Cat Mysteries — Something New?

More favorite mystery reads

I’ve heard it said, a pic­ture of a cat on a book cov­er is a sure win­ner. And a mys­tery with cats solv­ing the mys­tery? Yum. Or, per­haps I should just purr!

New read­ers might think mys­ter­ies with cats are a new thing. Nope. Long before the dig­i­tal boom and even before Ama­zon, there were cat mys­ter­ies. I’m quite sure I bought every paper­back of ‘The Cat Who’ mys­ter­ies. The two Siamese and their human, Quiller­an, kept me read­ing episode after episode.

More recent­ly, I’ve become acquaint­ed with oth­er mys­tery solv­ing cats. Janet Cantrell (a woman with almost as many names as she has mys­tery series) intro­duced me to the Fat Cat. (Rates anoth­er purr.)

But I’m always on the look­out for some­thing new. The last cov­er is a book I haven’t yet read. The series sounds inter­est­ing — A cat in the stack mys­tery — library stacks, I believe. Could this be my next favorite read?

Or, maybe you have anoth­er sug­ges­tion. There’s the mag­i­cal cats, cats most every­where. I’d like to hear more!

 

Mystery by Mainframe

Artificial Intelligence and Murder

Don­na Andrews is best known for her mys­ter­ies with birds. But, did you know she has an excel­lent series of four books with the sleuth Tur­ing Hop­per, AIP (that’s Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Per­son­al­i­ty). Yep, she’s a main­frame com­put­er who became sen­tient. When she’s faced with mur­der, she engages her “Miss Marple” brain to solve the mys­tery. And, through­out the four books she solves more mys­tery, but digs her­self deep­er into a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion. She’d cloned her­self, to be in two places at once, but what hap­pened to the clone? Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that mys­tery has nev­er been solved. Evi­dent­ly, not enough read­ers were as delight­ed as I was. With tra­di­tion­al pub­lish­ing, the pub­lish­er has the final say, so the series wasn’t con­tin­ued. The first in the series, Click Here for Mur­der, won the Agatha and Antho­ny Awards. (I still have my four paper­backs, await­ing for a sequel.) In the mean­time, read Donna’s oth­er mys­ter­ies. Vis­it the Don­na Andrews page here.

Dig­i­tal Dick is not a series, but it is anoth­er mys­tery with a main­frame heart and human emo­tions. (John Edward Mullen has writ­ten two books so far.) Dig­i­tal Dick learns how to solve mys­ter­ies while wish­ing he had hands so he could plug in his own elec­tric­i­ty. He runs rings around the bad guys, as well as the good guys who just don’t under­stand him. Oh, yes, he has a human sis­ter as well. Vis­it the John Edward Mullen page here.

I’m on the look­out for sim­i­lar books. Do you know of any such books? I’d love to hear about them. (I’m not talk­ing mil­i­tary intel­li­gence here, real­ly, although I might be con­vinced.)

 

New history mystery — on preorder

Killer Debt — Mystery on the battle line

Now that my blog is work­ing again, I can belat­ed­ly tell you about an his­toric mys­tery from one of my favorite authors. This month it’s on * pre-order * with an option of perks. (Since I’m so late, some of the perks are no longer avail­able.) But let’s for­get that and focus on the book. It will come out in May and is the newest in the Michael Stod­dard series. Stod­dard is an Eng­lish offi­cer under orders to pro­tect an Amer­i­can arriv­ing under white flag to con­sult with the British. His main adver­sary is anoth­er British offi­cer, as he also strives to keep an Amer­i­can lady safe. (Or, maybe I’m say­ing too much here? Can I men­tion that they real­ly do like each oth­er?)

Author Suzanne Adair brings our Amer­i­can his­to­ry to the pages, shin­ing a light on much that has been for­got­ten about our past. The sto­ry is fic­tion, but the his­to­ry under­ly­ing this mys­tery is real. What bet­ter way to dis­cov­er the for­got­ten past than in a thriller that por­trays colo­nial life as well as Eng­lish and Amer­i­can sen­ti­ments in our Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War? While you are on the site linked above, (set off by stars), check out the video telling more, the link to Suzanne read­ing chap­ter one, and a link to a PDF of the first chap­ter.

 

Mystery Aboard

Mysteries, Boats, and Boaters

Two of my favorite mys­tery authors are boaters. So, what else do they do but set their mys­ter­ies aboard? Actu­al­ly, not only do I love their sto­ries, they inspire me. (Okay, I have a mys­tery aboard.  Not a series yet, but I’m writ­ing as fast as I can.) So, here they are: Jinx Swartz and Chris­tine Kling.

I Love a Mystery — Historic Mysteries

Three Favorite Historic Mysteries

My favorite books are mys­ter­ies, true, but I like to read in sev­er­al gen­res. When I find a delight­ful his­toric mys­tery, I’m dou­bly thrilled. In fact, I so love his­tor­i­cal mys­ter­ies, I have to show­case three series. 

Laugh Out Loud Mysteries

Two humorous mystery series

A good mys­tery may keep me up late at night as I fol­low an excit­ing sto­ry and try to uncov­er clues that lead me to who-dun-it before the sleuth. If I’m sur­prised, that’s an added ben­e­fit. Nail-bit­ing? You bet. Fear for the safe­ty of a total­ly imag­i­nary hero or hero­ine? Oh, way sure! But laugh all the way through until tears flow? Some­times that’s exact­ly what I’m look­ing for. And two of my favorite series fit the bill.

Tamar Myers is one author. Her Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch Mys­ter­ies (with recipes, even) fol­low Mag­dale­na Yoder as she solves mys­ter­ies while run­ning her own Pen­nDutch Inn. Some books in the series were pub­lished twen­ty years ago, and oth­ers more recent­ly. One review­er of Too Many Crooks Spoil The Broth said, “Part Agatha Christie, part Key­stone Kops, with a few tan­ta­liz­ing food stops along the way.” Some titles are: Play It Again, Spam, The Crepes of Wrath, and Custard’s Last Stand. True sto­ry: She sold each book on the title alone! Okay, maybe not the first one.

Kaye George is anoth­er author who fits the bill. Choke, Broke, and Smoke, are the titles in her Imo­gene Duck­wor­thy Mys­ter­ies. One review­er said: “Ques­tion: If you com­bined Lucille Ball with Inspec­tor Clouse­au, what would you get? Answer: Imo­gene Duck­wor­thy, ama­teur PI…” Immy, the ama­teur sleuth who real­ly wants to be a pro­fes­sion­al, is one of a kind. She tries her darn­d­est, while the read­er won­ders how she can pos­si­bly suc­ceed, but cheers her every effort any­way. I could add, the read­er also enjoys her unex­pect­ed detours from those detect­ing chores.

Both authors have oth­er series as well, series I great­ly enjoy, maybe not just when I’m in a sil­ly mood. Do you have a favorite fun­ny mys­tery or series? I’d love to add to add to my, ahem, over­whelm­ing pile of BTR (books to read).

 

 

Favorite Mass-Market Mysteries

Favorite Mystery Reads of The Past

Do you remem­ber going to the book­store when there were two main ones in the big shop­ping cen­ter and mass-mar­ket paper­back copies of all the books in a mys­tery series on the shelves? You’d buy the next one in the series and know all the oth­ers would be wait­ing for your when you came back. Even after one store closed or moved to a remote loca­tion, there were still those rows of books by your favorite author.

I got whole series, one at a time. The first would be avail­able as well as the fif­teenth and all the oth­ers in between. The Cat Who and Mrs. Pol­li­fax mys­ter­ies were my favorites. I trad­ed away most of the Cat Who books when we were sail­ing, pass­ing them on to the next read­er in exchange for a fresh mys­tery. I kept all the Mrs. Pol­li­fax books and still have them. I’ve read the entire series twice. Must be due for a third read­ing!

Those books and oth­ers kept me enter­tained while my chil­dren grew up, and went off into the world. I fol­lowed Mr. Qwiller­an and his life as his amaz­ing cats helped him solve mys­ter­ies. I reliv­ed the life of Mrs. Pol­li­fax as she trav­eled around the world—as a mid­dle-aged, unex­pect­ed secret agent. Both series pure fan­ta­sy, of course. Did I care? Nope, I ate them up.

How about you? Did you have favorite series that grew along with your fam­i­ly? Gave you moments of plea­sure amid chaos? And, like me, per­haps they inspired you to write sto­ries of your own. My first mys­tery owes a lot to Mrs. Pol­li­fax. And cats? Well, my ama­teur sleuth does have an imag­i­nary cat. You see, Clyde, the yel­low-striped tom, came with the ter­ri­to­ry. But that’s anoth­er sto­ry.

Recipe — Garlic Chicken with Peanut Sauce

First, a quote from Yesterday’s Body

What’s for din­ner?” I asked.
“There’s half a bar­be­qued chick­en left,” Mel said. “I planned to heat it up.”
“Right,” I said and start­ed open­ing cup­board doors. “You real­ly want dried out left­overs?”
“I’m test­ing your skills,” he said. “You haven’t dis­ap­point­ed me yet.”
“You’re tak­ing advan­tage of my good nature.” Of course he wasn’t, and he knew it. In my
cus­tom­ary life I was an inno­v­a­tive but often hap­haz­ard cook, how­ev­er, Mel was such an
appre­cia­tive audi­ence. And face it, I did need a break from out­door research now and then.

# # # #

I found a pack­age of ramen noo­dles, a few nuts, a can of mush­rooms, and a half jar of peanut
but­ter. I lined up his spices, decid­ed which bits of veg­gies from the crisper in the bot­tom of the
refrig­er­a­tor were usable, and did my mag­ic.

* * * * *

But before I wrote those words, I exper­i­ment­ed with the food in my refrig­er­a­tor. And, ta da, I came up with this recipe!

Garlic Chicken with Peanut Sauce, Noodles, and Vegetables

Ingre­di­ents
Left­over rotis­serie (bar­be­cue) chick­en
Noo­dles (rice noo­dles, egg noo­dles, ramen noo­dles or any pas­ta of your choice)
Veg­gies (broc­coli flo­rets, onion chunks, car­rots sliced thin, mush­rooms, cel­ery, or any oth­ers of
your choice) Note: You won’t find any pep­pers in Jo’s recipes because she doesn’t like them — but
feel free to use them as well.
Gar­lic — 1 clove minced, or 1/2 tsp of canned chopped or minced (or more if you pre­fer).
Peanut Sauce — see recipe below
Peanuts — unsalt­ed dry-roast­ed — may be chopped

Direc­tions
1. Whisk peanut sauce ingre­di­ents togeth­er.
2. Cut bite-size chunks from left-over bar­be­cue chick­en.
3. Pre­pare veg­gies. (Peel &/or chop. If nec­es­sary, zap in microwave until done to ten­der­ness you
pre­fer.) Note: many veg­gies, espe­cial­ly frozen peas and mush­rooms, may not need extra cook­ing.
4. Break noo­dles into 2 to 4 inch lengths then cook accord­ing to box instruc­tions (rice noo­dles,
egg noo­dles, ramen noo­dles, etc.)
5. Sauté gar­lic in the peanut sauce for 2 or 3 min­utes. Add chick­en and heat for anoth­er 2 or 3
min­utes. Add cooked noo­dles and veg­gies. (Or add veg­gies ear­li­er.) Stir and heat through.
6. Stir peanuts in before serv­ing, or sprin­kle a hand­ful of peanuts on the top after serv­ing.

Peanut Sauce
For 2 peo­ple (use mul­ti­ples for more peo­ple — all mea­sure­ments are approx­i­mate)
Whisk togeth­er
1 TB creamy peanut but­ter
1 tsp hazel­nut oil (or any oil)
1 tsp Worces­ter­shire sauce
3 shakes ground red pep­per
6 twists of pep­per mill
3 shakes onion pow­der
3 shakes ground gin­ger

* * * * *

Yesterday’s Body was first pub­lished by a small e-press and is an EPIC mys­tery final­ist and part of the Jo Durbin Mys­tery Series.

Book Talk — Agatha Christie

The Grand Dame of Mystery — Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

When I think of all the vari­ety of mys­tery nov­els, I have to begin with Agatha Christie and her ama­teur sleuth, Miss Marple. I read quite a few of those, but I nev­er fig­ured out “who dun it” before the end. And that’s only one rea­son why I love those books. Anoth­er is the wide vari­ety of writ­ers she spawned. But I digress—I’m talk­ing Dame Christie here. And, although I think of her as the  author of mys­ter­ies involv­ing that nosy lady Miss Marple, her first detec­tive was Her­cule Poirot. She wrote many more books about him, but after a few years, she thought him “insuf­fer­able.” How­ev­er, she knew her read­ers loved him, so she wrote more.

Just recent­ly, I read Christie’s first pub­lished mys­tery (but the sev­enth mys­tery she wrote) The Mys­te­ri­ous Affair at Styles. Although I’d seen many Poirot TV shows, I had nev­er read any of the books star­ring him. In this book, he was a retired detec­tive, with his lat­er side­kick Hast­ings as the nar­ra­tor and some­one who had met him ear­li­er. Hast­ings, after watch­ing him at work, thought he must sure­ly have lost his great detect­ing skills. Inspec­tor Japp was there as well. Dame Christie laid the ground work with her char­ac­ters, then, in lat­er books, used them to their best advan­tage. (In oth­er words, read them in any order!)

Although Agatha Christie tired of Poirot, she nev­er tired of Miss Marple who she’d pat­terned after “the sort of old lady who would have been rather like some of my step grandmother’s cronies – old ladies whom I have met in so many vil­lages where I have gone to stay as a girl.” Def­i­nite­ly, her read­ers nev­er tire of Miss Marple of  St. Mary Mead.

What is your favorite Agatha Christie mys­tery? Did you know Dame Christie has a Face­book page?  She also has an author page on Mystery.net. That’s where I found this pic­ture of her.

E-book Links Updated

All of my books are avail­able as paper­back and e-book through Ama­zon, but most are also avail­able in for­mats for the oth­er e-book read­ers. Time to pull it all togeth­er. Through books2read, it’s pos­si­ble to give one link for each book. (The Kin­dle link will also show the paper­back site.) Some mar­kets oth­er than Ama­zon also car­ry the paper­back issues.

I’ll start with the Jo Durbin Series links.

Hid­den Body — Pre­quel nov­el­ette, e-book free every­where

Yesterday’s Body — Book 1

For­got­ten Body — Book 2

The Cyd Den­linger Mys­tery — Death of a Hot Chick  

Cher­ish — A YA Ghost Mys­tery

A Knuck­le­head in 1920s Alas­ka — The true adven­tures of a young man

The Desert­er and Oth­er Sto­ries — Ten short sto­ries, includes recipes.

Avail­able in paper­back and all email for­mats. This ebook is a free pre­mi­um for mem­bers of Norma’s Chat. Once a month or so, I send a vari­ety of pub­lish­ing news, links to free mys­ter­ies, maybe a recipe, a review, or news of mys­ter­ies on sale. Go to the Free Book site for more infor­ma­tion, or straight to the Book Fun­nel link here.