suspense

Irish Fiction & Mysteries – 2020 List

 

View from Blarney Castle


 

St. Patrick’s Day will be here soon! For those of you that focus your reading on holiday/cultural themed books, the list below features Irish writers, mysteries/suspense set in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day murders, or titles with Irish characters central to the plot. Some are modern classics, some are newbies, but all are entertaining reads. You’re sure to find a story in the updated list of 38 Irish Fiction & Mysteries–2020 List that you will want to read again and again. (Links included for bold titles)

 

Lisa Alber: “Path into Darkness
 

Maeve Binchy:  “Chestnut Street
 

S. Furlong-Bollinger: “Paddy Whacked
 

Declan Burke: “The Lost and the Blind
 

Steve Cavanagh: “Th1rt3en
 

Sheila Connolly: "Fatal Roots"
 

Kathy Cranston: “Apple Seeds and Murderous Deeds
 

Sinead Crowley: “One Bad Turn
 

Kathi Daley: “Shamrock Shenanigans
 

Frank Delaney: "The Last Storyteller"
 

Nelson Demille: “Cathedral
 

Patricia Falvey: "The Yellow House"
 

Tana French: “Broken Harbor
 

Alexia Gordon: “Murder in G Major
 

Andrew Greeley: “The Bishop at the Lake
 

Jane Haddam: “A Great Day for the Deadly
 

Lyn Hamilton: “The Celtic Riddle"
 

Lee Harris: “The St. Patrick's Day Murder
 

Erin Hart: “The Book of Killowen
 

Jonathan Harrington: “A Great Day for Dying
 

Mary Anne Kelly: “Twillyweed
 

Amanda Lee: “The Long Stitch Good Night
 

Dan Mahoney: “Once in, Never Out
 

Caimh McDonnell: "A Man with One of Those Faces"
 

Brian McGilloway: “Preserve the Dead/The Forgotten Ones
 

Adrian McKinty: “The Chain
 

Ralph M. McInerny: “The Green Revolution
 

Leslie Meier: “St. Patrick's Day Murder
 

Stuart Neville: "So Say the Fallen
 

Carlene O'Connor: "Murder in an Irish Cottage"
 

Sister Carol Anne O’Marie: “Death Takes Up a Collection”
 

Helen Page: "Equal of God"
 

Louise Phillips: “The Doll’s House
 

Janet Elaine Smith: “In St. Patrick's Custody
 

Jo Spain: “Beneath the Surface
 

Patrick Taylor: “An Irish Country Family
 

Peter Tremayne: “Blood in Eden
 

Kathy Hogan Trochek: “Irish Eyes

 

 


 

If your favorite Irish Fiction & Mysteries titles are not on the list, let me know and I’ll add them! Happy choosing and reading!

 

 

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

 

“Wheels Up – a novel of Drugs, Cartels, and Survival” by Jeanine Kitchel, 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, “Tulum Takedown,” is now available. For more information about Jeanine Kitchel, her time in Mexico, as well as her non-fiction work, please visit www.jeaninekitchel.com.                       

 

 

Valentine’s Day Mysteries and Fiction

 

Are you a fan of holiday themed reading? Published between 2016 and 2020, here is a list of twenty-three novels, novellas, and short stories centered around Valentine’s Day. Be prepared to swoon, or laugh, or be delighted by the selection. Click on the titles to discover more about the books and enjoy!

 

Jennifer S. Alderson  "Death by Baguette"

 

Carolyn Arnold  "Valentine’s Day is Murder"

 

Patti Benning  "Tall, Dark, and Deadly"

 

Franky A. Brown  "What Happened to Romance?"

 

Susan Carroll "The Valentine’s Day Ball"

 

Cherry Christensen  "Secret Valentine"

 

Sylvia Damsell  "A Valentine Wish"

 

Steve Demaree "A Valentine Murder"

 

Liz Dodwell "Valentine’s Day: a Polly Parrett Pet-Sitter Cozy"

 

Jessica L. Elliott "Operation: Romance"

 

Tammy Falkner "A Valentine’s Day Miracle"

 

Deborah Garner  "A Flair for Truffles"

 

Patricia Gligor "Marnie Malone"

 

Holly Hepburn "Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence"

 

Liwen Y. Ho "Romantically Ever After"

 

June McCrary Jacobs "Handmade Hearts"

 

Libby Klein  "Theater Nights Are Murder"

 

Jackie Lau  "A Big Surprise for Valentine’s Day"

 

Lia London "Love from A to Z"

 

Ava Mallory & nine more authors "Stirring Up Love & Mystery"

 

Leslie Meier  "Valentine Candy Murder"

 

Summer Prescott "A Blossom of Murder"

 

Amy M. Reade  "Be My Valencrime"

 

Happy Reading! 

 

 

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. Because of the Covid-19 virus pandemic, the annual MWA April conference has been cancelled, but the Edgar Awards for 2020 will be awarded at a later date.


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!

 

 

“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.

 

 

 

Book List: Lynn Chandler Willis

 

Have you read all of Lynn Chandler Willis’ books? Are you sure? Read on and click on the links to find out more about her terrific work.
 

North Carolina author, Lynn Chandler Willis, has been a professional in the writing business for quite a while, first as a newspaper owner/publisher/reporter. During that experience, she developed a keen eye for detail and for what makes people tick. She could sniff out a great story and her first book dealt with the real-life murder of the wife of a preacher’s son, committed by the preacher’s son himself in small town North Carolina. Willis attended the trial every day and did meticulous research into everything that surrounded that case. Twenty years later, the book is still being sold, a rarity in the publishing world. That book is “Unholy Covenant” (also known as “The Preacher’s Son”) and is the subject of an upcoming TV documentary about the case.

 

The Rising” won a Grace Award (review here)

 

 

 

Wink of an Eye” A private investigator tries to lay low in Texas and still gets involved in a case.   (review here)  It won Minotaur's PWA Best First Private Eye novel competition.

 

 

 

 


Tell Me No Lies” first in the romantic suspense trilogy featuring newspaper publisher/reporter Ava Logan  (review here)

 

 

Tell Me No Secrets” 

 

 

 

Tell Me You Love Me”  third book in the Ava Logan trilogy (review here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Periodically, Nightstand Book Reviews has a crossover post with www.kerriansnotebook.com. Ava Logan was a Visiting Detective with “Crime in Appalachia.” Take a look here.

 

Please visit www.lynnchandlerwillis.com for details about Ms. Willis’ appearances and updates on the books.

 

Facebook Author Page

 

*Book Covers and banner from Ms. Willis’ website and Facebook page.

 

2019 Anthony Awards

 

The 2019 Anthony Awards were handed out at The World Mystery Convention (usually referred to as Bouchercon) on November 2, 2019. 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 2019 Anthony Awards were chosen by attendees at the 2018 convention, as well as early registrants for the 2019 event. The recognized works were published during 2018 and the finalists were voted upon by the 2019 Bouchercon attendees.

 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (indicated in red)! (Links included to highlighted short story titles.)
 

BEST NOVEL

  • Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
  • November Road by Lou Berney
  • Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
  • Sunburn by Laura Lippman
  • Blackout by Alex Segura


BEST FIRST NOVEL

  • My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Broken Places by Tracy Clark
  • Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver
  • What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix
  • Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin


BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL

  • Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett
  • If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin
  • Hiroshima Boy by Naomi Hirahara
  • Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day
  • A Stone’s Throw by James W. Ziskin


BEST SHORT STORY

  • The Grass Beneath My Feet” by S.A. Cosby, in Tough
  • Bug Appétit” by Barb Goffman, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
  • “Cold Beer No Flies” by Greg Herren, in Florida Happens
  • English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
  • The Best Laid Plans” by Holly West, in Florida Happens


BEST CRITICAL OR NONFICTION WORK

  • Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin
  • Mastering Plot Twists: How To Use Suspense, Targeted Storytelling Strategies, and Structure To Captivate Your Readers by Jane K. Cleland
  • Pulp According to David Goodis by Jay A. Gertzman
  • Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s by Leslie S. Klinger
  •  I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
  • The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman


Have fun reading them all!