Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Juniper Jessup left her Texas hometown to work in the tech industry in Oregon, but when the business folds she finds herself at loose ends. With no specific plans, she jumps at the idea of partnering with her two older sisters and Uncle Calvin to open a vinyl record store/coffee shop in their hometown. It’s coming full circle in more ways than one: the family had owned a record store in that same location years before and the sisters had helped out in their youth. The sisters are hosting an open house to get the word out about the store, and the turn-out is gratifying—until a body turns up in a storage closet.
Things only get worse when the police pick up Uncle Calvin. The sisters put up the store to make his bail—only to have Uncle Calvin promptly vanish. Can Juni and her sisters solve the case and save both Uncle Calvin and the store?
This is a first in series book, so there is a good deal of set-up. Juni and her sisters are appealing characters and there’s a good dynamic between the three of them. Naturally, Juni is reconnecting with some people from her past as well, including the semi-requisite boyfriend who broke her heart. Being in Texas, it’s no surprise there are some larger than life characters, including Uncle Calvin who loves a good (or bad) practical joke. One subtle clue I picked up on quickly and admired it, but I won’t divulge it here. I do like a good clue.
Overall, this is a promising start to a new series. Music fans will enjoy all the references and as someone who grew up with vinyl, it does my heart good to have people talk about liner notes and covers as well as music. I have reservations about one of Juni’s potential love interests (yes, as with most cozies there are at least two suitors in the picture) but will wait to see how it plays out. There is indeed a cat as promised on the cover. The second in the series, A Fatal Groove, is due out in July, 2023.
Monday, February 27, 2023
Roz Nay is a Canadian author based in British Columbia. Her first novel was shortlisted for the second novel was nominated for the . Her third book was nominated for CWC’s
The Hunted (S&S Canada Adult, 2022) is about Stevie Erickson, who decided after the loss of her grandmother to leave the small Maine town she grew up in and go with her boyfriend Jacob to a small island off the coast of Tanzania where he found a job as a diver for an ecotourist camp. The change was disorienting for them both. Neither of them were used to travel of any kind, much less international tourism, so they naturally gravitated to Leo and Tamsin when they met them, a charming cosmopolitan couple accustomed to globetrotting. Alliances among the four shift and shift again, setting off a chain reaction of events.
Stevie became convinced that someone was watching her. She was locked into a hostel bathroom in the middle of the night when ostensibly no one else was around. The key to their room on the resort where they stayed before going to the ecotourism camp disappeared. But Jacob tried to convince her she was reacting to her grief and the multiple drastic changes in time zone and location. The evidence of a stalker was clear.
Well written. The book is narrated in the alternating voices of Stevie and Leo, not one but two unreliable narrators; their interpretations of the same event vary wildly and provide a clear window into their own confused mental processes. The reader is left wondering what really did happen. Vivid description of the island and student hostel settings. While the story is suspenseful and there’s a nice twist at the end, I was left feeling that tension could have ratcheted higher here and there to make the impact of the ending stronger. For fans of psychological thrillers.
· Publisher: S&S Canada Adult; Export edition (July 5, 2022)
· Language: English
· Paperback: 288 pages
· ISBN-10: 1982198036
· ISBN-13: 978-1982198039
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2023
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, February 26, 2023
George Kelly: HOW TO STUDY MAGIC: A GUIDE TO HISTORY, LORE, AND BUILDING YOUR OWN PRACTICE By Sarah Lyons
Saturday, February 25, 2023
Up on KRL this morning reviews and giveaways of some St. Patrick's Day mysteries to get you ready for March-"Irish Coffee Murder": A collection of three short stories all based on St. Patrick’s Day by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross, and "Four Leaf Cleaver": A Country Store Mystery by Maddie Day https://kingsriverlife.com/02/25/pair-of-st-patricks-day-mysteries/
And a review and giveaway of "The Alchemy Fire Murder" by Susan Rowland along with a Behind the Book interview with Susan https://kingsriverlife.com/02/25/the-alchemy-fire-murder-by-susan-rowland/
We also have the latest mystery Coming Attractions from Sunny Frazier https://kingsriverlife.com/02/25/march-coming-attractions-windy-edition/
And the latest video game news from Jayce Ham which includes some mystery video games this month https://kingsriverlife.com/02/25/jays-video-game-news-february-2023/
Up on KRL during the week we posted another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Harriet Tyce where she talks about mysteries set in Edinburgh including her latest "It Ends At Midnight" https://kingsriverlife.com/02/22/mysteries-set-in-edinburgh/
And another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Rick Bleiweiss where he talks about the things his main character has in common with Holmes and Poirot (like setting) and the ways they are different. His new book is called "Murder in Haxford" https://kingsriverlife.com/02/22/hercule-poirot-sherlock-holmes-and-pignon-scorbion/
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "Death of a Traitor" by M. C. Beaton with R.W. Green https://www.krlnews.com/2023/02/death-of-traitor-by-mc-beaton-with-rw.html
And a review and ebook giveaway of "Six Old Women and Other Stories" by mystery author Sharon L. Dean https://www.krlnews.com/2023/02/six-old-women-other-stories-by-sharon-l.html
Batman Beyond: Neo-Year by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing is the latest miniseries and this most recent one features Terry McGinnis as Batman. This is another soft reboot with a new status quo and new supporting cast. It is a broad strokes sequel to all the previous series while ignoring the various parts that contradict. One example of that fact is that this read does not pick up where the previous series ended with Terry joining the Justice League to be the team’s Batman. The league is completely absent from this title.
Instead, the plot is that Bruce Wayne has been murdered by a self-aware AI that has manifested out of the infrastructure of Neo-Gotham. It wishes to take complete control over the city and kill the last piece of resistance, Terry. So, Terry is on his own and must take the fight to a technologically superior enemy. That means all his usual gadgets and tech are out the window. It is time to use what Bruce has trained him to be --a ninja in the night and to operate based on hit and run tactics.
The story acts like this is the first time that he has fought without Bruce for such a long period of time however in other series he also has done this same thing. It is hard to know if that is still canon since the character has been rebooted and retconned so much. It is harder to get invested in a character with so much rebooting.
Each new writer has their own new spin with a new villain and new love interest for Terry. One weird thing is that his new love interest looks a lot like his most commonly used love interest. The art depicts them very similarly.
Despite these flaws and a lack of humor from Terry who is usually more prone to jokes, Batman Beyond: Neo-Year by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing is a good read. It is a darker tale so working in his more jokey parts of his personality might have been too difficult. I enjoyed this action-packed thriller with featured a more guerrilla warfare version of Terry. The layouts on some of the pages are really different than what normally is done. The art is pretty good and the new characters introduced are interesting. I really liked Batman Beyond: Neo-Year by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing.
On the last page, it is declared that Batman Beyond will continue in 2023 in some new form. So, one is hopeful that this means an actual follow up and not another soft reboot.
My reading copy was on Hoopla via the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2023
Friday, February 24, 2023
Writer Unboxed: When Your Publishing Contract Flies a Red Flag: Clauses to Watch Out For by Victoria Strauss
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 24 Literary Magazines Open NOW for Poetry, Short Fiction, CNF, Speculative Fiction, Horror, and more Open NOW for Poetry, Short F...
From the magnificently massive archive…
Successful novelist and gun collector Larmar Jordan lives in a lavish fourteenth floor Arday Apartments suite with his wife Lucia, his live-in secretary Paul Hirst, a cocker spaniel named Winnie, and domestic servants. In attendance at a cocktail party in the suite are Larmar’s literary agent Sarah Hanley, newspaper reporter Bob Morse, and Sybella Ford, accompanied by her fiancée Captain Duncan Maclain.
Having attained his rank twenty years earlier during World War I while an intelligence officer, and blinded during that conflict, Maclain overcame his handicap—and benefited from it by heightening his other senses—to take on the unlikely profession, along with partner Spud Savage, of private investigator.
When Troy Singleton, a woman with whom Jordan has been intimately involved, is shot to death in the author’s study with one of the firearms from his esoteric collection, Jordan is the immediate and arrested suspect. Although New York Homicide detectives Inspector Davis and Sergeant Archer, with whom Maclain has contended before, consider it an open-and-shut case, not least because of a neighboring witness, Mrs. Oliver, Maclain agrees to undertake Lucia’s investigation of her husband’s predicament. What he unearths reveals a great deal more than the police have suspected.
In addition to some of the aforementioned people, Maclain has to deal with as sources of information and/or as suspects Ellis Brown Mitchell, firearms expert who is cataloguing Jordan’s collection; Jess Ferguson, Jordan’s attorney; a menacing and motivated individual named Martin Gallagher; and very successful aircraft manufacturer Daniel Pine.
A generally well-written detective story with a good sense of character, Death Knell has occasional arguable stylistic lapses wherein descriptions of Maclain’s abilities are reminiscent of descriptions of pulp “super” heroes like The Shadow, Doc Savage, and others of that ilk. The novel combines the qualities of the traditional whodunit with some of the action and suspense of the hardboiled school.
Those old enough to remember the short-lived TV series Longstreet might recall its blind insurance investigator portrayed by James Franciscus. Mike Longstreet wasn’t Duncan Maclain, but the program—and thus his character—was credited to Kendrick as creator. In 1938 and the early1940s, there were several movies starring the miscast Edward Arnold (miscast physically, that is, based upon descriptions in the books) as Maclain, among them “Eyes in the Night” which, as of this writing, is available at YouTube.
Although my teenage reading about mystery series informed me of the Duncan Maclain novels, it wasn’t until paperback editions were reissued following the advent of the Longstreet program in 1971 that I actually got to read several of them. It is a worthwhile series of detective novels which merits resurrection for 21st Century readers.
Barry Ergang ©2018, 2023
Thursday, February 23, 2023
The Reading Room: A Killing of Innocents (Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid #19) by Deborah Crombie: Reading Room Review
The Hard Word: A REVIEW OF MAX ALLAN COLLINS AND JAMES L. TRAYLOR'S MICKEY SPILLANE: KING OF PULP FICTION
If you have read Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg, you know that a part of that book involves a wildfire on the rampage through the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu. That book, part of the Eve Ronin series, is from the perspective of law enforcement. Malibu Burning is that same fire from the perspective of arson investigator, Walter Sharpe, and his new partner, Andrew Walker.
Walker is a former United States Marshal who has taken what he thinks will be a quieter job as an arson investigator tied into the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Mentally he is having a hard time with it as he left the service and changed jobs to ally his wife’s fears as she is pregnant and had a lot of concern over his safety and the way he did the job. Bad knees and other issues means he can’t be as physical as he would like and has to slow it down a little bit. He prefers to work alone, as does his new partner, Walter Sharpe.
The fact that both are loners by nature means nothing to the powers that be who have chosen to put them together. From the start, they do not exactly mesh well, but Walker needs Sharpe to teach him what he does not know about fire investigation. And Walker can teach him a few things about man hunting as they have arsonists to chase.
One of which is somebody known to Walker. A former prisoner by the name of Danny Cole. He is a superb con man and a very good thief. He should have gotten away on the last job, but made a choice to help someone. That choice cost him his freedom. Now he is out and looking for a big payday and to settle a score. He is planning to do it with a team pf highly motivated folks, some of whom he has worked with before, and a wildfire.
Not that Walker and Sharpe knows this from the start. The reader knows far more than the investigators do as numerous flashbacks are sprinkled liberally through the read all the way up to present day. That is intermixed with Sharpe teaching Walker, and by extension the reader, basics surrounding fire and the dynamics of a wildfire through a couple of other cases and the early stages of this fire.
The first of what clearly is intended to be a series, Malibu Burning, is an enjoyable read. While it comes across as a vehicle for a tv series more than anything, there is enough complexity and action to hold the reader’s interest. This reader much prefers the Eve Ronin series. However, this was a good book in its own right and I will be looking for the next one.
My reading copy was an ARC by way of NetGalley. The book is now scheduled to be released on September 1st.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2023
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Patti Abbott: Short Story Wednesday: ALL THE DAYS AND NIGHTS, William Maxwell "Young Francis Whitehead"
Guilty Crime Story Magazine: Issue 5, Summer 2022 opens with “Blood Loss” by Trey R. Barker. Diane Cooper and John Blood knew each other way back in high school. They were very close. Especially their senior year. Now he is a private investigator, her daughter was raped and murdered, and Barefield PD has done nothing. She wants John Blood’s help to settle some scores in a tale where everyone has old wounds and lot of baggage.
It isn’t the first time Mr. Walker has suddenly become a widower. So, he is sort of used to talking to investigators. In “Tale of Two Wives” by Christine Eskilson, there were witnesses in the area this time when his wife fell to her death off the bluff so that fact should help.
When you are about to get bashed to pieces by folks who do not tolerate errors or failure, you get desperate. In “Edwin Gets an Idea” by Susan Oleksiw, the aforementioned Edwin is exactly in that situation. It is desperate times indeed. Edwin thinks that knowing something about a secret regarding a local art dealer might be worth avoiding further violence against his person.
Publisher and Editor Brandon Barrows is next with “Double or Nothing.” Ed Naden is a gambler and is not very good at it. Ed has a reputation as a dead beat gambler. Rackham has a reputation of not tolerating those who don’t pay their debts. Now he is hiding out in Marky’s bar as he owes eight grand and has no idea how he is going to pay the bill. One can see the obvious problem.
When you take retirement early and cash your IRA and stock in so that you can buy a magnificent old mansion overlooking Lake Erie, you want peace and quiet. You don’t want neighbors from hell. That is what he got in “A Mischief of Rats” by Robb White. Rex McCloskey and his kin are awful neighbors and they need to be permanently gone.
Wayne is on a mission to clean the world, one stripper at a time. He isn’t the only one on a mission in “Mercy Killings” by Marie Anderson.
It is going to be a meal from hell in “Lunch” by Dustin Walker. Barry makes every new buyer eat whatever he cooks as a test. Going in, the narrator tries to explain just how bad it is going to be to pass Barry’s test, but Mac is not getting it. The meal was the easy part. Things got way worse afterwards.
The issue concludes with the true crime piece by Anthony Perronti. “The Eden Prairie Heist” explains the facts around several armored car heists in the late 80s and early 90s where the thieves placed what appeared to be a bomb on the hood of the armored vehicle before fleeing the scene. A piece of history that does not get much notice these days.
Guilty Crime Story Magazine: Issue 5, Summer 2022 is another with ranging issue of crime fiction. A lot is packed into each tale. No cardboard character cutouts need to apply. While I had my own personal preferences, variety is key, and there is plenty here to satisfy any reader.
My reading copy was a purchase of the eBook last summer by way of funds in my Amazon Associate account.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2023
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Alarmed at the prospect of Aunt Wendy selling her inn, Professor Phaedra Brighton proposes a Jane Austen immersion week as a way of drumming up business. Phaedra is a Jane Austen enthusiast, to say the least. Not only is she an Austen scholar, but she insists on wearing Regency clothing in her everyday life on the grounds that it helps her students understand life in the era. Menus are set, period appropriate activities are planned—including a country dance and an archery competition—and a murder mystery in which the guests will play a role. There is even a best-selling author of Regency Romances in attendance.
Unfortunately, by the time the mystery part of the week rolls around, there is already a murder—and more than one mystery.
This second in the Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery series, following Pride, Prejudice, and Peril. It has a good premise and some solid supporting characters, including a number of interesting suspects. The plot is well thought out. However, there were a few things that marred my enjoyment. One was the number of times a piece of information was repeated: defining a loose pocket, for example, or noting at least twice that the townspeople are used to seeing Phaedra wander around in Regency dress, or pointing out that Professor Mark Selden is British. At least the repeated references should have been farther apart. I have noticed the same thing in other recent cozy mysteries, so this isn’t an anomaly.
There were also a few aspects of the investigation that didn’t hold water for me, such a Phaedra finding a note on the body, removing and reading it, and having the police officer forgive the transgression by saying that at least the note wasn’t overlooked. If the police are incompetent enough not to search a body, then maybe they do need Phaedra’s help.
In the first book, I was charmed by the author’s adapting certain Austen characters for the contemporary mystery. Here they are actually assigned roles of playing various Austen characters instead. A few of the plotlines seemed rushed as well. Most of my quibbles probably could have been taken care of with a bit of editing. And it does help if you are a Jane Austen fan, but I don’t think that would be a requirement.
According to the endpapers, a third book is in the offing, Cyanide and Sensibility, and I do plan to read it.
Monday, February 20, 2023
Edie Baylis is a much-traveled British native who lives in central England, where she turns out one volume of gangland crime fiction after another. Book 16, the fifth in her Allegiance series, is scheduled for release in July 2023.
The first book of the Allegiance series, Takeover (Boldwood Books, 2022), introduces the Reynold and Stoker families, the leading organized crime families in Birmingham, England, in 1995. Their wildly popular gambling casinos are the apparent source of each family’s wealth but they are really fronts for arms smuggling, drug trafficking, prostitution, and other unsavory but profitable activities.
To his nephew John Maynard’s great disgust and his daughter Samantha’s amazement, Len Reynold announces at his daughter’s 30th birthday party that she will be the heir to his business enterprises. Samantha has been busy mapping out a career as a successful graphics designer so this news is not welcome. Maynard had always assumed he would inherit and he is furious. Before they both can maneuver their way to what they want, Reynold is killed in a car accident and Samantha is pitched into running a gambling empire and a shadow felonious enterprise she does not know anything about.
An up-and-coming thug seeks to take advantage of the vulnerabilities in the Reynold territory while she tries to figure out how to navigate the strange business world. Women are notoriously second-class citizens in the criminal world so Samantha gets scant respect and even less assistance from her employees. The head of the competing Stoker family, Malcolm, who is perhaps my favorite character in the book, has old-fashioned ideas of honor and insists on his oldest son helping Samantha find her feet.
I had many questions as I read. How can Samantha not know her father was a criminal? Does anyone really think a criminal gang will take a woman seriously? I suspect that Baylis let her innate urge for girl power take over here. Despite the unlikely set-up, the story is an absorbing read. Baylis seems to know a lot about illegal enterprises. The prologue appears to have nothing to do with the plot but it turns out to be an important thread in the story. Fans of The Godfather and similar works will love this book.
· Publisher: Boldwood Books (January 25, 2022)
· Language: English
· Paperback: 358 pages
· ISBN-10: 1802801588
· ISBN-13: 978-1802801583
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2023
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, February 19, 2023
Please welcome Tom Milani back to the blog today with a guest post on writing a short story for an upcoming issue of Black Cat Mystery Magazine. Published every Sunday by Wildside Press, the read is a mix of genres. More information, including subscription information, can be found on their website.
What’s in a Name?
I have a short story coming out in issue 78 of Black Cat Weekly. Here’s how it came to life.
Years ago, a friend in my writers group told me that one of my character’s names wasn’t appropriate for a guy in his mid-twenties. It turns out that online, you can find the most popular baby names by year of birth. Who knew? After I did a search, Larry became Drew, and the story became better for the change.
More recently, I was drafting a story in which one of the characters was named Jenny. Although the name was age-appropriate for her, I looked it up anyway. According to Wikipedia, Jennifer is the Cornish form of Guinevere. I knew that she was Lancelot’s love interest in the Arthurian legends. That peaked my interest.
As a writer, my focus is sometimes … lacking. But that same lack of focus can be serendipitous when falling down internet rabbit holes. From one of my college professors, I was familiar with Arthurian Romances by Chrétien de Troyes, a twelfth-century writer. I skimmed my copy, then revisited Wikipedia, which calls the tale, titled Lancelot in my volume, Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart. And with that, I was off.
Old Macintosh programs had so-called Easter eggs, unexpected graphics or information that would appear when certain keystrokes and mouse clicks were used. I took that approach to my story, trying to drop into it as many Arthurian references as I could. I began with the title, which I changed from “Jenny” to “Night of the Laundry Cart,” and went onto other character and place names. My protagonist, Nick Melvin, became Mel, after Meleagant, who abducted Guinevere from Arthur. Guinevere became Gwen, one of the love interests, and Arthur became Artie, the villain. In the romance, King Bademagu rules the Kindom of Gorre. In my story, Jill Bademagu is the owner of Gorre’s, the bar where Mel plays guitar as the leader of the Lancers, the band he founded. In the romance, Lancelot, after riding two horses to death, ends up getting a ride in a cart driven by a dwarf. In my story, Mel encounters a dwarf who owns a laundromat. Even minor characters play a part. One of the waiters is named Gawain or Dwayne (Artie couldn’t tell); in the romance Gawain serves Arthur.
A funny thing happened on the way to finishing the story—choosing those names and that title drove the plot in unexpected directions. What I initially imagined as something dark and brooding became far lighter and funnier.
Tom Milani ©2023
Tom Milani's novel Blues for the Road was shortlisted in the St. Martin/Private Eye Writers of America contest. Tom is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. For 10 years, he edited The Masik, the online journal of Qajaq USA, and for the last 25 years, he has been a technical editor for a federally funded research and development center. Tom has a BA and an MA from George Mason University, where he studied writing under Richard Bausch and Steve Goodwin. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife, glass artist Alison Sigethy. His website is https://www.tommilani.com/
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Lit Mag News: Showcase Magazine, Ephemera, C & R Press, Steel Toe Books, Fjords Review, PANK Magazine, American Poetry Journal...oh my?
First off thanks for all the kind words about the podcast interview I did this week!
Up on KRL this morning a review and giveaway of "Under a Veiled Moon" by Karen Odden along with an interesting guest post from Karen about rivers https://kingsriverlife.com/02/18/under-a-veiled-moon-by-karen-odden/
We also have a review and giveaway of "Death of a Dancing Queen" by Kimberly G. Giarratano along with an interesting interview with Kimberly https://kingsriverlife.com/02/18/death-of-a-dancing-queen-by-kimberly-g-giarratano/
And the latest Queer Mystery Coming Attractions from Matt Lubbers-Moore https://kingsriverlife.com/02/18/queer-mystery-coming-attractions-march-2023/
Also up this week a never before published mystery short story by Paula B Mays https://kingsriverlife.com/02/18/mystery-short-story-the-muffin-lady/
For those who enjoy fantasy with their mystery, up on KRL this week we have a review and ebook giveaway of "Sword of Darkness" by Keri Arthur https://kingsriverlife.com/02/18/sword-of-darkness-by-keri-arthur/
Up during the week we posted another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author David Beckler with the story behind his new book "A Stolen Memory" https://kingsriverlife.com/02/15/memories/
And another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Susan Rowland talking about environmental mysteries and her latest book "The Alchemy Fire Murder" https://kingsriverlife.com/02/15/the-mystery-in-the-mysteries-or-who-killed-the-climate/
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "The Game is a Footnote" by Vicki Delany https://www.krlnews.com/2023/02/the-game-is-footnote-sherlock-holmes.html
And a review and ebook giveaway of "Home is Where the Murder Is" by Rosalie Spielman published by Gemma Halliday https://www.krlnews.com/2023/02/home-is-where-murder-is-by-rosalie.html