Friday, August 26, 2011

Cool Shorts for Hot Summer Nights

Sometimes you just don't have a big block of time to indulge your passion for reading.  When time is tight, that's when you should pick up one of these great anthologies.  They feature intriguing mysteries by many of your favorite authors.  And just the right size to fit into your busy schedule!
  • Black Noir: Mystery, Crime and Suspense Stories by African-American writers, edited by Otto Penzler
  • The Dark End of the Street:  New Stories of Sex and Crime by Today's top Authors; edited by Jonathan Santlofer and S. J. Rozan
  • Dead man's Hand:  Crime Fiction at the Poker Table, edited by Otto Penzler
  • Eighteen by Jan Burke
  • Hollywood and Crime:  Original Crime Stories Set During the History of Hollywood, edited by Robert Randisi
  • Hook, Line & Sinister, edited by T. Jefferson Parker; sixteen of America's favorite author-anglers spin tales of mystery and fishing
  • Los Angeles Noir 2:  the Classics, edited by Denise Hamilton; classic stories by the genre's masters -- Raymod Chandler, James M. Cain, Ross MacDonald, Margaret Millar, and others
  • The Mighty Johns, edited by Otto Penzler; an anthology of original stories centered on crime and football
  • Mystery Writers of America Presents the Blue Religion:  New Stories About Cops, Criminals, and the Chase, edited by Michael Connelly
  • A Night in the Cemetary and Other Stories of Crime and Suspense
  • Thriller 2: Stories You Just Can't Put Down, edited by Clive Cussler; some of the top suspense authors contributed to this heart-pumping collection of original stories

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Baldacci's King & Maxwell series coming to TV

Shane Brennan, executive producer of NCIS and NCIS: LA, recently announced his newly formed production company will adapt the King & Maxwell series of novels by David Baldacci.

Introduced in the 2004 thriller, Split Second, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are former Secret Service agents who each lost a protectee in separate incidents.  Now the uneasy partners work together as security consultants for hire.

The series is tentatively titled King & Maxwell.  Because a television series usually calls for 22-24 episodes a season, Brennan said that "we'll take the characters further than David would do, but we will be very true to the mythology of the characters he created."  David Baldacci has offered to help bring his heroes to the screen. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Historical Figures as Sleuths

An interesting trend these days seems to be taking real-life characters - be they historical or literary - and plopping them down in the middle of a mystery novel.  Elliott Roosevelt did it for years, casting his mother, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, as an amateur sleuth.  This type of premise is the basis for a 2012 film, The Raven, starring John Cusak as Edgar Allan Poe.  The thriller focuses on the last days of the writer's life as he pursues a serial killer whose murders mirrors Poe's own stories.

Here are more along that vein:

  • The Tale of Oak Cake Crag:  the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron: Being a Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron
  • The Pale Blue Eye (Edgar Allan Poe) by Louis Bayard
  • Murder on the Cliffs:  A Daphne du Maurier Mystery by Joanna Challis
  • Death to Spies: a Novel of the Espionage Adventures of Ian Fleming by Quinn Fawcett (aka Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
  • The List of Seven (Arthur Conan Doyle) by Mark Frost
  • Elementary, My Dear Groucho (Groucho Max) by Ron Goulart
  • Benjamin Franklin Takes the Case: the American Agent Investigates Murder in the Dark Byways of London by Robert Lee Hall
  • The Ninth Daughter: an Abigail Adams Mystery by Barbara Hamilton (aka Barbara Hambly)
  • The Alchemy of Murder (Nellie Bly) by Carol McCleary
  • The Detective and Mr. Dickens: a Secret Victorian Journal Attributed to Wilkie Collins by William J. Palmer
  • The Dracula Dossier (Bram Stoker) by James Reese
  • Murder at the President's Door: an Eleanor Roosevelt Mystery by Elliott Roosevelt
  • Bedlam: the Further Secret Adventures of Charlott Bronte by Laura Joh Rowland
  • The Tainted Snuff Box: a Beau Brummell Mystery by Rosemary Stevens
Can you think of any others?  Let me know.

Monday, August 8, 2011

White Shotgun -- Thriller with an Italian Edge

One of the best things about lazy summer weekends is that it gives one a chance to dig into the pile of "To Read" books taking up a corner of the end table.  This weekend I took a little trip to Siena, Italy -- by way of April Smith's White Shotgun. Not quite as good as a drive through Tuscany, but pretty darn close!

Smith doesn't churn out a book a year as do some mystery writers, nonetheless she delivers power-packed punches with each of her Special Agent Ana Grey novels.  Her books are tightly written with a detailed focus on characters and their relationships with each other. 

So what is a Los Angeles-based FBI agent doing in Italy, butting heads with both the local mafias and the Italian police? 

It all starts when Ana witnesses a drive-by shooting at an Italian restaurant in London while on leave from the Bureau.  Her training kicks in as she helps the victims and gives a report to the police.  When the Bureau contacts Ana, she's shocked to learn that she has a half-sister living in Siena. Cecilia is married to wealthy coffee magnate Nicoli Nicosa, who is suspected of having international mafia connections.  The FBI wants Ana to infiltrate the household and search for any incriminating evidence. 

As Ana becomes aquainted with her new family, all Siena is gearing up for the pageantry of their annual horse race -- Il Palio.  The medieval town is bursting it's seams with the thousands of visitors arriving for the spectacle. In spite of the color and frivolity, dark forces are at work under the surface. When her nephew is stabbed and her sister goes missing, Ana's faced with the complicated choice between duty and family.

Good Morning, Killer, the second of the Ana Grey books, is being filmed  for TNT's new Tuesday night mystery movie series.  April Smith wrote the screenplay and Catherine Bell is set to star as Ana Grey.   Read more about the author and her series here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Hanging Tree Optioned for Film

John Gray, who created the Ghost Whisperer series, has optioned the film rights for Bryan Gruley's thriller The Hanging Tree. Gray plans to write and direct the project.

The Hanging Tree is the second entry in Gruley's Starvation Lake mystery series.  In the book, Gus Carpenter, a former Detroit Times reporter/detective tries to solve the mystery of how a former resident of the Michigan resort town ends up hanging from a tree after she returns home.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Return of Inspector Morse

ITV has announced it commissioned a made-for-television film that will introduce a younger version of Inspector Morse.  The film "Endeavour"  (Morse's first name) will be shot in Oxford this fall and will probably air early in 2012.

Shaun Evans (The Take, Come Rain Come Shine) has been cast as the young Morse and will be stepping into the shoes of John Thaw who portrayed Colin Dexter's iconic character from 1987 to 2000.  The film will give the audience a chance to discover the origins of Inspector Morse and his love of classical music, crosswords, real ale, and classic cars.

"Endeavour" is set in 1965 and follows the hunt for a missing schoolgirl.  The investigation brings Endeavour Morse back to Oxford -- a place that will ultimately shape his destiny. 

The film is co-produced with Masterpiece and Rebecca Eaton is Executive  Producer for Masterpiece.  Read more here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Second Messiah

Many a suspense yarn has been touted as the “Next Da Vinci Code.” Dublin-born Glenn Meade's latest thriller The Second Messiah is a worthy successor. I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a riveting tale filled with high-octane chases, stolen ancient documents, and Vatican intrigues.

Archaeologist Jack Cane discovers a fragment of Dead Sea Scrolls with enigmatic references to a “second Messiah” at the time of Jesus. But the scroll is stolen before it can be fully translated and one of Jack’s colleagues is killed. Investigating the murder is an old friend of Jack’s, Israeli police inspector Lela Raul.

Meanwhile back in Rome, a charismatic American priest is elected Pope, which sends shock waves throughout the Vatican. The hierarchy of the Church is split between those who fear the new Pope is the anti-Christ and others believing he’s the Church’s salvation. But will the new Pope’s ties to Jack help or hinder the investigation into the missing scroll? As Jack and Lela outrace assassins, Vatican machinations may suppress the scroll’s contents permanently.

Be prepared to read The Second Messiah in one sitting!  You won't want to put it down.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What's in a Name?

In looking over a list of new paperback releases, I was quite tickled by some of the cozy mystery titles out there.  What diversity!   In this sub-genre you can find just about any locale, hobby, or culinary fancy to enjoy.  So to whet your taste for cozy comfort reads, here is a baker's dozen of recently released mysteries:
  • A Sheetcake Named Desire by Jacklyn Brady -- the start of a new series featuring New Orleans pastry chef Rita Lucero
  • Books Can be Deceiving by Jenn McKinley -- A Library Lover's Mystery with Lindsey Norris, Library director of Briar Creek Library in Connecticut
  • A Good Day to Pie by Carol Culver -- Hanna Denton, pie shop owner (recipes included)
  • Die Buying by Laura DiSilverio -- Emma-Joy Ferris is a former military police, now mall cop
  • Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend -- Sunny Meadows, fortune teller
  • Lost and Fondue by Avery Aames -- Charlotte Bessette, owner of The Cheese Shop
  • Evil Eclairs by Jessica Beck -- Suzanne Hart is a donut shop owner in a small southern town (great donut recipes included)
  • Cookie Dough or Die by Virginia Lowell -- Olivia Grayson owns The Gingerbread House, a shop that specializes in all things cookie
  • A Parfait Murder: a Mystery A La Mode by Wendy Lin Watson -- Tallulah Jones is an ice cream shop owner in a Texan town
  • Sentenced to Death: a Booktown Mystery by Lorna Barrett -- Tricia Miles is the proprietor of a mystery bookstore
  • Pie a La Murder by Melinda Wells -- Della Carmichael is a cable TV cooking show star and owner of a Santa Monica cooking school
  • Finger Lickin' Dead by Riley Adams -- Sixty-something Lulu Taylor runs Aunt Pat's Restaurant in Memphis
  • Murder by Mocha by Cleo Coyle -- Clare Cosi is a single mom and coffee house manager who sleuths on the side (chocolate recipes included)