mystery

Nancy G. West’s “The Plunge” – Guest Review by Kathy Waller

Guest Reviewer, Kathy Waller, joined us from Texas while she recovered from total knee replacement surgery. Coincidentally to the surgery she had won a copy of Nancy G. West’s book, “The Plunge,” in a Nightstand Book Reviews drawing and had then reviewed it on her own blog. I asked if she would honor us with her review, she agreed, and here it is, including her humorous take on her surgery and recovery.

 

“I had a total knee replacement two days ago. It isn’t as much fun as it sounds.

 

Lying in bed at Ascension Seton is delightful. Nurses are wonderful. The cafeteria is too good for my good.

 

But physical therapists won’t leave me alone. They keep showing up and wanting me to get out of bed and walk.

 

The one who came in the morning after surgery asked if I was ready to get up and move. I said I never wanted to get up and move again. That was the wrong answer.

 

The afternoon PT had me walk halfway to El Paso. And back. He taught me–or tried to teach–me to use the two-wheeled walker (as opposed to the four-wheeler I’ve been using). (In British literature, two-wheeled walkers are referred to by the brand name, Zimmer frames. The phrase sounds so sophisticated that I may adopt it.)

 

This morning I walked to Santa Fe. The pain people had awakened me at eight and I said I had no pain. After the walk, I told the nurse to tell them I’d changed my mind. She gave me something to go with the something I’d already had. They’re free with the pain meds, which I appreciate.

 

I hope to go to inpatient rehab. Doctors are on board. I’m convinced going straight home would be a recipe for a fall, considering I have to have someone with me every time I stand and walk. And for transport home, they’ll have to tie me to the top of the car. The knee bends a bit but on a good day it doesn’t like to get in and out of the car.

 

But enough of my griping. I’m fine.

 

Because I have a killer painkiller–a new book. A book book, paper and everything.

 

I won it in a drawing from Nightstand Book Reviews.

 

Nightstand Book Reviews is, in its own words, a site devoted to reviews of books that are great reads. Under this umbrella are books written by bestselling authors as well as by debut novelists in both ebook and paper format. Some are traditionally published authors and some are indies.

 

It’s for recommendations, not rants.

Now to my new book. It’s The Plunge by Nancy G. West, author of the
Aggie Mundeen mysteries. Aggie and her good (very good) friend, Sam
Vanderhoven, live in San Antonio, where Sam is a detective with the police
force. Aggie’s penchant for helping Sam with his cases sometimes gets in his
way–at least he thinks so–but that doesn’t discourage Aggie. She’s willing to stay out of his business, but when she thinks she can help . . . and she’s impulsive . . . and when she has the opportunity to check out a new acquaintance’s medicine cabinet . . . impulsive or not, she’s a pretty good amateur detective.

 

The Plunge takes Aggie in a new direction–away from San Antonio, east about thirty miles to the Guadalupe River in Central Texas. When the Guadalupe floods, the effects can be disastrous, especially for people living nearby. And when there’s so much rain that surrounding creeks, and sometimes even the San Antonio River, overflow, results are devastating for miles around. That happened in 1998.

It’s in October of 1998 that Aggie and Sam plan a getaway at the home of Sam’s friend on Lake Placid, one of the river’s several lakes, ostensibly for pleasure but really so Sam can quietly investigate the disappearance of his friend’s boat. Even a little rain won’t ruin the retreat. But the pleasure weekend quickly turns into a rapid–critical–evacuation. Sam has left Aggie at the cottage to start his investigation and must reach her before the water does. Car motors stall, and at one time Aggie is looking for trees to climb.

 

Complicating things is that while on the water, in the dark, they see something–a drowning? Or a murder? Now there’s more than a missing boat to investigate.

 

As they say in fourth-grade book reports, if you want to know how the story ends, you’ll have to read the book. It’s a good one.

 

The Plunge touches me personally because I drove across the Guadalupe River near Lake Placid nearly every working day for twenty-eight years. I worked with people who lost everything, one whose house floated off its foundation. Another, who lived west near San Antonio, watched a car almost wash away on Interstate 10; her son raced to pull it out with a tractor, and the tractor floated. Even where I lived, thirty miles east of the Guadalupe on a smaller, quieter river, houses flooded, and several people were airlifted out.

 

Using this setting, Nancy G. West combines a first-rate mystery with the urgency and personal toll of the ’98 flood. The Plunge makes for a suspenseful read.

 

 

Please visit Kathy Waller at https://kathywaller1.com/ where she “tells the truth, mainly,” and shares information about her own writing life and her award winning books.

Many thanks to Kathy for sharing her review and best wishes for a speedy recovery!

 

 

Halloween Mystery List – 2021

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-eight titles in our updated 2021 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


Laurien Berenson – Howloween Murder
Susan Bernhardt – The Ginseng Conspiracy
Morgana Best – The Halloween Time Spell
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
Christin Brecher – 15 Minutes of Flame
Allison Brook – Death Overdue
Rita Mae Brown – The Litter of the Law
Catherine Bruns – Dessert Is the Bomb
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 Inn at Holiday Bay

Kim Davis – Cake Popped Off

Krista Davis – Murder Outside the Lines


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


Liz Ireland – Mrs. Claus and the Halloween Homicide
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 – Halloween Party Murder
Alexis Morgan – Death by Jack-O-Lantern

Lynn Morrison – Stakes and Spells

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

Summer Prescott & 7 others – A Very Cozy Halloween


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 2021, please let us know what you thought.

Happy Spooky reading!

Ellen Byron’s “Cajun Kiss of Death,” and the Cajun Country Mystery Series

Ellen Byron, the Agatha Award winning author of the Cajun Country Mysteries, recently launched the thoroughly entertaining seventh book in the series, “Cajun Kiss of Death.” There’s never a dull moment in Maggie Crozat’s family, and a triple wedding at the beginning pulls out all the stops.

 

Great food has always been a part of the series, and as a result, favorite regional dishes frequently simmer on the stove at the Crozat Plantation B&B. Happily, Byron shares a few of the featured special recipes. I have my eye on the calas recipe in “Cajun Kiss of Death.” It’s a rice ball that has been deep fried and rolled in sugar or syrup. It promises to be a yummy breakfast treat or afternoon snack with coffee or tea.

 

In “Cajun Kiss of Death,” oysters are selling at rock bottom prices at a new restaurant, forcing established local eateries to struggle to stay afloat. Maggie’s mother, Ninette, discovers that a celebrity chef re-created her signature recipe to sell in his own place. Say what? Are the two actions related? Neither piece of underhandedness wins any friends and the chef winds up deader than a week old crayfish. Nin is one of the suspects he betrayed, but with rival restaurateurs, disgruntled ex-wives, sou chefs, and flamboyant cooks in the mix, there’s no shortage of people to investigate.

 

Each of the series books has featured a believable and often topical theme. “Mardi Gras Murder” gave a nod to the real life area’s resiliency after Katrina and other crushing storms leveled surrounding New Orleans neighborhoods. Pelican is no ordinary town, but a tight-knit community steeped in tradition, a solid theme often repeated. 

 

The series has engaged us with extensive local history through the well-developed plots and an eclectic cast from New Orleans culture. We have witnessed the grit needed to keep the family business going throughout hurricanes, cash flow challenges, less than honest outside influences, and even a pandemic. There is a special warmth and depth to the characters and we can’t help but recognize our own favorite relatives in Byron’s books.

 

Books in Order:
Click on the titles for the ‘buy’ links.

Plantation Shudders
Body on the Bayou
Cajun Christmas Killing

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the review for “Mardi Gras Murder” here.

Fatal Cajun Festival
Murder in the Bayou Boneyard
Cajun Kiss of Death

 

Wonderful series. Get them all.

Please visit www.ellenbyron.com for information about her other books in the series, as well as her new projects.

 

Macavity Awards – 2021

The Macavity Awards are nominated by members and friends of Mystery Readers International, and subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal. Normally presented at BoucherCon, the 2021 Macavity winners were announced prior to the virtual presentation in late August, due to Covid. BoucherCon New Orleans is being postponed until 2025.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (indicated in red).

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

Best Novel 
“Before She Was Helen” by Caroline B. Cooney
“Blacktop Wasteland” by S.A. Cosby
“Blind Vigil” by Matt Coyle  
“All the Devils Are Here” by Louise Penny
“These Women” by Ivy Pochoda  
“When She Was Good” by Michael Robotham

 

Best First 
“Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line” by Deepa Anappara  
“Murder in Old Bombay” by Nev March  
“The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman  
“Winter Counts” by David Heska Wanbli Weider  
“Darling Rose Gold” by Stephanie Wrobel

 

Best Short Story 
“Dear Emily Etiquette” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Sept/Oct 2020) 
“The Boy Detective & The Summer of ‘74” by Art Taylor (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Jan/Feb 2020) 
“Elysian Fields” by Gabriel Valjan (California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology, edited by Art Taylor; Wildside Press) 
“Dog Eat Dog” by Elaine Viets (The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell, edited by Josh Pachter; Untreed Reads Publishing) 
“The Twenty-Five Year Engagement,” by James W. Ziskin (In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon, edited by Laurie R. King; Pegasus Crime)

 

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery 
“The Last Mrs. Summers” by Rhys Bowen  
“The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne” by Elsa Hart
“The Turning Tide” by Catriona McPherson
“Mortal Music” by Ann Parker  
“The Mimosa Tree Mystery” by Ovidia Yu
“Turn to Stone” by James Ziskin

Shamus Awards – 2021

The Private Eye Writers of America was founded in 1981 by Robert J. Randisi, who also created the Shamus Award. From the website: “A Private Eye is defined as a private citizen (not a member of the military, federal agency, or civic or state police force) who is paid to investigate crimes. A Private Investigator can be a traditional private eye, a TV or newspaper reporter, an insurance investigator, an employee of an investigative service or agency (think Pinkertons), or similar character.”  Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (indicated in red)

 

BEST PI HARDCOVER
“What You Don’t See” by Tracy Clark
“Do No Harm” by Max Allan Collins
“Blind Vigil” by Matt Coyle
“House on Fire” by Joseph Finder
“And Now She’s Gone” by Rachel Howzell Hall

 

          BEST ORIGINAL PI PAPERBACK
          “Farewell Las Vegas” by Grant Bywaters
          “All Kinds of Ugly” by Ralph Dennis
          “Brittle Karma” by Richard Helms
          “Remember My Face” by John Lantigua
          “Damaged Goods” by Debbi Mack

 

 BEST PI SHORT STORY
 “A Dreamboat Gambol” by O’Neil De Noux in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
“Mustang Sally” by John M. Floyd in Black Cat Mystery Magazine
“Setting the Pick” by April Kelly in Mystery Weekly Magazine
“Show and Zeller” by Gordon Linzer in Black Cat Mystery Magazine
“Nashua River Floater” by Tom MacDonald in Coast to Coast Noir


BEST FIRST  PI NOVEL
 “Squatter’s Rights” by Kevin R. Doyle

 “Derailed” by Mary Keliikoa
 “I Know Where You Sleep” by Alan Orloff
 “The Missing American” by Kwei Quartey
 “Winter Counts” by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

The Agatha Awards – 2020 Books

The winners for the Agatha Awards for 2020 Books (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The awards were given to mystery and crime writers during the virtual More than Malice conference in July, 2021. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 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
Gift of the Magpie by Donna Andrews

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen Byron
From Beer to Eternity by Sherry Harris
All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny
The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day

 

Best Historical Novel
The Last Mrs. Summers by Rhys Bowen

Fate of a Flapper by Susanna Calkins
A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder by Dianne Freeman
Taken Too Soon by Edith Maxwell
The Turning Tide by Catriona McPherson

 

Best First Novel
A Spell for Trouble by Esme Addison

Winter Witness by Tina deBelgarde
Derailed by Mary Keliikoa
Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer
Murder Most Sweet by Laura Jensen Walker

 

Best Short Story
“Dear Emily Etiquette” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mag)

“The Red Herrings at Killington Inn” by Shawn Reilly Simmons Masthead: Best New England Crime Stories (Level Best Books)
“The Boy Detective & The Summer of ‘74” by Art Taylor (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Jan/Feb)
“Elysian Fields” by Gabriel Valjan California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology (Wildside Press)
“The 25 Year Engagement” by James Ziskin In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon (Pegasus Crime)
 
Best Children’s/YA Mystery
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel
by Fleur Bradley

Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Saltwater Secrets by Cindy Callaghan
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco by Richard Narvaez

 

The Edgar Awards – 2021

Mystery Writers of America has announced the winners of the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2020. A diverse group of judges  selected the nominees and from among those lists, selected the winners,  revealed on April 29, 2021. The winners are indicated in red.

 

BEST NOVEL

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney
Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
These Women by Ivy Pochoda
The Missing American by Kwei Quartey
The Distant Dead by Heather Young

 

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March
Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
The Deep, Deep Snow by Brian Freeman
Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey
The Keeper by Jessica Moor
East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman

 

BEST FACT CRIME

Blood Runs Coal: The Yablonski Murders and the Battle for the United Mine Workers of America by Mark A. Bradley

The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg

Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies that Delivered the Opioid Epidemic by Eric Eyre

Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane Murdoch

Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man, and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife by Ariel Sabar

  

BEST JUVENILE

Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Me and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor
Nessie Quest by Melissa Savage
Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders

  
THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD

Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks
The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart
The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day
The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Cold Wind by Paige Shelton

 

THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD

The Burn by Kathleen Kent
Riviera Gold by Laurie R. King
Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht
Dead Land by Sara Paretsky
The Sleeping Nymph by Ilaria Tuti
Turn to Stone by James W. Ziskin

 

The GRAND MASTERS:

Jeffery Deaver
Charlaine Harris

 

The RAVEN AWARD:

Malice Domestic

 

Please visit https://mysterywriters.org/mwa-announces-2021-edgar-allan-poe-award-nominations/ for the recipient of The Ellery Queen Award, as well as the nominees in the categories of Best Critical/Biographical, Best Short Story, Best YA, and Best Television Episode Teleplay.

Congratulations to all the nominees, winners, and recipients of the special awards!

 

 

Scroll to Top