Monday, August 31, 2020

One for the Books by Jenn McKinlay

Jenn McKinlay's eleventh Library Lover's Mystery, One for the Books, is definitely one for her long-time readers. Those of us who have been following the series are ready for Library Director Lindsey Norris and Captain Mike "Sully" Sullivan to tie the knot. But, of course, this couple can't get married without drama. But, before a discussion of the story, I wanted to comment on the gorgeous cover. Because I read a .pdf, I don't have the book in hand to praise the cover artist. But, the colors, the inclusion of Heathcliff, the dog, and the cover itself are just perfect.

Lindsey Norris and Sully are perfectly content to get married in front of family and a few friends in a small ceremony on Bell Island, where Sully's parents live. However, it's starting to dawn on them that more people are coming to the wedding than they expected. Sully's a native son, and Lindsey is popular. It's enough to make a shy librarian want to elope. The couple admit, though, that their parents would be disappointed. They already have everything planned, including a justice of the peace. Steve Briggs is a childhood friend of Sully's, and he seems just the type to be a calming presence at the wedding.

Or, at least Briggs seemed to be a calming presence. But, different people witnessed him in tense scenes and arguments at his annual Christmas party. That doesn't mean any of them expected him to be killed. On a trip to discuss the wedding with Sully's parents, Lindsey and Sully find Briggs' dead body on the beach on Bell Island. Now, it's hard for either of them to enjoy the anticipation of their upcoming wedding. Sully wants to know who killed his old friend. So does Lindsey, but she's also panicking when she realizes they have to find someone to officiate at their wedding.

I have to admit the mystery in One for the Books fell a little flat. There's the drama of confessions and a chase. But, it was easy to guess who the killer was, and even easy to guess a secondary mystery. But, it also didn't really matter in One for the Books. This book is a gift for Jenn McKinlay's followers, for those of us who have been rooting for Sully and Lindsey all along, even early in the series.

All of the familiar, beloved characters are back. There are references to recent mysteries and novels. There are references to recent events in Lindsey's life, and a storyline with her brother, Jack. There's even a fun reference, an Easter egg for readers who know McKinlay's novel,  Paris is Always a Good Idea, was just released.

I have no inside knowledge to say One for the Books is the last in this series. However, if it is, Jenn McKinlay wrapped up the series with a romantic Happily-Ever-After. If it's not the final book, readers will be satisfied that Lindsey and Sully marry their best friend.

Jenn McKinlay's website is www.jennmckinlay.com

One for the Books by Jenn McKinlay. Berkley Prime Crime, 2020. ISBN 9780593101742 (hardcover), 320p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I read a .pdf for a journal.


Sunday, August 30, 2020

The House on Widows Hill by Simon R. Green

There's just something about Simon R. Green's Ishmael Jones mysteries that appeals to me. Green's mysteries are as close to horror as I get. The House on Widows Hill, the ninth in the series, is a combination of mystery, aliens, murder, and the unknown. Green has a talent for making it all believable, as if "The truth is out there", and Ishmael Jones is going to find it.

Ishmael Jones is an alien who crashed to earth in England in 1963. He has no memory of who he used to be. Now, he's an alien hiding as a human, working for the Organization. Together with the woman he loves, his "partner-in-crime" Penny Belcourt, he investigates weird cases and strange happenings. But, he and Penny had just wrapped up a strange case the day before when they're given another.

Harrow House on Widows Hill is on the outskirts of Bath. Someone high up in the Organization wants to buy it, but locals are scared to death of the house. No one has lived in it since the Welles family "ran screaming out into the night, on the fourteenth of September 1889." Even the cab driver, paid an enormous sum to take Ishmael and Penny to the house, has a story about it. But, "Nothing supernatural has ever happened in this house." Ishmael is skeptical, but he and Penny agree to stay overnight to prove the house isn't haunted.

There's one catch. The two experts at monster catching will be spending the night with four amateurs; a celebrity psychic, an amateur ghost chaser with scientific equipment, a white witch who is a local historian, and a newspaper reporter whose family owns Harrow House. When they enter the hosue together, they all feel an "oppressive atmosphere...a definite feeling of dread, and horror, and fear of the unknown." Even Ishmael feels the urge to leave. He doesn't like the feel of the house. When one of the group suddenly drops dead, Ishmael doesn't think it's an accident. And, despite the feelings of despair that come over them in the house, he is the only one who doesn't feel the house is to blame.

It's always interesting to meet up again with Ishmael Jones. Actually, no one would want to meet up with him. Death always seems to follow. But, it's fascinating to watch him solve mysteries. In some ways, these stories are typical detective novels with a sleuth who gathers suspects together and reveals a killer. However, there's the added element of vampires or werewolves or monsters or aliens, or even a ghost. It's just the reader's choice as to what to believe in Ishmael Jones' reality.

Right now? The House on Widows Hill sort of captures a reality of horror and despair and mass hysteria. But, Ishmael Jones knows to look behind the smokescreen for the human responsible for death and terror.

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

The House on Widows Hill by Simon R. Green. Severn House, 2020. ISBN 9780727890306 (hardcover), 185p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library Book

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Have You Heard? - Miranda James' The Silence of the Library

I love Sandie Herron's comments about Miranda James' The Silence of the Library. I haven't had a chance to read James' latest book in the series, Cat Me If You Can. While we wait, here's Sandie's review.

The Silence of the Library                                                  
Written by Miranda James
Narrated by Erin Bennett
Cat in the Stacks mystery series, Book 5
Unabridged Audiobook
Tantor Audio (5/29/2014)
Listening Length:  7 hours 57 minutes


Charlie Harris loves books, so it’s no wonder that he is a librarian at Athena College in Mississippi and also works at the public library.  In this fifth entry in the utterly charming Cat in the Stacks mystery series, Charlie is preparing for National Library Week.  The Athena Public Library is planning an exhibit of the books of famous local author Electra Barnes Cartwright and other juvenile mystery writers.  Ms. Cartwright wrote the Veronica Thane series, a girl detective story.

Charlie has a soft spot for Mrs. Cartwright and owns many of her books, so is delighted to accompany the library director to visit the nearly one-hundred-year-old author and her daughter at her home when she agrees to appear at the library.  Charlie brings his Maine Coon cat Diesel with him on the visit, since Diesel goes almost everywhere with him, and Mrs. Cartwright is charmed by the gentle albeit large cat.

The news of her impending visit spreads quickly.  However, the entire event is almost cancelled when Mrs. Cartwright visits the library, at her daughter’s urging, to request an exorbitant fee for her appearance.  Some zealous series collectors and readers request book signings before her official appearance.  Some even offer huge sums of money to have entire collections autographed.  At least one publisher is vying for the right to several unpublished Veronica Thane manuscripts.

The fervor over Electra Barnes Cartwright goes too far when an avid fan is found dead in her home, the long-time editor of a newsletter on everything to do with “EBC”.  It is time for Charlie Harris to put on his detective hat and discover who was trying to silence the newsletter writer.  Many of her files have been taken, and it is unknown if any books have also been stolen, especially the rare variant of the first Veronica Thane book.  Charlie reads this entry in the series and shares the beginning chapters with the reader of this Miranda James book.  Charlie gains insight into the series character and applies those insights to the current situation, ultimately solving this mystery.

It was very creative of the author to combine some old-fashioned sleuthing, or looking for answers the hard way, with creative searching on the Internet.  Throw in some common sense and keen observations, and the reader is able to solve this mystery along with the main character.  The pace was leisurely yet steady, always moving forward, while allowing visits with some ongoing characters from the series.  Erin Bennett’s narration was straight forward, mirroring the steady pace of the novel with her voice.  A very enjoyable read.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Winners and Give Me a B Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last giveaway. These books aren't going far. Alma C. from Mountain Home, AR won The Art of Theft. The Art of Deception is going to St. Louis, MO to Caryn SC. The books have actually already gone out.

This week's contest is going to be a short one, ending Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 5 PM CT. Because of my schedule, there won't be another contest until Friday, Sept. 11. I'll kick one off then.

In the meantime, this week, I'm giving away two titles, but three books. I have two copies of The Finders to give away. Jeffrey B. Burton's book is the first in a fast-paced mystery series featuring a heroic golden retriever named Vira and her handler, Mason Reid. It's an intense, graphic serial killer novel with a likable, aw-shucks hero and a remarkable cadaver dog who has to protect Mason, a target for that serial killer.






Or, B could stand for Nevada Barr's standalone What Rose Forgot. When Rose Dennis wakes up in a hospital, she has no memory of how she ended up at this unknown medical facility. But, she's sure something is wrong. When she overhears one of the administrators saying about her that she's "not making it through the week," Rose is convinced that she has to stop taking her medication in order to survive. She devises a plan to escape, enlisting the help of her computer-hacker sister and her teenage granddaughter. She's beginning to piece together the answers, when someone shows up to try to get rid of her once and for all.



Which book would you like to win? As I said you need to enter by Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 5 PM. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject line should read either "Win The Finders" or "Win What Rose Forgot." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

What Are You Reading?

How are you this week? Kevin, and others in the path of Hurricane Laura, take care of yourselves. Just what we need in 2020, right? Let's just get this year over with.

What are you reading? I'm about to start Meg Cabot's new romantic comedy, No Offense. Going back to the setting of No Judgments, Little Bridge Island, one of the islands of the Florida Keys. This time, someone leaves a baby in the restroom of the public library. The sheriff insists whoever left the baby is a criminal. Molly Montgomery, the head of children's services at the library, disagrees. John Hartwell, the divorced sheriff, a single father, thinks he might be overdue for a new romance, if Molly doesn't disagree on that subject as well. I hope it's as much fun as her last book. That one would be timely. A hurricane was coming in.

Everyone, take care this week. And, let us know what you've been reading.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Finish the Fight by Veronica Chambers & The Staff of the New York Times

I'm a week late for the celebration of the 19th Amendment. Last week, I watched a play, "Finish the Fight: The Heroes of the Suffrage Movement". The play, performed virtually, was commissioned by The New York Times. The outstanding production focused on figures that most of us don't know in the fight for the right to vote. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper refused to give up her seat on a streetcar in the 1850s in Pennsylvania. She was an author, poet, orator, and co-founder of the American Woman Suffrage Association. Jovita Idar was a journalist and newspaper publisher in Texas who advocated for women's suffrage and fair treatment for Mexican Americans. Both of those women were portrayed in the play, along with Mabel Png-Hua Lee, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Zitkala-Sa. But, there are many more women who stood up, and many of them are included in the book published by the staff of The New York Times, Finish the Fight.

It's a fascinating book, with a diverse group of women. Although I have been to Seneca Falls, to the Women's Rights National Park, I didn't know how many women, African American, Native American, Latina, Chinese, Lesbian, were involved in the suffrage movement. Let's face it. The national park focuses on the history of white women and Frederick Douglass. This book turns that history upside down, and shows the other women involved in getting the vote for women.

One story I found interesting was the opening chapter of the book. It says in 1848, "some women in American already had a say in choosing their leaders." "The town of Seneca Falls was located in the historic territory of the Haudenosaunee, a confederacy of six Native American nations." Their form of democracy, their society, was matrilineal, "meaning that the clan you belonged to depended on your mother's ancestors." The women made the decisions, and even picked the chief. It's interesting background for the rest of the book.

And, although women nationally were given the vote in 1920, New Jersey's constitution, written in 1776, granted the vote to all free "inhabitants," no matter the gender or race, as long as they had been in the country for at least a year, and had $50 worth of property to their name.

Finish the Fight is a fascinating book. The illustrations and photos are excellent. If you're reading the book, read the Illustrator's Note first because it's important to know about the symbolism in the illustrations.

The play, "Finish the Fight", was a rabbit hole. It led to this book filled with women I had never heard of. It's a story filled with courage and strength. It's a salute to women who fought for their rights, and are still fighting for them. It's been two hundred years.

Finish the Fight: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Veronica Chambers and The Staff of the New York Times. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. ISBN 9780358408307 (hardcover), 132p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought a copy of the book

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

September 1 is release date for Louise Penny's All the Devils Are Here, my favorite of all sixteen of the books in the Armand Gamache series. She's had others that advanced the storyline, or brought a climatic resolution to long-brewing situations. This one, though, is a novel of the heart, of family and love. All the Devils Are Here finally reveals Armand's backstory. We've seen glimpses here and there. We know of the tragic loss of his parents. This novel tells what happened after his parents died. It delves into the story of his relationship with his son, Daniel. It tells of his courtship of Reine-Marie. Penny brings all of Armand Gamache's beloved family together in Paris, the City of Light, the City of Love. Light and love have long been strong symbols in Penny's books. They shine strong in this beautiful masterpiece.

The gardens of Musee Rodin have been beloved by Armand and his godfather Stephen Horowitz since Armand was a boy who visited Horowitz every year after his parents died. His godfather was the one who made sure Gamache was steeped in art and history, saw beauty in gardens, knew the stories behind art. This time, on their walk, Stephen quotes The Tempest, "All the devils are here. And hell is empty." At that moment, though, Armand doesn't hear the warning. He's only aware of the contentment, the light in the garden. He doesn't see the darkness coming.

Gamache's entire family is in Paris. He and Reine-Marie own a small apartment there, left to him by his grandmother, Zora. Daniel and Roslyn, along with their two daughters, live in Paris. Jean-Guy Beauvoir, once Gamache's second-in-command, is now working for a multinational engineering firm headquartered in Paris. Because Annie, Jean-Guy's wife and daughter to the Gamaches, is pregnant and due to deliver at any time, the entire family has gathered. All the adults meet for dinner, but  Stephen seems restless, checking his phone constantly. After dinner, they join the Parisians in a leisurely stroll, enjoying the evening and the beginning of the light show at the Eiffel Tower. As Gamache turns to point it out to Stephen, a van runs down the ninety-three-year-old man. And, Gamache knows it's no accident.

When Armand and Reine-Marie can't convince a police officer that the hit-and-run wasn't an accident, Gamache calls an old friend, Claude Dussault, Prefect of Police in Paris. Of course, Dussault knows of Horowitz, a billionaire who has fought against corrupt businesses for his entire career. But, he doesn't believe it's more than a hit-and-run, either. So, Gamache and Reine-Marie set out to find out why someone would want to kill the old man. They start at Horowitz' apartment, a scene that sets the entire family on a search for answers.

Everyone in Gamache's family has an expertise that enables them to contribute to the investigation. As they dig deeper, the search takes them all over Paris, revealing the deepest fears of some, a fear of heights, a fear of closed-in places. But, the search also uncovers family fears and truths that rock Armand and Reine-Marie. Even they never saw some of the secrets that are revealed.

All the Devils Are Here is a treasure. Family and love is an essential element in this story, and there are moments that stop a reader's heart with anxiety and fear. While Armand Gamache deals with crimes and violence on a grand scale, Louise Penny always brings the story back home to family, whether of birth or of love. Gamache's extended family, his wife, children, grandchildren, his godfather, and the people of Three Pines offer love. He builds and thrives on that love.

Yes, it may seem as if "All the devils are here", but so are "The better angels of our nature." Louise Penny, who always deals in the duality of light and darkness, offers both devils and angels in her latest work.

Louise Penny's website is www.louisepenny.com

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny. Minotaur Books, 2020. ISBN 9781250145239 (hardcover), 439p.

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


NOTE: The cover is lovely, but, oh,  MaryAnna Coleman's endpapers are stunning! Check them out!



Monday, August 24, 2020

Dead-End Detective by Amanda Flower

I loved the two main characters in Amanda Flower's first Piper & Porter mystery, Dead-End Detective. And, I like a cozy mystery that features a detective agency. It's not quite as cozy as some books. Best of all, it took me forever to figure out who was the killer, although there was a growing suspicion before the ah ha moment. Two terrific leads, plus two terrific cats. Does it get much better for readers of cozy mysteries?

Darby Piper returns from her morning run, running a little late because of a cat, to find her business partner, Samantha Porter, escorting the owner of Lake Waters Retreat from their office. Darby has always viewed Samantha as a friend, and mentor, so she's stunned when Samantha tells her she's leaving Two Girls Detective Agency to be Head of Security at Lake Waters. What will happen to Darby, who's the junior partner with only a 40% share in the business and an apartment above the business? It's not a comfortable confrontation between the two women.

When Darby's ex-boyfriend, Police Office Austin Caster, wakes her early the next morning, it's to tell her Samantha is dead. Where was Darby during the night? It doesn't take long for Darby to realize she's the number one suspect. She argued with Samantha. She inherits the business. And, Samantha was run off the road by a car, probably the white car that is missing from Darby's garage. Even she thinks she should be the primary suspect.

But, Darby doesn't inherit the business. She's shocked to learn Samantha left her share to Tate Porter, her nephew. Tate's a veteran, a world traveler who never settled down. When he shows up in town the day after Samantha's death, Darby is suspicious. Where was Tate when his aunt was killed?

But, if Tate can get past his suspicion of Darby, she needs to try to do the same. He's willing to work with her to investigate Samantha's murder. The more they dig, the more Darby fears she didn't know Samantha as well as she thought. Samantha became a private investigator to look into her father's murder when she was young. Did Samantha learn something that led to her own murder? Was she closing the business because she was on a trail that was too personal to share ?

I loved the humor in the book. Darby, the daughter of a librarian, holds Tate "at bookpoint" when she unexpectedly finds him on a couch. But, it's the two cats, Romy and Gumshoe, who are the distractions. Romy is a neighbor's cat that Darby rescues repeatedly from a tree, and, then Tate has to rescue him. Gumshoe is Darby's Ragdoll with a slight attitude.  But, they're cats. Not magical or talking or detective cats, just cats.

Darby and Tate make an interesting pair of detectives. The two characters in their thirties bring their own flaws and baggage to their partnership. Tate's are a result of his years at war. Darby's might be owed to her years training as a dancer, and her long history with her ex-boyfriend.

Dead-End Detective has so much potential because of those two characters. I'm wishing Amanda Flower good luck with this series. And, I wish the second mystery was already available.

Amanda Flower's website is www.amandaflower.com

Dead-End Detective by Amanda Flower. Hallmark, 2020. ISBN 9781947892798 (paperback), 328p.

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

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Answer Is...by Alex Trebek

The other day on the blog, Glen Davis said he had met Alex Trebek, and "He's everything you might expect. Handsome, suave, smart and amazingly modest." That's exactly how he comes across in his memoir, The Answer Is...Reflections on My Life, a humble man who had no intention of writing his memoir. But, his life took a turn when he was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. The outpouring of love and support made him reassess his decision not to tell his story.

The book really is a collection of memories. It's not written in the typical format of a memoir. There are short chapters, just a couple pages, and, quite often, a photo to go with the chapter. They are Trebek's memories, and he admits they might not be accurate, but it's how he remembers these stories. His father was a Ukranian immigrant who spent much of his career working as a chef at the Nickel Range Hotel in Sudbury, Canada. He spoke Polish, Ukranian, Russian, and English, and often acted as a translator for other immigrants. His mother was French Canadian. Trebek himself grew up bilingual because most of his classes in school were in French, so he speaks French and English. His parents separated, but never divorced, while he was in high school.

Some chapters are devoted to Trebek's years in school. Then, he became a temp for the Canadian Broadcasting Company. In his last year of college, he was hired permanently by the CBC in Ottawa, but eventually was transferred to Toronto because he was bilingual. He covers his move to California, his years hosting various game shows, and his years with Jeopardy. He also covers both of his marriages. He remains close to his first wife, and she and his second wife are friends. It's just what fans would expect of Alex Trebek.

We would also expect comments about the show and the competitors we remember over the years. He talks about the winners, NYC police officer Frank Spangenberg, Ken Jennings, Churck Forrest, James Holzhauser, Brad Ritter. Each of the recent winners is covered in a chapter, "Who is Ken Jennings?", etc., in the standard Jeopardy format.

Alex Trebek's book really is for all of us who have watched him and Jeopardy for years and years. He even acknowledges that some have thought he was aloof. That really comes down to two reasons. He corrects the wrong answers on the show. And, he still feels as if he's a host, there to make the contestants shine, not to put the focus on himself. It's really been in the last year or so since his cancer diagnosis that the focus has been on Alex Trebek. But, when reading The Answer Is..., it's obvious he prefers to remain in the background.

I remember the early edition of Jeopardy. Alex Trebek has hosted the show now for more than thirty-five years. Although he reveals some of himself and some about the show in this memoir, it's obvious he hopes Jeopardy goes on long after he's gone. Let's hope he has some time yet to tape the show and host Jeopardy. We would like to see this humble, hard-working man have a little more time.

The Answer Is...by Alex Trebek. Simon & Schuster, 2020. ISBN 9781982157999 (hardcover), 292p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Have You Heard? Tammy Kaehler's Red Flags

Sandie Herron reminded me that the Indianapolis 500 is this Sunday. That means it's perfect timing to run her review of Tammy Kaehler's Red Flags, set in the racing world. Thank you, Sandie.


Red Flags                                                                             

Series:  A Kate Reilly mystery Book 4
By Tammy Kaehler, Narrated by Nicole Vilencia
Unabridged Audiobook
Listening Length: 10 hours and 20 minutes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio (April 5, 2016)
ASIN: B01DMDBYK6
****½ stars

Race car driver Kate Reilly finds herself in California for multiple reasons.  Before she can even begin her official duties, the police ask her to identify a body since her card was in the victim’s pocket.  Her hated cousin Billy has been murdered.  The police ask her to make inquiries and find out what she can about Billy’s death.  Kate agrees since the race organizers and sponsors want her to be sure racing’s name is kept clean. 

A week before the Long Beach Grand Prix, Kate is coaching a celebrity driver who will race with other celebrity drivers the following week.  Kate enjoys sharing her knowledge with the gorgeous movie star she is paired with.  Kate also visits her on the set and finds herself attracted to Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor.  The two date and are hounded by paparazzi, with Kate finding her photo in the tabloids the next day.  Via her experiences in Hollywood, Kate learns much more about how to handle to paparazzi and national media attention. 

Kate also meets up with the FBI agent introduced in the last book – Avoiding Contact – and the two also go out to dinner.  On the way to meet him, Kate is driving by the headquarters for Frame Savings, her father’s bank, and in the slow traffic watches a young woman douse herself with gasoline and begin lighting matches.  Kate jumps out of her car and knocks them away before the woman can light the gas.  As she does, the woman’s sister arrives, explaining to Kate the harassment her sister has put up with while working for Frame Savings only to be fired by the people Kate dislikes most – Billy, cousin Holden, his father, and her father’s brother Edward.  Kate’s father is shocked to hear the allegations. 

Kate runs into her father often as she goes from Sony Studios to Venice Beach to Rodeo Drive to the Hollywood Hills attending parties, shopping, and being treated to a spa experience.  Kate also attends several sponsor meetings where she lines up a continuing contract with Beaute, the breast cancer Research Center, and Frame Savings as well.  They sponsor an Indy car test drive, and all are in agreement that she will drive the Indy 500 the next year, followed by NASCAR.  Kate is chosen to drive an Indy Lights car this race weekend since the original driver cannot get out of Europe. 

Everything coalesces on race weekend as Kate drives the Corvette C7 race car number 28, drives the Indy Lights car, plus coaches her celebrity driver.  Outside the track she reveals whom she feels murdered Billy, and soon discovers she was wrong when the actual killer sets their sights on Kate.

I felt this entry in the series was a big step forward for Tammy Kaehler’s writing.  I found the multiple plotlines woven together at several venues enhanced the race commentary a great deal.  Much of the time Kate was racing or pursuing her career and dreams in racing yet she has a personal life which she trusts the reader to share.  RED FLAGS was a greatly enhanced story rounding out Kate’s full life.
Reviewed by Sandie Herron

Friday, August 21, 2020

Winners and The Art of Holmes Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last giveaway. Jennifer D. from Rochester Hills, MI won Remain Silent. John S. from Iowa City, IA will receive One Day You'll Burn. And, Sandie H. from Sarasota, Fl will receive Paw of the Jungle. The books are going out in the mail today.

This week, I have two books featuring a Holmes and art. Leonard Goldberg's The Art of Deception is a Daughter of Sherlock Holmes mystery. In London, an apparently crazed individual is on the loose, breaking into art galleries and private homes to slash valuable paintings of women. Scotland Yard hasn't caught him. Joanna, Sherlock Holmes' daughter, and the Watsons, are called in to solve the case. But, they soon discover the criminal is actually looking for something in those portraits. But, when the two primary suspects, art restorers, are found dead, Joanna's plan to catch the criminal has to work, or more lives and paintings will be lost.



Sherry Thomas' The Art of Theft is a Lady Sherlock mystery. Mrs. Watson is desperate to help an old friend recover secrets hidden behind a much coveted piece of art. Now, Charlotte Holmes is involved in a scheme to infiltrate a glamorous Yuletide ball where the painting is, one handshake away from being sold. If so, those secrets will be exposed. Everyone is pitching in to help, but disaster awaits if Charlotte makes one mistake.






Which Holmes 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 Art of Deception" or "Win The Art of Theft." Please include your name and mailing address. The contest will end Thursday, August 27 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

What Are You Reading?

Whew! I made it to Thursday. I was cramming in books for reviews you'll read here in November and
December. But, I'm fine. How are you doing this week?

I'm just about to start Alex Trebek's memoir, The Answer Is...Reflections on My Life. Rosemary, Trebek is the well-respected game show host of a program called "Jeopardy". He's hosted it for thirty-six year. He's had a great deal more attention than usual in the last year after he announced he had pancreatic cancer. He's always been very private, but wrote his memoir when he learned how many people cared about him. I've been watching "Jeopardy" longer than those thirty-six years. I watched when it was on years earlier with Art Fleming.


How are you doing? What have you been reading in the past week?

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Poisoned Pen Bookstore's Blog

I know I've mentioned here before that I'm also the blogger for The Poisoned Pen Bookstore's blog. Today, as I'm finishing up my deadline reading, I want to refer you to the blog. I've been running a series of posts, "Distractions". I've asked a number of authors to write about the books they've been reading during the pandemic. What books have distracted them?

I've excited about today's post and author. David Heska Wanbli Weiden is the author of a debut crime novel, Winter Counts. I think this book is going to be hot, and I'm excited to host him. You might want to read his "Distractions" post. On Monday, August 24, William Kent Krueger will host him on Facebook at The Poisoned Pen's page. You can read the post at https://poisonedpen.com/category/fiction-review/


While you're checking out the blog, look for other "Distractions" posts. I've been doing these posts since early April. I'm lucky. You'll find "Distractions" pieces by authors such as Laurie R. King, Rhys Bowen, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Jenn McKinlay, and Karin Slaughter. Today, I added David Heska Wanbli Weiden to the group.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The Rap Sheet Blog

Because I won't have much on the blog until Thursday, let's talk about someone else's blog today. I'm sure some of you have read The Rap Sheet. J. Kingston Pierce has been writing the spin-off from January Magazine almost as long as I've been writing Lesa's Book Critiques. You can find the outstanding, award-winning and nominated blog here. http://therapsheet.blogspot.com/

Here's the Introduction to The Rap Sheet.

"Introduction
Since it spun off from January Magazine to become a separate blog in May 2006, The Rap Sheet has earned its reputation as an essential resource for readers seeking information about what’s new and interesting in the world of crime fiction. It covers crime, mystery, and thriller fiction both recent and vintage, appearing in all media—print as well as broadcast.

Edited and written mostly by J. Kingston Pierce, the site has been nominated twice for Anthony Awards, and in 2009 it won the Spinetingler Award for Special Services to the Industry. Remarking on the blog’s value, novelist and editor Ed Gorman wrote in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine: “Part pure journalism, part critique, and part just plain fun, The Rap Sheet is a tribute to the intelligence and wit of a single person. Pierce gives opinionating a good name.” In a post of her own highlighting blogs that provide “good crime fiction recommendations,” critic Sarah Weinman described The Rap Sheet as “one of the oldest ... and still one of the best …”

The Rap Sheet currently receives 1,500 to 3,500 hits each day, ranking it among the most consistently popular blogs of its kind."


Sarah Weinman is correct. It's one of the best crime blogs. Pierce covers everything from older television shows to tributes to those who have recently died who made contributions to the field. There's an extensive list of forthcoming books that any reader of crime fiction should be watching. I'm honored to have some of my reviews linked from Revue of Reviewers, linking to recent reviews of crime novels, thrillers, and mysteries. The Rap Sheet always has the award nominees and winners from crime fiction conferences around the world. And, for those of us who respected Bill Crider, it's so nice to see the ongoing series that honors him.

I can't recommend The Rap Sheet highly enough, and I could go on about all the features on the blog. Instead, you should check it out. http://therapsheet.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 17, 2020

A Day Off

Funny to say I've been on vacation this past week, but have nothing to post on the blog today. I do have an idea for tomorrow, and I need to work on it. I'm actually on deadline, and I've read eight books in the last week. But, I reviewed one here, and you'll see the other reviews in November and December.

So for today, I'll save you time, let you know I read for the entire vacation, and I'll have a piece for you tomorrow. In the meantime, check out The Poisoned Pen Bookstore's blog because I'm the blogger there. https://poisonedpen.com/category/fiction-review/  Look for the "Distractions" posts where a number of authors have made book suggestions throughout the pandemic. That's been fun.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan

Raymond Chandler's Marlowe is the model for how many private investigators? He defines that hero in The Simple Art of Murder. "He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct...." Gabriel Valjan introduces Shane Cleary as just that type of man in Dirty Old Town.

Cleary's mean streets are Boston. When he returned from Vietnam he became a cop. When he was too honest to be a cop, he testified against one of them, breaking the police code, and made himself a target for most police officers in town. Now, in 1975, he's sleeping in his office because he doesn't have the money to pay the rent on his apartment. Then he hears from Brayton Braddock, the wealthy man who married Cleary's girlfriend, Catherine. Although Cleary never liked Bray, he needs the job and the money.

Braddock is being blackmailed. He's working on a development project with other power brokers in town, and someone has copies of his ledgers. He hires Shane to find and stop the blackmailer. Before Shane can get too far into the case, Bill, a fellow veteran and a cop with a secret asks Cleary to do him a favor. A man named Roger Sherman is missing, and Bill asks Cleary to find him.

Valjan includes a list of characters in the book, a list that is invaluable. As Cleary investigates, he finds himself in gay clubs, business offices, a bar in the wrong section of town, a soul food restaurant, and a dead man's apartment. He's suddenly a suspect in two murders, on the run from the cops, and assisted by unlikely people along the way, everyone from a professor to a street entertainer to a Mafia don. Cleary's actions as a police officer made him enemies on the force, but he finds people who remember in unlikely places.

When you think of hardboiled detective novels,  do you think of a man in a small office, barely making a living, with a sarcastic wit, and a reputation that makes him an enemy of the cops? Do you think about a man with a troubled past, and a world-weary view of the present? How about a man with a cynical view about dames, but a man attracted to the wrong ones? Of course, he's a white knight, determined to do good. Oh, and don't forget the hat. But, Shane Cleary is warned by his friend, Professor Lindsey. "Your idealism, while admirable, is from a bygone era."

I also think of beautiful writing with a clipped turn of phrase. Every sentence in those hardboiled novels paint a picture. Valjan has that talent with phrases such as "Outside the air, severe and cold as as the city's forefathers".  At one point Cleary sums up the action in the book, and concludes with "Now Boston journalists were one keystroke away from writing my obituary." It took me a while to read this slim book. The writing is worth close attention.

Gabriel Valjan puts his own spin on the stereotypical PI novel in this atmospheric period piece set in the mid-70s. It's a short, dense story, a complicated case that is too involved to read quickly. He introduces a detective who fits in perfectly with his idols, Marlowe and Spade. Robert B. Parker's Spenser and Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie may have dominated their Boston. Shane Cleary is a welcome addition to Boston's mean streets, to the Dirty Old Town.

Gabriel Valjan's website is http://www.gabrielvaljan.com/

Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan. Level Best Books, 2020. ISBN 9781947915442 (paperback), 160p.

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

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Have You Heard? Foreign Eclairs by Julie Hyzy

Between deadlines for a journal and life, I haven't had time to finish the next book I'm reviewing here. But, Sandie Herron has a review of an audiobook I can share,  Foreign Eclairs by Julie Hyzy. As always, thank you, Sandie.


Foreign Éclairs                                                        

White House Chef Mystery, Book 9
Written by Julie Hyzy
Narrated by Eileen Stevens
Unabridged Audiobook
Audible Studios (1/5/16)
Listening Length:  7 hours, 54 minutes

The government sequester is over, and White House Executive Chef Olivia “Ollie” Paras is interviewing candidates for a new chef along with Chief Usher Peter Sergeant.  Sargeant is chafing without his assistant Margaret.  As Ollie heads home that evening, she is mugged at the Metro station awaiting her train.  She heads back to the White House and is then escorted home minus the purse taken in the attack.

Ollie’s husband Gav, special agent with the Secret Service, had been out of town at what Ollie believed was the prison outbreak where one of Armistan’s former leaders was being held.  Ollie had foiled the plans to free the man in jail a year ago. Through a chain of events, Ollie had stopped the men leading that attempted prison break.  The leader who ordered the failed attack had been murdered, and his brother was now demanding justice for his family. 

Gav could not confirm his whereabouts, but he returns quickly, and the two make reservations for their favorite table at a nearby restaurant.  When they walk to the restaurant, they arrive just after a bomb had exploded, destroying the alcove with their table.  Gav’s mentor and special agent Joe Yablonski has taken charge of the scene and whisks the couple away.  Yablonski and his team believe that Gav and Ollie’s apartment had been bugged by the people who took Ollie’s purse and overheard their restaurant plans.  They believe the Armistanians are out to kill Ollie following her involvement in stopping the attempts a year ago to break their former leader out of jail.  They also believe that Gav’s cover has been blown.  Ollie and Gav are stunned. 

After being escorted to work by the Secret Service, Ollie has a visit from Peter Sargeant.  His assistant Margaret had been found dead, tortured and murdered.  What White House secrets had she shared?  Ollie has been in trouble numerous times before, but this time with vengeance against her directly, she volunteers to participate in the new plan to catch the Armistanians.  Planning a visit to Gav’s friends who own a winery a couple hours away, they hope the terrorists take the bait.   Elaborate plans take place behind the scenes to prepare for the attempted retaliation and protect Ollie and Gav.   

The danger was palpable in this ninth and final entry in the White House chef mysteries; the review of Ollie’s training intense; and Gav’s fear for Ollie evident.  Author Julie Hyzy again brings us an absorbing, riveting, and gripping mystery involving both of her main characters.  Narrator Eileen Stevens ramped up her efforts to make the suspense tangible.  The final conclusion had been alluded to during the book, yet it still deeply distressed me.  This book and the entire series are highly recommended.


Friday, August 14, 2020

Winners and a "Cops" Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Please See Us will go to Sandy G. from North Plainfield, NJ, and The Girl Beneath the Sea goes to Dianne C. of Elk Grove Village, IL. The books will go out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away three books featuring the police. Let's start with the cozy mystery. Paw of the Jungle by Diane Kelly features Officer Megan Luz and her K-9 partner Brigit. It starts out as a day at the Fort Worth Zoo for the team. But what begins as a field trip turns serious when two rare hyacinth macaws go missing. Soon other animals go missing, but when a rare black rhino is taken, time is of the essence. Megan and Brigit have to find who's behind the mystery before they become prey.





Cozy mystery readers will not want to venture into the next two books. Joseph Schneider's debut was released in February, just before Covid lockdown. One Day You'll Burn is a gritty, sometimes grizzly, police procedural featuring Detective Tully Jarsdel. He's an unusual LAPD cop whose former career in academia comes in handy in a story of violence and evil. The story is an homage to LA, in all its beauty and squalor.






Remain Silent is a Marion Bradshaw novel by Susie Steiner. Bradshaw is an officer in the cold case department of the Cambridgeshire police force. Her personal life is a mess, and when she discovers the body of a Lithuanian immigrant hanging from a tree, her professional life turns dangerous.








Which mystery would you like to win? There are a few of you who will be interested in all three books. I need separate entries for each one. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read "Win Paw of the Jungle", "Win One Day You'll Burn" or "Win Remain Silent." Please include your name and mailing address. The contest will end Thursday, Aug. 20 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.


Thursday, August 13, 2020

What Are You Reading?

How are you this week? I'm on vacation, although I'm at home. So, that gives me reading time! I'm reading on deadline, as usual. I'm also reading Gabriel Valjan's PI novel,  Dirty Old Town. It's set in Boston, and it's the first Shane Cleary mystery. Cleary is an ex-cop turned PI who takes a case from a childhood friend he detests because he's desperate for money. He also still has a thing for the man's wife who was Shane's girlfriend at one time. I know this is going to get rough for Cleary eventually. That means I'm happy it says "Shane Cleary Mystery #1". I always like to know that the hero makes it out alive.


How about you? Are you doing okay? What are you reading this week?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Patti Callahan's Surviving Savannah

Here it is! I'm excited to share the cover for Surviving Savannah by New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan, on sale March 9, 2021. It’s inspired by the true and forgotten story of the sinking of the “Titanic of the South”.  Pre-order it here: https://bit.ly/3i9VQ4Y Visit Patti online: https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/surviving-savannah  

Whatever you do, put it on your calendar.




About the book

New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan delivers a breathtaking novel based on true events.
It was called "The Titanic of the South”—the luxury steamship that sank in 1838 with Savannah's elite on board. Through time, their fates were forgotten—until the wreck was found.

Now their story is finally being told.

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she's shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can't resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly's research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who, along with her child, was never found. The women were part of Savannah society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.

Perfect for fans of Before We Were YoursSold on a Monday, and Orphan Train, Callahan’s highly anticipated novel tells the story of a little known chapter of history that has long deserved a spotlight. This transformative tale told from alternating past and present perspectives will sweep readers away and move them to their core.


Q&A with Patti Callahan

What inspired you to write Surviving Savannah?

Originally I was inspired by the Pulaski tales of survival, how the city of Savannah was part of this story, and how the Lowcountry was affected by this tragedy. I was also inspired and curious about the transformation of each passenger and the ways that each survivor not only lived through the explosion, but also how they chose to live their lives after the sinking.
How, I wondered, do some come to live better lives and others turn toward bitterness and cruelty? Who do we become after such great loss?
AND then!, everything shifted because after a hundred and eighty years, along came a shipwreck hunting crew who found the remains of the Pulaski a hundred feet beneath the waves, thirty miles off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. While the team went deep to bring up the artifacts and treasure of this beautiful ship, I dug deep to bring up the stories.  
My exhilarating hunt for the forgotten story began.

What kind of research was required to write the novel? Did anything surprise you?

The research was as fascinating as it was extensive – from the archives at the Georgia Historical Center in Savannah and the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum to books, newspaper archives, personal accounts and letters, I read everything that I could get my hands on. I devoured books on steamships and Savannah in the 1800’s. I read about the rich history of the colonization of Savannah with General Oglethorpe. I walked the streets of Savannah and visited museums and artifact collections. I interviewed shipwreck experts and became enchanted with the world of wreck salvaging and treasure hunting.
During this journey, I was surprised over and over, but one surprise that opens the novel is the true narrative about a fifteen-year-old passenger named Charles who survived the sinking to become a slave trader with a horrific reputation. As he grew into a man, he earned the nickname “the Red Devil”. How had this young boy survived to become so cruel? I wanted to know. 
Finally, after years of research, I put together a complete story of that calamitous night, and one family in particular.

Your story follows three women – Lily and Augusta on the ship in 1838, and Everly in present day. Which of the three women did you relate to the most and why?

While I was writing each section I always felt the most connected to the woman I was writing about at the moment. I don’t think I felt more for one woman than another but of course our modern-day character, Everly felt more relatable only because I know today’s Savannah and I know today’s southern norms and ideas. The historical narratives were almost two hundred years old, and yet I still felt as close to Lilly and Augusta because their plight and their desires and their inner lives feel familiar. As far as women have come in their roles in society, there is still the struggle for independence and agency. There remains the need to burst through familial and collective norms to build a life of one’s own.
All three women had their own tragedies, hardships and losses to navigate. All three needed to discover how they would make meaning and purpose out of their situation. All three found out what they were truly made of and if they wanted to merely survive or if they wanted to thrive and build new lives.

*****

You can enter for a chance to win an advanced digital review copy of the book here: https://sweeps.penguinrandomhouse.com/enter/surviving-savannah-cover-reveal-sweeps
(NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. US Residents, 18+. Ends August 17, 2020. See official rules at official website.)


Additional Links





Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Booked for Death by Victoria Gilbert

Victoria Gilbert, author of the Blue Ridge Library mysteries, remains in the book world with the first in her Booklover's B&B Mysteries, Booked for Death. Fans of Ellery Adams' Book Retreat mysteries might want to try this new character-driven cozy.

Charlotte Reed is recently widowed and in her forties when she inherits her Great-Aunt Isabella's historic inn in Beaufort, North Carolina. After her retirement, Isabella turned her home into a bed-and-breakfast called Chapters. Because she had collected a library of rare books, she specialized in events centered on books and authors. But, Charlotte's Josephine Tey week is interrupted by murder.

The victim, a rare book dealer, certainly was dislikable. He insinuated that Isabella had accumulated her money and book collection through some sort of shady deeds. But, Charlotte isn't the only suspect in his death, although she's the one accused by the man's daughter who says she was trying to save her aunt's reputation and her own livelihood. It seems most people at the Tey costume party had a run-in with the man, or a reason to want him dead. When the suspects are asked to stay in town, Charlotte realizes she might be entertaining a killer as a guest in her home.

But, where did Isabella Harrington get her money? Charlotte's great-aunt never really talked about her past, including a couple years when she went missing from family reunions. Now, Charlotte has two mysteries on her hands. Although she knows the police are competent, she's willing to team up with her shrewd elderly neighbor. They're both smart women. "And like some of the famous classic mystery heroines, we're also older and easy to overlook. The kind of women a lot of people might underestimate."

Gilbert's latest is leisurely paced, as she introduces the cast in this character-driven series. I wasn't crazy about the few incidents of foreshadowing. It's a personal peeve. But, I really enjoyed Charlotte and her neighbor, Ellen, who both have interesting backstories. And, as a librarian, I respect the amount of research Charlotte put into her search for answers.

Booked for Death is a solid debut for a series that offers possibilities I can't even explain without giving away secrets in the mystery itself. Check it out if you enjoy cozy mysteries set in the world of books.

Victoria Gilbert's website is www.victoriagilbertmysteries.com

Booked for Death by Victoria Gilbert. Crooked Lane Books, 2020. ISBN 9781643853079 (hardcover), 320p.

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


Monday, August 10, 2020

Deadly Touch by Heather Graham

Although I've read all thirty of Heather Graham's previous Krewe of Hunters books, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy Deadly Touch. I like the books that are set in historic settings such as Salem or New Orleans or Baltimore. But, I should trust Graham to  handle that issue beautifully. She concentrates on the Everglades as an environment, the river of grass with its wildlife. But, she incorporates pirates, and lightly touches on the history and culture of the Miccosukee and Seminoles who make the area their home.

Thirteen years ago, Raina Hamish was a fourteen-year-old camper with her school group in the Everglades. Axel Tiger was the storyteller, who told of pirate ships, and one cursed one. He was getting ready to leave for the Marines and then college. Like the other girls, Raina thought Axel was hot. But, she had the chance to talk to him late at night when she left her tent, and, in the lighting and the fog, saw the pirate ship. Axel knew she saw it, as he did.

Now, Axel Tiger is an FBI special agent with the Krewe of Hunters, the division that specializes in unusual crimes. He's back in his home territory in Miami because, like thirteen years earlier, a woman has gone missing. And Raina Hamish sent the police directly to the body in the Everglades. While the police think she was involved in the abduction and murder of Jennifer Lowry. Axel's interested in her story. Raina was trying on a dress in a boutique, looked in the mirror, and saw Jennifer Lowry's death. Unlike the others, Axel is willing to believe her. And, he hopes to tap into her gift to help with the investigation.

Raina and Axel remember their previous meeting, and that they both saw that pirate ship. Now, although Raina wants to deny her gift, she can't. She's now an animal trainer, with an unusual rapport with her dog, Titan. Somehow, she also has an unusual rapport with Jennifer, the dead woman. Once she realizes the murders may have been going on for thirteen years, and the killer uses the Everglades as a dump site, she's determined to help. She has to help law enforcement stop what's going on. She wants to make a difference.

Graham successfully brings the past and the present together, with the help of the dead. She also brings together three groups of law officers. The paranormal elements, along with the romantic elements, are always essential in these crime novels. As I said, though, I'm always looking for the historical elements to fill in gaps. With the stories of the Seminoles and Miccosukee, Deadly Touch doesn't disappoint.

Heather Graham's website is www.theoriginalheathergraham.com

Deadly Touch by Heather Graham. Mira, 2020. ISBN 9780778360957 (hardcover), 316p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book




Sunday, August 09, 2020

Case Pending by Dell Shannon

If you're interested in the history of crime fiction, you can't go wrong with the Library of Congress Crime Classics.The Library of Congress, together with Poisoned Pen Press, and editor/expert Leslie S. Klinger, is publishing books that reflect the history of the genre. Although I read many of Dell Shannon's books in the 1970s and early '80s, I don't know that I ever read Case Pending, the book that launched her police procedurals and the career of LAPD Homicide Lieutenant Luis Mendoza.

In Case Pending, Mendoza is called to the scene of a homicide when his sergeant, Arthur Hackett, suspects the murder of a young woman in the empty lot could be related to an earlier murder in another part of town. Although one woman still had her purse, and the other's purse was found in a separate location, the women weren't robbed. However, the violence done to the bodies, particularly the face, was similar. While these two cases are the ones that occupy Mendoza's time, his team is investigating several different cases.

Case Pending is a straightforward police procedural. However, it's the background and history of the book that is most interesting. Fortunately, that background is provided. According to Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, the book was first published in 1960. Elizabeth Linington, who wrote it under the pseudonym Dell Shannon, introduced Luis Mendoza, one of the first Latino detectives to appear in fiction. She goes on to describe him. "Independently wealthy and a snappy dresser, Mexican American homicide Lieutenant Luis Mendoza faces skepticism from his colleagues in the police force." Hayden reminds us that the book was a product of its time, a reflection of the culture that now has "outmoded language and stereotypes now considered offensive." It's important to recognize that this is a reflection of one location and time, while at the same time acknowledging that Linington was also a woman who had the courage to write more than thirty books featuring a Mexican American hero.

According to Leslie S. Klinger, Elizabeth Linington was the first woman to write police procedurals. She wrote four series under three names other than her own; Dell Shannon, Leslie Egan and Anne Blaisdell. The next books that followed Case Pending, The Ace of Spades and Extra Kill, were both nominated for Edgar Awards. Klinger says Case Pending is remarkable for several reasons. The author developed detailed portraits of the police in the story. Luis Mendoza's background as a poor bad who inherited money unexpectedly from a his grandmother is provided, along with his reputation as a gambler, an expert poker player, a sharp dresser who has a reputation with the ladies. Shannon also provides "a clear picture of the victims and their families". Third, she "was among the first to weave together multiple story lines into a tapestry of police activities."

If you read Case Pending in its appropriate historical context, provided by both Hayden and Klinger, it's easier to read the sometimes shocking stereotypes. But, those stereotypes are shocking because they were written, and accepted, sixty years ago. However, it's important to acknowledge the important contributions Elizabeth Linington/Dell Shannon brought to the genre. Library of Congress Crime Classics, with the cultural context provided by Hayden, along with the historical background, footnotes and biographical sketch written by Klinger, recognizes books that are important to the mystery field.


Case Pending by Dell Shannon. Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press, 2020. ISBN 9781464213014 (paperback), 240p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received a copy from the publisher, in hopes I would review it.