Thursday, April 30, 2020

Unlawful Acts Small Crimes: Thursday Reads for 4/30/2020

Unlawful Acts Small Crimes: Thursday Reads for 4/30/2020

MWA Press Release: Announcing the 2020 Edgar Award Winners



April 30, 2020, New York, NY - Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce the Winners for the 2020 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2019. The Edgar® Awards were presented via a live presentation on Twitter (@EdgarAwards). The winning speeches can be found on our YouTube channel


BEST NOVEL

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (Farrar Straus and Giroux/Sarah Crichton)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
 

The Hotel Neversink by Adam O’Fallon Price (Tin House Books)

BEST FACT CRIME

The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL

Hitchcock and the Censors by John Billheimer (University Press of Kentucky)

BEST SHORT STORY

“One of These Nights,” from Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers by Livia Llewellyn (Akashic Books)

BEST JUVENILE

Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse by Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books – Paula Wiseman Books)

BEST YOUNG ADULT

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer (Tom Doherty Associates – Tor Teen)

BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY

“Season 5, Episode 4” – Line of Duty, Teleplay by Jed Mercurio (Acorn TV)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD

“There’s a Riot Goin’ On,” from Milwaukee Noir by Derrick Harriell (Akashic Books)

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD
Borrowed Time by Tracy Clark (Kensington Publishing)


RAVEN AWARD

 Left Coast Crime

ELLERY QUEEN AWARD

Kelley Ragland

GRAND MASTER

Barbara Neely

Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Business Musings: The Year Ahead…Again

Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Business Musings: The Year Ahead…Again

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Dog Was Executor (1973) by K. Abma

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Dog Was Executor (1973) by K. Abma: Karel Abma was a Dutch notary and the author of De hond was executeur ( The Dog Was Executor , 1973), a practically forgotten and long o...

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 4/29/2020

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 4/29/2020

Unlawful Acts Small Crimes: Wednesday Reads for 4/29/2020

Unlawful Acts Small Crimes: Wednesday Reads for 4/29/2020

Bitter Tea and Mystery: The Chief Inspector Gamache series, books 5 and 6

Bitter Tea and Mystery: The Chief Inspector Gamache series, books 5 and 6: I am now a full-fledged fan of Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series. When I read the first book in the series I did not care fo...

Lesa's Book Review: Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel

Lesa's Book Review: Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Douglass, Birkett, Nash, Berg, Gowar, ...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Douglass, Birkett, Nash, Berg, Gowar, ...: Reported by Jeanne Our Nevermore Book Club readers have diverse tastes.   That’s what makes it so much fun: everyone reads what they c...

Review: Outpost: Monsters, Maces and Magic Book One by Terry W. Ervin II


Imagine, if you will, the possibility of crossing from this plane of existence into another one built on a role playing game. Where the decisions you made in setting up your character and your abilities, as well as ones made by all of the players in your group, could have life and death consequences within moments of your arrival. That magic, vampires, goblins, and more are totally real as is your ability to fight as a warrior and maybe heal yourself and others depending on the severity of the injury and what you chose moments before here in this world. That is the world as it exists for the characters in Outpost: Monsters, Maces and Magic Book One by Terry W. Ervin II.

The whole reason Glenn was in the Grimes Student Center that Friday evening was research for his Sociology 102 paper. He plans to participate in one of the get togethers hosted by the Role Playing Game Club on campus. By hanging out with the players of whatever game he chooses to be a part of, he hopes to gather enough material for his paper. A key point of his paper is to participate in a social setting or situation that is unfamiliar to him and being part of a role playing game fits the requirement very well.

While he has played a little bit of Dungeons & Dragons years ago, it wasn’t very much, and nobody needs to know that information. The point is to get in, play for a couple of hours, and get out as he has a life and isn’t going to waste his Friday evening this way.

It does not take long before he as well as Stephanie and Kim, two girls who are also from his Sociology class, are at a table with Kirby, Derek, and Ron along with a Game Master. Not only is the Game Master a bit unfriendly, he just seems rather weird and Glenn thinks there is something up with him, but pushes those thoughts aside as he and the other players build the characters and plan out the game.


As all the players are committed to the game and their characters, the Game Master pulls out various items and sets up things to get underway. The last item, when activated, pulls the six players into another dimension based on the fictional world they just created. What seemed to be a joke or unnecessary before, now has major importance as their very existence hangs in the balance at almost every moment. The foes are many, the challenges get harder and harder, and getting back to the reality they left is going to have to wait.

The first book of a series, Outpost: Monsters, Maces and Magic Book One by Terry W. Ervin II is full of intrigue, mystery, action and adventure, and occasional flashes of humor which are often of the adult variety based on how a certain female appears in the fantasy world. Billed as AN “LITRPG novel” or a literary role playing game novel, this is a book where the read combines role playing games with fantasy elements to entertain readers. Those who are seriously into role playing games may find it a bit light in that regard as the focus in much of the book is more of a fantasy quest style story. Those of us who are not serious about such games and therefore are not burdened a need for continuous complicated game play information that has little relevance as the read unfolds can relax and just enjoy the tale.

A fun read, Outpost: Monsters, Maces and Magic Book One by Terry W. Ervin II is a solidly good read and well worth your time. It is available in print, audio, as well as eBook formats. 


Print material received many moons ago from the author with no expectation of a review. I do have the next in the series, Betrayal, here in my personal print TBR pile and intend to read it soon.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2020

Monday, April 27, 2020

Unlawful Acts: Incident Report #84

Unlawful Acts: Incident Report #84

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Bones Behind the Wheel by E.J. Copperman

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Bones Behind the Wheel by E.J. Copperman: Alison Kerby owns the Haunted Guesthouse Inn, where guests are regularly treated to some high-spirited hijinks courtesy of some o...

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Longstreet Legacy (1951) by Douglas Ashe

Beneath the Stains of Time: The Longstreet Legacy (1951) by Douglas Ashe: John Franklin Bardin was an American crime writer best remembered today as the author of three early psychological thrillers, whose admi...

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 4/27/2020

In Reference To Murder: Media Murder for Monday 4/27/2020

Unlawful Acts Small Crimes: Monday Reads for 4/27/2020

Unlawful Acts Small Crimes: Monday Reads for 4/27/2020

Markets and Jobs for Writers for 4/27/2020

Markets and Jobs for Writers for 4/27/2020

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar April 26-May 2, 2020

TEXAS BOOK LOVER: Monday Roundup: Texas Literary Calendar April 26-M...: Bookish goings-on[line] in Texas for the week of April 26-May 3, 2020, compiled exclusively for  Lone Star Literary Life  by Texas Book L...

Aubrey Hamilton Reviews: Final Verdict by Sheldon Siegel


I love good legal thrillers and I was delighted to learn about this new-to-me series. Final Verdict by Sheldon Siegel (Putnam, 2003) is the fourth book in a fine string of stories set in San Francisco. Fans of John Lescroart and Scott Turow will enjoy these mysteries with unforgettable characters and great courtroom scenes.

Mike Daley, a former priest, and his ex-wife Rosie Fernandez have resumed their law practice in San Francisco after a year of teaching in Berkeley. The opening scene demonstrates Mike’s courtroom skills better than anyone could describe them, as he simultaneously puts an overly ambitious new Assistant District Attorney in his place and extracts a repeat offender from a felony charge involving a purloined rotisserie chicken.

The self-congratulations within Mike and Rosie’s office stop abruptly when Leon Walker, a former client, calls to ask for Mike’s assistance on a murder charge. Rosie did not believe in Leon’s innocence when Mike defended him years ago and to this day thinks Mike represented a guilty man, so she doesn’t want anything to do with Leon now. The media agreed with Rosie at the time, and Leon’s life never got back on track.

Mike decides to at least see what the case is about. On first glance, it appears to be open-and-shut. A hotshot venture capitalist is found stabbed to death in an alley near a liquor store where Leon works. Leon is found close by, unconscious with a blood-covered knife and the victim’s money in his pocket.

Mike decides to represent Leon when he learns that Leon is terminally ill with only weeks to live. He cannot possibly survive long enough for a trial, and he wants his name cleared before he dies. Under the circumstances Rosie can’t really object even though she’s not happy. Mike and his brother, a private investigator, start asking questions and learn, contrary to the information first received, everyone did not love the victim. And just what was a wealthy guy in a Mercedes doing so far from home in a run-down and dangerous area of the city?

Siegel has a flair for characterization; even the minor ones in this story stand out. Smoothly paced, the turns and twists took me by surprise every time I thought I understood the direction the plot was unfolding. An absorbing story! Number 11 in this series was released in March 2020. Anyone unfamiliar with Mike Daley and Rosie Fernandez have an abundance of satisfying reading to look forward to.


            
·                     Hardcover: 400 pages
·                     Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition (August 11, 2003)
·                     Language: English
·                     ISBN-10: 0399150420
·                     ISBN-13: 978-0399150425



Aubrey Hamilton ©2020

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

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Crime Review Update for 4/25/2020

We feature new 20 reviews in each issue of Crime Review (www.crimereview.co.uk), together with a top industry interview. This time it’s author CJ Box in the Countdown hot seat:


We’re on Twitter at:

Crime Review: @CrimeReviewUK

Linda Wilson: @CrimeReviewer

Sharon Wheeler: @lartonmedia


This week’s reviews are:

THE SIBERIAN DILEMMA by Martin Cruz Smith, reviewed by John Cleal

Investigator Arkady Renko travels to the frozen tundra to seek his on-off lover, investigative journalist Tatiana Petrovna, who has disappeared.


NOW YOU SEE THEM by Elly Griffiths, reviewed by Viv Beeby

Brighton 1963 and a schoolgirl has gone missing from the exclusive private school, Roedean. It looks like she's a runaway but there are disturbing similarities to the disappearances of a young local nurse and a teenage Modette.


CIRCLE OF DEATH by Chris Ryan, reviewed by Linda Wilson

Former SAS operatives John Porter and John Bald are recruited to a deniable op to rescue a British academic accused of spying in Venezuela. It’s not a job they’re keen on, but neither are in any position to refuse.


THE SCHOLAR by Dervla McTiernan, reviewed by Chris Roberts

Garda DI Cormac Reilly is called by his girlfriend Emma when she comes across a hit-and-run victim, and despite their connection he is assigned the case.


THE GROVE OF THE CAESARS by Lindsey Davis, reviewed by John Cleal

Flavia Albia becomes involved in the hunt for a serial killer operating in the gardens left to the people of Rome by Julius Caesar. At the same time, her parallel investigation into fraudulent Greek philosophical texts leads to another killer.


THE DANGEROUS KIND by Deborah O’Connor, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor

Cassie has gone missing, but her best friend Marnie is the only one who seems to care. 


TO KILL A MAN by Sam Bourne, reviewed by Chris Roberts

A candidate for the presidency aggressively defends herself from assault in her Washington home. White House troubleshooter Maggie Costello is asked to substantiate a defence. 


STEPHEN KING AT THE MOVIES by Ian Nathan, reviewed by Madeleine Marsh

An encyclopaedia of every Stephen King book brought to the screen, including interviews, critical analysis, behind the scenes insights and photographs.


THE HISTORY OF THE SAS by Chris Ryan, reviewed by Linda Wilson

The history of the SAS, told from the inside.


THE MAN WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Jan Stocklassa, reviewed by Ewa Sherman

Jan Stocklassa follows Stieg Larsson’s investigation into the assassination of the Swedish prime minister Olof Palme in February 1986. The assassin has never been identified and the trail of intrigue, espionage and conspiracy covered various parts of the globe.


HOUSE ON FIRE by Joseph Finder, reviewed by Chris Roberts

After the death of an old army buddy, intelligence agent Nick Heller investigates the family behind the pharmaceutical company whose opiate medication lead to his friend’s death.


THE OTHER MRS MILLER by Allison Dickson, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor

The incongruous little blue Ford car is on the street again. Phoebe could almost see its presence as a game, not a danger – if it wasn’t for her father’s legacy.


OUT OF THE DARK by Gregg Hurwitz, reviewed by John Cleal

Why is the corrupt, dictatorial President of America trying to kill every member of a team of ‘deniable intelligence assets’ – assassins – he helped create? Orphan X, Evan Smoak, must find out – and stop him.


THE BLACK ART OF KILLING by Matthew Hall, reviewed by Linda Wilson

The death of an old comrade drags former SAS Major Leo Black back into a world he thought he’d left behind.


MISTER WOLF by Chris Petit, reviewed by Chris Roberts

In 1944, as the allies close in on Germany and Hitler miraculously survives an assassination attempt, Gestapo officer August Schlegel becomes caught up in a scandal thought to be long buried.


THE BLEAK MIDWINTER by LC Tyler, reviewed by John Cleal

Civil war intelligence officer John Grey, now lord of an Essex manor, must discover the truth of the killing of a local lothario in order to save the life of a woman accused of witchcraft.


WOMAN ON THE EDGE by Samantha M Bailey, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor

Morgan’s life spins out of control when a stranger throws herself under a train.


AN AIR THAT KILLS by Christine Poulson, reviewed by John Barnbrook

A rich sponsor is suspicious that there are problems in a high-security virus research institute. A skilled scientist is sent to investigate undercover and gets embroiled in a much more serious turn of events, events that could result in a pandemic.


SEXTON BLAKE AND THE GREAT WAR by Mark Hodder, reviewed by John Cleal

Ace detective Sexton Blake returns in three republished stories of his activities before and during World War I.


ONE OF US IS NEXT by Karen McManus, reviewed by Linda Wilson

An ever-escalating game of Truth or Dare brings heartache and danger to the students of Bayview High.


Best wishes


Sharon and Linda


Unlawful Acts Small Crimes: Weekend Edition for 4/25/2020

Unlawful Acts Small Crimes: Weekend Edition for 4/25/2020

Jim Nesbitt on "Show And Tell"

Jim Nesbitt on "Show And Tell"

KRL Update: KRL This Week for 4/25/2020

Up in KRL this morning a review and giveaway of "Sunsets, Sabbatical and Scandals" by Tonya Kappes

And a review and giveaway of "Death on the Page" by Essie Lang along with an interesting interview with Essie

We also have reviews and giveaways of 3 more fun mysteries for your shelter in place reading-"Dead Ringer": A Mattie Winston Mystery by Annelise Ryan, "Playing the Devil": A Bridge to Death Mystery by R. J. Lee and "Who’s Dead, Doc?" A Jules & Bun Mystery by J.M. Griffin

And the latest mystery Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier

And our latest interview with a fellow mystery podcaster, this one with Alexia Gordon about her podcast "The Cozy Corner"
During the week we posted a fun guest post by mystery author Dorothy St. James about her new romantic mystery “Ms. Starr’s Most Inconvenient Change of Heart by Dorothy” and a chance to win a copy of the book

Up KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "Deadly Fun" by Terry Odell

And a review and giveaway of "The K Team" by David Rosenfelt

Lesa's Book Critiques: Have You Heard? Tess Gerritsen's The Shape of Night

Lesa's Book Critiques: Have You Heard? Tess Gerritsen's The Shape of Night

Beneath the Stains of Time: Murder at Beechlands (1948) by Maureen Sarsfield

Beneath the Stains of Time: Murder at Beechlands (1948) by Maureen Sarsfield: Maureen K. Heard was a British author who had a brief, fleeting career as a fiction writer during the 1940s, producing sevens novel from...

Scott's Take: Wrath of Empire: Gods of Blood and Powder Book Two by Brian McClellan


Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan is the second book in The Gods of Blood and Powder series. It continues the story began in Sins of Empire with the trio of General Flint, Mad Ben Styke, and Michael Bravis as they attempt to keep the godstones out of the hands of anyone seeking them. The godstones have the power to turn any mortal into a god. Those stones falling into the wrong hands would mean horrible things for the world. The trio in their separate and interwoven storylines face off against various enemies attempting to gather the stones for their own use.

General Flint leads her army alongside refuges of the fallen city on a march to safety while being hunted by enemy forces. Meanwhile elsewhere, Michael Bravis attempts to undermine the enemy forces in a city being occupied by the hostiles while trying to smuggle the civilians left in that city to safety. Elsewhere, Mad Ben Styke leads his Lancers on a desperate search for a powerful relic that could help turn the tide of the war. As always in this series, the brief plot lines listed on the synopsis become dramatically different after the first two hundred pages.

This epic fantasy is just as good as the first one and set up an exciting end to trilogy. Wrath of Empire: Gods of Blood and Powder Book Two by Brian McClellan provides a lot of answers and world building for the series flushing out various characters. This book provides plenty of action, violence, intrigue, and mystery. If you are a fan of this series, you will enjoy the second book. I highly recommend Wrath of Empire: Gods of Blood and Powder Book Two by Brian McClellan.


My reading copy came from my home branch of Lochwood Library. I managed to get my hands on this weeks ago before they had to close. I am on the holds list for book three of the series, Blood of Empire, but have no idea when I will actually be able to get it.


Scott A. Tipple ©2020

Friday, April 24, 2020

The Rap Sheet: Bullet Points: Staying Occupied Edition for 4/24/2020

The Rap Sheet: Bullet Points: Staying Occupied Edition for 4/24/2020

TP&WD: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Confirmed in Texas, Die-Offs Reported

TP&WD: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Confirmed in Texas, Die-Offs Reported

Happiness Is A Warm Book FFB Review: Minute for Murder by Nicholas Blake

Happiness Is A Warm Book FFB Review: Minute for Murder by Nicholas Blake

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Beartown by Fredrik Backman:   Beartown is a small community whose ice hockey A-team was second in the nation about twenty years ago, but still carries the pri...

Unlawful Acts: Small Crimes: Friday Reads for 4/24/2020

Unlawful Acts: Small Crimes: Friday Reads for 4/24/2020

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit: Reviewed by Christy               In Beheld , TaraShea Nesbit tells the fictionalized story of the first murder of a colonist b...

Beneath the Stains of Time: Conundrums with Corpses: Q.E.D, vol. 5 by Motohiro...

Beneath the Stains of Time: Conundrums with Corpses: Q.E.D, vol. 5 by Motohiro...: I've remarked in past reviews that Motohiro Katou took a different route to other, more well-known, anime-and manga detective series...

Unlawful Acts: Small Crimes: Thursday Reads for 4/23/2020

Unlawful Acts: Small Crimes: Thursday Reads for 4/23/2020

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 4/23/2020

In Reference To Murder: Mystery Melange for 4/23/2020

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Bitter Tea and Mystery Review: Boundary Waters by William Kent Krueger

Bitter Tea and Mystery: Boundary Waters: William Kent Krueger: Boundary Waters is the 2nd book in the Cork O'Connor series. I bought this book as soon as I finished Iron Lake , the first book in th...

Lesa's Book Critiques: Leave Only Footprints by Conor Knighton

Lesa's Book Critiques: Leave Only Footprints by Conor Knighton

Unlawful Acts: Small Crimes: Wednesday Reads for 4/22/2020

Unlawful Acts: Small Crimes: Wednesday Reads for 4/22/2020

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Lost Roses, Witchfinder, Things in Jars...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Lost Roses, Witchfinder, Things in Jars...: Reported by Kristin Nevermore began with a flurry of book pages and notes from e-readers. First up was Lost Roses by Martha Hal...

Review: The Off-Islander: An Andy Roark Mystery by Peter Colt


It is 1982 as The Off-Islander: An Andy Roark Mystery by Peter Colt begins. Andy Roark came home from Vietnam with more than a trace of post-traumatic stress disorder and an inability to easily fit back into the normal chaos of everyday society. He tried college, the police force, and these days works as a private investigator in Boston.

His usual cases are insurance fraud and divorce work. Take a few pictures for a client, write a report, and move on after collecting a modest fee. His oldest and closest friend dating back to kindergarten is Danny Sullivan. Instead of Vietnam, Danny went to Harvard Law, and these days makes a lot of money defending various clients and most of them are a bit shady. He has a new client and this one does not seem to be shady on the surface of things.

The new client, Deborah Swift, is a bit eccentric and very wealthy. Her husband is being considered by the power brokers that be for a run as United States Senator on behalf of California. Image is everything and the fact that her father came home from Korea, and soon afterwards walked out on the family and vanished, could be a problem. He could just easily be dead or alive living a new life doing who knows what.

A nationwide detective agency could not find anything. They did turn up a little information that a locally based private investigator might have a better way of running down one way or the other. One of those leads goes to nearby Nantucket Island. Deborah Swift wants to hire Roark to use his knowledge of the local area and see if he can quietly and discreetly determine what happened to her father all these many years later.

Before long, he is working the case and things are not going well. Leads seem to be next to worthless and Andy Roark is not getting anywhere fast. It does not help that Danny is expecting results and pushing hard as he needs this client to be happy. This client and the money she brings could be Danny’s ticket to the bigtime. At worst, she is a way for him to ditch his shady clients who pay, but lack respectability. Roark’s PTSD is not helping things either and memories of Vietnam are never far away in The Off-Islander: An Andy Roark Mystery by Peter Colt.

Somewhere around a third or a little more of this book is the memories of war. For one generation, Vietnam was their father’s Korea. That forgotten war as well as the nightmare of Vietnam and how society treated those who came home each time is a constant background to the current mystery.

This is the debut novel of a series and as such there is a lot of character foundation laying in the read. That angle may bore some readers though I personally was not bothered. The mystery took a bit to get going which may also turn off some readers who buy into the current notion that a body must drop in the first three paragraphs. To avoid that, a brief prologue from an action scene late in the read is inserted at the start to prove to potential readers that violent things are to come. They are and a lot of them.

I enjoyed The Off-Islander: An Andy Roark Mystery by Peter Colt. I hope there is a next book in the series. 

This book has been a review subject for two readers very familiar to this blog. Last January, Aubrey Hamilton reviewed it here. Before that, Lesa Holstine reviewed it here on Lesa’s Book Critiques.


My copy came from the Skillman Southwestern Branch of the Dallas Public Library System and was picked up just before the pandemic shuttered their doors.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2020

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Unlawful Acts Review: Never Go Back by Jason Beech

Unlawful Acts Review: Never Go Back by Jason Beech

Beneath the Stains of Time: White for a Shroud (1947) by Don Cameron

Beneath the Stains of Time: White for a Shroud (1947) by Don Cameron: Donald Clough Cameron was an American journalist who worked as a crime reporter for the Detroit Free Press and the Windsor Star , a Can...

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan:    Reviewed by Christy     Jim Gaffigan is a popular stand-up comedian well known for his diatribes on junk food (like Hot Pockets), f...

Unlawful Acts: Small Crimes: Tuesday Reads for 4/21/2020

Unlawful Acts: Small Crimes: Tuesday Reads for 4/21/2020

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nicholas Meyer

Bookblog of the Bristol Library: The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nichola...: Note:  In Honor of National Library Week, we will be posting a new review every day, Monday to Friday. Reviewed by Jeanne When...

Review: The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes From The Panhandle To The Piney Woods Editor Michael Bracken


The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes From The Panhandle To The Piney Woods opens with a very short introduction by Editor Michael Bracken before moving on to the stories. First up is “Chasing The Straight” by Trey R. Barker. Derrick Kruse is a bit different than most private investigators and knows more than he would like about domestic violence and abuse. His latest case involving Billie Vogan is a case that came to him during the weekly poker game. Now that he knows about it, Derrick and the voices in his head have a problem that must be fixed.

William Dylan Powell takes readers to 1984 in Corpus Christi in his tale “The Haunted Railcar.” Our private investigator has his own boat and is working on it when Dell McClendon shows up. Not only does Dell arrive in full clown make up which will set the dog off, as he knows, he really should have stopped walking up the pier when told to stop. Sure, he would still have the problem that caused the visit to the boat, but Dell McClendon would also still have his own nose fully intact.

A murder is rare in Robertson County. They have one this Thursday morning in November at the Camp Hearne Historical Site. In “The Yellow Rose of Texas” by Josh Pachter, the local High School English Teacher, Elsie Jordan, is dead and probably from strangulation. Helmut Erhard, a private investigator, found the body while on another matter. Finding the body made it very personal for him and he is not about to just let the local law handle it.

Like her father before her, Nicky Moran is a private investigator based in Fort Worth who uses a special bar stool at the legendary Billy Bob’s as the office. “In Cowtown” by Robert S. Levinson the client is one Mr. Jergens who likes to be referred to as “Slim.” The client believes that somebody is out to murder him and is very sure about the identity of the suspect. The suspect has one heck of a motive and the local law is not moving on the case. Nicky does not come cheap, the client is more than willing to pay and has the funds, and she is soon on the case.

Houston is the setting for “Harvey and the Redhead” by Debra H. Goldstein. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It is not necessarily a good thing to be carrying around the name of “Harvey.” Yet the detective is, and while pretty much everything the detective owned has been destroyed, the bills still must be paid. The latest client is Olive Twist, part of the legendary Twist Realty and Developments. A family with money, contacts, and resources, she wants a painting returned to her and wants it done discreetly for numerous reasons.

The former Texas Ranger works now and then as a process server and/or private investigator after more than thirty-two years as part of the legendary local law enforcement agency, Texas Rangers. Huck Spence is just trying to stave off boredom in “See Humble And Die” by Richard Helms. His latest case is to find “Ralph Oakley” and it should be easy enough to find him.

Sitting surveillance on a place deep in the night gets boring as one fights to stay awake and focus on the matter at hand. Such is the situation for the private detective in “No One Owns The Blues” by Scott Montgomery. The years have passed, and a lot has happened, but Sharon Turner, still has a hold over him. A singer and a good one, she has a complicated relationship with her current financial backer. She wants him checked out in this tale set in Austin.

Colt Colton just got hired to trace the history of some cars recovered from the Houston area in the aftermath of the Hurricane. He’s from Gary, Indiana originally. But, eight years in the Dallas PD working in the Auto Theft Division means he is very good at tracing cars and finding owners. Tracking down Porter Shackleton of PS Services in Hempstead should be easy enough though the recovery company has tried the easy way in “Shaft on Wheels” by Mark Troy.

Michael Boone sees her long before she makes it to his office. The lady has a problem and needs a private detective in “Triangles” by John M. Floyd. She separated from her husband awhile back. More recently, she used her house key and went into the house to take an item that her husband is very serious about getting back. Since the item in question may have been acquired by her husband in the less than stellar fashion, the police are not an option. This remains true even though she believes her husband is trying to not only get the item back, but have her killed for what she did.

It is back to Austin as a setting in “Purple And Blue” by Stephen D. Rodgers. Our narrator is sitting surveillance on a certain car owned by Gregory and the client. Based on some evidence, apparently somebody else believes the car is owned by somebody named “Cynthia.” This misplaced identity has led to a serial tire killing spree by party or parties unknown and Gregory needs it stopped now.

Houston and the immediate area is the setting of several stories in the anthology. Hurricanes by name and not serve as a backdrop to several stories in one way or another. Such is the case with “Lucy’s Tree” by Sandra Murphy. Hurricane Harvey is unloading on the area and reminding our narrator of another powerful storm and his late wife. In the here and now, neighbors need help and, in so doing, a long ago murder is finally solved.

Unless you are an attorney licensed to practice in the great state of Texas, or a police officer, it is best to avoid and all visits to the jail. In “Unwritten Rules” by Chuck Brownman, private investigator Rafe McAlister is at the jail because it is hi job to be there as he is an investigator for an attorney by the name of Bobby Williamson. Their latest client is Tommy Nguyen who is in jail on a murder charge in the death of Vic Mallory. Racism, the history of the war between Texas and Vietnamese shrimpers, and more are at work in this tale.

Andy Wilkins came to Jefferson, Texas, in search of one specific person. In “Blackbirds” by Graham Powell, his search for Jack Lynch brings the attention of the local police chief and quite a few other folks. Not all of that attention is of a positive nature, but Andy Wilkins drove all the way in from Fort Worth and he has a job to do.

Riley is in the flood waters and pounding storm of Hurricane Harvey by way of a small aluminum fishing boat. She sits in the bow with Donald at the tiller as they navigate flood streets and drowned wreckage in the hunt Carl Vincent Farlow. Known to the locals as a storm chaser, she believes him to be a serial killer. A serial killer who uses severe weather events as a cover for his killing spree over the last twenty five years. In “Weathering The Storm” by Michal Pool, there are victims to be saved and a killer to be found and stopped.

The weather is quite a bit dryer in “Trip Among The Blue Bonnets” by James A. Hearn. Trip is at a certain diner south of Lampasas looking for the spouse of his niece, Tammy. Everybody in the family hated the guy and that was before Tammy, his niece, got worried he was cheating on her. Now that he found him a very long way from home, Trip must figure out exactly what is going on with him as well as a couple of other things.

West Texas, specifically the town of Odessa, is the setting for “West Texas Barbecue” by Michael Chandos. Every town has their own homegrown mobster type and Mr. Oxnum is the one for Odessa. His wife took cash and some important papers out of his safe before she run off a couple nights ago. Mr. Oxnum, who prefers to go by “Mr. Ox” is only really interested in the papers. He wants them back and wants them back now. He has a very good idea where Mr. Taylor can go to find her and get them.

Ms. Amanda TreviƱo needs the help of private investigator Benjamin Kane in “The Patience Of Kane” by Bev Vincent. She is far along in her pregnancy and would like to know the real reason her husband, father to their child, died in a recent car accident. The crash report blames driver inattention and she believes that to be nonsense. She also does not understand why he would have been driving where the car crash happened. She wants to know what did really happen and is not worried as to what he will find as she has faith in her husband and knows he wasn’t running around up to no good when he died.

Short biographies and several ads for other books by Down & Out Books bring the read to a close.

Edited by Michael Bracken, The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes From The Panhandle To The Piney Woods is a very entertaining mystery anthology. All  the stories here are on point and very good. Unlike many anthologies that have a bit of a rollercoaster effect due to the inclusion of some weaker stories, here there is not a weak tale in the bunch. Settings are varied, cases are always complex, and the authors in the anthology skillfully weave interesting tales. The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes From The Panhandle To The Piney Woods is a mighty good read. 


My reading copy came as an autographed gift by way of many of the involved authors who presented it to me at Bouchercon 2019 in Dallas. I was stunned to be gifted the book and am very appreciative of the authors who did this for me. 

Kevin R. Tipple ©2020