Catch-Up #3: Homegrown Thursday, Oct 20 2016 

Auntie M is keeping things close to home with a batch of books read whilst recovering that are all set in the US.

Having won the Pulitzer Prize for her series about an equally small town, Julia Keller has brought Acker’s Gap, West Virginia to many readers who have come to know the area through her protagonist, prosecutor Bell Elkins.

She returns with yet another character-driven mystery in Sorrow Road, one that has memory at the heart of it all.

Bell isn’t happy when an acquaintance from law school contacts her. She and Darlene Strayer were never the best of friends, so what does the woman want from her?

Darlene asks Bell to look into the Alzheimer’s care facility where her father has just died. Bell reluctantly agrees to have her assistant take a quiet look, and tries to leave their meeting place in a snowstorm. Before she can get away, her daughter Carla calls and lets her mother know she’ll be arriving in the morning, once the snow lets her get through from Arlington, Virginia. She’s moving in with Carla.

This is just the tip of the case and the events that will soon have Bell looking into multiple deaths, the past lives of several WWII vets, and her daughter’s own troubles. What is Carla running away from? And why are more people dying?

Keller gets people and their surroundings just right, from the way life in a rural area affects their actions and lives, to the way past memories are often more vivid than present.

by Kevin Wolf won the Tony Hillerman prize audit’s easy to see why this debut mystery shines.

Bringing readers to the wide open skies of the prairies of Colorado, Chase Ford is a man returning to his hometown for a bit of hunting. With his storied NBA career in tatters after an injury, Ford will find home friends and enemies almost unchanged.

This is set in another small town, but of the West, and Wolf has created shining characters who jump off the page when the death of the town’s basketball star is found murdered in a field, along with four slain bison. Then more deaths occur and suddenly it’s hard to know whom Chase can trust.

All eyes turn to the man who’s just returned and is still finding his footing. The lifestyle of the West, small town policing, and the rolling plains will catch you up the way they catch up Chase Ford in the murder investigation and affect him and those closest to him.

An accomplished debut.


C. B. McKenzie is a past winner of that Tony Hillerman prize, for his debut Bad Country, now out in paperback. He returns with Burn What Will Burn, moving from the southwest to the plains of Arkansas.

McKenzie introduces newcomer Bob Reynolds, who already found a few licks against him: he and the sheriff seem to have a conflict over the affections of one Tammy Fay Smith.

So when Reynolds finds a body in the creek near the land he inherited, he doesn’t run too fast to let the sheriff know.

And when that body disappears, Reynolds won’t know whom he can trust, because small towns are like that, and people seem to disappear all the time.

There will be plenty of wild relationships for Reynolds to decipher, even as he tries to steer clear of the law, as this raw and gritty mystery races to a startling conclusion.


After a disturbing prologue to Rise the Dark, set in Montana, Michael Koryta takes the action changes to Florida, where PI Mark Novak is out fishing with a good friend. He’s trying to ignore that today is the day the man he’s certain killed his wife previously will be released from prison after winning an appeal on a sexual assault case for another woman.

He can’t ignore Graham Webb any longer. His search starts out in Florida with interesting events but takes him eventually to Montana, where he will encounter a megalomaniac whose obsessions are not limited to taking over the country’s electric grid.

As his search continues, Novak will meet a female investigator and sparks fly, but the memory of his dead wife keeps getting in the way. There will be physical as well as mental struggles as Novak grapples with the maniac and disciples. Action-packed and resonant against the beauty of Montana.

*** Cover Without Mercy

The tenth Body Farm thriller, Without Mercy, is just as macabre and fascinating as the first nine, bringing forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton to a truly personal case.

Brockton is investigating a truly gruesome murder when he learns a sadistic serial killer has escaped from prison.
Nick Satterfield is bent on revenge against Brockton, but first he wants to make him suffer by hurting all those Brockton holds dear.

Justice versus revenge become the theme as Brockton has to decide how he can protect those he loves and at what cost, and he can compromise his own principles to accomplish that.
If you’ve read any of the series, you’ll already be prepared for the gory bits. If not, this is great for upcoming Halloween!

** COVER Among the Wicked

Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series continues with Among the Wicked, her follow-up to the recent After the Storm.

The former-Amish, now-Chief of Police in Ohio finds herself going undercover to infiltrate an ultra-strict Amish community whose charismatic leader has a cult-like following.

Due to her familiarity with the Amish culture, Kate is tasked with appearing as an Amish widow in upstate New York to find out about the death of a young woman.

Once a flourishing part of the local community, the new Bishop has drawn people away and kept them separate. Kate is the only one whose expertise allows her to figure out, amidst the many rumors flying, what’s really going on, and with young children at stake, she feels she doesn’t have a choice but to try to find out the truth.

There will be late night calls to her lover, Tomasetti, as Kate tries to figure out what’s really happening, but whatever it is, she knows well it isn’t a normal Amish community that she’s inside. As the deaths continue, Kate won’t know whom she can trust.

The Shandra Higheagle Mysteries: Paty Jager Sunday, Mar 29 2015 

Please welcome guest Paty Jager, whose Shandra Higheagle series features a most unusual and engaging protagonist. And read through to see how to win an autographed copy of her first book in the series!

Deadly Aim (652x1024)
Tarnished Remains (652x1024)

Mystery and Mysticism

My brother is an artist who creates his own bronze statues and patinas bronze work for other artists. When he told me about a specific piece he’d put the patina on and how it had a unique configuration, he had my attention. His words: “This would make a great murder weapon.”

That sentence stayed with me for several years. The first two novels I wrote way back when I decided to try to write novels were mysteries. But when I couldn’t find the resources I needed to hone my craft, I jumped ship and started writing romance, where I’d found an abundance of support.

But my brother’s sentence kept playing in my head. And finally last year, I decided to write the murder using that weapon. Only, I had to come up with a plausible amateur sleuth and give her a profession. That is how Shandra Higheagle, potter and half Nez Perce Indian heritage, came to be. I wanted her to have the Native American background to keep with my tag line: “Tales of intrigue and romance starring cowboys and Indians.”

And I wanted Shandra to use her heritage to help solve the murders. That is where her Nez Perce grandmother came onto the scene. Shandra’s Nez Perce father was a rodeo bronc rider who died in a rodeo accident when Shandra was four. Her Caucasian mother and step-father kept her from her father’s family until Shandra rebelled as a teenager and spent a summer with her grandmother. While Shandra still wasn’t allowed to let people know of her Indian heritage, she kept in touch with her grandmother. Double Duplicity (652x1024)

The first book opens with Shandra returning from her grandmother’s funeral and seven drum ceremony. Where is this all going you ask? When Shandra is suspected of killing a gallery owner and then the county sheriff’s detective turns his interest to her best friend, Shandra’s grandmother comes to Shandra in her dreams, guiding her to the evidence that will help them find the murderer.

Shandra has a hard time believing in these dreams, yet the detective believes. Here are the blurbs for the first three books in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series.
Leave a comment and we’ll draw a name for an autographed copy of the first book in the series.

Double Duplicity: On the eve of the biggest art event at Huckleberry Mountain Resort, potter Shandra Higheagle finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. She’s ruled out as a suspect, but now it’s up to her to prove the friend she witnessed fleeing the scene was just as innocent. With help from her recently deceased Nez Perce grandmother, Shandra becomes more confused than ever but just as determined to discover the truth. Detective Ryan Greer prides himself on solving crimes and refuses to ignore a single clue, including Shandra Higheagle’s visions. While Shandra is hesitant to trust her dreams, Ryan believes in them and believes in her. Can the pair uncover enough clues for Ryan to make an arrest before one of them becomes the next victim?
Available: Windtree Press Amazon Kobo Nook Apple

Tarnished Remains: Shandra Higheagle is digging up clay for her renowned pottery when she scoops up a boot attached to a skeleton. She calls in Weippe County detective Ryan Greer. The body is decades old and discovered to be Shandra’s employee’s old flame. Ryan immediately pegs Shandra’s employee for the murderer, but Shandra knows in her heart that the woman everyone calls Crazy Lil couldn’t have killed anyone, let alone a man she loved. Digging up the woman’s past takes them down a road of greed, miscommunication, and deceit. Will they be able to prove Crazy Lil innocent before the true murderer strikes again?
Links: Windtree Press: Amazon: iBooks: Nook: Kobo:

Deadly Aim: The dead body of an illicit neighbor and an old necklace send potter Shandra Higheagle on a chase to find a murderer. Along with visions from her dead grandmother, Shandra knows she’s on the right path, but the woods are full of obstacles—deadly ones. Detective Ryan Greer believes Shandra’s dreams will help solve the mystery, but he also knows the curious potter could get herself killed. He’s determined that won’t happen, until he’s blind-sided. Are Shandra’s powers strong enough to save them both, or will the murderer strike again? Coming Soon!

Head Shot (500x490) Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. She has published twenty novels, three anthologies, and seven novellas. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them, along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story. You can learn more about Paty at her blog: Writing into the Sunset; her website:; or on Facebook:!/paty.jager
Goodreads and twitter; @patyjag.