Mystery Archives

Thrillerfest 2017 – Part 2

The Saturday panels started of with a series of great presentation about the influence of geography on thrillers. The panelists included E. A. Aymar, John Connell, Elena Hartwell, Barry Lancet, Jenny Milchman and Wendy Tyson. Each panelist highlighted how the region in which their thrillers are set is an important…

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Thrillerfest 2017 – Part 1

I just attended my first Thrillerfest and it was quite an experience. I skipped the preliminary events, Craftfest, Pitchfest, etc., because I visited old friends in Hartford, just a couple of hours northeast of New York City. One of these years, I might participate in the day-long FBI workshop. But…

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Blog Tour: Skin of Tattoos by Christina Hoag

What’s it about? Magdaleno is paroled from prison after serving time on a gun possession frameup. Rico, the rival who framed him, has taken over as gang shotcaller in Mags’s absence. Back in Los Angeles, Mags promises himself and his Salvadoran immigrant family a fresh start. But he can’t find…

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Literary Ashland with Victor Lodato

Our June guest was Victor Lodato, a novelist, playwright, and poet. His first novel, Mathilda Savitch, was called “a Salingeresque wonder” by The New York Times and was on the “Best Book” lists of The Christian Science Monitor, Booklist, and The Globe and Mail. Mathilda Savitch won the PEN USA Award…

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Blog Tour: Storm Shelter by J. L. Delozier

What’s it about? Dr. Persephone Smith is a psychologist with a genetic gift. Her enhanced empathy allows her to feel on a primal level the emotions of others, which helps with her job as a counselor for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. But Seph’s gift comes with a price. Plagued…

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Blog Tour: Trained to Serve by Amy Shojai

What’s it about? Trained to Serve is a novella in the Lei Crime KindleWorld. KindleWorlds is a unique new publishing context where authors expand upon and contribute to the world created by another author. In this case, the original author is Toby Neal who writes the Detective Lei Texeira novels.…

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Blog Tour: The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer

What’s it about? Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is beginning to hinder her work. When her beloved brother, a historian, passes away suddenly, she travels to the Tuscan city of Siena to settle his estate. Overworked and in need of a respite, she…

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Author Interview: Sherry Knowlton

Sherry Knowlton is a fellow ITW author and I introduced her upcoming book in the previous post. Both the protagonist and the subject matter sounded fascinating and I asked Sherry if she would answer a few questions about Alexa Williams, her protagonist and her writing. Here are her answers. Michael…

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Blog Tour: Dead of Spring by Sherry Knowlton

What’s it about? When a beloved state senator plunges to his death at Alexa Williams’ feet in the Capitol Rotunda, the authorities suspect suicide. Although the powerful chair of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee was at the center of a controversial new bill to expand hydraulic fracturing, he was…

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Literary Ashland with Steve Scholl

Joining us for the March 2017 edition of Literary Ashland Radio is Steve Scholl, author and publisher. Steve Scholl is an independent scholar of Islam and comparative religion. He studied Islamic philosophy and history at McGill University. He has lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East. He founded White…

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Publication Day

              Wednesday was the official publication day for Illicit Trade and the new edition of Legitimate Business. Friday was the launch day at the Schneider Museum of Art at SOU. It was a lovely afternoon with a great turnout around thirty folks showed up,…

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Literary Ashland with Michael Niemann

I know what you’re going to say. “Isn’t Literary Ashland Radio on KSKQ always with Michael Niemann?” The answer is, of course, “Yes.” Ed Battistella and I have been doing this show for two and a half years now. But this episode is special. Ed enlisted the help of our…

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Literary Ashland with John Yunker

Our guest for the first Literary Ashland show of 2017 was John Yunke. John is the author of the novel The Tourist Trail and co-founder of a boutique environmental publisher, Ashland Creek Press. His short stories have been published by journals such as Phoebe, Flyway, and Antennae. His plays have…

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Interview in the Ashland Daily Tidings

Southern Oregon University adjunct professor Michael Niemann had already written plenty of academic articles before arriving in Ashland in 2008, but growing inside Niemann was a budding desire to tell the kind of stories he first was drawn to as a youngster in Germany. Joe Zavala was the interviewer. Here’s…

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Next Steps Interview on Authors on the Air

I had a great time participating in the Next Steps show with Jenny Milchman. My fellow authors were Nichole Christoff, Hollie Overton and Amy Shojai. Listen to the whole show. Share:

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Literary Ashland with SOU Honors Students, pt. 2

The November 2017 edition of Literary Ashland Radio is the first of two special shows. On November 18, 2017, six students in SOU’s honors college read their work at the Words and Wine event at Weisingers winery. This is the second part of the November 18 Words and Wine event.…

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Literary Ashland with SOU Honors Students, pt. 1

The November 2017 edition of Literary Ashland Radio is the first of two special shows. On November 18, 2017, six students in SOU’s honors college read their work at the Words and Wine event at Weisingers winery. In this show, you’ll get a quick introduction to the honors college followed…

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Literary Ashland with Louis Sahagun

Our September guest on Literary Ashland Radio was Louis Sahagun, a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times and author of Master of the Mysteries: the Life of Manly Palmer Hall. As a journalist, he covers issues ranging from religion, culture and the environment to crime, politics and water. He…

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Blog Tour: The Heron Prince by Kim Alexander

What’s It About? The Demon Door can be opened…but the price is deadly. Rhuun, the half-human heir to the demon throne of Eriis, has found acceptance among the humans on Mistra. He even found love with the tempting and infuriating human, Lelet va’Everly. With Lelet at his side, his ability…

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Literary Ashland with Betty LaDuke

Ed and I were so pleased to interview Betty LaDuke for our August show. Betty is an internationally known artist and writer whose career has spanned several decades. Her books include Compañeras: Women, Art, and Social Change in Latin America, Africa Though the Eyes of Women Artists, Women Artists: Multicultural…

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What is it about Jack Reacher?

Why is Reacher so popular? After all, the man is a human wrecking ball. As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in the New Yorker in 2015, Reacher has killed over two hundred people since making his first appearance in Killing Floor. His readers don’t seem to mind the death toll he…

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Time and Space in Just Fall: An Interview with Nina Sadowsky

After my book blast for Just Fall, I followed up with Nina Sadowsky about the unique setting and chapter sequences she used in the book. Here are her answers. Michael Niemann: The story opens with a sensuous description of a beach and a hotel. Tell me about the setting. Did…

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Blog Tour: Just Fall by Nina Sadowsky

What’s It About? Ellie Larrabee’s life is perfect. She’s thriving at work, living in a fabulous apartment, and engaged to the man of her dreams. To all appearances, Ellie and Rob Beauman are a golden couple—blessed with good looks, success, and romantic chemistry that’s off the charts. Surely their future…

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Literary Ashland with Carole T. Beers

For our second anniversary show—yes, we’ve been on the air two years now—Ed and I interviewed Carole Beers. Carol is the author of Saddle Tramps, a mystery that offers a gripping look behind the scenes of competitive Western horse shows. Prior to venturing into the mystery genre, Carole was a…

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Literary Ashland with Dennis Powers

Our June guest was Dennis Powers, Professor Emeritus at SOU and author of numerous books both fiction and non-fiction. We talked about his maritime series of non-fiction books which began with The Raging Sea, an account of the worst Tsunami on the US West Coast, and includes the volumes The…

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Blog Tour: Shattered Circle by John Stamp

What’s It About? Jackson Cole is a newly minted homicide detective thrown head first into the grinder when he is ordered to investigate the grisly murder of three women, each adorned with occult symbols. The press is stirring up a frenzy about a killer cult. The mayor, the chief of…

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Literary Ashland with Bill Gholson

For our May interview, Ed and I caught up with Bill Gholson. Bill teaches rhetoric and the nonfiction essay. He has a PhD in English with concentrations in rhetoric and contemporary American literature. A former high school English teacher, he has directed writing programs and has published on Kurt Vonnegut and rhetoric.…

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Blog Tour: A Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal

What’s It About? Capability “Kitty” Weeks is nineteen, well traveled, well-off, and fresh out of Swiss boarding school. She’s just returned to New York and started writing for the New York Sentinel Ladies’ Page. New York in 1915 is an exciting place. Everything—from cars and movies to culture and women’s…

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Blog Tour: Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper

What’s It About? Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna is just a few hours away from wrapping up her latest job: a destination wedding in the charming, colonial Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. The reception is all set up, the tequila donkey is waiting outside, and the bride and groom…

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Blog Tour: The Vilcabamba Prophecy by Robert Rapoza

What’s It About? When a mysterious benefactor funds archeologist Nick Randall’s research, he departs on an expedition to find the lost city of Vilcabamba. Hidden deep in the Amazon, Randall believes this legendary city holds proof that his controversial theories are true. He disappears shortly after arriving in the jungle.…

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Literary Ashland – Conversation

This month’s edition of Literary Ashland turned out different than intended. Our planned guest couldn’t make and so Ed and I ended up having a fun conversation about writing, linguistics, melodrama, clues and everything in between. So enjoy this unscheduled and unrehearsed show. As Ed pointed out, the show is…

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Blog Tour: One Dead, Two To Go by Elena Hartwell

What’s It About? Private Investigator Edwina “Eddie Shoes” Schultz’s most recent job has her parked outside a seedy Bellingham hotel, photographing her quarry as he kisses his mistress goodbye. This is the last anyone will see of the woman. Her body is later found dumped in an abandoned building. Eddie’s…

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The Thriller as Melodrama

Why do people read detective stories? Edmund Wilson posed this question in a 1944 New Yorker essay. He went on to say that since Sherlock Holmes there hadn’t really been anything worthwhile published in that genre. He had nothing nice to say about Agatha Christie and his comment on Dashiell…

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Blog Tour: Choice of Enemies by M. A. Richards

What’s It About? Light sweet crude is the mother’s milk of the Niger Delta. As the price for each barrel of oil rises on the international markets and the stakes for securing the black gold increase, a consortium of American oil companies and the Central Intelligence Agency plot to secure…

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Literary Ashland with Sharon Dean

It was a pleasure interviewing fellow author Sharon Dean on my radio show last Friday. Sharon is the author of the Susan Warner mysteries and a member of my writing group. She grew up in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. From Massachusetts, it was a small leap to the University of  New Hampshire…

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Literary Ashland with Jim Risser

I wasn’t able to participate in this interview, so you can listen to Ed Battistella as he interviews Jim Risser on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes. Jim Risser was the Washington Bureau Chief for the Des Moines Register and won the Pulitzer Prize for national…

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Guest Blog: Bryan Robinson on Writing Limestone Gumption

I am the author of Limestone Gumption: A Brad Pope and Sisterfriends Mystery. To write this debut novel, I did a good deal of research. I first learned about the area that I wrote about from vacationing in the area and eventually buying a vacation home on the Suwannee River,…

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Blog Tour: Show and Tell by Amy Shojai

What’s it about? September Day, an animal behaviorist, has begun to trust again. Her stalker has been caught and her PTSD is under control. She dares to hope Detective Jeff Combs might become more than a friend, but his investigation into a dog fighting ring leaves her reeling. Shadow, a…

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Blog Tour: An Unbeaten Man by Brendan Rielly

What’s it about? Abandoned by his father, orphaned by his drug-addled mother, and devastated by the murder of his sister, Michael McKeon was once a hardened “street dog who learned to play in traffic.” Years later, Michael, now a Bowdoin College professor of microbiology with a wife and adopted daughter,…

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Blog Tour: Nation of Enemies by H.A. Raynes

What’s it about? 2032. Turned away by London Immigration because of his family’s inferior DNA, Dr. Cole Fitzgerald returns to work at Boston’s Mass General hospital. He purchases ballistics skins for family, a bulletproof car and a house in a Safe District. As the War at Home escalates, Cole begins…

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Literary Ashland with Rick Bleiweiss

Our December guest was Rick Bleiweiss, director of Business Development at Blackstone Audio. Rick gave us a nice overview of the origin of Blackstone and the broad array of services offered by the publisher. One item of importance for writers is Blackstone’s move to become a full fledged publisher. In…

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Blog Tour: The Sand Prince by Kim Alexander

What’s it about? “When the storm came, it was made of magic, not rain, and when it had passed, the life and the city Hellne knew were changed forever.”  Two worlds On the war-ravaged demon world of Eriis, Hellne, the fierce young queen fights to keep her people alive. On…

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Blog Tour: Limestone Gumption by Bryan Robinson

What’s it about? When Brad Pope returns to his boyhood hometown to settle a debt with his estranged father and re-establish a bond with his cantankerous Grandma Gigi, the 35-year-old psychologist becomes a prime suspect in the murder of football legend turned cave diver, Big Jake Nunn. As if being…

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Literary Ashland with Sara Brown and Paul Steinle

Our post-Thanksgiving show was a pre-recorded interview with Sara Brown and Paul Steinle, authors of two books on journalism, Practicing Journalism. The Power and Purpose of the Fourth Estate and The Power and Purpose of Journalism. Journalists Epiphanies. Sara and Paul talked about what makes journalists tick, how they view their…

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Literary Ashland with Jim Phillips

Our October guest was professor Jim Phillips of the Anthropology and International Studies programs at Southern Oregon University. Jim discussed his new book Honduras in Dangerous Times. Jim’s interest in Honduras and Central America goes back a long time. How long? Listen to the interview. Since then, he and his…

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Literary Ashland with Jeffrey Gayton

Our September guest was Jeffrey Gayton, University Librarian and Director of the Learning Commons at Southern Oregon University. Jeffrey filled us in on the upcoming Ashland Book and Author Festival, his responsibilities at SOU and the role of libraries in the digital age. Spoiler alert, they are more important than…

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Blog Tour: Dead of Summer by Sherry Knowlton

What’s it about? In a tale of suspense that travels from South Central Pennsylvania to Africa to the iconic Woodstock Festival of 1969, Dead of Summer embroils attorney Alexa Williams in the dangerous world of sex trafficking. With help from friends, family, and her yoga practice, Alexa Williams is finally…

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Literary Ashland with Angela Howe-Decker

Our August guest on Literary Ashland was Angela Howe-Decker, Ashland based freelance writer and poet. She teaches writing at Southern Oregon University. She writes a column for the Ashland Daily Tidings, and articles for the Medford Mail Tribune, and Jefferson Monthly. Her poems have appeared in African Voices, Sand Hill…

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Blog Tour: A Second Hand Life by Pamela Crane

What’s it about? After receiving a heart transplant from a young murder victim, Mia Germaine is plagued by nightmares. Are they clues to solving a murder case, or grim phantasms leading her further into danger? More than a page-turning thriller, A Secondhand Life weaves a tale of second chances and…

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Literary Ashland with Sharan Newman

The July guest on Literary Ashland was medieval historian and author Sharan Newman. She took her Master’s degree in Medieval Literature at Michigan State University and then did her doctoral work at the University of California at Santa Barbara in Medieval Studies, specializing in twelfth-century France. She is a member…

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“Legitimate Business” Giveaway on GoodReads

Goodreads Book Giveaway Legitimate Business by Michael Niemann Giveaway ends July 27, 2015. See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter Giveaway Share:

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The “Sharing Economy” and “Casual Labor”

Over the last decade the meaning of the verb to share has been perverted. Look it up in the dictionary, and you’ll find words like apportion, divide, distribute, take part, receive equally. All those definitions make sense. Friends sharing a meal are taking part in a common activity. Two kids sharing the…

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Literary Ashland with Darrell James

Last Friday, June 26,  Ed Battistella and I interviews mystery author Darrell James on Literary Ashland. Darrell is a recent transplant to Ashland, OR, moving here from Tucson, AZ, via Los Angeles. He is the author of the Award Winning and multi-nominated Del Shannon series of mystery/thrillers that include: Nazareth…

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Literary Ashland with Clive Rosengren

Last November, Ed Battistella and I interviewed Clive Rosengren, Ashland mystery author and creator of Eddie Collins, part-time PI and part-time actor. Since the interview, the second Eddie Collins mystery Red Desert has been published. You can read more about it on Clive’s website. Listen to the interview again and…

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What Mystery Writers can learn from Aristotle – Part 4

In this, the last blog post on Aristotle’s Poetics, I’ll focus on the remaining aspects of his treatise. The most important of those is character. And here, contemporary writers have to pick and choose with more care. Some of Aristotle’s points are straightforward, “any speech or action that manifests moral…

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What Mystery Writers can learn from Aristotle – Part 3

The last post ended with a summary of what makes a good plot–arouse fear and pity in the reader through reversals of fortune from good to bad caused by error or personal frailty rather than vice. But how is the writer supposed to achieve this? Aristotle grants that fear and…

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What Mystery Writers can learn from Aristotle – Part 2

The last post highlighted the importance plot in Aristotle’s analysis of a tragedy. He distinguishes between simple and complex plots, but he ignores simple plots immediately and delves into complex plots. What makes a plot complex? Reversal of the situation and recognition. The reversal is a change “by which the…

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What Mystery Writers can learn from Aristotle – Part 1

When it comes to murder and mayhem, we have nothing on the ancient Greeks. Every trope in today’s crime fiction was first explored in one play or another. Aristotle’s Poetics is probably the first philosophical analysis of fiction. Why humans like it and what makes for a good story. I’ll…

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Literary Ashland Radio with Bobby Arellano.

In case you missed it last July, here’s the radio interview Ed Battistella and I did with Ashland writer Bobby Arellano. Bobby has written five novels all published by Akashic Press. The most recent was Curse the Names. Bobby reinvents the meaning of “noir.” To get a taste, check out…

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Cobra by Deon Meyer

Just opening Deon Meyer’s latest thriller filled me with nostalgia. On the inside flap is a map of greater Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape area in South Africa. That alone would have been enough, but the map also included the MetroRail commuter train stations all the way from…

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The Danger of a Single Story

In this TED talk, Chimamanda Adichie highlights the importance of listening to all stories. Share:

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Black Star Nairobi by Mukoma wa Ngugi

Black Star Nairobi is the second in series pairing Ishmael Fofona, erstwhile Madison, WI cop and David Odhiambo, ex-detective with the Criminal Investigation Department in Nairobi. Notice the “former” designations. At the end of the first novel in the series, Ishmael decided to leave Madison for Nairobi and, together with…

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Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke

Black Cherry Blues is the third Dave Robicheaux novel and the second one I read. It starts out in the bayou of southern Louisiana. Rob is still recovering from the murder of his wife some time earlier. He’s quit his law enforcement jobs and runs a fish and tackle business…

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Nairobi Heat by Mukoma Wa Ngugi

A dead white woman is found outside Joshua Hakizimana’s house. Joshua is a bit of a celebrity. During the Rwandan genocide he was headmaster of a school, which he turned into a safe haven for Tutsis. The genocidaires respected him because they were his former students. Joshua is the public…

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Red Planet Blues by Robert Sawyer

A sci-fi hard-boiled detective story? I could imagine many ways in which this mash-up could go wrong. So I was a little reluctant to read it. Boy was I wrong. This story works at many levels. Like all hard-boiled detective stories, it begins with a beautiful woman entering the PI’s…

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When Elephants Fight, the Grass is Trampled

    The Hachette/Amazon conflagration is an interesting example of what happens when a oligopoly picks a fight with a monopsony. The oligopoly in this case is Hachette, one of the few massive publishing houses that have absorbed smaller publishers over the past decade and a half. In the wake…

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Can a Plot be too Complicated?

Check out the latest round table discussion at the Big Thrill website. The question is whether or not maps, character lists or genealogy charts are signs of overly complex plots. In my opinion, the answer is yes. Share:

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My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

It’s not everyday one reads a mystery written by a winner of the Nobel Price in Literature. It sort of adds weight to the book. As in, this is an important book, people all over the world think it’s great literature, you better like it. I admit that when I…

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Blogging at Murder Is Everywhere

Many thanks to the ten wonderful mystery writers who invited me to write a guest blog entry on their blog Murder Is Everywhere. For those of you unfamiliar with the blog, it was founded by Leighton Gage who’s Mario Silva mysteries take place in Brazil. Today, its regular contributors include…

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The Author and her Characters

The International Thriller Writers organization sponsors a weekly online roundtable discussion on topics related to writing. This weeks topic is “How do you separate the author from your characters?” The fourteen participants (including me) bring up a lot of interesting points. Don’t miss it. Share:

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The Big Thrill Interview

Last month, I joined the International Thriller Writers as a debut author. Right away, I was surprised by the amount of attention the organization pays to new members and, most importantly, new authors. After joining the debut authors program, Ian Walkley, an Australian writer, contacted me to conduct an online…

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We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

The first part of the book is the rawest, most physical description of childhood in present day Zimbabwe. It’s honesty is a sharp as a dagger. It’s much more visceral than Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions which recounts childhood during the era of white minority rule. Despite its in-your-face descriptions of…

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Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

It’s been a long while since I read Devil in a Blue Dress. Since reading it sometime in the late 1990s, I’ve followed Easy Rawlins through all of Mosley’s sequels. I enjoyed getting to know him again in his first appearance on the mystery scene. The plot is complex. Rawlins,…

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The Expats by Chris Pavone

The title alone was intriguing enough. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in southern Africa and the term expat conjured up all kinds of images in my mind—characters from the Serbian road contractor to the Canadian water resources professor and everything in between. In Africa, expats stand out because,…

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Legitimate Business Is Out!

Just found out that Legitimate Business is out already. It all went very fast. That’s e-books for you. Once the cover was settled, the rest was easy. At least that’s what I assume since I didn’t have to do anything. It’s exciting to see my book at Amazon. I can’t…

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Legitimate Business will be published by Endeavour Press

Endeavour Press in London will publish Legitimate Business. Just got the signed contract back. So it’s a go. Look for it in a couple of months. Endeavour only publishes e-books, so there won’t be a print edition, but since that’s the way the book business is going anyway, I’m not…

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Call For The Dead by John LeCarré

My sweetie found this one on the free table at the local library. I’m a big John LeCarré fan, but I had never read this one. A Call For the Dead was LeCarré’s first novel from 1961. It’s also the novel that introduces George Smiley for the first time. Right…

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Why I Quit Google

I just closed my Google account. It was easy. Log in, choose ‘My Account,’ select ‘Delete Account,’ ignore dire warnings of your life as you know it ending, done. Getting to this point took over a month. I signed up with Gmail in 2007. I was about to quit my…

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Careless in Red by Elizabeth George

This novel was my first introduction to the inspector Lynley mysteries. I may have seen one episode on PBs, but I had never read a novel featuring him. It was a long novel, very long, but, to its credit, I have to say the story kept me engaged. George takes…

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Never Go Back by Lee Child

Jack Reacher has finally made it back to Virginia. Except what he finds isn’t what he was looking for. If you recall, Reacher was stuck in North Dakota four books ago (62 Hours). While helping the local police department to keep a witness alive, he ended up talking to the…

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Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell

OK, this review includes a spoiler alert. If you plan on reading this book, although I can’t imagine why, don’t read this review. Kay Scarpetta is on her way to the Georgia Women’s prison, somewhere between Savannah and the coast. There she meets the mother of the woman who tried…

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The Affair by Lee Child

Not just Star Wars has prequels. Jack Reacher does, too. The Affair is Child’s sixteenth book in the Jack Reacher series. The action takes place in 1997, before Child’s first Reacher novel, The Killing Floor. Reacher is still an army cop with the rank of major. Despite the skirmishes in…

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Bandits by Elmore Leonard

Bandits was the second read in my recent Leonard binge. It was the best so far. I liked the set up, the characters and the way the plot unfolded and reached a climax. Not quite rehabilitated jewel thief Jack Delany works at his brother-in-law’s funeral parlor. No way does he…

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Djibouti by Elmore Leonard

The death of Elmore Leonard spurred me on to read more of his books. The one book I had read earlier, Tishomingo Blues, was fun but not particularly memorable. I started with Djibouti because I’m always interested to find out how crime writers treat Africa. The protagonists are Dara Barr,…

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Interview on Literary Ashland

Ed Batistella did this online interview in February 2012. You can find the interview here. Share:

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