Barry Awards – 2018



Established in 1997, the Barry Awards are presented at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, this year held in Florida, in the USA. Voted on by readers of the Deadly Pleasures mystery magazine, the award was named in honor of Barry Gardner, an American critic and lover of great crime fiction. The winners of the Barry Awards – 2018, will be announced September 6, 2018 during the Bouchercon Opening Ceremonies.

Congratulations to all the nominees for the Barry Awards!

Best Novel 
THE LATE SHOW, Michael Connelly
EXIT STRATEGY, Steve Hamilton
THE FORCE, Don Winslow
MAGPIE MURDERS, Anthony Horowitz


Best First Novel 
THE DRY, Jane Harper
THE LOST ONES, Sheena Kamal
A RISING MAN, Abir Mukherjee


Best Paperback Original 
THE DAY I DIED, Lori Rader-Day
SUPER CON, James Swain


Best Thriller 
THE OLD MAN, Thomas Perry
UNSUB, Meg Gardiner


Happy Reading!  :-)


“The Trapped Girl” by Robert Dugoni


Book Cover - The Trapped Girl

“The Trapped Girl” is the fourth book in Robert Dugoni’s engrossing Tracy Crosswhite series. A teenager, out before dawn for an illegal crab pot pickup in Puget Sound, almost tips the boat because of the pot’s weight. He sees a hand sticking up, freaks out, and returns to shore with the very dead, trapped girl.


Tracy Crosswaite and her partner, Kins, catch the call and a complicated case. The body hasn't been in the water all that long, but Jane Doe has had plastic surgery done to her face, which makes ID slower than usual. She is identified, but it seems that there is more going on than first appears.


The husband is a suspect, and seems deserving of that title. A 500K insurance policy was taken out just before the woman’s death, but why? The obvious answer may be too easy. And Dugoni never likes easy.


The characters in "The Trapped Girl" ring true, including the sleazy husband and the wife’s girlfriend. Dugoni writes each of the people with nuances and just enough good/suspicious behavior that I was certain that the deed(s) had been done by more than one person, and I kept changing my mind as Dugoni disproved my theory each time. And then tossed another ‘so-sure-this-time’ clue at us.


Tracy Crosswaite is evolving as a person and as a detective in the series and she is at the top of her game in this wildly tricky, intriguing case. Dugoni has allowed a more human side to be seen in some of the ensemble characters, and even Tracy admits to a flicker of surprise at a colleague’s actions. She remains steadfast in her support of women as cops, and we get to see more of the effect of that stance on her personal life.


The clever twists will keep you enthralled until the very last page. Jane Doe is not who she seems to be and the supposed bad guys are not the most evil in the book. Whom do we trust? Who is telling the truth? Whose story is this, really?


“The Trapped Girl” is a barnburner of a book, with a superb, multilayered storyline that never misses a beat. It was easy to place “The Trapped Girl” on my 2017 ‘Killer Thrillers for the Beach’ list. I’ve already read it twice.


“Close to Home,” fifth in the series, is next on my TBR list.


Please visit for more information about this award winning, bestselling, gifted writer.



Top Eleven Reviews – 2017


Book Cover - What She Knew

Tons of great books, soooo many talented authors, and oodles of dedicated booklovers, all combined to make 2017 a great year of reading entertainment. Whether discovering a new author, or returning to a tried and true favorite, the NBR community interest was over 30% greater than the previous most popular year.


Although not included in the 'Top Eleven Reviews – 2017' book list, the 2017 author profiles (Edith Maxwell, Liz Mugavero, Barbara Ross, Lynn C. Willis) were extremely popular and we’ll have more during 2018. Click on their names – links to books included.


Why Top Eleven? There is a debut magazine in the list, very well received by the NBR audience.  :-)


Listed in alphabetical order by author (except for the magazine and the ‘Killer Thrillers’), click on the links to read the reviews for the first time, or to enjoy them again.


“Black Cat Mystery Magazine” debut issue short mystery fiction


“Killer Thrillers for the Beach”  (seven thriller authors, ten titles)


“Cat About Town” by Cate Conte


“Grilled for Murder” by Maddie Day


“The 7th Canon” by Robert Dugoni


“I like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around” by Ann Garvin


“A Good Day to Buy” by Sherry Harris


“Dry Bones” by Craig Johnson


“What She Knew” by Gilly Macmillan


“Custom Baked Murder” by Liz Mugavero


“Relic” by Fiona Quinn


Many thanks everyone! May 2018 bring you lots of love and laughter, along with some thumpin’ great new reads.  :-)


Killer Thrillers for the Beach – 2017


There are two kinds of Beach Reads:


  • Action-packed adventure/thrillers that rev up your blood pressure and provide stay-awake reading (killer thrillers)
  • Completely relaxing, low-key, fun mystery books that tweak your brain cells, but allow you to nod off on time

None of the killer thriller titles below are relaxing or low-key. I defy you to nod off while reading any of them. Charge your e-reader, ‘cause you won’t want to take a break – except maybe to eat. Or, you might want to eat while reading.   :-)

Warning: most deal with adult topics and/or contain sporadic adult language.

(Listed in alphabetical order by author)


"The 7th Canon" by Robert Dugoni

Book Cover - The 7th Canon - Robert Dugoni




Standalone. Priest accused of terrible crimes.
Read review here.




"The Trapped Girl"  by Robert Dugoni

Book Cover - The Trapped Girl



Engrossing entry in the Tracy Crosswhite series. Fascinating case. Twists and turns galore. Read my review here.







"The Fixer" by Joseph Finder

Book Cover - The Fixer



Set in Boston. What a premise!
Read review here.





"The Switch" by Joseph Finder

Book Cover - The Switch - Joseph Finder



Michael Tanner picks up the wrong laptop computer in the airport. After he finds out who the owner is, does he do the right thing? HA!!! Great story!






"Phantom Instinct"  by Meg Gardiner

Book Cover - Phantom Instinct - Meg Gardiner


Gardiner always delivers edgy, complex plots. The lead character should have her own series.
Read review here.





"UnSub"  by Meg Gardiner

Book Cover - UnSub - Meg Gardiner



Stay awake reading at its best. Serial killer topic. Keep the lights on!









"The Second Life of Nick Mason"  by Steve Hamilton

Book Cover - The Second Life of Nick Mason



Astonishing new series. Adult topics. Pages fly by.








"Orphan X"  by Gregg Hurwitz

Book Cover - Orphan X




Excellent read. Adult topics. Another page-turner.









"Signal"  by Patrick Lee

Book Cover - Signal



Where does the signal originate? Slam dunk great!
Read review here.






"The Heist"  by Daniel Silva

Book Cover - The Heist by Daniel Silva



Intriguing international art heist. Spies included.
Read review here.






If you have a favorite thriller not listed above, let us know in the comments below.  :-)  Happy reading the killer thrillers for the beach!




“The 7th Canon” by Robert Dugoni


Book Cover - The 7th Canon - Robert Dugoni

The 7th Canon of the American Bar Association code: “A lawyer should represent a client zealously within the bounds of the law.” Whenever that phrase is uttered in any media platform, it’s a dead giveaway that the case under consideration will be challenging. The defendant is in a lot of trouble and we, the audience, are in for a thrill ride.


Peter Donley, three years out of law school, is working for his Uncle Lou’s law firm in the Tenderloin section of San Francisco, not the best address in town. He is indebted to his uncle for helping him and his mother at a rough time in their lives and is grateful for the job, but a growing family dictates that it is time to move on. He has a plum offer and is about to give his uncle notice, when Lou is hospitalized with a heart attack.


Uncle Lou's biggest client is the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and when one of the priests is charged with the murder of a teenager in his care, as well as possible pornographic acts, Donley catches the case, since Lou will need time to recover. The assignment looks dicey, but Donley owes it to his uncle to follow the 7th canon.


Father Tom Martin, complete with shaved head, an earring, and a tattoo, is not the typical parish priest, but he’s just right for the boys’ shelter in the Tenderloin. He’s been the dedicated champion of this safe haven for street kids for years. The disconnect? The evidence points to the priest; there is blood everywhere and Tom had opportunity, if not motive. Thing is, he says he didn’t do it.


Fr. Tom is being railroaded, but why? And why is everyone in such a rush to file the motions and convict the guy?


Donley must deal with the murdered teen, elusive complicit witnesses, and the evidence found at the scene, all pushing him to his emotional limits. In the process, Donley’s personal demons are forced to the surface, and Dugoni delivers another complex central character. An ambitious DA, the Chief Prosecutor, the former Governor of California, and a cop gunning for revenge, are among the tightly drawn supporting cast. There are lots of secrets with people very interested in hiding them, and we are reminded that evil often wears a suit and tie.


This book (a dozen versions ago) was written before the critically acclaimed David Sloane series, but placed in a drawer in favor of other novels that were published at the time. “The 7th Canon” is a standalone novel, but fans of Dugoni since the beginning will recognize certain similarities between the Sloane/Jenkins team and the Donley/Ross team. It’s great fun to see the differences in personalities, and how they approach the cases, as well as the impact that their backgrounds have on their behavior and life choices. Fun fact: “The 7th Canon” is set in the late 1980s, so no emails or cellphones figure into the plot.


Politics, sex, police procedure, religion, abuse, and the courtroom, make for a powerful combination, and Dugoni has woven a masterful tapestry of suspense.


“The 7th Canon” is a finalist in the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award Fiction Adult Thriller category.  Well deserved!


*Note: contains adult situations/themes and sporadic adult language.


Read my review of “In the Clearing” here.


Please visit for information about Dugoni’s appearances, his awards, and his other terrific books. Read ‘em all, folks.  :-)




Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards – 2017




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 26th at the Killer Nashville Awards Banquet. The winners are indicated in red.
Take a look at the 2017 finalists for their 2016 titles:



• Michael Byars Lewis, “Veil of Deception”

• Gigi Pandian, “Michelangelo's Ghost”

• Randall Reneau, “The Medinandi License”

• Carrie Smith, “Forgotten City”



• Traci Andrighetti, “Amaretto Amber”

• Allen Eskens, “The Heavens May Fall”

• Pamela Fagan Hutchins, “Fighting for Anna”

• Peter James, “Love You Dead”

• Kelly Oliver, “Coyote”

• Howard Owen, “Grace”

• Twist Phelan, “Exit”

• L. A. Toth, “Dead Secrets”

• Robin Yocum, “A Brilliant Death”



• Christina Hoag, “Skin of Tattoos”

• Kathryn Lane, “Waking Up in Medellin”

• Ray Peden, “Prime Cut”

• Gay Yellen, “The Body Next Door”



• R.G. Belsky, “Blonde Ice”

• Diane Capri, “Blood Trails”

• Rodd Clark, “Ash and Cinders”

• Robert Dugoni, “The 7th Canon”

• J.A. Jance, “Clawback”

• Ward Larsen, “Assassin's Silence”

• Catherine Lea, “Child of the State”

• Pierre LeMaitre, “Blood Wedding”

• Jim Nesbitt, “The Last Second Chance”

• Lynn Sholes, “Brain Trust”



• P. A. De Voe, “Trapped”

• James Hannibal, “The Lost Property Office”

• Gabriela Naumnik, “Dream Crimes”

• Sheila Sobel, “Color Blind”

• Jane Suen, “Children of the Future”


Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!  :-)

(Check out the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award 2017 nominees and winners for anthology, non-fiction, horror/fantasy, and for children at





Barry Awards – 2017



The Barry Awards, which began in 1997, are presented at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, this year to be held in Canada. Voted on by readers of the Deadly Pleasures mystery magazine, the award was named in honor of Barry Gardner, an American critic and lover of great crime fiction.

Take a look at this year’s nominees & winners (indicated in red) for the Barry Awards:


Best Novel

Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman
The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly
The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
The Second Girl by David Swinson


Best First Novel

Dodgers by Bill Beverly
I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjork
IQ by Joe Ide
The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner


Best Paperback Original

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry
The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens
The Queen’s Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal
The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty
The Girl in the Window by Jake Needham


Best Thriller

Overwatch by Matthew Betley
First Strike by Ben Coes
Guilty Minds by Joseph Finder
Back Blast by Mark Greaney
The One Man by Andrew Gross
Collecting the Dead by Spencer Kope


Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!   :-)