Review: <i>Keys to Nowhere</i> by Dorothy H. Hayes Review: Keys to Nowhere by Dorothy H. Hayes Leigh Neely Read Leigh Neely's review & learn how to win a copy! Review: <i>Indulgence in Death</i> by J.D. Robb Review: Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb Jenny Maloney Read Jenny Maloney's review! <i>The Breakout</i>: New Excerpt The Breakout: New Excerpt Ryan David Jahn A military thriller about revenge and the bond of a troop. Review: <i>Fantasy in Death</i> by J.D. Robb Review: Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb Meghan Harker Read Meghan Harker's review!
From The Blog
January 19, 2017
A Tudor Primer
Mary Lawrence
January 19, 2017
Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart”: Why Are These Men Laughing?
Susan Amper
January 19, 2017
Announcing 2017's Edgar Award Nominees
Crime HQ
January 19, 2017
Discount: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Crime HQ
January 19, 2017
The Breakout: New Excerpt
Ryan David Jahn
Showing posts by: Doreen Sheridan click to see Doreen Sheridan's profile
Jan 18 2017 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: The Good, the Bad and the Guacamole by Rebecca Adler

A music festival has come to the small town of Broken Boot, Texas, and while it’s certainly good business for our heroine Josie Callahan’s family’s restaurant, she’s still a little leery of musicians after her unhappy breakup with her musician former fiancé. Her best friend, Patti Perez, however, is not of the once-bitten, twice-shy inclination, as she’s only too happy to start things up again with her ex-boyfriend, the music festival’s headliner, Jeff Clark.

Hoping to get a scoop to jumpstart her own stalling career as a reporter, Josie heads over to Patti’s house the night after Jeff sleeps over to try to get an exclusive interview. What she gets instead is the discovery of Jeff’s corpse in the living room, face down in a bowl of guacamole.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Jan 11 2017 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: A Killer Kebab by Susannah Hardy

This 3rd installment of the Greek to Me Mystery series sees our heroine, Georgie Nikolopatos, coming to terms with all the turmoil of the past books. With her mostly amicable divorce finalizing and her daughter returning soon to Bonaparte Bay, on the US-Canadian border, from the sunnier climes of Greece, Georgie is looking forward to hosting a nice Greek-influenced Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel she runs for her mother-in-law. All she needs is for the contractor to finish a long overdue renovation of the restrooms. Her plans, however, are put in serious jeopardy when the body of her divorce lawyer is found amidst the demolition.

When the no-good son of her beloved cook is arrested for the murder, Georgie reluctantly finds herself drawn to investigate, especially when other crimes—violent or otherwise—start breaking out around her. Worse, ugly surprises having to do with the events of the first two books show up when least expected. Soon, Georgie needs to put her life on the line not only to expose a network of ruthless criminals, but also to save the lives of those she loves.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Jan 4 2017 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Magic and Macaroons by Bailey Cates

Our heroine, Katie Lightfoot, is just finishing up a meeting of her Spellbook Club (read: coven) at the Honeybee Bakery she part-owns when a sudden clamor at the door disturbs the circle. Katie and her friends discover a distraught young woman who claims, among other things, that she was sent to Katie for help ... right before the strange young woman falls into a coma.

If she hadn’t been inclined to help before, discovering that the newcomer is the niece of Detective Franklin Taite—a man dedicated to wiping out evil magic—certainly spurs Katie to look into the young woman’s desperate pleas. The woman wanted her to find a voodoo queen and a gris gris, neither of which terms—much less actualities—is Katie familiar with. One member of Katie’s coven has more of a passing familiarity with both, though: Cookie Rios’s father had been a voodoo priest back in Haiti, and his untimely death had been part of the reason Cookie turned her back on the religion of her youth.

[Recipe and pictures included!]

Dec 28 2016 3:00pm

Cooking the Books: Some Enchanted Éclair by Bailey Cates

Hollywood has come to Savannah, Georgia, making for hectic days at the Honeybee Bakery. Part-owner and former fire department chief Ben Eagel has been hired to provide security on the movie set that has shut down parts of the city. His niece and our heroine, Katie Lightfoot, is helping cover for him at the bakery when the film’s production coordinator, Simon Knapp, comes in asking whether the bakery can cater lunches. Apparently, the company they hired for craft services is doing a pretty poor job, both in food quality and in punctuality. Katie and her Aunt Lucy agree to cater for that day and the next, with a view to perhaps finishing out the rest of the week, when Simon is found murdered.

At first, Katie wants nothing to do with the investigation, but her deceased Nonna once again persuades her otherwise—this time through the intervention of a psychic attached to the set. The psychic also brings her startling news about Franklin Taite, the police detective who originally told her she was a lightwitch. And even more shocking revelations come to light about her boyfriend Declan’s history during a seance to find the killer.

[Recipes and pictures included below!]

Dec 21 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Charms and Chocolate Chips by Bailey Cates

Oh, thank goodness. This book laid to rest any concerns I had after reading its immediate predecessor, Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti.

Several months after the events of that book, our heroine—Katie Lightfoot—is busying herself with her work and spellcraft as well as volunteering with a local conservation group. She’s chosen firefighter Declan over druid Steve, and while I personally believe that she’s keeping herself so busy so she doesn’t have to spend more time than she has to with her boring boyfriend, I do understand how learning that she’s a lightwitch makes her feel more compelled to do good in the mortal realm than before.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Dec 20 2016 1:00pm

Review: Loyalty in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Doreen Sheridan reviews #9, Loyalty in Death.

Despite my best efforts, I was unable to get my hands on the 8th book of the series in time, so I can make no grand pronouncements on this third “arc” of the In Death series. But I did very much enjoy reading Loyalty in Death on its own, especially since the scope of the homicides in this one go far beyond simple, or even serial, murder and explode into terrorism.

It starts simply enough. Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police and Security Department is assigned to investigate the death of an electronics tycoon at the hands of his steely-eyed lover, who called in the crime herself. Lisbeth Cooke is convinced that J. C. Branson was cheating on her and killed him in a fit of rage when he refused to admit it upon being confronted with the news. The jaded prosecuting attorney is happy to plead rich, connected Lisbeth down to manslaughter, which doesn’t sit well with Eve and her team.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Loyalty in Death...]

Dec 15 2016 1:00pm

Review: Vengeance in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Doreen Sheridan reviews #6, Vengeance in Death.

I’ve read that J.D. Robb writes the In Death books in threes, and it’s easy to see how this 6th book of the bestselling series continues a narrative arc that explores the power of belief in the year 2058. Whereas the 4th book, Rapture in Death, spoke of unwilling and unwitting mind control through technology, the next two discuss a different, willing adherence to a formal structure of belief—however perverted it might be made by those who claim to believe. Whereas Ceremony in Death discussed pagan religions, Vengeance in Death looks at Catholicism—and in particular the Irish version—as we dive into self-made billionaire Roarke’s criminal past.

Back when Roarke was first trying to establish himself in the underground of his Irish homeland, a horrifying crime was committed against someone beloved of both himself and his faithful now-butler, Summerset. When the investigating officer was paid off, Roarke took matters into his own hands, executing the perpetrators over the course of three years and ensuring that his tracks were completely covered … or so he believed.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Vengeance in Death...]

Dec 14 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Curried Away by Gail Oust

The 4th book in the Spice Shop Mystery series finds our heroine, Piper Prescott, about to host a cooking demonstration at her specialty store, Spice It Up! It’s taken a while to coax Doug Winters, the guy she’s been dating, to share his “Spicy Chicken Curry” recipe with a rapt audience of her regular customers. He’s been pretty busy lately bonding with his teenage daughter, who’s just moved to the small town of Brandywine Creek, Georgia and seems determined to keep her father all to herself. But things look to be going well—both in the cooking demonstration and in Piper’s romantic life—when the presentation is abruptly interrupted by news of murder.

The director of the local amateur production of Steel Magnolias has been found dead in the opera house, and suspicion quickly falls on Reba Mae Johnson—Piper’s best friend—who said some rash things in front of the town gossip after being fired from a plum role. Piper races to clear her friend’s name as Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, bringing with it unexpected heartache but also, perhaps, better prospects for the future.

[Recipe and pictures included!]

Dec 14 2016 1:00pm

Review: Ceremony in Death by J.D. Robb

To celebrate the upcoming release of J.D. Robb's 44th Eve Dallas mystery, Echoes in Death, we're taking a look back at every single book in the In Death series. Today, Doreen Sheridan reviews #5, Ceremony in Death.

Another deficiency in my mystery-novel education to date has been the fact that I’d never read a J.D. Robb novel before this retrospective came around. Being the conscientious sort, I thought it best to start from the beginning—despite the first book I was assigned to review being this, the 5th in the series.

I’m very glad I did, however, because a large part of the appeal of this series—both to me and, I’m sure, to the average reader who’s helped make these books such bestsellers—is the continuing evolution of the relationship between Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the New York Police And Security Department (as New York cops are officially known in the year 2058) and the single-named billionaire, Roarke, who clawed his way out of poverty through means not necessarily legal.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Ceremony in Death...]

Dec 7 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti by Bailey Cates

The second novel in the Magical Bakery series wasn’t the strongest installment for me so far. I wouldn’t exactly call it a sophomore slump, as it’s still a very enjoyable entry, but there were several things that I didn’t care for here as much as I did in the other books.

First, a synopsis: Katie Lightfoot, our professional baker and amateur hedgewitch heroine, is settling down to life in Savannah running the Honeybee Bakery with her aunt and uncle. She’s out on a picnic date with one of her suitors, Declan, when they come across a dead body in the bushes. At first, Katie thinks it’s just an unfortunate incident—that is until her eye is irresistibly drawn to an unusual tattoo on the corpse. Her investigation into the tattoo reveals the existence of a society of druids connected to her other suitor, Steve, and draws her into great danger, as it appears that the dead man is not the last person that a dangerous killer wants to destroy.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Nov 30 2016 5:00pm

Cooking the Books: Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates

Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing the latest in Bailey Cates’s Magical Bakery Mystery series, Spells and Scones. Today, I’m going to start reading and cooking my way from the beginning of this delightful series to see if there’s more magic to be had from where that 6th book came.

For those unfamiliar with this particular series, Brownies and Broomsticks tells the story of how our heroine, professional baker Katie Lightfoot, moves from Ohio—after her fiancé calls off their wedding—to Savannah, Georgia to help her newly retired aunt and uncle run the bakery they’ve always wanted to own. Soon after arriving in Savannah, Katie’s Aunt Lucy starts to broach the delicate subject of why Katie has always felt “different” all her life: she comes from a long line of witches and possesses mystical powers herself!

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Nov 23 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the last book in the Inspector Gamache series to date. It is the very satisfying culmination of several important series plot points, including the very puzzling question of why Three Pines—the peaceful, if occasionally murder-prone, village that provides safe harbor throughout most of the books—cannot be found on any maps.

After several of the Three Pines residents find a charming antique map that, surprisingly, depicts the area, it is presented as a gift to Armand Gamache, formerly a Chief Inspector of the Surêté du Québec. The occasion is the first day of his new job as Head of the Surêté Academy, the institution that trains all new members of Quebec’s provincial police force.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Nov 16 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

Those of you who have been following this column will know that I was not particularly happy with the ending of the previous book in the series. I was very much looking to this one to assuage my fears as to whether Louise Penny was an author I could implicitly trust with the difficult, moral narrative choices. It was a great relief to find that my fears, while valid, had come to naught here, as The Nature of the Beast is another terrific installment of the award-winning Inspector Armand Gamache series.

It was also the first novel of the series where I genuinely had no idea who might have been the killer, right up to the thrilling conclusion. The amount of misdirection was superb, but I suppose that’s to be expected in a tale that encompasses clandestine operatives and their shady dealings stretching back decades.

[Recipes and pictures included below!]

Nov 9 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

I think this is the first time that I have vehemently disagreed with the direction an Inspector Gamache novel took. I mean, even in my disbelief at the ending of The Brutal Telling, I felt confident in Louise Penny’s storytelling skills that it would all eventually make sense (and it did in the novel that followed). But I felt oddly shortchanged by the ending of The Long Way Home, and I know there’s no coming back from this one.

Which isn’t to say that this is a bad book at all! On the contrary, I spent the first parts in a happy literary haze at the outright confirmation that Ms. Penny admires Marilynne Robinson, one of my all-time favorite authors, with whom she shares a similar outlook regarding humanity and empathy.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Nov 2 2016 3:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

This was the first book I ever read in the Inspector Gamache series—back when it first came out—and, boy, was that a mistake! I only realized this upon reading the preceding eight novels, then re-reading this one. I missed so much by starting here first!

Back when How the Light Gets In first came out, I wanted to see what all the fuss over Louise Penny was about, so I read it and thought it was good, solid storytelling. But now that I’ve caught up with the entire series, I can see that this novel is a work of brilliance—a terrific capstone for all the events that led up to it. Sure there are still threads unresolved, material for future books, but so much of the loving detail that Ms. Penny has woven into the first eight parts of the series come together here to form a story that rewards her loyal readers again and again with callbacks that both delight and resonate with deeper meaning. I really did myself a disservice by starting here instead of at the beginning.

[Recipes and pictures included!]

Oct 26 2016 4:00pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

The bad news is that we hear virtually nothing of the village of Three Pines and its inhabitants in this 8th installment of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. The good news is that Ms. Penny has instead decided to tackle one of the greatest mysteries in music history!

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his second-in-command, Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, are sent to investigate a murder set in a remote monastery that houses a reclusive order of monks who have been made, rather ironically, world-famous by their exquisite Gregorian chants. This is tricky work: writing a novel that succeeds at integrating church scholarship with a murder mystery (and compelling personal drama, but more on that in a moment). Umberto Eco tried it in The Name Of the Rose. Let it be an example of my standards when I say that I didn’t feel he quite succeeded.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Oct 19 2016 3:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

I was an information technology major in college, and in one exam, we were asked to write a program involving the colors black and white. Having an artistic bent, I named it Chiaroscuro, to the bemusement of my lecturer (and several of my classmates, who reacted in much the same way Inspector Beauvoir does to the word in this novel while at an art show).

Which, I’m hoping, goes some way to explain how much I enjoy the many references to the visual arts in Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache novels—and especially in this, the 7th book in the series. Clara Morrow, Ms. Penny’s admitted fictional stand-in, is finally getting a solo show that looks set to launch her reputation and career. A party post-vernissage in Three Pines seems like the perfect way to celebrate … till a body is discovered in Clara’s garden.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Oct 12 2016 3:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

One of my favorite things in life is saying “I told you so,”  so if you read my review of The Brutal Telling, you’ll understand why my satisfaction with Bury Your Dead goes beyond an appreciation of the elegant storytelling and excellent plot. It’s so very nice, six books into Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, to feel such trust in an author (and, well, I get to say I told you so, teehee.)

That said, Bury Your Dead opens on tragic circumstances. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is taking time off from the Surêté after tragedy rips through the force, damaging many, including members of his loyal team. In Quebec City, to recover at the home of his retired mentor Emile Comeau, his days are spent quietly reading in the Literary and Historical Society—the little publicized bulwark of Anglo culture in the capital of French-Canada. But then, a body is found in the basement, and despite his initial reluctance, Inspector Gamache finds himself drawn to assist in the investigation.

In the meantime, his right hand man, Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir, is stifling under his wife’s ministrations as he struggles to recover from the tragedy in his own home. When Inspector Gamache finds himself re-evaluating the conclusions he and his team came to in The Brutal Telling, Jean Guy is only too happy to be dispatched to Three Pines to look at the case with fresh eyes.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Oct 5 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny


Wait, what, really?

Is this how I know I’ve become a resident of Three Pines, at least in spirit, by my reaction to the ending of The Brutal Telling—the 5th book in Louise Penny’s best-selling Inspector Gamache series—being one of the same bewilderment and grief that grips the village in which most of the books have been so lovingly set? I can’t really say more without giving away the plot entirely, but here’s what I can safely say: the corpse of an unidentified man is found in Olivier’s Bistro, uncovering stories of greed and secrets that stretch back decades and span the globe from the glittering, vanished Amber Room of Prussia to the lonely mists of Ninstints in British Columbia.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Sep 28 2016 3:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

I love manor mystery novels—you know the kind—where a group of guests stays at a secluded manor and one of them is murdered. That’s the concept behind Louise Penny’s excellent fourth installment of the Inspector Gamache series, A Rule Against Murder.

Inspector Armand Gamache is at the historic Manoir Bellechasse for his wedding anniversary with the delightful Reine-Marie, and the only other guests are three generations of a family of Quebec Anglos resplendent in their old money, pride, and simmering resentments. Imagine his and Reine-Marie’s surprise when two beloved faces from nearby Three Pines appear as part of this brood and their horror when one of the family is bizarrely murdered. Reine-Marie is sequestered away in Three Pines while Inspector Gamache must unearth painful family secrets—of the victim’s and, compellingly, of his own—in his quest to bring a murderer to justice.

[Recipes and pictures below!]