Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Little Boy Lost by J.D. Trafford

Author J.D. Trafford's new book is about to hit bookshelves and Kerry Hammond has had a sneak peak and is here to tell us all about it.

J.D. Trafford is the author of the three book series featuring the lawyer-gone-rogue—and possibly criminal—Michael Collins. Little Boy Lost strays from Trafford’s main character but not from his profession. Justin Glass is the attorney in this latest book, but Justin isn’t a high-powered lawyer from a big New York firm, he’s a street lawyer from St. Louis. A widower with a small daughter, he has just managed to pull himself out of a deep depression and tries as hard as he can to not rely on his well-known and powerful family.

The Glass family name holds a lot of power in St. Louis, and a long line of congressmen have preceded the humble street lawyer, but Justin just wants to practice law and help people. One day he is approached by a young girl who proposes to pay him in coins from a jar, all to find her missing brother. Unable to turn her away, and thinking he will make a cursory effort and then send her home, Justin does a little digging into her brother’s disappearance. He finds a long history of criminal offenses and trouble, but doesn’t find her brother. At least until the bodies of twelve teenagers are found buried in a grave.

Parents start to come out of the woodwork at the report of the found boys, parents who have also lost their sons. But none of them are going to the police, they are coming to Justin to find their children, having given up on any hope or confidence in the St. Louis Police Department.

Trafford is a wonderful storyteller. I instantly loved Justin Glass’s character and felt for him as he struggled to raise his daughter on his own, with a constant looming depression that was always just out of reach. Told through Glass’s point of view, it was like hearing him tell the story. As a reader, I was taken along on his inner struggle to get through each day and applauded him for still helping the families in need. I think Trafford is an author to take notice of and I hope to see many more great novels.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

CJ Box Signed Bag & ARC #GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the release of CJ Box's new book today, Paradise Valley, we are giving away this pencil bag signed by CJ and an advance reader copy (ARC) of Paradise Valley. To enter just put your name and email address below (US residents only). We'll keep the giveaway open until next Tuesday, and announce the winner next week. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

Kerry Hammond is here today to review a much awaited final installment to the Amelia Peabody mystery series.

Elizabeth Peters is the pen name that Egyptologist Barbara Mertz used to bring us one of the funniest, boldest, most outspoken and unconventional heroines of the fictional world. In 1975 Mertz created Amelia Peabody and brought us the first book in what would turn out to be a 20 book series that would be published over a period of more than 40 years. The stories followed Amelia, an Egyptologist with a sharp wit and an even sharper parasol. Loved by her family and friends, and revered by the locals of any dig she happened to be working, she was called the Sitt Hakim, or lady doctor. Her exploits were brought to us in the form of a discovered set of journals she penned from 1884-1923, chronicling each dig she and her husband Radcliffe Emerson ever participated in. The Amelia Peabody series is, in my opinion, one of the best written and most entertaining mystery series to ever hit bookshelves.

In 2013 the mystery world lost Barbara Mertz and fans around the world mourned the passing of a great writer. The last project she was working on was left unfinished; her final Amelia Peabody installment had been researched and partially plotted, but was not yet written. Mertz was very close friends with mystery author Joan Hess, and Hess had even accompanied Mertz on one of her yearly research trips to Egypt. When the question was asked—who would be the best person to take on the task of completing the final manuscript—it seemed that all eyes turned to Hess, who immediately refused. She felt she couldn’t possibly continue the work that Mertz had begun, reproducing such a unique and wonderful voice. She eventually gave in to the pleas and what we have today is the final Amelia Peabody story. A posthumous tribute to Mertz, a gift to her fans, and a way to bid farewell to characters we have come to know and love.

The Painted Queen may be the last book in the series, but in the timeline of archeological digs, it falls closer to the middle of Amelia and Emerson’s adventures. The year is 1912 and our intrepid archeologists have just arrived in Cairo and checked into the Shepheard Hotel to recover from their journey. No sooner does Amelia treat herself to a bubble bath, when an assassin enters her bathroom to kill her. Instead of completing his mission, he falls dead on the floor by her tub, murdered by an unknown protector. It is quickly learned that the dead assassin did not act alone, and Amelia’s life is threatened by several more attackers, each one determined to exact his revenge.

Not even a group of assassins can stop Amelia from her passion, and she and Emerson travel to Amarna to oversee another archaeologist's dig where they become involved in the discovery of a bust of Nefertiti, a priceless treasure that many a man would kill to own. We also discover that lurking behind the scenes is the Master Criminal, Sethos, who intends to keep Amelia safe when her husband can’t.

I was immensely pleased to have one more chance to visit with Amelia. I enjoyed the fast paced action, the humor, and the intrigue. I think Hess did an admirable job of piecing together the documents left by Mertz and bringing them to life. She gave us an exciting last adventure and managed to capture the essence of the series and the characters. It was a wonderful end to such a great series, and now that I’ve finished the book I plan to do what any loyal fan would do next. I plan to start reading the series all over again.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Happy Birthday Raymond Chandler

Today would have been Raymond Chandler's 129th birthday. 

I thought we'd celebrate by featuring some quotes from his books. See how many of these you can work into your conversations today. 

From The Big Sleep

“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.” 

“It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.” 

“I don't mind your showing me your legs. They're very swell legs and it's a pleasure to make their acquaintace. I don't mind if you don't like my manners. They're pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long winter nights.” 

“As honest as you can expect a man to be in a world where its going out of style.” 

“You're broke, eh?"
I been shaking two nickels together for a month, trying to get them to mate.” 

From The Long Goodbye

“To say goodbye is to die a little.” 

“There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.” 

“I was as hollow and empty as the spaces between stars.” 

“The girl gave him a look which ought to have stuck at least four inches out of his back.” 

“You talk too damn much and too damn much of it is about you.” 

From Farewell, My Lovely

“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.” 

“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.” 

“She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.” 

From Red Wind: A Collection of Short Stories

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.” 

Here's a great article in the Los Angeles Times about Raymond Chandler.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Gin Iced Tea and A Good Book

Today we're featuring another vintage Drinks with Reads. Up this week is Laura Brennan, who runs the excellent Destination Mystery podcast site where she interviews mystery authors. 

In her Drinks with Reads post she matched Susanna Calkins book, A Death Among the River Fleet, with the perfect drink - Gin Iced Tea.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Noir at the Salad Bar with the Perfect Drink

Today on Drinks with Reads, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Verena Rose, and Harriette Sackler, the editors behind Noir at the Salad Bar, Culinary Tales with a Bite, join us to match their short story compilation with the perfect drink. The book is published by Level Best Books. 

About the Book:
When the Dames of Detection, also known as Verena Rose, Harriette Sackler, and Shawn Reilly Simmons, took over Level Best Books, we did so with the understanding that in addition to continuing to publish the Best New England Crime Stories in time for the New England Crime Bake each year, we would also publish additional anthologies, and eventually select novels. 

Noir at the Salad Bar is our second non-New England anthology, and we are so pleased with the result. We had over one hundred and twenty submissions, from all over the country, and we received a large number of international submissions as well. Each story was read blindly, and we chose our favorite thirty to include in the anthology. 
So many culinary anthologies fall under the label of "Cozy," and we really wanted to take this book in a new direction. We put out a call for grittier stories that had an element of food and drink involved. The result is a wide array of stories, all falling closer to the Noir end of the spectrum.  And from those international submissions, included are three authors from England, one from France, and one from Israel. And for the Americans, the writers hail from all over including Utah, Texas, the South, New England, and the Mid-Atlantic. 
We created a drink, inspired by Noir at the Salad Bar, Culinary Tales with a Bite called a Bloody Noir (our spin on the traditional Bloody Mary). 

The Bloody Noir

1 C tomato juice & 1/2 C liquified veggies ( like ones you find on a salad bar)
1 shot of Tequila
Blair’s Jalapeno Death Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce that makes you sit up and say hello)
Season with S&P, rim your glass with salt if desired
Garnish with a chili pepper, olives, and a celery stalk to cool your mouth down

The stories and contributing authors for Noir at the Salad Bar:
“Lobster Tank” by E.A. Aymar
“Smoked” by Michael Bracken
“Harvey House Homicide” by Joyce Ann Brown
“A Murder of Crows” by Mara Buck
“The Hearts of Men” by Karen Cantwell
“With Great Relish” by John R. Clark
“Buena Vista Sandwich Club” by Frank Collia
“Cole Slaughter” by Sheila Connolly
“Black Coffee in Bed” by Sharon Daynard
“Petunia at the Tip Top” by Jenny Drummey
“Consuming Passion” by Martin Edwards
“Sleeping Beauty” by Gerald Elias
“The Sandman” by John M Floyd
“Bases Looted” by Jason Half
“Candy” by Isobel Horsburgh
“Beef Stew” by E L Johnson
“The Curse of the Apertured Apiculturist” by Larry Lefkowitz
“A Murder in Montreaux” by Michael Allan Mallory
“Deadly Dinner” by LD Masterson
“Antipastdead” by Lorraine Sharma Nelson
“Togas and Toques” by Alan Orloff
“Grab-N-Go” by Adele Polomski
“Ragbones and the Case of the Christmas Goose” by Rima Perlstein Riedel
“Death at the Hands of Le Fée Verte” by Verena Rose
“Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody” by Barbara Ross
“Family Business” by Harriette Sackler
“Humble Pie” by Shawn Reilly Simmons
“Fed Up” by Louise Taylor
“Playing Games” by Elaine Togneri
“My Life in Killer Recipes” by Leslie Wheeler