Short Stories/Collection

2021 Valentine’s Day Mysteries and Fiction

Are you a fan of holiday themed reading? Published between 2016 and 2021, here is an updated  list of twenty-six 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

Bellamy Bloom & Addison Moore  Murder Bites

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

Mobile Writers Guild Valentine’s Day Pieces (Anthology)

Addison Moore & Bellamy Bloom  Sealed with a Hiss

Summer Prescott A Blossom of Murder

Amy M. Reade  Be My Valencrime

 

Happy Reading!

 

Christmas Themed Mysteries – 2020

Christmas seems to be the most popular holiday topic for mysteries. Surprising to me at least, there were hundreds to choose from. Yes, hundreds. Do the writers deliver a way for us to fantasize about doing in the dastardly boyfriend/cousin/landlord? Or do they have a secret, but sweet, way to resolve a pesky problem? Only you and your active imagination know for sure.  😉

 

If you are a fan of Christmas themed fiction, then this updated 2020 list of forty-seven novels, novellas, and short stories is for you. The books were recommended by avid cozy booksellers, as well as NBR subscribers. Click on the titles to find out more about the books, then snuggle up with a great Christmas read.

 

Susan Wittig Albert: “The Darling Dahlias & the Poinsettia Puzzle

Gretchen Archer:  “Double Deck the Halls

Donna Andrews: “The Gift of the Magpie”  

Mary Angela: “Very Merry Murder”

Joy Avon: “In Peppermint Peril”

 

Laurien Berenson “Here Comes Santa Paws

Laura Bradford “A Killer Carol

Leslie Budewitz “As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles”

Ellen Byron “A Cajun Christmas Killing”

 

Lynn Cahoon “A Stocking Full of Murder

Nancy Coco “Have Yourself a Fudgy Little Christmas

Cate Conte “A Whisker of a Doubt

Maya Corrigan “Gingerdead Man

 

Maddie Day “Candy Slain Murder

Vicki Delany “Dying in a Winter Wonderland

Leighann Dobbs “Grievance in Gingerbread Alley

 

Barbara Early “Murder on the Toy Town Express”

Peggy Ehrhart “Silent Knit, Deadly Knit

 

Morris Fenris: “Christmas Angel Charity

Beatrice Fishback “Winter Writerland

Amanda Flower “Candy Cane Crime

Joanne Fluke “Christmas Cake Murder

Jacqueline Frost “Twas the Knife Before Christmas

 

Daryl Wood Gerber “Wreath between the Lines

Patrice Greenwood “As Red as Any Blood

 

Carolyn Haines “A Garland of Bones

Victoria Hamilton “Breaking the Mould”

Jo A Heistand “A Recipe for Murder

Julie Hennrikus “A Christmas Peril”

 

Liz Ireland “Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings

CeeCee James “The Frosty Taste of Scandal

Miranda James “Six Cats a Slayin”

Tina Kashian “Mistletoe, Moussaka, and Murder

 

Laura Levine: “Death of a Neighborhood Scrooge”

Leslie Meier “Tis the Season Murder

Nancy Naigle “Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy

Carlene O’Connor “Murder at an Irish Christmas

Gail Oust: “The Twelve Dice of Christmas”

 

James Patterson, Maxine Paetro: “The 19th Christmas

Anne Perry “A Christmas Resolution

Summer Prescott and others “Cozy Christmas Reunion: Holiday Cozy Mysteries

 

Heather Redmond “A Christmas Carol Murder

Barbara Ross “Nogged Off

 

Karen Schaler “Finding Christmas

Julie Seedorf:  “The Discombobulated Decipherers”

Jane Willan:  “The Hour of Death”

Sherryl Woods: “Christmas at White Pines

 

Happy Choosing!

 

2020 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.

The nominees for the coveted Anthony Award were announced in June and because of Covid19, voting took place online in mid October. The awards were presented as part of an online ceremony on October 17 and the winners indicated in red.


2020 Anthony Award Nominees

BEST NOVEL
Your House Will Pay, by Steph Cha
They All Fall Down, by Rachel Howzell Hall
Lady in the Lake, by Laura Lippman
The Murder List, by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Miami Midnight, by Alex Segura


BEST FIRST NOVEL

The Ninja Daughter, by Tori Eldridge
Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim
One Night Gone, by Tara Laskowski
Three-Fifths, by John Vercher
American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson


BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

The Unrepentant, by E.A. Aymar
Murder Knocks Twice, by Susanna Calkins
The Pearl Dagger, by L.A. Chandlar
Scot & Soda, by Catriona McPherson
The Alchemist’s Illusion, by Gigi Pandian
Drowned Under, by Wendall Thomas
The Naming Game, by Gabriel Valjan


BEST CRITICAL NON-FICTION WORK

Hitchcock and the Censors, by John Billheimer
The Hooded Gunman: An Illustrated History of the Collins Crime Club, by John Curran
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women, by Mo Moulton

The Trail of Lizzie Borden: A True Story, by Cara Robertson
The Five: The Untold Stories of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold


BEST SHORT STORY

“Turistas,” by Hector Acosta (appearing in ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico)

“Unforgiven,” by Hilary Davidson (appearing in Murder a-Go-Gos: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Gos)

“The Red Zone,” by Alex Segura (appearing in ¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico)

“Better Days,” by Art Taylor (appearing in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, May/June 2019)

“Hard Return,” by Art Taylor (appearing in Crime Travel)


BEST ANTHOLOGY OR COLLECTION

The Eyes of Texas: Private Investigators from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods, edited by Michael Bracken
¡Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas!: Stories to Benefit the People of Puerto Rico, edited by Angel Luis Colón
Crime Travel, edited by Barb Goffman
Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible, edited by Verena Rose, Rita Owen, and Shawn Reilly Simmons
Murder A-Go-Go’s: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Gos, edited by Holly West


BEST YOUNG ADULT
Seven Ways to Get Rid of Harry
, by Jen Conley

Catfishing on CatNet, by Naomi Kritzer
Killing November, by Adriana Mather
Patron Saints of Nothing, by Randy Ribay
The Deceivers, by Kristen Simmons
Wild and Crooked, by Leah Thomas


Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!!!

 

 

Macavity Awards – 2020

Each year the members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers of Mystery Readers Journal (and friends of MRI) nominate their favorite mysteries in five categories from the previous year for the Macavity Awards. The winners of this coveted award were announced at opening ceremonies at the Virtual Sacramento Bouchercon, in October, 2020, and are indicated in red.

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

 

Best Mystery Novel 
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman
The Chain by Adrian McKinty
The Murder List by Hank Philippi Ryan
Sarah Jane by James Sallis

 

Best First Mystery 
The Ninja Daughter by Tori Eldridge
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski
Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

 

Best Mystery Short Story 
“West Texas Barbecue” by Michael Chandos (The Eyes of Texas, edited by Michael Bracken—Down & Out Books)
“Alex’s Choice” by Barb Goffman (Crime Travel, edited by Barb Goffman—Wildside Press)
“The Cardboard Box” by Terence Faherty (EQMM, Jan/Feb 2019)
“Whiteout” by G.M. Malliet (EQMM, Jan/Feb 2019)
“Brother’s Keeper” by Dave Zeltserman (EQMM, May/June 2019)
“Better Days,” by Art Taylor (EQMM, May/June 2019)

 

Best Mystery Nonfiction/Critical
Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer
Frederic Dannay, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Art of the Detective Short Story by Laird R. Blackwell
Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan by Ursula Buchan
Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan
The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and Her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women, by Mo Moulton
Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall by James Polchin

 

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery
Murder Knocks Twice by Susanna Calkins
The Pearl Dagger by L.A. Chandlar
A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman
Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey
Charity’s Burden by Edith Maxwell
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

 

Congratulations to all for writing such a marvelous group of works from which to choose!

 

Halloween Mystery List – 2020

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 titles in our updated 2020 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

Ginger Bolton –Boston Scream Murder

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

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 Halloween Haunting

Kim Davis – Cake Popped Off

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


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


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 2020, please let us know what you thought.

 

Happy Spooky reading.  🙂

 

“Writers Crushing Covid-19: An Anthology for Coronavirus Relief”

On occasion, a special project is brought to my attention that moves right to the top of the review pile. I am delighted to help bring “Writers Crushing Covid-19” to a wider audience. It is an anthology of short stories, essays, and letters, many written by people experiencing this dreaded disease up close and personal. Although the concept of this anthology originated with the Piedmont Authors Network*, the thirty-seven selected submissions came in from authors all over the USA (as well as Australia), as varied in background as the stories themselves. It’s a multi-talented group of bestselling, award-winning, and debut authors.

 

The diverse mix of writing includes everything from laugh-out-loud humor, to the occult, to deeply serious looks at the pandemic, and everything in between.

 

More than one story follows the classic model of O. Henry, the famous short story writer, with entertaining surprise endings. Ross Cavins produces two big twists in “Test Drive,” a clever plot that would translate nicely to a teleplay for a potential TV show. Lynn Chandler Willis introduces us to hapless bank robbers in the hilarious “The Cough,” with the guys not asking for much, but, just once?  Jonas Saul brings us “Ghostwriter,” a more serious take on the surprises that life can deliver. J.D. Allen provides a noire piece with “Dead in the Water.” This dark short just might make you cheer at the ending. Or sleep with one eye open.

 

There are several heart-wrenching entries, but among that group, none wallow in the disaster that has befallen the world. Instead, they are uplifting and reassuring. The anthology begins as Dr. J.L. Delozier presents an inspirational letter to two of her medical students about to face the Covid-19 front lines. Karen McCullough shares her ordeal as a Covid victim in “Journey Through Covid-19.” She took many weeks to recover, and her story will bring a few eye-opening facts to the fore. Micki Bare takes a sobering fictional look at the effect a catastrophe has on displaced children, and the tremendous effort needed to save the most vulnerable in “For Philly.”

 

Feel-good stories, with great hope for the future and people making the best of a bad time, are sprinkled throughout the anthology. Diane Kelly’s “Nothing Could Be Finer” introduces two appealing masked characters that connect over coffee at the surviving local diner. Bruce Robert Coffin tells the tender tale of “Saint Nicholas” and the cop that helped the little old lady in the nursing home. Marvin Wolf relates the wonderful account of a newspaper boy in “The Bicycle.” Think Hallmark Channel smiles all around.

 

As for the occult? Jaden Terrell deals deliciously in the paranormal with “Faithful.” Who among us hasn’t heard a voice caution us to be careful at the right moment? But, then there are the potions. It’s not easy to find ‘eye of newt.’ Cheryl Bradshaw buys a haunted house against the realtor’s advice in “Hallowed Ground,” and all is definitely not what she expected. Karen Fritz creates an ingenious VooDoo curse that propels a journalist to his appointed destination, in “A Cursed Story.”  

 

Dark humor? Who can forget the toilet paper shortage when the USA started to take Covid-19 seriously? Vincent Zandri handles that topic with guns and suspicious foreign characters chasing after P.I. Dick Moonlight in “Moonlight Goes Viral.” Some of you might be able to relate. I’m not admitting to anything.

 

I’ve read this well edited anthology twice and will read it again, it’s that good. I’ve mentioned several of my favorites, but there truly is something rewarding/entertaining for everybody. Buy “Writers Crushing Covid-19” because you enjoy the short story genre, or buy it to support the cause, or both.

All proceeds will go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.

 

*Full disclosure: I am a member of the Piedmont Authors Network. Future in-person meetings will be held in Asheboro, North Carolina, but at the present, virtually.

 

 

2020 ITW ThrillerFest Awards

 

Thriller writers bring us thrills and chills and keep us awake long into the wee hours of the morning. Check out the 2020 ITW ThrillerFest Award finalists and winners (indicated in red) and enjoy the reads!

BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL
David Baldacci — “One Good Deed”
Joe Clifford — “Rag and Bone”
Blake Crouch — “Recursion”
Rachel Howzell Hall — “They All Fall Down”
Adrian McKinty — “The Chain”
Denise Mina — “Conviction”

BEST FIRST NOVEL
Samantha Downing — “My Lovely Wife”
Angie Kim — “Miracle Creek”
John McMahon — “The Good Detctive”
Alex Michaelides — “The Silent Patient”
Lauren Wilkinson — “American Spy”

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL
Max Allan Collins — “Girl Most Likely”
Alison Gaylin — “Never Look Back”
Alastair Luft — “Jihadi Bride”
Dervla McTiernan — “The Scholar”
Lisa Sandlin — “The Bird Boys”
Kate White — “Such A Perfect Wife”

BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL
Author Brett Battles — “Night Man”
Sean Black — “The Deep Abiding”
Brian Shea — “Murder Board”
LynDee Walker — “Leave No Stone”
Kerry Wilkinson — “Close to You”

BEST SHORT STORY
Hector Acosta — “Turistas” (Down & Out Books)
Michael Cowgill — “Call Me Chuckles” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Tara Laskowski — “The Long-Term Tenant” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Lia Matera — “Snow Job” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Twist Phelan — “Fathers-in-Law” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

 

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