Mystery

“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

BarbRossDevilledEggs

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                                

 

 

 

Review of "Fogged Inn" coming soon.

Stay tuned. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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The Hammett Prize – 2017

 

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The Hammett Prize is bestowed each year by The International Association of Crime Writers (North American Branch). The award will be given for a 2016 work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing by a US or Canadian author, in October. The winner receives the famous ‘Thin Man’ bronze trophy, and bragging rights.   :-)

 

The nominees for this year are listed below. Please click on the book title to find out more about the novel.

 

The Second Life of Nick Mason, by Steve Hamilton (G.P. Putnam's Sons) 
The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (G.P. Putnam's Sons) 
The White Devil, by Domenic Stansberry (Molotov Editions) 
Revolver, by Duane Swierczynki (Mulholland Books) 
The Big Nothing, by Bob Truluck (Murmur House Press)

 

Past winners include:

2015: The Do-Right by Lisa Sandlin

2014: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

2013: Angel Baby by Richard Lange

2012: Oregon Hill by Howard Owen

2011: The Killer is Dying by James Sallis

2010: The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer

2009: The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

2008: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos

 

Have you read any of the 2016 nominated books? Or the Hammett Prize winners from previous years? Now’s your chance.  :-)


 

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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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Greatest Love Stories of All Time

 

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It’s the time of year when bouquets of flowers fill the stores, the gift of a box of chocolates takes on new meaning, and love songs (and movies) fill the airwaves. Swoonworthy stuff, ya’ll.

 

Instead of creating a post about current titles that inspire hearts to flutter, I put out an open call for men and women to name their favorite Greatest Love Stories of All Time. Thanks to Mari Barnes*, Sarah Bewley, Leah Canzoneri, Kait Carson, Peggy Clayton, Joy Ross Davis, Missy Davis, Laura Di Silverio, Saword Broyles Ellis, Terri Gault, Courtney Carter Girton, Sherry Harris, Cynthia Kuhn, Joyce Laferrera, Marj Lilley, Alice Loweecy, Gary Miller, Sylvia Nickels, Debbie York Parker, Nanci Rathbun, Jeanie Smith, Ellis Vidler, and Lynn Chandler Willis for their wonderful suggestions.  *drawing winner  :-)

 

Books are listed in alphabetical order by title, and where available, links to the Greatest Love Stories are included.  Click on the titles and read more about them.               

 

At Home in Mitford” by Jan Karon

“Cinderella Story” by Wendy Logia

Come Rain or Come Shine” by Jan Karon

Dr. Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak

Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte

Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry

Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

Persuasion” by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen

Shadow of the Moon” by MM Kaye

Somewhere in Time” by Richard Matheson

Soulless” by Gail Carriger

The Far Pavilions” by MM Kaye

The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper 

The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks

The Princess Bride” by William Goldman

The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy

The Second Coming” by Walker Percy

The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough

 

Are you thinking romantic, weak-at-the-knees thoughts?

Our work is done.  😉    

 

Photo credit:  Patti Phillips

 

 

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Author Profile: Lynn Chandler Willis

 

VisDetLynnChandlerWillis6-16Shoot

 

Lynn Chandler Willis began her adventure with the public side of writing as the owner/publisher/editor/reporter of the Pleasant Garden Post, circulated in the Pleasant Garden region of North Carolina. The first issue came out in 1996, and the last in 2009. She “did everything but print it.”

 

It was during that (sometimes intense) experience that she covered a local murder. She sat in court, interviewed the participants as well as the family of the victim and was led to write a true crime novel, “Unholy Covenant,” also titled “The Preacher’s Son.” This murder in the small North Carolina town became so famous that it was featured on the TV show, American Justice, in 2005.

 

Her next novel was a distinct departure from her true crime writing. Willis’ inspirational book, “The Rising,” became a 2013 Grace Award winner for Mystery/Romantic Suspense. It was followed by another shift in focus, “Wink of an Eye,” a Shamus Award winner for Best PI Book of the Year. Willis was the first female recipient of the Award in a decade. The “Wink” series, with hunky Gerard Butler oops Gypsy Moran as the Texas PI, will continue – great news for Gypsy fans.

 

But, there’s more. Lynn Chandler Willis has written the first of three books set in North Carolina, “Tell Me No Lies,” with Ava Logan, newspaper owner/publisher/editor/reporter, as the lead protagonist. Sound familiar? Willis’ personal background lends wonderful authenticity to the newspaper scenes both in and out of the office. “TMNL” deals with ginseng poaching, betrayal, a love lost and found, and of course, a murder. (Willis promises that the book is not autobiographical.)

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Willis’ fiction includes children as major characters, ranging in age from toddler to teenagers. One of the things that won me over to her as an author is the genuine voices those children have, no matter the age. While it could be said that she draws on her considerable experience as a grandmother (two children and nine grandchildren) what becomes clear is that in real life she really listens to them – their speech patterns, their levels of anxiety, the realistic interactions with their surroundings – making for a completely natural read. It could be your kid in the room with Ava or Gypsy. Not an easy thing to achieve.

 

Ms. Willis said, “As for portraying the teens realistically, I wanted to be honest about how teens really are. I didn't want the kids to be flawless. They make mistakes, they make bad decisions, and they learn from them.”

 

Devoted to her family, Ms. Willis happily lives within a few minutes of all of them. A rescue Border Collie named Finn, has recently become a large part of her life, and when you find Willis on Facebook, photos of Finn demonstrate how happy the two of them are together. That tail never stops wagging. Lol  Great dog!

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When asked how she decided upon the Appalachian setting for the Ava Logan series, Willis said, “I see the area as so pure in a complex, yet simplistic way. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful, the people are multi-layered, and traditions run deep. The people are probably some of the most self-sufficient people you'd ever meet.”

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Lynn Chandler Willis trivia:

 

Favorite foods: Fresh, summertime veggies on a Sunday afternoon – homegrown tomatoes, fried squash or okra, fresh creamed corn, fresh, overcooked green beans (the way we eat them in the south), and of course homemade biscuits. After that, probably pizza. Thin crust with pepperoni and mushroom.

 

Favorite Music: Country & Western, with George Strait or Garth Brooks twanging in the background while she writes.

 

“Small towns, big characters” is the theme that threads its way through all her books. Click on the links below to read my reviews.  

 

Book Cover -The Rising

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read my review of "The Rising" here.

 

 

 

Book Cover - Wink of an Eye                                Read my review of "Wink of an Eye" here.

 

Book Cover - Tell Me No Lies

 

 

Review coming soon. Stay tuned.  :-)

Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Periodically, Nightstand Book Reviews has a crossover post with www.kerriansnotebook.com. Ava Logan was a Visiting Detective in January, 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

 

Visit Henery Press for additional information.

 

*Photo credits:

Lynn Chandler Willis & Blue Ridge Parkway – Patti Phillips

Bloody Footprint – Google

 

 

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