Thursday, September 30, 2021
Things are getting spooky at Emily Westhill’s donut shop. In honor of Halloween, she’s come up with some sweet creepy treats like Boston Scream Donuts and Jack o’ Lantern donuts. Both seem to be making a good impression with customers, with the exception of a man from Boston who is more fixated on extolling the virtues of his city than on appreciating what’s before him. Still, he does ask Emily to make him donuts for his upcoming birthday party and asks her to consult on redecorating his guest cottage. She agrees, but gets more than she bargained for when she arrives at his house and find him dead.
This fourth entry in the series brings back all our old friends in an engaging mystery. It’s definitely a cozy and has the near-regulation semi-romance going on. Emily is still resisting falling in love with police officer Brent, who was her late husband’s best friend and partner. Deputy Donut the cat is still adorable, and the supporting cast is still supportive. I did find some of the donut-making descriptions to be skippable, but the book still held my interest.
I found the early part of the mystery to be a bit contrived, but past that it settles into a good yarn. As is also near-regulation, Emily takes some dubious chances but to the author’s credit she doesn’t use these to make her heroine look too foolhardy. Parts of the story involves kayaking, and there is some excellent description of how it feels to be out alone on a lake, with the mists rising. I’m a non-kayaker but she made it sound like something I might want to try some day.
Overall, a solid entry in the series. I do wish the relationship between Emily and Brent would move forward, though.
Survival of the Fritters
Goodbye Cruller World
Jealousy Filled Donuts
Boston Scream Donuts
Beyond a Reasonable Donut
Deck the Donuts (October 2021)
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 69 Calls for Submissions in October 2021 - Paying Markets
Guilty Crime Story Magazine: Issue 2, Fall 2021, opens with “At Fury Crossing” by Brent Spencer. Hella, a homeless vet, put her military skills to work to help Cliff. It was a job and nothing more. Now as she watches him get increasingly agitated outside the hotel known as “The Smiling Orchid,” she realizes she may have to get much more involved than she would like in order to again save lives.
Harlan had a skill to separate people from their money. The problem was that he talked big, but nothing ever came of it. Now he has gone and fled town and left Madison White holding the debt in “Newfound Gap” by Adam Leeder. They can’t find Harlan. They can find her and her son, Jackson, and mean to collect the money. One way or another.
Ted has to die in “Matter of Conscience” by Marie Anderson. Nancy met him at her sister’s wedding. She has her reasons why he must die that slowly become clear.
Editor Brandon Barrows is up next with “Between Friends.” Mike is tending bar, a gambler, and in a world of trouble. He needs a miracle. He might have found it in Mr. Steinberg. Surely Nr. Steinberg, who has known him for years, will help once he explains his problem in enough detail.
Abby took the shot in “No Recoil” by M. E. Proctor. A man is dead. The reasons why are at the heart of short this tale.
“Learning To Dream” by Stanton McCaffery comes next where life sometimes goes in unexpected ways. Graduating along with some other folks in the class of 2000, life is tough. Things escalate way worse when cancer and then a brutal accident strike the characters in this dark tale where the dream might be an illusion.
Crooked cops Lafitte and Asimov have messed up a deal as “Them Cops” by Anthony Neil Smith begins. Time for some payback. To do that, our narrator first needs an untraceable gun.
The issue closes with a nonfiction piece, “American Nightmare: The Noir Roots of Sandman Mystery Theatre” by Anthony Perconti. The essay considers the reboot of the Golden Age hero, the Sandman, as he works in a noir style landscape in a city in the throes of the Great Depression. It is an interesting piece.
Guilty Crime Story Magazine issue 2, Fall 2021, is another interesting read as was the first one. This issue is darker in tone and consistently more noirish, no matter how you define noir, than the first one.
This issue also has several formatting errors in the way it presented on my iPad. Some sentences started with two or three words and then had the rest of the sentence on the next line. While somewhat distracting, it was not that big of an issue though it may very much irritate some readers.
Regardless of that, the issue is a good one and well worth your time. Interesting characters, often dark and complicated situations, combine together to create tales well worth reading.
I picked this up earlier this month to read and review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2021
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Robert B. Parker's Stone's Throw: A Jesse Stone Novel by Mike Lupica finds Jesse Stone missing drinking as well as Sunny Randall. They are in a relationship time out and she is out in Los Angeles working a case. That means she is far from home and working for an old boyfriend, Tony Gault. He is some sort of Hollywood talent agent and hired her to deal with a problem. That case and his presence are not why they are in a relationships time out, but it certainly does not help matters.
One of the ways Jesse keeps drinking at bay is by going for long walks. As the book begins in earnest, Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone is on one of those late evening walks. This night he has walked over to an area of land known as “The Throw.” It is the last big piece of beachfront property in the area and is up for sale by Thomas Lawton III. The sale has caused massive controversy locally and is being fought over by two very rich men who have their own designs for how they will develop the property once the Board of Selectmen approve the sale. Billy Singer, a guy out of Vegas, and Boston based, Ed Barron, have competing plans to build a casino and a hotel on the property.
While the rich have been battling it out in public and on the airwaves with their competing golden promises, some local opposition has come about from folks who have environmental and other concerns. The opposition are underdogs as the rich guys, as they always do, are promising a massive boost to the local economy that has been ravaged by Covid-19 as well as a lot of new jobs. Some in the opposition have resorted to a sort of guerrilla tactic of digging graves and placing ironic tombstones n the fresh grave each time. It happens every so often and at random intervals which makes it hard to catch the people doing it.
Not that Chief Jesse Stone is much worried about it. The current property owner is irate each time it happens, but in the big scheme of things and the fact the land is soon to be ripped apart by bug tractors and the like, it does not really matter.
So, his only concern when he sees evidence of a new shallow grave is the fact that Lawton will be in his office loudly complaining yet again. That would have been preferable to what Jesse actually finds at the new grave. Instead of another empty one, he finds his friend and the Paradise mayor, Neil O' Hara, very much dead by way of an apparent suicide.
Of course, it isn't a suicide for several reasons soon explained. The questions of who did it and why are ones of many that have to be answered in Robert B. Parker's: A Jesse Stone Novel by Mike Lupica.
Fast moving with short chapters and a brevity of dialogue and scene details, the book is an okay fast read. It hits all the usual touchstones regarding local and distantly located characters and keeps action front and center. A lightweight and simplistic read that serves as a pleasant enough multi hour diversionary escape despite the fact there is no new ground here and even the final twist is rather expected. The estate really should have stayed with Reed Farrel Coleman for these books. It would have been way better.
Robert B. Parker's Stone's Throw: A Jesse Stone Novel
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
My reading copy, in eBook format, came courtesy of the Dallas Public Library System. As always, Scott provided the technical assistance needed to get it up and working on my iPad.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2021
Monday, September 27, 2021
Garry Disher has published over 50 widely translated books in a range of genres: crime thrillers, literary novels, short-story collections, YA/children’s novels, and writers’ handbooks. His awards include the
His series characters include Wyatt, a Melbourne career criminal, in nine books so far and the Peninsula Crimes police procedural series with Inspector Hal Challis and Sergeant Ellen Destry in seven books set in Waterloo, Queensland. In the fifth Challis outing, Blood Moon (Soho Crime, 2009) the team has two major crimes to solve. The first is the brutal attack on the chaplain of a private school. The chaplain turns out to be greatly disliked, with good reason, and the police have a number of suspects to check out.
The chaplain’s case slips in priority when the disappearance of a woman who was responsible for enforcing land use regulations culminates in the discovery of her badly beaten body. A historic house was razed just as a preservation court order was being processed, angering the building protectors and resulting in a confrontation. The police wonder if she got caught in the middle somehow. The victim suspected that someone in her office was slipping the property developers advance information about preservation orders, which would be a violation of their position of trust. She had begun saying to her friends that she should request an investigation. Feelings for and against development are running high in the area, and Challis and his team have to wade in.
On the personal front Challis and Destry are living together in defiance of rules against fraternization. When their boss finds out, Challis fears one of them will be sent across the continent to separate them. Their subordinates are pairing up too, creating friction.
Disher can’t write a bad mystery. The plot neatly weaves the professional and personal threads together and incorporates enough twists to keep the reader alert. The police team members are especially well done. Each detective has his own investigative strength, and each one is given a moment to shine in this ensemble story. I noticed the slang that had me consulting Google in the Wyatt books is missing here. Recommended, particularly for fans of police procedurals.
· Publisher: Soho Crime; First Edition (April 1, 2009)
· Language: English
· Hardcover: 368 pages
· ISBN-10: 1569475636
· ISBN-13: 978-1569475638
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2021
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Please welcome mystery author Clea Simon to the blog today…
Getting Real (aka the Katie Perry conundrum)
"What do you mean, they won't let you have an event?"
That was the response from a friend last month when I was telling her about trying to set up promotional events for my new Hold Me Down. "Yup," I had to tell her. "I love XYZ Books, too. But my sales are too low for them to want to host me again."
Hard to admit, but it's true. As I watch my 29th – yup – mystery Hold Me Down head out in the world, I've had to come to terms with a couple of realities.
For starters, I am working to accept that I’m probably always going to have to do copy editing to support my "book writing habit," as I jokingly (?) labeled it a few years ago.
The second, and harder, truth is that I’m probably never going to be widely read. Or, not as widely read as I'd like despite what feels like nearly nonstop promotion. Along this line, my husband Jon often refers to an Andre Dubus essay in which he related the fellow author Richard Yates saying to him: “I don't need money. I need readers.”
But something happened a few years ago that has almost almost helped me to come to terms with the latter. Jon and I were at Jazz Fest in New Orleans a few years ago – sigh, I miss Jazz Fest. I miss all live events, don't you? But anyway, there we were, wandering through the crowd and trying to figure out who to listen to for the last set of the day, when I realized that Katie Perry was headlining the Fest's biggest stage.
Now, I like her hits. They’re fun. I even enjoyed her Super Bowl halftime show (I mean, even besides left shark). But I’m never going to go to a concert of hers, so we wandered over to hear a little, hoping for "Roar" or "Firework." And it was … canned. Boring. Stale. And totally, totally packed to the point where, even pre-pandemic, it was uncomfortable.
So by mutual agreement, we left after maybe a song and a half and went to one of the smaller tents, where local singer/songwriter Aurora Nealand was playing to maybe 50 people and just killing it. She was SO GOOD. The clip below is of her doing some of the trad jazz she excels at (and throwing a mean football), but she has a ton of originals too. And, you know, a lot of her songs sound as poppy to me as Katie Perry’s. But she's never going to have that kind of an audience. Anyway, while we were sitting there, entranced, it hit me that maybe I’m more Aurora Nealand than Katie Perry, and I’m ok with that.
(Video: Aurora Nealand & The Royal Roses)
Clea Simon ©2021
Author of the Witch Cats of Cambridge, Theda Krakow, Pru Marlowe pet noir, and Dulcie Schwartz series, as well as the standalone World Enough and Hold Me Down, Clea Simon is a writer, journalist, and avid reader. Her new psychological suspense, Hold Me Down, published by Polis Books, comes out on October 19th in print and October 5th in eBook. She’s at http://www.cleasimon.com
Saturday, September 25, 2021
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 Isabelle Grey in the Countdown hot seat: http://crimereview.co.uk/page.php/interview/9478
Up in KRL this morning reviews and giveaways of another fun group of mysteries for your fall reading tbr-"Knot Ready for Murder": A Quilting Mystery by Mary Marks, "Murder, She Edited": A Deadly Edits Mystery by Kaitlyn Dunnett, "Death in Daylesford": A Phryne Fisher Mystery by Kerry Greenwood, "Death of a Red-Hot Rancher": A Love is Murder Mystery by Mimi Granger, and "The Cider Shop Rules": A Cider Shop Mystery by Julie Anne Lindsey https://kingsriverlife.com/09/25/fall-mystery-catchup-2/
We also have of "Trouble Restored" by Carolyn Haines along with an interesting guest post by Carolyn about ghosts-perfect for leading up to Halloween month!
And a review and giveaway of "Wreathing Havoc" by Julia Henry along with a fun guest post by Julia about the gardening in her book
We also have the latest mystery Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week a review and ebook giveaway of "Lanterns, Lakes, & Larceny" by Tonya Kappes
My blog tour stop for “One of Us” today is at Escape With Dollycas, where you can learn about the book and enter to win an ebook copy
Scott's Take: Spider-Man: The Darkest Hours Omnibus by Jim Butcher, Keith R. A. Decandido, and Christopher L. Bennett
Spider-Man: The Darkest Hours Omnibus by Jim Butcher, Keith R. A. Decandido, and Christopher L. Bennett is a three-book set that includes the novels, The Darkest Hours, Down these Mean Streets, and Drowned in Thunder. Each novel was originally printed in the early 2000s and therefore each one is set in that time period and follows the conventions of the Spider-Man universe at that time.
The first book and my favorite of this collection, The Darkest Hours, features Spider-Man and the Black Cat trying to stop The Ancients (relatives of the fearsome Morlun) from eating Spider-man. Anyone who has read anything involving the Spider-Man foe known as Morlun is well aware that is one of the most dangerous foes and is also aware that his relatives are just as dangerous. For those unfamiliar with Morlun, he is a monster that looks like a normal man in appearance, but is incredibly powerful and has no regard for human life at all. His primary goal is to eat Spider-Man and others who are inspired by animals (usually called totems) so that he can gather their life force and uses it as strength. His family is just as bad.
There are references to earlier stories and those references are very detailed in this read. Those other stories introduced magic as an element in the origin of how Spider-Man got bitten. Basically, the idea was that a magical Spider (a totem) was connected to the web of life of which all reality was connected and multiple people in the Multiverse were bitten and thus chosen to defend their particular point of reality. On the primary Earth in the Multiverse, the Spider choose Peter Parker. It is ambiguous during this era how much Spider-Man’s powers were derived from science or magic.
In the second book, Down These Mean Streets, Spider-Man teams up with the NYPD to stop the proliferation of a dangerous new drug which not only makes you high, it also gives you temporary superpowers. While adults do use the drug, it is mainly being sold to the youth. This is a far more straightforward read than the proceeding book. It is also a far more depressing read as well as not all the kids who are exposed to the dangerous drug survive.
Drowned in Thunder has Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson engaged in a media war after a series of robot attacks happen in New York City. Each is blaming the other for being behind the attacks. Clearly, Spider-Man is not responsible. But, is J. Jonah Jameson responsible? This book was also more straightforward than the first book.
All three Spider-Man stories are full of humor and action and are good reads set in the status quo of the early 2000s as depicted in the comics. That means Spider-man is married to Marry Jane, Aunt May knows he is Spider-Man, and Peter Parker is a High School teacher teaching Science. These facts play prominent roles in these stories.
The last two books in the collection each have a manor focus on real life issues. Racism, drug use, and being born in poverty guide your life choices is a major theme of the second book while fake news, disinformation and personal bias make up a major portion of the third book. At times, in both books, things get a bit preachy as nothing subtle at all. Both books have a far more reflective tone than the first book, The Darkest Hours.
The Darkest Hours was my favorite and was full of action and humor. The tale also includes Dr. Strange. I very much enjoy the interactions between Dr. Strange and Spiderman which often became very funny.
All three books have a wide and changeable cast of characters outside of the those listed above. They are set in the same time sequence as ordered in the collection. The villains are very different in each book. The writing styles and prose are unique for each book where each author manages to create their own unique Peter Parker while staying consistent with his character.
These stories hold up surprising well despite their age. These books are for more mature readers and not for kids. The usual trigger warnings for this type of adult oriented comics and novels apply here and are in terms of drug use, suicide, death of children, excessive and detailed violence, and more.
I highly recommend this collection.
Spider-Man: The Darkest Hours Omnibus
Keith R. A. Decandido
Christopher L. Bennett
Titan Books (Marvel)
Paperback (also available eBook format)
My reading copy came from the Grauwyler Park of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2021
Friday, September 24, 2021
From the massive archive…
MEMOIRS OF A BAD DOG (2012) by Curtis Moser
Reviewed by Barry Ergang
This is not an easy book to review because it contains so many surprises and unforeseeable turns, and I don’t want to reveal them and spoil the reader’s enjoyment. Suffice it to say, then, that for Bogart the basset hound, who narrates the story, what starts out as a lark results in a tragedy, leaving him with a corrosive sense of guilt and a desperate need to redeem himself.
Certain that his human, whom he calls Swifty, knows what he did and is deeply upset about it, Bogart sets out with his border collie girlfriend Ginger to retrieve an important item, the return of which he hopes will somewhat mollify Swifty. When things go awry, Ginger herself is thrust into mortal danger, and Bogart knows that only he has a chance of saving her. Teaming up with a cat named Snowball, he sets out to do just that. Things do not go smoothly. In fact, Bogart’s dual quests get him into still deeper trouble, both physical and emotional, intensifying his guilt.
Written in a breezy style, with plenty of moments that will have readers smiling and even chuckling aloud, Memoirs of a Bad Dog, though obviously very much an adventurous fantasy, touches on some serious actualities, often prompting Bogart to sober reflections—e.g., “Great cosmic scales. They’re somewhere balancing everything out; I just know it. Everything has an opposite—black and white, good and evil, happiness and sorrow. Even you can see that. It’s because everything has to be balanced. That’s the greatest secret I know.”
Two caveats. First, I read the novel in the Kindle edition and found more than a few grammatical errors I don’t believe are meant to be intentional aspects of characterization. For instance: “I wonder if I would have been a good enough dog to broadside the German shepherd as my father did, or if I would have went for the chicken.” (Italics mine.) Second, one of the issues the story deals with is dog fighting, and to do so it depicts some examples and their aftermaths. These are fairly brief, but they are rather graphic. I never had the feeling they were included for the sake of cheesy sensationalism, but I suspect many readers will probably find them hard to take if they‘re dog lovers like I am—and I doubt that readers who don‘t love or at least like dogs will bother to pick up this book.
Caveats notwithstanding, Memoirs of a Bad Dog is a very entertaining, thoughtful, and moving novel.
Barry Ergang © 2014, 2021
Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s written work has appeared in numerous publications, print and electronic. Some of it is available at Amazon and at Smashwords. His website is http://www.writetrack.yolasite.com/.