The Scent of Rain and Lightning
M. Schlecht

In four-time Edgar Award nominee Nancy Pickard’s follow up to The Virgin of Small Plains, the scene of the crime is a dark, stormy night in Rose, Kansas. Amidst the chaos of flooded roads and battered fields the sound of a deadly gunshot rings out, condemning little Jody Linder to grow up in the shadow of a murdered father, a vanished mother, and a lifetime of small town notoriety and bad dreams. Two decades later, the conviction of Billy Crosby for the crime is overturned with the help of new evidence and his attorney son Collin. Suddenly Billy is back—and all the unresolved anger, fear, and danger in Jody’s past are rolling into town with him.

Pickard unfolds her literary suspense around Jody, the innocent at the center of the tale who, while no longer a child, has been shielded by those around her, while simultaneously being the one clear-eyed and principled enough to seek the truth. The events leading up to the fateful night subtly and cinematically unfold in the first half of the book, revealing a complicated tangle of human passions and family and class dynamics in the Linder and Crosby families: one stressing under the high expectations of the unforgiving Linder patriarch, the other struggling with the abuse and dependency of a troubled young father. By the time the action comes full circle to the present, Pickard’s characters have each found themselves at a moral crossroads. Beautifully written and compassionately told, The Scent of Rain and Lightning could make Pickard a five-time contender for an Edgar.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:01:56

Four-time Edgar Award nominee, Nancy Pickard, returns with a beautifully written follow up to The Virgin of Small Plains.

Diamonds for the Dead
Oline H. Cogdill

Alan Orloff’s superior storytelling skills shine in his tension-filled debut featuring Josh Handleman, a regular guy caught up in an unexpected situation. Josh’s life has skidded out of control with a messy divorce and the potential loss of a business he’s worked hard to build. Now he’s come to northern Virginia to bury his father, Abe, from whom he’s been estranged for a couple of years. Settling the estate and dealing with his grief and regret is no simple matter. First, there’s the drunken elderly Russian living in the basement, and then the shocking discovery that Josh’s frugal father was actually a wealthy man and philanthropist who invested millions of dollars in businesses run by his son’s friends. When Josh can’t find the large cache of diamonds his father left him, Josh begins to wonder if his father’s fall down the stairs was an accident after all.

Diamonds for the Dead’s suspenseful plot mixes grief, remorse, and religion with a dash of well-timed humor. Orloff populates his novel with authentic characters and Josh’s grief over his father and the time they lost being mad at each other—time that is gone forever—is touching without being maudlin. The main character’s feelings about his Jewish background are also thoughtfully explored. The result is an amateur sleuth and solid story that promises to be the beginning of a long, intriguing series.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:05:51

Alan Orloff’s superior storytelling skills shine in his tension-filled debut featuring Josh Handleman, a regular guy caught up in an unexpected situation. Josh’s life has skidded out of control with a messy divorce and the potential loss of a business he’s worked hard to build. Now he’s come to northern Virginia to bury his father, Abe, from whom he’s been estranged for a couple of years. Settling the estate and dealing with his grief and regret is no simple matter. First, there’s the drunken elderly Russian living in the basement, and then the shocking discovery that Josh’s frugal father was actually a wealthy man and philanthropist who invested millions of dollars in businesses run by his son’s friends. When Josh can’t find the large cache of diamonds his father left him, Josh begins to wonder if his father’s fall down the stairs was an accident after all.

Diamonds for the Dead’s suspenseful plot mixes grief, remorse, and religion with a dash of well-timed humor. Orloff populates his novel with authentic characters and Josh’s grief over his father and the time they lost being mad at each other—time that is gone forever—is touching without being maudlin. The main character’s feelings about his Jewish background are also thoughtfully explored. The result is an amateur sleuth and solid story that promises to be the beginning of a long, intriguing series.

Gunshot Road
Verna Suit

On Emily Tempest’s first day as an Aboriginal Community Police Officer (ACPO) in Bluebush, Central Australia, she encounters an old geologist murdered in his bed. “Doc” spent a lifetime studying the local outback’s geology and recently has built a map of stones behind his house. Emily wants to find out where the map leads because she is sure it has something to do with why he was killed.

Emily is an original and appealing heroine. She’s traveled the world and now has returned to her roots in the nearby aboriginal community of Moonlight Downs. The product of an interracial marriage, she’s educated in the ways of both “blackfeller and whitefeller” and acts as a tenacious and tough protectress of her local aboriginal tribe, her “mob.” On the police force she faces the usual challenges of being a black woman in a white department. Her quick mouth and independent spirit exacerbate the friction between her and her newly-assigned martinet of a boss, Sgt. Cockburn. The first book in the Emily Tempest series, Moonlight Downs (2007), won Australia’s Ned Kelly Award for Best First Novel. Gunshot Road is a strong, exciting follow-up. Evocative place names like Burnt Shirt Gorge, and Green Swamp reveal the outback as a harsh, unforgiving frontier. Rich, colorful imagery (two nuns, “one bun-shaped and sweet, the other a slice of crusty white”) and razor-sharp verbs (smoke that “genies up” from a fire) are brightened even further by a sprinkling of charming Australian regionalisms.

Gunshot Road is an exotic adventure story that includes subtle humor, horrible violence, and a consuming mystery.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:08:29

hyland_gunshotroadAn Australian series featuring Aboriginal community police officer Emily Tempest.

The Serialist
M. Schlecht

Harry Block is a writer whose dubious bio includes a stint at Raunchy magazine, a series of sci-fi books, and some “urban experience” pulp starring a black Jewish private eye named Mordechai Jones. Most recently he has found success in the trendy confines of the vampire genre. His half-baked schemes and “successes” aren’t enough, however, for him to give up his day job tutoring a high school student (who doubles as his life coach). So when a letter arrives from Darian Clay, a serial murderer on death row, offering to spill his secrets for what’s sure to be a bestselling memoir, Harry enthusiastically swallows the pitch—but, of course, there is a catch. Clay just needs Harry to visit a few of his female admirers, women with a thing for serial killers, and pen some stories in the Raunchy vein for Clay to read at his leisure. Inevitably when these women start turning up gruesomely murdered, the hack writer ends up the prime suspect.

There’s a lot going on in The Serialist. Aside from the whodunit, it is a study of the seemingly contradictory elements that make up crime fiction. Harry is a writer both intrigued and disgusted by his subject matter—and the same goes for the reader. With his impressive debut novel, David Gordon examines the fascination that murder holds in our society, and its consequences, all within the structure of a thriller plot that rolls along to a convincing ending.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:11:34

Harry Block is a writer whose dubious bio includes a stint at Raunchy magazine, a series of sci-fi books, and some “urban experience” pulp starring a black Jewish private eye named Mordechai Jones. Most recently he has found success in the trendy confines of the vampire genre. His half-baked schemes and “successes” aren’t enough, however, for him to give up his day job tutoring a high school student (who doubles as his life coach). So when a letter arrives from Darian Clay, a serial murderer on death row, offering to spill his secrets for what’s sure to be a bestselling memoir, Harry enthusiastically swallows the pitch—but, of course, there is a catch. Clay just needs Harry to visit a few of his female admirers, women with a thing for serial killers, and pen some stories in the Raunchy vein for Clay to read at his leisure. Inevitably when these women start turning up gruesomely murdered, the hack writer ends up the prime suspect.

There’s a lot going on in The Serialist. Aside from the whodunit, it is a study of the seemingly contradictory elements that make up crime fiction. Harry is a writer both intrigued and disgusted by his subject matter—and the same goes for the reader. With his impressive debut novel, David Gordon examines the fascination that murder holds in our society, and its consequences, all within the structure of a thriller plot that rolls along to a convincing ending.

A Twist of Orchids
Oline H. Cogdill

The French countryside never looked so picturesque, so inviting, or so deadly as in Michelle Wan’s elegant Death in Dordogne Series set in southwestern France. But more important than the charming scenery in this third installment, are the relationships among Dordogne’s residents, especially Julian Wood and Mara Dunn. The couple is finally mingling their households—and their dogs—and dealing with each other’s quirks. It’s not easy for Julian, an English orchid expert, or Mara, a French-Canadian interior designer, but both are committed to making it work.

When their elderly neighbor, Amélie Gaillard, dies in a dramatic fall down a restaurant’s stairs and, later, an unidentified man with needle marks is found dead, the small town is up in arms—and in one another’s business. Meanwhile, a series of petty burglaries plagues the town and a Turkish family’s son disappears. Just for fun, a mythical orchid is thrown in the mix.

Wan gracefully pulls the seemingly disparate plot threads into a cohesive story with myriad twists. Anyone who has ever had a serious relationship will relate to Julian and Mara’s uneasy but hopeful combining of households and lives. And when danger threatens their relationship and their community, it’s the strength of the characters’ ties that reveal how small town residents—whether in France or the US—band together when times are tough, determined to take care of their own.

Wan perfectly captures the French countryside, an area unchanged for decades but where development’s long fingers are reaching for this premium land. With lucid writing and winning characters, Wan will make readers want to pack their bags and book a flight to rural France.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:14:51

The French countryside never looked so picturesque, so inviting, or so deadly as in Michelle Wan’s elegant Death in Dordogne Series set in southwestern France. But more important than the charming scenery in this third installment, are the relationships among Dordogne’s residents, especially Julian Wood and Mara Dunn. The couple is finally mingling their households—and their dogs—and dealing with each other’s quirks. It’s not easy for Julian, an English orchid expert, or Mara, a French-Canadian interior designer, but both are committed to making it work.

When their elderly neighbor, Amélie Gaillard, dies in a dramatic fall down a restaurant’s stairs and, later, an unidentified man with needle marks is found dead, the small town is up in arms—and in one another’s business. Meanwhile, a series of petty burglaries plagues the town and a Turkish family’s son disappears. Just for fun, a mythical orchid is thrown in the mix.

Wan gracefully pulls the seemingly disparate plot threads into a cohesive story with myriad twists. Anyone who has ever had a serious relationship will relate to Julian and Mara’s uneasy but hopeful combining of households and lives. And when danger threatens their relationship and their community, it’s the strength of the characters’ ties that reveal how small town residents—whether in France or the US—band together when times are tough, determined to take care of their own.

Wan perfectly captures the French countryside, an area unchanged for decades but where development’s long fingers are reaching for this premium land. With lucid writing and winning characters, Wan will make readers want to pack their bags and book a flight to rural France.

31 Bond Street
Mary Helen Becker

Set in 1857 in New York City, 31 Bond Street is based on a sensational true crime that filled the New York papers for weeks and was written about in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago—and even in London and Paris.

Dr. Harvey Burdell, a wealthy dentist, is found murdered—stabbed and almost decapitated—at his fine town house at 31 Bond Street. Arrested for the crime is Burdell’s housekeeper Emma Cunningham. She and her daughters lived on the third floor of the house at the time of the murder, but Burdell, a dishonest schemer ready to lie and cheat anyone if it’s to his advantage, had promised to marry her. For the coroner, the district attorney, and various corrupt politicians, it is advantageous to accuse and convict Emma as quickly as possible. But is she guilty? Emma’s only hope for evading conviction is criminal defense attorney Henry Clinton.

First-time novelist Ellen Horan is photo editor who found a newspaper clipping that led her to research the infamous case and eventually to write 31 Bond Street. Combining fact and fiction in a most engaging manner, Horan incorporates scenes and issues from historical New York to explore the law, politics, and society—both high and low—of the day. The result is a gripping legal thriller that proceeds at the leisurely pace of a 19th-century novel. In her endnotes she makes clear which personages are historical and which she has invented for the sake of her story. A most remarkable debut!

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:17:46

Set in 1857 in New York City, 31 Bond Street is based on a sensational true crime that filled the New York papers for weeks and was written about in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago—and even in London and Paris.

Dr. Harvey Burdell, a wealthy dentist, is found murdered—stabbed and almost decapitated—at his fine town house at 31 Bond Street. Arrested for the crime is Burdell’s housekeeper Emma Cunningham. She and her daughters lived on the third floor of the house at the time of the murder, but Burdell, a dishonest schemer ready to lie and cheat anyone if it’s to his advantage, had promised to marry her. For the coroner, the district attorney, and various corrupt politicians, it is advantageous to accuse and convict Emma as quickly as possible. But is she guilty? Emma’s only hope for evading conviction is criminal defense attorney Henry Clinton.

First-time novelist Ellen Horan is photo editor who found a newspaper clipping that led her to research the infamous case and eventually to write 31 Bond Street. Combining fact and fiction in a most engaging manner, Horan incorporates scenes and issues from historical New York to explore the law, politics, and society—both high and low—of the day. The result is a gripping legal thriller that proceeds at the leisurely pace of a 19th-century novel. In her endnotes she makes clear which personages are historical and which she has invented for the sake of her story. A most remarkable debut!

Apple Turnover Murder
Dori Cocuz

In Apple Turnover Murder Hannah is struggling to prepare enough apple turnovers to cater a three-day charity event while also juggling her two lovers, one of whom has been acting very strangely. In the middle of all this, Hannah is roped into helping a friend at the event’s talent show. Unfortunately, Bradford Ramsey, a local community college professor with whom Hannah had a disastrous romantic relationship many years ago, is emceeing the show. When Bradford turns up dead just before the talent show curtain is set to rise, it’s a given among her friends and family that Hannah will be on the case.

Joanne Fluke’s 13th Hannah Swensen novel is light on murder mystery, instead focusing more on the mysteries of Hannah’s personal life. Readers new to the series may be disappointed by the scarcity of murder mystery action and confused by the unique relationship Hannah has with her two lovers, but longtime fans will be curious to know why her lover Norman is behaving so oddly, and why someone is trying to lure her older sister’s husband to Florida. Everyone stands to be letdown (or forced to read the next installment) when the end of the book resolves neither of these personal questions fully. For readers already invested in Hannah’s life, the murder and mystery of this latest is just sugary icing on the apple turnover that is Hannah’s life.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:20:18

In Apple Turnover Murder Hannah is struggling to prepare enough apple turnovers to cater a three-day charity event while also juggling her two lovers, one of whom has been acting very strangely. In the middle of all this, Hannah is roped into helping a friend at the event’s talent show. Unfortunately, Bradford Ramsey, a local community college professor with whom Hannah had a disastrous romantic relationship many years ago, is emceeing the show. When Bradford turns up dead just before the talent show curtain is set to rise, it’s a given among her friends and family that Hannah will be on the case.

Joanne Fluke’s 13th Hannah Swensen novel is light on murder mystery, instead focusing more on the mysteries of Hannah’s personal life. Readers new to the series may be disappointed by the scarcity of murder mystery action and confused by the unique relationship Hannah has with her two lovers, but longtime fans will be curious to know why her lover Norman is behaving so oddly, and why someone is trying to lure her older sister’s husband to Florida. Everyone stands to be letdown (or forced to read the next installment) when the end of the book resolves neither of these personal questions fully. For readers already invested in Hannah’s life, the murder and mystery of this latest is just sugary icing on the apple turnover that is Hannah’s life.

The Spellmans Strike Again
Lynne F. Maxwell

Oh, those zany Spellmans! The First Family of private investigators returns with a vengeance in another hilarious installment in Lutz’s entertaining series. As usual, the narrator is the sardonic Isabel Spellman, a private investigator in the family detective business. In her early thirties, Isabel is casually unlucky in love, as evidenced by the fact that she numbers her ex-boyfriends but isn’t at all saddened by their loss. In The Spellmans Strike Again Isabel engages in her usual sleuthing activities for clients, but also spies upon her archrival, a PI and former police detective, in order to expose his shady tactics. Most of the surveillance conducted by the Spellmans, though, is done upon each other, according to family custom. And for “direct” communication, the family bylaws require official meetings and encourage members to post rules (e.g., “No speaking today”) on a whiteboard. But you haven’t yet met the most entertaining Spellman, teenager Rae, who is so creatively obnoxious and limpetlike in her affections that “Rae extractions” are necessary. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though. Trust me, you’ll want to have your own full encounter of the Spellman kind.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:23:00

Oh, those zany Spellmans! The First Family of private investigators returns with a vengeance in another hilarious installment in Lutz’s entertaining series. As usual, the narrator is the sardonic Isabel Spellman, a private investigator in the family detective business. In her early thirties, Isabel is casually unlucky in love, as evidenced by the fact that she numbers her ex-boyfriends but isn’t at all saddened by their loss. In The Spellmans Strike Again Isabel engages in her usual sleuthing activities for clients, but also spies upon her archrival, a PI and former police detective, in order to expose his shady tactics. Most of the surveillance conducted by the Spellmans, though, is done upon each other, according to family custom. And for “direct” communication, the family bylaws require official meetings and encourage members to post rules (e.g., “No speaking today”) on a whiteboard. But you haven’t yet met the most entertaining Spellman, teenager Rae, who is so creatively obnoxious and limpetlike in her affections that “Rae extractions” are necessary. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though. Trust me, you’ll want to have your own full encounter of the Spellman kind.

Wanna Get Lucky?
Lynne F. Maxwell

Wanna get lucky? If so, pick up a copy of this book ASAP. Protagonist Lucky O’Toole may rapidly become one of your new best friends. Created by Deborah Coonts, wife of veteran thriller writer Stephen Coonts, Lucky O’Toole is down on her luck, which is very bad news in Las Vegas. Her job as head of customer relations at Babylon Casino entails courting and placating customers, no matter how bizarre their demands—and, trust me, they’re plenty bizarre and plenty demanding. A lifelong denizen of the Sin City environs, Lucky knows her way around the casino world and is dedicated to her employer, the Big Boss, owner of the Babylon. The only thing her devotion and work ethic wins her, however, is extreme exhaustion, which, in turn, deprives her of a life beyond work, notably, of a love life. Oddly, Lucky’s luck turns when the body of an ex-prostitute is ejected from a helicopter affiliated with the Babylon and Lucky must protect the establishment’s reputation—and the Big Boss—by solving the murder mystery. How could this possibly be a lucky occurrence? I don’t want to spoil your pleasure in finding out for yourself, but suffice it to say that Lucky finally becomes lucky in love; moreover, she makes significant discoveries about her family history, resolving mysteries that have pervaded her life.

Coonts has created a likable, memorable character, while simultaneously providing an insider’s view of Vegas’ wheeling and dealing—it was an education for this neophyte to the world of gambling and casinos. I’m betting that Lucky O’Toole will be a real winner on the mystery scene. Wanna get lucky? You just did!

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:26:17

coonts_wannagetluckyGet lucky with Sin City's newest amateur sleuth Lucky O'Toole.

The Barbary Pirates
Helen Francini

“After I trapped three scientists in a fire I set in a brothel, enlisted them in the theft of a stampeding wagon, got them arrested by the French secret police, and then mired them in a mystic mission for Bonaparte, they began to question my judgment.” This rollicking opening hook sets the tone for American Ethan Gage’s latest humorous adventure, in which Napoleon Bonaparte sends Gage on a two-fold mission to find out if France might help to instigate a Greek revolt against the Ottoman Empire, and to see if Thira was the fabled Atlantis.

Gage is a historical Indiana Jones whose travels in previous books have taken him to France, Egypt, the holy land, and back to America. In The Barbary Pirates, Gage arrives in Greece only to get promptly kidnapped by a group of pirates headed by Aurora Somerset, a dangerous paramour of his from earlier in the series. The pirates are on the hunt for The Mirror of Archimedes, a weapon Gage must race to keep out of the wrong, albeit seductive, hands.

Looking at the world of the early 1800s through Gage’s eyes, Dietrich is able to bring the period to life in a novel way. Gage is a likeable and entertaining hero. Even when his chips are seriously down, it’s certain he’ll land on top again. The scenarios Gage encounters in this book sometimes go over the top, however—a bizarre marriage ritual involving paganism and an unwilling participant comes to mind.

A note to new readers: To understand all of the action it helps to have read the first three books (Napoleon’s Pyramids, The Rosetta Key, and The Dakota Cipher).

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:30:41

“After I trapped three scientists in a fire I set in a brothel, enlisted them in the theft of a stampeding wagon, got them arrested by the French secret police, and then mired them in a mystic mission for Bonaparte, they began to question my judgment.” This rollicking opening hook sets the tone for American Ethan Gage’s latest humorous adventure, in which Napoleon Bonaparte sends Gage on a two-fold mission to find out if France might help to instigate a Greek revolt against the Ottoman Empire, and to see if Thira was the fabled Atlantis.

Gage is a historical Indiana Jones whose travels in previous books have taken him to France, Egypt, the holy land, and back to America. In The Barbary Pirates, Gage arrives in Greece only to get promptly kidnapped by a group of pirates headed by Aurora Somerset, a dangerous paramour of his from earlier in the series. The pirates are on the hunt for The Mirror of Archimedes, a weapon Gage must race to keep out of the wrong, albeit seductive, hands.

Looking at the world of the early 1800s through Gage’s eyes, Dietrich is able to bring the period to life in a novel way. Gage is a likeable and entertaining hero. Even when his chips are seriously down, it’s certain he’ll land on top again. The scenarios Gage encounters in this book sometimes go over the top, however—a bizarre marriage ritual involving paganism and an unwilling participant comes to mind.

A note to new readers: To understand all of the action it helps to have read the first three books (Napoleon’s Pyramids, The Rosetta Key, and The Dakota Cipher).

On Deadly Ground
Leslie Doran

In his third mystery and first stand-alone novel, On Deadly Ground, author Michael Norman returns to Utah but changes locale from Salt Lake City to the remote and rugged area around the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. John “J.D.” David Books, a former Denver robbery and homicide detective who left under a cloud after the death of his partner, returns home to the wild as the first local Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement Ranger. On his first day he is confronted with the bizarre murder of Escalante Environmental Wilderness Alliance (EEWA) activist David Greenbrier. It seems the local town is under siege as old ranch families, some belonging to Citizens for a Free West (CFW), mining interests, and uncompromising environmentalists in the EEWA struggle over the future of the land. It’s up to the experienced J.D. and Sheriff Charlie Sutter to find the killer as the body count increases. On Deadly Ground is a fast paced police procedural that highlights the very real tension between rival groups with different ideas on how the resources in the “new” west should be used or protected. Norman uses his vast experience as both a former police officer and a criminal justice professor to lend authenticity to the investigation and the legal maneuvering to bring him to justice.

Norman’s main character, J.D., deals with both his recent problems and complicated relationships from his youth. The local characters add flavor to the stark setting and emphasize how such a location breeds hardy, independent people. And the quick and decisive action will keep readers interested up to the final, compelling page.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:33:34

In his third mystery and first stand-alone novel, On Deadly Ground, author Michael Norman returns to Utah but changes locale from Salt Lake City to the remote and rugged area around the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. John “J.D.” David Books, a former Denver robbery and homicide detective who left under a cloud after the death of his partner, returns home to the wild as the first local Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement Ranger. On his first day he is confronted with the bizarre murder of Escalante Environmental Wilderness Alliance (EEWA) activist David Greenbrier. It seems the local town is under siege as old ranch families, some belonging to Citizens for a Free West (CFW), mining interests, and uncompromising environmentalists in the EEWA struggle over the future of the land. It’s up to the experienced J.D. and Sheriff Charlie Sutter to find the killer as the body count increases. On Deadly Ground is a fast paced police procedural that highlights the very real tension between rival groups with different ideas on how the resources in the “new” west should be used or protected. Norman uses his vast experience as both a former police officer and a criminal justice professor to lend authenticity to the investigation and the legal maneuvering to bring him to justice.

Norman’s main character, J.D., deals with both his recent problems and complicated relationships from his youth. The local characters add flavor to the stark setting and emphasize how such a location breeds hardy, independent people. And the quick and decisive action will keep readers interested up to the final, compelling page.

Tomorrow River
Barbara Fister

The Carmody’s house looks lovely from a distance, but there’s something badly wrong there, and (in the words of the prologue) readers get to find out first hand by walking in a little girl’s sneakers. Shenandoah has a lot on her hands. Her mother has disappeared and her twin sister has stopped speaking. Shenny decides to solve both problems by finding her mother, even though her father, a well-respected judge, doesn’t seem in favor of the plan. In fact, he keeps the girls imprisoned on the estate and is prone to alcohol-fueled rages. The first-person narration is chirpy, determined and upbeat, and it Shenny’s very obliviousness to the situation she’s in, combined with her courage and concern for her sister, that gives this southern gothic family drama its momentum.

This is Lesley Kagan’s first hardcover release. It has something of the tone of To Kill a Mockingbird (if Atticus Finch were a mean drunk) with a precocious child narrator whose relatives seem to have come from the backwoods of Deliverance. Though the plot is on a slow simmer, close to becoming a potboiler, Shenny steals the show with her brave, funny, and often disturbing patter as she tries to rescue herself and her sister from problems she won’t acknowledge.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:38:09

The Carmody’s house looks lovely from a distance, but there’s something badly wrong there, and (in the words of the prologue) readers get to find out first hand by walking in a little girl’s sneakers. Shenandoah has a lot on her hands. Her mother has disappeared and her twin sister has stopped speaking. Shenny decides to solve both problems by finding her mother, even though her father, a well-respected judge, doesn’t seem in favor of the plan. In fact, he keeps the girls imprisoned on the estate and is prone to alcohol-fueled rages. The first-person narration is chirpy, determined and upbeat, and it Shenny’s very obliviousness to the situation she’s in, combined with her courage and concern for her sister, that gives this southern gothic family drama its momentum.

This is Lesley Kagan’s first hardcover release. It has something of the tone of To Kill a Mockingbird (if Atticus Finch were a mean drunk) with a precocious child narrator whose relatives seem to have come from the backwoods of Deliverance. Though the plot is on a slow simmer, close to becoming a potboiler, Shenny steals the show with her brave, funny, and often disturbing patter as she tries to rescue herself and her sister from problems she won’t acknowledge.

Still Midnight
Barbara Fister

Denise Mina is a brilliant ventriloquist. She told the story of Garnethill’s Maureen O’Donnell in a grave, gritty accent, then took on a different persona with her series featuring Paddy Meehan, girl reporter. With Detective Sergeant Alex Morrow she’s created yet another unforgettable character, mixing Maureen’s toughness with Paddy’s insecurity. Alex is clever and ambitious and a wee bit paranoid. She’s always on the lookout for a slight from her colleagues while keeping her own lack of confidence well hidden. She’s not an easy character to warm to, but she’s human all the way through. So are the three daft villains who burst into a Muslim family’s home, kidnap the father, and shoot a teenage girl. As Alex and the police scramble to pick up their trail, we get to know these three stooges: an angry, ineffectual man who imagines he’s a commando, a genial heroin addict, and a romantic failure who daydreams about the girl he accidentally shot. The kidnap victim and his family all emerge from the page, too, in a story that throws them from one disaster into another. Finishing with a twist is a cliché in the genre, but this book’s denouement is a true surprise. Still Midnight is further evidence that Mina is one of the best writers in the genre.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:40:36

Denise Mina is a brilliant ventriloquist. She told the story of Garnethill’s Maureen O’Donnell in a grave, gritty accent, then took on a different persona with her series featuring Paddy Meehan, girl reporter. With Detective Sergeant Alex Morrow she’s created yet another unforgettable character, mixing Maureen’s toughness with Paddy’s insecurity. Alex is clever and ambitious and a wee bit paranoid. She’s always on the lookout for a slight from her colleagues while keeping her own lack of confidence well hidden. She’s not an easy character to warm to, but she’s human all the way through. So are the three daft villains who burst into a Muslim family’s home, kidnap the father, and shoot a teenage girl. As Alex and the police scramble to pick up their trail, we get to know these three stooges: an angry, ineffectual man who imagines he’s a commando, a genial heroin addict, and a romantic failure who daydreams about the girl he accidentally shot. The kidnap victim and his family all emerge from the page, too, in a story that throws them from one disaster into another. Finishing with a twist is a cliché in the genre, but this book’s denouement is a true surprise. Still Midnight is further evidence that Mina is one of the best writers in the genre.

Hard Rain
Jim Winter

Special Agent Vin Cooper has impulse control issues. You can’t blame him, though. His wife left him for their marriage counselor, a fact he discovered in their shower. Now he’s working with Special Agent Anna Masters, who dumped him for a sleazy Department of Defense lawyer tasked with screwing over Gulf War Syndrome veterans. And it’s Gulf War Syndrome—or rather its likely cause, depleted uranium—that drive this third Cooper outing, David Rollins’ Hard Rain. It begins during a raid on Iraq’s Highway of Death in the first Gulf War. Emmett Portman is a fighter pilot in that battle, well aware he is shooting depleted uranium at the enemy. Years later, as the Air Force attaché in Turkey, police find Portman dead, his body laid out in pieces like an airplane model. Cooper and Masters believe they are dealing with serial killer. When a second man tied to the same Air Force project as Portman is killed, it becomes apparent the serial killer act is a ruse. Someone is trying to keep something quiet, as evidence when a third man is shoved into a roaring fighter jet engine.

Cooper is not James Bond. He’s too mouthy for his own good and often escapes by pure luck. His sense of humor seems to be his best coping mechanism. He knows he’s alive purely by luck. Many of the people around Cooper don’t share that luck, it’s usually fatal for them.

Cooper is tripped up by two seemingly slow-witted Army CID agents and hounded by a bizarre pair of Israeli assassins who may or may not be Mossad. They both seem to enjoy death more than even a professional assassin would think healthy. They’re probably the most interesting spy villains I’ve seen in a while. Rollins has a gift for blending the bizarre with the real world to make Vin Cooper the perfect hero for the post-Cold War world.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:42:51

Special Agent Vin Cooper has impulse control issues. You can’t blame him, though. His wife left him for their marriage counselor, a fact he discovered in their shower. Now he’s working with Special Agent Anna Masters, who dumped him for a sleazy Department of Defense lawyer tasked with screwing over Gulf War Syndrome veterans. And it’s Gulf War Syndrome—or rather its likely cause, depleted uranium—that drive this third Cooper outing, David Rollins’ Hard Rain. It begins during a raid on Iraq’s Highway of Death in the first Gulf War. Emmett Portman is a fighter pilot in that battle, well aware he is shooting depleted uranium at the enemy. Years later, as the Air Force attaché in Turkey, police find Portman dead, his body laid out in pieces like an airplane model. Cooper and Masters believe they are dealing with serial killer. When a second man tied to the same Air Force project as Portman is killed, it becomes apparent the serial killer act is a ruse. Someone is trying to keep something quiet, as evidence when a third man is shoved into a roaring fighter jet engine.

Cooper is not James Bond. He’s too mouthy for his own good and often escapes by pure luck. His sense of humor seems to be his best coping mechanism. He knows he’s alive purely by luck. Many of the people around Cooper don’t share that luck, it’s usually fatal for them.

Cooper is tripped up by two seemingly slow-witted Army CID agents and hounded by a bizarre pair of Israeli assassins who may or may not be Mossad. They both seem to enjoy death more than even a professional assassin would think healthy. They’re probably the most interesting spy villains I’ve seen in a while. Rollins has a gift for blending the bizarre with the real world to make Vin Cooper the perfect hero for the post-Cold War world.

A House to Die For
Sue Emmons

Real estate pro Darby Farr reluctantly returns to her hometown of Hurricane Harbor, Maine, from sunny San Diego when her aunt is felled by a fatal brain tumor just as she is about to close a deal for a sale of a magnificent estate dubbed Fairview. Not only does the degenerate Soames Pemberton almost immediately attack Darby, but the bludgeoned body of disreputable Boston surgeon Dr. Emerson Phipps is also discovered in the garden shed on the estate. Farr then finds herself reunited with old school friend Lucy Trimble and her brother, Mark, who as presumptive owners of the multi-million dollar home, are set to sell it to Bostonian Peyton Mayerson who plans to turn it into a wedding venue.

The only hitch in the sale is the necessity to secure zoning approval and a liquor license. Moreover, the vote by the town Planning Board is set for the day after Darby’s arrival. Her aunt’s employee quickly assures her that the approval is a mere formality.

Darby, however, soon discovers shenanigans are afoot that involve not only her friends but have direct links to organized crime and ties to the surgeon, who also had his eye on the property and his own plan to obtain it. After a second murder occurs, Darby faces a life-and-death struggle aboard a sailboat in the midst of a howling thunderstorm. Despite some extraneous characters, debut author Doudera, herself a million-dollar real estate broker who offers up some tricks of the trade, neatly ties up a tangled plot which veers in several directions before the multiple crimes and their links to the past are exposed.

Teri Duerr
2010-04-25 15:45:23

Real estate pro Darby Farr reluctantly returns to her hometown of Hurricane Harbor, Maine, from sunny San Diego when her aunt is felled by a fatal brain tumor just as she is about to close a deal for a sale of a magnificent estate dubbed Fairview. Not only does the degenerate Soames Pemberton almost immediately attack Darby, but the bludgeoned body of disreputable Boston surgeon Dr. Emerson Phipps is also discovered in the garden shed on the estate. Farr then finds herself reunited with old school friend Lucy Trimble and her brother, Mark, who as presumptive owners of the multi-million dollar home, are set to sell it to Bostonian Peyton Mayerson who plans to turn it into a wedding venue.

The only hitch in the sale is the necessity to secure zoning approval and a liquor license. Moreover, the vote by the town Planning Board is set for the day after Darby’s arrival. Her aunt’s employee quickly assures her that the approval is a mere formality.

Darby, however, soon discovers shenanigans are afoot that involve not only her friends but have direct links to organized crime and ties to the surgeon, who also had his eye on the property and his own plan to obtain it. After a second murder occurs, Darby faces a life-and-death struggle aboard a sailboat in the midst of a howling thunderstorm. Despite some extraneous characters, debut author Doudera, herself a million-dollar real estate broker who offers up some tricks of the trade, neatly ties up a tangled plot which veers in several directions before the multiple crimes and their links to the past are exposed.

The Ghost (Aka the Ghost Writer)
Robert Harris

Former British Prime Minister Adam Lang has just buried his friend Michael McAra, who had been writing the Prime Minister's highly touted memoir. Desperate to salvage the enormous advance, Lang's publisher hires our unnamed hero—a successful ghostwriter, aka the ghost.

The ghost flies to a desolate, wintertime Martha's Vineyard to spend a month rewriting McAra's disastrous attempt at a memoir. As he begins work, the atmosphere becomes increasingly strained: Lang's embittered wife believes her husband is having an affair with his assistant and Lang is accused of war crimes during the "War on Terror." The situation worsens when evidence arises that McAra may have been murdered. Accustomed to hiding in the shadows, the ghost must come forward in order to establish the truth of the war crime allegations, solve the murder of McAra, and, ultimately, save his own life.

Harris pulls directly from today's headlines as his story questions the tactics used by both the US and Britain in combatting terrorists. The Ghost is not only a great, gripping read—it is a book with an important message about power and the nature of politics in a world gripped with fear.

Super User
2010-04-25 15:55:43

Former British Prime Minister Adam Lang has just buried his friend Michael McAra, who had been writing the Prime Minister's highly touted memoir. Desperate to salvage the enormous advance, Lang's publisher hires our unnamed hero—a successful ghostwriter, aka the ghost.

The ghost flies to a desolate, wintertime Martha's Vineyard to spend a month rewriting McAra's disastrous attempt at a memoir. As he begins work, the atmosphere becomes increasingly strained: Lang's embittered wife believes her husband is having an affair with his assistant and Lang is accused of war crimes during the "War on Terror." The situation worsens when evidence arises that McAra may have been murdered. Accustomed to hiding in the shadows, the ghost must come forward in order to establish the truth of the war crime allegations, solve the murder of McAra, and, ultimately, save his own life.

Harris pulls directly from today's headlines as his story questions the tactics used by both the US and Britain in combatting terrorists. The Ghost is not only a great, gripping read—it is a book with an important message about power and the nature of politics in a world gripped with fear.

The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam
Chris Ewan

Englishman Charlie Howard is living in Amsterdam while he writes his latest suspense novel about a thief. Burglary also happens to be Charlie's own day job and the way he supports his writing career. Charlie is hired to steal two monkey figurines but before he can deliver them, his client is beaten to death. Then Charlie's apartment is trashed in a search for the seemingly worthless plaster figurines and out of self-preservation he decides to investigate. Meanwhile, in long phone conversations with his literary agent Victoria, he deals with plot holes in his latest novel and reports on his detecting exploits.

Charlie Howard is clever, charming and audacious, making it very easy to like and sympathize with a thief-protagonist. A framed first edition cover of The Maltese Falcon that hangs on his wall is a hint (in case it's needed) that Dashiell Hammett's classic mystery was the inspiration for the book's plot. Observant readers will have great fun spotting the many parallels between the two stories and will appreciate the other broad nods to classic mysteries. All in all, The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam is a thoroughly enjoyable first novel. I look forward to more of Charlie's adventures as he indulges his penchants for travel and burglary.

Super User
2010-04-25 15:55:43

Englishman Charlie Howard is living in Amsterdam while he writes his latest suspense novel about a thief. Burglary also happens to be Charlie's own day job and the way he supports his writing career. Charlie is hired to steal two monkey figurines but before he can deliver them, his client is beaten to death. Then Charlie's apartment is trashed in a search for the seemingly worthless plaster figurines and out of self-preservation he decides to investigate. Meanwhile, in long phone conversations with his literary agent Victoria, he deals with plot holes in his latest novel and reports on his detecting exploits.

Charlie Howard is clever, charming and audacious, making it very easy to like and sympathize with a thief-protagonist. A framed first edition cover of The Maltese Falcon that hangs on his wall is a hint (in case it's needed) that Dashiell Hammett's classic mystery was the inspiration for the book's plot. Observant readers will have great fun spotting the many parallels between the two stories and will appreciate the other broad nods to classic mysteries. All in all, The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam is a thoroughly enjoyable first novel. I look forward to more of Charlie's adventures as he indulges his penchants for travel and burglary.

Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues

Dixie Hemingway, once a member of Florida's finest, is now earning

Super User
2010-04-25 15:55:43

Dixie Hemingway, once a member of Florida's finest, is now earning

Grave Justice

If you enjoy your mysteries with a soupcon of the supernatural, Grave Justice is the book for you. Rugged Maine serves as the backdrop for this cleverly-plotted mystery/romance featuring Amanda Vickers and Marcie Ducasse, magazine journalists on assignment to cover the story of the Monster of Lake Opal. This monster bears no small resemblance to the spurious Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, but both Amanda and Marcie, confirmed skeptics, nonetheless investigate, hoping to conjure up a good story for their readers. Unfortunately, the sea monster is less of a puzzle than the deaths and murders creating upheaval in the town. Things fall apart when a wealthy businessman holds a s

Super User
2010-04-25 15:58:34

If you enjoy your mysteries with a soupcon of the supernatural, Grave Justice is the book for you. Rugged Maine serves as the backdrop for this cleverly-plotted mystery/romance featuring Amanda Vickers and Marcie Ducasse, magazine journalists on assignment to cover the story of the Monster of Lake Opal. This monster bears no small resemblance to the spurious Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, but both Amanda and Marcie, confirmed skeptics, nonetheless investigate, hoping to conjure up a good story for their readers. Unfortunately, the sea monster is less of a puzzle than the deaths and murders creating upheaval in the town. Things fall apart when a wealthy businessman holds a s

Hangman's Corner

Ned Parker is among 6,000 Hansom cabbies who serve the darkest corners of England's capital circa 1870. He's also the latest protagonist of the prolific author Peter King's newest series--and perhaps the man behind the term "Nosy Parker."

Fans of Anne Perry will no doubt enjoy this historical mystery, starring a clever sleuth, coping with the aspirations of his wannabe actress girlfriend, the questions surrounding his father's recent passing, and plenty of dicey situations on the job--including, of course, a man found slain in his cab. Add to this Parker's labor union struggles at work, a colorful cast of cabbies, cops and crooks, and plenty of famous London settings, and Parker has the groundwork for a fruitful new series. In fact there is so much here, readers' may hope that less cluttered subplots will emerge in Parker's next adventure.

Though the case winds up with a rousing, if somewhat obligatory, chase through the streets of London, the plentiful source material in this entr

Super User
2010-04-25 15:58:34

Ned Parker is among 6,000 Hansom cabbies who serve the darkest corners of England's capital circa 1870. He's also the latest protagonist of the prolific author Peter King's newest series--and perhaps the man behind the term "Nosy Parker."

Fans of Anne Perry will no doubt enjoy this historical mystery, starring a clever sleuth, coping with the aspirations of his wannabe actress girlfriend, the questions surrounding his father's recent passing, and plenty of dicey situations on the job--including, of course, a man found slain in his cab. Add to this Parker's labor union struggles at work, a colorful cast of cabbies, cops and crooks, and plenty of famous London settings, and Parker has the groundwork for a fruitful new series. In fact there is so much here, readers' may hope that less cluttered subplots will emerge in Parker's next adventure.

Though the case winds up with a rousing, if somewhat obligatory, chase through the streets of London, the plentiful source material in this entr

Little Shop of Murders

Following last year's Brigadoom, Susan Goodwill produces a rollicking sequel in this entertaining, albeit unrealistic, romp exposing the trials and tribulations of small-town theater owner Kate London. Kate and her eccentric, former Hollywood starlet Aunt Kitty attempt to sustain the ramshackle building that she uses for their community theater performances. These productions are beset by the usual mishaps of amateur theater: unpaid bills, temperamental actors, and a steep learning curve. What makes Kate's situation unique is that she is also in the thick of a murder mystery involving a renegade motorcycle gang and a kidnapped octogenarian. Deputized by her beau Ben (a part-time sheriff and dental student), Kate actually does have authority to enter the investigation--and enter she does. She proves to be an indefatigable sleuth, solving the mystery, even as her community theater production of Little Shop of Horrors devolves into utter, hilarious, disarray.

If you can suspend your disbelief long enough to let this charming, witty mystery overtake you, you won't regret it. Most reminiscent of Evanovich's screwball delights, the antics and wit of Kate and Aunt Kitty provoke outright laughter. The delightful entertainment in Little Shop of Murders will certainly tide you over until the next Stephanie Plum novel arrives.

Super User
2010-04-25 15:58:34

Following last year's Brigadoom, Susan Goodwill produces a rollicking sequel in this entertaining, albeit unrealistic, romp exposing the trials and tribulations of small-town theater owner Kate London. Kate and her eccentric, former Hollywood starlet Aunt Kitty attempt to sustain the ramshackle building that she uses for their community theater performances. These productions are beset by the usual mishaps of amateur theater: unpaid bills, temperamental actors, and a steep learning curve. What makes Kate's situation unique is that she is also in the thick of a murder mystery involving a renegade motorcycle gang and a kidnapped octogenarian. Deputized by her beau Ben (a part-time sheriff and dental student), Kate actually does have authority to enter the investigation--and enter she does. She proves to be an indefatigable sleuth, solving the mystery, even as her community theater production of Little Shop of Horrors devolves into utter, hilarious, disarray.

If you can suspend your disbelief long enough to let this charming, witty mystery overtake you, you won't regret it. Most reminiscent of Evanovich's screwball delights, the antics and wit of Kate and Aunt Kitty provoke outright laughter. The delightful entertainment in Little Shop of Murders will certainly tide you over until the next Stephanie Plum novel arrives.

Mad About the Boy?

It's England, 1923. Sir Philip and Lady Ashley are hosting a "country house weekend." Among the guests are a nouveau riche banker and his secretary; Arthur, a shell-shocked veteran; Jack Haldean, a dabbling mystery writer; the handsome, successful Malcolm Smith

Super User
2010-04-25 16:02:23

It's England, 1923. Sir Philip and Lady Ashley are hosting a "country house weekend." Among the guests are a nouveau riche banker and his secretary; Arthur, a shell-shocked veteran; Jack Haldean, a dabbling mystery writer; the handsome, successful Malcolm Smith

Folly Du Jour

Commander Joe Sandilands of Scotland Yard is in Paris in 1927 to attend an Interpol conference when he learns that a friend, Sir George Jardine, has been arrested for murder. At the conclusion of a performance at the Folies Berg?

Super User
2010-04-25 16:07:34

Commander Joe Sandilands of Scotland Yard is in Paris in 1927 to attend an Interpol conference when he learns that a friend, Sir George Jardine, has been arrested for murder. At the conclusion of a performance at the Folies Berg?

Hell Hole
Chris Grabenstein

This latest John Ceepak novel once again features his likable cop sidekick Danny Boyle as narrator. This time Danny runs into a hard-partying group of soldiers home on leave from Iraq and vacationing on the Jersey shore. Soon one of their group, Cpl. Shareef Smith, turns up dead at a roadside rest stop. Local investigators pronounce the soldier's death a drug-induced suicide, but Danny has his doubts and urges his partner John Ceepak to investigate the case.

Ceepak, known for his cool logic and absolute adherence to the truth, soon finds clues that point not only to murder, but also to the theft of objects from Smith's car. Still unsure that the two events are even related, Ceepak and Boyle must nonetheless step up the investigation when the obnoxious Sergeant Dale Dixon threatens vigilante justice for his fallen comrade. What they discover eventually pits them against some very powerful people--people who view killing as a necessary evil.

Boyle's witty sarcasm serves as an effective counterpoint to Ceepak's often robot-like responses and also humanizes many of the more horrific aspects of the plot. Two minor criminals lend humor to the story, as does part-time cop Samantha Starky. For longtime readers, the introduction of Ceepak's nasty father and the insight into Ceepak's character he provides should be of interest. All in all, smooth writing and an unpredictable plot should please fans of Anthony award-winner Chris Grabenstein.

Super User
2010-04-25 16:07:34

This latest John Ceepak novel once again features his likable cop sidekick Danny Boyle as narrator. This time Danny runs into a hard-partying group of soldiers home on leave from Iraq and vacationing on the Jersey shore. Soon one of their group, Cpl. Shareef Smith, turns up dead at a roadside rest stop. Local investigators pronounce the soldier's death a drug-induced suicide, but Danny has his doubts and urges his partner John Ceepak to investigate the case.

Ceepak, known for his cool logic and absolute adherence to the truth, soon finds clues that point not only to murder, but also to the theft of objects from Smith's car. Still unsure that the two events are even related, Ceepak and Boyle must nonetheless step up the investigation when the obnoxious Sergeant Dale Dixon threatens vigilante justice for his fallen comrade. What they discover eventually pits them against some very powerful people--people who view killing as a necessary evil.

Boyle's witty sarcasm serves as an effective counterpoint to Ceepak's often robot-like responses and also humanizes many of the more horrific aspects of the plot. Two minor criminals lend humor to the story, as does part-time cop Samantha Starky. For longtime readers, the introduction of Ceepak's nasty father and the insight into Ceepak's character he provides should be of interest. All in all, smooth writing and an unpredictable plot should please fans of Anthony award-winner Chris Grabenstein.

Winter 2010, Issue #113 Contents
Mystery Scene

113cover250

Features

Diving For Danger

Randy Wayne White uses his love and detailed knowledge of Florida's Gulf Coast to craft riveting thrillers.
by Oline Cogdill

Building Your Book Collection, Part 3: Condition

Is that cover chipped, sunned, or foxed? Understanding a bookseller's decription of condition.
by Nate Pedersen

G.M. Malliet: Birth of a Cozy Writer

Malliet used her Cambridge education—and the Malice Domestic convention—to jumpstart her career
by Oline Cogdill

The Murders in Memory Lane: Ross Thomas

Lawrence Block recalls his friendship with the later thriller writer and considers his top-notch body of work.
by Lawrence Block

Romancing the Con

These happy couples found true love at mystery fan conventions.
by Twist Phelan

P.D. James: Talking About Detective Fiction

The grande dame of crime fiction is the latest in a long line of noted writers to turn a critical eye to the history of the mystery.
by Jon L. Breen

The Little Priest from Essex

Belying his innocuous appearance, G.K. Chesterton's modest little Catholic priest is in fact a revolutionary figure in the mystery genre.
by Steven Steinbock

Encore! Rupert Holmes Returns to Center Stage

Holmes takes on a new and exciting challenge with his stage adaptation of Agatha Christies' Witness for the Prosecution.
by Wm. F. Hirschman

Departments

At the Scene

by Kate Stine

Our Readers Recommend

by Mystery Scene readers

New Books Essays

by Kenneth Wishia, Wendy Clinch, Martin Edwards, Kris Neri, Kelly Stanley, Thomas Kaufman, and Sarah Wisseman

Child's Play: Books for Young Sleuths

by Roberta Rogow

What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed

by Jon L. Breen

Small Press Reviews

by Betty Webb

Gormania!

by Ed Gorman

Short Stories Considered

by Bill Crider

Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed

by Lynne Maxwell

Mystery Scene Reviews

Admin
2010-04-06 02:39:02

113cover250

Features

Diving For Danger

Randy Wayne White uses his love and detailed knowledge of Florida's Gulf Coast to craft riveting thrillers.
by Oline Cogdill

Building Your Book Collection, Part 3: Condition

Is that cover chipped, sunned, or foxed? Understanding a bookseller's decription of condition.
by Nate Pedersen

G.M. Malliet: Birth of a Cozy Writer

Malliet used her Cambridge education—and the Malice Domestic convention—to jumpstart her career
by Oline Cogdill

The Murders in Memory Lane: Ross Thomas

Lawrence Block recalls his friendship with the later thriller writer and considers his top-notch body of work.
by Lawrence Block

Romancing the Con

These happy couples found true love at mystery fan conventions.
by Twist Phelan

P.D. James: Talking About Detective Fiction

The grande dame of crime fiction is the latest in a long line of noted writers to turn a critical eye to the history of the mystery.
by Jon L. Breen

The Little Priest from Essex

Belying his innocuous appearance, G.K. Chesterton's modest little Catholic priest is in fact a revolutionary figure in the mystery genre.
by Steven Steinbock

Encore! Rupert Holmes Returns to Center Stage

Holmes takes on a new and exciting challenge with his stage adaptation of Agatha Christies' Witness for the Prosecution.
by Wm. F. Hirschman

Departments

At the Scene

by Kate Stine

Our Readers Recommend

by Mystery Scene readers

New Books Essays

by Kenneth Wishia, Wendy Clinch, Martin Edwards, Kris Neri, Kelly Stanley, Thomas Kaufman, and Sarah Wisseman

Child's Play: Books for Young Sleuths

by Roberta Rogow

What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed

by Jon L. Breen

Small Press Reviews

by Betty Webb

Gormania!

by Ed Gorman

Short Stories Considered

by Bill Crider

Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed

by Lynne Maxwell

Mystery Scene Reviews