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

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

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 That’s where I found this picture of her.

New Short Mystery – Hidden Body

Hidden_ebook-final cover-smallHidden Body, a prequel mystery novelette, is part of the Jo Durbin Mysteries. Jo’s sister is preparing a cottage by Chesapeake Bay for sale. Jo is along to write up the glowing words that will entice buyers to an Open House. When a black cat crosses their path, is it bad luck? Or, just maybe, that cat may lead to solving a mystery.

Did I mention it’s FREE? Available as an e-book at these outlets:

| Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBookScribdInktera24 symbols |

Death of a Hot Chick

A young widow trying to survive, a ghost with an agenda, and the boat they share.

HotChick-Cover1That’s the elevator pitch for Death of a Hot Chick. What is an elevator pitch, you ask? That’s when an author finds herself in an elevator with an agent and she wants to tell said agent all about her wonderful book before the door opens.

I’m not looking for an agent. I want to tell readers about my mystery and the elevator pitch works for that too. I could tell you more, but instead, I’ll talk about the cover. The boat pictured is real. Some years before I wrote this book, I saw the original Snapdragon. I took pictures and asked the owner if I could place a murder mystery on her boat. She agreed, with one reservation. Not gonna tell you what that one was, but I will tell you, perhaps she should have asked for more.

Since Death of a Hot Chick is now available for all e-readers, as well as in paperback, I want to show them all in one place. Do check them out.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBook | BAM | 24symbols |


New Mystery – Forgotten Body

Forgotten_ebook final cover-small sampleMy new mystery has been published! Forgotten Body is the second in the Jo Durbin Mystery Series. Since it was in the running for a Kindle Scout book, I decided to offer the ebook free for five days. After all, if it had been a Kindle Scout book, everyone who nominated it would have received a free ebook. Well, I’m going one better. Anyone who wants it, can have a free book. (Of course, I won’t mind if a lot of readers decide to post a review.)

Do you remember Jo Durbin from the prequel (also new), Hidden Body, or the first volume, Yesterday’s Body? She’s the fifty-something woman who, looking to revitalize a journalist career going south, takes unusual steps. In Hidden Body, she was merely going along with her real estate salesman sister Sylvie to write up a glowing review of a cottage for sale. (Did that black cat mean bad luck? Or, did the cat help the sisters find the villain?) In Yesterday’s Body, Jo lived as a bag lady, planning to write up her experiences and maybe make big bucks. As a bag lady, she tried all the tricks the homeless might use—sleep in the park, use someone else’s keys, even take a part-time job. (We know plans in a mystery never work out.)

Here’s the short version of my blurb for Forgotten Body: Jo Durbin, embedded reporter, covers a reenactment of America’s forgotten War of 1812. Piece of cake. Action, faux dead bodies, pretend battles, and everyday lives of the RVers (Workampers)—all fodder for her pen. Except there’s a real body, forgotten in the grass.

With the victim’s checkered past, suspects multiply. When children are endangered, Jo follows a figment of her imagination despite any help or hindrance from her sister, a friend, and the man who wants to be more than a friend.

And here’s the Amazon link, free for the first five days.

How Jo Changed

I have a new cover for my first book, Yesterday’s Body. Inside the book, my amateur sleuth is just the same. On the cover, she’s changed.

The first cover was done by the small publisher, Wings ePress. Then, after my contract with them was up, I self-published with a cover by my daughter, Donna Hedricks. Now, since I’m about to publish a sequel, I wanted them to match. So. . . a new cover, by Karen Phillips. But let’s face it. Jo’s image has changed.

First Cover

First Cover









Second Cover

Second Cover









Third Cover

Third Cover










Of course, I must admit, there’s not much of Jo on the third cover. But they all have the yellow cat.