Monday, July 31, 2023
Max Tomlinson is a native of San Francisco. He is the author of a crime series set in South America, an international espionage series, and the Colleen Hayes mysteries, set in 1970s San Francisco. Max also writes under the pen name Max Radin.
Colleen Hayes killed her abusive husband and spent ten years in prison in Colorado. When she was released, she drifted into private investigation work and eventually received her license. Colleen’s main focus was on reconnecting with the daughter who went into foster care while she was incarcerated and she ended up in San Francisco, because that’s where her daughter was.
Night Candy is the fifth book about Hayes, released by Oceanview in July 2023. Colleen is grieving the death of her first grandchild. Her daughter has disappeared to mourn on her own and Colleen is left to carry on her fledgling PI business. Fortunately there is no shortage of wives checking up on husbands and vice versa to keep her gainfully employed.
A serial killer who targets prostitutes is prowling the streets. Because of his chosen victims, the press is calling him Night Candy. Colleen is keeping an eye on a trio of sex workers that she is trying to persuade to find other sources of income, hoping to keep them safe. Their pimp isn’t especially happy about her efforts to deprive him of revenue streams.
In the meantime one of her few friends on the San Francisco Police Force, Inspector Edmund Owens, is arrested for the murder of his ex-wife. Colleen is convinced that he is being railroaded and turns over every stone and cuts all sorts of corners in her attempt to identify the real killer.
This is a fast-moving, tightly plotted thriller with more than one surprise as Colleen shreds the DA’s case against her friend. Colleen Hayes is a great character. She is the feminine version of the loner private investigator seen in so many crime fiction series. She takes just as many chances and is just as ruthless as her male counterparts. Her lack of friends and family weighs heavily on her but not enough to change her life. I have not read the first four books in the series and had no trouble following the back story, so they do not have to be read in order.
Especially for fans of contemporary female private investigators.
· Publisher: Oceanview Publishing (July 25, 2023)
· Language: English
· Hardcover: 336 pages
· ISBN-10: 1608094545
· ISBN-13: 978-1608094547
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2023
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, July 30, 2023
Up on KRL this week reviews and giveaways of 2 book related mysteries-"Witch Upon a Star": A Witch Way Librarian Mystery by Angela M. Sanders and "A Cryptic Clue" by Victoria Gilbert https://kingsriverlife.com/07/29/a-pair-of-bookish-mysteries-witch-upon-a-star-by-angela-m-sanders-a-cryptic-clue-by-victoria-gilbert/
And a review and giveaway of "A Fatal Groove" by Olivia Blacke along with an interesting interview with Olivia https://kingsriverlife.com/07/29/a-fatal-groove-by-olivia-blacke/
We also have a review and giveaway of "How the Murder Crumbles" by Debra Sennefelder https://kingsriverlife.com/07/29/how-the-murder-crumbles-by-debra-sennefelder/
And a review of the final season of "Endeavour" https://kingsriverlife.com/07/29/endeavour-the-last-season-on-pbs/
For those who prefer to listen to Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast directly on KRL you can find the player here for the new episode that went up this week featuring the mystery short story "Swan Song" written by Donalee Moulton and read by local actor Sean Hopper https://kingsriverlife.com/07/29/mysteryrats-maze-podcast-featuring-swan-song/
Up during the week we posted another special midweek guest post, this one by mystery author Craig Clevenger where he shares how he came up with the idea for his latest book "Mother Howl" https://kingsriverlife.com/07/26/invisible-man/
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and ebook giveaway of "Murder Under a Western Moon" by Abigail Keam https://www.krlnews.com/2023/07/murder-under-western-moon-by-abigail.html
Please welcome Nikki Knight, aka the alternate ego of author Kathleen Marple Kalb, to the blog today. Her new book, Wrong Poison: A Grace “The Hit Mom” Mystery, came out from Charade Media earlier this month. She is also the SMFS Vice President.
EVERYBODY LOVES GRACE
By Nikki Knight, AKA Kathleen Marple Kalb
She scared the socks off one of my former publishers…but every time I tell someone about Grace the Hit Mom, they want to meet her. At least in book form.
Some also want to hire her. I think they’re kidding. I hope.
There’s something extremely appealing about the idea of a nice suburban mom who has a secret life as an assassin specializing in creepy men.
I started noodling about Grace during a difficult and scary time in my life: my husband was in cancer treatment and I was querying a novel. The idea of a suburban mom like me with a powerful secret life entirely unlike mine was a fun escape.
Grace pretty much grew on her own from that thread. Because I didn’t want her to be a crazed vigilante, I made her a member of an ancient order of lady poisoners who quietly set things right. She needed to be just like anyone else you’d see at the PTA meeting…with one significant difference.
And when I started running the idea past family, friends, and beta readers, the answer was always the same: YES!
My mother was the first person to meet Grace.
A trained history teacher, she was especially drawn by the idea that if Grace’s sisterhood of poisoners has been around for a few centuries, they might have taken out any number of important figures. It was her idea – which made it into the book – to have Henry VIII on the lady assassins’ greatest hits list.
Even though I eventually found an agent for a different mystery, an historical series that led to a lockdown debut (another post for another day!) my mother would occasionally ask me about Grace. She was sure everyone would love the Hit Mom as much as she did.
Most of my mom friends certainly did. While I was writing an early version of Grace, I floated the idea with pals at school pickup. To a woman, they laughed out loud and said they’d buy it for sure.
As appealing as Grace was to my mother, she was even more appealing to the school parents, because we were down in the intense daily work of caring for young children. It’s an incredibly stressful and exhausting time for most people, no matter how important and fulfilling it is.
My beta readers, both newsroom colleagues, loved Grace too. She hit – sorry! – right in the journalist’s sweet spot of secret lives and dark humor.
With all of that, I was really confident in Grace…and really riding for a fall.
After the historical mystery was well in process, I found out that my publisher at the time was looking to expand their cozy catalogue. Armed with all the good reactions to Grace, I sent the proposal that would become WRONG POISON to my agent. He loved her too, and happily sent out the pitch.
The editor sent it straight back. I don’t know exactly what was said, but it was very clear that the idea of a cozy mystery with a killer mom as the amateur sleuth made their head spin – and not in a good way.
That was my first real indication that Grace is a chemistry test.
As a journalist, writer, and wife of a cancer survivor, I live in a world with some sharp edges. So do most of the people around me – even plenty of nice suburban moms. We sand those edges down with dark humor.
It doesn’t make us bad or crazy. It makes us humans who’ve found a way to stand on the edge of the abyss without crumpling or falling over.
I’m not going to apologize for that.
I’m also not going to judge anyone who doesn’t get it.
These days, with a pandemic and everything after under our belts, I suspect a lot more people live with sharp edges. Which may be why Grace works now.
Or maybe most of us have always loved the idea of a killer mom…but we weren’t ready to admit it.
My mother, Grace’s first and biggest fan, died in December, before Charade Books bought WRONG POISON. She didn’t get to see Grace turned loose on the world, to good reviews and plenty of wry laughter. But I know she’s smiling.
WRONG POISON: She's a nice suburban mom and an assassin...and Grace Adair’s secret life has just become a problem. When a death at the Library Book Fair turns out to be murder – by a poison used only by Grace’s ancient sisterhood, she knows she’s in trouble. Now, she’ll need all her skills as a PTA mom and former prosecutor to find the killer and protect her friends…and their secrets. Hopefully without using her other skills. About those other skills: Grace and her sweet senior pal Madge are members of a 700-year-old order of lady poisoners, sacred to the Archangel Gabriel and sworn to remove evil men who elude human justice. Think #MeToo with untraceable poison. Call it a cozy with a twist. You’ve never met anyone like Grace…and you’ll never forget her.
Kathleen Marple Kalb ©2023
Knight describes herself as an Author/Anchor/Mom…not in that order. An
award-winning weekend anchor at New York City’s 1010 WINS Radio, she writes
short stories and novels. Her stories appear in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery
Magazine and Black Cat Weekly, online, and in anthologies – and have been
short-listed for Black Orchid Novella and Derringer Awards. Active in writers’
groups, she’s currently Vice President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society and
Co-Vice President of the New York/Tri-State Chapter of Sisters in Crime. As
Kathleen Marple Kalb, she writes the Ella Shane and Old Stuff mystery series.
She, her husband, and son live in a Connecticut house owned by their cat. https://kathleenmarplekalb.com/nikki-knight
Saturday, July 29, 2023
Captain America/Iron Man: The Armor & The Shield by Derek Landy is a miniseries where Captain America (Steve) and Iron Man team up to catch a S.H.I. E.L.D. agent turned traitor. The agent was supposed to go undercover with HYDRA, not actually join them. The agent has now escaped on the way to prison so they team up to catch the agent.
Full of action, humor, and great character work, this is a fun read. The art is very good. Everything I have read by Derek Landy I have liked and this is the case again. It is a fun and pretty self-contained miniseries. Minimal references are made to how both Captain America and Iron Man have undergone extreme life changes during this time period. Iron man died and came back as a synthetic life form and Captain America was replaced by an evil version of himself who took over the world until the good version was freed and defeated his evil version. Comics can get very weird.
I highly recommend this fun title.
My reading copy by way of the Hoopla App and the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2023
Friday, July 28, 2023
From the massively magnificent archive…
Attorney Otis Landon and his widowed sister, Mrs. Laura Mulford, live together in the Hammersleigh, “one of the most attractive of the moderate-priced apartment houses in New York City.” At thirty-two, Otis expects never to marry, although, as he tells his sister, “I rather fancy that if I ever fall in love, it will be at first sight, and very desperately.”
Conveniently both for Otis and the plot, he does. The object of his affection is one Janet Pembroke, who lives in an apartment across the hall with her wealthy but miserly, temperamental, and somewhat reclusive great-uncle, Robert Pembroke. Although they’ve only lived in the Hammersleigh for two weeks, Otis and his sister have both heard Pembroke’s “voice raised in tones of vituperation and abuse.”
Not long after, Robert Pembroke is found dead. Otis and Laura Mulford are drawn into what turns out to be a case of murder, Pembroke slain by what is described as a woman’s method. When the crime was committed, the door to the apartment was locked, the windows were fastened tight, and a night-chain was in place, which suggests that only one or both of two others within it, Janet Pembroke and her maid, Charlotte, could have done the deed. Fully smitten, Otis is ready to do whatever it takes to protect the woman he (irrationally?) loves.
Thus begins the essence of a mystery novel by an author seminal to the genre who predates “the Golden Age.” It is a novel that demands of modern readers patience, tolerance and, above all, a sense of humor.
Patience is essential for several reasons. The author’s narrative style is that of an older, more formal era, and will likely seem stilted and verbose to a modern audience. The dialogue is equally stilted. I sincerely doubt Americans in the early 20th Century spoke the way Carolyn Wells’ middle- and upper-class characters do. Jane Austen’s English characters from the early 19th Century spoke less “literarily.” For example, consider this exchange between Laura Mulford and Otis Landon regarding whether Janet Pembroke merits her uncle’s berating:—
“Yes, but how do I know what she may do to deserve it? Those dark eyes show a smouldering fire that seems to me quite capable of breaking into flame. I rather fancy Miss Pembroke can hold her own against any verbal onslaught of her uncle.”
“Then I’m glad she can,” I declared; “as she has to stand such unjust tyranny, I hope she has sufficient self-assertion to resent it. I’d rather like to see that girl in a towering rage; she must look stunning!”
The book could be shorter by a third to a half if Otis Landon’s first-person narrative didn’t contain multiple repetitions of the facts of the case and, especially, incessant lengthy passages in which he moons about the enigmatic and volatile Janet Pembroke, his love for her, his anxieties about her possible love for other men in the story, and angst about her possible guilt.
Tolerance is essential because of snobbishly demeaning, disparaging and racist attitudes toward “menials”—e.g., an elevator operator whose language suggests a substandard education, and Charlotte, the African-American maid, with her stereotyped dialect. Here’s Charlotte talking about forgetting to remove the night-chain before opening the apartment door:—
“Laws!” exclaimed what was unmistakably a negro (sic) girl’s voice, “I nebber can ’member dat chain!”
A sense of humor is essential—make that vital—when reading this novel. Thoroughly non-existent is police procedure as we’ve come to know it nowadays. Landon and others are given license to explore and tramp all over the crime scene as they see fit. A prominent lawyer, very much a suspect, who represented Robert Pembroke and who visited him the day before his death, is presently out of town on business. Rather than locate and bring him in for immediate questioning, the police and D.A. decide to delay official proceedings until his return. Otis Landon fancies himself possessed of a detective’s instincts, and manages to find physical clues and talk to people connected to the victim who might have reasons for wanting him dead while the police do almost nothing investigative. But despite his efforts, he can’t resolve the locked-apartment puzzle, so he ultimately consults Carolyn Wells’ incarnation of the Great Detective, Fleming Stone. A Chain of Evidence contains twenty-four chapters. Fleming Stone doesn’t appear until the twenty-first (or, according to my Kindle, until eighty percent of the novel was behind me). As soon as Landon explains the circumstances of the case to Stone, the latter announces that he knows who the murderer is. In order to solve the locked-room problem, however, he must visit the apartment. Once he does, it takes him no time at all to figure out the answer to that riddle.
The fact that the solution is a complete cheat is apparently inconsequential to the author. Much earlier in the story the reader is given several crucial details concerning the impossibility of entrance to the apartment with the night-chain in place. What is revealed in Stone’s explanation contradicts much of it and points up something the reader should have been told but wasn’t, thus underscoring that the reader has been unfairly duped.
Except to mystery historians and purists, I must conclude that A Chain of Evidence is nothing more than a (vaguely) entertaining curio.
For more information about Carolyn Wells, see mystery connoisseur and analyst Michael E. Grost’s A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection: http://mikegrost.com/classics.htm. For more on Fleming Stone, see The Thrilling Detective website: http://www.thrillingdetective.com/eyes/fleming_stone.html.
Barry Ergang ©2016, 2023
Thursday, July 27, 2023
Bookblog of the Bristol Library: Nevermore: Mrs. Chippy, As Husbands Go, Forgotten Bookshop in Paris, Black Bart.
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 81 Calls for Submissions in August 2023 - Paying markets
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Monday, July 24, 2023
Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity: 25 Awesome Writing Conferences and Workshops in August 2023
Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor (Pan Macmillan, 2022) received the 2022 New Blood Dagger award from the Crime Writers Association earlier this month. The book was published in the U. S. under the name Dirt Creek. “Dirt Town” is what the children of Durton call their tiny impoverished town in rural Australia. While their village slowly loses economic viability, the residents grimly hold on, wondering how much longer they can survive there. The town is thrown into an overwhelming panic when 12-year-old Esther Bianchi does not come home from school one late November afternoon. Her family, neighbors, and best friend are questioned by the local police constable, then the citizens turn out to look for her. Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels of the Australian Federal Police arrives during the evening to take charge of the search and investigation, which reveals more than just a missing child.
The story has multiple POVs: Sarah, Esther’s best friend Ronnie, one of their classmates named Lewis, Esther’s mother Constance, and a nebulous “We” that seems to be the collective consciousness of the children of the village. It takes place mostly at the end of November and beginning of December 2001, with a brief flashback here and there. Sarah and Ronnie are the primary narrators. Sarah is recovering from a failed romance; she replays key scenes from the relationship in her mind as she tries to focus on the task at hand. Ronnie is self-absorbed as children are and unaware of the larger world preoccupying the adults around her.
The writing is impressive. Sarah Michaels is a great character and I hope to see her again. The misery of an Australian summer is clear; everyone in Durton is suffering from the heat. The mindset of the children is captured exactly as I remember it. They see what is happening around them but they do not always understand it, and they tend to think they are more important to their world than they actually are.
The story goes beyond the disappearance of a child and addresses its impact on the town. This is the second book I have read this year that recognizes a major event like this leaves an indelible imprint on the people and the town where it occurred.
An intriguing debut but the changes in narrator and time are not always easy to follow. The “We” persona in particular is not successful from my perspective, although the author provides essential plot detail through it. I know breaks in time lines and more than one POV are the fashion in crime fiction but it disrupts the flow of the story for the reader.
Hayley Scrivenor is a former Director of Wollongong Writers Festival. She has a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Wollongong on the south coast of Australia. An earlier version of Dirt Creek was shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize and won The Kill Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award. In 2023, it won a Lambda Literary Award and General Fiction Book of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards. Starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist.
· Publisher: Flatiron Books (August 2, 2022)
· Language: English
· Hardcover: 336 pages
· ISBN-10: 1250834759
· ISBN-13: 978-1250834751
Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2023
Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.
Sunday, July 23, 2023
With over two million page views and climbing by thousands more each week, my award-winning blog is popular. These days, a slow month in page views is just about 10K. Most months have more than 12k. A month where I have a lot of new content--- guest posts of all types and reviews by me--- will come in above 15K in page views. I have been doing the review thing over two decades now so I am a known commodity.
I get a lot of emails about being a guest on the blog. Guests are more than welcome. Unlike some folks and their places, I don’t have a lot of forms to fill out or hoops to jump through so I have made the process as easy as possible. Most questions you may have are already answered below so please read the post before reaching out.
The open days are currently Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. I usually run excerpts from published or about to be published works on Sundays as they seem to work best on those days.
Topic--pretty much anything goes. While my blog is mainly aimed towards items of interest for readers and writers of mystery and crime fiction, I am open to pretty much anything. I do ask that folks avoid the topics of religion and politics unless either or both directly relate to the work being discussed or promoted. I also am not going to run anything that advocates big pharma is hiding the cure for cancer. Folks that come up with that stuff deserve a special place in hell.
Before contacting me, please have an actual idea in mind. I absolutely do not assign topics. That means I am NOT going to tell you what to write about. This is your opportunity to write what you want to write about. You know your books, your expertise in topics, etc. I do not. Your idea does not have to be set in stone. It does need to have some detail. Have at least a couple of things that you know you want to have in your piece and tell me that in your pitch.
Word Count: Totally up to you. I do not set a maximum or a minimum word count.
When your piece is ready, you send it to me by email and include a 100 word or fewer bio. Also send any pics that you think should be included in the piece. While some guest posts are super heavy in pictures, I think it works best to have two or so. While I can and do lift author photos and book covers from Amazon and author websites, it is easier if you just send it from the start as well as any other pics you believe should be included.
This is, as always, a nonpaying opportunity. Yes, I absolutely value your work. I also have no income other than SSD (and that is just a few hundred each month) and am supporting myself, my adult son, and this old house on what little I inherited when my Mom passed. The bank account is steadily shrinking and I am doing the best I can to hang in here as inflation and other issues are making it even harder.
While I have no funds to pay you, I can promise to promote the heck out of your appearance. You will be seen. I can’t promise a certain number of sales, but most guests do see a spike in their sales. Guests who are on the blog on a semi regular basis do far better than one off appearances, but everyone does see an impact.
Questions/ pitches should be sent to me at Kevinrtipple AT Verizon.net
I hope you choose to be a part of things here. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2023
Saturday, July 22, 2023
Up on KRL this week a review and giveaway of "Pink Lemonade Cake Murder" by Joanne Fluke, along with a fun recipe from Joanne https://kingsriverlife.com/07/22/pink-lemonade-cake-murder-by-joanne-fluke/
And a review and giveaway of "Take the Honey and Run" by Jennie Marts along with an interesting interview with Jennie https://kingsriverlife.com/07/22/take-the-honey-and-run-by-jennie-marts/
This week we are trying something new! We are reviewing mystery manga published by Yen Press! The first reviews up this week are of "Manner of Death" Vol 1 and "Your Forma" Vol 1 (that one is a sci-fi mystery). Watch for more Yen Press mystery manga and light novel reviews coming over the next few months https://kingsriverlife.com/07/22/mystery-manga-manner-of-death-vol-1-your-forma-vol-1/
We also have the latest Queer Mystery Coming Attractions from Matt Lubbers-Moore, and with this one you can also enter to win an ebook copy of "Murder at the Oasis" by David S Pederson https://kingsriverlife.com/07/22/queer-mysteries-coming-attractions-august-2023/
Up on KRL News and Reviews this week we have a review and giveaway of "Death Comes to Marlow" by Robert Thorogood https://www.krlnews.com/2023/07/death-comes-to-marlow-by-robert.html
And a review and giveaway of "Macarons Can Be Murder" by Rose Betancourt https://www.krlnews.com/2023/07/macarons-can-be-murder-by-rose.html
Scott's Take: Secret Warriors Vol. 1: Nick Fury, Agent of Nothing by Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman
Secret Warriors Vol. 1: Nick Fury, Agent of Nothing by Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman is the first volume in a series set after the comic book event Secret Invasion. This read follows Nick Fury and his Secret Warriors. The Secret Warriors are powered individuals that he recruited originally to fight the Skrulls. Nick Fury now has them in hiding after S.H.I.E.L.D was disbanded and publicly blamed for the Skrull invasion. S.H.I.E.L.D was replaced by HAMMER led by Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin. Nick Fury knows that HYDRA infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D and is sure they have infiltrated HAMMER as well. So, Daisy Johnson aka Quake and others are being trained to take down HYDRA while trying to not get caught by HAMMER.
Featuring great art, the usual Hickman complicated graphs, and organization plans. HYDRA is a well-developed evil organization with multiple leaders. Nick Fury is his usual shady self while being a jerk to everyone one. He’s one of the good guys, but not one of the nice guys. This is a fun beginning to this series. I look forward to reading volume 2.
My reading copy came by way of the Libby/Hoopla App and the Dallas Public Library System.
Scott A. Tipple ©2023