Monday, February 25, 2013

Family Ties That Bind

Anyone who reads this blog will note that I am somewhat partial to British and Irish mysteries. Add in the genealogy angle and I'm really a happy camper!  I recently happened upon Buried in a Bog, the first in Sheila Connolly's new County Cork mystery series.  Ah, heaven!

While the main character is not a genealogist, family history certainly plays an important part of this delightful story.  Maura Donovan honors her gran's dying wish and sets off to visit the small Irish village where her grandmother was born.  Before she had been there a day, Maura found herself working in the local pub, unraveling twisted family ties, and becoming involved in two murders -- past and present!

The day Maura arrived, a body is discovered that was buried in the bog for nearly a hundred years. The man's identity is unknown, but Maura thinks she may have a clue. Then Maura's car is run off the road and it seems her life may be in danger. Could there be a connection to the body in the bog?

This first in the series is not too big on mystery, but the interesting characters and Irish locale is the perfect combination for an Irish cozy.  Right in time for St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mystery in the Blood

As a fairly new owner of a Kindle eReader, I'm discovering many, many new mystery authors that I had not come across before. And it's particularly enjoyable to find a new author who combines two of my biggest interests!

There is no greater mystery than the search for who we are and where we came from.  Having been bitten by the genealogy bug several years ago, I have been unraveling clues to my own ancestry with as much perseverance as any detective on the trail of a really good mystery.  So it was with great pleasure that I discovered the books of Steve Robinson in the Kindle Library.

The first in the series is In the Blood (Amazon UK's Best Books of 2011), is set in Cornwall, past and present. American genealogist Jefferson Tayte's latest assignment is proving very dangerous indeed.  His research involves a young Cornish girl, a writing box, and a deep, dark family secret.  But someone else is on the exact same trail and will stop at nothing to get there first.  Who knew that family research could be so deadly!

Others in the series are To the Grave and the latest, The Last Queen of England.  I enjoyed each and every one of them and look forward to more adventures of Steve Robinson's plucky genealogist.

After checking out Robinson's series, here are a few more mystery series that feature genealogists:
  • Nick Herald genealogical mysteries by Jimmy Fox
  • Torie O'Shea mysteries by Rett MacPherson
  • Suzy Fewings's genealogical mysteries by Fay Sampson
  • Alex and Briggie mysteries by G.G, Vandgriff

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Agatha Award Nominees

Well, it's that time of year again! Awards season is well underway.  I see a lot of favorites in the list of nominees and some new authors to explore. The winners will be announced in May at the Malice Domestic mystery conference.  Congratulations to all.

Best Novel:

  • The Diva Digs Up the Dirt by Krista Davis
  • A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet
  • The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron
  • The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
  • The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Best First Novel:

  • Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
  • Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown
  •  Scrapbook of Secrets by Mollie Cox Bryan
  • A Killer Read by Erika Chase
  • Faithful Unto Death by Stephanie Jaye Evans
Best Non-fiction:

  • Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels by John Connolly/Declan Burk
  • Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950 by Joseph Goodrich, Editor
  • More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered by D.P. Lyle
  • Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre
  • The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery Agatha Christie by Mathew Prichard, Editor
Best Short Story:

  • "Mischief in Mesopotamia" by Dana Cameron (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
  • "Kept in the Dark" by Shelia Connolly (Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon Anthology)
  • "The Lord is My Shamus" by Barb Goffman (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)
  • "Thea's First Husband" by B.K. Stevens (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
  • "When Duty Calls", by Art Taylor (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)
Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:

  • Seconds Away by Harlan Coben
  • The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
  • Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
  • The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Best Historical Novel:

  • The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
  • Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder by Catriona McPherson
  • Murder on Fifth Avenue by Victoria Thompson
  • An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
  • Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Left Coast Crime Award Nominees

Left Coast Crime 2013, “Where Murder Is the Last Resort,” will be held in Colorado Springs this year. The mystery conferencetakes place March 21-24 and the awards will be presented at a banquet on Saturday, March 23, at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

This year’s nominees for the Lefty Award  for the best humorous mystery novel are

•  Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder by Mike Befeler
Swift Run by Laura DiSilverio,
• December Dread by Jess Lourey
• Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
The Girl Next Door by Brad Parks
• Fit To Be Dead by Nancy Glass West
The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award is given to mystery novels covering events before 1960. This year’s nominees are

• The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
• A City of Broken Glass by Rebecca Cantrell
• Live by Night by Dennis Lehane
• Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for a Murder by Catronia McPherson
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

The Rocky, for the best mystery novel set in the Left Coast Crime Geographical Region. The nominees are

• Buffalo Bill’s Dead Now by Margaret Coel
Hush Money by Chuck Greaves
• Wicked Eddies by Beth Groundwater
• Sonora Crossing by Darrell James
• As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson
The Watson, for the mystery novel with the best sidekick The nominees are

• In a Witch’s Wardrobe by Juliet Blackwell
• Taken by Robert Crais
Fun House by Chris Grabenstein
When the Past Haunts You by  L.C. Hayden,
•  Brouja Brouhaha by Rochelle Staab
For more information on Left Coast Crime 2013, please visit

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Bughouse Affair

Is there anyone out there not sick with cold or flu?  When I'm too sick to read, things are dark indeed!  But as soon as my eyes could focus again, I was able to finish an enjoyable traditional mystery penned by two incomparable writers, Marcia Muller (author of the Sharon McCone PI series) and Bill Pronzini (The Nameless Detective series). The Bughouse Affair is the first of the husband-and-wife team's new historical mystery series-- and what a fun read!  The debut novel is very much an Agatha Christie-type traditional mystery with interesting characters, a locked-room murder, and two likable sleuths.

This lighthearted series debut is set in 1890s San Francisco with its Barbary Coast, saloons, and brothels, as well as it's glittering mansions.  The office of Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services overlooks the busy thoroughfare of Market Street. Former Pinkerton operative Mrs. Sabina Carpenter and her detective partner, ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon, are working two apparently unrelated investigations.

Sabina’s case involves the search for a ruthless lady “dip” who uses fiendish means to relieve her victims of their valuables in the city's entertainment districts.  Quincannon, meanwhile, is after a slippery burglar who targets the homes of wealthy residents. The suspect's trail leads him from the infamous Barbary Coast to a Tenderloin parlor house known as the Fiddle Dee Dee. Then these divergent cases suddenly merge into one! The two sleuths are hindered, exasperated, and eventually helped by a tall, thin, hawk-nosed British gent who claims to be the famous Sherlock Holmes.

While The Bughouse Affair is heavy on the period detail and a little light on the mystery, it is still, nonetheless, well worth the read.  A regular follower of this blog will remember I have a fond spot in my heart for Victorian mysteries.  And I have always loved the San Francisco area which, despite the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, still carries many of the same street names, Victorian mansions,  and diverse neighborhoods as those Mrs. Carpenter and Mr. Quincannon visited.  So I truly enjoyed Muller/Pronzini's tour of Old San Francisco.  It's every bit as colorful as Dickens' London.