Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What the Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary Simpson

Rosemary Simpson uses historical accounts and actual figures to bring her debut historical mystery to life. What the Dead Leave Behind, set during New York City's Gilded Age, is a story that crosses all classes, running from a wealthy household on Fifth Avenue to Irish saloons. And, the opening scene, an actual event, could not be more dramatic.

There were two hundred people killed in New York City in the March 1888 blizzard. One of them is lawyer Charles Linwood, the fiance of heiress Prudence MacKenzie. He's found frozen on a bench, hit on the head by a tree branch. In his hand is an ace of spades, a signal to his old friend, ex-Pinkerton agent Geoffrey Hunter, that something was wrong. His death leaves Prudence trapped with her stepmother as her trustee, a woman Prudence doesn't trust. When Prudence can break herself from the sway of the laudanum her stepmother, Victoria, doses her with, she turns to her father's lawyer, Roscoe Conkling, for help. Together, Prudence and Conkling enlist Hunter in the search for answers. Who was Victoria MacKenzie before her marriage? And, what hold did she have on Prudence's late father, a well-respected judge?

While Hunter does much of the outside investigation, Prudence continues to put herself in danger in a household that has changed drastically since her new stepmother took over. Prudence can only trust an Irish maid and the stableman. But, her search for answers even endangers them, as an accident leaves one of them struggling for life.

Hunter and Prudence put together an unlikely team. As they coerce answers from a doctor and a mortician, they turn to others for help. There's an ex-policeman with connections with everyone from an underworld boss to people who sympathized with the lost cause of the Confederacy. They work with a blind code breaker and his skilled daughter. And, there's an entire group of retired servants and a hansom cab driver who are eager to assist them.

Simpson's debut mystery crosses classes in an investigation into the past of an evil woman and her brother. Someone knows the truth in this suspenseful story that successfully incorporates real people and actual events. What the Dead Leave Behind is a fascinating historical mystery featuring an intrepid young woman, and the people who are willing to help her.

What the Dead Leave Behind by Rosemary Simpson. Kensington Books. 2017. ISBN 9781496709080 (hardcover), 304p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review it for a journal.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Chat - May 2017 Cozy Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime

Here's the book chat featuring forthcoming mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. If it sounds a little choppy at times, blame Jinx. Jinx fans will appreciate that he's there for almost the entire video. However, it's a little unsettling to try to film around a cat.


Here's the list of books in this month's book chat.

Killer Characters by Ellery Adams (8th Books By the Bay Mystery)
Ghostal Living by Kathleen Bridge (3rd Hamptons Home & Garden Mystery)
Mrs. Jeffries Rights a Wrong by Emily Brightwell (35th Victorian Mystery)
Death in Dark Blue by Julia Buckley (2nd Writer's Apprentice Mystery)
Books of a Feather by Kate Carlisle (10th Bibliophile Mystery, 1st time in paperback)
Nightshade for Warning by Bailey Cattrell (2nd Enchanted Garden Mystery)
Dead and Berried by Peg Cochran (3rd Cranberry Cove Mystery)
Walking on My Grave by Carolyn Hart (26th Death on Demand Mystery, hardcover)
Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson (19th Gaslight Mystery, 1st time in paperback)
Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson (20th Gaslight Mystery, hardcover)
The Art of Murder by Elaine Viets (15th Dead-End Job Mystery, 1st time in paperback)
A Purely Private Matter by DarcieWilde (2nd Rosalind Thorne Mystery)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Have You Heard? Home for the Haunting by Juliet Blackwell

Thank you to Sandie Herron for the review for Have You Heard?

Home for the Haunting
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51t9LpDZdUL._AA300_.jpgSeries:  Haunted Home Renovation Mystery #4
Written by Juliet Blackwell, Narrated by Xe Sands
Unabridged Audio, Listening Length: 7 hrs and 30 mins
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Audible.com Release Date: December 3, 2013
ASIN: B00GY8D180

I loved this new entry in Juliet Blackwell's Haunted Home Renovation Series. Mel Turner, general contractor, is working on a home for a disabled man who uses a wheelchair. They plan to build a ramp, several specific projects, and generally tidy up. Some of Mel's workers are at the house on a Saturday along with many neighborhood residents to help as best as they can.

Before the charity work can begin, Mel's sister Cookie arrives without her husband or children. She wants to show that she is important as Mel, so accompanies Mel all day to learn what her job is like.

Cookie shows how little she knows by wanting to just pop into numerous boutiques, eat out, and then go to Mel's evening class as well. In a comical scene, Mel tries to drop Cookie at a Bart station so she can get within a few blocks from home. Cookie objects so vociferously that she take Cookie part way home where she is picked up by family to get home.

The next day brings the charity work day. They soon discover that the house next door is known as the Murder House where a man shot his daughter and wife with his son and second daughter hiding in an upstairs bedroom. The father then shot himself, and the remaining children crawled out a window to escape and to gather help. Ghosts are known to exist there introduced by loud banging of the front door knocker in a repeating pattern.

Mel has begun working on learning more about ghosts via classes with a renowned professor on the subject. He helps Mel set up a séance on the 25th anniversary inside the Murder House. Mel has even become friendlier with the SFPD detective that seems to show up in each book.

I am truly impressed by how much Mel has grown, up to and including this book in the Haunted House Mystery series. This book could stand alone, but I believe it was so very much richer having read it in publication order, just as this series has become.

Sandie Herron

Saturday, April 22, 2017

No Saturday Post

No, nothing is wrong with me. But, last night, just as I sat down to dinner, the power went out. And, it didn't come back on until late in the evening. No power = no Internet = no opportunity to write the blog post.

Enjoy your Saturday, even if it's chilly and damp, as it is here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Winners and A Woo-Woo Mystery Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the copies of A Twist of the Knife. The ARCs are going to Kathy S. from Alba, TX, Doreen D. of Long Beach, CA, and Nancy M. fro Joliet, IL. The books are going out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away cozy mysteries with a paranormal connection. Extra Sensory Deception is Allison Kingsley's Raven's Nest Bookstore Mystery. Cousins Stephanie and Clara Quinn are booksellers, and Clara has an ability to read minds and see the future. Clara's boyfriend invites her to the rodeo to meet a high school buddy and expert calf roper. But, Clara's reluctant when she has a vision involving a rodeo clown. Of course, there's a dead body, and Clara needs to use her Quinn Sense to keep that calf roper from prison.

Christy Fifield's Haunted Souvenir Shop mystery is Murder Ties the Knot. The tourist trade in Keyhole Bay, Florida may be slow, but souvenir shop owner Glory Martine has her hands full. She's juggling her best friend's wedding, a haunted parrot, and plans to catch a killer.

Which cozy mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. The subject line should read either "Win Extra Sensory Deception" or "Win Murder Ties the Knot." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only please. The giveaway will end Thursday, April 27th at 6 PM CT.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Are You Reading?

It's all up to you today. I'm in the middle of reading this month's pile of mysteries for the June 1 issue of Library Journal, so I can't really talk about my current book. You'll see all the books reviewed here sooner or later, though. So, just think, ten mystery reviews!

What are you reading? I'll jump in between meetings today, but I know I can count on some of you to get involved in the conversation. I love to see those titles. Thanks for reading with us!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Have You Heard? Tammy Kaehler's Dead Man's Switch

It's been a month since I shared one of Sandie Herron's Have You Heard? posts with you. Sandie listens to audiobooks, which I don't do. This is an opportunity for other listeners to discover titles they might have missed. Here's the note I run periodically before one of Sandie's reviews.

“Have You Heard?” is a column featured only on Lesa’s Book Critiques.  It features many reviews of audiobooks (fiction, with a concentration in mysteries) but these reviews will include recent and past books for an interesting mixture of titles. Content is usually written by Sandie Herron.  It also covers news of note and not generally available, such as ASAP publishing a limited edition for a certain author or perhaps something important out of Publisher’s Weekly.  The column is published sporadically, so you’ll want to watch for it!

Thank you, Sandie. (Racing fans may want to listen to this one.)
Dead Man’s Switch
Series: The Kate Reilly Mysteries, Book 1
Written by Tammy Kaehler, Narrated by Nicole Vilencia
Unabridged Audiobook
Listening Length: 8 hours and 53 minutes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio (August 2, 2011)
**** stars

Kate Reilly is looking for a “ride” at Lime Rock Park speedway in Lakeville, Connecticut on the 4th of July weekend where the American Le Mans series (ALMS) is racing its Corvettes.  Kate’s level of experience means that she must become a part of a racing team in order to be taken seriously as a driver.  Turning up at the track says that she is ready and willing just in case a team needs a driver.  

As luck would have it, Kate discovers a body by barely hitting it when she arrived and parked her car.  That body is Wade Becker, driver of the 28 Corvette on the Sandham Swift racing team.  She runs for help and finds Stuart Telardy, VP of operations and communications for ALMS, 33, and handsome.  When the police arrive, the detectives question her repeatedly, wondering why she had found Wade’s body.  She is incredulous when they ask for her alibi for the previous night.  At least she’d been with her friend Holly from Western racing team, who takes Kate under her wing after the police release her on that Saturday morning.

Jack Sandham finds Kate in Holly’s team’s paddock.  He hires Kate to drive for Wade for this race with possibilities for the remainder of the series.  Kate is thrilled when her dreams come true and she is hired as the second driver.   The rumor mill explodes, and Kate is considered a prime suspect in Becker’s murder.  However, Wade was not a popular driver, so many will not miss him.  They are happy to see what Kate can do.  Many others believe a woman does not make a good race driver and let her know it.  She’s a 24-year-old female who has been working her way up in the racing world since she was 12 years old.  But she knows she is stepping into a chaotic situation full of emotion.

Sandham Swift is a private team racing two C6R Corvettes purchased from the manufacturer, numbers 28 an 29.  The cars competed in GT1 (Grand Touring 1) along with large Ferraris, Vipers, Mazaradis, Astin Martins, and Selenes.  Other classes include the GT2 and Le Mans prototype classes 1 and 2.  Two drivers share the car in every race, with more drivers for longer races.  Kate had joined this team for the third stint at the end of Sebring’s 12-hour race the year before so knew the car, the team, the pit crew, the owner.  

Kate immediately meets with the crew, learning more about the car and the track.  She will only have an hour to practice in the car before the race.  She needed to convince the detectives she didn’t commit murder while getting to know the car and track as best she could.

When race time arrives, we are treated to a step-by-step rundown of what goes on inside the race car.  With each turn of the car, Kate describes the actions needed to navigate the turns, the straights, and pit lane.  She has done this a million times before she ever attempts it in the car.  It is as close to a personal tour of the track as the reader can get without being there.

Reviewed by Sandie Herron