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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.)

 

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 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.)

Agatha Nominee-CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE

My five star pick today is a two-fer—five stars plus Agatha nom­i­nee for Best First Nov­el!

It’s win­ter, the snow is pil­ing high, and Zoe Cham­bers, para­medic and deputy coro­ner in rur­al Penn­syl­va­nia is on the road with the emer­gency vehi­cle, try­ing to save lives. But some­one is mur­dered, and in a small town where every­one knows every­one else, there are a lot of secrets and con­nec­tions.

I read Cir­cle of Influ­ence last May with love­ly warm sun­shine, but author Annette Dashofy made me feel every bit of icy pre­cip­i­ta­tion as I set­tled down to read one great mys­tery, with unex­pect­ed rev­e­la­tions on almost every page.

If you haven’t yet read Cir­cle of Influ­ence, snug­gle into a blan­ket before a roar­ing fire and set­tle down to read one great not-quite-cozy mys­tery with an excel­lent plot and mem­o­rable char­ac­ters. And, if you attend Mal­ice Domes­tic in May, con­sid­er vot­ing for Cir­cle of Influ­ence.

Five Stars For JUST ADD WATER

I didn’t have to dig very deeply into my favorites list to come up with 5 star A Just Add Water by Jinx Schwartyz. I under­stand that this author is as at-home on boats as she is in front of her com­put­er writ­ing about Het­ta Cof­fey.

Het­ta doesn’t have a boat as the book starts. She has women friends, an ex fiancé, and a dog named RJ. Let’s just say, boy friends come and go, and their com­ing isn’t always good. Could be fatal, as a mat­ter of fact. But, oh, that does make for good read­ing!

The dead body doesn’t appear right away, but the action is non-stop. Het­ta is after a man, any man. Per­haps buy­ing a boat is the way to go. Then, again, per­haps not. But Het­ta has a boat, and she is intends to learn how to use it. (That’s a quote, more or less, from the author’s tweets, “Het­ta has a boat and she’s not afraid to use it.”)

This is my first Het­ta Cof­fey Mys­tery and won’t be the last! I read Jinx Schwartyz’ Land of Moun­tains before giv­ing it to a grand­daugh­ter and absolute­ly loved it. It is semi-auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal. I don’t think Just Add Water is, but it cer­tain­ly could be, if the child in the ear­li­er book grew up to get involved in mur­der instead of just into boats.

I’d like to quote from a few oth­ers who liked this book:

First, I must say this book was a chuck­le a minute—except for the parts not designed to elic­it chuck­les, of course.”

Whether you’re a fan of mys­tery, chick lit, or humor, you’ll be a fan of Het­ta Cof­fey and author Jinx Schwartz.”

Het­ta is brash and bold with a mouth that doesn’t have much of a fil­ter.”

There are many more reviews, but that gives you an idea. Almost all of them are pos­i­tive.

Just Add Water is avail­able here.

Cloud Nine

Cloud Nine

Of course, I know a lit­tle some­thing about boats as well. Just for kicks, I’ll add a pic­ture of the boat my hus­band and I sailed for a good many years. We didn’t find any killers, but we did run into a few killer storms. And, know­ing a lit­tle bit about boats myself, only made me appre­ci­ate Just Add Water even more.

Does knowl­edge of the sub­ject affect your read­ing? I know, if an author doesn’t get some­thing right that I do know about, that does affects my read­ing plea­sure. It down-right destroys it.