Tag Archives: historical mystery fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Fall TBR List

19 Sep

Can you believe that in two days it will be Fall?! Here in middle Georgia the department stores are sporting Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decor for sale, but the temperatures are hovering in the Summer-range, so Fall doesn’t seem that imminent. But what is imminent is my Fall TBR list (or pile!). The folks at The Broke And The Bookish are asking bloggers to share what they will be reading in the next few months, and I am always eager to oblige. I have a wide variety of reading ahead of me — historical, romance, contemporary, mystery/suspense, and interestingly enough, a couple of Christmas novels! So without further ado, my Fall TBR List!

Top Ten Books on My TBR List

The Case of The Clobbered Cad by Debra E. Marvin

Charming The Troublemaker by Pepper Basham

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

Christy by Catherine Marshall

Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport

Deeds of Darkness by Mel Starr

How Sweet The Sound by Amy Sorrells 

Lydia by Diana Wallis Taylor

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

What are you reading this Fall?

 

 

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Top 10 Tuesday — Unusual Crime-Solving Professions

1 Aug

IYears ago I read G.K. Chesterton’s collection of short stories entitled The Club of Queer Trades. It was fun reading. Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

(For Amazon) British writers have long enjoyed inventing preposterous clubs with eccentric members, unusual qualifications for membership and zany rules of behavior. The brilliant and gifted G. K. Chesterton was no exception, and the entertaining short stories in this volume revolve around just such an institution. In The Club of Queer Trades, candidates qualify for admission by creating a thoroughly original profession and proving they can make a living from it.

Six marvelously funny episodes with improbable plots are made especially pleasurable through Chesterton’s vivid descriptions of late Victorian London, sly pokes at the legal system, and a characteristic gift for delicious nonsense. In each story, a bizarre crime — such as kidnapping of a respected clergyman in “The Awful Reason of the Vicar’s Visit” — seems in the process of being committed. Actually, the events are all frenzied activities traceable to club members or would-be members. Here are intriguing tales of a little old lady imprisoned in a gloomy private dungeon; of prim and proper matrons bent on committing evil deeds; of a former British army officer and his extremely unusual residence; and a host of other incredible characters and situations.

This book got me thinking of all the mystery and suspense I read, and the many jobs the main characters have. There are plenty of FBI agents, US Marshals, and other law enforcement types, plus doctors, lawyers, PIs, bodyguards, etc., who get in on the action. But what about the unassuming amateurs or even the little known professionals that solve crimes, at least fictional crimes? So for this Top Ten Tuesday I’ve compiled a list of my own queer trades.

Top Crime-Solving Professions

 

Advice Columnist — Josephine Tulip (Mindy Starns Clark)

Josephine Tulip is definitely a smart chick, a twenty-first century female MacGyver who writes a helpful hints column and solves mysteries in her spare time. Her best friend, Danny, is a talented photographer who longs to succeed in his career…perhaps a cover photo on National Geographic?

When Jo’s next-door neighbor is accused of murder, Jo realizes the police have the wrong suspect. As she and Danny analyze clues, follow up on leads, and fall in and out of trouble, she recovers from a broken heart and he discovers that he has feelings for her. Will Danny have the courage to reveal them, or will he continue to hide them behind a façade of friendship?

Bailiff — Hugh de Singleton (Mel Starr)

Some valuable books have been stolen from Master John Wyclif, the well known scholar and Bible translator. He calls upon his friend and former pupil, Hugh de Singleton, to investigate. Hugh’s investigation leads him to Oxford where he again encounters Kate, the only woman who has tempted him to leave bachelor life behind, but Kate has another serious suitor. As Hugh’s pursuit of Kate becomes more successful, mysterious accidents begin to occur. Are these accidents tied to the missing books, or to his pursuit of Kate?

One of the stolen books turns up alongside the drowned body of a poor Oxford scholar. Another accident? Hugh certainly doesn’t think so, but it will take all of his surgeon’s skills to prove.

Church Secretary — Cindy Preston (Debbie Viguie)

Cindy and Jeremiah come from two different worlds, even though they work right next door to each other. Cindy is a strong Christian who lives a normal but somewhat dull life, working as a church secretary. Jeremiah is a Reformed rabbi with a mysterious past full of danger and excitement. But one eventful Easter/Passover week, the two find themselves working together to solve a murder and stop a serial killer from striking again. Solving the mystery should put an end to their alliance, but the church secretary and the rabbi quickly find themselves enmeshed in another mystery. Soon the two form a friendly alliance and friendship, exploring personal history and faith and growing closer with each passing adventure. Despite their differences Cindy and Jeremiah find a lot of common ground.

Crime Scene Cleaner — Gabby St. Claire (Christy Barritt)

Gabby St. Claire dropped out of school on her way to completing a degree in forensic science. Instead, she did the next best thing: she started her own crime scene cleaning business. When a routine cleaning job uncovers a murder weapon the police overlooked, she realizes that the wrong person is in jail. But the owner of the weapon is willing to do anything to keep Gabby quiet. With the help of her neighbor, Riley Thomas, Gabby plays detective. But can Riley help her before another murder occurs?

 

 

English Teacher — Amelia Prentice (E. E. Kennedy)

Amelia Prentice, a forty-something high school English teacher comfortable in her predictable routine, regains consciousness after tripping over the corpse of a former student in the safest of places, the public library. Returning to the classroom, she tries to pretend nothing happened. But when it becomes obvious that the victim’s death wasn’t an accident and she is now a murder suspect, she realizes that her cozy small-town life in New York’s Adirondack region will never be the same.
 
Crazy things begin to happen: The victim’s mother disappears. Amelia’s friend Lily is thrown overboard from the Lake Champlain ferryboat. A mysterious millionaire from Montreal seems determined to buy Amelia’s house. The school nurse is viciously attacked by a student. Amelia’s old beau Gil suddenly seems determined to rekindle their romance. Amelia is carjacked, and of course, there’s the Lake Champlain Monster . . . 
 
It will take all Amelia’s wisdom, humor, and faith to figure out what’s going on and embrace the new life that lies ahead. If she survives.

Forensic Artist — Gwen Marcy (Carrie Stuart Parks)

In 1857, a wagon train in Utah was assaulted by a group of militant Mormons calling themselves the Avenging Angels. One hundred and forty people were murdered, including unarmed men, women, and children. The Mountain Meadows Massacre remains controversial to this day–but the truth may be written on the skulls of the victims.
When renowned forensic artist Gwen Marcey is recruited to reconstruct the faces of recently unearthed victims at Mountain Meadows, she isn’t expecting more than an interesting gig . . . and a break from her own hectic life.

But when Gwen stumbles on the ritualized murder of a young college student, her work on the massacre takes on a terrifying new aspect, and research quickly becomes a race against modern-day fundamentalist terror.
As evidence of a cover-up mounts–a cover-up spanning the entire history of the Mormon church–Gwen finds herself in the crosshairs of a secret society bent on fulfilling prophecy and revenging old wrongs.

Can a forensic artist reconstruct two centuries of suppressed history . . . before it repeats itself?

In A Cry from the Dust, Carrie Stuart Parks utilizes her own background as a celebrated, FBI-trained forensic artist to blend fact and fiction into a stunning mystery.

Housewife — Tess Spenser (Heather Day Gilbert)

Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her. But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox — a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting — Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer…or the next victim might be Tess herself. Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains’ lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series.

Limo Driver — Andi McConnell (Lorena McCourtney)

Downsized from her job.
Dumped by her boyfriend.
Depressed about that upcoming 6-0 birthday.
Not a good week for Andi McConnell.

But now there’s good news: She’s just inherited a limousine, a long, sleek, black limousine, from an eccentric uncle.

There’s also bad news: The dead body that soon turns up in the trunk. And Andi is the top suspect in the murder.

Enter Keegan “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, former TV detective, very interested in the case – and in Andi. As they work together to solve the crime, a big question looms: when the bullets start flying, are the windows in Andi’s limo really bullet proof?

Night Watchman — Ray Quinn (Mark Mynhier)

Eleven months ago, Ray Quinn was a tough, quick-witted Orlando homicide detective at the top of his game–until a barrage of bullets ended his career…and his partner’ s life.

Now medically retired with a painful handicap, Ray battles the haunting guilt for his partner’s death. Numbing the pain with alcohol and attitude, Ray takes a job as a night watchman at a swanky Orlando condo.

But when a pastor and an exotic dancer are found dead in one of the condos in an apparent murder-suicide, Ray can no longer linger in the shadows. The pastor’s sister is convinced her brother was framed and begs Ray to take on an impossible case — to challenge the evidence and clear her brother’s name.

Ray reluctantly pulls the threads of this supposedly dead-end case only to unravel a murder investigation so deep that it threatens to turn the Orlando political landscape upside down and transform old friends into new enemies. As Ray chases down leads and interrogates suspects, someone is watching his every move, someone determined to keep him from ever finding out the truth — at any cost.

Nun — Sister Evangeline Devine (Lynne Hinton)

Sister Eve knows God moves in mysterious ways. And Eve adores a good mystery. Especially a murder.

Two decades into her calling at a New Mexico monastery, Sister Evangeline Divine breaks her daily routine when a police officer appears, carrying a message from her father. Sister Eve is no stranger to the law, having grown up with a police captain turned private detective. She’s seen her fair share of crime―and knows a thing or two about solving mysteries.

But when Captain Jackson Divine needs her to return home and help him recover from surgery, Sister Eve finds herself taking on his latest case.

A Hollywood director has disappeared, and the sultry starlet he’s been running around with isn’t talking. When the missing man turns up dead, Captain Divine’s case escalates into a full-blown murder case, and Sister Eve’s crime-solving instincts kick in with an almost God-given grace.

Soon Sister Eve finds herself soul-searching every step of the way: How can she choose between the vocation in her heart and the job in her blood?

Recovery Specialist — Landry Parker and Nickolai Baptiste (Robin Caroll)

Former Army MP Landry Parker fell into the recovery specialist role quite by accident — to help her ailing father. Now that she’s on her own, she is determined to prove herself and honor her family legacy.

After being shot in the line of duty, former police officer Nickolai Baptiste became a recovery specialist, and he’s good at his job — maybe even the best.
           
A potential client pits Landry and Nickolai against one another to find the Dutchman’s Lost Gold Mine map that was stolen from her murdered husband, and the potential payday is too enticing to pass up. The trail takes them from New Orleans to Weaver’s Needle in Arizona where legend claims the mine is hidden. Landry and Nickolai are no strangers to adventure, but the unlikely partners quickly discover there’s someone after the treasure and there are those who want to ensure the lost mine in Arizona’s Superstition Mountain stays lost forever.

Can Landry and Nickolai work together despite their distrust of each other to save the legend before more innocent lives are lost? Will they find the real treasure isn’t the gold, but something more valuable . . . true love and understanding?

What do you do?

Could you solve mysteries too?

 

 

 

Book Review: Dressed for Death

6 Jul

This Traditional British Cozy Mystery Gets a Regency Twist

Drew and Madeline Farthering celebrate their six-month anniversary by attending a fancy Regency era costume party. Drew is glad to see Talbot Cummins, an Oxford classmate, and his fiancée, Alice Henley, though many present seem worried about the couple. Everyone’s concerns are realized when, at the concluding grand ball, Alice dies of an overdose of cocaine. Tal refuses to believe she took the stuff intentionally, and Drew is determined to find out if her death was an accident or murder.

Drew is shocked and disillusioned when the police arrest Tal’s father and reveal that the man has been smuggling drugs into the country for the past twenty years. Reeling from the death of his fiancée and the revelation about his father, Tal begs Drew to find out what’s going on. Drew, now questioning his own ability to see people as they really are, does so reluctantly, not ready for the secrets he’s about to uncover — or the danger he’ll bring down on everyone he holds dear.

 

Julianna Deering (also writing as DeAnna Julie Dodson) has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuted with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, 2013) and is followed by Death by the Book and Murder at the Mikado (Bethany House, 2014). Dressed for Death (Bethany House, 2016), and Murder on the Moor and Death at Thorburn Hall (Bethany House, 2017).

 

My Impressions:

The fourth book in the Drew Farthering Mystery series by Julianna Deering, Dressed for Death, finds Drew and Madeline attending a week-long party at the Cummins family country home. The theme is Regency England, and all the guests are required to dress and act the part. Yachting trips, picnics, and a ball are on the agenda, but so is murder. While the bodies continue to pile up, the crimes hit a little too close to home for Drew. Faced with his own inadequacies, Drew perseveres to find out just whodunit.

Deering’s mystery series takes place in 1930s England, and she does a wonderful job of bringing the era to life. Dressed for Death adds another layer with the Regency party. Both Drew’s time with its cultural references and the Regency era are wonderfully integrated — kudos on the meticulous historical research! Jane Austen fans will love the numerous references to the author’s works. The mystery itself is puzzling up to the end. I had my suspicions, but was surprised as Drew solved the case. Drew is an interesting character. Part of the wealthy class of England, he certainly doesn’t have to work for a living, but his calling as an amateur detective presents challenges. In Dressed for Death, Drew grapples with discouragement and doubt as he examines what it really means to be called by God. The local vicar advises: “Don’t let anyone despise the gifts you’ve been given, and don’t you do so, either. They may not fit anyone else’s idea of a calling, but the world has all sorts of needs, and God has provided for each of them to be filled, if we all do our part. It would be a shame if your part were left undone.” (p. 303) A great message no matter the task God provides.

Dressed for Death comes in the middle of the series, with book 5 now available and book 6 due out in November 2017. It can be read as a standalone, but I think the series is too good to miss any of the fun. If you haven’t read any of the books, start now with Rules of Murder and then progress through the rest. You’ll be all caught up just in time for Drew’s latest adventure!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Happy Book Birthday! A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd

21 Mar

A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd is releasing today! Yay! For fans of historical romance with more than a bit of mystery, this one is right up your street! Check it out.

 

In this intriguing novel of romance, mystery, and clever disguise set in Victorian England, a young woman investigates the murder of her own father.

After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.

Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?

Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves.

To purchase, click HERE.

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published fifty books.

Sandra’s new series, Daughters of Hampshire, historically sound Gothic romances, launched with best-selling Book One: Mist of Midnight. That book earned a coveted Editor’s Choice from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, will publish in March 2017. Sandra’s latest nonfiction title is The One Year Home and Garden Devotions.

Check out her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, which was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012.

Sandra has published dozens of books for kids, tweens and teens, including the best-selling, The One Year Be-Tween You and God, Devotions For Girls, and two read aloud picture books.

She is passionate about helping new writers develop their talent and their work toward traditional or self-publication. As such, she has mentored and coached hundreds of new writers and continues to coach dozens to success each year via novelcoaching.com

Please visit http://www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more or to invite Sandra to your book club via Skype.

Book Review: The Kill Fee

19 Jan

51p-hv1vxklPoppy Denby, Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, covers an exhibition of Russian Art, hosted by White Russian refugees, including members of the surviving exiled Romanov Royal family. There is an armed robbery, a guard is shot, and the largest Fabergé Egg in the collection is stolen. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets it contains within – secrets that could threaten major political powers. Suspects are aplenty, including the former keeper of the Fabergé Egg, a Russian Princess called Selena Romanova Yusopova. The interim Bolshevik Russian ambassador, Vasili Safin inserts himself into the investigation, as he believes the egg – and the other treasures – should all be restored to the Russian people. Poppy, her editor Rollo, press photographer Daniel, and the other staff of the Globe are delighted to be once again in the middle of a sensational story. But, soon the investigation takes a dark turn when another body is found and an employee of the newspaper becomes a suspect… The race is on to find both the key and the egg – can they be found before the killer strikes again?

fiona-treeFormerly a journalist, Fiona Veitch Smith is a writer of books, theatre plays and screenplays.

Her children’s picturebooks, the Young David series, are now published by SPCK Publishing. Her adult mystery series set in the 1920s, Poppy Denby Investigates, is published by Lion Fiction.

She is a member of the British Society of Authors and the Association of Christian Writers. Fiona is also the editor of the popular writing advice website The Crafty Writer and her courses attract students from around the world.

She lives with her husband, daughter and two dogs in Newcastle upon Tyne where she lectures in media and scriptwriting at the local universities.

 

My Impressions:

The intrepid Poppy Denby is back in Fiona Veitch Smith’s latest book, The Kill Fee. The newly minted journalist is on the case when priceless Faberge eggs go missing and the bodies start piling up. An historical mystery filled with all the jazz of the Roaring 20s, this novel manages not only to capture the essence of the era, but keep the reader guessing with a well crafted story. For fans of British whodunits, this one is a great choice.

The Kill Fee involves not one, but two mysteries. The stories are told within two separate storylines, and intersect at the end. The Russian revolution is still ongoing and the brutality of the war between the Whites and the Reds spills into London as royal Russian refugees and Bolshevik loyalists clash over the ownership of priceless works of art and fabulous jewels. I very much enjoyed getting a glimpse into what was going on in politics of this time. There are a number of interesting characters and suspects galore. Poppy is again in the middle of the action as she discovers bodies and clues and manages to stay one step ahead of the authorities. While The Kill Fee is really not a Christian novel (as we see it in America), the author’s worldview informs her characters. Poppy calls on God for help at a critical point in the novel, someone she has neglected since arriving in the big city. Her faith, a bit covered with cobwebs, is realistically portrayed.

A fun novel, The Kill Fee kept me guessing and the pages turning as I followed the adventures of Poppy Denby. I’m looking forward to many more exciting times with this series.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday: 2016 Releases I Didn’t Read (But Should)

10 Jan

My TBR pile has reached staggering heights since I started blogging. Is it possible to have too many books? I think the problem is really not enough time to read — stuff like laundry and work just keeps getting in the way! In an effort to read what is on my shelves in 2017, I am practicing saying no to shiny new books. We’ll see how long that lasts. 😉 In the meantime, here is a list of the books that were released in 2016 that I failed to read, but really, really plan to. Can we put a freeze on 2017 releases until I get caught up?

For other bloggers woefully behind on their reading, check out The Broke And The Bookish this week.

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2016 Books That I Need to Read

The Cottage by Michael Phillips

Delilah by Angela Hunt

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering

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The End of Law by Therese Down

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hall by Julie Klassen

Lead Me Home by Amy Sorrells

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The Shattered Vigil by Patrick Carr

Sins of The Past by Dee Henderson/Dani Pettrey/Lynette Eason

You’re The One That I Want by Susan May Warren

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Have you read any of these 2016 releases?

Which one should I read first?

Audiobook Mini Review: Anne Perry’s Christmas Crimes

23 Dec

Page Turners read Anne Perry’s Christmas Crimes in November and December. This 2-novella set includes A Christmas Garland and A Christmas Homecoming. I listened to the audiobooks which are offered separately. Both are historical mysteries, one set in India following the Rebellion of 1857, the other set in a manor house in northern England. The only things they have in common are the murders to be solved, the time of year– Christmas, and their Victorian era. Not particularly Christmas-y despite the timeframe, they are interesting mysteries to keep you engaged. I had not read Perry before, but she is a great favorite of one of our members. I found both books well-written and full of great historical details. The mysteries kept me guessing until the end. The narrators for the audiobooks were very good. Both books are recommended to those who like complex, historical mysteries and want a bit of the feeling of Christmas.

51vc8gcajjl-_sx322_bo1204203200_A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING

Charlotte Pitt’s mother, Caroline, is spending the holiday with her young husband, Joshua Fielding, in Whitby, the fishing village where Dracula first touches English soil in Bram Stoker’s sensational novel. Joshua has arranged to produce a stage adaptation of Dracula, written by the daughter of millionaire Charles Netheridge, but tempers flare after a disastrous first read-through of the script. As wind and snow swirl around Netheridge’s lonely hilltop mansion, a black-cloaked stranger emerges from the storm. At the same time, a brooding evil makes itself felt, and instead of theatrical triumph, there is murder — shocking and terrifying.

A CHRISTMAS GARLAND

The year is 1857, soon after the violent Siege of Cawnpore, and India is in the midst of rebellion. In the British garrison, a guard is killed, a prisoner escapes, and a luckless medical orderly named John Tallis is arrested as an accomplice simply because he was the only soldier unaccounted for when the crimes were committed. Though chosen to defend Tallis, young Lieutenant Victor Narraway is not encouraged to try very hard. His superiors merely want a show trial. But inspired by a simple Christmas garland, and his own stubborn faith in justice, Narraway is determined to figure out the truth, despite the appalling odds. In an alien world haunted by massacre, he is the accused man’s only hope.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobooks from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)