<i>Pumpkin Picking with Murder</i>: New Excerpt Pumpkin Picking with Murder: New Excerpt Auralee Wallace The 2nd book in the Otter Lake Mystery series. <em>A Great Reckoning</em>: New Excerpt A Great Reckoning: New Excerpt Louise Penny The 12th mystery featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. "Monopoly: Go Directly to Death" "Monopoly: Go Directly to Death" Lance Hawvermale Read the full story! Review: <i>Sorrow Road</i> by Julia Keller Review: Sorrow Road by Julia Keller Katherine Tomlinson Read Katherine Tomlinson's review!
From The Blog
August 25, 2016
One and Done: Marc Bojanowski, The Dog Fighter
Eric Beetner
August 25, 2016
Waking the Dead and Baking Pies with Pushing Daisies
Angie Barry
August 23, 2016
Page to Screen: Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe
Brian Greene
August 19, 2016
Thomas the Train is a Dick
Paul Jenkins
August 19, 2016
Woman Butt Dials Her Way into Jail
Teddy Pierson
Showing posts by: Doreen Sheridan click to see Doreen Sheridan's profile
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!]

Jun 14 2016 3:00pm

Review: Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell

Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell is a psychological thriller that follows two girls that were kidnapped as kids, whose lives intertwine once again, almost twenty years later, when a movie with a shockingly familiar plot forces them to confront their past (On sale today!).

I do so love a good literary mystery, especially when it explores the aspects of a crime that so often go unexamined. Maggie Mitchell’s Pretty Is looks at two women whose lives become inextricably bound when, at the age of 12, they are taken from their small towns in Nebraska and Connecticut by a charismatic stranger known to them only as Zed. For two months, they live in nearly idyllic isolation in the woods, until their recovery and a violent death send them back to their families. The girls’ parents decide that it’s best that they have no contact in the aftermath, despite how the girls themselves feel. Deprived of each other and Zed, the girls struggle to make sense of their lives.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Pretty Is...]

Jun 8 2016 3:30pm

Cooking the Books: Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu

The second book in Ovidia Yu’s Singaporean Mystery series starring Rosie Lee—a cafe-owning widow affectionately called Aunty by all who know her—sees our intrepid, if unlikely, heroine caught up in the death of two people at an event she was catering.

Aunty Lee had prepared a delicacy that, much like the infamous fugu fish, could be deadly in less competent hands: a chicken curry flavored with buah keluak—a poisonous nut rendered edible only by fermentation.

[Read Doreen's review with two recipes included!]

Jun 2 2016 2:30pm

Review: A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah

A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah is a standalone thriller by this New York Times bestselling author, where a woman is pulled into a deadly game of deception, secrets, and lies, and must find the truth in order to defeat a mysterious opponent, protect her daughter, and save her own life.

I feel a bit as if I've jumped on a bandwagon when I say that Sophie Hannah only really registered on my radar when she was tapped by the Agatha Christie estate to write the first authorized Poirot novel since the First Lady of Crime’s passing. Given the amount of praise Ms. Hannah has received for The Monogram Murders, I was very eager to see how she does with a standalone novel, away from Dame Christie's long shadow.

Here, in A Game for All the Family, we meet Justine Merrison—a woman who has turned her back on a stressful career in London in order to move to Devon with her family and do Nothing with a capital N. Things don't quite go to plan, though.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of A Game for All the Family...]

Jun 1 2016 4:00pm

Cooking the Books: Aunty Lee’s Delights by Ovidia Yu

Mystery novels are my intellectual comfort food, so when a series comes along that combines murder with my idea of actual, physical comfort food, it’s hard to resist!

Aunty Lee’s Delights is the story of Singaporean Rosie Lee, a middle-aged widow who runs a cafe more to keep herself busy than to actually turn a profit. With the aid of her Filipina maid, Nina, she has quite the tidy business, affording her time to indulge herself in both of her favorite pastimes: cooking and being a busybody (or kaypoh, as it’s known in the vernacular and lovingly explained for the reader unfamiliar with the local lingo.)

[Cook the books with us! Recipe and pictures below...]

May 26 2016 11:00am

Review: The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda

The Silent Dead by Tetsuya Honda follows the young Lieutenant Reiko Himekawa of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s Homicide Division as she investigates a string of strange murders that might include her as the next victim.

Like many other mystery lovers, I'm a big fan of the police procedural. Most of my experience has been with series set in North America and the British Isles, with a smattering of Scandinavian and French thrown in as well. Looking further east, I've explored the inner workings of the Shanghai Police Department through the lovely, meditative fiction of Qiu Xiaolong. But, not until Tetsuya Honda's excellent slam bang, The Silent Dead, have I had the joy of becoming immersed in the gritty reality of homicide investigation in Japan.

Reiko Himekawa is a 29-year-old lieutenant with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police's Homicide Department. Having made lieutenant at a relatively young age, without the help of political or family connections, she trades on her intuition and mental toughness—coupled with an intrepid attitude towards both personal and professional danger—to crack an impressive number of cases. The grisly discovery of a viciously mutilated corpse in a residential district begins the case of a serial killer, whose exploits lead Reiko’s squad to the lurid horrors of an elusive website, whispered of by those in the know as Strawberry Night (also the book’s original Japanese title).

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of The Silent Dead...]

Apr 4 2016 12:00pm

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm is a psychological thriller involving an art heist, a cat-and-mouse waiting game, and a transformation of a small-town girl from Tennessee. 

In the seemingly endless parade of novels breathlessly proclaimed as the next Gone Girl (which is a book I adored, for the record), it’s hard not to view each newcomer askance. Granted, Unbecoming isn’t exactly new: published on January 22nd, 2015, it was another of those thrillers that I, weary of imitators, skipped over until it was nominated for an Edgar for “Best First Novel.”

And wow, what a debut! A lot of reviews have described Unbecoming as the story of what happens after the heist goes wrong, but I firmly believe that the heist described in these pages is merely the framework for an elegant, finely wrought portrait of a young woman who, as it happens, finds herself turned, and not altogether unwillingly, into a femme fatale.

[Read Doreen Sheridan's review of Unbecoming here...]

Aug 11 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Dragon Day by Lisa Brackmann

Dragon Day by Lisa Brackmann is the final book in the Ellie McEnroe trilogy about American vereran of the Iraqi War currently living in Beijing (available August 18, 2015).

This novel had me hooked from the very first page, when our heroine, Ellie McEnroe, describes in her distinctively wry narrative voice not only modern China, its observers and its beliefs, but also how she relates to each:

Dragons and China. It’s the biggest fucking cliche. If you ever go looking for books about China, you know how many of them have “dragon” in the title? Like all of them, practically.

Thing is, dragons are a big deal in China [...] Out of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, Dragon is the one you most want your kid to be. Dragon babies are attractive, smart, natural leaders, bring good fortune to the family. Yeah, I know all the other animals are supposed to have positive characteristics, but come on. You’re telling me you’d choose to be a Sheep over a Dragon?

Me, I’m a Rat. Obviously I’m not winning any zodiac beauty contest. Sure, they say we’re clever survivors, and that’s useful, I guess. It’s true I’ve survived some pretty crazy shit.

On the other hand, if I’m so clever, why do I keep walking into it?

[That's a good question...]

Jul 14 2015 12:30pm

Fresh Meat: The Naked Eye by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

The Naked Eye by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen is the third thriller featuring Kendra Michaels, a law-enforcement consultant with heightened observational skills (available July 14, 2015).

I’m really not sure how I’ve managed to be an avid reader of mystery novels for this long without encountering any Iris Johansen novels before The Naked Eye. But what a great way to start – and what a promising back-catalog for me to devour! – with this exciting third installment in the Kendra Michaels books. Having no familiarity with any of Iris Johansen’s previous world-building exercises, I was pleased with how easy it was for me to make the acquaintance of Kendra and, later in the novel, Eve Duncan, the heroine of another of her best-selling series.

But Kendra is, rightly, the focus here. A modern day Sherlock Holmes due to an experimental operation that restored her sight to her after she’d spent years honing her other senses to compensate, her exceptional powers of observation are in high demand with local and federal law enforcement. Unfortunately, she’s currently at odds with them, as no one will believe that Eric Colby, the serial killer she helped put away in a previous book, is still at-large instead of dead after his state-mandated execution. Kendra still shows up at the site of certain murders upon the request of law enforcement, but mostly, she’s trying to see if Colby is back at it again. She knows he’s obsessed with her and merely waiting for the right time to strike once more.

[Well that's ominous...]