Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Toe Six: Online Issue 17: “Living My Best Life”

Toe Six: Online Issue 17: “Living My Best Life”

Bitter Tea and Mystery: The Halloween Tree: Ray Bradbury

Bitter Tea and Mystery: The Halloween Tree: Ray Bradbury: I was alerted to this book by Scott Parker at Do Some Damage . And if you know how much I love skulls (and skeletons) on book covers, you wi...

Review: The Breakers: A Sharon McCone Mystery by Marcia Muller

It is early August as The Breakers: A Sharon McCone Mystery by Marcia Muller begins. Michelle Curley or “Chelle” to her friends was living and slowly rehabbing an old building known as The Breakers. Her parents, Trish and Jim Curley, who are out of the country and very worried, can’t get ahold of her. They got in touch with Sharon McCone and have asked her to check on their daughter. McCone has known her as well as her parents for a number of years and knows that the young lady is smart, level headed, and would not just disappear on her own.

The building dates back to the Prohibition Era and served a lot of functions over the years. These days it is a massive derelict and will require a massive amount of work to restore. Among other strange things inside the building, near where Chelle was sleeping is an area devoted to serial killers and their crimes. A collage of sorts that seems to celebrate the work of numerous serial killers in California. While all are famous in their own macabre way, some are far more high profile than others. What that display has to do with Chelle’s disappearance, if anything at all is unclear. McCone already was disturbed by the building and the gruesome display makes it all much worse. As she investigates, things become murkier and far more dangerous to all involved in the case.

The latest in a long series, The Breakers: A Sharon McCone Mystery is an average book at best. Author Marcia Muller pushes the thing along with a few clues here and there and with her team doing most of the work. This is not a novel of import to the series and easily could have been massively shortened into a more compelling novella. Much of the book just sort of drifts along as the author fulfills a contractual obligation to create a new book in the series.

While it is always best to read a series in order, in this case with its frequent detailed allusions to past reads, The Breakers: A Sharon McCone Mystery could easily be read by those new to the series. Much of the context provided by the references are to events long ago and is not earth shattering in the consideration of the overall series. They are general information references as opposed to key points where the series turned.

In short, The Breakers: A Sharon McCone Mystery is an average read that scratches the McCone itch for some readers very familiar with the series. 

The Breakers: A Sharon McCone Mystery  
Marcia Muller
Thorndike Press
September 2018
ISBN# 978-1-4328-5398-3
Large Print Hardback (also available in audio, eBook, and regular print hardback formats)
341 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2018

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 32 Calls for Submissions in November 2018 - Paying...

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 32 Calls for Submissions in November 2018 - Paying...: Pxhere There are nearly three dozen calls for submissions in November. As always, anything you can think of is wanted - flash fiction, ...

Unlawful Acts: Welcome to Holyhell by Math Bird

Unlawful Acts: Welcome to Holyhell by Math Bird

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Outsider by Stephen King

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Outsider by Stephen King: Reviewed by Kristin Stephen King is a master of intricately crafted horror novels.   He is known for being an author who makes y...

Mysteristas Interview: Mark Stevens

Mysteristas Interview: Mark Stevens

Lesa's Book Critiques: Libby Fischer Hellmann - Author Interview

Lesa's Book Critiques: Libby Fischer Hellmann - Author Interview

The Rap Sheet: Revue of Reviewers for 10/29/18

The Rap Sheet: Revue of Reviewers for 10/29/18

Review: Shhhh…Murder! Editor Andrew MacRae

When I was a kid, libraries were solemn and very quiet places. Noise was frowned upon. Usually I got the frown right before being told, “Whisper, please.” Silence in the library was a way of life and was expected whether it was the school library or the Audelia Road Branch of the Dallas Public Library. These days, as I am back in the house I grew up in, the slightly closer branch is the Lochwood Branch of the Dallas Public Library and the place is rarely quiet. As they did in recent years out in Plano, even the librarians at Lochwood speak in a normal tone of voice. They even laugh at my jokes.

These days whether it is out in Frisco, at UTD, or somewhere else, every library I drag my cane or walker into seems to be a noisy and rambunctious place even if it is not story time for the kiddos. At least murders don’t happen in the libraries I frequent. That can’t be said in Shhhh…Murder!  where Cozy Crimes in Libraries occur and it just might happen during the classic dark and stormy night. While a few of the twenty-four tales are previously published ones, most of the short stories presented here are new ones.

After a short introduction by Editor Andrew MacRae, the book begins with “Wuthering Stacks” by Deborah Lacy and Pat Hernas. Not only is this the first tale in the book, it starts off a new planned series featuring Bronte Williams who is a librarian and a solver of crimes. A member of her early morning shelving team is dead and this sort of thing does not normally happen at Piermont College located two hours from Sacramento. Greg is dead, the police need to be notified, the presentation for that seriously annoying ego maniac known by the name of Janet Myers has to be cancelled, among a number of other things has to be done. Librarian Bronte Williams has her hands increasing full as the morning wears on.

Michael Bracken’s, “Mr. Sugarman Visits the Bookmobile” is next up. The setting is Quarryville Texas. Mr. Graham Sugarman is, as those of us of a certain age would politely say here in Texas, “a unique individual.” He does not adjust well to the change in routine when the book mobile stops arriving every Tuesday at 9:00 am. Why it stopped, what happened, and how he copes are small fascinating parts of this engrossing tale.

“Elsinore Noir” by Warren Bull brings Shakespeare to the current times. The patron knows Dashiell, Hamlet and others, but has no idea at all about a crime fiction master, William Shakespeare. Hamlet is the subject of a lot of discussion in this amusing tale. After Mr. Bull is through, you might just look at the Hamlet in a total different way.

Finding the right writing group can be a challenge. That is the problem facing Shelly in “The Wrong Coffee Shop” by Sharon Marchisello. They used to meet at the DeKalb Public library, but that was years ago. At least one member seems to be happy to see her. Getting back into the writing groove by way of the Midtown Atlanta Writers Circle should be fun.

The land behind the circulation desk is an area where we regular mortals never get to tread. In “Ask a Librarian” by Jaqueline Seewald, readers get to take a peek. In this tale, originally published elsewhere in a slightly different form, newly hired librarian, Harold Stevens, works in a private library. That private library was endowed by its patrons and is very much off limits to the public rabble. There are secrets everywhere. That includes the secret of what happened to Robert Weber who Harold is replacing.

Funding for libraries is always an issue. Sometimes a library must consider selling prized items from its collection to survive. Such is the issue here in “The Adam Miniatures” by Anne-Marie Sutton. Sometimes a murder will happen to in an attempt to prevent such a sale.

Readers are next taken to a library at the University of Sydney in Australia by way of “Case Study on the Principals of Morals and Legislation” by Aislinn Batstone. There is a man dead in the Fisher Library and Kate Moseby is involved in the case. Somehow, after finding a very dead Silas Brown who was apparently involved in some sort of drug deal, she is still supposed to go about her duties including teaching her philosophy of law reading group.

Originally published in an anthology back in 1988, “DDS 10752 Libra” is by John Lutz and Josh Pachter. Somebody killed Dwight Stone and ransacked through his apartment looking for something. Nudger found the body and is aware of Stone’s last case. Detectives Byrnes and Allen are not thrilled that Nudger found the body nor are they thrilled with his refusal to just go away after he tells all he knows. Private investigators are difficult that way.

Next up is “Clean Cup” by Jennie MacDonald where the library is about to host the annual fundraiser. Things just need to be tidied up a little bit and that includes shelving the last few returns from the book drop. That includes one book so old it does not have the usual bar code on it. It will require special handling.

After a person dies, especially a wealthy one who clearly loved books, various things have to be done including dealing with the home library. Such is the case in “Different Lights” by Gwenda R. Jensen. Good thing Martin has Lindsay to help as this home library is a massive one.

What somebody is as a child is often their nature as an adult. John Wessel was trouble as a kid. He is trouble as an adult in “Drop Goes the Weasel” by LD Masteron. Considering his nickname is “Johnny Weasel” the fact he is trouble isn’t surprising. The fact that he suddenly has a library card and is checking out books is most definitely surprising. He is up to something. Librarian Grace Pernell means to find out exactly what he is doing as it can’t be good.
Lochwood Branch Library--Our Other Home

It is a dark and stormy November night and debut mystery author Francie Spencer isn’t sure how many folks will show up for the book signing. Silverdale Public Library Director Dale Swift has gone all out to make her feel welcome. Despite the foul weather, folks are showing up. In “Gotcha Covered” by Kate Fellows, the stage is set up for a classic locked room mystery. Is Francie Spencer up to it as fiction becomes reality regarding a legendary rare book?

Librarian Pricilla Mummert had known that Daphne Willow-Smythe, a frequent visitor in the special collections area of the library, was up to no good. Now she has proof. The library director better listen to her in “Map to Oblivion” by KM Rockwood.

Having a brother who is a genius is rather stressful at times. But, it is clear that he figured out how to make some things better so one puts up with what one has to in order that the movie gets made. Tom van der Grimmen is in that situation as “The Body in the Book Drop” by DA Critchley begins. A research trip down to the Lockhaven Public Library is in order. Finding one of the librarians hysterical and saying something about “blood” means his quick trip is no longer going to be quick as he calls the local sheriff.

Inspector Cosgrove is hard at work in “The Day the Librarian Checked Out” by Richard Lau. Librarian Emily Wilson is dead after being stabbed by scissors. Apparently, the brownies Mrs. Tuttle made were not the culprit. Considering her well known lack of skills in the kitchen, it remains rather surprising Mrs. Tuttle has not been arrested for murder by way of poisoning somebody. Since it happened before the library opened and thus only five people were inside, besides the now very deceased Emily Wilson, the pool of suspects is small in this locked room mystery.

It is January 1943 and librarian Emily Applegate is warm in the library despite the ongoing wintery onslaught outside. In “The Vanishing Volume” by Janet Raye Stevens, Miss Applegate deals with a lot including the motives of a certain policeman, Sargent Duffy. The book drop and what it contains-- and does not-- is the ongoing aspect of the tale that blends mystery with a touch of romance.

Librarians are dangerous as they know things. The NSA must be vigilant. Even when their surveillance subject is a sixty year old librarian in “Where Agents Go to Die” by Michael Brandon. Agents Ellis and Strickland are on the case, but much happens out of the sight of their car. They soon learn what happened and why and it is not surprising. After all, as Agent Strickland points out early on, “Libraries are a breeding ground of bitterness and disaffection.”

Next up is the previously published story, “The Fortune Teller” by Edward Ahern. Deep in the bowels of the Vatican Brother Willman seeks to find a pattern. He works with ancient texts that are writings condemned by the church. His mission is to find the links between the failings of the church in different points of time in the past to discern where are the areas where the church will fail at in the future. It has taken years of study, but a pattern of sorts is about to emerge.

Somebody apparently is living in the old library in “Bookish Dreams” by Amy Ballard. Theodora wants the police involved though Emma is reluctant to so as she does not see any real need. Theodora is the boss so Theodora has her way on this and many other issues.

Our protagonist had a little too much fun last night. Part of the morning after problem is what she consumed. Part of the morning after problem is that her ex was involved. Then there is the call from her boss, Pam Sterno. Summoned to the home of her boss, she is going to be assigned a mystery decades in the making in “Havoc in the Library” by Barbara Schliching.

History is also a major point of “The Lawrence Library Liquidation” by M. M. Elmendorf. Miles Watson is a librarian and has plenty to do at the library as it is. Mrs. Fischner, his boss, is not at all pleased with the world, the patrons who pass through the library doors, or the fact that Mr. Watson has still not taken the cart of resource books to the vault as she had instructed him to do so earlier in the day. Taking that cart is going to turn into an adventure worthy of any classic mystery.

The death of a neighbor gets Elsa, a librarian, involved in a case that strikes very close to home in the previously published story, “The Christmas Stalker” by Nupur Tustin. Taylor is dead, her soon to be husband found her, and Elsa had slept through it all until the cops pounded hard on her door. They had just recently moved in and Taylor had quickly proven to be a bit difficult. The murder shocks the small community of Greendale Village and Elsa, like many others, is scared to be at home each night.

Author Albert Tucher worked at the Newark Public Library for quite a number of years. He put that inspiration to work in his short story, “The Patience of the Dead.” Set before prohibition, the tale features Beatrice Winser, the real-life librarian who oversaw the place for decades. The flu is rampant and the governor has ordered the closure of places that people congregate at in large numbers. As she sees the order, that includes libraries though others may disagree and do so at their own peril. It has to be closed and no one knows for how long. Everyone must be accounted for to make sure the library is empty before the doors are locked and she relies on her head of security, Mr. Bradshaw to do just that.

“Keeping the Books” by Michael Guillebeau brings the anthology to a close. Liberians Hammer, Doom, and Carter have a problem. Actually, they have more than one problem considering the action by the library rat, Faulkner, which they just witnessed. The latest budget crisis will hit hard and require drastic action.

The twenty four tales in Shah… Murder! are all good ones showcasing variety in the cozy spectrum. While some are a bit easier to predict for seasoned mystery readers, every story in the anthology has several twists and turns. A nice touch is the short introduction to each tale explaining the author’s background and the context of the work. Shhhh… Murder! is a fun read from start to finish and well worth your time. 

Editor Andrew MacRae
Darkhouse Books
September 2018
ISBN# 978-1-945467-15-8
eBook (also available in print format)
251 Pages

Material was purchased shortly after the publication date to read and review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Unlawful Acts: Incident Report No. 65

Unlawful Acts: Incident Report No. 65 

Scott Harris West-- Book Review: Catlow

Scott Harris West-- Book Review: Catlow

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 10/29/18

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 10/29/18

RTE Update: October 27th Issue of RTE

The October 27th issue of RTE is out and includes fifteen new reviews as well as a new interview:

Steven Axelrod in the 'Sixty Seconds with . . .' interview hot seat:


TRANSCRIPTION Kate Atkinson Reviewed by Yvonne Klein

IN A HOUSE OF LIES Ian Rankin Reviewed by Jim Napier

WRECKED: An IQ Novel Joe Ide Reviewed by Susan Hoover
DESOLATION MOUNTAIN William Kent Krueger Reviewed by Sharon Mensing
FAULT LINES Doug Johnstone Reviewed by Anne Corey
BLACKOUT Ragnar Jónasson Reviewed by Yvonne Klein

MERCY'S CHASE Jess Lourey Reviewed by Lourdes Venard 
ELEVEN MILES TO OSHKOSH Jim Guhl Reviewed by Cathy Downs 
FLESH AND GOLD Ann Aptaker Reviewed by Meg Westely 
ABANDONED Allison Brennan Reviewed by Ruth Castlebe
HAUNTED HAYRIDE WITH MURDER Auralee Wallace Reviewed by PJ Coldren

FOOL'S MOON Diane A.S. Stuckart Reviewed by Meredith Frazier 
ETIQUETTE AND MURDER Dianne Freeman Reviewed by PJ Coldren

A GIFT OF BONES Carolyn Haines Reviewed by Meg Westley 
FICTION OF THE 1920s Leslie S. Klinger, ed. Reviewed by Yvonne Klein

We post more than 900 new reviews a year -- all of them are archived on the site -- as well as a new interview with a top author every issue.

Yvonne Klein

Monday Markets and Jobs for Writers for 10/29/18

Monday Markets and Jobs for Writers for 10/29/18

Aubrey Hamilton Reviews: In a House of Lies by Ian Rankin

In a House of Lies by Ian Rankin (Little, Brown and Company, December 2018) is the 23rd book in the contemporary police procedural series set in Edinburgh, Scotland, and featuring former Detective Inspector John Rebus.

Rebus is long retired, reaching mandatory retirement age a few books ago. (Rankin has often said that if he knew the required retirement age of the Scotland police force at the time he started writing this series, he would have made Rebus younger to give him more active time on the police force.) Rankin has had to look for ways to keep him credibly involved with the current undertakings of the local police. First he brought him back as temporary staff to clear up a cold case backlog, and then he created cases with some element of history that requires the investigating team to ask Rebus to explain it.

This latest title involves the discovery of the body of a private investigator who had been missing for about a dozen years. What was once a missing persons case is now an established homicide, and all of the original files must be reviewed. The original investigating team members, including Rebus, are interviewed and their reports are re-evaluated. From the beginning the family of the missing man filed complaint after complaint about the police’s failure to locate their son, who was openly gay, and hints of police homophobia, incompetence, and corruption hover over the re-opened case.

Siobhan Clark, former subordinate and wingman to Rebus, is assigned to the project and serves as an information conduit to Rebus. Matthew Fox comes back into the picture, after having been elsewhere for a few books. Rebus as usual does his own looking under rocks and behind doors, trying hard to pull his old frenemy Big Ger Cafferty into the frame. He has never been successful in putting this old crime boss away, and it continues to gall him. As usual in this series justice takes different shapes and colors in the end.

I won a character name in a Rebus book in a mystery conference charity auction years ago and this is the book my name appears in. The forensic anthropologist is Aubrey Hamilton, who makes a few appearances to work with the pathologist and the soils analytical expert. It’s always entertaining to see how authors decide to use my name. In this case I’m pleased to see it in a book that continues to uphold the high standards of this bestselling series with well-realized characters and a convoluted plot, in which everyone has something to hide.

·         Hardcover: 384 pages
·         Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (December 31, 2018)
·         Language: English
·         ISBN-10: 0316479209
·         ISBN-13: 978-0316479202

Aubrey Hamilton ©2018

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Lesa's Book Critiques: Six Cats a Slayin' by Miranda James

Lesa's Book Critiques: Six Cats a Slayin' by Miranda James



Bookblog of the Bristol Library: A Season with the Witch: the Magic and Mayhem of ...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: A Season with the Witch: the Magic and Mayhem of ...: Reviewed by Christy             J.W. Ocker likes to travel quite a bit. But his destinations are almost always weird – so much...

KRL This Week Update for 10/27/18

We are playing catch-up again in KRL and have reviews and giveaways of another big group of mysteries-"Treacherous Is the Night": A Verity Kent series by Anna Lee Huber, "In Want of a Knife": A Little Library Mystery by Elizabeth Buzzelli, "Read and Gone": A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook, "Murder Flies the Coop": Beryl and Edwina Mystery by Jessica Ellicott, and "Silver Anniversary Murder": Lucy Stone series by Leslie Meier

And a review and giveaway of "Bells, Spells, and Murders" by Carol Perry

Also a review and giveaway of "Seances are for Suckers" by Tamara Berry, along with an interesting interview with Tamara

We also have the latest mystery Coming Attractions by Sunny Frazier, and a chance to win books by Tina Kashian, Peggy Ehrhart and Cheryl Hollon

And for those who enjoy fantasy with their mystery, a review and giveaway of "Deadly Rising" A Booke of the Hidden Novel by Jeri Westerson, and an interesting guest post by Jeri about demons

And we have reviews of 2 mystery TV shows streaming on BritBoxTV, "The Coroner" and "Gil Mayo Mysteries"

And another dark short story for your Halloween reading, this one by Nancy Brewka-Clark

Up on KRL News & Reviews, a review and giveaway of "The Pint of No Return" by Ellie Alexander aka Kate Dyer-Seeley

And a review and giveaway of "Royally Dead" by Greta McKennan

And a review and giveaway of "Blame It On Paris" by Lise McClendon

Happy Halloween!

Saturdays With Kaye: Exposed by Lisa Scottoline

Exposed by Lisa Scottoline

In this, the fifth book in the Rosato & DiNunzio series, the story opens on Mary DiNunzio’s father and his friends from their close-knit South Philly neighborhood calling Mary in, in need of a lawyer.

The group of older men is great comic relief: her deaf father, Matty, and three men named Tony. They are differentiated by their nicknames, Tony “From-Down-the-Block,” Pigeon, and Feet. But the case Mary is called in on is a serious one. A man from her childhood, Simon, has just been fired from his job at OpenSpace, a company that makes cubicles. The reason for his firing was obviously bogus and the timing is horrible. He has lost his insurance just when his baby daughter, Rachel, desperately needs an expensive bone marrow transplant for her ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia). Mary says that, of course, she will help him sue OpenSpace.

That’s a problem, though, as her law colleague, the tough, prickly Bennie Rosato, points out. She tells Mary that OpenSpace is owned by Dumbarton, which is a client of their firm. Will Mary have to quit her job with the firm to help the old family friend? Will this come between Mary and Bennie? The latter believes she should not take the case.

There are lawsuits and countersuits that pile on to the complications. Rachel’s illness causes ripples in every direction. As the reader is taken into the sad world of childhood cancer, layers of guilt and deception are uncovered on many levels, and both Bennie and Mary realize that the personal and professional consequences are huge for both of them.

Reviewed by Kaye George, Editor of Day of the Dark: Eclipse Stories, for Suspense Magazine

Friday, October 26, 2018

Unlawful Acts Review: Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

Unlawful Acts Review: Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

Gravetapping: MIA HUNTER: L.A. GANG WAR by Stephen Mertz

Gravetapping: MIA HUNTER: L.A. GANG WAR by Stephen Mertz: A three-man strike force accustomed to rescuing prisoners of war in the jungles of Vietnam is stateside on a rogue mission in Los Angeles...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Mother of Rain, Mary's Monster, George ...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Mother of Rain, Mary's Monster, George ...: Reported by Jeanne Nevermore’s first book was Mother of Rain by Karen Spears Zacharias. As the book opens, a family tragedy h...

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 30 Writing Contests in November 2018 - No entry fe...

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 30 Writing Contests in November 2018 - No entry fe...: Pxhere - CC0 license There are more than two dozen writing contests in November, none of which charge entry fees. This month there are c...

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 10/25/18

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 10/25/18

Unlawful Acts: Incident Report No. 64

Unlawful Acts: Incident Report No. 64

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Magic Cottage by James Herbert

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Magic Cottage by James Herbert: Reviewed by Jeanne This book was recommended to me by a patron who commented, “They say he’s a horror writer, but I don’t think ...



Crime Review Update: New Issue of Crime Review

We feature new 20 reviews in each issue of Crime Review (, together with a top industry interview. This time it’s author John Lawton in the Countdown hot seat:

We’re on Twitter at:
Crime Review: @CrimeReviewUK
Linda Wilson: @CrimeReviewer
Sharon Wheeler: @lartonmedia

This week’s reviews are:

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Private investigator Cormoran Strike and his partner Robin Ellacott have another mystery to solve, digging into a blackmail attempt on a Tory MP, as well as looking into the disturbing possibility that a distressed client really did witness the murder of a child many years ago.

Mr Godley’s Phantom by Mal Peet, reviewed by John Cleal Martin
Heath is struggling to settle after the horrors of World War Two. When an old comrade tells of a position with elderly Harold Godley in a lonely part of Devon, he is plunged into a dark mystery.

A Summer of Murder by Oliver Bottini, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Chief Inspector Louise Boni of the Freiburg Kripo is back on duty and immediately pitched into a major case involving the movement of weapons across Europe.

Maigret’s Failure by George Simenon, reviewed by Arnold Taylor
 Maigret is visited by a village school acquaintance he had never liked. He tells the detective that he has been receiving letters threatening to kill him and, reluctant as Maigret is to get involved with the man, he decides to make enquiries.

Kill the Angel by Sandrone Dazieri, reviewed by Sylvia Maughan
A train from Milan pulls into Rome’s Termini station. No one emerges from the Top-Class coach – they are all dead. Deputy Chief Colomba Caselli is the person who discovers them and then sets out to find the culprit
Keeper by Johana Gustawsson, reviewed by John Barnbrook
Famous actress Julianne Bell is abducted in London in circumstances that are just like murders committed ten years earlier – a case that was believed to have been solved. Then a similar murder is reported in Sweden.

Breathe by Dominick Donald, reviewed by John Cleal
Dick Bourton is not like other probationer policemen. He makes connections his superiors don’t want to see, linking a series of deaths as the fogs of the 1952 winter stop the city in its tracks.

Cry To Dream Again by Jane Hawking, reviewed by Arnold Taylor
The Marlow family are on their annual holiday in the French village of Trémaincourt. Seventeen-year-old Shirley has an insatiable desire to become a ballet dancer. One obsession turns into two when, on the ferry journey home, she encounters a handsome young man named Alan.

The Sinners by Ace Atkins, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Sheriff Quinn Colson finds his wedding plans disrupted when two rival drug suppliers come into conflict and disturb the calm of Jericho and Tibbehah County.

Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire by MRC Kasasian, reviewed by John Cleal
Partly disabled Met sergeant Betty Church avoids being invalided out when her godmother March Middleton arranges a transfer to the Suffolk force. She returns to the town where she grew up to find a police station in chaos and a murderer dubbed the Suffolk Vampire on the loose.

The Friend by Teresa Driscoll, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor
Two boys are in hospital 200 miles away and one of them is Sophie’s son. But no one knows which child Ben is.

The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories by Teresa Solana, reviewed by Chris Roberts 
A collection of short stories set in or around Barcelona featuring a variety of characters, apparently respectable, who become involved in serious crime.

The Bad Neighbour by David Tallerman, reviewed by Linda Wilson
It doesn’t take Ollie Clay long to realise he’s made a mistake buying a rundown house in a squalid district of Leeds. But he’s made his bed, and now he has to lie on it.

The Helicopter Heist by Jonas Bonnier, reviewed by John Cleal
A gang sets out to commit Sweden’s biggest ever cash robbery.

The Ways of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Axel Wolfe’s first attempt at robbery does not go well and he ends up doing a long stretch at a Texas state prison, feeling sore about the partner who left him behind

Crook’s Hollow by Robert Parker, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Someone wants Thor Loxley dead. But he doesn’t know who, or why.

Murder at the Bayswater Bicycle Club by Linda Stratmann, reviewed by John
Frances Doughty is asked by a mysterious government agency to keep an eye on goings-on at a posh West London cycle club and enters a world of corruption, murder, espionage and personal danger.

A Darkness of Dragons by SA Patrick, reviewed by Linda Wilson
The children of Hamelyn have never been found, but at least the man responsible for their disappearance is safely under lock and key. Until the dragons decide to take their revenge

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, reviewed by Ewa Sherman
A mysterious Professor of Black Magic arrives with his bizarre entourage in Moscow to wreak havoc among the city’s intellectual elite and ordinary citizens. He soon becomes interested in the fate of the Master and his manuscript about Pontius Pilate.

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp, reviewed by Linda Wilson
Corey’s best friend is dead, and Corey wants to know how and why that happened. Her questions don’t make her popular in an isolated Alaskan community.

Best wishes


Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 23 Writing Conferences in November 2018

Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 23 Writing Conferences in November 2018: There are nearly two dozen conferences, retreats, and festivals in November, spanning the country. Genre-specific conferences include medi...

FFB Review: WHISTLE UP THE DEVIL (1953) by Derek Smith Reviewed by Barry Ergang

As we grind through October with rains and cooler weather here and snow flying from time to time up in the Texas Panhandle proving winter is coming, Barry is back today with another all new review. After you check out his work below, head on over to Patti’s blog and see what else is recommended.

WHISTLE UP THE DEVIL (1953) by Derek Smith

I first learned about this novel when Patrick Ohl reviewed it in December of 2011—see I was immediately intrigued because of the way Patrick raved about the cleverness of the story’s two impossible crimes, followed by immediate frustration over the difficulty of finding a copy. At that time, original editions were scarce, and nobody had yet done a reprint.

Then in July of 2012, TomCat reviewed it on his blog—see—and, like Patrick, he gave it a radiant recommendation. He had also clearly been able to find a copy of what I assume, from the cover shown on his site, was one of the original editions, either from John Gifford or the Thriller Book Club. From the logo on the spine shown at Patrick’s site, my guess is the latter.

Barring stumbling upon a copy of one of the aforementioned editions, or unless someone brought out a contemporary reprint, I had resigned myself to never having the opportunity to read this one. But then a stumble occurred, and I discovered that the publisher, Locked Room International, had reissued Whistle Up the Devil, along with two other impossible crime novels and a previously unpublished short story, in The Derek Smith Omnibus, so I snagged an electronic edition. I’ve so far only read the book under consideration here, and there’s no point in my writing out a plot synopsis or my take on it or other elements of the tale because my views would primarily echo those of Patrick and TomCat. Thus, I recommend that you click on the links supplied above and read their insightful reviews.

I have but one small nit to pick, which may or may not pertain to Locked Room International’s both paperback and electronic editions—and with regard to this specific novel in The Derek Smith Omnibus—but the publisher could use a careful proofreader. Although Whistle Up the Devil doesn’t teem with the kinds of mistakes many of us have seen in other electronic publications, it does contain its share of punctuation (and paragraphing) errors, along with sentences containing a few words missing letters that readers can sometimes easily guess at, and perhaps a few sentences (or missing ones) that provide no clues to their meanings.

Don’t let the nits dissuade you. (<--I may have just come up with a variation on a Ray Charles song title.) It’s an eminently worthwhile read for fans of this kind of mystery fiction. It has become a (kind of) classic by virtue of (its relative) obscurity.

© 2018 Barry Ergang 
Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s mystery novelette, “The Play of Light and Shadow,” is available at Amazon and Smashwords, along with some of his other work.