mystery

“Circle of Influence” and “No Way Home” by Annette Dashofy

 

 

“Circle of Influence” and "No Way Home" by Annette Dashofy, star Zoe Chambers as an EMT, who occasionally doubles as a coroner's assistant when she can stand the smells in the autopsy room.

 

In "Circle of Influence," a routine call to check on a car on the side of the road turns into a murder investigation. The only trouble is the dead guy is her best friend's husband, well-liked and respected in town, and he is sitting in the front seat of a city council guy’s car – a guy hated by almost everyone. Why is her friend dead and why is he sitting in that particular car? 
 

The dead guy's mother works for the police department and is arrested for borrowing a computer from the storeroom. Arrested? Why would the city council bully would do such a thing? What is on that computer? Life gets dangerous, the body count rises, and so does the list of suspects. In the “Circle of Influence” effectively layered storyline, there are secrets galore and we don't know whom to believe. Trust is tough to come by.
 

Dashofy gives us a picture of small-town country living in Pennsylvania. Vance Township is so small that everyone knows where you were and the neighbors ask you about it before you unlock your front door. Vance doesn't even have a coffee shop. The philosophy is that coffee can be brewed at home or at the office- no need to waste money when cash is tight.
 

The core characters in “Circle of Influence” are nicely developed and we really care about what happens to each. Any one of them could be your next-door neighbor, the guy at the grocery store, the cop you see on the street, the maybe boyfriend that gives you pause – in a good way. Zoe Chambers herself, is a flesh and blood gal with a love of country life and horses. Even though not making a big salary as an EMT, Zoe is able to keep a horse of her own by boarding horses for other people. She has a support system, steps on a few toes while investigating, has an eye for detail, aims to improve at her job, and is loyal to her friends.
 

Dashofy’s Zoe Chambers is a great character for a series, so I picked up Agatha nominated “No Way Home,” book #5.

 

Zoe Chambers is out for a ride on her own horse, when a horse from her boarding stable gallops toward her without its owner. You guessed it – the owner is dead. Was it an accident or something else, because the crime scene details don’t add up and the autopsy reveals an unexpected twist.

 

A tricky plot takes Zoe and her sometime best friend to New Mexico in search of more than one truth. Tensions are high as we discover that drug use is on the rise in this southwestern fictional Pennsylvania community set 30 miles from Pittsburgh. Drug paraphernalia at the crime scenes gives the story a grim authenticity.
 

Zoe’s love interest in the series returns, but love is not the central focus of “No Way Home.” Murder, drugs, and mayhem definitely are.
 

Dashofy’s central characters are engaging in "Circle of Influence" and "No Way Home," the plot lines topical, and happily, more books are in the works. “Uneasy Prey,” book #6, is out now.
 

Please visit www.annettedashofy.com to find out more about this award winning and Agatha nominated author.
 

 

Anthony Awards 2018 – Bouchercon

 

The Anthony Awards 2018 will be handed out at The World Mystery Convention (usually referred to as Bouchercon) in September, 2018. 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 Anthony Awards 2018 were chosen by attendees at the 2017 convention, as well as early registrants for the 2018 event. The recognized works were published during 2017 and the finalists will be voted upon by the 2018 Bouchercon attendees. The winners will be announced that weekend. Congratulations to all the nominees!
 

Nominees for the Anthony Awards 2018 are:

BEST NOVEL

  • "The Late Show" by Michael Connelly
  • "Magpie Murders" by Anthony Horowitz
  • "Bluebird, Bluebird" by Attica Locke
  • "Glass Houses" by Louise Penny
  • "The Force" by Don Winslow

BEST FIRST NOVEL

  • "Hollywood Homicide" by Kellye Garrett
  • "She Rides Shotgun" by Jordan Harper
  • "The Dry" by Jane Harper
  • "Ragged; or, The Loveliest Lies of All" by Christopher Irvin
  • "The Last Place You Look" by Kristen Lepionka

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

  • "Uncorking a Lie" by Nadine Nettmann
  • "Bad Boy Boogie" by Thomas Pluck
  • "What We Reckon" by Eryk Pruitt
  • "The Day I Died" by Lori Rader-Day
  • "Cast the First Stone" by James W. Ziskin

BILL CRIDER AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL IN A SERIES  

  • "Give Up the Dead" (Jay Porter #3) by Joe Clifford
  • "Two Kinds of Truth" (Harry Bosch #20) by Michael Connelly
  • "Y is for Yesterday" (Kinsey Millhone #25) by Sue Grafton
  • "Glass Houses" (Armand Gamache #13) by Louise Penny
  • "Dangerous Ends" (Pete Fernandez #3) by Alex Segura

BEST SHORT STORY

  • "The Trial of Madame Pelletier" by Susanna Calkins from Malice Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical
  • "God’s Gonna Cut You Down" by Jen Conley from Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash
  • "My Side of the Matter" by Hilary Davidson from Killing Malmon
  • "Whose Wine Is It Anyway?" by Barb Goffman from 50 Shades of Cabernet
  • "The Night They Burned Miss Dixie’s Place" by Debra Goldstein from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, May/June 2017
  • "A Necessary Ingredient" by Art Taylor from Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea

BEST CRITICAL/NON-FICTION BOOK 

  • "From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon" by Mattias Boström
  • "The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books" by Martin Edwards
  • "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI" by David Grann
  • "Chester B. Himes: A Biography" by Lawrence P. Jackson
  • "Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction" by Jessica Lourey

 

 

Please visit https://www.bouchercon2018.com/anthony-awards/ for nominees in the Best Online Content and Best Anthology categories.

 

Happy Reading!  🙂

 

 

 

2018 ITW Thrillerfest Awards

 

 

Thriller writers bring us thrills and chills, keep us awake long into the wee hours of the morning and leave us begging for more. You’re also likely to see many of them on top mystery writer lists all over the world. The 2018 ITW Thrillerfest Awards nominees include terrific titles once again – truly 'stay awake' reads. Take a look at this year’s finalists:
 

BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL

Dan Chaon — “Ill Will”
Denise Mina — “The Long Drop”
B.A. Paris — “The Breakdown”
Gin Phillips — “Fierce Kingdom”
Riley Sager — “Final Girls”

 

BEST FIRST NOVEL

Steph Broadribb — “Deep Down Dead”
Daniel Cole — “Ragdoll”
Walt Gragg — “The Red Line”
K.J. Howe — “The Freedom Broker”
Sheena Kamal — “The Lost Ones”

 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL

Christine Bell — “Grievance”          
Rachel Caine — “Stillhouse Lake”
Layton Green — “The Resurrector”
Adrian McKinty — “Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly”
Lori Rader-Day — “The Day I Died”

 

BEST SHORT STORY

Lee Child — “Too Much Time”
Mat Coward — “What Could Possibly Go Boing?”
Zoë  Z. Dean — “Charcoal and Cherry”  
Willy Vlautin — “The Kill Switch”                                  
Ben H. Winters — “Test Drive”

 

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Gregg Hurwitz — “The Rains”
Gregg Olsen — “The Boy She Left Behind”
Sheryl Scarborough — “To Catch a Killer”
Rysa Walker — “The Delphi Effect”
Diana Rodriguez Wallach — “Proof of Lies”

 

BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL

Sean Black — “Second Chance”
Jeff Gunhus — “Resurrection America”
Alan McDermott — “Trojan” 
Caroline Mitchell — “Witness”
Kevin Wignall — “A Fragile Thing”

 

Congratulations to all the finalists!

How many have you read? There's still plenty of time to check them out before July.
 
The 2018 ITW Thrillerfest Award Winners will be announced at ThrillerFest XIII, July 14, 2018, in  New York City. Stay tuned!  🙂

 

Please visit www.thrillerwriters.org for more information about the International Thriller Writers and the amazing programs they have for writers.

 

 

 

 

 

“Defending Jacob” by William Landay

 

 

“Defending Jacob,” features Andrew Barber as an Assistant DA, with a 22 year stint as part of the District Attorney’s office. A few days after his son’s classmate is stabbed to death, Barber is barred from the case and given a leave of absence from work.
 

His son is accused of the terrible crime, but Barber knows in his bones that Jacob could not have done it. When a devastating secret is uncovered during the investigation into the boy’s death, we realize that Barber may be alone in that belief. Despite incredible pressure from everyone he knows, as well as additional evidence to the contrary, he never stops declaring his son’s innocence.
 

“Defending Jacob” explores family relationships as they evolve in the aftermath of horrific events. This absorbing psychological courtroom drama deftly captures the doubts and the pointing fingers as members of the community seek to find answers for this senseless stabbing/killing. What parenting lack created this apparently crazed teenager living amongst them? Or was it a flaw in the child himself? If ‘x’ can kill, how certain can we be that someone else might not be capable of the same act? “Defending Jacob” was published in 2012, but the story could be ripped from the headlines today.
 

Landay, a former DA himself, posits a few theories to explain the multi-faceted plot lines and has several characters explore the possibility of a murder gene – that murder can be committed because of a hereditary predisposition. Modern psychological profiling indicates that the level of violence in our backgrounds most likely informs our future actions, but is there an actual gene? And, in my opinion, most disturbing of all: Does law enforcement really pick a suspect and then go after evidence to support that theory, no matter how far a stretch from the truth?
 

The ending left me stunned, contemplating which character was, in the end, most damaged. I may never resolve that in my mind. This was a riveting read from start to finish and beyond.
 

“Defending Jacob” won the Strand Critics Award, and a movie based on the book may be released this year.  Please visit www.williamlanday.com for information about Landay’s other books.

 

*Note: contains sporadic swearing/coarse language.

 

2018 Hammett Prize

 

HammettSign

 

The Hammett Prize is bestowed each year by The International Association of Crime Writers (North American Branch). This year the award will be given for a 2017 work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing by a US or Canadian author, in November. The winner receives the famous ‘Thin Man’ bronze trophy, and bragging rights.  🙂
 

Please click on the nominated book title to find out more about the novel.

The nominees are as follows: 

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Tragedy of Brady Sims by Ernest J. Gaines (Vintage)
August Snow, by Stephen Mack Jones (Soho Crime)
Two Days Gone, by Randall Silvis (Sourcebooks Landmark)

Congratulations to all!
 

Past winners for books published in the year indicated include:

2016:  The White Devil by Domenic Stansberry

2015: The Do-Right by Lisa Sandlin

2014: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

2013: Angel Baby by Richard Lange

2012: Oregon Hill by Howard Owen

2011: The Killer is Dying by James Sallis

2010: The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer

2009: The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

2008: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos

 

Have you read any of the 2017 nominated books? Or the Hammett Prize winners from previous years? Now’s your chance.  🙂

 

 

 

 

“Louise’s War” and “Louise’s Dilemma” by Sarah R. Shaber

 

Book Cover - Louise's War

 

“Louise’s War,” by Sarah Shaber, introduces us to widowed Louise Pearlie, a file clerk in World War II Washington, DC. Louise is not just any file clerk. She has college training, is smart and resourceful, and is a bit of a risk taker. She works in the Office of Strategic Services (aka spy agency) where all the work is classified and government regulations dictate that she can’t even reveal where she works. Louise’s job is to look for information that will help the Allies win the war, perfect for this woman who has escaped her dead-end life on the Carolina coast.  

 

France is increasingly coming under German control at this stage of the war and it’s been a while since Louise has heard from a close college friend who lives there. Her husband is important to the war effort, and Louise searches for a way to get this Jewish family out of France before they are taken to internment camps.

 

When papers that would save her friend go missing and a murder is committed, Louise realizes that she can’t trust anyone. She must make alliances she would not have made in less desperate circumstances, and time is not her friend. Shaber creates a tension filled atmosphere of subterfuge and betrayal that keeps us guessing and swept up in the story.

 

In “Louise’s War,” Shaber demonstrates the gravity of the events of the war through her well-researched picture of life in WWII America, with its details of domestic sacrifices, and the effects of gas and food rationing. Louise’s time at a D.C. boarding house shows the reality of the jammed housing situation in wartime Washington. Massive amounts of food were needed by the troops, so the backyard gardens and chicken coops that Louise tended at the boarding house were true to the period, necessary supplements to rationed civilian food supplies.

 

Book Cover - Louise's Dilemma

 

 

In “Louise’s Dilemma,” Louise’s job focus has shifted to acquiring and cataloguing intelligence about Nazi U-boats in the North Atlantic. Louise and an FBI agent travel to nearby Maryland after a suspicious postcard is forwarded to the OSS. Their investigation takes alarming twists and turns and puts Louise in danger from a surprising villain. Her clever mind and dogged determination uncover something incredible, yet completely believable, given the real-world terrain in that area. “Louise’s Dilemma,” the third book in the series, delivers an engaging historical mystery and a compelling read. I had read it first, then picked up “Louise’s War,” to see how Louise Pearlie’s journey began. I’m glad I did.

 

Please click here for more information about award-winning Mrs. Shaber and her other books.
 

 

“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.