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Showing posts by: Terrie Farley Moran click to see Terrie Farley Moran's profile
Aug 21 2017 3:00pm

Review: Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves

Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves is the second book in the Vera Stanhope series, where a ten-year-old murder case is reopened, leading to an investigation into a small town full of big secrets (available August 22, 2017).

My introduction to Deputy Chief Inspector (DCI) Vera Stanhope of the Northumbria Police came by way of my local public television station, which for the past several years has hosted Vera, the television series based on the edge-of-your-seat novels written by Ann Cleeves. As soon as I saw the first couple of episodes, I immediately went in search of the books. Some were harder to find than others.

As time went by, I was totally frustrated by the fact that once a book was released in England, we here in the USA would have to sit around tapping our toes and watching reruns of the series while waiting for the book to be released in the United States.

Telling Tales, the book I am so pleased to talk about today, was the second book written in the series. I am ecstatic that Minotaur Books went back to the beginning of Vera’s literary life and is publishing US editions. The first book, The Crow Trap, is already available, and Telling Tales will be released August 22, 2017. Minotaur Books will release two books each year until we are caught up with the series.

[Read Terrie Farley Moran's review of Telling Tales...]

Aug 8 2017 12:00pm

Review: Dead, to Begin With by Bill Crider

Dead, to Begin With by Bill CriderDead, to Begin With by Bill Crider is the 24th book in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mysteries series (available August 8, 2017).

One of the great joys of life is coming home, kicking off my shoes, and snuggling in my recliner with a cup of tea and a good book. The joy is increased tenfold when the book is a visit with my old friend Sheriff Dan Rhodes and all the quirky characters who inhabit the tiny town of Clearview in Blacklin County, Texas. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading the 24th book in the series, Dead, to Begin With.

Bill Crider introduced us all to Sheriff Dan a long time ago. Dan Rhodes is a patient, practical man who skillfully manages the glitches and complications of policing in the town where he was born and raised. And he would have to be extremely patient to put up with the support staff in his office. Just listen to this conversation:

[Read Terrie Farley Moran's review of Dead, to Begin With...]

May 15 2017 2:30pm

Review: Sticks and Bones by Carolyn Haines

Sticks and Bones by Carolyn HainesSticks and Bones by Carolyn Haines is the 17th book in the Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery series (available May 16, 2017).

Sticks and Bones is the 17th book in the freewheeling Sarah Booth Delaney series written by Carolyn Haines, and I have read every single one of them. Some twice. I will quickly confess that I find Sarah Booth; her best friend and partner in the Delaney Detective Agency, Tinkie Bellcase Richmond; and the sometimes annoying but always clever Civil War-era ghost, Jitty, to be laugh-out-loud funny each time I follow one of their adventures.

Before I tell you about their latest adventure, I encourage you to click through to Adam Wagner’s GIFnotes for an engaging visual introduction to Sticks and Bones.

Now, back to the book. We meet Sarah Booth in her home, the very grand Dalia House in Zinnia, Mississippi, as she is dressing in white tulle, diamonds, and pearls for a gala New Year Celebration. She is doing a final check in the mirror and recognizing perfection when she sees it, and then:

[Read Terrie Farley Moran's review of Sticks and Bones...]

Feb 3 2017 1:00pm

Review: Death, Taxes, and Sweet Potato Fries by Diane Kelly

Death, Taxes, and Sweet Potato Fries by Diane KellyDeath, Taxes, and Sweet Potato Fries by Diane Kelly is the 11th book in the Tara Holloway series (available February 7, 2017).

Tara Holloway is a Special Agent of the Internal Revenue Service, and although she can do all that accounting stuff we think of as an IRS agent’s forte, she is especially good at the “tough girl takes down the bad guy” part of the job.

But wait, I am getting ahead of myself. I am even getting ahead of Tara. When Death, Taxes, and Sweet Potato Fries—the 11th book in Diane Kelly’s yowling great Tara Holloway series—first opens, Tara and her brand-spanking-new fiancé are having dinner together and kibitzing about whether sweet potato fries should be served at their wedding. And that is when the enormity of their engagement hits Tara. I’ll let her tell you:

Twenty-four hours earlier Nick Pratt had merely been my boyfriend. But when he’d popped the question last night, my answer had been a resounding Yes! Nick was not the type of guy a woman said no to. And now, here we were.

[Read Terrie Farley Moran's review of Death, Taxes, and Sweet Potato Fries...]

Oct 10 2016 1:00pm

Review: Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early

Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early is the 1st in the new Vintage Toy Shop Mystery series (Available October 11, 2016).

It is no secret that I am a big fan of Barbara Early’s cozy mysteries. Just take a peek at the praise I heaped on Bloom and Doom, the first book in her Bridal Bouquet Shop mysteries, written as Beverly Allen

See also: Review: Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen

I am delighted that, as Barbara Early, she is writing the Vintage Toy Shop series filled with humor and warmth.

In Death of a Toy Soldier, Liz McCall has the best job in the world. She and her father run a vintage toy shop called Well Played. It's a place I wanted to visit as soon as I noticed that the telephone was “custom painted—and mounted on wheels—to resemble an iconic pull toy.” Both my children dragged the Fisher Price Chatter Phone all around our house and spoke on it in words only they could understand, so vintage toys equal fond memories for me.

[Read Terrie Farley Moran's review of Death of a Toy Soldier...]

May 31 2016 1:30pm

Review: Wedding Bel Blues by Maggie McConnon

Wedding Bel Blues is the first book in the new Bel McGrath Mysteries Series (Available today!).

Belfast McGrath, known to every one as Bel, had built a career as an award winning chef in a famous New York restaurant and was widely praised for her eclectic touches in the kitchen. Who else would dare make a shepherd’s pie with foie gras?

And then, the unthinkable happened. Well, I’ll let Bel share the thoughts that were running through her head as she was carefully choosing the words to explain her job loss to someone she had recently met:

Even if he was from Ireland, he might have heard about the one-star Michelin restaurant where a former president of the United States had nearly choked to death on a fish bone that inexplicably remained in his red snapper. And how the actor who owned the restaurant—a curmudgeon in his own right—had fired the chef on the spot.

[Read Terrie Farley Moran's review of Wedding Bel Blues...]

Sep 10 2015 4:30pm

Fresh Meat: On the Road with Del & Louise by Art Taylor

On the Road with Del & Louise by Art Taylor is a collection of six short stories that tell the tale of two criminal lovers trying to start a new life (available September 15, 2015).

It’s no secret that I am a short mystery fiction addict. I am also a dedicated mystery novel fan. So you can imagine the joy (be still my heart!) when I learned that one of my favorite short story writers, Agatha, Macavity and Derringer Award Winner Art Taylor has written a novel inTA DA!short story format. That is, Art took two fabulous characters and wrote a series of linked stories giving the reader a fabulous vision what life is like On the Road with Del and Louise.

So first, let’s see how Del meets Louise. She is working in a 7-Eleven and Del comes in to rob the place, wearing a ski mask and carrying a pistol.

“You know, I said, as I bent down for a bag to put his money in. “You have picked the one solitary hours that I’m alone in the store, between the time that Pete has to head home for his mom’s curfew and the time our night manager strolls in for his midnight to six.”

“I know. I’ve been watching you.” Then there was a nervous catch in his voice. “Not in a bad way, I mean. Not voyeuristically.” He enunciated both that word and the next. “Surveillance, you know. I’m not a pervert.”

[Whew, that could have been awkward...]

Jun 27 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Elimination by Ed Gorman

Elimination by Ed Gorman is the final political thriller in the Dev Conrad series where the investigator must figure out who tried to kill a Congress member running for re-election (available July 1, 2015).

It seems possible that my lifelong interest in the American political process is what drew me to read Sleeping Dogs, the first in the political mystery series featuring Dev Conrad, a seasoned political consultant with a background as an investigator for the U. S. Army.

But I freely admit that the appeal for me was the author’s name: Ed Gorman. I’d been a Gorman groupie for years, and the thought of a new series written by the master of mystery, horror, and westerns had me running to the nearest bookstore. Every few years over the past decade, a new Dev Conrad book would be released, bringing the combined allure of politics and murder. I relished each one.

Still, many of my favorite series have come to an end and this one is no exception. I must confess that I had more than one tear in my eye when I finished reading Elimination, the final mystery in the Dev Conrad series.

[It was a fitting goodbye...]

Apr 11 2015 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Missing Piece by Kevin Egan

The Missing Piece by Kevin Egan is a legal thriller set in NYC about a piece of treasure that goes missing during a trial and the search for where it went (available April 14, 2015).

Viewers of the original Law and Order television series will be familiar with the wide staircase and ornate columns of the New York County Courthouse, known to those who work in and about the legal system as 60 Centre.

Author Kevin Egan has an extraordinary familiarity with 60 Centre Street and manages to make the courthouse a unique character in his newest legal thriller, The Missing Piece.

On what starts out as a routine Monday morning, my favorite Court Officer from the pages of Egan’s recent book, Midnight, is called into Captain Kearney’s office. Foxx is being reassigned to Judge Johnstone’s court, much to the annoyance of his friend and fellow officer Gary Martin who generally worked in that courtroom. Why put Foxx in that part and pull Gary out and assign him to guard a rear building entrance? Gary was clearly annoyed and Foxx insisted it didn’t make sense.

Foxx looked at his watch. Eight forty-five. The usual time that he and Gary and McQueen met to drink coffee …at the start of another day. Ask him. He would do just that.

“And what’s going on in Johnstone’s part?”

“A big trial to determine ownership of an ancient Roman silver treasure,” said Kearney. “It should dovetail nicely with your classical sensibilities.”

[Who will get the treasure?]

Jan 4 2015 1:30pm

Fresh Meat: For Whom the Bluebell Tolls by Beverly Allen

For Whom the Bluebell Tolls by Beverly Allen is the second cozy in the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery Series featuring flower shop owner and amateur sleuth Audrey Bloom (available January 6th, 2015).

It was nearly a year ago, while reading the fun cozy mystery Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen that we first met Audrey Bloom and her cousin and business partner, Olivia, co-owners of the Rose in Bloom flower shop in Ramble, Virginia. While teaching us about the meaning of flowers, Audrey also managed to solve a murder and meet a nice guy named Nick, who might possibly help her forget all about her former fiancé Brad, known as Brad the Cad. So you can see why I was anxious to hang out with Audrey and Liv and the other folks in Ramble once again.

At the very beginning of For Whom the Bluebell Tolls, Nick has just escorted Audrey home from a dinner date, and she is hoping for a solid goodnight kiss, but her house phone rings and Nick takes a step back, saying, “I should let you get that. Good night, Audrey.”

[That call better be important!]

Oct 1 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Riders on the Storm by Ed Gorman

Riders on the Storm by Ed Gorman is the final mystery in the suspenseful and politically charged Sam McCain series set in Iowa during the Vietnam War (available October 8, 2014).

I first met Sam McCain in The Day The Music Died, which is set in 1958, a year I remember well. It was the year I turned twelve, but Sam was that mystery of mysteries—an adult at a time when adults were revered and respected by virtue of their age. Author Ed Gorman captured the atmosphere exactly in his depiction of Sam’s home town, Black River Falls, Iowa. I was immediately captivated and have followed Sam and Black River Falls in each succeeding mystery novel.

Book ten of the series, Riders on the Storm, is set in 1971, a year I also remember well. On a personal note, it was the year my second child was born. For America, it was the year of The Pentagon Papers and the year the Twenty-Sixth Amendment of the Constitution was ratified, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. It was a year I spent much of my time gathering support to lobby for the release of American POWs being held in North Vietnam. Turbulent times.

[Vietnam is on the minds of everyone here...]

Aug 31 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates by Kathy Aarons

Death Is Like A Box of Chocolates is the first cozy in the new Chocolate Covered Mystery series written by Kathy Aarons.

When Fulbright Scholar Erica Russell comes home to West Riverdale, Maryland, her former high school classmate, Michelle Serrano, is surprised that Erica isn’t all snooty and stuck up. The two girls become BFFs in a flash and decide to go into business together. Michelle is a chocolatier and Erica has a love of literature, so they open a cozy little shop called Chocolates and Chapters. Doesn’t the name sound inviting? I’ll let Michelle describe it to you.

A homey, welcoming room with books lining the walls, tempting customers to pick one up and read in an overstuffed chair, and the smell of chocolate enticing them to choose from my selection of sinful sweets. Chocolates and Chapters had become an unofficial community center for our little town. Our smattering of mismatched couches and coffee tables now hosted various committee meetings, knitting circles, book clubs and, my least favorite, birthday parties.

[Damn those birthday parties!]

Aug 28 2014 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Skeleton Takes a Bow by Leigh Perry

The Skeleton Takes a Bow by Leigh Perry is the second humorous cozy mystery int he Family Skeleton series about a seemingly normal family with a literal skeleton, not in the closet, but in the attic (available September 2, 2014).

Life has gotten a bit easier for Georgia Thackery, adjunct professor and single mom. When she first agreed to house sit for her parents, she struggled to prevent her teenaged daughter, Madison from finding out about the real skeleton in the family. His name is Sid and he lives in the attic. He and Georgia have been friends since he rescued her from tragedy when she was a small child. But when this story opens, the family is well settled in the house and Madison and Sid have become great friends. Less stress for Georgia until Madison wants to bring Sid’s skull to school to star as Yorick in the school production of  Hamlet, and Sid is dying (pun intended) to get out of the house, so he wants to play the part.

[It's really the only part he can play...]

Apr 30 2014 5:00pm

Fresh Meat: Doing It at the Dixie Dew by Ruth Moose

Doing It at the Dixie Dew by Ruth Moose is a cozy murder mystery that follows Beth, a woman whose new North Carolina bed-and-breakfast opens with a murder (available May 6, 2014).

The humorous cozy mystery Doing It at the Dixie Dew written by Ruth Moose won the 2013 Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Competition for Best First Traditional Mystery Novel. The protagonist, Beth McKenzie Henry, is southern born and bred although she has been living for a number of years in “that godforsaken Yankee land” as her grandmother often referred to Rhode Island. After her grandmother’s death, Beth inherits the house she was raised in, and decides to turn it into a cozy bed-and-breakfast. Beth has no money to speak of and the house is in desperate need of repair. Still as an innkeeper Beth is off to an auspicious start. On the first day as an official B and B, the Dixie Dew is packed with guests, two couples and two singles. But then, well, here’s Beth opening the story for us:

People don’t go to a bed-and-breakfast to die, do they? I’d never heard of it before, but let me tell you about Miss Lavinia Lovingood. She came to my bed-and-breakfast, the Dixie Dew, in Littleboro, North Carolina, checked in and “checked out.” She died. Went to bed in my Azalea Room, fresh with deep pink paint and wallpaper still damp from the hanging, and never got up.

[Miss Lovingood won't be the last to fall...]

Apr 4 2014 3:00pm

Ngaio Marsh: The Kiwi Killer

In 1888, Henry Marsh, the oldest son of a large English family, immigrated to New Zealand, where he met New Zealand-born Rose Elizabeth Seager. Her father was a prominent public official. After they married, Edith Ngaio Marsh was born in the late 1890s in Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island. She was an only child and was always referred to by her middle name Ngaio which is pronounced NYE-oh and is a Maori word meaning “reflections on the water.”

Marsh was an only child and appeared to have a happy childhood, although her relationship with her father was more fun-filled and lively than with her mother. However, her mother’s family was always interested in acting and the theater, an interest that Ngaio picked up at an early age and kept throughout her life.

[It all starts with a dinner murder mystery game...]

Mar 28 2014 2:30pm

Fresh Meat: Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen

Bloom and Doom, a Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery, by Beverly AllenBloom and Doom by Beverly Allen is the debut of the Bridal Bouquet Shop mystery series, featuring Audrey Bloom, whose shop's floral tools will be tied to a murder (available April 1, 2014).

I am always excited to learn that a new cozy mystery series is about to be launched. At Malice Domestic last year, I ran into a friendly, likeable women named Barbara Early who told me that, writing as Beverly Allen, she is the author of the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery series. When she started talking about the Victorian meaning of the names of flowers, well, I knew she was writing a series I would love to read. So I was thrilled to be offered the
opportunity to get a sneak peek at the first novel of the series, Bloom and Doom.

I am delighted to report that I wasn’t disappointed in the least. Not only is Bloom and Doom a highly entertaining, fun and snappy mystery, but the very first sentence told me I’d learn a lot about flowers reading this book. And who doesn’t love flowers?

Let’s listen to Audrey Bloom co-owner of the Rose in Bloom flower shop talking to a newspaper reporter. “White roses symbolize innocence.” When the reporter presses for more information about flowers, Audrey gives him some. After all, won’t the publicity be wonderful for the shop?

[Publicity doesn't always smell sweet...]

Mar 13 2014 10:00am

Mary Roberts Rinehart: The American Agatha Christie

Mary Roberts Rinehart was born on August 12, 1876 in what is now known as the North Side of Pittsburg, but was then the city of Allegany, Pennsylvania. She grew up in a family that was not economically stable. According to her autobiography, My Story, her father was a man of big dreams but who had difficulty making them come true.

Mary Roberts was always a great reader and loved stories. While in high school, she wrote several short stories that were published in local newspapers, but rather than continuing with her writing, upon graduation she was decided to pursue a nursing career. She was fortunate to have an uncle, her father’s brother John, who could afford to pay her tuition, and so she attended Pittsburg Homeopathic Medical and Surgical Hospital. It was here that she met a young doctor, Stanley Marshall Rinehart, and at the end of Mary’s training, they married and set up a home that included space for Doctor Rinehart’s private practice in 1896.

[Mary Roberts Rinehart would have no problem making a name for herself...]

Feb 3 2014 10:30pm

Fresh Meat: Miss Dimple Picks a Peck of Trouble by Mignon F. Ballard

Miss Dimple Picks a Peck of Trouble by Mignon F. Ballard, a WWII-era traditional mysteryMiss Dimple Picks a Peck of Trouble by Mignon F. Ballard is the fourth mystery featuring a first-grade teacher in small-town Georgia in 1944, who'll marshal other faculty members to find the killer of a missing teen girl (available February 4th, 2014).

The Depression and World War II stand out as two back-to-back periods of time that really grab my interest be it in history or fiction. I suppose growing up while listening to my elders speak about both the difficulties and the triumphs of survival during those tumultuous years left me with an unquenchable desire to read about how people endured all the troublesome complications of the time.

So, naturally, Mignon G. Ballard quickly captured my attention when she began writing the Miss Dimple Kilpatrick mysteries about a no-nonsense first grade school teacher, Miss Dimple, and her friends and neighbors in the small rural town of Elderberry, Georgia during World War II.

As Miss Dimple Picks a Peck of Trouble begins, Miss Dimple and two of her fellow teachers, Charlie Carr and Annie Gardner, are picking peaches. They’d pooled their sugar-ration coupons so that Miss Dimple’s landlady could make some peach preserves, and if the sugar lasts, perhaps there will be peach ice cream as well.

[But mysteries never stay peaches and cream, do they?]

Jan 31 2014 9:45pm

Fresh Meat: Death of an Irish Diva by Mollie Cox Bryan

Death of an Irish Diva by Mollie Cox Bryan, a Cumberland Creek MysteryDeath of an Irish Diva by Mollie Cox Bryan is the third in the Cumberland Creek series featuring a small town's residents (and scrapbookers) dealing with a dance teacher's death and one backyard's historical bones (February 4, 2014).

Okay, okay so we’ve all been waiting for the third book in the fabulous Cumberland Creek mystery series and the wait is finally over. Writer and sometime newspaper reporter Annie Chamovitz is caught up in the investigation of the death of Emily McGlashen, an international champion and renowned teacher of Irish Dance.

Annie’s good friend and fellow scrapbooker Vera Matthews quickly becomes the main suspect for Emily’s murder. Bad enough that Vera’s personal life has been a train wreck since her marriage crumbled to pieces, and her ex-husband doesn’t seem to have much time for or interest in their adorable three year old daughter. As the town’s long standing ballet teacher, Vera has been enmeshed in a bitter rivalry with the victim, who stole students from Vera by seriously belittling ballet as an archaic dance form. It certainly doesn’t help that Vera’s bright red purse is found at the scene of the crime.

[Who, indeed, is Lady of the Dance?]

Nov 11 2013 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Diner Impossible by Terri L. Austin

Diner Impossible by Terri L. AustinDiner Impossible is the third book in the Rose Strickland mystery series and features a part-time waitress and amateur sleuth trying to prove the innocence of a crooked sheriff (available November 11, 2013).

Rose and her best friend Roxy wait tables in Ma’s Diner, run by the feisty senior citizen Ma Ferguson, whose nearly seven-foot-tall son, Ray, is the cook. Like any other diner, the pace of customers ebbs and flows. I’ll let Rose describe a typical morning.

Things picked up around eleven, when we were suddenly invaded. My bud, Axton, stormed into the diner with a posse of seven men and two women. All dressed as Klingons in battle gear, they called themselves the KAWs—Klingon Alliance of Warriors.

“Uh, uh!” they grunted, raising their claw-tipped gloves in the air. Immediately shoving three tables together, they sat and spoke to each other in their guttural native Klingon tongue.

[So it's one of THOSE kinds of diners, gotcha!]