Cassidy and his brother, Brian, a TV journalist, seem to be getting a little too close, his brother suddenly disappears.

What's the link between a sniper shooting at Cassidy and his brother's disappearance? This action-packed story is a grim story of the CIA's actions in the U.S. during the 1950s and '60s. Night Watch is a suspenseful, frightening thriller filled with deaths, mysterious connections, and the ability of the government to make newspaper stories and connections disappear.

David C. Taylor's website is

Night Watch by David C. Taylor. Severn House, 2019. ISBN 9780727888679 (hardcover), 304p.

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

Friday, May 03, 2019

Winners & A Humorous Mystery Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last giveaway. Becky K. from Grayslake, IL won Deja Moo. Nancy C. from Garland, TX won The Murder Book. The books went out in the mail yesterday.

This week, I have two fun mysteries to give away. In Catriona McPherson's Scot & Soda, it's time to celebrate Halloween. Scottish-born California transplant Lexy Campbell throws a party for her friends at the Last Ditch Motel. Too bad they try to bring up cold beer, and they end up hooking a cold corpse instead. Only Lexy and her cohorts can mix Halloween and a body with a Scottish poem and a class reunion.

Margaret Dumas' Murder at the Palace puts together a group of misfits who all work at a historical movie theater that shows classic films. When Nora Paige's movie star husband makes the tabloids with his latest co-star, she takes over management of the theater. Nothing like finding a body in the ice machine. Nothing like investigating with the ghost of an usherette who was put on ice in the 1930s. Mix humor with classic films and it's a charming, fun mystery.

Which book would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Your subject heading should read either "Win Scot & Soda" or "Win Murder at the Palace." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Friday, May 10 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

What Are You Reading?

It's Thursday! Time to talk about what we're reading. First, I'll tell you why I didn't read anything for two days. On Tuesday morning, I drove to my sister, Linda's,  in Ohio. Mom & my other sister, Christie, drove in as well. In the late afternoon, we went to Gramercy Books in Bexley. (Where else would we all go? But, I forgot to take a picture of the bookstore!) Very nice, active bookstore with lots of author appearances - Connie Berry, Celeste Ng, Jennifer Chiaverini, Louis Bayard. My kind of place.

Then, we went to what Christie called Chez Thomas. Linda's oldest son, Thomas cooked dinner for all of us, chicken parmigiana, pasta, marinara sauce, Brussel sprouts. Delicious dinner. And, he took a picture of us.

From there, we went to Christ Lutheran Church in Bexley. Emmet Cahill, who has performed with Celtic Thunder, was performing at the church. When he tours, he tends to appear at a number of churches. Beautiful concert! He's a trained tenor, and he performed Irish songs, religious songs, and a Broadway song or two. My sisters said they'd go see him again. Success! (And, Christie took a picture of me when I was thanking him afterwards, and getting my cd signed.)

So, with a five hour drive both ways, and time with family, I haven't read anything for the last couple days. So, let's talk about what you're reading. I'd love to know.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

June 2019 Treasures in My Closet

Ah, June Treasures in My Closet. Books are always magic, but there's an enormous collection of magical books that will be released in June. Wait until you see this list!

It's the twentieth anniversary of Aimee Leduc, while Murder in Bel-Air is the nineteenth book in Cara Black's series. Private investigator Aimee Leduc is about to go onstage to deliver the keynote address at a tech conference when she receives word her mother never showed to babysit Aimee's daughter. Now, Leduc is entangled in a dangerous web of international spy craft, post-colonial Franco-African politics, and neighborhood secrets in Paris' 12th arrondissement. (Release date is June 4.)

Espionage also takes center stage in Kate Carlisle's latest Bibliophile mystery, The Book Supremacy. While on the last day of their Parisian honeymoon, Brooklyn finds the perfect gift for her husband, Derek Stone. It's a first edition James Bond novel, The Spy Who Loved Me. Brooklyn shows the gift to Ned, an old friend of Derek's from his spy days. Back in San Francisco, the couple wonder if their new problems are related. After Brooklyn lends the book to a local spy shop for a display, someone breaks in, and there's a murder. And, Derek learns Ned has been killed. Carlisle's links between books and murder are always clever. (Release date is June 4.)

Blake Crouch, author of the bestseller Dark Matter, now brings us Recursion, a combination thriller and science fiction puzzle. "My son has been erased" are the lat words a woman tells Barry Sutton before she leaps from the Manhattan rooftop. When Barry begins to investigate her death, he discovers that all across the country, people are waking up to lives different from the ones they fell asleep to. Miles away, neuroscientist Helen Smith is developing a technology that allows us to preserve our most intense memories and relive them. But, Barry discovers that Helena's work has yielded a terrifying gift - the ability not just to preserve memories, but to remake them. And, that means destroying all the memories and moments that make us human. (Release date is June 11.)

One Small Sacrifice marks the launch of a new series by Hilary Davidson. NYPD Detective Sheryn Sterling is brilliant, dedicated, and hard-headed, a detective with invaluable insight, but also tunnel vision. Sterling is certain Alex Trainer got away with murder when his friend Cori fell to her death a year earlier. She thinks Trainer, a wartime photojournalist suffering from PTSD is to blame. When Alex's fiancee goes missing, Sheryn is determined he won't escape justice this time. But, as she delves into the investigation, all her suppositions are overturned. (Release date is June 1.)

Edgar Award nominee Dianne Freeman is back with A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder. When a gossip novelist is found murdered, Frances Wynn, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, teams up with George Hazelton to assist the police in a highly sensitive case that is upsetting all of society. I loved the first book, A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder. (Release date is June 25.)

Magic for Liars is Sarah Gailey's fantasy debut. Ivy Gamble was born without magic, and she never wanted it. She's satisfied with her life, and doesn't wish she was liked her gifted twin sister, Tabitha. Ivy Gamble is a liar. When a gruesome murder is discovered at The Osthome Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister - without losing herself. (Release date is June 4.)

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, brings us a novel set in a world of glamour, sex and adventure in the 1940s New York Theater world, City of Girls. At ninety-five, Vivian Morris looks back at her life in the 1940s after she was kicked out of college and went to live with her Aunt Peg in Manhattan. At Aunt Peg's midtown theater, the Lily Playhouse, Vivian is introduced to an entirely different world, but a personal mistake that results in professional scandal turns her life upside down. (Release date is June 4.)

I had never read Matt Goldman's Nils Shapiro mysteries, but, after reading The Shallows, I went back and picked up both of the earlier ones. Shapiro is a shrewd private detective in Minneapolis. When a widow hires Shapiro to investigate her husband's savage murder, she's not the only one looking for Shapiro's help. Everyone, from the widow's boyfriend to a congressional candidate to the FBI wants to know what happened. It's a convoluted story, but Nils Shapiro is the true draw in this mystery. (Release date is June 4.)

I have it on good authority that I'm going to love Lisa Grunwald's Time After Time with its Grand Central Terminal setting. It's a magical love story inspired by the legend of a woman who vanished from Grand Central Station. It sweeps readers from the 1920s to World War II and beyond. In 1937, Joe Reynolds, a hardworking railroad man meets a vibrant young woman at the famous clock. Nora Lansing's clothes and talk of the Roaring Twenties seems out of place in Depression-era New York. When Joe tries to walk her home, she disappears. Nora is trapped with a strange connection to Grand Central. The story defies age, class, place, and even time. (Release date is June 11.)

Set in a small fishing town in Maine, Evvie Drake Starts Over is a debut novel by Linda Holmes, host of the NPR podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour. Evvie is recently widowed at age thirty-three, adrift in her life, and keeping secrets from herself and those closest to her. Things start to look up after she meets Dean, a former Yankees pitcher who can no longer throw straight. Dean rents the small apartment attached to Evvie's house. Given town, and some good conversation and bourbon, they find a way back to themselves, and toward each other. (Release date is June 25.)

Katherine Howe returns to the world of her first book, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, with her latest novel, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs. Professor Connie Goodwin specializes in the history of domestic healing arts and the women who possessed those skills. But, Connie harbors a secret. She is the direct descendant not only of Deliverance Dane, a woman tried as a witch in Salem, but of an entire bloodline whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows. A hint from her mother, though, and clues from her research forces Connie to realize her beloved finance's life is in danger, and she must solve the mystery behind a centuries-old deadly cycle to save him. (Release date is June 25.)

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali takes readers to Iran in the 1950s. Royaa is a dreamy, idealistic teenager living in 1953 Tehran who, amidst the poltical upheaval of the time, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri's neighborhood book and stationery shop. When Mr. Fakri introduces her to his other favorite customer, Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi's poetry, Rosa loses her heart. But, several months later, on the eve of their wedding, when the young couple are to meet, violence erupts, and Bahman never shows. (Release date is June 18.)

Susan Mallery's latest novel, The Summer of Sunshine & Margot, is about the Baxter sisters and the changes in their lives thanks to one fateful summer and one aging movie star. Etiquette coach Margot Baxter can handle wayward clients, until she has to deal with Bianca, an aging movie star notorious for her shock-and-awe tactics. But, Bianca needs to learn to behave as a diplomat's wife. Then, there's Margot's good-time sister, Sunshine. She's ready to straighten up and change her life. Both sisters learn that change doesn't just happen. (Release date is June 10.)

In We Were Killers Once, Becky Masterman picks up where Truman Capote left off with In Cold Blood. Capote wrote of Perry Smith and Dick Hickok, convicted and executed for killing a family of four in Holcomb, Kansas in 159. "What if there was a third killer, who remained unknown? But what if there was another family, also murdered, who crossed paths with this band of killers?" What if Dick Hickok left a written confession? Retired FBI agent Bridgid Quinn's husband, a former priest, was once a prison chaplain, and he knows he has a written document hidden away that has become a target for a man on the run. (Release date is June 4.)

The Burning Chambers launches a new historical fiction series by Kate Mosse. In France, 1561, war sparks between the Catholics and the Huguenots, dividing neighbors, friends, and family. Minou and Piet are a young couple thrown together by chance who find themselves on opposing sides as forces beyond their control threaten to tear them apart. Their fates are sealed by a mysterious mission that will forever change the course of their lies and the future of their country. And, a feud that will burn across generations begins to blaze. (Release date is June 18.)

Junior reporter Riley Ellison is back in Jill Orr's funny mystery, The Ugly Truth. There are two shocking murders in small-town Tuttle Corner Virginia, cases involving high-profile players from Washington, D.C. This brings national attention, and national competition for the story, to Riley Ellison's title corner of the world. Beloved cafe owner Rosalee is the prime suspect, but she insists she's innocent. In exchange for protection, Rosalee gives Riley and her fellow reporter Holman exclusive information that incriminates a powerful person. (Release date is June 18.)

Is the perfect sister also a perfect liar? That's Ryan Gracey's question about her "perfect" older sister Wendy in Emilie Richards' A Family of Strangers. Ryan never even tried to compete with Wendy, who seems to have everything. But, when Wendy calls and begs Ryan for help, she's stunned. There's been a murder, and Wendy believes she may be wrongfully accused. While Ryan moves back to their hometown to care for the two nieces she barely knows, she uses her skills refined as a true-crime podcaster to look for answers. Yet the trail of clues Wendy left behind leads to nothing but more questions. (Release date is 6/25.)

The latest novel from two-time Edgar Award-winning author Lori Roy, is a powerful, timely story, Gone Too Long. Roy uses several viewpoints, and historical accounts to tell the story of a town and several women who were terrorized for years by a connection to the local Ku Klux Klan chapter. (Release date is June 24.)

Jennifer Ryan, the author of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, brings us a World War II story, The Spies of Shilling Lane. It's the story of a village busybody determined to find, and then rescue, her missing daughter. Mrs. Braithwaite, self-appointed queen of her English village, finds herself dethroned, despises, and dismissed following her husband's divorce petition. So, she takes off to London when a family secret is threatened, in order to find the only person she has left, her clever daughter, Betty. When Betty's landlord informs her that the young woman hasn't been home in days, and, with the chaos of the London Blitz, who knows what happens. Now, Mrs. Braithwaite storms into the London Blitz to learn of Betty's fate. (Release date is June 4.)

Set on a Southern plantation in the 1920s, Deb Spera's debut novel, Call Your Daughter Home, follows the trials and triumphs of three fierce, unforgettable women. It's 1924 in South Carolina, and the region is still recovering from the infamous boll weevil infestation that devastated the land and the economy. Gertrude, a mother of four, must make an unconscionable decision to save her daughters from starvation or die at the hands of an abusive husband. Retta is navigating a harsh world as a first-generation freed slave, still employed by the Coles, the family who once owned her family. Annie, the matriarch the Coles family, must come to terms with the terrible truth that has ripped her family apart. These three women, seemingly with nothing in common, find strength in the bond that ties women together. (Release date is June 11.)

I don't know how to summarize Jennifer Weiner's Mrs. Everything without giving away too much. So, here's the summary from Barnes & Noble's page, "timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives." (Release date is June 11.)

Sometimes, a romantic comedy just sounds fun. Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey features Annie Cassidy, a rom-com-obsessed romantic waiting for her perfect leading man. When Annie gets a job on a movie that's filming in her neighborhood, she mets the lead actor, Drew Danforth. He's a cocky prankster who couldn't be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Despite that, Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew, while she learns that life doesn't always go according to a script. (Release date is June 11.)

There's a wealth of books for June, especially if you're a fan of what is commonly called "women's fiction". I prefer to think of them as books with interesting stories.

There are so many books for June that, naturally, there's a list I couldn't summarize. These books are also June releases.

Anderson, Richard - Retribution (6/4)
Baker, Jo - The Body Lies (6/17)
Belle, Kimberly - Dear Wife (6/25)
Brodesser-Akner, Taffy - Fleishman is in Trouble (6/18)
Clifford, Joe - Rag and Bone (6/4)
Edvardsson, M.T. - A Nearly Normal Family (6/24)
Graham, Scott - Arches Enemy (6/10)
Harrison, Nicola - Montauk (6/3)
Houston, Victoria - Dead Big Dawg (6/11)
Jalaluddin, Uzma - Ayesha at Last (6/3)
Kate, Lauren - The Orphan's Song (6/24)
King, Reed - FKA USA (6/17)
Lombardo, Claire - The Most Fun We Ever Had (6/24)
Mackin, Jeanne - The Last Collection (6/24)
Mackintosh, Clare - After the End (6/24)
Mancusi, Nicholas - A Philosophy of Ruin (6/17)
Martineau, Maxym M. -  Kingdom of Exiles; The Beast Charmer (6/24)
Mechling, Lauren - How Could She (6/24)
Nesbitt, John D. - Dusk along the Niobrara (6/18)
Smith, Dominic - The Electric Hotel (6/3)
Vuong, Ocean - On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous (6/3)
Wolff, Jake - The History of Living Forever (6/10)
Zaki, Jamil - The War for Kindness (6/3)