Monday, September 30, 2019

The Stalking by Heather Graham

This is a rougarou, a Louisiana swamp legend related to a werewolf. It's also the legendary villain in Heather Graham's latest Krewe of Hunters novel, The Stalking.


This series, featuring an elite group of FBI agents who have abilities to see and talk with ghosts, is an atmospheric one that delves into local stories and legends. Graham makes it clear in all of her books that humans are responsible for evil. In the opening chapter of The Stalking, after a serial killer is caught at a funeral, a teenage Cheyenne Donegal realizes, "It was not the dead who threatened the innocent. It was the evil in certain human beings who were very much alive."

However, a rougarou appears to be evil in the display of legendary creatures at the American Museum of Natural History. Krewe member Andre Rousseau is there with fellow agent Angela Hawkins because a docent swore the rougarou moved. That incident is easily explained by equipment malfunction. It's not so easy to explain the women who are disappearing in New Orleans. Rousseau is sent there to partner with FBI Agent Cheyenne Donegal. They're both from the area. And, they realize they saw each other briefly years ago when a young Cheyenne called out the man who killed her cousin, and Andre and a friend captured him. That man was sentenced to death, but, now years later, someone is imitating his crimes.

When the primary suspect in the latest kidnappings and murder is found dead, the local police are more than happy to call it suicide. However, the autopsy says otherwise. Now Cheyenne and Andre team up to find the latest killer to stalk New Orleans. It will take all the efforts of the assigned Krewe, and assorted ghosts, to find out who is terrorizing the city.

As always, Graham's atmospheric book combines history, legend, the paranormal, and good old fashioned investigation. There are multiple ghosts in the latest book, from the victim of an early serial killer, the first accused "Rougarou", to a friendly pirate who sailed with Lafitte and fought to defeat the British in 1812. Cheyenne also has assistance from the ghosts of two teens, including her dead cousin. If any city is haunted, it would be New Orleans, with so much dramatic history and legends.

Graham's Krewe of Hunters books are paranormal mysteries with the added spice of a hot romance between a member of the Krewe and another person. For anyone familiar with that formula, it only takes an introduction of Cheyenne and Andre to point the way to the romance. Those characters are always intelligent, always good-looking, but it's a formula that works.

Heather Graham's formula for Krewe of Hunters novels always works for me. With the help of ghosts in a paranormal mystery set in an American city filled with hauntings, legends and history, an elite group of FBI agents hunt a serial killer. Add the romance, and the book provides an entertaining day.

Heather Graham's website is www.TheOriginalHeatherGraham.com

The Stalking by Heather Graham. MIRA, 2019. ISBN 9780778308249 (hardcover), 297p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Bloody Genius by John Sandford

John Sandford is a bloody genius. I wish I could tell you how he messed up my book review for Bloody Genius, the twelfth Virgil Flowers novel, but it would spoil the book. In fact, that's what happened. I had an opening sentence all set after I read the first five pages, and then the conclusion preempted my opening. How would I know my opening sentence would have been a spoiler for the end of the book?

After Professor Quill's body is found in his library carrel at the University of Minnesota, the police are stumped. They can't find a murder weapon. There is no evidence of another person with Dr. Quill, so no witness. What was the man doing in the library over the weekend? When nothing happens in the case for two weeks, Quill's wealthy, well-connected sister calls a friend, the governor. Eventually, the chain of command produces Virgil Flowers from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

Virgil teams up with Sergeant Maggie Trane of the Minneapolis Homicide Dept. as they question possible witnesses, suspects, and people who seem to have a peripheral involvement. However no one is actually peripheral in this riveting page-turner. In fact, there are humorous side meetings with a man in a bar, Harry, and the bartender, Alice. Harry has his own theories about the case, theories developed from years of watching Gibbs on NCIS.

As always with a Virgil Flowers case, it seems to be an intricate mess that finally comes together in a fast-paced conclusion. Bloody Genius contains the family connections and insight to Flowers' character that add interest to the man. Sandford's readers will not be disappointed in the most recent darkly humorous investigation. Only those of us who are impatient and think we're clever will be disappointed in our own wit.

As I said, Sandford is a bloody genius.

John Sandford's website is http://www.johnsandford.org/

Bloody Genius by John Sandford. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2019. ISBN 9780525536611 (hardcover), 384p.

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






Saturday, September 28, 2019

Have You Heard? - Donna Andrews' Swan for the Money

Because I gave away Donna Andrews' latest Meg Langslow mystery this week, I thought it was the perfect time to run one of Sandie Herron's reviews of a book in the series. If you read the blog regularly, you know Sandie reviews audiobooks here, which I really appreciate. I don't listen to them, but according to a recent Pew Report, they're growing more popular all the time. Thank you, Sandie, for reviewing Swan for the Money. 

Swan for the Money
Meg Langslow Mystery Book 11                              
Written by Donna Andrews
Narrated by Bernadette Dunne
Unabridged Audiobook
Dreamscape Media, LLC (February 8, 2018)
Listening Length:  7 hours and 56 minutes

Meg Langslow’s father is in trouble again.  He just spread manure in the rose garden where Meg’s parents have begun growing prize-winning blooms.  The Caerphilly Garden Club is hosting a rose show at Mrs. Philomena Winkleson’s mansion and farm and is holding a cocktail party the night before at the Langslow’s home.  Mother says the odor is overwhelming and insists they move the party elsewhere so eccentric Mrs. Winkleson is called upon again. She agrees but only if the guests wear black, white, or grey, her color themes.

Meg Langslow is the organizer of the rose show.  She’s been immersed in rose lore and horticulture with her parents for months.  It seemed natural to call upon her organizational skills for the first rose show in town.  In her organizer role, Meg is given more freedom than usual to walk about Mrs. Winkleson’s estate.  After getting lost, Meg stumbles across Mrs. Winkleson’s rose garden which, until now, had never been seen by outsiders.  The garden sporting black roses is surrounded by 12-foot chain-link fences with razor wires! She sees a prone figure in a black cape which she fears is Mrs. Winkleson.  Thankfully Meg’s doctor father is on site and rushes to her aid. Poison is the reason the woman died.   

Meg is given a tour of the grounds along with her grandfather, Dr. Blake, famous zoologist, where they learn just how far Mrs. Winkleson takes her passion for black and white.  There is a breed of cows with white bands around the midsections of their otherwise black coats. Territorial black swans are holding Meg’s car hostage. Goats so sensitive that they faint at the slightest stimuli had everyone giggling.  Viewing all the animals is a concern for Dr. Blake since the local vet wants to be sure that the animals are not being mistreated. Plus the deputies continue to search for Mrs. Winkleson’s kidnapped black-and-white dog.  

In any case, the party does go on.  Amid champagne and crab hors d’oeuvres being served, another poisoning occurs.  Again Dr. Langslow is on the scene to assist. Chief Burke, also at the party, finally has the opportunity to follow a crime from the beginning.  However, there are hundreds of guests and staff to interview before clean up for the night can begin. This gives Meg extra time to think about possibly being pregnant.  The rose show must still go on the next day as well.

Donna Andrews has a way with making each comical event believable.  It takes talent to pull all the events together and keep the plot hilariously plausible. There’s never a dull moment in a Donna Andrews novel.  Something is always going awry. Yet Meg Langslow and family save the day.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Winners & An Ann Cleeves Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Sue F. from Crosslakes, MN won Terns of Endearment. Liz V. of Annapolis, MD will receive Killer in the Carriage House. The books are going out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away books in two different series by Ann Cleeves. The Long Call is her latest book. It introduces Detective Inspector Matthew Venn in a murder mystery that hits too close to home. A body is found on the beach the same day Venn stands outside during his father's funeral. The investigation into the murder and the disappearance of two women is tangled up in the rigid church community that expelled Venn. But, it also has connections to the community center managed by Venn's husband.





The Moth Catcher is a Vera Stanhope mystery. A dead body is found by the side of a lane in a quiet community. When Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope arrives on the scene, she finds a second body. The two victims seem to have shared a fascination with moths, and with catching them. Vera is drawn into the claustrophobic world of this strange community where she realizes there may be many deadly secrets.

Which mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject line should read either "Win The Long Call" or "Win The Moth Catcher." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, October 3 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

And, just a reminder. If you don't include your mailing address, your entry can't win. Thanks, and good luck!




Thursday, September 26, 2019

What Are You Reading?

It's Thursday, that day we all get to talk about what we've been reading in the last week.Yay!

I'm finishing the third book in Anna Lee Huber's Verity Kent mystery series, Penny for Your Secrets, although I haven't read the earlier ones. It's a fascinating book, a post-war novel set in England in 1919. I'm enjoying the mystery, but it's the atmosphere and background that is truly fascinating. Huber discusses the frantic nature of post-war life for the upper class, as they dance and drink their memories away. The character, Verity Kent, knows that her husband, in 4 1/2 years of war, must have seen a thousand men die. Huber talks about the loss of half the men in the country, and that women, who had jobs that interested them, lost them when the men came home. If you ever saw "The Bletchley Circle" series about women code-breakers in 1952 England, you'll know what I mean about women who couldn't adjust to post-war life. Huber does an excellent job showing that with both men and women in this book.

So, that's my current reading. What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Off-Islander by Peter Colt

Although debut author Peter Colt is younger than his character, Andy Roark, his experiences and his acquaintances must have helped create the Vietnam vet turned private investigator. Colt himself is a police officer in a small New England city. He spent over twenty years in the Army reserve, and was deployed to Kosovo and Iraq. Andy Roark is a veteran turned cop, and then private investigator in The Off-Islander.

It's Boston, 1982. Andy Roark's best friend, attorney Danny Sullivan, asks him to look for a man who has been missing for years. Andy and Danny grew up together in Boston, in Southie, but took separate paths. While Danny went to Harvard and law school, Andy joined the army and went to Vietnam. Both men are still trying to recover from their past. Andy lost the woman he loves to his nightmares, while Danny, a successful attorney for the Boston mob, is desperate to move up. This case could help both of them.

The client is Deborah Swift, a wealthy woman whose husband, Geoffrey Swift of Swift Aeronautical, is planning a political campaign. But, Deborah's father, a former marine in Korea, walked out on the family when she was little. She wants someone to track down her father because she doesn't want any surprises when her husband runs for political office.

Although the Pinkertons have already investigated, Andy Roark follows a clue to Cape Cod, and then Nantucket. Although his investigations seem to lead to dead ends, when someone pushes him off a cliff, and then later he's shot at, he's guessing he might have stirred up trouble.

The Off-Islander is a solid, atmospheric debut, descriptive of Boston's traffic, and the islands off-season. It's also rich in detail as to Andy's nightmares and time in Vietnam, a war still not spoken of in 1982. Colt attempts to recreate Andy Roark in the image of the hard-bitten PIs of literature, but Roark had to read detective novels to find out how to do his job. Despite his books and his war experience, he's not quite walking the mean streets of Cape Cod.

Fewer road signs, and a little more investigation. Peter Colt's new series is a promising one.

Peter Colt's website is www.Peter-Colt.com

The Off-Islander by Peter Colt. Kensington Books, 2019. ISBN 9781496723413 (hardcover), 240p.

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




Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Lies in White Dresses by Sofia Grant

Sofia Grant's Lies in White Dresses takes readers back to 1952, and to a subject that I haven't seen
addressed in a novel before. Do you know about Nevada's residency requirements for people seeking divorces during that time? It wasn't always easy to get a divorce in the U.S. In her author's note, Grant explains that Reno put itself on the map in 1909 by shortening its residency requirements to six months. By the 1950s, that requirement had been shortened to six weeks. The proprietors of the ranches and hotels where women stayed were often their witnesses in court, saying the women had lived there for the required six weeks. A hotel, the residents of it, and three women who arrive in Reno to take "The Reno Cure", are the focal point of this story.

Francie Meeker and Vi Carothers have been friends since they were young married women. Now that they both have adult children, their husbands want divorces. Francie is embarrassed to talk about her husband, Arthur, while Vi finally gives in to her cheating husband, and agrees to a divorce so he can marry his girlfriend. They take the train from San Francisco to Reno. It's on the train that Vi befriends June Samples, a young woman with a four-year-old daughter, Patty. June's fleeing an abusive husband, and it doesn't take long for Vi and Francie to figure that out.

When the women arrive in Reno, Vi insists that June and Patty share her suite at the Holiday Ranch. That first night, the three women head to a restaurant and bar, leaving Patty in the capable hands of Virgie Swanson, the twelve-year-old daughter of the hotel owner. But, a night that starts out as celebratory ends in a tragedy that will change the lives of everyone involved.

For those of us who grew up after the 1950s, this is a historical novel of the lives of women who were promised a happily-ever-after with Prince Charming after a big, white wedding. That's not how it always was, or even is today. But, Grant focuses on those women whose sons went to war, women who protected children who had disabilities, women who lied to themselves about their own feelings and relationships. It's about the lies women told, and the secrets they kept in order to keep their marriages intact, While Virgie comes across as a naive preteen who dreams of being a detective, and gets carried away with her investigations and ideas, Francie comes across as naive at times, too. She may have raised three children and moved in a small social circle, but her view of the world is somewhat limited. It takes a few hard knocks for Francie to see reality.

The multiple viewpoints in the story allow the reader to understand the time period, and the characters' emotions. Francie, Vi, and June are all well-developed as characters, while Virgie adds a touch of humor to the story. The Author's Note, and the Reading Guide are useful in providing background and a thoughtful view of the book. Lies in White Dresses is a serious story of families, and women, learning to move on and live lives that they never expected.

Sofia Grant's website is http://sophielittlefield.com

Lies in White Dresses by Sofia Grant. William Morrow, 2019. ISBN 9780062861863 (paperback), 384p.

Purchase link - https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062861863/lies-in-white-dresses/
*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a TLC book tour.




Monday, September 23, 2019

Ann Cleeves, An Author Interview

You might be familiar with Ann Cleeves' books in the Shetland Island series, or her Vera Stanhope series. Maybe you've watched "Shetland" or "Vera". Cleeves has also written other books. She just released the first in the new Two Rivers series, The Long Call. I reviewed it earlier this month, http://bit.ly/2kGe1r1.

It's truly an honor to interview Ann Cleeves. The interview might have appeared closer to review date, but I couldn't believe I was invited to ask her a few questions, so I didn't answer right away. I'm grateful, and in awe. I hope you enjoy the interview.

I feel a little funny asking you this question, but some of my readers may not be familiar with your work. Ann, would you introduce yourself to readers, please?

I’m a crime writer who’s been very, very lucky.  For the first twenty years of publication, I had very little commercial success.  That meant I could practice my craft without any pressure at all and I still had time to spend with my daughters as they were growing up.  Writing was an escape and a joy – and it still is. In those early days, I was supported by libraries and by my family. For more than forty years I was married to Tim, an ornithologist, who spent his career working for a conservation charity.  I met him in Shetland and his work took me to some of the beautiful places that act as a backdrop to my stories. I still live in my little house in Whitley Bay, a seaside town on the north-east coast.

Your best-known books are set in the Shetlands and Northumberland. What attracted you to Devon for your new series?

I grew up in North Devon and I still have friends there.  When my husband suddenly died, nearly two years ago, I needed to run away, not just from the memories of our life together, but from the sympathy of the people who’d known us as a couple.  I ran to my old school friend and to a place I’d been very happy. We visited some of the beautiful beaches and small towns of my youth and talked for hours about the people we knew then. The Long Call developed out of those places and those conversations.

Would you introduce us to Matthew Venn?

Matthew grew up in a small evangelical community as the beloved only son of doting parents.  When he was eighteen, he lost his faith, at least the very rigid faith of his parents and he was cast out.  His way of dealing with the sudden lack of order was to join the police force. There he found the sense of duty, honour and service that he’d grown up with.  At the start of the novel, he’s looking in at the funeral of his father, not feeling that he’d be welcome to join in. He’s back in North Devon after living and working in the city of Bristol, and this is his first case in the Two Rivers region.  He’s more optimistic now, happier, married to Jonathan and living in the low, white house on the shore. I’m hoping that in future books, he’ll develop more of a sense of humour!

Tell us about The Long Call, without spoilers, please.

The Long Call begins with the body of a man found on a beach, Crow Point, a spit of sand at the point where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet.  At first the detectives think that the victim is a homeless man, but it seems his background is complex. He volunteers at The Woodyard, a community arts centre with a space for adults with a learning disability.  The Woodyard becomes the centre of the investigation, which makes life difficult for Matthew, because Jonathan was the leading light in creating the place, and he’s now the manager.

This is just my opinion. I see Jimmy Perez, Vera Stanhope, and, in The Long Call, Matthew Venn and his sergeant, Jen Rafferty, as troubled people, somewhat socially awkward. How do their experiences make them better investigators?

One of my favourite crime writers, Georges Simenon, says that the role of his detective, Inspector Maigret, is ‘to understand not to judge.’  It’s much easier to understand the pain of the victims’ families and the motives for murder, if the detective hasn’t had a trouble-free and undemanding life.  Like writers, I think good detectives have to be a little apart: observers, good listeners.

This will be your third series, after “Vera” and “Shetland” that’s adapted for television. What appeals to you when you see your characters and settings portrayed on screen?

Television is a very different form from prose and I’m delighted to leave the script-writing to the people who know what they’re doing!  I don’t feel precious about the adaptations. Once the books reach readers, they don’t belong to me any longer. Reading is a creative activity, and each reader brings their own history and prejudice to the story, the images they see in their minds will be different from the ones in mine.  Letting a TV production company interpret the novels, is just one step further in the process. Both Shetland and Vera are made by Silverprint Pictures and I think I’ve been very fortunate. The company has captured the atmosphere, place and central characters beautifully. I’m delighted that Silverprint has optioned The Long Call too.  I watch the shows like every other viewer.

Everyone takes a different path to publication. How did you become a published author?

I went to my local library and looked at the books most similar to mine and made a note of the publisher.  Then I sent out a letter and script. In those days, publishers still looked at unsolicited manuscripts and the third company I approached bought the novel.  It’s not that easy now!

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?

The Lost Domain by Alain Fournier, Toxic Shock by Sara Paretsky, Scrublands by Chris Hammer, Maigret in Vichy by Georges Simenon, Slow Horses by Mick Herron.

Even though we might not recognize some of the titles, what books were your favorites as a child?

I loved mysteries even as a child.  My favourite author was Malcolm Saville, who was great at writing place.  I very soon moved on to the short stories of Conan-Doyle and G K Chesterton.

Ann, I’m a librarian. I usually end with this question. Would you tell me a story about you and a library or librarian?

I love libraries and think we should all fight to celebrate and preserve them.  Libraries are more needed now than they ever were – we need a place where truth can be kept and where we can escape into fiction and see the world through other people’s eyes.  When I was a child, the librarian in the little town where we lived was called Mrs Gregory. She knew which books I liked and kept them for me, then she’d bring a copy from behind the counter, as if she were a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.  When I worked in public libraries, we did a brilliant event called Teenage Kicks, bringing 60 teens into the building to explore books through the arts. It was exhausting but totally exhilarating!

*****
Ann, Thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions.

Ann Cleeves' website is www.anncleeves.com

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

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.

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.