Mystery

Nancy G. West’s “The Plunge” – Guest Review by Kathy Waller

Guest Reviewer, Kathy Waller, joined us from Texas while she recovered from total knee replacement surgery. Coincidentally to the surgery she had won a copy of Nancy G. West’s book, “The Plunge,” in a Nightstand Book Reviews drawing and had then reviewed it on her own blog. I asked if she would honor us with her review, she agreed, and here it is, including her humorous take on her surgery and recovery.

 

“I had a total knee replacement two days ago. It isn’t as much fun as it sounds.

 

Lying in bed at Ascension Seton is delightful. Nurses are wonderful. The cafeteria is too good for my good.

 

But physical therapists won’t leave me alone. They keep showing up and wanting me to get out of bed and walk.

 

The one who came in the morning after surgery asked if I was ready to get up and move. I said I never wanted to get up and move again. That was the wrong answer.

 

The afternoon PT had me walk halfway to El Paso. And back. He taught me–or tried to teach–me to use the two-wheeled walker (as opposed to the four-wheeler I’ve been using). (In British literature, two-wheeled walkers are referred to by the brand name, Zimmer frames. The phrase sounds so sophisticated that I may adopt it.)

 

This morning I walked to Santa Fe. The pain people had awakened me at eight and I said I had no pain. After the walk, I told the nurse to tell them I’d changed my mind. She gave me something to go with the something I’d already had. They’re free with the pain meds, which I appreciate.

 

I hope to go to inpatient rehab. Doctors are on board. I’m convinced going straight home would be a recipe for a fall, considering I have to have someone with me every time I stand and walk. And for transport home, they’ll have to tie me to the top of the car. The knee bends a bit but on a good day it doesn’t like to get in and out of the car.

 

But enough of my griping. I’m fine.

 

Because I have a killer painkiller–a new book. A book book, paper and everything.

 

I won it in a drawing from Nightstand Book Reviews.

 

Nightstand Book Reviews is, in its own words, a site devoted to reviews of books that are great reads. Under this umbrella are books written by bestselling authors as well as by debut novelists in both ebook and paper format. Some are traditionally published authors and some are indies.

 

It’s for recommendations, not rants.

Now to my new book. It’s The Plunge by Nancy G. West, author of the
Aggie Mundeen mysteries. Aggie and her good (very good) friend, Sam
Vanderhoven, live in San Antonio, where Sam is a detective with the police
force. Aggie’s penchant for helping Sam with his cases sometimes gets in his
way–at least he thinks so–but that doesn’t discourage Aggie. She’s willing to stay out of his business, but when she thinks she can help . . . and she’s impulsive . . . and when she has the opportunity to check out a new acquaintance’s medicine cabinet . . . impulsive or not, she’s a pretty good amateur detective.

 

The Plunge takes Aggie in a new direction–away from San Antonio, east about thirty miles to the Guadalupe River in Central Texas. When the Guadalupe floods, the effects can be disastrous, especially for people living nearby. And when there’s so much rain that surrounding creeks, and sometimes even the San Antonio River, overflow, results are devastating for miles around. That happened in 1998.

It’s in October of 1998 that Aggie and Sam plan a getaway at the home of Sam’s friend on Lake Placid, one of the river’s several lakes, ostensibly for pleasure but really so Sam can quietly investigate the disappearance of his friend’s boat. Even a little rain won’t ruin the retreat. But the pleasure weekend quickly turns into a rapid–critical–evacuation. Sam has left Aggie at the cottage to start his investigation and must reach her before the water does. Car motors stall, and at one time Aggie is looking for trees to climb.

 

Complicating things is that while on the water, in the dark, they see something–a drowning? Or a murder? Now there’s more than a missing boat to investigate.

 

As they say in fourth-grade book reports, if you want to know how the story ends, you’ll have to read the book. It’s a good one.

 

The Plunge touches me personally because I drove across the Guadalupe River near Lake Placid nearly every working day for twenty-eight years. I worked with people who lost everything, one whose house floated off its foundation. Another, who lived west near San Antonio, watched a car almost wash away on Interstate 10; her son raced to pull it out with a tractor, and the tractor floated. Even where I lived, thirty miles east of the Guadalupe on a smaller, quieter river, houses flooded, and several people were airlifted out.

 

Using this setting, Nancy G. West combines a first-rate mystery with the urgency and personal toll of the ’98 flood. The Plunge makes for a suspenseful read.

 

 

Please visit Kathy Waller at https://kathywaller1.com/ where she “tells the truth, mainly,” and shares information about her own writing life and her award winning books.

Many thanks to Kathy for sharing her review and best wishes for a speedy recovery!

 

 

Halloween Mystery List – 2021

Halloween will be here before you know it and if you’d like to pick up a fun read with a seasonal theme, here are seventy-eight titles in our updated 2021 Halloween Mystery List. Some have been around for ages, but others have recently been published or re-published. There are dozens more books with a Halloween theme, so if your favorite is not on the list, please let us know the title and author in the comments.

Click on the bold titles to read more about the individual books.


Stacey Alabaster – The Pumpkin Killer
Susan Wittig Albert – Witches’ Bane
Ritter Ames and 8 others – Midnight Mysteries: Nine Cozy Tales
Gretchen Archer – Double Jinx


Laurien Berenson – Howloween Murder
Susan Bernhardt – The Ginseng Conspiracy
Morgana Best – The Halloween Time Spell
Bethany Blake – Dial Meow for Murder
Susan Boles – Death of a Wolfman
Ginger Bolton –Boston Scream Murder
Lilian Jackson Braun – Cat Who Talked to Ghosts
Christin Brecher – 15 Minutes of Flame
Allison Brook – Death Overdue
Rita Mae Brown – The Litter of the Law
Catherine Bruns – Dessert Is the Bomb
Mollie Cox Bryan – Scrapbook of the Dead
Anna Celeste Burke – All Hallows’ Eve Heist
Jessica Burton – Death Goes Shopping
Ellen Byron – Murder in the Bayou Boneyard


Nora Charles – Death with an Ocean View
Laura Childs – Frill Kill
Agatha Christie – The Hallowe’en Party
Susan Rogers Cooper – Not in My Backyard

E.J. Copperman – Night of the Living Deed
Maya Corrigan – Crypt Suzette

Kathy Cranston – Pumpkins are Murder

Isis Crawford – A Catered Costume Party

James J. Cudney – Haunted House Ghost


Kathi Daley – The Inn at Holiday Bay

Kim Davis – Cake Popped Off

Krista Davis – Murder Outside the Lines


Jana Deleon – Swamp Spook
Steve Demaree – Murder on Halloween
Carole Nelson Douglas – Cat with an Emerald Eye


Janet Evanovich – Plum Spooky
Sharon Farrow – Mulberry Mischief
Connie Feddersen – Dead in the Pumpkin Patch

Vickie Fee – It’s Your Party, Die If You Want To

Honora Finkelstein – The Lawyer Who Died Trying

‘Jessica Fletcher’ & Donald Bain – Trick or Treachery


Eva Gates – The Spook in the Stacks

Daryl Wood Gerber (aka Avery Aames) – Stirring the Plot

Sarah Graves – Nail Biter


Carolyn Haines – Hallowed Bones

Ellen Hart – Sweet Poison

Julia Henry – Digging Up the Remains

Lee Hollis – Death of a Wicked Witch

Carolyn Q. Hunter – Pumpkin Pie Waffle

Ellen Elizabeth Hunter – Murder on the Ghost Walk


Liz Ireland – Mrs. Claus and the Halloween Homicide
Sybil Johnson – Designed for Haunting

Daniel Judson – The Violet Hour

Heather Justesen – Muffins & Murder


Jenny Kales – A Stew to A Kill

Andrew Klavan – The Animal Hour

Cynthia Kuhn – The Spirit in Question


Joyce & Jim Lavene – Ghastly Glass

James Lilley – Death Knocks Twice

Linda Lovely – Picked Off

Alice Loweecey The Clock Strikes Nun


Karen MacInerney – Deadly Brew

Ed McBain – Tricks: an 87th Precinct Mystery

Jenn McKinlay – Dark Chocolate Demise

G.A. McKevett – Poisoned Tarts

Leslie Meier – Wicked Witch Murder

Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, Barbara Ross – Halloween Party Murder
Alexis Morgan – Death by Jack-O-Lantern

Lynn Morrison – Stakes and Spells

Mandy Morton – Cat Among the Pumpkins

Liz Mugavero – A Biscuit, a Casket

Julie Mulhern – Send in the Clowns


Katie Penryn – The Witch Who Hated Halloween

Leigh Perry – The Skeleton Haunts a House

Summer Prescott & 7 others – A Very Cozy Halloween


Rachael Stapleton – Black Cats, Corpses and the Pumpkin Pantry

Rebecca Tope – Death in the Cotswolds

Diane Vallere – Masking for Trouble

Kirsten Weiss – Gourd to Death

 

If you’ve read any books in the Halloween Mystery List for 2021, please let us know what you thought.

Happy Spooky reading!

Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year 2021 – McIlvanney Prize

Bloody Scotland Debut Prize for Crime Novel of the Year:

In 2019, Bloody Scotland introduced a new prize, the Bloody Scotland Scottish Crime Debut of the Year. To qualify for the award, the book must either be written by an author that was born or lives there, or is set in Scotland. The winner is awarded a cheque of £500 and a trophy sponsored by Glencairn Glass.

Introducing this year’s exciting finalists, with the winner indicated in red:

The Silent Daughter by Emma Christie

No Harm Done by Alistair Liddle

Edge of the Grave by Robbie Morrison

Waking the Tiger by Mark Wightman

 

The McIlvanney Prize is Bloody Scotland’s annual prize awarded to the Best Scottish Crime Book of the Year. As with the Debut novel award, authors must either be born or have lived in Scotland, and their book must be set in Scotland. The winner of The McIlvanney Prize will receive £1,000 and a Glencairn trophy.

Here are the finalists, with the winner indicated in red:

The Silent Daughter, Emma Christie

The Coffinmaker’s Garden, Stuart MacBride

Edge of the Grave, Robbie Morrison

The April Dead, Alan Parks

Hyde, Craig Russell

Congratulations to all!

 

 

 

Ellen Byron’s “Cajun Kiss of Death,” and the Cajun Country Mystery Series

Ellen Byron, the Agatha Award winning author of the Cajun Country Mysteries, recently launched the thoroughly entertaining seventh book in the series, “Cajun Kiss of Death.” There’s never a dull moment in Maggie Crozat’s family, and a triple wedding at the beginning pulls out all the stops.

 

Great food has always been a part of the series, and as a result, favorite regional dishes frequently simmer on the stove at the Crozat Plantation B&B. Happily, Byron shares a few of the featured special recipes. I have my eye on the calas recipe in “Cajun Kiss of Death.” It’s a rice ball that has been deep fried and rolled in sugar or syrup. It promises to be a yummy breakfast treat or afternoon snack with coffee or tea.

 

In “Cajun Kiss of Death,” oysters are selling at rock bottom prices at a new restaurant, forcing established local eateries to struggle to stay afloat. Maggie’s mother, Ninette, discovers that a celebrity chef re-created her signature recipe to sell in his own place. Say what? Are the two actions related? Neither piece of underhandedness wins any friends and the chef winds up deader than a week old crayfish. Nin is one of the suspects he betrayed, but with rival restaurateurs, disgruntled ex-wives, sou chefs, and flamboyant cooks in the mix, there’s no shortage of people to investigate.

 

Each of the series books has featured a believable and often topical theme. “Mardi Gras Murder” gave a nod to the real life area’s resiliency after Katrina and other crushing storms leveled surrounding New Orleans neighborhoods. Pelican is no ordinary town, but a tight-knit community steeped in tradition, a solid theme often repeated. 

 

The series has engaged us with extensive local history through the well-developed plots and an eclectic cast from New Orleans culture. We have witnessed the grit needed to keep the family business going throughout hurricanes, cash flow challenges, less than honest outside influences, and even a pandemic. There is a special warmth and depth to the characters and we can’t help but recognize our own favorite relatives in Byron’s books.

 

Books in Order:
Click on the titles for the ‘buy’ links.

Plantation Shudders
Body on the Bayou
Cajun Christmas Killing

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the review for “Mardi Gras Murder” here.

Fatal Cajun Festival
Murder in the Bayou Boneyard
Cajun Kiss of Death

 

Wonderful series. Get them all.

Please visit www.ellenbyron.com for information about her other books in the series, as well as her new projects.

 

2021 Anthony Awards

Bouchercon is an annual conference named after Anthony Boucher, a mystery author and critic who helped found the Mystery Writers of America. This event honors various segments of the mystery and crime fiction community. Take a look at the nominees and the winners for the coveted Anthony Awards. The winners (indicated in red) were announced during virtual BoucherCon in August.

Best Hardcover Novel

  • What You Don’t See – Tracy Clark
  • Blacktop Wasteland – S.A. Cosby
  • Little Secrets – Jennifer Hillier
  • And Now She’s Gone – Rachel Howzell Hall
  • The First to Lie – Hank Phillippi Ryan
     

Best First Novel

  • Derailed – Mary Keliikoa
  • Murder in Old Bombay – Nev March
  • Murder at the Mena House – Erica Ruth Neubauer
  • The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman
  • Winter Counts – David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Best Paperback Original/E-Book/Audiobook Original Novel

  • ​The Fate of a Flapper – Susanna Calkins
  • When No One is Watching – Alyssa Cole
  • Unspeakable Things – Jess Lourey
  • The Lucky One – Lori Rader-Day
  • Dirty Old Town – Gabriel Valjan

Best Short Story

  • “Dear Emily Etiquette” – Barb Goffman – EQMM – Dell Magazines
  • “90 Miles” – Alex Segura – Both Sides: Stories From the Border – Agora Books
  • “The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74” – Art Taylor – AHMM (Jan-Feb) – Dell Magazines
  • “Elysian Fields” – Gabriel Valjan – California Schemin’ – Wildside Press
  • “The Twenty-Five Year Engagement” – James W. Ziskin – In League with Sherlock Holmes – Pegasus Crime

Best Juvenile/Young Adult

  • Midnight at the Barclay Hotel – Fleur Bradley
  • Premeditated Myrtle – Elizabeth C. Bunce
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington – Janae Marks
  • Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco – Richie Narvaez
  • Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall – Alex Segura

Best Anthology or Collection

  • Shattering Glass: A Nasty Woman Press Anthology – Heather Graham, ed.
  • Both Sides: Stories from the Border – Gabino Iglesias, ed.
  • Noiryorican – Richie Narvaez
  • The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell – Josh Pachter, ed.
  • California Schemin’ – Art Taylor. ed.
  • Lockdown: Stories of Crime, Terror, and Hope During a Pandemic – Nick Kolakowski and Steve Weddle, eds.

 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

Macavity Awards – 2021

The Macavity Awards are nominated by members and friends of Mystery Readers International, and subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal. Normally presented at BoucherCon, the 2021 Macavity winners were announced prior to the virtual presentation in late August, due to Covid. BoucherCon New Orleans is being postponed until 2025.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (indicated in red).

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

Best Novel 
“Before She Was Helen” by Caroline B. Cooney
“Blacktop Wasteland” by S.A. Cosby
“Blind Vigil” by Matt Coyle  
“All the Devils Are Here” by Louise Penny
“These Women” by Ivy Pochoda  
“When She Was Good” by Michael Robotham

 

Best First 
“Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line” by Deepa Anappara  
“Murder in Old Bombay” by Nev March  
“The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman  
“Winter Counts” by David Heska Wanbli Weider  
“Darling Rose Gold” by Stephanie Wrobel

 

Best Short Story 
“Dear Emily Etiquette” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Sept/Oct 2020) 
“The Boy Detective & The Summer of ‘74” by Art Taylor (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Jan/Feb 2020) 
“Elysian Fields” by Gabriel Valjan (California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology, edited by Art Taylor; Wildside Press) 
“Dog Eat Dog” by Elaine Viets (The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell, edited by Josh Pachter; Untreed Reads Publishing) 
“The Twenty-Five Year Engagement,” by James W. Ziskin (In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon, edited by Laurie R. King; Pegasus Crime)

 

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery 
“The Last Mrs. Summers” by Rhys Bowen  
“The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne” by Elsa Hart
“The Turning Tide” by Catriona McPherson
“Mortal Music” by Ann Parker  
“The Mimosa Tree Mystery” by Ovidia Yu
“Turn to Stone” by James Ziskin

2021 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards

From the Killer Nashville site:We believe all engaging stories have three elements: mystery, thriller, and suspense. Since 2008, the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards have recognized the best stories from the previous year told through various media utilizing the elements of mystery, thriller, and/or suspense. Judges are professional writers, book reviewers, librarians, academics, and—in specialized cases—specific industry peers. Focus is on quality, not popularity.”

 

Congratulations to this year’s winners!

 

BEST ACTION ADVENTURE   The Crow’s Nest / Richard Meredith

BEST COMEDY   Con Me Once / J. L. Delozier

BEST COZY   Rose by Any Other Name / Becki Willis

BEST HISTORICAL   The Lost Wisdom of the Magi / Susie Helme

BEST INVESTIGATOR    Within Plain Sight / Bruce Robert Coffin

BEST JUVENILE / Y.A.   Irish Town / Matthew John Meagher

BEST MYSTERY   Code Gray / Benny Sims

BEST NONFICTION   Words Whispered in Water / Sandy Rosenthal

BEST SCI-FI / FANTASY   Odyssey Tale / Cody Schlegel

BEST SHORT STORY COLLECTION   Couch Detective Book 2 / James Glass

BEST SUPERNATURAL   Borrowed Memories / Christine Mager Wevik

BEST SUSPENSE   Ring of Conspiracy / J. Robert Kinney

BEST THRILLER   The Divine Devils / R. Weir

 

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