Charlaine Harris at The Poisoned Pen

Aurora Teagarden is back in Charlaine Harris’ latest mystery, All the Little Liars. And, Charlaine was just at The Poisoned Pen to talk about and sign her book.


We have photos of the program.

Signing books in the back room
Barbara Peters, owner of the bookstore, interviews Charlaine Harris
Charlaine signs for a customer


Would you like to view this fun event? You can watch it on Livestream.

Of course you can order a signed copy of All the Little Liars through the Web Store.

Jeffrey Siger, In the Hot Seat

Photo by Peter Rozovsky

Do you know of author Jeffrey Siger? If not, why not? Seriously, he’s the author of eight intriguing mysteries set in Greece, featuring Chief Inspector Andreas  Kaldis. There’s so much I could say about these books, but I put Jeff in the hot seat, and I’ll let him answer some questions.

Jeffrey, would you introduce yourself to readers?

I’m honored to be here, Lesa, and I guess the simplest introduction is to say I’m a Barry and Lefty Awards nominated mystery-thriller writer (losing to the not too shabby likes of C.J. Box and Louise Penny, respectively ☺) living on the Greek Aegean island of Mykonos.  A former Wall Street lawyer and name partner in my own New York City law firm, a decade ago I gave it all up to write my tell-it-like-it-is Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series. The New York Times has called the series, “thoughtful police procedurals set in picturesque but not untroubled Greek locales.”  I’m also honored to have served as Chair of Bouchercon’s National Board and as an Adjunct Professor of English at Washington & Jefferson College, teaching mystery writing.

Tell us about Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis.

 Andreas Kaldis is an Athenian born second-generation cop, a politically incorrect, honest observer of his times who endures and grows, despite all that life and the powerful throw at him and his beloved country. His life moves forward through the series, never static, always growing.  I like the way serious issues, political and otherwise, are expressed around him, and as my writing is meant to convey to non-Greeks what I see as issues confronting modern day Greece in a manner that touches upon its ancient roots, Andreas is the perfect character for that expression.

Without spoilers, tell us about Santorini Caesars.


When a young demonstrator is publicly assassinated in the heart of protest-charged Athens, the motive is murky and the array of suspects immense.  Kaldis’ investigation leads him and his team to beautiful Santorini—held in legend to be the site of the lost island of Atlantis—and a hush-hush gathering of the Caesars, a cadre of Greece’s top military leaders seeking to form their own response to the crises facing their country. Is it a coup d’état or something else?  The answer is by no means clear, but the case resonates with political dimensions, and as international intrigues evolve, the threat of another—far more dramatic—assassination looms ever more real.

So, too, does the realization that only Kaldis can stop it.  But at what price?  Greece’s government is in chaos, its goals and leadership suspect, and Kaldis is forever at odds with its methods.  Life is not the same, nor is it likely to return to better days any time soon. With a new child on the way, and their young son coming face-to-face with the harsh nature of the world around him, Kaldis and his wife wonder if carrying on the fight matters any more.  It is a time for testing character, commitment, and the common good—and for saving the nation from chaos.

Your books deal with very serious subjects but often have humor that stems from the relationships between Kaldis and others. How did you come up with his team?

Some day, I wish my characters would let me in on the secret of how they came to be. Friends tell me that my primary character, Andreas Kaldis, and I share the same sense of humor and the same way of addressing problems. I never intentionally set out to do that, but I think ultimately a writer cannot help but put part of himself into many of his characters.

By and large I have to say that my characters are the product of some alchemy lurking within my deep, dark mysterious soul just waiting to turn an unformed sense of beings I never knew into characters as unique as we are to each other. Yes, sometimes I consciously model a character on someone I know well (Tassos is an homage of sorts to a departed friend who inspired me to write the series), but mostly I assemble a new being from disparate physical and emotional elements stored in my individualized spare parts warehouse.  Bottom line: Writers are body snatchers.  

Now, tell us about your love affair with Greece. Do you have a favorite place there?

It began almost 35-years ago when a friend told me I would love Greece. She was right.  As for my favorite place there, when I first set foot on Mykonos I felt as if I’d returned home, and that very first day I made a life-long friend who proved to be the most loved man on the island. Through him and his family, I became part of the island’s community, the “American Mykoniate” to be precise.  Yes, Greece is the birthplace of the gods, the cradle of European civilization, the bridge between East and West, with Spartan courage, Athenian democracy, Olympic achievement, and Trojan intrigue all calling it home, but to me it is all about family.

Where do you take visitors?

That depends on what they have in mind, and on Mykonos sometimes I don’t dare ask. ☺  Having said that, I don’t think any visit to Mykonos—if not Greece—is complete without a visit to the ancient ruins on the nearby Holy Island of Delos, the birthplace of Apollo, god of light, and his twin sister, Artemis, goddess of the hunt.  At the very least, I prod visitors toward taking a stroll at sunset along a beach looking across the sea toward Delos.  There they can walk where the ancients once walked, watching the sun set into the sea as the ancients must have done, and undoubtedly wonder how akin the ancients’ thoughts at such moments might have been to their own.

What authors have inspired you?

I’m a great fan of Cormac McCarthy, Arthur Conan Doyle, John Steinbeck, August Wilson (really a playwright), Robert Frost (yes, the poet), all the mystery writing folk at Poisoned Pen Press, and my Murder is Everywhere blogmates.  

Tell us about the Murder is Everywhere blog.

Murder is Everywhere ( )   came into existence out of Bouchercon 2009 when six renowned mystery writers from around the world, propelled by the late, great Leighton Gage, agreed to create a blog site dedicated to international mystery writing.  Every day MIE offers fresh, thoughtful eclectic posts about the venues where its contributors place their work.  In addition to Leighton (who wrote about Brazil), of the six original members (I was the seventh) Tim Hallinan (Thailand), Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Iceland), and Dan Waddell (United Kingdom) no longer write for MIE—though still part of our family—while Cara Black (France) and Michael Stanley (Michael Sears and Stan Trollip–Southern Africa) remain as stalwarts of the site, now joined by Leye Adenle (Nigeria/London), Annamaria Alfieri (East Africa and South America), Sujata Massey (India and Japan), Caro Ramsay (Scotland), Zoë Sharp (No Fixed Abode), Susan Spann (Japan), and moi (Greece).  

I like a quote from Neil Gaiman. “Trust your obsession.” Did you ever have an obsession that you had to turn into a story? What was it?

 I always wanted to write a story about Mykonos, its people, their rich cultural history and enormously colorful present, but I didn’t want to write about pelicans, flowers, or summer Greek tavernas.  I wanted to write about action and mystery.   I wanted to come up with a dynamite story that would allow me to make Mykonos a character in the book, one that would show all the things I loved about it. Something that would take the reader behind the scenes to see the Mykonos I knew, something tourists, even off-island Greeks never saw.  So, I decided to drop a serial killer into the midst of my island paradise. That’s how Murder in Mykonos, came to be as a “Mama Mia setting for a No Country For Old Men story.”  It also went on to be the #1 best selling English-language book in Greece, and make The New York Times’ radar list of hardcover best sellers.

What is on your TBR pile?

At the top of the pile is Sunshine Noir, a just published anthology of short stories from seventeen terrific southern climes authors (me too) edited by Annamaria Alfieri and Michael Stanley (with prefaces by Peter James and Tim Hallinan, and an introduction by Peter Rozovsky), that has our Nordic Noir brethren quaking in their frozen tundra boots.  I’m saving Tim Hallinan’s soon to be released Fields Where They Lay for Christmas, and have strategically positioned in the pile to get me there on time, Annamaria Alfieri’s just released Idol of Mombasa, Ingrid Thoft’s Brutality, Marc Cameron’s Field of Fire, Lou Berney’s The Long and Faraway Gone, and Lee Child’s not yet released Night School““all great books from great people.

Thank you, Jeff! If you would like to read more about Jeff, The Huffington Post did an interview as well.

Jeffrey will be appearing at The Poisoned Pen, along with Mark Pryor, author of The Paris Librarian, on Saturday, October 15 at 2 PM. Signed copies of Jeff’s books, including Santorini Caesars, are available through the Web Store.

Jack the Ripper

Has there been a break in the case of Jack the Ripper? Randy Williams, a private investigator, claims that Jack the Ripper was three men. Some Ripper experts are finding Williams’ information to be credible. A recent article in The Lineup tells the story. Check it out.

Lori Rader-Day Interviews Sara Paretsky

Did you know crime novelist Sara Paretsky (Dr. Paretsky) is also a historian? I had no idea until fellow writer Lori Rader-Day interviewed her for Chicago Review of Books. Paretsky combined an interest in history and social justice even then. Check out the interview.

And, you can order books from both Sara Paretsky and Lori Rader-Day through the Web Store.

Ann Parker, In the Hot Seat – Part 2

Welcome back! Ann Parker, author of What Gold Buys, recently sat In the Hot Seat for questions. Today is the second half of that interview.


What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m working on this Q&A! 😉

Okay, I know that’s not what you mean…

I’m polishing up a couple of short stories to submit for consideration to a couple of anthologies. I’m pulling together what I need to take a deep breath and plunge into Book #6 (titles always come last for me, so it’s simply “Book #6″ for now). I see What Gold Buys as closing a cycle that started with Silver Lies, the first book of the series. The series will continue, but this next one will be taking Inez (and me) into some uncharted territory…

Yes, I’m being intentionally vague about this next in the Silver Rush “saga” for now!

Marcia Martinek, editor of the Leadville Herald Democrat, in the cellar of the newspaper. It used to be an undertaking business. Used in What Gold Buys

So, our other questions will be off topic. It’s that dinner party question first. If you could invite an author and their hero or villain to dinner, who would you invite, and why?

Well, I’m a big fan of the George Smiley novels of John le Carré (aka David John Moore Cornwell). I’d love to invite le Carre and Smiley to dinner. I’m not certain we’d get past the appetizers, though, as I’d want to quiz them endlessly about their time(s) in MI5 and MI6, and what it was like during the Cold War. Being the polite sorts they probably are, they would no doubt suddenly find they have important business elsewhere, offer their regrets, and the dinner party would come to an abrupt end. Oh well. More appetizers for me!

If friends come to visit, where do you like to take them?

Some of my favorite spots to escape for a really good cup of coffee (keep in mind I live the outer suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area… this isn’t Portland or Seattle!). Our nearby independent bookstore (Towne Center Books). The local “Vine Cinema and Alehouse” shows independent films, has comfy couches, and is a great place to fall into the magic of movies. If there’s more time, then a jaunt to Yosemite is nice… however, I’ll admit it’s been many years since I’ve been there myself. Maybe I need more out-of-town friends to come visit!

How would Inez Stannert describe you?

I think Inez would look a little askance at me, to be honest. At first, she would probably view me suspiciously, perhaps dismissively, rather like how she views most of the “church women” she runs up against in Leadville. After all, let’s face it, I am a meek and mild suburban working mother and wife, leading a pretty staid life compared to her rather complicated and adventurous one gallivanting around on the edge of propriety. If we played a game of poker—or any kind of cards (I’m rather fond of twenty-one, but only if playing for M&Ms or toothpicks)—she’d quickly discover I am a very lousy player, being unable to keep a poker face to save my life (or my M&Ms).

However, should we have the chance to discuss literature—Milton’s Paradise Lost, for instance, or Shakespeare’s plays, W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot (well, a bit after her time at this point), who knows? We might find common points of interest. So, after all this let’s-get-to-know-each-other stuff, how would Inez describe me? Perhaps as “cautious, a bit of a mouse, and not a gambler, that is certain. But she examines the world and its inhabitants closely, not just with her eyes, but also with her ears and all her senses. She is kind and cares deeply… she has a heart and an inquiring mind, and uses them both.”

Other than author, what’s the most interesting job you ever had?

I love being a science writer. It allows me to ask nosey and “stupid” questions with impunity, I get to find out all about “bleeding edge” science and technology as it is being developed, and I get to meet scientists and researchers who are passionate about their work.

One of the most eye-opening jobs I had was working as a maid in a high-class summer resort. People pretty much acted as if maids were “invisible” people, and wow, the things they did and the conditions of some of those rooms… 

Final question. What’s been on your TBR pile recently?

If we’re talking fiction, Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason was top of my pile for the Towne Center mystery book club, which I lead (kind of sort of), so I finished that in June. The summer pile for that club also includes Madam Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart and Absolute Power by David Baldacci. Non-book-club summer reading included The Preacher by Ted Thackery, Jr., The Badwater Gospel by R.W. Magill, and The Green Muse by Jessie Prichard Hunter. I’m partway through Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke and enjoying it immensely. Next up on my “casual reading” piles for perusal are Chorus of the Dead by Tracy L. Ward, The Black Gang by H.C. McNeile, A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn, and Hangtown Creek: A tale of the California Goldrush by John Putnam.

In a separate pile is lots of nonfiction I’m working through for the mysterious Book #6.

And of course, having mentioned le Carré, I now have a hankering to do a re-read of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. I think this is why the TBR piles never seem to diminish, no matter how much I read.

Thank you, Ann! Ann’s website is You can purchase an autographed copy of What Gold Buys, the latest Silver Rush mystery, through the Web Store.

(Leadville’s House with the Eye Museum was the home of Eugene Robitaille, who plays a small, but significant role in What Gold Buys.)

Ann Parker, In the Hot Seat

When I asked Ann Parker if she would sit in the hot seat, she not only answered questions, she sent me a wealth of photos as well. Leadville, Colorado is the setting for her mysteries, including her latest, What Gold Buys. Since she had more than a couple photos I wanted to include, I’m splitting the interview in two. Thank you, Ann.


Ann, would you introduce yourself to our readers?

Certainly! ☺

Hello all… Ann Parker here, scribbler of fiction, physics, and marketing fa-la-la for any who will toss a coin my way. I have always been a “lover of words,” starting from that moment when I was stumbling through the remedial reading class in first grade and somewhere, deep in my brain, some synaptic switch was thrown when I read the word “evening.” In the blink of an eye, I no longer had to haltingly sound out each syllable, thrashing desperately through a mess of alphabet letters, trying to make sense of how the individual ABCs, when strung together, somehow morphed by magic into “words.” After that, there was no stopping me, and I became a voracious lifetime reader.

A close second to my love of reading is my love (and appreciation) of music. Both of my parents played classical piano, and one of my early memories is lying under the grand piano and listening as my mother played Chopin, Beethoven, Liszt, and so on. However, my musical appreciation didn’t extend to my own performance. I halfheartedly played a few different instruments in my childhood/youth—violin, piano, the obligatory acoustic guitar (during the 1960s folk music era). After that, I settled into my role as an avid listener. I listen to music when I write (I have my noise reduction earphones on this very moment as I type while Pandora is serving me up a delectable mix “from Bernini’s Angels Radio.”)

Close to words and music would have to be my lifelong interest in science. My objective on entering University of California, Berkeley, was to become an astronomer. I could imagine no more wonderful employment than exploring the reaches of the Universe, looking back in time, to the very origins of everything. However, as often happens in life, some doors closed while others opened. I graduated with a double major in Physics and English Literature (I couldn’t leave the world of stories and words behind, even as I sweated to wrap my brain around quantum mechanics, fluid dynamics, and so on). From there, I more or less wandered into becoming a technical editor/writer (which at first meant taking inadvertent post-lunch naps over dense engineering specifications), and then branched out into science writing, corporate communications, creating marketing collateral, and so on. I usually tell people that, if a project involves spinning words, I can do it.

My fiction-writing career came late in life. I celebrated the publishing of my first Silver Rush historical mystery, Silver Lies, when I was fifty. Quite a way to start the second half-century of life!

Perhaps the best way to introduce your series is to start with Leadville, Colorado. Would you tell us about it?

Well, the other passion of my life is Colorado, and Leadville in particular. I have deep family roots in Colorado: both of my parents came from Denver, and I had many relatives in the area. My paternal grandmother was raised in Leadville, which is what led me to investigate the area and ultimately “stake my claim” writing a mystery series focused on that area.

The city of Leadville is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains at 10,152 feet. Winter lasts a loooong time up there. In the 1860s, gold lured the first prospectors to its rarified setting. By the late 1870s, silver was king. When the silver rush kicked into high gear in 1878, people started pouring into Leadville from all around the globe, making it one of the largest silver camps in the world.

Late 19th century/early 20th century postcard of Leadville and Mt. Massive, from The New York Public Library

Folks often ask me, why Leadville? In addition to my family history, which initially led me there, I have found the history of Leadville to have many points of resonance with the present. (Giving proof to the old saying “History repeats itself.”) Whether it’s the mania to “get rich quick;” the prevalence of dirty politics and casual abuse of power; the heartbreak of those ill with incurable diseases as they and their families search desperately for anything, anyone that holds out a shred of hope of a cure … it’s all there, in the history.

Would you introduce Inez Stannert?

Hmmm. She can be a bit reticent about her background, but I’ll do my best. I like to describe Inez as a woman with a mysterious past, a complicated present, and an uncertain future. Stubborn, wily, strong-minded, opinionated, and possessing an astute eye for human character and failings, she’s prone to making snap judgments based on her intuition and powers of observation. She’s also not above pulling a trick or two to get her way and is fiercely loyal to those she cares about.

A little background (without going too deep into her “mysterious past”): The daughter of a wealthy family back East, Inez kicked over the traces to marry the too-charming-for-his-own-good gambler and occasional-con-man Mark Stannert (who is wily enough to be a match for her… or nearly so. I’ll let readers decide on that one!). Of course, she was disinherited instantly, and she and Mark spent the next ten years in the company of Abe Jackson, a free man of color that Mark befriended after the Civil War. The three wandered south and ever-westward through Reconstruction-torn territory and into the Plains, living by their wits and charm, sometimes one step ahead of the law. By the time they hit Leadville, the Silver Rush was on the rise and the three of them were tired of the constant travelling. When Mark wins the Silver Queen in a poker game… not an unreasonable happenstance in rough-and-tumble 1878 Leadville… he proposes that they share ownership equally three ways: himself, Abe, and Inez (I did say he was a charmer, right?)

As part owner of the Silver Queen Saloon in Leadville, Inez is a 30-year-old woman in a man’s world. Of the 300 or so saloons in Leadville in 1880, only 3 were run by women. She is constantly having to prove that she is NOT a disreputable woman even though the saloon’s location on the corner of Leadville’s red-light and business districts might indicate that she sells more than just liquor. When Mark mysteriously disappears in mid-1879, Inez sends her young son William back East to live with her younger sister. She misses him fiercely, but is determined to do what is best for him. She stays in Leadville and continues to manage the Leadville business in tandem with Abe.

Ann’s maternal grandmother, Elsie, and her oldest son, Jack. The models for Inez and William

In addition to serving up drinks, Inez plays piano like an angel, plays cards like a pro, manages the business accounts, breaks up fights, and faces down the bad guys and gals. Oh yes, and being an independent-thinking woman who flaunts convention as it suits her, she has taken a lover in Mark’s absence: the Reverend Justice B. Sands. That’s not to say she is immune to what others think… in fact, we see her bristling at the cold shoulder that many of the church women give her. But that doesn’t stop Inez from doing what she wants. She just takes more devious steps to keep the affair discreet. However, when Mark reappears, as suddenly as he left, all her carefully constructed plans to divorce him on grounds of desertion are thrown into disarray.

In many ways, Inez is very human, very flawed. She walks a fine line between what is morally “right” and wrong, and steps over the line when needed. Not a white hat or black hat … she comes in complex shades of grey.

I think we have enough background for the next question. Without spoilers, would you tell us about What Gold Buys?


Autumn 1880 in the Rocky Mountains brings frost, snow, and the return of Silver Queen Saloon owner Inez Stannert to Leadville, Colorado, after an extended stay in Manitou Springs.

In this silver rush boomtown, those who are hungry for material riches seek their fortunes in precious metals. Others, hungry for spiritual relief, seek to pierce the veil between life and death with the help of fortunetellers, mediums, and occultists. Deep in the twisted byways of Leadville’s Stillborn Alley, soothsayer Drina Gizzi awaits the promised arrival of her benefactor, the mysterious Mr. Brown. When she is found murdered, strangled with a set of silver and gold corset laces, no one seems to care except the three who find her body—Inez, Reverend Sands, and Drina’s young daughter, Antonia. The mystery surrounding Drina’s death deepens when her body vanishes without a trace.

As Inez and Antonia band together to seek out Drina’s killer, they unearth disturbing evidence of underground resurrectionists, long-held grievances, and white-hot revenge. Meanwhile, Mark Stannert, true to his word that he only “plays to win,” contrives to drive Inez and Reverend Sands apart, gambling that he can convince her to abandon her plans for divorce. But what can gold buy, after all? A new life? Freedom from the past? Truth and justice for those murdered and unmourned? Or a final passage for Inez and Antonia into an unmarked grave and the world of the dead?

And what of Mr. Brown, whose missing presence hovers over all, like a spirit from beyond?

And, what more? Come back tomorrow for the second half of Ann Parker’s Q&A.