Wisconsin coffeehouse owner Maggy Thorsen accompanies her main squeeze, Sheriff Jake Pavlik, to South Florida, where he’s been asked to speak at a mystery-writers’ conference. Maggy is anticipating a romantic arrival in their hotel suite, but when the opening night event turns out to be a re-enactment of Agatha Christie’s classic, Murder on the Orient Express, the couple reluctantly sets off on a night train into the Everglades. The idea is to solve the “crime” and return, but the troupe soon finds itself embroiled in a real-life murder mystery as creepy and baffling as any work of fiction.
By Basil Sands
Let me introduce you to a writer with a great read for your Mid-Winter’s reading list. Phyllis Smallman is the award winning author of the popular Sherri Travis mystery series. Dividing her year between the picture-perfect northern rainforest of Salt Spring Island BC in Canada and the sunny beaches of Florida, Phyllis writes some pretty darned good mysteries. Must be the combination of both coast’s worth of fresh sea air.
Phyllis, tell us about your newest mystery title, LONG GONE MAN.
LONG GAME MAN is the first book in a new series about a woman named Singer Brown, at least that’s name she gives the police. Singer left home at sixteen to join a rock band and almost made it to the top – except she had the bad luck of meeting Johnny. Now she lives in a beat-up old van, sings on the street for coins, and nurses an old hate.
One night she arrives on the last ferry to a small island in the Salish Sea, planning to kill the man who destroyed her life. At his mountain retreat a woman with a gun in her hand opens the door and says, “Come in.” On the floor behind her is a body. Someone else has already taken revenge on Johnny and now the murderer is coming after Singer.
How did you first get into writing, and what were the initial days of the journey toward publication like?
I wrote for nearly twenty years before I had a book published. Those first three manuscripts are still in a box somewhere. After being shortlisted for the Debut Dagger in the UK and the Malice Domestic in the US, I was published because I won an award, the Unhanged Arthur from the Crime Writers of Canada. That book, Margarita Nights, was nominated for best first novel the next year. The one thing I know is that I’d still be writing even if I’d never been published. I write because I have to, the same reason people play the piano or paint pictures. The process gives me pleasure.
Bestselling mystery author Beth Groundwater writes the Claire Hanover gift basket designer series (A REAL BASKET CASE, a Best First Novel Agatha Award finalist, and TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET). Her just released third novel in the series, A BASKET OF TROUBLE, blends her love for the outdoors once again with murder–this time in the horse-riding community. In A BASKET OF TROUBLE when Claire Hanover saddles up for the opening event of her brother Charley’s new riding stable, the last thing she expects is a murder investigation. Kyle Mendoza, one of the stable hands, is found dead in Gunpowder’s stall. Everyone thinks the horse trampled him, until it’s discovered someone killed Kyle before dragging him into the stall. Charley’s troubles worsen with Kyle’s family suing him and a rival stable owner wrangling up his clients, so Claire decides to find the real murderer before her brother’s business is put out to pasture.
Beth also writes the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures series starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner (DEADLY CURRENTS, an Amazon #3 overall bestseller, WICKED EDDIES, finalist for the Rocky Award, and just released, FATAL DESCENT). She enjoys Colorado’s many outdoor activities, including skiing and whitewater rafting, and loves talking to book clubs. Visit her at her website.
By Don Helin
In her novel, IN THE SHADOW OF REVENGE, Patricia Hale unleashes a plot so exciting that one review reads, “IN THE SHADOW OF REVENGE intrigued me from its first pages and kept me enthused with its rich descriptions, brutally honest depictions of realistic characters and small town life.”
Childhood friendships mold us into the adults we become. So it goes for three nine year old girls in Millers Falls, Maine after a ruthless attack hits close to home. The experience keeps them bound to one another even as adults. But when an opportunity for revenge offers to set them free, the friends run headlong after vengeance, quickly learning that even justice can cut to the bone.
Patricia Hale received an MFA degree from Goddard College in Vermont. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, NH Writers Project and Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. Besides writing, her interests include hiking, kayaking and yoga. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two German Shepherds.
Two other favorite reviews:
“Quite a powerful story and hard hitting from the start.”
“A gripping read.”
A US Army officer, Randy Rawls traveled the world before retiring to south Florida, the setting for his Beth Bowman PI series (Midnight Ink). BEST DEFENSE is his latest release:
John Hammonds is a defense lawyer who has everything. When his five-year-old daughter is kidnapped, the police vow to do whatever is necessary to recover her. Hammonds has other ideas. He demands they step aside and allow Beth Bowman, local Private Investigator, to take the lead. Furthermore, the police must assist her or stay out of her way, whichever she decides. Beth and a bevy of friends know they must move fast and discreetly before the worst can happen.
“…a satisfying, lighthearted adventure.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“BEST DEFENSE is a quick read with a returning cast of quirky characters and a well-devised plot.”—FRESH FICTION
Child kidnapping and light-hearted are rarely used in the same sentence, but BEST DEFENSE includes both. Let’s start with a two-part question.
What led you to the kidnapping theme?
I want my stories to be topical and as fresh as today’s headlines. Unfortunately, the headlines today feature far too many kidnappings—and those kidnappings too often turn out badly. I wanted to write a story that would challenge me and challenge my readers, something in which the murder of two human beings takes a back seat to the drama of the rest of the tale. The kidnapping of a five-year-old girl is that story. I hope readers get as caught up in the search for Ashley as I did.
By Karen Harper
Karen Harper recently caught up with M.C. Grant (aka Grant McKenzie) for an interview about the latest book in his Dixie Flynn series, DEVIL WITH A GUN. A look at M.C.’s very ‘noirish’ website puts a reader in the mood for the variety of forms in which he writes, from thriller to screenplays to short stories.
What is DEVIL WITH A GUN about?
DEVIL WITH A GUN is the hair-raising sequel to Dixie Flynn’s first adventure, ANGEL WITH A BULLET. This time, however, the stakes are raised when crime reporter Dixie is told to write a fluff story for Father’s Day but ends up in an incendiary confrontation with the most ruthless killers in San Francisco. Before she knows it, Dixie’s simple missing-father story has turned into a violent battle of wills as she tries to help a woman escape a life and death struggle with the mob. For Dixie, the pen is mightier than the sword, but it’s going to take some handy work with whatever arsenal she can lay her hands on if she wants this story to have a happy ending.
Seldom is an author published in the range of fiction in which you have written: series thrillers and stand-alones, screenplay and short story. Do you have a favorite of these formats? What are some of the pros and cons of each for you?
The novel is my main playground, but because I’m such a visual writer I love exploring screenplays and working with the actors who are bringing my audiobooks to life. Short stories are also a passion because they are such a burst of imagination. Let’s face it, novels are hard work because you need to keep that inspiration and intensity alive for a number of months to get the whole story on the page. I’m not a fast writer, so there are definitely times when I need to kick my own ass to sit in the chair and write – even when I’m loving the story and characters I’m creating. Short stories, however, give me an opportunity to amp up the excitement and get that first draft on the page in a frantic, imagination-to-page word dump. Then, like all writing, the rewrite process begins, which gives every story its polish and shine. The difference between writing a series, compared to a stand-alone, is basically don’t kill off your main character :) OK, there’s more to it than that, but that’s probably Rule No. 1.
Leaphorn and Chee of the Navajo Nation Police are back in their business of investigation! Their latest mystery, SPIDER WOMAN’S DAUGHTER was written by Anne Hillerman, accomplished daughter of iconic mystery author Tony Hillerman, the creator of Leaphorn and Chee. The story begins with an unthinkable, heart-stopping moment.
Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito has just finished having breakfast with her colleagues when an unidentified shooter in a blue sedan guns one of them down in the parking lot. As the critically wounded man fights for his life in the hospital, the Navajo Nation Police and the FBI join forces to find the person who shot him. Clues point to a cold case from Joe Leaphorn’s past—but not so cold that Bernie and Chee’s own lives are not at risk.
SPIDER WOMAN’S DAUGHTER has inspired exciting peer reviews.
David Morrell, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of MURDER AS A FINE ART, says: “A worthy continuation of Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn & Chee series. His daughter Anne ably returns to Navajo Country in a colorful mystery that is both fascinating and vividly compelling. From its startling first scene to its gripping climax, SPIDER WOMAN’S DAUGHTER engages the reader in a complex web of intrigue and deception.”
Armed with Buddhist philosophy and wicked knife skills, Bai Jiang works at being a better person by following her conscience, while struggling with what she likes to think of as “aggressive assertiveness.”
When a girl goes missing in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Bai is called upon as a souxun, a people finder, to track down the lost girl. The trail leads to wannabe gangsters, flesh peddlers, and eventually to those who have marked Bai for death.
Enlisting the aid of her closest friend and partner, Lee–a sophisticated gay man who protects her, mostly from herself–and Jason–a triad assassin and the father of her daughter–they follow the girl across the Bay and across the country. Bai confronts paid assassins and triad hatchet men, only to find that being true to her beliefs as a Buddhist and staying alive are often at odds. At the same time, fighting a faceless enemy who seems committed to having her killed fills her with anger and fear that sometimes turns into a burning rage with deadly consequences.
By Lee Lindauer
Ellie Stone is a “modern girl” at the beginnings of the 60’s, caught up in a classic whodunit after her scholarly father is found nearly beaten to death. With a plot that meticulously ties together her father’s missing manuscript and the death of another professor with the tension and distrust of fellow colleagues and acquaintances, she is thrust into a whirlwind of classical music, linguistics, and stolen identities, Holocaust horrors and of course, the brilliance of Dante. As a journalist and a “goodtime girl,” Ms. Stone has a take-no-prisoner approach. She overwhelms the investigative nature of the police in lining up the clues that bring the story to its conclusion.
To get a sense of this fast-paced mystery, I took the liberty to learn a little bit more about STYX & STONE and the author, James Ziskin.
It is an interesting twist to set the novel at the beginning of 1960. Other than this being the appropriate time frame due to the historical circumstances of WWII and the Holocaust, did you find it intriguing to write about this period? (You were born in 1960, any coincidence?)
I like books that transport you to another time or place. I’ve always thought of 1960 as a very modern year. We were on the brink of the jet age and a world of modern conveniences, but that era also seems quaint and old fashioned to us today. And as you say, 1960 worked with my timeline, just fifteen years after the war. Long enough to cloud memories, but not enough time to forget. And, yes, I have a soft spot for the year I was born.
Take one missing heiress, an unscrupulous uncle, and a young vaudeville performer fallen on hard times; add several murdered girls, a mysterious Chinese herbalist, and a handsome bootlegger; then move from the seamy world of Prohibition-era vaudeville to Oregon’s rugged coast, and what do you have?
A formula for suspense, as Jessie finds herself torn between her deceitful charade and her determination to find out what really happened to the girl she is impersonating.
In 1917, Jessie Carr, fourteen years old and sole heiress to her family’s vast fortune, disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, her uncle Oliver Beckett thinks he’s found her: a young actress in a vaudeville playhouse is a dead ringer for his missing niece.
But when Oliver confronts the girl, he learns he’s wrong: orphaned young, Leah’s been acting since she was a toddler. Oliver, never one to miss an opportunity, makes a proposition–with his coaching, Leah can impersonate Jessie, claim the fortune, and split it with him. The role of a lifetime, he says. A one-way ticket to Sing Sing, she hears. But when she’s let go from her job, Oliver’s offer looks a lot more appealing. Leah agrees to the con, but secretly promises herself to try and find out what happened to the real Jessie. There’s only one problem: Leah’s act won’t fool the one person who knows the truth about Jessie’s disappearance.
In the latest mystery from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Charles Todd, World War I nurse and amateur sleuth Bess Crawford investigates an old murder that occurred during her childhood in India, a search for the truth that will transform her and leave her pondering a troubling question: How can facts lie?
Bess Crawford enjoyed a wondrous childhood in India, where her father, a colonel in the British Army, was stationed on the Northwest Frontier. But an unforgettable incident darkened that happy time. In 1908, Colonel Crawford’s regiment discovered that it had a murderer in its ranks, an officer who killed five people in India and England yet was never brought to trial. In the eyes of many of these soldiers, men defined by honor and duty, the crime was a stain on the regiment’s reputation and on the good name of Bess’s father, the Colonel Sahib, who had trained the killer.
A decade later, tending to the wounded on the battlefields of France during World War I, Bess learns from a dying Indian sergeant that the supposed murderer, Lieutenant Wade, is alive—and serving at the Front. Bess cannot believe the shocking news. According to reliable reports, Wade’s body had been seen deep in the Khyber Pass, where he had died trying to reach Afghanistan. Soon, though, her mind is racing. How had he escaped from India? What had driven a good man to murder in cold blood?
By J. N. Duncan
I would like to welcome author, Jeffrey Siger, to the BIG THRILL this month for the release of the fifth book in his Greek crime series, MYKONOS AFTER MIDNIGHT. The Greek Press said his work is “prophetic.” EURO CRIME crime called him a “very gifted American author…on a par with other American authors such as Joseph Wambaugh or Ed McBain,” He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He practiced law at a major Wall Street law firm and while there served as Special Counsel to the citizens group responsible for reporting on New York City’s prison conditions. He left Wall Street to establish his own New York City law firm and continued as one of its name partners until giving it all up to write full-time among the people, life, and politics of his beloved Mykonos, his adopted home of thirty years. When not in Greece, he enjoys his other home, a farm outside New York City. Now then, on with the good stuff!
First, a question about you personally. International writers are always intriguing, and you are a migrated American living in Greece (or mostly so). You have a long-time connection with the Greek island of Mykonos, so I’m clearly interested in what brought you to love the place so much that you desired to live and write from there.
More than thirty years ago a friend told me to try Greece for a holiday. She said I’d love it, Mykonos for sure. She was right for even though I’m not Greek by birth, from the moment I first set foot on Mykonos, I felt in my heart I was home again. What attracted me to Greece then, and still does, is the Greek people, in particular the Mykonians who’ve always treated me as family—in both the good and sometimes not so good connotations of the phrase.
For Janet MacPhail, photographing retrievers in training is the perfect way to spend an evening. But a photo session at Twisted Lake takes a peculiar turn as Drake, her friend Tom’s Labrador, fetches a blood-soaked bag holding an exotic feather and a torn one-hundred-dollar bill.
When one of her photography students turns up dead at the lake, Janet investigates a secretive retreat center with help from Australian Shepherd Jay and her quirky neighbor Goldie. Between dog-training classes, photo assignments, and romantic interludes with Tom, Janet is determined to get to the bottom of things before another victim’s wings are clipped for good.
Lester Calvin enjoys a comfortable living helping the average joe get what he needs, get out of trouble, or avoid trouble in the first place. He operates out of his favorite cigar bar, makes his own hours, and never has to wear a tie. Best of all, he occasionally lands a gig where a beautiful woman lays $500 in his lap for, literally, nothing.
But when an angry FBI agent pays him a wake-up call the next morning, Lester begins to wonder if he made a huge mistake. Before long, Lester finds himself in the midst of a life-and-death struggle, with a giant target painted on his back.
Anna Lee Huber is the author of the award-winning Lady Darby historical mystery series. Her debut, THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE, has been nominated for numerous awards, including two 2013 RITA® Awards and a 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award. Her second novel, MORTAL ARTS, releases September 3rd. Anna was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, and graduated from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN with a degree in music and a minor in psychology. She currently lives in Indiana, and enjoys reading, singing, traveling and spending time with her family.
MORTAL ARTS takes place in Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue—in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn’t quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her fellow investigator-and romantic entanglement – Sebastian Gage, and ultimately, another deadly mystery.
Kiera’s old friend Michael Dalmay is about to be married, but the arrival of his older brother-and Kiera’s childhood art tutor-William, has thrown everything into chaos. For ten years Will has been missing, committed to an insane asylum by his own father. Kiera is sympathetic to her mentor’s plight, especially when rumors swirl about a local girl gone missing. Now Kiera must once again employ her knowledge of the macabre and join forces with Gage in order to prove the innocence of a beloved family friend-and save the marriage of another…
Amy Gail Hansen’s THE BUTTERFLY SISTER, an original trade paperback, comes out this month from Harper Collins. She has a BA in English from Carthage College in Wisconsin and taught English in a community college before becoming a freelance writer and arts and entertainment journalist. THE BUTTERFLY SISTER is her debut novel.
THE BUTTERFLY SISTER has received some great reviews from the likes of Meg Cabot. Can you give us an elevator pitch for the book, please?
It’s about twenty-two-year-old Ruby Rousseau, emotionally fragile after dropping out of a small women’s college, who gets involved in the case of a missing girl after receiving a mysterious suitcase. To solve the mystery, Ruby must also revisit the demons of her past, including a heartbreaking affair with her English professor and an unhealthy obsession with women writers who killed themselves. But will finding the truth set Ruby free…Or send her off the edge of sanity?
What experience led you to come up with the plot of THE BUTTERFLY SISTER?
My honeymoon to Italy in 2004…Moments before I checked my luggage for that trip, I realized the tag on my suitcase bore someone else’s name and address. That’s because I’d lent it five years prior to a college acquaintance and hadn’t used it since. Removing her leather tag at the last minute and replacing it with one of those flimsy paper ones the airlines give out, I thought, “What if my bag had gotten lost? Would it have gone to her instead of me? And isn’t that a good idea for a story?” Thus, THE BUTTERFLY SISTER starts with the delivery of a mysterious suitcase, and the story spirals out from that jumping off point.
By Ian Walkley
Harlan Coben describes Vincent Zandri’s novels as “Gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting…” Vincent’s latest mystery thriller THE GUILTY finds former prison warden and private eye Jack Marconi investigating a local restaurateur who’s not only obsessed with the sexy, dark romance novel, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, he’s accused of attempting to murder his school teacher girlfriend. As the now brain-damaged young woman begins recalling events of that fateful winter night when she was allegedly pushed down the stairs of a West Albany mansion, she becomes the target of the angry foodie/sex-obsessed boyfriend once again. Only this time, he’s cooking up a plot to keep her silenced forever.
Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon author of THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT FALLS, THE CONCRETE PEARL, MOONLIGHT RISES, and more. The bestselling author of SAVAGES, Don Winslow, says of Zandri: “He’s a terrific writer and he tells a terrific story.” Zandri’s work has been published in many languages including Dutch, Russian, and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for LIVING READY, RT, GLOBALSPEC, as well as several other news agencies and publications, Zandri lives in New York.
Aliens descending on Las Vegas? That is hardly news to anyone familiar with the exotic sights on the Las Vegas Strip. In CAT IN AN ALIEN X-RAY, hovering UFOs have been caught on tourist cell-phone cameras, and the unveiling of a new “Area 54” Strip attraction comes complete with its own dead body. Has an abducted human fallen back to earth? Or is this just the usual inhumanity to humans by humans?
While UFO nuts and conspiracy theorists mob the site, homicide lieutenant C.R. Molina must work with the project’s public relations woman, amateur sleuth Temple Barr. These two dames mix like olive oil and holy water. Not to mention that a vengeful former IRA terrorist is stalking Temple’s ex (the magician-counterterrorism agent) and current fiancé (the ex-priest radio shrink).
My co-author uses the phrase “cozy-noir” to describe our works. Here’s a handy summary of our modus operandi:
“So in this typically fun-filled, witty and comic Midnight Louie outing, Douglas tackles a multitude of serious and topical issues [including] sexual addiction and obsession, monogamy, celibacy, sexual responsibility and familial responsibility, theology, stalking, sanity and lack of same, honor and commitment, romantic triangles and rectangles, and the keeping of vows and trusts. No small accomplishment for a thoroughly entertaining mystery with occasional chapters ‘written’ by an anthropomorphic tough-guy private-eye cat with more than a taste of Damon Runyon in his writing voice.”—MOSTLY MURDER
By George Ebey
Terry Shames’ debut novel, A KILLING AT COTTON HILL, is the first in a new mystery series featuring the exploits of Samuel Craddock, the former police chief of a small Texas town.
When Dora Lee Parjeter is murdered, her old friend Craddock steps in, only to discover that a lot of people had it in for her. The conniving rascals on the farm next door want her land for nefarious purposes; her estranged daughter could be seeking vengeance; her grandson wants money for art school; and then there’s that stranger Dora Lee claimed was spying on her. Does Craddock still have what it takes to find the killer?
I recently checked in with Terry who was happy to share her insights into how A KILLING AT COTTON HILL came to be.
What led you to write A KILLING AT COTTON HILL?
Over the years I’ve written a few short stories about the fictional town of Jarrett Creek, but never in the mystery genre. It’s a fictionalized version of the small Texas town where my grandparents lived when I was growing up. I always loved visiting there and still feel a connection with it when I go back.
A few years ago, I took an amazing crime writing workshop put together by authors Sophie Littlefield and Cornelia Read. On the last day Sophie made an impassioned speech describing how after writing more than half a dozen unpublished novels, she shifted into hyper-drive and made getting published the most important goal in her life. And it worked for her.She said it took more than perseverance—it required determination and focus. She urged writers to dig really deep for “the book that only you can write.”
Like Sophie, I had written several novels, but publication had eluded me. Within a month of taking the course, I began work on A KILLING AT COTTON HILL—which was totally different from anything I’d ever written.
By Rick Reed
SUGAR POP MOON introduces Jersey Leo, a quintessential outsider and most unusual noir hero. He’s an albino of mixed race; he makes his living as the bartender at a speakeasy in Prohibition-era Hell’s Kitchen. Being neither black nor white, he has no group to call his own. His mother abandoned him as a baby. And his father—a former boxing champ with his own secrets—disapproves of Jersey’s work at a dive owned by one of New York’s most notorious gangsters. When Jersey inadvertently purchases counterfeit moonshine (“sugar pop moon”) with his boss’s money—a potentially fatal mistake—he goes undercover to track down the bootlegger who ripped him off. The journey leads him to some dark places—and forces him to confront his past in order to move forward.
Best-selling author Rebecca Cantrell says, “In SUGAR POP MOON, John Florio’s powerful use of historical detail slams you into the gritty world of 1930s bootleggers, where his hero, albino Jersey Leo, holds you down for the count. Harsh as a slug of 190-proof moonshine.”
BOOKLIST says, “This is a hard-boiled, Prohibition-era novel and Jersey Leo is a well-developed, engaging character. The story moves fast, the violence is appropriate to the times, and there are laugh-out-loud moments amid the mayhem. Sure to appeal to fans of Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler, and, more currently, Robert Fate’s edgy Baby Shark series.”
HER BOYFRIEND’S BONES is the fourth book in the Dinah Pelerin series of international mysteries. This time Dinah travels to Greece expecting a romantic holiday with her boyfriend and an opportunity to learn more about ancient Greek culture. She discovers that the 21st Century Greece is reeling from a juggernaut of debt, an influx of illegal immigrants, arms smuggling, and resentments stemming from the military junta forty years ago. Corruption abounds, no one can be trusted, and when her boyfriend’s car plunges off a cliff and he disappears, it falls to her to find him on her own.
I’m a sucker for an adventure, a globetrotter by choice—a choice that often means I can’t stay in one place for more than a couple of years then I just have to move… which annoys the wife no end… So, figuring I’d found a kindred spirit I couldn’t wait to chat to Jeanne about Dinah’s adventures.
Each of your books is set in a different country. Why the international theme?
The short answer is wanderlust. I’m addicted to travel so it made sense to give my main character, Dinah Pelerin, a great curiosity about the world and nothing or no one to tie her down. The name Pelerin means pilgrim in French and that pretty much establishes the theme. Another of my addictions which I’ve transferred to Dinah is mythology. I’m fascinated by the strange gods and superstitions the ancients invented to explain the workings of the universe. Dinah is part Native American with an instinctive empathy for the aboriginal peoples of the countries she visits and as an aspiring cultural anthropologist, she is drawn to the mythical past.
Author of the critically acclaimed Red River mystery series, prizewinning outdoor photographer, magazine writer and venerable educationist, Texan Reavis Z. Wortham’s intimate knowledge of the Texas outdoors and Texans enthralls his readers.
In THE RIGHT SIDE OF WRONG, third in the Red River Mystery series, the threat to a small community’s tranquility challenges the integrity of an experienced law officer and head of a close-knit family. Sandra Brannan, author of WIDOW’S MIGHT, says: “Reavis Z. Wortham has masterfully reinvented the true meaning of ‘heart pounding’ by bringing fears to life right where we live.”
A Texan born and bred, Reavis Z. Wortham’s writing is a synthesis of his own life as book lover, explorer and photographer. Bitten by the bug at an early age, he tenaciously ignored a pile of rejection slips to claim his place among novelists who choose to treat the Scriptural theme of the law being made for man and not otherwise: “… sometimes the line is blurred between right and wrong, and we occasionally have to slip over to the other side when it’s necessary,” he says.
Summer is upon us. Time for great summer beach reads!
At its core, summer is all about setting. Vacations in tropical or foreign locales, backyard barbecues next to a swimming pool, Fourth of July fireworks viewed from a blanket on a grassy field. Just as a good setting can make our summer break more fun, a good setting takes a reader on a virtual vacation and makes a thriller pack all the more punch.
Perhaps more than any other genre, thriller books rely on spectacular settings to create atmosphere. A dark, frigid alley on a winter night chills in the reader. A chase along a dangerous mountain trail or a highway perched precariously above a roiling ocean makes for a fantastic chase scene. Guts clench when heroes search homes or buildings with shadowy hallways and closed doors hiding only God knows what. Crowd scenes terrify readers, too, given so many lives can be at stake.
When Holly Price’s father runs off with his yoga instructor, she strikes a bargain with her mother. If Holly will leave her Seattle-based mergers-and-acquisition company and run the family’s accounting business for a year, her mother will never again mention the words “marriage” and “children” in Holly’s presence. Finding a friend’s body beside the Snake River isn’t supposed to be part of the deal. She certainly didn’t expect to end up a Person of Interest, having to deal with JC Dimitrak, a vengeful Franklin County detective—who happens to be her jilted ex-fiancé.
To protect her reputation, business, and freedom, Holly follows the money through a web of inter-connecting companies. A few too many accidents later, someone apparently decides CPA stands for Certified Pain in the Ass. If she doesn’t back off, the next body found beside the river could be Holly’s.
“Cathy Perkins is one of those authors whose talent you spot immediately and latch onto as she becomes one of your must-reads. Her Holly and JC are fun (and hot) in FOR LOVE OR MONEY and you’ll not only laugh and enjoy the ride, you’ll be looking Perkins up to see what else she has out right now.” ~Toni McGee Causey, bestselling author of the Bobbie Faye series
“…an entertaining read, filled with funny snappy dialogue.” ~ RT REVIEW
“CPA Holly Price juggles dodgy clients, flakey parentS, ex-lovers and a murdered friend before she gets to the bottom line in this fast and fun read.” ~ Patricia Smiley, bestselling author or COOL CACHE
By Rick Reed
THE TROJAN COLT, the newest Eli Paxton PI mystery from award winning author Mike Resnick, revolves around the down-on-his-luck private eye who is hired to guard the high-priced yearlings of the Lexington Kentucky classic winner, Trojan, and is no sooner on the job than he must respond to a fracas in the horse barn. Rushing in, he’s just in time to thwart a vicious attack on a young groom. The assailants get away, leaving the groom bloodied and too terrified to talk. The next day the groom doesn’t show up for work, and the Trojan colt that was in his keeping sells for a record price.
Now assigned to investigate the boy’s disappearance, Paxton focuses on the Lexington breeding farm. It turns out that two other staff members have disappeared in the past couple of months. The owner of the farm, while denying it, appears to be in financial straits.
As Paxton worries that all three missing boys may never be found, he runs smack into a multimillion-dollar plot that the perpetrator will kill to keep secret.
By George Ebey
Richard Godwin is the author of the bestselling novels, APOSTLE RISING and MR. GLAMOUR. Now he is back with his latest thriller, ONE LOST SUMMER, a noir story of fractured identity and ruined nostalgia.
When Rex Allan moves into a new house in a heat wave, he has few possessions apart from two photographs of his dead daughter. His next door neighbour, beautiful Evangeline Glass, invites him over to one of her many summer parties, where he meets her friends and possessive husband Harry. Rex feels he knows Evangeline intimately. He starts to spy on her and becomes convinced she is someone other than who she pretends to be. When he discovers she has a lover, he blackmails her into playing a game of identity that ends in disaster.
Richard took some time recently to tell us more about his latest thriller and what elements are needed to tell a good crime story.
Can you tell us a little about ONE LOST SUMMER?
ONE LOST SUMMER is a novel about obsession, love, memory and identity, and much more. It explores the things that make us feel we have an identity and what happens when those things are removed from us, as well as the extent to which we can know anyone, even ourselves. It also about how much we understand the irrational impulses that drive us.
Rex Allen, the protagonist, might say it is about what happens when you forget. Evangeline, his beautiful next door neighbour, might say it is about being trapped and the things you do to escape. Coral, the character around whom much of the drama revolves, might say it is about reality and how easy it is to manipulate it. Harry, Evangeline’s husband, might say it is about lies and liars.
Two years ago, Lori Roy floored critics and readers alike with her debut novel BENT ROAD, a haunting and spellbinding thriller which won the 2011 Edgar Award for Best First Novel and was chosen by the NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW as “Favorite Suspense Novel” of the year. In June, Roy returns with another haunting literary thriller which delves into the darker side of Detroit in the 1950s, an area and time rife with conflict. In UNTIL SHE COMES HOME (Dutton: June 13, 2013) Roy transforms a small Detroit community into a tense and sometimes frightening environment, a place that becomes as much of a character as those living in the neighborhood. Her setting is believable and meticulous and her writing delicate and provocative.
UNTIL SHE COMES HOME is the story of Alder Avenue, a respectable place where neighbors care for one another amid a once peaceful community. But all of that is set to change when two seemingly unrelated events, the disappearance of childlike Elizabeth Symanski and the murder of a local African American woman, collide to create a domino effect of strained relationships and unearthed scandals. As the residents of Alder Avenue frantically try to preserve their quiet lives, they continue searching day and night for Elizabeth. Fearing their world will be forever changed without her, no one can look beyond Elizabeth’s search; nothing will be good again, nothing will be as it should, until she is found.
By Jeff Ayers
Catriona McPherson is the author of the Dandy Gilver series, set in Scotland in the 1920s, which has won a Macavity, a Lefty and recently an Agatha. AS SHE LEFT IT is her first standalone. The story focuses on Opal Jones who left home at twelve to escape her mother’s drinking. After her mum dies, when Opal comes home to the little house on the dead end street, it seems as if exactly the same. But under the surface nothing is how it used to be. Ten years ago a child disappeared and everyone knows more than they’re telling. At first, the mystery of the missing boy is a fine distraction from Opal’s own troubles but soon enough the secrets of her past begin to rise and with them a growing fear that Baby Craig never left Mote Street at all.
Catriona McPherson talked to the BIG THRILL about her work.
Who is Dandy Gilver?
Dandy Gilver is one of those figures so familiar from the British Golden Age – the gently born, female, accidental sleuth turned private detective. I don’t suppose there’s ever been one in real life but we’ve met them so often in fiction that the disbelief is fairly pre-suspended. THE GUARDIAN, in one of my favourite ever pull-lines, called her “brisk, baffled, heroic, kindly, scandalized and – above all – very funny.” I’ll take that.
By Rick Reed
Mark Pryor is a former newspaper reporter from England, and now an assistant district attorney with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, in Austin, Texas. He is the creator of the nationally recognized true-crime blog, D.A. Confidential. He has appeared on CBS Newsshow, 48 HOURS, and Discovery Channel’s Discovery ID: COLD BLOOD. As an assistant district attorney in Austin, Texas, he authored the nationally recognized true-crime novel, AS SHE LAY SLEEPING, the true account of a ‘cold’ murder case he helped investigate and prosecuted. PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY gave this novel a starred review and called it “compelling” and “riveting.”
THE BOOKSELLER: THE FIRST HUGO MARSTON NOVEL was his first mystery novel and received a starred review in Library Journal’s Debut of the Month. That book also received 4 ½ stars from RT BOOK REVIEWS, and was listed on Oprah.com as an “unputdownable mystery.”
Now, all of that talent shines in his newest novel, THE CRYPT THIEF: A HUGO MARSTON NOVEL, to be released in May 7, 2013 by Seventh Street Books.
It’s summer in Paris and two tourists have been killed in Pere La Chaise cemetery in front of Jim Morrison’s grave. The killer leaves the bodies untouched but moves deeper into the cemetery, where he breaks into the crypt of a long-dead Moulin Rouge dancer. In a bizarre twist, he disappears into the night with part of her skeleton. One of the tourists proves to be an American and the other a woman linked to a known terrorist; so the U.S. Ambassador in Paris sends his best man, former FBI Agent and embassy head of security—Hugo Marston—to help the French police with their investigation. Hugo cracks the secrets of the graveyard, but soon realizes that old bones aren’t all this serial killer wants: his ultimate plan requires the flesh and organs of the living. And when the crypt thief spots the former FBI agent on his tail, he decides that Hugo’s body will do just fine.
There’s no shortage of excitement in this second Hugo Marston mystery-thriller, set in modern day Paris. So strap in, it’s going to be a ride you won’t forget.