Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Witches, and Vampires, and Ghosts, Oh My!

Here are some of my favorite Halloween mysteries, some old, some new. How many have you enjoyed?

  • Witches Bane by Susan Wittig Albert (Cozy)
  • Antiques Maul by Barbara Allan (Cozy)
  • Aunt Dimity, Vampire Hunter by Nancy Atherton (Supernatural Cozy)
  • A Cast-off Coven by Juliet Blackwell (Cozy)
  • The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts by Lilian J. Braun (Cozy)
  • The Hunt Ball by Rita Mae Brown (Amateur Sleuth)
  • Fiber and Brimstone by Laura Childs (Cozy)
  • Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie (Detective Mystery)
  • A Catered Halloween by Isis Crawford (Culinary Cozy)
  • Crimes by Moonlight (Anthology edited by Charlaine Harris)
  • Ghostly Murders by P.C. Doherty (Historical Mystery)
  • Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich (Humorous Mystery
  • Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke (Culinary Cozy)
  • Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber (Culinary Cozy)
  • Skeleton Key by Jane Haddam (Amateur Sleuth)
  • Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (Final Sookie Stackhouse mystery)
  • Southern Ghost by Carolyn Hart (Cozy/Amateur Sleuth)
  • The Haunting of Hill House by SHirley Jackson (Suspense)
  • Murder in Vein: a Fang-In-Cheek Mystery by Sue Ann Jaffarian
  • Death of a Neighborhood Witch by Laura Levine (Humorous Mystery)
  • Poisoned Tarts by G.A. McKevett (Cozy)
  • Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier (Cozy)
  • Murder for Halloween: Tales of Suspense
  • The Night Country by Stewart O'Nan (Horror/Mystery)
  • The Body in the Moonlight by Kathereine Hall Page (Cozy)
  • The Dracula Dossier by James Reese (Suspense)
  • Night Hunter by Michael Reeves (Horror/Mystery)
  • A Hole in Juan by Gillian Roberts (Cozy)
  • Dracula: the Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker (Horror)
  • Ghost Story by Peter Straub (Horror)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bouchercon is Coming!

Are you attending Bouchercon 2014? It's a fantastic conference for mystery writers and readers held annually. This year Bouchercon is  in Long Beach, California, so I'll most certainly be there. It's not too late to register. Check out their website and see if your favorite mystery author is attending. It's a great chance to meet and greet authors, especially those international ones. When I was at Bouchercon 2012 in San Francisco, I was able to chat with so many of my favs, including a few from the other side of the pond!

Calling all librarians attending Bouchercon. Be sure to sign up for the FREE Librarian Tea hosted by the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Cozy Halloween Tale

Just in time for my favorite holiday -- Halloween! Daryl Wood Gerber recently released the Stirring the Plot, third in her Cookbook Nook series, and I'm really enjoying it as I get in the spooky holiday spirit.

Halloween in Crystal Cove, a charming California coastal community, is always spook-tacular. All the local businesses have haunting window displays, including Jenna Hart's Cookbook Nook. But the big celebration in town is the annual soiree put on by the Winsome Witches who raise funds for literacy.

When the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is found dead, and Jenna's Aunt Vera has lost her ability to foresee the future, Jenna begins to feel like her arrival in Crystal Cove has jinxed the place.

This is a really fun series (and I am a sucker for the lovely alliteration!). Daryl Wood Gerber also writes The Cheese Shop mysteries under her nom de plume, Avery Aames. Visit her websites at and Her books always include yummy recipes in the back and you can find more on her websites. If you like foody mysteries and enjoy cooking yourself, be sure to check out; Daryl is one of mystery writer/bloggers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Changes in the Air and Something New

Aunt Agatha has been somewhat remiss in posting in recent weeks, and for that I do apologize. It's hard to believe a whole month has passed since the last post! But my alter ego is preparing to retire from the Burbank Public Library after a lifetime (it seems!) of happy service. Consequently, there's been a lot of tying up of loose ends in preparation of the transition (as well as hiding "evidence" and disposing of "bodies"). 

The good news is that after December, Aunt Agatha will have more time to dig up clues to good books.

In the meantime, take a look at the new releases for October:

Last Writes [SS] by Catherine Aird

The Counterfeit Heiress [Lady Emily Ashton] by Tasha Alexander

The Nightingale Before Christmas [Meg Langslow] by Donna Andrews

Sidney Sheldon’s Chasing Tomorrow by Tilly Bagshawe

Death of a Blue Blood [Murder She Wrote] by Donald Bain & Jessica Fletcher

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas [Jane Austen] byStephanie Barron

Close to the Bone [Theresa MacLean] by Lisa Black

The Empire of Night [Christopher Marlowe Cobb] by Robert Olen Butler

Gossamer Ghost [Scrapbooking] by Laura Childs

The Wolf in Winter [Charlie Parker] by John Connolly

Havana Storm [Dirk Pitt] by Clive Cussler & Dirk Cussler

Death in Elysium [Jodie Welsh] by Judith Cutler

Dark Spies [Will Cochrane] by Matthew Dunn

Dick Francis’s Damage by Felix Francis

Stirring the Plot (Cookbook Nook) by Daryl Wood Gerber

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Riders on the Storm [Sam McCain] by Ed Gorman

Run by Andrew Grant

Gray Mountain  by John Grisham

Ghost Wanted [Bailey Ruth Raeburn] by Carolyn Hart

The Old Deep and Dark [Jane Lawless] by Ellen Hart

Older than Goodbye [Judd Wheeler] by Richard Helms

Malice [Kyochiro Kaga] by Keigo Higashino

Bless Her Dead Little Heart (Southern Ladies) by Miranda James

The White Sea [Alex Mavros] by Paul Johnston

Seventh Grave and No Body [Charley Davidson] by Darynda Jones

The Legend of Sleepy Harlow (League of Literary Ladies) by Kylie Logan

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett

The Handsome Man’s Deluxe CafĂ© [No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency] by Alexander McCall Smith

I See You by Patricia MacDonald

Demon Summer [Max Tudor] by G.M. Malliet

Every Breath [Rachel Watts / YA] by Ellie Marney

Cobra [Benny Griessel] by Deon Meyer

Last Winter We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura

The Madness of July  by James Naughtie

The Final Silence [Jack Lennon] by Stuart Neville

Fear and Loathing [Sam Becket] by Hilary Norman

Leaving Time  by Jodi Picoult

Burned [Vanessa Pierson] by Valerie Plame & Sarah Lovett

Sour Grapes [Shakespeare in the Vineyard] by Carole Price

Assault with a Deadly Lie [Nick Hoffman] by Lev Raphael

Truth Be Told [Jane Ryland & Jake Brogan] by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Swann’s Lake of Despair [Henry Swann] by Charles Salzberg

Deadline [Virgil Flowers] by John Sandford

Louise’s Blunder [Louise Pearlie] by Sarah R. Shaber

The Pierced Heart [Charles Maddox] by Lynn Shepherd

Sons of Sparta [Andreas Kaldis] by Jeffrey Siger

Stages of Grey [Dulcie Schwartz] by Clea Simon

Supping with the Devil [Monika Paniatowski] by Sally Spencer

Thief [Robin Monarch] by Mark T. Sullivan

The Scent of Death [Edward Savill] by Andrew Taylor

Spark  by John Twelve Hawks

Sometimes the Wolf  by Urban Waite

Desert Rage [Lena Jones] by Betty Webb

Paris Match [Stone Barrington] by Stuart Woods

The Best American Mystery Stories of the 19th Century [SS] edited by Otto Penzler

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September's Crop of Releases

What amazes me about mystery fiction is that death can't keep a good man down. Case in point, the demise of Robert B. Parker and Agatha Christie didn't slow down the exploits of their iconic characters. This month, Jesse Stone returns in Blind Spot by Reed Farrel Coleman and the ever-popular Hercule Poirot has an another adventure in Sophie Hannah's The Monogram Murders. Read on...we have a nice selection of murder and mystery to keep us all busy this month.

The Marco Effect [Department Q] by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Darling Dahlias and the Silver Dollar Bush [Darling Dahlias] by Susan Wittig Albert

Hit and Run [Main Street] by Sandra Balzo

The Blood of an Englishman [Agatha Raisin] by M.C. Beaton

The Rest Is Silence [Billy Boyle] by James R. Benn

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Defender of the Innocent: The Casebook of Martin Ehrengraf [SS] by Lawrence Block

The Cinderella Killer [Charles Paris] by Simon Brett

Beware Beware [Juniper Song] by Steph Cha

Personal [Jack Reacher] by Lee Child

Night of the White Buffalo [Wind River] by Margaret Coel

Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot [Jesse Stone continuation] by Reed Farrel Coleman

A Dancer in the Dust  by Thomas H. Cook

Countdown [Milt Kovak] by Susan Rogers Cooper

Day of Vengeance [Dorothy Martin] by Jeanne M. Dams

The Beast in the Red Forest [Inspector Pekkala] by Sam Eastland

The Lost Key [Brit in the FBI] by Catherine Coulter & J.T. Ellison

Perfidia [2nd L.A. Quartet] by James Ellroy

To Dwell in Darkness [Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James] by Deborah Crombie

The Eye of Heaven [Sam and Remi Fargo #6] by Clive Cussler & Russell Blake

Roseblood  by Paul Doherty

The Secret Place [Dublin Murder Squad] by TanaDog Beach  by John Fusco

The Corners of the Globe [James Maxted] by Robert Goddard

Those Who Feel Nothing [Brighton] by Peter Guttridge

Fighting Chance [Gregor Demarkian] by Jane Haddam

The Monogram Murders [The New Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Mystery] by Sophie Hannah

Darkness, Darkness [Resnick] by John Harvey

Murder in Time [Ellie Quicke] by Veronica Heley

Skink: No Surrender  [YA] by Carl Hiaasen

Death Is a Word [Mrs. Malory] by Hazel Holt

Haunted [Bishop Special Crimes Unit] by Kay Hooper

The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen

Murder 101 [Peter Decker & Rina Lazarus] by Faye Kellerman

The Golem of Hollywood by Jonathan Kellerman & Jesse Kellerman

Strong Darkness [Caitlin Strong #6] by Jon Land

Life Deluxe [Stockholm Noir by Jens Lapidus

The Drop by Dennis LehDay of Atonemen by David Liss

The Stone Wife [Peter Diamond] by Peter Lovesey

Bright Hopes [St. Rose Quilting Bee] by Annette Mahon

The Lewis Man [Lewis] by Peter May

Proof Positive [Joe Gunther] by Archer Mayor

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Silent Murders [Roaring Twenties] by Mary Miley

Rose Gold [Easy Rawlins] by Walter Mosley

Burn [Michael Bennett] by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Phantom Limb [Daniel Rinaldi] by Dennis Palumbo

Blood on the Water [William Monk] by Anne Perry

Bones Never Lie [Temperance Brennan] by Kathy Reichs

Festive in Death
[Eve Dallas] by J.D. Robb

Tomorrow’s Vengeance [Hannah Ives] by Marcia Talley

The Coniston Case [Simmy Brown] by Rebecca Tope

No Broken Hearts [Lauren Atwill] by Sheila York

Friday, August 22, 2014

Terminated -- What a Thrill Ride!

I got my copy of Ray Daniel's Terminated late in the day and thought that I'd read a couple of chapters before going to sleep. Big mistake! I was still reading at 2 AM and if it hadn't been a work night, I probably would have kept reading til dawn. The story hooks you at the first line and keeps reeling you in!

Terminated is Ray Daniel's debut novel and the start of a very promising new series. The protagonist, Tucker, is a brilliant computer programmer who lost both his great loves on the same day. Six months before the story opens, Tucker is fired for no obvious reason from his dream job, then he returns home to find his wife, Carol, murdered. Now, unemployed and unfocused, he's at a loss about what to do with his life.

Then Tucker's old college roommate, now in the FBI's cybercrimes division, claims to have a new lead in Carol's murder. That's when Tucker's life really goes to hell. In the course of five days, murder and mayhem dog his footsteps and we find that, for a really smart guy, he can certainly be obtuse at times. But if anything, Tucker is determined to find out why his wife was killed and who is trying to take him out as well.

Boston-based Daniel has created a savvy, smart character who, even when he's spouting geek-speak, doesn't let the technology interfere with the action. And there certainly is plenty of action!

Terminated is a great read and I look forward to discovering what trouble Tucker will get into next.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gothic Mysteries from Sharon Bolton

It's always a pleasure to introduce a new author to an avid reader. While I started out with Sharon (S.J.) Bolton's most recent Lacey Flint series, Melissa chose to start at the beginning. If you're looking for a riveting read during the waning days of summer, you can't go wrong with Bolton's novels. They're real grabbers!

Louise (Aunt Agatha, from the Death in the Stacks blog) recently turned me on to the books of mystery writer S. J. Bolton. But Louise started with the latest two of her books, whereas I decided (being a little OCD about my reading) to go back to the beginning and read Bolton's books from her debut, which is called Sacrifice. Now I have read three, and definitely plan to keep going.

Her protagonists in the first two are women in unusual professions and offbeat settings, and the books cross that line from mystery to thriller, almost to full-on gothic. They reminded me a bit of Elly Griffiths' books, with her strong, independent, loner (Ruth Galloway) taking things into her own hands because she's never become used to doing anything else.

Sacrifice is set on the Shetland islands. Its protagonist, Tora Hamilton, is an ob/gyn doctor, and the surrounding tale arises from the very nature of the islands, with their in-turned culture that excludes the outsider and keeps its secrets. There's one secret that's about to be found's murder. But not your garden variety murder (although the body is found in the garden)--it's weird, ritualistic, and the tip of a very big iceberg.

The second book, Awakening, stars a wildlife veterinarian with major personal issues who lives in a small town in Dorset, and who gets the chance to act as resident herpetologist when a plague of snakes starts taking down the villagers. There is a perverse tale from the past that eventually explains everything, and the twists and turns taken to get to that explanation are as mesmerizing as the snakes.
Number three is Blood Harvest, and wow! Very Children of the Corn. Super creepy, great characters, and I especially loved the children's participation in the story. This one has a couple of protagonists/points of view, one being the new (young, handsome) vicar in an old parish, the other a psychologist treating one of his parishioners. I did speculate about who the "bad guy" had to be rather early in the story, simply because of a suspicious lack of explanation about certain people, but Bolton did enough with red herrings to make me doubt myself later on, so it was still thoroughly enjoyable.

This one has a nice start on a romance as part of the plot, but the end of it is a little odd--I'm waiting to see if she takes up these characters again in a future book in another town.

And...all of the rest of her books were tragically checked out at Central when I went looking on Friday for another, so I'm interrupting this reading streak to go explore teen fiction for a while. But I'll be back to Bolton!