Crime

“Picked Off” and “Bad Pick” by Linda Lovely

 

 

 

“Picked Off” and “Bad Pick” by Linda Lovely, continue the romp through the never-a-dull-moment world of Brie Hooker, her aunt Eva, two wannabe boyfriends, and bff Mollye. Brie is a talented vegan chef helping her staunchly carnivorous aunt Eva, at Udderly Kidding Dairy, the family goat farm. Neither Brie nor Eva will ever convince the other to switch food lifestyle choices, but they love and support each other in all other things.

 

Halloween is near in “Picked Off,” and Eva has agreed to hold a fundraiser – complete with a haunted barn and costumes – to support friend and candidate for governor, Carol Strong. But, instead of happy check-writing, the fundraiser ends in chaos with a bloody pitchfork assault on a celebrity football player. Who did it and why? The candidate’s enemies pepper the story with kidnapping and murder, but the multi-layered plot also delivers stalking fans, fantasy football leagues, millions at stake, betrayals, and scandals that keep everyone hopping. This page-turner is inventive, with twists and turns and a pace that never slows.

 

In a great touch of realism, Lovely makes a point of Eva and Brie each doing chores on this working goat farm in both "Picked Off" and "Bad Pick." We see that no matter what or who is chasing down the culprits, there is a staff to be managed, the hours are long, and the animals are taken care of first.

 

Brie has inherited a house that she hopes to turn into her dream, a restaurant of her own. The plan in “Bad Pick”? Serve a tasting menu to restaurant critics to garner reviews and enthusiasm for her concept. Sounds like a good strategy, but there is a slight hitch: One of the critics dies after eating her food. What has happened? Who is to blame? Has someone sabotaged her plans or targeted the critic with blowback on Brie? Either way, the collateral damage is devastating.

 

In a parallel plot, Brie gets talked into holding goat yoga classes at Udderly Kidding. Goat yoga? You have to read the book to see how it works. I’d fall over laughing during the first five minutes of the first class, let alone be able to complete a downward dog position. But, locals in “Bad Pick” picket the goat farm when a misguided soul feels that playing with goats is a form of devil worship. Imagine what she thinks of an entire farm that specializes in everything goat?

 

Brie’s romantic life is mostly in her head, with fantasies that pop up on the page whenever she sees the two men in her life, a brewmeister and a veterinarian. “Picked Off” and “Bad Pick” each develop the relationships in unexpected, often hilarious ways – including a ‘no clothes off’ rule. Both are great matches for Brie. Big hint: I’m solidly in the vet’s camp. 🙂

 

Linda Lovely has written a thoroughly entertaining series, with plenty of warm, good hearted banter between the likable main characters, solid mysteries, and an expert blending of dramatic moments with comedy and cooking to lighten the tension along the way.

 

Here’s my review of the first book in the series, “Bones to Pick.” Read them in order: "Bones to Pick," "Picked Off," and "Bad Pick." Guaranteed to make you chuckle while you puzzle over the whodunits.

 

 

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Christmas Themed Mysteries – 2019

 

Christmas may be the most popular holiday topic for mysteries. When compiling this list, there were hundreds to choose from. Yes, hundreds. Do we, as readers, connect with the topic of murder at the holidays because our families and friends bring out the worst in us? Do the writers deliver a way for us to fantasize about doing in the dastardly boyfriend/cousin/landlord? Only you and your active imagination know for sure.  😉

 

If you are a fan of Christmas themed fiction, then this list of thirty-eight novels, novellas, and short stories is for you. The books were recommended by avid cozy booksellers, as well as NBR subscribers. Click on the titles to find out more about the books, then snuggle up with a great Christmas read.

 

Susan Wittig Albert: “The Darling Dahlias & the Poinsettia Puzzle

 

Gretchen Archer:  “Double Deck the Halls

 

Carolyn Ridder Aspenson + 10 other authors: “The 12 Cozy Mystery Carols of Christmas

 

Donna Andrews: “Owl Be Home for Christmas”  

 

Mary Angela: “Very Merry Murder”

 

Joy Avon: “In Peppermint Peril”

 

Laurien Berenson: “Wagging through the Snow

 

Leslie Budewitz: “As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles”

 

Ellen Byron: “A Cajun Christmas Killing”

 

Lynn Cahoon: “Santa Puppy”

 

Vicki Delany: “Silent Night, Deadly Night

 

Leighann Dobbs: “Grievance in Gingerbread Alley

 

Barbara Early: “Murder on the Toy Town Express”

 

Morris Fenris: “Miracle of Christmas Boxed Set

 

Beatrice Fishback: “Winter Writerland
 

Amanda Flower: “Premeditated Peppermint

 

Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, Leslie Meier: “Christmas Sweets

 

Jacqueline Frost: “Twelve Slays of Christmas

 

Daryl Wood Gerber: “Wreath between the Lines

 

Patrice Greenwood: “As Red as Any Blood

 

Carolyn Haines: “Gift of Bones

 

Victoria Hamilton: “Breaking the Mould”

 

Jo A Heistand: “A Recipe for Murder

 

Julie Hennrikus: “A Christmas Peril”

 

CeeCee James: “The Frosty Taste of Scandal

 

Miranda James: “Six Cats a Slayin”

 

Laura Levine: “Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge”

 

Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, Barbara Ross: “Yule Log Murder

 

Liz Mugavero: “Purring around the Christmas Tree

 

Nancy Naigle: “Christmas Joy

 

Gail Oust: “The Twelve Dice of Christmas”

 

James Patterson, Maxine Paetro: “The 19th Christmas

 

Anne Perry: “A Christmas Gathering

 

Summer Prescott: “Christmas Reunion Killer”

 

Karen Schaler: “Christmas Camp

 

Julie Seedorf:  “The Discombobulated Decipherers”

 

Jane Willan:  “The Hour of Death”

 

Sherryl Woods: “Christmas at White Pines

 

Happy Choosing! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Four Books, Four Genres for Fall”

 

Can't quite decide what to read this Fall? Here are four absorbing suggestions for your reading pleasure.

 

Racing
"Kiss the Bricks" by Tammy Kaehler

“Kiss the Bricks” is the 5th in the Kate Reilly Racing Mystery series, each set at a different major race track. This title refers to the tradition of the winner of the Indianapolis 500 kneeling down to kiss the yard of bricks at the finish line.

 

Kate puts in the fastest time at the first practice session at Indy, a feat done only once before by a woman (PJ) dead thirty years before, supposedly by suicide because of the stress of race week. But as the press would have it, Kate and the other woman become linked for all the wrong reasons. As if competing in the Indy 500 wasn’t enough of a challenge, Kate must fight against gender bias in one of the most male dominated sports events on the planet, prove that PJ didn’t commit suicide, and that she (Kate) is capable of holding her own on the track. PLUS, take care of her sponsor responsibilities, and deal with harsh realizations about her own team.

 

Except for actually being there, I have never felt so close to the track as when reading Tammy Kaehler’s mystery series. I was in the car with Kate as she strategically shifted through the turns, assessed the responsiveness of the car, and tested her limits as a driver. Kaehler gives us an intimate look inside the world of competitive racing, as well as the rivalries on and off the oval. If you love fast cars and have ever wondered what it would be like to do a few laps on the big tracks, read all five books and enjoy the mysteries as the pages fly by.

 

Kidnapping
"Say Nothing"  by Brad Parks

Books centered around kidnapping often involve important people with boatloads of money (or kidnapping insurance) who will spend anything to get their loved ones back. They become targets for extortion and blackmail, because of all that money or power. In “Say Nothing,” Judge Sampson’s twins are kidnapped and he jumps through hoops to keep his integrity, yet meet the never-ending demands of the kidnapper. In court, Sampson is compelled to rule in the kidnapper’s favor, but even that ruling results in an unexpected outcome. He and his wife despair of there ever being a positive outcome.

 

“Say Nothing” is a departure from the average kidnapping tome, with its jaw-dropping twists and turns, deceptions and lies timed so perfectly that Parks dares you to put the book down before finding out what happens on the next page. Spouses and relatives turn on each other in tragic ways, while colleagues are left in the dark about the judge’s erratic behavior on the bench. Can he save his children? Will he be able to continue to say nothing? “Say Nothing” is a barnburner of a book.

 

Senior Sleuth Cozy Mystery

"Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody" by Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross’ new series begins with a glorious look behind the scenes at a dysfunctional adult community with all its squabbles, jealousies, and competitions. Jane Darrowfield is hired to analyze the problems that plague the manager of Walden Spring. She is tasked to make suggestions to improve the toxic atmosphere before word gets out and sales completely stop at this gated housing area for the over 60 crowd. Jane’s observation right away: “Just like high school, with the cool kids at one table.”
 

Can the place be rescued from its unruly residents? More than one mystery is discovered, and when accusations are made, secrets are unveiled with tragic consequences. Real-life baby boomers will laugh at the shenanigans because after all, that stuff doesn’t really happen, does it? As a visitor to a few senior communities around the country, I can tell you (except for the murder) Ross’ descriptions and observations are spot on.  lolol  

 

Jane Darrowfield is a refreshing new protagonist, a little surprised that anyone would pay $800 a day for her guidance, but she has solid sleuthing skills and no-nonsense advice. She makes a rather good busybody. Toss in an unexpected romance for Jane along with great friends, and we have a terrific launch to the series. I can’t wait for the next book.

 

True Crime

"Unholy Covenant" by Lynn Chandler Willis

“Unholy Covenant” is a fascinating fictional (some names and details have been changed to protect the innocent) account of Patricia Kimble’s real-life murder in small town North Carolina. Willis, former newspaper owner/reporter, followed the Kimble case throughout the investigations and during the trial, and had access to all the major players. I was thoroughly engaged as Willis described what led up to the murder of this inconvenient wife.

 

Friends and neighbors of the victim knew that Patricia was madly in love with her husband well before they married, but Ted Kimble was a player. The marriage may have been the result of a wish to own a local business. “Marry the right girl, get the business" – Kimble’s friend and mentor promised.

 

But, there is more to the story and Willis skillfully lays out all the drama in absorbing detail, giving us a chilling look at the ways Kimble manipulated those in his life. He ruled his corner of the world by fear, lies, intimidation, and a bit of charm, taking advantage of the weaknesses he saw in the people around him. Investigations into the murder, arson, and burglary ring associated with the case revealed a greedy side to Ted Kimble, a preacher’s son, that was his eventual undoing.

 

Follow along as accusations, confessions, and hit lists are revealed in "Unholy Covenant," an amazing look behind the scenes of what is still a case that intrigues the public decades later.

 

 

 

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Macavity Awards-2019

 

Each year the members of Mystery Readers International nominate their favorite mysteries in five categories from the previous year for the Macavity Awards. The winners of this coveted award were announced at the end of October, 2019, at the Bouchercon convention in Dallas, Texas.
 

Mystery Readers International, Mystery Readers Journal, and the Macavity Awards, were created by Anthony Award winner, Janet Rudolph.

 

The winning titles are indicated in red.
 

Best Novel:

  • Lou Berney: November Road
  • Alison Gaylin: If I Die Tonight
  • Jane Harper: The Lost Man
  • Jennifer Hillier: Jar of Hearts
  • Naomi Hirahara: Hiroshima Boy
  • Lisa Unger: Under My Skin
     

Best First Novel:

  • Oyinkan Braithwaite: My Sister, the Serial Killer
  • John Copenhaver: Dodging and Burning
  • Delia Owens: Where the Crawdads Sing
  • Catherine Steadman: Something in the Water
  • C.J. Tudor: The Chalk Man
     

Best Nonfiction:

  • Laird R. Blackwell: The Metaphysical Mysteries of G.K. Chesterton: A Critical Study of the Father Brown Stories and Other Detective Fiction
  • Margalit Fox: Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer
  • Leslie S. Klinger: Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s
  • Michelle McNamara: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
  • Laura Thompson: Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life
  • Sarah Weinman: The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World
     

Best Short Story: (Click on titles in red for links to the stories)

  • Craig Faustus Buck:Race to Judgment” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nov/Dec 2018)
  • Leslie Budewitz:All God’s Sparrows” (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, May/Jun 2018)
  • Barb Goffman:Bug Appétit” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nov/Dec 2018)
  • Barry Lancet: “Three-Star Sushi” (Down & Out: The Magazine, Vol.1, No. 3)
  • Gigi Pandian: “The Cambodian Curse” (The Cambodian Curse and Other Stories)
  • Art Taylor:English 398: Fiction Workshop” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Jul/Aug 2018)
     

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery:

  • Dianne Freeman: A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder
  • Elsa Hart: City of Ink
  • Laurie R. King: Island of the Mad
  • Sujata Massey: The Widows of Malabar Hill
  • Ann Parker: A Dying Note
  • Charles Todd: A Forgotten Place
     

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!   🙂

 

 

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Book List: Lynn Chandler Willis

 

Have you read all of Lynn Chandler Willis’ books? Are you sure? Read on and click on the links to find out more about her terrific work.
 

North Carolina author, Lynn Chandler Willis, has been a professional in the writing business for quite a while, first as a newspaper owner/publisher/reporter. During that experience, she developed a keen eye for detail and for what makes people tick. She could sniff out a great story and her first book dealt with the real-life murder of the wife of a preacher’s son, committed by the preacher’s son himself in small town North Carolina. Willis attended the trial every day and did meticulous research into everything that surrounded that case. Twenty years later, the book is still being sold, a rarity in the publishing world. That book is “Unholy Covenant” (also known as “The Preacher’s Son”) and is the subject of an upcoming TV documentary about the case.

 

The Rising” won a Grace Award (review here)

 

 

 

Wink of an Eye” A private investigator tries to lay low in Texas and still gets involved in a case.   (review here)  It won Minotaur's PWA Best First Private Eye novel competition.

 

 

 

 


Tell Me No Lies” first in the romantic suspense trilogy featuring newspaper publisher/reporter Ava Logan  (review here)

 

 

Tell Me No Secrets” 

 

 

 

Tell Me You Love Me”  third book in the Ava Logan trilogy (review here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Periodically, Nightstand Book Reviews has a crossover post with www.kerriansnotebook.com. Ava Logan was a Visiting Detective with “Crime in Appalachia.” Take a look here.

 

Please visit www.lynnchandlerwillis.com for details about Ms. Willis’ appearances and updates on the books.

 

Facebook Author Page

 

*Book Covers and banner from Ms. Willis’ website and Facebook page.

 

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Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year 2019 – McIlvanney Prize

 

The Scotland Crime Book of the Year Award, now called The McIlvanney Prize, is given at Bloody Scotland, a premier conference for crime writers. Eligible authors must be born in Scotland, live there, or set their books there. The winner receives 1,000 pounds and the book is promoted for a year by a major bookstore chain in Great Britain. The winners of both awards were announced on Friday, September 20, 2019 and are indicated in red.
 

McIlvanney Prize Shortlist and winner:
 Breakers, by Doug Johnstone
 Conviction, by Denise Mina
 The Way of All Flesh, by “Ambrose Parry”, aka Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman
 A Treachery of Spies, by Manda Scott

 

McIlvanney Debut Prize Shortlist and winner:
 All the Hidden Truths, by Claire Askew
 From the Shadows, by G.R. Halliday
 Black Camp 21, by Bill Jones
 In the Silence, by M.R. Mackenzie
 The Peat Dead, by Allan Martin

 

 

Congratulations to all! 

Previous winners are noted below:

2018: Liam McIlvanney – “The Quaker”

2017: Denise Mina – “The Long Drop”

2016: Chris Brookmyre – “Black Widow”

2015: Craig Russell – “The Ghosts of Altona”

2014: Peter May – “Entry Island”

 

 

 

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Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards – 2019

 

 

Killer Nashville is one of the most popular conferences in the country for writers and readers and is held each year in the Nashville, Tennessee area. Established by writer and filmmaker Clay Stafford in 2006, the conference assists authors in the craft of mystery, thriller, suspense, and crime fiction writing. Stafford and American Blackguard, Inc. also work to further various literacy programs throughout the year.

 

As a part of both encouraging and rewarding writers in their varied fields, the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards are given to authors and their outstanding books published in the previous year. This year, the awards will be presented on August 24th at the Killer Nashville Awards Banquet. The finalists and winners (in red) are:

 

Best Action Adventure
Baron Birtcher  “Fistful of Rain”
Linda Sands  “Precious Cargo”
Robert Slayton  “Running to Graceland”
Mary Ting  “ISAN”
Jill Wallace  “War Serenade”


Best Cozy Mystery
Traci Andrighetti  “Campari Crimson”
L.A. Chandler  “The Gold Pawn”
Phyllis Gobbell  “Treachery in Tuscany”
Morgan James  “Quiet Fury”
Jill Orr  “The Bad Break”


Best Mystery
Delphine Boswell  “Unholy Secret”
Larry Enmon  “The Burial Place”
Allan Eskens  “The Shadows We Hide”
Mike Faricy  “Star Struck”
Alexia Gordon  “Killing in C Sharp”
Bradley Harper  “A Knife in the Fog”
Roger Johns  “River of Secrets”
Ann Parker  “A Dying Note”
Keenan Powell  “Deadly Solution”
Cindy Sample  “Dying for a Deal”


Best Procedural
Bruce Robert Coffin “Beyond the Truth”
James Doherty  “An Obscure Grave”
Amanda Feyerbend  “Girls of Summer”
Margaret Mizushima  “Burning Ridge: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery”
Saralyn Richard  “Murder in the One Percent”


Best Thriller
R.G. Belsky  “Yesterday’s News”
Timothy S. Johnston  “The War Beneath”
Thomas Kelso “Fractured”
Michael Niemann “Illegal Holdings”   (tie)
T.J. O’Conner  “The Consultant”
Rick Outzen  “City of Grudges”
Eliot Parker  “A Knife’s Edge”
Charley Pearson  “Scourge”   (tie)
Rick Pullen  “Naked Truth”
Dana J. Summers  “The Dark and the Dead”

 

Winners in other categories:

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
Maggie Toussaint  "Confound It"


Best Short Story/Anthology
Carmen Amato  "The Artist"

 

Please visit https://killernashville.com/2019-killer-nashville-awards-winners/?fbclid=IwAR1x_ for finalists and winners in the YA, Non-fiction, and Suspense categories.   Congratulations to all!

 

 

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