bestseller

“Dry Bones” by Craig Johnson

 

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Jen, a T-Rex and the center of the controversy in “Dry Bones,” is the largest specimen of its type ever found and it shows up in Sheriff Walt Longmire’s county. Longmire deals with all kinds of victims, but a dinosaur? That’s a new kind of cold case.

 

A skeleton of this importance would be a windfall for the local museum, but first Longmire must figure out if the High Plains Dinosaur Museum has the right to claim Jen as its own. When the Cheyenne owner of the ranch where Jen was found turns up dead, things get complicated. It’s possible that the T-Rex belongs to the Cheyenne Nation…or the federal government…or the family of the guy who died.

 

Tribal rights, family inheritance, federal property or just a really nice set of bones to display? An acting Deputy Attorney is out to make a name for himself and seems to feel that photo ops are more important than catching the bad guys or finding kidnap victims. But, he’s not the only one with priorities a tad off center in "Dry Bones." More people are interested in who gets the dinosaur than the circumstances behind the death of Danny Lone Elk. 

 

With Jen crowding Walt’s holding cells while ownership is being determined, and the interested parties holding Walt’s office hostage, the Sheriff realizes that the only way he can get back to the business for which he was elected is to solve the mystery of Danny Lone Elk’s death and find the gal (also Jen) who discovered the T-Rex to begin with.

 

It’s a circus.

 

There are helicopter forays into the back country, harrowing visits to an old mine, entertaining interactions with ever wise-cracking Lucien, Henry Standing Bear saving the day as only he can, and more near misses for Walt than our hearts can stand. Did I mention bullets flying? And the terrifying prospect of Walt taking care of his grand-daughter? He’s not afraid of many bad guys, but the little one? Waaay too funny.

 

We are treated to Craig Johnson’s dry wit, in several LOL scenes, with Walt’s delivery always perfectly timed. A man of few words, but good ones.

 

In real life, that entire region of the country is an active dinosaur bone recovery area with several universities and museums conducting legitimate digs. People love a cool dinosaur, so finding the big ones can cement the reputation – and therefore the funding – of an institution for many years.

 

In “Dry Bones,” Johnson explores the ethics of taking artifacts away from the people upon whose land they were found. It’s not just dino bones that are being removed from their place of origin. World-wide, governments are seeking to recover long lost treasures robbed from centuries old graves, temples, and ruins. Find the treasures? Great. Remove them from the place of origin without permission or proper compensation? These days, that’s a long jail term in the making.

 

Read Craig Allen Johnson’s Author Profile here.

 

Read the review of “The Cold Dish” here.

 

Read the review of “Kindness Goes Unpunished” here.

 

Please visit www.craigallenjohnson.com for lots of information about Mr. Johnson and his work, his future appearances, and his online store.

 

The New York Times Best Fiction List 2016

 

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The New York Times Best 100 Books of 2016 list was posted recently. It’s always interesting to see which books editors at the NYT will choose for their “Best of…” lists for the year. The titles are sometimes bestsellers, but more importantly, the editors have fallen in love with the story (or the writing) and Wahoo! the book makes the list.

 

Check out the top five fiction choices from 2016, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Click on the links below the book titles to read their reviews.

 

“The Association of Small Bombs” by Karan Mahajan http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/books/review/the-association-of-small-bombs-by-karan-mahajan.html?_r=0

 

 

“The North Water” by Ian McGuire
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/books/review/the-north-water-by-ian-mcguire.html

 

 

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/books/review/colson-whitehead-underground-railroad.html

 

 

“The Vegetarian” by Han Kang. Translated by Deborah Smith.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/books/review/the-vegetarian-by-han-kang.html

 

 

“War and Turpentine” by Stefan Hertmans. Translated by David McKay.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/books/review/war-and-turpentine-stefan-hertmans.html

 

 

Have you read any of the top five titles? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.  :-)

 

 

Literary Cookbooks

 

 

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What cook can resist a great new cookbook?

Even better, what foodie/avid reader can resist a cookbook created by his/her favorite author?

 

The following twelve cookbooks have been recommended by the readers of Nightstand Book Reviews as part of their literary and/or cookbook collections. The cookbooks would definitely make a fun gift to a fan of any of the authors. There are some pretty famous writers in the mix and many of the cookbooks have been nominated for awards.  :-)  If you have tried any of the recipes, please let us know in the comments.

 

Click on the book title to learn more about the featured recipes.

 

"Cooking with Jane Austen" – Kirstin Olsen

 

"Food to Die For" – Patricia Cornwell, Marlene Brown

 

"Goldy’s Kitchen Cookbook" – Diane Mott Davidson


"Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader" – Jan Karon

 

"KP Authors Cook Their Books" – 11 Kindle Press authors

 

"Mystery Writers of America Cookbook" – Kate White, editor; famous mystery writer contributors

 

"The Cat Who Cookbook" – Lilian Jackson Braun

 

"The Cozy Cookbook" – Laura Childs & other bestselling cozy writers

 

"The Hemingway Cookbook" – Craig Boreth

 

"The Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook" – Theresa Carle-Sanders

 

"Yashim Cooks Istanbul: Culinary Adventures in the Ottoman Kitchen" – Jason Goodwin

 

"Winnie the Pooh’s Teatime Cookbook" – A.A. Milne
 

 

Happy cooking!  :-)

 


 

Author Profile: Craig Allen Johnson

 

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The Walt Longmire character that Craig Allen Johnson has brought to life both in award-winning books and on TV, has come to personify the modern Western law man – rough, tough, and ready for whatever the bad guys can throw at him.

 

Somehow, I had not realized that the show was based on Johnson’s books until the first season was half over. Books? Well, I ran right out – really – and bought the books that my local store had in stock. I started with Cold Dish and was forever hooked.

 

I watched the Longmire series on A&E until somebody in the network offices lost their collective minds and cancelled the show because the demographic didn’t fit their model of the future. Say what? A successful show that millions of people watch, that is making your corporation money and you don’t like the people who are doing the watching? Hmph.

 

Well, we fans are not a dumb bunch and we mounted a social media campaign for another network to pick up the show. Netflix and the Johnson people were able to come to an agreement and the fans collectively smiled. It has been reported that the Netflix association may come to an end after Season 6, but we still have the fabulous bestselling books – with more to come.

 

Craig Johnson was born in West Virginia, but wound up in Wyoming some years after a visit while delivering horses. He built the 2,000+ square foot log cabin in which he and his wife, Judy, now live. Ucross, Wyoming is sparsely populated – a mere 25 inhabitants – and is the source for Johnson’s twitter handle: @ucrosspop25.    

 

What makes Sheriff Walt Longmire so immediately likable? Middle-aged, experienced at his job, widower of a woman he loved more than life itself, an attorney daughter of whom he is so very proud, and a Cheyenne best friend/sidekick whom he has known since childhood. Longmire mostly follows the rules, but when justice is in question, the rules are sometimes open to interpretation.

 

The stories are full of wonderful dialogue, intriguing mysteries, life and death situations, and a core set of characters with whom you’d like to spend as much time as possible. Johnson’s obvious love of the wide-open spaces of Wyoming spills onto the pages when the landscape becomes a character, as suddenly dangerous as any killer could be or as mesmerizing as a beautiful painting.

 

The books have been credited as having one of the best depictions of Native American/White Man interactions in the world of fiction – they certainly ring true in the reading. Johnson’s ranch is right next to a Cheyenne reservation, and through the years he has come to respect the challenges that Native Americans have faced and continue to face. His books explore the cultural differences and celebrate the traditions in thoughtful and meaningful ways, often including those themes in the mysteries.

 

When not writing the Longmire series, consulting on the TV show, or working his ranch, Johnson travels around the country (and to France) with Judy, doing book tours. I met him in Raleigh, NC at Quail Ridge Books. He’s charming and as funny in person as you would hope him to be after having read the books.

 

A great showman who delivers a great read.  :-)

 

Take a look at the reviews of:

 

"The Cold Dish"
Book Cover - Cold Dish

 

 

  here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                 "Kindness Goes Unpunished"

Book Cover - Kindness Goes Unpunished

                                                here

 

                                                                             "Dry Bones"

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                                                           here

 

 

 

 

Check out www.craigallenjohnson.com, where you will find details about his upcoming tours, the online fan store with lots of Longmire goodies, and photos of the cast of Longmire.

 

 

*Photo of Craig Allen Johnson taken by Patti Phillips at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC.

 

 

Happily Ever After – 2016

 

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Summer is almost here, when there is lots of talk about weddings and romantic getaways.

 

June is the biggest month for weddings in the United States – or so all the bride magazines would have you believe. In fact, while June may be the most popular month to tie the knot, it’s only by a small margin. 10.8% of yearly weddings are performed then, followed closely by August, at 10.2%. But, that’s still over six thousand weddings a day, explaining why wedding venues must be booked months in advance.

 

For those of us not getting married or traveling to a romantic destination anytime soon, we can get lost in a ‘Happily Ever After’ book and be transported via heart and mind.

 

Below is a list of titles suggested by readers that enjoy more sweet romance in their stories than the murder mysteries usually reviewed or listed here at NBR. These books got raves from the readers that made the suggestions.  😀

 

No dead bodies to be found among the pages – or so I’ve been told – just romance in many forms. Think Hallmark Channel on Saturday and Sunday nights during June.

 

If you’ve read any of the titles from the authors in this genre, let us know in the comments below.

 

Click on the author names for the links to their websites.

 

Rachael Anderson:  “Not Always Happenstance”

 

Tamie Dearen:  “A Rose in Bloom”

 

Shannon Guymon:  “Free Fallin’ ”

 

Liwen Ho:  “Drawn to You”

 

Melanie Jacobson:  “Always Will”

 

Stacy Juba:  “Fooling Around with Cinderella”

 

Sophie Kinsella:  “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan”

 

Jane Lebak:  “Honest and For True”

 

Debbie Macomber:  “Love Letters”

 

Catherine Maiorisi:  “Matters of the Heart”

 

Jill Mansell:  “The Unpredictable Consequences of Love”

 

Jules Nelson:  “Shadows”

 

Jenny Proctor:  “Love at First Note”

 

Ann Roberts:  “Complete Package”

 

Curtis Sittenfeld:  “Eligible”

 

Heather Sutherlin:  “Loose Ends”

 

Debbie White:  “Finding Mrs. Right”

 

Susan Wiggs:  “Summer by the Sea”

 

Sherryl Woods:  Chesapeake Shores series

 

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Is there a swoon worthy title in the list?  Happily Ever After reading!   :-)

 

*Photos by Patti Phillips

 

 

“The Fixer” by Joseph Finder

 

Book Cover - The Fixer

In typical Joseph Finder fashion, “The Fixer” is a barnburner of a book. There is lots of action, jaw-dropping twists, and moments when you wonder if our hero, Rick Hoffman, will live through it all.

 

Former legitimate journalist and recently fired media man, Hoffman, is down on his luck, demoted to an almost non-existent freelance job except for the press passes that haven’t yet been canceled. His girlfriend has thrown him out and he has to sleep on a couch in his dad’s old house, a house that has been neglected for years. He wants to sell it for quick cash, but in its present rundown condition nobody will pay him even what the land is worth. He makes an agreement with a quasi friend/contractor to split the profits after sale, but in the process of chasing squirrels, discovers a secret in the attic – a $3 million stash.

 

Hoffman, true to his former investigative style, starts to research what his father might have been doing at the time before his stroke twenty years earlier. A stroke that was so severe that his dad can no longer communicate. Where did the money come from? How  could a solo attorney in a rough section of town ever make that much money? Hoffman asks questions that bring the wrong kind of attention to himself and the bad guys start tripping over each other in “The Fixer” to keep Hoffman quiet, including car trunks, plastic ties, tracking devices, and assorted other scare tactics.

 

Hoffman is so frightened that he goes into hiding – his decisions are naïve and comical at the same time, but who among us honest folks in mainstream life would be able to do it any better? Finder has a genius for making his heroes real and as un-Bond-like as possible, yet with enough smarts to solve as many of the puzzle parts as necessary to get them out of trouble. Hoffman is a great character – part professional, part loyal son, part one-scared-human-being, part reckless in the face of all he sees and learns, not always  staying ahead of his enemies.

 

The reason behind the $3 million is absorbing, frightening, and serious at its core. “The Fixer” is so well written that Finder made me wonder if the plot was based on a real-life incident. Only Joseph Finder and some of the citizens of Boston know the truth for sure.

 

Finder gives us some great scenes between father and son, despite the seemingly one-sided conversations. Other supporting characters are slithery, nasty, and their behavior is worthy of the cover up that Hoffman unravels bit-by-bit.

 

I met Joseph Finder at Bouchercon (the mystery fan convention) last year. He signed my copy of “Buried Secrets,” and you can read my review of that book here.

 

“The Fixer” is a pulse-pounding page turner, a great addition to my library, and one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year.

 

For more information about Joseph Finder, his work, and the movies based on his books, please visit www.josephfinder.com

 

 

The Agatha Awards for 2014

 

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The nominees for the 2014 Agatha Awards (named for Agatha Christie) were announced earlier in the year and the awards were given to mystery and crime writers at the annual Malice Domestic conference on May 2, 2015. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2014.

 

This is one of my favorite book awards, because the Agatha Awards recognize the "traditional mystery," meaning in general that there is no graphic sex and no excessive violence in the novels. This is not the platform for thrillers or hard-boiled detectives, but instead, there is more emphasis on a puzzle to be solved. And, I do love a puzzle.

 

The 2014 nominees and winners (noted in red):

Best Contemporary Novel:
The Good, The Bad and The Emus by Donna Andrews (Minotaur Books)
A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet (Minotaur Books)
Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Forge Books)
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)
Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron (Grand Central Publishing)

 

Best Historical Novel:
Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd (William Morrow)
An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd (William Morrow)
Wouldn't it Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland (Minotaur Books)
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson (Berkley)

 

Best First Novel:
Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)
Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris (Kensington Publishing)
Finding Sky by Susan O'Brien (Henery Press)
Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran (Berkley Prime Crime)
Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber (Midnight Ink)

 

Best Nonfiction:
400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga (Quill Driver Books)
Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer's Journey by Hank Phillippi Ryan, Editor (Henery Press)
Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice by Kate Flora (New Horizon Press)
The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Books)
The Poisoner: The Life and Crimes of Victorian England's Most Notorious Doctor by Stephen Bates (Overlook Hardcover)

 

Best Short Story:
"The Odds are Against Us" (PDF) by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2014
"Premonition" by Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays (Wildside Press)
"The Shadow Knows" by Barb Goffman, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays (Wildside Press)
"Just Desserts for Johnny" (PDF) by Edith Maxwell (Kings River Life Magazine)
"The Blessing Witch" (PDF) by Kathy Lynn Emerson, Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave (Level Best Books)

 

Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
Andi Under Pressure by Amanda Flower (ZonderKidz)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion Books)
Uncertain Glory by Lea Wait (Islandport Press)
The Code Buster's Club, Case #4: The Mummy's Curse by Penny Warner (Egmont USA)
Found by Harlen Coben (Putnam Juvenile)

 

I've read a few of the titles on the list and was delighted to meet many of the nominees and winners at the Malice Domestic Conference. There were many strong books in competition with each other, so choosing a winner was tough. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

What a great group of writers and mystery fans!   smiley