Mystery

“Wheels Up – a novel of Drugs, Cartels, and Survival” by Jeanine Kitchel

 

“Wheels Up – a novel of Drugs, Cartels, and Survival” by Jeanine Kitchel, introduces us to Layla Navarro, the embattled niece of the head of a Mexican cartel. She’s been the bookkeeper for the family business, but is forced to become the public voice of El Patron when her uncle goes to jail and the heir apparent dies.
 

Layla is a woman with a tough demeanor, rough language, and a few crime worthy skills, capable of a bit more than she’s been given credit for. With millions at stake, and power shifting among the cartels in the region, she takes on her first independent project to establish credibility, only to be betrayed at every turn.

 

What motivates her? This is the world she has been raised in, and she has no romantic notions about the life or any interest in leaving it. Kitchel wisely incorporates the reality of the male dominated society in which Layla moves; Layla may have the brains, but the men do the heavy lifting in “Wheels Up,” one of whom is Cole, a Canadian narc dealer that helps her stay alive. The nicely written supporting characters lend texture to the story and a brief look at Mexican life. Not everybody is a criminal, although their lives may depend on being wary around the players who are.

 

Kitchel delivers an interesting look at a crime-based life that I can only imagine, and makes parallels to legitimate business practices. In order for any company to succeed, there has to be trust at the top between the partners that run it. In any corporate takeover, we know from watching the news that even in non-lethal exchanges, there is turmoil while power is realigned. Substitute the drug cartels for legit businesses, upper level disagreements settled with guns instead of torts and contracts, and you’ll understand the dynamics in “Wheels Up.”

 

This multi-layered book also explores human trafficking as a side business to the narcotics trade, a practice that not all the parties agree upon. Layla and the Canadian, along with trusted henchmen, deal with one aspect of the problem in a clever plot twist that also places her in more danger.

 

Kitchel happily lived in Mexico for quite a while and shares with us her love of the cuisine as well as some of the countryside. The food and the bars play like characters against the lush landscape. I had a craving to visit my local Mexican restaurant after reading about the mouthwatering dishes that Layla and her friends enjoyed. If your reading interests include take-charge women thrown into complex, no-win situations, “Wheels Up” will provide plenty of entertainment.

 

Book #2 in the trilogy, “Tulum Takedown,” is now available. For more information about Jeanine Kitchel, her time in Mexico, as well as her non-fiction work, please visit www.jeaninekitchel.com.                       

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Valentine’s Day Mysteries and Fiction

 

Are you a fan of holiday themed reading? Published between 2016 and 2020, here is a list of twenty-three novels, novellas, and short stories centered around Valentine’s Day. Be prepared to swoon, or laugh, or be delighted by the selection. Click on the titles to discover more about the books and enjoy!

 

Jennifer S. Alderson  "Death by Baguette"

 

Carolyn Arnold  "Valentine’s Day is Murder"

 

Patti Benning  "Tall, Dark, and Deadly"

 

Franky A. Brown  "What Happened to Romance?"

 

Susan Carroll "The Valentine’s Day Ball"

 

Cherry Christensen  "Secret Valentine"

 

Sylvia Damsell  "A Valentine Wish"

 

Steve Demaree "A Valentine Murder"

 

Liz Dodwell "Valentine’s Day: a Polly Parrett Pet-Sitter Cozy"

 

Jessica L. Elliott "Operation: Romance"

 

Tammy Falkner "A Valentine’s Day Miracle"

 

Deborah Garner  "A Flair for Truffles"

 

Patricia Gligor "Marnie Malone"

 

Holly Hepburn "Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence"

 

Liwen Y. Ho "Romantically Ever After"

 

June McCrary Jacobs "Handmade Hearts"

 

Libby Klein  "Theater Nights Are Murder"

 

Jackie Lau  "A Big Surprise for Valentine’s Day"

 

Lia London "Love from A to Z"

 

Ava Mallory & nine more authors "Stirring Up Love & Mystery"

 

Leslie Meier  "Valentine Candy Murder"

 

Summer Prescott "A Blossom of Murder"

 

Amy M. Reade  "Be My Valencrime"

 

Happy Reading! 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Barry Awards (Crime Fiction) – 2020

 

Established in 1997, the Barry Awards are presented at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, to be held this year in Sacramento, California. 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-2020 will be announced October 15 during the Bouchercon Opening Ceremonies.


Best Mystery/Crime Novel
THIRTEEN, Steve Cavanagh
YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY, Steph Cha

THE LOST MAN, Jane Harper
METROPOLIS, Philip Kerr
IF SHE WAKES, Michael Koryta
THE BORDER, Don Winslow

 

Best First Mystery/Crime Novel
SCRUBLANDS, Chris Hammer
SAVE ME FROM DANGEROUS MEN, S. A. Lelchuk
THE SILENT PATIENT, Alex Michaelides
THE CHESTNUT MAN, Soren Sveistrup
TO THE LIONS, Holly Watt  
AMERICAN SPY, Lauren Wilkinson

 

Best Paperback Original Mystery/Crime Novel
WINNER KILLS ALL, R. J. Bailey
THE GODMOTHER, Hannelore Cayre
KILLING QUARRY, Max Allan Collins
FATE, Ian Hamilton
MISSING DAUGHTER, Rick Mofina
NO GOOD DEED, James Swain

 

Best Thriller
TRUE BELIEVER, Jack Carr
MISSION CRITICAL, Mark Greaney
THE CHAIN, Adrian McKinty
THE BURGLAR, Thomas Perry
WHITE HOT SILENCE, Henry Porter
BACKLASH, Brad Thor

 

Best Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade
NOVEMBER ROAD, Lou Berney
SUSPECT, Robert Crais
GONE GIRL, Gillian Flynn
THE DRY,  Jane Harper
THE BLACK HOUSE, Peter May
THE CARTEL, Don Winslow

 

Congratulations to all the nominees!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

The Edgar Awards – 2020

 

Each year at this time, the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) announces the nominees for The Edgar Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, and television published or produced in the previous year. Because of the Covid-19 virus pandemic, the annual MWA April conference was cancelled, but the Edgar Awards for 2020 were still voted upon by the members and the winners announced on April 30, 2020. (indicated in red)

 

BEST NOVEL
“Fake Like Me” by Barbara Bourland
“The Stranger Diaries” by Elly Griffiths
“The River” by Peter Heller
“Smoke and Ashes” by Abir Mukherjee
“Good Girl, Bad Girl” by Michael Robotham

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
“My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing
“Miracle Creek” by Angie Kim
“The Good Detective” by John McMahon
“The Secrets We Kept” by Lara Prescott
“Three-Fifths” by John Vercher
“American Spy” by Lauren Wilkinson

 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
“Dread of Winter” by Susan Alice Bickford
“Freedom Road” by William Lashner
“Blood Relations” by Jonathan Moore
“February’s Son” by Alan Parks
“The Hotel Neversink” by Adam O’Fallon Price
“The Bird Boys” by Lisa Sandlin

 

BEST FACT CRIME
“The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz-Age America” by Karen Abbott
“The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity” by Axton Betz-Hamilton
“American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century” by Maureen Callahan
“Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History” by Peter Houlahan
“Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall” by James Polchin

 

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
“The Night Visitors” by Carol Goodman
“One Night Gone” by Tara Laskowski
“Strangers at the Gate” by Catriona McPherson
“Where the Missing Go” by Emma Rowley
“The Murder List” by Hank Phillippi Ryan

 

THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD
“Shamed” by Linda Castillo
“Borrowed Time” by Tracy Clark
“The Missing Ones” by Edwin Hill
“The Satapur Moonstone” by Sujata Massey
“The Alchemist’s Illusion” by Gigi Pandian
“Girl Gone Missing” by Marcie R. Rendon

 

Nominees for other categories (Best Critical/Biographical, Best Short Story, Juvenile, YA, Teleplay) can be found at https://mysterywriters.org/mwa-announces-the-2020-edgar-nominations/

 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners for the 2020 Edgar Awards!

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

The Agatha Awards – 2019 Books

 

The winners of the Agatha Awards for 2019 Books (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2019. Normally, the nominated titles would be voted upon by the attendees at the annual Malice Domestic conference for mystery and crime writers/fans in early May, 2020. But, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the conference was cancelled. The Malice Board  determined the voting protocol, with the winners announced on May 2, 2020.

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! (indicated in red)  🙂

 

Best Contemporary Novel (6 titles this year)
“Fatal Cajun Festival” by Ellen Byron
The Long Call” by Ann Cleeves
“Fair Game” by Annette Dashofy
“The Missing Ones” by Edwin Hill
“A Better Man” by Louise Penny
“The Murder List” by Hank Philippi Ryan

Best First Mystery Novel
“A Dream of Death” by Connie Berry
One Night Gone” by Tara Laskowski
“Murder Once Removed” by S. C. Perkins
“When It’s Time for Leaving” by Ang Pompano
“Staging for Murder” by Grace Topping

Best Historical Mystery
“Love and Death Among the Cheetahs” by Rhys Bowen
“Murder Knocks Twice” by Susanna Calkins
“The Pearl Dagger” by L. A. Chandlar
Charity’s Burden” by Edith Maxwell
“The Naming Game” by Gabriel Valjan

Best Nonfiction
“Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story” by Laird R. Blackwell
“Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrified Los Angeles” by Julia Bricklin
“Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee” by Casey Cep
“The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women” by Mo Moulton
“The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper” by Hallie Rubenhold

Best Children/Young Adult
“Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers” by Shauna Holyoak
“Two Can Keep a Secret” by Karen MacManus
“The Last Crystal” by Frances Schoonmaker
“Top Marks for Murder (A Most Unladylike Mystery)”
by Robin Stevens
“Jada Sly, Artist and Spy” by Sherri Winston

Best Short Story (links are highlighted)
Grist for the Mill” by Kaye George in A Murder of Crows (Darkhouse Books)
Alex’s Choice” by Barb Goffman in Crime Travel (Wildside Press)
The Blue Ribbon” by Cynthia Kuhn in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
The Last Word” by Shawn Reilly Simmons, Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible (Wildside Press)
Better Days” by Art Taylor in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine


Happy Reading!

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

“Picked Off” and “Bad Pick” by Linda Lovely

 

 

 

“Picked Off” and “Bad Pick” by Linda Lovely, continue the romp through the never-a-dull-moment world of Brie Hooker, her aunt Eva, two wannabe boyfriends, and bff Mollye. Brie is a talented vegan chef helping her staunchly carnivorous aunt Eva, at Udderly Kidding Dairy, the family goat farm. Neither Brie nor Eva will ever convince the other to switch food lifestyle choices, but they love and support each other in all other things.

 

Halloween is near in “Picked Off,” and Eva has agreed to hold a fundraiser – complete with a haunted barn and costumes – to support friend and candidate for governor, Carol Strong. But, instead of happy check-writing, the fundraiser ends in chaos with a bloody pitchfork assault on a celebrity football player. Who did it and why? The candidate’s enemies pepper the story with kidnapping and murder, but the multi-layered plot also delivers stalking fans, fantasy football leagues, millions at stake, betrayals, and scandals that keep everyone hopping. This page-turner is inventive, with twists and turns and a pace that never slows.

 

In a great touch of realism, Lovely makes a point of Eva and Brie each doing chores on this working goat farm in both “Picked Off” and “Bad Pick.” We see that no matter what or who is chasing down the culprits, there is a staff to be managed, the hours are long, and the animals are taken care of first.

 

Brie has inherited a house that she hopes to turn into her dream, a restaurant of her own. The plan in “Bad Pick”? Serve a tasting menu to restaurant critics to garner reviews and enthusiasm for her concept. Sounds like a good strategy, but there is a slight hitch: One of the critics dies after eating her food. What has happened? Who is to blame? Has someone sabotaged her plans or targeted the critic with blowback on Brie? Either way, the collateral damage is devastating.

 

In a parallel plot, Brie gets talked into holding goat yoga classes at Udderly Kidding. Goat yoga? You have to read the book to see how it works. I’d fall over laughing during the first five minutes of the first class, let alone be able to complete a downward dog position. But, locals in “Bad Pick” picket the goat farm when a misguided soul feels that playing with goats is a form of devil worship. Imagine what she thinks of an entire farm that specializes in everything goat?

 

Brie’s romantic life is mostly in her head, with fantasies that pop up on the page whenever she sees the two men in her life, a brewmeister and a veterinarian. “Picked Off” and “Bad Pick” each develop the relationships in unexpected, often hilarious ways – including a ‘no clothes off’ rule. Both are great matches for Brie. Big hint: I’m solidly in the vet’s camp. 🙂

 

Linda Lovely has written a thoroughly entertaining series, with plenty of warm, good hearted banter between the likable main characters, solid mysteries, and an expert blending of dramatic moments with comedy and cooking to lighten the tension along the way.

 

Here’s my review of the first book in the series, “Bones to Pick.” Read them in order: “Bones to Pick,” “Picked Off,” and “Bad Pick.” Guaranteed to make you chuckle while you puzzle over the whodunits.

 

 

Please follow and like us:

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

 

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:
Scroll to Top