Five Stars For THE RAINALDI QUARTET

Rainaldi Quartet coverWish I could give this book six stars! That would be five stars for the story and the sixth star for the physical book. Sure, I love to read e-books as well, but I do love to hold a well-designed, superbly crafted trade paperback, turn the soft pages that lie flat, feel the texture of a lovely cover, and read the unique sans serif type font to follow an entrancing story.

On to the story. The Rainaldi Quartet refers to the four men who meet weekly to play in their hometown of Cremona, Italy. Two are luthers (those who make violins) as well as violin players. Rainaldi is one, the other is the narrator of the story, Gianni. A priest plays the viola and the younger, chief of police plays the cello. But it is Rainaldi, in good spirits, who chooses what they will play when the story opens. And it is Rainaldi who is murdered late that night.

The plot follows Gianni and the chief of police as they try to determine why their friend was killed, what secret he knew, what papers he had been working on, what amazing event he looked forward to. Their search takes them to the English countryside, to Venice, and to the ruins of a house burned a century ago looking for documents, then looking for a rare violin that may or may not exist.

Besides pouring over the mystery of the book, the reader will absorb bits of history, bits of the making and restoring of rare violins, and especially, the day to day life of an Italian gentleman of a certain age (as they say). Gianni’s musing on his grandchildren visiting, the changing light on the canals of Venice, and his emotions over sudden death are, surprisingly, every bit as engrossing as the search for the perhaps mythical violin and the reason behind murder.

Although this is placed in current times, history underlies the plot. And, as an American reader, I marvel at families who “remember” ancestors of a hundred or more years ago, and live in the same home, looking at the same portraits on the wall, and may not be all that impressed by the fame of the violinist in their family tree.

 

Five Stars For THE OTHER WOMAN

The Other WomanThis is an excellent week to showcase this favorite book—Hank Phillippi Ryan’s The Other Woman. (See the two reasons why at the end of this post.) It’sVolume #1 of the Jane Ryland series. In this book, Jane is a journalist out of a job, in disgrace, and possibly owing a million dollars for her supposed error. The publisher’s blurb includes: “Dirty politics, dirty tricks, and a barrage of final twists, The Other Woman is the first in an explosive new series.”

But let me quote from a few reviews. One said: “Boston newspaper reporter Jane Ryland seeks to uncover the identity of the mistress of a Senate candidate. Her investigation intersects with the hunt for a possible serial killer. The book has all the necessary components for a great mystery: murders, sex, scandal, gorgeous characters, money, privilege.”

Another gives this review: “Oh man, this was a tremendously good read. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I LOVE a book that makes me sit up and take notice. The Other Woman did that, and then some. This is a page-turner from the get-go, with protagonists who are flawed but incredibly likeable, trying to solve a mystery that, believe me, turns into one very creative climax.”

When I first read this book, I commented: “There’s the other woman in the red coat, but she’s not the only ‘other’ woman in this engrossing mystery/thriller. From nuanced characters to surprising plot twists, this is one good read for anyone.”

Now for Reason Number One that this is a good week for this series: After the second book in the series, The Wrong Girl, won the Agatha for Best Contemporary Novel of 2013, the third, Truth Be Told, is up for an Agatha this year as Best Contemporary Novel of 2014!
And—Ta Da, Reason Number Two that this is a good week to showcase The Other Woman—Click here for a Goodreads giveaway going on for this book right now.

A New Review For YESTERDAY’S BODY

Okay, I gotta crow!

It’s mighty rare when one’s work is recognized so beautifully, and on the same day when I want to remind readers that my Goodreads giveaway is winding down.

Here’s the full review:

Yesterday's BodyTitle: Yesterday’s Body
Author: Norma Huss
Publisher: Sunset Cloud Mystery
ISBN: 13: 978-1466449350
Genre: Mystery

The next time you see an older woman who looks like she lives on the streets, remember to be nice, she might just be more than she seems. She could be amateur sleuth, Jo Durbin, and, if you’ve done anything bad, she might be looking for you.

Talented author Norma Huss has crafted a fun read that offers a different kind of sleuth with a very different background. Life on the streets is a hard way to live and any reader will definitely wonder how such a person, particularly a woman, could have the energy and ambition to investigate murders or other crimes.

Join Jo, and her sometime sidekick Sylvie who is also her sister, in tracking down a killer after she discovers a body in a closet with the help of her cat, Clyde, who isn’t all there.

I’m pleased to recommend Yesterday’s Body as a story any mystery fan will enjoy. The characters’ varied backgrounds blend into a story you won’t want to put down until you find out who the killer is and why they kill. You’ll enjoy meeting the realistic characters as they cross paths with Jo and yourself. You’ll find you’ve joined Jo in her investigation with Clyde and Sylvie and their threesome has become a foursome intent on solving the crimes.

Enjoy the adventure. I sure did.

Anne K. Edwards

Now for the Goodreads giveaway information—ends April 9, 2015. Giving away ten copies. Sign up here.

Next Monday, my five-star review (of other’s books) will be back. And this Thursday I’ll have something for both readers and writers.

Agatha Short Story Nominees

Agatha awards, so named for Agatha Christie of mystery writing fame, are given every year at the Malice Domestic conference. One award is given for the top short story published the previous year. This year’s nominees are all winners, even though only one will receive the tea pot that is the coveted prize. Nominated for Best Short Story are:

“The Odds are Against Us” by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2014
“Premonition” by Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays (Wildside Press)
“The Shadow Knows” by Barb Goffman, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays (Wildside Press)
“Just Desserts for Johnny” by Edith Maxwell (Kings River Life Magazine)
“The Blessing Witch” by Kathy Lynn Emerson, Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave (Level Best Books)

Those who attend Malice Domestic this year are in for a dilemma. Which of these excellent stories will they vote for? What idea sparked the story? Find that answer on the Wicked Cozy Author blog, Best Short Agatha Nominees on Ideas. The Writers Who Kill blog asked each writer other questions. How many characters? How should they be developed? What comes first, story or theme? Their post is: An Interview with the 2014 Agatha Best Short Story Nominee Authors. They also have links to each story.

Wish I were going to Malice Domestic, except, then I’d have to decide which story was best. Quite an impossibility.

(Other links of interest are the Malice Domestic list of earlier short story winners and all more recent winners.)

 

Five Stars For LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF MURDER

Nancy Martin cover1I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed the Blackbird Sisters mysteries by Nancy Martin, but this is my latest. (Not hers, but I’m a bit behind.) The three sisters make do without the money they grew up with (and their parents misspent before they deserted the crumbling family home). Nora tries to keep body and soul together, save the family estate, and, oh, yes, not marry the man she loves who just happens to be a semi-reformed mobster. You see, there’s this thing about any man who marries one of the sisters (there have been several) dying a sudden and usually dreadful death.

That is something that runs through all the books. But the sisters have a lot more going on. Babies, for one. That’s one sister’s specialty—she’s had many husbands. Mystery for another. A mystery that involves Nora more than anyone. In this book, Nora is sent by the new boss at her newspaper to write a profile on a billionaire fashion designer at his new high-tech organic farm. Unfortunately, he is murdered before she can complete the interview.

To quote from the Goodreads description, “If anything can bring the blue-blooded Blackbird sisters together, it’s a murder investigation involving high-society events, glamorous people, and the disappearance of a genetically perfect pig that may or may not be basking in the sun at Blackbird Farm. They’ll all have to pull together this time, because if Nora can’t bring home the bacon, she might have to exchange her bucolic estate for a cramped walk-up.”

The Blackbird Sisters mysteries are always great reads. I especially liked this one. Lots of fun and fashion, mystery and danger. Nora and her sisters keep me enthralled!

Goodreads Giveaway-YESTERDAY’S BODY

I’m substituting a bit of news for my usual five-star review today. I’m running a Goodreads giveaway with Yesterday’s Body, my first published mystery. The event runs from March 17, through April 9, and I’m giving away ten copies. Goodreads giveaway link here.

For a brief description: Jo Durbin isn’t under 40 or anorexic slim. Her face wouldn’t launch a thousand ships or even a rowboat. She wonders, how did she get the job with those beautiful people? And, will the police find her fingerprints on the murder weapon? Did one of those beautiful people she works with kill Francine? Or, will they point to Jo?

Hard to explain that she’s only trying to revitalize a career gone south. Her plan—write a best-seller as a bag lady living on the street. Invent an imaginary cat to further her image. Collect keys that let her into unused storage and vacant homes. Get accepted by the street people. Befriend the guy who wants to “save” them all. It seems possible. Ignore the carping sister who “knows better”? That one’s tricky. Elude the killer long enough to solve the crime? You know that’s the killer question.
“I very much like your voice. You project just the tone and attitude I love to read.” Chris Roerden, Author of Agatha Award-winning DON’T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY.
The first edition e-book was a 2011 EPIC finalist for mystery/suspense.
The sequel, Forgotten Body, will be published later this year.

Five Star Read – EVANS ABOVE

This is the first of the series, and the first of Rhys Bowen’s three series. I discovered her third series first, then the second, and now while I’m trying to collect all the books in the second, I decided to try the first. Did not know what to expect with a male protagonist, a village constable in Wales. I must say, from my reading of the first book, that this series is just as delightful (not a term usually associated with male cops) as the other two. In this book readers are right there in Wales, along with all the frustrations, the odd goings on, and the variety of characters. Add to that a puzzling plot and a wind-up that pulls an amazing host of events together.

Evans aboveI’d like to quote from the publisher’s description — Evan Evans, a young police constable, has traded city life for that of Llanfair – an idyllic Welsh village. Nestling in the Snowdonia mountain range, Llanfair looks to Evans like a town forgotten by time, but he quickly learns that even the bucolic countryside has its share of eccentric – and deadly – characters. Evans’s new neighbors include two competitive ministers vying for the souls of their flock, one lascivious barmaid, and three other Evanses: Evans-the-Meat; Evans-the-Milk and Evans-the-Post (whose favorite hobby is to read the mail before he delivers it).

Before Evans has time to sort through the complicated relationships and rivalries of his new home, he’s called to the scene of a crime as brutal and fearsome as any he encountered in the big city. Two hikers have been murdered on the trails of the local mountain, and Evans must hunt down a vicious killer – who may or may not be linked to the mysterious destruction of Mrs. Powell-Jones’ prize-winning tomatoes.

Most of this series is available as e-books only. I’ve gotten them as used books through the resellers on Amazon since my husband enjoys them too, and he hasn’t converted to e-book reading. I do wish they were more widely available.

Since I mentioned the rarity of books published even as late as 2005, I wonder, do you have a favorite series that is out of print?

 

Free e-book—A KNUCKLEHEAD IN 1920s ALASKA

A Knucklehead in 1920s AlaskaEvery Thursday I post something I find interesting, hoping you will too. So, today’s interesting bit is about tomorrow—which is when one of my e-books goes free for five days.

File it under both history and mystery. The history part is easy. The book is one I wrote with my father from audio tapes he gave me quite a few years ago about going to Alaska to earn college money.  He was nineteen, a hot-headed kid who didn’t want to take any guff. Of course, guff is often what one gets from an employer, so he had a lot of different jobs. He failed to blow himself up carrying dynamite. He failed to drown when he and a horse ended up under the ice in a near-freezing river. He even managed to survive dancing with what they referred to as “a woman on the line” when her boyfriend showed up. In fact, after I heard my father’s adventures, I realized that it’s a marvel I was ever born. That’s the history part.

The mystery part is at the tail end of this book, sort of a Thank You for reading—a reprint of my first short mystery, “Yesterday’s News” published in Future’s Mysterious Mystery Magazine several years ago.

A Knucklehead in 1920s Alaska e-book is available for Kindle. The free dates are February 27 through March 3, 2015. Do read and enjoy!

Monday, I’ll be back here, but I’ll be visiting Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers too.

Agatha Nominee-WRITES OF PASSAGE

WRITES OF PASSAGE frontMy five-star pick this week was nominated in the non-fiction category and includes essays from 59 Sisters in Crime members (I’m one of them). Hank Phillippi Ryan edited Writes of Passage and is the author of a mystery also up for an Agatha. Publisher. Henery Press, is a hot-bed of Agatha winners and nominees. With a line-up like that, how can this book miss?

Readers agree. This is one review on Amazon. 

“I purchased this book to support Sisters in Crime. What the heck, I thought. I can read a story a day with my tea in the morning. Then I can read my “other book” later in the day. Except I didn’t. I found myself reading four or five stories in the morning (each one is about 2 pages), and then picking it back up later in the day. So much for my “other book!”
“If you’re a beginning, established or emerging writer, or simply interested in the writing journey, there’s something in Writes of Passage for you. Many somethings. Encouragement, passion, truth, advice, humor and angst resolved.
“I won’t pick my favorite stories here — couldn’t if I tried. But I will give a major kudos callout to Hank Phillippi Ryan’s exemplary job of editing. This could have been just a bunch of stories. Instead it’s a cohesive blend of many voices, coming together as one.”
For two months, Sisters in Crime posted a clip from each author. This one was from my contribution called: The Guppy Connection. “I’m a Guppy who is still learning, but also offering any help I can to my favorite group.” (That’s the Guppy chapter—originally named for the Great UnPublished, but now, many consider themselves the Great Under Published, as many have gone on to publishing even multiple mystery series.)

Five Stars for MAIDS OF MISFORTUNE

My five-star pick this week combines two of my loves—mystery and historic fiction. Maids of Misfortune takes place in 1879 San Francisco. A young widow supports herself as boarding house owner Annie Fuller, and, in disguise, as psychic Sibyl who gives personal and financial advice to clients. As a woman, she knows that no one would ever accept such advice from her, but they will accept it as coming from the stars. When one of her clients dies, supposedly by suicide, she knows his finances weren’t in the shambles the police claim. When the police realize it was murder, they look to his family. Annie poses as a serving girl for the family to find the truth.

The author, M. Louisa Locke, seamlessly puts the reader squarely in that time and place. While we are engrossed in the plot we notice the work involved to keep up a house, the attitudes of everyone toward a Chinese cook, Annie’s belated realization of what her laundry girl does, and the problems of travel and communication in an earlier age.

Maids of Misfortune is the first of a series (the ebook is now free). There are several short stories as well. The fourth full-length mystery in the series will be out this month.

Of interest to the writers among my readers, M. Louisa Locke’s blog shares her ongoing marketing plans for an independent writer. (Next week I’ll revisit the upcoming Agatha awards with another good read.)