Maine Crime Wave: Saturday, April 22nd Friday, Mar 17 2017 

Readers, here’s a note from Gayle Lynds on the NEW Maine Crime Wave conference. Auntie M hopes to attend next year, but this inaugural year looks outstanding:

Writers conferences are like tea and cookies for me, or maybe like an AK-47 and a cyanide pill embedded in a molar. They’re exciting and often memorable in unexpected ways. They can range widely in our mystery-suspense-thriller field. I love the big ones; I love the small ones. Some of my very best friends in the world I met when we sat next to or bumped into each other, or I heard speak. Plus, although I’ve been publishing for some thirty years, I still learn at every one.

If you, too, love books and write in the crime field. Please join us at this year’s Maine Crime Wave on Saturday, April 22, in Portland. It’s going to be outstanding. Here are some details:

Ever wonder about the process of developing from debut author to New York Times bestseller? Hear the inside scoop from TESS GERRITSEN—winner of our inaugural CrimeMaster Award—and her renowned New York literary agent MEG RULEY of the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

What’s the truth about crime at the state level? Join us for insider tales from MAINE ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET MILLS, who will give the day’s luncheon keynote talk.

PLUS The conference includes panel discussions, theme-specific craft sessions, manuscript workshops, one-on-one agent critiques, and more:

★ Experts discuss how to write winning query letters
★ Debut authors reveal how they got published
★ Attorneys and law enforcement officers unveil inside info about crime & punishment
★ Top authors describe how they develop ideas into selling manuscripts
★ Break-out craft sessions give you the inside scoop on Plot, Character, & Scenes
★ A special hands-on manuscript workshop for four attendees
★ And join us at 4:00 p.m. for Two Minutes in the Slammer, an opportunity to read your own prose

All the details are here:

Looking forward to meeting you! Gayle Lynds

[Gayle Lynds is a New York Times bestseller and multiple award winner of international espionage novels. Please visit her at]

Ragnar Jonasson: Snow Blind Sunday, Jan 29 2017 


Ragnar Jonasson’s Snow Blind introduces a new crime series set in Iceland. Jonasson hones his crime chops translating fourteen Agatha Christie mysteries into Icelandic, and is a founding member of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir.

Snow Blind introduces Ari Thor Arason, a new policeman who has just moved to the tiny northern fishing village of Siglufjordur. It’s a place where white is the predominant color many weeks of the year, and where avalanches can cut off the small mountain tunnel that allows access to the rest of the world.

Taking this position meant leaving his girlfriend behind, and Ari Thor is still smarting at the way their relationship is floundering. When a young woman, half-naked, is found bleeding and near death in her backyard, he becomes quickly involved in his new community. While he seeks the perpetrator, he suspects not everyone is telling the truth.

That new community involves a local theatre group, one of whom is giving Ari Thor piano lessons. Then someone at the theatre dies, and he must ascertain if this was a tragic accident, or a case of murder.

Is it possible these two instances are connected, as the woman’s partner is a member of the theatre troupe? With only two other members of his police team, and his Chief intent on smoothing troubled waters, it will be left to Ari Thor to investigate on his own.

With its complex plot to keep readers flipping pages, the stark coldness emphasizes Ari Thor’s alienation and sense of claustrophobia. Then his own house is broken into, and the young policeman must figure out if he’s been put on the killer’s list, and why.

A classic whodunit set in a stark place with a twisted ending.

Dorothy Hayes: Keys to Nowhere Friday, Jan 20 2017 

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Auntie M had the good fortune to interview Dorothy Hayes recently about her new release, Keys to Nowhere. Dottie has generously offered to giveaway a copy of the new book to one lucky person who leaves a comment~

Auntie M: –Keys to Nowhere is your third Carol Rossi novel. How did you decide to write about a Connecticut-based investigative journalist?

Dorothy Hayes: Marni, I do believe in the basic rule: write about what you know. I was a reporter for more than five years for local Connecticut newspapers, The Wilton Bulletin, a weekly, and then The Hour, a daily in Norwalk. The culture of the newsroom comes to life only because I lived it.

AM: -How much of Rossi’s personal life is based on Dorothy Hayes?

DH: Rossi is married to a much younger man, and so am I. But I, gratefully, have four grown children and a huge family. Rossi has one baby, and her parents have passed away. Rossi is a writer and a vegan, and so am I. She is my alter ego, however, for she lives a perfect life on Peaceable Kingdom. She and Jerry rescue animals and live in rare harmony with nature. Of course, Jerry is a police detective in Wilton, Connecticut, where they reside, so when their tranquility is rudely broken, a new mystery is born. Also, people in desperation turn to Rossi, who is a bit of a local hero, then she’s forced into being a reluctant amateur sleuth and in that role she faces potentially lethal violence.
In the end, Rossi is far braver and cleverer than I.

AM: -You’ve chosen 1985 as your time frame. What prompted that decision?

DH: I wrote full-time as a journalist in that time period. My mysteries focus around the crimes of the times and are based on facts and research going back to my newspaper beginnings as a writer. The Mafia and serial killers were just being uncovered in all their various forms in the seventies and early 80’s. The God Father, for instance, debuted in 1972. Also, crime was at an all time high in New York City, where Broken Window takes place, 2,000 homicides a year, and with gangs roaming the subway trains.

AM: -In Keys to Nowhere, Rossi decides to leave her infant with her husband to pursue the case. How does Rossi justify that decision?

DH: Well, Marni, being a new mother, Rossi understood her friend’s fears. When Vera Dearborn shows up at her door in hysteria, telling her that her two teenagers and her sister have vanished in Tucson, Arizona, Rossi puts herself in Vera’s shoes. If her baby disappeared she’d want help as well. She struggles with this decision and is subject to mother’s guilt big time, but it’s impossible for her to say no. Rossi is sure that she’ll persuade the Tucson Police to work on the case somehow. If they won’t, she’ll go beyond her investigative journalistic role and again venture forward as an amateur sleuth, as she’s done in the past. That in fact happens, leaving Rossi to pursue, against her better judgment, a serial killer before he strikes again.

AM: -What pitfalls will Rossi face having no official credentials once she arrives in Tucson? How do you get around that?

DH: Rossi usually works with her detective husband and it’s a two-way street. She attacks the case as an investigative journalist and he follows police procedure, which often misses major points. Both benefit from the dual investigations. But now, Rossi is on her own. She strikes a bit of good luck in the form of a young police officer, Brian Larson. Jerry also telephone’s Larson, leaning on him a little as a brother-in-blue. But nevertheless the police insist that the three women are “runaways,” and refuse to open a missing person’s case. But the compassionate Larson extends a helping hand to Rossi.

AM: -How does Keys to Nowhere compare to your two others, Murder at the P&Z, and Broken Window?

DH: Murder at the P&Z is a classic Whodunit. I don’t want to give it away by telling what the crime of the time was behind the murders.
Broken Window and Keys to Nowhere are missing person stories. Broken Window deals with human trafficking in the US, while Keys to Nowhere is about serial killers. I’m not giving anything away for this is fairly clear from the beginning of the two mysteries.

AM: -So many readers enjoy reading a series protagonist. How does that work for you as the author?

DH: I’ve fallen in love with my characters. I get a kick out of the trouble Rossi finds herself in and how she cleverly works her way out of it. I’m always surprised by my characters. Like my vegetables, I’m an organic writer. My stories grow as they go. I place my characters into situations and allow their instincts and emotions to take over. I, of course, put myself in that character’s role. I never know where the story is heading. Stephen King does the same and I often wondered if I should be more buttoned down about the plot, but King said a plot all mapped out is like a prefab house, and I get that. I’m excited when I begin a new mystery, Marni, for I don’t know where the heck it is going. It’s an adventure for my readers and for me.

AM: -What’s a typical writing day like for Dorothy Hayes?

DH: It’s up with the sun. Write to about two or three in the afternoon. I feel totally satisfied. Writing is my natural habitat. Marni, when I was a kid, I wanted to two things: to have four kids and to write novels. I’ve been blessed with both.

AM: -Where do you find your plot ideas for the cases that attract Rossi?

DH: Coming from newspapers, my stories are all based on crimes of the times. Through my research, I love research. I have great fun preparing for a book once I know what the underlying subject will be. In the Author’s Note of all my books, I reveal the real life crime mainly reported in newspapers, I also do a great deal of reading on the subject in books, which I list. At times I’ll list the names of people in real life who were models for my characters, and the dates of the crimes reported and the name and date of the newspaper article. Once I’ve got my topic, I research more, and before I know it, characters pop up like surprise, but welcomed, guests at my door.

AM: -Who do you like to read when you’re not writing?

DH: Henning Mankell was one of my favorite mystery writers, I’ve read all his Kurt Wallander books. Kurt is a flawed, but real human being and I love character driven books, as a rule. Now, I’m reading Chernow’s Hamilton like many other readers. I’ve just finished Dead Wake, The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, and The Guns of August. I’ll keep reading newspapers, novels and histories until an idea strikes my imagination and then we’re off again, me and my characters, to another adventure.

But, Marni, it was The Ballad of Reading Goal, a ballad I read by Oscar Wilde, that moved me as a writer; “Yet each man kills the things he loves, by each let this be heard…” In his writing, Wilde allowed me to feel the raw emotions of the last few minutes of a condemned man’s life. This was impossible for me to experience otherwise. It stunned and amazed me. Homer’s The Iliad was the first book that made me cry, I even know where I was when I read it–that was when Andromache sees Hector’s dead body, her wonderful husband, being dragged through the dirt by Achilles. Hamlet…I could go on.
Books such as these were an awakening for me.
My passion, as a writer, humbly and thanks to incredible writers, is to transport readers to places, times and feelings impossible to reach other than in books.

READERS: Don’t forget to leave a comment if you’d like to win a free copy of Keys to Nowhere~

Dorothy Hayes, a staff writer for local Connecticut newspapers for five years, received an honorary award for her in-depth series on Vietnam Veterans from the Society of Professional Journalists. Prior to that she was a Language Arts teacher. A staff writer for a national animal protection organization for six years, she wrote her first novel, Animal Instinct, in 2006. Dorothy lives in Stamford, Connecticut with her husband, Arthur. She also raised four children, and is the mother-in-law to three, grandmother to fourteen, and great-grandmother to Bella.

Her other books in the Carol Rossi Mystery Series are: Murder at the P&Z, 2013 and Broken Window, 2015. Her short story, , was published by Mysterical-E, December 2016.

She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime-Tri-State Chapter, and Mystery Writers of American. Visit her at

Christina Hoag: Girl on the Brink; Skin of Tattoos Wednesday, Jan 11 2017 

Please welcome YA author Christina Hoag, who will share her writing tips Auntie M’s readers~


Writing Tips
By Christina Hoag

Here are several writing tips I’ve discovered through many years of writing. You may find them helpful. They’re in no particular order.

1. I don’t write myself out every day. I leave something – the very next scene, usually – so when I come back the next day I know what to do. I just pick up and keep going. If you write yourself out, then you end up wasting a lot of time wondering what comes next and trying to get back into the rhythm of the story.

2. If someone says something in your piece doesn’t work, it’s only one person’s opinion. But if two people make the same observation, you need to pay attention to what they’re saying. More often than not, it’s something that needs fixing.

3. Develop a thick skin. It takes courage to write and show your work to the world for judgment, but remember that not everyone is going to like your work, and that’s okay. You have to learn to let criticism roll off you. The nastiest rejection I ever got was from the editor of a literary journal who scornfully said of my experimental fiction submission, “Why would anyone even read this?” I kept submitting it and got the piece and another like it published in other journals.

4. If there’s someone in your life who does not support you creatively, either get rid of them or distance yourself from them as much as possible. Be ruthless because your art is worth it. I’ve broken up with boyfriends because they were not supportive or had no interest in my writing. In my mind, you can’t be with a writer if you’re not interested in what they write because their writing is part of their self-expression.

5. Don’t give up! It can be hard to keep going amid the onslaught of rejection –agents, editors, reviewers. If you get a particularly bad rejection or setback, allow yourself to wallow in self-pity for a set period of time, say three days. When that’s over, get back to your PC.

6. When critiquing other people’s work, remember to be constructive and how it feels to be on the receiving end. Always state some positive points first then say “I thought you could improve this by…”

7. Have a general sense of where your story is going and how it will end. I’ve tried “pantsing,” ie. writing by the seat of my pants, and ended up lost in the plot labyrinth and wasted a lot of time. Now I have a loose outline and I periodically map out the next couple scenes as I write. That keeps me on track and thinking ahead. It makes the process much smoother.

8. Read a wide range of genres and authors. Read poetry to develop lyricism and an ear for language. Read plays to develop dialogue. Read mysteries/thriller/classics to improve plot development. Read literary works to enhance character development.

9. When confronting the dreaded writer’s block, do something else for a while, don’t fret and don’t force. I’ve found that getting up and going to the kitchen clears my head enough for the next step to pop in it. You can also use the time to do something else writing-related: work on your website, submissions, an essay, or on another section of your book. The secret is changing your focus so you can clear your blocked channel.

10. This may be the most important tip of all: Believe in yourself. Believe that you have something worthwhile to say. Believe in your talent. Believe that you will succeed and that the rocky road is part of any artist’s journey.


Christina Hoag is the author of Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishers, 2016) and Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, 2016) that was named to Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2016 YA list.

She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald, and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014).

ChristineS lives in Los Angeles. For more information about her, see
Skin of Tattoos and Girl on the Brink are available in ebook and paperback: and

Happy New Year Treat: The Ones I Bought Myself Sunday, Jan 1 2017 

Happy New Year 2017 to all my readers~It’s a pleasure bringing you recommendations for great crime books to seek out and Auntie M will continue to read and review on your behalf, while working on her own mysteries. The next Nora Tierney, THE GOLDEN HOUR, will see Nora frustrated at not being able to investigate an international crime that has a very personal effect. Stay tuned.

For the New Year, she’s bringing you several of the books she bought herself. When you receive books to review, and not all are reviewed, your buying need drops tremendously. Yet there are writers whose work Auntie M values and these she’ll mention to give you even more great crime novels to look for.

But first: a special mention to those of you who haven’t discovered the Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty series written by Ausma Zehanat Khan. On the heels of her debut, The Unquiet Dead, her second in the series, The Language of Secrets, will be out in paperback next week.
language-of-secrets-731The third, Among the Ruins, will publish in February, so if you haven’t read this complex and fascination series yet, please sort that out before the third comes out. You won’t be disappointed as Khan is a master plotter who brings multi-cultural realities to crime.

On to thumbnails of Auntie M’s other recommendations:

Val McDermid’s Out of Bounds
brings detective Karen Pirie her most challenging cases yet, when the DNA from a teen joyrider after a crash, may hold the key to a long-unsolved murder. Drawn to another case she’s surreptitiously investigating on her own, Pirie is plagued with insomnia as she wades through her grief after the death of her partner, fellow detective Phil Parhatka. Accomplished and nuanced.

Laura Lippman brings Tess Monaghan her strangest case. Juggling parenthood to the precocious Carla Scout has been a challenge, as will the new case. With partner Sandy in tow, Tess reluctantly agrees to provide security for Melisandre Harris, back in the country to film an most unusual documentary of a mother reuniting with the children she left ten years ago, an ending to her crime.Years ago after giving birth to her third child, Melisandre locked the infant in her car and sat on the banks of a river while it died. Found not guilty by reason of criminal insanity, she left her husband and two other daughters to move to France for therapy and a fresh start. Her return brings its own issues when Tess’s client is suddenly a mruder suspect, just when Tess starts receiving messages from a stalker about her parenting. Vintage Lippman.

But don’t stop there if you’re a Lippman fan. Knowing Auntie M is, a good friend gifted her a signed copy of Lippman’s stand alone Wilde Lake. The new state’s attorney for Howard County, MD, is Lu Brant, filling her father’s shoes. Her current case revolves around trying a homeless man accused of murdering a woman in her home. But it also dredges up memories of the night her brother murdered a man in self defense to save the life of his best friend. How the two are connected in Lu’s mind will have her wondering whether the legal system is all she’s signed up for; and what really happened that night so many years ago.

M J Arlidge’s DI Helen Grace series continue with her fifth installment in Little Boy Blue, when a case hits too close to home and threatens to reveal Helen’s personal secrets. The killer is targeting members of the BDSM community, and leads melt away as the killer keeps up his spree. Alarming depravity resides alongside a fast pace, as the twists and turns keep coming in this dark thriller that will have readers panting for the next installment.

This Grace is DI Grace Fisher, in the second of Isabelle Grey’s series that promises to attract a wide readership. Shot Through the Heart
examines police corruption and how Grace’s investigation is hampered at every turn when five people are gunner down before the shooter kills himself on Christmas Day–and one of those killed is a police officer. Crime journalist Ivo Sweatman is on hand to either help or hinder Grace, but she has no option but to accept his offers of help when her youngest witness disappears.

Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries are a delight, and capture readers’ attention as the 12 year-old brilliant chemist returns home from her awful term at a Canadian boarding school. But it’s not the happy homecoming Flavia pictured, for her dear father is in hospital with a severe case of pneumonia. What’s a girl to do, but climb on her bicycle, Gladys, and run an errand for the beleaguered vicar’s wife–which results in her stumbling on the dead body of the recipient. With their awful cousin residing at Buckshaw, and Flavia’s two older sisters even more insufferable, if that’s at all possible, it will be up to Flavia to unravel the mystery, even as she will be shaken to her very core.

If you’ve thought Auntie M only reads novels with female protagonists, you’d be wrong. ratherbethedevil875 Ian Rankin brings back John Rebus, supposedly retired, and Matthew Fox, thrown into Siobhan Clarke’s case when a young drug lord is viciously attacked. Rebus actually has the semblance of a private life, with a girlfriend and dog, and Auntie M loves watching him adjust to these normalcies. But he just can’t let a cold case go, four decades old, and as he pokes his nose in where it shouldn’t be, what is he doing talking to his old nemesis, Big Ger Cafferty? This one brings all the pieces together in inimitable Rankin fashion.

Peter Lovesey: Another One Goes Tonight Monday, Dec 26 2016 

Happy Boxing Day to all, and Auntie M hopes you enjoyed whatever holiday you’ve been celebrating. As we look to the New Year, here’s one last for 2016, and it’s a real winner~

The incomparable Peter Lovesey has been awarded just about every crime prize, including The Lifetime Achievement Award from Strand Magazine, CWA Silver and Gold Daggers, and the Cartier Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement–and he shows no signs of slowing down.

He’s back with his 16th Peter Diamond mystery, Another One Goes Tonight,, with the unflappable Bath detective up to his usual tricks.

Tasked with representing Professional Standards after an accident involving two police officers, one of whom dies at the scene, he discovers the body of an elderly victim of the crash, thrown into bushes at the side of the road. He saves the mans life with his quick CPR, and while investigating the incident, hoping the clear the police driver of fault, Diamond soon becomes convinced that the elderly engineer, still in hospital, is a serial killer.

It’s a fascinating premise as he tries to puzzle out what really happened that early morning between the police car and the elder out on his motorized bike. Most of what he uncovers is a by-product of his investigation and inadmissible. Soon he’s enlisted two of his team members to help him in this side investigation, with very interesting results as they uncover a trail of deaths of elderly people within the past two years who were known to the hospitalized engineer.

Readers will learn about the almost fanatical love some people had for steam engines, collecting memorabilia from their favorite branch and even assigning estates to the National Railway Museum.

But could this love of a bygone era also be the tie to a string of murders?
As well-plotted and crafty as always, with that hint of wry wit mixed into a police procedural. The most clever of puzzles with a highly satisfying ending.

Jane Cleland: The Glow of Death Saturday, Dec 24 2016 


Jane Cleland’s Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries have a devoted following with good reason. Her eleventh in the series, The Glow of Death, bring the same meticulous research and detail of the antiques world underlying the action when a rare Tiffany lamp goes missing and murder soon follows.

It’s almost the Fourth of July and warm along New Hampshire’s coast when Josie called to appraise the Tiffany lamp at tony Rocky Point home of the wealthy Towson’s. Met by Ava Towson, Josie is delighted to find the lamp bears all the hallmarks of a real Tiffany lamp, along with a high value. Josie takes the lamp into her care for safekeeping and authentication, and over the next three days, estimates the value at $1.5 million–gulp. She has the film crew she works with come up to NH and film her describing her authentication process for the television show that features her, then later that afternoon returns the lamp.

With her boyfriend, Ty, away on Homeland Security business, Josie is getting ready for her annual 4th barbecue when her best friend, Zoe, enlists her own boyfriend, Ellis Hunter, to help Josie with kitchen prep. Ellis just happens to be the Chief of Police, and is deep into potato salad fixing when he gets a call that Ava Towson has been murdered.

With her husband on his way home from a business trip, Ellis asks Josie to identify the body. They travel to the Towson home, only there’s a catch: the woman dead in the Towson’s kitchen isn’t Ava Towson.

But it sound is confirmed that the dead woman IS Ava Towson and the woman who gave the lamp to Josie to appraise was an imposter. Everything Josie has learned was based on information from this imposter, and the only thing accurate is the authenticity of the pricey lamp, and if the bit filmed for her television show is cancelled, that puts her show in jeopardy, too.

Josie can’t stand the thought of being duped by the imposter, and sets out to find out who had the temerity to trick her in such a horrible way. It will bring her into the line of fire literally.

One of the delights of this series is the information readers glean about the antiques world as they explore the business Josie has built, from the authentication process to the ways experts are used. A delightful addition to the series.

Catriona McPherson: The Reek of Red Herrings; Dandy Gilver #5 Tuesday, Dec 20 2016 

Catriona McPherson’s fifth Dandy Gilver master, The Reek of Red Herrings, finds the 1930 sleuth and her partner, Alec, headed to the Banffshire coast of Scotland to the tiny fishing village of Gamrie.

Posing as philologists out to garner information on local folklore and the Doric speech patterns, the colloquial language soon gets the better of them as they hide their real aim: to uncover for the local herring merchant how body parts have started showing up in several barrels sent from the area.

They arrive at the rainy and snowy coast the week before Christmas, a high time as the boats are due in, in strong contract to the menacing weather. It’s also the wedding season as the boats return with their unusual engagement customs followed, and soon the two are swept up in the five weddings to take place on the next weekend.

Adding to the bizarre feeling of the area are the two strange brothers who inhabit Lump House on the cliff, a menagerie of stuffed animals in tableau settings that creep out Dandy as much as the boarding house where they stay, with its meager food and drafty rooms.

The duo become adrift in a sea of nonsensical “teenames,” nicknames given to tell people apart when the local custom has so much naming after grandparents that there could be three in a family with the same name. McPherson has done significant research to get the tone and customs down right and it shows.

The wild winter adds to the discomfort Dandy and Alec encounter, and just when she thinks things can’t possibly fall into place, Dandy figures out what’s really happened. But just what should be done about it then becomes the issue.

A satisfying and enveloping mystery that will have Dandy and Alec consulting their own morals before it’s over.

Molly MacRae: Plaid and Plagiarism Sunday, Dec 18 2016 


What book-lover hasn’t had a least a fleeting dream of owning a bookstore? The idea for Plaid and Plagiarism and the Highland Bookshop Mystery series hatched and grew after I saw an article about a bookshop up for sale.

According to the article, the shop had a thriving business in lovely surroundings—on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. For me, that was two dreams in one. A bookshop! The Highlands!

I shared the article on Facebook and asked if anyone wanted to join me in a new venture. My question was, of course, tongue in cheek, but several friends and I had fun plotting and planning how we would make it work. The dreams ended up being so much fun, they were too good to waste, so I gave them to four new characters—four women—three Americans and a Scot who’d lived in the States for several decades and wanted to move home.

Years ago I did run a bookstore, and even more years ago I lived in Scotland. So I do have some background for writing this new series. My experiences lack dead bodies, and I’m not sure how I would handle discovering one in my garden shed. But, though felt just a bit bad planting a body where my four women would discover it, I think they acquit themselves reasonably well in their new business and in crime solving. For amateurs, anyway.

Where you can find Plaid and Plagiarism: Independent bookstores: Barnes & Noble: Amazon: Where you can find Molly: Website: Facebook: Pinterest: Twitter: @mysterymacrae


The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” In addition to writing the Highland Bookshop Mysteries, Molly is the author of the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries from NAL/Penguin and the stand-alone mystery novels Lawn Order and Wilder Rumors.

Molly’s short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990 and she’s a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. Molly and her family live in Champaign, Illinois, where she connects children and books at the public library.

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Nupur Tustin: A Minor Deception Thursday, Dec 15 2016 

Please welcome Nupur Tustin, who will describe the starting point for her historical mystery starring none other than Austrian composer Haydn:

How Haydn Captured My Heart

Nupur Tustin

Franz Joseph Haydn, the Austrian composer, was born in the tiny village of Rohrau, the son of a wheelwright and his wife. By the year 1766 when A Minor Deception, the first Haydn mystery, begins, he was being hailed as the “darling of the nation,” and was employed by the wealthiest and most powerful noble family in the Habsburg Empire, the Esterházys.

But this amazing rags-to-riches story, inspiring as it is, isn’t what compelled me to choose Haydn as the protagonist of my historical mystery series. The qualities that won me over are quite different.

In the year 1802, seven years before his death, Haydn received a letter from the music lovers of a small German town called Bergen. The musicians in this little town had performed his oratorio—a religious opera—The Creation. The work had been so well-received and enjoyed so much, the town and its inhabitants felt obliged to communicate their delight to the composer.

Now, Haydn by this time was “free of care,” as he put it. He owned a comfortable house in Gumpfendorf, at the time a suburb of Vienna, and was able to afford a good glass of wine and enjoy three or four courses at dinner. He had received medals and honors, and had consorted with “emperors, kings, and many great gentlemen.”

Yet a letter from this obscure town received an immediate response. “It was indeed a most pleasant surprise to receive such a flattering letter from a place where I could have no idea that the fruits of my poor talents were known,” he begins, going on to express his own delight that the work had been so well-received.

This is only one of countless tales of Haydn’s humility, his modesty, and his complete lack of ego even at the height of his success. It gave him genuine pleasure that anyone enjoyed performing and listening to his compositions. It mattered not who you were.

That modesty was accompanied by a strong sense of humor that took no umbrage when he was mistaken for a servant and treated brusquely.

Good fortune may have taken him from Rohrau to Vienna, the musical capital of the Habsburg Empire. But it was sheer diligence that resulted in Haydn’s fame and fortune.

“I was diligent,” Haydn was to say years later. “When my comrades went to play, I took my little Clavier under my arm and went up to the attic, where I could practice undisturbed.”

It took ten long years of grinding poverty before he received employment as Kapellmeister—Director of Music—first to Count Morzin and later the princely Esterházy family.

In those years of living in a dingy attic, without heat, with barely enough money to keep body and soul together, did the young Haydn sometimes feel discouraged, and wonder if his hard work would pay off? If so, what encouraged him to continue?

A passage from the letter of 1802 provides the answer:

Often, when contending with obstacles of every sort that interfered with my work, often when my powers both of body and mind were failing and I felt it a hard matter to persevere in the course I had entered on, a secret voice within me whispered, “There are but few contented, happy peoples here below; everywhere grief and care prevail; perhaps your labors may one day be the source from which the weary and worn, or the man burdened with affairs, may derive a few moments’ rest and refreshment.” What a powerful motive for pressing onward!

What a powerful motive, indeed! Haydn was speaking of the exhausting labor that went into the writing of the Creation. But I like to think that the same voice kept him on his course when as a young man poverty and hunger may have tempted him to look for some easier means of earning a living.

It’s hard work being a writer. The pursuit of any worthy endeavor, in fact, is hard. The road may not be long, but it is arduous. But Haydn’s own diligence, his ability to forge ahead despite obstacles, have taught me to persevere, even in the telling of his story.

He was never an amateur sleuth, although if someone had approached him for help, he would have given it quite willingly. His readiness to help, his humility, and his diligence serve as a moral compass for me. Quite simply, Haydn is my muse.

A Minor Deception is a fun, entertaining mystery. But much of Haydn’s character shines through in the fiction I weave. I hope as you read my novel, the Kapellmeister will capture your heart as he did mine.

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her musical works. A Minor Deception is the first in her Joseph Haydn mystery series. Print and e-copies are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.
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