After Death of a Cozy Writer by G. M. Malliet won the 2008 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, I noticed we had picked up several other titles from her relatively new publisher, Midnight Ink. I read the second in the series, Death and the Lit Chick, and found it very enjoyable. Chief Inspector St. Just goes to a writer’s conference in the delightful Dalmorton Castle. His boss has assigned him to do a presentation on police procedures for PR purposes. Amid a backdrop of jealousy, flirtations, backstabbing and bad blood between writers, agents and publishers, our new star on the mystery circuit, Kimberlee Kalder, ends up at the bottom of the bottle dungeon. And the game is afoot…
Check out Midnight Ink books, they’re fast reads, clever plots with fun characters. Here’s what they have to say about themselves.
What is Midnight Ink?
Midnight Ink is a fresh new voice in mystery fiction. Aiming to satisfy readers of all tastes, we are committed to publishing suspenseful tales of all types: hard-boiled thrillers, cozies, historical mysteries, amateur sleuth novels, and more.
On the Okie bookshelf, we just received a copy of Two of the Deadliest, edited by Elizabeth George. One of Oklahoma’s best known and read mystery/cozy writers, Carolyn Hart has a short story, Your Turn, in this new volume of “Outstanding Women of Mystery”. You’ll also find some more of your favorites, including Nancy Pickard, Laura Lippman, Elizabeth George and many others. Carolyn’s story has a little of everything; greed, infidelity, twists & turns, and a keep you guessing ending.
Last Scene Alive was one of those quick, well written, character driven mysteries that work perfect for travel. Aurora Teagarden is like an old friend. Readers of the series fall immediately into the story to find out what’s happening in Aurora’s life after her husband Martin has died. Ms Harris is so good at describing “real” relationships. People aren’t always good or bad; family, friends and co-workers often irritate but are the very people we turn to in crisis or support. Aurora better known as Roe, meets up with long time acquaintance Robin Crusoe, who has written a true crime book on past Lawrenceton murders. Now a soon to be a made for TV movie. Robin’s very recent girlfriend and star of the movie, Celia Shaw is playing the part of Roe in the movie. The plot thickens and Roe is off to solve a new mystery (not without a few scrapes and bruises along the way), battle her grief and start to find a new life.
Cozy mystery writting at its best. It’s good like an Anne George but with a little more spice. I’m glad Harris hasn’t left Aurora behind after all her success with the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries and “True Blood”. There’s plenty of room for diversity from this very talented writer.
I finished a mystery on my plane travels called The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay. It seems like interviews and blogs are always asking authors five questions. Since I rarely have the opportunity to speak directly to the author, I’ve decided to interview myself and based on the number of questions give my rating of the book. For example, one *question ranks, I’ve got to find something else to read; 2 **questions, questionable choice, plot weak or characters not developed but not a complete waste of time; 3 ***questions, enjoyable but not earth-shattering, more candy than substance; 4 ****questions, minor problems with plot or character, good read, would recommend ; 5 *****questions, GREAT read.
OK, Ms Pittman here we go.
1. Why did you pick this book off the new book shelf to begin with?
Yellow stands out, amid lots of litte guns. Any book cover that talks about Raymond Chandler and Jonathan Lethem is worth a go, Stewart O’Nan is quoted, and he lived in Oklahoma and taught at the University of Central Oklahoma. Always good to have an endorsement by a hometown author. The main character is a narcoleptic private investigator from South Boston. That’s a fresh approach to the PI tale.
2. Does the book take off?
Absolutely, the dialog is funny and fast. Some very Chandleresque comments, “Hope is a desperate man’s currency.” “A Book. Ever seen one before?” Mark Genevich survived a serious car accident and suffers narcolepsy as a result. His mom and his relationship are symbiotic. She arrives in clown pants, yells frequently that he is going to set the sofa on fire and mothers him while he tries to make a life for himself with his disability. She is quite a character in her own right. The action starts with a visit from Jennifer Times, American Star personality and daughter of the DA, showing up with missing fingers and scary photos. Or did she really come calling at all? The author takes us into the nightmare of narcoleptic sleep events and hypnogogic hallucinations.
3. Were there some problems with the book?
I did have some difficulty sorting out the real and imagined. Still not entirely clear why there was a resemblence between Jennifer Times and the photos, or maybe there wasn’t? The bad guys were obvious, and I may have to agree with Mel Odom’s review in Bookhound that the reader may get to the big reveal before Mark does.
4. So, what’s your conclusion.
Our author created a fresh new take on the PI story. His characters are likeable, especially Mark, who I would like to see solve more mysteries and deal with the obstacles life has thrown him. Plenty of action for a guy who spends lots of time asleep. Pick up this one for a good, quick summer read. It held my attention amid airplane chaos. Paul Tremblay gets a star for asking his readers to blog about the book, so glad to oblige.
I’m so glad to be back on Okie terra firma. OMG airplane travel is hideous. Obviously no one is heeding VP Biden’s directive to stay off planes. Every plane I was on was full, and had standbys. Actually I did make all my planes, close call with having the shuttle service in Athens tell me they didn’t have me down for a return trip, what good is the confirmation number they give you? The very nice gentleman at the desk at the Hilton Garden Inn, Downtown Athens helped me and found me a cancellation and I was on my way. Thank you.
And Thank You Young Bill Young for blogging for me. Much appreciated and I think all will agree he’s welcome to blog here any time. We will have to ask him whyYoung Bill was the only one at McDonald’s that was asked if he wanted the senior discount.
The one good thing about travel is being able to read and block out all the stuff going on around you. I did notice less people reading and more people playing with electronic devices. I finished one book on the way, started another, finished it and started another. And since one of them was by one of my favorite cozy authors, Anne George, I’ll take this opportunity to reply to Reggie Jet about cozies,
“Never read a “cozy” but I’ve always envisioned them in the style of Agatha Christie’s Jan Marple mysteries. (Am I off base?)” http://blog.newsok.com/okiereads/2009/05/13/cup-of-crime-with-a-tea-cozy/
The cozies I like best are full of humor, sarcasm, a good mystery, and clever, eccentric characters. Anne George’s Southern Sisters mysteries have all these qualities. And hey, I was visiting the South so a perfect pick. Mary Alice and Patricia Anne are sisters but nothing alike in looks or temperment. They are the typical southern family where blood is always thicker than water, except Mary Alice can really put that concept to the test. In Murder Gets a Life, Mary Alice’s son, Ray, meets “Barbie” look alike Sunshine Dabbs. Next thing you know, the sisters have fallen over a dead body stuck to the linoleum floor with Sunshine’s grandmother Meemaw’s best hog butchering knife. Lots of family crisis including Patricia’s daughter’s pending vows and departure for Warsaw, Debbie (Mary Alice’s daughter) is having a baby and suffering through nausea and more, this unexpected marriage between Ray and Sunshine in Bora Bora, and a whole host of eccentric, “common as pig tracks” and unnerving new in-laws.
Meemaw is a particularly loveable character, especially since she has been visited by Gabriel her channeler, who first appeared after a space ship sighting declaring, “behold I bring you tidings of great joy.” There are laugh out loud passages and just an enjoyable, engaging, good for plane travel and lazy summer day read.
Sorry Anne George is gone and there will be no more Southern Sister books, we’ll miss the old girls.
I was looking through a recent issue of Publishers Weekly, selecting titles to order at work and was pleasantly surprised by an interview with Oklahoma’s own Carolyn Hart. It followed an article on Cozies, the Bud Light of crime fiction, with drinkability. You can see the article for yourself at http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6655706.html?
Carolyn is always promoting her Okie roots. Much appreciated. Her newest Annie and Max Darling is Dare to Die. After you have finished it go back and get the other 40 Carolyn Hart mysteries. Find the bibliography of her works at the Oklahoma Author Database.
For an interview with Carolyn Hart, check out the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers interview with Emrys Moreau.
I like the whole Cozy genre. I particularly like M.C. Beaton writing about Hamish MacBeth, small town Scottish bobby. A great read for a Highland getaway. Agatha Raisin is her other cozy character. Of course anything by Charlotte MacLeod.
On May 2nd Malice Domestic Awards were handed out. See the Mystery Scene blog for highlights and winners. Try out the Malice Domestic newsletter. Want a step back from too much sex and violence in your crime books, try out one of these, it just may be your cup of tea.
I had to give up on one, throw it in the “back to the library” pile. Actually I got it on Interlibrary Loan, which is a great way to see if you like an author without spending money. (Then if you like them you can spend your money on the rest of the titles.) The Book, Murder in the Marais, by Cara Black.
I don’t think it’s all the author’s fault however, even though I found it a bit slow going at first, some major suspension of belief (with Aimee’s computer technology and hacking into government and secure sites). I just think the whole subject of World War II war criminals, and the neo-Nazis movement is just not my cup of tea, and has been re-done better by some other authors. I like her Parisian atmosphere, she is very good with setting, and perhaps later books are better developed. (*Petty comment: I hated it when Aimee chewed a paper clip in the Inspector’s office, yuck). Sorry Cara, this one just didn’t do it for me. But you are so good with setting and atmosphere I would be more than willing to try another one in the series. I love Paris, so there’s still hope for me.
Under full disclosure I want to say I did not finish the book, so my remarks may or may not be the same if I had actually read the work in it’s entirety.
Tonight at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, there’s the 63rd Annual Edgar®Award banquet. Wow, James Lee Burke and Sue Grafton are the 2009 Grand Masters. I just searched twitter and can’t find anyone giving out the winners. Maybe they’re still eating dinner.
Here’s the nominees. http://www.theedgars.com/nominees.html
My predictions, Best Novel, Blue Heaven by C.J. Box (St. Martin’s Minotaur)
and someone remembers to twitter the winners we’ll know who got these awards.
Straight from Marcia Preston this morning,
I wanted to let you know that my new novel, The Wind Comes Sweeping, has now been released. It should be available through any chain or independent bookstore, and of course through Amazon.com. This one’s set in my home state of Oklahoma, on a failing cattle ranch that has become a wind farm. I’ve always been fascinated with those gigantic wind turbines, haven’t you?
This book involves a long-hidden crime, and in that way resembles my early suspense books.
Here’s the book trailer.
The most powerful novel I have read this year is Carolyn Wall’s Sweeping Up Glass.
Currently published by Poisoned Pen Press (hardback), with Random House picking it up and releasing it in paperback, August 2009.
ISBN-10: 1-59058-512-7 (1590585127) Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 978-0-385-34303-9 (0-385-34303-5) Random House (paperback)
Sweeping Up Glass is set in 1938 Kentucky, dirt poor times and determined folks barely hanging on. Olivia Harker lives with her abandoned grandson, and her crazy mom Ida, who inhabits the shack out behind their tiny country store. Olivia has her own mothering issues, her daughter has left her and her son behind. Will’m is the only bright light in Olivia’s life. This is a tale of poverty, race, love lost and found, failed relationships, and somewhere in it all the possibility of hope.
The most poignant parts of the novel are the interplay of race relations as it affects the characters particularly Olivia during her childhood and latter the decisions she must make. What we see and fail to see determined by the color of our skin. The catalyst for the story is the needless slaughter of the silver faced wolves and the mirroring of cruelty of man against man.
The story is a strong one, but in my opinion what makes this an outstanding debut novel are the characters. Olivia and Ida, Will’m and Pap, Junk and Love Alice, and the Cott’ners filled with hate. The ending will startle you, jar you, and hold you spell bound through the final chapters. I won’t spoil any of it for you.