Death Qualified Friday, Jul 31 2009 

Kate Wilhelm is an accomplished author with over thirty novels and a dozen collections of short fiction on her resume’.

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But this was my first read of hers, and a friend passed me her Northwest mystery, Death Qualified.  More than a legal thriller, and not a traditional mystery at all, but a read that has more twists and turns than an Alps switchback road.

Barbara Holloway has literally run away from practicing law in her father’s practice.  When he summons her home to help him defend a neighbor accused of killing her husband, Barbara must examine her past, and come to terms with her future.  Barbara is “death qualified” –legally able to defend clinets who face the death penalty if convicted.

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And what a case Frank Holloway has given his daughter–Nell Kendricks is accused of shooting the husband who abandoned her and his two children.  In order to save Nell, Barbara and Frank launch into finding out where Lucas Kendricks has been for the past seven years, and the answers turn up an extraordinary sequence of events.

Wilhelm must have done exhaustive research to complete this book.  I won’t give away any of the details, but here is a quote from the New York Times Book Review: “A book not about ideas but about the impact of ideas . . . The ending, which I found both surprising and believable makes good on all her promises.”

I’ll be looking for more from Wilhelm.

SQUEE! Monday, Jul 27 2009 

That’s the word everyone is using lately, so Auntie M is getting in on  it, too.

Readers, you MUST go to Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet and check out the newest ideas going on. (EcoWomen.wordpress.com)

This is a group of six ecologically-minded women who blog about everything from recycling and organic baby foods to healthy pets and saving our planet.

There are Quick Links and Easy Eco Actions as regular features, too.

The big news is that EcoWomen now have their avatars on tees and bags you can purchase through Cafe’ Press.  And when you do, the monies made will find their way to a really cool charity.  So you’ll be spreading the word AND doing something good for Mankind, Animalkind and The World.

Check out today’s blog for the FIRST BIG GIVEAWAY and you, too, can be a part of this growing movement.

Squee!

Execution Dock Thursday, Jul 23 2009 

I have a special affinity for Anne Perry, as she was my first interview published years ago in “Mystery Review” magazine.  At that time, Perry was gaining fame for her Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, set in Victorian England.  The first in that series, “The Cater Street Hangman,” was subsequently filmed by the BBC and shown on our PBS Mystery series.
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Perry has branched out over the years, adding a set of WWI novels, six holiday novels, and a second Victorian series featuring detective William Monk and his nurse wife, Hester.

EXECUTION DOCK is the newest in the Monk series, and continues to live up to Perry’s reputation for exhaustive period research.  This time readers find themselves on the bustling docks along the River Thames, where the empire’s merchant ships unload the treasures of the world.  The sights, sounds and scents of the dark alleyways and busy dockside comes alive for us as Monk plunges into the seamy underworld where sex merchants take advantage of homeless young boys.
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When a thirteen-year old sex slave is found with his throat cut, his tortured body tossed in the river, Monk attempts to bring the kingpin of this dark world to justice, despite the man’s wealthy clientele.

Readers may find Perry’s lavish descriptions overdone, but her plots are twisted intrigues, filled with the realities of the social era and manners of that age.  Great reading for anyone who enjoys historical novels.

Only in the Woods Tuesday, Jul 21 2009 

Doc is down.  He started having terrific pain this weekend with his knee.  When we went to PT Monday he it was decided he has tendonitis in the knee, so he’s off PT for a week, on steriods and back in bed the knee with it iced.  Ugh.  To say he’s pissed frustrated would be a gross understatement.

We live nine miles off the main highway, in a very rural area, as some of you know. The car ride home yesterday was pretty quiet.  Suddenly in front of us on the road, blocking our path, we saw THIS:

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AND THIS:

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AND THIS:

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Now there was only one house on this part of the road, but I don’t know the owner.  As I got out of my truck, I noted the closed front door and lack of a car in the driveway.  There was, however, a radio on in the garage, so I headed up the driveway.

And so did the livestock.  They trailed behind me like I was the Pied Piper.  I stopped midway and the calf nuzzled my hand.  They were all just so darn cute!

Of course, the garage was empty, radio or not.  BUT behind the garage I saw the edge of a pen.  I beckoned the animals, calling out “Come on Cow, follow me little goats, this way piggies.”  I look back at Doc and he was hysterical with laughter, sitting in the front seat watching the spectacle.  They followed me willingly.

The animals let me re-pen them and secure the gate.  I got back in the car and Doc was still laughing.  It did my heart good and lightened his mood for the rest of the day.  “You did your good deed for the day,” he said.

I sure hope I brought those animals to the right house~

White Nights Friday, Jul 17 2009 

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Yorkshire writer Ann Cleeves was shortlisted twice for the CWA Gold Dagger Award before winning it for Raven Black, her first Shetland Islands mystery.  Now she returns with the second of a planned quartet,White Nights.

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Cleeves is the author of the Inspector Ramsey novels and well as the Vera Stanhope books.  The latter has been optioned for television.  She is also reader-in-residence for the Harrowgate Crime Writing Festival.  All of her novels have in common a taut, atmospheric quality with interesting and realistic characters and cunningly crafted plots.

In White Nights, Detective Jimmie Perez is once again on the case of an Englishman found hanging from a rafter the day after he arrives in the middle of an art gallery show and dissolves in tears, claiming amnesia.  It complicates things that the woman Perez wants is drawn to is one of the two artists showing at the gallery.

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It’s midsummer in the Shetland Islands, the time of white nights when the birds sing at midnight sun never sets, just dims.  Cleeves set her plot in motion and we watch Perez and Fran Hunter as they delicately merge their relationship with the chilling murder investigation.  The setting is unusual, the plot intriguing, and I found myself caught up in and staying awake to finish it.

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen Wednesday, Jul 15 2009 

Make sure you empty your bladder before diving into Janet Evanovich’s latest Stephanie Plum read, Finger Lickin’ Good.

Set in Trenton, New Jersey, Evanovcich gets the neighborhood of the Burg just right as she concocts the most ridiculous plot twists and situations to drop Stephanie in.http://tbn2.google.com/images?q=tbn:ZJEyTmuYRu16qM:http://buycheapbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/finger-lickin-fifteen-stephanie-plum-novels.jpg

Evanovich is the one writer whose ridiculous images make me laugh out loud.  From Stephanie’s ex-‘ho friend Lula to her Grandma Mazur, from the hunky cop Morelli to the dangerously sexy Rangeman, I guarantee you I will be laughing with tears rolling down your face at least once a book, if not more, at the image she conjurs up.  This time the one that got to me was chubby Lula, squeezed into yellow spandex and a black flak jacket, getting stuck out the window of a borrowed Porsche.  Her V-neck sweater pulls down, the huge chocolate boobs float out–you get the picture!

Fifteen‘s premise has bounty hunter Plum earning extra money helping Rangeman at his security firm by figuring out how his sophisticated alarm system is being usurped, causing a string of thefts that may sink his business.  But that’s just the subplot.

The main plot has Lula witness the bizarre murder of a barbeque sauce king, and as the murderers come after her, she enlists Stephanie to help her track them down for the cash reward before they get to her.  This involves entering a BBQ sauce cookoff with Grandma, although none of this trio can cook.  And Stephanie still has to do her bounty job, one she clearly is atrocious at does not excel at.

Evanovich is a master of eccentric characters, putting them in all-too-believeable situations, surrounded by relatives who remind you of those you want to forget.

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Who cares?  This quick read is perfect for the summer, a light fun book I call brain candy.

The Scarecrow Monday, Jul 13 2009 

I have never been disappointed by a Michael Connelly novel.

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Connelly is the author of the successful Harry Bosch series,  and is one of the few authors whose secondary characters have been also successfully spun off into their own novels (Clint Eastwood played one in “Blood Simple”).

This time crime reporter Jack McEvoy finds himself number 99 on a list of 100 reporters getting canned in a mass cutback, despite his years and his experience.  Determined to go out with a big bang, Jack wants to write the definitive murder story.  He thinks he’s found his swan song when a 16 yr-old drug dealer is jailed for the brutal murder of a young woman found strangled in the trunk of her own car.

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Jack manages to get hold of the confession and realizes the boy has never confessed to the murder, only to stealing the woman’s car.  Determined to prove the boy innocent, he sets about clearing him with the help of a novice reporter, trying to stay out of the way of the FBI.

When a digital trip wire is hit, all hell breaks loose in a mass of identity theft and murders, and the clearing of the boy becomes almost secondary.  The pacing is swift and urgent, the plotting skillful.

Connelly writes in zips and turns, getting inside Jack’s head and flipping to that of the main antagonist with ease.  The chase runs between LA, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, yet we never lose the trail and are always with Jack as he uncovers the devious mind behind a rash of murders blamed on someone else.

Great suspense and a quick beach read.  You’ll stay up at night to finish this one.

Safer Friday, Jul 10 2009 

Terrorists can take many forms, but we don’t often think of them being our neighbors.

In the idyllic neighborhood Paul and Sara Calloway have just moved into, the last thing they worry about is their neighbors.  Until one night when the police come knocking at the door and cart Paul away, under arrest for sexual exploitation of a minor–the minor in question being their neighbor’s daughter.

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And this is just the first chapter of the stylish novel Safer by Sean Doolittle.

Doolittle’s  three earlier novels have all received critical success with The Cleanup winning the Barry Award.  This time the twists and turns keep coming in this suspenseful outing as Paul seeks to clear his name, a process that means solving an almost forgotten crime from years ago.  Along the way, Doolittle does a lot with his material, giving us quirky characters and making us adore Paul’s sense of black  humor.

I haven’t read Doolittle’s earlier novels, but I just may have to look for them.

Fruitful Bodies Thursday, Jul 9 2009 

Having a world-famous cellist as a protagonist, in this case Sara Selkirk of Bath, would seem an unlikely attraction as a heroine, and yet we are drawn to her and her world and follow the action of this unusual series.

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Fearful Symmetry and Funeral Music were the first two in the series, and amidst the resolution of murder follow the growing relationship of Sara with DCI Andrew Poole, father of two young children who are struggling to understand their parents earlier divorce.http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:xyAg4RCwktNkoM:http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n13/n67371.jpg

This newest outing, Fruitful Bodies, revolves around Sara reuniting with her old cello teacher, Prof. Joyce Cruikshank.  Joyce has come to watch Sara play a special concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and Sara watches in horror as her former teacher keels over, drunk as a skunk.

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A murder in a local pub involves Joyce, and indirectly the Sulis Clinic, a font of organic wellness for the rich.  When one of Sara’ best friends is admitted to the Sulis, the stakes are raised and it becomes obvious there is a killer on the loose.

Joss won the Crime Writers’ Association “Silver Dagger” Award for her stand alone novel Half Broken Things, a gripping psychological novel. The inside glimpses we are given of Sara’s music world add to the intrigue.

What Joss continues to do in the Selkirk series is to create believeable characters against a realistic background of floundering new relationships, with all of the sad and funny things that happen along the way.  That the two major characters get involved in solving murder cases is purely a mystery readers bonus, and a delight.

Travel with Pets Friday, Jul 3 2009 

Today’s post is running simultaneously  on Eco Warriors: Protectors of the Planet.  Check us out!

Eco Lassie knows that your pet is part of your Eco Family and you want to take the same careful care of them that you do the rest of your loved ones.   As you make your summer vacation plans, what will you do with your pet?  Will you get a house sitter for Fido, or kennel Fifi when you leave on your jaunt?

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Maybe you’d like to take your pet with you for their fun and your companionship, or your pet sitter just bowed out.

If you’re not certain if your pet has the temperament to travel, ask your vet.  Evaluate how your pet travels on their trips to the vet.  Does she get car sick or become highly anxious?  Or does he revel in the new scenery?

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Some pets eventually settle down to sleep and enjoy sniffing new and strange lands.

Your mode of travel with your pet must be carefully considered.  Let’s see the challenges. http://tbn1.google.com/images?q=tbn:bw61RP3TnbK7KM:http://www.adog.co.uk/year-of-the-dog/dogs_in_car.jpg

BY AIR: Smaller airlines such as Southwest and Frontier only accept assistance pets, but larger airlines such as American, Northwest, Delta and United all have pet policies on a broader range.  Most airlines adhere to a day-of- travel temperature restriction if your pet is to travel as cargo: It can’t be above 85 degrees or below 45 deg. on the day of travel, and for snub-nosed dogs/cats (such as Bull dogs/Persians) that may be adjusted to 75 deg.  Most will not allow any pet in the cargo hold if the outside temp is below 20 degrees.  Check with your individual airline for their policy, and if a vet statement will waive this restriction if it’s close.

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Fees range between $100-$150 one way for a container pet in cargo.  Most holds are loud, poorly ventilated, and the temp inside can range between 50-70 degrees.  No collapsible kennels are allowed, and there are size restrictions.

Inside the cabin, pets usually must be less than 20 lbs and the cost ranges between $50-100 depending on the airline.

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Don’t sedate your pet: this affects your animals balancing ability and equilibrium.  Also, the high altitudes may cause cardiac or respiratory problems in sedated pets.

Most airlines do not charge or assistance pets, however proof of current rabies over 12 mos is needed for any pet. These are guidelines only for travel within the US.  You must research your airline for their particular policy.

BY CAR: By far the most common method of travel with pets is by car.  Cats travel better in a carrier, which should be restrained for sudden stops.  You can also crate dogs, but most like to travel looking out the window, although you should NEVER allow your pet to hang his head outside the window on a major roadway, and he or she should wear a safety harness and ride in the back seat.

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REALLY.  Remember those sudden stops?  The poor driver who swerves into your lane?

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Allow frequent stops at rest areas to allow your pet to exercise, have a drink and do his business. Carry a collapsible water container and a jug of water in case your stoppping point does not have a fountain.  Pets usually travel with just water and don’t need to be fed.  Bring a few treats if your day will be long but don’t worry about food until you stop for the night.  Most dogs can even fast for a day with no ill affects, as they do this in nature.  It’s water that’s key.

If you’re camping, keep your pet in your tent to avoid other pets in the campground and wild creatures such as raccoons, squirrels and insect bites.  Most pets take well to camping.

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If your trip means hotel or motel stops, searching for Pet Friendly accommodations has never been easier.

http://www.tripswithpets.com lists over 20,000 pet friendly motels, B&B’s, inns, resorts, and rentals.

http://www.petsonthego.com boasts 30,000 listings.     You should crate your pet if you leave him or her in your room to hit the pool or go out to eat.  Put out the Do Not Disturb sign, and let the maid know if possible, or your chocolates may be gone.

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BY SHIP: Most shipping lines only allow assistance dogs in staterooms, but there are a few that have pet kennels where you can go down and visit your pet daily.  Consult with your line.  There are more charter boats that will allow pets.  Many boat owners report that their cats and dogs make great sailing companions.

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BY BUS/TRAIN: Only assistance pets except for some small local train lines.  Many European trains do allow pets, but I’m talking within the US.

Last but not least at all, don’t forget a small First Aid kit when you travel with your pet.

Carry bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze and antidiarrheal and antinausea meds.  Add an index card with the phone numbers of your vet, poison control hotline, and where you will be traveling and staying for handy access.

Add a tag to your pets collar indicating where you are staying on your travel route or your cell phone # in case you are separated.

With some forethought and preparation, Fido or Fifi will be happily enjoying your company poolside!

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dru's book musings

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JoHanna Massey

"I tramp a perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

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John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

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BOOK SHELF

"Tell me and I forget-Show me and I remember-Involve me and I learn"

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews

forensics4fiction

Forensics demystified for the fiction writer

milliewonka

Just another WordPress.com site

Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet!

Saving the planet one day at a time.

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp a perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

Make

make Your House a home

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

Wicked Cozy Authors

Mysteries with a New England Accent

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Gaslight Crime

Author and reviewer of period crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

BOOK SHELF

"Tell me and I forget-Show me and I remember-Involve me and I learn"

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews

forensics4fiction

Forensics demystified for the fiction writer

milliewonka

Just another WordPress.com site

Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet!

Saving the planet one day at a time.