<i>Paradime</i>: New Excerpt Paradime: New Excerpt Alan Glynn A thrilling novel of a 21st-century identity crisis. Review: <i>Murder on Brittany Shores</i> by Jean-Luc Bannalec Review: Murder on Brittany Shores by Jean-Luc Bannalec Dirk Robertson Read Dirk Robertson's review! Review: <i>Dark Matter</i> by Blake Crouch Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch Brian Greene Read Brian Greene's review! <i>The Second Death</i>: New Excerpt The Second Death: New Excerpt Peter Tremayne The 26th book in the Mysteries of Ancient Ireland series.
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Showing posts by: Katherine Tomlinson click to see Katherine Tomlinson's profile
Jun 13 2016 4:00pm

Review: The Devil’s Cold Dish by Eleanor Kuhns

The Devil's Cold Dish by Eleanor Kuhns is the 5th book in the Will Rees Mysteries series (Available June 14, 2016).

Family. You can’t live with them and you can’t kill them.

In this latest installment of Eleanor Kuhns’s long-running historical mystery series starring Revolutionary War vet Will Rees, the focus is squarely on family. Specifically on Will’s sister Caroline, who believes Will owes them a living now that her farm has been into the ground and her brain-damaged husband Sam can’t work. Will can’t help but feel guilty—Sam’s injury is the result of a blow he struck in self-defense—but at the same time, Caroline’s sense of entitlement and lack of work ethic exasperate him, especially when he finds out that every time she pays a “visit,” something goes missing. Like the odd chicken or two.

[Read Katherine Tomlinson's review of The Devil's Cold Dish...]

Jul 9 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Trials of Passion by Lisa Appignanesi

Trials of Passion by Lisa Appignanesi is a dramatic narrative that details historically significant and famous crimes committed in the name of love and madness (available July 15, 2015).

Simpson, Anthony, Knox, Arias. This book is not about them, but it is. While it dissects four notorious murder trials, it’s not exactly a true crime book, but a deeper examination of the role that love and “insanity” and media have played in the way history’s sensational trials turned out.

The Simpson murder trial was called “the Trial of the Century” and it spawned Court TV, which morphed into TruTV, and it also introduced legal analyst Harvey Levin (co-founder of the site TMZ.com) to a wider audience. The media-murder connection is now so strong that it almost feels like a citizen should be able to fulfill his/her jury duty requirement by putting in a few hours in front of a television.

But not just any murder trial becomes a media sensation (some would say “circus”). Some trials are just plain sexier than others—literally. Would anyone outside of Mesa, Arizona have cared who killed salesman Travis Alexander if the woman convicted of his murder hadn’t stabbed him multiple (27-29) times, shot him in the head, and then slit his throat? But by the end of the penalty phase (Arias was sentenced to life in prison), anyone who watched the trial had an opinion about her guilt. Was she mad (in the sense of being insane) or was she simply bad? Trial watchers were not just viewers, they were participants. They were invested in the outcome.

[And this happens all the time...]

Jun 7 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Dead Assassin by Vaughn Entwistle

The Dead Assassin by Vaughn Entwhistle is the 2nd book in the Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle where the author sets out to solve an ill-fated assassination (available June 9, 2015).

I am a great fan of Barbara Hambly’s James Asher novels, urban fantasies of Victorian vampires that place the protagonist—a former spy—right in the center of mysteries that often have political implications. The Dead Assassin reminded me of Barbara Hambly’s books in the very best way.

This is the second of Vaughn Entwistle’s Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels but the first I’ve read. I needn’t have worried that I’d be hopelessly lost, however, or scrambling to get up to speed with the series. In just a few elegant paragraphs, Entwistle catches everyone up and sets the stage—not only for his mystery but also for the milieu in which that story takes place:

A murder. Something nasty. Something twisted. Something baffling and bizarre. Why else would the police have sought me out?

Such thoughts rattled through the mind of Arthur Conan Doyle as he watched Detective Blenkinsop of Scotland Yard step into the Palm Room of the Tivoli restaurant and sweep his blue- eyed gaze across the crowded tables, searching for something.

Searching for him.

Go away blast you! Not now. Not tonight!

Thanks to the fame Sherlock Holmes had bestowed upon him, Scotland Yard often consulted Conan Doyle on crimes that confounded all conventional means of detection. They dragged to his door the most difficult cases. The inexplicable ones. The conundrums.

The impossibly knotted yarn balls the clumsy fingers of the police could not unravel. Ordinarily, he was flattered to be consulted on such cases. But on this occasion, he wished he could throw a cloak of invisibility about his shoulders.

[Don't we all wish that at times?]

May 9 2015 11:30am

Fresh Meat: Blood Ties by Nicholas Guild

Blood Ties by Nicholas GuildBlood Ties by Nicholas Guild is a thriller pitting San Francisco homicide detective Ellen Ridley against a serial killer who she suspects of being a hacker and codebreaker with the U.S. Navy (available May 12, 2015).

Women are everywhere in Blood Ties. It can sometimes seems as if women are totally MIA in crime thrillers, except as victims, and some would argue, in disproportionate numbers compared to males. I’m not sure that’s true in general, but I do know that it’s not true in this book.

The lead detective, Ellen Ridley, has worked her way up to Homicide (“the Holy Grail of police work”) after years in uniform. She is the first to connect three different homicides to a shadowy killer she and her partner call “Our Boy.”

Our Boy is a sadist. He’s a recreational killer and his victims are women. One of the victims is just 17, and Ellen first met her as a 13-year-old stealing canned tuna fish to survive because her mother abandoned her.

[Not much of a reason for Mother's Day there...]

May 3 2015 10:15am

Fresh Meat: The Devil’s Making by Sean Haldane

The Devil's Making, a historical mystery by Sean HaldaneThe Devil's Making by Seán Haldane, winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel, features a Victorian-era Englishman who becomes a police constable in British Columbia, the ramshackle outer limit of the empire (available May 5, 2015).

In 1868, Chad Hobbes has gone to sea armed with a thirst for adventure, an enthusiasm for all things Darwinian, and a maroon leather-bound journal his mother gave him. One hundred and forty days out of Portsmouth, bound for Vancouver Island, Hobbes is thoroughly sick of the voyage and his companions, particularly the rough-hewn captain of the Ariadne who has nothing but contempt for the colony of British Columbia and even less regard for his civilian passenger.

The youngest, virgin son of a parson—his wastrel older brother Henry is safely serving in the Army and still going to church as if he cares about the beliefs that Chad has discarded after sober deliberation—Chad knows he comes across a “niminy-piminy” to those older and more experienced, if not wiser. He hopes “the Colony” will cure him of his ignorance. He may publicly claim to be traveling to see the world, but actually, he’s looking to find himself.

But first he needs to find a job.

[He'll be using shoe leather as much as book learning...]

Feb 23 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Doomsday Equation by Matt Richtel

The Doomsday Equation by Matt Richtel is a modern techno-thriller where one man has only three days to prevent the outbreak of World War III (available February 24, 2015).

Jeremy Stillwater is smarter than you.

He’s smarter than you in the annoying way Alan Turing was, unwilling—or unable—to hide his belief that not only is he smarter than you, he’s smarter than pretty much anyone else on the planet.

Naturally, there are some smart people who resent his belief, especially because it’s true.

Jeremy wasn’t the first person to use “Big Data” as a predictive model for determining when and where and how events will occur, but he is the first person to create an algorithm that ties it all together, that makes it all make sense.

And naturally, there are some people who want him to share that algorithm.

It’s kind of like what happened with Facebook, if you’ve seen The Social Network.

[Without the Aaron Sorkin snark...]

Feb 13 2015 4:30pm

Fresh Meat: Someone to Watch Over Me by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

Someone to Watch Over Me by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir is the 5th legal thriller set in Iceland featuring attorney Thóra Gudmundsdóttir (available February 17, 2015).

That chill you just got? It had nothing to do with the draft that always sneaks through the bedroom window when the temperature drops below freezing and the wind kicks up from the north. And those goose bumps prickling the skin on your arm? They don’t mean you need to put on a sweater or turn up the thermostat.

Someone to Watch Over Me begins with a low-key depiction of a haunting as inexplicable as it is unnerving:

Of course, this could all have had a logical explanation that time and patience would help them discover. The house was old and needed a lot of work. However, some of the phenomena couldn’t possibly be attributed to that: Pési’s pile of cuddly toys was always arranged in a neat row in the morning; they’d find his clothing folded on a stool in the corner, even if it had been lying in a heap on the floor when he went to sleep. Pési often woke up in the night, but now they didn’t need to fetch him a drink, take him into their bed to sleep or go to his room to calm him down, because when they went to check on him they would find him smiling in bed, saying: “You didn’t have to get up, Magga is looking after me.”

[A haunting winter’s read indeed...]

Sep 28 2014 9:30pm

Fresh Meat: Mean Business on North Ganson Street

Mean Business on North Ganson Street is the story of a black police detective exiled from the sunny southwest to a decaying, crime-ridden town in the rust belt, which also has a cop killer on the loose (available September 30, 2014).

From the cinematic first sentence of the first paragraph of the first page of this book, S. Craig Zahler serves notice that the term “mean streets” is not exclusively reserved for big cities on either coast.

The North Ganson Street of the title is located in a small rustbelt town in  Missouri called Victory, a place where African-American detective Jules Bettinger is living in unwilling exile from Arizona after a spectacularly disastrous incident involving a missing person’s complaint.

Zahler draws us in with a wealth of visceral, visual detail until the reader’s experience is multidimensional, as if experiencing a fully realized movie coming off the page:

Wearing a blue parka, brown corduroy pants, and gloves, Bettinger backed a yellow hatchback out of a two-car garage in Stonesburg, Missouri. His green sedan had died after six days of cold weather (which seemed like a prophecy), and since most of the family money was tied up in bonds and the Arizona house, the detective had been forced to buy himself a cheap replacement...

Affixed to a pole on the right side of the road was a wooden plank that read WELCOME TO VICTORY. Human excrement had been smeared across the greeting.


[Raise your pinkies, and wash your hands!]

Aug 29 2014 11:00pm

Fresh Meat: Fall of Night by Jonathan Maberry

Fall of Night by Jonathan Maberry is the second thriller in the Dead of Night series about a world overrun with zombies (available September 2, 2014).

The road to hell, so they say, is paved with good intentions. Most disaster movies begin with a well-meaning act, or an unintentional act, or even just a mistake. But in Jonathan Maberry’s “Dead of Night” series, the end of the world is set off by an act of pure evil—a prison doctor developing a serum that will allow a prisoner’s consciousness to survive even as his body rots in his grave.

Karma, as they also say, is a bitch, and in this second installment of Maberry’s zombie apocalypse series, the bitch is back.

With a vengeance.

In the first 15 pages, someone readers care about will die, and with that death we realize we’re in George R. R. Martin territory where no one is safe.

[No, not even you!]

Apr 22 2014 12:30pm

Fresh Meat: Don’t Ever Look Back by Daniel Friedman

Don't Ever Look Back by Daniel Friedman is second book featuring 88-year-old retired cop Buck Schatz who is asked for help by an old nemesis from his days on the force (available April 22, 2014).

I grew up in what was essentially a three-generation household. My maternal grandparents stayed with us off and on for months at a time because my grandfather, who’d been born in the last years of the 19th century and was ancient even when I was a kid, was being treated for various ailments at the VA hospital in the city where we lived. My grandmother hated my father and the feeling was mutual, and their ongoing hostilities made life a living hell for my mother.

I loved my grandmother dearly but she was one tough old woman who spoke her mind, damn the consequences. Buck Schatz, the ornery ex-cop at the center of Daniel Friedman’s new novel (the second in a much-heralded series) reminds me a lot of my grandmother. This was a woman who was such a terrible cook that any time we went to see her, we’d insist on taking her out to eat to avoid having to consume some godawful concoction she’d whip up out of lime gelatin and mayonnaise. And yet, she had no problem criticizing her daughter’s cooking. But at least she had the option of cooking for herself. That’s not true for Bud Schatz, and one of the (many) indignities he’s had to suffer at the Valhalla Estates Assisted Lifestyle Community for Older Adults is that the food is close to inedible.

Whoever said that life in assisted-living facilities lacked variety clearly never had breakfast at Valhalla. A single plate of scrambled eggs could have burnt bits, cold places, and runny parts.

[Can you pass the salt, please?]

Mar 25 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Notorious by Allison Brennan

Notorious by Allison Brennan is a debut thriller featuring Max Revere, formally Maxine, a renowned TV investigative reporter with a passion for cold cases, who's dragged back to her hometown to confront the murder that made her who she is (available March 25, 2014).

It may not be true that behind every great crime-stopper there’s a personal connection to a crime, but sometimes it seems that way. America’s Most Wanted was born from the horrible death of Adam Walsh, and the murder of her fiancé derailed Nancy Grace’s plans to become an English professor and turned her into the passionate victims’ rights advocate she is today. The relationship between the media and crime goes far beyond the editorial policy of “if it bleeds, it leads.”  Crime fiction writers have traditionally relied on journalists to tell their stories, and more often than not, those reporters have a vested interest in solving the crime.

These days, when writers choose media figures as their protagonists, they are much more likely to bypass print reporters (like Edna Buchanan’s alter-ego Britt Montero) and pick people whose careers span the transition from print to pixel. And so it is with Alison Brennan’s 21st novel, Notorious.  Maxine “Max” Revere hosts an extremely popular cable crime show that only airs monthly but has enough of a fan base that she can’t travel incognito, not even to the funeral of an old friend.

[Lights, Camera, Action…]

Mar 12 2014 6:00pm

Whipping Boy: New Excerpt

Katherine Tomlinson

Whipping Boy, a California noir cozy novella by Katherine TomlinsonWhipping Boy by Katherine Tomlinson is a California cop mystery novella, the debut of a female criminalist whose strange existence swings from the grimmest crime scenes to life among Hollywood royalty—no wonder she has such a bad attitude (available March 12, 2014).

Murder hits close to home for criminalist Lark Riordan when a neighbor’s son is killed and another neighbor is arrested for the crime. Teaming up with homicide detective Max Siwek to investigate the case, Lark encounters family secrets, old grudges, and dysfunctional relationships that make her own life seem normal. And that’s saying something because her father is a self-involved actor who’s just been nominated for an Oscar, and she and Max have a thing for each other even though he’s her stepbrother. It’s… complicated.


I was working the night Jimmy Morrissey died.

I had been called out to an industrial park in Panorama City at seven o’clock, and three hours later, I was still processing the scene while the nineteen-year-old rent-a-cop who’d called 911 chain-smoked Marlboro Lights and tried not to puke on his already vomit-stained uniform. He’d told his story at least twice since I’d been there, and he was now telling it for a third time to the bored redheaded cop everyone called “Bozo” behind his back. Bozo’s job was to keep civilians away from the crime scene, but the industrial park had been pretty deserted by the time I arrived. The only people whose cars were still in the lot were a couple of kids who were working on a start-up that had outgrown their studio apartment.

They had bounced around the perimeter earlier, jacked up on energy drinks and curiosity, but there really wasn’t that much to see, so they’d eventually retreated to their office and returned to their regularly scheduled lives.

As the security guard droned on, I tried to tune him out, but he and Bozo were standing right outside the dumpster where I was working, and he had one of those voices—high and nasally—that was just the right frequency to cut through the white noise, so I couldn’t help hearing him as he once again recounted the sequence of events leading up to this horror show.

[Continue reading Whipping Boy by Katherine Tomlinson...]

Feb 4 2014 2:45pm

Fresh Meat: Doing Harm by Kelly Parsons

Doing Harm by Kelly ParsonsDoing Harm by Kelly Parsons is a debut medical thriller about a Boston surgeon whose hospital and life are under threat from a serial killer. (available February 4, 2014).

Even without reading the author’s bio, you will know the novelist is a doctor from the very first scene as he casually inserts authentic-sounding details into his doctor/protagonist’s thoughts. This is what Dr. Steve Mitchell is thinking as his dying patient’s hand flops lifelessly:

“…Back in medical school, one of my anatomy instructors had pointed out to us how the hand is one of the most recognizably human parts of the human body; how, unlike the anonymous organs inhabiting the abdomen and chest, it can trigger instant recognition and empathy. To prove his point, he sawed a hand off one of the cadavers and passed it around the class, followed by the spleen of another.

He was right, of course. The hand creeped everyone out much more than the spleen, which was like a big, brown sponge left out to dry in the sun for too long.”

Later, Steve thinks about the music his boss Dr. Collier (a dead ringer for the middle-aged Charlton Heston) likes to crank in the operating room during surgery and wonders what patients would think if they could see him cutting into a kidney while humming “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story. Forget the details of the murders going around University Hospital, it’s details about the way things really work behind the scenes of a big hospital that give us the chills.

[I can feel the goosebumps...]

Jan 27 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Fatal Jealousy by Colin McEvoy and Lynn Olanoff

Fatal Jealousy: The True Story of a Doomed Romance, a Singular Obsession, and a Quadruple Murder by Colin McEvoy and Lynn Olanoff explores a 2010 mass murder in Pennsylvania (available January 28, 2014).

Sometimes I wonder how true crime writers cope when they spend months (sometimes more) researching and interviewing and writing about violence. This book rekindled my curiosity about that. What must it be like to share your life with killers for the time it takes to write a book about their crimes? Because there’s no such thing as a true crime book that doesn’t have a point of view.

That’s not to say the authors have an axe to grind but they do have opinions and observations and they bring a sense of commitment to the writing here that makes the book visceral and memorable.

McEvoy and Olanoff let their readers know right away that this is not going to be a story about a simple crime. There will be emotion. There will be drama and madness and paranoia and pain.

And there will be blood.

Above all, there will be blood.

[In true crime, it's not corn syrup and food dye...]

Jan 21 2014 11:15am

Fresh Meat: Bad Wolf by Nele Neuhaus

Bad Wolf by Nele NeuhausBad Wolf by Nele Neuhaus is the second translated novel in the Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein detective series (available January 21, 2014).

Nele Neuhaus knows how to kickstart a story. The first chapter of Bad Wolf, the second novel in her series about detectives Pia Kirchoff and Oliver von Bordenstein, opens with a sweaty fry cook showering off the stink of rancid oil and grilled meat in the cramped shower of his trailer’s bathroom and then strapping on a watch that cost him 11,000 Deutsche Marks—the last reminder he has of a previous, more prosperous life. Who is this man and what caused his disgrace and how is he connected to the body of the young woman the police are calling “the Mermaid” after fishing her lifeless body out of a river? For some writers, answering those questions would be mystery enough for a single novel, the plot here is composed of a lot of different moving parts, and the writer takes time to set all these pieces in motion before pulling back to allow us to see the whole, beautifully crafted mechanism.

And lurking inside the mechanism are the wolves.

[We don't think we like the way that sounds...]

Jan 13 2014 4:15pm

Fresh Meat: Dead to Me by Cath Staincliffe

Dead to Me by Cath Staincliffe, a prequel novel to the TV series Bailey & ScottDead to Me by Cath Staincliffe introduces an unlikely pairing of female detectives on Manchester's murder squad in a prequel to the U.K.'s Scott & Bailey procedural TV series (available January 14, 2014.)

Sisterhood is powerful.

Constable Rachel Bailey has a plan. Even as she’s freezing her tits off guarding a bleak Manchester crime scene, she’s got her eyes on the prize—a transfer to the Major Incident Team (MIT), where she can use her skills to solve murders. So she wraps her coat tighter around her and thinks…

…nowhere else she’d rather be. Not strictly true – she’d rather be inside the cordon than guarding the periphery. She’d rather be in an MIT syndicate some day. Major Incidents: running a team, catching killers. But there was no shortcut. She had to work her way up, build her portfolio. And she was on track, she allowed herself a little pat on the back. Five years in uniform, nearly five in Sex Crimes. Stepping stones, foundations for the bigger stuff. Rachel did another shuffle, waved her arms to get the circulation going. Times like these she made the best use of, alert to what was required of her, but in the lulls when no one was entering or leaving the scene she practised her definitions. Knowing the law, criminal law, inside out, upside down; because anyone who had to enforce the law needed to understand it. She was practising homicide, murder or manslaughter now. That’s where she wanted next. It was a big jump and they were queuing round the block for opportunities. She just needed a chance, an opening, and she needed to spot it before her competitors.

And then DCI Gill Murray shows up. Gill (aka “Golden girl Gill”) is everything Rachel aspires to be and when Rachel gets a frosty reception when she insists Gill produce identification before entering the crime scene, the junior cop is sure she’s blown her chances for advancement.

[But that wouldn't be much of a novel, would it?]

Nov 4 2013 3:30pm

Fresh Meat: Grimm-The Icy Touch by John Shirley

Grimm- The Icy Touch by John Shirley is the first book in the paranormal mystery media tie-in series based on the show, Grimm (available November 5, 2013).

I can’t tell you how geeked I was when I first heard about Grimm. I like my urban fantasy with a side serving of mystery and since the cancellation of The Dresden Files, there hadn’t been anything on television that filled that niche. When a Twitter link offered a code for a “special preview” of the series pilot, I logged on eagerly. When the show opened with a girl in a red hoodie being abducted from a jogging path in an absolutely gorgeous Portland park, I was so there.

I continued to be engaged as a bravely bald Kate Burton showed up towing a trailer of ancient weapons and books filled with arcane lore. And when the hour ended with a twist I did not see coming—and I’m pretty good at seeing twist endings coming—I was ready to become a fan.

In the subsequent weeks though, I was often disappointed. For one thing, although the show’s writers hinted at larger backstories for the characters, particularly the enigmatic Captain Renard, most of the episodes were “Wesen of the Week” and that got boring.

Also, and no disrespect intended toward actor Silas Weir Mitchell, who’s great—the writers fell in love with their laid-back blutbad character and turned him into “Fonzie,” to the detriment of all the other characters. (Seriously, when are they going to give Reggie Lee something more to do than be comic relief? I once saw him playing a silky, sinister gangster in a Jason Statham movie and he rocked the part.)

[Oooh, that could be fun!]

Oct 11 2013 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Shadow of the Alchemist by Jeri Westerson

Shadow of the Alchemist by Jeri Westerson, a medieval noir featuring disgraced knight Crispin GuestShadow of the Alchemist by Jeri Westerson is the sixth mystery of medieval noir featuring disgraced knight Crispin Guest (available October 15, 2013).

It is a snowy November morning in 1387 when French alchemist Nicholas Flamel seeks out disgraced knight Crispin Guest for help in locating his missing wife and the young apprentice she’s apparently run off with.

Crispin is massively hung-over or, as his apprentice Jack Tucker would say, “out of sorts” and by no means in the mood to ply his trade as a tracker in a case that seems to be a routine domestic matter. Such cases never end well, in Crispin’s experience, and cause nothing but heartache to everyone concerned.

But of course, this is a story tagged “medieval noir,” and nothing noir is ever straightforward. Not even when it’s historically accurate. Westerson does a good job of bringing new readers up to speed on her characters and their world, with references to Crispin’s other cases, former patrons, and current allies, but does not let “backstory” bog down her current tale. That’s good, because the political shenanigans going on at the time were complicated and could easily have overshadowed Crispin’s case, despite the intriguing intersection of codes and ciphers and arcane knowledge that lie beneath the murder and mayhem.

With historical fiction, half the fun for the reader is the immersion in another place and another time, but the writer has to straddle a fine line when ladling out the history. There’s too little and then there is a little more than a little which is, in the Shakespearean phrase, “much too much.” Westerson gets the balance just right. We know when this story takes place (late 14th century), and—from conversations Crispin has with the young son of one of his former patrons—that political intrigue is afoot. For those who know their history (or their Shakespeare for that matter), that means that Richard II is king and the country is enmeshed in the Hundred Year’s War and a group of nobles have plans to stage a coup.

[A dangerous time to be too curious...]

Sep 2 2013 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Lowcountry Bombshell by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry Bombshell by Susan M. BoyerLowcountry Bombshell by Susan M. Boyer is the second cozy mystery about private investigator Liz Talbot set on a small-town island in South Carolina (available September 3, 2013).

Susan M. Boyer gets it.

And by “it,” I mean “the southern voice.”

And by that I do not mean she throws “Y’all”  into every other line of her dialogue. I mean she understands deep down how Southern people talk and can replicate the cadence and music of that speech on the page as delicately as a master chef adding a last pinch of sea salt to a batch of Hollandaise sauce.

Too many writers attempting regional flavor in their fiction lay it on as thick as a Cajun cook seasoning a pot of jambalaya. The result can be as grating to the reader as listening to an actor using a generic “southern accent” composed of equal parts Dukes of Hazzard and Jimmy Carter.

(Seriously, I can’t be the only person who cringes every time I hear what’s supposed to be a “southern” accent on a show like True Blood or The Closer.)

But Susan M. Boyer gets it.

In Lowcountry Bombshell, private investigator Liz Talbot has moved back to Stella Maris, South Carolina (the “lowcountry” island of the title), where she lives in her Gram’s house with her dog Rhett, who is prone to “barking his fool head off” and the occasional company of her best friend Colleen, who doesn’t look a day over seventeen, because that’s how old she was when she died.

[To see Stella Maris, the star of the sea...]

Jun 18 2013 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Death of a Dyer by Eleanor Kuhns

Death of a Dyer by Eleanor Kuhns

Death of a Dyer by Eleanor Kuhns is the second book in her Will Rees mysteries about a Revolutionary War veteran-turned-itinerant weaver (available June 18, 2013).

They didn't have Facebook back in the 18th century, so hearing unexpected news about an old friend rarely meant something good had happened. For Will Rees, learning that Nate Bowditch is dead is not only unexpected; it's unbelievable.

“Dead?” Rees repeated, staring at George Potter in shock.

“Dead?” A spasm of unexpected grief shot through him. Although he hadn’t seen Nate Bowditch for eighteen years, not since Rees had marched away with the Continental Army in 1777, as boys they’d been closer than brothers. “Are you sure?”

Potter put down his cup with a clink. “Of course I’m sure. His wife herself told me of his death.”

“I’ve never met her,” Rees said.

“After almost twenty years? He lives— lived on the other side of Dugard, not the Atlantic Ocean. What happened? You were such good friends.”

Rees shrugged; that story was too long to tell. “We . . . went in different directions.”

[And they never were seen again...]