Nominated for Award

“One Murder More” by Kris Calvin

 

Book Cover - One Murder More

As Kris Calvin’s “One Murder More” opens, Sacramento lobbyist, Maren Kane, is having a really tough day. She's driving to a breakfast meeting at the governor’s office and sees a car go over the railing into the water-filled drainage ditch beyond. She and a Good Samaritan stranger are able to rescue two children from a rapidly submerging car, but the woman at the wheel, a famous investigative journalist, is dead on impact. After the accident, Maren continues on to work, and before going home, happens upon a bloodied colleague, Tamara Barnes, in the ladies’ room. And she is decidedly dead.
 

Two bodies in one 24-hour cycle? Wait. There are a few hours left to this day. Maren’s former intern, Sean Verston (and friend to Barnes) shows up at Maren’s doorstep at 2am to crash on her couch. When Sean is accused of Barnes’ murder, Maren doesn’t believe he could do it and can’t rest until she uncovers evidence that will clear him. It’s not easy to do, because Sean is hiding a secret he refuses to reveal, even to save himself.
 

Maren’s questions take her in surprising directions as the complex plot unfolds. The people involved and the connections between them could be ripped from the headlines. Who did what to whom, and most importantly, how did they get away with it for so long?
 

The people in “One Murder More” are well drawn, with intriguing, powerful men, and accomplished, multi-faceted women. Details about the California countryside and its restaurants, as well as the colorful outfits the characters wear, add to this entertaining read.
 

Kris Calvin’s political insider knowledge of how lobbying works in Sacramento is central to the effectiveness of “One Murder More.” She was an elected public official in California and was known for her work as an advocate for children. Maren Kane is an Ecobabe lobbyist working to pass legislation that would ban the complete use of cellphones while driving- not an easy or popular bill. The cell phone bill storyline is topical in real world discussions and in some States, highly controversial.
 

“One Murder More” won Silver Falchion awards for Best First Novel, and Best Political Thriller.

 

Please visit www.kriscalvin.com for more information about Ms. Calvin and her work.

 

Author Profile: Liz Mugavero

 

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Liz Mugavero is the author of the Agatha-nominated Pawsitively Organic Gourmet Pet Food Mysteries, a delightful series set in fictional Frog Ledge, Connecticut. She serves on the Sisters in Crime New England board and is a member of Sisters in Crime National, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’ Association. Her brand new series, The Cat Café Mysteries, set in New England, features Maddie James and a frisky rescue cat, JJ. Liz writes the new series under the name Cate Conte.

 

I met Liz for the first time in 2012 at Writers’ Police Academy, an annual event where mystery writers experience hands-on, how-to scenarios as demonstrated by members of law enforcement.

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At that time, her first book, soon to be Agatha nominated, “Kneading to Die,” had not yet been published, but as soon as it was, I was a fan for life. Who can resist an author that comes up with a plot line involving kibble on the body?

 

Liz Mugavero has a Master’s degree in Writing (she wrote a novel for her Thesis) and works by day in Marketing and Corporate Communications. But, early mornings, before heading to the office, she can be found devising and solving the next murder (on the page, folks) at home. Mugavero is always accompanied by at least one of her pets while she creates the sleuthing women. Depending on her mood, she works either at a desk or settles onto the bed with a laptop and a cat. Rumor has it that she attends a yearly retreat with other authors, where they collectively dream up murder and mayhem for their books. Ah…to listen in on those sessions. 😉

 

Mugavero’s heart is firmly in New England. Born in Massachusetts, now living in Connecticut, and having a deep love of Maine, the affection for the area, no matter the weather or the season, comes through the pages in descriptions of the scenery and quirky, small town characters.

 

Mugavero is a member of the Wicked Cozys, a New England based writing group whose wonderful work I have reviewed at Nightstand Book Reviews on many occasions. Each of the six women has a successful cozy series and they share writing duties on their website, posting articles about the writing life (and their own series) every week. Catch them at www.wickedcozyauthors.com. In a recent post, Mugavero spoke about the differences between the two women protagonists in her two series.

 

Stan (short for Kristan) Connor, from the Pawsitively Organic series, and Maddie James, from the Cat Café Mysteries, are dissimilar in several ways. Stan’s relationship with her family is always a challenge, her slow growing pet food business is a work-in-progress, and her love life is embodied in a hunk with a big, sloppy (lovable) dog. Maddie, on the other hand, has a warm, supportive, close knit family, owns a successful juice bar in California, and has two great guys who happen to catch her eye. Often. But, Mugavero/Conte writes both lead characters as gals we would like to have as friends in real-life.

 

It’s obvious from reading Liz Mugavero’s work that she truly, deeply, loves animals. Long before penning the books, that love translated into an involvement in animal rescue.

 

Liz revealed: “I had two cats when my mother found a litter of kittens on the side of the road one day. We rescued them and I called a bunch of shelters thinking they would be delighted to take them, but none of them could because it was kitten season and there were so many – what I know now is all too common a story. So, I placed two and kept the other two (Pumpkin and Gypsy) and after that I decided to go volunteer so I could see what it was really like to be an animal rescuer and understand their challenges.”

 

Meet two of Mugavero’s happy rescues:

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Junkyard Johnny (JJ) the inspiration for the JJ in “Cat About Town.” In the book, he seems to lead Maddie James in all the right directions to help solve the crimes.

 

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Tuffy, the inspiration for Stan Connor’s cat, Nutty, in the Pawsitively Organic Mystery series. Nutty always has a comment to make, sometimes with an imperious look, sometimes with a flicking tail.

 

Each book in the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries includes recipes for pet food, and some of them look good enough for people to eat. There are pet food gurus behind the tasty treats, and in keeping with Mugavero’s goal to have pets eat healthier and live healthier, the recipes call for simple ingredients.

Here’s one from Mugavero’s site:

(Recipe adapted from “My Baking Heart,” originally from “The Dog Ate It”)

Apple and Cheddar Pupcakes
Ingredients

1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Traditional Rolled Oats
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Applesauce
1/2 cup Water
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
2 tbsp Honey
2 Eggs
1 Apple – peeled, cored and minced
1 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, water, oil, honey and eggs, then stir in the apple and cheese. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until just barely blended.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling almost full (you may have a couple spoonsful of batter left over). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the tins for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

 

Really. Don’t you want to bake them for yourself?  😉

 

The http://lizmugavero.com/wp/for-the-animals/ section of Liz’s website includes links for pet shelters and organizations in several states around the country, along with more of the healthy pet food recipes.


Mugavero’s animals snack on their healthy kitty/puppy treats, but she has her own faves. In addition to potato chips, she noshes on sushi as often as she can. Favorite flavor? Spicy tuna rolls!

 

I discovered that Liz also writes short stories (published internationally) and magazine articles. She mentioned that she is now finishing the second ‘Maddie James’ book and then will work on book #7 in the ‘Kristan Connor’ series. More fun to come for the readers!  🙂  With the engaging leads, colorful supporting characters, and clever plotting throughout the two series, we look forward to everything Liz and ‘Cate’ write.

 


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To learn more about Kristan Connor and the book that started it all (with kibble on the body) read the review of “Kneading to Die” here.

 

 

 

 

 


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Read the review of “Custom Baked Murder,” the fifth book in the series, here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Read the review of “Cat About Town,” the first book in the new series, here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title #6 in the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries, “Purring Around the Christmas Tree,” will be published late September, 2017. I am so looking forward to it!

 

First Photo of Liz Mugavero by Meg Manion Photography

Photo of Edith Maxwell and Liz Mugavero by Patti Phillips.

 

Please visit www.lizmugavero.com for more information about the talented author, Liz Mugavero/Cate Conte.

 

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Killer Thrillers for the Beach

 

There are two kinds of Beach Reads:

 

  • Action-packed adventure/thrillers that rev up your blood pressure and provide stay-awake reading (killer thrillers)
  • Completely relaxing, low-key, fun mystery books that tweak your brain cells, but allow you to nod off on time


None of the killer thriller titles below are relaxing or low-key. I defy you to nod off while reading any of them. Charge your e-reader, ‘cause you won’t want to take a break – except maybe to eat. Or, you might want to eat while reading.   🙂

Warning: most deal with adult topics and/or contain sporadic adult language.

(Listed in alphabetical order by author)

 

"The 7th Canon" by Robert Dugoni

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Standalone. Priest accused of terrible crimes.
Read review here.

 

 

 

"The Trapped Girl"  by Robert Dugoni

 

 

Engrossing entry in the Tracy Crosswhite series. Fascinating case. Twists and turns galore. Read my review here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Fixer" by Joseph Finder

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Set in Boston. What a premise!
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

"The Switch" by Joseph Finder

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Michael Tanner picks up the wrong laptop computer in the airport. After he finds out who the owner is, does he do the right thing? HA!!! Great story!

 

 

 

 

 

"Phantom Instinct"  by Meg Gardiner

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Gardiner always delivers edgy, complex plots. The lead character should have her own series.
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

"UnSub"  by Meg Gardiner

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Stay awake reading at its best. Serial killer topic. Keep the lights on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Second Life of Nick Mason"  by Steve Hamilton

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Astonishing new series. Adult topics. Pages fly by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Orphan X"  by Gregg Hurwitz

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Excellent read. Adult topics. Another page-turner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Signal"  by Patrick Lee

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Where does the signal originate? Slam dunk great!
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

 

"The Heist"  by Daniel Silva

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Intriguing international art heist. Spies included.
Read review here.

 

 

 

 

 

If you have a favorite thriller not listed above, let us know in the comments below.  🙂  Happy reading the killer thrillers for the beach!

 

 

 

“The 7th Canon” by Robert Dugoni

 

 

The 7th Canon of the American Bar Association code: “A lawyer should represent a client zealously within the bounds of the law.” Whenever that phrase is uttered in any media platform, it’s a dead giveaway that the case under consideration will be challenging. The defendant is in a lot of trouble and we, the audience, are in for a thrill ride.

 

Peter Donley, three years out of law school, is working for his Uncle Lou’s law firm in the Tenderloin section of San Francisco, not the best address in town. He is indebted to his uncle for helping him and his mother at a rough time in their lives and is grateful for the job, but a growing family dictates that it is time to move on. He has a plum offer and is about to give his uncle notice, when Lou is hospitalized with a heart attack.

 

Uncle Lou's biggest client is the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and when one of the priests is charged with the murder of a teenager in his care, as well as possible pornographic acts, Donley catches the case, since Lou will need time to recover. The assignment looks dicey, but Donley owes it to his uncle to follow the 7th canon.

 

Father Tom Martin, complete with shaved head, an earring, and a tattoo, is not the typical parish priest, but he’s just right for the boys’ shelter in the Tenderloin. He’s been the dedicated champion of this safe haven for street kids for years. The disconnect? The evidence points to the priest; there is blood everywhere and Tom had opportunity, if not motive. Thing is, he says he didn’t do it.

 

Fr. Tom is being railroaded, but why? And why is everyone in such a rush to file the motions and convict the guy?

 

Donley must deal with the murdered teen, elusive complicit witnesses, and the evidence found at the scene, all pushing him to his emotional limits. In the process, Donley’s personal demons are forced to the surface, and Dugoni delivers another complex central character. An ambitious DA, the Chief Prosecutor, the former Governor of California, and a cop gunning for revenge, are among the tightly drawn supporting cast. There are lots of secrets with people very interested in hiding them, and we are reminded that evil often wears a suit and tie.

 

This book (a dozen versions ago) was written before the critically acclaimed David Sloane series, but placed in a drawer in favor of other novels that were published at the time. “The 7th Canon” is a standalone novel, but fans of Dugoni since the beginning will recognize certain similarities between the Sloane/Jenkins team and the Donley/Ross team. It’s great fun to see the differences in personalities, and how they approach the cases, as well as the impact that their backgrounds have on their behavior and life choices. Fun fact: “The 7th Canon” is set in the late 1980s, so no emails or cellphones figure into the plot.

 

Politics, sex, police procedure, religion, abuse, and the courtroom, make for a powerful combination, and Dugoni has woven a masterful tapestry of suspense.

 

“The 7th Canon” is a finalist in the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award Fiction Adult Thriller category.  Well deserved!

 

*Note: contains adult situations/themes and sporadic adult language.

 

Read my review of “In the Clearing” here.

 

Please visit www.robertdugoni.com for information about Dugoni’s appearances, his awards, and his other terrific books. Read ‘em all, folks.  🙂

 

 

 

“Delivering the Truth” by Edith Maxwell

 

Book Cover - Delivering the Truth

“Delivering the Truth” is Edith Maxwell’s first title in her Quaker Midwife Mystery series. Rose Carroll, the midwife and our heroine, practices her vocation in 1888 Amesbury, Massachusetts, a time when most women are expected to become wives and mothers. But Rose is not most women.

 

As a midwife, she dispenses advice and checks on her patients, helps with both easy and difficult deliveries, and visits after the birth to make sure that everything is going well with the new moms. Not everyone approves of Rose’s chosen career path or her straightforward demeanor, but she is in a unique position to hear bits of information not often available to the police, given the intimacy of her relationship with her clients. Women share all kinds of revealing details at times like these.

 

When all of the major carriage factories in Amesbury burn down, over a dozen men are trapped inside the Parry factory and lose their lives. Arson is suspected, but who would do such a thing and why? Several of Rose’s clients are connected in some way to the carriage industry – Amesbury’s largest employer – and after seeing a shadowy figure in the wrong place, she seeks to learn the truth behind the suspicious fire. In the process, Rose places herself in danger and risks disapproval from those close to her.

 

There is more going on than arson in this cleverly plotted book. “Delivering the Truth” is packed with betrayals, jealousy, suspects who are wrongly accused, as well as Rose’s own budding romance with a charming doctor. Rose’s keen mind and sense of fairness carry us through the conflicts between class and culture, infidelity, and steadfast loyalty.

 

Through Rose’s discussions with real-life historical figure John Greenleaf Whittier – poet, abolitionist, and important to the Society of Friends – we gain insight into the inner workings of late 1800’s Quakers and their belief system at the time, including their support of equality between men and women and non-violence in the home. Rose has grown up with these ideals, and champions those who are treated otherwise.

 

Maxwell did a tremendous amount of research to get the details correct for the period. Along with interviews, discussions, and readings, she stayed at a living history center in Maine for 24 hours, learning about the work required for home life in the late 1800s. The result is that Maxwell transports us to the late 19th century in “Delivering the Truth” as we are immersed in the clothes, the cooking, societal restrictions, and expectations about women during that era. A gift of knitting needles has hand painted flowers and vines woven through Rose’s initials. What patience and skill it would take to create such small details on a knitting needle. Who knew that such a thing existed? One of the fun details introduces us to the Post Mistress who rides astride her horse, rather than side saddle, her bloomers ‘scandalously’ on display all the while. Marvelous tidbits that bring our history to life.

 

“Delivering the Truth” makes a highly successful foray into the past and entertains us with a wonderful new sleuth, Quaker midwife, Rose Carroll. Happily, the second in the series has just been published (April, 2017) and more books are planned.

 

Also happily, “Delivering the Truth” was a finalist in the Historical Mystery category of the Agatha Awards for this year’s Malice Domestic conference.   🙂

 

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Read Edith Maxwell’s Author Profile here.

Please visit www.edithmaxwell.com for information about Edith Maxwell's other series as well as her short stories.

 

 

Author Profile: Edith Maxwell

 

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Edith Maxwell writes award-winning short stories, has several series of full-length mysteries out and has been nominated for Agatha Awards in both the Short Story and Historical Fiction categories for 2017’s Malice Domestic mystery conference. At this writing, she has eleven published novels since 2012 under the names Tace Baker, Maddie Day, and Edith Maxwell, with #12 due out next month. She is working on three more to be published in the near future. She is the one of the most prolific traditionally published authors I know and she is loving all of it!

 

I first met Edith at a Writers Police Academy conference in the Fall of 2012. At the time, she had just published her first Lauren Rousseau title, “Speaking of Murder,” as Tace Baker. I was hooked by the intelligent, worldly, complex female lead character. She attended WPA in order to research police procedure, and also gathered tons of information about firefighters and EMS personnel that she might use in future novels.

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Edith Maxwell, Liz Mugavero – WPA 2012

 

While following her career the last few years, it’s become apparent that solid research underpins all her books. Happily, combined with her own personal experiences, the result is richly developed backgrounds and storylines.

 

For the Country Store series, Maxwell took a trip to Indiana in order to investigate the setting, special southern Indiana phrasing (“I can’t eat another bite ’cause I’m as full as a tick”), and foods specific to the region. As it happens, she was also returning to the area of her grad school days and the site of a university packed with her own Maxwell family history. Friends of hers in the grad program had restored an old country store and turned it into a restaurant and bed & breakfast, the basis for Robbie Jordan’s ‘Pans ‘N Pancakes’ establishment in the series. In addition, Maxwell loves to cook and there are virtual cooking lessons woven throughout the stories as well as yummy recipes to be found.

 

Fun fact: my mom had an amazing collection of antique cookware, so when Robbie chats about the vintage pieces in her store, I can see the tools in my mind’s eye. Maxwell/Day’s details? Wonderful!

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The Local Foods series features an organic farmer as the lead character, and guess what? Edith ran her own small certified organic farm for a few years and that expertise infuses the series with effortless realism. Readers can pick up tips about what it takes to grow produce organically, both the pitfalls and the plusses, while enjoying the cleverly crafted mysteries.

 

The Quaker Midwife series is a project close to Edith’s heart. She is a Quaker herself and some of the history and the daily practices of the Society of Friends have found their way into this series. Maxwell now lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts where the books are set, and the local history influenced her short story writing. One of the short stories became the impetus for a 19th c. midwife character. Rose Carroll, the Quaker midwife, is perfectly placed to be a sleuth, since she gets to go where men (and the police) can’t in 1888, and hears all kinds of secrets that help solve the crimes. Beautifully written, “Delivering the Truthis well-deserving of the Agatha historical mystery nomination this year.

 

Click on the link to check out Maxwell’s YouTube video of a walking tour of Amesbury, Massachusetts. Maxwell is wearing an authentic self-made 1888 dress and bonnet while she conducts the tour and chats about the sites mentioned in “Delivering the Truth.” What a fun and terrific way to launch a series!

https://youtu.be/D-1BKTI9-f8 

 

Plus, as Maddie Day, Edith has a new cozy foodie mystery series, Cozy Capers Book Group, set on Cape Cod. “Murder on Cape Cod will be the first title launched in 2018. The lead character runs a bicycle repair and rental shop and hosts a weekly cozy mystery book group. My dad’s family came from the Cape, and I’m looking forward to reading Maxwell/Day’s take on the region.

 

So, how does she keep up this writing pace and still maintain the quality in her books? First, she is doing what she loves. She has a writing schedule for each day – mornings are the best for her – but when a deadline looms, she sometimes goes away for a few days on retreat. She turns off the internet so that there are no distractions at all and she can write from dawn ‘til midnight if she needs to. When slipping away to a retreat, Maxwell likes to take along comfy clothes, walking shoes, a laptop, a favorite pen, and an actual paper notebook. Oh, and of course, wine and dark chocolate.  🙂

 

Maxwell writes traditional mysteries with absorbing puzzles to solve, and appealing characters that engage us on every page. With strong female leads, fascinating details, and multi-layered plots, this is an author we want to follow, wherever (or whenever) she leads us.

 

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Read the review of “A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die,” (Local Foods series) here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Read the review of “Grilled for Murder,” (Country Store series) here (written as Maddie Day)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Read review of “Delivering the Truth” (Quaker Midwife series) here.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Delivering the Truth” has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery. And “The Mayor and the Midwife” has been nominated for an Agatha for Best Short Story. Read the short story here.

Edith Maxwell is a member of the Wicked Cozy Authors, the New England gals that share writing advice and their own experiences every week at www.wickedcozyauthors.com. She also writes with Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors.

For more information about Ms. Maxwell and her many projects, please visit www.edithmaxwell.com

 

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*2020 Great News Department: Edith Maxwell won an Agatha Award for “Charity’s Burden,” a Quaker Midwife mystery.  Congratulations!!!!

Photo “Writer” taken by Patti Phillips

Other photos provided by Edith Maxwell

 

 

“Fogged Inn” by Barbara Ross

 

“Fogged Inn” is the fourth book in Barbara Ross’ excellent Maine Clambake Mysteries series and has been nominated for an Agatha Award in this year’s “Best Contemporary Novel” category. Not surprising, given the opening. And everything after that. 🙂

 

At 5 AM, Gus yells up the stairs, “There’s a dead guy in the walk-in!” and disrupts Julia Snowden’s work-exhausted sleep. The yelling continues until she joins Gus in the restaurant, ready to disprove this absurd idea so she can go back to bed. She enters the walk-in and sees…a dead guy. Julia is now fully awake. I prefer radio alarms, but that’s just me.

 

The dead guy sat at the restaurant bar the night before, but none of the other diners seemed to notice him. So, who is he? How did he get into the walk-in? The restaurant had been closed and locked at 1 AM after cleanup. Chris (Julia’s boyfriend and partner in the restaurant) would have noticed the leftover customer, so the body dump happened after then. The man has no ID, no bullet holes, and there is no blood on the floor. Aside from the why, how and where did the guy die?

 

During “Fogged Inn,” Ross presents us with a thoroughly entertaining variation on the locked room puzzle, complete with a cast of Agatha Christie type retirees who reveal their connections to each other over the course of the clever, multi-layered tale. To add to the intrigue, they had received gift certificates for the same night the dead guy appeared, but Julia has no record of who purchased the certificates. And, more baffling, none of those guests acknowledged knowing each other during the long evening.

 

As the story evolves and decades old secrets are exposed, the past overshadows the present. Dysfunctional relationships are uncovered, with unintended consequences and tragic events as the fallout. The more Julia discovers, the more items linked to the past start disappearing, and the greater the danger that surrounds her.

 

The wonderful ensemble characters return to enthrall us with changes in Gus’ life and in the naturally developing relationship between Julia and Chris. Julia’s childhood friend, the Police Officer Jamie Dawes, is involved in the investigation, Binder & Flynn return as the irritating State cops, and Chris’ talents are revealed in delicious ways. Family members drop in, lending support, and Julia’s acceptance into small-town living seems almost certain when she’s invited to join Sit’n’Knit.

 

Because the story takes place in the winter, there is no clambake in “Fogged Inn.” Happily, there is still a lot of cooking going on and wonderful recipes to be found at the end of the book. We get a look at what winter in a tourist town is like when all the tourists are gone, where the locals scramble to earn a living and gather at the local watering hole (Gus’s place) to trade stories. Julia and Chris share restaurant space with Gus, the lovable grump that owns and runs Gus’s at breakfast and lunch. Julia and Chris take over only for the dinner crowd, just for the off-season, as Gus’s Too.

 

As with the rest of the series, Ross blends hardy New England life and the mystery together beautifully, so that readers enjoy learning about coastal Maine, wonderful food, and our favorite people while the bodies pop up.

 

Congratulations to Barbara Ross for this well-deserved Agatha nomination for “Fogged Inn.” Malice Domestic attendees will vote at our convention at the end of April, 2017.

 

Read about Barbara Ross’ writing process (and more) here.  🙂

 

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Please visit www.maineclambakemysteries.com for more information about the series and Barb Ross’ upcoming appearances.

 

 

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