Mystery

“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.

 

Kimble’s bizarre behavior after the murder, including accusations, confessions, and hit lists, did nothing to help his standing in the community. After a break in the case, Ted and his brother, Ron, were finally convicted of the grisly murder of Ted’s wife, Patricia, and are now in prison serving their life sentences for murder, burglary, and arson.

 

 

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Shamus Awards – 2019

Bouchercon, the largest international mystery lovers’ convention, was held in late October this year in Dallas, Texas. It’s a natural platform for several writing awards, including the Anthony, Barry, and Shamus Awards for excellence in mysteries. The Private Eye Writers of America’s 2019 Shamus Awards were handed out for deserving Private Eye titles published in 2018.
 

PWA’s definition of a Private Eye: a person paid to investigate crimes who is not employed by a government agency. Winners were announced at the PWA Banquet and are indicated in red.
 

Best Original Private Eye Paperback:
“She Talks to Angels” by James D.F. Hannah
“No Quarter” by John Jantunen
“Shark Bait” by Paul Kemprecos
“Second Story Man” by Charles Salzberg
“The Questionable Behavior of Dahlia Moss” by Max Wirestone

 

Best First Private Eye Novel:
“The Best Bad Things” by Katrina Carrasco

“Broken Places” by Tracy Clark
“Last Looks” by Howard Michael Gould
“What Doesn’t Kill You” by Aimee Hix
“Only to Sleep” by Lawrence Osborne

 

Best Private Eye Novel:
“Wrong Light” by Matt Coyle
“What You Want to See” by Kristen Lepionka
“The Widows of Malabar Hill” by Sujata Massey
“Baby’s First Felony” by John Straley
"Cut You Down” by Sam Wiebe

 

Best PI Short Story

  • "Fear of the Secular" by Mitch Alderman (AHMM )
  • "Three-Star Sushi" by Barry Lancet (Down & Out Magazine)
  • "The Big Creep" by Elizabeth McKenzie (Santa Cruz Noir)
  • "Game" by Twist Phelan (EQMM)
  • "Chin Yong-Yun Helps a Fooll" by S.J. Rozan (EQMM)

 

 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

 

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Halloween Mystery List – 2019

 

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 sixty-four titles in our updated 2019 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

Susan Bernhardt – The Ginseng Conspiracy

Bethany Blake – Dial Meow for Murder

Susan Boles – Death of a Wolfman

Lilian Jackson Braun – Cat Who Talked to Ghosts

Allison Brook – Death Overdue

Rita Mae Brown – The Litter of the Law

Mollie Cox Bryan – Scrapbook of the Dead

Anna Celeste Burke – All Hallows’ Eve Heist

Jessica Burton – Death Goes Shopping

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 – Henderson House

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

Lee Hollis – Death of a Pumpkin Carver

Carolyn Q. Hunter – Pumpkin Pie Waffle

Ellen Elizabeth Hunter – Murder on the Ghost Walk

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 – Haunted House Murder

Alexis Morgan – Death by Jack-O-Lantern

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

Rebecca Tope – Death in the Cotswolds

Diane Vallere – Masking for Trouble

 

If you’ve read any books in the Halloween Mystery List for 2019, please let us know what you thought.
 

Happy Spooky reading.  🙂 

 

 

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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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“The Gun Also Rises” & “Let’s Fake a Deal” by Sherry Harris


 

Sherry Harris has delivered two exciting new books in her Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series. “The Gun Also Rises” and “Let’s Fake a Deal” continue to follow Sarah’s life as a former military spouse who is (mostly) successful at navigating singlehood and establishing her own identity and livelihood.

 

Sarah Winston is a warm, relatable character and when she has moments of doubt, we struggle with her, weigh the pluses and minuses of her romantic choices, cheer her achievements, and groan when tragic/terrible events take over her life. She has a delightfully varied recurring support system of friends who lend texture to the stories and act as sounding boards. Sarah even has a serious ‘don’t-ask-what-he-does-for-a-living’ backup guy when needed in tight situations. We know that Sarah will eventually get through the latest challenge, but Harris creates a world so compelling that we enjoy every question, every impulsive move, and every ‘gotcha’ moment along the way.

 

 

 

In “The Gun Also Rises,” Sarah takes on her wealthiest client yet, the owner of perhaps the most extensive collection of mystery novels ever assembled. While Sarah appraises and prices the books, a treasure is uncovered – so valuable that people are willing to kill for it. Complete with scheming relatives, a stalker, a group of cult-like League of Literary Treasure Hunters, Sarah’s reporter brother Luke, clever plotting, and an original take on a famous real life missing manuscript, “The Gun Also Rises” surprises and entertains from start to finish.

 

 

 


“Two police cars squealed to a halt at the end of the driveway, lights flashing, front bumpers almost touching.” That’s the eye-popping beginning line for Let’s Fake a Deal.” Everything at Sarah Winston’s latest garage sale has been stolen from the actual homeowners and Sarah is arrested for being in possession of those stolen goods. Worse yet, the storage unit that contained the goods until the sale, had been rented using her credit card. Say what? Sarah Winston is the victim of identity theft.

 

In addition to that hot topic, Harris takes a look at sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the military in “Let’s Fake a Deal.” The decisions that women in the military must make – that men rarely face – are highlighted: report the incidents and face the innuendo and name-calling (and worse) while the case is adjudicated – or accept the objectionable behavior and keep to the chosen career path. Another timely theme, indeed.

 

Several great characters assist Sarah’s efforts to find the real thieves and to prove that her friend did not commit murder. Angelo and Rosalie are back and supportive as ever, dishing out advice and the best pizza anywhere in New England. Luke makes a brotherly appearance in tandem with another character, help comes from an unexpected source, and investigations reveal some astonishing associations – including a shocking link with the past. “Let’s Fake a Deal” includes an important romantic turn of events and if she can stay out of jail, Sarah’s future is hers to choose.

 

One of the reasons that the Sarah Winston series works so well is the importance of relationships between the characters. There are natural, warm connections that evolve with the storylines, that ebb and flow as they would with real friends and family. I come to the end of each book, wishing the next one was already at my fingertips.

 

Start with the first book in the series, “Tagged for Death,” and read them all.

 

 

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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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