Suspense

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

 

Jeanine Kitchel’s “Wheels Up,” 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, “Layla’s Law,” will be published later in February. For more information about Jeanine Kitchel, her time in Mexico, as well as her non-fiction work, please visit www.jeaninekitchel.com.                       

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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. The Edgar Awards for 2020 will be presented at the annual Gala Banquet at the end of April in New York City.


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 for the 2020 Edgar Awards!

 

 

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“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.

 

 

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Barnes & Noble booksellers choose 8 Best of Year Finalists

 

Barnes and Noble did a survey of booksellers at its brick and mortar stores, asking which books they enjoyed selling the most during the year. Here’s the list of the eight top nominees. In December, the booksellers chose among the finalists for the B&N Book of the Year. It's highlighted in red.
 

Click on the titles to learn more about the books.

 

"The Testaments (Barnes & Noble Book Club Edition)"  by Margaret Atwood

 

 

"The Food of Sichuan"  by Fuchsia Dunlop

 

 

"Mythos: (Ancient Greek Mythology Book for Adults, Modern Telling of Classical Greek Myths Book)"  by Stephen Fry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse"  by Charlie Mackesy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"The Silent Patient"  by Alex Michaelides
 

 

"Olive, Again"  by Elizabeth Strout

 

 

"No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference"  by Greta Thunberg

 

 

"The Nickel Boys (Barnes & Noble Book Club Edition)"  by Colson Whitehead

 

 

What do you think of the list? Which one(s) did you read? Let us know in the comments below.  🙂

 

 

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“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.

 

Follow along as accusations, confessions, and hit lists are revealed in "Unholy Covenant," an amazing look behind the scenes of what is still a case that intrigues the public decades later.

 

 

 

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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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