Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Malice Preview



The Malice Domestic convention starts this Friday in Washington, DC and we'll be on hand to report on the action. For those of you who don't know, this is a conference devoted to mysteries written in the traditional style of Agatha Christie. 

Here are some of the Malice panels that feature friends of Mystery Playground:

Saturday


Rosie, Put Down Your Rivets: Sexism in Mysteries
10:30 am
Patti Ruocco (M)
Frances Brody
Sasscer Hill
Catriona McPherson

Kathryn O'Sullivan


Putting the Fun in Funerals: Balancing Humor and Murder
2:00 pm
Alan Orloff (M)
Donna Andrews
Brad Parks
Helen Smith

Nancy G. West


Sunday

Author Alley: Terrie Farley Moran, author of Well Dead, Then Read, will be hosting games
9:00 am



Double Trouble: Sleuthing Duos
11:45 am
Lori Rader-Day (M)
Arlene Kay
Michael Nethercott
Cathi Stoler

Andy Straka


We'll be back later in the week with photos and reports. 



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Q&A with Daniel Palmer and a Giveaway



Today Kim Hammond grills Daniel Palmer, author of the new novel Desperate, and gives away an autographed hardback copy.


Kim: What was the last mystery novel you read that you really liked?

Daniel: Runner by Patrick Lee. There is a lot of heart to the story. The action started on page one and didn’t let up.
 

Kim: Have you ever come close to missing a deadline?

Daniel: Chuckle…Not yet. Maybe I should get off the phone now and get back to work.
 
Kim: Do you ever have doubts when you are in the middle of the writing process?

Daniel: Yes. I have doubts right now. Is this book any good? Will people like it?



Kim: Where do you usually write?

Daniel: At home, in my office above the garage. I listen to very loud music, electronica to hard rock. I never really buy myself anything but I got a cool new desk, my first splurge.


Kim: Where do you get your story ideas?

Daniel: I read a lot of newspapers, true crime, computer blogs, and I’m constantly thinking of interesting situations for stories. You never know what’s going to inspire and idea. DESPERATE was partly inspired by an experience that happened to some friends of mine who were in process of adopting a baby.

 

Kim: How long does it take to get a first draft done?

Daniel: I don’t look at it as first draft, second draft, third draft. I look at it as a start to finished product, and that takes me 10-12 months.



Kim: Who do you like to read?

Daniel: When I have the chance to read it’s mystery and thrillers. Missing you by Harlan Coben, Natchez Burning by Greg Iles, and the new one from Andrew Gross, Everything to Lose, are in my current reading pile.



Kim: If you could meet any author, alive or dead, who would it be?

Daniel: Stephen King. I saw him from afar once. He seems like the nicest guy. I am such a fan. I was not a big reader as a kid. I just wanted to play outside. Then I discovered King. He opened my eyes to the power of reading. One of the things on my want-to-accomplish-in-life list is to play harmonica in the Rock Bottom Remainders. I know the band isn’t together anymore, but….


Kim: Who's been your biggest supporter in this career choice?

Daniel: My father, Michael Palmer, was a huge supporter and a huge mentor who taught me the nuts and bolts of the business. My mom is always my first reader and I never ignore her advice. She’s got a great sense of story because she’s so well read.



Kim: Are you shy or outgoing?

Daniel: I am used to working in a collaborative environment as part of a team. As a writer that is still true between your editor, publisher and readers. I guess that means outgoing.



Kim: Craziest book signing story?

Daniel: You might remember this because you were there. It was at the Cuyahoga County library last year. This woman was at the book talk and then came up and wanted a book signed to someone named Kathy and it’s for her birthday. I wrote Happy Birthday but it looked too plain, so I added a balloon and then I looked at the balloon and realized it looked like a sperm. Now I panic because I have just drawn a sperm in this woman’s book and I need to disguise it, so draw more balloons, which looked like an armada of sperm. I added a banner and confetti and knew I had to stop.


Kim: Do you have any say in your book titles or covers?

Daniel: I’m terrible at naming books. My dad named two of mine. I’m shown what the covers are going to look like and I really trust the experts. I think I named DESPERATE, but I can’t remember. Maybe my agency did that one for me.


Kim: What do you do when you have writer's block? 

Daniel: I have no time for it. The writer’s block I get are things in my life keeping me from my desk, keeping me from writing.



Kim: Favorite writing drink and/or food?

Daniel: Lately I eat a ridiculous amount of salad. I’m a coffee and water drinker but I don’t drink soda.



Kim: How many of your characters are based on people you know?

Daniel: Some of my characters are based on real people. I am always searching for the truth. I write what feels true. I am intuitive with people and I want to make my characters real. In Desperate, Brad is based on someone I met.

 
Kim: Do you ever want to write something in a different genre that no one would expect you to write?
Daniel: A YA novel. A little more on the dystopia side, or a middle reader book. I have ideas for graphic novels too. There’s a lot going on in my head.
 
Kim: Tell me a little about Desperate, without giving anything away of course.

Daniel: Desperate tells the story of Gage Dekker who still blames himself for the accident that claimed the lives of his wife and young son. Then he meets Anna in a grief group and in less than a year they are married and talking about becoming parents again. Anna has a miscarriage and they decide to try adoption. They meet Lily, young, pregnant, and homeless, and she agrees to give her baby to Gage and Anna in exchange for financial support throughout her pregnancy. Anna quickly becomes close with Lily, but Gage keeps his emotional distance and begins to sense something is wrong with Lily. Lily quickly proves to be an expert at psychological warfare as she pits Gage against Anna. Why? What’s Lily after? That’s really what the story is about.


Kim: You probably still remember what it was like to start off in the writing business, so do you have any suggestions for our readers who are interested in becoming authors?

Daniel: Since I am a big fan of Stephen King and I loved his book On Writing, I’ll use some of his words. Writers need to read and write. It can certainly help if you have a great imagination but if you don’t, reading is the best way to expand that vocabulary. Also, there’s some excellent examples of storytelling that can be found on television today: True Detective, Justified, House of Cards, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Writing may be the bones of the job, but the heart comes from telling a captivating story.


You can learn more about Daniel at danielpalmerbooks.com. You can also keep up with him on Facebook and Twitter @danielpalmer.   

Monday, April 28, 2014

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes




Get ready Sherlock fans...today Kim Hammond takes us through the Sherlock Holmes Exhibit in Columbus, Ohio.


One of my favorite detectives of all time is Sherlock Holmes. I love reading about him and watching him in action, whether it be a Jeremy Brett movie, BBC’s Sherlock or CBS’ Elementary.



I was very excited to learn of the International Exhibition just a quick two hours from my house, in Columbus, Ohio. The Exhibition will tour 10 cities in North America before it tours internationally, so I consider myself very lucky to have been able to attend.


It’s an interactive exhibit that combines science with history and culture to bring to life the stories of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It features original manuscripts and period artifacts, investigative tools influenced and used by Sherlock Holmes, and interactive crime-solving opportunities. Visitors will be their own Sherlock to solve a crime.



This is what Conan Doyle’s estate has to say about the exhibit:

"The Conan Doyle Estate can't remember an undertaking as involved and exciting as this one," says the Estate's U.S. representative Jon Lellenberg: "Museum visitors will experience the scientific and literary ideas that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes, and Holmes' methods for investigating and solving crimes as the world's first consulting detective, and they will visit their two worlds, including the very rooms in which all this took place."

What Columbus’ COSI has to say:

"COSI is excited to be the second host of this one-of-a-kind exhibition building on the compelling deductive reasoning of the favorite character, Sherlock Holmes," said David Chesebrough, Ed.D, president and CEO of COSI. "Guests will be able to immerse themselves into the world of Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street and solve an apparent crime using the deductive thinking Holmes is known for."



The galleries in the exhibition include:


Dr. Conan Doyle's Study – Conan Doyle was a physician who was a medical student at Edinburgh University and then an apprentice at Royal Surgeons' Hall. He moved to London in the early 1890s and became a full-time author. Visitors will get to see an original manuscript, letters, and illustrations.
Science and History – Visitors will participate in experiments as if they were in the 1890s . You get to analyse blood spatter and plants.

Sherlock Holmes in Baker Street – Visitors will see the sitting room at 221B Baker Street. 


Become a Detective – Visitors will receive a book full of clues that they will use to solve a murder written exclusively for this exhibition by Daniel Stashower, the acclaimed writer and award-winning Conan Doyle biographer
Culture of Sherlock –the exhibition's final gallery displays items ranging from vintage Sherlock Holmes-themed card games, comics, and movie and television show props and costumes. 

I went with my friend Trina and the exhibit turned into a friendly competition to see who could solve the murder first. 

Unfortunately, no photography was permitted. However, there was a fabulous gift shop at the end and I purchased a book on the exhibit so that I would have some photos.


If you have a chance to see this exhibit I recommend doing so. It was very enjoyable and we’re glad that we had the opportunity.





Sunday, April 27, 2014

TNT to Remake "The Librarian"





If you've never seen The Librarian movies starring Noah Wylie, Jane Curtain and Bob Newhart, and you like history, adventure and camp, you might want to check it out. And before TNT starts airing it's new remake.

The movies feature Noah Wyle as Flynn Carson casting about trying to retrieve historical objects of special significance. Think Nicholas Cage in the National Treasure movies with a little more camp. But the show may actually be a little closer to the SyFi Channel's Warehouse 13, currently in it's last season.

TNT's remake will be a TV series instead of movies, and they will add more Librarians to spread out the work load. The show will air later this year and TNT has green lit ten episodes.

Here's how TNT describes the show:

“The Librarians” centers on an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library that solves impossible mysteries, fights supernatural threats and recovers powerful artifacts from around the world. 
For the past 10 years, Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle) has served as the Librarian, collecting and protecting these artifacts and preventing them from falling into the wrong hands. But as great as Flynn is, the job of Librarian has become more than one person can handle. 
To aid him in his duties, the Library has recruited four people from around the world: Eve Baird (Rebecca Romijn), a highly skilled counter-terrorism agent who is responsible for protecting the group and keeping them all alive; Jake Stone (Christian Kane), an Oklahoma oil worker with an IQ of 190 and an encyclopedic knowledge of art history; Cassandra (Booth), a quirky young woman with the special gift of auditory and sensory hallucinations linked to memory retrieval, known as synesthesia; and Ezekiel Jones (John Kim), a master of new technologies and aficionado of old classic crimes who enjoys playing the role of international man of mystery.  
Overseeing the new team of Librarians is the cantankerous Jenkins (John Larroquette), an expert in ancient lore who has been working out of the Library’s branch office for longer than anyone knows. Together, they must tangle with many adversaries, chief of whom is the Serpent Brotherhood, an ancient cult led by the mysterious immortal Dulaque (Matt Frewer).

I love the addition of new librarians and the promise of Wylie, Newhart and Curtain back, if only in guest appearances. John Larroquette will make an awesome addition, but the real success of this show will depend on the strength of the storylines and of course, the Librarians. I will give this one a shot. What about you?


Yes, that is Stania Katic who plays Castle's Kate Beckett

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Happy California Bookstore Day





Next Saturday, May 3rd, is California Bookstore Day. This mean that ninety bookstores in more than eighty zip codes statewide are throwing parties today to celebrate the great independent bookstore.  

What a great way to spend a Saturday and Californians have a whole week to plan and prepare. 

Now all you have to do is find a celebrating bookstore near you.

Here's about Independent bookstores from their website:
"Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent. Indie bookstores, whether dusty and labyrinthine or clean and well-lighted, are not just stores, they are solutions. They hold the key to your love life, your career, and your passions. Walking the aisles of a good bookstore means stumbling upon a novel from India that expands your heart. It’s encountering an art book that changes the direction of your life. It’s the joy of having a perfect stranger steer you toward the perfect book. In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism.  They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand. In fact, there are more of them this year than there were last year. And they are at your service."
I totally agree.


You can follow California Bookstore Day on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Lime Margaritas and The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb




For our Friday Drinks with Reads feature, today author Cathy Ace drops by to pour us a lime margarita while she tells us about Cait Morgan and The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb, published by Touchwood Editions. The lovely painting the photo above is the work of Laury Revenstein, a painter in British Columbia.
 

Here's a little about the book:

Criminologist and foodie Cait Morgan was looking forward to her dream vacation in Mexico with her boyfriend Bud Anderson. She wasn't anticipating a fresh corpse on the floor of a local florist’s shop, and she definitely wasn't 
expecting Bud to become the prime suspect.

With Bud’s freedom, and maybe even his life, at stake, Cait has to fight the clock to work out which member of the small community living in the seemingly idyllic municipality of Punta de las Rocas might have killed the locally respected florist, and why. Needing to investigate under the watchful gaze of the local police, Cait has to keep her relationship with Bud a secret, and she soon discovers she’s not the only one with something to hide. Peeling back layers of deceit to reveal even more puzzles, Cait struggles with a creeping sense of unreality, desperate to save Bud . . . and, ultimately, herself.

In the third book in the beloved Cait Morgan Mysteries, The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb, travel to the idyllic Mexican countryside as Cait Morgan works against the clock to clear her wrongly accused partner of murder.




CAIT MORGAN, HER TRIP TO MEXICO, AND TEQUILA

Cait Morgan visits the fictional municipality of Punta de las Rocas, near Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Because her significant other, Bud Anderson, is wrongly accused of murdering a local plantswoman, she finds herself at a tequila-producing agave plantation sleuthing to save her man.

Usually Cait revels in wonderful food and drink—she’s a foodie and happy about it. But, on this occasion, she’s less than enamored of the food she gets too eat, and feels cheated. But her priorities have changed since she arrived. I’d like to think that Cait, at the end of the book, gets to enjoy the vacation she was looking forward to, and also gets the chance to put her feet up with a good book—and one of these lime margaritas. That said, since the victim’s name was Margarita, Cait might not be so keen, and, of course, she’s not mad about tequila….but I think she’d relent. No umbrellas though, please! Not Cait’s style.



Recipe for Cait Morgan’s Lime Margarita – courtesy of Cathy Ace

3 parts tequila – use blanco or silver tequila, and make sure it’s 100% agave

2 parts Cointreau – the consistency and sweetness takes the edge off the tequila/lime mix, and this is what makes the drink palatable

1 part lime juice – use freshly squeezed limes, but feel free to strain it…little pods of lime can be very tart!

Place all three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes, and shake slowly, and luxuriously, not harshly. You want to shake for a couple of minutes, then set aside.

Take a margarita glass of your choice (the one in the photo above was made, by hand, in Mexico), and wipe the rim with a quarter of a lime. Place the rim onto a plate that you have covered with coarse salt and sugar, mixed together. Twirl the rim in the mix until the rim is coated, add a few lime wedges to the edge of the glass.

By now your cocktail shaker should be showing signs of condensation – this tells you that the margarita is properly chilled. Strain through the lid into the glass. Then add a couple of the ice cubes from the shaker, by hand, so you don’t waste any of the drink.

Drink from the rim, not through a straw – that way you get the sweet and salty rim flavors mixing with the sweet, sour, and tequila-fire of the drink.

Salud!

Don't forget to come back next Friday for another book and drink pairing.













Thursday, April 24, 2014

Crafty Thursdays: Police Box Tissue Box Cover



Kim Hammond is back (after that fabulous interview with Brad Parks yesterday) for Crafty Thursdays with instructions for an adorable Police Box Tissue Box Cover. We do love our TARDIS crafts and a few weeks ago we had directions for a fabulous crocheted notebook cover from Laura K. Curtis. 


I love all things mystery and I also love most things British so when you combine the two one of my favorite icons is the familiar blue Tardis Police Box.  I am always in search of Tardis related crafts and I recently hit the motherload. So with the assistance of my mom, crafter extraordinaire, stay tuned for Tardis-related crafts over the next few months.

A police box is a British telephone kiosk or callbox located in a public place for the use of members of the police, or for members of the public to contact the police. The interior of the box is like a miniature police station for use by police officers. Police boxes predate the era of cell phones and now British police officers carry two-way radios and/or mobile phonesand much to my chagrin, most police boxes are now extinct.

I was looking for a fairly easy project so that even some of the less crafty would consider giving it a try. I settled on a Tardis tissue box cover. Even if you’ve never tried a counted cross stitch project, this is not too difficult.

Use standard plastic canvas (available at any craft store) and worsted weight yarn. This pattern was a free downloads from www.ravelty.com

Here’s what you will need:
  • An 11x17 piece of plastic canvas (you can get this at any craft store)
  • Yarn: navy blue, blue, black, gray and white worsted weight yarn (I used Red Heart)
  • Yarn needle
  • Scissors


Here’s what you do:
Hint: follow my instructions on the size of the plastic canvas pieces because I found that the pattern is not accurate.

1. Cut out four (4) pieces of plastic canvas 30 squares wide by 38 squares long. These will be your four (4) sides.

2.  Cut one (1) piece of plastic canvas 30 squares by 30 squares. This is your top. You need to cut a square in the middle of this piece and this will be where the tissue comes out. I cut out a piece that was 7 squares by 7 squares. 

3. Whip stitch the box together using blue yarn. Here's how to do a whip stitch.

I used basketweave (Here's how to do a basket weave stitch.) stitch throughout, but you can try other stitches for different textures. Use the whip stitch and blue yarn to attach the pieces together and to go over the bottom edge so there is no exposed plastic showing. Also use the whip stitch around the hole where the tissue will come out to make the edges smooth and nice looking.

4. Pop it over a tissue box and you're done.





Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Readers of Crime Fiction



Brad Parks is back at Mystery Playground today and is graciously letting us print his super official Toastmaster toast from Left Coast Crime, a benediction of sorts. The photos here were taken by Darrell Hoemann Photography. 


Delivered at Left Coast Crime Opening Ceremonies
By Brad Parks

Fellow crime fiction readers, let us bow our heads with meekness and humility... 

Oh God of Chandler and Christie, Oh Deity of Dorothy L, Oh Maker of MacDonalds – Ross and John D… We come to you today to express our thanks for the many blessings you have bestowed upon our genre.

We thank you for knitting shop owners whose places of business act as magnets for unexplained corpses... for busybody old ladies whose mah-jong groups end up having more crime-solving wherewithal than the state police... and for small towns in the Adirondacks where the body count resembles the Battle of Gettysburg.

We thank you for law enforcement officials who go rogue more often than breakaway Russian Republics... for conspiracies whose tendrils reach all the way to the White House... and for highly trained ex-special forces demolitions experts who hang out their own shingle as ham-and-egg private detectives.

We thank you that while our characters sometimes have sex, our authors have enough decorum not to describe it in forensic detail.



We thank you for strong female characters… yet we also pray fervently for the day when we can stop having to use the words “strong female character.” 

And while I’m at it, oh Elohim of elocution, can you please also retire the phrase “transcend the genre.”... And go ahead and tell certain Chilean authors that if they’re not a fan of mysteries, we’re perfectly comfortable with them not writing one.

Yes, we know you by many names, oh heavenly reader spirit. To some you are the King of Kinsey. Or the Giver of Gamache. Or the Lord of Leduc. Or the Maharajah of McCone... or the ... dangit, Pronzini, how am I supposed to do something cute and alliterative when you don’t give the detective a name!

However it is we summon your spirit, we thank you for conferences such as this one, where we can have perfectly normal conversations in the elevator about our favorite ways to administer poison... and we admit, we sort of like it when that causes the other people in the elevator to start slowly backing away from us.

At this gathering in particular, oh most holy of Hemingways, we in the congregation who call ourselves authors would like to thank you for the bar. Let me try that again: will the authors please make a joyful noise for the bar. 

Guide us, oh creator of nouns and adjectives, to fabulous debut authors whose work is ripe for discovery... to rising stars of the genre who will someday be our bestsellers... and to established authors whose work may have been unfairly overlooked—not that we’re going to mention names.



We thank you in particular for the Guests of Honor. May you bless Sue Trowbridge, who venerates so many of the authors present both in person and in web design; bless Cara Black, and see that her characters never run out of Parisian underworlds to explore; bless Sue Grafton, so that Kinsey may continue to have horrible taste in men; bless Bill Pronzini, because anyone who has written that many books needs to be blessed; bless Marcia Muller, because I have this sneaking suspicion she could kick my ass; and bless Louise Penny for not being nominated for the Lefty Award... because I believe I speak for every writer here when I say: I’ve lost enough awards to Louise already.

Let us also extol our librarians, who spread the gospel of good books, one patron at a time. Let us raise up our booksellers, who are the high priests and priestesses of our world, even though they’re often paid like monks who have taken poverty vows. Let us ordain our publishers: may they make the size of our advances be fruitful and multiply.


And whether we enjoy traditional mysteries or cutting edge thrillers, whether we like our heroes hard-boiled or soft, whether we prefer series or standalones, we thank you – above all – that our extensive reading has given us at least five foolproof ways to make a body disappear forever... because you just never know when that’s going to come in handy.

Oh alpha and omega of red herrings, may you increase our herds and our flocks and our TBR piles. May our spouses remain blissfully ignorant of just how much we spent during our last trip to the bookstore. And may you see to it the Toastmaster doesn’t go to hell for this prayer. 


May the words of my mouth, the meditations in our hearts, and the volumes on our nightstand remain acceptable in your sight. Amen. 

Brad with his newly minted Lefty

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Harry Potter Forever Stamps



I love the invention of the Forever stamps, especially not having to worry about using up all of the old stamps you found in the back of a drawer with the wrong postage on them. 

And these limited edition Harry Potter stamps from the postal service have made Forever stamps fun.



They come in a cute booklet of twenty and they'd make a great stocking stuffer (I know it's only April, but I plan these things all year round.)




Monday, April 21, 2014

The Mob Museum



Kim Hammond tells us all about her visit to the Mob Museum in Vegas. (You can also read all about her report on the CSI Experience in Vegas).

I don’t go to Vegas for the gambling. I like the weather,  shows and sights to see. This fun-filled girls’ weekend included a trip to the Mob Museum.



I can’t think of the origins of Las Vegas without thinking of organized crime. American organized crime figures such as Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and Meyer Lansky managed or funded most of the original large casinos in Vegas back in the day. The mob had its hand in everything and the stories are numerous and interesting, some embellished, but many true.



What better place to open The Mob Museum (The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement™) and what better location that two blocks from Fremont Street, where Vegas got its start. The museum is full of over 500 artifacts, 3D holograms and live actors dressed in period outfits.

The building alone is a sight to see. The museum is located in the former federal courthouse and U.S. Post Office and is on both the Nevada and National Registers of Historic Places.  One of the unique things about this museum is that it tells the story from both sides, the police and the criminals. The museum worked with the FBI and many undercover agents, including legendary agents Joe Pistone who infiltrated the Mob posing as a small time jewel thief, Donnie Brasco; and Cuban-born Jack Garcia who was with the Gambino family.

Visitors can shoot a simulated Tommy gun, listen to real FBI surveillance tapes on wiretapping equipment and take part in FBI weapons training. You can even host a private party there and they were setting up for one while we were visiting.  What a fabulous time. Don’t forget to stop in the gift shop for some unique items.


To find out more go to www.themobmuseum.com





















Sunday, April 20, 2014

Judith Leiber Stacks of Books


Judith Leiber is known for her crystal covered handbags that come in whimsical shapes. I do love a fun handbag and book inspired clutches are among my favorites. These Judith Leiber book inspired clutches are fabulous to look at, but more than pricey, even on the secondhand market. The designs are fun though, especially the bag above. So colorful and detailed. You can see a bigger photo of the side of the bag directly below. 


Side of the book above








Saturday, April 19, 2014

Board Stiff by Annelise Ryan



Board Stiff by Annelise Ryan is the 5th in the Mattie Winston Mystery series about a small-town coroner who'll investigate the death of a nursing home owner.

Mattie Winston is a nurse-turned-coroner by profession, living in a small town in Wisconsin. Mattie is tough, never dainty, and sweet on Steve Hurley, a local homicide detective whose ex-wife, Kate, just moved back in with him. When Kate shows up on his doorstep, Hurley finds out that she’s not so much his ex-wife as his current wife (since she never signed the divorce papers) and she’s not so much alone, as she's traveling with the 15 year-old daughter that he never knew he had. Feeling bad, Hurley lets them stay with him, causing Mattie to enter a downward slide. Losing your boyfriend is one thing, but finding out he’s still married and has a daughter is more than most people can handle.


As the story opens, we find Mattie attending a mandatory therapy session, ordered by her boss, Izzy, at the coroner’s office. It’s a requirement to getting her old job back, which she desperately wants. She might as well work for the coroner if she’s not going to date Hurley. Since they broke up, the conflict of interest issue is a moot point. In addition, she’s been spending a little too much time at the casino, and kind of needs to stop.

You can read the rest at Criminal Element



Friday, April 18, 2014

A Fistful of Collars and Bourbon Plain & Simple





Sue Carpenter joins us today to match the book A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn to Bourbon Plain & Simple. Sue is on the committee for Bouchercon, the world's largest mystery convention. 


Here's a little background on A Fistful of Collars:


Hoping to bring some Tinseltown money to the Valley, the mayor lures a movie studio to town to shoot their next production, a big-budget Western in the classic tradition. The star is none other than ruggedly handsome—and notoriously badly behaved—Thad Perry. When the mayor decides that someone needs to keep an eye on Thad so that he doesn’t get into too much trouble, Bernie and Chet are handpicked for the job. The money is good but something smells fishy, and what should have been a simple matter of babysitting soon gets more complicated—especially when they discover that Thad has a mysterious connection to the Valley that nobody wants to talk about. What kind of secret could Thad have left behind when he went to Hollywood to seek fame and fortune? The only people who might know the answer have a bad habit of turning up dead before they can talk.

As Bernie’s relationship with his longtime girlfriend Suzie goes long-distance, and Chet’s late-night assignations appear to have resulted in an unexpected dividend, it’s all our two sleuths can do to keep Thad and his motley entourage of yes-men, handlers, and hangers-on in their sights. Worst of all, Thad is a self-proclaimed cat person, and his feline friend Brando has taken an instant dislike to Chet.

Like the winning books before it, this fifth book in the series combines a top-notch mystery with genuine humor and a perceptive take on the relationship between human and dog that will stay with you long after the case is solved.

Here's what Sue has to say:

A Fistful of Collars is a great blend of good mystery and humor. The main characters, Chet (a dog) and Bernie, are the perfect team even if both of them are bit flawed. They are both dedicated to their profession and one another. Seeing the action through Chet's eyes makes for an easy and totally enjoyable read. I laughed out loud throughout this book. If you need a humorous escape and have a great sense of humor, I highly recommend A Fistful of Collars

Bernie is a bourbon guy and it fits him. Plain, simple and gets the job done. Chet’s favorite smell is a mixture of bourbon, pepper and sweat, which is how his favorite human Bernie smells. 

You don't even need the recipe for Bourbon Plain & Simple which is really the point, just pour it in a glass at room temperature and enjoy! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Crafty Thursdays: Library Notecards




In celebration of National Librarian Day yesterday our craft today is library note cards. We made these out of the check out pages from damaged books withdrawn from our local library, but you can use any type of paper -- even children's drawings (we've made them with Nancy Drew illustrations, too). 




Materials & Tools:


  • Blank note cards (I got these at Michaels)
  • Photo corners (also purchased at Michaels)
  • Paper trimmer (you can use scissors but it's hard to get perfectly straight cuts
  • Card catalogue pages from damaged and withdrawn books from the local library sale (don't use these pages from library books still in circulation.)
  • An Exacto knife

Step One: Cut out your book page (I use the exact knife for this). Then use the paper trimmer to cut it to the right size with clean straight edges.



Step Two: Use photo corners to attach to the card. And you're done!