<i>The Red Storm</i>: New Excerpt The Red Storm: New Excerpt Grant Bywaters The debut novel by a former private investigator. <i>Riot Most Uncouth</i>: New Excerpt Riot Most Uncouth: New Excerpt Daniel Friedman The first in a new series featuring Lord Byron. <i>Crooked Brooklyn</i>: New Excerpt Crooked Brooklyn: New Excerpt Michael Vecchione and Jerry Schmetterer Clean up, aisle Brooklyn. <i>Harbour Street</i>: New Excerpt Harbour Street: New Excerpt Ann Cleeves Can you tell me how to get to, how to get to Harbour Street?
From The Blog
November 24, 2015
The ZINNG: "You Like Me! You Really Like Me!"
Crime HQ
November 23, 2015
Set Sail with Steve Berry!
Crime HQ
November 20, 2015
“You’ve Come a Relatively Middling Distance, Baby”: Signs of Shift in Female Fictional Detectives
Janice MacDonald
November 18, 2015
The ZINNG: The 10 Commandments for Crime Fiction
Crime HQ
November 4, 2015
Christopher Golden and Josh Boone Talk The Stand and The Fault in Our Stars
Christopher Golden
Showing posts by: Leigh Neely click to see Leigh Neely's profile
May 27 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Evidence Room by Cameron Harvey

The Evidence Room by Cameron Harvey is a police procedural set amidst the swampy land of Florida's Cooper Bayou where a girl returns home to the scene of a crime that shook her world 20 years prior (available June 2, 2015).

In 1989, Cooper’s Bayou was shaken to the core by the murder of one of the town’s young mothers. Her four-year-old daughter, Aurora Atchison, was left at the local grocery store. Her abusive husband was the obvious suspect, but he escaped and hasn’t been seen in town since.

The detective working the murder brings Aurora to the medical examiner’s office in the wee hours of the morning. He can find no one else to watch the little girl while he works the case.

[Guess it's on him?]

May 18 2015 3:00pm

Fresh Meat: Bone to be Wild by Carolyn Haines

Bone to be Wild by Carolyn Haines is the 15th cozy mystery in the Sarah Booth Delaney series where the Mississippi private detective must investigate threats made against a famous blues band (available May 19, 2015).

You can’t think of the blues without dames like Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Dinah Washington, and Sarah Booth Delaney. Never heard of Sarah Booth? Then poor you. She’s the hottest private investigator in Zinnia, Mississippi, and right now, maybe the saddest. Sarah Booth doesn’t sing the blues, but she’s experiencing them. Her fiancé has returned to California with family problems, and Sarah Booth’s heart is broken, just like her engagement.

Sarah Booth runs Delaney Investigations along with her best friend Tinkie Bellcase Richmond. If there’s a mystery to be solved in Zinnia, these two are usually on the case. They often work closely with Coleman Peters, the sheriff of Sunflower County, and have a host of Zinnia residents who generally help the poke around too. But perhaps the secret weapon that keeps Sarah Booth going is her resident ghost, Jitty, who can morph herself into any one of the famous blues singers. Her songs are often appropriate to whatever situation Sarah Booth is facing.

[Beats paying for Spotify...]

Apr 25 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

Day Shift by Charlaine Harris transports readers back to the dusty town of Midnight, Texas, where all sorts of paranormal happenings occur in this second book in the trilogy (available May 5, 2015).

Midnight, Texas, could be just another dusty spot in the roads outside Dallas except that it’s a place created by Charlaine Harris. That, of course, means nothing is as it seems.

We came to learn about Midnight in the first book of a trilogy, Midnight Crossroad. It’s a small town that looks more deserted than inhabited with a lot of boarded windows and empty buildings. There’s big news in town, however, when an abandoned hotel is set upon by a construction crew with a hard-edged woman heading up the project. Everyone is Midnight is curious, especially about who would possibly want to stay overnight in the little town.

With the exception of Lemuel, the resident vampire, everyone is in town. The cast includes Fiji, the witch and her cantankerous cat, Mr. Snuggly; Manfred, the resident psychic; Joe and Chuy, owners of the antique/nail shop; Bobo, who operates the local pawn shop; Madonna and Teacher Reed with their infant son, Grady, who run the diner; and the Rev, the mysterious clergyman who operates the pet cemetery.

[Talk about an eclectic town...]

Feb 26 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Broken Window by Dorothy H. Hayes

Broken Window by Dorothy H. Hayes is set in NYC in the summer of 1984 — a time when the subway was not a safe place for travel, as evidenced by a missing NYU student (available March 3, 2015).

Comment below for a chance to win a copy!

It's the summer of 1984, and New York City is steaming in more ways than one. Local politicians are spending lots of time arguing in the media but doing relatively little to relieve the stress of mass-transit problems. New York needs its subways and busses to keep the city going, but they were like a tea kettle set to boil.

The subway was dangerous.
But the three girls wouldn’t take no for an answer. Kelly Singleton was moving from her Connecticut home into her NYU dorm, and the subway was part of her new life, she told her concerned parents.

Jamie Ryan and Christina Moore were her two best friends and would be visiting Kelly whenever they could. They insisted that they needed to learn how to navigate mass transportation.

For all three of them, riding the subway was a rite of passage. That was their final plea.

The old, rusted trains they were so anxious to ride broke down regularly, leaving passengers to wait, sometimes forty minutes and longer, in dangerous circumstances, their parents argued. The Daily News and The New York Times frequently reported gang violence on the trains, which in the last ten years had become the symbol of the city’s rising crime rate.

[Thankfully, things have since changed!]

Feb 20 2015 1:30pm

Fresh Meat: The Black Widow by Wendy Corsi Staub

The Black Widow by Wendy Corsi Staub is a thriller featuring two women who embark into the world of online dating in completely different fashions (available February 24, 2015).

In The Black Widow, Wendy Corsi Staub delves into the world of dating 21st-century style. We’ve gone from Looking for Mr. Goodbar to You’ve Got Mail. This means a group of thirty-somethings are putting their best foot forward, and often a picture of their younger selves, in a profile to garner a poke, or a hello, and maybe a first date with online dating.

I’ve been married a long time, so thinking about getting back into dating certainly gives me the heebie jeebies. I remember reading Mary Higgins Clark’s Loves Music, Loves to Dance and being convinced immediately it would not work for me. This book has a similar but darker story about computer dating.

That said, I have to confess that my strong, independent daughter has many friends and her current fellow from using an online dating service.

[It doesn't matter how you find Mr. Right...]

Feb 6 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Pardon the Ravens by Alan Hruska

Pardon the Ravens by Alan Hruska is a legal thriller set in 1960s New York about a young lawyer who falls for a mobster's wife and risks losing it all (available February 10, 2015).

This is another good mystery with great courtroom drama and the continual inner battle of a good man who has to deal with bad men to get what he wants. I’ve been a fan of John Grisham, Lisa Scottoline, and Scott Turow for many years. I enjoy the nuances of the law, and the games lawyers play to get their point across.

Alan Hruska is abundantly creative. After spending 44 years as an attorney, he decided he wanted to pursue more imaginative pursuits. Since then, he has written, produced, and directed movies, written plays, and written novels. Who says you can’t recreate yourself? Certainly not Hruska. Pardon the Ravens is his third novel. He also wrote Borrowed Time and Wrong Man Running.

I have to admit I was intrigued by the title of Pardon the Ravens, and then confused. I wasn’t familiar with the quote from Juvenal, though after I looked it up, I found I appreciated it and enjoyed the book more because I fully understood it.

[Good Guys, Bad Guys, and Lawyers...]

Oct 11 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver is a debut traditional murder mystery set in a 1932 British seaside resort featuring amateur sleuth Amory Ames (available October 14, 2014).

You won’t be able to read this book without thinking of Agatha Christie. Set at a seaside resort in 1932, Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver features a cast of entertaining characters and is a wonderfully rich traditional mystery.

Amory Ames was engaged to Gil Trent, a responsible young man who adored her. However, she met the charming and charismatic Milo Ames and married him. Five years later, Amory is home alone while Milo still lives the carefree life of a wealthy playboy.

When Gil shows up and urges her to join him at the Brightwell for a holiday, Amory’s restlessness and unhappiness spur her to accept his invitation. Gil’s sister, Emmeline is engaged to Rupert Howe, but Gil fears it’s his sister’s wealth Rupert loves more than the young woman herself. Seeing Milo’s personality traits in the younger man, Amory hopes she might be able to help her young friend avoid the same kind of marriage and agrees to join Gil and Emmeline.

[By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea.]

Sep 24 2014 10:30am

Fresh Meat: Strong Darkness by Jon Land

Strong Darkness by Jon Land is the sixth mystery featuring the gunslinging Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong (available September 30, 2014).

I used to read Robert Ludlum novels and marvel when I reached the end of them that every word of fiction I’d just read could have happened. That’s exactly the way I felt when I finished Strong Darkness by Jon Land. Describing it brings to mind all kinds of book-review clichés, but it’s a really good book so I won’t bore you with that.

This is the sixth book in a series that features a character who’s resilient enough to carry it through many more books. A fifth-generation Texas Ranger, Caitlin Strong is beautiful, mean, a great shot, and hates bad guys enough to pursue them to their finish. She embodies her last name. To her boss’s deep regret, she like gun battles and frequently finds herself dodging bullets and emptying clips.

[Once upon a time in Texas...]

Sep 18 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Crossing the Line by Frederique Molay

Crossing the Line by Frederique Molay is the second mystery in the Paris Homicide Series about a message discovered in the tooth of a murder victim (available September 23, 2014).

I fell in love with Chief Nico Sirsky when I met him the first time in The 7th Woman. I’m happy to delve more into his life with Crossing the Line, the sequel and the second book in the Paris Homicide Mystery. He is an intriguing character, and I found myself not only enjoying getting to know him better but really liking his family, friends, and coworkers.

It’s just before Christmas, and the weather is cold and bracing. Nico has returned to work at La Crim or the Criminal Investigation Division, after being off for three months after getting shot during his last big case.

I like Nico because he’s a tough, pit-bull of a detective, but he is very romantic in his thoughts of the lovely Caroline, the woman he loves. The beauty is that Molay conveys the detective’s romantic soul with little tidbits like this one, “Caroline closed the door behind her, and Nico breathed in her lingering scent, as if to capture it forever.”

[How far is too far?]

Jul 17 2014 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey

The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey is an emotional story set in 1969 Mississippi that follows four sisters through the ups and down of the changing times (available July 29, 2014).

Let’s hear it for skeletons and Southern comfort.

I had a banner year in 1969. In January, I met my future husband on a blind date; in May, we became engaged; in June, I graduated from high school and began going to secretarial school; and in August, I had a wedding. Almost forty-five years later, we’re still celebrating anniversaries, and I just finished a book I absolutely loved that was set in 1969.

The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey is like sitting down and devouring warm chocolate cake. It’s delicious to the last bite, and you hate when you have to put the empty plate in the sink.

[Make sure you rinse! (The plate, not the book!)]

Jun 23 2014 3:45pm

Fresh Meat: Strange Gods by Annamaria Alfieri

Strange Gods by Annamaria Alfieri is a historical mystery set in early 20th century British East Africa about a missionary's daughter who yearns for adventure, but struggles to escape her parents' strict rules (available June 24, 2014).

I’ve been in many distant locales with my reading these days, but this book presents the most exotic setting—the Protectorate of British East Africa. It’s 1911, and Vera McIntosh is chafing under the control of her Scottish missionary parents. Though her mother longs for Vera to be a proper English lady, the young woman is more at home with the Kikuyu her father strives to bring into Christianity.

The thoughts of this British miss, however, are often occupied with Assistant District Superintendent Justin Tolliver. Seeking to find his way in the world, Justin came to British East Africa for a brief visit and ended up falling in love with the lush country and finding his heart no longer longing for England. The added benefit of cheap living and plenty of opportunities for work added to lure of the place.

[From Africa, with love...]

Jun 17 2014 9:15am

Fresh Meat: Cradle to Grave by Eleanor Kuhns

Cradle to Grave by Eleanor Kuhns is the third historical mystery featuring Will Rees, a Revolutionary War veteran braving a winter trek to New York with his wife to save a Shaker friend accused of murder (available June 17, 2014).

I confess. I knew nothing about the Shaker community except that they made beautiful furniture until I read this book. What I found is their world is bound by different rules and objectives, but their problems are the same ones faced by other communities every day.

Cradle to Grave is the third book in Eleanor Kuhn's historical mystery series featuring Will Rees. The first book, A Simple Murder, won the MWA Best First Crime Novel in 2011. It was followed by Death of a Dyer the following year. Eleanor has picked a focused and fascinating setting for her books. Though Will Rees and his wife, Lydia, are not part of a Shaker community, Lydia was before their marriage. They are drawn back to Zion with a letter asking for help from a friend.

[A crime committed with good intentions is still a crime...]

May 19 2014 3:30pm

Fresh Meat: Lost by Laura K. Curtis

Lost by Laura K. Curtis is a novel of romantic suspense featuring a former police officer and an FBI agent who both end up undercover in a rural Texas cult (available May 20, 2014).

With Lost, Laura K. Curtis gives us the story of two of her secondary characters from her exciting first novel, Twisted. Like that one, this novel is a complicated, satisfying romantic suspense with enough mystery to keep me reading when I should have been doing other things.

Tara Jean Black is now known as Serena, because she has become a part of the religious cult, the Chosen. Members live a simple life, growing their own vegetables, getting electricity from solar power, making their own clothing, using scraps to make quilts, and other back-to-the-basics activities that separate them from “out there” in the real world. They seek to follow the dictates of the Leader and learn the will of the Powers.

[Cult has such a negative connotation these days...]

Apr 28 2014 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Murder on the Hoof by Kathryn O’Sullivan

Murder on the Hoof by Kathryn O'Sullivan is second cozy murder mystery in the Colleen McCabe series about the Fire Chief from North Carolina's Outer Banks (available May 6, 2014).

With Murder on the Hoof, Kathryn O’Sullivan did something that always excites me about a book. She sent me looking for information about the book’s setting. When I find a story interesting and entertaining, I enjoy getting to know the setting a little better.

Corolla, North Carolina, is in the beautiful Outer Banks, and along with the majestic ocean and the sand dunes, are the wild horses that are watched over and protected by a special group of caring people. The wild Banker Colonial Spanish Mustangs play a key role in both of the books O’Sullivan has done for this series. The first book was Foal Play, which I plan to read now.

Fire Chief Colleen McCabe is overseeing a disaster drill with her crew of firefighters and performers from the local theater group. Everything goes smoothly until Doris, one of the older ladies in the group, turns out to be a real corpse.

[The twists and turns are coming...]

Apr 18 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Furies by Mark Alpert

The Furies, a thriller by Mark Alpert, introduces us to a family like any other, with the exception of a genetic mutation that they've been forced to hide from the world for hundreds of years (available April 22, 2014).

They Walk Among Us!

Nothing is more chilling than hearing those words. Whether they are supernatural, extraterrestrial, or just plain spooky, thinking about a being that’s different from our human selves always feels creepy when everything around you looks normal.

The prologue of Mark Alpert’s The Furies gives us a glimpse of Elizabeth Fury and her family, a family so different that the other people in town are determined to kill them for fear that they’re the ones who’ve brought the recent troubles people were dealing with. It’s 1645, and Elizabeth has escaped with her children, but she can still hear the cries of her husband being tortured.

We move from there to modern-day New York City, where John Rogers sits in a bar nursing a single beer as he thinks about how many ways his life is a mess. A former gang member and military loser, only the faith and grace of a local priest helped him turn his life around. However, turning from the street life to life of service didn’t exactly fill his pockets with gold.

[A girl is about to change his life...]

Feb 28 2014 1:30pm

Fresh Meat: Wrecked by Tricia Fields

Wrecked by Tricia Fields is the third book in the series about West Texas Chief of Police Josie Gray, who is tasked with finding her lover, a man who is missing and suspected of murder (available March 4, 2014).

Josie Gray, Chief of Police of a small West Texas town, is a tough, capable woman, but her strength is put to the test when her lover, Dillon Reese, goes missing. Dillon’s secretary is dead, his office ransacked, and his car is gone. Did he flee for his life? Or did he flee from the crime?

Distraught as she is, Josie has to maintain her professional composure and proceed with the investigation in her normal, methodical way. However, to do this, she has to turn the investigation over to her lead detective, Otto, allowing him to take charge. Though it’s for the best, it still grates against her need for control and leadership.

Adding to her troubles, the mayor, who dislikes women in leadership roles, is dragging her into his dirty little affairs, providing another distraction.

[Maybe the mayor did it...]

Jan 26 2014 10:00pm

Fresh Meat: Beyond Belief by Helen Smith

Beyond Belief by Helen SmithBeyond Belief by Helen Smith is the fourth book in the contemporary mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Emily Castles (available January 28, 2014).

I love a mystery with a spunky amateur sleuth, and Helen Smith has created a great little cozy series with the charming Emily Castles. Emily can’t seem to find a job where she’s truly happy so she works for a temporary agency doing various office jobs around London—until an opportunity comes along to add to the mix and her job becomes more interesting.

In Beyond Belief, Emily is hired by the Royal Society for the Exploration of Science and Culture to be a “future crimes investigator” at their “Belief and Beyond” conference. The purpose of the conference is to discuss and present a basis for belief in paranormal abilities. They’re calling Emily’s investigation a future crime because Perspicacious Peg, well-known psychic and horoscope writer, has seen a vision of a man dying by drowning. Peg is convinced the victim will be the famous magician, Edmund Zenon, who’s planning to “walk on water” to awe and impress his followers and doubters. Edmund, a known skeptic of psychic and paranormal abilities, has also offered fifty thousand pounds to any paranormal specialist who can prove his or her ability is real.

[We love a good debunking...]

Nov 25 2013 6:00pm

Fresh Meat: Hostage by Kay Hooper

Hostage by Kay HooperHostage by Kay Hooper is the sequel to 2012's Haven, featuring Bishop and the Special Crimes Unit, using psychic gifts to hunt a dangerously unstable felon through the Appalachian wilderness (available November 26, 2013).

I am fascinated by Kay Hooper’s FBI agents that have special abilities and the way she uses these abilities to help them catch criminals. Bishop’s Special Crimes Unit is back in this book and better than ever. I give it extra stars because it’s set in the mountains of Tennessee, a place very close to my heart with a town aptly named Devil’s Gap.

Two sets of agents are the focus of this book, and it’s a story that might keep you up at night if you scare easily. Get ready for demons, ghosts, and, of course, bad guys!

Luther Brinkman is a Haven agent sent to find escaped bank robber, Cole Jacoby. Luther is hampered by the steep slopes of the Appalachian Mountains. He finds the felon, but is badly wounded and left to die. He’s rescued by Callie Davis, an agent for the SCU, who was put in place by Noah Bishop. The wily director of the SCU/Haven uses his agents with the finesse of a champion chess player.

The problem the agents have with Jacoby is more than his weapons and his dogs, there’s something evil that bars their movements and keeps them trapped in Callie’s cabin, cut off from the help they need. Then they become the hunter’s prey.

[Something wicked lurks in these woods...]

Sep 27 2013 11:30am

Fresh Meat: Silencing Eve by Iris Johansen

Silencing Eve by Iris JohansenSilencing Eve by Iris Johansen is the final book in the Eve Duncan trilogy, where James Doane and Eve's saga comes to a close (available October 1, 2013).

At long last, we’ve received the final book in the Eve Duncan trilogy.

***SPOILERS AHEAD, regarding earlier events in the trilogy, but if you're caught up, let's discuss the exciting conclusion!!!





[Can Eve finally beat Doane...?]

Aug 5 2013 10:45pm

Fresh Meat: Artifact by Gigi Pandian

Artifact by Gigi Pandian is a traditional mystery debut and the first in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt series, in which a historian's led by a jewel-encrusted Indian artifact to a Scottish legend of lost treasure. (available August 6, 2013).

With Artifact we meet the lively Miss Jaya Jones, a study in contrasts. She’s a distinguished professor who loves to wear stilettos to heighten her five-foot frame, studies trade routes and military skirmishes of the British East India Company, plays the tabla drum in a local restaurant two nights a week, lives in a small apartment above her eccentric landlady, and eats like a stevedore.

I think she must look somewhat like an ant when carrying the tabla case over her shoulder. Like most mystery heroines, however, there’s more to Jaya than meets the eye. I really liked her. She’s ambitious and doesn’t allow something as tedious as danger keep her from finding what she’s seeking.

Pandian brings us into the story at midnight. Not only does this add to the sinister atmosphere, it makes for a great exchange between Jaya and Nadia, her landlady.

Convinced Jaya has blood on her shoe, Nadia doesn’t hesitate to speculate how it got there:

[In this mystery, everyone's a detective...]