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.

 

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.

Nominee — Kindle Scout

Forgotten_ebook final coverThere are a lot of good books list­ed on Kin­dle Scout for read­ers to nom­i­nate. For­got­ten Body is mine. It’s a good deal for read­ers as well as authors. The pro­gram lists each accept­ed book for thir­ty days, then gives read­ers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to nom­i­nate their favorites. Best part—when a book is cho­sen for pub­li­ca­tion by Kin­dle Scout, all those who nom­i­nat­ed that title get it free (as an e-book) short­ly before pub­li­ca­tion.

The pro­gram is good for authors too as they receive an advance and a favor­able con­tract.

My blurb: 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.

 

Kindle Scout book coming-Forgotten Body

Forgotten_ebook final coverNovem­ber 14, 2015, is the big day! I just got word this morn­ing (the 12th). My next mys­tery, For­got­ten Body, will be on Kin­dle Scout.

Okay, you want to know exact­ly what Kin­dle Scout is? It’s part­ly a choose-your-own-read, in that any­one can nom­i­nate books they would like to read. After giv­ing the read­ing pub­lic thir­ty days to choose a book, Ama­zon decides which ones they will pub­lish in e-book form. (Part of their deci­sion is based on the book’s pop­u­lar­i­ty.) The best part for the read­er: You receive a free e-book copy of each of the books you nom­i­nat­ed. Okay, that’s only true if they decide to pub­lish the book. (If not, they tell you where it is avail­able.) As a read­er, I’ve nom­i­nat­ed many books I’d like to read. (They allow three nom­i­na­tions at a time.) Sev­er­al have been pub­lished by Kin­dle Scout, so I’ve received free e-books. They were all great reads. They earned four or five stars when I placed my reviews on Ama­zon and Goodreads. (Since I know those reviews help the author and the read­er, I try to review every book I read.)

Of course, there’s good news for the author too. The Kin­dle Scout pro­gram offers a favor­able con­tract with advance and roy­al­ties, as well as pub­lic­i­ty.

The Kin­dle Scout site for For­got­ten Body will include the one sen­tence teas­er, the blurb, and almost all of the first two chap­ters. It will even tell you some­thing about me and ask me ques­tions. (I answer, of course.) Mean­while, I’ll tell you For­got­ten Body is a sequel to Yesterday’s Body. Jo Durbin, my ama­teur detec­tive will do her thing (along with that elu­sive, imag­i­nary cat) at a reen­act­ment of the War of 1812. On Sat­ur­day the 12th, the whole thing will go live here. So vis­it, and if you like what you see, nom­i­nate. If you have any ques­tions, ask here.