Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett: Keeping More Than One Book in the Air! Wednesday, Dec 30 2015 

Please welcome Kathy, er…Kaitlyn, who will try to explain how she juggles so many fine books!
The Scottie Barked at Midnight (208x300)

Keeping More Than One Book in the Air
(or, How to Juggle)

byKathy Lynn Emerson (aka Kaitlyn Dunnett)

It isn’t at all uncommon for writers of genre fiction to produce more than one novel a year, nor is it all that rare for the same person to write more than one series.

Sometimes they do so under more than one name, but not always. I’ve been juggling two or three books a year for a long time now, going way back to the late 1990s, when I alternated category romances with historical mysteries.

How do I keep more than one book in the air? By not trying to do everything at once. By that I mean that I focus on Book One but never completely lose sight of Book Two. I write myself notes about Two and let my subconscious noodle plot problems. I can see Two out of the corner of my eye even as I’m spending my actual writing time on Book One.

Inevitably, the day comes when I need a break. Perhaps I’ve hit a snag and don’t know what comes next. Maybe I’ve completed a draft and just want a little time to pass before I try to revise it.

Whatever the reason, by then I’m more than ready to tackle Book Two and, because I took a break from it, my enthusiasm for that project is high. I’m brimming with fresh ideas that occurred to me while I concentrated on Book One, so I’ll work on Book Two until, as with Book One, I come to a point where I need a break. That’s when I go back to Book One, armed with a fresh perspective and renewed enthusiasm.

All that sounds fairly simple and if I was completely in charge of my writing time, it would be. It’s both good news and bad news that I currently write for two different publishers. They set the deadlines. Despite my best efforts, those deadlines can end up being uncomfortably close together.

Then, too, time has to be budgeted for revisions an editor asks for, line edits, copy edits, and reading page proofs. When each book is published, add in blogs, interviews, and other publicity-related tasks. Some of that is ongoing. I also chime in twice a month at http://www.MaineCrimeWriters.com and maintain a presence on Facebook (as Kaitlyn Dunnett) and at Goodreads.

I admit there are times when all the books and book-related tasks I have in the air threaten to fall and land squarely on my head. It can be downright dangerous to juggle too many things at once. I have been asked to write faster and produce more than one book in a series in the same year. I resist. That way lies potential disaster. Yes, I could come up with 75,000 words in three months, but they wouldn’t be the best words. I firmly believe that any manuscript needs time to rest before it is revised. Without a break, I’d skim right past trouble spots without noticing them. Ideally, I’d like a year to write each book. I produce two a year by alternating between them. Each manuscript undergoes several complete revisions before I’m satisfied with it. The end result is the best novel I am capable of writing.
Murder in the Merchant's Hall
What am I juggling right now? Book One is the third Mistress Jaffrey mystery set in Elizabethan England. It’s due in June. Book Two is a proposal for a new contemporary mystery series—synopsis, first three chapters, and brief pitches for future books. Kilt at the Highland Games, the tenth Liss MacCrimmon mystery will be published at the end of July, so it is in production with assorted edits and page proofs still to come. And I’m still doing publicity for the second Mistress Jaffrey mystery, Murder in the Merchant’s Hall, which came out in ebook earlier this month. That’s four books in the air.

Maybe, if I’m very careful, I can add that short story I’ve been meaning to revise . . .

Kathy Lynn Emerson (224x300)
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of over fifty books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award in 2008 for best mystery nonfiction for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2014 in the best mystery short story category for “The Blessing Witch.” Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (The Scottie Barked at Midnight) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in the Merchant’s Hall) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” series and is set in Elizabethan England. Her websites are http://www.KaitlynDunnett.com and http://www.KathyLynnEmerson.com

Barry Maitland: Crucifixion Creek Sunday, Dec 27 2015 

Auntie M is a huge fan of Aussie Barry Maitland’s England series featuring DCI Brick and DI Kolla. Now he’s on his home turf, premiering a new series with a most unusual protagonist, Sydney’s homicide detective Harry Belltree in Crucifixion Creek.

With echoes of his Afghanistan military experience haunting his dreams, Belltree is suddenly overwhelmed with three homicides to investigate: a woman shot during a meth-addict biker siege; an elderly couple who commit apparent suicide at their favorite outdoor cafe’; and a white male stabbed to death in the street.

Then he’s shocked when the stabbing victim turns out to be his brother-in-law Greg, his wife’s sister’s husband, who owned a contracting business.

Journalist Kelly Poole will become far too involved for Belltree’ liking, but does she have a point when she insists these three incidents are all connected? She’s uncovered ties between Greg and the elderly couple to a corrupt money man who has influential friends.

While Belltree can’t officially be a part of Greg’s investigation, the links to the others allow him some latitude and he wants to be the one to brig the person responsible to justice for his wife’s sister and her family. And in doing so, he will bring danger to himself and his family.

With his blind wife becoming his unofficial sidekick, this is an intriguing and suspenseful mystery by a master at work. Highly recommended.

Merry Christmas! Friday, Dec 25 2015 

Yes, it’s Christmas, and despite being mostly in a recliner with an ice pack on her operated back, Auntie M has found her holiday spirit. And to that end, she’s sharing two books with you that are perfect for the season.

Rhys Bowen’s new Molly Murphy Mystery, Away in a Manger, is filled with Bowen’s usual knack for historical details that bring Manhattan in 1905 to life.

Molly has her own family: her husband, Daniel, a police captain whose business Molly would greatly like to become involved in; their baby son, Liam, and their 12 yr-old ward, Bridie, so Molly is looking forward to these holidays, even with Daniel’s mother there helping out.

A visit to see FAO Schwartz sets the tone for the little family. Then a set of carolers in their New York City neighborhood adds to the festiveness, and one young girl with the voice of an angel catches Bridie’s attention. The family try to help by giving the girl a quarter, which an older boy immediately takes from her.

This is her older brother, and they’ve emigrated with their mother from England, only to have their mother disappear. The aunt they are staying with mistreats them, yet Molly soon sees these children are educated and have been given a proper upbringing before coming to America. So what has happened to their mother?

Molly’s efforts to find the children’s mother soon leads to a tale of family intrigue and probably murder, with more planned unless Molly can stop the villain and save the two children in time to be home to celebrate Christmas. Vintage Bowen, nicely plotted and atmospheric.


Jane Cleland’s Ornaments of Death is the next offering perfect for the holidays. The tenth Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery blends her own knowledge of antiques with a mystery during the Christmas season.

Josie’s New Hampshire Antique shop in the coastal town of Rocky Point is dressed as a winter wonderland for her annual holiday party. Josie is excited as Ian Bennington, her distant relative, will be there for the holiday. The recently discovered descendent is the hit of Josie’s party and gives her ties to a royal mistress.

And then Ian suddenly vanishes, and it’s soon discovered that he’s not the only thing that’s missing: two valuable watercolor miniatures Ian had given his daughter are also missing.

It will take Josies’ knowledge of antiques to track the miniatures and wend her way to Ian and solve the dual mystery. A perfect holiday treat for cozy readers who enjoy antiques and New England.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from Auntie M to all of you! Enjoy your celebrations and take time to read a good book~

Connie Hambley: On writing, law and how to construct a captivating thriller Tuesday, Dec 22 2015 

Auntie M met author Connie Hambley at New England Crimebake. As a nice bookend to the year’s posts, and we decided to do an interview as we had something in common in our backgrounds, a change of profession. Happy Holidays to all, Merry Christmas, too, and Auntie M will see you in 2016!

Here’s Connie’s story on how being a lawyer makes her a great writer:


Auntie M: I was a nurse who wrote on the side until I could write full time. You were a lawyer who now writes. Was it always your intention to write, too, or did you fall into it sideways?

Connie Hambley: Definitely a sideways freefall. My DNA is coded to communicate via the written word and I thought becoming a lawyer was a perfect fit. Words? Clear expression of nuanced meanings? Boo Yeah! The hitch was I also hate conflict. An epically bad career choice turned around when I applied the lessons learned in law school to writing.

Lawyers are trained to inhale vast amounts of information then distill the concepts down to their essence. In constructing a legal argument, a position is taken –think ‘guilty’ or ‘innocent’ – and each word written leads to that conclusion. A well-written thriller or mystery does the same thing. From the very first word on the page, authors construct a world to manipulate readers’ beliefs and emotions with the ending goal in mind–to have the readers completely engaged in the story and believe the conclusion. The best books –just like the best legal arguments–change readers’ perspectives on the world around them. Once I started writing fiction, I knew I found my home.

Storytellers are consummate communicators. When I construct a story, I think of my readers as a first-rate opposing counsel. If I let a detail slip or if my characters’ motivations don’t ring true, readers will find reasons to disengage–or worse, critically attack. When I find a compelling question, I construct a story in a three-dimensional world filled with facts, motivations, and conflicts–just like a legal brief, but my outcome is fiction. (I will refrain from telling any lawyer jokes here, but the restraint is killing me.)

I write to an intelligent and discerning reader in the same way I would write to crafty opposing counsel. Resolving the conflicts into a satisfying and solid climax is a job well done. Oh, and the journey has to be nerve-racking for the readers.

AM: So why crime novels in particular?

CH: My thrillers take a crime to the larger stage. My family was the target of an arsonist who burned our farm down simply because he had an ax to grind. The repercussions of this act reverberated for decades. I learned that people who look like you and me can do reprehensible things yet still be loved by a spouse and children. For me, that crime opened my eyes to layers and shades of good and evil.

I explore crimes within the theme of terrorism because one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Readers’ natural repulsion for terrorist acts is a tool I use to ratchet up tension.

I use pacing similar to crime novels to breed suspense. You know the Alfred Hitchcock technique of showing the bomb to the viewer but hiding it from the characters? The viewer is nerved up, but the characters are going about their day. I use the same technique. A discarded backpack on a crowded street signals volumes to the reader, but the characters stand beside it. Horrible!

Vivid and compelling characters also propel my thrillers. Understanding motivation, or at least articulating it, invites the readers to stand in the characters’ shoes. Giving my characters the heft of a strong narrative invites the readers deeper into my web, er, story. A crime is more compelling when the reader asks, “Could I do that?” “Would I make the same decision?”

Inside the international crime story of The Troubles, I answer how a biological mother can live with her child for a decade and never say the words, “I’m your mother.” What powered that decision? The psychology of the characters is just as important as their actions, if not more.

AM: When we met during costume night at NE Crimebake, you were wearing authentic riding silks. I assumed you were Sid Halley, one of Dick Francis’ protagonist jockeys. Who else were your influences in writing crime?

CH: Ha! I channeled my inner “Chick Francis” for Crimebake! The main character in my books is Jessica Wyeth, a world-class equestrian who witnessed, and then was framed for, a murder. I seasoned my first book, The Charity, with John Grisham as Jessica tries to clear her name. That book has a strong legal thriller aspect to it, but also has the dark thriller tone of Jo Nesbo. In The Troubles, Jessica is drawn into an organization some folks refer to as the Irish Mafia. The unfolding layers and expanding world is definitely inspired by Stieg Larsson and the multi-generational story-telling is capturing Ken Follett’s spirit. Book three, with a working title of The Wake, has a pinch of Colleen Mccullough and another smattering of Grisham!

AM: Who is on your nightstand waiting to be read when you have rare down time?

CH: An essential part of a writer’s career is always to be reading! Lined up is Hank Phillippi Ryan’s newest book, What You See, and Susan Elia MacNeal’s fifth Maggie Hope book, Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante, is underway. Kate Flora’s Death Dealer is in the queue, too.

AM: And what about those beautiful silks–were they yours?
CH: Those cringe-worthy neon silks are mine! I grew up riding horses so Jessica’s backstory is richly detailed with the sights, sounds, and feel of riding. The breeches, helmet, and boots are my ‘real’ riding clothes and the silks have a long and storied history of being a family gag gift for Yankee Swaps at Christmastime! You know how one picture or scent can trigger a wealth of memories? If I ever need a little inspiration, I just open my closet.

Business Headshots2a
Connie Johnson Hambley weaves stories from real-life experiences with a passion for exposing history with a fresh twist.
Hambley was a lawyer before turning her attention to writing, and she freely admits to having much more fun now. Her writing pursuits include being a featured columnist for Bloomberg Businessweek, an invited contributor to Nature, and a featured writer for Massachusetts HighTech. International money flow and laundering schemes were learned during her tenure as a Vice President at a major Boston bank and investment house–not that she ever directly uses that experience. Hambley creates worlds that leave readers feeling like eye-witnesses to international crime.

Hambley is a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Sisters in Crime, a professional organization supporting women mystery writers, and frequently speaks on the joy of writing mysteries and insights into the publishing process.

The Troubles, a sequel to The Charity, continues to explore the unseen impact of terrorism through the people and the organizations that fund it. Boston’s ties to the Irish Republican Army, Northern Ireland’s history, money laundering schemes with legal loopholes, and family secrets populate her books if not her real life.

Follow Connie on Twitter @conniehambley
Her blog is here: http://bit.ly/outofthefog
Facebook is here: http://bit.ly/facebookcjhambley
. . . and website: http://www.conniejohnsonhambley.com
She’s on Google+ too, but who uses that anyway?
In a crazy tradition of professionalism, Connie promises to personally respond to you. . . eventually

Sharon Buchbinder: Kiss of the Virgin Queen Tuesday, Dec 22 2015 

It’s time for the holidays and here’s something a bit different to mix it up with a paranormal bent. Enjoy your time with family and friends and keep reading!

KissOfTheVirginQueen_w9945_Hi Res

Here’s Sharon Buchbinder with a different twist on a thriller, Kiss of the Virgin Queen~

Homeland Security Special Agent Eliana Solomon is on a mission to prevent terrorist attacks. Hard enough to do when the threats are human, almost impossible when it’s an evil, shape shifting jinni.

Eliana needs help, so she calls the sexy and beguiling psychiatrist, Arta Shahani. However, no matter how good he is at his job, the man is on her blacklist. On their last case together, the guy left her for dead. Arta is stunned when he receives Eliana’s call.

Forced to abandon the woman he loves, he now fears she won’t accept his shape-shifting skills as a Persian Lion. Eliana, in the meantime discovers she is a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba with special powers of her own. But will her skill and Arta’s be enough to defeat the jinni, or will they lose the love history decreed for them as well as their lives in this battle of good versus evil?

This full length novel is the second in the enthralling new Jinni Hunter series from award-winning author, Sharon Buchbinder. Edgy and suspenseful, this paranormal romance series explores diverse cultures and an array of supernatural beings. Join the Special Agents of the Anomaly Defense Division as they race to save humanity—and the people they love.

No matter how far we are in the future, everything connects us to our past.
Forced to work with sexy and secretive Dr. Arta Shahani, Homeland Security Special Agent Eliana Solomon isn’t sure she can trust him—or her heart. Will Eliana’s skill and Arta’s be enough to defeat the evil jinni—or will they lose the love history decreed for them as well as their lives?

Book Trailer https://youtu.be/4ONWBeBZXlw
World-wide Release Date: October 14, 2015 ISBN(s): 978-1-5092-0392-5 Paperback 978-1-5092-0393-2 Digital Digital Price: 4.99 Print Price: 16.99

Pre-Order/Buy Links: All Romance Ebooks Amazon Bookstrand B&N KOBO The Wild Rose Press https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-kissofthevirginqueen-1885337-143.html
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kiss-of-the-virgin-queen-sharon- buchbinder/1122626572?ean=2940151181921
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/kiss-of-the-virgin-queen http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info &cPath=195&products_id=6415


Sharon Buchbinder has been writing fiction since middle school and has the rejection slips to prove it. An RN, she provided health care delivery, became a researcher, association executive, and obtained a PhD in Public Health. When not teaching or writing, she can be found fishing, walking her dogs, or breaking bread and laughing with family and friends in Baltimore, MD and Punta Gorda, FL.
Author Links: Facebook: Sharon Buchbinder Romance Author https://www.facebook.com/sharon.buchbinder.romanceauthor
Twitter ID @sbuchbinder https://twitter.com/sbuchbinder
Instagram: https://instagram.com/sharon_buchbinder/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sbuchbinder/
Blog http://sharonbuchbinder.blogspot.com/
Website http://www.sharonbuchbinder.com/index.html
Goodreads author page https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4417344.

Sharon_Buchbinder Link to sign up for Newsletter http://www.sharonbuchbinder.com/contact.html#newsletter

Triss Stein: The Erica Donato Mysteries and Brooklyn Secrets Sunday, Dec 20 2015 

Please welcome Triss Stein, who’s talking today about the importance of setting, something Auntie M always starts with and the newest in her series, Brooklyn Secrets:

Brooklyn Secrets Cover

Choosing a Setting

A mystery series where the place is part of the story is great fun to read and to write. My fascination with Brooklyn, where the diverse neighborhoods often seem like a collection of small (well, small-ish), towns has lasted a long time. Since change is the only constant in any big city, I don’t think that fascination will go away before I run out of stories to tell.

Choosing the exact setting for each book takes some thought, or perhaps a flash of inspiration. The neighborhood, now, is where and when the story takes place, but my heroine, Erica Donato, is a graduate student in urban history and so there is always a mystery from the past, too. The neighborhood setting needs to have scope for both.

Brooklyn Bones, the first in the series, was easy. I just looked outside my front door. Park Slope, where I live, is a lively and beautiful corner of Brooklyn which has gone through a couple of decades of steady gentrification, (for good or ill). However, it was not always the center of chic it has become (Seriously! They think this in Paris!) and I was here just as it was changing. It was not hard to find a story from that darker time.

Brooklyn Graves was directly inspired by a place, beautiful and historic Green-Wood Cemetery, and a series of news stories about priceless stained glass windows being stolen from now neglected, but once affluent, churches and mausoleums. I think any mystery writer, especially one of with a taste for history, would clip those articles. And ponder.

The setting of the new book, Brooklyn Secrets, has raised more questions. It is Brownsville, a remote corner of Brooklyn that is now, and always was, unlovely, uninspiring, and poor. It was built as an extension of the overcrowded, immigrant Manhattan neighborhood the Lower East Side. The shoddy housing of years ago has been long replaced by projects, perhaps equally shoddy; the color of the skin and the accents of the immigrants is now different and guns have changed the nature of everyday crime, but in many ways it is not different at all. Crime, boxing and education remain the roads out and often, the best choice is not even clear.

I started with Erica writing a chapter of her dissertation about crime in Brownsville’s history. In mid-20th century America, it became famous as the home of Murder, Inc, enforcers for organized crime in its heyday. She sort of overlooked the point that in writing about how neighborhoods change, she would also have to deal with Brownsville now. I overlooked it, too, for a while. The challenge became finding a reason for Erica to continue to be involved in the present day mystery I was trying to create.

Did I solve it? Did I weave together the parallel stories of how young people, now and back then, try to find their way when there is no way? Did I write about a place as an outsider and get it right?

Readers, your thoughts will be most welcome.

Triss Stein is a small–town girl from New York farm country who has spent most of her adult life in New York the city. This gives her the useful double vision of a stranger and a resident for writing mysteries about Brooklyn neighborhoods in her ever-fascinating, ever-changing, ever-challenging adopted home. In the new book, Brooklyn Secrets,s Erica find herself immersed in the old and new stories of tough Brownsville, and the choices its young people make.

Kate Charles on The Detection Club Wednesday, Dec 16 2015 

The wonderful Kate Charles, mover and shaker with Eileen Roberts at St. Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Conference each year, brings readers a view inside the glorified Detection Club. Here is her report on their latest meeting:

I was immensely privileged, in mid-November, to be present for an historic moment in the annals of crime fiction, when the eighth President of the prestigious Detection Club took over the capacious red robe of office – a robe which has been worn by G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie in their time, and most recently by Simon Brett.

The new President is Martin Edwards, a writer who is passionately interested in the history of the Detection Club, serving as its archivist for the past few years and recently publishing a non-fiction book on the subject, The Golden Age of Murder.DC 7Martin Edwards with Simon Brett: the torch and the red robe is passed.

As Martin would tell us, the Detection Club was founded in 1930 (or perhaps 1932!) as a dining club for the prominent crime writers of the Golden Age. Its rituals, including an arcane initiation rite, date from those early days, and were once cloaked in secrecy.

Now, though, in this age of openness (and Wikipedia!), anyone with a bit of curiosity can delve into its mysteries. I don’t think I’ll be struck off as a member for revealing that, in a solemn candle-lit ceremony, new initiates promise that their detectives will not resort to ‘Divine Revelation, Excessive Sanguinity, Lucky Guesses, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery Pokery, Coincidence or Act of God’, and that they swear their loyalty to the club on Eric the Skull, with ‘terrible penalties’ threatened for breaking their oath.Kate Charles with Eric the skullKate at her initiation with Eric the Skull.

Members of the Detection Club gather three times a year for congenial dinners in London, as the club continues to fulfil its original function of providing a social outlet for solitary crime writers. These days, though, the writers are far more diverse than those of the Golden Age, as the genre has expanded beyond its cosy beginnings.

This diversity presented a challenge recently, when the club embarked on a project of creating a serial novel in the grand tradition of the original Detection Club’s The Floating Admiral. As in the original project, fourteen writers contributed, and a good time was had by all. Having read (and loved) The Floating Admiral in my youth, I felt it a huge privilege to be involved in this. The Sinking Admiral (inevitably!) will be published in 2016 – another milestone in the ongoing history of a fascinating institution.floatingadmiral

Kate Charles is best known for her ecclesiastical mysteries. These include the Book of Psalms series and the Callie Anson series. Her latest book is False Tongues. False-Tongues-cover
She is a former Chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association and the Barbara Pym Society.

Leslie Budewitz: Guilty as Cinnamon Monday, Dec 14 2015 

Auntie M had the pleasure of meeting Leslie Budewitz at NE Crimebake recently. Leslie is the current President of Sisters in Crime, too, and has a wonderful sense of humor. Welcome her as she talks about what led to her new mystery, Guilty as Cinnamon, Book Two in her Spice Shop Mysteries.


In 1968, “Here Come the Brides” made TV stars of Bobby Sherman and David Soul—and the city of Seattle. Sherman, Soul, and Robert Brown (I admit, I had to look him up) play three brothers who run a logging company and import potential brides to keep their lumberjacks happy. It’s loosely based on the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and inspired by the real-life story of pioneer Asa Mercer and his “Mercer Girls.” I loved it. I even believed the theme song: “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle, and the hills the greenest green are in Seattle.”
Ten years later when I left Montana for Seattle University, my first few days on the campus were bright and sunny. And then, those famous rains began. About six months later, when the rain stopped and I was still there, I counted myself a true Seattleite. I’d learned. You pull on your rain coat, leave the umbrella your mother gave you in the closet, and go on doing whatever it is you want to do.
And when the sun comes out—well, those are the days the songwriter was talking about.
I remember watching Richard Dreyfus and Marsha Mason in The Goodbye Girl, in a huge theater in downtown Seattle. Dreyfus is packing for a trip to Seattle, where he’s been promised a part in a play. He’ll be back, he promises, and she struggles to believe him. “Do you know they have wolves out there?” he asks, and the whole theater erupted in howls of laughter.
I’d already moved back to Montana when Sleepless in Seattle came out in 1993. Tom Hanks’ houseboat, right? That’s what you remember about Seattle: the gigantic glass windows, the dark, shimmering lake waters, the sparkling lights. And the wonderful connection between Hanks and Meg Ryan, and the cute kid, and all the romantic comedy repartee that makes us feel warm and fuzzy.
These images and more—the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Mount Rainier, the Seahawks’ offensive line—scrolled through my mind as I created Seattle on the page in my Spice Shop Mysteries. These are the pictures readers who’ve never lived in the Northwest hold of the Emerald City. They’re iconic. They provide a framework for how we view the place, much as the Empire State Building, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Central Park pop into mind when we picture New York City.

Cities are so much more, of course, but I loved calling on those images and the fond memories they evoke when picturing Pepper, my main character, and her friends and staff going about their days under blue skies and gray. Her friend Laurel’s houseboat isn’t Tom Hanks’ houseboat, but I hope a reader who remembers the movie will smile in recognition when the Flick Chicks gather on the roof for dinner, then settle in to the cozy sunken living room to watch a movie. I hope they’ll think of Richard Dreyfus worrying about wolves, and remember that while Seattle is urban, it’s also nestled between wild waters and wild mountains. And I hope they’ll think of those blue skies and white peaks, those green trees and steep hills, when they follow Pepper through the Market to Pioneer Square and back again.

Because a city comes alive on the page when the author creates a place we can see and feel, and our memories of a place—whether we’ve been there or not—are part of the equation.

Do you have a fond memory of Seattle—on the page, the screen, or on a visit?

GUILTY AS CINNAMON (Spice Shop Mystery #2, December 1, Berkley Prime Crime)
Pepper Reece knows that fiery flavors are the spice of life. But when a customer dies of a chili overdose, she finds herself in hot pursuit of a murderer…

From the cover …

Murder heats up Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the next Spice Shop mystery from the national bestselling author of Assault and Pepper.

Springtime in Seattle’s Pike Place Market means tasty foods and wide-eyed tourists, and Pepper’s Seattle Spice Shop is ready for the crowds. With flavorful combinations and a fresh approach, she’s sure to win over the public. Even better, she’s working with several local restaurants as their chief herb and spice supplier. Business is cooking, until one of Pepper’s potential clients, a young chef named Tamara Langston, is found dead, her life extinguished by the dangerously hot ghost chili—a spice Pepper carries in her shop.

Now stuck in the middle of a heated police investigation, Pepper must use all her senses to find out who wanted to keep Tamara’s new café from opening—before someone else gets burned…


Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She fell in love with the Pike Place Market as a college student in Seattle, and still makes regular pilgrimages. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher. Connect with her through her website and blog, http://www.LeslieBudewitz.com, or on Facebook, http://www.Facebook.com/LeslieBudewitzAuthor

Series: Spice Shop Mysteries (Book 2)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (December 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 042527179X
ISBN-13: 978-0425271797

Fall Humor: Ashley Weaver and Tonya Kappes Sunday, Dec 13 2015 

Ashley Weaver’s first Amory Ames mystery, Murder at the Brightwell, was nominated for an Edgar and introduced the wealthy amateur sleuth and her charming and dashing Milo. That first entry is now out in paperback for anyone who missed it.

She returns with Death Wears a Mask, with Amory relaxing in reconciliation at their London flat with Milo, until she turns to full-sleuth mode when high-society marvel Serena Barrington needs her to find who has stolen jewels from her London flat.

There’s an upcoming masked ball and while the host is terribly sexy Viscount Dunmore, Serena’s idea is to have Amory bait a trap for the thief with a copy of Barrington’s jewels to be heisted.

But things to awry when Serena’s nephew becomes a victim and with the help of DI Jones, Amory works her way through the suspect list. Despite Milo’s photo and that of a French film star distracting her and making the advances of the Viscount seem terribly attractive, Amory puts her personal grievances aside to gain Milo’s help in finding a killer–and saving her marriage.

Weaver’s humor reminds readers of Nick and Nora Charles, if they’d been set in 1930’s British society.

GhostlyDemise AGhostlyMurder

Tonya Kappes’ Ghostly Southern Mystery series features Emma Lee Raines, the Eternal Slumber funeral home director who sees dead people. The next two installments in the series have the same hilarious humor that Auntie M’s mum calls “brain candy.”

In A Ghostly Demise, Emma Lee is surprised to find Gephus Hardy at the local deli. The father of her friend, Mary Hanna Hardy, hasn’t been seen in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky for the past five years and that’s because he was murdered. The town drunk was thought to have disappeared, but Gephus has heard in the spirit world of Emma Lee’s propinquity for helping lost souls move on and her enlists her help.

The request comes at the worst possible time for Emma Lee, as her granny’s mayoral campaign is running in high gear. With a carnival keeping Emma Lee’s boyfriend, the Sheriff, busy in a most humorous way, she’s forced to figure out the connection between the carnival and and a killer.

A Ghostly Murder brings Emma Lee into more of a professional situation when a ghost appears to her in the form of the town’s worst hypochondriac, Mamie Sue Preston. Also one of the richest women in town, Mamie Sue was buried by Emma Lee’s rival, Burns Funeral Home, making her investigation into who killed Mamie even more difficult.

With “I Told You I was Sick” inscribed on her tombstone, Mamie Sue insists she was done in for her fortune. And too many people have benefited from her will to give up their inheritance easily.

Now Emma Lee’s granny is in the frame for murder, and it will take all of her wiles to convince boyfriend sheriff Jack Henry to help her figure out who really did away with Mamie Sue.

More Holiday Joy: The US edition Wednesday, Dec 9 2015 

Auntie M divided her recommendations into Holiday Joy for other sites across the pond on Dec, 8th, and this version where the settings are all in the US. While you’re shopping for the readers on your list, don’t forget you deserve one, too!

Up first is a thriller writer Auntie M met at Thrillerfest a few years when she was meeting favorite UK author Peter James. “Come and meet my tennis friend,” James said, and I was introduced to the tall and charming Simon Toyne, whose Santus trilogy Auntie M has previously reviewed.


Readers familiar with that Trilogy will be more than pleased with his new thriller, The Searcher, set in Arizona this time, the first in his new Solomon Creed series. The white-haired albino is just the kind of Jason Bourne-like character who can sustain several books with ease.

A funeral in the town of Redemption is interrupted by a plane crash, and the man running away from the site not only has no shoes, he has no memory of how he got there–or who he is. His clothes provide minimal clues and his name: Solomon Creed.

Creed understands he’s in Redemption for a reason, and his questions will lead him to the town’s secrets, filled with people who have something to hide. There are lines drawn between good and evil and a touch of the supernatural. Two main points of view of Creed and the town’s founder in the form of diary entries allow the story to keep the reader knowing more than Creed. A strong start to a new series with a complex character, great images, and a vivid story.

Canadian author Elizabeth Duncan’s Penny Brannigan series, set in the North Welsh countryside, have been previously reviewed by Auntie M. Now Duncan’s turned to a new setting to debut the first in her second series, the Shakespeare in the Catskills Mysteries, kicking it off with Untimely Death.

Duncan takes readers to a Catskill resort, the Jacobs Grand Hotel, whose production of Romeo and Juliet starts off with a bad turn when the leading lady is poisoned. Lauren Richmond is later stabbed and it seems there are far too many suspects who would have wanted the thespian out of their way.

At the center is Charlotte Fairfax, the costume designer who was formerly mistress for the Royal Shakespeare Company and whose shears have been used to commit the murder. The Catskills may not be London, but Charlotte remains Queen of her domain and inserts herself into the lives of her cast and crew as the investigation commences.

There is a nephew of the owner of the hotel who has fingers pointed at him. The aging actor who was the victim’s lover has his own near-death experience, and it turns out he was Charlotte’s former fiancee. Lots of reasons for her to find herself pushed into the middle of the muddle, not the least of which is that she is dating the Chief of Police. An interesting setup for future installments.

At NE Crimebake this year, Auntie M took a police class from Brian Thiem, a former Oakland Homicide Detective Commander with years of Army experience, too. So it was a pleasure after listening to his expertise, designed for writers to ‘get it right’ about police actions, guns, and forensics, to come home and read his debut crime novel featuring Detective Matt Sinclair, Red Line.

RED LINE is an excellent police procedural with an engaging main character who comes across as real, someone readers can identify with and will want to follow, and that extends to his new partner, Cathy Braddock. Catching his first case after desk duty for a series of incidents that have stained his reputation, Sinclair needs a good case to get back into action.

A teenage boy has been found dead at a bus stop outside a hospital, the son of surgeon at that hospital who lives in an affluent neighborhood. Then a second body is dumped at the same bus stop, and Sinclair and Braddock try to find the connection between the victims.

It doesn’t help that the cases bring back an old case of Sinclair’s from two years ago, when two girls were left at that same bus stop. One in a dazed state wandered into the line of traffic and died as a result of being hit by cars. Sinclair realizes he was too deep into his alcoholism at the time to devote as much time to the case as he should have and works even harder to do them justice.

The daily routine of police work is recreated in perfect detail: the interviews, the reports, the way small bits of information come together to build a case. And as Sinclair works this case he must deal with superiors who want to force him out of homicide.

With a girl friend who is a television reporter whose job often puts them in conflict, readers will come to understand the grueling long hours and high stress of a murder investigation, all as Sincalir struggles with his desire to take to the bottle again. Chapters from the murderer’s point of view add to the well-plotted mystery. A strong debut which will leave readers looking for a sequel, from someone who knows the drill inside out.

Douglas Schofield has crafted a most unusual police procedural in Time of Departure. Drawing on his own legal experience, he introduces Claire Talbot, a Florida State prosecutor trying to prove herself to her colleagues in her new post a head of their Felony Division.

The action kicks off when a highway construction crew find two skeletons sharing a grave, and Claire is forced to reopen a cold case investigation into a series of abductions. Perusing the case file, she comes across retired fellow cop Marc Hastings, who becomes too close for comfort with some aspects of Claire’s life and this case.

Is his interest more than affection? And what does Hastings know about Claire’s life that she doesn’t?

A compelling debut that shows a clever mind behind it all, mixing genre expectations.

Linda Lovely takes readers to her hometown of Keokuk, Iowa, in the year 1938 for Lies. Using real landmarks and historical happenings mixed with her fictional story and elements, this is a strong showing from a great storyteller. The period leading up to WWII comes alive under Lovely’s talented hand.

Catherine Reedy Black knows she needs to leave her abusive husband, a swindler and con man, in order to have a reasonable future for her two-year old son, Jay. With her family’s support, she just might be able to do it, too, until Dirk Black’s corpse is pulled out of the river, and Cat becomes the prime suspect.

New to the police department, Ed Nelson knows Cat from school, and remembers the bright girl he was attracted to. But he’s hiding his own secrets, and even as he tries his best to help clear Cat, he’s fighting the corrupt police chief who wants nothing more than to see Cat convicted of murder.

With the annual Street Fair in town, the glitzy lights and rides will prove a scary setting as Cat tries to clear her name and almost dies in the effort. It seems there are many in town who are hiding secrets, and among them is the killer with a motive Cat needs to unearth.

A perfect mix of compelling mystery and love story in a well-drawn setting. And a great gift for any reader who enjoys this period.

Multi-award winner Hank Phillipi Ryan returns with her fourth Jane Ryland thriller, What You See.

The journalist and her detective boyfriend, Jake Brogan, are in the midst of still trying to figure out how to handle their conflicts of interest in their jobs. She’s interviewing with a new channel, and rushes to the site of a big story: the stabbing death of a man at historic Faneuil Hall–and it’s Jake’s case.

You would think with multiple tourists capturing the murder on their cell phones that this would be one case that’s an easy solve, but Jake and his partner Paul find this investigation isn’t at all what they’d predicted. There’s an injured man in addition to the victim to consider, too.

In the midst of this, Jane’s sister is about to be married, what should be a joyous occasion–until her fiancé’s daughter, the young flower girl, is abducted by her stepfather. Nine-year-old Gracie’s disappearance is just the tip of the iceberg as this story overlaps with the case Jake is following, with fingers leading to dark places.

It gets more and more complicated. Neither the murder victim or the injured man in the alley have any ID on them, making motive and solving the case difficult. Jane is juggling with trying to establish a new place at Channel 2 when her family situation takes precedence. Jake is finding that a murder in broad daylight in front multiple witnesses is full of challenges and directions of interest that have far reaching connections and consequences.

It all places Jake and Jane in a position to test their loyalties to each other and to their jobs.

Ryan does a bang-up job of showing how even in this digital age, looks can still deceive. Filled with family secrets, merciless ambition, and deceitful maneuverings. JT Ellison says, “This is Ryan at the top of her game.” A perfect mix of mystery and romance.
Silent City
Carrie Smith’s first Manhattan police procedural, Silent City, features protagonist Claire Codella, a detective just back on the case after grueling chemotherapy for an aggressive lymphoma. Still dealing with its after-effects, which Smith details accurately, Codella’ first murder case turns out to a well-liked school principal. And Codella must prove to her colleagues, and to herself, that she’s up to the task.

Hector Sanchez’s murder investigation hands Codella a new partner to break in, newly promoted Eduardo Munoz. They, along with Codella’s former partner, Brian Haggerty, follow numerous leads in their search for Sanchez’s killer. The staging of his body makes it appear that his murder is connected to his job as principal at PS 777 and the three investigators quickly learn there are far too many suspects with a motive to kill him.

Codella is an intelligent detective who follows where the evidence leads her, and whose new boss is not exactly her biggest fan. Yet despite his attempts to undermine her authority, Codella relentlessly pursues all the of the leads in the case, despite battling her cancer treatment’s side effects.

Munoz and Haggerty, also excellent investigators, know they must be loyal to Codella. Munoz must also prove himself worthy of his promotion; Haggerty and Codella are trying to put to bed an old rift that came between them.

This mystery has an engaging storyline and appealing characters. With plenty of suspects, no clear cut motive for the crime and stunning plot twists, Carrie Smith skillfully conceals the killer’s identity until the novel’s climax. A strong series debut.

Susan Cox won Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel award. The Man on the Washing Machine is a delightful mix of humor and murder, taking place in San Francisco, and introducing a most unusual sleuth, former party girl and society photographer Theophania Bogart, who hides her own family secrets.

Theo unfortunately sees her neighbor, Tim Callahan, fall from his apartment window, plunging her right into the middle of his murder investigation. Her already complicated new life comes under intense scrutiny. Surrounded by neighbors and friends, Theo is the owner of a small bath and body shop as well as the building housing it, but she is constantly afraid her sordid past will be unearthed.

What will a police investigation do to her carefully crafted identity?

When the police detective suspects murder, not suicide, she lists the entire neighborhood as suspects and that includes Theo. Then another body with direct ties to Theo turns up, making her the number one suspect.

Filled with eccentric characters, this fast-paced mystery is filled with humor and action. A perfect gift for those readers who enjoy a dose of humor with their mystery.

That’s it for the gift listing, folks. Remember that books make wonderful presents for anyone on your holiday list. And enjoy yours, with a few for your stocking as well~

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