Tonight is the night at The Wild Detectives. I will be reading from my short story, The Beetle's Last Fifty Grand, which appears in the recently released crime fiction anthology, Back Road Bobby and His Friends. I have been told I am reading third tonight so that should be around 7:30 ish. Hope you come out if you are in the area.
Thursday, June 30, 2022
While my review previously appeared here in early May, the book was published earlier this week, so I am reminding you of it today.
Stacy Stevens and Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch have planned a quiet getaway on Spruce Island as Hatchet Island by Paul Doiron begins. The plan was to paddle out on their kayaks and get away from everything. That was before Stacy got a concerning email from her old friend Kendra Ballard. As it happens, Kendra Ballard is on nearby Baker Island working as part of The Maine Sea Bird Initiative Project as Stacy did long ago. Kendra Ballard supervises the two interns and organizes everything from May to August. Her email was concerning and she specifically requested Mike to come with Stacy and bring his badge and gun.
Baker Island is in a dead zone so they have to go out there to learn what is going on at the island. Fortunately, the island which is home to numerous types of birds, is close by and not much of a detour on thus July morning. They make it out to the island in the fog, despite the near miss with a boat moving at far too high a speed for the weather conditions. Once they arrive at the island, they are met by an armed intern who clearly does not want them to land. The intern, Hillary Fitzgerald, is eventually persuaded to check in with Kendra who makes it clear she is in charge and she wants Stacy Stevens and Mike Bowditch to come ashore.
Maeve McLeary, the person in charge of everything overall, has gone missing and none of the researchers now where she or her boat is or why she is not on the island with them. In addition to that, some of the locals are harassing one of the interns. They claim it is all in good fun, but Bowditch knows it is racism and is disgusted. There are other strange things happening as well.
Within hours, all that will be eclipsed by the murders.
Stacy Stevens and Game Warden Mike Bowditch are soon in the thick of it and there are suspects galore. Hatchet Island is a complicated mystery filled read that shifts across several islands and puts Stevens and Bowditch in peril several times in the often violence filled read. Hatchet Island is another solidly good book in the long running series.
My reading copy was an ARC via NetGalley.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2022
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Patti Abbott: Short Story Wednesday, "My Mother's Yellow Dress: Ann Packer from MENDOCINO AND OTHER STORIES
From the magnificently massive archive...
For the fourth consecutive year, Wolfmont Press has released an anthology designed to raise money for the “Toys for Tots” program. Edited by John M. Floyd, this year’s anthology is made up of many familiar names to anyone who reads short mystery fiction and novels. Austin Camacho Bill Crider, Earl Staggs, Randy Rawls, Deborah Elliot-Upton and the other usual suspects are also familiar to readers who participate in the various online writing groups. Just reading the author names involved should tell you that the content of the book is going to be good.
The anthology opens with “The Seven Dollar Clue” by J.F. Benedetto. Private Eye Mark Sauer doesn’t want to be a murder victim the week before Christmas. But, when Madame Zhu Li, head of the Jade Dragon Criminal Triad in New York’s Chinatown, wants to see him and won’t take no for an answer, he worries this could be his final dinner.
“Red Christmas” by Stefanie Lazer follows next in a tale about just how far a parent has to go to get the right toys for Christmas.
Written from the perspective of a child, the story, “The Christmas Caper” by Stephen D. Rogers tells what a child will do to get the toy he must have at nearly all costs.
“Twas The Night” by Anita Page brings the ongoing economic crisis into focus for a recent layoff victim. Having retreated to his cabin after his job and his marriage crashed, the narrator becomes involved in a local disappearance.
If you haven’t read the Ace Edwards, Dallas Private Investigator series by Randy Rawls you are really missing out. For this anthology, there is a prequel of sorts to the series via the tale “Jingle Bell, S. I.” Beyond explaining a little early history, the tale is silly and light hearted and reflects the occasional mood of the series.
“Caught On Christmas Eve” by Earl Staggs has more than a couple of twists in this shoplifting tale. I had the pleasure of reading this story in advance a few months ago since Earl and I are both in the same local writer’s group and I knew then it was a winner.
“The Gift Of The Margi” by Peg Herring proves that, in the end, during the holiday season sometimes family is all you can count on.
Deborah Elliott-Upton crafted a rather disturbing story with her “An Unexpected Gift.” Impossible to describe without ruining it for readers, I can safely say this one surprised me. It also proved to be a harbinger of several darker in tone stories in this anthology.
Known primarily for his excellent Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, Bill Crider is writing of werewolves again in “The Werewolf’s Christmas.” Imagine the holidays with a full moon and you are a werewolf. A guarantee of trouble on the home front.
“Yule Be Sorry” by Carolyn J. Rose shows just how mad a woman can be when she thinks her husband is cheating on her.
In a nod to her excellent novel “Death Will Get You Sober” released last year author Elizabeth Zelvin brings back Bruce, Jimmy and Barbara in a quick little holiday tale. Recovering alcoholic Bruce manages to help with a murder case and still make a quick run to the store in “Death Will Trim Your Tree.”
Everyone has relatives they don’t care for. Gwen seems to have more than her share in “The Worst Noel” written by Barb Goffman. Enough is enough and she finally does something about the issue in this disturbing tale.
The Hannibal Jones series of novels written by Austin S. Camacho are quite good. It isn’t any surprise that the tale “No Place To Spend Christmas” involves Hannibal and his latest case.
The media constantly warns folks to beware of strangers trying to help you during the holiday season. Elmer finds out why in “One Good Turn” by Steve Shrott.
I’m not sure what the folks at Amazon will think if they read “The Kindle Did It” by Gail Farrelly. I am pretty sure I don’t want a Kindle anymore.
For a police detective the late night phone call, especially during the holiday season, can mean only one thing. Ben Barker isn’t thrilled when he is summoned in “An Inconvenient Killing” written by Herschel Cozine and isn’t going to like what he finds in this disturbing tale.
Detective Julie Garcia of Cottonwood, Arizona finally gets a chance to deliver the ultimate Christmas gift in “The Gift Of Christmas past” by Kris Neri.
The final story is the “Sprit of Spadena Street” by Marian Allen. When a neighbor is mugged during the holidays, it is time for the other residents to rally around and find the perpetrators.
268 pages including author bios, the anthology features a variety of writing styles and tones along with a variety of crimes during the holiday season. From the lighthearted type of stories typically seen in these anthologies in years past to the dark and disturbing ones included this year there is something for nearly every reader. John M. Floyd is to be commended for expanding the scope of the anthology this year to stories that probably would not have made the cut in past years. Unlike past anthologies, silly cleverness and puns regarding the crimes and events during the holiday season were kept to a bare minimum. Readers who prefer syrupy silliness might be disappointed, but those who prefer a harder edge, even during the holiday season, won’t be disappointed with this good anthology.
As in past years, sale proceeds after publishing costs will be donated by Wolfmont Press owner and publisher Tony Burton to the “Toys for Tots” campaign.
Material provided by Tony Burton in exchange for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2009, 2022
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Readers know from the opening paragraph of The Locked Room: A Ruth Galloway Mystery by Elly Griffiths that Covid-19 will have a role in this tale. The read begins in late February of 2020 and Ruth is in her mom’s house going through her things. Ruth’s father, Arthur, is away with his new wife, Gloria, who would have like to redecorate a bit when they get back. It isn’t as harsh as it sounds as many months have passed since Jean died and Gloria and Arthur later married. Gloria has been very good about everything, but it is time to move forward.
It is as she goes through a shoebox of pictures that have been labeled “private” that Ruth has found a picture of her cottage. Several other pictures were strange and confusing, but this one stopped her dead. While it is her cottage, a place Jean always disliked and made her feelings very known, the cottage looks a bit different and not just because of the age of the photograph. On the back of the picture “Dawn 1963” is written in her mom’s handwriting. Ruth was born in 1968. The picture also means Mom was at her cottage thirty years before Ruth ever saw the place, let alone bought it.
That mystery of what her mother was doing won’t go away when she returns home to her cottage. She begins researching the history of her house as well as the houses of the neighbors. Somebody may know why her Mom was at the cottage. A place that she always acted like she had never seen before Ruth bought it.
Nelson also has a couple of his own mysteries to solve. One is his future as he remains married to Michelle, who now knows everything thanks to recent events. Things are very unsettled as Michelle has gone off with their youngest child, George, back home to Blackpool on holiday. Nelson and their dog, Bruno, have been left to fend for themselves.
That means working even more for Nelson as he has very few outside interests besides his job. Fortunately for him, a current case is bothering him. Samantha Wilson was found dead in her home, lying on her bead, and with an empty pill bottle. Everything in the bedroom looks like a suicide and there is not a real reason to question it. Except for the cooked Weight Watcher’s meal sitting in the microwave. Who puts a meal in and starts cooking it before going to bed to die by suicide?
As various characters go about their lives, the news of Covid-19 is just beginning. For example, Judy and Cathbad are preparing with supplies and Cathbad has already figured out there with be a shortage of toilet paper. Ruth isn’t paying a lot attention as she has students to teach and a department to run and seems to expect an occasional minor inconvenience if anything. Which is rather surprising when the reader thinks about it given her knowledge of history and archeology and her awareness of a “plague pit” in the local area. Then there is Nelson who is lonely and annoyed by the boss a bit more than normal as she is going on about using hand sanitizer and seems to be taking a ghoulish pleasure in everything.
What follows is a complicated read where mysteries of all types, personal and professional, take a back seat to Covid-19 and its disruptive effects as the weeks pass and it comes far too close to home affecting everyone greatly. At the same time, Ruth copes with missing and possibly endangered students and Nelson deals with several cases that may or may not be suicides. Not to mention the relationship he has with Ruth.
There is a lot going on in The Locked Room: A Ruth Galloway Mystery by Elly Griffiths. The Covid-19 aspect is a major character that dwarfs everything else in this complicated read. At times, that aspect made the book tough going for this reader. At the same time, the author handled it well throughout the very complicated read. The Locked Room: A Ruth Galloway Mystery by Elly Griffiths is an entertaining story and one that is strongly recommended.
My read came via an ARC and NetGalley. Per the publisher, reviewers were mandated to hold reviews until publication day. That is today.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2022
Monday, June 27, 2022
I love a good con artist tale and The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark (Sourcebooks Landmark, June 2022) hits the mark. This brand-new thriller is about a skilled grifter and the collateral damage of one her scams. Kat Roberts was an up-and-coming young journalist when she encountered Meg Williams for the first time. Because of a story lead that Meg planted as part of a sting, Kat lost her job and struggled for years to regain her footing both in her career and in her personal life.
Bent on revenge, Kat began tracking Meg who is a chameleon. She changes her name and her persona effortlessly as she travels around the country, becoming a brand-new character to fit whatever con she is working. She’s a life coach to the stars, she’s a well-known interior designer, she’s a naïve community college student, and she’s a high-powered realtor.
Kat felt sure that eventually Meg would return to Los Angeles, and after 10 years, she did. Kat maneuvered her way into Meg’s orbit and tries to get Meg to give up her secrets. Meg holds her at arm’s length while focusing on the real reason she came back to Los Angeles. Their interplay creates the primary tension of the story, which builds as Meg narrows in on her current target and Kat becomes obsessed.
The story is told alternately in Meg’s voice and in Kat’s, revealing the motivations of each and their reactions to the other’s attempted manipulation. Along the way the reader gets an excellent tutorial in how to set up a mark and execute a scam. It’s a quick compelling read with a number of surprises and insights into human behavior. Highly recommended.
· ASIN: B09HLF9RCT
· Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (June 21, 2022)
· Publication date: June 21, 2022
· Language: English
· File size: 2972 KB
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2022
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, June 26, 2022
Please welcome J. R. Lindermuth to the blog today as she shares some writing advice that crosses genres and projects….
Get Curious and Go Beyond -- Write What You Know
Beginning writers are often advised to write what they know.
Personally, I've always considered that rather limiting advice. Granted all of us have experiences which we might utilize in our writing. But is your experience broad enough to justify a short story or even a novel? A good writer should have curiosity and imagination, two traits which go beyond mere experience. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to experience. It can be a great teacher--provided you're willing to learn from it.
In contrast to writing what they know, I believe writers can benefit by writing about things that arouse their curiosity. As E. L. Doctorow put it, "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go."
This desire to learn has the power to stimulate your imagination and take you places you've never experienced before, a voyage which can transform your writing and give it a power it might otherwise lack. Your enthusiasm for the subject should shine through and transfer to the potential reader what you've learned about a subject.
For me, research is half the fun of writing and provides opportunity to delve into many fascinating topics. Still, we need to beware of lecturing to our readers. What you've learned about a particular subject must conform to the story you're telling and contribute to the advancement of the plot. It may please you to elaborate on a particular theme and this is where you need to exercise care lest you stall your story and leave your readers exasperated.
In my writing of both contemporary and historical mysteries, I've learned a lot about myriad subjects that were new to me. In fact, some of those subjects were even the inspiration for a story. I already knew mine owners frustrated by increasing demands for unions in Pennsylvania's anthracite coal region recruited cheap labor from Eastern Europe in the late 19th Century. My research on this subject revealed the same tactics were used to find women for factories and as domestics, a practice that enticed some victims into the sex trades. This was the inspiration for By Strangers Mourned.
Here's the blurb for By Strangers Mourned:
Spring is usually heralded as a time of renewal, not murder.
Preparations are underway in the spring of 1899 for the wedding of Deputy Cyrus Gutshall. Sheriff Tilghman is hopeful this will put his sweetheart Lydia Longlow in the marital mood.
But then a woman is found drowned in a local creek.
Doc Mariner's autopsy reveals the woman is a victim of foul play. The sheriff’s investigation soon puts him on the trail of a mysterious man named Bauer and a gang preying on young immigrant women.
One of the women escapes her captors and comes to their small town in search of help. A coal miner she encounters, a fellow Pole, brings her to Tilghman and helps translate the story of her ordeal. The girl is befriended and sheltered by a coworker of Lydia's, an act of kindness that puts both young women in danger.
Sylvester Tilghman will need all his detecting skills and the help of his friends to unravel the many skeins of the case before he can dream again of marriage.
John Lindermuth ©2022J. R. Lindermuth lives and writes in central Pennsylvania. A retired newspaper editor, he currently serves as librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. He's the author of 18 novels and two regional histories. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and is a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.
Saturday, June 25, 2022
Up on KRL this morning reviews and giveaways of more mysteries for your summer reading-"A Midsummer’s Night Fudge": A Candy-Coated Mystery by Nancy J Coco, "Fatal Flowers": A Flower House Mystery by Jess Dylan, and "Bear Witness": Alaska Untamed Mystery by Lark O. Jensen https://kingsriverlife.com/06/25/more-mysteries-for-your-summer-reading/
Kagen The Damned by Jonathan Maberry is the first book in a new dark fantasy series with strong Lovecraft elements. The main character is Kagen, a soldier, tasked with protecting the heirs of the crown. One night he is drugged and the Empire along with the heirs are destroyed by a magical army led by the Witchking. Kagen feels responsible and abandoned by his gods. He wanders the fallen empire in a drunken haze while plotting his revenge. At least, that is how it starts, but things get way more complicated and detailed as the read goes on.
The universe is a mish-mash of various fantasy and Lovecraft ideas merged into a world of its own. Kagan is a very violent, dark, cynical, and bitter character. He is a good guy who hates himself and routinely describes his own self-loathing. The world he inhabits is not a nice one. There is plenty of action, as well as suicides, rapes, murders, and adult humor in this rather dark book that should only be read by adults. This is not a read for children or teens as there is some very dark violence and ideas in this complicated fantasy read.
This is a really good book though, in my opinion, one of the plot lines should have been cut. The plot line did not matter much at all and, with so much going on, could have easily been eliminated. and really did not matter that much at least in this book.
Though a very dark and violent read, I highly recommend Kagen The Damned by Jonathan Maberry for dark fantasy readers. This book is better, that the recent reads in the Ledger series that began with Patient Zero. It had seemed that Mr. Mayberry had become bored with his other series and wanted to do something new and different. He certainly has in Kagen The Damned by Jonathan Maberry.
Book two of the series titled, Son of the Poison Rose, is currently scheduled to be released in early January 2023.
My reading copy came from the Lakewood Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2022
Friday, June 24, 2022
In Reference To Murder: Friday's "Forgotten" Books: Hard-Boiled Dames: A Brass-Knuckled Anthology of the Toughest Women From the Classic Pulps.
From the magnificently massive archive…
I’ve been a fan of Richard S. Prather’s Shell Scott detective series since I was in my early teens—which means roughly 55 years ago as of this writing. The Sure Thing was published in 1975, and that seemed to be the end of the series. But 1986 and 1987 brought us, respectively, The Amber Effect and Shellshock—and then nothing more. Those seemed to be the last two Shell Scott capers.
Sometime in the early 2000s, I discovered a website devoted to Prather and his work. No longer accessible, it included a lengthy interview of Prather conducted a couple of months prior to his death by Linda Pendleton, wife of the late Don Pendleton, who was best known for his series about one Mack Bolan, a.k.a. The Executioner. The interview mentioned an unpublished Shell Scott manuscript of considerable length, but with no indication as to whether it was ready for publication, let alone whether it even had a prospective publisher. I could only hope it would eventually appear. It was published posthumously (Prather died in 2007), and I eagerly snagged a copy of the print edition to complete my collection.
In my review of Double in Trouble, which Prather co-authored with Stephen Marlowe, I quoted a chapter opening in which Scott says, “My joyously anticipatory emotion was all shot to hell.” That pretty much sums up my take, alas, on The Death Gods the premise of which is pretty basic. Scott is hired by Dr. Henry Hernandez, an M.D. who fervently believes in the homeopathic ( as opposed to the allopathic) approach to medicine, to find out who tried to kill him; to find out what happened to his dog Rusty, who chased the van that almost ran down his parent (I hate the term “pet owner”); and to locate the recently-vanished Guenther and Helga Vunger, patients the doctor cured of the deadly disease IFAI (pronounced “eye-fie”) that threatens to wipe out everyone on the planet.
IFAI stands for “Invariably Fatal Acquired Illness,” neither a cure nor preventative vaccine for which has yet been developed, but which is being worked on by the esteemed Dr. William Wintersong at the Omega Medical Research Institute, owned by the well-connected billionaire Hobart Belking of Belking-Gray Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In the course of his investigation, Scott must confront both of them. It’s not a spoiler to state that, unlike many another Shell Scott story, this isn’t a whodunit, that the bad guys are obvious early on—and that I’ve just named them. As the story progresses, situations become messy enough that Scott could eventually find himself in prison if the bad guys or their henchmen don’t kill him first. He must find a way to convince the authorities that these prominent and respected men are criminals, and that he and Hernandez are innocent.
In a prefatory note, Linda Pendleton, who is credited as editor and publisher, writes of The Death Gods and Richard S. Prather: “I believe it will be considered his ‘masterpiece,’ in the clever way he used his character, Shell Scott, to bring forth his own beliefs and deep passion about a subject he held dear to his heart for many, many years.”
I believe Ms. Pendleton may be the only reader who will think so.
The so-called “editing” is atrocious. The book is rife with grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors (note the unnecessary comma after “masterpiece,” as well as the quotation marks around it, in the Pendleton quote above). It contains some sentences that make no sense whatsoever, suggesting that Pendleton published the text of a manuscript Prather himself never had a chance to proofread and revise, and which she made no effort to correct herself. It contains sentences that are missing key words.
Then there’s the glaring error concerning a character’s name. In the first chapter, the reader meets the novel’s principal female character, a writer Scott says is named Dane Zanie. But the next time she appears, and from that point on, her name is Dane Smith.
At 411 pages (it starts on page 9, ends on 420), The Death Gods is too long. The inordinate length is attributable in large part to long and often repetitive harangues against the medical establishment by Dr. Hernandez. They go on for several chapters. Whether they agree or disagree, wholly or partly, with his positions on allopathic medicine, the pharmaceutical industry, animal research, vaccinations, and pollution, I can easily imagine some readers mentally shouting, “All right already! I get it! Can we get back to the action now?” Others will simply put the book down and never pick it up again. There are also some descriptions of people and locations throughout that suffer from needless repetition.
If the book were cut to about half its length, with just enough of Dr. Hernandez’s polemic included to make his—and the author’s—points without bludgeoning readers, it would work as a thriller. In its present form, and especially at its present length, I can only recommend it to Prather completists possessed of a great deal of patience.
Sensitive readers need to be aware that the story contains some extremely grisly moments. Those offended by profanity should be aware that the story contains some, though it’s nowhere near as prevalent as in many other modern mystery novels.
Barry Ergang ©2015, 2022
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/.
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Patti Abbott: Short Story Wednesday, "Detroit Skyline, 1949" from SHILOH AND OTHER STORIES by Bobbie Ann Mason
From the magnificently
massive archive here at Casa Tipple and Home Eatery Library ….
Blending a bit----and sometimes a lot--- of the supernatural with the western, author Heath Lowrance created Hawthorne Tales Of A Weirder West. This is a west long before it became civilized when things moved in the night. Native peoples knew what areas to stay away from and did so while the white man failed to see the signs. A west of old where one man with a cross cut into the top of his head made it his mission to destroy evil in its many forms.
After an introduction by author James Reasoner, the book is primarily broken into four parts before being concluded with a short story. Each part contains a story further split into two parts or chapters. As Reasoner tellingly notes in the introduction “Sharp things lurk ahead.”
He neglected to mention they will often be foul and disgusting or that Hawthorne really needed a big time flame thrower instead of a Smith & Wesson Schofield .45. There are very bad things out there and Hawthorne is almost always the only one dealing with some seriously evil things.
It begins with “That Damned Coyote Hill.” Hawthorne had been warned in the last town not to go to the next town called Coyote Hill. That there were things there with demons, black magic, and maybe way more than that. Even though he saw something in the surrounding desert that should have scared off anyone, Hawthorne kept going right into town. Before long a fight, a kidnapping, and out of this world justice and more play out in this complicated two part tale.
“The Long Black Train” features a large man who just boarded the Denver & Rio Grande train in Denver. He also carries a large rat on his shoulder that is unseen by anyone else. While the rat may or may not exist, the man has serious plans for everyone on board the train, including Hawthorne when he intervenes in this two part tale.
Hawthorne finds what is left of the Lakota camp in the Black Hills one fall afternoon. It initially appears to him that it was the work of the Army. After he examines a couple of the bodies he realizes something else is at work in “The Spider Tribe.” He will need the help of the two remaining survivors if he and they are to survive in this very creepy two part tale.
The final part is titled “Bad Sanctuary” and involves a two part story set in the ruins of Fort Mason. Plague drove the Army out of the fort the year before and never came back. The local Indian population, the Utes, don’t come within ten miles of the place. A few outlaws and others make the abandoned fort home because they don’t have the smarts the Indians had. Hawthorne knows there is something evil at the fort. Whether it has anything to do with the man he is tracking is another thing.
The stories end with the short tale “The Unholy; Or, How the Gowan Gang Died” that tells the quick story of what happened and why. Compared to the rest of the stories in the book the violence depicted is tame by comparison as is the supernatural angle. The story flows quickly and wraps up the book nicely.
Combing the western with plenty of flat out strange Hawthorne Tales Of A Weirder West is heavy into the weird. Those who are very much into horror will find plenty to like about this read. Those of us who aren’t, will appreciate more the science fiction and fantasy elements at work here. The tales are good ones and will burn their images though your brain. That is when you are not laughing from time to time at the dark humor dryly present in each tale.
Material supplied by the publisher a long time ago for my objective review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2014, 2022