Wednesday, February 15, 2017

When Librarians Gather

A guest post by Miranda James.

Librarians, like other professional groups, have professional associations – associations that serve general or specialized needs. The catch-all in the United States is the American Library Association, and its annual meeting, held in the summer, attracts the largest number of librarians, exhibitors, and library supporters. 

Then there are the specialized associations, like the Medical Library Association, the Public Library Association, the Special Library Association, the American Association of Law Libraries, and so on. Beyond these there are regional association meetings of various kinds. These days travel funds are restricted, so attendance is down across the board, but librarians still manage to meet.

When I was thinking about the plot of Twelve Angry Librarians, I wanted it to involve some kind of library association meeting. Since Charlie works at an academic library, I thought a regional academic library meeting was exactly what was needed. Thus the Southern Academic Library Association (SALA) was born.

Librarians attend these conferences for numerous reasons – networking with other librarians, sharing information on technology, trends, and workplace issues, giving presentations on various topics, and reconnecting with friends and former colleagues. There are always keynote speeches, given by notable, occasionally controversial, speakers. These are the elements that helped create the story in this book.

At the SALA meeting, hosted by the Athena College Library, Charlie has the chance to visit with two old friends from his library school days. He is also forced to deal with his nemesis from that same time in his life, the odious Gavin Fong. Charlie and Gavin have an unfriendly history between them, and hostilities reopen in the present. When Gavin, one of the keynote speakers, drops dead during his talk, Charlie could be on top of the suspect list. He fought in public with Gavin at the conference…

That was the genesis of the plot of Twelve Angry Librarians.

Miranda James is the pseudonym of Dean James, a seventh-generation Mississippian long transplanted to Texas. A mystery fan since the age of ten, he wrote his first novel at the ripe old age of twelve. The only copy of The Mystery of the Willow Key vanished years ago, but since it was highly derivative of the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series, that’s probably a good thing. 

 Dean lives with two young cats, thousands of books, and thinks frequently about killing people – but only in the pages of fiction.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cozy Monday

Twelve Angry Librarians (Cat in the Stacks #8) by Miranda James (Berkley Prime Crime hardcover, 21 February 2017).

Charlie Harris enjoys being the interim library director at Athena College, but he's happy to only be "interim".  Having to deliver the welcome address to the Southern Academic Libraries Association annual conference, being held at Athena is very stressful, though, as Charlie does not enjoy public speaking.

To add to that stress, Charlie's nemesis from library school, Gavin Fong, is the keynote speaker.  To be fair, Gavin has always rubbed most people the wrong way, being an insufferable and conceited and certain he knows everything.

And he seems to still take pleasure in baiting Charlie, who eventually reaches the end of his patience and takes a swing at Gavin.  When Gavin is found dead the next day, Charlie is at the top of the suspect list.

Of course, we all know he's innocent, as does Chief Deputy Kanesha Berry.  But CD Berry has to find concrete evidence of Charlie's innocence.  Though there's no shortage of people who wished Fong harm, finding the real culprit is a difficult task.

This is an extremely well-constructed mystery.  Clues and red herrings are perfectly placed, and the identity of the killer should be a real surprise.

Charlie and his Maine Coon cat Diesel, as well as their family and friends, are a charming group, and spending time with them is a delight!

The publisher has generously offered a copy of Twelve Angry Librarians to one of my readers.  Please comment below before 12:01 a.m. on Monday, February 20th.  Entries from the US only, please.  
Please don't forget to include an email address where I can contact you if you win!

FTC Full Disclosure:  Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Inventing Rock Point

By special guest Clover Tate.

Being an author means making things up: what irritates a character or brings her joy; how a murder is carried out; and even something as basic as a pen name (my real name is Angela M. Sanders). For Blown Away, I invented a whole town.

And it was great! Blown Away features Strings Attached kite shop owner Emmy Adler in Rock Point, Oregon. I knew Rock Point would be on the coast. Thanks to ocean wind and the general lack of powerlines and trees, the beach is prime kite flying country. Since the Oregon coast is rugged, with steep cliffs and forest a stone’s throw away, I gave the town a small bay and a rocky outcropping that the town was named after.

Next, I had to populate it with buildings. Naturally, I needed a lighthouse. I put it on a cliff, right above the treacherous Devil’s Playpen (also invented, and a key locale in the second book in the series Live Free or Fly, out December 2017). I gave the town some fishermen’s shacks, a sprinkling of high-end beach houses, and a B&B in a Queen Anne house.   

Befitting an old town struggling to adapt to its new role as a tourist destination, I needed an antiques mall, the Brew House coffee shop (run by Emmy’s best friend, Avery), and a pizza parlor notable for the stinkiness of its pies. Add a closet-sized post office with a postmistress who knows everyone’s business; a sheriff’s storefront office; and a sprinkling of cabins in the woods, and Rock Point is nearly complete.

I had the most fun with two locales: Avery’s house (also Emmy’s home), and Strings Attached, Emmy’s kite shop.

I adore the romance of old houses, so right away I knew I wanted Avery to live in her family’s hundred-year-old bungalow in a copse of fir trees above the ocean. I gave it a huge stone fireplace and old-growth wooden joists that groan during storms. The leaky windows are charmingly fitted with wavy glass. The house has a deck with a killer sunset view and rickety stairs to the beach, where big rocks ring a firepit. The house’s constant need for repair gives Avery’s would-be boyfriend Dave a reason to hang around with his toolbox.

Finally, I put Strings Attached in the ground floor of a modest Victorian house a block from the ocean. No mini-mall location for Emmy. The sales area is in the house’s former living room and features stained glass windows, hardwood floors, beautiful moldings, and a fireplace. Emmy’s kite workshop—where she fulfills her real passion, designing and making kites—is in the roomy, sun-filled, eat-in kitchen. I imagine the smell of old wood and tang of ocean air mixing with the scent of Lapsang Souchong tea and a hint of fabric glue.

I can only hope you enjoy reading about Rock Point as much as I loved inventing it! If you were to invent your own town, where would it be? What would it look like?

Clover Tate is a pseudonym for Angela M.Sanders, who also writes The Booster Club Capers and The Vintage Clothing series.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

Cozy Monday

Blown Away (Kite Shop Mystery #1) by Clover Tate (Berkley Prime mass market paperback, 7 February 2017).

Emmy Adler finally feels like an adult.  She's decided to open a kite shop called "Strings Attached" in the resort town of Rock Point, Oregon.  She'll be sharing a house with her best friend Avery, who had inherited it from her parents.

The first morning after moving in with Avery, she's taking her dog, Bear, for a walk on the beach when he discovers the body of a man lying at the water's edge.  Having left her phone at home, she has to rush back to call for help, but goes back to the beach to meet the local sheriff.  

Sheriff Koppen identifies the body as Miles Logan, the chef at a local gourmet restaurant, but it takes a minute for Emmy to recognize the name of a former boyfriend of Avery's.  The relationship ended rather abruptly, and since Avery doesn't have an alibi for the prior evening, she becomes the primary suspect.

Knowing that her friend couldn't possibly have killed anyone, Emmy sets out to prove her innocence by finding the actual killer.

Being a newcomer to the area makes Emmy's investigation a little more difficult, as locals are reluctant to trust her, but she is determined to see her friend exonerated.

Blown Away is not only a well-constructed mystery, but filled with information about kites and the flying thereof.  

Reading should be informative.  

The publisher has generously offered a copy of Blown Away to one of my readers.  Please comment below before 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Feburary 13th.  Entries from the US only, please.  
Please don't forget to include an email address where I can contact you if you win!

FTC Full Disclosure:  Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Teen Tuesday

Code Red (Faith Flores Science Mysteries  #2) by Janie Chodosh (Poisoned Pen trade paperback, 7 February 2017).

Faith Flores, the science whiz we met in Death Spiral, has flourished while living with her Aunt T. in West Philadelphia.  

Here, we meet her upon her arrival at St. John's College in Albuquerque the residence for ten teens who have been chosen from around the country to act as summer interns in various fields of study.  Faith will be spending the summer at the fictional Salazar Center for Plant Genomics.  

She doesn't expect to make any friends, but almost as soon as she arrives, she connects with an attractive young local named Clem, a violinist who has won the music internship several years in a row.
During their orientation, the teens are warned about a new designer drug on the streets.  Called "liquid gold", it's derived from a local plant and used not only for recreational purposes, but also as as a date-rape drug.  

Faith has another goal while she's in Albuquerque: to find her father.  According to a newspaper clipping she'd found in her late mother's things, he'd been arrested on a drug charge there two years earlier.  

The story is an enjoyable read that is difficult to put down.  Faith is an engaging protagonist, smart and driven, but not without faults.  Due to her background, she is slow to trust and easily spooked.  It's encouraging to see a young woman who is interested  -- and successful -- in a scientific field.  Also refreshing is that her supervisor is female.

Code Red can be read as a standalone, but do read Death Spiral first in order to fully appreciate Faith's journey.

Many thanks to the author for sending me an Advance Review Copy.

Friday, January 20, 2017

2017 Edgar Awards

On Thursday, 19 January 2017, Mystery Writers of America  announced the Nominees for the 2017 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2016. 
The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at the 71st Gala Banquet, April 27, 2017 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.
Following is a list of the books and short stories nominated.


The Ex by Alafair Burke (HarperCollins Publishers - Harper) 
Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons) Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 
What Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow) 
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)


Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry (Penguin Random House – Penguin Books) 
Dodgers by Bill Beverly (Crown Publishing Group) 
IQ by Joe Ide (Little, Brown & Company – Mulholland Books) 
The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 
Dancing with the Tiger by Lili Wright (Penguin Random House – Marian Wood       Book/Putnam) 
The Lost Girls by Heather Young (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)


Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott (Polis Books) Come Twilight by Tyler Dilts (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer) 
The 7th Canon by Robert Dugoni (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer) 
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books) 
A Brilliant Death by Robin Yocum (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books) 
Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin (Prometheus Books – Seventh Street Books)


Morgue: A Life in Death by Dr. Vincent DiMaio & Ron Franscell (St. Martin’s Press) 
The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle that Brought Down the Klan by Laurence Leamer (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow) 
Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane: A True Story of Victorian Law and Disorder: The Unsolved Murder That Shocked Victorian England by Paul Thomas Murphy (Pegasus Books) 
While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness by Eli Sanders (Penguin Random House – Viking Books) 
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale (Penguin Random House – Penguin Press)


Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd (Penguin Random House – Nan A. Talese) Encyclopedia of Nordic Crime: Works and Authors of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden Since 1967 by Mitzi M. Brunsdale (McFarland & Company) 
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (W.W. Norton - Liveright) Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula by David J. Skal (W.W. Norton - Liveright) 


"Oxford Girl" – Mississippi Noir by Megan Abbott (Akashic Books) 
"A Paler Shade of Death" – St. Louis Noir by Laura Benedict (Akashic Books) 
"Autumn at the Automat” – In Sunlight or in Shadow by Lawrence Block (Pegasus Books) "The Music Room" – In Sunlight or in Shadow by Stephen King (Pegasus Books) 
"The Crawl Space” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Joyce Carol Oates (Dell Magazines)


Summerlost by Ally Condie (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dutton BFYR) 
OCDaniel by Wesley King (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books) 
The Bad Kid by Sarah Lariviere by (Simon & Schuster – Simon & Schuster BFYR) 
Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand (Simon & Schuster – Simon & Schuster BFYR) Framed! by James Ponti (Simon & Schuster – Aladdin) 
Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry by Susan Vaught (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books) 


Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger (Simon & Schuster – Simon Pulse) 
The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – Henry Holt BFYR)
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown BFYR) 
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier (Soho Press – Soho Teen) 
Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor (Penguin Random House – Penguin Young Readers – Dial Books) 


The Other Sister by Dianne Dixon (Sourcebooks – Sourcebooks Landmark) 
Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson (Llewellyn Worldwide – Midnight Ink) 
Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Tor/Forge Books – Forge Books) 
Blue Moon by Wendy Corsi Staub (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow) 
The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)