Review: <i>Murder in the Manuscript Room</i> by Con Lehane Review: Murder in the Manuscript Room by Con Lehane Michelle Carpenter Read Michelle Carpenter's review! <i>When the Lonesome Dog Barks</i>: Excerpt When the Lonesome Dog Barks: Excerpt Trey R. Barker The third book in the Jace Salome series. Audiobook Review: <i>Murder on the Orient Express</i>, Read by Kenneth Branagh Audiobook Review: Murder on the Orient Express, Read by Kenneth Branagh Danielle Prielipp Read Danielle Prielipp's review! Review: <i>Stealing Ghosts</i> by Lance Charnes Review: Stealing Ghosts by Lance Charnes David Cranmer Read David Cranmer's review!
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Showing posts by: Eleanor Kuhns click to see Eleanor Kuhns's profile
Jun 10 2016 9:00am

The Devil’s Cold Dish: New Excerpt

Eleanor Kuhns

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

Read this exclusive excerpt from The Devil's Cold Dish by Eleanor Kuhns, and then make sure you're signed in and comment for a chance to win a copy of the 5th Will Rees Mystery!

Will Rees is back home on his farm in 1796 Maine with his teenage son, his pregnant wife, their five adopted children, and endless farm work under the blistering summer sun. But for all that, Rees is happy to have returned to Dugard, Maine, the town where he was born and raised, and where he's always felt at home. Until now. When a man is found dead - murdered - after getting into a public dispute with Rees, Rees starts to realize someone is intentionally trying to pin the murder on him. Then, his farm is attacked, his wife is accused of witchcraft, and a second body is found that points to the Rees family. Rees can feel the town of Dugard turning against him, and he knows that he and his family won't be safe there unless he can find the murderer and reveal the truth...before the murderer gets to him first.

Chapter One

When Will Rees finally arrived home, much later than he’d expected, he found his sister Caroline in the front parlor. Again. Since Rees and his wife Lydia had returned from Salem several weeks ago, Caroline visited often and always with the same demand: that Rees support her family. Almost eight years ago, in the spring of 1789 he had surrendered his farm to his sister in exchange for the care of his then eight-year-old son, David. Caroline and Sam had not only used the farm so carelessly it still wasn’t as productive as it had been, they had beaten David. Treated him like a hired man instead of their nephew. Rees had sent his sister and her husband packing over two years ago, but Caroline still felt the farm should belong to her. And she was even more determined since last summer, when Rees’s punch had left her husband, Sam, touched in the head.

[Read the full excerpt from The Devil’s Cold Dish...]

Jul 8 2015 12:15pm

Fresh Meat: After the Storm by Linda Castillo

After the Storm by Linda Castillo is the 7th mystery in the Kate Burkholder series where a tornado passes through the Chief of Police's town, uncovering secrets left and right (available July 14, 2015).

After the Storm is the seventh Kate Burkholder mystery, and I've been a fan of Linda Castillo since the debut of the series. For those who haven’t dipped into this series, Burkholder, chief of police in Painter’s Mill, was raised Amish. Her background is both a positive and a minus for her. She speaks Pennsylvania Dutch and is knowledgeable about Amish culture (something that is instrumental in solving the mystery in this novel). But her background also creates friction as the local Amish treat her with reserve, if not outright dislike. Even her brother and sister are conflicted about Kate’s choice to leave the faith.

While Tomasetti and the Amish men pour lemonade and talk about the storms forecast for later, I follow the women into the kitchen. I’d been nervous about accepting today’s invitation from my brother because I didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea how they would respond to me and Tomasetti or the fact that we’re living together with no plans to get married. To my relief, no one has mentioned any of those things, and another knot of tension loosens.

[I bet it doesn't stay that way...]

Jun 20 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Run You Down by Julia Dahl

Run You Down by Julia Dahl is the 2nd murder mystery in the Rebekah Roberts series about a NYC reporter who's immersed herself in the closed-door Hasidic community (available June 30, 2015).

Run You Down picks up shortly after the events of Julia Dahl's first book, Invisible City. Rebekah Roberts, the reporter for the Tribune who uncovered a murder in the Ultra-Orthodox community, is having trouble coming to terms with her experiences. She is drawn into another murder when the husband of Pessie Goldin reaches out for help. Pessie was found dead in a bathtub and the rumor in the community is that she committed suicide. Her family does not want anyone looking into it and as suicide is a great sin, and may seriously affect the ability of her siblings to attract spouses, her mother and father are claiming Pessie’s death was an accident. But her husband, Levi, is convinced his wife would never kill herself, especially since her little boy Chaim was left strapped into his car seat. As is common in this community, the body was not autopsied and the police have shown no interest in investigating.

[That's going to make things difficult...]

Feb 21 2015 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Mightier than the Sword by Jeffrey Archer

Mightier than the Sword by Jeffrey Archer is the fifth installment in The Clifton Chronicles (available February 24, 2015).

This is Jeffrey Archer’s fifth entry in the Clifton Chronicles and it literally opens with a bang. On the Buckingham, the cruise ship built by Emma (Barrington) Clifton’s company, the IRA sets off a bomb designed to kill as many people as possible. Of course Harry Clifton figures out the conspiracy just in time and the bomb is lobbed into the sea. To explain the massive explosion, protect the company, and prevent the passengers from knowing how close they came to death, an alternate explanation is put about: that the Home Guard was engaged in maneuvers. The Buckingham’s Captain’s apology for sailing too close to the Home Guard is put into the Board minutes and becomes the official version of the explosion.

This cover-up becomes an on-going problem for Emma throughout the story. Lady Virginia Fenwick, one of the most poisonous characters in modern literature, seeks to uncover the true story and use it to take down Emma and acquire the company in the process.

[She sounds delightful...]

Sep 6 2014 10:00am

Fresh Meat: Fighting Chance by Jane Haddam

Fighting Chance by Jane Haddam is the 29th mystery in the Gregor Demarkian series about the Armenian-American detective (available September 9, 2014).

Gregor Demarkian is in the throes of investigating a bank foreclosure on a house owned by a friend, and for which the bank instituting the foreclosure has no mortgage, when Father Tibor Kasparian is arrested and charged with the bludgeoning death of a judge. Motive? Martha Handler has a reputation for handing out long sentences for petty offenses to juveniles and it is well known that Father Kasparian was trying desperately to prevent the jailing of one of the neighborhood boys.

It looks like an open and shut case.  The priest had been filmed on a cell phone raising and lowering the murder weapon as though bashing in the judge’s head. The video,  of course, goes viral.

But Gregor doesn’t believe the priest is guilty, despite the film. The whole scenario just feels wrong. The “Armenian Hercule Poirot” begins investigating.

[Gregor also relies on his little grey cells...]

May 6 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Every Hidden Fear by Linda Rodriguez

Every Hidden Fear by Linda Rodriguez is the third mystery in the Skeet Bannion series about the Missouri campus police officer who must prove her son's friend didn't commit murder, even though her boss is quick to believe he did (available May 6, 2014).

In Every Hidden Fear, the third outing for Skeet Bannion, Linda Rodriguez’s half-Cherokee cop, bad boy Ash Mowbray returns to Brewster, Missouri. He has been hired by Walker Lynch, a nemesis of Skeet and someone she has sworn to take down, to push forward a controversial mall project. Passions already run hot over the proposed mall and Ash’s arrival further inflames feelings. The son of worthless parents, Ash had left town under a cloud:

“You! I remember you, Ashton Mowbray!” Bea’s voice was loud, with a hard, mean ring to it. “Son of a drug-dealing crook and a drunken whore. A charity case all your life. We all remember who you are. White trash of the worst sort. A bad seed. You ran away from here, where people knew who you were, but you couldn’t leave that behind. You still carry your dirtiness with you, no matter how much money you have now.”

[Ash might be dirty, but is Brewster really that clean?]

Apr 16 2014 3:25pm

The Apocalypse’s Children: The Walking Dead Meets The Last of Us

One of the most gripping elements, at least for me, is the vulnerability of the children and the lengths to which the adults will go to keep these kids alive – a theme that was front and center this past month as I almost simultaneously finished playing The Last of Us videogame and watching AMC’s They Walking Dead.

Although I’ve also played both of The Walking Dead videogames games, I’ve opted to write about the TV show and the The Last of Us because of some of the differences between game and show. (Speaking of differences, there are also many between TWD show and comics. I’ve tried to read ahead and been surprised when something doesn’t happen the way I expect. And no Darryl! I love Darryl.)

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the last few episodes of The Walking Dead or played either of The Walking Dead games or finished The Last of Us, don’t read any further.

[Come on in, you’ve been warned…]

Apr 1 2014 11:30am

Fresh Meat: Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr

Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr sends Anna Pigeon into the wild forests of Minnesota as she tracks a group of outlaws who have kidnapped her friends and family (available April 1, 2014).

Destroyer Anger by Nevada Barr begins serenely. Anna is on a short camping trip with her disabled friend Heath, Heath’s daughter Elizabeth, Leah, the engineer who came up with the design for a special wheelchair, and Leah’s daughter Katie and a dog, Wiley. Anna, who can never spend a lot of time with people, disappears from the camp for some quiet time.

The thing was, when she was alone in wild country—or as wild as country got in these United States—Anna didn’t miss anyone, not her friends, not her dog or cat, not her sister, Molly, not her husband . . Now and then, she needed to breathe air that wasn’t someone else’s exhalation.

While she is enjoying her solitude, men: a pedophile, a gangbanger, a general thug, and a stone cold killer—the dude—who have been tracking the party of women, arrive at the camp. When Anna returns, Heath warns her off with some shouts. Anna has no weapons, no food, nothing. She rescues Wiley, who has been hurled into a tree by one of the men and suffered a broken leg, and begins planning the rescue of her companions.

[It's time for Anna to track the pack...]

Feb 15 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Dead Water by Ann Cleeves

Dead Water by Ann CleevesDead Water by Ann Cleeves is the fifth book in the Shetland Island mystery series, featuring the return of Inspector Jimmy Perez as he helps Detective Inspector Willow Reeves solve the murder of a journalist (available February 18, 2014).

I’ve been a big fan of the Ann Cleeves’s Shetland Island mysteries since Raven Black came out. Dead Water continues this fine series with an intriguing mystery, well-rounded characters and the author’s signature setting.

When the dead body of Jerry Markham, local boy who made good as an important journalist, is found in a yoal, a racing boat in the local dialect, there is no shortage of suspects. Markham has a reputation as selfish and self-centered and he’d spent his youth on the island getting into trouble.

The more worrisome problem, however, is who will investigate the murder. The woman who would normally be supervising the inquiry is the person who discovered the body and so is in a position as a witness. Besides, the Fiscal (to American readers, a strange name for a government functionary) is clearly hiding something. And Jimmy Perez, the Chief Inspector, is on leave, thrown into a deep depression by the recent mugging murder of his fiancée.

[Not an easy thing to get over...]

Nov 1 2013 10:01am

Fresh Meat: An Old Betrayal by Charles Finch

An Old Betrayal by Charles Finch is the seventh book in the Charles Lenox Victorian mystery series (available November 12, 2013).

Charles Finch continues his popular Charles Lenox mysteries in An Old Betrayal. In this latest offering, Lenox is very busy with his Parliamentary duties and happily married to Lady Jane. Although he has surrendered most of his detecting, he occasionally comes out of his semi-retirement to investigate. This time, his protégé Dallington, who is too ill to work on his latest case, asks for Lenox’s help. Dallington is too ill to meet the writer of a terrified letter begging for help, so Lenox goes in his stead. The intimidation and threats of their client soon develop into something much more complicated and serious, and by the finish, three people have been murdered and the future of the Empire is at risk.

[That's a whole lot of pressure for a case...]

Jul 18 2013 9:00am

Fresh Meat: The Seventh Trumpet by Peter Tremayne

The Seventh Trumpet by Peter Tremayne is the 21st mystery of ancient Ireland featuring Sister Fidelma of Cashel, now a married woman, but still a dedicated advocate for the law (available July 23, 2013).

Although we think of the seventh century as a primitive time, the Dark Ages if you will, Ireland was then a civilized country land bound by laws. “Even the King,” Fidelma of Cashiel says more than once, “is not above the law.”

Ireland was also a Christian land that in some ways seems more progressive than our own. Clergy were allowed to marry and women could rule, inherit and become advocates and judges. In this, the 21st mystery in the Sister Fidelma series, which can be read alone, she has left the religious order. She says, “I was trained, as you may know, as an advocate of our law system. I found that many matters I was concerned with in law conflicted with the tenets of religious life. I therefore terminated my role as a religious so I could concentrate on the law.”

But people, as we all know, break laws.

[From the first moment laws were invented...]

Apr 9 2013 8:30am

Fresh Meat: The Perfect Ghost by Linda Barnes

The Perfect Ghost by Linda Barnes is a standalone novel set on Cape Cod in which a writer must overcome her phobias so she can unravel the mystery of a friend’s death (available April 9, 2013).

When The Perfect Ghost begins, Teddy (Theodore Blake) has just died in a car crash, leaving his partner Em Moore bereft. They were partner ghostwriters and Em is afraid that the publisher will take away the advance and cancel the project, a biography of a famous actor/director Garrett Malcolm. After all, Teddy was the face of the duo. And everyone knows Malcolm doesn’t like working with women.

In fact, Em is a timid soul, afraid of almost everything and living on a steady diet of Xanax. Since The Perfect Ghost is written in the first person, we have a front row seat to her terrors. Gradually, we come to know Teddy too, since she addresses her comments to him, almost as though this written document is a diary written for his approval.

Teddy, who began the interviewing before his death, taped everything, not only his talks with Garrett Malcolm, but with everyone who was ever connected with the great director. The list includes cousin Jamie Foley and a drunken has-been actor Brooklyn Pierce who achieved his first and greatest fame in Malcolm’s earliest films. The texts of these interviews are included verbatim as Em listens to them, a wonderful way of engaging the reader up close and personal to action that took place months earlier.

[Voices from the past...]

Mar 30 2013 9:00am

Fresh Meat: A Time of Change by Aimee and David Thurlo

A Time of Change by Aimee and David ThurloA Time of Change by Aimee and David Thurlo is a stand-alone romantic suspense novel (available April 9, 2013).

I am a long time fan of the Aimee and David Thurlo Ella Clah mysteries. A Time of Change is a stand-alone, but like the Ella Clah novels, it is set in Navajo country in New Mexico.

When Tom Stuart, the owner of a trading post, is found dead, the gun in his right hand and the shot to his right temple suggest suicide. Stuart’s son Ben, and Jo Buck, one of the trading post’s employees, refuse to believe Tom would ever commit suicide. He is left-handed, and besides, he believes only “gutless cowards” kill themselves. Sure enough, the coroner soon rules the death a murder.

Why would anyone want to kill such an honest man, well liked and respected by all? Robbery might seem to be a motive, but none of the valuable Navajo jewelry is missing from the trading post.

[What could it be then?]

Mar 4 2013 12:00pm

Spike Versus Angel

I’m sure this title makes no sense to those souls who have never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which aired on TV from 1996 to 2003. In fact, the names of the two most important male characters would seem to indicate that Spike, whose name sounds like a street tough, is the villain, and Angel, whose name sounds, well, angelic, is the hero.

Well, that’s partly true. Angel, the reformed vampire with a soul, is the hero and romantic lead, a tortured Heathcliffesque character who broods about his evil past. And Spike? Well, “reform” is not a word one thinks of in connection to Spike. But he is definitely my favorite and, in my very informal survey, Spike, the vampire who goes from evil to good and back again—and is frequently both at the same time—is by far the more popular. Spike, in fact, became one of the most popular characters on the show and a cult favorite.

Why is this? Shouldn’t Angel, the brooding vamp who will lose his soul if he experiences true happiness, be the most popular? Spike, after all, is evil. Even when he becomes, well, not good exactly, but less evil, and attains his heart’s desire—Buffy—he remains a bad boy. Is he popular because he is the bad boy, the antihero? Partly. Is it because of the appeal of James Marsters and those killer cheekbones? Again, partly. But for me his appeal is more nuanced than that.

[The lesser of two evils...]

Jan 8 2013 9:30am

Bad Action Heroes: Take Two

Okay, I lied. These aren’t bad action stars but ones that, for one reason or another, manage to step up from the traditional action movie genre and are now in a class above Jean-Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport or Steven Seagal in Hard to Kill. (I've already shared my thoughts on Bad Action Heroes and Why I Love Them.)

Bruce Willis came out of an amazingly popular television show (Moonlighting) and has since starred in comedies (Death Becomes Her in which he plays totally against type), science fiction adventure, and films that defy categorization (Look Who’s Talking, Look Who’s Talking Too, and Pulp Fiction). But I think he earned his action cred with The Last Boy Scout and the Die Hard series. In these films, he plays a cynical wisecracking cop. The Last Boy Scout (with Damon Wayans) had a great ending and Die Hard has a catchphrase that became part of our pop culture (“Yippee ki-yay Mo***”) and even turns up in 2012’s The Expendables 2. The Die Hard movies are probably some of the most popular movies ever though they break some of the action movie traditions: John McClane is married, has a family, and is conflicted about his action-packed lifestyle. By the end of the film, he looks beaten up. I love them.

[Good thing they made more...]

Dec 13 2012 1:00pm

Bad Action Heroes (and Why I Love Them)

I love action movies, good, bad and indifferent. I don’t just watch them; I inhale them, and sometimes the worse they are the more I like them.

Usually these strictly B movie action flicks do poorly at the box office. Successful ones earn back the money they cost to make. Under Siege, a Steven Seagal film, was one such surprise hit. Seagal plays Casey Rybeck, a Black Ops commando working on a Navy vessel as a cook. The maniacal Gary Busey almost certainly helped propel this movie to success. I enjoyed this one, but my favorite Seagal is On Deadly Ground. The acting is typically bad, and some of the Inuit are played by Chinese (Joan Chen as an Eskimo, really?) but Seagal’s concern for the environment shines through. I give him two stars for that.

[If only all critics were as generous...]

Nov 15 2012 12:00pm

Dirty Secret or Best Ad Ever? Mature Librarian, Video Game Fanatic...

Doom.I’m going to lay my dirty little secret right out there; I love video games. Since I am a woman of a certain age, and a librarian, most people react with shock and astonishment. I can hear the words, “what’s wrong with you?” trembling on their lips. At ComicCon a few years I obtained the high score on a video game (with a Wii controller, no less, a platform I was not then that familiar with) and the twenty-year-old stared at me as if I’d sprouted wings.

Although I enjoy the Tekken and Street Fighter Series, I don’t play Call of Duty or Halo. I’ve played all the Guitar Hero games, though, and I love the role players. Why, you ask? Aren’t they a waste of time? Well, I love them for some of the same reasons I love crime fiction, and I expect the same things from both formats.

A good puzzle is key. When Doom came out in the ’90s, I would clear the boards of all the demons and floating heads and other monsters and start looking for secret rooms, stashes of weapons, and of course the always important health packs. I aimed for a score of 100 percent of secrets uncovered. Not that I got there very often but I tried.

[And I tried...and I tried...and I tried...]