Kristopher Zgorski is the writer/owner of the blog BOLO Books, https://bolobooks.com/. “The blog name comes from the common police acronym meaning “be on the look out.” (or “be on the lookout” ““ depending on your source). This is especially appropriate in this case, as this blog will focus on books in the mystery and thriller genre.” Kristopher recently joined the team at the eZine Shots (based in the UK) as a US contributor and his reviews often re-run in Crimespree Magazine. He also has a regular column ““ Central Booking ““ in Deadly Pleasures Magazine.
Kristopher and I, along with fellow blogger Dru Ann Love, have worked on a couple projects together on our blogs. When he asked if I still wanted some book suggestions for “Every Summer Has a Story”, I was eager to see what he would suggest for readers.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I can still remember reading this book over the July 4th weekend in 2004. I was instantly gripped by the writing within this novel and the group of young boarding school students who inhabit it. To this day, The Secret History remains the “modern” book I have read the most times (only Jane Eyre exceeds this). I try to revisit it every other year or so and every time I find something new that impresses me.
The “In Death” Series by JD Robb
Everybody knows that JD Robb is the crime fiction pen name of Nora Roberts. This series makes for perfect summer reading. Almost every book in the very long-running series (I think we are up to 50+ novels at this point) is compulsively readable without becoming too demanding. The characters (including the villains) are always fascinating. And Nora’s romantic side shows through in some of the sexiest scenes found in crime fiction.
The Burn Palace by Stephen Dobyns
Perfect for those that love a book they can get lost in, The Burn Palace is almost impossible to describe. It’s the story of a town filled with corruption and mysticism. Imagine Stephen King writing a novel with Harper Lee and having James Michener heading up the research team. Dobyns’ prose reads like poetry, where every word is chosen for maximum impact. By the end, readers will feel like they know these characters and will be sad to have to let them go.
Thank you, Kristopher.
These items, including the unabridged audio book of Stephen Dobyns’ The Burn Palace, are available through The Poisoned Pen’s Web Store. https://store.poisonedpen.com/ Don’t forget to check with us when looking to purchase books.
The best way to find new authors or crime novels is still to talk with the staff at The Poisoned Pen. They’ll be glad to talk to you about your interests and help you find books you might like. But, if you can’t get into the store from where you live, or it’s the middle of the night and you’re looking for something new, try my favorite website, Stop, You’re Killing Me! https://www.stopyourekillingme.com
Looking for a list of award winners? You’ll find the Edgars, Agathas, Macavities, and others listed. You can only remember the name of the character you like, but not the author? The index for the site is by author or character. Are you looking for a mystery set in the 1920s? Try the Historical Index. Find mysteries set in Oklahoma or Greece. That’s the Location Index. There’s a Genre Index to help you find Police Procedurals or Thrillers.
For those of us who enjoy reading crime novels in order, though, there’s nothing like clicking on an author’s name, finding the complete list of a series, award nominations and wins, and everything is in order.
You may have seen them on Reddit, but, if not, Atlas Obscura (www.atlasobscura.com) recently shared them in an article. Here’s the story of Abigail Goldman’s miniature crime scene dioramas. Or, as she says, a “Dieorama”. https://bit.ly/2b8eCJH
Here’s just a paragraph from the description at Poisoned Pen’s Web Store. “How far will you go to achieve a dream? That’s the question a celebrated coach poses to Katie and Eric Knox after he sees their daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful, compete. For the Knoxes there are no limits–until a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community and everything they have worked so hard for is suddenly at risk.”
Traditionally, the dog days of summer end on August 11. So, we should observe those days now with a few mysteries involving dogs. And, of course, you can pick up books by all of these authors through the Web Store. https://store.poisonedpen.com
Let’s start with David Rosenfelt’s Outfoxed. Andy Carpenter might be a defense attorney, but his true passion is the Tara Foundation, the dog rescue organization that he runs. While he’s working with prisoners and dogs, one of the prisoners escapes, using Boomer, a fox terrier, to assist. When the man is caught, and accused of murder, Andy has a new client, and a new dog.
And, wait until you see the cover of Rosenfelt’s next book, due out Oct. 18. The Poisoned Pen will have signed copies of The Twelve Dogs of Christmas. Adorable cover, isn’t it?
In Scent of Murder, James O. Born introduces Deputy Tim Hallett, assigned to a special K-9 unit with his partner, a Belgian Malinois named Rocky. Born writes a gritty police thriller, but one that shows the unique partnership and loyalty between police officers and their canine companions.
Killing Trail is Margaret Mizushima’s first Timber Creek K-9 mystery. Our blurb reads, “When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town.” Mattie works with Cole Walker, a local veterinarian and a single father whose daughter may hold the key to the mystery. If you like Killing Trail, watch for the second book in the series, Stalking Ground. Release date is September 23.
Laurien Berenson usually takes her amateur sleuth, Melanie Travis, into the world of dog shows. In Live and Let Growl, Melanie heads to central Kentucky with Aunt Peg who is judging at the Kentuckiana Dog Show Cluster. She enjoys meeting one of Aunt Peg’s friends, Ellie Gates Wanamaker, who once showed Standard Poodles. But, when Miss Ellie meets with an “accident”, and the pedigreed family prefers to keep it quiet, Melanie is on the trail.
I have to end with that charming Chet and Bernie series by Spencer Quinn. Chet, the dog, is the narrator of the series about his investigations with Bernie Little, Chet’s best friend. Most of the books are set in Arizona, including the latest one, Sense and Sensibility. “In the latest entry in the immensely popular Chet and Bernie mystery series, Private Investigator Bernie Little and his canine companion Chet return home to encounter some alarming developments. First off, Bernie’s wall safe—normally hidden behind the waterfall picture in the office—is gone, and with it Bernie’s grandfather’s watch, their most valuable possession. And next door, old Mr. Parsons is under investigation for being in possession of a saguaro cactus illegally transplanted from the desert. Bernie and Chet go deep into the desert to investigate.”
If you associate the dog days of summer with hot, sultry days, too hot to do anything, you might want to think about reading a mystery featuring a dog. There are plenty to pick from!
Are you a fan of Don Winslow’s books? Hollywood certainly is. And, the author of The Power of the Dog and The Cartelis now on the move. Here’s an article discussing his future books and the Hollywood connection. https://bit.ly/2b5XlUH
Do you know Book Riot? They have terrific short posts about books of all sorts. Here’s the link to an article if you’re a fan of haunted house stories. What do you read after Rebeccaor The Haunting of Hill House? Cheyenne Comer has suggestions. https://bit.ly/2aQJiRj
I’m always grateful when authors agree to sit “In the Hot Seat” and answer questions. Today, we’re lucky enough to host Rhys Bowen. Rhys is the author of three mystery series. She’s appearing at The Poisoned Pen on Tuesday, August 9 at 7 PM on her book tour for Crowned and Dangerous.
Her first series was set in Wales, and featured Constable Evan Evans. She’s gone on to be nominated or win numerous awards, including Agatha, Anthony, Macavity and Lefty Awards for her other series. One features Molly Murphy, an Irish immigrant in New York City in the early 20th century. The Royal Spyness mysteries feature Lady Georgiana. Rhys is now on tour for the latest adventure of Lady Georgie, Crowned and Dangerous. Thank you, Rhys.
Would you tell us when and why you first started writing?
I’ve always written. I gather I wrote my first poem when I was four, and never stopped. Although I’ve always been a huge mystery fan, I first started writing mysteries when I read Tony Hillerman and his fantastic feel for place. I thought “I’d like to do that” and created my Constable Evans series.
Would you introduce us to Lady Georgiana Rannoch & Darcy O’Mara?
Lady Georgie is related to the royal family, currently 35th in line to the throne, but penniless. Her branch of the family has no money so she’s out in the world, fending for herself. Her education has not equipped her to make her own living and some of her attempts are disastrous. However she has not only survived through nine books, she has thrived and won the heart of the dashing and mysterious Darcy O’Mara. We don’t know much about him. He is the son of an Irish peer, but he disappears on mysterious assignments. There is a hint that he is a spy for the British government. When we last left them they were eloping to Scotland.
Tell us about Crowned and Dangerous, without spoilers.
As I just mentioned Georgie and Darcy were eloping. But the course of true love is destined never to run smooth, is it? Held up by a blizzard the read the morning newspaper and see that Darcy’s father has been arrested. Darcy goes home to Ireland and finds that his father is accused of killing the mysterious American who has bought the family castle and racing stables. What’s more it seems conclusive that he is guilty. Darcy won’t let Georgie marry the son of a murderer, but Georgie is not willing to give up so easily. (I realize these are all spoilers but I can’t tell you anything about the book without them, except that it takes place in Ireland and involves a mysterious and horrible American millionaire and an equally mysterious but quite delightful princess!)
Do you have any hints you can share about the next Molly Murphy book?
I haven’t written it yet, but it will be a Christmas book that comes out in 2017. Its working title is The Ghost of Christmas Past and it is about an old crime coming back to haunt a Christmas celebration.
Before we move away from your series, any hints about movies, TV?
Two things ongoing: the book, Her Royal Spyness is still with a British movie company and they still hope to make it into a movie.
And CBS has optioned my Constable Evans series for television. It would be so interesting if that comes to pass.
Now, I have some unrelated questions. Who is your favorite literary hero or heroine? Your favorite villain or antihero?
The one that comes immediately to mind is Elizabeth Bennett. I’m a big Jane Austen fan. The other one would be Frodo Baggins, as he’s such an unlikely hero. He is everyman, called to take on a task that is way beyond his abilities.
Villain, thinking of the Lord of the Rings, which is one of my all-time favorite books, I think Saruman is the perfect villain. Obviously Sauron is the arch-villain but he is evil personified. Saruman started out good and pride made him into what he becomes. I am more interested in a villain who has struggled, suffered and one can understand rather than pure evil.
You have homes in several locations. Pick one. Where do you take friends when they come to visit?
I divide my time between the Bay Area and Phoenix. Both are lovely locations with plenty of places to take friends. Obviously I have more choice when I’m in Marin County. I take them on the ferry to San Francisco, we tour the wine country to the North, we go out to the Point Reyes national seashore, we lunch in Sausalito with views of the city across the Bay, we hike on Mount Tamalpais… I could keep them busy for weeks!
Other than author, what’s the most interesting job you ever had?
I’ve been a professional author almost all of my adult life but right out of college I worked in BBC drama. Talk about a fabulous job! I got to work with top British actors, the pace was leisurely in those days, the budgets were huge and we all had such a good time. Sometimes we’d finishing recording at midnight, go out for a late snack and drink and then when I came in the next morning there would be a huge bouquet of flowers on my desk.
Neil Gaiman said, “Trust your obsession.” Did you ever have an obsession that you had to turn into a story? What was it?
Hard question! I’ve just been staring at the bookcase full of my books (yes, I take up not one but two bookcases with all my published work). I suppose the closest I come is The Edge of Dreams, last year’s Molly Murphy novel. I studied dream psychology at university and have always been fascinated with the meaning and interpretation of dreams. So in that book Freud’s treatise on the interpretation of dreams has just been published and the idea that dreams are windows into the sub conscious is new. This knowledge helps unlock the dreams of a troubled girl and solves a crime. Fun to write.
What was on your TBR pile this summer?
Unfortunately I’m reading for a competition so most of my reading is compulsory. I will certainly find time to read Louise Penny’s new one when it comes out soon. On my TBR pile is my friend Nicole Mones’s Night in Shanghai,and a fun little book called Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop.
Thank you, Rhys.
Thank YOU, Lesa.
Signed copies of Rhys Bowen’s Crowned and Dangerous are available through the Web Store, along with copies of her other books. https://bit.ly/29BQzli