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The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards – 2016

 

SilverFalchionFinalistLogo

Killer Nashville is one of the most popular conferences in the country for writers and readers and is held each year in the Nashville, Tennessee area. Established by writer and filmmaker Clay Stafford in 2006, the conference assists authors in the craft of mystery, thriller, suspense and crime fiction writing. Stafford and American Blackguard, Inc. also work to further various literacy programs throughout the year.

 

As a part of both encouraging and rewarding writers in their varied fields, the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards are given to authors and their outstanding books published in the previous year. This year, the awards were presented on August 20th at the Guest of Honor and Awards Banquet. Here is a partial list of 2016 finalists for their 2015 titles:
 

Winners are indicated in red.

Best Fiction Adult Book
Baron R. Birtcher, Hard Latitudes
Mylo Carbia, The Raping of Ava Desantis
Christine Carbo, The Wild Inside
Paul Cleave, Trust No One
Craig Faustus, Buck Go Down Hard
Jenny Milchman, As Night Falls
Ray Peden, One Tenth of the Law
D.M. Pulley, The Dead Key
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One
Timothy Vincent, Prince of the Blue Castles

 

Best Fiction First Novel
Kris Calvin, One Murder More
Christine Carbo, The Wild Inside
Bevan Frank, The Mind of God
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene

 

Best Nonfiction Adult Book
Unni Turrettini, The Mystery of the Lone Wolf Killer
Merlin Tuttle, The Secret Lives of Bats

 

Best Action Adventure
Baron R. Birtcher, Hard Latitudes
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One
JD Wallace, Silent Cats: Deadly Dance

 

Best Mystery / Crime
R.G. Belsky, Shooting for the Stars
Kris Calvin, One Murder More
Kay Kendall, Rainy Day Women
BV Lawson, Dies Irae
Melinda Leigh, Minutes to Kill (A Scarlet Falls Novel)
D.M. Pulley, The Dead Key
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene
Linda Sands, 3 Women Walk into a Bar
K.C. Tansley, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One

 

Best Romance / Romantic Suspense
Melinda Leigh, Minutes to Kill (A Scarlet Falls Novel)
Glenna Mason, In the Rafters

 

Best Science Fiction
Chuck Grossart, The Gemini Effect
Sally Ann Melia, Hunted by Aliens

 

Best Thriller
R.G. Belsky, Shooting for the Stars
Baron R. Birtcher, Hard Latitudes (tie)
Thomas Davidson, Past is Present
Bevan Frank, The Mind of God
Debra K. Gaskill, Call Fitz
Jerry Hatchett, Unallocated Space
Melinda Leigh, Minutes to Kill (A Scarlet Falls Novel) (tie)
Michael Ransom, The Ripper Gene
M.A. Richards, Choice of Enemies
Jan Thomas & Grant Jerkins, Done in One
John Vance, Death by Mournful Numbers

 

Best Comedy
Traci Andrighetti and Elizabeth Ashby, Deadly Dye and a Soy Chai
Thomas Davidson, Past is Present
John Hegenberger, Spyfall

 

Best Fiction Short Story Anthology
Ramona DeFelice Long, Fish or Cut Bait
Kaye George, Murder on Wheels
Joe McKinney, Shrieks and Shivers from the Horror Zine
Josh Pachter, The Tree of Life

 

For additional categories and winners, please visit www.killernashville.com

Congratulations to all the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards-2016 nominees and winners!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

“Indiscretion” by Polly Iyer

 

Book Cover - Indiscretion by Polly Iyer

 

A successful writer, separated from a bullying husband, meets a swoon-worthy art professor on the beach and is seduced, not at all reluctantly. During this “Indiscretion,” Zoe Swan relishes the wonderful attention she receives, something that has been missing from her marriage for a very long time. The lovers spend several passionate days together until some truths are revealed – none of them good.

 

The art prof is not who he seems and Zoe is suddenly caught up in a dangerous game involving a Vermeer stolen during the 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist in Boston. Her condo is trashed, someone is dead, and her almost-ex, David, is called by the police to answer questions. When it looks as if Zoe is under suspicion for everything that is happening around her, her shady brother-in-law is approached for help as a last resort.

 

Iyer gives us authentic characters in “Indiscretion,” with a story that flows effortlessly between the art heist and the consequences that befall everyone involved. We’re never sure whom to trust in this interplay of shady art world, antiquities, and both good and bad law enforcement officers. Zoe may be the only one we can believe to be exactly who she says she is, keeping the reader thoroughly absorbed with each new twist.

 

Iyer’s interesting subplot in “Indiscretion” plays brothers against each other as family debts are called into question. A temporary alliance is made with David and it’s hard to tell why he didn’t become a bonafide -ex years ago. Iyer nails David as a character, and makes us understand the complex dynamics of this marriage gone bad.


The total value of the entire missing collection is pegged at nearly 500 million dollars and a LOT of people want some of that action. The race is on to retrieve the hidden masterpiece and stay one step ahead of the several groups out to get rid of the amateurs in the way. Iyer’s version of the real-life art theft from the Gardner Museum is explored and is as entertaining as any I’ve read. The surprising revelations will keep you turning the pages until the end.

 

The Gardner decided that they would leave the frames empty until the paintings were recovered, but it’s haunting to visit the museum and see the vacant places where the paintings once hung. A daring heist to be sure, and amazing that 25 years after the theft, the paintings are still officially unaccounted for. There have been suspects, but the statute of limitations has long since passed. The Museum would just like to get the paintings back. There is a 5 million dollar reward for their return.

 

“Indiscretion” is a Kindle Scout winner.

For more information about Polly Iyer and her work, please visit www.pollyiyer.com


*Contains adult themes and dialogue.

 

 

 

 

Three Summer Vacation Quickie Reviews

 

In a rush to pick out your summer vacation ‘beach-reads’? This may help with the ‘run-in-and-grab’ non-thought process. Categories are listed in no particular order of favoritism or warning…

 

Dragons:

Book Cover - Brisinger by Christopher Paolini

Brisinger” by Christopher Paolini.  

More complex than the previous two books in the trilogy. Eragon is more developed as a character, but this has resulted in less time spent on adventures/conversations with Saphira, his dragon. Still great fun for dragon/fantasy fans.  🙂

 

Rated PG-13 for war and violence.

 

 

Faith-based fiction:
Book Cover - Night Light by Terri Blackstock

Night Light” by Terri Blackstock.

A world-wide power outage has kicked the earth back into 19th century technology. No cell phones, no computers, no AC and people have to ride bikes and grow their own food. Fascinating look at how one Christian family chooses to deal with the challenges of a more primitive life, including digging a well to obtain potable water. The young children in the book have dialogue that is developmentally inaccurate, but the overall story made me wonder how I would cope – and what kinds of vegetables I would be able to grow so that I could barter with someone who raised chickens.

 

Rated PG-13 for a murder, a kidnapping and scenes of drug usage.

 

 

YA Fiction:
Book Cover - I am Number Four by Pitticus Lore

I am Number Four” by Pitticus Lore.

An alien teenager, who has been hiding out on Earth with his protector, must deal with saving the world from nasty beings from his home planet that aim to wipe out his species. Made into a movie, but the book is MUCH better. There are sequels, but “I am Number Four” is the best. Filled with teen bits like first love, outsiders that don’t quite fit in, but are smarter than the ‘cool kids,’ blowing up the high school, etc.  Written for teens that are into intense action stories.

 

Rated PG-13 for alien invasion, intensity, and violence. Adults should look this over to assess its appropriateness for their teen.

 

Do you have a favorite summer vacation book? Let us know in the comments below.  🙂

Check out three quite different Beach Reads from last summer's list here.

Whatever you decide to read, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

“The Dangerous Edge of Things” by Tina Whittle

 

Book Cover - The Dangerous Edge of Things

Tai Randolph, the heroine up to her Georgia neck in trouble in Tina Whittle’s debut novel, “The Dangerous Edge of Things,” has just inherited the family’s gun shop in Atlanta. She’s only been in town a week when she finds a body in a car parked across the street from her brother’s house. But, her gun shop co-owner brother is on his way to the Bahamas, she may be in danger, a detective has her in his sights as a suspect, and a hunky private security agent may be the only person keeping her from harm. Not that she can’t take care of herself.

 

Tai Randolph is a great character, with just enough sass, savvy intelligence, and fierce independence to keep us reading and chuckling while Whittle develops the intriguing plot. The brother is covering up a LOT, but why? The security guy has an assignment tied to the murder, but how? The detective seems to know more than he’s telling. And why is everyone trying to keep Tai out of the loop? She has no intention of staying away from the action and manages to stay a step ahead of her protectors until they give up and include her in the plans. After all, she has her name to clear and a Confederate gun shop to open.

 

Whittle has written some worthy supporting characters with quirks that never get in the way of the story, while adding texture and depth to the subplots. The field security agent, Trey Seaver, is easy on the eyes, but has a few important flaws. Rico, a close friend, is a whiz at the techy stuff. Detective Garrity is nicely nuanced and believable, as is the rest of the cast. The storyline kept me engrossed until the surprising end – a terrific debut.

 

I was so impressed after finishing “The Dangerous Edge of Things” that I chose book #3, “Blood, Ash & Bone,” as my next read.
 

Book Cover - Blood Ash & Bone

“Blood, Ash & Bone” returns Tai to her former hometown, Savannah, in search of a Civil War era Bible, that if it really exists, may have gone missing from General Sherman’s effects. Lots of people are after this Bible, including her scumbag ex-boyfriend and the gal who may have stolen it from him. Did I mention that the gal used to be Tai’s best friend and that she ran off with the scumbag? No more besties, for sure.
 

Happily, Armani wearing Trey, best pal Rico, and Detective Dan Garrity are back and Whittle has done a superb job of supplying Tai with a blend of their expertise that helps her at just the right moments. Tai’s brother, an industrial psychologist in “The Dangerous Edge of Things,” has returned as well, and other relatives new to the series, are Southern gems.

 

Assorted other characters have no interest in being nice to Tai – their collective eyes are on the big, Confederate prize. Will multi-faceted Tai get out of this in one piece? Will she be able to overcome her dead Uncle Dexter’s shortcomings as a record-keeper when it’s time for the ATF audit of the gun shop? With the KKK, big money, ghosts from Tai’s past, Civil War collectors, and much more in the mix, this is one page-turning treat.

 

Tina has written five books in the series, the most recent being “Reckoning and Ruin.” Start with “The Dangerous Edge of Things” and read them all.

 

For more information about Tina Whittle, the Tai Randolph series and her other work, please visit www.tinawhittle.com

 

 

 

“In the Clearing” by Robert Dugoni

 

Book Cover - In the Clearing

“In the Clearing” brings us the fourth installment in Robert Dugoni’s series featuring Tracy Crosswaite, former high school teacher, now detective for the Seattle, Washington, Police Department.

 

A Seattle murder case is not what it seems at first, but just when the players trip over themselves to change stories and point fingers, Tracy is approached by a former colleague to help solve a cold case elsewhere that the woman’s father had worked on as a rookie cop. A young Native American girl disappeared on the walk home from work, then was found dead in a nearby stream. The case was considered solved and closed at the time, but when the father died, his case notes were found by the daughter. She is sure that he kept the case notes for a reason. Was justice done? Was there a cover up? Why did her dad care?

 

Tracy is skeptical that anything new can be found after forty years, but agrees to take a quick look and report back, no matter what the outcome. The closer she gets to the answers, the more her own life is placed in danger.

 

The cold case is a fascinating one, involving tension between Native Americans and local townspeople, the importance of that in small town culture, and the way in which modern forensic techniques can uncover old truths. This is a Dugoni novel, after all, and “In the Clearing” studies changing values and the way in which certain crimes are viewed and handled differently today.

 

The problem with 40-year-old cases is the lack of fresh physical evidence remaining, particularly when the crime occurs outside, and is affected by the elements. Crosswaite must rely on old photos and the testimony of any still living eyewitnesses. Forensic experts are called in to take a fresh look at the existing information – what remains or can be reconstructed. A character from an earlier book visits to give her astute opinions – an appealing fit as a recurring character. Dugoni’s descriptions of the re-enacted crime are chilling and WOW, do we want to get the guy that did the deed.

 

We can always count on Dugoni to create interesting characters, and “In the Clearing” includes familiar, fully fleshed out cops from the Seattle PD for the present day case, as well as multi-layered local people for the cold case. Crosswaite, is herself a complex law enforcement character and her romantic interest, Dan, introduced in “My Sister’s Grave,” is intelligent, likable, suitably matched and we root for this couple to continue.

 

Dugoni gives us a look at the challenges women continue to face when becoming part of any law enforcement agency. It isn’t enough for a woman to be average. One has to be better in shooting scores and in cases solved, tougher with no emotion shown in front of co-workers. Otherwise the men seem to discount the contribution. It is not an easy life, when starting as a patrol officer, working all shifts, paired with men who have suspicious  wives, spending 8-12 hours a day with a partner.

 

The cold case reveals that brutality and motivation behind the search for power and greed has never changed – just the players in the unfolding pain. “In the Clearing” contains several scenes and troubled characters that demonstrate how crippling that single-mindedness can be.

 

Read my review of “My Sister’s Grave,” the first full novel in the series, here.

Take a look at Dugoni’s David Sloane series with this review of “The Conviction,” here.

 

Please visit www.robertdugoni.com for information about Mr. Dugoni’s other work, future appearances, and the excellent classes he conducts.

 

 

“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

 

 

International Thriller Writers Awards – 2016

 

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International thriller writers are among the best writers anywhere. They bring us thrills and chills, keep us awake long into the wee hours of the morning and leave us cheering for more. You’re also likely to see many of them on top mystery writer lists all over the world. Here are the amazing finalists and winners (indicated in red) for the 2016 ITW Thriller Awards, announced at the banquet:

 

Best Hardcover Novel

Ian Caldwell: “The Fifth Gospel”

Tess Gerritsen: “Playing with Fire”

Paula Hawkins: “The Girl on the Train”

David Morrell: “The Inspector of the Dead”

Karin Slaughter: “Pretty Girls”

 

Best First Novel

Sandra Block: “Little Black Lies”

LS Hawker: “The Drowning Game”

Gilly Macmillan: “What She Knew”

Brian Panowich: “Bull Mountain”

Hester Young: “The Gates of Evangeline”

 

Best Paperback Original Novel

Marc Cameron: “Day Zero”

John Gilstrap: “Against All Enemies”

Andrew Mayne: “Name of the Devil”

D.J. McIntosh: “The Angel of Eden”

Jean Rabe: “Pockets of Darkness”

 

Best eBook Original Novel

Diane Capri: “Jack and Joe”

Chris Kuzneski:  “The Prisoner’s Gold”

Robert McClure:  “Deadly Lullaby”

Caitlin O’Connell:  “Ivory Ghosts”

Eric Rickstad: “Lie in Wait”
 

Please visit www.thrillerwriters.org to see the nominees and winners for Best Short Story and Best Young Adult Novel.

 

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners! The International Thriller Writers 2016 award winners were announced at ThrillerFest XI, at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, on July 9th.

 

 

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