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Monday, August 2, 2021

Mystery Fill-in-the-Blank Game 8/2021



Let's play a 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 these books was.

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


1) A _________ for Death


2) A ________ to Murder


3) A __________ Justice


4) __________ and Desires


5) The _______ Tower


6)  The Murder _____


7) ___________ Causes


8) The ________ Patient


9) Death in ______ ________


10) Cover Her _______


The Author of all these books is: _____ _________




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Friday, July 30, 2021

Movie Review - Blowout





















Blowout (1981)
Directed by the great Brian De Palma

Jack Terry (John Travolta) is a movie sound effects technician from Philadelphia for horrible, exploitive b-movies that were the rage at the time of filming.  

Travolta's character is out late one night, on a bridge, recording owls and other night sounds for his job, when he witnesses an accident. It appears a car has a blowout, swerves off another bridge, and plunges into the river. Travolta dives in and rescues a girl (Sally) inside.  Later he discovers that the car's dead driver was a potential presidential candidate.

When he reviews the audio he recorded that night, he believes he actually captured audio evidence of an assassination of the presidential hopeful. A conspiracy takes center stage as Travolta's character begins to investigate what happened and his life is increasingly in danger.

The supporting cast includes John Lithgow and Dennis Franz. The film's tagline in advertisements was, "Murder has a sound all of its own".

Originally the movie received a few glowing reviews, but not across the board. The movie didn't do well at the box office initially, either.  But in 1994, director Quentin Tarantino noted how it was one of his favorite movies and it was largely why he cast Travolta in "Pulp Fiction".  Presto, the movie was born again to fresh eyes who say it has many merits. 

The striking and stylish visuals were filmed mostly at night. The main character of Jack and crash survivor Sally are well developed and wounded.  I have read some people consider this one of Travolta's best performances.

Interesting bit of trivia: during editing two reels of footage were stolen and had to be reshot to finish the film.

"And yet, the reputation of "Blow Out" has continued to grow in the 40 years since it first came out. While the technological aspects have certainly changed, the story has not aged at all—in an era in which people are more willing than ever to find conspiracy in everything, it now feels more in sync with the times than ever before and even the infamous finale feels like less of a shock. It remains a work of stunning cinematic craft from one of our greatest, if too often undervalued, filmmakers and while he has made any number of other great movies over the years, this is the one he deserves to be remembered for above all."  Peter Sobczynski 

My thoughts: I saw this when it was first in the theater and it stuck with me. I always thought it deserved more credit than it received then.  This is a wound tight thriller that has aged incredibly well as a conspiracy theory and suspenseful tale.  De Palma drew out depths from Travolta that were hidden before this.  I feel it is well worth a viewing and is a good thriller movie without a bunch of gore. It has a web of intrigue, well done characters, and a honed plot.  I recommend this movie for suspense thriller fans.

Movie Trailer: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgWfyFgEsO8






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Book Giveaway - A Peculiar Combination

 


GIVEAWAY PRIZE:

I have some extra hard copy books, so I am going to give one away here and there.  the first is A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver, hardbound book.  Click here for my review.

Book Blurb: "Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing, Ellie's cousins Colm and Toby are off fighting against Hitler, and Uncle Mick's more honorable business as a locksmith can't pay the bills any more.

So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in the empty house of a wealthy family, he and Ellie can’t resist. All goes as planned―until the pair are caught redhanded. Ellie expects them to be taken straight to prison, but instead they are delivered to a large townhouse, where government official Major Ramsey is waiting with an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints that will be critical to the British war effort, before they can be delivered to a German spy, or he turns her over to the police.

Ellie doesn’t care for the Major's imperious manner, but she has no choice, and besides, she's eager to do her bit for king and country. She may be a thief, but she's no coward. When she and the Major break into the house in question, they find instead the purported German spy dead on the floor, the safe already open and empty. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double-agent, as they try to stop allied plans falling into German hands."


Entry for giveaway lasts until Friday August 13th 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S.  entries only please.  

I will be shipping the book to the winners.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be an email subscriber to this blog***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.  ALL ENTRIES WITHOUT AN EMAIL ADDRESS ARE DISQUALIFIED.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until 6:00 p.m (MST) on  Aug 13, 2021.    I shall notify each winner via the email address you provided to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.  If I don't hear from you in 3 days, I will select another winner and notify them.

IF you are an email subscriber of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME an email subscriber of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.




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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Review - Smoke and Lies

I recently read where one person saw many correlations between this series and the Sebastian St. Cyr series by CS Harris.  I believe this is far more on the intrigue side and not as grim as Sebastian St. Cyr series that is a solid detective investigating sometimes gruesome murders.  I find this a welcome change when I don't want the darkness of Sebastian St. Cyr but rather the rush of political intrigue during the fascinating Napoleonic time period.

I have followed this series from the beginning: 

1 --SWEET REVENGE (click here)  

2 -- THE COCOA CONSPIRACY (click here), 

3 -- RECIPE FOR TREASON (click here)  

AUTHOR Interview -- (click here). 

Author: Andrea Penrose

Copyright: May 2018 388 pgs

Series: 4th in Lady Arianna Regency Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical suspense, amateur sleuth

Main Character: Lady Arianna Saybrook

Setting: 1814 London, at sea, Italia island of Elba

Obtained Through: personal purchase

Book Blurb: "Now that peace reigns in Europe and Napoleon has been exiled to the island of Elba, Lady Arianna and her husband, the Earl of Saybrook, are determined to put government sleuthing aside. But the head of British security has other ideas . . .

Rumors are rife that Napoleon may be plotting to take back the French throne and plunge the Continent into another war. So when Saybrook learns that his Spanish cousin has gone missing on the island under mysterious circumstances, he and Arianna feel they have no choice but to undertake a secret mission to Elba for the government and unravel the serpentine tangle of truth and lies.

Friend or Foe? From the start, they find themselves up against treachery and deceptions. And for Arianna, things become even more difficult when she encounters ghosts from her past, forcing her to make fundamental choices about love, loyalty, family and friendship. Once on Elba, she and Saybrook—along with some unexpected allies—must match wits with a deadly enemy and the great Napoleon himself. And with the clock ticking, all the last-minute machinations come down to a question of Luck . . ."

Arianna is a smart action oriented character, perfect for intrigue and improvisation as she dons disguises and chases shadows. She has a troubled past and many bad life experiences that come back to haunt her in this addition to the series.  Alessandro De Quincy, the Earl of Saybrook, is more of a forceful presence yet he has had his share of grief and difficulty in his life due to serving in war.  These two rely on each other as they can't trust their allies in this mission. One such ally is Lady Plessy-Moritz who clearly has an additional mission, and perhaps even her own ulterior motives at play.  Then there is Count von Wolfram, Wolf for short, a dangerous con man from Arianna's past also tasked to work with them but seemingly hiding something as well.  Plus an American Navy officer, Captain Hamilton, is a rocky ally since American and England have barely ended a war.

Ms. Penrose incorporates setting expertly.  They are at sea for a bit of the story and you feel salt air and waves tossing the ship.  Once on the Isle of Elba, the sense of eyes watching every move and ears listening to every breath is ever present.  Great job with the setting.

Nothing is quite what it is supposed to be. The journey by sea could have dragged, but rather it is filled with intrigue, this only gets more intense once they reach Elba.  The pacing builds towards the climax and is well done.

 The climax is filled with urgency, bravery, and perilous danger.  Everything I love as well as a few revelations.  Great job.  

I must say, I love the intrigue this series always delivers. It is my go to for a great historical suspense and the characters of Arianna and Saybrook I find very enjoyable.  This outing was filled with cloak and dagger and danger lurking all handled quite well.  Ms. Penrose is at the top of her game.  If you are looking for less gruesome murders and more spy master intrigue, this is the series for you.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

Here is a short video of Elba and Napoleon's time there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdV7drm5hIk




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Monday, June 28, 2021

Movie Review - Wait Until Dark



Wait Until Dark, a psychological thriller, started as a play before becoming a movie.  The original 1966 play starred Lee Remick and Robert Duvall.  Lee Remick was nominated for a Tony award for Best Actress in a play for her performance.  In 1998 the play had a successful revival with Marisa Tomei and Quentin Tarantino in the cast.

The Movie

In 1967, just one year after the play debuted, it was made into a movie starring the legendary Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna, and Efram Zimbalist Jr.  Rotten Tomatoes rated it a rare 96% with the consensus saying "Nail-bitingly tense and brilliantly acted, Wait Until Dark is a compact thriller that makes the most of its fiendishly clever premise."  Metacritic gave a weighted average score of 81 out of 100 saying it had universal acclaim.  Bravo included the movie in their 100 Scariest Movie Moments based on its climax (which was the only time I have ever screamed in a movie). The American Film Institute ranked it #55 in its top one hundred thriller movies.

Description

Recently blind urban wife Susy is adapting to life without sight when her photographer husband, Sam, unwittingly becomes a drug mule.  A woman in the airport convinces Sam to take her antique doll until she can collect it from him.  She had stolen Heroin and hid it in the doll.  She is later killed by the men she stole from.  Sam takes the doll home and waits for the woman to return and collect the doll. Sam is contacted for another photography job and must travel, leaving Susy alone with the cheated drug dealers after the doll.  Realizing she is blind, they try to trick and con her out of the doll. 

My Thoughts

This movie is certainly a nail biting thriller that ratchets up the suspense like Hitchcock.  The climax truly was the only time in my entire life I screamed - not from any gore but the wound-tight tension and surprise in the scene.  It is clearly dated with its mild drug traffickers when today's audiences are used to more violence and gore, but the masterful building of tension is timeless.  It reflects a more trusting time as well for Sam to take the doll in the first place.

I contend that this was Audrey Hepburn's absolute greatest acting, hands down.  This is more than a "woman in jeopardy" thriller.  It is a cat and mouse game in the plot.  But at its core it's about a blind, fearful woman learning she is stronger than she ever imagined and that her "disability" can be her strength.  If you haven't seen this movie at all, or recently, treat yourself to this well directed and acted thriller.  Let me know if you have a reaction to the climax, even a little!

Here is a short movie trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNWNJYRVKsk





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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Review - Danger at the Cove

 I didn't read the first book (Death at High Tide) in this series, but I jumped into this second book in the series that goes on sale August 17, 2021.


Author:
Hannah Dennison

Copyright: August 2021 (Minotaur) 304 pgs

Series: 2nd in Island Sisters Mystery series

Sensuality: very mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy mystery, amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Evie Mead, recent widow and overseer of a remote hotel  

Setting: Contemporary, Tregarrick Rock, one of the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall (SW England).

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book blurb: "Renovations on Tregarrick Rock Hotel are coming along, and Evie Mead thinks they just might be done by opening day. Then one of her sister Margot’s old Hollywood friends, Louise, arrives unannounced—and expecting VIP treatment.

Evie has half a mind to tell Louise to find other accommodations, but Margot pleads with Evie, saying that Louise—despite her upbeat and demanding attitude—is grieving her recently deceased husband. Evie pities her, and besides, the sisters need help. A simple rewiring project has resulted in a major overhaul of the hotel, and they’re way over budget. The small life insurance policy left to Evie by her own husband is gone, and they are desperate for funds. Margot believes that Louise, a marketing guru, can put the hotel on the map and give it the boost it needs.

But when a member of the hotel staff is found dead, and then another murder follows, the sisters’ plans crumble before their eyes. Who would do such a thing—and why? In a rollicking adventure involving a shipwreck filled with buried treasure, a dashing and mysterious Australian named Randy, and old rivalries stretching back to far before Evie and Margot ever set foot on the island, it’s all hands on deck to find the killer—and save the hotel."

Evie Mead is a gentle person, observes a lot, and is easy going. Her sister, Margot, seemed aggravating to me since she discounts Evie a bit. Louise, Margot's old California friend, is neurotic, simpering, and manipulative.  Louise's boyfriend is an Australian named Randy and he doesn't seem that interested in her. Then there are the employees and renovation workers.  I really want more of the cat, Mr. Tig, who is an Instagram sensation. Apparently the owner of the hotel, Mr. Cador, is hinted to like Evie but doesn't get but a couple pages at the end.   

One of the best aspects to this mystery is the setting of the island Scilly. The tides and storms add an element of danger and isolation. I look forward to seeing how that is further utilized in future books.

 An employee goes suspiciously missing, an old shipwreck filled with buried treasure that is now accessible, and Margot's old friend insisting on visiting before the resort is even ready to open and brings with her a boyfriend acting suspiciously.  That is the setup and it develops from there. There was plenty going on to keep my interest.

 It had a tense killer reveal, which I always appreciate. The wrap up is the official opening of the island hotel, paving the way for future mysteries.

I knew the killer early on as it seemed obvious to me. But the book took a winding path around with several misdirections. The cat, Mr. Tig, is featured on the cover, but usually just gets talked about without actually being part of the story.  Evie's romantic interest didn't show up until the final pages, I guess with her being a widow that aspect is really on the slow burner.  This is a light escape, perfect if you just want a break from the world without a demanding or complex story.

Rating: Good - A fun, entertaining read.

Here is a short video of the real Isles of Scilly 

(pronounced silly)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6rqkqVRTUg





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Monday, June 21, 2021

Character Guest Post: Julienne LaMere




     Hello there, this is my first guest post. Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I must say I’m surprised to be given such freedom. What if a character went wild in their post, dissed the writer, told all the little town secrets that would spoil a future story? Don’t worry, I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

      I guess you would like to know more about me? To really understand me, I should start with the event that shaped my life the most. My mother died when I was only thirteen. Well, two months before I turned thirteen. She had breast cancer and had the mastectomy surgery and then it was a year of treatments and medications. She wasn’t the same mom I had grown up with, and yet she was. It was a battle everyday for her to even get up some days. One in every eight women is diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I get my mammogram every year because of my mother and walk in the Susan G Komen Race in honor of my mom. At home, I always have an extra place setting at the dinner table in honor of my mother. Something my father started.

      Dad grieved and dealt with depression for months. When he came out of it, he poured himself into me. He was probably trying to make up for my loss or keep his sanity. He made sure I was involved in school activities and helped me with homework. My Aunt Regina stepped in to provide the womanly influence and I love her dearly for that. As I got older and started dating, dad became nearly obsessed with seeing me married to a man who could financially secure my future. I wanted a career in resort management so I could see the world. Not long ago, I got dad to confess that he wants grandkids now and since I’m an only child he has high expectations. I think I’m too much like my dad, we are both headstrong.

      I’m not into having children. I never played with baby dolls or felt those stirrings, even a teensy bit. I had to put my foot down with both my father and my former boyfriend. Speaking of Brandon, he is the best friend of my cousin Loring since high school. He treated my career dreams like a childish fantasy and expected me to stay in town and have his babies. Four children and a wife to share the load were his idea of heaven, but my idea of hell on earth. We broke up the night he proposed and laid out his plan for my future.

      That’s when Mason, my new neighbor at the time, swooped in for his chance with me. I’ll be honest, I nicknamed Mason "Bond Jr." because he was a casa nova. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m not into dating a lot and I shied away from Mason. But he made his intentions clear when he claimed he wasn’t a playboy anymore but was ready for a quality relationship.

      I have worked hard at the five-star Colorado Springs Resort. I started as a Customer Relations Agent at the reception desk and worked my way up to a management training program. It is my dream to manage resorts around the world so I can travel and experience the cultures and history of the world. Mason understands and respects that. He says he can take photographs anywhere in the world and pursue that dream while I pursue mine. My dad is still trying to adjust.

      That is pretty much the story of Julienne LaMere in a nutshell. Nothing special, just a girl with a dream and a boyfriend I still pinch myself over. Oh, and occasionally a murder happens at the resort and I help reveal who dunnit!

Arrowed: Resort to Murder IV




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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Review - The Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

#1 A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder (review-click here),  #2 A Lady's Guide to Gossip and Murder I read but didn't do a review, and now we are on #3 in the series which was an Agatha Award nominee!  The 4th in the series is due out this July 27.

Author: Dianne Freeman

Copyright: July 2020 (Kensington Books) 245 pgs

Series: 3rd in Countess of Harleigh Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy mystery, amateur sleuth

Main Characters:  Frances Wynn, the wealthy Countess of Harleigh- recently widowed

Setting: Victorian era, London and countryside, England

Obtained Through: Library

Book Blurb: "London is known for its bustle and intrigues, but the sedate English countryside can host—or hide—any number of secrets. Frances, the widowed Countess of Harleigh, needs a venue for her sister Lily’s imminent wedding, away from prying eyes. Risings, George Hazleton’s family estate in Hampshire, is a perfect choice, and soon Frances, her beloved George, and other guests have gathered to enjoy the usual country pursuits—shooting, horse riding, and romantic interludes in secluded gardens.

 But the bucolic setting harbors a menace, and it’s not simply the arrival of Frances’s socially ambitious mother. Above and below stairs, mysterious accidents befall guests and staff alike. Before long, Frances suspects these “accidents” are deliberate, and fears that the intended victim is Lily’s fiancĂ©, Leo. Frances’s mother is unimpressed by Lily’s groom-to-be and would much prefer that Lily find an aristocratic husband, just as Frances did. But now that Frances has found happiness with George—a man who loves her for much more than her dowry—she heartily approves of Lily’s choice. If she can just keep the couple safe from villains and meddling mamas.

 As Frances and George search for the culprit among the assembled family, friends, and servants, more victims fall prey to the mayhem. Mishaps become full-blooded murder, and it seems that no one is safe. And unless Frances can quickly flush out the culprit, the peal of wedding bells may give way to another funeral toll. . . ."

Frances Wynn is enjoying her life for the first time in her life.  Her sister, Lily, is about to wed for love but must move up the nuptials because of a bun-in-the-oven.  Frances' mother is one of those characters you love to hate, she is hell bent on her daughter's marrying titles, or at least big money.  Neighbor and a friend's brother, George Hazelton, is Frances' love interest and best sidekick. This shows what sort of man he is when his brother's servants show him tremendous respect.  

The main plot of accidents happening and Frances piecing together that there is more to them is supplemented with the family dynamics and undercurrents. Leo's sisters are handfuls and everyone works to keep them separated to avoid constant squabbles, both Frances and Lily attempt to dodge their mother because she is single minded about who each should marry and that doesn't include either Leo or George.  This gives a very real feeling of juggling a house full of people while there is something wrong taking place. This also kept my interest as accidents kept happening amidst the hub-bub.

 This had my favorite killer reveal, exciting and a little nail-biting suspense. Frances does figure it out, just in the barest nick-of-time to save a life.  The wrap ties up all loose ends and left a smile on my face.

Many of the historical mysteries have a slightly darker edge to them.  This is the exception with its more breezy writing style. It has a strong element of light-hearted humor, particularly between Frances and George. I have come to look forward to each new release of this series as a pleasant respite from the world. I highly recommend.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

Interview with the author:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbKquGJTxH8




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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Edgar Allan Poe Awards



The 75th Annual Edgar® Awards were celebrated on April 29, 2021 where they celebrated the 212th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, and the nominees for the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2020.

The winner in each category is denoted with double asterisks. 


BEST NOVEL

** Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara 
-- Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney 
-- Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman 
-- These Women by Ivy Pochoda 
-- The Missing American by Kwei Quartey 
-- The Distant Dead by Heather Young 

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

-- Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March 
** Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen 
-- Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas 
-- Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden 
-- Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

** When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole 
-- The Deep, Deep Snow by Brian Freeman 
-- Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey 
-- The Keeper by Jessica Moor 
-- East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman 

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL

-- Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the
Detection Club edited by Martin Edwards 

** Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane 

-- Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Erin E. MacDonald 

-- Guilt Rules All:  Irish Mystery, Detective, and Crime Fiction by Elizabeth Mannion & Brian Cliff 

-- This Time Next Year We’ll be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear 


BEST JUVENILE

** Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce 
-- Me and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi 
-- From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks 
-- Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor 
-- Nessie Quest by Melissa Savage 
-- Coop Knows the Scoop by Taryn Souders 

 BEST YOUNG ADULT

** The Companion by Katie Alender 
-- The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 
-- They Went Left by Monica Hesse 
-- Silence of Bones by June Hur 
-- The Cousins by Karen M. McManus 


 ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD

“The Bite,” Tampa Bay Noir by Colette Bancroft 


MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD

-- Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks 
** The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart 
-- The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day 
-- The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan 
-- Cold Wind by Paige Shelton 


SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD

-- The Burn by Kathleen Kent 
-- Riviera Gold by Laurie R. King 
** Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht 
-- Dead Land by Sara Paretsky 
-- The Sleeping Nymph by Ilaria Tuti 
-- Turn to Stone by James W. Ziskin 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners.  There should be something from everyone in this listing to read.




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Monday, June 7, 2021

Movie Review - Crypt of Tears, Change of mail service


First came the Australia-based historical mystery novels by Kerry Greenwood, then the television series, finally the movie.  The popular series about the personal and professional life of Phryne Fisher (played by Essie Davis), a glamorous private detective in 1920s Melbourne, was first broadcast on ABC on 24 February 2012.  The television series quickly garnered a strong fan base and has been aired in over 100 countries and territories.  

Going from television to the big screen: 
A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign was launched to raise funds for a film version of the popular television series (with the promise by Essie Davis that she was on board) on September 2017.  The Kickstarter campaign met its goal of $250,000 in less than 48 hours with excited fans donating what they could afford. Then, an additional ongoing crowdfunding campaign was begun through IndieGoGo in December 2017 to allow fans to continue supporting the effort.  Filming officially started in October 2018 and was wrapped by 27 November 2018.

Many donors got to have cameo appearances in the movie, mostly in the party scene as well as the author Kerry Greenwood who is sitting at a table with a bearded man getting their photo taken.

Movie description
After rescuing a young girl (Shirin) from her unjust imprisonment in Jerusalem, Phryne Fisher begins to unravel a mystery concerning priceless emeralds, ancient curses and the truth behind the suspicious disappearance of Shirin's forgotten tribe and two murders.  The adventure takes Phryne and Jack to Jerusalem, London, and the Palestinian dessert.

My thoughts:
The movie successfully makes the transition from a television mystery series to a dramatic movie mystery adventure.  Phryne Fisher is still flaunting 1920's notions of a woman's place in her stylish fashion and free-spirited attitude.  The relationship between Phryne and Inspector Jack Robinson picks up several months after the last television episode, which is a big bonus for fans of the show.  The film removes Phryne from Melbourne Australia and puts her on more of a global backdrop.  There is more action and more danger in the film.  This Phryne is a smidgeon of Indiana Jones adventure mixed into her television persona for a bigger and bolder production.  There are two murders to solve and a curse to end.  This is a fun movie to indulge in for the sheer fun of Phryne and Jack on a grand adventure.  A "must" for fans and for those wanting a fast paced mystery adventure.


The official movie trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ1JC9ue8Y8


NOTICE:
The regular blog email service (Feedburner) is being discontinued.  I have transferred all the email subscriptions for this blog to Follow.it




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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Review - A Peculiar Combination

 I love starting at the beginning of a series, so I am tickled to introduce a new series.  This is a historical intrigue series set in WWII with a safe-cracking thief as the heroine.  The author has written the Amory Ames Mysteries that I have reviewed (#1 Murder at Brightwell click here) and the author did a guest post here (click here.)

Author: Ashley Weaver

Copyright: May 2021 (Minotaur Books) 304 pgs

Series: 1st in Electra McDonnell Intrigue series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: historical Suspense, amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Electra McDonnell, a safe-cracking thief aiding the war effort 

Setting: 1942 London during WWII

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest opinion

Book Blurb: "Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing, Ellie's cousins Colm and Toby are off fighting against Hitler, and Uncle Mick's more honorable business as a locksmith can't pay the bills any more.

So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in the empty house of a wealthy family, he and Ellie can’t resist. All goes as planned―until the pair are caught redhanded. Ellie expects them to be taken straight to prison, but instead they are delivered to a large townhouse, where government official Major Ramsey is waiting with an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints that will be critical to the British war effort, before they can be delivered to a German spy, or he turns her over to the police.

Ellie doesn’t care for the Major's imperious manner, but she has no choice, and besides, she's eager to do her bit for king and country. She may be a thief, but she's no coward. When she and the Major break into the house in question, they find instead the purported German spy dead on the floor, the safe already open and empty. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double-agent, as they try to stop allied plans falling into German hands."

Electra, orphaned and raised by her uncle, is witty, smart, and has a caring heart. Uncle Mick is willy, smart, and a survivor. Felix Lacey is a life long friend of the family who is home from war due to an injury and wants a relationship with Electra.  Major Ramsey is military stiff and regimented who softens a teensy bit with Electra.  Nacy is their housekeeper who has a nurturing nature. She is a great character and I look forward to more of her. 

I really liked this concept and the author did a great job of the intrigue.  The characters are wonderfully developed and the plot kept me engaged.  This has a lighter feel than you might expect for an intrigue novel, since it is partly a cozy mystery too.  I am looking forward to seeing where this series will go.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.


Here is an interview with Ashley Weaver on the book:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyPf4AuCoeo




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Monday, May 31, 2021

Mystery Movie - Crooked House



This is an Agatha Christie mystery without Miss Marple or Hercules Poirot and I think it is the best of her works.    “Writing Crooked House was pure pleasure and I feel justified in my belief that it is one of my best.” (Agatha Christie)

The 2017 movie of Crooked House is a mystery film directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, based on Agatha Christie’s 1949 novel of the same name.  The movie stars Glen Close and Gillian Anderson.

"In this classic Agatha Christie detective story, former diplomat Charles Hayward has returned from Cairo to London to become a private detective. When Aristide Leonides, a wealthy and ruthless tycoon, is poisoned in his own bed, Detective Hayward is invited to solve the crime. As the investigation deepens he must confront the shocking realization that one of the key suspects is Aristede's beautiful granddaughter, his employer and former lover; and must keep a clear head to navigate the sultry Sophia and the rest of her hostile family."

This film has lots of atmosphere combined with a secretive and eccentric family for a creepy feel.  The conclusion is a bit of a shock.  It is well done and reminds me of some of Hitchcock's best work. A must see for Christie fans, and mystery fans in general.

If you have seen this movie, please share your thoughts.

Here is the movie trailor:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfLpwich4AE





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Friday, May 28, 2021

Review - Murder at Blackwater Bend

Stella Kendrick, a wild-hearted Kentuckian "Dollar Princess" shipped off to England for an aristocratic marriage and her soon-to-be groom Viscount "Lyndy" Lyndhurst must navigate culture clashes, scandal, and a high society killer in Clara McKenna's second historical mystery set in England's New Forest region at the turn of the 20th century.

I reviewed the first in the series, Murder at Morrington Hall (click here).   Now is time for the second book.  Is it as good as the first? Better?  Read on to find out.

Author:
Clara McKenna

Copyright: April 2021 (Kensington) 352 pgs

Series: 2nd in Stella & Lyndy Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: historical cozy, amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Stella Kendrick, Kentucky heiress shipped to England to marry a Viscount sight unseen. 

Setting: 1905, Hampshire England

Obtained Through: Library

Book blurb: "Wild-hearted Kentuckian Stella Kendrick cautiously navigates the strict demands of British high society as the future Lady of Morrington Hall. But when petty scandals lead to bloody murder, her outspoken nature could be all that keeps her alive...

Following a whirlwind engagement to Viscount "Lyndy" Lyndhurst, Stella is finding her footing within an elite social circle in picturesque rural England. Except tea time with refined friends can be more dangerous than etiquette faux pas--especially in the company of Lady Philippa, the woman Lyndy was once set to marry, and her husband, the ostentatious Lord Fairbrother...

Outrage erupts and accusations fly after Lord Fairbrother's pony wins best in breed for the seventh consecutive year. The man has his share of secrets and adversaries, but Stella and Lyndy are in for a brutal shock when they discover his body floating in the river during a quiet morning fishing trip...

Suddenly unwelcome around hardly-grieving Lady Philippa and Lyndy's endlessly critical mother, Stella faces the bitter reality that she may always be an outsider--and one of her trusted new acquaintances may be a calculating killer. Now, Stella and her fiancé must fight against the current to catch the culprit, before they're the next couple torn apart by tragedy."

Stella Kendrick is smart, free spirited, stubborn, and independent with scars from her father's ill treatment of her.  Mr. Elijah Kendrick, Stella's cold hearted, self-centered father is a self-made millionaire, who is uncouth and rude.  Viscount Lord Lyndhurst, Lyndy, is the intended groom who is marrying Stella for her money to save the family - but he has fallen for her in truth.  The Earl and Lady Atherly are Lyndy's parents. Lady Atherly is an insufferable snob who can't stand Stella. Lord Atherly is kind and just loves his expensive archeology hobby.  A rather rough man known as the snake-catcher helps Stella several times with his amateur veterinarian skills on her beloved horse.  He gets mixed up in the killer's net. 

The setting is New Forest, the former royal hunting grounds for King William the Conqueror centuries prior.  In particular the streams where Lyndy attempts to teach Stella to  fish.  The wild areas are used for many scenes.

The story is setup first introducing many of the characters for this story. The murder is just one aspect, there is Lyndy's mother scheming to marry Lyndy off to somebody else who has money but is "proper". Another subplot is Stella's loyalty to her unlikely friend, the snake-catcher. Another subplot is Stella's father's involvement with an opportunistic reporter much younger than himself.  There are many suspects and Lord Fairbrother turns out to have many haters.  The story had many interesting aspects to keep my flipping the pages.
 
The climax is realistic with the police supporting Stella and Lyndy as they confront the killer.  Well done. All the questions are answered and the wrapup shows some progress for Stella.

This is a great addition to the series and shows even more of Stella and Lyndy's growing relationship based on regard and affection for one another rather than money.  The mystery was solid with several facets of the investigation and layers of what was happening.  This is a fun historical mystery if you don't mind family drama.  I am rather done with Stella's horrible father.  Otherwise this is a well done historical cozy mystery.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

A year in the New Forest highlights the beauty 
of the novel's setting.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJ1nHXsmtcQ








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Monday, May 24, 2021

2021 ANTHONY AWARD NOMINEES ANNOUNCED





The Anthony Awards are given at each annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention with the winners selected by attendees. The award is named for the late Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White), well-known writer and critic from the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times, who helped found the Mystery Writers of America. The Anthony Awards will be presented at Bouchercon New Orleans on August 28, 2021. Our congratulations to all the nominees.

Best Hardcover Novel
  ° What You Don’t See by Tracy Clark 
  ° Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby 
  ° Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier
  ° And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall 
  ° The First To Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best First Novel
  ° Derailed by Mary Keliikoa
  ° Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March
  ° Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer 
  ° The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman 
  ° Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden 

Best Paperback Original/E-Book/Audiobook Original Novel
  ° The Fate of a Flapper by Susanna Calkins
  ° When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole (on my TBR)
  ° Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey
  ° The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day
  ° Dirty Old Town by Gabriel Valjan

Best Short Story
  ° “Dear Emily Etiquette” by Barb Goffman
  Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
  ° “90 Miles” by Alex Segura
  Both Sides: Stories from the Border
  ° “The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74” by Art Taylor
  Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
  ° “Elysian Fields” by Gabriel Valjan
  California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology
  ° “The Twenty-Five Year Engagement” by James W. Ziskin
  In League with Sherlock Holmes

Best Juvenile/Young Adult
  ° Midnight at the Barclay Hotel by Fleur Bradley
  ° Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce
  ° From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
  ° Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco by Richard Narvaez
  ° Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall by Alex Segura

Best Critical or Nonfiction Work
  ° Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy by Leslie Brody
  ° American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI by Kate Winkler Dawson
  ° Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club edited by Martin Edwards
  ° The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia by Emma Copley Eisenberg
  ° Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane
  ° Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession edited by Sarah Weinman

Best Anthology or Collection
  ° Shattering Glass: A Nasty Woman Press Anthology edited by Heather Graham
  ° Both Sides: Stories from the Border edited by Gabino Iglesias
  ° Noiryorican by Richie Narvaez
  ° The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell edited by Josh Pachter
  ° California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology edited by Art Taylor
  ° Lockdown: Stories of Crime, Terror, and Hope During a Pandemic edited by Nick Kolakowski and Steve Weddle
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