2024 Macavity Awards

The Macavity Award is named for the “mystery cat” of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats). Each year the members of Mystery Readers International nominate and vote for their favorite mysteries from the previous year.  Presenting the nominees:

Best Mystery
Dark Ride by Lou Berney (William Morrow)
Hide by Tracy Clark (Thomas & Mercer)
All the Sinners Bleed by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)
Happiness Falls by Angie Kim (Hogarth)
Murder Book by Thomas Perry (Mysterious)
Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday) 

Best First Mystery
The Peacock and the Sparrow by I.S. Berry (Atria)
The Golden Gate by Amy Chua (Minotaur)
Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy (Zando/Gillian Flynn Books)
Murder by Degrees by Ritu Mukerji (Simon & Schuster)
Dutch Threat by Josh Pachter (Genius Book Publishing)
Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon (William. Morrow)

Best Mystery Short Story
“Real Courage” by Barb Goffman (Black Cat Mystery Magazine #14, Oct. 2023)
“Green and California Bound” by Curtis Ippolito (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Sept/Oct 2023)
“Ticket to Ride” by Dru Ann Love and Kristopher Zgorski, (Happiness is a Warm Gun: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of The Beatles, ed. Josh Pachter, Down & Out Books)
“Pigeon Tony’s Last Stand” by Lisa Scottoline (Amazon Original Stories)
“One Night in 1965” by Stacy Woodson (More Groovy Gumshoes: Private Eyes in the Psychedelic Sixties, ed. Michael Bracken, Down & Out Books)

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery
Time’s Undoing by Cheryl Head (Dutton)
Evergreen by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Crime)
The River We Remember by William Kent Krueger (Atria)
Our Lying Kin by Claudia Hagadus Long (Kasva Press)
The Mistress of Bhatia House by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)
The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride (Riverhead Books)

Congratulations to all! 

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2024 Lefty Awards

Left Coast Crime 2024 presented four Lefty Awards at the convention in Bellevue, Washington on April 13, 2024. The mystery/crime/thriller novels must have been published for the first time in the United States or Canada during 2023, in book or ebook format. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (indicated in red)!

Best Humorous Mystery Novel
  °  Jennifer J. Chow, Hot Pot Murder
  °  Lee Matthew Goldberg, The Great Gimmelmans
  °  Leslie Karst, A Sense for Murder
  °  Catriona McPherson, Hop Scot
  °  Cindy Sample, Dying for a Decoration
  °  Wendall Thomas, Cheap Trills


Best Historical Mystery Novel
(Bill Gotttfried Memorial) for books covering events before 1970
  °  Cara Black, Night Flight to Paris
  °  Bruce Borgos, The Bitter Past
  °  Susanna Calkins, Death Among the Ruins
  °  Dianne Freeman, A Newlywed’s Guide to Fortune and Murder
  °  Cheryl A. Head, Time’s Undoing
  °  Naomi Hirahara, Evergreen


Best Debut Mystery Novel
  °  Lina Chern, Play the Fool
  °  Margot Douaihy, Scorched Grace
  °  Josh Pachter, Dutch Threat
  °  Ana Reyes, The House in the Pines
  °  Nina Simon, Mother-Daughter Murder Night


Best Mystery Novel
  °  Tracy Clark, Hide
  °  S.A. Cosby, All the Sinners Bleed
  °  Matt Coyle, Odyssey’s End
  °  Jordan Harper, Everybody Knows
  °  James L’Etoile, Face of Greed
  °  Gigi Pandian, The Raven Thief



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Agatha Awards for 2023 Titles


The Agatha Awards are bestowed upon crime fiction and nonfiction works centered on the mystery to be solved, rather than the violence that surrounds the deeds. This year’s awards were handed out in person in late April, 2024. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (indicated in red)!

Best Contemporary Mystery
“Wined And Dined in New Orleans” – Ellen Byron

“Helpless” – Annette Dashofy
“The Weekend Retreat” – Tara Laskowski
“A Case of the Bleus” – Korina Moss
“The Raven Thief” – Gigi Pandian

Best Historical Mystery
“Death Among the Ruins” – Susanna Caulkins

“Act Like A Lady, Think Like a Lord” – Celeste Connally
“I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died” – Amanda Flower
“Times Undoing” – Cheryl Head
“The Mistress of Bhatia House” – Sujata Massey

Best First Mystery Novel
“Glory Be” – Danielle Arceneaux

“The Hint of Light” – Kristin Kisska
“Dutch Threat” – Josh Pachter
“Crime and Parchment” – Daphne Silver
“Mother and Daughter Murder Night” – Nina Simon

Best Mystery Short Story
“The Knife Sharpener” – Shelley Costa in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, July/Aug 2023

“A Good Judge of Character” – Tina De Bellegarde in Malice Domestic Murder Most Traditional
“Real Courage” – Barb Goffman in Black Cat Mystery Magazine #14
“Ticket to Ride” – DruAnn Love/Kristopher Zgorski in Happiness is a Warm Gun
“Shamu, World’s Greatest Detective” – Richie Narvaez in
Time in San Diego BoucherCon 2023



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Irish Fiction and Mysteries – 2024 List

Bunratty Castle Farmhouse, Ireland

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, mysteries/suspense set in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day murders, or titles with Irish characters central to the plot. Some are modern classics, some are newbies, but all are entertaining reads. You’re sure to find a story in the updated list of 50 Irish Fiction & Mysteries – 2024  that you will want to read again and again. (Links included for bold titles)


Lisa Alber: “Path into Darkness

Maeve Binchy:  “Chestnut Street
Furlong-Bollinger: “Paddy Whacked
Ellie Brannigan “Murder at an Irish Castle
Verity Bright “Murder in an Irish Castle
Declan Burke: “The Lost and the Blind

Steve Cavanagh: “Th1rt3en
Sheila Connolly: “Fatal Roots
Kathy Cranston: “Apple Seeds and Murderous Deeds

Sinead Crowley: “One Bad Turn

Kathi Daley: “Shamrock Shenanigans
Maddie Day: “Four Leaf Cleaver
Frank Delaney: “The Last Storyteller
Dicey Deere: “The Irish Village Murder

Nelson Demille: “Cathedral

Peggy Ehrhart: “Irish Knit Murder
Patricia Falvey: “The Yellow House
Tana French: “The Searcher
Alexia Gordon: “Murder in G Major
Jean Grainger: “For All the World”
Andrew Greeley: “The Bishop at the Lake

Jane Haddam: “A Great Day for the Deadly

Lyn Hamilton: “The Celtic Riddle
Lee Harris: “The St. Patrick’s Day Murder
Erin Hart: “The Book of Killowen

Jonathan Harrington: “A Great Day for Dying

Mary Anne Kelly: “Twillyweed

Amanda Lee: “The Long Stitch Good Night

Dan Mahoney: “Once in, Never Out
Caimh McDonnell: “A Man with One of Those Faces
Brian McGilloway: “The Last Crossing
Adrian McKinty: “The Chain
Ralph M. McInerny: “The Green Revolution

Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, Barbara Ross: “Irish Coffee Murder
Catie Murphy “Dead in Dublin

Stuart Neville: “So Say the Fallen
Carlene O’Connor: “Murder at an Irish Chipper
Susanne O’Leary: “The Lost Girls of Ireland
Sister Carol Anne O’Marie: “Death Takes Up a Collection”

Helen Page: “Equal of God”
Louise Phillips: “The Doll’s House
J.M. Poole “Case of the Shady Shamrock

Janet Elaine Smith: “In St. Patrick’s Custody
Jo Spain: “Beneath the Surface

Patrick Taylor: “An Irish Country Welcome
Charles Todd: “An Irish Hostage
Peter Tremayne: “Blood in Eden
Kathy Hogan Trochek: “Irish Eyes

Eliza Watson “How to Handle an Ancestry Scandal
Traci Wilton “Mrs. Morris and the Pot of Gold


If your favorite Irish Fiction & Mysteries titles are not on the list, let me know and I’ll add them! Happy choosing and reading!


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Books of Note – July 2023

May and June brought more waiting rooms, surgery, and loads of sitting/lying around time. Here are a few of the books I’ve happily enjoyed instead of having to count the number of ceiling tiles.

“Burning Eden” by Sarah Bewley – Overworked and understaffed, Sheriff Jim Sheppard has three murders to solve while wildfires burn throughout the county.  A new doctor arrives in town and unwittingly becomes a factor in those murders. Bewley keeps us riveted in “Burning Eden” with a plot that delivers a surprise villain, a fabulous dog, and an annoying reporter as counterpoints to the wonderfully written, complex  lead characters. A ‘wow’ ending has me hooked and looking forward to a return to Eden County in “Frozen Eden.”  (Coming next year)

“Witch Hunt” by Cate Conte – First in the ‘spell-binding’ Full Moon Series, featuring Violet Mooney, crystal shop owner with mysterious, undeveloped powers she didn’t know she had. Murder, magical transport from spot to spot, reappearing relatives, unhappy townspeople, and other-worldly shenanigans, all play a role in this delightful series. “Witch Way Out,” book #3, is out now as well.

“The Midwife’s Touch” by Sue Harrison – Filled with wonderful descriptions of customs, food, and clothing of the period, this book combines the powerful stories of the prejudices people have against what they don’t understand, with the greed that overtakes their sanity. I turned the last page and was so disappointed that the book had ended. But, it is the first book in a trilogy, and to quote a line from the book, “We start from there.”

“Killers of a Certain Age” by Deanna Raybourn – nominated for multiple awards. 60 something,  lady assassins are betrayed and elect to get their revenge in the ways they do best. Wicked fun, clever twists. Never underestimate smart women. Ever.

“The New Girl” by Daniel Silva – #19 in the intense Gabriel Allon series. Throughout history, political leaders have made deals with the enemy in order to work on a common goal, each accepting that the other has special skills to achieve success. Now chief of the Israeli intelligence agency, Gabriel Allon is approached by a progressive leader in Saudi Arabia, a sworn enemy of Israel. They must work together behind the scenes to save the ‘new girl’ while preserving the stability of a more modern Middle East. Silva has created a riveting, complex plot, written in part because of the brutal killing of a real-life journalist as well as the deaths of more than 50 other journalists in one year.  Contains kidnapping, Middle East tensions, and the grim realities of negotiations with some not very nice people.


Happy Reading!



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The National Park Mystery Series by Scott Graham

The National Park Mystery Series, by Scott Graham, features contract archaeologist Chuck Bender, Chuck’s paramedic wife, Janelle Ortega, and Chuck’s stepdaughters. The contract archeological work moves Chuck Bender and the family to different parks each summer vacation, setting the scene for stories dealing with environmental, political, and social justice issues. Janelle lends her objective suggestions to help solve the mysteries, sometimes uses her paramedic expertise, and always displays a steadying influence on Chuck and the girls.

The series began in the Grand Canyon with “Canyon Sacrifice,” a resounding success as a debut novel. A kidnapping and a murder place the family in harm’s way on the Bender honeymoon camping trip as Chuck navigates parenthood and spousal responsibilities for the first time. Readers will be mesmerized by Graham’s imageries of the Grand Canyon and the achievements/artifacts of the ancient Anasazi Indians that Bender discovered on an earlier contract dig. Prepare to be swept into the world of outdoor recreation and the wonders of archeology in the West.

Book #2, “Mountain Rampage,” moves Bender and the family to Rocky Mountain National Park where he runs a college archeology field school. The book takes place over a three-day period, with murder and mayhem that involves his brother-in-law and false accusations, and plenty of adventure to go around.

Yellowstone Standoff,” set in Yellowstone National Park, has a hair-raising premise involving rogue wolves, grizzlies, and a murdered researcher. As always, Graham delivers breathtaking descriptions of the wild and puts the reader in the middle of the terrifying action. An exciting page-turner, and the Bender family is smack dab in the middle of it all.

Book #4, “Yosemite Fall,” brings Janelle and the older daughter more to the forefront of the multi-layered storylines, with a rock-climbing competition, a deadly reunion, and a contract to solve a 150-year-old mystery as the backdrop. Janelle and Chuck are the suspects in a present-day murder, and once again, the national park is a character in the book.

Arches Enemy,” the fifth entry in the National Park Mystery Series, is set in Utah, not too far from Graham’s home in southwest Colorado. What seems like a straight forward accidental death turns into something much more. An astounding archeological find that disrupts the known timeline of interaction between several Native American tribes, is threatened by a fracking operation, and the locals are being manipulated by an unlikely source.

The core characters have developed naturally with each book as Chuck and his immediate family respond to the unfolding narratives and explore their evolving relationships. The mother subplot in “Arches Enemy” feels like Chuck is trying to herd cats – words have no influence and she is going to do what she wants to anyway. Her effect on the plot will curl your hair and remind you how nice your own mother is.

In “Mesa Verde Victim,” Bender tracks down a murderer in an area of the park with burial sites and artifacts abandoned long before by ancient Pueblo peoples. The stakes are high and the landscape descriptions marvelous.

Canyonlands Carnage” opens with thrilling white-water rafting and introduces the reader and nature enthusiasts to the spectacular world of one of the nation’s best loved parks. Mystery, murder, and mayhem mix with history to provide another great read.

Book #8 in the series, “Saguaro Sanction,” thrusts the murder of a cousin squarely into the lives of the Bender family. Graham explores the southern Arizona National Park and its archeological mysteries while addressing the cultural impact of the U.S.-Mexico border hostility.

Graham’s books are especially topical given our real-world loss of national park acreage to (IMO) misguided earlier administration policy, which chipped away at the protected lands, potentially losing ancient sites, all for the search for oil and other energy sources.

The official launch date for “Saguaro Sanction” is March 7th. Look for it.  🙂
Please visit www.scottfranklingraham.com for more information about Graham and his work.


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Book List: Jessica Estavao/Jessie Crockett/Jessica Ellicott

Jessica Estavao is a talented, bestselling, award-winning New England author with several entertaining mystery series to her credit. She is one of the “Wicked Authors,” a group of women writing wicked good mysteries mostly set in New England. Take a look at the list of her books below and see if you’ve read them all. (Click on the titles to learn more about the books)


Granite State Mysteries  (as Jessie Crockett)

Her debut mystery in the Granite State series, “Live Free or Die”, was the 2011 winner of the Daphne DuMaurier Award for Mainstream Mystery, an auspicious beginning to her career.


Sugar Grove Mysteries (as Jessie Crockett)

The series begins “Drizzled with Death,” one hilarious romp through championship pancake breakfasts, maple syrup, and animals on the loose. Who knew that falling dead head first into a stack of pancakes could be used as a crime scene setting?

Drizzled with Death” – review here

Maple Mayhem

Sticky Situation


Change of Fortune Mysteries (as Jessica Estavao)

Jessie moved her next series back in time to 1890’s Orchard Beach, Maine, with a con artist and tarot card reader protagonist. Ruby tries to stay one step ahead of the law, while helping her straight arrow aunt keep her hotel. Great fun featuring an innovative female lead character.


Whispers Beyond the Veil” 

review here     



Whispers of Warning


Beryl and Edwina Mysteries (as Jessica Ellicott)

Jessie’s current series is set in post WW1 England and introduces the former Finishing School duo of Edwina, the conservative English character, to Beryl’s adventurous American persona. They reunite many years later in the quiet (or is it?) southern English village of Warmsley Parva when Edwina advertises for a boarder and Beryl crashes onto her property.

Beryl and Edwina, while culturally and personally quite different, are fond of each other even after years apart. They find that their distinctive talents help them wonderfully well in their new business venture, a ‘private inquiry agency’ that solves mysteries in the charming village, while earning them an income.

Ellicott has written a series that is both historically enlightening and entertaining, with the sometimes serious subject matter of the day woven into the story of the two women drawn together by economics as well as friendship. Beautifully researched, the books reveal societal views about women 100 years ago, and peek inside the quaint village shops that have survived despite the post-war challenges.

Edwina’s shrewd intellect and Beryl’s clever approach to the mysteries outwit lesser minds and create a few comical moments to save the day and befuddle the clueless. These two engaging, intelligent women will capture your hearts and minds as you enjoy these wonderful books.





Murder in an English Village” 

review here

Murder Flies the Coop

Murder Cuts the Mustard

Murder Comes to Call


Murder in an English Glade

Murder through the English Post

Murder at a London Finishing School” pre-order

Jessica Ellicott has a new series, this time set in WW2 England. Titled the WPC Billie Harkness Mysteries, the first book is out now. Beautifully researched as always, it features Billie Harkness, a female police officer. Find “Death in a Blackout” here.

Enjoy them all!






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