Up in KRL this morning a
review and giveaway of "Murder in the Storybook Cottage" by Ellery
Adams, along with an added special giveaway. We also have a fun guest post by
Ellery about Fairy Tales, Tea, and Murder
And reviews and
giveaways of 3 pet mysteries-"Gone With The Whisker": A Bookmobile
Cat Mystery by Laurie Cass, "Murder Can Confuse Your Chihuahua":
A Haunted Craft Fair Mystery by Rose Pressey, and "The Girl with the
Kitten Tattoo": A Cat Lady Mystery by Linda Reilly
For those who prefer to
listen to Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast directly on KRL, here is the player for the
latest one featuring an excerpt from "The Wrong Girl" by Donis
Casey, read by local actors Maxwell Debbas and Brianne Vogt Debbas
Spider-Man: Kraven’s LastHunt by Neil Kleid is an adaption in novel form of the comic of the same title. This
novelization adapts the famous comic, keeping most of the plot, while
attempting to update it for modern times. Kraven the Hunter (a longtime Spider-Man
foe) has decided to launch a hunt of Spider-man for the last time. He will do
whatever it takes to kill Spider-Man. This book takes place from multiple
perspectives including two different villains and Spider-Man.
Featuring sex, violence, lots of
death, and plenty of humor this is an adult novel. This novel deals with
concepts such as death, survivor’s guilt, honor, child abuse, dark secrets, and
more. There is a huge horror element in this book as it depicts classic scenes
found in the comic. This novel is not for children. This book would probably
give them nightmares.
I highly recommend Spider-Man: Kraven’s
LastHunt by Neil Kleid for adult Spider-Man fans that
are looking for a new spin on the classic tale.
My reading copy came from Central, aka
Downtown Branch, of the Dallas Public Library System back before the libraries
closed their doors in the middle of March due to the ongoing pandemic.
It is New Year’s Day in 2018 as Evergreen:
A Willie Black Mystery by Howard Owen begins in a way that is very familiar
to many of us of a certain age. Between his bladder and the cat sitting on his
chest, sleeping much past eight in the morning is proving impossible. While
hosting a party at your own place solves the transportation issue, there is one
heck of a mess to clean up on the morning after. Cleaning up and thinking about
having to go work at the paper later gets pushed aside when Richard Slade
Richard Slade and Willie Black have a complicated history
familiar to readers of the series. In the here and now, his mother, Philomena Slade,
is in the hospital and is not doing so well. According to Richard Slade, she
wants to tell him something important about Artie Lee.
Artie Lee was Willie Lee Black’s father
and he died a little over a year after Willie was born. Peggy never talks
about him and Wille knows next to nothing except that he was African American.
Back in 1960, African Americans and Caucasians could not legally marry. The simple
act of dating was frowned upon by a significant portion of society. That belief
that the races should not mingle extended to the child of such a union. That
reality has been a major part of Willie Black’s entire life.
As it turns out, Philomena Slade has been quietly maintaining
Artie’s grave in a local cemetery that has been nearly forgotten in the mists
of time. All she wants is for Willie to maintain the grave site after she
passes. A simple request that is far more complicated than it first appears.
Now that he has been told of the grave site, something he has never known until
now, all Willie wants is to learn all he can about his father and what happened
that fateful night decades ago. That night and his death changed everything for
Willie Black digs into the past in a quest to find out
what happened long ago. His mother, Peggy, refuses to talk about it so he has
to talk to others who were around at the time and know what happened. Getting
folks to talk is not easy and it soon becomes clear that what he thought he
knew all these years was not true. History and race relations have always been
a subtext if not a main theme of this series and such is the case here as
Willie unearths hard truths that some would much prefer left buried in the past.
Evergreen: A Willie Black Mystery by Howard Owen is the latest published installment of a complex
and very good series that began with Oregon Hill. This is not a static
series. Characters age, people die by the hand of man or natural causes, and
relationships evolve and change, so it is strongly recommended that readers
start at the beginning and work their way forward. Additionally, this read contains
frequent references to past events and are detailed enough to be considered
My review copy came by way of the
Bachman Branch of the Dallas Public Library System shortly before the shutdown
in mid-March due to the pandemic. Next in the series is Belle Isle
which I have here in my print TBR pile after my ongoing reviews of this series
came to the attention of the publisher.
The Case of the Nameless Diablo,
Cowboy Crooner: A Nameless, Texas Mystery introducing Rory Rogers, P. I. by Bobbi A. Chukran has a lot going on in this short story that
is also a very good cozy style read.
Aurora “Rory” Rogers is in her 50s, widowed, and is the
only private investigator for miles around Nameless, Texas. Hurricane Harvey
has just stomped through kicking the heck out of the Texas coast and the
effects are also felt 175 miles in land in Nameless where the normal heat and
humidity of summer has been made worse by the massive rains. Rory is working in
her office in a building that also houses her small apartment. Her place is
across the street from the Sheriff’s Office and a block up from the train
station and freight yard. She has a Mexican restaurant next door and a BBQ
place nearby by.
For once she has some money in the bank, lunch was good,
and she a new book to read. It should be a quiet relaxing afternoon with
nothing on the agenda. That is until a man exits from his old pickup and comes
into her office. Rory does not much care for walk-ins and for good reason.
He is a prospective client and comes by way of an attorney
that she has worked for before. “Darlene” has been stolen from his truck.
Darlene is a guitar that his grandfather made back in the 50s. It has been through
some things in the decades since and generates a sound that can’t be
duplicated. While it may not be worth a lot money wise, it means everything to
him, and he wants Darlene back.
The theft may or may not have anything to do with a recent situation.
All he knows is that he has a show coming up and he needs Darlene. Without
getting his name, Rory takes the case and the hunt is on for the missing
A lot is going on in The Case of the Nameless
Diablo, Cowboy Crooner: A Nameless, Texas Mystery introducing Rory Rogers, P.
I. by Bobbi A. Chukran. A lot of backstory regarding Rory is weaved
into the highly entertaining tale as the author avoids info dumping as well as
slowing the pace of the read. A fun and fast paced mystery short story well
worth your time.
I picked this up to read and possible
review after the author announced its publication on the Short Mystery Fiction
Society list. At that time in late April it was a free read.
“Kenny Orslow Shows Up On Time” by
Susan Oleksiw Is the lead story for Mystery Weekly Magazine: February
2020. It is a Monday morning, the fifth of June, and he is supposed to
get on a certain bus outside the County Courthouse and go Lanark. He has a six-month
sentence to serve. It is his day and time to report to the bus for transport.
At least, that was the plan.
It is the fall of 1899 and a man who goes by the name of
George Armadale has arrived in town. A former police detective, he wants ten
dollars a day to identify a killer and bring him to justice. It will take a
week. Considering the expense as well as the fact that the murder happened just
three hours before the former Sacramento detective showed up, it is a good thing
he arrived. The local sheriff and his deputies have not solved he case yet in “We
Suffered Such A Man As This” by Anthony Lowe.
She clearly was a bit naive though nobody should ever
accuse her of being stupid in “The Sizzle” by Jill Hand. Fresh out of high
school with limited options her only real option if working for Uncle Everett.
He will give her a job in his business. He has a lot of satisfied clients who
Mr. Deshaw is a legend in the neighborhood. He is a bit
stand offish, yet he does care in ways that are not always apparent to others.
He travels a lot and based on what he brought back to put in his yard, he does
like artwork. That very public display of art and the effect it has on his
neighbors is the subject of “Mr. Deshaw’s Sculpture” by Jeff H.
If he had brought the library book over to Mom earlier
things might have been different. Marcus mentally plays the “what if” game a lot
in “Left Out” by Michael Wells. That and a couple of other things tend to
distract him from law school.
The meeting with the producer who possibly wants to option
one of his early crime fiction novels had gone really well. He knew the topic
of murder and who to kill had come up during the meeting in the coffee shop. He
knew that their conversation about having the power of life and death over folks
could have been misconstrued by others who did not realize they were talking
about writing and creating central characters. The arrival of the two detective
who look like they just came from central casting instead of the police station
isn’t surprising. The fact they have questions isn’t a surprise either in “The Russian Triple Agent” by Arthur Davis.
Each month there is a “You-Solve-It” puzzle where the
clues are provided and the reader either solves or does not solve the case.
This month the puzzle is titled “Where There’s Smoke” by Eric. B. Ruark. The
place is burned down and destroyed as Deputy Sheriff Tracy Leigh Myers picks
her way through the rubble. Was it an accident or not?
The issue concludes with the answer to the January case,
“Bare Billfold” by Laird Long.
Another quality issue with interesting characters, complex
mysteries, and lots going on. Each issue is solidly good and Mystery
Weekly Magazine: February 2020
keeps the good reads coming.
For quite some time now I have been gifted a subscription by the
publisher with no expectation at all of a review. I read and review each issue
as I can. To date, I have never submitted anything to this market and will not
do so as long as I review the publication.
In the piece, Dennis Palumbo talks about how the pandemic is a background hum in all of our lives. Since 2017, grief has been the background roar of my life. Losing my Mom in January was bad and meant I was parentless though it was not unexpected at her age and with her medical issues.I had known her time was limited. I also knew by that fall that another horrible event was on my immediate horizon. Losing Sandi that December after a six year plus fight against the god damn cancer was not unexpected. I thought I was ready. I was so very wrong. Grief has been a background roar in my life ever since. The pandemic hum is not helping that as my primary way of coping, escaping to the library and bookstores, has not been an option. I am not a therapist and certainly do not play one on tv, but, as he points out in his piece, turning the television off does help. The piece resonated with me and I suspect it will for many of you as well.
Selected as the cover story, “The Fourth Amendment” by
John Bowers has Chief Carpenter appearing in the chambers of Judge Martin as he
wants a warrant. In fact, he needs that warrant. Chief Carpenter has to
convince the judge to see things his way in the pursuit of justice.
Sunday is the one day a week that Pearl and Henry eat out
at local pub and take a walk to the nearby museum at the castle. Henry bought as
annual pass, believing it a wise investment, and made sure Pearl did the same.
Education is important and yet Henry does not know everything in “A Fitting
Sendoff” by Madeleine McDonald.
Taking photographs correctly is always important. It is even
more so when one is taking pictures of the deceased. As Lacy has found over the
years, change the light source, change the angle, and the pictures reveal
evidence. The latest victim clearly has some evidence on her and Lacy is
working hard to document it all in “Shadows” by Jemi Fraser.
The editor’s choice of the issue is “Sweet Spot” by Bruce Harris. Steve
“Stoney” Stevens has a bakery in downtown Denver. An interview on the very
popular news show is going to skyrocket his success if he handles himself just
The four short stories here are all
quick reads and all four are good ones. With a submission cap of 700 words,
each author quickly sets the scene and moves the action along to conclusion. A
lot of stuff is at work in each tale as are a couple of surprises. Flash
Bang Mysteries: Spring 2020 Issue 19 is another quick and fun
read. You can read the current issue as back issues for free online here.
PI Jackson Brodie stumbles upon some
dark and dangerous deeds in the picturesque seaside town he now calls home.
THE NEVER GAME by Jeffery Deaver,
reviewed by Linda Wilson
Three victims, each stuck in a
deadly locked room scenario. Only one man can help them – Colton Shaw, a man
who earns his money from finding missing people, dead or alive.
THE STALKER by Alex Gray, reviewed
by John Cleal
Superintendent William Lorimer and
his Major Incident Team track a serial killer – but Lorimer’s own wife is in
danger from a madman who targets a particular type of woman.
MAN ON EDGE by Humphrey Hawksley,
reviewed by Chris Roberts
A rogue Russian colonel plans the
assassination of the US and Russian presidents at a summit meeting. Rake Ozenna
stands in his way.
THE REGRET by Dan Malakin, reviewed
by Kati Barr-Taylor
Someone is stalking Rachel again,
but no one seems to care.
HIGH FIRE by Eoin Colfer, reviewed
by Linda Wilson
A teenager, a dragon and a crooked
cop. Life in the Louisiana swamp will never be the same for Squib Moreau when
he meets Vern, the last dragon.
I WILL MISS YOU TOMORROW by Heine
Bakkeid, reviewed by Ewa Sherman
A damaged ex-Chief Inspector
Thorkild Aske has just left prison, his life in tatters. He is asked to find a
young man, Rasmus, who has disappeared off the North Norwegian coast. Rasmus is
the cousin of Frei, the woman that Thorkild still loves but whom he has
THE DEAD LINE by Holly Watt,
reviewed by John Cleal
Journalist Casey Benedict, alerted
to the possibility of a horrific trade in babies, embarks on a dangerous
BURNT ISLAND by Kate
Rhodes, reviewed by Linda Wilson
When a man is
horrifically murdered on a remote island in the Scillies, DI Ben Kitto’s boss
wants results fast, but even with a relatively small pool of suspects to draw
on, the case isn’t an easy one to crack.
BLOOD IN THE WATER by
Jack Flynn, reviewed by John Cleal
Gang war erupts on the
Boston waterfront and Diamond, daughter of union boss Cormack McConnell, is
caught in the middle.
DARKNESS FOR LIGHT by
Emma Viskic, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Deaf Melbourne-based PI
Caleb Zelic goes to meet a new client but finds him dead, and is drawn into a
dispute he only vaguely understands but with participants prepared to kill
THE KILLER YOU KNOW by
SR Masters, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor
They thought Will’s
teenage vow to kill three people was a joke. Now Adeline and her friends are
not so sure.
A STRANGER IN MY GRAVE
by Margaret Millar, reviewed by John Cleal
Daisy Harker has
everything: a beautiful home and a wealthy businessman husband who loves her.
She also has a recurring nightmare – she sees her own grave and a date that
means she has been dead for four years! On the edge of a breakdown, she hires
NO FIXED ABODE by Dana
Stabenow, reviewed by Chris Roberts
The crash of a light
aircraft in a remote Alaskan town has significant implications for PI Kate
Shugak and her friends.
TO KEEP YOU SAFE by Kate
Bradley, reviewed by Linda Wilson
soldier-turned-teacher Jenni Wales has to decide how far she will go to save
one of her pupils when no one else appears to care that the girl is terrified
and at risk of abduction.
THE FAMILY by Louise
Jensen, reviewed by Kati Barr-Taylor
Oak Leaf Farm may not
provide the sanctuary Laura hoped for. It may be the place she cannot escape.
DEEP STATE by Chris
Hauty, reviewed by John Cleal
Former small-town girl,
ex-army boxer and now White House intern Haley Chill stumbles across a plot to
assassinate the American president.
DEGREES OF GUILT by HS
Chandler, reviewed by Chris Roberts
Maria Bloxham calls the
police to report she has killed her husband, and soon finds herself on trial.
The jury are invited to consider whether her husband’s behaviour constitutes a
SOFA SURFER by Malcolm
Duffy, reviewed by Linda Wilson
When 15-year-old Tyler
meets a girl at the local lido, he’s only looking to make some money from
giving her swimming lessons, but an unlikely friendship grows between them that
threatens Tyler’s relationship with his own family.
THE KINGDOM by Jess
Rothenberg, reviewed by John Barnbrook
The Kingdom is a fantasy
theme park, home to hybrids, living creatures, some extinct, some rare and some
human. The Fantasists are beautiful hybrid women, designed as perfect hosts but
are they capable of murder?
John Lutz has been a byword in
the world of crime fiction for years. He is
the author of more than forty novels and over 200 short stories and articles.
He is a past president of both Mystery Writers of America and Private Eye
Writers of America. Among his awards are the MWA Edgar, the PWA Shamus, the PWA
Life Achievement Award, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society's Golden
Derringer Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the author of two private eye
series, the Nudger series, set in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Carver series,
set in Florida, as well as stand-alone books.
In the first
of a 10-book series, Tropical Heat (Henry Holt, 1986), Fred Carver is introduced
as a former policeman injured on the job and forced to take early retirement.
He acquired a private investigator’s license and hung out his shingle in Del
Moray, Florida, where he is still recovering from his wounds. His former
lieutenant sends Edwina Talbot, a hotshot realtor who is searching for her
lover, to him. All the evidence suggests that Willis Davis committed suicide by
leaping from a cliff into the ocean. Edwina does not believe that he would
leave her and, since his body has not been recovered, prefers to think he
disappeared because of money problems.
reluctant to take the case – if the police think it’s suicide, it probably is
-- but he needs the money and he needs to be busy. He learns that the Davis was
skimming cash from client deposits at the realtor firm where he was working.
Then he finds forged ID in multiple names in his apartment. Suspicions justifiably
aroused, Carver doubles down on talking to Davis’s coworkers and associates,
which attracts the attention of some knife-toting, drug-dealing Cubanos who
expend considerable effort to discourage Carver’s research. Federal law
enforcement representatives who happen to be watching the Cubanos aren’t happy
to have Carver in their way. Violence begins to trail Carver wherever he goes,
and Carver finds he’s in better shape to deal with it than he thought.
and plotted even if the outcome is predictable. A solid start to a fine series.
·Hardcover: 246 pages
·Publisher: Henry Holt
& Co; 1st edition (July 1, 1986)
Big time thanks to the voters as well all the folks here like my son, Scott, Aubrey, Barry, and the many guests and other folks who have k...
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.