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March 23, 2017
Review: Personal Shopper (2017)
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Research Ride-Along
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Q&A with Lyndsay Faye, Author of The Whole Art of Detection
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Showing posts by: Doreen Sheridan click to see Doreen Sheridan's profile
Mar 22 2017 5:00pm

Cooking the Books: Cold Pressed Murder by Kelly Lane

In this delightful 2nd installment of the Olive Grove mystery series, Eva Knox collides with not one but two dead bodies and has to contend with a whole passel of sisterly secrets and gossipy townsfolk.

It’s the weekend of Abundance, Georgia’s, Farm Family Fare—held this year at the Knox family’s olive oil plantation. Three celebrity chefs are headlining the event, raising funds for the local needy. Eva is grinning and bearing her way through both the oppressive heat and the incessant disapproval of her eldest sister—prim, pretty southern belle Daphne—when a local farmer literally collapses on top of Eva. And if that isn’t enough tragedy for one festival, the next morning one of the celebrity chefs is found dead in the deceased farmer’s refrigeration truck.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Mar 15 2017 4:30pm

Cooking the Books: Roux the Day by Linda Wiken

The 1st book in the Dinner Club Mystery series, Toasting Up Trouble, introduced us to Linda Wiken’s excellent palate. The follow up, Roux The Day, continues to serve up exquisite recipes, this time from a very thematically appropriate source.

Beth Brickner, one of the members of the Culinary Capers cookbook club to which our heroine J.J. Tanner belongs, has chosen The Mystery Writers Of America Cookbook for their monthly dinner. She also urges the members to read a novel by the author of their chosen recipe in addition to preparing their dishes.

[Recipe and pictures included!]

Mar 9 2017 4:30pm

Review: The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman

The Widow's House by Carol Goodman is a chilling Gothic novel and a harrowing tale of psychological suspense set in New York’s Hudson Valley.

I have always enjoyed Carol Goodman’s elegant, literary Gothic tales of murder and madness, so keep that in mind when I say that her latest novel The Widow’s House is far and away the best thing she’s written to date. It’s the kind of book that’s so good it inspires you to want to write as well. It’s the kind of book that, at the risk of sounding not quite sane myself, you feel loves you. From its complex plot, sophisticated emotional and psychological examinations, and copious literary references, you can tell that it appreciates its readers, whom it assumes love books and writing and good storytelling as much as its unreliable narrator Clare Martin does.

And, oh, what a wonderful storyteller Clare is! As an unhappy teenager, she harbored dreams of becoming a famous novelist, and towards this end won a scholarship to the local college near her family’s apple farm in upstate New York. She worked her way into the prestigious writing seminar of the prickly, perceptive Professor Alden Montague, where she met fellow student and rising star Jess Martin, whom she married soon after. Jess published a critically acclaimed bestseller only a year after graduation, allowing them to live the literary life of their dreams in New York City.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of The Widow's House...]

Mar 8 2017 5:30pm

Cooking the Books: The Silence of the Flans by Laura Bradford

Winnie Johnson is back with her delightful cast of friends and neighbors in this second installment of Laura Bradford’s Emergency Dessert Squad mystery series. Since getting her baked goods delivery business up and running four months ago, Winnie has been enjoying not only the profits, but also the delighted smiles of her dessert recipients—as well as the company of her business professor boyfriend, Jay Morgan. He’s been a bit distracted lately though, and when Winnie discovers that he’s agonizing over failing a troubled student, she offers to let the young woman, Alicia Worth, intern with her for college credit.

Unfortunately, Alicia seems incapable of taking anything seriously. That changes, though, when her very first delivery with Winnie results in the poisoning death of the recipient—a conscientious and unpopular journalism student with a bent for uncovering scandal. The local press is only too quick to latch onto the Emergency Dessert Squad’s involvement in the murder despite Winnie’s complete lack of motive.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Mar 6 2017 1:00pm

Review: Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick

Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick is set in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century, where a man with a perfect memory murders his wife in a dazzling psychological puzzle that reveals the strange connection between memory and fate (available March 7, 2017).

Belle Epoque Paris was one of the most glittering and artistically celebrated places in modern history, and with good reason. Between the years 1871 and 1914—a period of relative peace bracketed by wars and bloody political violence—feats of art, architecture, and engineering sprang forth from this cradle of progress, including such marvels as the Eiffel Tower, Impressionism and Modern Art, and the Paris Metro. Less well-known were the advances in modern policing that were first attempted by the French police forces, including the originally derided but now commonplace method of fingerprinting, in large part to combat the rising tide of crime that was almost inevitably the side effect of rapid urban development at the turn of the 20th century.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Mister Memory...]

Mar 1 2017 5:30pm

Cooking the Books: War and Peach by Susan Furlong

In this day and age, it’s hard to separate even the most innocent of entertainment from current affairs and politics. So, coming across the 4th book of the Georgia Peach Mystery series—as gently subversive and possibly prescient as it is—was a quiet reminder that cozy mysteries that incorporate divisive issues can acknowledge the realities of everyday social struggles while still serving as mental comfort food (and providing recipes for the physical kind, too!). Though I’m guessing that many of Susan Furlong’s readers might not even notice—so light is her touch—while reading her entertaining latest novel, War and Peach.

Set in the small town of Cays Mill, Georgia (and hello, a map of the town is included in the front—an artistic detail that always makes my nerdy heart go pitter-pat), War and Peach stars Nola Mae Harper—former wild child turned humanitarian aid worker—who came home to help with her family peach farm several books ago. Now she’s running Peachy Keen, a specialty store featuring the by-products of her family farm, and trying not to get too involved in the upcoming mayoral election.

[Recipe and pictures included below!]

Feb 22 2017 5:30pm

Cooking the Books: Mission Impawsible by Krista Davis

I’ve greatly enjoyed Krista Davis’s Domestic Diva series, so I was quite excited to check out her Paws and Claws series—even though I’m jumping in here on the 5th book, Mission Impawsible. In the pet-friendly but entirely fictional, alas, town of Wagtail, Virginia, Holly Miller runs the Sugar Maple Inn with her sprightly grandmother, Oma. They’re preparing the inn for Animal Attraction, a matchmaking event for pet owners, and have invited a celebrity matchmaker to assist with the proceedings. 

Oma is quite intent on matching Holly with someone new, despite Holly’s reluctance, which only deepens when her ex-boyfriend shows up in town needing a place to stay for the event. He claims to want her back, which puts her off the idea of romance altogether (and the guy that the celebrity matchmaker does wind up pairing her off with is no prize either, in my opinion). Still, Holly is determined to make the experience a terrific one for her guests, unwanted or otherwise, as she helps both the lovelorn and the meddling fumble their way towards happiness.

[Recipes and pictures included below!]

Feb 15 2017 6:15pm

Cooking the Books: Pop Goes the Murder by Kristi Abbott

The 2nd book in Kristi Abbott’s A Popcorn Shop Mystery series is a sassy delight. Set in Grand Lake—a resort town on the banks of Lake Erie, Ohio—Pop Goes the Murder features our heroine, Rebecca Anderson, and her poodle, Sprocket. Grand Lake was where Rebecca grew up, but she fled small-town life as soon as she could and married celebrity chef Antoine Belanger. Alas, the marriage was not to last.

So Rebecca came home to open POPS, a gourmet popcorn shop and cafe that serves the only decent coffee in town. Her sister, Haley, married Rebecca’s best friend while she was away and gave birth to Rebecca’s first nephew, and Rebecca is getting to know her family, old and new, all over again. Add to this a budding romance with the town’s only good lawyer, Garrett, and Rebecca is beginning to relish small-town life.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Feb 8 2017 6:00pm

Cooking the Books: Dead Cold Brew by Cleo Coyle

It’s easy to see why Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mystery series is such a bestseller—16 books in and it's still going strong with terrific plotting and charm!

Dead Cold Brew finds our heroine, Clare Cosi, back in New York City running her coffeehouse, Village Blend, for her former mother-in-law, the beloved Madame. When a series of shootings that seems to be targeting cops comes to Clare’s attention, her boyfriend, NYPD Detective Mike Quinn, assures her that it’s all coincidental … until another shooting targeting Mike and his squad outside of Village Blend itself turns Clare into an eyewitness.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Feb 1 2017 6:00pm

Cooking the Books: A Death at the Yoga Cafe by Michelle Kelly

It has been a long time since I’ve identified as readily with the amateur detective heroine of a cozy mystery novel as I have here with Keeley Carpenter, protagonist of A Death at the Yoga Cafe. Having left the village of Belfrey, England, as a teenager who was deeply affected by the recent death of her beloved father, Keeley went to India first to study yoga, then to New York City to teach it. When her somewhat estranged mother, Darla, contacts her to say that she wants to put up Keeley’s father’s butcher shop for sale, Keeley decides to return home and transform the space into a vegetarian cafe cum yoga studio.

In the 1st book of the series, Keeley was forced to solve a murder to save her own life. Now, in the 2nd book, Keeley has settled back into village life with her new boyfriend, Police Detective Ben Taylor, and is looking forward to the additional traffic a local arts festival will bring to her cafe. Business has been good, and she’s begun to turn a small profit despite the best efforts of her nemesis and childhood frenemy, Raquel, who also happens to own the local diner.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Jan 30 2017 5:30pm

Review: Black Feathers, Edited by Ellen Datlow

Black Feathers: Dark Avian Tales is a dazzling anthology of avian-themed fiction guaranteed to frighten and delight, edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most acclaimed horror anthologists in the genre (available February 7, 2017).

Is there any horror editor more acclaimed—and deservedly so—than Ellen Datlow? I’ve particularly loved her updated fairytale series, so when I heard she had an avian-themed collection of short stories coming out soon, I was practically shivering with excitement.

Horror stories are oftentimes crime stories exaggerated to grotesque proportions, with the supernatural and uncanny occasionally standing in for the unsolvable; as a genre, it’s a literary detour past thriller and a dive over the boundary into terror. Black Feathers is no different, with a collection of tales of murder and abductions and madness—with birds, helpful or sinister or often both, as its central theme—from authors as renowned for their non-horror writings as Joyce Carol Oates and Pat Cadigan.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Black Feathers...]

Jan 25 2017 5:30pm

Cooking the Books: Crime and Catnip by T.C. LoTempio

Nick Charles has got to be the best crime-solving animal sidekick I’ve come across in ages. Here, in the 3rd installment of the Nick & Nora Mystery series (and yes, the name is a cute homage to the classic detective duo), the overweight cat is always on hand to help his owner Nora as she investigates a young woman’s disappearance at the behest of the woman’s wealthy aunt, Violet Crenshaw.

Violet also has another job for Nora: catering the local museum’s annual gala. Cruz, California might be a small town, but their museum boasts cachet enough to host an exhibit of items straight out of Arthurian legend from the catalog of a premier British collector. Since the unveiling of this exhibit will coincide with said annual gala, Nora’s menu is expected to reflect the Arthurian theme, presenting another layer of creative challenge.

[Recipe and pictures below!]

Jan 18 2017 5:30pm

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 5:30pm

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 5:30pm

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 4:00pm

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 5:30pm

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 2:00pm

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 2:00pm

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 5:30pm

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!]