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Newsletter- November 2014



A monthly newsletter from

Murder by the Book

                 November 2014                             

Time to hunker down for some good reading; after all you deserve it. You polished off the last of the Halloween candy, re-set your clocks and put new batteries in your smoke detectors, raked up all the leaves in the yard and planned out your annual Thanksgiving feast. Whew!

Back in 1990, Patricia Cornwell
burst on the mystery scene with Postmortem, featuring medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta. The book was the first to sweep all of the major mystery and crime fiction awards, including the Edgar and the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Her devoted fans love how the prickly Dr. Scarpettta uses the latest forensic techniques to solve cases, all the while juggling complicated relationships in her personal life. In Flesh and Blood ($28.99), the good doctor has plans to spend her birthday in Miami with her husband, FBI profiler Benton Wesley. By now, she should know better than to schedule any sort of vacation because she very rarely is able to leave her job behind! This time, her get-away is postponed by a number of bizarre shootings; the seemingly random victims appear to have been shot by a sniper who leaves no trace except for some unusual bullet fragments. Meanwhile, Scarpetta is plagued by a series of bizarre events; shiny pennies (all dated 1981) left on her garden wall, her ultra- secure email account is somehow hacked, and she feels like she is always being watched. As the case progresses, Scarpetta and those closest to her (including her niece Lucy) become the killer’s next targets.

Michael Connelly
has long been one of my favorite authors and I have a particular fondness for his series featuring LAPD Detective Harry Bosch. I enjoy Connelly’s other series with the wise-cracking Mickey Haller, better known as “The Lincoln lawyer” because he practices law out of the back of his Lincoln Town Car, but find the Bosch stories more to my liking. Since The Black Echo (the first in the Harry Bosch series) came out in 1992, I have eagerly awaited each new Connelly book. The Burning Room  ($28.00) is the 19th in the series and finds Harry still working in the Open-Unsolved Unit, this time with a new partner. This may be his last year on the force and he has been assigned to work with an up- and -coming young detective who has no homicide experience. Their first case proves to be an unusual one; they begin investigating the death of a man who died of complications suffered from a stray bullet that lodged in his spine over 10 years ago. A fresh body is not something the Open-Unsolved Unit usually encounters, but tracking down old evidence is right up Harry’s alley. The trail leads the veteran detective and his rookie partner to discover links between their current case and a 20 year old arson investigation and presents them with choices that will impact both their careers and their lives. In searching for reviews of The Burning Room, I found that it received starred reviews from Library Journal, Publishers Weekly and Booklist. "Connelly’s exceptional gift for crafting an intricate and fascinating procedural hasn’t faded a bit," says Library Journal. "Our protagonist remains, after 19 books, one of the most intriguing creations in crime fiction, even as he faces his impending retirement.”

Julia Spencer-Fleming’s
first book, In the Bleak Midwinter (2002) won numerous awards, including The Dilys Award, given by independent mystery booksellers to their favorite book of the year. In the Bleak Midwinter is set in upstate New York in a small town called Millers Kill. Episcopal priest Clare Fergusen and Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne both provide needed services to their community and over the years their professional and personal paths have frequently crossed and their relationship has evolved. In Through the Evil Days ($15.99) the 8th book in the series, the Reverend and the Police Chief have escaped the pressures of their jobs in order to take a wintry honeymoon at a secluded cabin on a frozen lake. Alas, a quiet honeymoon is not in the cards as the pair become involved in the case of an abducted child from Millers Kill and wrestle with major changes in their professional and personal lives. Much of the story takes place outside in the dead of winter, so be sure to bundle up before settling in for the latest in this satisfying series.

Set on the other side of the country from
upstate New York, Bad Country ($24.99) by CB McKenzie, is this year’s winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize. The award is given to a first-time author of a mystery set in Hillerman’s beloved southwest and includes a publishing contract with St. Martin’s Press. Bad Country features Rodeo Grace Garnet, a former rodeo cowboy turned private eye who lives in a corner of southern Arizona known locally as “The Hole.” Raised on a nearby reservation, Rodeo pays the bills by serving warrants, doing a little bounty hunting and occasionally investigating a cheating spouse. When a body turns up near his home, he becomes caught up in a major investigation with ties to a large and influential southwestern tribe. Like Hillerman, the author has a strong connection to the region, saying,
Bad Country creates a strong sense of a very real, Southwestern place. It is a place I love and respect even as I realize its many flaws. I fear a perilous future for it as its beautiful, but fragile environment is pushed to its far limits.”

Wink of an Eye
($24.99) by Lynn Chandler Willis is the winner of the Private Eye Writers of America’s Best 1st Private Eye Novel Award. In this case, the private eye is Gypsy Moran, who is on the run from some trouble in Las Vegas. Gypsy ends up in Wink, Texas (a real place, by the way) to pay an unexpected visit to his sister. While there, he gets pulled into helping one of her former students, a young boy whose father committed suicide. The boy is positive that his father, a former Sheriff’s Deputy, was murdered, and convinces Gypsy to look into the case. Joining the ranks of other winners of the award such as Michael Koryta and Steve Hamilton, Lynn Chandler Willis is the first woman to win the PWA Competition in over 10 years.

David Rosenfelt
is known (and loved!) for his series featuring New Jersey lawyer Andy Carpenter and his Golden Retriever Tara. In Without Warning ($7.99), Rosenfelt leaves the quirky Andy behind and delivers a page-turning thriller set in a small town in Maine. Katie Sanford is the editor of the town’s newspaper and the widow of a convicted killer who died while in prison. She has worked hard to create a life for herself and never gave up hope that somehow her husband would be proven innocent. When a storm uncovers a time capsule that was buried by the town years before, Katie is shocked to discover information that may not only exonerate her husband but show that the real killer is still part of her close-knit community.

Dead Man’s Time
($16.99) by Peter James is the 9th book in his Detective Roy Grace series. Grace lives and works in Brighton, England, a place the author describes as “… a city that is the favoured place to live in the UK for first divison criminals (I was told this by a former Chief Constable).”  First seen in Dead Simple (2005), Grace is a brooding, hard- edged British policeman who tackles equally hard-edged crimes. In Dead Man’s Time, he investigates the murder of an elderly woman who was killed during a robbery at  her home. Grace is surprised by her family’s reaction to the crimes; they are more concerned with the robbery than the murder and press Grace to recover one of the stolen items in particular. Want You Dead ($26.99) the 10th book in the series, finds Grace working on a case involving an on-line dating experience that goes terribly wrong. FYI: Peter James prides himself on his extensive research and his close association with the local police force. In fact, James and his publisher, Macmillan, donated a police car to the Sussex police in 2008.

Because sometimes you may want to read something on the milder side, here is a selection of cozy mysteries.

For Better or Worsted
($7.99) by Betty Hechtman is the 8th book in a charming series featuring Molly Pink, an event coordinator  in a bookstore and member of the  Tarzana Hookers, a crochet group. Start with Hooked on Murder, the 1st in the series.

Lethal Letters
($7.99) by Ellery Adams is the 6th in a series that centers on a writing group in Oyster Bay, North Carolina. As an extra bonus, there is a great dog named Captain Haviland! Start with the 1st in the series A Killer Plot.

The Cat, the Devil and Lee Fontana
($7.99) by Shirley Rousseau and P.J. Murphy. The author of the popular Joe Grey cat mysteries teams up with her husband for this adventure with Misto, the cat last seen in Cat Bearing Gifts. You can meet Joe Grey in his first adventure, Cat on the Edge.

A Dog Gone Murder
($7.99) by Elaine Viets is the latest in her Josie Marcus series. Josie, who works as a “mystery shopper” in St. Louis, is checking out local doggy daycare centers and uncovers more than she bargained for. Meet Josie in her first adventure, Dying in Style.

Finally, for all of you who loved reading
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, you will be happy to know that her two previous books Sharp Objects and Dark Places are now available in paperback for $9.99. If you didn't understand all the fuss about Gone Girl, but  still like really dark, well-written thrillers, give Sharp Objects and Dark Places a try.

Murder by the Book’s Book Group
Our group, led by local author Lori L. Lake,
meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at the Belmont Branch Library (1038 SE Cesar Chavez Blvd.) Barbara Tom, one of the former owners of MBTB, chooses the books.
On Tuesday, November 25th we’ll discuss Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda.

The Friends of Mystery Book Group
Wednesday November 19th they will meet at 4:30 p.m. at the Belmont Branch Library to discuss  
The Confession by Charles Todd.

Happy reading,