Guest blog: Marilyn Meredith Sunday, Apr 29 2012 

Author Marilyn Meredith is doing an exhausting blog tour for her new mystery, No Bells. Welcome, Marilyn~

 

ABOUT NO BELLS

The Rocky Bluff P. D. mystery series is different than most in that it has an ensemble cast of characters. In each book, a different character or characters are spotlighted, though the other members of the RBPD make appearances. When I began this series, I was determined to show not only what the police officers did on the job, but what went on in their private lives.

As each book unfolded, one character became a favorite with my fans, Officer Gordon Butler, he of the pink cheeks and determination to be the best police officer ever, by upholding the law and protecting the citizens of the small beach community of Rocky Bluff. Gordon doesn’t have the best of luck in life, including romance. When No Bells begins with Gordon newly infatuated, but a big problem arises almost immediately. His new love is the prime suspect in a murder case.

 

First Review of No Bells:

Fans of F. M. Meredith’s long-running Rocky Bluff Police Department mysteries will be happy to learn the newest book may be the best yet. In No Bells, Gordon Butler gets his first leading role in this clever ensemble series. Butler is like Joe Btfsplk, the cartoon character in Al Capp’s Li’l Abner, a poor sap for whom things never quite work out. Meredith’s plot – her best yet – is a perfect fit for the character.

 

Without giving away too much, he wins but he loses. It’s a very satisfying read, and the meaning of the title is not revealed until the end. No Bells is a tightly woven story. Just when you think you know “whodunit,” something happens to change your mind. Then you go back to your first guess. Then a different hunch arises. As always, every member of the Rocky Bluff PD and their family members has a speaking part as their personal lives and police issues give us another glimpse of a town we love to visit. 

 

–Review by Michael Orenduff, author of The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier

 Visit Marilyn’s website at http://fictionforyou.com for details on her other books and how to order them.

Two New in Paperback Sunday, Apr 29 2012 

Avon is reprinting two great mysteries in paperback for readers to gobble up.

J. A. Jance’s twentieth novel featuring J.P. Beaumont is titled Betrayal of Trust, and after reading this Seattle-based detective novel, you’ll understand the title refers to the many layers of trust that have been violated.

Telling the story from Beaumont’s first person point of view allows for the narrator’s dry wit and digressions to provide relief from the grim crime scenes he will face. Beaumont and his wife, fellow detective Mel Soames, work for the Attorney General’s Special Homicide Investigation Team on Squad B. It’s a recurring point of humor that the acronym for their team gets bandied about, but there’s nothing humorous about the case they find themselves seconded to, in Olympia’s Squad A, at the direct request of the Attorney General.

They meet with the AG at the hotel they’ll be living out of for the duration of the case, and the snuff film he shows them on a cell phone will lead them to unravel a twisted tale that revolves around murder, bullying, and blended families, thrusting them at the door of the governor’s mansion.

The cell phone belongs to the governor’s step-grandson, a troubled boy who denies knowledge of the apparent juvenile prank gone wrong. At least that’s what Beaumont and Soams are led to believe–until there’s a second death, and as the bodies pile up, it’s obvious there are deeper implications and layers of corruption with multiple perpetrators, who just might be minors.

The horrific case changes from being a part of Beaumont’s job to a more personal quest when he identifies with one of the dead young men. An interesting subplot concerning Beaumont’s own family roots is handled well, never detracting from the forward thrust of the investigation.

Jance’s characters feel authentic and her plot twists will grab your attention as she illustrates how dogged police work puts the pieces of a puzzle together and lead to a satisfying conclusion. The next in this series is titled Judgement Call. Jance is also the author of the Joanna Brady series, the Ali Reynolds series, and four Walker family thrillers.

 

Next up is Katherine Hall Page’s Faith Fairchild mystery, The Body in the Gazebo, the Agatha Award winner’s nineteenth in the series. Having a caterer and ‘foodie’ as a protagonist leads to the hallmark of the series: the inclusion at the end of the book of many of the recipes caterer Faith Fairchild mentions or uses during the course of the story. She also has a gift for weaving in historical details of the northeast.

Faith’s best friend, Pix Miller, is out of town at pre-wedding festivities, meeting her son’s soon-to-be in-laws. When Faith agrees to keep an eye on Pix’s mother, Ursula Rowe, it’s a gesture of born of friendship and genuine liking for the older woman, home recovering from a bout of pneumonia.

But Ursula’s recuperation is hampered by a story she feels she must confide to Faith: a secret tale of long-ago intrigue and murder that dates back to the Great Depression. It will take her days to tell Faith the story due to her weakened condition and the emotions attached to it. Faith hadn’t known until this time that Ursula once had an older brother; a brother who was brutally murdered, with an innocent man accused of his death.

As Faith becomes embroiled in the story, told often with flashbacks to the period from Ursula’s memory, she’s also trying to keep her children cared for competently and her business going, even as she worries about her assistant, newly-pregnant Niki Theodopolous.

Then Faith’s husband, Reverend Thomas Fairchild, is accused of embezzling from his church’s discretionary fund, and Faith swings into action to unravel all the mysteries affecting those she loves, putting herself squarely in danger in the process.

Page writes a lively mystery with a fast pace. Her gift for story-telling leads her readers down many avenues as her novels combine a balance between lightness and the deeper personal dramas that envelop her characters. Love, faith and redemption reside alongside murder, theft and intrigue, all wrapped up tighter than a good egg roll.

The next in this series is The Body in the Boudoir.

Two in a Different Vein Sunday, Apr 22 2012 

Auntie M has learned that by  reviewing books sent by a publisher, instead of choosing them for herself, she is forced to read novels she ordinarily wouldn’t–and in the process, she is reminded that a well-written story will capture the reader, regardless of the subject.

Two action thrillers, available this month in paperback from Harper, will certainly appeal to the masculine side of readership, but there are plenty of female readers who will enjoy learning of the intricacies of the world of intelligence, politics, and the secrets, real and imagined, of government.

Dale Brown’s A Time for Patriots revolves in a world in the near future too easily envisioned: A crippling recession in the US leads to a rise of armed citizens protecting themselves. One group calls itself the Knights of the True Republic, home-grown terrorists who ambush a SWAT team and steal radioactive materials, leading to a nation-wide event with devastating effects. When they detonate a dirty bomb in Reno, Nevada, the state’s Civil Air Patrol is caught on a rescue mission in a no-fly zone. Tensions escalate, involving so many government agencies the author has a listing of acronyms and weapons at the opening of the book to guide the reader through the action to follow.

Brown’s hero is retired Air Force Lt.-Col. Patrick McLanahan, featured previously in multiple books that follow his career. Along with McLanahan’s son, Brad, and a roster of volunteers, they rise to the occasion of unearthing a major double-cross, leading to the President’s decision to send American-manned robots to aid the CAP crew, and a huge aircraft called the Skytrain: “Thanks to its advanced engines and mission-adaptive wing technology, with which tiny computer-controlled micro-acuators could make almost the entire fuselage and wing skin a lift or drag device,  the huge aircraft could fly close to the speed of sound at gross weight, as well as half as slow as any other aircraft of its size.”

Add in magnificent but believable robots, and nanotransponders, which, when swallowed, allow the host’s position to be tracked at all times, and you have the stuff of the imagination that is not too far in the future to be out of question. Of course, the McLanahans, father and son, and members of their team are at the heart of the drama, bringing human feelings, actions and emotions to round out the action.

A former US Air Force Captain, Brown is a current mission pilot in the Civil Air Patrol, and provides accurate information and descriptions of the workings of this group who rise to the task of protecting Americans everywhere.

The second thriller tells a different but equally compelling story. KBL: Kill Bin Laden is described as a “novel based on true events,” and it’s obvious that John Weisman, with books on both The New York Times nonfiction and fiction bestseller lists, is heavily steeped in the worlds of the intelligence agents and special forces soldiers who brought Usama Bin Laden to justice. The front of the book includes maps and photographs from the Department of Defense showing the location of Bin Laden’s Abbottobad compound with a schematic of its interior, compounding the feel of reality to the story about to be told.         

What could have been a dry retelling of the events leading up to the capture of America’s most wanted criminal comes alive through Weisman’s capable narrative using the details of the lives of those most closely involved in the final mission: the SEALs of Team 6, whose equipment could fill a twenty-foot dry weight container and who are trained to kill and then leave that behind them and return to wives and children; CIA Directors and assistants stationed in Pakistan; rangers, pilots, operatives, and most importantly, Charlie Becker.

Becker, a retired US Army Airborne Ranger, had his legs and most fingers blown off by an Iraqi suicide bomber. He used his over-five years rehabilitation to become fluent in Urdu and Pashto and understands Arabic. Becker is currently connected to the Special Activities Division of the CIA. His “special activities” include leaving his fancy prostheses in a locker in Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. It means living outside that compound in a cardboard shelter and practicing getting around on a padded furniture dolly built from materials scrounged in Pakistan for weeks, eating the diet of a poor Pakistani, bathing only occasionally, and reciting passionately the prayers of the Salafist Jihadi  until he can pass himself off as a beggar in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Becker becomes the eyes and ears of the CIA on the ground, patrolling the city on his dolly and watching a CIA safehouse, while monitoring  GZ: Ground Zero, a probable home to UBL.

As the mission rehearsal and details are being worked out, back in Washington, politics are at play in the decision to mount the offensive and when it should occur. This is recent history made to come alive in a most readable and compelling manner.

It doesn’t matter that the reader knows the outcome of the mission; indeed, the Prologue contains a scene showing Bin Laden’s corpse being viewed in a body bag. What matters is the journey taken to annihilate a madman. As Weisman has Charlie Becker know in his heart, ” … there are some people on this earth who just deserve to die.”

 

Peter Robinson: Before the Poison Sunday, Apr 15 2012 

Years ago when Auntie M was manning the booth for Mystery Review magazine at a Bouchercon convention, she recognized Peter Robinson right away. He was tall and had a friendly look, emphasized by an enigmatic smile that said he knew he was going to charm you. The author of the popular Chief Inspector Banks series has certainly done that with his new stand alone, Before the Poison, a departure from his usual style, and filled with surprises.

In contrast to Banks he gives us Chris Lowndes, a widower who has made a successful career in the US for years by composing music scores for films. “I had promised myself that when I turned sixty I would go home.” And so he does, but he travels alone back to his Yorkshire roots and a house in the dales where he tries to contain the grief that still catches at him over the death of his wife, Laura.

Kilnsgate House surprises him with its size, larger than he’d expected, and with its rooms holding the secrets of the past once Chris learns the house was the scene of a murder over fifty years before. Grace Fox, the young, beautiful wife of prominent Dr. Ernest Fox, was supposed to have poisoned him one snowbound night. She was arrested and brought to trial, found guilty and subsequently hanged.

The house contains artifacts and belongings from Grace, and Chris becomes captivated by her story, talking to locals about the story and researching archives. He soon convinces himself she was innocent, and sets about unearthing the true story of the events that led up to that fateful night.

Banks alternates between the Chris’ point of view and excerpts from a book titled Famous Trials concerning the Grace Fox case. It’s an effective device, bringing the early 1950’s to life as Chris discovers more than he bargained for as he delves into secrets from his own past. Grief does strange things, Chris soon acknowledges. But can it bring a person more in touch with their own sensitivity? “I had thought it was my choice to become interested in grace’s story but was it? I remembered the sense I had had on first approaching Kilnsgate that the house was somehow waiting for me.”

Yet even as he investigates what he comes to call his “Grace Fox theories,” Chris wonders at his actions and the path he’s set himself on, admitting his foolishness to his charming lunch companion: “Here I am, to all intents an purposed a sensible, reasonable, successful man, spending my time trying to prove the innocence of a woman who has hanged nearly sixty years ago. Insane, isn’t it?”

As Chris continues his search he will come across Grace’s granddaughter, Louise, who will assist him in his search. They visit Grace’s grave with its poignant Tennyson inscription, and when Louise compiles a DVD of her findings for Chris, he is startled to hear Grace’s voice singing a Tosca aria. The lyrics provide a window into Grace’s soul and impacting the new music he’s trying to write, even as Chris pushes on to the story’s resolution, where a monster is revealed.

Robinson has done his homework, both in the world of music and in the scenes set during WWII. This is the story of one man’s obsession, and how he must learn to confront his own ghosts.

Mark Billingham: From the Dead Sunday, Apr 8 2012 

DI Tom Thorne’s life is about to become more complicated. On the personal front, he and his partner Louise, also in The Job, are splitting their time between their two flats, their plans to buy a large one together on hold after Louise’s miscarriage months before. The strain of grief is taking its toll on both of them, their relationship strained and worsening. At work, he’s on edge, waiting for the verdict in a case that has become personal and difficult to prove: that high-powered Adam Chambers murdered the missing Andrea Keane, without her body being found. Worse is that Chambers has become a media darling.

Into this tension steps Anna Carpenter, a new private investigator looking for a life different from the bank job she held before.

Recent photos have surfaced that seem to be of Alan Langford, a wealthy career criminal who supposedly died ten years ago, handcuffed to the steering wheel of his car which was set afire in the midst of Epping Forest. Langford’s wife had been subsequently arrested for paying for her abusive husband’s death and has just been released from prison.

Donna Langford is trying to reconnect with her teenaged daughter and start a new life with a female partner she’s met in prison. When these photos are anonymously delivered to her, Donna hires Anna to find the truth. Anna’s research finds Thorne sent Donna Langford to prison and she enlists his aid. When she shows up with the photos from Donna, she becomes attached to Thorne’s investigation by his publicity-seeking DSI, to his chagrin.

Thorne loses the Chambers case, which contributes to his moody, anti-social behavior. The Langford case takes Thorne to Spain, with the tension building as the investigation heats up. His patience with Anna at times wears thin, but her honesty and outlook wear him down, and he finds himself drawn to the young woman’s joy of life. By the end of the novel, Thorne is surprisingly vulnerable, even as the twists and turns of the plot take their toll. This one has a climax you won’t see coming.

By giving us Anna Carpenter’s point of view, Billingham ties readers to the amateur sleuth and how she views Thorne. His knack for describing small details in the life of his characters add texture and complexity that allow the reader to view them in reality, making him one of Auntie M’s favorite reads. This is compelling read, completely engrossing, and will keep you flipping pages to the unexpected ending.

UK’s Sky TV has filmed some of the Thorne series and it’s to Auntie M’s regret that the series isn’t available here yet. But the books are so well written that Thorne leaps off the page satisfyingly and without the need of film.

Billingham’s next in the Thorne series, Good as Dead, make number one in the UK and you can be certain Auntie M will be reading it soon.

Deborah Crombie: No Mark Upon Her Sunday, Apr 1 2012 

In the latest installment of her Duncan Kincaid/Gemma Jones series, Texas author Deborah Crombie’s  love and affinity for England once again shine through.

Detective Inspector Gemma Jones is finally very married to Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, and their blended family is adjusting to its newest member. Crombie skillfully weaves the tapestry of their lives into the investigation of their latest case.

Preparing to trade Gemma’s domestic leave to take his own turn, Duncan finds himself at the last minute involved in a murder investigation filled with far-reaching tendrils, as the victim was a detective with the Metropolitan Police and an Olympic-grade rower. A subplot includes a high-ranking predatory policeman which complicates his investigation at every turn.

Becca Meredith is a solitary and competitive rower, hoping to regain her footing in a controversial bid for a place on the Olympic team. Her dreams are ended when a training row ends with her being tipped from her scull and drowning in the Thames River near Henley. Her lover, Kieran Connolly, struggles with post-war injuries. Part of the volunteer K9 search and rescue team with his Labrador Retriever, Finn, he is among the first to find Becca’s body, caught near the downstream weir near Mill End.

When the mysterious drowning becomes Duncan’s case, his team investigates Becca’s past, including her rowing for Oxford Blue, and her ex-husband, a former rower. It quickly becomes obvious that Becca’s talented but difficult personality has led her to acquire many admirers and just as many enemies. Complicating matters is a politically fraught work situation that will spill over into a  separate investigation Gemma has gotten entangled with just as her family leave is ending, and this widens the list of suspects for both detectives.

Then Kieran is targeted in a horrid accident, it becomes obvious that there is a killer who needs to silence people and it’s up to Duncan to stop him before he can kill again.

Rooted in reality, Crombie’s endpapers on the hard-covered books contain a lovely hand-drawn map by Laura Maestro of the area, which goes a long way to helping readers unfamiliar with the area visualize the main places of the action. The descriptions and feel of The Leander Club, a revered Henley rowing club, as well as the grueling routine of an elite rower, add to the pleasure. One of the hallmarks of Crombie’s books is the way she brings to life pockets of the UK we readers vicariously come to know, and the clubby, status-conscious world of Oxford rowing blends well with the routines of the K9 rescue team and their dogs.

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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!

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