Food & Drink, Mystery, Psychological, Suspense, Women

The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell


Every summer for the past ten years, six awe-struck bakers have descended on the grounds of Grafton, the leafy and imposing Vermont estate that is not only the filming site for “Bake Week” but also the childhood home of the show’s famous host, celebrated baker Betsy Martin.

The author of numerous bestselling cookbooks and hailed as “America’s Grandmother,” Betsy Martin isn’t as warm off-screen as on, though no one needs to know that but her. She has always demanded perfection, and gotten it with a smile, but this year something is off. As the baking competition commences, things begin to go awry. At first, it’s merely sabotage—sugar replaced with salt, a burner turned to high—but when a body is discovered, everyone is a suspect.

A sharp and suspenseful thriller for mystery buffs and avid bakers alike, The Golden Spoon is a brilliant puzzle filled with shocking twists and turns that will keep you reading late into the night until you turn the very last page of this incredible debut.

My Thoughts

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this debut and I wasn’t disappointed. The plot is well-constructed and slick in it’s blending of the baking competition show and a semi-locked-room mystery. The format, featuring short sections channeling the thoughts of the characters, might put off readers who like their mysteries complex, but I found it a pleasant change from lengthy prose. The multiple perspectives of the characters added confusion and tension to the plot, leading to the bombshell ending.

I spent some time last year bingeing a rather silly series called The Great Witches Bake Off, so I am guessing that setting murders on set of these kinds of shows might be a new trend. I’d welcome it because The Golden Spoon was a lot of fun!

Highly recommended.

“This delicious combination of Clue and The Great British Bake Off kept me turning the pages all night!” —Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Only Murders in the Building meets The Maid in this darkly beguiling locked-room mystery where someone turns up dead on the set of TV’s hottest baking competition—perfect for fans of Nita Prose, Richard Osman, and Anthony Horowitz.

Publication Date: March 7, 2023
Published By: Atria Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Book Tour, Detective, Mystery, Partners In Crime

Gillespie Field Groove by Corey Lynn Fayman

Gillespie Field Groove

by Corey Fayman

May 8 – June 2, 2023 Virtual Book Tour

An obscure rock’n’roll roadie dies under mysterious circumstances. A prized Jimi Hendrix guitar has gone missing. Can Rolly Waters save his new client from the ruthless collectors looking for it?

When nurse and fledgling pilot Lucinda Rhodes hires guitar-playing private detective Rolly Waters to track down a Stratocaster guitar owned by her deceased father, Rolly is thrilled to take on her case, especially when he learns the guitar’s original owner may have been Jimi Hendrix. But Gerry Rhodes’s reckless personal history leads to more questions than Rolly and Lucinda have bargained for, as an aging rock’n’roll impresario, his trophy wife, a Russian gangster and the FBI get involved. When a forty-year-old shooting accident reveals a surprising connection to a pop star’s hit record, Rolly sees darker forces at work. And his and Lucinda’s lives hang in the balance.

My Thoughts

It’s official. Rolly Waters is my new favorite PI and Corey Lynn Fayman the latest author whose books I’m binge-reading. They make a dynamite team!

Gillespie Field Groove pulled me in from the first page and kept me entangled with the story and characters until the last word was read. Fayman’s writing is smart, exciting, well-paced, and just descriptive enough. His characters are colorful, intriguing although sometimes repulsive, and paired with great dialog. The best among them, though, is Rolly Waters, the damaged-guy-in-recovery who’s tough and soft at the same time.

The music that pervades the story adds a wonderful dimension, especially for readers who know the artists and tunes described in the plot. (I confess, I cranked up some King Crimson after reading this!) That, paired with the California location, put me in mind of a mash-up between Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole and Ace Atkins Nick Travers mysteries, which is not a bad place to be!

I’ll be recommending this book and the author to anyone looking for a new mystery/suspense series. Well done!

Praise for Gillespie Field Groove:

“Gillespie Field Groove hits all the right notes. Music fans and general mystery readers alike will enjoy this story’s irresistible beat.”

“Exciting, compelling, suspenseful, and reflective of the realities of the music industry and San Diego culture, Gillespie Field Groove is a thrilling mystery novel in which a man seeks to right the wrongs committed by greedy executives.”

GILLESPIE FIELD GROOVE is a gripping mystery and a captivating ride through rock and roll history and San Diego’s music scene. It’s so authentic you can practically hear the fuzz and crunch of Jimi’s Stratocaster coming off the page.”
~ Matthew Quirk, New York Times bestselling author of RED WARNING and THE NIGHT AGENT (now a Netflix series)

“Rolly Waters is back with a ripped-from-the headlines thriller custom made for music-lovers. Hired to hunt down a missing Fender Strat that may have belonged to Jimi Hendrix, Waters uncovers a series of intertwined mysteries with more twists than a crate full of guitar cables. Gillespie Field Groove is an uptempo page turner that shines a spotlight on the music industry’s darkest corners.”

“Carefully crafted characters. Twists and revelations. Music and murder. A PI who plays guitar or a guitar player who dallies in detecting? Even Rolly Waters isn’t sure. Whichever it is, Corey Lynn Fayman’s latest gives you a real insight into what it means to be both. Like Don Quixote wielding a guitar instead of a sword. Awesome.”
~ Pamela Cowan, author of COLD KILL

GILLESPIE FIELD GROOVE is like an easter egg hunt filled with suspense and intrigue that also gives readers a straightforward look into the life of a working musician. I love this series.”
~ Marc Intravaia, guitarist, RICHIE FURAY BAND; BACK TO THE GARDEN

Book Details:

Genre: Private Detective Mystery, Cozy Mystery
Published by: Konstellation Press
Publication Date: March 2023
Number of Pages: 276
ISBN: 0998748285 (ISBN-13: 978-0998748283)
Series: A Rolly Waters Mystery, 5th
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Corey Lynn Fayman has worked as a musician, sound technician, and interactive designer. He holds a B.A. in English, with a specialization in creative writing and poetry from UCLA, and an M.A. in Educational Technology from San Diego State University. Fayman spent five years as a sound technician and designer at the nationally lauded Old Globe Theatre, where he received several nominations and a Drama-Logue Award for his theatrical sound design. He’s worked as an interactive designer for organizations both corporate and sundry and has taught technology and design courses at various colleges and universities. He lives in San Diego, California, and is the author of four Rolly Waters mystery series, including Blacks Beach ShuffleBorder Field Blues, and Desert City Diva (2015 Indiefab Book of the Year bronze award). The fourth in the series, Ballast Point Breakdown, was honored with the best-in-show Geisel Award at the 2021 San Diego Book Awards.

Catch Up With Corey Fayman:
BookBub – @clfayman
Twitter – @CLFayman
Facebook – @CoreyLynnFayman

Historical, Mystery, Women

The White Lady By Jacqueline Winspear


The White Lady introduces yet another extraordinary heroine from Jacqueline Winspear, creator of the best-selling Maisie Dobbs series. This heart-stopping novel, set in Post WWII Britain in 1947, follows the coming of age and maturity of former wartime operative Elinor White—veteran of two wars, trained killer, protective of her anonymity—when she is drawn back into the world of menace she has been desperate to leave behind.

A reluctant ex-spy with demons of her own, Elinor finds herself facing down one of the most dangerous organized crime gangs in London, ultimately exposing corruption from Scotland Yard to the highest levels of government.

The private, quiet “Miss White” as Elinor is known, lives in a village in rural Kent, England, and to her fellow villagers seems something of an enigma. Well she might, as Elinor occupies a “grace and favor” property, a rare privilege offered to faithful servants of the Crown for services to the nation. But the residents of Shacklehurst have no way of knowing how dangerous Elinor’s war work had been, or that their mysterious neighbor is haunted by her past.

It will take Susie, the child of a young farmworker, Jim Mackie and his wife, Rose, to break through Miss White’s icy demeanor—but Jim has something in common with Elinor. He, too, is desperate to escape his past. When the powerful Mackie crime family demands a return of their prodigal son for an important job, Elinor assumes the task of protecting her neighbors, especially the bright-eyed Susie. Yet in her quest to uncover the truth behind the family’s pursuit of Jim, Elinor unwittingly sets out on a treacherous pathyet it is one that leads to her freedom.

My Thoughts

Jacqueline Winspear is one of the best writers of historical fiction practicing today. Her Maisie Dobbs series is pretty perfect, and this stand-alone effort is just as good as any of the Dobbs books.

The setting is somewhat familiar – Winspear’s strength is her capacious knowledge of the two World Wars and all aspects of the service that went into both, especially service by women. Here, we have a retired spy/assassin who is trying to build a life away from the service. Try as she might, she cannot avoid getting involved with other humans, another thing that is common on Winspear’s work. She has an uncanny way of writing characters who think they want to be alone but who end up forging important and long-lasting friendships.

The writing here is excellent, with good descriptive passages and well-delivered dialog. I’d expect nothing less from this author. Winspear’s fans won’t be disappointed.


Publication Date: March 21, 2023
Published By: Harper
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Book Tour, iRead Book Tour, Mystery, Suspense

Underneath the Fireflies by Marianne Scott

On Tour April 17- May 12, 2023

Book Description

No matter where Grace Walker goes, her extra sensory power goes with her. She’s an empath and she sees things — terrible things. After a tragic accident at the place where she works, she decides to take a mental-health break on a remote West Coast island. But she no sooner gets to Galliano Island when a vision of the murder of an Indigenous woman draws her into a disturbing and threatening dilemma.

My Thoughts

Marianne Scott has produced an intricate and thoughtful mystery/suspense novel that features characters who weave in and out of two distinct plotlines. Protagonist Grace Walker is a complex character who wrestles with an unwanted empathic ability which has affected her since she was a child. Scott introduces the two plotlines almost immediately – the horrific “accident” that happened to Grace in Toronto and the even more horrific murder of an Indigenous woman that took place on the remote island where Grace is retreating to find peace from the former.

As a new reader of Scott’s, I immediately thought that the Toronto plotline was the subject of an earlier book, but that does not seem to be the case. The basics of that plot are a bit far-fetched (control of workers via microchip) and seemed out of place in this solid murder mystery, but I remain convinced that Scott should definitely write that book. I want to know the details of that story!

As the story progressed, the Toronto connection to the Galliano Island plot becomes much clearer, with all the loose ends tied up neatly, leading to a very satisfying conclusion.

Scott blends great characters with a lovely location and a story that keeps you reading late into the night. The vivid descriptions of Galliano Island and it’s inhabitants add depth to the dialog and characterizations. The bad guy here is really bad, and descriptions of his behavior made my skin crawl. Short chapters provide a easy reading experience, although the print version of this is pretty hefty.

I’ll be recommending this as a good summer read this year, on par with Nora Roberts and Elizabeth Lowell. One trigger warning, though – there is a rape scene, but it’s handled with sensitivity.

Book Details:

​Book Title:  Underneath the Fireflies by Marianne Scott
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+),  496 pages
Genre: Murder Mystery / Thriller
Publisher: Crowe Creations
Release date:  January 2023
Tour dates: April 17 to May 12, 2023
Content Rating:  PG-13 – Colloquial expressions in dialogue.

add to goodreads

Meet the Author

Marianne Scott is the Canadian author of four mystery thrillers and is currently working on her fifth novel, a sci-fi/thriller. She has a BA and a Diploma in Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University. She studied creative writing through Conestoga College and Humber College. She enjoys writing workshops such as those offered by Brian Henry, publisher of blog, Quick Brown Fox and One Lit Place, a writers’ hub by creator/editor Jenna Kalinsky. She has an author’s website and blog. She is a full-time writer who lives in the historic small Canadian village of Hespeler Ontario (now amalgamated with the city of Cambridge).  

connect with the author: website ~ twitter ~ twitter ~ facebook instagram goodreads

British, Detective, Mystery

The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths


The discovery of a missing woman’s bones force Ruth and Nelson to finally confront their feelings for each other as they desperately work to exonerate one of their own in this not-to-be-missed Ruth Galloway mystery from USA Today bestselling author Elly Griffiths.

When builders discover a human skeleton during a renovation of a café, they call in archeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway, who is preoccupied with the threatened closure of her department and by her ever-complicated relationship with DCI Nelson. The bones turn out to be modern—the remains of Emily Pickering, a young archaeology student who went missing in 2002. Suspicion soon falls on Emily’s Cambridge tutor and also on another archeology enthusiast who was part of the group gathered the weekend before she disappeared—Ruth’s friend Cathbad.

As they investigate, Nelson and his team uncover a tangled web of relationships within the archeology group and look for a link between them and the café where Emily’s bones were found. Then, just when the team seem to be making progress, Cathbad disappears. The trail leads Ruth a to the Neolithic flint mines in Grimes Graves. The race is on, first to find Cathbad and then to exonerate him, but will Ruth and Nelson uncover the truth in time to save their friend?

My Thoughts

Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway series has become one of my “comfort” reads – books to pick up when things become too much and I just want to escape into a fictional world. I was disappointed when I heard that this would be the last in the Galloway series, but I must say Griffiths has done a masterful job of tying up lots of loose ends and especially in the way she brings the series full-circle with the re-introduction of a particular character.

The story is familiar – Ruth is called to excavate bones found in unusual circumstances, which leads to all sorts of adventures for Ruth, Nelson, Cathbad, Judy, Kate, and all the rest of the characters fans have come to love. The mystery is handled with Griffith’s usual cleverness, but it’s the human relationships that she handles with grace, style, and wit.

While I am sorry to see the series sunset, I can’t give anything but praise for how the end has been revealed.

Well done!

Publication Date: April 25, 2023
Published By: Mariner Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

British, Detective, Mystery

A Killing of Innocents by Deborah Crombie


New York Times bestseller Deborah Crombie returns with a new novel featuring Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James as they race to solve the shocking murder of a young woman before panic spreads across London.

On a rainy November evening, trainee doctor Sasha Johnson hurries through the evening crowd in London’s historic Russell Square. Out of the darkness, someone jostles her as they brush past. A moment later, Sasha stumbles, then collapses. When Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his sergeant, Doug Cullen, are called to the scene, they discover that she’s been stabbed. 

Kincaid immediately calls in his detective wife, Gemma James, who has recently been assigned to a task force on knife crimes which are on the rise. Along with her partner, detective sergeant Melody Talbot, Gemma aids the investigation. But Sasha Johnson doesn’t fit the profile of the task force’s typical knife crime victim. Single, successful, career-driven, she has no history of abusive relationships or any connection to gangs. Sasha had her secrets, though, and some of them lead the detectives uncomfortably close to home.

As the team unravels the victim’s tangled connections, another murder raises the stakes. Kincaid, Gemma, and their colleagues must put even friendships on the line to find the killer stalking the dark streets of Bloomsbury.

My Thoughts

If you enjoy witty, intricate British mysteries, Crombie‘s Kincaid and James series is one of the best around, and this is one of the best in the series. Crombie accurately portrays the give-and-take families experience with trying to juggle home and work responsibilities. At first, I was afraid she was shelving Gemma, putting her behind a desk so she could be the primary caregiver for the children, but Gemma manages to hang on to her independence and power, and the ending promises a new day for the family.

Crombie has not shuffled the mystery to second seed either. There’s a complex plot that keeps the reader turning pages. I can usually spot the guilty party at least halfway through most mysteries but I was totally wrong on this one! It‘s a captivating continuation of the series, but if you haven‘t read the earlier ones, you can still follow the plot here. But then go read the earlier books in the series. They are worth your time. I can also recommend this series on audiobook.

Publication Date: February 7, 2023
Published By: William Morrow
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Author Spotlight, Detective, Mystery

Author Spotlight – Charles Salzberg

Author bio: After a successful career as a magazine journalist, book reviewer, nonfiction book writer, Charles Salzberg made a move to fulfilling that dream of becoming a novelist when his first novel, Swann’s Last Song, was published and wound up being nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel. After four more novels in the Henry Swann series, he wrote three successful stand-alone novels, Devil in the Hole (named one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine) and Second Story Man (nominated for another Shamus and a David Award), and Canary in the Coal Mine. Second Story Man was named winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award. He’s also published three novellas, to be found in the collections Triple Shot,Three Strikes and Third Degree. He still teaches writing in New York City, is a Founding Member of New York Writers Workshop, and is on the boards of PrisonWrites and Mystery Writers of America-NY. His latest novel Man on the Run will be released this April.

You have described “Man on the Run” as being a continuation of your previous work, “Second Story Man,” why did you decide to revisit Francis Hoyt’s story?

When I completed “Second Story Man,” I had no intention of revisiting any of the characters. But after finishing “Canary in the Coal Mine,” and casting around to see what I’d tackle next, I started thinking about Francis Hoyt. Without giving away spoilers, I began to wonder what happens to a character like him after his book ends. I sat with that question for several months before deciding I’d see for myself. At the same time, during the pandemic one of the things I did to pass time was listen to true crime podcasts–a lot of them, especially how they jump into cold cases or cases in the news. I thought it would make perfect sense to create a podcaster–many of them are women–who inadvertently passes through Hoyt’s life. At that point, the seed of a story was planted. But I also became much more crime “literate,” and so a secondary plot line in the novel is based on an actual event.

“Man on the Run” features cutthroat characters who are ambitious, almost to a fault. How do themes of obsession with success comment on a larger societal trend you see in American culture?

I try not to get too political publicly because no matter where you stand you’re going to piss someone off. But that doesn’t mean politics doesn’t affect my fiction. For quite a long time I’ve noticed that Americans are obsessed with winning, about beating and sometimes humiliating opponents. We even had a president who promised so much winning that we’d get tired of it–I doubt that could ever happen. But I think there’s a downside to all that competitiveness, especially the win-at-any-cost attitude. And so that’s how Francis Hoyt came to be. He’s obsessed with being the best and he’ll do anything to win. And so, in both “Second Story Man” and “Man on the Run,” I explore the ramifications of this obsession–and to some extent I think we all have it. But sometimes, I think, it can backfire and cause serious problems for everyone. An exploration of that is a big part of “Man on the Run.”

You’re a board member of Prison Writes, an organization that uses trauma-informed practices to support literacy for incarcerated people. How does your affiliation with this organization inform your writing as a crime author?

I certainly didn’t join PrisonWrites with that in mind, but as it happens working with those who are incarcerated (or recently out of the prison system) does teach me a little about crime, especially motivation. But it’s also incredibly inspirational. Before the pandemic, I was part of a three-person team that went up to the federal facility, Otisville, in upstate New York, to work with incarcerated men. When we got there, I was shocked to see at least forty men sitting in a large gymnasium-like area, all there to learn something about writing–and it was not mandatory. In fact, when we asked, I think almost every one of the men was already doing some kind of writing, especially journaling. I never ask what they’ve done in the past, because I don’t want to pre-judge them in any way, but it is fascinating to hear their stories–it really gives a sense of humanity to each of them and by extension us. It’s the idea that many of us, put in the right circumstances, might be capable of some pretty nasty things.

Tell me more about your experience with PrisonWrites. Have you developed any relationships with the people you’ve met and do you know if they continue to write after leaving prison? Do you have any thoughts on how writing instruction and writing as therapy for students might affect the “school to prison pipeline” in some communities? If readers are interested in PrisonWrites, how do they get involved?

A former student of mine, Jessica Hall, asked me to come down to the Lower East Side and work with at-risk youth. They’d all been in trouble with the law and in order to stay out of youth prison, they had to take part in an after-school program (and part of the deal was that they had to attend school and if they didn’t they’re “sentence” would be adjusted and they’d find themselves remanded to a place in NYC called Spofford, kind of like the training wheels for the more hard-core adult prisons. One day and I was hooked. Working with these teenagers was eye-opening and although they weren’t used to writing, especially the boys (interestingly enough, the girls, many of whom kept journals, were far easier to work with) most of them, once they were convinced that it wasn’t going to be just another class they’d fail, enjoyed it. And when we got the idea of publishing a small magazine with their work, they really got onboard. When we “published” the book, just for family and friends, we decided to have a publication party, and to see the looks on their faces—many of them invited their family—was well worth all the trouble. For many, this was the first time they succeeded in anything “educational,” probably because we set it up so that it was fun, and that there were no losers, just winners. I’d like to think it does work, not all the time, but enough to keep doing it. One of the highlights for me was going up to Otisville, a federal prison (Michael Cohen spent time there), and walking into the gym to find forty men sitting, waiting for us to begin the class. It seems that practically every one of them had taken to writing, whether it be journaling, writing a screenplay or a memoir. It was not only thrilling, but awe-inspiring. And some of those incarcerated men, now back in society, have kept in touch with us, even volunteering to help. There’s a PrisonWrites website, and if you’d like to get involved, just contact Jessica Hall.

Your novel features a true crime podcast host. Did you derive inspiration from real true crime podcasts you’re currently listening to? Any that you’d recommend to readers?

As I said earlier, I came to the true crime podcast pretty late in the game, and only because of Covid. But man, after the first one, I was hooked. I’ve got a lot of favorites, but some of them are “Crimetown,” about the city of Providence, “Someone Knows Something,” “Chameleon,” (all seasons), and anything by Dan Taberski (he doesn’t handle crime per se, but his podcasts are fascinating, especially the one that searches for Richard Simmons, and “The Shrink Next Door.” But there are so many important podcasts, especially one like “In the Dark,” which in one season examines the case of a man who’s been tried four times for the same crime and was sitting on Death Row for a crime he likely didn’t commit (no spoilers here).

What do you hope readers will gain from “Man on the Run”?

That’s a tough one because, to be honest, I don’t think much about what my audiences might get from my writing. In fact, I don’t even think of myself as having an “audience.” But now that I’m asked, I think the first thing I’d want is that people reading it enjoy what they’re reading. And beyond that, maybe get some insight into human behavior. Because for me, crime is all about human behavior and the relationships we have in life and how those relationships sometimes fracture with devastating results. But the one crime I don’t have any (or very little) interest in is serial killers. And for that matter, I don’t write murder mysteries and although there might be a murder in some of my books, it’s always there to tell us something about the characters. And so, most of my books are corpse-free. There are plenty of other crimes to write about. I’ll leave murders to my friends who handle it so well.

What’s next for your writing career?

I’m a little more than a third into my next novel. I’m at the stage where I don’t even have a title for it that I’m happy with–so, I’m just calling it “Searching for Allie,” (but I can pretty much promise you that’ll change.) One of my characters has ESP, he can see things that have happened in the past. But the catch is, only one person in the world, his best friend, knows he has this ability. He’s actually a little afraid of it–it’s an albatross around his neck. And so he constantly avoids any “images” that might come to him–and so when his best friend’s college-age daughter comes up missing and he’s asked to help, which means like it or not, he has to deal with this “thing” he has. I don’t write with an outline–I never know where the story is going–so I’m afraid I can’t give you a plot summary.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Do you draw inspiration from them in your own writing?

I’ve got so many favorite authors, all of whom provided inspiration. Vladimir Nabokov, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth among them. These are the writers who “taught” me how to write, how to appreciate good writing, how to structure a novel and write compelling characters and dialogue. And notice there aren’t any pure crime writers amongst them. But if you look a little closer, you’ll Nabokov’s Lolita, one of my favorites, is really a crime novel—older man fixates on 12-year-old girl, kidnaps her and takes her across state lines. And then there’s the Executioner’s Song, about the life of killer Gary Gilmore. Not that I don’t admire crime writers like Dashiell Hammett (my favorite), or Raymond Chandler, right up there, or Ross MacDonald. I read them all and they’re the ones who taught me how to write a crime novel.

Besides crime fiction, what other genres do you read?

I pretty much read anything and everything except for Sci-fi and romance. But even then, if someone recommends reading something in those genres, I’ll give it a try. When I’m in the middle of writing fiction, I try not to read other fiction—sticking to nonfiction. For good reason. I’m either afraid that if it’s really good, I’ll get discouraged, thinking how could I possibly rite anything better? Or, I’m afraid somehow I’ll be influenced by someone else’s style.

What are you reading right now?

I’m almost always reading two, three, sometimes even four books at the same time and, on my mood at any particular time. Right now, I’ve got Peter Blauner’s latest novel, Picture in the Sand, Watergate, by Garrett M. Graff, Slow Horses, by Mick Herron, and Sleepless City, by my friend Reed Farrel Coleman.

What one book do you recommend over and over?

Gosh, there are so many, too many to choose, so I’ll just mention a few: In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, Seize the Day, by Saul Bellow, and Desperadoes, by Ron Hansen.

Cozy, Mystery

The Raven Thief by Gigi Pandian


Multiple award-winning author Gigi Pandian is one of the best locked room mystery writers working today. Her newest heroine, Tempest Raj, returns in The Raven Thief, where sliding bookcases, trick tables, and hidden reading nooks hide something much more sinister than the Secret Staircase Construction crew ever imagined.

One murder. Four impossibilities. A fake séance hides a very real crime.

Secret Staircase Construction just finished their first project with Tempest Raj officially a part of the team—a classic mystery novel-themed home interior. Their client is now ready to celebrate her new life without her cheating ex-husband, famous mystery author Corbin Colt. First up, a party, and Tempest and Grandpa Ash are invited to the exclusive mock séance to remove any trace of Corbin from the property—for good. It’s all lighthearted fun until Corbin’s dead body crashes the party.

The only possible suspects are the eight people around the séance table—a circle of clasped hands that wasn’t broken. Suspicion quickly falls on Grandpa Ash, the only one with actual blood on him. To prove her beloved grandfather’s innocence, Tempest must figure out what really happened—and how—or Ash will be cooking his delectable Indian and Scottish creations nevermore.

My Thoughts

The more I read Gigi Pandian, the more she begins to secure a permanent spot on my book shelves. I adored the first in this series, and enjoyed the sophomore entry very much. Pandian gives us another very clever mystery featuring Tempest Raj, one of the most interesting characters I’ve read in a very long time. Her background as a magician combined with her family’s profession of constructing hidden rooms and staircases make this a fascinating series.

The writing is well-developed, comfortable, and uncomplicated, but the plot is as intricate as ever. We learn more about Tempest, her friends, and her family and are treated to some fascinating magic and mystery. I totally want to see this series be adapted for television!

If you enjoy this series, try Pandian’s other work, especially The Accidental Alchemist series, which features a gargoyle!

Publication Date: March 21, 2023
Published By: St. Martin’s Press; Minotaur Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Historical, Magical Realism, Mystery, Women

Weyward by Emilia Hart


“A brave and original debut, Weyward is a spellbinding story about what may transpire when the natural world collides with a legacy of witchcraft.” ––Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary

I am a Weyward, and wild inside.

2019: Under cover of darkness, Kate flees London for ramshackle Weyward Cottage, inherited from a great aunt she barely remembers. With its tumbling ivy and overgrown garden, the cottage is worlds away from the abusive partner who tormented Kate. But she begins to suspect that her great aunt had a secret. One that lurks in the bones of the cottage, hidden ever since the witch-hunts of the 17th century.

1619: Altha is awaiting trial for the murder of a local farmer who was stampeded to death by his herd. As a girl, Altha’s mother taught her their magic, a kind not rooted in spell casting but in a deep knowledge of the natural world. But unusual women have always been deemed dangerous, and as the evidence for witchcraft is set out against Altha, she knows it will take all of her powers to maintain her freedom.

1942: As World War II rages, Violet is trapped in her family’s grand, crumbling estate. Straitjacketed by societal convention, she longs for the robust education her brother receives––and for her mother, long deceased, who was rumored to have gone mad before her death. The only traces Violet has of her are a locket bearing the initial W and the word weyward scratched into the baseboard of her bedroom.

Weaving together the stories of three extraordinary women across five centuries, Emilia Hart’s Weyward is an enthralling novel of female resilience and the transformative power of the natural world.

My Thoughts

Reminsicent of Louisa Morgan and M.J. Rose’s work, Weyward is a wrenching story of three special women bound together by blood and unique ability over centuries. It’s a familiar story about how women with “magical” abilities (read that as healing abilities or exceptional intelligence) were feared and often attacked and murdered, or committed to asylums, then descendants become victims of abuse in the present time.

The three women here – Altha, Violet, and Kate – share a bond with nature unlike other people. Their individual stories are very different but also entwined with the same bigotry and fear that spans centuries. Well-written with relatively short chapters that alternate from woman to woman, Weyward is a quick, captivating read full of magical realism that reveals the indignity and dangers faced by unusual women from the 1600s to the present day.

Publication Date: March 7, 2023
Published By: St. Martin’s Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Detective, Golden Age Mystery, Mystery

Jumping Jenny by Anthony Berkeley


Tightly paced and cleverly defying the conventions of the classic detective story, this 1933 novel remains a milestone of the inverted mystery subgenre. This edition includes an introduction by CWA Diamond Dagger and Edgar ® Award-winning author Martin Edwards.

At a costume party with the dubious theme of “famous murderers and their victims,” the know-it-all amateur criminologist Roger Sheringham is settled in for an evening of beer, small talk, and analyzing his companions. One guest in particular has caught his attention for her theatrics, and his theory that she might have several enemies among the partygoers proves true when she is found hanging from the “decorative” gallows on the roof terrace.

Noticing a key detail that could implicate a friend in the crime, Sheringham decides to meddle with the scene and unwittingly casts himself into jeopardy as the uncommonly thorough police investigation circles closer and closer to the truth.

My Thoughts

I find reading these republished Golden Age mysteries a bit of a crapshoot. Some are terrific, others just okay, and still others are awful. Jumping Jenny falls between terrific and okay.

The story is inflated with too many characters, many having the same or similar names, which requires the reader to really pay attention. The language is a bit too “I say, old boy” for me and the book is mostly dialogue versus description, which can be hard to follow, especially when there are similar character names.

Depsite that, the surprising twist at the end makes the time spent in reading this worthwhile.

This will appeal to mystery readers who like their stories complicated and chatty.

Publication Date: January 17, 2023
Published By: Poison Pen Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy