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Monday, March 30, 2015

Fill in Blank Game V

Let's try another game this week. I am going to list partial titles and you try to fill in the blanks. All the books are by the same author which is a clue. At the end of the titles, supply who the author of those books was. I will give you a hint that these are not new books - they have been out for a while.

You are on the honor system playing this, try completing this without the aid of the internet.  In a few days I will fill in the blanks and you can post how many you got right in the comments.  I did this in a very low tech sort of way :-)

1) _______ Finish

2) Grave _______

3) Dead ________

4) Hand in _______

5) A ________ Lay Dead

6)  Death in ________

7) ___________ Murder

8) ___________ to Death

9) Death and the Dancing ___________

10) ________ a Murderer

The Author of all these books is _____ _____.

Photo Finish,  Grave Mistake, Dead Water, Hand in Glove, A Man Lay Dead, Death in Ecstasy, Vintage Murder, Overture to Death, Death and the Dancing Footman, Enter a Murderer.  

The Author of all these books is Ngaio March.  She was a New Zealand crime writer.  Marsh is known internationally for her creation, Inspector Roderick Alleyn, a gentleman detective who works for the Metropolitan Police (London). Thus she is one of the "Queens of Crime" alongside Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Gladys Mitchell, and Margery Allingham.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Review - Mystery Writers of America Cookbook

I don't often review cookbooks, but I couldn't resist this one from the Mystery Writers of America.  

Author: Kate White - Editor

Copyright: March 2015 (Quirk) 176 pgs

Series: Stand alone

Sensuality: N/A

Mystery Sub-genre: Cook Book

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Hard-boiled breakfasts, thrilling entrees, cozy desserts, and more--this illustrated cookbook features more than 100 recipes from legendary mystery authors. Whether you're planning a sinister dinner party or whipping up some comfort food perfect for a day of writing, you'll find plenty to savor in this cunning collection. Full-color photography is featured throughout, along with mischievous sidebars revealing the links between food and foul play. Contributors include Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark, Harlan Coben, Nelson DeMille, Gillian Flynn, Sue Grafton, Charlaine Harris, James Patterson, Louise Penny, Scott Turow, and many more.

This is a beautiful hard bound cook book with lucious photos of the dishes and introductions to each recipe by each author submitter.  It is divided into sections: breakfast, appetizers, soups and salads, entrees, side dishes desserts, and cocktails.  

I enjoyed the recipe from Richard Castle for the pancakes he made Kate.  Alafair Burke's Rum Soaked Nutella French Toast was amazing, even though I used regular bread.  Laura Lippman's Salmon Balls was another winner and the pasta-less pasta was a hit too.  There are many more great recipes and I am enjoying going through them and trying them out.

If you love mysteries/thrillers and food, this is for you.  Everyone will find something in this to enjoy from both the recipes and the interesting introductions from a wide range of accomplished authors.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and start trying the recipes.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review - Game of Mirrors

This is probably my first translated foreign mystery I have reviewed, or even read.  I know, hard to believe but it's true.  This series is originally from Italy and is attracting international attention.

Author: Andrea Camilleri

Copyright: March 2015 (Penguin) 288 pgs

Series: 18th in Inspector Montalbano Mystery series

Sensuality: adult situations talked about, clinical mention of torture

Mystery Sub-genre: Italian Police Procedural

Main Characters: Inspector Salvo Montalbano, Sicilian policeman

Setting: Modern day, Sicily Italy

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Inspector Montalbano and his colleagues are stumped when a bomb explodes outside two empty warehouses—one of which is connected to a big-time drug dealer. Meanwhile, his seductive neighbor, Liliana Lombardo, is trying to seduce the Inspector over red wine and fine food and appears to want everybody else in town to believe they are already lovers. Between unethical reporters, the manipulative neighbor, and cocaine kingpins, Montalbano feels as if he’s being manipulated on all fronts, something he calls a game of mirrors. The inspector becomes the prime suspect in an unspeakably brutal crime and he must break through the illusion to reveal what is really going on. 

This was my first Montalbano mystery.  I am usually very cautious about reading translated works, for some reason I suspect translations will be difficult reading.  I must say that this book had a dry sense of humor and I found Montalbano to be wily in his own right. The writing style took me only a chapter or two to get used to, but I was soon swept away with the story.

Salvo Montalbano loves his food and is a good law officer. In this case he must see the motives behind many intentional misleading events to understand the ultimate scheme behind the bombs, a bullet in his car, his neighbor's attempts to seduce him, and anonymous tips to newspapers to implicate him in illegal activities.  He is patient in weeding through the noise to what is important.  He heads a team of other police including Augello (a married Don Juan), Fazio who is another smart cop, and the good-natured but mentally challenged Catarella.  All of which unfold on the pages simply and yet well realized.

The Sicilian countryside and town made a great setting, I would love to see Montalbano's seaside house.  You feel like you live there as you read, you feel so transported.  The plot was deceptively simple, you think you know what is happening, but it has layers to reach the truth.  The pace is steady with the multiple aspects in play.  There is an eventful climax and the wrap-up is where Montalbano ensures all parties face consequences.

I was surprised and enjoyed this unique series.  I wish I had started the series from the beginning, but I am looking forward to discovering the previous books.  Montalbano is human, faulty, smart, and crafty making him a character you cheer for.  He uses everything at his disposal, even a little misdirection of his own. 

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Guest Post - Laura Morrigan

I reviewed the first book in this series, Woof at the Door (click here), the second book A Tiger's Tale (click here), the third A Horse of a Different Killer (click here) an author interview (click here), and a guest post (click here.)  Today Ms. Morrigan joins us once again and gives us a look at some adorable animals.

Spending the first years of her life on a Costa Rican coffee farm blessed Laura Morrigan with a fertile imagination and a love for all things wild.
Later she became a volunteer at a local zoo, helping out with everything from “waste management” to teaching an elephant how to paint. Drawing from her years of experience with both wild and domestic animals and her passion for detective novels, Laura created the Call of the Wilde series. Her experience with animals explains her post today of adorable animals you probably never heard of.

Five Adorable Animals You Never Knew Existed

Thank you Ms. Morrigan, I loved these adorable animals!

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review - Horse of a Different Killer

I reviewed the first book in this series, Woof at the Door (click here), the second book A Tiger's Tale (click here), an author interview (click here), and a guest post (click here.)  Today I am reviewing the third in the series.  Let's dive back into the Call of the Wilde mystery series.

Author: Laura Morrigan

Copyright: March 2015 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 3rd in Call of the Wilde Mystery series

Sensuality: mild kissing and situations

Mystery Sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Grace Wilde, Animal behaviorist who speaks with animals


Setting: Modern day, Jacksonville Florida

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Grace’s abusive ex-brother-in-law, Anthony Ortega, dies under suspicious circumstances and her sister is taken in for questioning. Grace been getting calls for Ortega for what purpose she never found out, but to clear Emma, she is going to find out.  She finds out from Ortega's supermodel girlfriend, Jasmine, that he was likely concerned about a thoroughbred Friesian he was buying her but that went missing.  Grace believes if she finds the horse, she will somehow clear Emma from a murder charge.  Two subplots figure into the story, Detective Boyle is convinced Emma killed her abusive ex-husband, and also believes Grace and maybe Kai are involved with the mob from the last adventure.  Secondly, the mob hit-man, Logan, from the last book is contacting Grace and warning her she is in danger as she searches for the missing horse, complicating her relationship with Kai.

Grace has spunk and determination but seems less clear thinking than in prior books.  I felt she was a touch ditzy in this outing.  Sergeant Kai Duncan is dealing with finding out Grace communicates with animals in a more special way than he first thought, and trying to not be overbearing in keeping her safe.  Emma, her kind and capable sister who had been abused by Ortega, is now accomplished in martial arts which raises the question, could she have killed him?  Will, childhood friend and their lawyer, is a sheer delight.  Logan is the dark, dangerous mob killer that calls Grace "Sweetness".  Make no mistake, he is more than a "bad boy" persona, though he does have his own sense of justice... as long as it doesn't conflict with his job.

A few beach scenes interspersed with rural settings provides a good feeling of remote and isolated landscapes as the story unfolds.  The plot was a little disjointed until the last bit where the significance of the horse to the murder was revealed.  Otherwise, it seemed a stretch that the missing horse was such a lynchpin in the case and the time and effort to find it seemed misplaced when Emma sat in jail.  The pacing was fairly consistent, keeping my interest, particularly with Logan's mysterious appearances.

The climax involves a barn in the middle of nowhere, two experienced killers, the missing  Fresian, a storm, and a goat.  It was well done and had a touch of cat-and-mouse maneuvering that delivered great tension.

I enjoyed this book in the series, although I felt it was not quite as riveting as the previous two.  Still, it delivered an entertaining mystery with a surprise or two that kept the pages turning.

Rating: An enjoyable read, good but not stellar.  Fans of the series won't want to miss it, but best to not start the series with this book if you are new to it.

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Guest post - Fran Stewart

Ms Fran Stewart was already in the mystery genre with her Biscuit McKee Mystery series.  I reviewed the first in her new ScotShop Mystery series, A Wee Murder in my Shop.  To read my review, click here.  We are tickled to have a guest post from her on where she gets her ideas for her lively novels.  Please welcome her!

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Where do you get your ideas is one of the most frequent questions a writer hears. There’s often a pregnant pause before we answer. Our minds discard most of the answers we consider, because where we get our ideas depends on what we’re currently writing or what we’re planning to write next.

The truth—for me—is that ideas simply pop up no matter where I am. At meals, parties, with friends, alone, dancing, standing still, in snowstorms or rainstorms. Anywhere. Any time.

Unfortunately, most of those ideas are useable. Luckily, I have one technique that almost always works.

Let’s say I’m stuck with trying to make a character more believable. I need an idea NOW. To help me solve a sticky character problem or a sticky plot, I generally walk.

One frigid January, while on an artists and writers retreat on Sapelo Island, I simply couldn’t get a feel for the murderer in A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP. Every scene with that particular character felt lifeless. I bundled up and walked the mile to Nanny Goat Beach. The rain hit. I simply pulled on my hood and kept going. As the surf thundered at my left side, I heard the murderer’s voice: “Listen to me,” the waters roared. “Listen to me.”

“What makes you tick?” I walked faster. “Why are you so angry?”

The waves pounded out his answer. I heard it as clearly as if he were propelled along beside me by the ferocious wind at our backs, and I saw that the root of his anger lay a hundred years ago. I was dumbfounded. One of the problems was that I hadn’t seen him as a real person, a man with family history, a man with a back-story, a man with angst—he’d simply been the bad guy in my mind. The murderer. I hadn’t even thought of him as my murderer. I hadn’t owned him.

I hadn’t owned up to him, either.

You see, we all have murderous thoughts at one time or another—and mystery writers need to explore those thoughts. Every murder has roots somewhere. Sometimes those roots seem almost to make sense. Almost.

My job as a writer is to open a door so you can see how murder might have logically developed into what the murderer sees as his or her last possible choice. 

Don’t get me wrong. I, Fran, the human being, see no logic in murder. Murdering someone as a result of the common “reasons for murder”—jealousy, anger, greed—is insane. I see murder not only as a harmful act toward the victim, but as one that immediately harms the murderer as well. Most reasonable folks manage to deal with childhood abuse, poverty, wealth, domestic violence, and even with anger, jealousy, and greed; they get the help they need, and they move on.

Sometimes, the “logic” behind a murder seems valid to us, but all too often it makes sense only to the murderer alone. A good mystery allows us all to explore not only that reasonable and/or twisted logic, but the consequences — what would happen if I acted out my homicidal impulses?
What would happen if … is the source of just about every writer’s ideas. What would happen if X killed Y … leads writers to want to find out the reason.

Let’s say I walk past you on the street as you say to a friend, “I could’ve killed him!” I don’t need to know your backstory or whether you really mean it. All I need to do is take that phrase and ask the new character sprouting in my mind: “Why?”

That’s where the good story ideas come from.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Ms. Stewart for that wonderful post and how you brought your murderer to life in your book by connecting with his roots.  

Readers, what do you think makes a "bad guy" more compelling?

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Review - A Wee Murder in My Shop

This is a brand new series with a Scottish theme although based in Vermont.  It has an interesting premise that incorporates a "wee ghostie" into the story.

Author: Fran Stewart

Copyright: March 2015 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 1st in ScotShop Mystery series

Sensuality: mild kissing

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy paranormal Mystery

Main Character: Peggy Winn, owner of ScotShop

Setting: Modern day. Hamelin, Vermont

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Peggy breaks up with her "almost fiance" upon discovering him with her "former best friend" just before leaving on a business trip to Scotland. She is on a buying trip for her Scottish themed shop attempting to deal with the situation with her ex (Mason) by digging through the hidden treasures of the Scottish Highlands. She discovers a unique out-of-the-way shop and buys a beautiful old tartan shawl that once she wraps it around her shoulders discovers it has the ghost of a fourteenth-century Scotsman attached to it. Before she leaves to return to the States, she believes she has severed the connection binding "Dirk" to the shawl.

Once State-side she finds she was unsuccessful and Dirk is still bound to the shawl. She also discovers the body of her cheating ex in her shop when she opens on the first day back to her store. When the police chief arrests Peggy’s cousin based on some incriminating evidence, Peggy works to understand why Mason was killed in her shop and Dirk grows protective as a police detective begins spending more and more time with Peggy.

Peggy is a mixed-bag character, she can be ditzy but kind and caring. One minute a strong small business owner and the next silly in handling the ghost. Dirk (full name Macbeath Donlevy Freusach Macearacher Macpheidiran of clan Farquharson) is not just out of time, but grieving the loss of his beloved whose shawl he is attached to. Cousins Sam and Shoe are a whirlwind and keep the story interesting. BFF Karaline Logg is a gem and a great sidekick for Peggy. Twin Brother Drew may be disabled but doesn't let that slow him down and I hope to see more of him in the next books. Police Captain Harper is the romantic interest in the book.

Hamelin Vermont, which was founded by Scottish in early 1700s, is said to still have men wearing kilts is the small town of the story. It relies on tour buses for its economy as the backdrop.

The concept of keeping a ghost who is completely out of step with the time he finds himself in was handled fairly well, although I grew quickly tired of Peggy making a spectacle of herself explaining various things to the ghost in front of others. That was tedious. The pacing moved along steadily and I found myself reading on to see what happened next. The climax with the killer seemed entirely too rushed and suddenly the story is finished. It was a bit of an abrupt ending.

Overall it has an interesting concept that you might expect in a time-travel romance, only it is a cozy mystery - which provides a completely different flare.

Rating: Good - A fun light read, but not stellar.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival - March 2015

It is the first Monday of the month and time for another highly anticipated Blog Carnival. 

Now on to this month's blog carnival.  Click on the title or author's name to go to that link.

Police Procedural / PI Book Review / Legal

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Who Buries the Dead by C.S. Harris

Booking Mama reviewed Hush Hush by Laura Lippman

Amateur Sleuth / Cozy book Review

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Murder in the Queen's Garden by Amanda Carmack

Carstairs Considers reviewed License to Dill by Mary Ellen Hughes

Kings River Life Magazine reviewed Scorched Eggs by Laura Childs

Girl Lost In a Book reviewed Maple Mayhem by Jessie Cockett

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed This Old Homicide by Kate Carlisle

Kings River Life Magazine reviewed Fudge Brownie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Girl Lost In a Book reviewed Shunned and Dangerous by Laura Bradford

Carstairs Considers reviewed Great Smokies by Sandy Dengler

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Feta Attraction by Susannah Hardy

Thriller/Suspense /Intrigue Fiction Book Review

Booking Mama reviewed Into a Raging Blaze by Andreas Norman

Books n' Cooks reviewed Snitch by Brooker T Mattison

Booking Mama reviewed The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Booking Mama reviewed Lethal Code by Thomas Waite

Author Interview

Mysteries and My Musings had a guest post by author Amanda Carmarck

Mysteries and My Mysings had a guest post by Kate Carlisle

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

to all the wonderful bloggers who contributed to the carnival.  Keep them coming and let's keep this carnival going. 
Let's make next month's Carnival even better. For more information on the specifics of the Carnival and how to submit your posts go here

Spread the word far and wide!!!
Please help the newsletter for the blog carnival to get more subscribers. If a blog reviews mystery/suspense/thrillers (even occasionally) then I would like to feature those reviews. I send the newsletter out once a month announcing the deadline for submitting to this blog carnival. Multiple entries from a blog are welcome.

Subscribe to our carnival reminder mailing list

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