Sunday, September 22, 2019

A Killer Carol by Laura Bradford

It's not really too early for Christmas mysteries. The Christmas books are released in September and October now because, let's face it, most of us don't read a lot during December. And, I wouldn't miss Laura Bradford's latest Amish Mystery, A Killer Carol. This is one of my favorite series. The characters are well-developed and realistic.

Claire Weatherly, owner of Heavenly Treasures, provided the idea for the first Christmas festival, "A Heavenly Night" in the town. While she's nervous, hoping the event will work for the townspeople and visitors, she doesn't anticipate the event that could ruin cheerful expectations. When an elderly Amish couple is found dead by a group of teen carolers, the first thought is they died together. However, Claire's boyfriend, police detective Jakob Fisher, says they were murdered. And, as far as he knows, the last people to see them were a young couple, newlyweds Samuel and Ruth Yoder.

While Jakob investigates, Claire can't believe Samuel and Ruth would kill anyone. She investigates herself, but Claire's disbelief causes a rift between Jakob and Claire. She has a hard time accepting that his job forces him to follow the evidence, while she wants to follow her heart. Unfortunately, her heart tells her Jakob is wrong, and that he's keeping secrets from her. The murder investigation may not be the entire reason Jakob is acting strange when he's around her. It's too bad Ruth is acting strange as well. Claire begins to doubt her heart when it comes to the people she's grown to love.

The Amish Mysteries by Laura Bradford have always been about matters of the heart and community as much as they've been about murder investigations. The relationships between Claire and her beloved aunt, between Claire and her friends in the Amish community, are essential to the atmosphere in the story. Those relationships create an atmosphere of warmth, trust, and understanding. That doesn't change in this latest story in the series.

However, Claire must examine her own heart, her feelings for Jakob, and her understanding of his job and responsibilities. This is going to sound strange. Reed Farrel Coleman recently wrote an article about Jesse Stone, the police chief featured in Coleman's continuation of Robert B. Parker's series. Coleman's comments fit Jakob Fisher as well. "Jesse must weigh his actions carefully for as much as he might care for the people involved on either side of a case, he must also act in accordance with professional standards and requirements of his office." In this particular case, when Claire's friends are suspects in a murder, she has a hard time accepting Jakob as a professional with standards. It takes two other people to point out to her that Claire is not recognizing Jakob's role.

There's a depth to Laura Bradford's characters that is sometimes lacking in other cozy mysteries. It's this recognition of their own personal shortcomings that makes her characters come alive on the page. As a mystery reader, I found it easy to guess the killer in A Killer Carol. However, as a person who reads for character, I always appreciate the changes and realistic characters in Bradford's books. A Killer Carol, the seventh in the series, reflects that growth.

Laura Bradford's website is www.laurabradford.com

A Killer Carol by Laura Bradford. Berkley Prime Crime, 2019. ISBN 9781984805904 (paperback), 291p.

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

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Death of a Gigolo by Laura Levine

Every time I read a mystery that's supposed to be humorous, I remind myself that everyone has a different idea of humor. Mine is not broad, slapstick style. I like quiet and witty, or, even, sometimes obnoxious and witty. But, I tend to prefer wordplay over absurdity. While Laura Levine's humor in   Death of a Gigolo is not my preferred style, I can respect her set-up of the mystery itself. She plays fair with the reader, and the solution is well-thought out and satisfying.

Everything's going right for freelance writer Jaine Austen at the moment. She's hired to co-author a romance book, writing it with Daisy Kincaid, a wealthy woman in her sixties. She also has her own romance. Despite the disapproval of her neighbor, and the vocal disapproval of her cat, Prozac, she's dating her ex-husband, Dickie. Jaine's convinced he's turned over a new leaf, working a steady job. He does have some strange new beliefs and dietary restrictions, but she can live with that.

However, no one can live with the trouble that arrives at Daisy's front door. After Daisy's picture is in a newspaper, Tommy LaSalle shows up, claiming to be the nephew of Daisy's deceased travel companion. Within a short time, he's wormed his way into the house, where he's going to stay. Then, he works his way into Daisy's heart, and there's an announcement of their engagement. But, he's so sleazy and dislikeable that he also becomes a murder victim. And, there are certainly a lot of suspects.

While I'm not a big fan of some of the humor in Death of a Gigolo, Jaine was a refreshing amateur sleuth, gutsy, outspoken (at least to herself), honest about her cat's reaction to Dickie. It's ironic that she couldn't see the similarities between her relationship to Dickie and Daisy's relationship to Tommy. Both are a little sickening.

But, amidst the writing of Fifty Shades of Turquoise and the romance with Dickie, there is an amateur sleuth who sifts through the numerous suspects and accidentally finds the killer. Jaine might be hopeless when it comes to her love life, but she succeeds as an amateur sleuth.

Laura Levine's website is www.lauralevinemysteries.com

Death of a Gigolo by Laura Levine. Kensington Books, 2019. ISBN 9781496708526 (hardcover), 240p.

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


Friday, September 20, 2019

Book Giveaway - A Couple Lighter Mysteries

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Paul B. from Hewitt, NJ won Beautiful Bad, and The Murder List will go to Kathy S. from Alba, TX. The books will go out in the mail today.

Last week, the crime novels I gave away were dark. This week, I'm giving away a couple lighter mysteries, hardcovers of both of them.

Donna Andrews' Meg Langslow mysteries are always popular. Terns of Endearment sees Meg and her entire family on a cruise to the Bahamas. But, the ship breaks down in the Bermuda Triangle. Meg and the family try to keep passengers entertained, but when a crew member announces a woman jumped overboard, Meg finds herself heading up an investigation when no one on the ship seems interested.






Or maybe you'd like to head to a historic mansion with Sheila Connolly's Killer in the Carriage House. Kate Hamilton is trying to help the town of Asheboro, Maryland recreate itself as a Victorian village and tourist attraction. She and historian Joshua Wainwright are trying to find documents that will help the town. But, just hours before a treasure trove of historic documents were to be deposited at the town library, a body is found there.






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 Terns" or "Win The Carriage House." Please include your name and mailing address. The contest will end Thursday, Sept. 26 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

What Are You Reading?

I read all of your comments last week about what you were reading then. However, I read them late,
and didn't comment because I thought you probably wouldn't come back to see the comments. After my dentist appointment today, though, I'll be around to read your posts.

I'm reading the book Mark Baker mentioned last week, Laura Bradford's A Killer Carol. It's the seventh book in Bradford's Amish Mystery series. As you would guess, this one is set during the Christmas season when Heavenly, Pennsylvania holds its first Christmas festival. But, the joy isn't all it should be due to the murder of an elderly Amish couple.

Speaking of Christmas festivals, before we move on to another discussion of what you are all reading, I wanted to mention Old Wethersfield, Connecticut. While on vacation, we went to this town, a place that has over 150 houses that pre-date the Civil War. Naturally, that makes it a picturesque New England town. That also makes it the perfect setting for cozy Christmas shows. Last year, Hallmark filmed in Old Wethersfield. The resulting show was "Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane". While we were there, a show was being filmed to show either on Hallmark or Lifetime this year. While I don't know the name, I can show you the setting. And, this same location was part of last year's show.




Just thought you'd enjoy this. If you see this building in a Christmas show, you'll know where it was filmed.You can even tell where "Christmas" ended, and September grass began.

Now, let's talk about your books. What are you reading this week?

(Oh, and I haven't read as much as I should this week. I've been watching Ken Burns' "Country Music" on PBS. If you appreciate country music and the history of it, I'll be happy to talk about that, too. It's a terrific series. Well-done, as Burns always does.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Small Kingdoms & Other Stories by Charlaine Harris

If you don't read Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, you probably haven't read the four stories collected in Charlaine Harris' new anthology, Small Kingdoms & Other Stories. I'm a fan of Harris' Lily Bard mysteries, and the Midnight, Texas series. The books are a little dark. So are the stories in this collection.

Meet Anne DeWitt, a high school principal in a small town in North Carolina. She's only been principal for two years, but she's doing her best to make Travis High School the best it can be. However, the baseball coach, Holt Halsey, seems to know her true identity. He also knows she killed a man in her house before coming to school one morning. It was the first time in three years that someone had tried to kill her.

I'm not going to give away Anne's background. It's part of the enjoyable discoveries in this collection. I will say that Harris reveals a little more about the mysterious woman with each introduction to the four stories. We learn a little about her past. We discover she hates to be ridiculed. And, readers learn just what Anne DeWitt is capable of doing.

If you like an accomplished woman who can take care of herself and keep secrets, a proud woman determined to make a high school the best it can be, meet Anne DeWitt. She just won't be exactly the type of high school principal you expect.

(Note: I always find anthologies difficult to review. The stories are short, and I certainly don't want to ruin them. So, instead of a review, I consider this a teaser. If you're intrigued, pick up Small Kingdoms & Other Stories.)

Charaine Harris' website is www.charlaineharris.com

Small Kingdoms & Other Stories by Charlaine Harris. JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc., 2019. ISBN 9781625673787 (paperback), 164p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book






Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Judge Thee Not by Edith Maxwell

When I reviewed Edith Maxwell's Charity's Burden earlier this year, I mentioned how relevant the historical mystery was to our own times. Now, in the fifth book of the Quaker Midwife series,  Judge Thee Not, the author strikes that same note of relevancy in a story of prejudice and bias.

Rose Carroll, a midwife in Amesbury, Massachusetts is in the post office to witness a town matriarch, Mayme Settle, insult Rose's friend, postmistress Bertie Winslow. Mayme, and others in town, don't approve of Bertie's lifestyle. She lives with and loves another woman, lawyer Sophie Ribiero. It seems Mrs. Settle is even gossiping about Sophie. Rose hears the rumors from one of her expectant mothers.

Bertie isn't the only subject of gossip in town. One of Rose's clients, Jeanette Papka, is expecting her second child. Jeanette has been blind from birth, but she's a skilled linguist who interprets several languages for immigrants who end up in court. That doesn't keep a local banker and Mrs. Settle from discussing her to her face, saying she's a deaf mute and a moron. Even Rose's young niece and nephews hear those comments at school about a blind child. "She's a moron."

However, it's not a "moron" who kills Mayme Settle. Rose's policeman friend, Kevin Donovan, reports that a witness puts Bertie at the scene. Rose is enraged, and she's even angrier when she hears the police chief's opinion of Bertie. With her strong sense of justice, Rose is determined to discover other people who could have a motive to kill the victim.

Maxwell brings together several fascinating storylines in this latest mystery. As a midwife, Rose Carroll is witness to joyous births, tragic losses, and the struggle of some babies and mothers to survive. All of those elements are present in the book, but they're handled with tenderness and care. Of course, there's the murder itself and the subsequent investigation. There's the happiness of Rose's ongoing relationship with her fiance.  But, Rose Carroll is also a witness to prejudice and hate, feelings that are still evident in our own times. There's prejudice and distrust of anyone who is different; lesbians, the blind, immigrants. Rose is aware as a single woman, a Quaker, and a midwife, she is as likely to be judged as unconventional as others are. And, she points out to Kevin, when he exhibits his own prejudice, that he's just one generation away from his immigrant parents.

While the mystery has an intriguing conclusion, it's our biases that are likely to stay with me. It's the gentle voice of poet John Greenleaf Whittier who reminds Rose that she herself can make people uncomfortable. It's a reminder that none of us are perfect. Maxwell's excellent latest historical novel is evidence that people haven't really changed.

Edith Maxwell's website is https://edithmaxwell.com/

Judge Thee Not by Edith Maxwell. Beyond the Page Publishing, 2019. 230p.

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

Note: Now, I'm off to take a test about bias, Harvard's Project Implicit. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

Monday, September 16, 2019

Have You Heard? Fonduing Fathers by Julie Hyzy

I've been on vacation the entire last week. Although I read and finished a book today, my first day home, I haven't had time to review it. I'm glad Sandie Herron sends me reviews so I can include one now and then. This is for everyone who listens to audiobooks, or wants to catch up on a terrific cozy mystery series. Sandie reviewed Fonduing Fathers by Julie Hyzy.

Fonduing Fathers

Fonduing Fathers audiobook cover artWhite House Chef Mystery, Book 6
Written By:  Julie Hyzy
Narrated by: Eileen Stevens
Unabridged Audiobook
Audible Studios 2/11/14 originally published in pb on 12/31/12
Length: 8 hours and 5 minutes


White House Executive Chef Olivia “Ollie” Paras takes a well-deserved vacation and travels home to visit her mother and grandmother along with Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Gavin.  He is not on official duty but is there as Ollie’s boyfriend, a fact they are trying to keep quiet in Washington. Years ago Ollie’s father was killed in a car crash and buried in Arlington National Cemetery, yet Ollie was never given any details.  Sensing it was finally time to give those details, Ollie’s mother tells her it wasn’t just an accident but murder. To top it off, her father had been dishonorably discharged from the service.  

Ollie learns that after his army service, Anthony Paras was vice president of management systems at a company making vitamin and food supplements called Pluto.  The company is located outside Washington, DC, so Ollie talks to her dad’s old boss. After her father’s death, evidence of his selling corporate secrets had been found in his desk.  Denying this possibility even though Ollie hardly remembered her dad, she then visits his old commanding officer who purportedly paved the way into Arlington. He seems confused with some memory loss yet Ollie isn’t so sure he isn’t deliberately hiding facts.  Gavin contacts his old CO who has a checkered and secret past. Meeting clandestinely, he tests Ollie to see if he can trust her and to see if she will trust him. As a favor to Gavin, he will take his own route to investigate.

Meanwhile, Ollie had promised to work with the President’s young son Josh with lessons in the kitchen despite being on vacation.  She lets slip that her plans for Saturday include attending a food expo where her pastry chef will perform. Josh immediately wants to go with her, despite it being in a public place that will be full of hundreds of people.   They find a way to enjoy the show despite the precautionary security. However, once Ollie returns, she finds herself in greater danger. With Gavin rushing headlong to her aid, he is gravely injured.

This sixth entry in the White House Chef mysteries was engrossing, engaging, fascinating.  The pace moved steadily forward with action constantly speeding up. There was no way I was going to put this book down without finding out if Ollie and Gavin were safe. Author Julie Hyzy has brought us another gripping story of life in and around the White House.  Eileen Stevens continues to expertly narrate with numerous voices and emotions. Highly recommended.



Sunday, September 15, 2019

Remembering the Dead by Elizabeth J. Duncan

World War I must have been on my mind lately. It's odd that I ended up reviewing two books in a row with the shadows of the Great War. Remembering the Dead is Elizabeth J. Duncan's latest Penny Brannigan mystery, set in Wales.

For the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, Emyr Gruffydd, owner of Ty Brith Hall in Llanelen, Wales, plans a dinner party. He also wants to have an exhibit from the war years. The highlight of the evening will be the unveiling of the Black Chair. The Black Chair was presented posthumously to the winning poet, Hedd Wyn, at a national competition in 1917. The young man had just died on a battlefield in Belgium.

Emyr asks Penny Brannigan, owner of the local spa, to plan the event. Everything goes smoothly until the Black Chair is uncovered. It was stolen. While the guests wait for the local police to arrive, Penny finds the body of a young waiter. He was struck down outside the hall.

The local police detective appreciates Penny's inside knowledge of the hall and the people involved. Penny asks questions of a former thief, an art expert, and people of the community. However, her investigation also puts one of her witnesses in jeopardy. She needs to connect the dots in a complicated plan to steal from the Welsh heritage.

Duncan, the award-winning author of Murder on the Hour, focuses on Welsh culture in a cozy mystery that involves a poet's chair and travelers (Irish gypsies). It's an atmospheric mystery filled with likable characters.

Elizabeth J. Duncan's website is www.elizabethjduncan.com

Remembering the Dead by Elizabeth J. Duncan. Crooked Lane Books, 2019. ISBN 9781643851136 (hardcover), 304p.

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














Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Good Cop by Peter Steiner

The Good Cop by Peter Steiner is a bleak book. It's also a very important book about truth and freedom of the press. The timely book will hit home for many readers.

At the end of the war in 1918, Maximilian Wolf makes his way back home to Munich. In his sketches of soldiers and people in the street, he captures the life in the war-torn and post-war city. His drawings land him a job at a newspaper, working beside journalist Sophie Auerbach. Together they chronicle the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis until the newspaper offices are destroyed by a bomb.

The bombing brings police detective William Geismeier to their doors. Max's sketches prove useful in identifying the bombers, while Sophie recuperates in the hospital. But, Willi is taken off the case. He's a good detective, a good man. But, he doesn't hide his feelings about criminals or Nazis. And that puts him in opposition to the Nazis in the police department.

Throughout the 1920s, these three people, two journalists and a cop, chronicle the abuses and horror of Hitler and his supporters, until Hitler is named Chancellor in 1933. All three abruptly disappear when a second newspaper, The Munich Post, is destroyed and the staff sent to Dachau. That's also the end of their story, until 1945, when the Americans arrive in Munich.

Steiner, a former cartoonist for The New Yorker, has written a disturbing, menacing novel with shadows of current U.S. and world politics. It's a frightening scenario. Steiner uses his courageous, believable characters to tell a thought-provoking story of the importance of a free press at a time when a country and justice system are in upheaval. And, the author's note at the end of the book is a must-read.

The Good Cop by Peter Steiner. Severn House, 2019. ISBN 9780727889430 (hardcover), 188p.

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















Friday, September 13, 2019

Psychological Thriller Giveaway

This week, I'm giving away two psychological thrillers. Good luck to all the entrants!

I'm going to use a little of the press release for the summary of Hank Phillippi Ryan's The Murder List because it's a tough book to summarize without giving away too much. It's a psychological standalone "that delves deep inside the twists, turns, and complicated manipulation in the search for justice - as well as the twists, turns and complicated manipulations of marriage. Law student Rachel North will tell you, without hesitation, what she knows to be true: She's smart, she's a hard worker, she always does the right thing. She's successfully married to a faithful and passionate husband, a lion of Boston's defense bar. And her internship with a powerful DA's office guarantees her ticket to a successful future. Problem is - she's wrong."



Or, you could enter to win Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward, "The perfect marriage leads to the perfect crime." Maddie and Ian's romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army, and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now, almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, the are living the perfect suburban life in Kansas. But, a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, and she begins attending writing therapy where she reveals her fears. Everything culminates in "The Day of the Killing" when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime. What in this beautiful home has gone so terribly bad?"

Which psychological thriller 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 Murder List" or "Win Beautiful Bad." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, September 19 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

What Are You Reading?

I can actually tell you I haven't read a thing this week. But, if you want to talk about Mark Twain or Harriet Beecher Stowe, I'm ready. I'm in Connecticut with my Mom and sisters. Starting our trip back home this afternoon. But, along with checking out cemeteries and stories of family, we also went to the homes of Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe.




The one above is Mark Twain's house in Hartford. Harriet Beecher Stowe's is on the adjoining property. Wonderful tours of both. Livy Clemens, Mark Twain's wife gave us a tour of his house, a living tour. Stowe's was a literary tour, discussing ideas as much as her house. The picture below was the beginning of our tour.


That's what I'm doing this week. Some of it is book-related. What are you reading? I probably won't catch up until the evening, but others want to know, too.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook

While I have some nitpicking complaints about Allison Brook's third Haunted Library mystery, Buried in the Stacks, I'll save those and my recommendation for the conclusion. Brook does bring up a troublesome issue in public libraries; how to handle the homeless issue so they feel welcome and other customers don't feel threatened.

Carrie Singleton was hired at the Clover Ridge, Connecticut, public library, even though she presented herself as a confused Goth girl at the time. Now, she's head of programs and events. She's dating her landlord, an investigator who specializes in theft, and she is the owner of Smokey Joe, the library cat. She's also the only one on the staff who can see the ghost of Evelyn Havers, a former staff member.

When Carrie agrees to be the new Sunshine Delegate, her first hospital visit is to the most unpopular member of the staff, Dorothy Hawkins. Dorothy tells Carrie she's afraid her husband, Fred, is trying to kill her, but Evelyn, who is Dorothy's aunt, scoffs at the idea, and Dorothy herself denies it when she's released from the hospital. However, right after she returns to work, someone rear-ends Dorothy's car, and she's killed. A distraught Evelyn begs Carrie to investigate. Even a friend on the police force admits Carrie's curiosity and concern won't let her ignore the death.

When some of the homeless visitors to the library cause too many problems, and a local group proposes a day care center for them, Carrie sees an opportunity to handle two issues. She volunteers to be the library's representative to the group, a group made up of people Dorothy and Fred were related to or knew well. But, Carrie's quickly in over her head, dealing with a group who have gambling schemes, criminal connections, or are skating a little too close to illegal actions. She's asking too many questions, and puts herself in harm's way. Even Smokey Joe is threatened by Carrie's actions.

Brook does an excellent job discussing a troublesome issue in libraries, and she puts a face on the homeless by introducing a couple who were once business owners in town, people struggling with the loss of their business, their home, and health issues. That issue is important, and handled well.

However, here are my issues with the book. As I said, perhaps it's nitpicking. First, the title has nothing to do with the plot. I'm sure it was stuck on as acknowledgement that the amateur sleuth works in a library. However, no one is Buried in the Stacks. And, while there has to be a suspension of disbelief when reading a cozy mystery, this time the amateur sleuth is in way over her head. Gambling? Criminals, violence and murder? While no amateur sleuths should really be investigating, Carrie goes too far in this one when there's a capable police department who takes her concerns seriously.

Just my nitpicking complaints. I'll stick with Jenn McKinlay and Dean James for library mysteries.

Allison Brook's website is under https://www.marilynlevinson.com

Buried in the Stacks by Allison Brook. Crooked Lane Books, 2019. ISBN 9781643851389 (hardcover), 320p.

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Long Call By Ann Cleeves

Ann Cleeves introduces a new series and a new protagonist with The Long Call. The author of the Shetland and Vera Stanhope books brings us another troubled character, Detective Inspector Matthew Venn of the Devon and Cornwall Police Department. He's the perfect lead for a team of officers who investigate the murder and then disappearance of people who are often lost in society.

Matthew Venn stood outside the venue for his father's funeral. Years earlier, he became an outcast from their sect, the Barum Brethren. His mother even accused him of causing his father's death. He knows he isn't welcome.

However, he is needed to head up a murder investigation. The call comes that a body was found stabbed on the beach. Venn's team, Ross May and Jen Rafferty, are already at the scene when he arrives. Although they don't have an immediate identification of the victim, a piece of paper sends them to a house shared by two women. And, both women have a connection to the Woodyard Centre; an arts centre, cafe, theatre and studio space, along with a day meeting place for adults with learning disabilities. The entire centre is managed by Matthew's husband, Jonathan.

As Matthew's team investigates, clues and stories continue to send them back to Woodyard Centre. Venn hesitates, wondering if he should take himself off the case. Then a young woman disappears, a vulnerable woman with Down Syndrome, the daughter of a member of the Brethren. And, she was taken when she left Woodyard. Once again, the mess involves the Centre, the Brethren, and people of Matthew's past.

Halfway through The Long Call, I realized Ann Cleeves' best-known protagonists, Jimmy Perez, Vera Stanhope, and Matthew Venn, are all troubled people. Perhaps their past and their social awkwardness gives them a vulnerability, and, in some cases, an empathy for the lost souls whose deaths and disappearance they investigate. The books about these characters are not always easy to read. They're seldom alleviated by humor. But, they're always worth reading.

I usually don't mention the title of a book, but I appreciate it when the author hits on it early on. It means I'm not looking for the title while I read, wondering what the title means, and how it connects to the story. For me, The Long Call symbolizes Matthew Venn, the murder victim, the missing women, even Jen Rafferty, Venn's detective sergeant. Matthew notes the cry of the herring gull is called "the long call". It's "the cry that always sounded to him like an inarticulate howl of pain". Ann Cleeves' books strike me as "an inarticulate howl of pain".

Ann Cleeves' website is www.anncleeves.com

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves. Minotaur Books, 2019. ISBN 9781250204448 (hardcover), 384p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book with no promises I would review it.


Monday, September 09, 2019

Ice Cold Heart by P.J. Tracy

I always look forward to P.J. Tracy's Monkeewrench novels. Ice Cold Heart, the tenth book in the series, may be one of my favorites. Those of us who are fans of the Monkeewrench team will appreciate the focus on Roadrunner, with a glimpse of his past.

Winter is so cold in Minneapolis that the homicide detectives have had a reprieve for a month. But, a new murder scene makes up for the recent quiet. Detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are called to a house where Kelly Ramage's body was found. She was brutally slain at a friend's place while the friend was out of town. Kelly was recently experimenting with bondage, and the crime scene doesn't look like a random killing.

The scene is particularly disturbing because a self-proclaimed psychic predicted Kelly's death, but she didn't have a name or location. Then, the psychic is found dead. The two women are linked through a third woman, a neighbor of Roadrunner's.

The investigators do everything they can to dig into Kelly Ramage's recent past. But, another woman may actually have the key to discovering the killer. Together with Monkeewrench, Magozzi and Gino discover a tangled web that connects the world, and leads back to Minneapolis and a savage killer.

Ice Cold Heart has an intricate plot with multiple storylines that weave together. There's a disturbing backstory. But, for many of us, I'm sure the book will be enjoyed for bringing together the police officers and the personal lives of the Monkeewrench team, a cast of characters that have grown to be familiar over the course of the series, despite the sometimes gruesome crime scenes. There's something comforting about knowing Magozzi, Rolseth and Monkeewrench are on the case.

P.J. Tracy's website is www.pjtracy.net

Ice Cold Heart by P.J. Tracy. Crooked Lane Books, 2019. ISBN 9781643851327 (hardcover), 320p.

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








Sunday, September 08, 2019

Nothing Ventured by Jeffrey Archer

I'm a little nervous that Jeffrey Archer is starting a new series. I really enjoyed Nothing Ventured, but
Archer says in a note to the reader that he's working on the second, and the progress of the series will depend on his longevity. Archer is 79.

The new series is set in the 1980s. Archer says it's a story of a detective, not a detective story.

William Warwick's father, a criminal barrister, always hoped his son would join him in his practice. But, from the age of eight, William knew he wanted to be a police detective. Warwick's mother sided with him, and he went to university, studied art, and became a police officer.

Warwick could have been fast-tracked as a college graduate, but he chose to start at the bottom, walking a beat as a police constable. For the first year, his lessons are on the street, under the guidance of an experienced, street-wise constable, Fred Yates. But, when it was time to move on, and he passed his detective exam, he was assigned to the Metropolitan Police Force, attached to Art and Antiques.

While he works several cases, his major assignment involves the theft of invaluable paintings, forgeries, and a finder's fee when the paintings are "recovered" on behalf of the insurance companies. In the course of his investigation, William meets a beautiful gallery research assistant, Beth Rainsford, who has family secrets. Warwick's case, and Beth's secret, result in riveting simultaneous court trials, in a story that builds in intensity.

While the storyline and the investigations are straightforward, the resulting trials are fascinating. Archer ups the suspense by putting them opposite each other in the courthouse so the reader is eagerly waiting to see the judgments.

Jeffrey Archer's latest novel (and hopefully a series) features a likable police officer who works hard. The supporting cast, Warwick's family, other officers, Beth Rainsford, are interesting characters, as so many of Archer's have been over the years. Let's hope there's time for more books in the William Warwick series.

Jeffrey Archer's website is www.jeffreyarcher.co.uk

Nothing Ventured by Jeffrey Archer. St. Martin's Press, 2019. ISBN 9781250200761 (hardcover), 336p.

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

















Saturday, September 07, 2019

A Night's Tail by Sofie Kelly

I wanted to like Sofie Kelly's latest Magical Cats Mystery as much as I did The Cats Came Back. But, the large cast of characters in A Night's Tail did me in. There were too many characters in the opening scene, and I never felt as if I caught up with them. However, fans of the series will want to catch up with librarian Kathleen Paulson and her two magical cats, Owen and Hercules.

Kathleen's younger brother, Ethan, is in town with his bandmates in The Flaming Gerbils. She, her boyfriend, police detective Marcus Gordon, and other friends are all at a bar when they witness a drunken businessman harass a veteran and his service dog. It's one of the band members, Derek, who intercedes. So, when Lewis Wallace, that business investor, is found dead in a hotel meeting space, Marcus wants to talk with Derek. Ethan blows up, and demands that Kathleen investigate. She insists Marcus is a fair man and an excellent detective, but that doesn't pacify Ethan. It's only when Derek returns, and Marcus later reveals there was a witness who saw Derek, that Ethan calms down.

It's hard for a librarian to avoid research, though. With Hercules' help and a few pointers from townspeople, Kathleen learns about Wallace's past as a college player accused of cheating in classes, a Canadian football player, and a failed businessman. It seems a number of people might have had reasons to want the man dead. And, the more she probes, the more Kathleen discovers that some of the locals might have had those reasons.

While the mystery itself and the characters seemed confusing, Kathleen is an interesting amateur sleuth. It's finally time to tell Marcus about the magical cats, and she has to work herself up to it. She's a caring, empathetic woman who feels for the suspects, and cries when she realizes who the killer is.

A Night's Tail might not have worked for me, but I'll certainly read the next in the series. I want to watch Kathleen's continued growth, her friendships and relationships. Of course, I also want to see what's happening with Owen and Hercules.

Sofie Kelly's website is www.sofiekelly.com

A Night's Tail by Sofie Kelly. Berkley Prime Crime, 2019. ISBN 9780440001133 (hardcover), 288p.

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

Friday, September 06, 2019

Word to the Wise by Jenn McKinlay

I have the feeling that Word to the Wise is personal for author Jenn McKinlay. I haven't asked her, but I read the acknowledgements. If you read the mystery, which is more disturbing than some of McKinlay's books, read the acknowledgements, and let me know what you think. And, the next time I see Jenn, I have a question for her.

Lindsey Norris, Director of the Briar Creek Public Library, was just doing her job when she helped a new patron, Aaron Grady, find information about roses. But Grady doesn't see it that way. He brings her roses. He watches her. It's the library staff members who warn Lindsey that the man is fixated on her. Although he told her he was married, Grady watches Lindsey at the library, and wants to talk about her with staff members if she's not there. One night, he shows up at the house she shares with her fiance, Sully, and brings her more roses.

Lindsey reports Grady's actions to the police. He sends her creepy messages, and even follows her to a restaurant where Sully finally confronts him. Lindsey's friends try to help her. When the police ban Grady from the library, the mayor claims boys will be boys, and lets him back in. Then, when Grady's body is found propped outside the library, Sully tops the suspect list.

McKinlay follows Hitting the Books with a disturbing mystery that will hit close to home for many women. The author skillfully contrasts Lindsey's emotions when confronted with Grady's creepy, inappropriate behavior with that of the warm feelings when she's surrounded by friends. It's sobering to observe the female police chief acknowledge the behavior as stalking while the male mayor feels differently. McKinlay's cozy readers will still appreciate the characters. However, the book has a powerful message about stalking and women terrorized in the workplace.

Jenn McKinlay's website is www.jennmckinlay.com

Word to the Wise by Jenn McKinlay. Berkley Prime Crime, 2019. ISBN 9780593100035 (hardcover), 304p.

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














Thursday, September 05, 2019

What Are You Reading?

See, I didn't throw you any curve balls this week. We're going to talk about what we're reading.

I'm reading a true crime book that was a bestseller last year, I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. She's the writer who named the Golden State Killer, but died in her sleep before he was identified, and before she could finish her book. I don't read as much true crime as I used to. I'm writing a blog for work about true crime books, so I needed to pick up this one.

What are you reading this week? Let's talk books!

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Molten Mud Murder by Sara E. Johnson

It's always fun to discover a debut author who writes an atmospheric mystery with an interesting sleuth. Sara E. Johnson takes readers to New Zealand in Molten Mud Murder. I hope readers appreciate the descriptions of the country, and the details of the culture of the Maoris. The debut mystery is rich in such details.

Rotorua, New Zealand is famous for the geothermal lands, similar to Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. The thermal activity has created mud pots, and there's an unidentified man dead in the mud pots. American Alexa Glock is a forensics expert who finished a job in Auckland, and hopes to find a temporary job to extend her work permit. When she learns about the unidentified man, she offers to help the local police. Glock is trained in odontology, the scientific study of teeth. That might help identify the victim whose head was boiled in the mud.

As the police investigate, they discover the victim violated the sacred lands of the Maori, a large population in the community. He and another man went onto a sacred island without permission. He disregarded the Maori code, and offended their gods. There are many who think he deserved to die.

Alexa has heard the murmurs, and she's reluctant to visit the sacred island. However, she's sent there to investigate. Even though she's accompanied by other officers, and one who is a Maori, she feels threatened. She's warned.

When Alexa's lab assistant is attacked, and a Maori is murdered, the search for a killer intensifies. Is the killer a Maori, or someone who wants to shift the blame to them?

Alexa Glock is an interesting character. She worked for the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and has fallen in love with New Zealand. But, Alexa has personal issues, ones that hamper her comfort and intimacy with others. She's clumsy at times, but also efficient, eager, and knowledgeable. And lonely.

While Alexa is the amateur sleuth, it's New Zealand itself that is the star of this intriguing debut mystery. There's a strong sense of place, history and Maori culture in the compelling story. In fact, I found myself watching YouTube videos about the Maori haka dances. The book combines forensic investigation with the rich details of a fascinating culture. I'm looking forward to Sara E. Johnson's second mystery after her strong debut.

Sara E. Johnson's website is https://www.sarajohnsonauthor.com

Molten Mud Murder by Sara E. Johnson. Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press, 2019. ISBN 9781464211232 (paperback), 320p.





Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Author Interview - Sara E. Johnson

I always enjoy introducing a debut author. Tomorrow, I'll review Sara E. Johnson's first mystery, Molten Mud Murder. Set in New Zealand, it introduces a fascinating new sleuth. Today, I'd like to introduce you to Sara.

Sara, congratulations on the release of Molten Mud Murder, your first book.  Would you introduce yourself to readers?

I live in Durham, NC with my husband Forrest and goldendoodle Beau. I love to read, write, travel with my husband (we just returned from Minnesota's North Shore where we kayaked, hiked, and ate lots of fresh trout), walk the dog, and practice yoga. I am a former middle school reading specialist, and continue working part time helping kids read and write. 

Would you introduce us to Alexa Glock?

My pleasure! Alexa Glock, mid-thirties, is lured to New Zealand by a visiting  odontology fellowship. Never married, she is better with teeth than men. She goes geeky over duct tape evidence and doesn't let caution tape stand in her way. The lab is her happy place, yet she feels a yearning for love and companionship that she tries to outrun. 

Before you tell us about Molten Mud Murder, would you tell us about the mud pots?

Geothermal mud pots are one of New Zealand's coolest – well, most awesome – features. I saw my first boiling, plopping pot in Rotorua on the North Island, and I knew I had to write a mystery in that setting. The acid in the viscous mud decomposes rock. Imagine what it does to a body!

Tell us about Molten Mud Murder, without spoilers.   

A good mystery starts with a body. In this case, a tourist group discovers one half-submerged in a molten mud pot. 
Alexa barrels her way onto the scene and into the lives of Rotorua’s finest, especially Detective Inspector Bruce Horne. There’s something about his glacial blue eyes that gets under her skin, even though she’s sworn off men.
Danger lurks in “the land of the long white cloud.” The murder victim had trespassed on a sacred island forbidden to Pakeha, or non-Maori, and Alexa must follow suit. The Maori community believe the rules of tapu have been disregarded and the consequences are disaster, demonic possession, or death.
Alexa doesn’t believe in the three Ds, but when she discovers an unorthodox death threat in her rented cottage, she reconsiders. A second murder heats the case to the boiling point.  At the heart of Molten Mud Murderis an age-old debate: Is the past better left undisturbed, or unearthed? And at what cost either way?

Feel free to tell me we’ll have to wait for this next issue to be discussed in a future book. Alexa is always in a hurry. She seems impulsive, and tends to steamroll over people at times. Is this just her nature, or is there something else you can tell us about her?

Alexa lacks self-awareness, and because she has cut ties with her family and colleagues in the States, she doesn't have a sounding board (and she doesn't think she needs one).

Can you tell us anything about the next book in the Alexa Glock series?

I am super excited about the next Alexa Glock mystery, coming out in September, 2020. Great white sharks have been circling New Zealand's Stewart Island for centuries. Until the arrival of shark-cage tourism, islanders and sharks left each other alone. But when a man's shark-ravaged body washes ashore, it confirms what locals have been hashing out at the pub: cage-diving has changed the sharks' behavior. Turned them into man eaters. Alexa, working as a traveling forensic scientist,  is dispatched to identify the remains. As she measures bite patterns, she makes a discovery that has her chumming for a different species: man.

You lived in New Zealand for a year. Where did you take visitors when they came?

Milford Sound. Milford Sound. Milford Sound. That's how many times we went with visitors to this incredibly beautiful remote fjord on the South Island. Waterfalls, rain forest,  Mitre Peak, seals, dolphins, penguins. Did I mention rain? 

Now, for a few personal questions. If you had to recommend 5 books to a person so they could get a feel for your reading taste, what 5 would you pick?

These are five books I would (and have) reread:

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
The Poems of Robert Frost
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Were there books you read as child that led you to mysteries? What were your favorite books as a child?

When, at ten years old, I read the storm scene in Carolyn Keene's The Bungalow Mystery, the world around me dissolved. I was in a skiff on Moon Lake with Helen and Nancy, lightning flashing, waves crashing, about to be devoured by the storm. The blue-cloth copy I still have was given to my mother in 1942.

When I was younger, I loved my Lonely Doll Learns a Lesson book by Dare Right. And I read all the Little House books.

What’s on your TBR (To Be Read) pile?

It is a treat to answer this. I am on my 39th book so far this year. I am currently finishing Michelle Obama's Becoming.I have found it inspirational and touching. Next up is Death of a Rainmaker by Laurie Loewenstein. I heard Laurie speak on an author panel at Malice Domestic, and her book sounded great. I am also reading Dreyer's English by Benjamin Dreyer. Who knew colons (“little trumpet blasts . . . don't use so many of them that you give your reader a headache”) were such fun? The audio book I am listening to next (after I finish Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb) is Denise Mina's Conviction. I have heard her compared to Tana French, so I am psyched.  I always have a book of poetry going. I am reading Tianna Clark's Equilibrium. Her poem “Spot in Antioch” breaks my heart. Finally, I am doing an author event with fellow North Carolinian Thomas Kies at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona in September. I can't wait to read his newest: Graveyard Bay.

Sara, I’m a librarian, so I’m ending with this. Tell us a story about your experiences with a librarian or library, please.

A forensic lab is Alexa Glock's happy place. The library is mine. The Library Book by Susan Orlean has given me a greater understanding of the library's impact and mission in society. Standing ovation! For me, a library is about the books. From the large modern Cherry Hill, NJ library my mother took me to when I was little, to the wee village library in Pinehurst, NC that I rode my bike to as a teen, to the Chapel Hill Public Library where I raised my three children, and eventually consumed every book on divorce to help me navigate a painful period, to the warm welcome we received from the Christchurch, New Zealand library we joined ( you could check out magazines and buy coffee), to my current Durham library – every time I check out a book, my heart quickens and my horizons expand.  


Monday, September 02, 2019

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

William Kent Krueger's second coming-of-age story is not the sequel to Ordinary Grace that readers expected. Instead, This Tender Land is his version of Huckleberry Finn or the Odyssey, as adolescents are forced to move toward adulthood. It's a lush, lyrical account.

As a great-grandfather and storyteller, Odie O'Banion remembers 1932, the year he was twelve and embarked on one of the great adventures of his life. That year, during the Depression, Odie and his older brother, Albert were the only two white children at the Lincoln Indian Training School. The O'Banions were orphans, while the other children had been taken from their parents to have their native cultures and languages beaten out of them. Mrs. Brickman, "the Black Witch" oversaw the abusive school.

After the tragic death of a protector, Odie and Albert fled, accompanied by a Native American friend and a young girl, two other "Vagabonds". The quartet take to the river to escape. They hide and run to escape arrest, and find unexpected kindness and assistance at times.

This Tender Land is a remarkable story of the physical and spiritual search for hope and life, for a future. At the same time, it deals with the wanderings of people during the Depression. Krueger also reveals the abusive treatment of Native Americans in schools. There's an appreciation of the river and the land, and the solace only music can provide. 

Readers who want an actual mystery might be disappointed. However, those who want to read about the mystery of life will discover what one of Odie's companions observes. "You tell stories but they're real. There are monsters and they eat the heart of children."

William Kent Krueger's website is www.WilliamKentKrueger.com

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. Atria Books, 2019. ISBN 9781476749297 (hardcover), 464p.

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







Sunday, September 01, 2019

October Treasures in My Closet

It's time for another pile of Treasures in My Closet. Let's check out October's forthcoming books.

In Ellie Alexander's Beyond a Reasonable Stout, Leavenworth, Washington has just concluded the Oktoberfest celebration. But, no one is celebrating election season. One of the council members wants to turn the town dry, a town that depends on craft brewers and the German culture celebrations. A killer seems to object to the man's plans, though. (Release date is Oct. 1.)







Connie Berry's A Dream of Death was one of the best mysteries I read this year. Now, she takes her antiques dealer Kate Hamilton to the quaint English village of Long Barston for Christmas in A Legacy of Murder. She wants to spend it with her daughter, Christine, but when several of Christine's fellow interns at Finchley Hall end up dead, Kate spends more time with Detective Inspector Thomas Mallory as she tries to clear her daughter's name. (Release date is Oct. 8.)






When you think of nonfiction and humor, do you think of Bill Bryson? His latest book is The Body: A  Guide for Occupants. It's a head-to-toe tour, a manual for everyone. (Release date is Oct. 15.)









Colin Butcher's nonfiction book is on my must-read list. How can I resist Molly: The True Story of the Amazing Dog Who Rescues Cats? It's the story of Butcher and Molly, the man-and-dog team behind the United Kingdom Pet detective Agency. Colin Butcher, a veteran of the Royal Navy and longtime police officer, wore down and left to start his own detective agency, specializing in helping reunite people with their missing pets. When he found a young black cocker puppy, inexperienced and stubborn. But, she was trained by the top canine behavioral experts at Medical Detection Dogs. Now, Molly can find missing cats, and she's been wildly successful. (Release date is Oct. 8.)


Private investigator Aaron Gunner handles one of his most heartbreaking cases in Gar Anthony Haywood's Good Man Gone Bad. He can't accept that his cousin Del shot his wife and daughter, and then turned the gun on himself. Aaron has to dig into Del's life to discover family secrets. (Release date is Oct. 15.)







Here's an exciting novel for book and library lovers. A.J. Hackwith's The Library of the Unwritten is the first in a new fantasy series. Claire is the head librarian of the Unwritten Wing, a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists of organizing books, and keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters. When a hero escapes from his book and goes in search of its author, Claire must track and capture him. But, a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifying angel Ramiel attacks Claire and her assistants, convinced they hold the Devil's Bible, which is enough to ignite an all-out war between Heaven and Hell, with Earth in the middle. (Release date is Oct. 1.)


Annie Hogsett's latest mystery is The Devil's Own Game. When a sniper targets a blind man at the Cleveland Museum of Art, it's a wake-up call for Allie Harper and Tom Bennington. They believe the bullet was meant for Tom, who had been speaking with the man minutes earlier. Although he won the Mondo Mega Jackpot, the couple have been targets ever since. And, it's only getting worse. (Release date is Oct. 15.)






In Susan Isaacs' standalone, Takes One to Know One, Corie Geller is bored in her new life as a wife of a judge. As an FBI agent, she used to work undercover investigating terrorists. Is it because she's bored that she suspects a man from her lunch group of being more than a packaging designer? Pete seems to have traits Corie recognizes in herself, suspicious behavior. (Release date is Oct. 1.)






Although I never read Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge, I know readers will want to know about the sequel, Olive, Again. Strout portrays the cantankerous retired math teacher in old age, in a series of thirteen linked stories. (Release date is Oct. 15.)








In Can't Judge a Book by its Murder, author Amy Lillard introduces readers to the women of a small town book club in Sugar Springs, Mississippi. Bookstore owner Arlo Stanley isn't excited about her high school class reunion, but when she has the chance to host a bestselling author who is back for it, she is pleased. Then, the author is found dead outside her store, and Arlo's best friend is questioned for the murder. (Release date is Oct. 29.)







Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth is Rachel Maddow's investigation into the gas and oil industry. (Release date is Oct. 1.)









Head to San Francisco with private investigator Cape Weathers in Tim Maleeny's Boxing the Octopus. An armored car drives off a crowded pier and sinks to the bottom of San Francisco Bay. By the time divers find the wreck, the cash is gone, along with the driver. Vera Young, whose boyfriend was the driver, swears he is innocent, but Weathers warns her the man is either guilty, or dead. Weathers can't quite wrap his arms around this latest case. (Release date is Oct. 22.)





In Strangers at the Gate, Agatha-award winning author Catriona McPherson asks how well we ever know the people around us. Finn and Paddy move from their home in the city to a small town, and it feels as if everything has fallen into place. Paddy's a partner in a local law firm, and Finn has a full-time job as a deacon. And, Paddy's boss even offers him the use of a gate house on his property. But, Finn hears strange noises, and then the couple find the bloody bodies of Paddy's boss and his wife. And, the murders only add to the couple's tension. (Release date is Oct. 22.) - Also watch for a guest post from McPherson in early November.



Nicolas Meyer, author of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, brings us The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols: Adapted from the Journals of John H. Watson, M.D. In January, 1905, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are summoned by Mycroft, Holmes' brother. An agent of the British Secret Service has been found floating in the Thames, carrying a manuscript smuggled into England at the cost of her life. It seems to be the minutes of a meeting of a secret group intent on world domination. The two men travel from Paris into the heart of Tsarist Russia on the Orient Express, as they attempt to trace the origins of the explosive document. It's a task that challenges Holmes as never before. (Release date is Oct. 15.)



Cilka's Journey is the latest novel by Heather Morris, author of the bestselling The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It's based on the true story of Cilka Klein. Cilka is just sixteen when she's taken to Auschwitz-Birkenan Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka quickly learns that power equals survival. When the war is over, and the camp liberated, Cilka is charged as a collaborator, and sent to a Siberian prison camp. There, in a land of death and tenor, she discovers a strength she never knew she had. (Release date is Oct. 1.)



I have great hopes for JoJo Moyes' novel, The Giver of Stars. It's based on the true story of the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky. Set during the Great Depression, a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt's new traveling library. Alice Wright signs on, and finds an ally in Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman. The Giver of Stars tells what happens to them, the men they love, and the enormous job they undertake. (Release date is Oct. 8.)





This book could have probably gone into the list at the bottom, but what librarian can resist The NewYork Public Library's Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers?  It's "A Little Book of Whimsy and Wisdom", with illustrations by Barry Blitt. (Release date is Oct. 22.)








Hard to believe, but most Christmas novels are released in October. That includes David Rosenfelt's latest Andy Carpenter mystery, Dachshund Through the Snow. Lawyer Andy Carpenter and his wife, Laurie, have a new Christmas tradition. They answer wishes on the tree at the local pet store. One wish leads Andy to young Danny, who wants a coat for his mother, a sweater for his dachshund, Murphy, and the safe return of his missing father. But, Danny's father is on the run for a murder from fourteen years earlier, one that Danny's mother swears he didn't commit. (Release date is Oct. 1.)





A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan is one of my favorite books this year. During World War I, an armaments manufacturer holds a party at his mansion on an isolated island. He invites two spiritualists, hoping to contact his two sons, lost in the war. One guest, and one man thrust into the party, are there to find a German spy. And, Kate Cartwright, the guest sent from the intelligence service, sees ghosts better than either of the "experts".  (Release date is Oct. 1.)






James Sallis' Sarah Jane is a powerful, beautifully written, unforgettable story. Sarah Jane Pullman recounts her life in simple straightforward fashion. However, it's not easy to determine if she's telling all the details of her troubled life. There's an ambiguous ending to this remarkable book. (Release date is Oct. 1.)







Virgil Flowers is back in John Sandford's Bloody Genius. That's probably all I really need to say for those of us who are fans of Flowers. This time, he's sent to a university where a professor ends up dead, a man who has been leading the fight between two academic departments. Not quite the usual scene for Flowers. (Release date is Oct. 1.)







Bess Crawford is back in Charles Todd's A Cruel Deception. As the British close up hospitals and reassign nurses after the war, Bess heads to Paris to look for a missing young man. He's disappeared although he was supposed to be attending the peace talks. (Release date is Oct. 22.)







If none of these books catch your eye, maybe some of the others on the list will. These are the ones I didn't have time or space to summarize. Enjoy the October releases!

Julia Armfield - Salt Slow (10/8)
Raymond Benson - Blues in the Dark (10/8)
Seth Berkman - A Team of Their Own (10/1)
Paula Brackston - Secrets of the Chocolate House (10/22)
Stella Cameron - Trap Lane (10/1)
W. Bruce Cameron - A Dog's Promise (10/15)
Hannelore Cayre - The Godmother (10/15)
Judy Christie & Lisa Wingate - Before and After (10/22)
Cixin Liu - Supernova Era (10/22)
Warren C. Easley - No Way to Die (10/1)
Shamini Flint - The Beijing Conspiracy (10/1)
Amaryllis Fox - Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA (10/15)
Guy Fraser-Sampson - What Would Wimsey Do? (10/25)
Jake Hinkson - Dry County (10/1)
Kirstin Innes - Fishnet (10/15)
Holly Jackson - American Radicals (10/8)
Gary Janetti - Do You Mind If I Cancel? (10/22)
Dietrich Kalteis - Call Down the Thunder (10/15)
Sophie Kinsella - Christmas Shopaholic (10/15)
Bob Kroll - Fire Trap (10/15)
Tara Laskowski - One Night Gone (10/1)
Deborah Levy - The Man Who Saw Everything (10/15)
Dudley Lynch - A Fragment Too Far (10/1)
Jenn Lyons - The Name of All Things (10/29)
Mathea Morais - There You Are (10/22)
Kelly Simmons - Where She Went (10/1)

*****
These are only the October releases I have. What October books are you anticipating?