Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts

Feb 16, 2016

MACDEATH

Four authors are observing the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death by showing off their Bard-related mysteries. I'm going to focus on one at a time, so this week it's Cindy Brown's Macdeath.
Here are some things I like/love about the book.
*It's a cozy--amateur sleuth, small cast of characters who all know each other--but it never descends to the silliness I despise in some cozies. People act like real people (even if they are all actors). :)
*It takes place in a theater. Anyone who knows my drama director background can guess I'd like that.
*The play Macbeth is woven into the story. Anyone who knows my English teacher background will know I loved that.
*The main character is real. I felt like she was someone I've known, or might have.
*The author has a sense of story. I particularly liked the connection between the first line and the last.
*...and who doesn't love that title? Makes me wish I'd thought of it!





Here are the other three books, which I'll talk about in the weeks to come:


Jan 4, 2016

Blood & Guts in Mysteries


 In classic Greek theater, violence happens offstage. If someone's going to kill himself, he tells you so then exits. If the hero and the bad guy engage in a duel to the death, they'll thrust and parry "stage right and exeunt." Only one will return. It's partly good taste, the belief that audiences shouldn't have to see such things. I suspect the other part is more practical: a good death scene is difficult to stage--and what do you do with the corpse afterward?

Shakespeare takes the easy way many times, too. People come in carrying dead bodies, like Lear bearing poor Cordelia; or parts of them, as Macduff does with Macbeth's head. Easy to make a fake head, not so easy to make it appear the head of a living actor is being separated from his body.

Today we have all kinds of tricks to make on-stage deaths look real. If you've seen the Three Musketeers decapitate the evil Milady just as the theater goes dark, or the trick of light in Les Miserables that makes it seem Javert is falling to his death, you know how effective those moments can be. Don't get me started on blood and gore in movies. Just don't.

In books, written descriptions of death have become more and more lurid, especially in mysteries, and I for one don't like it. Call me soft, but I don't want to read details of how a terrified victim is killed by inches by a crazed antagonist. Since I don't like to read that stuff, I don't write it.

I just re-read my most murder-filled novel, Shakespeare's Blood. Victims in the book are killed in ways that mimic deaths in Shakespeare's plays, so they're not pretty. What I did to dial back the horror is keep the violence mostly off the page. Bodies are found, and readers learn what happened to them, but you don't have to be there and watch it happen. That creates suspense and concern for the protagonist, an American tourist in Britain who's being chased by a madman. We know what awaits Mercedes if he catches up with her, but we don't have to dwell on how we know it.

I re-read the book last week, because another author contacted me to say that April 23rd is the 500th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Her book concerns the Bard too, and she wondered if we should do some shared promotion. I agreed, so we'll see what we can put together.

Either way, I like my way of presenting murder. It's never nice to kill someone, but it's a tiny bit nicer if the readers don't know all the gory details.

Dec 11, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 17: Giveaway

A Lethal Time and Place is an old favorite of mine, so I'm sharing it as today's giveaway.
It's a paranormal mystery set in Chicago in the late '60s, and you'll love the twist in the middle.
I think you'll also love the characters: they're weird, they're wonderful, and they will surprise you with their cleverness, their oddness, and their support for each other.



If you want to try the book, go to Instafreebie and download it in whatever form you need for your e-reader. Here's the link:    http://www.instafreebie.com/free/KqhUH   You've got one week.

Merry Christmas!

Dec 8, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 12: Author James R. Benn

Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery (Billy Boyle World War II Mystery Book 1)Since yesterday was Pearl Harbor Day, I got to thinking about WWII, which led me to recall a series my husband and I both enjoy, the Billy Boyle Mysteries by James R. Benn. I planned for Tuesdays in this 30 Days thing to introduce readers to some authors I enjoy who are not big names but perhaps should be, so I thought I'd showcase Mr. Benn.
I've never met him, though we've crossed paths a few times online. He's just published a new book, The White Ghost, and while I haven't yet read it, the others have all been worthwhile.

Billy Boyle is a soldier in WWII who gets assigned to the investigative services. Even in wartime crimes are committed, and Dwight Eisenhower knows Billy was a cop back home. His adventures take him all over the war theater, and along the way he picks up some memorable friends.

If you have a WWII buff on your Christmas list, you might want to look at the first book in the series, Billy Boyle.

I also like the '40s look of the covers.

Dec 3, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 9: A Pet Question



If you know the Sleuth Sisters, you've met Buddy, Faye's mongrel, and Styx, Retta's Newfoundland. You know Barb has formed a tenuous relationship with a stray cat. Book #2 had some horses join the family, and Book #3 took us to the family farm, where there are reindeer and peafowl.
In the 4th Sleuth Sisters book, chickens are an inciting factor--Bet you never heard that in a mystery before!


All this brought to mind a question for today's post: If money, space, and other possible drawbacks were somehow taken care of, what animal would you choose to get for a Christmas gift? (to add to the ones you already share space with, of course)


Dec 2, 2015

30 Days of Christmas Day 8:Testing, Testing--A Giveaway

We're going to try something new today. I read about InstaFreebie online, and I want to see if it's as easy as they say.
Soooooo, if you haven't read THE SLEUTH SISTERS or you know someone who should, here's the link to a FREE e-copy

http://www.instafreebie.com/free/1XMHQ

I would appreciate some feedback on how well InstaFreebie works, because I understand people are abusing the Amazon Gift books that authors provide. When we "gift" an e-book on Amazon, a few nasty folks trade that gift in for cash and spend it on something else. I know, it's sad. I guess people who would do that aren't likely to provide an Amazon review anyway, which is why we give books away (and because we love our readers, of course!)

InstaFreebie claims it can work with any e-reader. I put the book up for a week, so you have until next Wednesday, Dec. 9, to get your copy or tell someone else how to find it. If it works well, I'll do more giveaways over the next few months so readers can try some of my other series.

And for those of you who already read THE SLEUTH SISTERS, here's another recipe to try for Christmas treats.



Cinnamon Toasted Pecans

Just like the ones you buy at craft fairs!



1 pound pecans, whole or halves
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, beat egg white and water to a froth. In a large zip-bag, combine sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Coat pecans with the egg/water mixture then drop them into the bag and shake, coating well. Spread on greased cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Cool on waxed paper. (These freeze well, but seldom last long!)

Aug 1, 2015

FREE E-book!

THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY is free for Kindle right now: August 1st through the 4th.

http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Detective-Agency-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B010MF5J9E/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

This is a re-release, so you might have read it, but if you haven't yet met Seamus, Dead Detective, and if you have a sense of humor about the Afterlife, you might enjoy this series (follow-ups are Dead for the Money and Dead for the Show. I'm working on Dead to Get Ready--and Go.)

One reviewer made me giggle when she said though SHE liked the book, she wouldn't want her children to read it and conclude that this is the way heaven actually is.

Really? Can you say FICTION?

I had fun with what we're taught about the Afterlife as I wrote this mystery, which another reviewer says is "Sam Spade meets Quantam Leap." Not sure about that, since there isn't much sci-fi stuff here, but I think you'll enjoy the book, which won Best Mystery of 2012.

Here are some snippets of the reviews, since Amazon hasn't yet put the old version (published in 2011 with the female close up and looking outward) together with the new one (published recently, with the female looking at the semi-transparent man).

"The story and writing proceed at a furious, breathtaking pace, and when we finally come to the end of our voyage, it's with deep regret, as if saying bon voyage to a dear friend we have known and loved for years." New York Journal of Books, Reviewer Sam Millar.

"A fun concept of afterlife and well-developed characters makes this an entertaining page turner. I am certainly looking forward to the next in the series. Would be good material for the big screen. A refreshingly new idea." Amazon Reader

"Loved the whole idea for this book. I enjoyed the comparisons about what we think of as ghosts as actually the dead using our bodies. Can't wait to read the next one!" Amazon Reader

Jun 15, 2015

And the Winner Is--

Almost everyone liked the cover with the two figures on it best. I can't show it to you yet in final form, because I asked the cover artist to do a little touching up, which she confided this morning is driving her crazy. (Better her than me!) I don't like the messiness around the girl's left hand, and since I have no idea how much work it is to smooth that out, I asked. Apparently it's a lot.
Anyway, I should have that cover soon, so the first two Dead Detective books can be re-issued by the end of June. Don't buy them again if you've already read them.
I mean, you can if you want to...   :)
I talked to a fan who thought she liked Book #3 (DEAD FOR THE SHOW) better than Book #1, so she went back and re-read the first one. Now that's dedication!
I almost never re-read books, except of course for editing and re-editing and re-re-editing. By the time mine are published, I'm tired of them. It was interesting, therefore, to read the first 2 DD books several years later for this re-issue. I still like them, though I fixed a sentence here and there.
Now I'm at work on Book #4, which will be the last involving Seamus. It's going along well, but they always take longer than I plan on. I'm thinking early 2016 if all goes well.

Jun 1, 2015

Simon & Elizabeth Are Back

At my signing on Saturday, a reader asked about the next Simon & Elizabeth book. Sometimes I feel like I neglect them, but it's mostly because my publisher accepts the manuscripts and then sets a date for release 20 years in the future.

Okay, maybe not 20.

Five Star is an excellent publisher, and they have a large number of authors who keep writing more books, so each submitted manuscript is put into a queue. I sent them the fourth in the series in late 2013 and got June 18, 2015, for my release date. Once I've done the work they require, editing, writing cover copy, etc., that leaves me with well over a year to forget the book exists. So if I haven't mentioned my historical series lately, that's why.

Book #4 is called HER MAJESTY'S MISCHIEF. Elizabeth is now queen, (hence "Her Majesty") and she wants Simon to go to Scotland and form an honest appraisal of Mary, Queen of Scots. The "mischief" in the title might refer to Mary and her plotting, but Elizabeth was no slouch at plotting mischief herself. She's thinking of offering Mary a husband (and not just any husband!), but reports of the Scottish queen's character vary widely. Some say she's sweet and innocent; others say she's a conniving, evil woman. Scholars actually still argue about which impression is most fitting, and the events in the book concerning Mary are true, except that Simon didn't go along because Simon didn't really exist. For our purposes, however, he does, and Elizabeth trusts his judgment. Unlike the rest of the men surrounding her throne, he has no political agenda.

Simon does have an agenda, though. He's recently learned that his brother-in-law was murdered, and being Simon, he wants to investigate. Elizabeth, being his monarch and possessing her father's Tudor stubborn streak, insists on having it her way. While Simon is gone to Scotland (where he gets into all sorts of trouble), his son Henry decides he'll investigate. That, of course, leads to its own set of perils.

The book is up for pre-order on Amazon & Barnes & Noble (maybe others, I just checked those two). So far it's hardcover only, and I have no idea when e-books will be available. They claimed there would be paperbacks this year, but nobody tells the authors the scheduling of any of that. We wait and see just like everyone else.

Apr 20, 2015

New Dead Detective Mystery

DEAD FOR THE SHOW is scheduled for release today. It's ready on Kindle for sure. (If you don't have a Kindle, there's an app you can download to get your other e-readers to read Kindle books. I know nothing about this, being a Kindle owner, but I'm told it's great.)

The book is also available in paperback from Ingram, which means you can order it at a bookstore and they'll have it in a day or two.

I don't see the print version on Amazon yet, but it's in the works. There's no way to predict how long it takes after we approve the proof copies.

So what is this one about?
DEAD FOR THE SHOW is Book #3 of the Dead Detective Mysteries, featuring Seamus, a throwback to the '50s who operates pretty well in 2015. In this one he's investigating the death of a the woman who refuses to believe she's dead. She was a member of a a theater group in Toronto, and Seamus ends up trying to protect her sister so she doesn't end up dead as well.

The series has a lightly humorous slant on the Afterlife and how life on Earth is viewed there. When a person is murdered, he or she can engage a dead detective to go back to Life and find out the whos and whys of the case. The situations the dead detectives get into are sometimes humorous and often suspenseful, but justice always wins out.

I enjoy writing the Dead Detective series and plan at least one more, hopefully for 2016.
Book #1
Book #2


Book #3
Note: Books 1 & 2 will be getting new covers soon when they go into new editions. They'll feature the "new" Seamus pic (center above), so don't buy them a second time by mistake!

Apr 14, 2015

Freebie Day 4: April 14, 2015



Killing Silence

Want 2 free copies of this book? Respond here or on Peg’s News on Facebook to be entered in the daily drawing. If you haven't yet "met" Loser, you're in for a new and uplifting experience!

 Book #1 of the Loser Mysteries
Setting: Richmond, VA

Loser lives on the streets, washing up in public restrooms and eating when the opportunity arises. When the father of a child who’s been good to her is accused of murder, Loser feels compelled to help. In order to do so, she’ll have to overcome her demons: the inability to speak normally, the desire to be left alone, and her tragic past, which haunts her every moment.
This book is now available as an audio book as well as in print and e-formats.


Apr 12, 2015

Freebie Day 2: April 12, 2015



Winner of Yesterday's books: Victoria K.

3 Sleuths, 2 Dogs, 1 Murder

Want 2 free copies of this book? Respond here or on Peg’s News on Facebook to be entered in the daily drawing.




Book #1 of the Sleuth Sisters Series by Maggie Pill (AKA Peg)

Setting: Allport, MI, a town seems a lot like a blend of Alpena and Rogers City

When middle-aged sisters Faye and Barb start a detective agency in their small town, most people think it’s a joke. Only Baby Sister Retta wants to associate with them, and since she tends to be bossy and manipulative, she’s the one person they don’t want around.


Are You in Panic Mode Yet?

 It's two days until Christmas. You have someone to buy for. Maybe you forgot. Maybe that person is difficult to buy for. Maybe you feel...