Interview: Albert Tucher

Welcome Albert Tucher, author of numerous stories featuring prostitute Diana Andrews, including “Sensitivity Training: in the Busted! anthology from Level Best.

Busted!What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Get a workout in first thing, then off to the local Barnes and Noble for writing time. My favorite table is free, of course. Write my thousand words without excessive teeth grinding. Note that I haven’t mentioned going to work. I have been a public librarian for almost forty years, but retirement is beckoning with increasing urgency.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?

Coffee. At the Newark Public Library I am legendary for my consumption.

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?

That’s hard to pin down. I had been reading crime fiction for thirty years before I ever tried to write it. By that time I think everything I ever read had been steeping somewhere in my mind.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Barnes and Noble takes care of that. Whatever they’re playing is fine with me. I write there because I like a certain amount of commotion around me. Tuning it out helps me concentrate.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?

Eighty-six percent cacao, and dark, dark, dark.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?

To me Hawaii is the best place on earth, and the Big Island is my favorite island, but not for the usual reasons. I like the rainforest side more than the sun and sand of the Kona side. In Sensitivity Training Officer Jenny Freitas finds herself wilting under the Kona sun, and I feel the same way. I love to walk the streets of Hilo and look out at the bay. The dark clouds that almost always obscure the horizon make the place feel like the edge of the world. I get rained on a lot there, but that doesn’t bother me a bit.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?

I’m fascinated by the incongruously violent history of Hawaii, which seems to consist of incessant warfare. The modern equivalent of this history is the persistence of crime in such a beautiful setting. The rainforest region known as Puna has seen some terrible crimes, which I have called upon for material. Some names to Google: Dana Ireland, Ken and Yvonne Mathison, Brittany Royal, Boaz Johnson.

Place_Of_Refuge_CoverTell us about your main character.

Okay, stay with me. My original series character is an escort-level prostitute named Diana Andrews. I have published more than seventy short stories about her. She also stars in a series of six novels, of which only the first, The Same Mistake Twice, has been published. She is based in northern New Jersey, but in the third novel, called Tentacles, I send her to the rainforest of the Big Island with a client who neglects to mention that some nasty people are after him.

A supporting character from that book is Detective Errol Coutinho of the Hawaii County Police. Ideas for stories featuring him started to bubble up and demand my attention, and my recently published novella The Place of Refuge is one result. Coutinho has acquired several sidekicks of his own, including Officer Jenny Freitas. When I got an idea that required a young woman protagonist, she was ready and waiting. So, Jenny is a spin-off of a spin-off.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

For this question I need to return to my roots, meaning Diana Andrews. Start with Scarlett Johansson for beauty. Add Helen Mirren for poise and unflappability. Finally, a touch of Rhonda Rousey for the tough chick thing. Am I in love with her? Yeah, probably.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?

I’d have to expand the definition of mystery to include crime stories, which would allow me to invite Shakespeare, Mary Shelley and Charles Dickens. Now it’s a question of who wouldn’t be intimidated by them. Ruth Rendell, Robert B. Parker and Elmore Leonard would keep the pot boiling. As a bonus, Master Will could tell us once and for all, “Yes, I wrote the damned plays.”

What’s next for you?

Two more Errol Coutinho novels. One is called The Hollow Vessel, and the other doesn’t get a title until it stops fighting me every step of the way.

*****

Tucher_HeadshotAlbert Tucher is the creator of prostitute Diana Andrews, who has appeared in seventy short stories in venues including The Best American Mystery Stories 2010, edited by Lee Child. Her first longer case, the novella The Same Mistake Twice, was published in 2013. Another novella featuring characters from Sensitivity Training, called The Place of Refuge, was published in March. Anyone who wants to catch Albert Tucher at the Newark Public Library should do it soon, because retirement beckons.

Facebook : @Albert.Tucher.Writes

Twitter: @alcrimewriter

Interview: Pat Hale

Welcome to Pat Hale, author of Cole and Callahan novels!

cover2What’s your idea of the perfect day?

My perfect day includes a wake up yoga routine followed by coffee and the rest of the morning writing. A long afternoon walk in the woods with my dogs and then an hour spent with a good book and a glass of wine before my husband gets home from work and I have to start dinner!

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression or meal?

I’m never without my mother and baby elephant ring. A gift from my daughter confirming that the female of the species stick together.

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?

Stephen King’s book, On Writing, was and is an important influence. I still pick it up and randomly flip it open when I need a boost. I’m also a big fan of his writing style. He is a storyteller and makes the reader feel as though he’s speaking directly to you. I read Jodi Picoult for her plots. She’s adept at presenting both sides of an ethical dilemma, making the reader question their own beliefs.

Do you listen to music when you write?  

No, I like complete quiet. (Just the snoring of my dogs.)

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?

It would be an M&M because it is a hard police procedural on the outside, but the inner layer (or subplot) is soft, wrestling with the heart and human compassion.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?

I read an article about the dedication of people working on hot lines and began to think what if the hot line volunteer wasn’t so good? What if the hotline was a way for a killer to select their next victim? I began playing around with that idea and that’s how the story began. It has wavered some in its final version, but it was the hotline idea that started the whole thing.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?

I’ve never set out to purposefully include religion in any of my stories, but a religious conflict or undercurrent always shows up. In The Church of the Holy Child, I wanted to write about a serial killer using a hot line then the priest appeared in my head. I think his dilemma adds a great layer to the story, but I didn’t start out with the idea in mind. I was raised strict Catholic and grew up fighting against the rigidity and what I interpreted as hypocrisies within the religion. I think the questions I wrestle with are always in my subconscious and often make their way into my characters heads.

Tell us about your main character.

Britt Callahan is half of the PI team of Cole and Callahan. She was previously a family law attorney, but when a case she lost culminated in the shooting death of the woman she had represented, she lost all confidence and resigned from the law firm. Griff Cole, her boyfriend, has his own PI business and convinced her to come and work with him.  Now Britt is trying to regain her lost faith and on a mission to prove her worth, primarily to herself.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

Aaron Stampler from the movie Primal Fear, Lou Ford from the book, The Killer Inside and Norman Bates.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?

Stephen King, Robert Parker, Tana French, Sophie Hannah, John Hart and Dean Kuntz.

What’s next for you?

The Church of the Holy Child is the first in a series of Cole and Callahan PI novels. The second book, Durable Goods will be released before the end of 2017.

*****

Patricia Hale received her MFA degree from Goddard College. Her essays have appeared in literary magazines and the anthology, My Heart’s First Steps. Her debut novel, In the Shadow of Revenge, was published in 2013. The Church of the Holy Child is the first book in her PI series featuring the team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan. Patricia is a member of Sister’s in Crime, Mystery Writer’s of America, NH Writer’s Project and Maine Writer’s and Publisher’s Alliance. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two dogs.

Website: www.patriciahale.org

FB page: @patricia.hale.102

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7113831

 

 

 

 

Interview: Judy Alter

Welcome back Judy Alter to Mysteristas, celebrating the launch of The Color of Fear!

Fear_cover_redTypeWhat’s your idea of a perfect day?

My perfect day begins with a steaming cup of green tea and emails and Facebook. I’m not too proud to admit that I relish Facebook, both for the contacts with friends, news of writing friends and their doings, and world news (yes, I check the sources). Political rants not so much, but I read them and write some of my own because I think it’s important to share views in these uncertain times. About nine, I fix breakfast—a bowl of dry cereal or peanut-butter toast, most likely—and turn to whatever writing project is current.

Lunch of tuna salad is followed by a nap and then back to my computer to continue the current writing project. By five I’m through, and ready for happy hour on the patio, with my daughter and possibly a few friends.

On a perfect day, I’d have dinner with friends at a favorite restaurant. In this season, it would be one with a quiet and comfortable patio and not many loud customers.

If all my dreams could come true, this day would be spent in a beach-front house on Lake Michigan or a casa with a mountain view in Santa Fe. Or there’s always a cottage in the Scottish Highlands, with a good pub nearby.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?

My signature meal is probably tuna fish salad, but I’m fussy about it. I go through life trying it at various restaurants—some qualify, many don’t—but my daughter makes it best with good albacore tuna (we order from a small cannery in Oregon), lots of lemon, a green onion, salt and pepper and just enough mayonnaise to bind. No eggs or pickle, please.

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?

A number of authors have inspired and encouraged me over the years, many of them in western writing—like Elmer Kelton, Robert Flynn, Jeanne Williams. Once I turned to mystery, Susan Wittig Albert did more than anyone to encourage me and remains a special person and favorite author.

Do you listen to music when you write? 

No. Sometimes I leave TV on without the sound.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?

Dark chocolate mousse. Rich, dark, and quick (the book is a novella).

What made you interested in writing this particular story? 

A commitment to contribute a novella to an anthology (the forthcoming Sleuthing Women anthology) and a desire to bring Kelly O’Connell back to readers. I’m not sure why the story is about kidnapping a child, except that the disappearance of a child was a childhood fear carried over to motherhood, and now I worry about my grandchildren. Not excessively, but it’s there.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing? 

Women’s roles, food, male/female relationships. In my historical fiction, I focused on strong women who made their mark, principally in the American West. I think that focus has carried over, with a lighter touch, to my mysteries.

Tell us about your main character.

Kelly O’Connell is the owner of a small (one-person plus assistant) real estate firm in Fort Worth’s inner-city Historic Fairmount District. In the first book, she’s the single mom of two girls, but that changes in subsequent books. She’s in her mid- to late-thirties, average height, uncontrollable curly brown hair, would like to lose 20 lbs., prefers loafers, slacks and a blazer for work, wears sweat pants and T-shirts at home. Comfortably casual, not a fashionista, but she appreciates nice clothes, fine food, good restaurants. She’s an easy personality. Someone wrote, “She’s like someone you’d meet in the line at the grocery store.”

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

She’s certainly got some Nancy Drew about her, and maybe a bit of Michelle Obama in the sense of being an ordinary person, and maybe a pinch of Hillary Clinton on a small scale because she’s civic minded, concerned always about the welfare of her neighborhood and her city.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?

On a whim, I might go for a good gossipy collection of women who write mystery: Susan Wittig Albert, Deborah Crombie, Ellery Adams, Ruth Reichl (she could choose the menu and she’s written one novel I enjoyed), Terry Shames, Cleo Coyle (I know, she’s two people). The talk and wine would flow, and we’ have fine food (I’m a foodie).

What’s next for you?

More mysteries, in all three series. Immediately next is a Blue Plate Café murder about a developer who decides to build (or exploit, depends on your point of view) the town of Wheeler. Haven’t decided on the murder victim yet, because the developer is almost too obvious a candidate. I’ll bring back Kelly O’Connell again, because that’s my most popular series. And I want to develop the Oak Grove mysteries with Susan Hogan—I’ll publish the second in August or September.

 Judy’s sloppy joe

1 lb. ground beef
1 15-oz. can of beans (any kind you want), rinsed and drained
½ c. chopped onion
½ c. diced celery
2 Tbsp. bacon drippings (If you can’t bring yourself to use it in this health-conscious age, use vegetable oil, but the bacon flavor really makes a difference.)
¼ c. ketchup
1½ Tbsp. Worcestershire
Dash of Tabasco
1 tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. oregano
¼ c. dry red wine
1 Tbsp. A-1 sauce (If I don’t have this, omit it; I can never tell the difference.)

Cook onion in bacon drippings. Add beef and brown. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 20 to 30 minutes.

Other projects simmer in the back of my mind—a novel set in the Scottish Highlands, a memoir, maybe a fictional bio of an early female pilot in this country. Lots of projects for a woman of advancing years—I’ll write my way into what I hope is a far-distant grave.

*****

JudyCasualPortrait 002Judy Alter is the author of six books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries, two books in the Blue Plate Café Mysteries; and two in the Oak Grove Mysteries. Pigface and the Perfect Dog follows The Perfect Coed in this series of mysteries set on a university campus. Judy is no stranger to college campuses. She attended the University of Chicago, Truman State University in Missouri, and Texas Christian University, where she earned a Ph.D. and taught English. For twenty years, she was director of TCU Press, the book publishing program of the university. The author of many books for both children and adults primarily on women of the American West, she retired in 2010 and turned her attention to writing contemporary cozy mysteries.

She holds awards from the Western Writers of America, the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame, and the Texas Institute of Letters. She was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame and recognized as an Outstanding Woman of Fort Worth and a woman who has left her mark on Texas. Western Writers of America gave her the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement and will induct her into its Hall of Fame in June 2015.

The single parent of four and the grandmother of seven, she lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her perfect dog, Sophie.

Follow her at (Amazon) http://www.amazon.com/Judy-Alter/e/B001H6NMU6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1377217817&sr=1-2-ent;

her blog: http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com;

and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Judy-Alter-Author/366948676705857

Pigface and the Perfect Dog

The Color of Fear

 

Guest Post: Steve Liskow

A big Mysteristas welcome to Steve Liskow, author of Hit Somebody, and a two-time winner of the Black Orchid Novella Award.

HitSomebody_cover_full-sizecF. Scott Fitzgerald’s Last Laugh

Going back at least as far as Erle Stanley Gardner, one of the major mystery plots involves the person who is finally proven innocent of wrongdoing. Scott Turow and John Grisham have financed their golden years with the same story, and Harper Lee’s masterpiece turns the story on its head by having Tom Robinson unfairly convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.

Critics often change their minds, too. Think of artists whose work flopped at first. Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring, for example, or Picasso’s early work.

Or The Great Gatsby.

I grew up in the Midwest and earned a BA in English without having read any Fitzgerald. In the summer of 1970, I saw the film Getting Straight, starring Eliot Gould and Candace Bergen, and a major plot point involved Gould’s oral exam for his Masters degree. The characters mention The Great Gatsby and one professor voices his theory that the book is about repressed homosexual desire between Nick and Gatsby. Gould thinks the idea is ridiculous and fails his exam.

Curiosity led me to find The Great Gatsby at a local library. Over the next thirty years, I assigned the novel in every American Lit class I taught and probably re-read it twenty times. I even told classes in the early nineties that Quentin Tarrantino structured Pulp Fiction based on what he learned from Gatsby (OK, so I lied. I write crime fiction).

Now the book is widely regarded as a classic, but when it appeared in 1925, it was Fitzgerald’s first and most spectacular failure. H. L. Mencken called the book “a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that.” He was more generous than most of his colleagues. Isabel Paterson wrote, “What has never been alive cannot very well go on living; so this is a book for the season only.” The New York Evening World called it “A valiant effort to be ironical,” and the St. Louis Dispatch suggested changing the title to “Ten Nights on Long Island.”

The year Gatsby appeared, Fitzgerald made as much from the novel as he earned for publishing a short story in the Saturday Evening Post. He died in 1940, having earned $13.13 royalties for the book…while unsold copies of the first edition languished in a warehouse.

The only positive review, which appeared eight years later, was Gertrude Stein’s prediction to TIME Magazine that Fitzgerald’s work “will be read when many of his well known contemporaries are forgotten.”

In the late 40s, the book was adapted as a radio play heard by one of the Scribner sons, who discovered his company owned the copyright…and found those books in the warehouse. A 1949 film starring Alan Ladd revived interest. There have been at least three other films, a musical play, and who knows what else since then, and the book has sold over 25 million copies. Scribner now sells roughly a half-million copies a year, including eBooks, and it’s a safe bet not all them go to schools.

Nearly 100 years after its publication, this is still one of those novels aspiring writers should read to learn techniques most teachers can’t show them. Look at the two paragraphs of description atop page eleven: active verbs instead of forms of “to be,” vivid imagery. Even though it’s a static scene, Fitzgerald gives you the impression action is taking place. Look at his use of overlapping flashbacks. And his brilliant use of the unreliable narrator (most people miss Nick’s bias even though he reminds us that he’s wealthy. He has affairs with two women during the book…after coming east to escape another affair back home). When Fitzgerald shifts the point of view in chapter 8, most people don’t even notice that he’s violated the book’s structure because he’s so subtle about it. Look how logically he sets up the mistaken belief that leads to Gatsby’s end. It wraps up the subplots in a veil of irony.

And listen to those elegiac closing paragraphs…

Wow. Just…wow.

Fitzgerald’s brilliance is that he calls attention to none of this, but he pulls out and reinvents technique—always in service to the story—to hold the fragility of the American Dream and unrequited love in a tragic but sympathetic glow.

All in 189 pages. Some of William Faulkner’s sentences feel nearly as long.

*****

 A former teacher, actor, and director, Steve has been a finalist for both the Edgar and the Shamus, and has won the Black Orchid Novella Award twice. Hit Somebody, published in June, is his twelfth novel and he has also published nearly twenty short stories. He is a mentor and panelist for both Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and conducts writing workshops in Connecticut. Visit his website at www.steveliskow.com and like his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/steveliskowcrimewriter.

Guest Post: Sasscer Hill

Please welcome Sasscer Hill, author of the Nikki Latrelle and Fia McKee mysteries!

A Flamingo Road 1688 x 2550 2.1 mlbitesAs a child I loved horses, action, and adventure, and I was addicted to Walter Farley’s books. In the fifth grade our teacher asked my class to write a story. I wrote a scene with a boy and an old man trailering a horse to the races, from the viewpoint of the boy. Something was wrong, I don’t remember what, but the boy was worried. The correlation between my boy and Farley’s “Alex Ramsey” is obvious but here’s how this moment changed my life. First, I was surprised when the teacher asked me to read my fragment to the class. I was even more surprised that several kids seemed genuinely interested, and asked, “What happens next?”

There is no greater compliment a writer can get than to have that question asked, and I knew I had something.  I realized maybe I had the talent needed to be an author. Unfortunately, I spent decades working in marketing and promotions for several Washington, DC associations, and two different academic book publishers. My first book, Nikki Latrelle novel, Full Mortality, wasn’t published until I was in my fifties.

When I wrote Full Mortality, I followed the old adage, “write what you know,” and since I lived on a farm outside DC, and raised Thoroughbred racehorses for thirty-two years, I knew a lot about horse racing. Not only that, it was my passion and that passion, I believe, found its way into my books. So far, the character of Nikki Latrelle has provided me with a successful four-book series.

In 2010, I found a new agent and this resulted in a two-book deal with St. Martins Press to write the “Fia McKee” series, with the first book, Flamingo Road, just out this past spring.

Fia is a female agent working for the Thoroughbred Racing Protection Bureau (TRPB), an actual US agency. The TRPB’s mission, which of course becomes Fia’s mission, is to protect the integrity of horse racing against those that ruin the sport’s credibility by cheating, scamming, drugging horses, or threatening jockeys. Sadly, there is an endless list of bad acts and bad actors that can ruin the image of the sport of kings.

Fia’s father was murdered at Pimlico Racetrack and the case was never solved. Fia, angry and resentful, becomes a Baltimore City cop. Hot headed, she’s suspended when she guns down a perp. She winds up working for the TRPB who sends her to Gulfstream Park race track near Miami to investigate why low-level horses are suddenly winning at long odds. When a horse belonging to Fia’s fifteen-year-old niece is butchered for the illegal Cuban-American horsemeat market, Fia is pulled into a doubly dangerous investigation that threatens her life and the lives of those she loves.

Out in spring of 2018, will be the second in the series, The Dark Side of Town. The manuscript for this book already won a Carrie McCray Award and was nominated for a Claymore Award!

I wanted to plunge into the next Fia McKee novel which would take place at Santa Anita Park in California. I even traveled to California and took a tour of the track and the Hollywood area nearby. I wanted a murder mystery set at this well-known track surrounded by the glitz and deceit of Hollywood.

But, suppose the first two Fia McKee novels don’t sell well? What good will this idea be then? St. Martin’s Press owns the right to “Fia McKee.” If I want to sell to another big-five New York publisher, any book I write, must be something new, which means yet another series and a new set of characters.

Since I have to hedge my bets, I’ve already started a new book–a murder mystery about the Irish Travelers here in America. By happy coincidence, the largest enclave for these people is Murphy Village, not more than forty minutes from my home in Aiken, South Carolina.

Travelers have a fascinating culture. The children are taken out of school by eighth grade, if not before, and the girls are married by contract and usually as young teens. Travelers stick to themselves and have little dealings with outsiders. Society believes the Travelers are scam and con artists. What would it be like for a girl who grows up in this atmosphere? What if she wants out? Where would she go? What would happen to her?

And so, another story has evolved, and another exploration has begun. Only time will tell which way I travel, but at least I’ll be as prepared as possible for whatever happens next.

*****

Author Sasscer Hill was involved in horse racing as an amateur jockey and racehorse breeder for most of her life. She sets her novels against a background of big money, gambling, and horse racing, and her mystery and suspense thrillers have received multiple award nominations.

Sasscer and her mystery books can all be found at https://SasscerHill.com/

Guest Post: Mary Feliz

Welcome back to Mysteristas friend Mary Feliz, author of the Maggie McDonald Mysteries!

Dead Storage_FINALThe British Influence

The amateur detective mystery is nowhere quite as popular as it is in the United Kingdom. But why? I’d like to believe it’s an ongoing celebration of the spirit that brought the nation back from the verge of destruction during the Blitz. It was an effort that relied as much or more on the strength of its civilian or amateur population as it did on trained military personnel.

At their heart, cozy or traditional mysteries are about that sense of community that we all need, what happens when violence rips a hole in the fabric of the community, and what ordinary people can do to restore order. No matter how bad things get, the murderer will be discovered, the fabric is repaired, and the balance between good and evil is rebalanced.

But the traditional British mystery predates the 1940s by nearly 100 years. Wilkie Collins, a British writer who’s often considered the father of detective fiction, launched the genre with the first full-length detective novel, The Moonstone, published in 1868.

Collins set his groundbreaking work in an English country house, with a limited number of guests, servants, and residents. The detective, an outsider, is brought in to solve a murder, and begins interviewing the likely suspects, any one of which could be lying to protect themselves or someone else.

It’s an outrageously successful pattern for an unfolding murder mystery, and one that Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, and a slew of other authors have emulated for nearly 150 years.

Before Collins, Edgar Allen Poe wrote the first short detective story in 1841. The Murders in the Rue Morgue sets up an ingenious locked room mystery when two women are brutally murdered.

Agatha Christie’s mash-up of the two popular formats is a tour de force. And Then There Were None expands the locked room into a remote island made inaccessible by a storm.  It capitalizes on the limited cast of characters initially utilized by Collins.

When I think of the British influence, though, I think of the English village mystery, the tropes of which are both lovingly spoofed and honored in the extraordinarily popular Midsomer Murders mystery series, now in its 20th season.

Made popular by Miss Marple and her tiny hamlet of St. Mary Mead, these cozy mysteries typically feature a pastoral setting with a limited number of characters whose lives are closely intertwined.  The stories begin when a murder disrupts the sleepy life of the town and an outsider arrives to investigate. Nothing is as it seems. The peaceful community harbors disturbing secrets and resentments residents will do anything to hide. The highly suspect and clumsy outsider who ruffles feathers becomes the key to restoring order. As the townspeople begin to warily eye each other and question their long held assurance of safety, they realize that only in giving up their secrets can they renew their bonds and restore the strength of their community. Slowly, they begin to trust one another, help the detective track down the murderer, and restore goodness to their little village. Much tea is consumed. No animals are hurt.

So popular is the format that it’s been uprooted and transported to other continents and worlds. Laura Van Wormer recreates the traditional mystery in the heart of Manhattan in Riverside Drive, a novel in which the residents of an upscale apartment complex share the same cleaning lady. In subsequent novels, she examines the hard-working employees of an award-winning studio news program.

The genre has been transported to the outback in Australia, to steamy Asia, and to Mars, Jupiter, and orbiting space colonies, and the Wild West.

In my Maggie McDonald Mystery series, Orchard View, a small enclave outside Silicon Valley, stands in for the English market town. A professional organizer with access to the secrets concealed her clients’ sock drawers and the skeletons stashed in their closets, becomes the outsider who tramples on tradition in her effort to restore order.

In Orchard View, like St. Mary Mead, dogs abound, violence is minimized, and there’s no foul language or explicit sex. The sole horror is the potential for violence that lies within any human who is pushed too far. The mystery tracks the community’s efforts to repair the damage done when evil erupts. To restore order, professional organizer and amateur detective Maggie McDonald must rely upon her new neighbors and friends, and help them regain faith in one another.

In Dead Storage, the third and most recent Maggie McDonald Mystery Maggie’s chaos erupts when an undocumented person is witness to a crime. Does he report the crime and risk deportation? Does he stay mum and let bad guys run amok? Or can Maggie come up with another solution without putting herself, her family, and her friends in danger?

Like so many novels that preceded it, Dead Storage follows a familiar narrative structure, adding a different twist.

Dead Storage releases July 18 from Kensington Books’ Lyrical Press.

*****

2017Feliz5773_C5x7WebMary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises, competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust.

www.kensingtonbooks.com

www.maryfeliz.com

 

What we’re reading – summer style

Here in the northern hemisphere we are firmly in the dog-days of summer. And what goes better with a cold drink and a deck chair than a good book, right?

7956465780_5fb7b6d55a_z

Liz: Reading is good any time of the year, but I love sitting on my deck, breeze blowing, book in hand. Right now I am taking a break from mystery (which might be a travesty in some eyes) and reading a biography by Stanley Weintraub about Queen Victoria called, oddly enough, Victoria. I’ve read it before, which drives my husband insane (why re-read a book?), but I needed a bit of a change and I love a good biography.

Kait: I’m mid-deep in Once Upon a Lie by Maggie Barbieri. Perfect summer reading. A funny murder mystery. Okay, so maybe murder shouldn’t be funny, but in this book, it’s all in the perspective. If you are looking for a light read with a dash of cupcakes and a side order of the Irish mob, this could be a book for you. It’s already one for me.

Keenan: I’m re-reading Benjamin Black’s A Death in Summer. Gorgeous writing; I’m just drinking up the words, highlighting and underlining my favorite selections. It’s my book. I get to mark it up.

Kimberly: I’m reading Emily Carpenter’s The Weight of Lies. It’s an intriguing premise. A twenty-something socialite travels to a remote Georgia island to research and write a tell-all about her mother, an author who wrote a 1970s bestseller about a sociopath little girl. It’s like two stories in one. I’m really enjoying it. Also, on deck: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart, a YA novel I’m reviewing for Bookpage.

Sue:  I’m reading Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett.  This is the first of his Century trilogy, about the 20th century in Europe.  I love falling into big books, and this is wonderful!  But I’m also reading smaller books at the same time, just to let me think I can finish something, and that book is Maddie Day’s Flipped for Murder.  I’m a Hoosier from that neck of the woods, so feel right at home.

Fellow Mysteristas, what are you reading?