Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New to Paperback

It's the first Tuesday of the month and that means it's Release Day! While some books are appearing for the very first time, others are being released in a new format. Previously released as a hardcover, some books are now available as paperbacks!

I'd like to welcome Steeped in Evil, the 15th Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs, to paperback. I reviewed this book last year, if you'd like to revisit that post you can click here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Review - Lost Under a Ladder


Lost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnston
The First Superstition Mystery

Destiny, California is a town ruled by superstition. Residents who may not believe still must realize that superstitions are the bread and butter of the town and need to be respected.

In Lost Under a Ladder Linda O. Johnston introduces us to a new heroine in Rory Chasen. Perhaps not as strong as Kendra Ballantine or as determined as Lauren Vancouver, Rory is nonetheless out to find answers. First, was it superstition that killed her fiance, and then who killed Tarzal? Accompanied by her live good luck charm Pluckie (black and white dogs are good luck) Rory explores Destiny and starts to uncover the secrets it holds.

Linda O. Johnston has certain trademark touches to her books-dogs and a touch of romance. I'm happy to say that both of these can be found in her new Superstition mystery series. Although animals aren't quite the focus in this series, they do play a prominent role. Pluckie, after all, is the one who finds Martha and leads Rory to the murder victim. And Rory herself is the manager of a large LA pet store and now helps Martha at the Lucky Dog Boutique, Destiny's pet store.

Although still grieving the untimely loss of her fiance, Rory can't help but feel sparks from Justin Halbertson, the small town's Chief of Police. Will their relationship develop? Only time and future books will tell.

I enjoyed the information about superstitions weaved throughout the story. In addition to the common superstitions-crossing under a ladder is bad luck-there were some unique ones as well. I know that breaking a mirror will bring 7 years of bad luck, but I didn't know that touching a $5 bill immediately after breaking a mirror nullifies the bad luck!

Lost Under a Ladder is a great start to a new series featuring characters you can care about in a place you want to visit. I look forward to learning about more superstitions and the people who may or may not believe in them.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Review - Chef Maurice and the Rather Fishy Tale


Chef Maurice and the Rather Fishy Tale by J.A. Lang
A Chef Maurice Mystery Short Story

Chef Maurice and the Rather Fishy Tale serves as a prequel to whet our appetites for the upcoming Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle.

When a wooden fish with a plea for help message carved into it is found inside the day's fresh sea bass Chef Maurice and food critic Arthur Wordington-Smythe decide to investigate. Questioning citizens of a coastal village and enjoying the local cuisine, the duo wind up solving more than one mystery.

The story is short. Very short. An amuse bouche, if you will. I could easily have finished it in one sitting. But it worked to introduce us to these new characters, in particular Chef Maurice, whose mind is as keen as his appetite. He reminds me a bit of Monsieur Pamplemousse and Charly Poisson. While not a seafood fan (the only thing I like that swims in the sea is duck) I am a bit of a foodie and I couldn't help but become enamoured with the talk of food, " the bass, en papillote with dill and fennel". And I love that sous chef Patrick appears to be dabbling in molecular gastronomy.

The book is a fun short story that gives us some insight into its characters, their motivation and how they think, in preparation for their big debut. I look forward to reading their full course mystery.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Artifact by Gigi Pandian. This book is the first in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery series. I've been introduced to a small, but tough, protagonist (with a one of a kind Russian landlady) who just read about the death of a former lover and received a mysterious package with an ancient jewel...from said lover. All that in chapter one. Yup, I'm hooked.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

So many doorsteps, so many bodies ... Guest Post

So many doorsteps, so many bodies ... 
By Leslie Budewitz 

ASSAULT AND PEPPER by Leslie Budewitz, coming March 3 (Berkley Prime Crime)  first in the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries

Just a pinch of murder... After the year from you-know-what, Pepper Reece finds a new zest for life running a busy spice shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Her aromatic creations are a hit and everyone loves her refreshing spice tea. Pepper is convinced she can handle any kind of salty customer until a murder ends up in the mix.

In Talking About Detective Fiction, the late P.D. James wrote that setting is important "since people react to their environment and are influenced by it. ... [T]he place in which the body is found is particularly revealing, and I regard the description of the finding of the body as one of the most important chapters of a detective novel. To find a murdered copse is a horrible, sometimes life-changing experience for most normal people, and the writing should be vivid and realistic enough to enable the reader to share the shock and horror, the revulsion and the pity."

ASSAULT AND PEPPER, first in my new Spice Shop Mysteries, is on its way. No spoilers, so I won’t tell you where the body is found, but I don’t mind saying the discovery rocks my protagonist, Pepper Reece, owner of the Seattle Spice Shop in the Pike Place Market, right down to her bay leaves. Nothing in her first year selling spice or her fifteen years managing staff HR at a giant law firm prepared her for the shock of finding a man she knew dead in a place she knows well.

(Although being a cop’s wife for thirteen years did expose her to the seamier side of life. Especially when she discovered him and a meter maid—she still can’t say “parking enforcement officer”—in a back booth in a posh new restaurant practically plugging each other’s meters when he was supposed to be working a shift for a friend. And of course, it doesn’t help that he’s the bike cop on the Market beat.)

What’s even worse is when the homicide detectives Spencer and Tracy, and yes, they’ve heard the jokes, and no, they’re not amused focus in on one of her trusted employees. She considers herself a good judge of people in both HR and retail, her livelihood depends on it. How could she have been so wrong? The only other likely suspects seem—to her, at least—just as unlikely. In investigating, Pepper is forced to confront the limits of her own judgment and her ability to work with other people. In the process, she learns new skills and draws on internal resources she didn’t know she had.

As a reader and a writer, I pay a lot of attention to setting. I also think it’s critical to explore how finding a body, pursuing a killer, and encountering danger affect the sleuth. While I’ve never witnessed a murder or found a murder victim, I have seen people die of natural causes in unexpected places, and I’ve witnessed horrific car wrecks. A good share of my legal practice involved personal injury work, and I’ve been on the scene of fatal crashes shortly after they happened. Seen the bodily fluids and the crumpled cars and the gouges carved across the road. Dealt with the families and friends as they adjusted to their losses. As Baroness James of Hyde Park said, those experiences change us. In light-hearted mysteries, or cozies, the challenge is to use those events to push the sleuth, to dig deeper, to investigate without being maudlin or gory. It’s possible, by focusing on character growth and development, on relationships, on motive and justice. 

Because ultimately, we read to explore human experience. The full range of it the variety, the spice of life. Some bitter, some sweet, and all of it deliciously mysterious.

READERS, how important is the discovery of the body to you? How much emotional impact do you expect the protagonist to feel?

The first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction, Leslie Budewitz lives in NW Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their Burmese cat, a book cover model and avid birdwatcher. For more tales of life in the Great Northwest, visit her website www.LeslieBudewitz.com

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Spotlight & Giveaway - Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities by Mary McHugh. This book is the second in the Happy Hoofer Mystery series and will be released February 24, 2015.


Murder is nothing to tap at. . . 

The high-kicking Happy Hoofers–Tina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise, and Gini–have been booked to flaunt their fabulous flamenco footwork on a luxury train ride through northern Spain. But when a blowhard talk show host is found deader than four-day-old flan–with Gini as suspect numero uno–the feisty friends waste no time stepping into their sleuthing shoes to protect one of their own.
The dynamite dancers will have to step up their game before a clever killer brings the curtain down on one of them . . . for good!

Includes recipes and photography tips.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review - Diners, Drive-Ins, and Death


Diners, Drive-Ins, and Death by Christine Wenger
The 3rd Comfort Food Mystery

On a cold wintry day there's nothing better than a nice dish of comfort food...and the latest Comfort Food Mystery by Christine Wenger.

Trixie Matkowski is back bringing comfort food to the people of Sandy harbor, NY at the Silver Bullet Diner. Her friend, the irrepressible Antoinette Chloe Brown, is also back with plans to build an old fashioned drive-in movie theater. Unfortunately, on ground breaking day the body of ACB's missing boyfriend is found...dug up by the backhoe! Who wanted Nick dead? Could ACB's ex-husband been jealous enough to kill his own brother? Could it have been one of the men from the gang of biker chefs? A prior business associate? Or ACB herself? Trixie knows she has to help ACB with or without the help of Deputy Ty. Will she be able to find the killer while babysitting a house full of beauty contestants, keep ACB out of trouble, and still cook through the night serving up delicious diner food?

I remember as a kid getting into my pajamas early then grabbing my sleeping bag and pillow and getting into the station wagon. My parents and I were going to the drive-in. It was still light when we got there so I played in the playground till it was dark enough for the movie to start. I can vividly remember that, though I couldn't tell you the film for the life of me! Those days are gone now, and most of the drive-ins with them. I'm pleased that ACB also remembers the fun of the drive-in and the wish to create a new one.

The books in Christine Wenger's Comfort Food Mystery series are comforting and nostalgic in the best ways. They evoke those happy memories of the past while giving us an adventure in the present. The author also adds lots of fun: ACB's fashion sense and the Miss Salmon pageant, complete with an 88 year old choreographer and girls dressed as salmon...and fishermen! That being said, these books are by no means fluff. There are issues at play and underlying everything is the strength of friendship and the power of nostalgia. Of course, we also have a fine mystery as well.

I welcome Trixie Matkowski and the people of Sandy Harbor into my home with each novel. I only wish I could visit the Red Bullet Diner myself and have a heaping plate of comfort food!

Recipes included.