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Newsletter- October 2014



A monthly newsletter from

Murder by the Book

                October 2014                             



Fall officially began on September 23rd and that means a new season of reading! October’s book list offers more than 100 mysteries and crime fiction titles to choose from, so no matter your reading taste, you’ll definitely be able to fall into a good book.

Jane Austen remains one of the world’s most beloved authors and her works have inspired many modern-day writers including P.D. James, whose Death Comes to Pemberley, gives readers a chance to see what happened to Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy after the final pages of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Stephanie Barron, has created a series featuring Jane Austen herself as the main character. First seen in Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, Jane is as clever an amateur sleuth as you would expect. In Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas ($25.00), she is spending the holidays with friends at a country estate and enjoying the success of her latest novel, Mansfield Park.  When one of her fellow guests is found dead, Jane suspects foul play and sets out to discover the killer among her group of friends.
First Impressions ($27.95) by Charlie Lovett, features antiquarian bookseller (and Jane Austen aficionado) Sophie Collingwood.  Working in a bookshop in London, Sophie is surprised when two customers come in looking for the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. The work is little known and Sophie’s curiosity is aroused when the customers reveal that they are questioning the authorship of Pride and Prejudice. A parallel storyline follows Austen’s life and explores her close friendship with the cleric Richard Mansfield.  The subtitle of the book says it all: “A novel of old books, unexpected love and Jane Austen.”

FYI: Death Comes to Pemberley will be shown on Masterpiece on PBS at the end of October.

The American West is about as far removed from the genteel world of Jane Austen as you can get. In Portland author Phillip Margolin’s Worthy Brown’s Daughter ($9.99) we meet Worthy Brown, a recently freed slave. In order to free his daughter from a life of illegal servitude, Brown seeks the help of Portland lawyer Matthew Penny. The lawyer takes on the case but when Brown is accused of murder; both men’s lives are in danger. Using actual events from Oregon’s past, Margolin (best known for his contemporary legal thrillers) sure knows how to tell a compelling story of 19th century justice.

Kathleen Kent’s The Outcasts ($16.00) takes place in Texas in the 1870s. The tale features   Lucinda Carter and Nate Cannon, two people seeking a new start in life. Lucinda has escaped from a brothel with a tidy sum of stolen money. She settles into her new life as a small town teacher, waiting for her lover to join her. The man had entertained her with stories of buried treasure hidden near her new town and she longs for their new life together to begin. Meanwhile, Nate Cannon, a brand new member of the Texas State Police, has been sent to find two Texas Rangers and warn them that a man they have been tracking has killed again. It is no surprise that Lucinda and Nate’s lives will intersect in this winner of the American Library Association's 2014 top choice for Historical Fiction.

Fans of Longmire, the TV show based on the books by Craig Johnson, were devastated by the news that the show was not renewed. A campaign was launched to keep the show on the air, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that Walt, Henry and the rest of the gang will return next season. In the meantime, Craig Johnson’s Wait for Signs ($22.00) will provide readers with twelve Longmire stories available for the first time in a single volume. The first story, Old Indian Trick, came out ten years ago and since then Johnson has sent his fans a new story every Christmas. Included in the collection is a new tale, Petunia, Bandit Queen of the Bighorns. With an introduction by Lou Diamond Phillips (who plays Henry Standing Bear on Longmire) this would be the perfect present for anyone who loves Walt’s Absaroka County. Also available this month The Spirit of Steamboat ($12.00), a Christmas novella that finds Walt coming to the aid of a young woman on a snowy Christmas Eve.

Death at the Black Bull ($15.00) by Frank Hayes introduces Sheriff Virgil Dalton. Having grown up in Hayward, a quiet Southwestern town, Virgil has settled into keeping trouble to a minimum with the help of his deputy Jimmy. When Buddy Hinton goes missing after a beer- filled night at The Black Bull, the locals assume he’s sleeping it off somewhere and will soon appear with a killer hangover. But when Buddy’s body is discovered in a stock tank, Sheriff Dalton is called in to investigate the first murder in his 10 year career. Author Reed Farrel Coleman praised this debut novel saying “There’s a new sheriff in town. Virgil Dalton is the kind of character that comes along maybe once a decade—a classic Western hero and so much more. When you’re done with Frank Hayes’ stellar debut, Death at the Black Bull, you’ll smell the sagebrush in the air and have to clean the dust off your boots. An absolute must-read for fans of Craig Johnson and Tony Hillerman.”

Murder Off the Beaten Path ($7.99) by M.L. Rowland is the second in her series featuring Search and Rescue volunteer Gracie Kinkaid. First seen in Zero-Degree Murder, Gracie has taken a job as a Program Director at a camp for at-risk teens when she is called to the scene of an accident on a California mountain road. A car has gone over the side of the road and it appears that that the crash was no accident. Gracie  follows a trail of clues back to the camp where she uncovers secrets that someone will do anything to keep hidden. According to her website, M.L. Rowland has “Dangled on a rope over the edge of a cliff, slept outside in the winter with only a sleeping bag and jumped out of a helicopter into four feet of snow on the side of a mountain” during her more than ten years as a Search and Rescue volunteer.

From the American West to the other side of the world without leaving home, ahhh, there is something to be said for being an armchair traveler (and reader)

Magdalen Nabb first wrote about Florence, Italy and Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia in 1981's Death of an Englishman.. The Monster of Florence ($14.95) is the tenth in her series of fourteen books. This title was not released in the US until it became available in hardcover last year. Based on a true crime that haunted the city for over 20 years, The Monster of Florence has Marshal Guarnaccia feeling out of his depth. The Marshal can usually be found directing perplexed tourists around the city or working on cases involving petty crimes, not searching for a serial killer. With his family away in Sicily, he finds himself searching for answers in old case files and questioning the guilt of the man his superiors have accused of horrific crimes. Magdalen Nabb, who passed away in 2007, was a close friend of French author Georges Simenon, who wrote the following in his preface to one of her books: " My dear fellow-writer and friend, it is so good to walk with you through the animated streets of Florence, with its cacbinieri, its ordinary people, its trattorie and even its noisy tourists. It's all so alive, you can hear the noises, smell the smells, see the morning mist on the fast flowing Arno..."

M.L. Longworth usually sets her mysteries in the southern French town of Aix-en-Provence. Her series features Judge Antoine Verlaque and his girlfriend, law professor Marine Bonnet, first seen in Death at the Chateau Bremont (2011). In Murder on the Ile Sordou ($15.00) the duo is off on holiday to an island off the coast of Marseilles. They have booked a suite at a newly restored luxury hotel, the Locanda Sorduo and plan to indulge in good food, good wine and each other’s company. This is however a mystery, so you know that this plan is not in the cards. When a hotel guest is murdered and a storm cuts the island off from the mainland, it is up to Verlaque and Bonnet to take action. Longworth is often compared to authors Donna Leon and Andrea Camilleri, who both love to describe a good meal and an interesting locale while mixing in a tantalizing mystery.    

Okey Ndibe’s debut mystery Foreign Gods, Inc. ($16.00) introduces a Nigerian-born NYC cabbie known as Ike who hatches a desperate plan in order to turn his life around. Although highly educated, Ike’s accent has stood in the way of his corporate career and he supports himself by driving a cab.  When he learns of Foreign Gods Inc, an art gallery that sells artifacts from distant lands to wealthy Americans looking for decorative knick knacks, he comes up with a plan. He’ll travel to his home village in Nigeria, steal the village deity, return to New York, sell the statue and make a killing. Ike’s return to Nigeria is an eye-opening experience: the influences of American culture can be seen everywhere, and Ike feels no more at home there than he does in the streets of New York City.

Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials ($14.99) by Ovidia Yu stars Rosie (“Aunty”) Lee, the widowed owner of Singapore’s favorite home style restaurant who enjoys doing a little bit of detective work in her spare time. Despite the rumors that are spreading about their business troubles, a local   couple books Aunty’s catering company for a lavish brunch. When the hostess and her son are discovered dead, suspicion falls on one of Aunty’s special dishes, chicken with buah keluak, a black nut that can be poisonous if cooked improperly. Aunty Lee is certain that no mistakes were made as she carefully prepared the meal and proceeds to look into the couple’s business affairs for answers. Readers may want to start with Aunty Lee’s Delights, the first book in the series. 

The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries ($25.00) edited by Otto Penzler lives up to its name! At 950 pages and containing over 60 stories, this collection is sure to provide hours of pleasure during the chilly months ahead.  The traditional locked – room mystery presents the reader with a crime that has been committed under seemingly impossible circumstances, Murder in the Rue Morgue, by Edgar Allan Poe, being one of the most famous examples. In this collection Penzler includes stories from around the world by Dorothy L. Sayers, Dashiell Hammett, Lawrence Block and a slew of others.

Murder by the Book’s Book Group

Our group, led by local author Lori L. Lake, usually 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 book to be discussed.

On Tuesday, October 28, we’ll discuss Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas

The Friends of Mystery Book Group

On Wednesday October 15th they will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Belmont Branch Library to discuss
The Bat by Jo Nesbo.