Share This

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review: A Bolt From the Blue by Diane Stuckart

Author: Diane Stuckart

Copyright: 2010 (Berkley); 322 pgs.
Series: #3 in Leonardo daVinci Mysteries
Sensuality: Adult themes
Mystery sub-genre: Historical Intrigue
Main Character: The young apprentice to Leonardo daVinci, Dino (who is the girl Delfina in disguise)
Setting: Milan, Italy in the year 1484
Obtained book through: Publisher for an honest review

Imagine having a dream ingrained in your very being so deeply that you can’t live without pursuing it. Imagine that you are a young girl in ancient times who has art in your very blood and you live to paint and draw, but your predetermined future will be to live in a small town and raise children without any hope of ever pursuing your dream.

When young Delfina’s family arranges a marriage for her so she can stop dreaming and start raising children, Delfina cuts her hair, binds herself up and disguised as a boy runs away to Milan and manages an apprenticeship under the renowned Leonardo daVinci himself. She is smart and brave and quickly the ultimate Renaissance man sees “Dino’s” quick mind and she is embroiled in court politics and intrigue by his side.

This was the third in the series and without having read the prior books I understood this book fine. The brief mentions of events from the prior books only made me want to read them as well. The main idea is that Leonardo is making a secret weapon for the Duke of Milan. Leonardo recruits “Dino’s” father since he is a master wood worker and cabinetmaker.
“And how does Mother fare?”

“Quite well. Her health is good, her beauty in undiminished, and her tongue is as tart as ever.”

“And does she ever speak of me?” I asked, though without much hope.

My father hesitated before shaking his head.

“I fear she has not forgiven you for leaving as you did, in the dark of night and with no word but a terse note. And, of course, she suspects that I have some idea of your whereabouts. Though she is angered at the notion that I know something that she does not, I think it also brings her some comfort to know that you are alive and presumably well.”

I sighed, a painful knot that had nothing to do with the stew forming in my stomach…
Another apprentice, Constantin, is shot down by an arrow (bolt) from a cross bow while clutching the stolen pages from Leonardo’s sketchbook for the weapon. Apparently there is a spy for the opposing forces in their midst. What is this weapon that must not fall into enemy hands? A flying machine for strategic aerial advantage in battle!

But before the assassin of Constantin can be discovered, the nearly completed flying machine is stolen out from under their noses…and “Dino’s” father is kidnapped along with it. It appears a rival Duke has the upper hand. How far will Delfina go to rescue her father and keep a viciously cruel Duke from using the weapon?

I have to say that this was a fantastic read. I thought the characters were well developed and wonderfully drawn, the plot kept me on the edge of my seat and the period detail is rich and envelops the reader. Delfina is a memorable character and Leonardo steps from mythic legend to fully realized person in this work. I truly cannot think of a down side. Which made me wonder why this book and the series isn’t all the rage? Why isn’t there more buzz about this series and author just everywhere? I am at a loss, unless it is due to the label “historical mystery” which downplays the more dramatic intrigue and rich layering of historical details. The author brings the time period, court politics and precarious political alliances and even the realistic daily existence vividly to life without it being dark, graphic or overly “gritty”. This series deserves to have a spotlight on it in my opinion – it is just that good. Can you tell I enjoyed it? If you have ever been fascinated by Leonardo daVinci or want political intrigue without a lot of violence, swearing and bed scenes this will probably delight you!

The author, Ms Stuckart, has agreed to an interview and I will be doing a giveaway for this book soon – so stay tuned !!

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, February 22, 2010

Book Giveaway: The Fleet Street Murders & Sandi Ault Interview

Book Giveaway: The Fleet Street Murders

Yes, another book giveaway.  The publisher has generously agreed to provide two copies of The Fleet Street Murders by Charles Finch.  Wahoo!!  This book giveaway contest will be a little different from the prior so read carefully.

First, you must be a member of this blog (following this blog with Google Friend Connect.)  If you aren't already a member, please join now. 

Next, all entries are to be emailed to me at (mysterysuspense1 at gmail dot com).  In your email you need to tell me the name you are using in Google Friend Connect so I can verify your membership in the blog.

Here are the questions that you will be answering to get your entries into the drawing.  For each correct answer you will have an entry.  All the answers can be found on my blog, but you will have to go through my blog to find them.  This is like a treasure hunt.

Questions to anwer to contest entry:

1.  In "My Mystery Family Tree" post, who did I list as my favorite aunt of my mystery heritage?

2.  Who was the first author to be interviewed (by me, not a reprint interview) on this blog?

3.  What is the post topic every first Monday of the month for the last three months?

4.  What was the book I reviewed that featured a FBI agent as the main character?

5. What was the book I reviewed that was written by the daughter of a U.S. President?

Collect your answers to these 5 questions and email them to me along with what name you are following me as in Google Friend Connect.  This contest closes Friday Feb 26 at midnight and winners will be announced next Monday.

Now onto the next author interview.  Sandi Ault the author of Wild Penance (my first ever book giveaway), has provided this great interview.  I think you will find the interview very interesting.  Don't miss the part about her pets!  I'll give you a hint - that is a wolf in the photo with her.

Author Interview: Sandi Ault

Do you outline the plot or some variation of that (a little/a lot of detail, a strict 3 act structure etc) before sitting down and writing?

This is a great question. I find an outline too rigid for my creative storyteller. Instead, I do a treatment, much the same as a screenwriter does for the development of a film screenplay. It might be a good time to tell you that I believe there are two things that a mystery author should know before she ever begins a book: exactly how the murder or crime is committed, and how the book is going to end, at least generally. If you don’t know that, I think you risk wandering around in the plotline and not having the capability to plant succinct clues and thread them through the story. So I always know where I’m going before I begin and who the murderer is and how the murder was committed. Then, I began to craft scenes based on my vision for the story, and to sort of list those scenes with a little detail in the treatment, chapter by chapter. I don’t think a novel-length mystery can be done in three acts. More like seven.

I loved Jamaica Wild for her originality as well as the other characters, what is your process for developing a character? Do you use pictures, a worksheet or just let the character tell you about him/herself as you write?

Again, this is a wonderful question! I came up with the idea for Jamaica from a writing exercise I gave to a class I was teaching in Kansas City years ago. I asked my students (who were having a lot of trouble coming up with realistic but colorful characters) to envision what they might really like to be if they could have five lives. While they were working in class, I thought about that for myself. I came up with:

- Cowgirl (because I’ve always been one, since I was a child)

- Monk (because I am a spiritual seeker and need a lot of quiet time/alone time)

- Artist/writer (again, an element of my personal journey)

- Naturalist, nature lover, animal companion (SO me)

- Chef (ultimately, I dropped this in Jamaica’s character because it just didn’t work with the rest of her persona)

My characters wander around in my little cabin with me and in my head. Often, Momma Anna will get me up at night and want me to put her in a scene or she has something she wants to tell Jamaica. Likewise with Tecolote, who is based upon a real bruja I met. They start talking, I listen, and then I race for the computer to get it all down. Often I get ideas from my characters when they enter in my dreams. Can you tell I don’t get a lot of sleep?

How do you find time for writing, what works for you - and do you have anything special you do before writing, particular music or a special room/location that helps you get in the zone and write??

Another great query! If this sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not, but rather I am being honest here: it is very difficult to find time to write when you have a book-a-year contract with a major publisher and they tour you and expect you to speak, promote, attend events, and more throughout the year. My tours have lasted as long as three months, and there are conferences, workshops, speaking events, library events, book fairs and festivals and other personal appearances in addition to the tour that are a necessary part of life as a prominent author.

I am also an avid researcher and I need to spend at least a few weeks in the field (meaning, on the location of the book) for each mystery I write. I ride along with rangers, the FBI, agents, and so on. I go to the ruins, hike into the back country, climb into canyons and rappel into cliff ruins, raft down whitewater rivers to see petroglyphs. I go to the moradas and churches, attend rituals and ceremonies, question the locals and spend time in the locale. For WILD SORROW, I camped in a remote wilderness area observing mountain lions in the wild. I study wolves in their natural habitat as much as I can. This involves a lot of time in the field. And I also read and research avidly. I research as if I were writing non-fiction so that my stories can be as credible as possible. I have a good research assistant but I do all the preliminary research and then she fact checks for me or she does initial sourcing and then I follow up in detail. So, it takes me months before I begin writing to prepare for writing. All this in-between all the touring and promoting.

When I do begin to write, I call myself a “binge writer.” I try to set aside uninterrupted time and don’t come up for air. I hardly sleep, rarely leave my cabin in the mountains, don’t answer the phone or email, don’t get out of my jammies unless I have to, and I enter the world of my story and stay there. My husband and I built a little room for my work. We call it the Sky Chapel because it has sky windows that look up into the pines and at the sky above (these windows open, too!). The Sky Chapel also has a long view of the mountains opposite me. It’s my sanctuary. The vaulted ceilings result in high walls that are filled with some of my favorite art and photos of people I love and sculptured images of wildlife. It’s a pretty swell space. My desk and work table, my printer stand and my file cabinet are all made from aspen logs. My husband custom built bookshelves that line one corner and one long wall. It’s a very small room, but it’s perfect, and all the windows and the sky windows make it feel open and right out in the wild. Elk and bear often go by my windows. Hard to beat that for a writing environment.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing and how long does it take you to write a book?

Well, I kind of answered that above before I saw this question! As I said, I have had a book-a-year contract with Penguin, so it means I have to finish a book every year. And I have become a binge writer as a result, holing up for a few months after I’ve done all my field and reading and interview research to produce and edit the manuscript. I have been late on my deadlines several times, but my editor hardly has to touch my manuscript (in fact, she has done no edits to the last two), so she has allowed me the extra time knowing I will polish the book to near-perfection if I’m given enough time to do so.

I work out every day. Other than that, when I’m writing, I don’t do anything else. My staff calls my writing time “black ops” because I don’t let anyone or anything intrude, I’m undercover. I’m gone. Into the story.

Tell us about Los Penitentes - it was a great element to the mystery. How did you come across this group and did you recognize the story value right away?

I learned about Los Penitentes while visiting Northern New Mexico when I still lived and worked in the Kansas City area. I was just as intrigued by them as Jamaica is in WILD PENANCE. And yes, I knew right away that I wanted to write about them. And the whole idea of a crucifixion murder… I mean, it gave me a chill! I thought it would be a great idea for a mystery. Los Penitentes are, themselves, quite mysterious.

I particularly enjoy how you vividly brought New Mexico to life. Setting seems as important as the characters in your mysteries, any tips on conveying a sense of place well?

Yes, the WILD, the enchanted, still unspoiled West is a precious treasure to me. As is the culture of the Native Puebloans and the medieval-based Hispanic culture of Northern New Mexico, (and the Utes of Southern Colorado, who were also featured in WILD INFERNO). I feel like we live on a knife-edge where the West, the Wild, and Native America is still alive but vanishing fast. In ten years, who knows what our rabid demand for resources and development will do to these precious resources? I am hurrying as fast as I can to portray the living West while it is still there.

In creating a Resource Protection Agent who lives and works in the wild, and whose main companion is a wolf, (and sometimes a horse as well), it became a real challenge as a writer for me to move the plot along without relying on dialogue and interaction with other characters as heavily as one might—say—in an urban mystery or a more populous setting. I had to bring the wild to life, to make the landscape a character so that Jamaica could interact with it in order to make things “happen” in the plot. While I cannot recommend this to anyone else (it makes life VERY difficult for a writer; it would be so much easier to change it up with dialogue and more human interaction), I do believe it has made me a much better writer. I get so much feedback about how “filmic” my writing is, that readers tell me all the time that they feel like they see the scenes unfolding as if they were at a movie. That’s pretty nice.

Can you recommend a fiction book that provides a great example of the writing craft to dissect and learn from?

Yes. Read James Lee Burke. Anything by him. My personal favorite of his is DIXIE CITY JAM, but I love most anything he writes. He is my favorite author. Also, I adore the work of Kaye Gibbons and Sue Monk Kidd’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES. For dialogue, you can’t beat Elmore Leonard. I particularly love his westerns. And if you don’t have trouble sleeping at night, early Stephen King is tremendous schooling for plot. He’s a master. If you want to become a better writer, I cannot recommend these authors enough.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I’m not sure. I once wrote a blog called “You might be an author on the Dead Line if….” that was like a top ten list of funny things about my writing process. Your readers can access this on the WILD Blog page at my main website, Below are a handful of examples from that particular blog that qualify as interesting writing quirks:

- Everyone you know is afraid to call you before noon.

- You talk to yourself because you are your only companion. You answer yourself, too.

- You haven't seen fresh food of any kind in weeks. In lieu of milk, you open an old can of coconut milk you found in the back of a cupboard so you can put some in your coffee and over your raisin bran. You decide you can make it like that another week.

- Also, the once-plentiful supply of canned goods you kept in the pantry for snowstorms and power outages have dwindled down to a jar of pickles and some green chili jelly, and you figure you can have those with crackers for a day or so rather then drive up the mountain to the store and lose writing time.

- Your wolf tends to gain weight during the home stretch because you hike him less and less. You tend to lose weight because there is no food in the house. And the wolf's kibble is starting to look appealing as a potential crunchy snack while you're working.

- Your thesaurus and dictionary are showing serious thumb-wear.

- The only time you see your family is during your tour events in the cities where they live.

How did you get your first break towards getting published? Was it sending in a query or meeting an agent at a writing conference etc?

I have a Cinderella story. I’ll go right to WILD INDIGO, my first published book. In those days, agents didn’t do as much by email and didn’t like attachments. I looked at my favorite authors and authors who wrote in the western mystery fiction genre as well and tried to find out which agents represented them. I also looked at track records for agents—how many sales they were doing and for how much. I did extensive research, came up with a list of 31 agents I liked, sent them each a query letter (I’m killer at query letters) and got 30 requests for the manuscript. I sent the manuscript to all 30 (that was a big tab at Kinko’s and the post office that day, let me tell you), and I got thirty offers for representation. So I set up interviews by phone, and I got to choose my agent from those interviews. When we sent the manuscript for WILD INDIGO out to publishers, we had so many of them interested that the book went to auction and sold to the highest bidder after a day of bidding. That is just unheard of. It felt like that kind of divine affirmation that I was on the right path.

Tell us about your wolf Tiwa and cat Buckskin, how did they come to adopt you? I am fascinated by the idea of Tiwa living with you.

The first wolf we adopted was Mountain, who passed beyond the ridge as I was finishing WILD INDIGO, but lives on as a major character in the WILD Mystery Series. Your readers can see photos of Mountain and read all about how we adopted him on my website, When Mountain left this life, we learned of a male wolf pup who was in danger of being put down because he’d been born out of season to a bitch who was not the alpha female in the pack. This puts the pup in danger, as a wolf pack knows it cannot support more than one litter of pups per year and out of season, at that. So, we adopted Tiwa and he came to live with us then. We were already all set up for having a wolf, so it seemed like the natural thing to do. Mountain was an alpha personality and so he was every bit the rascal that he is in the WILD Mystery Series. But Tiwa is a beta personality and much more gentle. He is a Canadian timber wolf.

Buckskin was also in danger of being put down when I learned about him. He was getting into trouble in a residential neighborhood and had recently been bitten by a snake. He was in pretty bad shape. I flew to southern Missouri and brought him home on a plane. The two boys are best friends. They often sleep together.

You seem to have a love of wild and remote places, what brought you to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado? (I am a native of Colorado and love it here myself - howdy mountain neighbor!)

Howdy right back atcha! We were living in Taos, New Mexico. I was teaching at UNM Taos and my husband was working for a local contractor building all the big commercial work in Taos County. One day, he came home and said, “That’s the last big project they’re going to do in Taos County for a while. They don’t have enough tax revenue base or enough water rights to expand any more for a long time.” And so, we moved to the mountains of Colorado, and he began working for a Boulder/Denver contractor. Since then, he has moved on to a multi-national firm and he and his team build projects all over the US (he builds really big things like levees and military bases). We love living here in the mountains of Colorado. And we are only a half-day drive from our beloved Tiwa family in Northern New Mexico, so we can visit them often.

I’d love to encourage your readers to visit our very rich and visually diverse website,, as well as our micro-site On our main website, folks can link to me on Facebook, listen to streaming feeds of radio interviews with me (on the events page), watch short films of my wolf playing with an elk and of wolves in the wild, see some of our great shots of bears, eagles and wolves from our research expeditions, get a listing of and/or register for tour events, and read more about all four books in the WILD Mystery Series.

I have loved all your questions! Best wishes to you and your readers, and thanks so much for this delightful interview.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Thank you Sandi for such a great interview ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Readers, what was the thing you found most interesting in the interview?  Tough question since there are some fascinating details revealed.  How about her first book deal?

Until Thursday and our next book review I wish you many mysterious moments.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: The Fleet Street Murders by Charles Finch

Author: Charles Finch

Copyright: 2009 (Minotaur); 320 pgs.

Series: #3 in Charles Lennox Mysteries
Sensuality: N/A
Mystery sub-genre: Historical Amateur Sleuth
Main Character: Charles Lennox
Setting: 1866 London
Winner of any awards: Agatha Winner (author)
Obtained book through: Library Find

This book is the closest rival to the Sherlock Holmes tradition I am aware of. This was my first novel in the Charles Lennox series and I couldn’t be more pleased. 1866 London comes alive with wonderful detail. The novel begins with two journalists murdered within mere minutes of one another one night. The two are essentially opposites; one was self-righteous and the other corrupt. Charles Lennox begins to take an interest in the crimes but he has agreed to run for Parliament and must go to northern England to campaign. Telegrams are Lennox’s way of staying informed of the investigation while he is keeping a hectic campaign schedule. Another murder of a prominent official brings Lennox back to London to investigate.

The novel is deftly handled with just enough period details to richly color the tapestry without loosing the modern reader. I greatly enjoyed Lennox as the main character, he is observant and intelligent and, for a man who doesn’t have to work for a living, he has a sympathetic nature that allows him to appreciate those of a lower “class” and feel a common humanity with them. He has a charming (it is the best word to describe it) relationship with his betrothed who lives next door. They are understanding and respectful of one another and are clearly best friends. He feels deeply for a man and isn’t shamed by it.
In an aristocratic voice, the murderer said, without pity in his voice, “Stupid sot. I hope you burn in hell.”

He put the paper back and fled to the open window, the one from whence the draft that had irritated Carruthers in the final moments of his life had come. The man unrolled a rope ladder and climbed down quickly. The apartment was only on the second floor.

After he was gone, Martha came in, ignoring the body and the long knife protruding from its back, and went to the window, took the rope ladder back up, and after raking the coals again began the slow process of burning it, as downstairs her children slept.
The mystery plays out and the climactic moment involves a suspenseful chase (the chase is afoot! – I couldn’t resist). It is a well-plotted mystery in which the reader is just as in the dark as Lennox and putting the pieces together along with our amateur sleuth. If you have read the prior Lennox mysteries, I will say that a recurring character doesn’t make it to the end alive.

Many people have compared the character Charles Lennox to Sherlock Holmes and I can’t help but make the comparison too. Sherlock is a more flawed character while Lennox comes across as a balanced man who wants to help others and make a difference.

I heartily recommend this work for anyone who enjoys historical mysteries.

For your convenience you may purchase your copy here.

Until Monday I wish you many mysterious moments.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winners of Book Giveaway

I am so happy to announce the winners of the book giveaway. Drum roll please.

Envelope please...the winners are:




You each should have received an email notification asking for your mailing address, if you have not received it please let me know immediately.

I truly appreciate everyone's support of this blog as well as the tremendous response to the giveaway. As a token of my appreciation I have made bookmarks to go with the books.

I am looking for which book should be the next giveaway so stay tuned.

Until Thursday I wish you many mysterious moments.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, February 11, 2010

review: Death of a Valentine by M.C. Beaton

I originally had picked this book to fit in with the reading challenge I was in.  I liked the idea of a Scottish village in the highlands as the setting.  It was not exactly what I had in mind, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Author: M.C. Beaton

Copyright: Jan 12, 2010 (Grand Central Publishing); 256 pgs.
Series: #25 in Hammish Macbeth Mysteries
Sensuality: Adult Situations and themes

Mystery sub-genre: British cozy/police procedural
Main Character: Six-foot-five-inch tall, flaming red haired Sergeant Hammish Macbeth
Setting: Lockdubh, small village in Scotland
Part of a Challenge: Fall/Winter Reading Challenge
Obtained book through: Purchased

The story starts with the total bachelor Hammish Macbeth getting a coworker at his small village, a female officer named Josie McSween. Josie specifically wanted the assignment so she could snag Hammish based on briefly seeing him prior. Josie is thinking of everything in her ability to make Hammish see what a catch she is, while Hammish wants her out of his hair and sends her on remote highland assignments. Josie spends most of her time dreaming about being married to Hammish. Before too long the murder takes place. The neighboring town’s beauty queen and darling receives a letter bomb along with some valentines in her mail. Hammish is attempting to investigate in the midst of police politics and Josie is proving she isn’t that interested in police work.
The sun shone down of the melting snow in the road in front of her. Mountains soared up to a newly washed blue sky. Perth, where Josie had been brought up, was just south of the highland line, and family visits had always been to the south – to Glasgow or Edinburgh. She found the whole idea of the Highlands romantic.

As her little Toyota cruised down into Lochdubh, she gave a gasp of delight. Whitewashed eighteenth-century cottages fronted the still waters of the sea loch. The pine forest on the other side of the loch was reflected in its waters. Melting snow sparkled in the sunlight.

The police station had an old-fashioned blue lamp hanging outside. Josie drew up and parked her car. She could already imagine herself cooking delicious meals for Hamish while he smiled at her fondly and said, “Whatever did I do without you?”
Josie’s fantasy of marrying Hammish has her scheming night and day. Her schemes go from humorous to ludicrous to sad and even risky. Hammish is oblivious to Josie and her plotting, viewing her as an annoyance. I have to ask why she ever chose police work as a career when all she wants is to get married? She makes no effort at investigating the murder of the local beauty. She never understands that her best chance with Hammish is to have the investigation in common.

The murdered town darling turns out to be a scandalous reprobate who used every male around to her advantage and threw them away when she was done. The suspects start piling up and Hamish runs into one dead end after another. Another murder occurs and Hammish is desperate to figure it all out. The mystery is part cozy for the small town with interesting villagers and part police procedural since you know as much as Hammish while he wades through the suspects and evidence. The tone of the book is a middle ground between cozy and police procedural as well. The mystery seems to take a backseat to Josie’s plotting. The killer is eventually figured out with no big twist or surprise. The bigger questions are whether Josie’s attempts to entrap Hammish will actually work, is Josie dangerous, and will Hammish figure out he has been scammed in time?

This was my first ever Hammish Macbeth mystery and I am interested in reading another without the Josie side story to see if Hammish is a character I can enjoy. In this book the main aspect that comes to the forefront is how he is single minded on his work, not particularly tender of other’s feelings and a total bachelor. But since a good chunk of the book is told from Josie’s viewpoint I feel I need another book in the series to get a good idea of how I like the basic premise of the series and if there is more mystery. If you have read installments from this series before this will probably be a good addition, but as a stand alone for someone new to the series it may not the best to start with.

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

Until next Monday when we announce the winners of the book giveaway, I wish you many mysterious moments.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, February 8, 2010

Book Giveaway: Wild Penance by Sandi Ault

I am excited to present my very first book giveaway!  I looked at how other bloggers conduct book giveaways and have copied shamelessly the same methods. 

The publisher has generously provided three hardbound copies of Wild Penance by Sandi Ault to be given away.  You may read my review of Wild Penance here.

How to Enter:

All entries are to be in the comments for this post (or possibly in an email.)

I will stop taking entries for this giveaway Saturday Feb 13 at midnight and will announce the winner Monday the 15th.

For each point you earn you will have one entry in the random drawing. There is a chance for 7 points total for each contestant and thus 7 entries each.

+2 for following me. (you MUST be following me to be eligible to win. Please let me know you are a follower in your comment and/or email)

+1 for leaving a comment with your correct email information. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your email in a comment, please email me your information at: mysterysuspense1 at gmail dot com.

+2 for posting on your blog about this giveaway with a link back, please supply link to your blog post in the comments

+1 for adding this giveaway to a side bar of your blog with a link back, please supply link in comments

+1 for tweeting about this contest, please post link in comments

Comment/email example:

+2 I follow you under nicki0162
+1 here is my email address so you can notify me I won _ _ _ _ _ @ _ _ _ .com
+2 here is the link to the post I did on my blog for this giveaway ( giveaway hurry)
+1 here is the link to the tweet I did on this giveaway (

Thank you for participating and good luck!

Until next Thursday and the next book review I wish you many mysterious moments.
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Review: Wild Penance by Sandi Ault

I was sent this book from the publisher and I couldn't wait to dig in from the tantalizing blurbs.  I will be doing a give away of three Wild Penance books beginning next Monday!!!  I am negotiating an interview with Ms. Ault as well.  This book has grabbed me and I want to share with you my fellow mystery readers.

Author: Sandi Ault

Copyright: 2010 (Berkley); 320 pgs.

Series: #4 in Wild Mysteries
Sensuality: Mild
Mystery sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Jamaica Wild, Bureau of Land Management Agent (Range Rider)
Setting: Taos New Mexico
Winner of any awards: Wild Sorrow won Mary Higgins Clark Award
Obtained book through: Publisher

Jamaica is out running early one morning along the rim of a rocky chasm with the Rio Grande below when she witnesses two men shove a large wooden cross over the side of the Rio Grande Bridge…with somebody attached. She watches in horror as the cross plunges the 650 feet down to the river below. This is the beginning of a great suspense novel that combines a secretive old Hispanic sect of Catholicism – Los Penitentes - with murder to weave a haunting story.

Jamaica is more involved in the subject matter than even she would have thought. She had been sketching the Los Penitentes shrines and collecting stories and general information about their rites and beliefs. She had even talked with a priest, Father Ignacio Medina, who knew a good bit about them. The incident appears to be Los Penitentes related somehow and Jamaica is the only witness. Just hours after she witnesses the cross plunging off the bridge her Jeep is broken into and her Los Penitentes sketchbook and information is stolen. Then Jamaica receives word that the man dumped into the Rio Grande was Father Ignacio Medina! Danger is stalking closer than she knows – what a time to be pulling duty in remote areas on horseback.
My normal routine would have been to establish a base camp before dark fell and make planned forays from that point, doing the bulk of my range riding during daylight hours. In the remote country where I normally worked, I had few human interactions, and my greatest concern was survival in bad weather. In the areas I patrolled most, I buried caches of supplies and survival gear so that I could travel light. I chose the most beautiful spots for my camps because there was no reason to camp elsewhere. But for this assignment, I would try to cover the fence line first – all the way from one end to the other – so I knew the terrain. After that, I could determine where to place a base camp for the following night, in a spot where I felt it was most important to maintain an active presence. Tonight, I planned to ride just over five miles to meet the forest ranger at our appointed rendezvous site near Canada de la Entranas, more than halfway to Canoncito.
I had not read the earlier books in this series, but I understand that this fourth book in the series is a prequel and gives the beginnings of Jamaica that the other books had not gone into much detail on. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was suspenseful and Jamaica is a loner that you root for at every step. Ms. Ault’s love of New Mexico richly flavors the pages and her equal love of the wild outdoors brings Jamaica’s soul alive.
"Yeah," he chuckled.  Then he nudged me on the shoulder with the back of his hand.  "You know, you have a little ornery streak in you, don't you?"  He was giving me that devilish grin again, and I had no tools to resist it.  My boundaries seemed to malfunction with this guy.  All my fences turned to open gates, my battlements became highly decorative entry ramps, my moats became swimming pools with neon signs hanging above them reading: Come on in, the water's fine!
There is a romantic interest that begins in this installment and I want to read more to find out how it goes.  The mystery plays out with consistent tension as Jamaica is robbed and followed. Los Penitentes creates an eerie backdrop that makes this a page-turner. Jamaica proves tenacious like a pit bull and her loner-minimalist-lifestyle gives her a bittersweet lonely aura. The solution to the murder is revealed and I had only gotten part of the solution right so that was pleasing. The climax is a suspenseful ride and is burned into my memory.  Overall I was truly pleased with this book and it left imagery of New Mexico alive in my being.

This book has made me a fan and I will be reading the rest in the series.

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

Until next Monday, I wish you many mysterious moments.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival - Feb 2010

February is here all ready!  2010 is already flying by.  It is time for the Blog Carnival again and we have another chock full carnival.  I hope you enjoy it and a special thank you to all the contributors who submitted their work.  Another celebration of the Mystery and Crime Fiction Genre - wahoo.  Hey, if you haven't become a member or follower of the blog, please do.  We have the Google followers and also Facebook Blog Network.

Police Procedural Book Review

Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise presents TRUTH by Peter Temple. Kerrie says it is the latest from an Australian master and Ned Kelly Award winner. It is excellent, both for crime fiction and a taste of Australia. This one will be short listed in this year's Ned Kelly awards.

Bernadette at Reactions to Reading presents Whack A Mole by Chris Grabenstein.  The third book in a feel-good series featuring charming characters, suspense-filled stories and, for audio book fans, a brilliant narrator.

Susan at You Can Never Have Too Many Books reviews The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke set in Louisiana after Katrina

Lesa at Lesa’s Book Critiques reviewed Assassins of Athens by Jeffrey Siger. She says "It's a complex police procedural involving politics, powerful, wealthy people, and men who have their own motives for violence."

Bernadette presents The Rule Book by Rob Kitchin. A brilliant debut that depicts the desperation that police must feel when faced with a lack of evidence and a city screaming for answers.

Maxine (Petrona) presents Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer. Translated from the Afrikaans by Madeline van Biljon.

KerrieS presents SKELETON HILL by Peter Lovesey. Wonderfully told tale from a master story teller - two of the dead share a beer during a Civil War re-enactment near Bath, England, and one goes missing.

Maxine (Petrona) presents Truth by Peter Temple.  Excellent novel by superb Australian author. A sort of sequel to The Broken Shore (winner of 2007 Gold Dagger).

Gaby at Starting Fresh reviewed  When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson

Maxine presents Blood Sunset by Jarad Henry. Australian police procedural thriller set in Melbourne, well worth a read.

KerrieS presents THE BRASS VERDICT by Michael Connelly. Top-notch legal thriller set in Los Angeles. Winner of 2009 Anthony Award for best crime fiction.

Mostly Fiction Book Reviews reviewed Blood Sins by Kay Hooper.  Featuring highly trained Special Crimes Unit of the FBI all of whom have one or more psychic ability that they use in their work.

Bernadette presents The Killing Hands by P D Martin. This procedural by Australian author P.D. Martin offers a unique slant on the genre by featuring an FBI profiler who has psychic abilities which she can sometimes use to help her investigations

KerrieS presents BLOOD OF THE WICKED by Leighton Gage. Set in Brazil: the first in the Mario Silva series: only 3 to read in this series so far. A bishop steps from a helicopter and his head explodes in a red mist.

Kris at Not Enough Books reviewed the novel Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs.

Private Investigator Book Review

Maxine (Petrona) presents City of the Sun by David Levien. Supense-filled page-turner as parents try to find their son who vanished a year ago.

KerrieS presents BLOOD BORN by Kathryn Fox.  Forensic physician Anya Crichton features in her 4th novel by Australian author Kathryn Fox.  Well worth looking for.

Bernadette presents Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. A historical mystery offering a delicious reading experience loaded with wit, terrific period imagery and details, an intriguing mystery and unpredictable, fascinating characters.

Amateur Sleuth book Review

Mervi’s Book Reviews gives us the novel The Hippopotamus Pool by Elizabeth Peters.

Kris at Not Enough Books reviewed Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Tina over at Tutu's Two Cents reviewed Key Lime Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke.

Stephanie at Laughing Stars reviewed the book Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin, a historical kind-of private investigator story.

Julie at Booking Mama reviewed the novel Living the Vida Lola by Misa Ramirez.

KerrieS presents CONSEQUENCES OF SIN by Clare Langley-Hawthorne. Story set mainly in Edwardian London. Introduces Ursula Marlowe, suffragette, outspoken, and the daughter of one of England's wealthiest businessmen. A murder mystery.

Kris at Not Enough Books reviewed The Witch’s Grave by Shirley Damsgaard.

Cozy Mystery Book Review

Bernadette at Reactions to Reading presents Falling Star by Patricia Moyes. Bernadette says although originally published in 1964 the book is not 'dated' and is recommended for Anglophiles who like a good puzzle and no blood.

Reactions to Reading did a mini review of Snake in the Glass by Sarah Atwell.

The Friendly Book Nook reviewed Dying In Style by Elaine Viets.

Deborah at Books, Movies and Chinese Food reviewed the cozy Knit, Purl, Die by Anne Canadeo.

Tracy's Book Review gives us a young adult mystery review of The Long Way Home by Andrew Klavan.

AF Heart at Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Dial Om for Murder by Diana Killian.

AF Heart at Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Avenging Angels by Mary Stanton

April at Café of Dreams reviewed The Devil in Merrivale by Jackie Griffie.

Suspense Fiction Book Review

Amy Steele at Steele on Entertainment presents TETHERED by Amy MacKinnon.

April at Café of Dreams reviewed The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer.

KerrieS presents DEVIL'S PEAK by Deon Meyer. A wonderfully told story of rough justice, set in South Africa, by an author you will want to read more of.

Laura de Leon at I'm Booking It reviewed the novel Exit Music by Ian Rankin.

Glenda at Book Reader's Heaven reviewed the novel Dead Game by Jennifer Chase.

Kris at Not Enough Books reviews The Last to Know by Wendy Corsi Staub.

Maxine presents Death in Oslo by Anne Holt. The presumed kidnapping of the US president on a state visit.

Bookin’ With Bingo reviewed the novel Last Snow by Eric Van Lustbader.

Petrona reviewed the novel The Reunion by Simone van der Vlugt.

Diane at The Book Resort reviewed the novel Dirty Blonde by Lisa Scottoline.

Diane at The Book Resort also reviewed Absolute Fear by Lisa Jackson.

All About Book Reviews gives us a review of The Good Guy by Dean Koontz.

Harvee Lau over at Book Dilettante reviewed the novel The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer.

Author Interview

Beth at Mysteries and Chitchat posted a must read interview with 14 year old author Kieryn Nichols.

Mysteries and My Musings posted an interview of author Camille Minichino.

Mysteries and My Musing posted an interview of author Julie Hyzy.

Writing Tips and Advice

Livia Blackburne presents "Voice Finding Techniques from Cathy Yardley".

Jurgen at Time to Write posted "How it can help your writing to change your lens".

Meanderings and Muses has writer Robert W Walker guest blogging "On Becoming An Artful Writer".

Alan Rinzler at The Book Deal gives us "Help with Transitions and Bridges".

Gracie Turner presents "100 Little Ways You Can Dramatically Improve Your Writing".

Livia Blackburne presents "Writing Lessons from Gossip Girl".

Nancy at Nancy’s Notes from Florida posted "Printed Promo Materials" regarding all the printed materials used in promoting your book and how needed each is.

Livia Blackburne presents "The Art of Internal Observation".

Nancy at Nancy’s Notes from Florida posted a great piece on "Self Editing".

Livia Blackburne presents "Subtle Narration in the Graveyard Book".

Ashley Grayson Literary Agency has a post "Authors, Treat Your Work as an Investment".

The Write Type have posted "The Basic Tenets for Good Writing".

~ ~ ~ ~ ~WOW - what a great carnival this month? ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I hope you got some ideas for new books or authors to read and even some tips and insights for writing.

For more information on the specifics of the Carnival and how to submit your blog posts go here.

And please help spread the word about this Blog carnival, it is very easy to submit a post and be included.

Until Thursday's next book review I wish you many mysterious moments and a fantastic year ahead.
Bookmark and Share

Related Posts with Thumbnails