You wouldn’t know it from her lighthearted and clever cozies, but bestselling author T.C. (Toni) LoTempio started out writing horror. After realizing that, with the notable exception of Stephen King, there wasn’t much of a market for horror, she turned her considerable skills toward mysteries.
It seemed a natural progression; while LoTempio neither commits nor solves murders in real life, she has had a lifelong love of mysteries that began with the Nancy Drew classic The Secret in the Old Attic. She began honing her writing skills early as well, changing the endings of her books and comics if she didn’t like how they turned out.
With a bit of uncredited help from her cat ROCCO, she penned the Nick and Nora mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, followed by the Cat Rescue Mysteries published by Crooked Lane. In true cozy fashion, the books sometimes include recipes, like the one named for Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman and made from horseradish, cheese, and thinly sliced beef on an Italian hoagie bun.
Asked which writers have influenced her writing, she says, “I’ve definitely been influenced from a young age by the Nancy Drew mysteries. I think I’ve read almost every girl sleuth series around, from Trixie Belden to Judy Bolton and everything in between. And I’m a big fan of today’s cozy mystery authors, particularly Laura Childs and Miranda James.”
Toni agreed to chat with The Big Thrill about her new release, a Cat Rescue mystery called DEATH BY A WHISKER.
The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery . . .
It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Café has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the café early one morning.
As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects—and they’re all buzzing mad. She’ll have to use all of her skills—and her Southern charm—to find her way out of this sticky situation…
HONEY-BAKED HOMICIDE author Gayle Leeson stopped by The Big Thrill to discuss her latest mystery:
What seemed to be a fairly harmless prank takes a sinister turn when Daisy stumbles upon the body of Wally Stone, the mansion’s manager, who had set a trap for the culprit and was murdered for his trouble. This was clearly no apparition’s doing.
Once again, sisters Daisy and Rose Forrest find themselves up to their eyeballs in all sorts of shenanigans – chasing ghosts, holding séances, searching for priceless Revere silver, and losing a Japanese tourist or two along the way – as they search for a ruthless killer.
Penny Clover Petersen took time out of her busy schedule to meet with The Big Thrill and discuss the latest installment of her Daisy & Rose Mystery Series, PUSHING UP DAISIES:
Author Patricia McLinn’s latest Caught Dead in Wyoming installment BACK STORY keeps her characters in the state for which the series is named—but the author writes in several genres, and sets her stories all over the world.
It seems fitting, then, to start her interview with The Big Thrill on a question of geographical importance:
What are some tips for producing the local flavor without being clichéd?
I love—as a reader and an author—having a character who’s new to the setting of the book. That lets the reader experience the setting as a newcomer, too. They notice and experience things that the natives take for granted. They also stumble across things that the natives take with aplomb. Years ago, a friend and I stepped off a cable car in the Alps. The ground was snow-packed. We walked maybe ten feet and realized that behind us, people from our group were falling as soon as they reached the snow. The difference? My friend was from Canada and I grew up in Northern Illinois. We had automatically adjusted the way we moved. The people behind us, from Malaysia and Hong Kong, didn’t know to do that.
Many authors have written both crime and romance. What do you find are the similarities between the two genres?
Interesting question. As authors, we often talk more about differences in genre than similarities. Both crime and romance revolve around basic human urges—for safety/justice in the case of crime novels and for connection in the case of romance. Not only basic urges, but positive ones.
On a less high-faluting level, for me—as an author and as a reader—the essence is characters. In both romance and mystery, I want to experience a story through characters I enjoy spending time with. So, for both kinds of stories, I aim to create characters a reader can empathize with, can be comfortable with and can respect.
In continuing her career-makeover quest as a for-real detective, ex-teen and reality star Maizie Albright has a big learning curve to overcome. Her chosen mentor, Wyatt Nash of Nash Security Solutions, would rather stick Maizie with a safe desk job. But Maizie’s got other plans to help Nash. When a major movie producer needs a babysitter for his hot mess starlet, Maizie eagerly takes the job. But when her starlet appears dead and then not dead, Maizie’s got more than an actress to watch and a missing corpse to find. Maizie’s hunting a killer who may be a celebrity stalker. And Maizie might be the next celebrity who gets snuffed.
Author Larissa Reinhart was kind enough to spend some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, 16 MILLIMETERS:
Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.
Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families… including her own.
When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries.
A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS author, Victoria Gilbert, stopped by The Big Thrill to discuss her new release:
By Wendy Tyson
New York Times bestselling author Lynn Cahoon first introduced us to former English professor Cat Latimer in A Story to Kill. Now Cat, who runs a writers’ retreat in the Victorian she inherited from her ex-husband, is back in OF MURDER AND MEN. In this newest installment of Cahoon’s popular cozy series, Cat’s business partner’s wealthy beau is found dead in the horse barn, and it’s up to Cat to manage a group of aspiring authors while trying to catch a killer.
The Big Thrill sat down with Cahoon to talk about her latest novel, the appeal of the cozy genre, and the importance of writing communities.
Congratulations on the recent release of OF MURDER AND MEN. No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
There’s a bit of a power struggle between Cat’s best friend and her first love, with Cat in the middle. And an ex-Alaskan cop may get more than words done during her retreat.
What attracted you to the cozy subgenre?
I was going through breast cancer treatments ten years ago. The one good thing about cancer is you have a lot of time to think or read. I did both, but as I scoured my library shelves, I found I enjoyed mysteries. Not ones with lots of gore or action, but instead, these community-based books where I could visit a new place or bond with new imaginary friends. That’s when I found the cozy genre. I started writing Guidebook to Murder a few years later and fell in love with writing cozies as well as reading them.
Celebrated glass artist Dennis Lansing is returning to St. Petersburg, Florida, for an exhibit at the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum. His unique style of embedding document images in his art is at the vanguard of contemporary glasswork. But as Savannah’s first boyfriend and a former apprentice to her father, Dennis’s return home has her reflecting on the past—a trip down memory lane that takes a dark turn when Dennis is found murdered at the museum with an old reference letter from her father in his pocket. A search through her father’s records sheds new light on Dennis’s history, but it seems his present life wasn’t so transparent either. Now, with a gallery of suspects to consider, it’s up to Savannah to figure out who fits the mold of a murderer.
The Big Thrill recently caught up to author Cheryl Hollon to discuss her latest release, ETCHED IN TEARS:
By Dan Levy
The daughter of a writer, Dr. Ines Eberl spent her formative years in Berlin, Germany and Paris, France, rich backdrops for any thriller writer. For her eighth novel, SOUND OF MURDER, Eberl opts for Austria, with the Alps as a backdrop to create a page-turned meant to enlist all of her readers’ senses.
In this interview with The Big Thrill, Ines shares a bit of her writing journey, and the inspiration behind her thrilling new release.
What started you writing eight novels ago?
I’m fascinated by the freedom of an artist to create a new world. And as I create a virtual world, I begin to understand the real one. I’ve always been a seeker and my curiosity is never satisfied. I am the daughter of a writer, and I grew up in the world of books, words, and languages. So, the circle of life now has been closed. It’s in my genes. I’m a born writer.
By Terri Nolan
Author Lane Stone splits her time between the D.C. area and Lewes, Delaware. STAY CALM and COLLIE ON is set in Lewes, a town with a real-life population a smidgen over 3,000— a number that might suggest that the locals all know each other. Stone capitalizes on her knowledge of the town and roots much of the action in actual locations. One can easily imagine her characters walking down the street among the tourists.
Characters like Stone’s protagonist, Sue Patrick. Patrick is co-owner of Buckingham Pet Palace, an upscale dog daycare and spa. Her business partner is Lady Anthea Fitzwalter, a proper Brit with a sly wit. Together, the two have a savvy and successful business model–despite never having met in person. But that’s about to change.
Lady Anthea arrives in town for a stay that will conclude with the Pet Parent Appreciation Gala at week’s end. The town is abuzz. But even the best laid plans can’t prevent anticipation from going sideways when a murder occurs.
Now Buckingham Pet Palace’s reputation is on the line when their driver is murdered and a swift moving rumor threatens the presumed success of the gala. The two women who have just met must now team up to save their business—and perhaps catch a killer.
Living on a farm with four hundred goats and a cantankerous carnivore isn’t among vegan chef Brie Hooker’s list of lifetime ambitions. But she can’t walk away from her Aunt Eva after the dairy’s pot-bellied pig unearths a skull. The skull belongs to Eva’s husband, who disappeared years before, and the sheriff, kin to the deceased, sets out to pin the murder on Eva. He doesn’t reckon on Brie’s resolve to prove her aunt’s innocence.
Death threats, ruinous pedicures, psychic shenanigans, and biker bar fisticuffs won’t stop Brie from unmasking the killer, even when romantic befuddlement throws her a curve.
Author Linda Lovely recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her novel, BONES TO PICK:
A trip to the Cotswolds turns into a brush with death for Pru Parke, the only gardener whose holiday wouldn’t be complete without a murder to solve. Pru is invited to redesign an arts and crafts garden, and she and her husband, former Detective Chief Inspector Christopher jump at the chance for a getaway. Unfortunately, the once thriving garden has fallen into heartbreaking neglect. When Pru stumbles upon the owner’s body in the garden – dead and pinned beneath one of his limestone statues – Pru’s work on the garden turns up one ominous clue after another, and she discovers that the scenery is more dangerous than she or Christopher could have anticipated.
Bestselling author Marty Wingate was kind enough to discuss her latest novel, BEST-LAID PLANTS, with The Big Thrill:
When hairstylist Marla Vail’s best friend is hurt in a suspicious car accident, Marla assumes guardianship of her infant son. No sooner does Marla say, “Baby want a bottle?” than she’s embroiled in another murder investigation. Her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, determines the crash may not have been an accident after all. But then, who would want Tally–or Ken in the car with her–out of the way? As Marla digs deeper into her friends’ lives, she realizes she didn’t know them as well as she’d thought. Nonetheless, it’s her duty as their son’s guardian to ensure his safety, even if it means putting her own life at risk. Can she protect the baby and find the culprit before someone else ends up as roadkill?
Award-winning author Nancy J. Cohen spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, HAIR BRAINED:
When Charity Penn receives a letter saying she won a trip to Camellia Beach, South Carolina complete with free cooking lessons at the town’s seaside chocolate shop, the Chocolate Box, she’s immediately skeptical. She never entered the contest. Her former prep school friend offers to look into the phony prize—only to end up drowned in a vat of chocolate.
Struck with guilt, Penn heads to the southern beach town to investigate why he was killed. But as wary as she is of the locals, she finds herself lured into their eccentric vibe, letting her defenses melt away and even learning the art of crafting delicious chocolates. That is, until delight turns bittersweet as she steps straight into the midst of a deadly plot to destroy the seaside town. Now, only Penn’s quick thinking and a mysterious cask of rare chocolate can save the town she’s learning to love.
Dorothy St. James, author of the The Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries, recently spoke with The Big Thrill about her latest release, ASKING FOR TRUFFLE:
After the success of Nearly Dead in Iowa, USA Today bestselling author Wendy Byrne is back with her sequel, DOUBLE TROUBLE IN IOWA. Amateur sleuth and artist Izzy Lewis returns to unravel another murder mystery and Byrne has taken time out to tell The Big Thrill about the attraction of this unlikely investigator.
“I love strong female characters, so wanted her to be strong, but floundering at times. I thought it would be interesting to have her be in a fish-out-of-water scenario walking into a place that is vastly different than what she’d become accustomed to. I loved Izzy’s character as well as her unlikely crime solving buddies, the Qs. I kept thinking about other mysteries they could solve and left some unanswered questions for follow-up books.”
Her “unlikely crime solving buddies” or, as Byrne calls them, the Jessica Fletcher wannabes, help Izzy unravel the mysteries and secrets in the story, but they bring an additional dynamic to the book we don’t often see in cozy mysteries.
“I liked the idea of breaking stereotypes and having her senior citizen lady friends be the risk takers and push Izzy to do things she might have been afraid of doing. I wanted to turn the tables and have her be the conservative one of the bunch,” Byrne says. This is never more so apparent than when they track down an informant in Hell’s Tavern, a broken-down trailer masquerading as a bar, and the older ladies encourage Izzy to take risks – causing much mayhem thereafter.
It’s Oktoberfest in Pittsburgh, and brew pub owner Maxine “Max” O’Hara is prepping for a busy month at the Allegheny Brew House. To create the perfect atmosphere for the boozy celebration, Max hires an oompah band. But when one of the members from the band turns up dead, it’s up to Max to solve the murder before the festivities are ruined.
Adding to the brewing trouble, Candy, Max’s friend, is acting suspicious… Secrets from her past are fermenting under the surface, and Max must uncover the truth to prove her friend’s innocence. Making matters worse, Jake’s snooty ex-fiancée shows up in town for an art gallery opening, and she’ll be nothing but a barrel of trouble for Max.
The Big Thrill spent some time with award-winning author Joyce Tremel discussing her latest mystery, A ROOM WITH A BREW:
If you haven’t already discovered how much fun a couple of baby boomer amateur sleuths can be, it’s time to find out. Check out Susan Santangelo’s latest novel, DIETING CAN BE MURDER.
The story begins when Carol Andrews notices that she’s gained a few extra pounds during her second honeymoon with her husband, Jim. She joins Tummy Trimmers, a new, holistic approach to weight loss, but her plan is interrupted by another group member, who collapses on Carol and dies, right after completing a meditation exercise.
Carol and Jim Andrews are the stars of the Baby Boomer Mystery Series. Jim, a retired executive from a major New York City public relations company, has been married to Carol for more than 35 years and they have two adult children. Jim now writes a column for the weekly newspaper in their hometown of Fairport, CT—but Carol is the real amateur sleuth.
“She’s very approachable and a good listener, so people tell her the darndest things,” Santangelo says. “She’s very curious—some people even call her nosy. She may ask you a lot of questions about your job, so be careful what you tell her.”
Basically, Carol and Jim are really just an ordinary long-married couple of a “certain” age who happen to become involved in solving mysteries. So when the evidence points to murder at Tummy Trimmers, the ever-curious Carol can’t resist adding sleuthing to her personal weight loss routine.
Sofie Kelly took a roundabout path to becoming the New York Times bestselling author of the Magical Cats mysteries.
“I was a young adult author first, but I was a voracious reader of mysteries—everything from cozies to suspense,” she says.
Even while she was publishing books for teens, she was working on multiple mysteries, most notably the Second Chance Cat mystery series she writes as Sofie Ryan.
Sofie’s books add a new twist to the cat mystery. Her feline sleuths, Owen and Hercules, have a knack for solving crime that is literally magical. “The series brings together a lot of my favorite things,” she says. “I’m a cat person. I like small towns. I like the idea of a little magic in life—although I’d probably faint if I saw a cat walk through a wall.”
Since every cat lover knows cats are a little bit magical, Sofie didn’t have to look far for the supernatural abilities she attributes to her mischievous crime-solvers. “Every cat owner has a story about their cat ending up somewhere unexpected. It didn’t seem like that big a stretch to suggest maybe there’s something magical about the way a cat can seemingly disappear when you’ve only turned your head for a second.”
Jean Harrington is an established author in murder mystery writing. Her tongue-in-cheek cozy mysteries, published by Carina Press and Camel Press, are a must-have beach item this summer. Harrington took some time to talk to me about her latest book, MURDER ON PEA PIKE, a mystery thriller with a witty twist.
In a break from Harrington’s Murders by Design series set in Florida, MURDER ON PEA PIKE, the first in her Listed and Lethal Series, is inspired by a country girl moving to a big city and trying to establish herself in a new life. Unlikely hero Honey Ingersoll is trying to pull herself out of poverty. Her effort and failure mirrors her attempts to solve the mysteries she encounters, but in eventually solving them, Honey unravels more of her own problems.
“It’s pretty much a given that readers of mystery-thrillers are also fans of puzzles. So with Honey Ingersoll as the unlikely sleuth, the question isn’t only ‘who dunnit’ but also: how can a girl like Honey possibly solve the crime? Watching her do so, against the odds, is a big part of her appeal,” Harrington says.
Honey relocates to Eureka Falls, a fictional town in Arkansas, giving Harrington the creative freedom to invent her setting against the familiar backdrop of a great natural landscape and traditional American values. Honey snags a job with realtor Sam Ridley, but is Ridley everything he seems? During the sale of an abandoned warehouse, Honey encounters her first crime—murder. This marks the first in a series of murders and surrounding mysteries that Honey must unravel.
Born into the wealthy Simpson family, free-spirited Willow is determined to make her own way in life. Cooking is her one true love, and she is content to keep it that way. Romance has never been on her agenda, but she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a deliciously decadent love triangle. With two gorgeous men vying for her attention, she vows to keep her distance from both, but the tantalizing chemistry is hard to ignore.
Unfortunately, it seems that someone wants to get rid of Willow, making her already tricky situation that much more difficult. One crazy night changes everything, and Willow’s life is turned upside down. Between thwarting her own murder plot, keeping her divinely tasty admirers at bay, and trying to stay on the good side of her finicky cat, Omelet, Willow’s plate is full. With far too many cooks in the kitchen, will she be able to stay alive long enough to figure out who wants to kill her?
Author Heidi Renee Mason spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, LOVE AT FIRST CREPE:
The Agatha-Award winning Food Lovers Village Mysteries return with Treble at the Jam Fest.
Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.
Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident—or did someone even the score?
Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.
Award-winning author, Leslie Budewitz, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest Food Lovers Village Mystery, TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST:
While off to a promising start, the weekend quickly goes awry as murder interrupts the fun and the hostess is accused of the shocking crime. Izzy quickly realizes it is up to her to save her innocent friend and bring the murderer to light.
Keen intuition and quick wit are Izzy’s only tools. She must use them to find the dark truth before the killer brings her investigation to a dead stop…
The Big Thrill recently had the opportunity to discuss THE GIRLS’ WEEKEND MURDER with author, Lynn McPherson:
When Elaine’s housekeeper and crackpot filthy rich cousin descend on Giulia and demand she find out who’s trying to steal sweet, fragile Elaine’s family business out from under her, that’s a different story. They want DI to provide Tarot readings, ghost hunting sessions, and even an exorcism.
Ghost hunting? There are apps for that. Tarot readings? Experts in the skill are right across the street. Exorcisms? Having a priest for a brother-in-law comes in handy. Giulia plunges into a crash course in all things supernatural, convinced everything happening to Elaine is stagecraft.
Except when it isn’t. Giulia’s about to discover a new dimension to sleuthing, if she can survive attempted murder long enough to see through the web of lies around her client.
Former nun-turned-author, Alice Loweecey, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest cozy mystery, THE CLOCK STRIKES NUN:
Lacy Marie Crocker’s whimsical pet couture has gained a following in New Orleans’s cozy Garden District, and word of mouth has traveled all the way to her favorite fashion designer, Annie Lane. Lacy’s thrilled when Annie schedules a private session at her home to discuss a companion line for her evening wear, but when Lacy arrives for the appointment, she enters the kitchen to two mewling Siamese cats–and one very dead Annie.
Lacy takes the kittens home to care for them until they can be properly claimed by Annie’s family or friends, but after a busy day of work, she returns home to find them missing. And when Lacy learns the cats are set to inherit Annie’s fortune, she begins to wonder if the killer was after the kittens all along. Now Lacy will stop at nothing to save the Siamese and find justice for Annie–if the killer doesn’t sink his claws into her first.
Luckily, Lacy has the help of handsome NOLA PD homicide detective Jack Oliver to help her catch the cat-napper before its too late in Cat Got Your Cash, the endearing second Kitty Couture mystery from Julie Chase.
CAT GOT YOUR CASH author, Julie Chase, sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest novel:
Philomela Nightingale visits her sister in the town of Saltaire. While coping with a thieving museum volunteer and a charlatan psychic, the two women become involved with an identity theft, a hit-and-run car accident, and a murder. Will Philomela’s powers of observation and intuition be strong enough for her to help the police solve these serious puzzles?
The Big Thrill had a chance to speak with author Benni Chisholm about SHOWMAN OR SHAMAN:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope they enjoy light entertainment and feel good after finishing the book. If they glean a bit of new information, that is a bonus.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
It will provide pleasant, escape reading while the reader also solves the puzzle of whodunit. Hopefully tid-bits of new information will be passed on to the reader.
Was the strange email her husband received from the fictional detective in their mystery series a threat? Did the killer mistake the woman shot in the library for Alicia or the victim’s twin sister?
Cat vs. Dog . . .
After Sneaky goes missing from the library, will he turn up before a young girl becomes ill with worry over his disappearance? And will he return in time to outsmart Fido by being first to find the perpetrator’s smoking gun?
Alicia is worried . . .
While waiting for the killer’s next move, Alicia has other concerns. An old flame of John’s is in town and her friend, Gilly, has adopted the role of Miss Marple to aid her sheriff boyfriend in his investigation.
When all clues point to one of her co-workers, Alicia joins Gilly in searching for the answers to the mystery.
Will they survive . . . . or is their ending written in stone?
Author Debbie De Louise discussed her latest novel, WRITTEN IN STONE, with The Big Thrill:
By Wendy Tyson
Canadian author Vicki Delany last sat down with The Big Thrill in December, during the release of her holiday-themed mystery We Wish You a Murderous Christmas. This time Delany is back with ELEMENTARY, SHE READ, the first in a delightful new series featuring Gemma Doyle, the owner of a bookstore in Cape Cod that specializes in all things Sherlock Holmes. Like the great fictional detective, Gemma, a transplanted Englishwoman, uses heightened powers of deduction to root out evil intentions and solve murders.
I had the pleasure of talking with Delany about her new Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, her thoughts on the cozy genre, and the importance of networking for writers.
ELEMENTARY, SHE READ is a fresh, smart, engaging whodunit with an interesting premise: an amateur sleuth (Gemma Doyle) not only owns the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium but also has impressive detective skills in her own right. What was the inspiration for this new series?
There isn’t much hotter in popular culture these days than Sherlock Holmes; people can’t seem to get enough of him, so when I was looking for an inspiration for a new series, I intended to create a fairly traditional cozy about a woman who owns a speciality bookshop. I planned to throw in bits of Sherlock-ania and references to the modern pastiche novels as well. But almost as soon as I began writing, the Gemma Doyle became Sherlock-like. And that’s been an enormous amount of fun.
When I was a child, we had a cat named Boots, a shy gray-and-white girl who used to read with me. Her whole head would move from left to right as she scanned each line, and when she got to the bottom of the right-hand page, she’d look up to tell me to turn the page. If I started to turn it too soon, she would stop me with a paw. As you can imagine, I have a soft spot for cat stories.
PURR M FOR MURDER, the first of T.C. (Toni) LoTempio’s Cat Rescue mystery series, is a worthy addition to the cat mystery genre, with big-hearted sympathetic characters and a lovable sleuthing feline. It’s a playful romp published by Crooked Lane and written by a cat lover who, along with her uncredited partner, Rocco, also pens the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime.
Asked about her writing journey and how she came to be a mystery writer, Toni says her lifelong love of mysteries was sparked when she read her first Nancy Drew mystery, The Secret in the Old Attic, at the age of ten.
“I’ve always loved making up stories,” she says, “ever since I was little. I’d read Superman comics and if I didn’t like the end I’d rewrite it! My tastes in reading have always gravitated toward mystery/true crime. I devoured Erle Stanley Gardner and Agatha Christie early on—so I guess you could say it was a natural progression.”
By Dawn Ius
After taking his exams for the New Jersey Bar back in 1929, Harry I. Heller set off on a hitchhiking cross-country adventure, journaling his escapades in a notebook that was published posthumously a few years ago by his daughter, bestselling cozy mystery and romance author, Nancy J. Cohen.
Thumbs Up was not only a thoughtful way for Cohen to help her father’s publishing dream come true, but also a tribute to what she says is his excellent writing. Cohen honors her father again with excerpts from another of his travel stories, which are peppered throughout the thirteenth book in her Bad Hair Day mystery series, FACIALS CAN BE FATAL.
“I always try to look for a historical angle for each of the books because I think that adds a lot of depth,” she says. “In this case, the journal was real—I pulled bits from my father’s 1935 trip to Florida with friends.”
Of course, the book also includes all of Cohen’s usual suspects—salon owner and amateur sleuth Marla Vail, her police detective husband Dalton, a full cast of characters with murderous means and motive, and enough twists and turns to earn you a well-deserved spot at the spa. (Though, Cohen suggests avoiding “body treatments that have nothing to do with herbal scrubs and hot rock massages…”)
By George Ebey
Author Cynthia Kuhn’s latest book, THE ART OF VANISHING, brings us the next installment in her Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries series.
When Professor Lila Maclean is sent to interview celebrated author and notorious cad Damon Von Tussel, he disappears before her very eyes. The English department is thrown into chaos by the news, as Damon is supposed to headline Stonedale University’s upcoming Arts Week. The chancellor makes it clear that he expects Lila to locate the writer and set events back on track immediately. But someone appears to have a different plan: strange warnings are received, valuable items go missing, and a series of dangerous incidents threaten the lives of Stonedale’s guests. After her beloved mother, who happens to be Damon’s ex, rushes onto campus and into harm’s way, Lila has even more reason to bring the culprit to light before anything—or anyone—else vanishes.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with Kuhn to learn more about this thrilling new story.