Cozy

Author Profile: Edith Maxwell

 

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Edith Maxwell writes award-winning short stories, has several series of full-length mysteries out and has been nominated for Agatha Awards in both the Short Story and Historical Fiction categories for this year’s Malice Domestic mystery conference. At this writing, she has eleven published novels since 2012 under the names Tace Baker, Maddie Day, and Edith Maxwell, with #12 due out next month. She is working on three more to be published in the near future. She is the one of the most prolific traditionally published authors I know and she is loving all of it!

 

I first met Edith at a Writers Police Academy conference in the Fall of 2012. At the time, she had just published her first Lauren Rousseau title, “Speaking of Murder,” as Tace Baker. I was hooked by the intelligent, worldly, complex female lead character. She attended WPA in order to research police procedure, and also gathered tons of information about firefighters and EMS personnel that she might use in future novels.

 

While following her career the last few years, it’s become apparent that solid research underpins all her books. Happily, combined with her own personal experiences, the result is richly developed backgrounds and storylines.

 

For the Country Store series, Maxwell took a trip to Indiana in order to investigate the setting, special southern Indiana phrasing (“I can’t eat another bite ’cause I’m as full as a tick”), and foods specific to the region. As it happens, she was also returning to the area of her grad school days and the site of a university packed with her own Maxwell family history. Friends of hers in the grad program had restored an old country store and turned it into a restaurant and bed & breakfast, the basis for Robbie Jordan’s ‘Pans ‘N Pancakes’ establishment in the series. In addition, Maxwell loves to cook and there are virtual cooking lessons woven throughout the stories as well as yummy recipes to be found.

 

Fun fact: my mom had an amazing collection of antique cookware, so when Robbie chats about the vintage pieces in her store, I can see the tools in my mind’s eye. Maxwell/Day’s details? Wonderful!

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The Local Foods series features an organic farmer as the lead character, and guess what? Edith ran her own small certified organic farm for a few years and that expertise infuses the series with effortless realism. Readers can pick up tips about what it takes to grow produce organically, both the pitfalls and the plusses, while enjoying the cleverly crafted mysteries.

 

The Quaker Midwife series is a project close to Edith’s heart. She is a Quaker herself and some of the history and the daily practices of the Society of Friends have found their way into this series. Maxwell now lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts where the books are set, and the local history influenced her short story writing. One of the short stories became the impetus for a 19th c. midwife character. Rose Carroll, the Quaker midwife, is perfectly placed to be a sleuth, since she gets to go where men (and the police) can’t in 1888, and hears all kinds of secrets that help solve the crimes. Beautifully written, “Delivering the Truthis well-deserving of the Agatha historical mystery nomination this year.

 

Click on the link to check out Maxwell’s YouTube video of a walking tour of Amesbury, Massachusetts. Maxwell is wearing an authentic self-made 1888 dress and bonnet while she conducts the tour and chats about the sites mentioned in “Delivering the Truth.” What a fun and terrific way to launch a series!

https://youtu.be/D-1BKTI9-f8 

 

Plus, as Maddie Day, Edith has a new cozy foodie mystery series, Cozy Capers Book Group, set on Cape Cod. “Murder on Cape Cod will be the first title launched in 2018. The lead character runs a bicycle repair and rental shop and hosts a weekly cozy mystery book group. My dad’s family came from the Cape, and I’m looking forward to reading Maxwell/Day’s take on the region.

 

So, how does she keep up this writing pace and still maintain the quality in her books? First, she is doing what she loves. She has a writing schedule for each day – mornings are the best for her – but when a deadline looms, she sometimes goes away for a few days on retreat. She turns off the internet so that there are no distractions at all and she can write from dawn ‘til midnight if she needs to. When slipping away to a retreat, Maxwell likes to take along comfy clothes, walking shoes, a laptop, a favorite pen, and an actual paper notebook. Oh, and of course, wine and dark chocolate.  :-)

 

Maxwell writes traditional mysteries with absorbing puzzles to solve, and appealing characters that engage us on every page. With strong female leads, fascinating details, and multi-layered plots, this is an author we want to follow, wherever (or whenever) she leads us.

 

Book Cover - A Tine to Live A Tine to Die

 

Read the review of “A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die,” (Local Foods series) here.

 

 

 

 

 


Book Cover - Grilled for Murder

 

Read the review of “Grilled for Murder,” (Country Store series) here (written as Maddie Day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Cover - Delivering the Truth

 

 

Read review of “Delivering the Truth” (Quaker Midwife series) here:-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Delivering the Truth" has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery. And “The Mayor and the Midwife” has been nominated for an Agatha for Best Short Story. Read the short story here.


Edith Maxwell is a member of the Wicked Cozy Authors, the New England gals that share writing advice and their own experiences every week at www.wickedcozyauthors.com. She also writes with Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors.

For more information about Ms. Maxwell and her many projects, please visit www.edithmaxwell.com

 

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Photo "Writer" taken by Patti Phillips

Other photos provided by Edith Maxwell

 

 

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“Grilled for Murder” by Maddie Day

 

Book Cover - Grilled for Murder

Robbie Jordan’s restaurant/country store, ‘Pans ‘N Pancakes’ has been open for six weeks in Maddie Day’s “Grilled for Murder.” Robbie specializes in selling vintage and unusual pans which double as decorations on the walls, but it’s her food that really packs in the locals for breakfast and lunch.

 

Robbie (short for Roberta) has agreed to cater a welcome-home party for Erica, apparently not well-liked by anyone except her own family. Even they’re not crazy about her. The party goes off almost as planned, complete with tasty food and more than a little drama between Erica and nearly everyone else.

 

Robbie lives in an apartment in back of the store and comes out to set up in the morning, only to find the guest of honor from the night before, dead on the floor. Next to the pickle barrel. When the barrel is emptied in order to look for evidence, I knew that I would never look at a pickle the same way again. Who killed Erica and why? Considering said drama at the welcome-home party, there is certainly no shortage of motivated people.

 

“Grilled for Murder” flows nicely between the mystery, the country store, the romance in Robbie’s life and the wonderful people that form the core ensemble. Her aunt Adele is the former Mayor, Buck is second in command at the police department and probably eats more than all her other customers, Phil is her dessert maker and close friend, Abe and his son Sean are new in Robbie’s life and will probably stay around a while. With their small-town friendliness and genuine support for each other, these are people with whom you’d like to spend a lot of time.

 

As the lead character in a cozy series, Robbie Jordan is a great one. Robbie is an athletic young woman, prefers to walk or bike if she can, wears colorful comfortable clothes, and has worked hard to live her dream. It’s her nature to listen and pay attention during conversations and she loves solving puzzles, so she’s a natural for amateur sleuthing. Her skills also include carpentry – she did most of the renovation work herself to get the place exactly the way she wanted it. Robbie’s knowledge and curiosity about vintage tools play an important role in identifying the killer and despite her petite size, she is no timid soul.

 

Maddie Day transfers her own love of cooking to Robbie’s character and we are treated to her techniques throughout the book, whether Robbie is in the restaurant or cooking for herself. I kept getting up to have a snack while reading “Grilled for Murder.” Cheese bubbling, fresh crust aroma, curried potato puffs with apple chutney, colorful coleslaw, cheesy biscuits made with eggs – yum. When reading Day’s step-by-step biscuit making, including the use of vintage tools, I ‘made’ the biscuits along with Robbie in my mind. All that is missing is the list of exact amounts and it is a recipe unfolding on the page.

 

In “Grilled for Murder,” book #2 in the Country Store Mysteries, there is more than one secret to be uncovered, more than one mystery to be solved. A jaw dropping discovery about one of the local business owners reveals the lengths some people will go to in order to protect/save those they love. With life behind the scenes in a small restaurant, and a budding relationship thrown in, “Grilled for Murder” has the right combos for an entertaining read.

 

“When the Grits Hit the Fan,” book #3 in the Country Store Mysteries, was published in March, 2017. Maddie Day is Edith Maxwell. Please visit www.edithmaxwell.com for more information about the Country Store Mysteries as well as Maxwell’s other series.

 

 

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“Fogged Inn” by Barbara Ross

 

Book Cover - Fogged Inn

“Fogged Inn” is the fourth book in Barbara Ross’ excellent Maine Clambake Mysteries series and has been nominated for an Agatha Award in this year’s “Best Contemporary Novel” category. Not surprising, given the opening. And everything after that. :-)

 

At 5 AM, Gus yells up the stairs, “There’s a dead guy in the walk-in!” and disrupts Julia Snowden’s work-exhausted sleep. The yelling continues until she joins Gus in the restaurant, ready to disprove this absurd idea so she can go back to bed. She enters the walk-in and sees…a dead guy. Julia is now fully awake. I prefer radio alarms, but that’s just me.

 

The dead guy sat at the restaurant bar the night before, but none of the other diners seemed to notice him. So, who is he? How did he get into the walk-in? The restaurant had been closed and locked at 1 AM after cleanup. Chris (Julia’s boyfriend and partner in the restaurant) would have noticed the leftover customer, so the body dump happened after then. The man has no ID, no bullet holes, and there is no blood on the floor. Aside from the why, how and where did the guy die?

 

During “Fogged Inn,” Ross presents us with a thoroughly entertaining variation on the locked room puzzle, complete with a cast of Agatha Christie type retirees who reveal their connections to each other over the course of the clever, multi-layered tale. To add to the intrigue, they had received gift certificates for the same night the dead guy appeared, but Julia has no record of who purchased the certificates. And, more baffling, none of those guests acknowledged knowing each other during the long evening.

 

As the story evolves and decades old secrets are exposed, the past overshadows the present. Dysfunctional relationships are uncovered, with unintended consequences and tragic events as the fallout. The more Julia discovers, the more items linked to the past start disappearing, and the greater the danger that surrounds her.

 

The wonderful ensemble characters return to enthrall us with changes in Gus’ life and in the naturally developing relationship between Julia and Chris. Julia’s childhood friend, the Police Officer Jamie Dawes, is involved in the investigation, Binder & Flynn return as the irritating State cops, and Chris’ talents are revealed in delicious ways. Family members drop in, lending support, and Julia’s acceptance into small-town living seems almost certain when she’s invited to join Sit’n’Knit.

 

Because the story takes place in the winter, there is no clambake in “Fogged Inn.” Happily, there is still a lot of cooking going on and wonderful recipes to be found at the end of the book. We get a look at what winter in a tourist town is like when all the tourists are gone, where the locals scramble to earn a living and gather at the local watering hole (Gus’s place) to trade stories. Julia and Chris share restaurant space with Gus, the lovable grump that owns and runs Gus’s at breakfast and lunch. Julia and Chris take over only for the dinner crowd, just for the off-season, as Gus’s Too.

 

As with the rest of the series, Ross blends hardy New England life and the mystery together beautifully, so that readers enjoy learning about coastal Maine, wonderful food, and our favorite people while the bodies pop up.

 

Congratulations to Barbara Ross for this well-deserved Agatha nomination for “Fogged Inn.” Malice Domestic attendees will vote at our convention at the end of April, 2017.

 

Read about Barbara Ross’ writing process (and more) here:-)

 

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Please visit www.maineclambakemysteries.com for more information about the series and Barb Ross’ upcoming appearances.

 

 

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“Whispers Beyond the Veil” by Jessica Estevao

 

Book Cover - Whispers Beyond the Veil - Jessica Estevao

“Whispers Beyond the Veil” is the first book in the Change of Fortune series. Jessica Estevao has penned a self-reliant female character who thinks on her feet in risky situations and when cornered, often chooses the path most likely to keep her out of jail.

 

Jail? This is no ordinary gal growing up in a quaint family business. Ruby Proulx is a con artist, who makes a living by taking money from the gullibles passing through the circus tents. But, even with all the flimflam miracle cures and tarot card readings, she and her father are just getting by, in part because he drinks and schemes the earnings away. This is 1890s Canada, and when a dangerous scam results in a death, and her father disappears, she flees south to Maine to an aunt she’s never met.

 

Ruby’s arrival at her aunt Honoria’s hotel is a surprise to everyone except Honoria. Happy to repay Honoria for her kindness, Ruby continues to use her skills with séances and Tarot cards to help her aunt’s hotel survive. A hotel that features ‘spiritualists’ as the main attraction.

 

But, Ruby is caught between skeptics who feel that Honoria is scamming the visitors and stealing their hard-earned money and a wish to have a home she’s never had before. She’d like to fess up that she’s a fraud, but telling the truth may only put her on the street or put her aunt in jail. What’s a con artist to do?

 

The characters are either sweetly oblivious to the cons, in on them, or working hard to expose them. A handsome policeman, a psychic investigator, bodies popping up, and peeks behind the scenes of a con artist’s life, enrich the story, but when Ruby becomes a suspect in several crimes, she must guard both her heart and her skills to escape the snares.

 

With an inventive main character and Old Orchard Beach as the setting, this new series is off to a great start and “Whispers Beyond the Veil” has been nominated for an Agatha Award. Please visit www.jessicaestevao.com for more information about the Change of Fortune books as well as her other series, written as Jessica Crockett, also great fun.

 

 

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Author Profile: Barbara Ross

 

Headshot - BarbaraRoss

Barbara Ross has been entertaining us with the Maine Clambake Mysteries since 2013, when “Clammed Up” was first published. “Clammed Up” received an Agatha nomination for Best Contemporary Novel, along with several other honors. Readers loved its engaging characters set in the world of Maine Clambakes and summer tourism. Let’s not forget the delicious murder that set the tone for the dastardly deeds in every book since.

 

Julia Snowden, the heroine of the series, takes a leave of absence from her venture capital job in New York City to help the family business get back on its feet financially. Instead of dealing with spreadsheets and inventory, she finds herself having to solve a murder that occurs on Morrow Island, the site of the Snowden Family Clambakes. A murder that occurs before a scheduled wedding and reception can get underway. The police shut down the crime scene – which means the Clambake – and Julia must work quickly in order to get the business open again and keep the bank at bay. And, we’re hooked.  :-)

 

The books are (mostly) set in fictional Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and Ross does a great deal of research to support each storyline – including the character of the island itself. The Morrow Island of the series was created in Ross’ mind –  not based on any one of the 4400 coastal Maine islands – but after the series was well under way, a friend sent her the link to an actual island for sale that incorporated many of the features she had invented for her stories. Check it out and see if your imaginings match the real estate photos.

 

https://www.clapboardisland.com/photos

 

 

In real life, Ross lives part of the year in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, with her family, but does not run an inn. Her mother-in-law owned the Seafarer Inn for a number of years, and when she retired, Barb and her husband bought it to use as a summer home. There are no paying guests anymore. Barb shared that she can be seen busily writing away on the big porch in good weather.

 

When asked about her writing process, Barb said:

 

“I am emphatically not a morning person, so I do the ‘business of writing’–answering emails, blog posts, etc. as I enjoy my coffee in the morning. I write in the afternoons when I'm doing first drafts and with revisions, I can pretty much work all day.”

 

Barbara contributes to two blogging groups: Maine Crime Writers and New England-based cozy writers at Wicked Cozy Authors. Take a look at a recent blog post from the Wickeds, where she chats about her thought process for Morrow Island.

 

https://wickedcozyauthors.com/2017/02/13/island-time/

 

One of the many fun parts of the series is the food mentioned in passing as lunches, dinners, or snacks. The recipes for these mouth-watering sounding dishes are included at the end of each book. Several were created by Barb’s husband, Bill Carito. I suspect that Julia’s hunky boyfriend’s wonderful cooking skills are patterned after Barb’s husband’s substantial talent in the kitchen.

 

One of my favorites is the lobster mac & cheese – recipe at the end of “Clammed Up” – which I’ve made several times. Yum, yum, YUM!

 

Barb suggests two “very Maine-y” recipes:

Lobster Deviled Eggs

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http://mainecrimewriters.com/barbs-posts/lobster-deviled-eggs

 

Pumpkin Whoopie pies, the official state snack of Maine.
BarbRossWhoopiePieshttps://wickedcozyauthors.com/about/grandma-snowdens-pumpkin-whoopie-pies/

 

With its multi-dimensional ensemble cast, perfectly wicked guest villains, wonderfully researched plot lines, surprises galore, and the always fascinating look at life on an island dependent on outside cash to keep it going, we are happy to read as many Clambake mysteries as Barbara Ross can write. Book #6 is “Stowed Away,” coming in December 2017. 

 

 

Please pass the lobster and blueberry grunt. Hold the bodies until after dinner, though. 😉


Book Cover - Clammed Up

 

 

 

 

Read review of "Clammed Up" here.                                                

 

 

 

 

Book Cover - Musseled Out

 

 

 

 

 

                        

Read review of "Musseled Out" here.

                   

              

 

 

 

  Book Cover - Fogged Inn                                

 

 

 

Read review of Agatha nominated "Fogged Inn" here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For more information about Barbara Ross, her other books, and appearances, please visit www.maineclambakemysteries.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Irish Mysteries – 2017

 

 

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St. Patrick’s Day will be here soon! For those of you that focus your reading on holiday/cultural themed books, the list below features Irish writers and/or mysteries set in Ireland. Some are modern classics, some are newbies, but all are entertaining reads. You’re sure to find a title in the list of 30 Irish Mysteries that you will want to read again and again.

 

Lisa Alber: “Whispers in the Mist”

S. Furlong-Bollinger: “Paddy Whacked”

Sheila Connolly: "Cruel Winter"

Kathi Daley: “Shamrock Shenanigans”

Frank Delaney: "Shannon"

Nelson Demille: “Cathedral”

Tana French: “Faithful Place”

Alexia Gordon: “Murder in G Major”

Andrew Greeley: “Irish Tweed”

Jane Haddam: “A Great Day for the Deadly”

Lyn Hamilton: “The Celtic Riddle”

Lee Harris: “The St. Patrick's Day Murder”

Erin Hart: “Haunted Ground” review here

Jonathan Harrington: “A Great Day for Dying”

Mary Anne Kelly: “Twillyweed”

Amanda Lee: “The Long Stitch Good Night”

Wendi Lee: “The Good Daughter”

Dan Mahoney: “Once in, Never Out”

Brian McGilloway: “Little Girl Lost”

Ralph M. McInerny: “Lack of the Irish”

Leslie Meier: “St. Patrick's Day Murder”

Stuart Neville: "Ghosts of Belfast”

Carlene O'Connor: "Murder at an Irish Wedding"

Sister Carol Anne O’Marie: “Death Takes Up A Collection”

Helen Page: "Equal of God"

Louise Phillips: “The Doll’s House”

Janet Elaine Smith: “In St. Patrick's Custody”

JJ Toner: “St. Patrick's Day Special”

Peter Tremayne: “The Devil’s Seal”

Kathy Hogan Trochek: “Irish Eyes”

 

If your favorite Irish Mysteries are not on the list, let me know in the comments below and I’ll add them!  :-)

Happy choosing and reading!

 

 

 

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“Custom Baked Murder” by Liz Mugavero

 

Book Cover - Custom Baked Murder

Kristan (Stan) Connor is back in “Custom Baked Murder,” this time with more furry friends in residence and a love life that is heating up. Kristan is busy getting ready to open her long-anticipated pet café, with specially designed display cases, and new ideas to make both human and furry customers happy. She has two new backers for the business – one she’s happy about; the other she puts up with in order to realize her dream.

 

Her mother, ever detail oriented and still driving Stan crazy, is getting engaged to the Mayor and the big announcement will be made at a blowout party at the groom-to-be’s house. But the Mayor doesn’t show, and Stan’s irritating former colleagues do – along with her former fiancée. Talk about cringe worthy events. Oh, and there’s the murder at the party. Certainly, a memorable evening. And not in a good way.

 

The murder victim isn’t well-liked, so the question the police must answer is not who killed her, but instead, which one on the long list of enemies got to her first? Rumors fly and suspicions drive wedges into the small community, with several misunderstandings and family surprises thrown into the mix. Kristan must shield her mother from the press, while trying to prove her own former fiancée innocent. The overlapping story-lines are intriguing and keep the pages turning in this well-plotted mystery.

 

Including old friends and enemies in “Custom Baked Murder” adds a delicious twist. Sometimes we hope that the oldies (but baddies) will fade away from our lives forever, or that they might have changed, but wham! There they are, creating havoc yet again when least convenient. Mugavero captures this dynamic perfectly as she delivers the multiple red herrings.

 

Mugavero has expanded the relationships among the ensemble characters throughout the Pawsitively Organic series, evolving them in a natural way as time has passed. One gem of a character is Cyril, the reporter. Anyone who has ever met a small-town journalist will recognize the dogged chase after any detail that will make headlines. His shifts between investigation and bargaining for information are spot-on. And, then we have Stan’s hunky love interest, Jake, who keeps proving why he’s one of the good guys. The sisters have a larger role this time and fans will love that the series has become an engaging family affair.

 

Never fear, dogs and cats play important roles, including when Kristan throws a fund-raiser for a K-9. Mugavero continues to show us ways we can help the real-life animals in our lives. Happily, “Custom Baked Murder” includes more healthy pet recipes. The blueberry biscuits look tasty enough to be people food.

 

Don’t miss “Custom Baked Murder,” the fifth in the highly entertaining series.

 

Read my review of the Agatha nominated, “Kneading to Die,” here.

 

Read my review of “A Biscuit, A Casket” here.

 

Please visit www.lizmugavero.com for more information about Liz and her future projects, as well as her continuing work in Animal Advocacy. :-)

 

 

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