Laura Lee Smith: Heart of Palm Sunday, Mar 31 2013 

This week Auntie M will be in Florida, so it’s only fitting that our guest resides there. Please welcome Laura Smith telling readers about her novel Heart of Palm:

Freaky Florida—A Fiction Writer’s DreamHOP Cover Art

I once heard fiction writer and creative writing professor Lynne Barrett say that Florida is a great place for fiction because “Florida is complicated. It’s not a simple place. Problems arise.” And I have to agree. I’ve lived in Florida for more than thirty years, and I chose to set my novel HEART OF PALM here because I knew that Florida could deliver the eccentric characters and environmental tensions that would make for solid storytelling. It’s just a funky place.

Don’t believe me? Let’s not forget last year’s face-eating attack, or the shrimper who found the prosthetic leg of an ex-football player floating in the Gulf of Mexico.

The football player was tracked down. “Ain’t nobody dead,” he said. “Just give me back my leg.”

There’s no end of story ideas. Click the link for inspiration from The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Ah, Florida. Crime, conflict and crisis. You can’t make this stuff up.

But wacky stuff aside, one of the most serious conflicts I’ve witnessed here has been the clash of cultures between old ways of living and new development.

I live in the nation’s Oldest City, but at the same time, my home county is one of the fastest-growing in the state. Total population in St. Johns County grew 54.3% in the last 10 years.

People want to live here, and who can blame them? It’s warm and sunny. It’s comparatively inexpensive. It’s picturesque. But what happens when the newcomers want to change things, and the old guard does not? That’s the conflict I handed my fictional family, the Bravos, in HEART OF PALM.

The novel is told in the voices of six members of the hapless Bravo family—stalwart natives of the neglected and hard-worn town of Utina, a relic of palm harvesters and moonshiners in fast-developing Northeast Florida.

The primary voice belongs to Frank, the middle-aged son who is juggling management of the family restaurant, support of his eccentric mother and sister, and resentment toward his aloof older brother and his absent father. To complicate matters, Frank harbors a decades-old love for his brother’s wife.

We hear, too, from Frank’s mother Arla, a former ingénue who has been physically and emotionally scarred by the life and the marriage she impetuously chose. Also here are the narratives of Sofia, the fragile cynic; Carson, the volatile autocrat; Elizabeth, the voice of reason; and Dean, the heartbreaking but maddeningly affable alcoholic.

Behind each family member’s agenda lurks the memory of shared tragedy and shared blame. When a real estate offer presents a chance for change, Frank faces a hard choice: he can continue his self-imposed penance, or he can pursue his long-postponed desires.

The book is first and foremost about a family. But it’s greatly influenced by the environment in which it takes place. And when it comes to ratcheting up narrative tension, Florida can’t be beat. Take guilt, loneliness, lost love, financial ruin and grief, and then add 98-degree temperatures and suffocating humidity. And see what happens.

 

Laura Lee Smith’s first novel, HEART OF PALM will be released April 2 by Grove Press.      LauraLeeSmith Head Shot

Her short fiction was selected by guest editor Amy Hempel for inclusion in New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, 2010. Her work has also appeared in The Florida Review, Natural Bridge, Bayou and other journals. She works as an advertising copywriter and has taught creative writing at Flagler College.

www.lauraleesmith.com

 

 

Michael Robotham: Say You’re Sorry Sunday, Mar 24 2013 

The incomparable Michael Robotham is back with my favorite psychologist, Joe O’Loughlin, in his newest addition to this stunning series. 13528436

The book opens with the musings of one of the two Bingham girls, two teens who went missing one night three years ago. It is Piper who talks to readers throughout the novel as she writes in her journal. Through her they learn of the horrors the girls have lived through for years. until one of them risks a daring escape.

Joe struggles with broken marriage and his relationship with his two daughters, most notably the older, Charlotte, a teen who prefers “Charlie,” and whom Joe describes as having “a smart mouth and a dozen different moods.”

Despite the heavy snow, Charlie is on her way up to London to spend four days with her father in Oxford. He’s to counsel her on a doubtful boyfriend and her behavior with the boy;  they will spend time together after his talk at a mental health symposium.

From the train window just outside Oxford, the train slows with the weather. Joe and Charlies glimpse a line of policemen moving across a snowy field. As their train moves slowly forward, they sees white-clothed crime scene officers struggling in the wind, trying to erect a canvas tent over the edge of a lake. They see what they are trying to shield: a body, trapped beneath the ice.

Their first full day together is interrupted by the sudden appearance of detectives, looking for Joe to consult on the ghastly murder of a couple in nearby farmhouse. Joe is not inclined to cooperate; this kind of thing has gotten him into trouble before. But Charlie, bored with the ancient town after one shopping spree, wants to see her dad at work, and soon Joe agrees to help with the case.

As he investigates, it soon becomes clear that these murders and the disappeared girls are related.

But will Joe figure out the murderer in time to save one of the missing girls?

The device Robotham uses of having Piper document her past and current habitats is chilling; her thoughts, so controlled and matter-of-fact to reality, show readers a young woman who was barely seen before, but will never be forgotten again.

For readers of the series who understand the struggle Joe has endured over several books, the ending will move you to tears.

Well-written, compelling, with complex characters, Say You’re Sorry‘s layered title will show readers its true meaning.

 

The Death of Bees and Shadowkiller Thursday, Mar 21 2013 

Two new Harper imprints to tell readers about.

First up is the highly unusual debut novel of Lisa O’Donnell, The Death of Bees.images_011 O’Donnell’s screenwriting background gives the novel a visual immediacy of the dramatic action as it unfolds that will draw readers in to this story.

This novel is told in rotating narratives, starting with that of fifteen year-old Marnie and her younger sister, Nelly, with their distinctive voices describing their personalities and actions and reactions.

The book opens on Christmas Eve in Glasgow’s Maryhill housing estate, and the girls’ have just finished burying their parents. “Neither of them were beloved,” Marnie tells us.

In their narrative we learn that Izzy and Gene were far from the best parents, negligent and abusive. Marnie’s goal becomes to secretly take care of Nelly without them entering the foster system. Once she turns sixteen she will be legally be allowed to care for them both. There is a mystery surrounding the death of Gene, although their mother has committed suicide, that hangs over this year’s events.

Then their gay neighbor, Lennie, notices the parents’ absence. Grieving over the loss of his own partner, his voice is added to the mix, and the story of the unlikely trio unfolds. Lennie becomes the lynchpin in their little unit, cooking for the sisters, doing their wash, keeping them safe from the system by showing up at Parents Night pretending to be their grandfather.

An unlikely friend, Vlad, also coping with his own grief, is added to their mix, and adds to the affecting nature of the story.

Marnie’s story is that her parents have left them in Lennie’s care to travel to Turkey. But deals Gene has made before his death soon unravel that lie, and one lie leads to another, until the day the sisters’ real grandfather shows up on their doorstep, demanding to know where his daughter has gone.

The characters are gritty and real, with all the flaws humans possess, and with an added dark humor that will have you rooting for these girls.

This is a most unlikely family story that is oddly compelling, as it addresses just what family means and what lengths those who love us will go to in order to protect us.

 

images_005Next up is the third in Wendy Corsi Staub’s trilogy featuring Allison Taylor, Shadowkiller. 

Allison has had to live through the tragedy of 9/11 while fighting a serial killer in Nightwatcher; but that led to her meeting her future husband, Mac MacKenna. In Sleepwalker, set a decade later, terror entered Allison’s life once again, threatening her family, now expanded to include three young children, in their suburban home.

Just when Allison and Mac should be able to take a deep breath, a predator will again enter their life.

A stranger’s death in the Caribbean leads to the string of events that seem far unrelated to Allison, yet will prove threatening and connected.

Memories of Allison’s troubled childhood bring back that threat as the MacKenna’s travel to the Midwest for a family reunion with Allison’s half-brother and his family.

A madwoman from Allison’s past, with ties to Mac, has bided her time to seek revenge on Allison, at one point staying next door to their Westchester home and watching the family’s every move as they prepare to take off on what should be a relaxing vacation. Tapping into their wireless network, the killer knows every move Allison and Mac have planned, and will stop at nothing to bring off the plan she’s hatched to kidnap and eventually murder Allison.

Several key characters of the series return, and readers who have followed the books will be surprised at the twist that opens the novel when the identity of the killer is revealed.

Fast-paced and filled with suspense, readers have been anticipating this final installment in the trilogy.

P M Terrell: Dylan’s Song Sunday, Mar 17 2013 

dylans-song With past clients ranging from the CIA, Secret Service and Department of Defense, it’s no wonder that author P. M. Terrell uses her computer expertise and technical knowledge to highlight the drama in the fourth book in her Black Swamp Mystery series. Dylan’s Song is a romantic suspense novel with just a hint of the paranormal.

The book is a rousing good read. Suspense Magazine calls Terrell’s books “powerfully written and masterfully suspenseful; you have to hang on for the ride of your life.”

Terrell brings the reader to the Irish homeland of Dylan Macquire, whose character was first introduced in Vicki’s Key, a finalist in the 2012 International Book Awards and 2012 Best Book Awards in mystery/suspense.The charming Irishman is running from secrets in his homeland, secrets which will be laid bare in this latest episode.

Vicki Boyd is a psychic who uses her abilities in conjunction with the CIA. Able to travel to remote locations in her mind, Vicki provides startlingly realistic information for her boss Sam. Rounding out the main characters is Brenda Carnegie, a brilliant computer hacker related to Vicki and the best traveling companion Vicki could have when Sam sends the trio to Ireland on a dangerous retrieval mission.

Vicki and Dylan are a couple, which tangles Dylan’s proposed mission on several levels. She’s withholding important information from him, and the stubborn Dylan doesn’t want to go anywhere near his home town. Then a call from Father Rowan, who had been like a brother to Dylan, draws him back reluctantly to the village. The grandmother who raised him is dying and wants to see him one more time.

Suddenly, retrieving operative Stephen Anders seems more urgent. But a tricky complication exists: Vicki’s images show Anders has been kept in the cells of a former castle, one that now exists under one of Ireland’s famous peat bogs.

Dylan is a charmer and his love for Vicki is a big as it can be exasperating. Brenda proves herself to be a necessary compatriot, and Father Rowan in Ireland comes to the trios aid in several important ways. The spy angle is tinged with the sadness of Dylan’s last visit with his Mam, while the local traditions and customs are winningly described.

There will be local intrigue, too, as Dylan returns to the village he escaped from years ago, after hoping his past and its secrets would never catch up with him. All this raises the tension and the hurdles Dylan and the women will have to conquer: to rescue Anders, and to save their own lives.

Terrell does a fine job of getting inside each character while she transports readers from the small southern town of Lumberton, NC, where Vicki and Dylan have been living, to the rolling, fertile countryside of Ireland and the small village where they stay. The tension mounts as the retrieval operation for Anders goes horribly wrong, and just when it seems there’s time for readers to catch their collective breath, terror and danger strike again.

NC author Terrell has written fifteen books, including the historical suspense novel River Passage, which won the 2012 Best Book Award. Her original manuscript is so accurate it is now housed in the Nashville Metropolitan Government Archives for future use by researchers and historians in Tennessee. She is also the co-founder of The Book’Em Foundation, committed to raising public awareness of the correlation between high crime and illiteracy rates. You can read more about the yearly NC wing of Book’Em North Carolina, held in the town of Lumberton that features in her series, by visiting www.bookemnc.org.

 

 

Triss Stein: Brooklyn Bones Sunday, Mar 10 2013 

Please welcome guest author Triss Stein, a fellow New York gal.

JPG COVBrooklyn_Bones_Final

“Write what you know.”  That is standard advice for a new writer but perhaps what you actually know is not that interesting to others or yourself?  I once tried to write a book about a former long-time job, and soon realized I did not want to spend another mental minute there! A good corollary is “Write what you want to know.”  Hmm. There is a lot one could do with that.

After writing a few mysteries, I came up with another one, or really, I think it came to me. “Write what matters to you.”  All three of the first mysteries (two published, one lost when my publisher dropped their mystery line) had an underlying theme that just crept in. No one knows this except me, but they were all, in some way, about parents and children.  I finally realized I should be writing about that on purpose.

I asked myself: what else matters to me? I love history. I always have. I was fascinated by books that told me how little girls like me lived “a long time ago.” How did things get to be the way they are always seemed like the place to start any subject, and old anything seemed more interesting than new.

I love Brooklyn. I’ve lived here long enough to see it change from a time when young families moving here instead of the suburbs were considered  pioneers, to now, when even in Paris Brooklyn is considered the home of  all things “hip” (!).  That is a good change, a destructive change, or it is just change, the one constant of big city life. It all depends on where you’re standing.  Is there conflict about those changes?  You bet.

 

After many years, I have a new mystery out and it is called Brooklyn Bones.  Erica, my heroine is a true Brooklyn girl. She is also a somewhat young single mother of Chris, a teen-age daughter. She is a somewhat old graduate student in urban history, pursuing her hometown’s past and encountering both old and new crime in the process.

In this first book, the past comes crashing right into the present when the body of  a teen-age girl is found during her house renovation. The body is not nearly as old as the house. There are still people around who know the tragic who and why, and intend to keep it a secret buried forever.

I’m knee deep in the difficult middle of the next one, which includes the historic and beautiful Green-Wood Cemetery, Tiffany glass windows, and a charming (I hope!) turn of the last century mystery. And some modern crime of course.  Plus some difficulties Erica has on the other end of the parent/child continuum, as the grown child of her own father.

Luckily for me, history keeps happening and Chris is only fifteen, so Erica has a lot of parenting ahead. And trust me on this- there is no end to the stories I can tell about Brooklyn.

Triss Stein is a small–town girl from New York state’s dairy country who has spent most of her adult life living and working in New York city. This gives her the useful double vision of a stranger and a resident for writing mysteries about Brooklyn, her ever-fascinating, ever-changing, ever-challenging adopted home.

You can find Brooklyn Bones, a new mystery from Poisoned Pen Press, at:

 

 

The Day is Dark: Yrsa Sigurdardottir Sunday, Mar 3 2013 

The Icelandic author with a large international following brings the next installment of her series featuring lawyer and sleuth Thora Gudmundsdottir in this translation of The Day Is Dark.images_017

Divorced with two children and a surprise grandchild, Thora is involved in relationship with banker Matthew, which leads to her involvement in accompanying him to the remote east coast of Greenland. Looking for a change from her usual cases at her Icelandic law firm, Thora is intrigued with the idea of helping the bank establish why work has stopped at a mining operation. The few days away with Matthew and hint of romance she longs for will not materialize once they arrive at the harsh reality of the mining site.

Two workers have disappeared, which is the reason workers have given for leaving the site and refusing to return, halting all work in the unforgiving, wild area, where snow and cold are unlike any Thora has known. She soon finds an additional disappearance of a woman from the site occurred several months prior, which adds to the mystery of what exactly has happened at the remote site.

The icy, wintry landscape provides an unsettling atmosphere for the investigation of the team sent with Thora, her assistant Bella, and Matthew. This team include two members from the previous worker group who are familiar with the site and its functioning, plus a physician in case the missing men are found alive but injured. Then bones are found in random desk drawers and the dread ratchets up.

Damage to the compounds satellite leaves the team with little contact with the outside world. Concerned the missing people may have succumbed to a disease, the doctor rations their food and water, adding to the team’s discomfort.

Trying to get information from the few locals in the nearest town proves almost fruitless. With the depressed economy and a high incidence of alcohol abuse, most townspeople are superstitious and believe the area of the mine is cursed. The one person who will speak to Thora warns her to return to Iceland. And then she finds herself outside, alone, when a figure appears out of the shadows.

There are plenty of creepy happenings in this cold and unforgiving setting which add to the unease and tension, even as readers learn about age-old differences in the culture. The slow parsing out of new information annoys Thora as much as their restricted food, uncomfortable shelter, and lack of knowledge with local history which pervades the mystery.

Past recriminations play a factor, as will long-held ideas about the land and its spirits and family secrets. Sigurdardottir writes a complex puzzle of a mystery while giving outsiders a glimpse far removed from their comfort zones.

 

 

 

Blunt Impact: Lisa Black Saturday, Mar 2 2013 

blunt cover image

Please welcome guest Lisa Black whose forensic mystery series continues with it’s fifth entry:

Blunt Impact is the fifth Theresa MacLean forensic mystery and the first to be published by Severn House. Theresa has my old job as a forensic scientist at the coroner’s office in Cleveland, Ohio (now I’m a CSI and latent print examiner in Cape Coral, Florida). I’m also a bit claustrophobic, which is probably why I like to set my murder scenes outdoors. At the lakefront, in the park, on the observation deck of the Terminal Tower or, as in Blunt Impact, on the 23rd floor of a skyscraper under construction.

Theresa is not the butt-kicking gun-carrying bad girl of some TV shows. Nor is she the icy sarcastic genius who likes to point out everyone inadequacies. She prefers to do her work in peace and quiet, unobserved behind the lines—but of course this rarely works out for a good-looking redhead who’s usually found standing over a dead body. And in Blunt Impact she is caught in the knot of unlikely and conflicting human beings surrounding a tough but endangered little girl named Anna, better known as Ghost.

Ghost has a unique lifestyle, loved by her construction worker mother and disabled grandmother but constantly slipping out of her home to roam the back alleys of the large city, looking for the father whose identity has always been kept secret from her. Nothing all that bad ever happens—until she witnesses her mother’s murder, the beautiful young woman thrown from the 23rd floor. Ghost will not rest until she learns the truth, which means that Theresa cannot rest until Ghost is safe.

The building itself is in turmoil, torn by controversy over its purpose as a new county jail. Add in OSHA whistleblowers and missing money, criminal elements using the site for their own purposes and a homely but smart district attorney who becomes more interested in Theresa than the intrigue and Theresa has no choice but to hang on tight as she dangles over the abyss.

Blunt Impact will be available April 1, featuring forensic scientist Theresa MacLean and a series of murders surrounding a skyscraper under construction in downtown Cleveland. The first to die is young, sexy concrete worker Samantha, thrown from the 23rd floor. The only witness is her 11 year old daughter Anna, nicknamed Ghost. Ghost will stop at nothing to find her mother’s killer, and Theresa will stop at nothing to keep Ghost safe.

Also, Kindle owners can find a bargain in my new book The Prague Project, written under the name Beth Cheylan. A death in West Virginia sends FBI agent Ellie Gardner and NYPD Counterterrorism lieutenant Michael Stewart on a chase across Europe as they track stolen nukes and lost Nazi gold, hoping to avert the death of millions of people.    L Black author photo-1

         Lisa Black spent the five happiest years of her life in a morgue. As a forensic scientist in the Cleveland coroner’s office she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now she’s a certified latent print examiner and CSI for the Cape Coral Police Department. Her books have been translated into six languages. Evidence of Murder reached the NYT mass market bestseller’s list.

See her website at: http://www.lisa-black.com

 

 

 

 

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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!

Saving the planet one day at a time.