Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Aah! Spring is in the air. A perfect time for a tea party...and a cozy little murder! Author Laura Childs has just released Sweet Tea Revenge, the 14th in her Tea Shop Mysteries, and if you’re unfamiliar with the series, be prepared for a delicious read.

Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is to be a bridesmaid in her friend Delaine Dish’s dream wedding. But on the big day, everything goes wrong! The groom has been murdered and all the guests are suspect. Poor Theodosia has her plate full, faced with the devastated bride begging her to find the killer, a team of ghost hunters wanting her to help them communicate with the recently departed, and an ATF agent snooping around town trying to trace the smuggler of contraband Cuban cigars.

Childs serves up a clever concoction of characters, mystery, and Charleston lore. Every book leaves you with the urge to visit the South Carolina town, search out the Indigo Tea Shop, and enjoy a pot of tea and delectable treats while you people-watch. And if you are in the mood to do a little cooking, mouth-watering recipes are appended to each book. Sweet Tea Revenge includes, of course, Killer Sweet Tea, Peach Scones, Tea-simmered Chicken, and other tasty recipes.

Years ago I emailed the author to encourage her to publish a cookbook with all the yummy recipes featured in her series. Well, finally! Ms. Childs is working on Living a Tea Shop Life: Drinking Tea, Finding Balance, and Reclaiming Your Creative Spirit. In addition to helping you find your inner “Tea” place, the book will include more than a hundred recipes and tea time tips. Keep an eye out for this one!

Laura Childs currently writes three mystery series: The Tea Shop Mystery, Scrapbook Mystery, and the Cackleberry Club Mystery. In addition, she’s working on a fourth series, The Hummingbird Inn Mysteries set in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Busy lady!

Friday, March 29, 2013

New Releases for April

Enjoy this month's selections! There's a nice assortment of traditional mysteries, historicals, thrillers, and grisly crime novels to explore. 
  • Widow’s Tears [China Bayles ] by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Antiques Chop [Trash ’n’ Treasures] by Barbara Allan
  • Best Kept Secret [Clifton Chronicles] by Jeffrey Archer
  • Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince [Aunt Dimity] by Nancy Atherton
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  • Prescription For Murder [Murder, She Wrote] by Donald Bain
  • The Hit [Will Robie] by David Baldacci
  • When the Devil Doesn’t Show [Newroe & Montoya] by Christine Barber
  • The Perfect Ghost by Linda Barnes
  • The Black Stiletto: Stars and Stripes [Black Stiletto] by Raymond Benson
  • Dead and Buried [Cooper & Fry] by Stephen Booth
  • Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark
  • Pecos Valley Rainbow [Annabelle Blue] by Alice Duncan
  • The Frozen Shroud [Lake District] by Martin Edwards
  • Candlemoth by R.J. Ellory
  • There Was an Old Woman by Hallie Ephron
  • Alive! [Valentino] by Loren D. Estleman
  • The Dead Caller from Chicago [Dek Elstrom] by Jack Fredrickson
  • Tuesday’s Gone [Frieda Klein] by Nicci French 
  • A Bat in the Belfry [Home Repair Is Homicide] by Sarah Graves
  • Death in St James's Park [Thomas Chaloner] by Susanna Gregory
  • Murder by the Book [Matthew Bartholomew] by Susanna Gregory
  • No Way Back by Andrew Gross
  • Good People [Glyn Capaldi] by Ewart Hutton
  • Taking Eve [Eve Duncan] by Iris Johansen
  • Braking Points [Kate Reilly] by Tammy Kaehler
  • A Man Without Breath [Bernie Gunther] by Philip Kerr
  • Prophet of Bones by Ted Kosmatka
  • The End of the World in Breslau [Eberhard Mock] by Marek Krajewski
  • The Tooth Tattoo [Peter Diamond] by Peter Lovesey
  • Dangerous Refuge by Elizabeth Lowell
  • Pale Horses [Jade de Jong] by Jassy Mackenzie
  • Sleight of Hand [Dana Cutler] by Phillip Margolin
  • Lifetime [Annika Bengtzon] by Liza Marklund
  • 12th of Never [Women’s Murder Club] by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
  • The Famous and the Dead [Charlie Hood] by T. Jefferson Parker
  • Midnight at Marble Arch [Thomas and Charlotte Pitt] by Anne Perry
  • The Whiteness of the Whale by David Poyer
  • The Mystery Woman [Ladies of Lantern Street] by Amanda Quick
  • The Baker Street Translation [Reggie & Nigel Heath] by Michael Robertson
  • Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble [Miss Julia] by Ann B. Ross
  • Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline
  • Parrots Prove Deadly [Pru Marlow] by Clea Simon
  • A Time of Change [Navajo Rez] by Aimée and David Thurlo
  • The Carrion Birds by Urban Waite
  • Another Sun by Timothy Williams
  • Unintended Consequences[Stone Barrington] by Stuart Woods

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The New Mystery Trifecta

 [Here is a cross-over post by guest blogger Librarian Melissa. She reports on two of my favorites, Crombie and Harris, but added a new author for me to explore -- Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. So excuse me while I run out to pick up some of her books!]


I really hit the jackpot this week on the New Books shelves--I went looking for something to read for the weekend and found not one or two but three of my favorite mystery writers' new books!

First up was Deborah Crombie's latest in her Kincaid and James police procedurals, The Sound of Broken Glass. This is number 15 (listed in order here), and I think Crombie is so smart to have created this couple who are both detectives, because with each book she can decide to trade off and make one the lead while holding the other in reserve, giving the secondary just enough involvement in the case to keep continuity between books, but delivering some variety to her readers. Although there are detectives I love to follow, book after book, it's nice to have this experience of foreground / background with alternating protagonists. I also like the degree of personal life with which she infuses her mysteries--although everyone has one (to a greater or lesser degree), many writers leave that out, and I think the stories are so much richer and more layered with at least a hint of back story and maybe more.

In this one, Duncan Kincaid is at home being the primary caregiver to his and Gemma's mixed household of children--Kincaid's teenage son (Kit) from a long-ago liaison (Kit's mother's death occurred in a previous book), James's son (Toby) from her first marriage, and their recently acquired three-year-old foster daughter (Charlotte). Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Gemma James takes the lead on the death of a respectable barrister, who is discovered in compromising circumstances in a seedy hotel in the Crystal Palace district of south London. Is it simply a rather unsavory accidental death? or is it murder? The answer to this question will take DI James and newly promoted Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot into the world of the music recording business, where they will discover that their case has convoluted ties to past and present friends and suspects as well as to a raft of new ones.

Second on my list was Cynthia Harrod-Eagles's latest Bill Slider case, Blood Never Dies--also, weirdly, #15 in the series (list here). I fell for her books for so many reasons, and this one confirms them all: the integrity and doggedness of Detective Inspector Slider; the quirky, wonderfully drawn members of his team; the dreadful puns she uses as chapter headings (some of which, I must confess, I don't understand, not being an expert on Brit humor); and, again, the personal life she allows him to lead, with his musician wife, Joanna, his best friend and detective sergeant, Jim Atherton, and his live-in father, always ready to assist with childcare. The case doesn't disappoint either--it starts with a John Doe who's an apparent suicide, and leads to a multi-victimed, many-layered, convoluted plot that keeps you fascinated until the last page.

One of my favorite characters of Harrod-Eagles's creation is Slider's boss, Detective Superintendent Fred Porson, whose malapropisms have me laughing out loud alone in my living room. Porson "used language like a man flailing at wasps--usually effective, but never a pretty sight." Instead of passing muster, the inspection "passes mustard." Instead of ambidextrous, Porson wonders if their victim was "ampidistrous." The challenge for Slider and his colleagues is to figure out what he's trying to say while not laughing in his face. But let us not "cast nasturtiums" on one of the best bosses Bill Slider has ever had, in terms of having his back and protecting him from the higher-ups and politicos while he solves his cases.

One minor criticism, and this is of Harrod-Eagles's publisher, Severn House, is that I find the book covers for this series uniformly ugly, uninteresting, and too vague, and the production values (typeface, page layout, paper quality, etc.) amateurish and cheap-looking. Don't be put off by these details, though--this is a great series deserving of a better presentation.

The third book I scored was What Darkness Brings, number eight in the Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mysteries (set in the England of 1812) by talented historical fiction writer C. S. Harris. I like this series (titles in order here) for the storytelling, for the strong and distinct characters, and for the obviously thorough research that takes place behind the scenes.

This one is an intriguing mix of jewel thieves, hookers, royalty, street sweepers, noblemen and women, retired military, and French spies, all centered around the missing Hope Diamond. When a diamond merchant rumored to have the jewel in his position is murdered, Russell Yates, husband of Sebastian St. Cyr's former lover Kat Boleyn, is found standing over the dead body and is slated to be hanged unless Sebastian can back up Yates's claim that he didn't kill the man. Complicating matters, as usual, is the machiavellian power behind the throne, Lord Jarvis, father of Sebastian's new wife, Hero, who has more to do with Yates's predicament than anyone is letting on. Meanwhile, French agents of Napoleon are conducting their own ruthless search for the diamond (which was originally one of the French crown jewels), and Sebastian is discovering that the diamond merchant was such a nasty fellow, the list of suspects who could have done him in numbers more than a hundred. The surprises are unexpected, as are the guilty parties, and there are just enough advances in the interpersonal stories of the main characters to make me spend a Sunday afternoon I had planned to use for other activities getting to the satisfying conclusion of this book instead!

In reading back over this, the common theme with all three of these books is that the detectives are written as real people with personal lives, flaws, and challenges that go far beyond the workplace and the case at hand. If you like that kind of mystery too, then try one (or more!) of these excellent series!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sherlock Season 3 Gets Underway

Yes, it's been quite awhile since viewers saw Sherlock Holmes step off a rooftop in the Season 2 finale, The Reichenbach Fall. But fear not, Sherlock fans - our favorite high-functioning sociopath will be back before you know it!

Not that stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman haven't been busy with other projects like The Hobbit (Freeman and Cumberbatch) and the upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness (Cumberbatch). The BBC One's hit drama was originally due to begin filming this past January, but the stars' busy schedules postponed the start.  Word is the production will start shooting Season 3 next week. 

According to Deadline Hollywood, the new trilogy will air in the winter.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Another Place, Another Time

If you'd like to get away for a bit, but vacation time is still months in the future, you can always escape into a mystery set in another place and time.  The Missing Italian Girl - A Mystery in Paris by Barbara Corrado Pope, just might fit the bill.

Set in 1897 Paris, Claire Martin - wife, mother, and schoolteacher - is asked by one of the workers at the school to locate her missing daughters.While Claire's husband supports her teaching career, he draws the line at her chasing down murderers. 

The Missing Italian Girl was recently chosen an Editor's Pick at Oprah.com. Check here for an excellent review of the book.

Also check out Barbara Corrado Pope's website for more on her books.  The Missing Italian Girl is the third in the Martin series.

Friday, March 1, 2013

New Reads for March

Oh boy, am I in trouble now! There are so many of my favorite authors releasing books this month, I seriously need to take a week or two off of work so I can catch up.  Must be Spring!
  • Best Kept Secret [Clifton Chronicles] by Jeffrey Archer
  • Deadly Virtues by Jo Bannister
  • Death of Yesterday [Hamish Macbeth] by M.C. Beaton
  • Murder Below Montparnasse [Aimée Leduc] by Cara Black
  • The Family Way [Molly Murphy] by Rhys Bowen
  • Breaking Point [Joe Pickett] by C.J. Box
  • Dying Bad [Sarah Quinn] by Maureen Carter
  • Sweet Tea Revenge [Tea Shop mysteries] by Laura Childs
  • Six Years by Harlan Coben
  • The Striker [Isaac Bell] by Clive Cussler & Justine Scott
  • Evil in All Its Disguises [Lily Moore] by Hilary Davidson
  • The Straw Men [Brother Athelstan] by Paul Doherty
  • Pecos Valley Rainbow [Annabelle Blue] by Alice Duncan
  • Room No. 10 [Erik Winter] by Åke Edwardson
  • Pandemonium by [Nell Duckworth & Geoffrey Binswanger] by Warren Fahy
  • Scratchgravel Road [Josie Gray] by Tricia Fields
  • The Dead Caller from Chicago [Dek Elstrom] by Jack Fredrickson
  • A Dying Fall [Ruth Galloway] by Elly Griffiths
  • Eleven Little Piggies [Jake Hines] by Elizabeth Gunn
  • Hearts of Sand [Gregor Demarkian] by Jane Haddam
  • What Darkness Brings [Sebastian St. Cyr] by C.S. Harris
  • The Book of Killowen [Cormac Maguire & Nora Gavin] by Erin Hart
  • Ice Cold Kill by Dana Haynes
  • False Alarm [Abbot Agency] by Veronica Heley
  • Make Them Pay [Brock & Poole] by Graham Ison
  • Guilt [Alex Delaware] by Jonathan Kellerman
  • Deeply Odd [Odd Thoma] by Dean Koontz
  • Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
  • Some Like It Hot [Cat DeLuca] by K.J. Larsen
  • Criminal Enterprise [Stevens & Windermere] by Owen Laukkanen
  • Leviathan [Jon Mallory] by James Lilliefors
  • The Forgotten by Michael Marshall
  • Killer Honeymoon [Savannah Reid] by G.A. McKevett
  • Robert Ludlum’s The Utopia Experiment [Covert-One] by Kyle Mills
  • Silenced [Fredrika Bergman] by Kristina Ohlsson
  • The Good Cop [Carter Ross #4] by Brad Parks
  • The Boyfriend by Thomas Perry
  • Marbeck and the Double-Dealer [Martin Marbe] by John Pilkington
  • No Safe Ground by Julia Pomer
  • The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper
  • Seduction by M.J. Rose
  • Damascus Countdown [David Shirazi]  by Joel C. Rosenberg
  • One Through the Heart [Ben Raveneau] by Kirk Russell
  • The Overlooker [Suzie Fewings] by Fay Sampson
  • A Walk with the Dead [Monika Paniatowski] by Sally Spencer
  • Bad Blood [Kate Shugak] by Dana Stabenow
  • Dirty Little Secret [Daniel Marchant] by Jon Stock
  • Death on a Pale Horse: Sherlock Holmes on Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Donald Thomas
  • Helsinki Blood [Kari Vaara] by James Thompson
  • Night Moves [Doc Ford] by Randy Wayne White
  • Blood, Ash, and Bone [Tai Randall] by Tina Whittle
  • A Matter of Trust [Mia Quinn] by Lis Wiehl with April Henry
  • Capital Punishment [Charles Boxer] by Robert Wilson
  • Leaving Everything Most Loved [Maisie Dobbs] by Jacqueline Winspear