Dead Man’s Leap by Tina deBellegarde

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Dead Man’s Leap

by Tina deBellegarde

May 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

Synopsis:

Dead Man's Leap by Tina deBellegarde

DEAD MAN’S LEAP revisits Bianca St. Denis in Batavia-on-Hudson, New York

Rushing waters…dead bodies…secrets…

As Bianca St. Denis and her neighbors scour their attics for donations to the charity rummage sale, they unearth secrets as well as prized possessions. Leonard Marshall’s historic inn hosts the sale each year, but it is his basement that houses the key to his past. When an enigmatic antiques dealer arrives in town, he upends Leonard’s carefully reconstructed life with an impossible choice that harkens back to the past.

Meanwhile, when a storm forces the villagers of Batavia-on-Hudson to seek shelter, the river rises and so do tempers. Close quarters fuel simmering disputes, and Sheriff Mike Riley has his work cut out for him. When the floods wash up a corpse, Bianca once again finds herself teaming up with Sheriff Riley to solve a mystery. Are they investigating an accidental drowning or something more nefarious?

My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed deBellegarde’s first book in the Batavia-on-the-Hudson series, and was pleased to find the same intricate plotting, character development, and vividly drawn action in this sophomore effort. The same characters are back and show promise of being further developed in future books. Here we get to learn a bit more about some of the key people among the village population. Small towns have big secrets, and deBellegarde explores that conundrum with a fast-paced story that includes two murders, decades apart. We learn a lot more about protagonist Bianca, and a little bit more about her potential love interest, Mike. I’m not sure how I feel about the burgeoning romantic situation between the two, but it does lend some tension to the narrative. Fans of small-town mysteries featuring an endearing set of characters will enjoy this.

Dead Man’s Leap explores the burden of secrets, the relief of renunciation, and the danger of believing we can outpace our past.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Mystery
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Number of Pages: 254
ISBN: 1685120849 (ISBN-13: 978-1685120849)
Series: A Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery, #2
Purchase Links: Amazon

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

He inched toward the precipice, his toes gripping the stone ledge as if they had a will of their own. He lifted his head and squinted into the sunlight still streaming through the blackening clouds. He took in the expanse of rushing water below. In all his eighteen years, Trevor had never seen the creek roil so ferociously.

A clap of thunder startled him. His toes relaxed, and he felt as if the slightest wind could take him over the edge. Lightheaded for a second, he regained his footing and his purpose.

He had no choice if he wanted all this to stop.

He needed to do it.

And do it now.

The downpour would break again soon. But for now, all he could hear was the rushing of Horseshoe Falls beneath him, the roar drowning out the noise of his past.

Of his father.

Of his mother.

Yes, his mother. He had expected his father to be weak, and wasn’t surprised at all after he left. But his mother? A mother’s love is supposed to be unconditional. At least that’s what she had always said before she had turned their world upside down. It was bad enough when she had played at being the sexiest woman in town. At least when his friends teased him then, it was meant to be fun. But this was worse, far worse. Now they wanted nothing to do with him. Now they used him as a punching bag.

His gang no longer looked to him as their leader. They ridiculed him for what his mother had done. From the beginning, he knew those kids were bad news. What choice did he have? In grade school he’d been bullied. Well, he had put a stop to that in high school. Can’t be bullied if you’re the biggest bully.

His mother was gone. His father was gone. And now his posse. First, it was the cold shoulder, and a few snide remarks. Then he was cornered in the locker room after the game one day. That was the hardest. He hadn’t taken a beating like that since the fifth grade. But the tables had been turned on him so fast that he never saw it coming. Trevor realized now that they were never friends. They were just a group of trouble makers who hung out together. Good riddance to them. He didn’t need them anymore.

Another thunderclap reminded him where he was. On the edge. Right on the edge. He either had to do this properly or he would be going over anyway.

Trevor looked over his shoulder one last time and heard a faint commotion in the background. Once they rounded the path, he closed his eyes and jumped.

* * *

Bianca St. Denis stretched to grab the cord just out of reach above her head and yanked on it with all her force to bring down the attic staircase. She tilted her head to avoid being struck as it made its way down. She unfolded the retractable stairs and put one foot on the first rung. But there she stopped, not sure she could take the next few steps. At forty-two the issue wasn’t her physical ability to climb the steps, she was active, even fairly athletic. The old saying went “the mind was willing but the body was not.” Well, in her case “the body was willing but the mind was not.”

She had stayed out of the attic all these months since Richard’s death. She had made do without her ski parka this past winter, and used Richard’s barn jacket she’d found in the mudroom instead. She had made do without the spring curtains she would normally switch out in the living room each March. The winter ones still hung heavy and foreboding. And she made do without the patio cushions she had sewn two seasons ago. She simply sat on the raw wood when she wanted to read or eat in the backyard. She hadn’t realized the number of things she had been doing without by avoiding the attic, not until the town started buzzing about the rummage sale. She pretended it was because she hadn’t had time to search for the items, but she knew better.

She took her foot off the rung, bent and picked up the stairs again, refolded them, and let them float to the ceiling. The hatch closed with a neat click.

* * *

Once Trevor hit the water, his tension disappeared. He welcomed the release and let himself drop. Slowly he was pulled down into the chaos of the rushing water, but his mind had floated above it all. He didn’t feel a thing, he observed it instead. He watched as his body sank, as it swirled in the vortex of the overfull creek. He watched as his body escaped the current and floated peacefully in the murky water. And he watched as he gave in to full renunciation and allowed the water to decide what was to become of him.

His thoughts slowed, as muddy as the water surrounding him.

They slowed, but he could not make them disappear.

He had managed to avoid jumping off Dead Man’s Leap every summer, but this year he knew he couldn’t get away with it. They had already threatened to make sure he jumped this year. That was only part of what the summer had in store for him. Who could he turn to? His grandparents had no idea what he was going through. They always hid their heads in the sand anyway. There was nothing they could do for him. So, he had taken matters into his own hands.

He was shocked when his head broke the surface, and despite himself he gasped for air in enormous mouthfuls until he gagged. He bobbed there, undecided, until he finally attempted the few strides to reach the cove. It took him longer than he expected, like swimming in molasses. A cross between his fatigue, his indifference, and the strong current kept him from reaching the bank in the three strokes it would normally require. On his knees, he crawled out of the pull of rushing water and dropped on the shore.

* * *

Leonard Marshall picked up the package, the paper crinkling in his hand. He carefully unwrapped one layer, then another. Layer after layer until he held the smooth tiny statuette in his hand. He trembled, and smiled, attracted and repulsed at the same time. How could such a tiny thing hold so many emotions for him? So much power over him? It was so small he could cradle it in the palm of his hand. He closed his fingers around it. It disappeared. He opened them again, and there it was. With it came a flood of memories. Exhilarating. His heart raced with a quick pat, pat, pat.

The basement door creaked. He took in a breath.

Time slowed and his heart with it.

Thump……thump……thump.

The light clicked on.

Another creak. Above him a step, a pause, another step. The door ached on its hinges as it opened wider. The light flicked off. The door closed. The steps faded. He let out his breath.

* * *

Trevor had never experienced fatigue like this. He crawled onto shore in the shadow of the cliff and collapsed. He never expected to make it out of the water, and now that he had, he lay there drawing in large mouthfuls of air, as if his lungs would never get enough. He stayed there, staring up at the sky, watching the dark clouds shapeshift. The rain would be there any moment, and to his surprise, he welcomed it.

As his breathing relaxed, he realized that the pain he felt was a sharp object stabbing his back. He rolled over, removed it, and threw it off to the side. As he turned to lay back down, his blurry eyes focused on the object. It was a bone. A human bone? He scrambled onto his knees and slowly made his way over to it. He was repulsed and fascinated, but mostly he was frightened by the sight of a bone and what that could mean. What had happened here, right here in this cove?

In the distance, he heard their drunken voices again. He knelt and grabbed handfuls of dirt to cover the bone. He heard them approach the edge of the cliff.

“He came this way. I saw him jump.”

“He’s too chicken, he didn’t jump. But when I find him, he’ll jump alright. He’ll jump or I’ll send him flying.”

“He jumped, I tell ya. Leave him alone. You wanted him to jump, and he did. I saw him. Let it go, already.”

“Yeah, well if he jumped, where is he?”

“You think he’s still under? You think he hit his head like that kid a while back?”

“I’m telling you, he didn’t jump.”

“There’s nowhere else to go but down. Of course, he jumped.”

“I’m going in. If he did jump, we’ll find him down there. He’s probably hiding under the cliff.”

Trevor carefully picked his way out of the cove. Scraping up against the cliff as close as his body would allow, he followed the contours until he came out on the other side of the falls. With his last bit of strength, he climbed up the rocky trail alongside Horseshoe Falls.

***

Excerpt from Dead Man’s Leap by Tina deBellegarde. Copyright 2022 by Tina deBellegarde. Reproduced with permission from Tina deBellegarde. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Tina deBellegarde

Tina deBellegarde has been called “the Louise Penny of the Catskills.” Winter Witness, the first book in her Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery series, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel, a Silver Falchion Award and a Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem Award. Her story “Tokyo Stranger” which appears in the Mystery Writers of America anthology When a Stranger Comes to Town edited by Michael Koryta has been nominated for a Derringer Award. Tina’s short fiction also appears in The Best New England Crime Stories anthologies. She is the vice-president of the Upper Hudson Chapter of Sisters in Crime, a member of Mystery Writers of America and Writers in Kyoto. She lives in Catskill, New York, with her husband Denis and their cat Shelby where they tend to their beehives, harvest shiitake mushrooms, and cultivate their vegetable garden. She winters in Florida and travels to Japan regularly to visit her son Alessandro.

Catch Up With Tina deBellegarde:
tinadebellegarde.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @tinadebellegarde
Instagram – @tdb_writes
Twitter – @tdbwrites
Facebook – @tinadebellegardeauthor

 

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Author Spotlight – Lori Duffy Foster


Lori Duffy Foster is a former crime reporter who writes fiction and nonfiction from the hills of Northern Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and four children. She was born and raised in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, where a part of her heart remains. 

A Dead Man’s Eyes, the first in the Lisa Jamison mystery/suspense series, is her debut novel. Look for book two in the series, Never Broken, in April of 2022. Her first standalone thriller, Never Let Go, releases in December of 2022. She is also author of Raising Identical Twins: The Unique Challenges and Joys of the Early Years which is available from Amazon.

Lori is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, The Historical Novel Society and Pennwriters. She is also vice president of the Knoxville (PA) Public Library board.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

I don’t think I have ever had a typical writing day, though I wish I did. Between kids, work and book promotion, I am easily distracted. I write when I can. Sometimes, that’s a few hours a day for several days in a row. Sometimes, it means not writing at all for a month or more, and then going away for a weekend to write for two days straight. I am always writing in my head though. Plots are formulating, characters are developing and growing. When I finally sit down to write, I am usually very productive.

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?

Oddly, most of my favorite authors do not write in the mystery genre. I have read most every book by John Irving, Anita Shreve, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Toni Morrison and Joshilyn Jackson. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson are two of my favorite books. I LOVED Defending Jacob by William Landay. That’s a mystery. I do enjoy mysteries and thrillers though. I usually alternate one mystery or thriller with one book from another genre.

What things influence your writing?

Human nature and my fascination with it. I always thought I would write literary novels because I am so intrigued by human behavior, by those factors that push us beyond our boundaries and tempt us to violate our own moral and social codes. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that crime is the perfect study of that. Most criminals do not start out as bad people. Some never become bad people, even after they kill. There are those who like to believe in a thick, solid line between good and bad, who feel safe because they place themselves on the good side, but that line doesn’t exist. We are all capable of serious crimes given the right conditions.

What do you want readers to experience when they read your work?

I want them to forget where they are and what they are doing while they are reading my books and I want them to take the characters with them when they close the books. A good book should be an immersive experience that sticks with you, that draws you back in days or weeks later. .

What kind of research do you conduct for your books?

All kinds! I never want to lose a reader because I was too lazy to look something up, make a phone call, or visit an area I am writing about. For Never Broken, I did a lot of research into sweatshops and human trafficking, including the trauma modern-day slaves endure as they try to reintegrate into society after being freed. There were lots of little things too, like how to melt aluminum, how Industrial Development Associations work, ways to smuggle goods in the United States from Canada. I am working on book three in series now, No Time to Breathe. For that book, I have recruited the owner of trucking company and a professional gambler as beta readers. My journalism background helps when it comes to research. I spent most of my career covering crime, but I also covered municipal government, education, the military, Native American affairs, the sport of running, all kinds of things. I know just enough to know what I don’t know and when I need help.

Describe a book that changed your life.

I can’t think of a book that actually changed my life, but E. Benjamin Skinner’s book, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery, opened my eyes to all facets of human trafficking and was a big influence for my latest novel, Never Broken. Skinner is a journalist who infiltrated human trafficking networks in the U.S. and around the world, sometimes putting his own life at risk. At one point during his research, he was given the opportunity to buy a girl and keep her for $50. It is sickening and shocking. There is no turning away from the reality of modern-day slavery and the urgency to end it once you’ve read his book. 

If your books were to made into films, who do you see in the major roles?

I can’t do that. My characters are so real in my head that it is hard to imagine anyone playing their roles. If ever I should get so lucky as to sell the film rights and see my books produced as films, I would have to leave the casting entirely up to the director. Of course, if the director picks the wrong people, then I will have something to say.

What book do you think everyone should read?

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. It’s the kind of book you keep thinking about years after you’ve finished it.

What book are you recommending right now?

Anything by Joshilyn Jackson. Her books defy genre, but they always have an element of crime. Her latest novel, Mother May I, is on my birthday wish list.

Lori’s books are available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can learn more about her at her website https://loriduffyfoster.com.

Never Broken by Lori Duffy Foster


Description

A near-corpse hiding in her back seat, whispering of a teen missing for seven years.

A split-second decision to protect him.

A sweatshop owner who will kill to get him back.

The near corpse of a stranger had no idea where he’d been, how long he’d been there or who had kept him captive. But one thing intrigued journalist Lisa Jamison even more than his story: recent memories of a woman named Chandra Bower.

Seven years had passed since Chandra disappeared from Seneca Springs without a trace. Police investigators still compared DNA records whenever an unidentified body appeared, hoping to at least bring her family closure. Lisa still chased down leads from desperate family and friends, being careful to hide her investigations from an editor who thought she’d become obsessed with a woman who was clearly dead.

But this man had just seen her, sewing designer clothes in a dark, filthy basement with about twenty other men and women under horrifically inhumane conditions. And the sweatshop workers all had one thing in common: All were people of color.

A split-second decision to help the man takes Lisa on a race against time. His captors want him back, there is evidence someone on the police force might be involved and the man knows that if he were recaptured, they would torture him until he revealed the names of the two people who helped him escape: Lisa Jamison and Chandra Bower.

Lisa promised her teenage daughter she would stay away from the dangerous stories ever since her job had nearly gotten them both killed two years before. But she no longer has a choice. She must keep the stranger hidden while she gathers enough evidence to turn the case over to city police or the FBI. At least three lives—her own, the stranger’s and Chandra’s—depend on it.

My Thoughts

This is the second in Duffy Foster’s Lisa Jamison series and I am calling this out as a series to watch for readers who appreciate really, really good crime fiction.

I sometimes have trouble getting through some crime fiction that incorporates troubling topics like those here. However, Never Broken is just the right length, with just the right amount of description and revelation for this tired old mystery reader.

The author’s experience as a crime reporter adds authenticity to her voice as she builds an intricate and shocking plot, leading to a nerve-jangling climax. The main character, Lisa Jamison, is fleshed out a bit more here, as are are other characters…leading to a developing relationship and stake in the series for the reader. The exploration of the horrifying world of human trafficking and modern era slavery seems well-researched and is certainly stomach-turning. This might be triggering for some readers, but the author handles the topic with honesty and some restraint.

In my review of the first entry in this series, Dead Man’s Eyes, I compared the author to Scottoline and Evanovich. I stand by that comparison and recommend this fresh voice in crime fiction.

Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: April 12, 2022
Thanks to the author for the advanced copy

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo


Description

In the old house on a hill, where the city meets the rainforest, Yejide’s mother is dying. She leaves behind a legacy that now passes to Yejide: one St. Bernard woman in every generation has the power to shepherd the city’s souls into the afterlife. But after years of suffering her mother’s neglect and bitterness, Yejide is looking for a way out.

Raised in the countryside by a devout Rastafarian mother, Darwin has always abided by the religious commandment not to interact with death. He has never been to a funeral, much less seen a dead body. But when the only job he can find is grave digging, he must betray the life his mother built for him in order to provide for them both. Newly shorn of his dreadlocks and his past, and determined to prove himself, Darwin finds himself adrift in a city electric with possibility and danger.

Yejide and Darwin will meet inside the gates of Fidelis, an ancient and sprawling cemetery, where the dead lie uneasy in their graves and a reckoning with fate beckons them both. A masterwork of lush imagination and exuberant storytelling, When We Were Birds is a spellbinding and hopeful novel about inheritance, loss, and love’s seismic power to heal.

My Thoughts

Every once in awhile, a book comes along that truly leaves me speechless. This is one of those books. The writing, much in the rich dialect of Trinidad, is unlike anything I’ve experienced. I found myself reading aloud just to hear the beautiful sound of the words.

While the expected meeting of Yejide and Darwin doesn’t happen until halfway through the book, the chapters leading to this event build a world inhabited by both families that is as real as the fluttery moths surrounding Yejide’s mother as she passes. As real as Darwin’s shorn locs and as bitter as his mother’s disappointment. Once the two meet, prepare yourself for a whirlwind. You will not be able to put this book down until you read the final word.

I was reminded of one of my favorite books, A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds, which also tells the story of a young woman who can commune with the dead and the man who helps restore her faith. That book is one I recommend constantly; When We Were Birds will be added to that list.

Highly recommended.

Praise

Named a Most Anticipated Book by Time, Harper’s Bazaar, The Observer, Real Simple, Buzzfeed, Essence, Nylon, Good Housekeeping, Apartment Therapy Business Insider, NBC, Bustle, LitHub, BookRiot, Ms. Magazine, and more…
 
“Mythic and captivating… Banwo roots the reader in [Trinidad’s] traditions and rituals, in the sights and sounds and colors and smells of fruit vendors, fish vendors, street preachers and schoolchildren. In the glorious matriarchy by which lineage is upheld. The result is a depiction of ordinary life that’s full and breathtaking.”New York Times Book Review

“[A] masterly debut novel. It announces an important new voice in fiction, at once grounded and mythic in its scope and carried by an incantatory prose style that recalls Arundhati Roy. . . Lloyd Banwo’s literary gift lies in her capacity to transfigure [grief] – to conjure a cosmic landscape where the living coexist among the dead.”—The Observer (Top 10 Debut Novel of 2022)

“A thoroughly original and emotionally rich examination of love, grief and inheritance… When We Were Birds is full of life .  . .The scenes it hosts are packed with drama, colour and tension, particularly in her gripping finale . . Her novel takes flight and soars.”—The Economist

When We Were Birds is an ode to the idea that broken traditions can lead to beautiful new beginnings.”—Time Magazine

“[A] spellbinding novel . . The poetic prose in Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s debut novel captivates from the start . . .When We Were Birds is a unique love story whose magical setting in Trinidad takes center stage.”Real Simple

“Lloyd Banwo conjures an aching sexual energy, places the lovers in deliciously paced jeopardy and takes the tale to an agreeably thundery climax . . .Lloyd Banwo has written a love letter for Trinidad, to remind all of us that yes, love is still very, very nice indeed.”—The Guardian

Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James


Description

A true crime blogger gets more than she bargained for while interviewing the woman acquitted of two cold case slayings in this chilling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Sun Down Motel

In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect—a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases—a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?

My Thoughts

Simone St. James can always be counted on to deliver a well-plotted, intricate story that blends a mystery with a ghost story. She succeeds again with The Book of Cold Cases, which capitalizes on the trend of cold case podcasts/websites and amateur investigators who trade theories and clues over the internet.

Here, we have two (or three!) strong female protagonists whose struggle against each other creates nail-biting tension and non-stop shivers up the spine. The ghost here rivals the scariest ghost story you’ve ever read. St. James introduces her ghost very early in the text in a shiver-inducing scene. St. James excels at creating the creepiest, scariest ghosts without excess gore and violence that blend paranormal with the often scarier human psyche.

Recommended for fans of horror-lite and paranormal mysteries.

Publication Date: March 15, 2022
Published By: Berkley Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit by justin a. reynolds – GUEST POST


Guest Reviewer Heather Maniero

I am a reader, teacher, techno-wizard, and librarian originally from North Dakota. I finally ventured out of the Midwest in my early thirties to get my library degree at Syracuse University and fell in love with the area. I am currently a students with disabilities aide at Spencerport High School, a substitute librarian in the Children’s Center at the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, and the music director at Spencerport United Methodist Church.

Description

Gordon Holloway’s entire summer has been strategically planned to culminate on THE summer event: Beach Bash. In his twelfth year, Gordon has been given more flexibility for the summer. Gordon can do as he sees during the day as long as he keeps his nose clean and gets his chores done. With careful planning and organization (and by wearing an ugly Christmas sweater in June), Gordon has calculated that he can go all the way until Beach Bash without doing a single load of laundry. He has his bathing suit ready to show the knees Ava B. has already commented on. The Bronster (Brother/Monster for those not in the know) is headed out of town to visit with his girlfriend. This will be WBD (Wanna Be Dad’s) first big outing out with the family, but even that can be managed. What could go possibly go wrong?

My Thoughts

The story started out with that pre-pubescent boy humor that is so endearing, creating a quick bond with the reader. I was even starting to draw parallels to the Wimpy Kid. Wasn’t it genius for the narrator to start with chapter 100, for those meddling teachers and parents who are checking our reading process?

Unfortunately, the stellar start dragged a bit after it took more than half the book to even get to the set-up. If this is a planned series, I can, in a way, understand the long set-up. Students and young readers may be a bit more forgiving on this point than myself. It will be interesting to see.

Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Published By: Scholastic Press
Thanks to the publisher for the review copy

A Sunlit Weapon by Jacqueline Winspear


Description

In the latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series, a series of possible attacks on British pilots leads Jacqueline Winspear’s beloved heroine Maisie Dobbs into a mystery involving First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

 October 1942. Jo Hardy, a 22-year-old ferry pilot, is delivering a Supermarine Spitfire—the fastest fighter aircraft in the world—to Biggin Hill Aerodrome, when she realizes someone is shooting at her aircraft from the ground. Returning to the location on foot, she finds an American serviceman in a barn, bound and gagged. She rescues the man, who is handed over to the American military police; it quickly emerges that he is considered a suspect in the disappearance of a fellow soldier who is missing. 

 Tragedy strikes two days later, when another ferry pilot crashes in the same area where Jo’s plane was attacked. At the suggestion of one of her colleagues, Jo seeks the help of psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs.  Meanwhile, Maisie’s husband, a high-ranking political attaché based at the American embassy, is in the thick of ensuring security is tight for the first lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt, during her visit to the Britain. There’s already evidence that German agents have been circling: the wife of a president represents a high value target. Mrs. Roosevelt is clearly in danger, and there may well be a direct connection to the death of the woman ferry pilot and the recent activities of two American servicemen.

 To guarantee the safety of the First Lady—and of the soldier being held in police custody—Maisie must uncover that connection. At the same time, she faces difficulties of an entirely different nature with her young daughter, Anna, who is experiencing wartime struggles of her own. 

My Thoughts

I have so enjoyed following Maisie Dobbs through this wonderful series by Jacqueline Winspear. This entry gives us a supremely adult Maisie who is settling in to a comfortable if somewhat dangerous life during World War II. She’s busy with her investigative work, still in love with her American husband, and learning how to be a loving and effective mother to Anna, her adopted daughter. There’s not much to say about Winspear’s writing that hasn’t already been said. She is one of the best authors of historical mysteries out there today. Her plots are well-constructed, her characters written with depth and attention, and her historical research impeccable. Here, she treats us to an inside look at the work of women pilots in England during World War II, something of which I was not familiar prior to reading this book. I spent several enjoyable hours afterwards researching the female pilots, an activity which for me demonstrates the effects of a great historical novel.

If you haven’t read the series before, start at the beginning and savor every one. I also recommend the audiobook versions, which are extremely well-done.

Published By: Harper
Publication Date: 3/22/2022
Thanks to Netgalley for the the review copy

Art of Papercraft by Helen Hiebert


Description*

Paper artist and teacher Helen Hiebert compiles a one-of-kind collection of 40 unique projects, each using just one sheet of paper. Combining decorative paper techniques like marbling, stamping, and stenciling with dimensional techniques like origami, cutting, folding, quilling, stretching, weaving, and pop-ups, The Art of Papercraft offers a rich variety of projects that will delight crafters, artists, and designers alike, including paper votive lights, pop-up cards, folded paper gift boxes and envelopes, woven paper wall hangings, miniature one-sheet books, and much more. Every project is beautifully photographed and accompanied by step-by-step visual instructions. Guidance on selecting tools, materials, and paper selection; in-depth technique instructions; and profiles of contributing paper artists make this a rich and practical celebration of papercraft.

Anyone serious about papercraft will find this book useful, practical, and a pleasure to read. Hiebert provides plenty of technical and historical information about paper which casual paper folders will likely skip, but which is gold for artists just entering the field.

The projects range from very simple origami to complicated sculpture, and are presented in a way that makes this useful as a textbook for someone seriously learning the art.

There are recipes for glues (the homemade wheat paste is particularly intriguing and something I plan to try soon), practical advice on paper, including how to determine the grain and weight, and, best of all, gorgeous photos of completed projects from artists as young as 11.

This will make a great addition to library art collections and to personal collections of paper artists.

Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Published By: Storey Publishing
Thanks to *Netgalley for the review copy

Lady in the Silver Cloud by David Handler


Description

Ghostwriting sleuth Stewart Hoag investigates the murder of his wealthy neighbor—and discovers her dark, mobbed-up past.

A 1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud is a fantastically expensive car, especially in the pristine condition of the one owned by Muriel Cantrell. Living in a luxury apartment building on Central Park West, the delicate, sweet 75-year-old woman is a neighbor of Merilee Nash, the beautiful movie star, and Stuart Hoag, whose first book was a sensation but whose career crashed when he became involved with drugs and alcohol. Divorced ten years earlier, Hoagy has been welcomed back into Merilee’s life and apartment.

Apparently universally beloved in her building, residents are shocked when Muriel is murdered after a Halloween party. No one takes it harder than her long-time chauffeur, Bullets Durmond, whose previous job was as an enforcer for the mob. Who in the world would want to harm the silver-haired lady whose major vices were buying shoes and Chanel suits (always in cash), and watching day-time soap operas?

Lieutenant Romaine Very of the NYPD is called to investigate and again seeks help from his friend Hoagy who, along with his basset hound Lulu, has been an invaluable aide in the past. The investigation leads to the unexpected source of Muriel’s wealth, the history of her early years as a hatcheck girl at the Copacabana, how her chauffeur came to be called Bullets, her desperate meth-head nephew, and her wealthy neighbors, who have secrets of their own.

My Thoughts

Handler’s Stuart Hoag mysteries are always a treat to read. They bridge the gap between cozy and hardboiled, nicely blending elements of both. The recent proliferation of cozy mysteries has resulted in a lot of ridiculous but mostly fun stories that can be read in an afternoon. What I enjoy about the Hoag series is that the stories incorporate the basic element of a cozy ( very little to no graphic, gory detail) with some well-crafted writing and plotting paired with witty and clever dialog.

The characters introduced here, especially Muriel Cantrell and her driver Bullets Durmond, are as over the top as we expect in a Hoag story. Their backstory was well-done and fitted into Hoagy’s world of cool, calm, and unexpected. I will say, however, that Lulu tipped her beret at the killer early on. Always listen to the pup!

Handler delivers his trademark witty dialog and a well-crafted mystery, along with plenty of whimsy in the form of Lulu, Hoagy’s trusted sidekick and my favorite literary basset hound. If you’re a cozy mystery fan looking for something a little different, try this series. You can start from the beginning, but each book stands alone so you can really pick up any title in the series and start there.

Publication Date: February 22, 2022
Published By: Mysterious Press
Thanks to the Publisher for the review copy

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian


Description

Known for her wonderfully addictive characters, multiple award-winning author Gigi Pandian introduces her newest heroine in this heartfelt series debut. Under Lock & Skeleton Key layers stunning architecture with mouthwatering food in an ode to classic locked-room mysteries that will leave readers enchanted.

An impossible crime. A family legacy. The intrigue of hidden rooms and secret staircases.

After a disastrous accident derails Tempest Raj’s career, and life, she heads back to her childhood home in California to comfort herself with her grandfather’s Indian home-cooked meals. Though she resists, every day brings her closer to the inevitable: working for her father’s company. Secret Staircase Construction specializes in bringing the magic of childhood to all by transforming clients’ homes with sliding bookcases, intricate locks, backyard treehouses, and hidden reading nooks.

When Tempest visits her dad’s latest renovation project, her former stage double is discovered dead inside a wall that’s supposedly been sealed for more than a century. Fearing she was the intended victim, it’s up to Tempest to solve this seemingly impossible crime. But as she delves further into the mystery, Tempest can’t help but wonder if the Raj family curse that’s plagued her family for generations—something she used to swear didn’t exist—has finally come for her.

My Thoughts

I found Gigi Pandian’s books through another favorite author – Juliet Blackwell – and was thrilled to find a new series featuring two of my favorite things: magicians and hidden staircases/rooms. Pandian introduces Tempest Raj, the youngest in a line of magicians on her mother’s side and artists and builders on her father’s side. Tempest is an appealing, sassy, smart female lead who has tremendous potential to grow through the series.

Tempest is calm, cool, and collected – most of the time – and lives in a magical compound with her father and grandparents. Readers who grew up with Nancy Drew, Narnia, and the Secret Garden will fall in love with the setting.

Pandian uses the familiar series set up of a singular mystery that is introduced, investigated and solved in the course of the book, overlayed by a bigger mystery that will span multiple books. Here that bigger mystery is what happened to Tempest’s mother 5 years earlier when she truly vanished during a magic act.

I was especially happy to see the inclusion of the master of “locked room” mysteries – John Dickson Carr – used as part of the investigation here. I hope that continues. I’m looking forward to the next in this series.

Published By: St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books
Publication Date: 3/15/2022
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy