Monday, June 6, 2022

PBS and Summer Break

 Happy Summer. We are already in the 100's and no relief in site for this week. Way too early.

PBS Masterpiece Mystery has a great lineup starting June 19.

Endeavor 6/19/22 Season 8, Season 9 will be the last in the series

Granchester 7/10/22

Guilt 8/28

Van der Valk 9/25

Miss Scarlet and The Duke 10/16 7 p.m. CST

Magpie Murders 10/16 8 p.m. CST

Annika 10/16 (Nicola Walker from Unforgotten plays Annika) 9 p.m. CST

Looks like Hallmark is a victim of The Great Resignation. Several of their actors moved to a different network, so time will tell what that brings. From what I can see, they are showing repeats of the mystery movies right now. 

My summer reading goals are to get back to some of my old favorites and books I have acquired and not gotten to. 

I am going to take a summer break and will see if cooler weather brings more ambition and creativity.

Stay cool!

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Match by Harlan Coben

 The Match is the second Wilde book by Harlan Coben. The first book was The Boy From the Woods.


About: 

'At the age of somewhere between 35 and 45 - he didn't know exactly how old he was - Wilde found his father ...'

Wilde has grown up knowing nothing of his family, and even less about his own identity . All he knows is that, as a young child, he was found living a feral existence in the Ramapo mountains of New Jersey.

He became known simply as Wilde, the boy from the woods.

Now Wilde has had a hit on the DNA website he has been researching. A 100% match. His father. They meet up, and Wilde soon realises that his father doesn't even know he had a son and is as mystified as Wilde is by his existence.

Undaunted, Wilde continues his research for his family on DNA websites where he becomes caught up in a community of online doxxers, a secret group committed to exposing anonymous trolls.

Then one by one these doxxers start to die, and it soon becomes clear that a serial killer is targeting this secret community - and that his next victim might be Wilde himself ..."

We read Boy From the Woods a few years ago in our Mystery Book Club. We really liked it and the cliffhanger was that Wilde sent his DNA in to a testing website to see if he could find out anything from his past; who were is parents, where is he from, are there any living relatives out there. 

Enter book two. Wilde has a match and a message from the match. By the time he decides he will respond to the inquiry, the "match" has deleted their info. Wilde calls on his resources to hack in and find out who the match was and travels to meet (surprise) the match. That of course doesn't go perfectly, so he slips away without anymore contact.

More develops with the match and matches, crossing over to a disappearance of a reality star that he may be related to, which then leads to some weird bad people (the doxxers) on the internet etc. etc.

Wilde calls on Hester, his lawyer friend and her romantic interest, Oren, for help and support along the way. I really like Hester. She is a smart, wise cracking but soft older woman from New York. She is pretty awesome.

Wilde also explores his own romantic interest in Laila, the wife of his deceased best friend and Hester's son. Laila was also in book one. 

There is some explanation between the characters about how DNA matches work and it is confusing. I have been to some genealogy webinars where it is explained and it can be pretty convoluted. But don't let that frustrate you. 

The ending is pretty good and does leave room for another book but I read there are no plans for book three at this time.

Harlan Coben is my new favorite author I think. I also like the series they have made from his books that are on Netflix. 

Check them out.





Thursday, May 26, 2022

What makes a novel a mystery?

Hi all,

I started this post awhile back and didn't post it. 

I was thinking about our Mystery Book Club meeting where we read novels by Brad Thor in the Scot Harvath series. One person said several times, she didn't consider these books mysteries. I am a person that can usually find a mystery in most books I read and to me, that makes it a mystery. But I decided I wanted to see what "they" say makes a mystery novel. 

I came across this article with a nice list of what makes a mystery published by Master Class. They offer classes in writing. If you want to read the full article it is here:

 https://www.masterclass.com/articles/essential-elements-of-a-mystery-story#10-elements-of-a-mystery-story

Here is their list of what makes a mystery compared to some of Lions of Lucerne.

1. A strong hook: Uh, the president of the U.S.A. gets kidnapped by gunmen - pretty good hook

2. An atmospheric setting: Set in Switzerland, starts of with a big cloak and dagger scene - check

3. A crime: kidnapping the President of the United States - check

4. A sleuth: Scott Harvath - check

5. A vilain: several involved in the plot to kidnap the President, his daughter and people are shooting at Scot Harvath

6. Narrative Momentum: Yep. Scot constantly being shot at, hit over the head etc.

7. A trail of clues: check

8. Red herrings: plenty of those

9. Foreshadowing: that don't do that feeling

10. A satisfying ending: Yes! Leaves enough questions to make you want to read the next.

I started listening to The Last House on the Street today. It was recommended by a friend and presented as "a really good book." Once I started it, I said to myself, "This sure seems like a suspense, thriller, historical mystery." I looked at a couple of websites to see what categories it is in and one site said historical drama only, then historical and finally also saw "mystery".

Just proving to myself what I thought all along - a mystery novel can come in several shapes and sizes.


Friday, May 13, 2022

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz

 For our May Mystery Book Club, we read Moonflower Murders (Susan Reyland #2) by Anthony Horowitz. We had read book #1, Magpie Murders a few years ago.


About: "Retired publisher Susan Ryeland is living the good life. She is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her long-term boyfriend Andreas. It should be everything she's always wanted. But is it? She's exhausted with the responsibilities of making everything work on an island where nothing ever does, and truth be told she's beginning to miss London.

And then the Trehernes come to stay. The strange and mysterious story they tell, about an unfortunate murder that took place on the same day and in the same hotel in which their daughter was married—a picturesque inn on the Suffolk coast named Branlow Hall—fascinates Susan and piques her editor’s instincts. 

One of her former writers, the late Alan Conway, author of the fictional Magpie Murders, knew the murder victim—an advertising executive named Frank Parris—and once visited Branlow Hall. Conway based the third book in his detective series, Atticus Pund Takes the Cake, on that very crime. 

The Trehernes' daughter, Cecily, read Conway’s mystery and believed the book proves that the man convicted of Parris’s murder—a Romanian immigrant who was the hotel’s handyman—is innocent. When the Trehernes reveal that Cecily is now missing, Susan knows that she must return to England and find out what really happened."

You may or may not know that this book and Magpie Murders, are really two books in one. Moonflower Murders follows the format of Magpie Murders.

The book starts out with Susan Ryeland living in Greece, running a hotel with her boyfriend. When she is hired and travels back to England to work on the mystery of a murder from years ago and the disappearance of a young wife and mother, Susan needs to read Moonflower Murders (Atticus Pund) by Alan Conway for clues.

I liked it a lot. It is very long, because it is two books in one. But I felt like it read quickly. It seems like almost everyone in the MBC liked the book. I asked which book did they like better: the main story or the book inside the book. Most including me, liked the book inside the book. It is written as traditional English mystery and Atticus Pund reminded me of Poirot. 

The more we talked about the book, the more we found we did get some of the characters confused: was so and so in the main book or the Moonflower Murders? 

In general everyone liked it but was somewhat confused with so many characters to keep track of in two books.

Magpie Murders has been made into a T.V. series and is showing on Brit Box.It is to come to PBS in the U.S. in 2022. One person in the group has seen the series and said is was very well done, that all though it goes back and forth from the main story to the book inside the book, it wasn't confusing.

I do recommend it. It is a good mystery.

Anthony Horowitz is the creator of Foyle's War and wrote some of the Poirot episodes and some Midsomer Murders episodes. He also was designated by the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle to write a new Sherlock book. The House of Silk was published in 2011. I think I need to look for that book now.


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Stripped Bare by Shannon Baker

 I was introduced to the Kate Fox series by Shannon Baker through Audible. The first book in the series, Stripped Bare, was/is one of the "free" extras. 


About: 
"Kate Fox is living the dream. She’s married to Grand County Sheriff Ted Conner, the heir to her beloved Nebraska Sandhills cattle ranch, where they live with Kate’s orphaned teenage niece, Carly. With the support of the well-connected Fox Clan, which includes Kate’s eight boisterous and interfering siblings, Ted’s reelection as Grand County Sheriff is virtually assured. That leaves Kate to the solitude and satisfaction of Frog Creek, her own slice of heaven.

One night Kate answers a shattering phone call from Roxy at the Bar J. Carly’s granddad Eldon, owner of the ranch, is dead and Ted has been shot and may never walk again. Kate vows to find the killer. She soon discovers Ted responded so quickly to the scene because he was already at the Bar J . . . in Roxy’s bed. And to add to her woes, Carly has gone missing.

Kate finds out that Eldon was considering selling his ranch to an obscenely rich environmentalist. Some in town hate the idea of an outsider buying up land, others are desperate to sell . . . and some might kill to get their way. As she becomes the victim of several “accidents,” Kate knows she must find the killer before it’s too late ."

I liked this book well enough to want to move on to book two. Good start to a series with a strong female lead. Kate is trying to investigate a murder to get her sheriff husband cleared of suspicion of the murder. Kate finds out that maybe her happy marriage isn't as happy as she thought.

Not unlike other first in a series books, it was a little slow in places and lots of characters. But all the characters needed to be introduced for future books. 

This book reminded me somewhat of the Joe Pickett series but with a female main character fighting lots of despicable people in a similar location. 

I liked Kate's ability to pick herself up and do what needs to be done. And I LOVED the ending. Great hook into the next book.

)Hint: Be sure to use the author's name if you search for this book. There is another book of the same name but with a headless naked torso on the cover. Not this book. lol)

There are six books in the series. 

Shannon Baker also writes the Nora Abbott series (three books), Michaela Sanchez Southwest Crime Thrillers (two books) and has written a standalone - The Desert Behind Me. They all look pretty good to me.

https://shannon-baker.com/

Friday, April 29, 2022

Featuring: Chariss K. Walker - Cozy Mysteries, Romantic Suspense Psychic Thrillers, Dystopian and more

 Happy Friday and end of  April. 

I have a new to me author that I thought you might be interested in hearing about.

I found out about Chariss thru Authors XP. I think I have mentioned that I am on the Authors XP mailing list. This is a great place to get ARC's, other read and review, heads up on new books, free books, and opportunities to join "Street Teams" - helping authors by sharing and reviewing their books. You can set your genre interests so you get info on books you may be interested in. 

Here is that website in case you are interested in joining their list: https://authorsxp.com/

An opportunity recently came through Authors XP to be a part of a Street Team for Chariss K Walker. I liked the the sound of her books so I joined. 

Chariss has several series.

Becky Tibbs - A North Carolina Medium's Mystery Series: A Cozy Mystery series with a paranormal twist..

"Becky Tibbs, a medium in Asheville North Carolina, works with ghosts every day. She helps them with their unfinished business and sometimes that includes solving the mysteries surrounding their deaths. This a light cozy ghost mystery series." 

There are 10 books in this series with more to come.



The Vision Chronicle Series: A Romantic Suspense Psychic Thriller series:



"Mike Lewis has a secret that he has kept for fifteen years. Is it a gift or a curse? He sees the future through a kaleidoscope, but when he stops fighting this ability it changes and evolves with his acceptance. Once, Mike only saw images of horrifying distant events that didn't affect him personally but now the visions warn him of his own impending dangerous situations. Only a few days after he finally shares the secret, he discovers that someone is after him and they’re determined to learn all they can about his ability. The further he delves the eerier it gets until Mike finally realizes that the best he can do is learn how to protect himself, stand and fight as long as he can, and then run. When he runs, chaos follows.
The Vision Chronicles, an eight book series, details Mike’s changing ability. As the titles change, so does his ability and the method through which he sees the visions. Each book covers approximately eight weeks in his life. It's a fast-paced reality thriller series, so hang onto your butt as you learn of the challenges he faces and Mike's honest self-reflections. There are moments of intimacy and tenderness that can bring a tear or a nod of understanding, along with heart-pounding instances of abduction, imprisonment, and near-death experiences. Through every challenge, Mike uses his mystic ability selflessly to help his family and friends."

There are eight books in this series. 

The Alec Winters Series: Dark Fiction



"This supernatural suspense series is a controversial tale of transformation to angel and demon where Alec Winters roams the gritty streets of New Orleans to protect its innocent victims and brutally destroy the wicked people who hurt them."

There are four books in this series.

Serena McKay novels: Dystopian Crime Novels: There are two books in this series 


"Serena McKay, P.I., lives in a post-apocalyptic dystopian time where the rich get richer and the poor are homeless. Existence in August City is nightmarish at best and disastrously chilling at worst. Serena has suffered from devastating emotional and physical abuse but she continues to do her job in spite of it."

Dystopian Fantasy Series: There are three books in this series.


2121 Trilogy, A Dystopian Fantasy Story, is written for Young Adults, New Adults, and All Age Adults who enjoy dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction with a bit of horror.
TheTriloby includes Salazar, Book 1, Sondra, Book 2, and Dinah, Book 3.

Chariss also has several non fiction books. 

I read A Medium's Birthday Surprise: Book One in the Becky Tibbs series.

About: "Becky Tibbs didn’t ask for the job or the gift of being a medium, but after her parents died, the unusual ability became a bequest – a gift handed down from her mother’s side of the family.

An optimistic and positive young woman, Becky determines to make the best of a difficult situation in the small town of Asheville, North Carolina where the smallest detail is noticed and everyone knows everything about everyone else.

Becky deals with a lot of departed spirits in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Such a job can get rather hectic at times. Misunderstood ghosts can create a lot of sticky problems for the living and a community such as hers.

Used to dealing with ghosts on a daily basis, Becky is not easily surprised. However, on her 26th birthday, Becky gets the biggest shock she’s had in the past ten years and it’s a doozy."

While this is a cozy mystery series, the main characters are dealing with real issues - not all cozy.  Becky's brother and sister, Bobby and Barbara, also have the "gift" of seeing ghosts. Problem is they do not want this gift, whereas Becky has embraced it and frequently helps ghosts to move on. The dark side to this cozy mystery is that Bobby is dealing with it by drinking and Barbara is self medicating, both to numb their ability. I am interested to see how these characters develop and how they deal with the issues. I also like paranormal twists. 

About Chariss K. Walker: 
"Award-winning author, Chariss K. Walker, M.Msc., Reiki Master/Teacher, writes both fiction and nonfiction books with a metaphysical and spiritual component. Her fiction expresses a visionary/metaphysical message that illustrates growth in a character's consciousness while utilizing a paranormal aspect."

If you would like to find out more about Chariss, I recommend checking out her website. 

https://chariss.com/

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Scot Harvath series by Brad Thor

 Happy Spring! I hope it is nice weather where you are. I just heard from a high school friend that it snowed again yesterday where I used to live. Wow. 

Our Mystery Book Club met in the library last week for the second month in a row! Everyone is so glad to be back. Even the library staff is glad the book clubs are back. They are posting the meetings and book selections on the website again. That really made me feel like we were back.   We may have lost a few regulars through all of this. But we seem to have good core group. Time will tell. 

For our April selection, it was readers choice of the Brad Thor Scot Harvath series. I had seen Brad Thor speak virtually last year and it got me interested.. Since he has 21 books in the series now, it was reader's choice in case some had already read some of the books.

The Scot Harvath books are political thrillers. I chose to start at the beginning and read the first book:

The Lions of Lucerne



About: "On the snowy Utah slopes, thirty Secret Service agents are viciously executed and the vacationing president of the United States kidnapped, seemingly by the Fatah, a lethal terrorist organization in the Middle East. But Scot Harvath, surviving agent and ex-Navy SEAL, doesn't believe the Fatah is responsible. A shadowy coalition comprises some of the highest-ranking officials in government and business – men who operate above the law, realize the threat Scot poses to their hidden agenda, and will do anything to stop him. Framed for murder and on the run, Scot takes to the towering mountains of Switzerland with beautiful Claudia Mueller of the Swiss Federal Attorney's Office. They brave subzero temperatures and sheer heights of treacherous Mount Pilatus, and the den of notorious professional killers."

There is some interesting background to this book. 

First, Brad Thor's background: "Brad has served as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Analytic Red Cell Unit. He has also lectured to law enforcement organizations on over-the-horizon/future threats, and has been a keynote speaker for the National Tactical Officers Association annual conference. In 2008, Brad shadowed a Black Ops team in Afghanistan to research his thriller, The Apostle. Brad graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California where he studied creative writing, film, and television production. Prior to becoming a novelist, Brad was the award-winning creator, producer, writer and host of the critically acclaimed national public television series, Traveling Lite."

Second: During his days of hosting a travel show, he had been to Switzerland and seen the Lion Monument or The Lion of Lucerne rock carving. He thought it would make a good book cover and/or title. 

Third: Thor saw an article about a Swiss Intelligence officer who was embezzling money from the Swiss government and training his own shadow militia in the Alps.

The idea for this first book was born.

I really liked The Lions of Lucerne. I listened to it in audio. It is very fast paced with constant action. 

Everyone in the MBC liked the book or books they had read in this series. A couple people went on to read more than one of the books. One person had read them all before and enjoyed revisiting the books. There certainly had to have been a great deal of research for this books in this series. The books often deal with things that are going on in the world and gave many of us a "that could happen" feeling. We all agreed, that it didn't seem like Scot Harvath would live to be in another book. lol 

All in all, this series is a good pick if you like political thrillers and lots of action.

https://bradthor.com/