Fiction

“Mardi Gras Murder” by Ellen Byron

 

“Mardi Gras Murder,” the fourth entry in the Cajun Country Mystery Series, stars independent Magnolia Marie (Maggie) Crozat, an artist/B&B owner whose family has lived in Pelican, Louisiana for generations. In the weeks before Mardi Gras, a torrential rain hits St. Pierre Parish, flooding all the towns and bayous in it, submerging houses and pushing everyone’s junk along as the water rises to find release at the Gulf of Mexico. The rainwater finally settles and wreckage is left behind, but so is the body of a stranger, found at the back of the Crozat property.

 

“Mardi Gras Murder” is enriched by its inclusion of how natural disasters bring neighbors together, whether to haul away debris or provide temporary housing to the newly displaced. This is no ordinary town, but a tight-knit community steeped in tradition that shouts to the world: “Mardi Gras will go on. Peli-CAN!” despite the flooding, the damage, and the dead body.

 

Maggie’s Gran comes down with pneumonia, so to carry on family tradition, Maggie is pushed to judge the beauty pageant in her stead. For a sick senior citizen, Gran wields an awful lot of power from that sickbed, a delightful plot nod that embraces older kinfolks as respected contributors to society. Maggie conforms to some of the Pageant rules to keep the peace, but shows us a different approach to showcasing young women, not with their lineage, but by demonstrating talent, brains, and showing them encouragement when needed.

 

Many interesting characters inhabit the pages of “Mardi Gras Murder,” and Bo Durand, a Pelican police detective and Maggie’s hunky boyfriend, fits nicely into Maggie’s circle. In a real-world subplot, the tension and misunderstandings between them deliver a nuanced look at how couples and blended families cope with difficult issues.

 

In this entertaining Cajun mystery, gumbo pots are sacred and locked in safes along with secret recipes. Maggie suspects she was second place to her dad’s black pot during each year’s preamble to Mardi Gras. Even the winner of the Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen Pageant wears a crown that includes a rhinestone gumbo pot in its design.

 

Happily, because of the internal Crozat family competition for the top gumbo prize, there are several cooking scenes. I could taste the fabulous seafood gumbo while it simmered on the stove, although I was pleased to see that Bo planned to enter his chicken and sausage version into the competition. There are as many kinds of gumbo as there are cooks to debate their choices, and Byron cleverly included that banter in the book.

 

Complete with yummy sounding recipes, there is lots happening in “Mardi Gras Murder.” It engages and informs us with local history and dialect while supplying us with more than one mystery to solve, more than one body, and more than one plausible suspect to investigate. Great fun!
 

“Mardi Gras Murder” has recently been nominated for this year’s Left Coast Crime Award (the Lefty) and the Agatha Award.  🙂

 

Please visit www.ellenbyron.com for information about her other books in the award-winning series.

 

 

 

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Author Profile: Fiona Quinn

 

Fiona Quinn and I met several years ago at a Writers’ Police Academy weekend held in North Carolina. We learned a ton, laughed a lot, and with a shared sense of the strength and power of independent women, hit it off. I knew that weekend, when she was demonstrating her high kick past an ATF agent’s ear, that she would bring an unusual range of experience to the written page. Her savvy heroines can do those high kicks and more to quell their opponents, while maintaining a softer side for the guys when called for.

 

Quinn is a three-time USA Today bestselling author, a Kindle Scout winner, and has been listed as an Amazon Top 100 author in: Romantic Suspense; Mystery, thriller, and suspense;  Mysteries, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.

She writes suspense in her Iniquus World of books including: Lynx, Strike Force, Uncommon Enemies, Kate Hamilton Mysteries, and the FBI Joint Task Force Series.

 

The Lynx books were her first series, featuring under-the-radar, 20 something psychic Lexi Sobado, assisting Iniquus agents.

 

 

Read my review of the “Weakest Lynx” here.

 

 

and my review of the fourth book in the series, “Cuff Lynx” here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quinn’s series, Uncommon Enemies, still has Iniquus crews providing the adventure, but features other members of the Strike Force that Sobado assisted in the Lynx series.

 

 

 

 

Read my review of “Relic” here.

 

 

 

 

She writes urban fantasy as Fiona Angelica Quinn for her Elemental Witches Series and just for fun, she writes the Badge Bunny Booze Mystery Collection with her dear friend, Tina Glasneck. 

 

Quinn is rooted in the Old Dominion where she lives with her husband and children. There, she pops chocolates (a LOT of chocolate), devours books, and taps continuously on her laptop with Little Bear (the beloved family dog) sleeping near her feet.

I asked Fiona what part of her day is her chosen time for writing. Her response:

 

“That’s an interesting question. Writing for me is much more than sitting down and tapping at the keyboard. In my mind, I am constantly writing. Everything I see and do; every person I meet; every conversation I overhear; it’s all fodder that I’m collecting. It’s all possibilities that I churn. My busy brain is constantly telling me stories. I’m involved in the writing process always. As to the tapping? I sit down in the morning, and I’m finished after I’ve composed two-thousand good words. Some days that’s very easy. Some days, I’m sitting there well into the evening working things out. I try to write every day once my research and outlining are done. I don’t like to take a break mid-project.”

 

Fiona’s favorite place to work is a small office at the back of the house. It’s quiet and private. When she’s editing, she prefers to be on her back porch amongst the trees. That’s when she’s biting her nails, hoping that she’s creating a wonderful reading experience. Nature keeps her company.

 

How does Quinn come up with her characters? “I usually know someone that reminds me of the basic character and that’s where I start. As I write and learn more about the character, the real person takes a step back. Through the story, I get to know my characters, what motivates them, how they respond to different situations, what makes them tick. I love this part of the writing process. It’s like meeting someone and then getting to know them as we interact.”

 

I asked Fiona why she decided upon paranormal as a genre in which to work.

“The characters in my suspense thrillers have backgrounds that put them in life-threatening situations. In my time as a counselor working with clients with PTSD, and in my experience with others, I’ve found that people who live lives on the razor’s edge, develop their sixth sense. In many of my novels I like to use this to enhance the storyline, giving me a new place to explore the human experience.”

 

Fiona Quinn has a number of activities she enjoys when not tapping away on the latest story. Her blog http://thrillwriting.blogspot.com/ has been super popular because of its interviews with experts in various fields of research, and her own personal forays that tie in to the action in many of her books. She chats about her experiences working with:

  • Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) part of FEMA
  • Medical Reserve Corps for Counseling (part of Virginia Department of Emergency Management)
  • Search and Rescue also part of VDEM

This involvement out in the field lends authenticity to the drama in all her series. If she lives it, the activity will most likely wind up on the printed page.

I’m delighted to say that Quinn has also guest-posted twice on www.kerriansnotebook.com as Visiting Detective Lexi Sobado.         

Quinn’s book, Thorn, takes place in Toulouse and Paris, France, both places she lived during her college days. One of the recipes she found wonderful was TART TANTIN – think of it as a kind of apple pie, but so much more. Here is her quick and easy version.

 

Fiona Quinn’s TART TARTIN

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

9 gala apples peeled and sliced, sprinkled with lemon juice

1 prepared pie crust.

½ stick of salted butter.

 

Preparation

STEP ONE – make the caramel

Pour a half cup of sugar into a non-stick pan over a medium heat. You can sprinkle some lemon juice over it if you like. Just let it sit and melt. As the sugar liquifies, watch it carefully as it can scorch quickly. Once it’s golden brown, quickly pour it into a pie pan. Rotate the pie pan to cover it with your caramel. This is a very quick move as the caramel will cool/harden if you delay.

 

STEP TWO – the apples

Peel and slice about 9 Gala apples and arrange them in the pan on top of the caramel in concentric circles. Cover lightly with aluminum foil and put this in the oven 425 degrees F. for about 25 minutes. The apples should be soft. Remove from oven. Slice the chilled butter and spread it over the apples. Cover with a round of prepared pie crust, return to oven and bake until golden, about 10-15 minutes.

 

STEP THREE – finish

Remove from oven. Pan will be very hot. Carefully turn upside down onto a serving dish so the crust is at the bottom, then the apples and the caramel is running over the top (similar to a flan)

Serve with ice cream (praline ice cream is yummy, so is rum raisin, or go with vanilla if you prefer) and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just downloaded “Thorn” and bestselling “Cold Red” and can’t wait to read them!

Please visit Fiona Quinn at www.fionaquinnbooks.com for more information about her series and links to the latest books.

 

 

 

 

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The Agatha Awards for 2018 books

 

The nominees for the Agatha Awards for 2018 Books (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The awards will be given to mystery and crime writers at the annual Malice Domestic conference in early May, 2019. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2018.


The Agatha Awards recognize the "traditional mystery," meaning that there is no graphic sex and no excessive violence in the writing. Thrillers or hard-boiled detectives cannot be found here, but instead, picture Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot at work.


Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!  🙂


Best Contemporary Novel 
“Mardi Gras Murder” by Ellen Byron
“Beyond the Truth” by Bruce Robert Coffin
“Cry Wolf” by Annette Dashofy
“Kingdom of the Blind” by Louise Penny
“Trust Me” by Hank Phillippi Ryan


Best Historical Novel 
“Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding” by Rhys Bowen
“The Gold Pawn” by LA Chandlar
“The Widows of Malabar Hill” by Sujata Massey
“Turning the Tide” by Edith Maxwell
“Murder on Union Square” by Victoria Thompson


Best First Novel 
“A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder” by Dianne Freeman
“Little Comfort” by Edwin Hill
“What Doesn't Kill You” by Aimee Hix
“Deadly Solution” by Keenan Powell
“Curses Boiled Again” by Shari Randall


Best Short Story (Click on the titles to read the short stories)
"All God's Sparrows" by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"A Postcard for the Dead" by Susanna Calkins (in Florida Happens)
"Bug Appetit" by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
"The Case of the Vanishing Professor" by Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)

"English 398: Fiction Workshop" by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)


Best Young Adult Mystery 
“Potion Problems” by Cindy Callaghan
“Winterhouse” by Ben Guterson
“A Side of Sabotage” by C.M. Surrisi


Best Nonfiction 
“Mastering Plot Twists” by Jane Cleland
“Writing the Cozy Mystery” by Nancy J Cohen
“Conan Doyle for the Defense” by Margalit Fox
“Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life” by Laura Thompson
“Wicked Women of Ohio” by Jane Ann Turzillo

Happy Reading!!!  🙂

 

 

 

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Mystery Writers of America – Edgar Awards 2019

 

MWA Edgar statuettes

Each year, the Mystery Writers of America honors the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television, published or produced the previous year. This year, on the 210th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, the winners of The Edgar Awards–2019 will be announced at the Gala Banquet held in New York City, on April 25, 2019.

                

Congratulations to all the nominees for the prestigious Edgars!  🙂

 
BEST NOVEL
“The Liars Girl” by Catherine Ryan Howard
“House Witness” by Mike Lawson
“A Gamblers Jury” by Victor Methos
“Down the River Unto the Sea” by Walter Mosley
“Only to Sleep” by Lawrence Osborne
“A Treacherous Curse” by Deanna Raybourn
 

BEST FIRST NOVEL by an American Author
“A Knife in the Fog” by Bradley Harper
“The Captives” by Debra Jo Immergut
“The Last Equation of Isaac Severy” by Nova Jacobs
“Bearskin” by James A. McLaughlin
“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
“If I Die Tonight” by Alison Gaylin
“Hiroshima Boy” by Naomi Hirahara
“Under a Dark Sky” by Lori Rader-Day
“The Perfect Nanny” by Leila Slimani
“Under My Skin” by Lisa Unger

 

BEST FACT CRIME
“Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge First and the Rise of Gay Liberation” by Robert W. Fieseler
“Sex Money Murder: A Story of Crack, Blood, and Betrayal” by Jonathan Green
“The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure” by Carl Hoffman
“The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century” by Kirk Wallace Johnson
“I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer” by Michelle McNamara
“The Good Mothers: The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World's Most Powerful Mafia” by Alex Perry

 
 
BEST SHORT STORY
Rabid A Mike Bowditch Short Story by Paul Doiron
Paranoid Enough for Two The Honorable Traitors by John Lutz
Ancient and Modern Bloody Scotland by Val McDermid
English 398: Fiction Workshop Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Art Taylor
The Sleep Tight Motel Dark Corners Collection by Lisa Unger 
 

 

BEST YOUNG ADULT
“Contagion” by Erin Bowman
“Blink” by Sasha Dawn
“After the Fire” by Will Hill
“A Room Away From the Wolves” by Nova Ren Suma
“Sadie” by Courtney Summers

 


THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
“A Death of No Importance” by Mariah Fredericks
“A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder” by Dianne Freeman
“Bone on Bone” by Julia Keller
“The Widows of Malabar Hill” by Sujata Massey
“A Borrowing of Bones” by Paula Munier

 

Please visit www.theedgars.com/nominees for nominees in the categories of BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL, BEST JUVENILE, BEST TELEVISION TELEPLAY, as well as the recipients of other specialty awards.

If you start now, you can read all the books before the Awards ceremony. Can you pick the winners?  🙂

 

 

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Barry Awards – 2019

 

Established in 1997, the Barry Awards are presented at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, to be held this year in Dallas, Texas. Voted on by readers of the Deadly Pleasures mystery magazine, the award was named in honor of Barry Gardner, an American critic and lover of great crime fiction. The winners of the Barry Awards-2019 will be announced October 31 during the Bouchercon Opening Ceremonies.
 

Congratulations to all the nominees for the Barry Awards-2019!


Best Novel
Lou Berney: "November Road"  
Michael Connelly: "Dark Sacred Night"
Allen Eskens: "The Shadow We Hide"
Craig Johnson: "Depth of Winter"
Mindy Mejia: "Leave No Trace"
Abir Mukherjee: "A Necessary Evil"


Best First Novel
Oyinkan Braithwaite: "My Sister, the Serial Killer"
Karen Cleveland: "Need to Know" 
John Copenhaver: "Dodging and Burning"
Caz Frear: "Sweet Little Lies"
James A. McLaughlin: "Bearskin"
C. J. Tudor: "The Chalk Man"


Best Paperback Original 
Christine Carbo: "A Sharp Solitude" 
David Mark: "Dead Pretty"
Dervla McTiernan: "The Ruin" 
Sherry Thomas: "The Hollow of Fear"
Emma Viskic: "Resurrection Bay"


Best Thriller
Jack Carr: "The Terminal List"
Dan Fesperman: "Safe Houses"
Mick Herron: "London Rules"
Anthony Horowitz: "Forever and a Day"
Nick Petrie: "Light It Up"
James Swain: "The King Tides"


Read them all before October and see if you can guess the winners.  🙂

 

 

 

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Top Ten Reviews – 2018

 

Lots of great books, talented authors, and legions of dedicated booklovers, combined to make 2018 another amazing year of reading. Whether discovering a new author, or returning to a tried and true favorite, the NBR interest was more than double that of last year. Our NBR international community of readers made their choices known for the 'Top Ten Reviews of 2018' in the list shown below.

 

Although not included in the ‘Top Ten Reviews’ list, the response to the 2018 author profiles (Sherry Harris and Jeri Westerson) proved that readers want more of this feature and we will happily provide as many new profiles as the schedule allows. Click on their names – links to books included.

 

Listed in alphabetical order by author (except for ‘Try Something New This Summer’), click on the links to read the reviews for the first time, or to enjoy them again.

 

“Try Something New This Summer” (5 different genres and authors) https://bit.ly/2IZIhU1 

 

“43 Missing” by Carmen Amato   https://wp.me/p2YVin-15v

 

“Circle of Influence” & “No Way Home” by Annette Dashofy https://wp.me/p2YVin-10Y

 

“The Trapped Girl” by Robert Dugoni  https://bit.ly/2DmiRia

 

“A Christmas Peril” by J.A. Hennrikus     https://wp.me/p2YVin-178

 

 “The Code” & “Black Ace” by G.B. Joyce   https://wp.me/p2YVin-14M

 

“Defending Jacob” by William Landay  https://bit.ly/2pJh5C6

 

“Bones to Pick” by Linda Lovely  https://wp.me/p2YVin-Z6

 

“Louise’s War” & “Louise’s Dilemma” by Sarah Shaber  https://bit.ly/2F73Pkx

 

“Scot Harvath Series” by Brad Thor  https://bit.ly/2IzvqYt

 

 

Warm thanks, everyone! May 2019 bring you many page-turning, great new reads.  🙂

 

 

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“A Christmas Peril” by J.A. Hennrikus

 

“A Christmas Peril” introduces us to Sully (Edwina) Sullivan, Theater Cop, a former active duty detective in Massachusetts. Sully is now the managing director of the cash-strapped Cliffside Theater Company whose troupe is about to stage the iconic Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. But first, she has to keep Scrooge from quitting, while holding her ex-husband and an old boyfriend at bay. There’s also the matter of the murders.


In the five years since leaving law enforcement, Sully has not lost her sleuthing skills, so when an old friend becomes a person of interest in his father’s murder and needs Sully’s help, she agrees to look into the circumstances. It turns out that every single member of the family is hiding something. With big money, romantic intrigue, and a large company at stake, there is plenty of motive to go around and no shortage of suspects.


Her ex-husband, Gus, complicates matters just by being around, but he’s a lawyer for the dead man’s family, so he’s hard to avoid. Sully still has a soft spot for him, though, and any guy that can make her toes curl can’t be all bad.


“A Christmas Peril” is an absorbing peek behind the curtain at the world of theater production. Costumes have to last for years, tech rehearsals take longer than I would have thought, and the battle for Arts money is a continuing challenge. One of the characters says while half-kidding, (paraphrased so as not to give anything away) “We can’t kill the star. His name is above the title and we would have to refund the tickets.”


Can Sully’s savvy skills save her former boyfriend and the play from disaster? Will she be able to keep from adding her ex-husband to the rising body count? And, what about the murders?


Hennrikus has penned a complex, multi-layered plot that delivers jaw dropping surprises. I could have sworn one of the ‘obvious’ suspects did at least one of the deeds, but instead turned out to be guilty of something else.

 

I’m looking forward to a repeat performance from the personable core group of characters – some quirky, some serious, but always entertaining. You can pre-order book #2 in the series, “With a Kiss I Die,” now. 

 

Please visit www.Jhauthors.com for more information about this Agatha nominated author and her other series.

 

 

 

 

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