Fiction Review

Christina Dodd & Jayne Ann Krentz, in Conversation

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John Charles from The Poisoned Pen asks one of my favorite questions of authors. Who were you before you became an author? You’ll have to check the conversation to hear their answers. Christina Dodd, author of Wrong Alibi, and Jayne Ann Krentz, author of All the Colors of Night, answered Charles’ questions recently. You can find signed copies of their books in the Web Store. https://store.poisonedpen.com/

Here’s Christina Dodd’s Wrong Alibi.

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd delivers an all-new thriller, featuring a bold and brash female protagonist.

WRONG JOB
Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

WRONG NAME
Evie’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.

WRONG ALIBI
At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own family…

“This is Dodd at her brilliant best.”
Booklist (starred review) on Strangers She Knows

Dodd’s twisty suspense will have readers turning the pages and keeping the lights on at night.


Here’s the summary of All the Colors of Night by Jayne Ann Krentz.

An instant New York Times bestseller!

Two psychics plunge into a dark world of deadly secrets in this second installment in the Fogg Lake trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz.

 
North Chastain possesses a paranormal talent that gives him the ability to track down the most dangerous psychic criminals. When his father suddenly falls into a coma-like state, North is convinced it was caused by a deadly artifact that traces back to the days of a secret government program known only as the Bluestone Project. North knows his only hope of saving his father is to find the artifact. He is good when it comes to tracking down killers, but to locate the relic he’s going to need help from a psychic who knows the shadowy world of obsessive collectors, deceptive dealers and ruthless raiders.…
 
With her reputation in ruins after a false accusation, antiques expert Sierra Raines is looking for a fresh start. She turns to the murky backwaters of the paranormal artifacts trade, finding and transporting valuable objects with a psychic provenance. When North Chastain approaches her for help, Sierra takes him on as a client, though not without reservations. North represents the mysterious Foundation, the secretive organization established to police the underworld populated by psychic criminals and those, like Sierra, who make a living in the shadows of that world.
 
North and Sierra soon find themselves at the scene of the Incident, which occurred decades ago in Fogg Lake. The town and its residents were forever changed by the disaster in the nearby Bluestone Project labs. The pair unearths shocking truths about what happened that fateful night, but they are playing with fire—someone in town knows what they’ve discovered and will do anything to make sure the secrets stay buried.


If you enjoy these authors, you’ll appreciate the conversation between Jayne Ann Krentz, Christina Dodd, and John Charles.


Reavis Wortham and Joe R. Lansdale, in Conversation

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Reavis Z. Wortham’s eighth Texas Red River mystery, Laying Bones, has just been released. Fellow Texas author Joe R. Lansdale stepped in to lead the conversation with Wortham for The Poisoned Pen. You can find Wortham’s books in the Web Store. http://bit.ly/2yinlUS

Here’s the summary of Laying Bones.

The stakes don’t get much higher than murder…

It’s January 1969 in the small rural community of Center Springs, Texas. Constable Ned Parker suspects a larger mystery behind the seemingly accidental death of his nephew, R .B., who was found in his overturned pickup near Sanders Creek bridge. It appears that R. B. drowned in the shallow water, but something doesn’t add up for Ned, who begins turning over stones in search of what really happened the night R. B. died.

The mystery leads Ned to the Starlite Club, a dangerous honky-tonk recently constructed in a no-man’s land on the Lone Star side of the Red River. His investigations there uncover suspicious characters, drugs, and gambling, but even more troubling are a series of murders that seem designed to eliminate anyone who might know what really happened to R. B. on that cold January night.

As he works his way through the cover-up, Ned lands himself in a high-stakes game of consequences with no good end in sight. Are the good citizens of Center Springs conspiring against Constable Parker in his search for the truth?

In this thrilling addition to the historical Texas Red River Mystery Series, Constable Ned Parker bets big, but only time will tell if he’ll win justice or a grave of his own.


You can tell Reavis Z. Wortham and Joe R. Lansdale enjoy each other’s company. All you have to do is read Michael Barson’s interview with Wortham in Bookreporter. When asked about his favorite Texas novelists, Wortham mentions Lansdale among others. Here’s that interview. http://bit.ly/3ippRiM


Here’s the conversation about writing with Wortham and Lansdale.

Lefty Award Nominees

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Left Coast Crime Announces the

2021 Lefty Award Nominations


Because of the pandemic, the 2021 Left Coast Crime convention has been rescheduled for 2022. Everything else may have changed but the Lefty Awards continue! Left Coast Crime will be presenting four Lefty Awards in 2021: humorous, historical, debut, and best. This year, the awards will be voted on virtually and presented online April 10, 2021.

The award nominees have just been selected by registrants at the last in-person convention in San Diego and the next one scheduled for Albuquerque in April 2022. LCC is delighted to announce the 2021 Lefty nominees for books published in 2020. After you see the list, you’ll want to check the Web Store for the titles. https://store.poisonedpen.com/

Lefty Nominees for Best Humorous Mystery Novel

  • Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard (Crooked Lane Books)
  • Jennifer J. Chow, Mimi Lee Gets a Clue (Berkley Prime Crime)
  • Carl Hiaasen, Squeeze Me (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets (Henery Press)
  • J. Michael Orenduff, The Pot Thief Who Studied the Woman at Otowi Crossing Aakenbaaken & Kent)
  • Sung J. Woo, Skin Deep (Agora Books)

Lefty Nominees for Best Historical Mystery Novel for books set before 1970

  • Susanna Calkins, The Fate of a Flapper (Minotaur Books)
  • Dianne Freeman, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder (Kensington Books)
  • Laurie R. King, Riviera Gold (Bantam Books)
  • Catriona McPherson, The Turning Tide (Quercus)
  • Ann Parker, Mortal Music (Poisoned Pen Press)
  • James W. Ziskin, Turn to Stone (Seventh Street Books)

Lefty Nominees for Best Debut Mystery Novel

  • Daisy Bateman, Murder Goes to Market (Seventh Street Books)
  • Mary Keliikoa, Derailed (Camel Press)
  • Erica Ruth Neubauer, Murder at the Mena House (Kensington Books)
  • Richard Osman, The Thursday Murder Club (Viking)
  • Halley Sutton, The Lady Upstairs (Putnam)
  • David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Winter Counts (Ecco)

Lefty Nominees for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories)

  • Tracy Clark, What You Don’t See (Kensington Books)
  • S.A. Cosby, Blacktop Wasteland (Flatiron Books)
  • Matt Coyle, Blind Vigil (Oceanview Publishing)
  • Rachel Howzell Hall, And Now She’s Gone (Forge)
  • Louise Penny, All the Devils Are Here (Minotaur Books)

Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Staff Best of 2020

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Everyone else listed their Best Books of 2020, so why not the staff of The Poisoned Pen? You’ll recognize a few of the names as people who host some of the virtual events, Barbara Peters, Patrick Millikin, John Charles, Pat King. But, some of the other staff listed their top ten picks as well. Check it out. One of the staff might have similar reading taste as yours. Then, check the Web Store for the books. https://store.poisonedpen.com/

Here’s the list. https://store.poisonedpen.com/?q=p.staff_best_of_2

Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, in Conversation

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The latest book in the Nora Kelly series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is The Scorpion’s Tail. As Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, says, there are still some signed copies available, but the bookstore always sells out. So, order your copy now, while you can still get a signed book. You can order them through the Web Store. http://bit.ly/2us95e9

Here’s the summary of The Scorpion’s Tail.

#1 bestselling authors Preston & Child return with the latest book in the new series featuring archaeologist Nora Kelly and FBI Agent Corrie Swanson.

Following the acclaimed debut of OLD BONES, this second “happily anticipated” new thriller in Preston & Child’s series features Nora Kelly, archaeologist at the Santa Fe Archeological Institute, and rookie FBI Agent Corrie Swanson, as they team up to solve a mystery that quickly escalates into nightmare (Booklist).

A mummified corpse, over half a century old, is found in the cellar of an abandoned building in a remote New Mexico ghost town. Corrie is assigned what seems to her a throwaway case: to ID the body and determine cause of death. She brings archaeologist Nora Kelly to excavate the body and lend her expertise to the investigation, and together they uncover something unexpected and shocking: the deceased apparently died in agony, in a fetal position, skin coming off in sheets, with a rictus of horror frozen on his face.

Hidden on the corpse lies a 16th century Spanish gold cross of immense value.

When they at last identify the body — and the bizarre cause of death — Corrie and Nora open a door into a terrifying, secret world of ancient treasure and modern obsession: a world centered on arguably the most defining, frightening, and transformative moment in American history.


You’ll want to watch the virtual event because the authors provide the stories behind the two Nora Kelly books.

Goldberg & Pinter’s Virtual Event

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This country should pay back poor Lee Goldberg and Jason Pinter. Last year, when the first books in their new series came out, it was on the eve of the COVID pandemic. Now, when the second book came out, the U.S. experienced an insurrection. So, check out the new books by the authors, Lee Goldberg’s Bone Canyon and Jason Pinter’s A Stranger at the Door. You can find signed copies of their books in the Web Store. https://store.poisonedpen.com/

Here’s the summary of Bone Canyon.

A cold case heats up, revealing a deadly conspiracy in a twisty thriller by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Goldberg.

A catastrophic wildfire scorches the Santa Monica Mountains, exposing the charred remains of a woman who disappeared years ago. The investigation is assigned to Eve Ronin, the youngest homicide detective in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, a position that forces her to prove herself again and again. This time, though, she has much more to prove.

Bones don’t lie, and these have a horrific story to tell. Eve tirelessly digs into the past, unearthing dark secrets that reveal nothing about the case is as it seems. With almost no one she can trust, her relentless pursuit of justice for the forgotten dead could put Eve’s own life in peril.


Here’s Jason Pinter’s A Stranger at the Door.

From the Amazon bestselling author of Hide Away comes the gripping second installment of the Rachel Marin Thriller series.

Rachel Marin is in a good place. After years of struggle, the single mother has found both a stable, loving relationship and a new purpose: putting her investigative skills to work solving crimes for the local PD. But just as the pieces of her life are finally starting to fall into place, her teenaged son’s teacher is gruesomely murdered, starting a domino effect that shatters her peaceful existence.

When Rachel discovers an ominous email the teacher sent to her just before his death, she knows she must help bring his killer to justice. But soon a figure from her past reappears, threatening to expose Rachel’s darkest secrets if she doesn’t tread lightly. And when her son is recruited by a shadowy businessman who may be connected to the murder, Rachel knows this has just gotten very, very personal.

Someone out there is dead set on keeping this grisly cover-up good and buried, which means if Rachel’s not careful, it’s only a matter of time before her dream life becomes her worst nightmare.


Enjoy the conversation with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, and authors Lee Goldberg and Jason Pinter.

Agatha Christie

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There’s so much to discuss when it comes to Agatha Christie! The Poisoned Pen’s recent Booknews has a lengthy post. Barbara Peters, owner of the Pen, shared her comments here.

Christie, Agatha. Poirot Investigates ($9.95). A collection of stories featuring eccentric Hercule Poirot. Knopf has bought the Christies away from Collins, or so it seems, so expect a spate of reissues with probable new material in introductions and such. You can find this in the Web Store. https://bit.ly/3oKgm03

The first collection of short stories featuring one of the world’s favorite fictional detectives, Hercule Poirot

No criminal can outwit Agatha Christie’s famously eccentric Belgian detective as he uses his little grey cells to solve a series of ingenious crimes. From a film star’s disappearing diamond to a death in a locked room to the abduction of a prime minister, no plot is too fiendishly clever to withstand Hercule Poirot’s deductive powers for long. A treat for mystery lovers of all kinds, this collection of short stories proves once gain that Christie is the queen of mystery.

Also PBS will kick off the year 2021 with two TV documentaries focused on the life and publishing career of Agatha Christie, author of more than 60 murder mysteries and easily one of the most popular and successful novelists in the world. The two forthcoming specials are Inside the Mind of Agatha Christie, which will broadcast on January 17 at 10 p.m. EST, and Agatha Christie’s England, which will broadcast January 24 at 10 p.m. EST, on PBS, PBS.org, and on the PBS video app. Both programs will stream online simultaneously with the broadcast and will be available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV and Chromecast. Both programs will be narrated by Samantha Bond.

Inside the Mind of Agatha Christie offers Christie fans rare access to her family members, scholars and her personal archive. The film will delve into her isolated childhood, her time as a nurse during WWI (which gave her the background medical knowledge for her use of poison, blood and gore in her books), as well as the breakdown of her first marriage and her mysterious disappearance for 11 days in 1926.

Agatha Christie’s England will explore how Christie created a literary universe that shaped the world’s image of England. The settings of her books were taken from real places and the film will explore her surroundings, among them Ugbrook House, where she met her first husband, Abney Hall, the inspiration for Christie’s iconic country house murder settings, and the boathouse at Greenway, her country retreat. Which I visited in 1990 and had a private tour with her grandson Matthew Pritchard. 

Sulari Gentill & Crime Writing Rules

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Fans of mysteries know that one of the few unbreakable rules is that writers don’t kill pets. In an article for CrimeReads, Sulari Gentill took on that topic. “Every Mystery Writer Knows, You Can Kill Anyone but the Dog”, http://bit.ly/2XF3Pii.

It’s an excellent article, both for the topic and because of Gentill’s writing. So, let’s talk about Sulari Gentill’s writing. Her ninth Rowland Sinclair World War II mystery, Shanghai Secrets, was released this week. You can order that book, and the others in the series, through the Web Store. http://bit.ly/2N5KsYB

Here’s the summary of Shanghai Secrets.

In a city full of strangers, be careful whom you trust…

Shanghai, 1935. Black sheep gentleman Rowland Sinclair arrives with his bohemian housemates from Sydney, Australia to explore a new city and take the name Sinclair international with a new class of negotiations. A novice to global commerce, Rowland is under strict instructions from his brother to keep a low profile…but that soon becomes next to impossible. A beautiful Russian taxi girl—who once claimed to be the Princess Anastasia and who danced in Rowly’s arms the night before—is found slain in his suite.

Out of sympathy for the murdered girl and to clear his name, Rowly and his companions embark upon their own investigation. They soon discover there are many people who may have wanted Alexandra Romanovna dead. As they are drawn deeper into Shanghai society and its underworld, Rowly searches for answers in a strange city determined to ruin him.

Exploring the simmering underbelly of Shanghai just years before WWII, Shanghai Secrets is a historical mystery that brings alive an expatriate playground where East and West collide, the stakes are high, and fortunes—and lives—are easily lost.


After setting out to study astrophysics, graduating in law and then abandoning her legal career to write books, Sulari now grows French black truffles on her farm in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains of NSW. Sulari is author of The Rowland Sinclair Mystery series, historical crime fiction novels (nine in total) set in the 1930s. Sulari’s A Decline in Prophets (the second book in the series) was the winner of the Davitt Award for Best Adult Crime Fiction 2012. She was also shortlisted for Best First Book (A Few Right Thinking Men) for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2011. Paving the New Road was shortlisted for another Davitt in 2013.

Preston & Child’s Hot Book of the Week

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Are you interested in a signed copy of the current Hot Book of the Week? The Scorpion’s Tail by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is the second Nora Kelly book. Signed copies are available through the Web Store, and they come with an exclusive photo of Preston on horseback. You can order a copy, as well as a copy of Old Bones, the first in the series, through the Web Store. http://bit.ly/2us95e9

Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, referred to The Scorpion’s Tail as a Cussler/Hillerman fusion.

#1 bestselling authors Preston & Child return with the latest book in the new series featuring archaeologist Nora Kelly and FBI Agent Corrie Swanson.

Following the acclaimed debut of OLD BONES, this second “happily anticipated” new thriller in Preston & Child’s series features Nora Kelly, archaeologist at the Santa Fe Archeological Institute, and rookie FBI Agent Corrie Swanson, as they team up to solve a mystery that quickly escalates into nightmare (Booklist).

A mummified corpse, over half a century old, is found in the cellar of an abandoned building in a remote New Mexico ghost town. Corrie is assigned what seems to her a throwaway case: to ID the body and determine cause of death. She brings archaeologist Nora Kelly to excavate the body and lend her expertise to the investigation, and together they uncover something unexpected and shocking: the deceased apparently died in agony, in a fetal position, skin coming off in sheets, with a rictus of horror frozen on his face.

Hidden on the corpse lies a 16th century Spanish gold cross of immense value.

When they at last identify the body — and the bizarre cause of death — Corrie and Nora open a door into a terrifying, secret world of ancient treasure and modern obsession: a world centered on arguably the most defining, frightening, and transformative moment in American history.

Read It Before You Can Watch It – Connelly

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We all know how popular Michael Connelly’s “Bosch” has been on Amazon. Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series was a smash for Netflix over Christmas. Now, Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller, “The Lincoln Lawyer” could become a series for Netflix. According to Deadline, the first season will be based on the second book in Michael Connelly’s series, The Brass Verdict, http://bit.ly/38wPQkS. You can order that book, and others in the series, through the Web Store. You might want to read it before watching it. http://bit.ly/2RtzGgK

Here’s the storyline for The Brass Verdict.

Defense attorney Mickey Haller and Detective Harry Bosch must either work together or die as they investigate a Hollywood lawyer’s murder in this “epic page-turner” (Library Journal).
Things are finally looking up for defense attorney Mickey Haller. After two years of wrong turns, Haller is back in the courtroom. When Hollywood lawyer Jerry Vincent is murdered, Haller inherits his biggest case yet: the defense of Walter Elliott, a prominent studio executive accused of murdering his wife and her lover. But as Haller prepares for the case that could launch him into the big time, he learns that Vincent’s killer may be coming for him next.

Enter Harry Bosch. Determined to find Vincent’s killer, he is not opposed to using Haller as bait. But as danger mounts and the stakes rise, these two loners realize their only choice is to work together.