mystery

Book List: Author Barbara Ross

 

Author Barbara Ross’ Maine Clambake Mysteries series is thoroughly entertaining with terrific writing, an engaging cast of core characters, intriguing murders, and the Maine setting that is a personality in itself. It is no wonder that the series has been nominated so often for top mystery awards. Our own NBR readers chose “Clammed Up” as a Top Ten read for that year. I have tried several of the delicious recipes in the books and can report that they are tasty and easy to make.

 

Click on the titles and check out the books:

Maine Clambake Mysteries:

Clammed Up”   (review here)

Boiled Over

Musseled Out”  (review here)

Fogged Inn”     (review here)

Iced Under

Stowed Away”  (It won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Truly an excellent read.)

Steamed Open” (review here)

Sealed Off

Shucked Apart


Jane Darrowfield Mysteries:

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody” (First in new series, review here, part of the ‘Four Books, Four Genres’ post)

Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door


Shorter Stories:

Nogged Off” – part of the Christmas collection, “Eggnog Murder”

Logged On” – novella in the Christmas collection, “Yule Log Murder”

“Hallowed Out” – novella in the Halloween collection, “Haunted House Murder


Stand Alone:
The Death of an Ambitious Woman


Buy them all and Enjoy!  🙂

 

 

Book List: Julie Hennrikus

New England author, Julie Hennrikus, has been entertaining us with three quite different mystery series, written under three different names, for several years. In honor of her most recent book launch, “Digging Up the Remains,” a Halloween themed mystery, here’s a list of all her books. Enjoy!

 

Click on the book titles to learn more about the books.

 

The Clock Shop Mystery Series by Julianne Holmes, features expert clockmaker Ruth Clagan who inherits the clock shop, Cog & Sprocket, from her Grandfather. The bells toll for more than one body in this lovely town of Orchard, Massachusetts, and Ruth must get herself in gear to outsmart the killers. The first book in the trilogy received an Agatha nomination for Best First Mystery. If you like clocks and/or are fascinated by the history and how they work, you’ll love this series.

 

 

 

Read the review for Agatha nominated “Just Killing Timehere.

                 

Clock and Dagger

Chime and Punishment

 

The Theater Cop series by J.A. Hennrikus is actually the first series that Ms. Hennrikus worked on, but as happens with many writers, was not her first series published. She has been active in the arts field for a lot of her professional life and theater was a big part of that involvement. The drama of life in and around the stage are a focal point of this entertaining mystery series, featuring a diverse set of characters, and former cop, now theater manager, Edwina Sullivan.

 

 

Read my review of “A Christmas Perilhere.

 


With A Kiss I Die

 

The Garden Squad Mysteries, by Julia Henry, centers around a stealthy group of crime-solving, garden loving residents that fixes up neglected gardens and pathways. After dark. When nobody can see them or protest. Have digger, will weed. There are murders of course, but there are also great gardening tips, and (from the readers’ point of view) hilarious situations in which Henry places these midnight gardeners led by 65 year old Lilly Jayne. I wonder if I can hire them to take care of my neighbor’s scruffy looking sideyard….All kidding aside, the series is great.

Read my review of “Pruning the Deadhere.

Tilling the Truth

Her most recent book, “Digging up the Remains,” has a Halloween theme.

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

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.  🙂

 

Book List: Edith Maxwell

 

Edith Maxwell is a prolific writer of absorbing, wonderful mysteries. Each of her series feature strong, independent women, with true-to-life intelligent, sometimes challenging, families and an always intriguing boyfriend. The stories are layered, the characters are complex, and the mysteries are well drawn. Click on the book titles and fall into a great read. 

 

as Edith Maxwell:

Quaker Midwife Mysteries  The Agatha-nominated historical series features unconventional Quaker midwife Rose Carroll in late 1880s Amesbury, Massachusetts.
Delivering the Truth”   review here

Called to Justice

Turning the Tide” 

Charity’s Burden”  Agatha Award winner!

Judge Thee Not

Taken Too Soon

 

The Local Foods Mysteries feature novice organic farmer Cameron Flaherty and take place in the town of Westbury, Massachusetts.

A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die”  review here

’Til Dirt Do Us Part

Farmed and Dangerous

Murder Most Fowl

Mulch Ado About Murder

 

as Maddie Day:

The Country Store Mysteries feature Robbie Jordan and Pans ‘N Pancakes, her country store/ restaurant in fictional South Lick, Indiana.
Flipped for Murder

Grilled for Murder”    review here

When the Grits Hit the Fan

Biscuits and Slashed Browns

Death over Easy

Strangled Eggs and Ham

Nacho Average Murder

Candy Slain Murder

 

Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries are set on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and feature Mackenzie Almeida and her sleuthing book club members.

Murder on Cape Cod”  review here

Murder at the Taffy Shop

 

as Tace Baker: 

The Lauren Rousseau Mysteries feature Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau, a self-reliant, multi-talented woman who finds herself involved in college politics, local Massachusetts intrigue, and bodies.

Speaking of Murder”  review here

Bluffing is Murder”  review here

 

Short Fiction

The following stories of “murderous revenge and other crimes” were originally published in anthologies or magazines. Many have been republished as standalone short stories.

“An Ominous Silence” appears in Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories

“The Unfortunate Death of Mrs. Edna Fogg” in Malice Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical 

 “Murder in the Summer Kitchen” in Murder Among Friends: Mysteries Inspired by the Life and Works of John Greenleaf Whittier. 

“The Mayor and the Midwife” in Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 

“Adam and Eva,” – free read on Kings River Life Magazine

“A Questionable Death” was originally published in the History and Mystery, Oh My! anthology and is a free read over at Kings River Life Magazine.

“Just Desserts for Johnny”

“Pickled” in That Mysterious Woman

“A Fire in Carriagetown” first appeared as “Breaking the Silence” in Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold 

“The Stonecutter,” first appeared in Fish Nets: the Second Guppy Anthology

“Reduction in Force” was first published in Thin Ice: Crime Stories by New England Writers 

“Yatsuhashi for Lance” was originally published as “Obake for Lance” in Riptide: Crime Stories by New England Writers.

“An Idea for Murder,” first appeared (written as Tace Baker) in the Burning Bridges: A Renegade Fiction Anthology.

“The Importance of Blood”

“A Divination of Death” appears in Malice Domestic 13: Mystery Most Geographical.

“Sushi Lessons” appears in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible.

“An Intolerable Intrusion” appears in Edgar Allen Cozy.

 

For more information about Edith and her writing life, read the Author Profile here.

 

Happy Reading!  🙂

 

 

Writer Mark Stevens, and His Books

Mark Stevens at BoucherCon

Mark Stevens is an award-winning Colorado writer, former journalist, now PR and Communications Specialist, whose work caught my eye on Twitter a few years ago. He tweeted about the country’s environmental challenges, a subject near and dear to my heart, and I readily ‘followed’ him. He mentioned that his second book in the Allison Coil Mysteries, “Buried by the Roan,” had recently been published, so I picked it up. I was hooked by the topical storyline and the multi-faceted characters caught up in events tearing their beloved landscape apart.

 

The lead protagonist, Allison Coil, is a big game hunting guide in the Flat Top wilderness of Colorado. And lest you think that a woman might not really choose this as a career, Coil is based on a real-life guide that Stevens met while pondering the setting and the focus character for the series.

 

Each of his books could have been ripped from the headlines and in always absorbing writing, deal with hot-button topics, such as human trafficking, marijuana laws, undocumented workers, fracking, big game hunting, drought, and wilderness protection. But, in addition to these and other ‘big concept’ themes (and the murders) Stevens’ stories are grounded in real life, with his core characters facing the challenges of rebuilding a life in a new location, managing a small business, finding/trusting love after heartbreak.

 

Colorado’s majestic wilderness plays a major role and Stevens’ imageries put us right in the saddle as Allison rides through the Flat Tops. The big game hunts and plots unfold against a backdrop of rich country that everybody wants a piece of, but few acknowledge that through the very development they seek, the land as they know it will disappear.

 


“Antler Dust,” the book that started it all.

 

 

 

 

“Buried by the Roan”    Review here.

 

 

 

 

“Trapline”      Review here.

 

 

 

Book Cover "Lake of Fire"

 

“Lake of Fire”  Review here.

 

 

 

“The Melancholy Howl,” the fifth in the series, reveals more in the background of each of the central characters, some of it a bit edgier than before. There are glitches in the love lives of the two continuing couples and one major character has a whopper of a secret that tears at the core of his public persona. These are flesh and blood people, some with serious flaws and baggage, but all have each other’s backs in a crunch.

 

The ‘big concept’ in “The Melancholy Howl” deals with medical marijuana (legal in Colorado) and how its use and the industry has changed since the first stores opened. There is loads of money to be made, but as it turns out, there is a gap between the perceived need and the actual market, and not everyone is following the law. A plane crash, an ‘illegal’ grow, con- artists, tragedy, drought, and greed, all play a part in this gripping page-turner.

 

Mark Stevens also writes short stories, the most recent of which, “A Bitter Thing,” appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

 

Please visit https://www.writermarkstevens.com/  for the latest news about his books and the fascinating podcasts he produces.

 

“Pictures of You” by Caroline Leavitt

Book-Cover-Pictures-of-You-LG

 

We all have certain expectations of our spouses. In the best scenarios, we picture loving each other robustly, tenderly and forever. In those pictures we raise marvelous children, and journey through life’s adventures with our best friends. ‘When we are not so busy’ or ‘when the children are grown’ we’ll have time to sort out all the nagging relationship issues. Unless the sand in the hourglass runs out before we get that chance.

 

In “Pictures of You,” two women’s lives intersect in a tragic auto accident. April dies when Isabelle swerves into her on an unfamiliar road in the fog. Isabelle, a photographer, is haunted by what she has done, even though she is cleared of any wrongdoing. She can’t forgive herself, so she doesn’t really blame anyone else in the community for ostracizing her; even welcomes being left alone. The fact of her husband’s infidelity has taken a back seat to her guilt.

 

The little boy, Sam, who survived the accident, has lost his mother and a grieving husband, Charlie, doesn’t understand why his wife, April, would have been on that road with their son at that time of day. Secrets are revealed about April that astound her husband. He no longer knows the woman with whom he shared his life. Charlie is helpless to comfort his son, ineffective in dealing with so many ‘after death’ issues. How many of us would be any better at it?

 

What follows is the tragic tale of three people aching for love; raw emotions and devastating truths revealed as they find a way to heal. No plot spoiler here, but photography plays an important role in the storyline.

 

Sam is so well written, with always age appropriate vocabulary, that the reader completely understands when he feels responsible for his mother’s death. Sam mistakes Isabelle for an angel and with his nine-year-old logic, mixes reality with his desperate wish to see his mother again. Leavitt creates a world in which the reader wants to hold this little boy, take away his heartache.

 

In an effective subplot, Isabelle suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which Leavitt depicts with insightful clarity. Isabelle shakes uncontrollably, sweats and feels nauseous when she sets foot in a car after the accident and for months afterward, must walk or ride a bike to go anywhere. Having been in a terrible car accident myself many years ago, I sympathized with the realistically intense stress the woman was going through, cringed at the nightmares she experienced. Leavitt herself, has an acute fear of being in cars, so brings considerable, painful  authenticity to the reading experience.

 

We tend to dismiss the importance of the small choices we make in life – not kissing a loved one goodbye or taking the time to listen when we’re running behind schedule – until it’s too late to get a do-over. We look back after a disaster and think: if only I had been a better dad, a better son, a better wife. If only I had stayed, or been there, or did what she/he asked. Everything would have been different. If only.

 

Beautifully written, exquisitely shared.

 

Caroline Leavitt’s latest novel, “With or Without You,” was published in August, 2020.

For more information about Ms. Leavitt and her books, visit www.carolineleavitt.com

 

 

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