<i>Cataclysm</i>: New Excerpt Cataclysm: New Excerpt Tim Washburn Cataclysm is the latest thriller from Tim Washburn. <i>Skin & Bone</i>: New Excerpt Skin & Bone: New Excerpt Robin Blake Skin & Bone by Robin Blake is book #4 in the Cragg & Fidelis Series. <i>Hell Bay</i>: New Excerpt Hell Bay: New Excerpt Will Thomas The 8th book in the Barker & Llewelyn series. <i>Night Watch</i>: New Excerpt Night Watch: New Excerpt Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen The 4th book in the Kendra Michaels series.
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October 21, 2016
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A Vague Unease: Reviewing The Kettering Incident
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7 Books to Read If You Loved The Others
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Showing posts by: Doreen Sheridan click to see Doreen Sheridan's profile
Oct 19 2016 4:30pm

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 4:30pm

Cooking Through 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 5:30pm

Cooking Through 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 4:30pm

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!]

Sep 21 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

Easter has come to Three Pines! In this time of resurrection and renewal, one of the owners of the local B&B has decided to advertise the services of an unwitting guest as a spiritualist. Jeanne Chauvet thought she was there for a holiday, so she is rather bemused to find herself leading a Friday night séance for our beloved Three Pines residents.

When it’s decided that the affair lacks the proper level of spookiness, the abandoned Hadley house—which regular readers will know as a place of grief and danger—is proposed as a more suitable venue. It all seems like creepy, innocent fun…until one of the guests at the séance drops dead from terror.

Miles away, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec is enjoying a visit from his son, Daniel, and Daniel’s family, recently relocated to Paris for work. When he reads of the death in the papers, he isn’t surprised to receive the summons from his superior and best friend, Michel Brebeuf, to investigate whether a murder has been committed.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Sep 14 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

It’s been over a year since murder threw its long shadow over the village of Three Pines. The inhabitants have mostly recovered from the death of Jane Neal, and the empty Hadley house—site of so much pain and violence—has been sold to budding lifestyle authority, CC de Poitiers.

Alas, CC is not an ornament to her new home. Overbearing and obnoxious, her insistence on knowing what’s best for everyone has completely cowed her husband and daughter and set most of the villagers against her. So, when she’s murdered just after Christmas, in an elaborate setup during the annual curling match, she doesn’t leave behind a whole lot of mourners.

It’s under these circumstances that Chief Inspector Gamache of the Surêté du Québec is called back to the village he has such fond memories of, even as he’s unofficially investigating the death of a homeless woman in Montreal as a favor to his counterpart there. When it becomes clear that the two cases are connected, Inspector Gamache will have to uncover secrets that Three Pines thought long buried.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Sep 7 2016 4:30pm

Cooking Through The Nature of the Feast: Still Life by Louise Penny

I have a confession to make: The first Louise Penny book I read was How the Light Gets In, and it was terrific (and I had the privilege of reviewing it for this site). But, I must also admit that my admiration felt distant. I didn’t already know the people in the book, and so I didn’t feel a lot of the personal nuances—the delight, the anguish—that come from diving back into a beautifully realized world and taking up with vivid, beloved characters once more.

For one reason or another, I never had the chance to go back and start the series properly, from the beginning. But then Macmillan published The Nature of the Feast, the companion cookbook to the Inspector Gamache series, and my editor suggested I do a run of Cooking The Books columns for it. No need to ask me twice!

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Aug 31 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Knit to Be Tied by Maggie Sefton

The 14th book in Maggie Sefton’s Knitting Mystery series picks up over a year after the last novel, Purl Up and Die, left off. Our heroine, Kelly Flynn, is still a regular at the House of Lambspun, the knitting and fiber arts shop based on a real Colorado store. But, changes are afoot for her and her social circle, with family additions and changes of residence having already altered some of the social dynamics (though fans will rest assured that none of these are for the worse). 

The group is looking forward to the impending wedding of two of their members, when they meet Nancy Marsted, a pregnant graduate student who wants to learn how to knit for her unborn baby. Unfortunately for Nancy, all her dreams of familial happiness are shattered when her boyfriend does an abrupt one-eighty, publicly dumping Nancy and claiming that her baby isn’t his. Shattered, Nancy turns to her recovering alcoholic father and to the Lambspun knitters for support.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Aug 24 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Purl Up and Die by Maggie Sefton

It’s been quite a while since I last had the chance to hang out with the Lambspun fabric artists who form the nexus of Maggie Sefton’s bestselling Knitting Mystery series, so I had a lot of catching up to do! Fortunately, Purl Up And Die treats fans, as well as more casual readers, to an in-depth look at their lives, even as they are affected by another shocking murder. 

Kelly Flynn is our sleuthing heroine, a CPA and amateur knitter whose own limited skills with the needles make her very relatable to novice knitters. She spends a lot of time at the House Of Lambspun—the fabric, fiber, and yarn shop just across the driveway from her home—with its attached Pete’s Porch Cafe. Kelly loves textures, and the book is full of sensual descriptions of the various wares available at Lambspun (which is based on a real Colorado knitting store). Kelly also loves her coffee, as well as playing and coaching softball with the various Fort Connor leagues that form a big part of the summertime social schedules of herself and her close-knit (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun) circle of friends.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Aug 17 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: The Calamity Café by Gayle Leeson

This promising first novel in the Down South Café Mystery series introduces us to Amy Flowers—a smart, thoughtful waitress in the small town of Winter Garden, Virginia. After graduating from culinary school, Amy moves back to her hometown in order to be close to the aging members of her family.

She has ambitions to buy the greasy spoon she presently works in from its mean owner, Lou Lou, with plans to open a café that serves delicious Southern food alongside healthy, but equally tasty, alternatives. Unfortunately, the day after they serve each other notice, Lou Lou is found murdered in her office and Amy becomes the prime suspect. Determined to clear her name, Amy teams up with a handsome police deputy to sift through Lou Lou’s long list of ill-wishers to find the real killer.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Aug 10 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Read To Death by Terrie Farley Moran

Fans of this bookstore mystery series will love plunging back into the world of the Read ‘Em and Eat bookstore café! Co-owners and best friends Sassy Cabot and Bridgey Mayfield have organized a field trip for the last book club of the snowbird season, when their seasonal guests who’ve been escaping the colder climes up north for the Florida sunshine are getting ready to pack up and head home.

As their last read was The Florida Life of Thomas Edison, the book club takes a day trip to the nearby Edison and Ford Winter Estates, catered by the café, of course. The pleasant excursion takes a shocking twist when, shortly after returning to the Read ‘Em and Eat, the local driver they’d hired for the day is found murdered in the parking lot.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Aug 3 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Spells and Scones by Bailey Cates

When I first heard the concept of this series—a modern-day witch solves cozy mysteries while serving up delightful recipes—I was extremely skeptical. I’m hardly a genre snob, but this seemed a bit kitchen sink to me. Imagine my delight when I read the book and found it to be satisfying on all fronts, but most importantly, as an entertaining read.

Spells and Scones is the sixth novel in the Magical Bakery Mystery series, and while not the ideal jumping-on point, still an accessible place to start. Our heroine, Katie Lightfoot, is catering a signing at the bookstore next door to her Honeybee Bakery. The featured author is a controversial radio show host whose advice on relationship issues has almost as many detractors as adherents. When the author is found dead at the back of the store, Katie is inclined to stay out of it. But, the prime suspect turns out to be the former witch of Katie’s familiar, Mungo, and the little terrier insists on Katie using her powers—both mystical and mundane—to clear his former witch’s name.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Jul 27 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Death at the Day Lily Cafe by Wendy Sand Eckel

What a delightfully thoughtful cozy mystery! 

Our heroine, Rosalie Hart, has just achieved her lifelong dream of opening an organic, locally sourced cafe that uses produce grown on her nearby farm, Barclay Meadow. Staffed by herself, her best friend Glenn, herbal remedy enthusiast Crystal, and bad-boy cook Custer, the Day Lily Cafe is getting itself up and running, when a desperate neighbor begs for Rosalie’s help. Doris Bird’s brother-in-law was murdered with a shotgun, and the town sheriff is only too happy to clap Doris’s sister in jail for it. Even though she’s incredibly busy with the cafe, Rosalie can’t say no to her friend.

A look into the life of Doris’s sister unearths shocking revelations, even as Rosalie’s own family life becomes more complicated, with her daughter getting involved with Custer and her ex-husband making his own accusations regarding her parenting. A new farm employee also causes friction, as Rosalie begins to doubt the bond she has with her business partner, the very attractive Tyler. All this has Rosalie contemplating her own past relationships, especially with her father.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Jul 20 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge by Ovidia Yu

The 3rd novel in Ovidia Yu’s Singaporean mystery series finds Aunty Lee laid up with a sprained ankle and, therefore, grumpy at the curtailment of her ability to lovingly interfere in the lives of others. To make matters worse, her overbearing stepdaughter-in-law has decided to “help” Aunty Lee run her cafe while she’s healing, which is spreading the grumpiness to Aunty Lee’s actual helper, Nina. Then, Cherril, Aunty Lee’s business partner, decides that the cafe needs to expand its horizons, talking of mechanization and globalization, much to Aunty Lee’s discomfort. 

All Auntie Lee wants to do is cook good food that will nourish people’s bodies and, hopefully, souls, and she doesn’t believe a machine will be able to properly adjust for tastes the way she can.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Jul 13 2016 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Toasting Up Trouble by Linda Wiken

This first novel in the brand new Dinner Club Mystery series introduces our heroine, JJ Tanner, an event planner with a penchant for the dramatic, and the members of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club. Each month, one member of the club picks a cookbook for the whole group to try, culminating in a delicious themed dinner.

While worrying over her choice of Nigella Lawson’s Nigelissima, JJ—who freely admits to enjoying looking at the pictures more than actually trying out the recipes in cookbooks—is also stressing over an upcoming event: a 21st birthday party for the well-heeled daughter of a local Italian-American magnate. The chef she hired to take over for a last-minute caterer cancellation is proving to be unprofessional and underhanded, despite his delicious food and excellent service. JJ and the chef, Antonio Marcotti, wind up having a very loud, very public fight…the very night before he’s found stabbed to death.

[Recipes and pictures included below!]

Jul 13 2016 11:30am

Review: The Graveyard of the Hesperides by Lindsey Davis

The Graveyard of the Hesperides by Lindsey Davis is the 4th book in the Flavia Albia historical mystery series.

I’m honestly not sure why mysteries set in Ancient Rome are my favorite of the historical mystery subgenre. Perhaps some part of it is due to the cultural emphasis that gives equal importance to both the law and to merriment. Perhaps it’s because the social mores pertaining to women and their legal standing in society are similar enough to modern times that women investigators in these books can be more proactive and less restricted in what they may do than in many of their counterparts in other long-ago times and faraway places.

Lindsey Davis’s Flavia Albia series continues in this fine tradition with a plucky informer, as her job title is officially known, whose views on many subjects would not be out of place in our own era.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of The Graveyard of the Hesperides...]

Jul 1 2016 3:00pm

Review: Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen

Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen is a debut novel and an outer space thriller (Available June 21, 2016).

Curtis C Chen’s Waypoint Kangaroo is a clever mix of space opera, superheroics, and spy thriller. Set in a future that sees Earth’s colony of Mars having fought a bloody war of independence from the mother planet, peace has been regained enough for interplanetary travel and commerce to settle into a routine that includes regular vacation cruises. 

Our hero, Kangaroo (and no, that’s not his real name), has been forced onto one of these cruises. He didn’t exactly botch his last mission, but he certainly could have been quieter about it—seeing as he’s supposed to be a secret agent. And, while he’s a decently competent spy, he knows full well that the main reason he’s allowed into the field at all is his unique ability to access a pocket universe that allows him to store items in an unknown area of outer space—hence the unusual codename.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Waypoint Kangaroo...]

Jun 23 2016 4:00pm

Cooking the Books: The Diva Serves High Tea by Krista Davis

The 10th installment of the Domestic Diva mystery series finds our heroine, Sophie Winston, coming to the rescue of her frenemy, Natasha, when an intruder breaks into the home Natasha shares with her boyfriend, Mars (who also happens to be Sophie’s ex-husband). Someone is lurking in the shadows of Old Town Alexandria, and neither Sophie nor her friends feel safe as the culprit remains at large—particularly since no motive was apparent for the attack.

Fortunately, a diverting new restaurant has opened in the neighborhood—a lovely place specializing in tea and snacks, called The Parlour. Unfortunately, it’s closed down for investigation when new arrival to the neighborhood, handsome antiques dealer Robert Johnson, drops dead from botulism poisoning shortly after attending a literary fundraiser held there.

[Recipes and pictures below!]

Jun 21 2016 2:00pm

Review: The Devils of Cardona by Matthew Carr

The Devils of Cardona by Matthew Carr is a gripping historical thriller set in sixteenth-century Spain.

What a timely, topical book. Ostensibly a medieval murder mystery, The Devils of Cardona draws strong parallels with a world currently caught up in theological hysteria, warning both of the perils of forgetting the beauty and kindnesses of religion and of allowing xenophobia to cloak cynical and selfish political machinations.

Set in 16th-century Spain, with the Inquisition dominating the daily landscape of Spanish lives, The Devils of Cardona starts with the brutal murder of an unpopular priest in a small Aragonese village near the border with France. Arabic words scrawled in the priest’s blood across the walls point the finger at the local Moriscos, former Muslims forcibly converted to Catholicism.

With the nobility of Aragon prickly about their rights under Castilian rule, an adviser to King Philip II appoints a judge with a reputation for fairness and justice to travel to the remote region to investigate. With a small entourage, Licenciado Bernardo Mendoza sets out on a trip that will find him at odds with nobility and clergy, the faithful and heretics, and old friends and new alike.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of The Devils of Cardona...]

Jun 15 2016 4:00pm

Cooking the Books: Éclair and Present Danger by Laura Bradford

This sweet first novel in the Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery series is as much a treat for cozy mystery lovers as it is for bakers! Winnie Johnson is a bit of an odd duck: 34 years old, attractive, and single—she’d much rather focus on her baking and hanging out with her elderly neighbors than on dating.

But then, Winnie’s landlord raises the rent on her beloved bakery and one of her good friends, wealthy Gertrude, passes away. When Gertrude’s lawyer summons Winnie to his office, she isn’t the only one of her circle to hope that Gertrude might have left her a bequest that will help save her bakery. Instead, Gertrude has left Winnie with Lovey, a cat that has no fondness for her, and a restored antique ambulance.

[Recipes and pictures below!]