Thursday, March 31, 2016

Crime Time : I'VE BEEN DEADER – Adam Sifre

Crime Time : I'VE BEEN DEADER – Adam Sifre:   Not gonna lie. I mean, don't get me wrong, I do lie. I'm just not lying here. This is too important to dance around the truth wit...

Lesa's Latest Contest: Cozy Giveaway

This week, I'm giving away copies of Laura Childs' Ming Tea Murder & Carlene O'Neil's Ripe for Murder. Details on my blog, Entries from the U.S. only, please.

Lesa Holstine 

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: 2016 Derringer Finalists

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: 2016 Derringer Finalists: From Derringer Awards Coordinator Tony Rudzki, here are the finalists for 2016. Group voting to determine the winner in each category runs ...

Guest Post: "Reinventing Myself (Again)" by Jacqueline Diamond

Please welcome prolific author Jacqueline Diamond who has a few thoughts about how one has to adapt to changing market forces and other issues during a writing career….

Reinventing Myself (Again)

There ought to be a warrantee for authors. After a certain number of years in the book biz and/or a minimum number of novels published, you get a free pass. Write a book you love and shazam! editors and readers snap it up.

I wish it worked that way, but my scars—invisible but real—prove it doesn’t. Yet I refuse to admit defeat. After more than 30 years and 100 published books, I’m taking a big risk to (clichĂ© alert!) follow my dream.

Let’s start with the back story. In the early 1980s, after honing my fiction skills while working at two newspapers and the Associated Press, I sold four Regency romances to a hardcover publisher. Despite strong reviews, my editor rejected the fifth with a scathing letter that, to me, came out of the blue.

The book, A Lady’s Point of View, later sold to a different publisher with minor revisions and has proved popular. In the meantime, the need to pay my bills sent me in a different direction, to contemporary romance.

At Harlequin and Berkley, my reinvented self established a reputation for romantic comedies. Although I enjoyed writing them, I hadn’t lost my taste for the puzzle plotting and excitement of mysteries.

When The Eyes of a Stranger sold to St. Martin’s Press, I figured I was on my way, but no such luck. My next mystery, Danger Music, suffered several rejections before landing at Five Star. A haunted-house mystery, Touch Me in the Dark, also struggled before finding a publisher, Triskelion, which promptly went bankrupt. Not exactly encouraging!

With two kids to raise, I settled in to writing for Harlequin. There was much to be grateful for, including a steady if modest income, some excellent editors and, of course, my readers.

Not only am I the daughter of a doctor, I owe my life to medical interventions on more than one occasion. As a result, I keep up with medical news, and many of my romances have had medical themes.

In 2010 I invented a fictional California hospital, Safe Harbor Medical Center, as the setting for three linked novels, each featuring a different hero and heroine. As more ideas came, the series expanded to six, then nine, twelve, and ultimately seventeen books.

Despite this success, I hadn’t stopped yearning to write mysteries. It was time, I decided, to take the leap to self-publishing. No more crossing my fingers and hoping some editor would decide my work fit into his or her current line. No worries about having to pad the length or squeeze into an arbitrary page limit.

However, I’d learned a lesson along the way. While freedom is great, you can’t leave your fans behind. I’d established what publicists call a brand: fast-paced, emotionally satisfying stories that unexpectedly make readers laugh. And let’s not forget the medical themes!

As my hero, I created a young obstetrician, Eric Darcy, whose best friend is a homicide detective. His inner circle also includes his late wife’s sister, a prickly private investigator. For the setting, I chose my fictional town of Safe Harbor, which has developed into a multi-layered place with a police department and detective agency as well as the hospital. 

That’s how I came to write The Case of the Questionable Quadruplet, Book 1 of the Safe Harbor Medical Mysteries. For my 101st book, I’m starting over. But after more than 30 years in the book biz, that’s only to be expected.

Jacqueline Diamond ©2016

Available to pre-order now in advance of the April 5, 2016 Publication date.

The Case of the Questionable Quadruplet

Young, widowed obstetrician Eric Darcy is stunned when the mother of triplets claims to have borne a fourth baby, a quad, that was stolen from her years ago. When someone murders his patient, Eric believes the police are dismissing a vital clue and teams up with his PI sister-in-law to investigate, never imagining his own life might be in danger.

A former Associated Press reporter and TV columnist, USA Today bestselling author Jacqueline Diamond has sold mysteries, medical romances, Regency romances and romantic comedies to publishers including Harlequin, St. Martin’s Press and Five Star Mysteries. The Case of the Questionable Quadruplet is her 101st published novel. The parents of two grown sons, Jackie and her husband live in Southern California.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

MRI Planned

After further review it has been determined that Sandi has to have an MRI to check out a couple of the new spots that turned up on the Pet Scan. That should be scheduled in the next couple of days.

IVIG Completed and Pet Scan Results

Sandi had another round of the IVIG today and we are now back home. This is the stuff that is supposed to help stabilize her immune system and keep it from utterly collapsing yet again.

The results of the Pet Scan are inconclusive and a mixed bag. Some hot spots or tumors have vanished. But, she has new ones in places that she has never had them before. They want more time to take another look at the imaging, but it seems to be a bit of a wash as to whether or not the chemo is really working.

With no compelling reason to change things one way or another--at this point--she is scheduled for her next round of chemo in two weeks.

Review: "Soul Forge: A First Civilization’s Legacy Novel" by Terry W. Ervin II

What began in Flank Hawk and Blood Sword continues on in Soul Forge: A First Civilization’s Legacy Novel.  Not everything in the trilogy is tied off and complete, but a lot of things are by the end of this book.

This is a fantasy series set far in the future where the first civilization (anyone reading this now) has long since collapsed. What is left of humans is scattered far and wide across the globe. Battles rage between various tribes and kingdoms while magic is once again possible along with dragons, souled zombies, trolls, and more.

Supreme Enchantress Thulease needs the help of mercenary Flank Hawk. In the aftermath of the events in Blood Sword, her daughter, the young Thereese, lies in what might be best described as a coma. She is very slowly dying despite Enchantress Thulease and others efforts, magical and otherwise, to keep her alive. Enchantress Thulease Flank Hawk to join her and several others on a quest for a cure.

Imperial Seer Lochelle has suggested that Enchantress Thulease seek out the entity known as the “Sleeping Sage.” To do so they will have to get to the Southern Continent and deal with all matter of man and creature. Assuming they survive and get there safely they then have to somehow convince the Sleeping Sage to give them the information they seek. What was already going to be a very difficult quest is beset by treachery within the group almost from the start as a young woman’s life hang in the balance.

This third book in the series contains all the hallmarks of the earlier books in the series. Hints of a past (our world) that went so wrong in a future that is filled with magic, desperate people, and mutant creatures of various proportions are once again on full display. As fitting as the third novel of a trilogy, Soul Forge: A First Civilization’s Legacy Novel is also a remembrance of things past in terms of the earlier novels in the series and the score of companions lost in previous campaigns.

The result is a complex book that looks forward throughout while at the same time often looks back at preceding events. In the hands of a lesser author such a split read would turn into a maddening and depressing navel gazing read. In this case the technique works very well and adds additional complexity to an already compelling tale.

The ending of Soul Forge: A First Civilization’s Legacy Novel provides a small possibility for the series to continue though the author is at work on his Crax War Chronicles (both books are in my print tbr pile). One hopes that maybe we will again be invited to journey along with mercenary Flank Hawk, his close friend Lily, and others on yet another quest where one can fly with dragons. 

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Denise Weeks, Mystery Author: For writers and readers: thoughts on structure

Denise Weeks, Mystery Author: For writers and readers: thoughts on structure: The beginning of a novel--ideally, the first few lines, unless we are in a prologue, about which more next time--should open a window and se...

Linda Rodriguez Writes: Casual Guidelines for Mystery Writing

Linda Rodriguez Writes: Casual Guidelines for Mystery Writing: I’ve read a lot of lists of rules for mystery writers. Everyone wants to tell us what to do, but I’ve discovered by reading through these...

History's Rich With Mysteries--- "BUGSY SIEGEL - HIS KILLER FINALLY ID'D. . .MAYBE" by Earl Staggs

After considering the mystery of Agatha Christie’s disappearance in January and the death of actor George Reeves last month Earl is back today to consider who killed Bugsy Siegel.


When I look at the past, I find stories about people which fascinate me, particularly those in which there is a curious mixture of fact, legend, and mysterious uncertainty. In this series of articles, I want to explore some of those stories. I think of them as mysteries swaddled in legend. While truth is always desired in most things, truth easily becomes staid and boring. Legend, on the other hand, forever holds a hint of romanticism and an aura of excitement borne of adventure, imagination and, of course, mystery. 


by Earl Staggs

Benjamin Siegel, born in Brooklyn, New York, on February 28, 1906, died on June 20, 1947, in Beverly Hills, California, from multiple gunshot wounds. Police were unable to pinpoint with certainty who pulled the trigger.

The son of Jewish immigrants, Siegel began a life of crime early. As a teenager, he extorted money from vendors and peddlers for “protection.” For a fee, he and his cohorts guaranteed those who paid would not be bothered by other gangs in the neighborhood. He eventually moved into bootlegging and gambling, and he and Meyer Lansky established a group of assassins which eventually became known as Murder, Inc. Siegel was credited with participation in the assassination of a number of top mobsters. He built a reputation as a tough guy, and his erratic behavior and violent tendencies earned him the nickname “Bugsy.”  He hated the name and preferred to be called Ben. Even though he was Jewish, he become a solid member of the organization headed by Mafia boss Charles “Lucky” Luciano.

In 1937, Lansky and Luciano assigned him to tighten up their West Coast operations. Ben obliged and moved his operations to California where he added prostitution, narcotics, and bookmaking to his portfolio. He bought an extravagant estate in Beverly Hills and partied with Hollywood stars such as Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, and Frank Sinatra. Ben's pal, Moe Sedway, also moved to the West Coast with his bride, seventeen-year-old Beatrice (“Bee”). Bee and Ben became close friends. He fed her caviar for the first time, bought her Agatha Christie novels, and called her his “little lunatic.”
Bugsy (left) and Moe Sedway

Bee Sedway loved the high life in Beverly Hills and could not understand why Ben and her husband spent so much time talking about a tiny place in Nevada called Las Vegas. She saw it as nothing more than a barren stretch of sand with no paved roads, a few gambling clubs and dives, and a small red light district. Las Vegas was an unlikely tourist destination. It was in the middle of a scrubby wasteland, had no airport, and was five hours from Los Angeles by car. She didn't see the potential they saw there. Gambling was legal in Nevada, and Ben and the mob bosses back east wanted to capitalize on it. In 1945, Ben and his mistress, Virginia Hill, moved to Las Vegas, and he began working on building a gambling mecca in the Nevada desert.

He and other mob investors bought a small casino in the city, but local officials were wary of his criminal background and thwarted his plans to expand it. When Ben heard that a hotel being built outside the city limits had run out of construction funds, he sought out the owner and bought the place with mob money.

Construction began anew on the project with Ben in charge and Moe Sedway as his business partner. Ben teased his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, about having long slender legs like a flamingo and named it after her. It would be known as The Flamingo Hotel and Casino.

The eastern crime syndicate provided a budget of $1.5 million, but construction costs quickly soared to more than $6 million. Meyer Lansky, by now a top boss of the mob, attributed the overruns to Ben's theft and mismanagement, and he was not happy. His source of information was Moe Sedway, who was more loyal to Lansky and the mob than to Ben.

They opened the 105-room hotel – the Las Vegas Strip’s first luxury resort—in 1946, the day after Christmas. Guests included movie stars Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford and more. After a slow start for the first few months, in May of 1947, the Flamingo posted a $250,000 profit.

Less than a month later, on June 20, 1947, just after 10:45 p.m., Ben was brutally killed when bullets from a 30 caliber military M1 carbine crashed through the living room window of Virginia Hill's rented home in Beverly Hills where he was staying. Within minutes of the shooting, three of Lansky's people entered the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, announced that Ben Siegel was dead, and that new management was taking over. Lansky denied responsibility for the hit, but most everyone assumed the order came from him.

Nick Pileggi, writer of the movies Goodfellas and Casino and a renowned expert on everything related to the Mafia, offered other prime suspects. He said Chick Hill, a former Marine and brotBodyher of Siegel's girlfriend Virginia Hill  might have been the trigger man. He was reportedly very upset over a beating Bugsy gave his sister. Pileggi also suggested that Frankie Carbo, a boxing promoter and gunman for Murder, Inc., might have been behind the assassination.

The most interesting story, however, came from Robbie, oldest son of Moe and Bee Sedway. When he was 16, he asked him mother if she knew who killed Bugsy. 

            She said, “Moose.”
            She added, “Don’t ever tell anybody.”

“Moose” held a special place in the Sedway family. While her husband was busy taking care of mob business, Bee met and fell in love with a crane operator named Mathew Pandza. Because of his huge size, he was known as “Moose.” One evening when Moe was home, Bee told him she had fallen in love with another man and wanted to marry him.

Rather than get upset, Moe, who had several mistresses of his own, said he wanted to meet the man.  Bee invited Moose to come for dinner. The two men talked privately and decided they would share her.  Moe told his dinner guest, who stood more than a foot taller than him, he had only two conditions. When Moe was home, Bee would be his, and Moose had to promise that when Moe died, he would marry her.

Bee and Moose

The men shook hands, Moose moved into the Beverly Hills house with them, and their marriage became a threesome. Over the next several years, Moe and Moose became the closest of friends.

When Ben learned Moe had snitched on his misuse of mob funds to Meyer Lansky, he decided Moe had to go and made plans to have him killed. “I’ll have Moe shot,' he said, “chop his body up, and feed it to the Flamingo Hotel’s kitchen garbage disposal.”

Bee learned of Ben's plan and told Moose. According to Bee's story, Moose shot Ben to save Moe's life.

Less then five years later, in January 1952, Moe boarded a plane in Vegas bound for Miami. Just before landing, he was stricken and died of coronary thrombosis. Moose held up his end of their agreement and married Bee.

In 1990, Warren Beatty hired Bee as a consultant on his film Bugsy. Reliving the events of those days prompted her to decide to tell her secret. She felt she was the only person alive who knew the solution to one of America's most famous unsolved murder cases. She planned to write a book telling all,which she would call Bugsy’s Little Lunatic. The book was never written, and Bee Sedway passed away in a rest home in 1999 at the age of 81.

We now have three suspects for the shooting of Bugsy. Meyer Lansky could have assigned the hit to one of his assassins, Virginia Hill's brother may have pulled the trigger, or the carbine might have rested in the arms of Frankie Carbo.            

We'll never know for sure who killed Bugsy Siegel, often called “the father of modern Las Vegas.” All the people who knew have passed away. Of all the possibilities, I prefer Bee's story about Moose doing it. I don't think she made it up. Nearly fifty years after it happened, I think she felt the truth should come out. Unfortunately, she passed away without writing her book.

Moose's motive was not money or mob revenge. He did it for love. He loved Bee, of course, and Moe had become his best friend. He knew Bugsy planned to kill Moe and probably figured Bee might also be killed.

This will always be one of my favorite unsolved mysteries. It has all the basic ingredients of a good mystery story – money, mobsters, and murder. But this one is special. This one is also a love story.

Earl Staggs ©2016

Earl Staggs earned all Five Star reviews for his novels MEMORY OF A MURDER and JUSTIFIEDACTION and has twice received a Derringer Award for Best Short Story of the Year.  He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine, as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars. 

He invites any comments via email at

He also invites you to visit his blog site at to learn more about his novels and stories.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton (Reviewed by Lesa Holstine)

The Cracked Spine by Paige Shelton (Reviewed by Lesa Holstine)

Timothy Hallinan: The Hot Countries (

Timothy Hallinan: The Hot Countries (

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCa...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCa...: Reviewed by Jeanne Precious Ramotswe, founder and chief investigator of the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency, is going to ta...

Monday With Kaye: "The Look of Love" by Mary Jane Clark (Reviewed by Kaye George)

This last Monday in March brings us a mystery read.  The Look of Love by Mary Jane Clark is the second of a four book series that began with To Have and To Kill. If this one does not appeal make sure you check out the other suggestions Kaye George has made previous weeks. I am sure you will find at least one if not many more to consider.

The Look of Love by Mary Jane Clark

Piper Donovan is making her second wedding cake, this time in L.A. Jillian Abernathy, daughter of a famous plastic surgeon and an equally famous model/actress, fiancée of Ben Dixon, M.D., and director of the Elysium Spa, saw the cake Piper designed in the last book and wants to pay Piper's airfare and put her up at the spa with all its amenities in exchange for a one-of-a-kind cake.

It sounds like just what Piper needs, time away from the handsome FBI agent on the East Coast while she figures out her feelings for him, plus the stay in the exclusive resort. There's a problem, though. Someone has just attacked Jillian's maid with acid in the face, an attack undoubtedly meant for Jillian. This doesn't stop Piper. Away she goes, right into the thick of things.

The story opens on New Year's Eve. The unusually short chapters, some only a page long, bounce between Jillian, her sister who is now a cloistered nun, Piper, the injured maid, an ambitious reporter hot of the trail of a big story at the spa, Jack (the FBI agent who would like to be more than friends), and others. The action races toward the wedding day, two weeks off, as things continue to go wrong--and then there's the murder. It seems more and more impossible that the rites will take place. Piper is also auditioning for an advertising spot while she's there. And missing Jack more than she thought she would.

This is a fast, light read that holds your interest throughout every page.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Author of Choke, for Suspense Magazine

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mail Call

The latest batch of print arrivals in no special order .....

How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization by David Hopkins

How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization by David Hopkins

Courtesy of Barry Ergang who sent this to me and pointed out that there is adult language in the piece.

Little Big Crimes: Heathen Springs, by James L. Ross

Little Big Crimes: Heathen Springs, by James L. Ross: "Heathen Springs," by James L. Ross, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, April 2016. Nice private eye-type story by Mr...

FREE Book Alert--"Tussinland" by Mike Monson

Also published by All Due Respect Books and currently free on Amazon in the eBook format is  Tussinland by Mike Monson. My review is here.

Amazon Synopsis:

"Addicted to cough syrup, television and Sugar Frosted Flakes, Paul Dunn is living in a state of torpor while staying at his mother's house after the humiliating ending of his third marriage. His inertia is broken when he becomes the chief suspect in the murders of his soon-to-be ex-wife and her new lover. Set in the town of Modesto, deep in California's Central Valley, Tussinland is about sex drugs, addiction, smart phones, Facebook and the internet, digital cable, anti-government militias, reality TV, fundamentalist homophobic Christians, families, 12-step groups, pornography, marriage, death, disease, and love. So noir it hurts."

FREE Book Alert-- "Selena" by Greg Barth

Selena by Greg Barth is currently FREE in the eBook format over on Amazon. If you buy a book published by All Due Respect Books you know going in violence and graphic language will be on full display.  All Due Respect publishes graphic crime filled books where cozy style tales have no place. The cover alone should make it clear what you are getting so don't complain later.

Having read this-- working on my review--- and enjoyed it a lot I can tell you it is one heck of a ride. 

Amazon synopsis:

Scatter shot revenge.

Selena is living the dream on her terms – carefree and sloppy and all in the pursuit of pleasure. When a careless act of petty theft puts her in the crosshairs of a violent crime syndicate, her choices are clear – either curl up and die, or tear down the whole damned organization one bloody shotgun blast at a time.

Nothing will satisfy her but savage retribution. Nothing can stop her. Get ready.

Cover design by Dyer Wilk. Edited by Chris Rhatigan and Rob Pierce. Published by Mike Monson and Chris Rhatigan.

Review: "Resume Speed" by Lawrence Block

Resume Speed by Lawrence Block is a quirky stand-alone novella. The stranger with little more than the clothes on his back gets off the bus in the small town of Cross Creek, Montana after seeing a help wanted sign in a local diner. He goes by the name Bill Thompson. He keeps to himself and slowly begins a quiet existence in the small town.

He does that by taking the job as a fry cook. He takes a room in a local boarding house, gets a library card, and gradually begins to assume an identity among some of the locals. They know him to be a quiet and unassuming man who may or may not have suffered a great loss. While it is not clear to them it is clear to the reader that Bill Thompson is running from something though he seems like a good guy.  There are the occasional hints that make the reader wonder what happened before he came to town.

Currently only available as a kindle single e-book this sixty page read is a good one. Not all questions are answered in this highly entertaining read and that is more than okay. A whisper of mystery begins the tale and a gale of mystery ends it. In between there is plenty of complexity and details/allusions to ponder before one can Resume Speed.

Material was provided by author Lawrence Block in response to a comment I had made on Bill Crider’s review

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Working Outside

Warmer days means I am back out on the apartment back porch in the evening working on things by way of the laptop. Working on reviews and blog posts as I have the porch light on. Apparently I have again become an object of curiosity as a number of neighbors have come by at different times and watched from across the creek as I worked. I distinctly heard some lady say to the guy she was with as they followed their little dog and failed to pick up after it, "I bet he is watching porn."

I wanted to yell out to her-- Never before ten pm.

But, that would be a lie and I am not a politician.

A Message from Author Kaye George

There's a great little book store in the suburbs of Austin that's in trouble. I NEVER do this like this, but I'm doing it now. They've started a GoFundMe drive to try to keep their doors open. The Book Spot in Round Rock has been a great friend to local authors for many years. I can even keep this topical, because they hosted me and two other writers who had done a short story anthology a few years ago. If you can, and if you want to see small, friendly, local bookstores stay in business, here's a link to help out:

(If this is against the rules, I suppose no one will see this and I apologize for feeling strongly about this.)

Kaye George/Janet Cantrell~~
National Best-selling & Agatha-nominated mystery author~~
FAT CAT TAKES THE CAKE April 5, 2016~~
REQUIEM IN RED April 12, 2016~~
DEATH ON THE TREK June 13, 2016~~ and
Sign up for our newsletter above (or on facebook)

Coming Soon: Spring 2016 Issue! (Flash Bang Mysteries)

Coming Soon: Spring 2016 Issue! (Flash Bang Mysteries)



KRL This Week Update

Up this morning in KRL a review & giveaway of a perfect mystery for Easter weekend, "When Bunnies Go Bad" by Clea Simon

Also up a review & giveaway of "Silenced in the Surf" by Kate Dyer-Seeley

And a review & giveaway of "Unreasonable Doubt" by Vicki Delany

We also have the latest mystery Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier, along with a giveaway of "The Grim Steeper" by Amanda Cooper

And a review & giveaway of "Requiem For Red" by Kaye George

And we have a mystery short story by John M. Floyd

Also, it's TV pilot season, check out some of the interesting shows of all sorts, including mystery, that are being made into pilots this year

Happy reading & Happy Easter,

KRL is now selling advertising & we have special discounts for
mystery authors & bookstores! Ask me about it!
Mystery section in Kings River Life
Check out my own blog at

Guest Post: Jeanne on "Location, Location, Location: A Very Personal View of the Power of Place"

As a reader I tend to prefer books set in the West or Southwest because as a child my parents took me camping a lot and I have been to locations across Texas and almost every western state. You take me to say, Martha’s Vineyard, that is one thing. You move that mystery with the required adjustments to New Mexico and you already have me hooked before I open the book. I may not notice the fact that you use the same house in multiple books. But, you get the details wrong on a location I have been too such as the sunrise or a well-known landmark  and I will notice that big time. A sense of place is incredibly important to me. Please welcome back Jeanne of the Bristol Public Library as she has some thoughts about the importance of place in a mystery. This is part one of a two part guest post.


Location, Location, Location:  A Very Personal View of the Power of Place

Kevin has been very generous in giving me a space to ramble on about various things connected to mysteries.  Lately I’ve been thinking about places.  The main questions in a murder mystery are usually who, how, and why.  I happen to think where is an important ingredient, at least in the books I enjoy.  True, there are some books that get by without letting a reader know much about the setting beyond the necessities such as murder location and possible exits.  Those can work just fine, but for a series I like to have some idea of where in the world I am.  The inciting incident for all this was when I realized I had no idea where a particular book was set.  It was Generic Small Town USA, which was a little disappointing.

Where really encompasses a lot of things, I realized belatedly, and so this little essay has expanded accordingly.  I apologize in advance!

Houses, or buildings in general, are important.  That’s where the action is and those aforementioned exits and entrances.  Let me start by saying that I am directionally challenged.  I am terrible at spatial relations.  My house has two stories.  When I hear a noise or spy a leak in the basement, I have no idea as to what room upstairs is the point of origin.  I laughed at one my cats for peering intently down a grate and then running up the downstairs cat tree to stare up at a grate because I knew that was the wrong grate.  Of course, the cat had the last laugh because she was right and I was wrong.  She understood the layout of the house better than I did—or do.

So when I read a description of a house or village in a book, I never envision the physical layout of the setting.  Authors can get away with moving streets or rooms to their hearts’ content and I will probably never notice.  The “probably” is only in there because one book I did read recently had a character step into a room from the kitchen and I would have sworn that she couldn’t have gotten there from the kitchen, but since I’m used to being wrong about such things, it didn’t worry me unduly.

On the other hand, I have friends who definitely do not have that problem.  They can draw maps of St. Mary’s Mead and throw in a floorplan of Miss Marple’s house.  They can describe each shop and house in Three Pines. They know if an author gets it wrong, and they adore authors who provide maps or floorplans.  The latter has definitely fallen out of favor; I remember them from some of the classic locked room mysteries.  Maps, however, still show up.  The last one I noticed was in G.M. Malliet’s Max Tudor series, where endpapers show readers all the features of Nether Monkslip.

Some readers notice if an author re-uses structures.  One friend was a fan of Barbara Michael’s books, but gave up in disgust on one because “it was the same damn house” that had figured in at least two other books. (I, of course, noticed nothing.)

While architecture doesn’t make much of an impression on me (see spatial relations above), a few well-chosen details of structure or furnishings can convey a feeling for an area.  Breezeways in houses or the occasional pie safe or gingerbread trim give clues.  Of course, just say the word “brownstone” and New York pops into mind.  I couldn’t even tell you what a real brownstone looks like, but Rex Stout made that description such an integral part of the Nero Wolfe novels that I have a knee-jerk reaction to the term.

One house I do picture is the one inhabited by Dixie Hemingway in the Cat Sitter Mysteries by Blaize and John Clement.  Dixie shares a house with her brother and his partner, but she lives in an apartment over the garage.  I couldn’t draw you a diagram, but I feel I know the house well enough to borrow Dixie’s bathroom should the need arise.

At this juncture, I decided to take pity’s sake on the readers and save my comments on non-building aspects of place for another post.  You’re welcome.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Crosswise (Tommy Ruzzo) by S.W. Lauden (Review at Sons Of Spade Blog)

Crosswise (Tommy Ruzzo) by S.W. Lauden (Review at Sons Of Spade Blog)

Mystery Fanfare: Easter Crime Fiction: A List

Mystery Fanfare: Easter Crime Fiction: A List: Even if you don't live in Norway where Paskekrim ( Easter Crime Fiction ) is a crime fiction Easter Holiday tradition , you can enj...

Pet Scan Friday

The Pet Scan is completed and we are back home. The results should be in by Monday afternoon so we should know where we stand on Wednesday before they do the IVIG.

FFB Review: "A Knife In The Back: A Case for Professor Sally Good" by Bill Crider

A Knife In The Back: A Case for Professor Sally Good by Bill Crider is the second one in the series following Murder Is An Art.  Head of the English and Fine Arts of Hughes Community College located between Houston and Galveston, Dr. Sally Good she is still trying to live down her reputation for solving the recent murder case. Her plan is to focus on student essays and dealing with the daily various difficulties of being the department chair. She has to deal with all that and her ongoing addition addiction to chocolate bars.
Mass Market Paperback

Then Ralph Bostic gets himself killed. One of the trustees of Hughes Community College, Ralph Bostic was considered to be a less than stellar human being before he got himself stabbed by a knife. A certain knife made by one of Dr. Good’s department members, Jack Neville. The same Jack Neville who helped her in the previous situation and a guy she is developing some sort of attachment to because she had said yes to a date.

As others in the HCC system overreact to the situation and local police believe no further investigation is needed, Dr. Sally Good is well aware that somebody needs to figure out who actually did the crime. She knows that based on prior experience and long before the murderer strikes again on campus. Once again it is going to be up to Dr. Sally Good to solve the case that literally begins with A Knife In The Back.

Building on the previous character development for Dr. Sally Good, Jack Neville, and others in Murder Is An Art this read is another good one in the series. As in the Carl Burns Mystery series the author is clearly using his background in academia to craft these mysteries. Subtle humor, a dash of romance, and plenty of mystery where there are lots of suspects make A Knife In The Back a mighty good read. While I personally prefer Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, the author’s many other series and stand alones also provide an excellent Bill Crider writing fix even without the Dr Pepper. 

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Public Library System. They do not care one whit whether I read it or even if I review it. They just want their book back in the same shape it came to me.

Make the rest of your Friday a reading quest by heading over to Patti Abbott’s blog and checking out the FFB list. Make sure you make time to pick up a copy of her Concrete Angel. A mighty good read that is well worth it.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Plano Hail

Yesterday was one of those days where every few hours the forecast got worse. By late afternoon we had slipped into the "marginal" risk zone of severe weather. Since that often seems to mean that severe weather is definitely coming I was worried. Especially since radar seemed to indicate the storm line was beginning to the west way further out than had been predicted.

By around ten last night I knew we were in trouble for sure as there was one particular nasty storm in the line that was aimed right at us. The same storm had tried to spin up a tornado in north Fort Worth before morphing into a major hail storm. In the picture to the right from one of the local radars, the light pink area is hail to the size of golf balls. Our apartment is located just a few miles north of where it says Shepton. The Shepton deal refers to Shpeton High School where both the boys went to school.

I moved my car under the carport into the empty parking spot for the vacant apartment next door and hoped for the best. Then a few minutes later the hail began smashing down. It quickly escalated to ping pong and golf ball sized hail that tore up the few plants on the porch and broke the edges of the pots. Fortunately, we were not hit with the 50 plus mph winds that were seen elsewhere in the area. That meant that a lot of the hail came down straight or on a slight angle and missed the apartment windows and did not go under the carport.

Local media is full of images this morning showing what hail can do when it is coupled with wind and blasted into homes and cars. We got lucky. The apartment windows held despite being hit repeatedly in cringe worthy impacts and the cars seem to be okay.

Our nerves are fried. The next round of storms is supposed to be on Ester Sunday which traditionally can be a very rough day weather wise.

Review: "Gunfire Ridge: Bodie Kendrick Bounty Hunter Book 4" by Wayne D. Dundee

Gunfire Ridge is the fourth and apparently final installment of the Bodie Kendrick Bounty Hunter Series. It opens with Kendrick in the company of a soiled dove in the town of Ford’s Bottom. The quiet is disturbed by the pounding on their room door, followed by threats, and very soon gunfire. When the lead stops flying and the dust has settled a bit town marshal, Cotton Mayhew, makes it clear that the bounty hunter has overstayed his welcome in these parts. Thanks to the Sheriff up in Laramie already having authorized his bounty pay at the local bank, Kendrick can collect his monies due him and head on out of town immediately.

That would be just as well as for all involved as some folks are no doubt coming to town to settle a score with Kendrick. Today’s attempt at killing him traces back to an event earlier in the series and the far flung family members, of which there are quite a few, seem to be of no mind to let things go. Kendrick also has work to do near Pine Ridge, Nebraska and would like to get out of northern Colorado before the winter snows set in. That is going to be a way easier said than done in Gunfire Ridge.

Gunfire Ridge: Bodie Kendrick Bounty Hunter Book 4 is another good one.  Starting with Hard Trail To Socorro, Rio Matanza, Diamond In The Rough and now Gunfire Ridge, the very good reads in this series are well worth your time. Kendrick is a man’s man--- he loves hard, he drinks hard, and he works hard. When killing needs to be done he does it as that is the cards he was dealt. A very good western series where there is plenty of action and adventure with a hint of romance and mystery thrown in the mix. Award winning author Wayne D. Dundee simply can’t write a bad story. This is another good one. 

According to Amazon I picked this up in early April 2015. I have no idea now if it was a free read or I used funds in my Amazon Associate account. I suspect the latter.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

PublishAmerica / America Star Books Lawsuit Against Writer Beware Settled (Writer Beware Blog)

PublishAmerica / America Star Books Lawsuit Against Writer Beware Settled (Writer Beware Blog)

Review: "The Ehrengraf Fandango" by Lawrence Block

The Ehrengraf Fandango is the twelfth short story featuring the lawyer Martian H. Ehrengraf. He has a small room at his home reserved for attorney-client meetings. The room is a bit reminiscent of such a room at a police station as both the table and the chairs are bolted to the floor. The surroundings lean towards the austere and Ehrengraf may or may not be recording everything that goes on in the room. It is not exactly clear from the start that he pushes the legal boundaries hard if not flat out obliterating them. That talent comes in handy with his latest client, Cheryl Plumley, as the story begins.

The entire world knows she fired the gun that killed three people in a house on Woodbridge Avenue. She has no memory of actually going into the home and shooting Mary Beth and Richard Kuhldreyer as well as their neighbor, Patricia Munk. While her only explanation other than sheer madness for the crime would be satanic intervention, Ehrengraf has a much more down to earth explanation. Not only does he know how he can help her with the case, he has a few other ideas to help her and her future.

Along with a touch here and there of subtle humor, The Ehrengraf Fandango by Lawrence Block is a complicated multiple case mystery. The Plumley case is just part of a much larger tale in this work. Martian H. Ehrengraf is a lawyer who bends the law to suit himself and enjoys the fruit of his labors in the process. He only defends innocent clients and he never loses a case. If you need his services it is always best to pay his free promptly and without delay.

Also present at the end of the book is the original introduction to the first story, The Ehrengraf Defense, written by Edward D. Hoch for the 1978 initial appearance in Ellery Queen’s mystery magazine. That is followed by two different afterwards from the author, first in 1994 and then 2014. Those pieces by Hoch and author Lawrence Block provide intriguing details about the dapper lawyer, the other eleven tales in the series, as well as publishing in general. 

Material was picked up to read and review when the author made it free back in January. 

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016