Karen Odden: A Trace of Deceit Sunday, Dec 22 2019 

Karen Odden returns with the next in her Victorian mysteries with A Trace of Deceit.

With its strong setting and hint of romance, there’s something for every reader as Odden introduces Annabel Rowe, one of the first female art students at the Slade School in London.

Despite the difficult relationship she had with her only brother, a talented artist, she’s determined to find who murdered the young man when she finds Scotland Yard’s Matthew Hallam searching his flat. The inspector soon comes to find Annabel’s knowledge of the art world helpful in his investigation, and the two team forces to flush out a killer.

With his checkered past, Edwin Rowe was restoring a painting for an auction house but it’s been stolen from its frame. Did Edwin surprise thieves, and was stabbed trying to prevent their theft? Or had his past caught up with him?

Things become more involved when it’s learned the painting’s owner had claimed insurance after it had supposedly been lost in a warehouse fire.

Odden uses her own knowledge of work at Christie’s, along with extensive research, to bring this period to life as the unlikely duo delve into corruption and politics of the art world.

Will Thomas: Lethal Pursuit Tuesday, Nov 12 2019 

Will Thomas returns with his Barker and Llewelyn series in Lethal Pursuit. The enquiry agents, whose chambers are in the shadow of Whitehall, have risen to annoy most of the higher-ups in government and Scotland Yard, yet continue to solve the most recalcitrant cases.

A Foreign Office agent has fled home to England carrying an important satchel from Eastern Europe, but murdered soon after arriving. With tensions rising between Germany and England, it’s imperative that the contents are kept out of German hands.

When no less than the Prime Minister gives them a simple assignment, newlywed Llewelyn, now a partner, can’t understand why Barker is taking his time to carry out the easy charge: deliver the satchel to Calais into the hands of a waiting monsignor from the Vatican.

Just what the satchel holds is unclear, but it’s rare and ancient, from the first century. Soon there are personal agents, secret societies, and political groups all vying to retrieve the satchel and its contents, and all putting Barker and Llewelyn at serious risk. And this time, Llewelyn has a bride waiting for him at home.

With his research nailing the details of the Victorian era, from the clothing and social manners to crimes and politics, Thomas delivers a satisfying read that advances both the characters and the times.

Jim Hart: A Tom Collins to Go Sunday, Oct 27 2019 

Times change but when it comes to certain genres of literature; sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

There are still legions of loyal readers who long for the days of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Mickey Spillane. With A Tom Collins To Go (Winner of the Poison Cup Award from Crime Masters of America and Finalist for the Golden Book Award), Jim Hart proves he knows this by successfully incorporating the deadpan style with the film noir humor and drama of these authors into his private eye, Harry Parker.

Hart has created a powerful rendering of the true golden age hardboiled, hard drinking detective with a story that incorporates a keen eye for detail capturing the ambiance of the time.

The novel brings the reader back to the darker side of 1947 Brooklyn, New York. Hart includes all the best elements of the detective genre; mystery, action, sharp dialogue, wisecracks and a cast of well flushed-out-multilayered secondary characters.

On the surface this is a story about the kidnapping of a Wall Street millionaire, but it isn’t long before we realize that it is much deeper, and we are drawn into a fast-paced, gripping plot and character-driven story of greed, corruption and murder by the first person narration of the Sam Spade-like Harry Parker. Harry drinks too much, laments his failed marriage, longs for his ex, and his ‘don’t give a damn’ demeanor are what makes him so loveable.

With A Tom Collins To Go, Hart has created a powerful rendering of the golden era of the private eye story. If you are a fan of noir, the skillful combination of all of these elements makes the book a first rate read that is tough to put down. It’s like walking through a noir movie.

Jim Hart was raised in Brooklyn where he still resides with his wife. He began his working life as a drummer in rock and blues bands before beginning a thirty-year career in the New York City Sanitation Department, during which time he worked his way through the ranks to serve in such positions as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs and Director of Correspondence for the Sanitation Police.

Hart has published two noir detective novels in the Harry Parker Mystery Series A Tom Collins To Go, and The Aviation Cocktail. Both are set in 1947 Brooklyn, NY. A Tom Collins to Go was the winner of The Poison Cup Award from Crime Masters of America and a Finalist of the Golden Book Award. Both novels received favorable comparisons to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. He is currently working on the third installment tentatively titled Bloody Mary.

Hart has also published two Poetry Collections: Ramblings Of A One-Eyed Garbage Man, and A Handful Of Smoke, as well as being the co-writer of two songs on The Peter Stevens Band CD Change My World.

Abigail Keam: Death by Stalking Wednesday, Oct 23 2019 

Please welcome Abigail Keam, who writes two mystery series:

Hi. I’m Abigail Keam and I write the Josiah Reynolds Mystery series about a woman who makes her living as a beekeeper and is an amateur sleuth in the lush Bluegrass horse country—a world of Thoroughbreds, oak-cured bourbon, and antebellum mansions.

The Josiah Reynolds Mysteries are a little different from the usual cozy. While there is very little violence, sex, or swearing in the storylines, they are a tad darker than most cozies. Josiah is not your typical sweet heroine. She has a bite to her and does not suffer fools gladly.

I try to make these stories as much fun as possible and have given Josiah some quirky friends that can only be found in the South. There is Josiah’s ancient next door neighbor, Lady Elsmere, who married an English lord and came back to live in the Bluegrass. Josiah’s daughter, Asa, claims she is an art insurance investigator, but everyone knows she works for the CIA. There is also Baby, Josiah’s 200 pound English Mastiff, and Glory, an American Paint horse who has a penchant for throwing Josiah off.

As I am a beekeeper, I love weaving beekeeping facts into my mysteries as well as historical facts about Kentucky, which has a fascinating past.

My twelfth JR Mystery—Death By Stalking—recently received a Readers’ Favorite award in the category of Murder Mystery. I was thrilled to receive the award alongside such other talented authors.

I currently released a new series—The Mona Moon Mysteries are a historical rags-to-riches series taking place during the Great Depression. Mona Moon is a cartographer, counting pennies when she learns that she has inherited her uncle’s vast wealth and a horse farm. She thinks her worries are over until someone tries to kill her. Oh, dear!


Award-winning author Abigail Keam has just released her new mystery series—the Mona Moon Mysteries—a rags-to-riches1930s mystery series which includes real people and events into the storyline. The new series is about a cartographer who is broke and counting her pennies when there is a knock at her door. A lawyer, representing her deceased uncle, announces Mona has inherited her uncle’s fortune and a horse farm in the Bluegrass. Mona can’t believe it. She is now one of the richest women in the country and in the middle of the Great Depression!

Abigail Keam is an award-winning and Amazon best-selling author who writes the Josiah Reynolds Mystery Series about a Southern beekeeper turned amateur female sleuth. The Last Chance For Love Series tells of strangers who come from all walks of life to the magical Last Chance Motel in Key Largo and get a second chance at rebuilding their lives, and The Princess Maura Fantasy Series.

One thing Miss Abigail loves to do as an author is to write real people and events into her storylines. “I am a student of history and love to insert historical information into my mysteries. My goal is to entertain my readers, but if they learn a little something along the way—well, then we are both happy. I certainly learn a lot from my research, and I hope my readers come away with a new appreciation of beekeeping from my Josiah Reynolds Mysteries.”

AWARDS

2010 Gold Medal Award from Readers’ Favorite for Death By A HoneyBee
2011 Gold Medal Award from Readers’ Favorite for Death By Drowning
2011 USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books List of 2011 as a Finalist for Death By Drowning
2011 USA BOOK NEWS-Best Books List of 2011 as a Finalist for Death By A HoneyBee
2017 Finalist from Readers’ Favorite for Death By Design
2019 Honorable Mention from Readers’ Favorite for Death By Stalking

PASSIONS

Besides loving history, Kentucky bourbon and chocolate, Abigail loves honeybees and for many years made her living by selling honey at a farmers’ market. She is an award-winning beekeeper who has won 16 honey awards at the Kentucky State Fair including the Barbara Horn Award, which is given to beekeepers who rate a perfect 100 in a honey competition.

A strong supporter of farmers’ markets and local food economy, Miss Abigail has taken her knowledge of beekeeping to create a fictional beekeeping protagonist, Josiah Reynolds, who solves mysteries in the Bluegrass. While Miss Abigail’s novels are for enjoyment, she discusses the importance of a local sustainable food economy and land management for honeybees and other creatures.

She currently lives on the Kentucky River in a metal house with her husband and various critters. She still has honeybees.
http://www.abigailkeam.com
abigailshoney@windstream.net
https://www.facebook.com/AbigailKeam

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCThdrO8pCPN6JfTM9c857JA

Sherry Thomas: The Art of Theft Wednesday, Oct 16 2019 

Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock Series returns with the fourth, The Art of Theft, another in the feminist series that has Sherlock as Charlotte, who solves crimes with Mrs. Watson.

With a complicated family situation and lots of tendrils of involved relationships that Thomas explains, the case comes down to the theft of a painting that has secrets hidden behind the canvas.

Those secret letters are need to be recovered for an old and close friend of Mrs. Watson, and Charlotte agrees to help. Enlisting the aid of her aristocratic team brings them to a gaudy Parisian costume ball during the holiday season at a French chateau where the painting in question is hidden, waiting to be auctioned off.

There will be an elaborate scheme that starts with the architectural drawings of the chateau and advances to include the dreaded Moriarty and his own team. Soon dessert-loving Charlotte is disguised in such an ingenious way even her own mother wouldn’t know her.

A wealth of historical details show the depth of Thomas’s research. She weaves this tale with social mores of the times and shows the difficult position of women yearning to be acknowledged for their brains as well as their beauty.

A strong thread of romance and wit add to prose that reflects the era in this historical re-imagining with Charlotte’s formidable and accomplished brain at the forefront.

Nicola Upson: Sorry for the Dead Tuesday, Oct 8 2019 

After the tremendous success of the stand-alone Stanley and Elsie, Nicola Upson’s tour de force of the artist Stanley Spencer’s complicated marriage and art from the view of his housekeeper, Elsie Munday, the author gives us the the eighth in her series the Sunday Times calls “historical fiction at its very best” featuring Josephine Tey as its main character in Sorry for the Dead.

Upson takes readers in part to Tey’s younger years, alternating with the time period associated with the majority of the previous novels in the 1930s, with a few brief forays a decade later. It is to Upson’s credit that the details for each period ring true and cement each era without confusing the reader. Indeed, the reader becomes immersed in each time frame, in its details and its mores within history.

These periods are needed to tell the story that starts in 1915, when a young Josephine is present as a teacher at Charleston Farmhouse on the Sussex Downs when a young girl dies under suspicious circumstances.

Decades later when Josephine returns to the same house, the memories of those days already brought to the forefront of her mind by recent events, she remembers the two women who ran the farm and taught horticulture to young women during the Great War.

Georgina Hartford-Wroe and Harriet Barker had a difficult time with the neighboring farmers, with whispers about their personal relationship they might have overcome, if not for the tragic death of the girl in their care. That death will turn out to haunt both women for the rest of their lives.

Deftly weaving the storylines between young Josephine’s life and choices then to the path she has chosen as an adult, readers are given privy to her backstory and the events surrounding the death; and later as an adult as she determines she must follow up on the death of that young woman.

In each period, Upson’s language captures the essence of any scene, such as when Josephine as an adult peers into the former site of the girl’s death: “Everything was covered by a silver labyrinth of spiders’ webs, miraculously strong enough to hold the past in place,” presenting a wonderful foreshadowing of the secrets from that long-ago day.

In the earlier time frame, she illustrates the pathos of a WWI train station:

“The platform had filled up quickly, with no one willing to board the train before the last possible moment. She scanned the faces of those who had come to see their loved ones off: wives who talked too much to hide their fear; fathers standing strict and silent; children for whom a uniform hadn’t lost its glamour … As for the men themselves, their faces were set and impassive, and she noticed how few of them dared to look for long at the people they loved.”

This sense of loss, the effects of war, the horrors it brought to those who fought and to those left behind, are indicated in such a subtle but discerning way that it is impossible to forget the aura of the day in the earlier chapters, and in those of 1938, the lead up to the brink of new horrors.

The ending brings with it not so much a sense of justice as that of survival and ultimately, unending love. This is an accomplished novel, as moving as it is complex, with the mystery of a young woman’s death at its heart. Highly recommended.

Marlowe Benn: Relative Fortunes Sunday, Aug 4 2019 


Marlowe Benn’s debut, Relative Fortunes, is filled with issues and social mores, not to say fashion, too, of 1924. It’s a stylish mystery that evokes the blues of the Jazz Age in which it’s set.

Benn introduces American Julia Kydd, who returns to New York after living in England where she’s incubating the germ of an idea for a small, elite press. Loving all things type, font, and paper, she dreams of establishing her own imprint. With women just able to vote, this is a heady time for women.

Julia’s half-sibling, Philip, controls her allowance until her soon-to-occur 25th birthday, but brings a suit to attempt to claim her half of their father’s estate. While this battles out, Julia is forced to stay in Philip’s home, and learns more than she wanted to about the brother she’s been estranged from and never really knew growing up.

Then the sister of a friend dies and she’s pulled into what she comes to believe is a murder, not a covered-up suicide the family hopes to pass off as a brief illness. Naomi Rankin was a well-known suffragette, and her younger sister, Glennis, is Julia’s new friend. Present with Glennis at the family home for a closed memorial service for Naomi, Julia is shocked to see the lack of regard for Naomi and the miserly way this wealthy family has treated her because of her beliefs in woman’s rights.

When Glennis begs Julia to help her prove Naomi was murdered, Philip’s wager that if she can find out what happened she will keep her inheritence is too good to pass up.

Peopled with real figures from the era in the world of bibliophiles, Benn brings her own love of book arts to Julia, while exploring the few options open to women at this time. If one didn’t have money, those options shrunk even smaller.

Benn also shows Julia and Glennis, and even Naomi through her friends, who must consider their futures and how those differ for men and women. In the stunning climax, this disparity between genders is brought to the forefront in a tragic yet realistic way.

An accomplished debut.

Dan Fesperman: Safe Houses Sunday, Jun 23 2019 

The dizzying cover of Dan Fesperman’s Safe Houses mirrors the exhilarating pace readers will find inside in this tale of how Cold War Berlin events reach into the present day.

The CIA’s Helen maintains a safe house in Berlin, despite yearning to be the agent she knows she can be. Male power abuse reins her in until a situation occurs that changes everything.

In the present, Anna is determined to find out who murdered her parents in their rural Maryland home, refusing to believe it could be her brother. Both are strong women; both storylines alternate in a seamless way that brings the dual mysteries to life.

There’s a spareness to Fesperman’s prose that adds to the twists and action of the book, whose themes underscore the ideas of loyalty and betrayal in mmany guises that adds to the timeliness of the storyline.

Fesperman’s background as a war correspondent adds to the thorough research he’s done to bring the Cold War to life. With realistic dialogue and believeable characters, this is one chilling novel where a Cold War mystery collides with a present day murder.

Allison Montclair: The Right Sort of Man Sunday, Jun 16 2019 

Allison Montclair’s new series starts off with a delightful bang with the charming The Right Sort of Man.

The second World War has just ended in 1946 London, and two young women who couldn’t be more opposite are thrown together. Iris Sparks is the unmarried, savvy woman with an Oxford education and a shady past; Gwen Bainbridge is the war widow with a young son, still grieving the loss of her handsome husband, and subjected to living with her staid in-laws.

The two meet at a wedding and agree to start a new business to cement their independence, and do it in one of the Mayfair buildings that escaped bombing with The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. They approach it in an organized manner, trying to match suitables, and even have had a few marriages from their pairings.

New client Tillie La Salle sets off Iris’ warning bells as someone who might have her own checkered past, but the women set her up with her first date. Then Tillie is found murdered, and the man arrested for the crime is Dickie Trower, the man they matched to Tillie, who claims he never met with her at all.

Now the duo have a two-fold problem: try to rescue Dickie from the hangman’s noose, and try to reclaim the reputation of their new business. The two will ennlist their friend, Sally, a budding playwright who reminded Auntie M of Stephen Fry, to cover the office as they take turns sleuthing Tillie’s life.

The thing that struck Auntie M about these two well-developed characters (make it three if you include Sally) was their snappy dialogue, which hums and zings off the page. The period details are spot on, and the the light-hearted feel is contrasted with moments of the realities of a post-war nation.

An assured start to what promises to be a wonderful and interesting series for fans of historicals, this one will be snapped up and not put down until it’s done.

Nicola Upson: Stanley and Elsie Thursday, May 2 2019 


In a departure from her Josephine Tey crime series (London Rain, Nine Lessons), Nicola Upson beguiles readers with a stand-alone with her trademark historical realism in the compelling story of Stanley and Elsie.

Stanley Spencer is an artist, as is his wife, Hilda Carline. Elsie Munday is the housemaid they hire soon after the birth of their first daughter, Shirin. Living in rural Burghclere after the First World War for Stanley to work on the vast commission that will be Sandham Memorial Chapel, we see their marriage through the lens of Elsie’s eyes, as well as their artistic temperaments. The chapel’s many paintings represent the war through Stanley’s eyes, a series that recreates moments of redemptive camp life mixed with the trauma he experienced.

Elsie quickly learns Stanley is charming but stubborn, and as she and Hilda bond, so do Elsie and Stanley over his art as he explains it to her. His yearning to return to his hometown of Cookham, with Hilda missing her own home in Hampstead, is only one of the many hurdles the couple will face in the strong light of Stanley’s obsessions.

Elsie’s keen observations form an important part of the book; so does Stanley’s capacity for genius and torment. There are themes of unity and of what is sacred that run throughout the novel, while the harsh reality of what really happened between the couple cannot be denied. Yet their art is something that had control over them both at times, and after finishing the book, Auntie M was driven to research the images that haunted them both.

This look at two tortured souls, one trying to heal the wounds of war through his art, the other trying to prove her love over and over, is captivating reading as Upson beautifully renders the period after the war in her elegant prose. Highly recommended.

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Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

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A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

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Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

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

Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

Welcome to Leeward

Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp the 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.

K.R. Morrison, Author

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

The Wickeds

Wicked Good Mysteries

John Bainbridge Writer

Indie Writer and Publisher

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.

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

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

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