Dog Lover Mysteries

Mystery — Gone to the Dogs

What a love­ly group of book cov­ers! It is tru­ly amaz­ing what vari­ety authors come up with, all to enter­tain their read­ers. Not only did these books sat­is­fy my desire to fol­low a mys­tery to a sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion, they each had an unusu­al attrac­tion, AND taught me some­thing I didn’t know. Now, that’s quite an accom­plish­ment when you think about it.

So, what did I par­tic­u­lar­ly like about To Kill A Labrador?  I loved the voice, which means, I loved the way the author put the words togeth­er. Her style made me turn the first page. (Okay, I read it on my Kin­dle, so I didn’t actu­al­ly turn a page.) It kept me so involved in read­ing that I fin­ished it it two evenings. What did I learn? Answer — a whole lot about ser­vice dogs for vet­er­ans. And how did all that hap­pen? The main char­ac­ter (and ama­teur sleuth) trains ser­vice dogs. When she is called in to take care of Bud­dy (the dog), she dis­cov­ers his vet­er­an own­er is assumed guilty of mur­der until proven inno­cent — and she does some­thing about it.

Oh Bits, Grum­bles From The Grave was quite unusu­al. It is his­tor­i­cal fiction—heavy on the fic­tion, I’d say. Some­how, the sto­ry gal­loped along with sud­den addi­tions of oth­er ele­ments. The read­er doesn’t know what the title refers to until at least half way through. But I do like books that sur­prise me. Let’s see, there were view­points from the hero­ine who was a recent col­lege grad­u­ate hired on a news­pa­per, a Ger­man spy, a gravedig­ger, a woman, before and after she became a ghost, a cou­ple more as well, I believe. And, how about a haunt­ed mir­ror? Read­abil­i­ty and the unex­pect­ed lured me into this book and kept me read­ing to the end. What did I learn? Fan­ta­sy, his­to­ry, and mys­tery can co-exist.

Girl in the Shad­ows was a fun, quick read. I espe­cial­ly liked the main char­ac­ter, Abby, a girl with a super mem­o­ry who takes a temp sec­re­tary job. I liked her actions and reac­tions, and her take-hold atti­tude, as she quick­ly dis­cov­ered she liked her new job—no, she loved inves­tiga­tive work. She also took  over her boss’s trusty bea­gle Chewie. Hi-jinx ensue! This book was short and fun­ny. Can’t beat that com­bi­na­tion. Guess I didn’t real­ly learn any­thing new, except, per­haps, that short books are sell­ing and get­ting nice reviews. (Okay, as an author, that’s some­thing to con­sid­er when I’m strug­gling to com­plete 70,000 or more words.)

This Dog for Hire was an excel­lent intro to behind-the-scenes shenani­gans at a dog show. Rachael is the inves­ti­ga­tor, check­ing out those shenani­gans with her pit bull Dash. They’re a team, and one can always agree that if you want a dog to pro­tect you, a pit bull can’t be beat.  At times I was a bit con­fused, which is usu­al­ly good for a mys­tery. This book kept me engrossed, with a mys­tery to solve and a main char­ac­ter who was (at least in this sto­ry) a bit too sus­pi­cious for her own good.

These are all mys­ter­ies I’ve read and enjoyed. I didn’t give any of them five stars, but they came close. The unique take-away for dif­fer­ent ones? One was the voice, one was sur­prise ele­ments, one was the main char­ac­ter, and the last took sus­pi­cion to a new lev­el. I learned some­thing dif­fer­ent from each one as well: the very dif­fer­ent “occu­pa­tions” for dogs, and four dif­fer­ent approach­es to the dog­gie mys­tery.

Now I have a ques­tion or two: If mys­ter­ies are your thing, do you enjoy a vari­ety which might include ani­mals as main char­ac­ters? Do you have a favorite mys­tery that includes dogs? Okay, last one: Tell me, quick! What book is it? (I love a good mys­tery, and a per­son­al rec­om­men­da­tion is super.)

History — Four Views

History — as viewed by four authors

His­to­ry is bor­ing, dull, ho-hum. No, no, his­to­ry is excit­ing, new and fresh! Which is it? Is it thick books filled with facts, dates, wars, inven­tions, and famine? Or is it a live­ly nar­ra­tive, full of mys­tery and intrigue?

Answer—it can be either! Amaz­ing­ly, the sub­ject you may have hat­ed in school, just might be retold in anoth­er way, a way that keeps you glued to the pages, think­ing not of sleep or a TV dra­ma but of what comes next with the turn of a page. And, the same his­toric facts may form the basis for mul­ti­ple books, each com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent. His­to­ry may even be fic­tion­al­ized. (That is, turned into a sto­ry pos­si­bly even more allur­ing than the facts. But you knew that, right?)

The four books illus­trat­ed here approach his­to­ry in four dif­fer­ent ways. How is that?

On the left, Paper Woman by Suzanne Adair (the first of sev­er­al books) tells the sto­ry of a woman dur­ing the run-up to the Amer­i­can rev­o­lu­tion when British sol­diers and colo­nial rebels were very much in the pic­ture. Suzanne bases her mys­ter­ies on lit­tle-known facts of the south­ern states dur­ing the rev­o­lu­tion. She aug­ments those facts by tak­ing part in reen­act­ments. She knows what it is to dress as they did then, to pre­pare food, in fact, so many details of every-day life. A list of inven­tions, dates, and lin­eage? No—this approach to his­to­ry is the next best thing to being there—without the dan­ger!

The cov­er of The Blue may remind you of a col­orist gone wild, and that may be the intent, for it is, indeed about blue. Not blue as in sad, or even blue as in the sky, but blue as in invent­ing a dye that caused inter­na­tion­al upheaval in the world of porce­lain. Author Nan­cy Bilyeau com­bines her own her­itage as a Huguenot with fic­tion­al char­ac­ters to tell the sto­ry that spreads from 18th cen­tu­ry Lon­don to France. Inven­tions? Work­ing on that, for sure. But did any school book dwell on the king of France and obses­sion about porce­lain? This one qual­i­fies as a thriller.

The last two are not fic­tion. A Knuck­le­head in 1920s Alas­ka is the retail­ing of sev­er­al trips to work in Alas­ka for col­lege mon­ey. This is the sto­ry my father told me in six audio tapes. He made the tapes when he was 88, gave them to me (as the writer in the fam­i­ly) and asked that I write them for fam­i­ly and friends. It took a year and a half to orga­nize (and agree) on the con­tent, but we did it. Some years lat­er, one of my daugh­ters designed the cov­er and I pub­lished it for all. It’s an account, as he remem­bered (and named) it of  a hot-head­ed kid who need­ed to fin­ish grow­ing up. He told me he’d made anoth­er trip to Alas­ka, tak­ing his broth­er, but he hadn’t includ­ed those sto­ries. He said, “I wasn’t the knuck­le­head any more. Fred was.”

Spies In The Fam­i­ly, by Eva Dil­lon, is just that. After her par­ents had both died, Eva and her sib­lings found a wealth of papers in the attic. I’m still read­ing this one, but it has amaz­ing his­to­ry. At the height of the Cold War, her father was a U. S. gov­ern­ment agent han­dling the CIA’s high­est rank­ing dou­ble agent, a Sovi­et gen­er­al. Besides a lot of weird CIA action, the book includes infor­ma­tion gath­ered from the Sovi­et general’s son, now liv­ing in the Unit­ed States. To me, this is tru­ly a grip­ping sto­ry that I can’t wait to com­plete. (No mem­o­riz­ing dates here!)

Each of the book titles are linked to their Ama­zon page. Tell me, how did you view his­to­ry when you were in school? Did you find it inter­est­ing or bor­ing? Or, per­haps, since I’m waaaay out of school, the his­to­ry as taught now is more inter­est­ing. Or, per­haps, it is non-exis­tent, which is a shame. Like some­one once said (and I real­ly should look it up, but I won’t) those who don’t know his­to­ry are des­tined to repeat it. (Or words to that effect.) There are a mul­ti­tude of ways to present his­to­ry. What are your favorites?

New Book Count-down

New e-book - A Jo Durbin Mystery Series

What does an author do when she decides to change cov­ers on the way to pub­li­ca­tion? If she’s me, she just does it! Wis­er heads may not agree, but, there… you have it. Did, and done. But it occurs to me that those who ordered it with one cov­er may be con­fused when they get a book with anoth­er cov­er. So, I’ll spread this graph­ic around the inter­net, start­ing with my blog.

So, let’s go with the inci­den­tals. Pub­li­ca­tion date: Decem­ber 14, 2018. Avail­able as e-book only, but for very e-book read­er I know about. Amazon/Kindle link here. Uni­ver­sal Link here that includes Nook, Apple/itunes, Kobo, and a few oth­ers.

How about the blurb for this 3-book mys­tery vol­ume?

Jo Durbin, frus­trat­ed busi­ness writer, cat believ­er, and acci­den­tal ama­teur sleuth wants to up her game—parlaying tem­po­rary lifestyle into a best­seller. She tries real estate pro­mo­tion, the bag lady life, and reen­act­ing an 1813 woman at war. But the byline she scores, instead of “a killer caught,” might be “DOA.”

This col­lec­tion includes the com­plete series: Hid­den Body, a pre­quel nov­el­ette, Yesterday’s Body, Book 1, and For­got­ten Body, Book 2. Jo is helped, or hin­dered, by her sis­ter Kaye, by Mel, the man who wants to be more than a friend, and oth­er char­ac­ters, not the least of which are the police who seem to always be on her case.

The pre-order and intro­duc­to­ry price of 99 cents will last through New Year’s Day. (Inci­dent­ly, which cov­er do you like the best? Not that I’ll change it back again — just curi­ous. Did I make the right deci­sion or am I all wet?)

The End (Not Really)

What’s a Mystery Writer To Do?

I mean, when she can’t fig­ure out who the killer is? Now, you real­ly can’t have a mys­tery with­out a killer, that’s for sure. But when I wrote Death of a Hot Chick, I went through a mil­lion drafts (seemed like any­way) with­out find­ing my killer.

I’d worked on my mys­tery for months, seemed like years. Well, yes, it did run over twelve months for sure. But—I’d hit a brick wall. Who killed the vic­tim in chap­ter one? Who would be revealed as the nasty guy in the last chap­ter? She was dead—no doubt about it. But who dun it? What to do?

Write anoth­er draft. Sure­ly the killer would be revealed. I start­ed all over, honed the sen­tences, refined the clues, brought out new sub-plots, added and sub­tract­ed scenes. Even got a chap­ter or two fur­ther along toward the fin­ish line. But… no killer stepped up.

Okay, try again. Piece of cake. Answer will burst forth. Umm, no. Sev­en drafts lat­er and the brick wall was ever high­er. There were clues, red her­rings, false accu­sa­tions, but no killer stepped for­ward.

I had three guys well posi­tioned, each with a rea­son to off the hot chick of my mys­tery. Her father, her fiancé, and the guy whose boat she’d end­ed up with due to a bit of finan­cial hockus-pokus. (Okay, although some of my char­ac­ters believed the vic­tim was a sweet young thing, she had issues.) But, I just couldn’t pin-point the killer. What to do?

Des­per­a­tion lurked. I stared at my three guys, and final­ly said, “I give up. Tell me.” I hand­ed them the vir­tu­al pen and let them have a go at explain­ing their actions on the day in ques­tion. They went at it. A short while lat­er, one of them, at the end of his half page, said, “And then I killed her.”

Whew. Problem solved. And, added benefit, reviewers have said they absolutely could not figure out before hand who did it. (Although, I can’t recommend this seven-draft system, it did work for me that time.)

When I’m read­ing, I espe­cial­ly like a book, espe­cial­ly a mys­tery, where I can’t pre­dict the end­ing. I do like to guess what will hap­pen, and some­times I’m cor­rect. Some­times I change my mind with every chap­ter. That’s a great read! I don’t mind at all being fooled—as long as the solu­tion makes sense. (One can always go back and find those hid­den clues and red her­rings. So much fun!)

How about you? Do you like to be puz­zled, or do you pre­fer to solve the mys­tery along with the sleuth?

(Okay I’ll add the uni­ver­sal link for all e-book read­ers here.)

Guppy Mysteries

Guppy Mysteries? What are they?

That does sound fishy, doesn’t it? So, I’ll admit—the Gup­pies are a chap­ter of Sis­ters in Crime. I’ve been a Gup­py for years and years, but I met all my chap­ter-mates on line only. Until… I went to Mal­ice Domes­tic a few years ago. Then I met sev­er­al Gup­pies. (Yea!) And they are pro­lif­ic mys­tery writ­ers. Three of them have new books just out (or com­ing in a few days). Here are their new cov­ers.

All three pub­lish more than one series. Daryl Wood Ger­ber writes under two names. Her oth­er author name is Avery Aames. (You will find each author’s Ama­zon author page linked to their names.) A Souf­flé of Sus­pi­cion will come out July 10, 2018. This is the sec­ond of her French Bistro mys­ter­ies. The blurb starts this way: The buoy­ant mood at Bistro Rousseau deflates when Chef Camille’s sis­ter, Renee, turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen, and Mimi Rousseau must tease the real killer out of a mélange of men­ac­ing char­ac­ters. Oh, that does sound like an entic­ing read!

Mur­der at the Man­sion is the first mys­tery of Sheila Connolly’s fifth series! (Which is why I’m only send­ing you to author sites. Soooo much to choose from with these Gup­pies.) A bit from the blurb… Kather­ine Hamilton’s goal in high school was to escape from her dead-end home­town of Ashe­boro, Mary­land. Fif­teen years lat­er... she is invit­ed to return… There’s the high school neme­ses… Who turns up dead, in the man­sion. This was pub­lished June 26, 2018. It sounds like a deli­cious read. Sheila also has the Coun­ty Cork series that takes place in Ire­land.

The Diva Cooks Up a Storm is Krista Davis’s most recent­ly pub­lished mys­tery, pub­lished May 29, 2018. It is the lat­est in her Domes­tic Diva series. The blurb starts: When a trendy, under­ground din­ner club leaves some guests six-feet-under the table, enter­tain­ing pro­fes­sion­al and ama­teur sleuth Sophie Win­ston hopes she has all the right ingre­di­ents to put a mur­der­er on ice in New York Times best­selling author Krista Davis’s new Domes­tic Diva mys­tery … Krista also had anoth­er mys­tery pub­lished on Feb­ru­ary 27, 2018. It’s Col­or Me Mur­der, the first of her third series, and the front and back cov­ers can be col­ored!

I knew these authors (elec­tron­i­cal­ly) before they were pub­lished! It was won­der­ful to meet them and oth­er Gup­pies in per­son.

Vis­it their Ama­zon author pages to see an amaz­ing choice of sleuths and mys­ter­ies.

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.