Wednesday, March 31, 2021
From the Archives….
Well known for his Bill Travis Mystery Series, Texas author George Wier has made quite a name for himself in the realm of short stories as well. Many of them are stand alone tales with a hint of the paranormal in some aspect. Such is the case here with The Feast Of All Souls: A Short Story.
It has been fifty-eight years since Glenn Robinson had his pocket knife. He knows exactly where and when he lost it all those years ago. At seventy-two, he knows that the clock is ticking on his life. He also knows that the sudden return of his pocket knife as thanks for a pilfered breakfast is significant and means a lot. That morning would change everything as there are many other pieces of his life he would love to have back.
He also knows that some people are watching for signs of anything that would give them an excuse to throw him into a nursing home and effectively end his life. He knows he has to be super careful and have a plan that will work and deal with all contingencies.
The Feast Of All Souls: A Short Story is a tale of the past, present, and future. It is a tale of what was, what is, and what will be. It also is a tale that is not easy to explain even after one has read it and thought about it awhile. It is a good read and well worth your attention.
The Feast Of All Souls: A Short Story
Material was purchased in early February 2019 to read and review by way of funds in my Amazon Associate account.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2019, 2021
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Monday, March 29, 2021
Victor Methos is a successful practicing attorney in a firm he co-founded in Utah as well as an accomplished author with 50 mystery and science fiction novels to his credit including nine series. His stand-alone The Gambler’s Jury (Thomas & Mercer, 2018) was shortlisted for the Edgar’s Best Novel award.
The following stand-alone The Hallows (Thomas & Mercer, 2019) is a fine legal thriller. Tatum Graham is on top of the world, a leading defense lawyer in Miami, Florida, where his talent is in demand by the rich and famous. Known for getting his clients acquitted even in the most egregious situations, he charges outrageous fees and the luminaries in need of his services willingly pay them. Until he defends someone who celebrates his acquittal by promptly committing murder.
Tatum turns his back on Miami and his life there in disgust and desperation and heads back to his small hometown in Utah, on his way to somewhere he can hide. There he finds his desperately ill father from whom he parted on bad terms years before and his high school girlfriend Gates who is now the district attorney in an underfunded and understaffed office. Gates persuades Tatum to stay around long enough to help the two freshly minted lawyers in her office prosecute a murder case. Ineptly investigated by the local police and overshadowed by the political power of the defendants’ families, the case looks lost from the start. Tatum galvanizes the limited resources at his disposal and plunges in, feeling quite strange to be on the prosecutorial side of the fence. Misdirection abounds as he searches for more evidence to convict the defendants, resulting in a gratifying surprise ending.
No surprises in the outline of the plot, the conventions of the legal thriller are all there: the disenchanted superstar, the case with impossible odds, political opposition, the love from the past, the opportunity for redemption. Methos embellishes and polishes these standard components until they gleam like new in this sleek piece of writing. Compulsively readable. Readers of legal thrillers and police procedurals will especially enjoy this book.
Winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.
· Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (July 1, 2019)
· Language: English
· Hardcover: 350 pages
· ISBN-10: 1542042747
· ISBN-13: 978-1542042741
Aubrey Hamilton ©2021
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, March 28, 2021
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Up in KRL this morning reviews and giveaways of some more fun mysteries-"A Wicked Yarn": A Craft Fair Knitters Mystery by Emmie Caldwell, "Egg Shooters": A Cackleberry Club Mystery by Laura Childs, "Shucked Apart": A Maine Clambake Mystery by Barbara Ross, and "A Deadly Chapter": A Castle Bookshop Mystery by Essie Lang https://kingsriverlife.com/03/27/end-of-march-mystery-catch-up-2/
And a review and giveaway of "The Strange Case of Eliza Doolittle" a unique Sherlock Holmes mystery that includes the characters in “My Fair Lady”, by Timothy Miller, along with an interesting interview with Timothy https://kingsriverlife.com/03/27/the-strange-case-of-eliza-doolittle-by-timothy-miller/
And a review and giveaway of "Arrowed" by Avery Daniels https://kingsriverlife.com/03/27/arrowed-by-avery-daniels/
We also have the latest mystery Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier along with a giveaway of ebook copies of "Tall Tails Secret Book Club" by CeeCee James and "Greed In Little Leaf Creek" by Cindy Bell, which were both featured in a past Coming Attractions https://kingsriverlife.com/03/27/april-coming-attractions-bunnies-and-yummies-edition/
Up during the week, we had another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Clea Simon about her new book "A Cat on the Case" and about the magical cats in the book. You can also enter to win a signed copy of the book-be sure to check out the instructions on how to enter, it is a little different for this one https://kingsriverlife.com/03/24/the-magic-of-cats/
And the first in a new series where people share about their favorite bookstore! This time mystery author Edith Maxwell shares about Jabberwocky Books. You can also enter to win an ebook copy of her new book "A Changing Light" https://kingsriverlife.com/03/24/introducing-jabberwocky-books/
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "Undercover Kitty" by Sophie Ryan https://www.krlnews.com/2021/03/undercover-kitty-by-sofie-ryan.html
And a review and ebook giveaway of "Details in the Documents" by Kathi Daley https://www.krlnews.com/2021/03/details-in-document-inn-at-holiday-bay.html
And a review of "A Side of Murder" by Amy Pershing
Invincible: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 2 by Robert Kirkman is the second volume in the series collecting 14-24 plus a couple of extra treats. This is the second volume in the series that began with Invincible: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 1. After the events of the first book, Invincible is trying to collect the pieces of his life as he transitions in this volume from his last year in high school to his first year in college among other major life changes. This means that Invincible had to cope with major changes in his personal life as well as facing various threats such as different super villains and nasty alien invaders. He teams up with various heroes and continues to grow as a person. Several future villains are developed to cause him problems in the future.
His supporting cast has to deal with the changes in their lives as well as the world adjusts to the loss of the various heroes in the first book. The younger heroes have to step up and fill the shoes of legends and take the heavy mantle of protecting our planet. Most of them are not ready for such responsibility, but none of them have an actual choice in the matter. They are not really ready to protect the earth in so many ways as becomes clear, but they are who is left.
This volume is basically a transition tale about adjusting and dealing with change. Growing into your new role and becoming an adult is a theme throughout the book.
As was the first book, the overall read is violent and action packed at points, but there also a lot of character development since mist of the characters that return in the second book are going through a lot of personal change. This series remains a read that is not for children as addiction and alcoholism is present as well as the fact that several characters suffer gruesome injuries such as disembowelment, eye damage, and other things. Many folks die in this book and those deaths often do not happen off the page. If you read and enjoyed the first volume, you will probably also enjoy this read.
This volume is a slower paced read that is more focused on character growth and setup for the future, but there is plenty of action at various points. This volume also includes plenty of extras where the writer and illustrators show off parts of their work and other treats that make the read well worth your time.
Invincible: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 2
My reading copy came from the Lochwood of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2021
Friday, March 26, 2021
Hughes Community College in Southeast Texas near Houston is a small college doing its best to survive. That means the school and its President Dr. Fieldstone can’t afford and don’t want any scandal. That includes possibly questionable artwork currently being exhibited on campus.
Dr. Sally Good has spent six years as head of the English and Fine Arts Division dealing with budget complaints, political bickering and gossip, and the other stuff that is the bane of academic heads everywhere. This is the first time she has been called in over artwork. Dr. Fieldstone has summoned her along with several other people to his office to deal with a complaint lodged by Roy Talon.
Talon is a local celebrity having made his considerable fortune as an automobile dealer. There is a painting of a goat being exhibited on campus as part of deal showcasing the work of students in the prison outreach program. Bad enough that the goat itself is a symbol of Satanism, according to Talon, but he believes that one can also see “666” painted on the goat head. Upon closer examination of the painting, not only do the staff members not see the sign of the beast, one goes so far to suggest if there is anything it might be “911” making it a sign to call the police.
As a taxpayer and a very important person, Talon wants the painting gone. In any institution, bosses handle difficult issues by forming committees to study the problem and make recommendations. Doing so spreads the responsibility around and absolves the boss from having to upset any one group. Before long, the idea is floated to have a newly created committee review entire exhibit to consider if any of the works are Satanic and thus should be removed.
One of those involved in this mess is the chair of the art department. The same department head who may have once again been stepping out on his wife. The same department head who is soon found very much dead in the art exhibit. When the local police seem to be ignoring key pieces of evidence it is left to Dr. Sally Good to solve the crime in Murder Is An Art: A Mystery by Bill Crider.
If you have read very many of author Bill Crider’s books, you will notice that he often starts with something relatively minor that either directly or indirectly leads to a murder. This is especially true in his mysteries based in academia whether it is the Carl Burns series or this one. He also blends in some misdirection with characters that are a bit out there. There is more than one such character at work here and Dr. Good’s observations about them are very funny.
My favorite in this one was Perry “A. B. D.” Johnson who goes ballistic over just about anything on a daily basis. The “A. B. D.” nickname stands for “All But Dissertation” as he has done the entire graduate coursework and everything else required except for finishing the dissertation. Every campus has at least one. Back in my days at the University of Texas at Dallas there were at least two such people I knew of in the Literature and History Departments. Both were very strange guys. One in fact, who did lose his mind regarding a chair, so when reading the opening pages of Murder Is An Art: A Mystery where A. B. D. Johnson becomes quite agitated over a chair it made this reader laugh out loud.
Laughing out loud is always a frequent danger with any work by Texas author Bill Crider. Published in 1999, the book may annoy some readers who expect the first body to fall by the third paragraph at the very latest. Instead, that will come later as the author introduces us to our fictional companions and sets the table for the mystery meal to come. First in the Dr. Sally Good series, the read is occasionally funny while taking numerous twists and turns to solve a murder or two and quite a lot more. Murder Is An Art: A Mystery is a solidly good read and one very much worthy of your time.
Murder is an Art: A Mystery
Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Press)
Hardback (e-book available)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2016, 2021
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Early this morning, I signed a contract with Mystery Weekly for my short story, "The Damn Rodents Are Everywhere." I have already received payment. Publication date is to be determined.
I am stunned. I am also very grateful.
This short story was the final one Sandi and I ever talked about as we went to her cancer treatments. It was the final story I ever worked on there as she slept through chemo.
It means more than I can explain that this one finally has a publishing home.
Bitter Tea and Mystery: Short Story Wednesday: A Tale about a Tiger and and Other Mysterious Events by S.J. Rozan
The Ehrengraf Fandango is the twelfth short story featuring the lawyer Martian H. Ehrengraf. He has a small room at his home reserved for attorney-client meetings. The room is a bit reminiscent of such a room at a police station as both the table and the chairs are bolted to the floor. The surroundings lean towards the austere and Ehrengraf may or may not be recording everything that goes on in the room. It is not exactly clear from the start that he pushes the legal boundaries hard if not flat out obliterating them. That talent comes in handy with his latest client, Cheryl Plumley, as the story begins.
The entire world knows she fired the gun that killed three people in a house on Woodbridge Avenue. She has no memory of actually going into the home and shooting Mary Beth and Richard Kuhldreyer as well as their neighbor, Patricia Munk. While her only explanation other than sheer madness for the crime would be satanic intervention, Ehrengraf has a much more down to earth explanation. Not only does he know how he can help her with the case, he has a few other ideas to help her and her future.
Along with a touch here and there of subtle humor, The Ehrengraf Fandango by Lawrence Block is a complicated multiple case mystery. The Plumley case is just part of a much larger tale in this work. Martian H. Ehrengraf is a lawyer who bends the law to suit himself and enjoys the fruit of his labors in the process. He only defends innocent clients and he never loses a case. If you need his services, it is always best to pay his free promptly and without delay.
Also present at the end of the book is the original introduction to the first story, The Ehrengraf Defense, written by Edward D. Hoch for the 1978 initial appearance in Ellery Queen’s mystery magazine. That is followed by two different afterwards from the author, first in 1994 and then 2014. Those pieces by Hoch and author Lawrence Block provide intriguing details about the dapper lawyer, the other eleven tales in the series, as well as publishing in general.
Material was picked up to read and review when the author made it free back in January.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2016, 2021
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Monday, March 22, 2021
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks
Beneath the Stains of Time: A Dickens of a Crime: "The House of the Red Candle" (2004) by Martin Edwards
Julia Keller is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist turned novelist. She has written eight mysteries about Bell Elkins, county prosecutor in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, and three science fiction novels in the Dark Intercept series. The book introducing Bell Elkins, A Killing in the Hills, was published by Minotaur in 2012.
No one, least of all Bell Elkins, thought she would return to tiny Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, where the reminders of her painful and impoverished childhood were everywhere. But she found life in Washington, D.C., with her lobbyist husband and their daughter, suffocating. She responded to the inner call pulling her back to her home town, where she parlayed her law degree into the county prosecutor’s job. The never-ending crime and the chronic lack of staff and resources gave her plenty to think about. She is particularly concerned about the growing hold illegally obtained narcotics has taken on the community, and she wants to locate and block the source.
One Saturday morning, though, the intensity of local crime jumped several notches when three men were shot dead as they sat over their coffee in an Acker’s Gap eatery. Bell’s daughter saw it, along with a dozen other town residents taking a break during their weekend errands. All three victims were harmless long-time residents with no known enemies. The witnesses were too shocked to really notice the shooter and their descriptions were so nebulous as not to be useful. The sheriff and his staff tried to find the culprit but everyone knew the surrounding hills and hollows could hide an army. A couple of days later a car tried to force Bell off a dangerously curved mountain road. Bell and the sheriff were at a loss to explain either incident.
Keller was born and raised in West Virginia and her love for her home state shows in her expressive descriptions of the region. She writes beautifully; her use of imagery is poetic. Page flows into page seamlessly in this tightly structured narrative of crime interwoven with sociological commentary. I was halfway through the book without realizing it.
Starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus; Publisher’s Weekly Pick of the Week.
· Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition (August 21, 2012)
· Language: English
· Hardcover: 384 pages
· ISBN-10: 1250003482
· ISBN-13: 978-1250003485
Aubrey Hamilton ©2021
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, March 21, 2021
Saturday, March 20, 2021
Up in KRL this morning a review and ebook giveaway (along with a $5 gift card) of "A Fairway to Arms in Hemingway Hills" by Anna Celeste Burke https://kingsriverlife.com/03/20/a-fairway-to-arms-in-hemingway-hills-by-anna-celeste-burke/
And a review and giveaway of "City of Schemes" by Victoria Thompson https://kingsriverlife.com/03/20/city-of-schemes-by-victoria-thompson/
And a review and giveaway of "Furbidden Fatality" by Deborah Blake along with a fun guest post by Deborah about her rescue cats https://kingsriverlife.com/03/20/furbidden-fatality-by-deborah-blake/
We also have a review and giveaway of "The Mitford Trial" by Jessica Fellows along with an interesting interview with Jessica https://kingsriverlife.com/03/20/the-mitford-trial-by-jessica-fellowes/
And we have the first ever of our new column, Queer Mystery Coming Attractions by Matt Lubbers-Moore https://kingsriverlife.com/03/20/march-april-queer-mystery-coming-attractions/
For those who prefer to listen to Mysteryrat's Maze directly on KRL, you can find the player here for the new episode that features the first 2 chapters of "Out of Time" by Cathi Stoler, read by Ian Jones https://kingsriverlife.com/03/20/podcast-out-of-time-by-cathi-stoler/
Up during the week we posted another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Radine Trees Nehring about her book of short stories "Solving Peculiar Crimes" https://kingsriverlife.com/03/17/why-not-a-book-of-short-stories/
And another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Sandra Wells talking about her mystery series https://kingsriverlife.com/03/17/murder-mayhem-and-crooks-gone-wild/
And one more special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Joe Cosentino about his new book "The Players Encore" you can also enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of the first book in the series "The Player" https://kingsriverlife.com/03/17/giving-the-player-an-encore/
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "Night Moves" by Julie Mulhern https://www.krlnews.com/2021/03/night-moves-by-julie-mulhern.html
And a review and ebook giveaway of "The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain" by Elaine Faber https://www.krlnews.com/2021/03/the-spirit-woman-of-lockleer-mountain.html
And a review and giveaway of "Deadly Options" by Terry Odell https://www.krlnews.com/2021/03/deadly-options-by-terry-odell.html
Marvel Avengers Storybook Collection by various writers and artists features nineteen quick stories for younger children. Each story is written by a different author and several different illustrators share art duty. This book features Agents of Shield members such as Nick Fury and Phil Coulson alongside the Avengers such as Falcon, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye (Clint Barton). They deal with a wide variety of villains such as Loki, Kang, Ultron, and others.
The stories are designed to be rather short and are at times a little silly. The plots are very simplistic, but there is a good variety in the tales. They do sometimes feature similar plot ideas such as shapeshifters pretending to be Avengers in consecutive tales. The art is fairly good for a book aimed at younger kids and is colorful.
Overall, this is a nice safe read for younger readers who just want something fun to read or something for parents to read to their children before bed. Those with a sense of humor as well as more observant children may notice that in some of the artwork Hulk is depicted as having no nipples which could create interesting conversations between parent and child. No other artwork oddities were noticed.
Marvel Avengers Storybook Collection is a good book and hits the mark.
Marvel Avengers Storybook Collection
Hardback (also available in audio and eBook formats as well in an updated 2018 edition)
My reading copy came from the Prairie Creek of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott Tipple ©2021
Friday, March 19, 2021
The Hundredth Man by Jack Kerley takes readers to Mobile, Alabama in this police procedural. It is the first read of a multi book series that contains more than a dozen novels. This is a good read that is graphic, at times, and not for those who prefer a traditional cozy style read.
Detective Harry Nautilus and Detective Carson Ryder have a bit of a reputation thanks to the media coverage regarding a recent case. This means that there are many in the department who do not like either one of them. That includes Captain Terrence Squill who is angling to be the next police chief as rumors abound that Chief Hyrum is about to take early retirement.
They and a couple of specialists are part of Chief Hyrum's new project, the “Psychopathological and Sociopathological Investigative Team” referenced by the unfortunate moniker, PSIT. While Homicide Detectives Nautilus and Ryder are assigned to the first district in the city of Mobile, any case that is under the purview of PS11 becomes their case no matter where it occurs. A body missing the head could fit their mandate and would be their first case under the program.
A headless body on the southwest side of the city is their callout this night. Besides missing the head, the dressed male body has been posed a certain way so that he could be found quickly. It is only later when the body is nude at the morgue that it is discovered that there is writing on the body. Two horizontal lines of words that are a message from the killer.
It will not be the last message sent.
While the case is the major storyline, there are a lot of other storylines in the complex read. A book that uses politics, personal relationships, as well as several classic crime fiction tropes (veteran detective partnered with a rookie detective, a grandstanding and massively incompetent boss, hatred of the FBI by locals, etc.) to create the start of a multi book series. Written by a former advertising executive, it seems occasionally as the author did a survey of what worked for other authors and threw those pieces in here.
Of course, how he mixed those pieces together defines his book. The Hundredth Man by Jack Kerley is a solidly good read. Just don't be surprised if now and then you read something and it reminds you of another crime fiction or police procedural. Billed as a psychological thriller, the read is more of a police procedural than anything, though it does contain elements of other genres.
The next book in the series, The Death Collectors, is on hold for me at the library.
The Hundredth Man
Dutton (Penguin Group)
Hardback (also available in audio, eBook, and paperback formats)
My read came from the Downtown Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2021