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Monday, July 15, 2019

Guest Post - Jon Land and Jessica Fletcheer

Murder She Wrote dominated television ratings from 1984 to 1996 and continues in reruns around the world.  But when the show ended, the books continued Jessica Fletcher's legacy in print.  Donald Bain began (as the co-author with Jessica Fletcher *wink-wink*) writing the series in 1989 until he passed away in 2017. 

After Donald Bain's passing, author Jon Land was approached to take over the series as he was working on completing Bain's A Date with Murder (47th book in the series) anyway. Land agreed to continue the series.  Please welcome Jon Land as the secret guest author today.

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT JESSICA

FLETCHER

The publication of MURDER IN RED marks the 35th anniversary of the eternal Murder, She Wrote series which debuted on CBS in 1984. But did you know that Angela Lansbury wasn’t the first choice to play Jessica Fletcher? It was actually Jean Stapleton, who’d fabulously played Edith Bunker on All in the Family. With that in mind, and to celebrate MURDER IN RED, let’s take a look at some other things you might not know about Jessica Fletcher.

§ Speaking of Angela Lansbury, the fact that Jessica never got her driver’s license mirrors the fact that Angela who never got hers either.

§ Jessica was president of her Delta Alpha Chi sorority at Harrison College in Green Falls, New Hampshire where she majored in journalism.

§ Jessica first met her future husband when they were both volunteering for a production at the esteemed Appleton Theater. But Jessica was so bad at set building, she never volunteered again.

§ When her husband Frank was still alive, and they were raising their nephew Grady, Jessica was a substitute English teacher at Appleton High School.

§ The death of the Appleton High principal became the first murder Jessica ever solved.

§ On that investigation, she worked with Amos Tupper, then Appleton’s only detective who’d go on to become sheriff at Cabot Cove.

§ Jessica and Frank purchased their beloved home in Cabot Cove from real estate agent Eve Simpson who would go on to become a close friend of Jessica’s. The night Eve showed them the house at 698 Candlewood Lane also marked the first time Jessica ever met Dr. Seth Hazlitt.

§ Upon moving to Cabot Cove, Jessica got a job teaching English full time and went on to mentor any number of writers who came back for visits during the television show’s twelve-year run.

§ Writing as J. B. Fletcher, Jessica has published over 40 books from The Corpse Danced at Midnight to The Corpse Danced Alone.

§ She celebrated publication of The Corpse Danced at Midnight at a costume party put on by her publisher Preston Giles in the pilot for the series during which, of course, someone is murdered and Jessica ends up cracking the case. (The episode was called The Murder of Sherlock Holmes).

§ The books gave Jessica a romantic interest in Chief Inspector George Sutherland of Scotland Yard, who’s introduced in the very first book in the series, Gin and Daggers. But the closest she ever came to a love interest in the TV series was Preston Giles, a flirtation that lasted only until Jessica revealed him as the killer in the same episode. In a subsequent episode years later, Giles is murdered himself. (Sutherland returns in Murder in Red!)

§ Jessica left Cabot Cove for a time to teach criminology at New York’s Manhattan University where she lives in Manhattan at the Penfield House Apartments, 941 West 61st St. She ultimately gave up the position because she missed Cabot Cove too much.

§ The Murder, She Wrote series boasts more books than either Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (4 novels and 56 short stories) or Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot (45 novels).


§ Speaking of Agatha Christie, Angela Lansbury also played her famed sleuth Jane Marple in the 1980 film The Mirror Cracked.

SPOILER ALERT! A number of the factoids above are drawn from A Time for Murder, #50 in the Murder, She Wrote series that will be published this coming November and will introduce Jessica as a younger woman, twenty-five years in the past, for the first time ever in books or television!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I don't know about you, but I still watch an episode occasionally.  This was great information and fun to get back into the Murder She Wrote world.  

Here is an episode to watch...staring a very young George Clooney!  So many stars were on the show.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8k1kbODS5s








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Monday, July 8, 2019

Guest Post - Allison Montclair

Please welcome Allison Montclair to M&MM.  She grew up devouring hand-me-down Agatha Christie paperbacks and James Bond movies. As a result of this deplorable upbringing, she became addicted to tales of crime, intrigue, and espionage. She now spends her spare time poking through the corners, nooks, and crannies of history, searching for the odd mysterious bits and transforming them into novels of her own.

The Marriage Bureau Idea
For the past two and a half years, I have been living in 1946. I am the author of The Right Sort of Man, the first of a new mystery series set in post-war London, featuring Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, the proprietors of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau.

This came about when Keith Kahla, my editor at St. Martin’s Minotaur, alerted me to the existence of a real-life marriage bureau that was set up and run by women beginning in 1939. The idea of a marriage bureau was a novelty, and a business founded by women was even more so. It was not a time and place with which I was overly familiar, but I am someone who likes diving headlong into eras in search of the odd and the obscure, so the prospect of tackling this was intriguing.

I knew immediately that I wanted to shift the time to the period after the war. I didn’t want to have a war-time setting, with our intrepid heroines sneaking around after curfew, tiptoeing through the Blitz and so forth. The post-war period was a fascinating time, particularly for women in England. Many had taken over for the men in a variety of settings, and while some would cede their new lives to the lads returning from demobilization, enough did not or resented the prospect so as to mark another step in the long march to women’s equality. There was also a shift in the political climate of the country, which brought in Clement Atlee and a Labour Party government, and of European politics in general with the Cold War picking up where the shooting war had left off.

I wanted both of my ladies to have come through the war damaged. Not much is written about the aftermath on the women of WWII. Many British women died for their country, and many more lost loved ones. I wanted Iris and Gwen to find each other as friends, and for their fledgling business to be a source of strength and healing. And when it is threatened by the murder of one of their clients, allegedly by the man they had set her up with, for them to draw on hitherto unsuspected resources in finding the truth.

The research has been great fun. Rationing, a fact of life back then, played a major role in this first book, and the myriad ways it affected daily life were fascinating. I have also enjoyed learning about the fashions of the period, and how designers worked within the limitations placed on the amount and types of fabric used, the ornamentations, and so forth. I also learned that no man knows the meaning of the word “peplum,” but all women do!

The second book is written and turned in. The writing of the third has commenced, and I have been signed for a fourth. I look forward to see what happens to Iris and Gwen next.

And I look forward to 1947!
~ ~ ~ 
THANK You Allison.  I will have a review coming shortly to this unique new mystery series, so stay tuned.



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Monday, June 17, 2019

Author Guest Post - Kate Carlisle

Kate Carlisle is the New York Times bestselling author of two ongoing series: the Bibliophile Mysteries featuring San Francisco bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright, whose rare book restoration skills uncover old secrets, treachery and murder; and the Fixer-Upper Mysteries, featuring Shannon Hammer, a home contractor who discovers not only skeletons in her neighbors' closets, but murder victims, too. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has brought the Fixer-Upper Mysteries to TV in a series of movies starring Jewel and Colin Ferguson. A native Californian, Kate worked in television production for many years before turning to writing.

9 Things You Definitely Don't Know about James Bond Author Ian Fleming

The Bibliophile Mysteries are modern-day murder mysteries that are motivated by a rare book in the care of bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright. Before writing each book, I do a lot of research and learn fascinating information about the rare book in question, its author, and the times in which the book was published. The most fun part for me is that the themes of the present-day story reflect those of that rare book. For example, while Brooklyn was working on a first-edition of Journey to the Center of the Earth, she found a body in a wine cave (Ripped from the Pages). When she found an 18th-century cookbook and journal, the murder victim was a celebrity chef (A Cookbook Conspiracy).

In my latest Bibliophile Mystery, The Book Supremacy, Brooklyn finds a signed first-edition James Bond novel in a book stall in Paris. She's on her honeymoon with her devilishly handsome British security expert husband, so of course the book she finds has to be The Spy Who Loved Me. Most of the action in the story takes place in a San Francisco spy shop, echoing the fun, fast-paced James Bond themes.

I include as many juicy details from my research as I can without bogging down the story, but invariably there are tidbits I just couldn't work in. Here are 9 things you definitely don't know about James Bond author Ian Fleming. (Unless you're a member of my mailing list, in which case you know a few of these because I like to share interesting research facts in my newsletters. You can join at KateCarlisle.com.)

1. The original M in his life was his Mum, whom he called M. (One senses a snotty teenager's sneer.)

2. John F. Kennedy became a superfan after meeting Ian Fleming at a party in Washington DC. Not long after, JFK listed From Russia with Love as one of his top 10 favorite books for a piece in Life magazine, propelling the James Bond books to the bestsellers lists in the US.

3. Fleming also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Clearly, he was always into unique cars loaded with gadgets.

4. The name of the character James Bond came from an American ornithologist because, Fleming said it was the dullest name he could think of. (Why he couldn't just make up a boring name, I don't know.) FYI, "dull" is not the criteria I used when naming Brooklyn Wainwright.

5. Fleming was 31 when he joined Naval Intelligence. His codename was 17F. Which does not possess quite the same cachet as double-0-7.

6. He started writing the first draft of Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel, in February 1952 and finished it in March. I confess, it takes me longer than a month to write a book, which is why I only release two per year. (One Bibliophile Mystery and one Fixer-Upper Mystery.)

7. A true bibliophile, Fleming founded a literary journal exclusively dedicated to book collecting, The Book Collector, which is still published today.

8. Fleming wrote a short story called "James Bond in New York," but instead of doing any top secret spy missions while in the Big Apple, Bond visits his favorite shops and restaurants. (Sounds exciting, doesn't it?) Fleming did this as a concession to American publishers who didn't want to publish his book of essays titled Thrilling Cities because Fleming was somewhat less than thrilled with NYC.

9. Fleming wrote all of his James Bond books at his home in Jamaica, which he named GoldenEye, after one of the operations he oversaw in British Naval intelligence during WWII.

And in case you knew all of those, here's an interesting Fleming-related fact about Sting, the rock-star frontman for The Police: Sting wrote 'Every Breath You Take' while vacationing at Fleming's estate in Jamaica—at the same desk. The lyrics certainly do sound like they're the soundtrack for a spy novel.

Every breath you take

Every move you make

Every bond you break

Every step you take

I'll be watching you

Did you catch "bond" in there? Do you think that's a coincidence? I don't.

To help celebrate the release of The Book Supremacy and its spy shop setting, I'm giving away handy little Bibliophile Mystery magnifiers, with lights and styluses. (Styli?) The giveaway will start on June 13. Join my mailing list so I can email you a reminder when the contest starts or, if you're reading this after June 13, head over to the Secret Room at KateCarlisle.com to see if the contest is still running.

So tell me, was I right when I said you definitely wouldn't know these facts about Ian Fleming? What is your opinion of James Bond? Do you get that view from the books, the movies, or both?

ABOUT THE BOOK SUPREMACY:


In the latest in this New York Times bestselling series, San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright investigates a mysterious spy novel linked to a string of murders...

Newlyweds Brooklyn and Derek are enjoying the final days of their honeymoon in Paris. As they're browsing the book stalls along the Seine, Brooklyn finds the perfect gift for Derek, a first edition James Bond novel, The Spy Who Loved Me. When they bump into Ned, an old friend from Derek’s spy days, Brooklyn shows him her latest treasure.

Once they're back home in San Francisco, they visit a spy shop Ned mentioned. The owner begs them to let him display the book Brooklyn found in Paris as part of the shop's first anniversary celebration. Before they agree, Derek makes sure the security is up to snuff—turns out, the unassuming book is worth a great deal more than sentimental value.

Soon after, Derek is dismayed when he receives a mysterious letter from Paris announcing Ned’s death. Then late one night, someone is killed inside the spy shop. Are the murders connected to Brooklyn's rare, pricey book? Is there something even more sinister afoot? Brooklyn and the spy who loves her will have to delve into the darkest parts of Derek's past to unmask an enemy who's been waiting for the chance to destroy everything they hold dear.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

THANK You Ms. Carlisle for joining us today!  I loved the James Bond  tidbits. Can't wait to read the book.


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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Review - Lost Books and Old Bones

From the author of multiple mystery series, Country Cooking School, Farmer's Market, Dangerous Type series comes the third in a new series comes The Scottish Bookshop Mystery Series.  I reviewed the debut book in the series, The Cracked Spine (click here) and the second book, Of Books and Bagpipes (click here).  Here is a rundown of the third book in the series.


Author: Paige Shelton

Copyright: April 2018 (Minataur) 320 pgs

Series: 3rd in Scottish Bookshop Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Delaney Nichols, Expat and new employee at The Cracked Spine specializing in hard-to-find books and artifacts

Setting: Modern day, Edinburgh Scottland

Obtained Through: Library

From the book cover:"Delaney Nichols, originally of Kansas but settling happily into her new life as a bookseller in Edinburgh, works at the Cracked Spine in the heart of town. The shop is a place filled with curiosities and surprises tucked into every shelf, and it’s Delaney’s job to research the rare tomes and obscure artifacts that people come to buy and sell. When her new friends, also students at the medical school, come to the shop to sell a collection of antique medical books, Delaney knows she’s stumbled across a rare and important find indeed. Her boss, Edwin MacAlister, agrees to buy the multi-volume set, perhaps even to keep for his own collection.

But not long after the sale, one of Delaney’s new friends is found murdered in the alley behind the Cracked Spine, and she wonders if there is some nefarious connection between the origin of these books and the people whose hands they fell into. Delaney takes it upon herself to help bring the murderer to justice. During her investigation, Delaney she finds some old scalpels in the bookshop’s warehouse— and discovers that they belonged to a long-dead doctor whose story and ties to the past crimes of Burke and Hare might be connected to the present-day murder. It’s all Delaney can do to race to solve this crime before time runs out and she ends up a victim on the slab herself."

Delaney Nichols, an American in Scotland is on the case when an acquaintance is murdered in the alley behind the bookstore.  Delaney's boss, Edwin MacAlister, remains just as secretive as before, and fellow bookstore employees Rosie and 19-year old Hamlet give the story warmth.  Tom is the bartender from across the street and the romantic interest who has to deal with an old girlfriend now a reporter dragging Delaney's name through the papers.  Elias is a cab-driver who is also Delaney's landlord who makes a good side kick. 

The local medical school in Edinburgh is used often as a setting and it works well for atmosphere.  There is no clear motive or any one suspect that stands out, so the investigation leads the reader along clue by clue and kept my interest.  A tense and suspenseful killer reveal topped it off and the wrap up was touching.

I consider this the best of series so far with a cleaver plot and interesting characters.  

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, May 27, 2019

Review - City of Secrets

This is the second novel in a new series by the bestselling author of the Gaslight mystery series with midwife Sarah Brandt and Detective Frank Malloy.  The first in the series, City of Lies, I reviewed (click here).  I finally got to reading this second in the series and I wasn't disappointed.

Author: Victoria Thompson

Copyright: Nov 2018 (Berkley) 320 pgs

Series: 2nd in Counterfeit Lady Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild with adult topics

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical cozy, historical amateur sleuth

Main Characters: Elizabeth Miles, smart and cunning con-artist using her skills to help people

Setting: 1917, Washington DC

Obtained Through: Library

From the cover: "Elizabeth Miles knows that honesty is not always the best policy when it comes to finding justice.

Elizabeth has discovered that navigating the rules of high society is the biggest con of all. She knows she can play the game, but so far, her only success is Priscilla Knight, a dedicated young suffragist recently widowed for the second time. Her beloved first husband died in a tragic accident and left her with two young daughters—and a sizable fortune. While she was lost in grief, Priscilla’s pastor convinced her she needed a man to look after her and engineered a whirlwind courtship and hasty marriage to fellow parishioner Endicott Knight. Now, about nine months later, Endicott is dead in what appears to be another terrible accident. 

Everyone is whispering, but that is the least of Priscilla’s troubles. She had believed Endicott was wealthy, too, but her banker tells her she has no money left and her house has been mortgaged. He also hints at a terrible scandal and refuses to help. 

Priscilla stands to lose everything, and Elizabeth is determined not to let that happen. But, as always, Elizabeth walks a fine line between using her unusual talents and revealing her own scandalous past. Elizabeth soon discovers that Endicott’s death was anything but accidental, and revealing the truth could threaten much more than Priscilla’s finances. To save her new friend’s future—and possibly her own—Elizabeth, along with her honest-to-a-fault beau, Gideon, delve into the sinister secrets someone would kill to keep."

Elizabeth Miles grew up in a family of con men and was taught how to grift and con so she would be able to take care of herself. Although she is reformed, she knows justice sometimes has to be dished out in unconventional ways.  Anna Vanderslice is a sweet and gentle lady who met Elizabeth when she was imprisoned with the suffragists demonstrating and looks up to her.  Mrs Bates is an older lady who takes Elizabeth under her wing and knows she isn't a legitimate society lady.  Gideon Bates, Mrs. Bates son and a lawyer, is Elizabeth's fiance.  His uptight lawyer side thought he could handle how Elizabeth grew-up and her shady past.  But, this outing forces him to face if his following the letter of the law and her bending of the law are compatible. These characters shine and draw you in.

Victoria Thompson always does an incredible job of bringing the early 1900s New York to vivid life.  She excels in this series at highlighting the social environment.  Such as referring to The Etiquette of Today by Mrs. Ordway that Elizabeth is studying to navigate the multitude of society rules.  Plus the lengths that are taken to keep any of the harsh realities of life from touching society women.

The initial plot quickly deepens and a ruthless, manipulative, and cold blooded killer is closer than Elizabeth could have imagined.  The story moves along at a quick pace I found it near impossible to put down.

There isn't a traditional killer reveal or killer confrontation.  Rather, once Elizabeth has figured out who is behind everything it becomes clear that it will be nearly impossible to turn person(s) responsible over without destroying the widow and her children in the process.  What results is a creative "Leverage" style climatic show down. The wrap up was heart warming and I loved it.

I appreciated the Leverage style climax.  Leverage was a TV Show where a band of cohorts act as modern-day Robin Hoods, pulling off elaborate scams  against the greedy and the corrupt.  It fits beautifully with Elizabeth and her particular talents.  Gideon and his personal growth were spot on for his character and I am very pleased with the chemistry between him and Elizabeth.  I can't think of a single improvement possible.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down and can't wait for the next. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend.



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