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
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)
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)
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)
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
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.
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.
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)
THE SIBERIAN DILEMMA by
Martin Cruz Smith, reviewed by John Cleal
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes From The Panhandle To The Piney
Woodsopens 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
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
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
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 Treviño 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
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 Woodsis 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.
Been awhile since I mentioned this, but I am still an Amazon Associate. So, every time you click through one of my links and buy somethi...
Supporting The Blog
In my wife's memory and honoring a promise I made to Sandi, the blog continues...at least for now. If you would like to make a donation of support, you can do so at the links below. Most of the donated funds go to the purchase of medical supplies for me. Some of it goes to the purchase of various short story anthologies and collections which eventually are read and reviewed here.