Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Low Road by A.D. Scott

First Line: He shuddered as he got off the bus outside the main gate of the former Duke Street Prison.

John McAllister has come to the mean streets of Glasgow on a mission to find his friend, Jimmy McPhee. McPhee has disappeared from sight, and since he is involved in some sort of blood feud with a gang there in the city, McAllister intends to use his old newspaper contacts to see if he can find his friend. 

Although he's ashamed to admit it, he's relieved to be back in Glasgow and feeling the allure of a big city newspaper. Joanne Ross, the woman he loves in Inverness, is still recuperating from serious injuries. She's not really the woman McAllister fell in love with... but he doesn't really want to think about that. Instead he teams up with a young crime reporter who has her eye on the Big Time. In trying to track down Jimmy, the gang finds them, and now McAllister is in danger of losing everything-- and everyone-- he loves.

Although I missed being in Inverness in this latest Highland Gazette mystery, I rapidly came to appreciate the visit to some of 1950s Glasgow's most dangerous areas.

It's also an opportunity to see McAllister on what used to be his home turf and to observe the way he behaves with family, friends, and former work colleagues. Moreover, what readers observe isn't always flattering. McAllister-- a lifelong bachelor and rather set in his ways-- is finding it very difficult to cope with the changes in Joanne Ross. Although he thought he loved her beyond all reason, the difficulties she's experiencing with her health have him wondering if they really should get married. For anyone who's followed this marvelous series since book one, his behavior is almost like a slap in the face. Granted, it's only natural for him to have these doubts-- and it shows how A.D. Scott has created nuanced characters who live and breathe on the pages of her books.

She also knows how to create a level of menace and danger that keeps your eyes glued to those pages. Although I truly feared for McAllister's life on more than one occasion, I still felt that The Low Road suffered a bit from the characters being split apart. This is such an ensemble cast that the flow of the book felt a bit out of kilter from time to time.

Scott gives us a real feel for Scotland in the 1950s by showing how some of the old-fashioned Calvinist ways are very gradually being ground under by modern ideas and behaviors. As in tune as she is with the land and the times, it's with her characters that A.D. Scott truly shines. These are characters who embrace both the good and the bad. We're able to learn their strengths, their weaknesses, and some of their motivations. There's a lyrical and oh-so-human quality to this author's writing that reminds me of Louise Penny, and-- as I am with Penny's books-- I'm always thrilled to see a new Highland Gazette mystery.

The Low Road by A.D. Scott
ISBN:  9781476756165
Atria Books © 2014
Paperback, 336 pages

Historical Mystery, #5 Highland Gazette mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley 

Marked Down for Murder by Josie Belle

First Line: "More flowers?" Ginger Lancaster asked as she walked into My Sister's Closet, her best friend's secondhand store, on the heels of Henry Dawson, the local florist.

It's a few days before Valentine's Day, and Maggie Gerber is receiving messages and roses from a secret admirer. Well, she's pretty sure they're from Sam Collins, the chief of police of their small town in Virginia. He's certainly putting the roses in her cheeks while she and her Good Buy Girls plot their strategy for the upcoming Presidents' Day sales.

However, things start looking like a dead car battery when you're running late for a 75% off shoe sale when the mother of Maggie's nemesis, Summer Phillips, shows up in My Sister's Closet. Summer's mother is determined to break up Maggie and Sam. You see, Maggie's not nearly good enough for Sam while Sam is just perfect for her darling daughter. When Maggie goes to Summer's house to confront the scheming woman, she finds Summer holding a weapon and standing over a dead body. No matter how much Maggie despises Summer, she just can't get over the feeling that the woman is innocent-- and she's willing to conduct her own investigation to prove it.

No two ways about it-- I love this series. It's a bit of a surprise since I believe the best bargain is getting out of shopping altogether. Just goes to show that these books are about so much more than bargain-hunting women on a mission to shop. Out of all the crime fiction that I read, Maggie Gerber is one of my favorite characters. Her depth of spirit and heart make her a wonderful mother and friend; she's got a good sense of humor; and she's feisty and not afraid of standing up for what she believes in. Maggie sounds like a paragon, doesn't she? Well, she almost is... that feisty temper of hers leads to some rash decisions sometimes. 

Maggie's group of friends-- her Good Buy Girls-- is one of the best supporting casts you'll find in any traditional mystery series. Each friend has her own personality, her own quirks, but together they become one formidable team. As the series progresses, each character's life becomes as real as your own. In Marked Down for Murder, I particularly enjoyed watching how Maggie agonized over a potential obstacle in her growing relationship with Sam-- undoubtedly because I faced something very similar myself.    

Another thing that puts this series-- and this book in particular-- a cut above the rest is how author Josie Belle (AKA New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay) deals with Maggie's nemesis, Summer Phillips. Summer has always been a bit over the top for me, and I tended to scringe whenever her scenes came up. Not in Marked Down for Murder. By bringing in Summer's mother as a character, we're able to see why Summer behaves the way she does, and although we still may not like her, at least we have a better understanding of her. The author knows that, if you're going to have a highly irrational character, it's better to explain a little of her behavior; otherwise, she's just a caricature.

After singing so much praise of the characters, you're probably wondering if there's a mystery at all in the book. There is, and it's a good one that I enjoyed trying to piece together as the pages turned. There's no doubt about it: if you're in the mood for an enjoyable mystery filled with wonderful characters, all you have to do is get your hands on the Good Buy Girls.

Marked Down for Murder by Josie Belle
ISBN: 9780425271360
Berkley Prime Crime © 2014
Mass Market Paperback, 272 pages

Cozy Mystery, #4 Good Buy Girls mystery
Rating: A
Source: the author 

Monday, September 01, 2014

What's Your Personality Category?

Your Personality is Cultured


You are cosmopolitan, open-minded, and accepting. You try to learn from the world around you. You are very diplomatic and a good mediator. If something difficult needs to be done, you do it with class and grace.

You are charming and worldly, but you can be a bit standoffish at times. You don't have much patience for ignorance. You have exacting standards, and you love to get the best of everything. You would rather go solo than compromise.


@ The Poisoned Pen with Margaret Coel and William Kent Krueger!

Denis and I are getting used to our once-a-week trip to our favorite bookstore, The Poisoned Pen, and it will feel mighty strange when there's a week when no author we want to see is appearing there. There wasn't any threat of rain on our drive to Scottsdale, and even the rush hour traffic seemed light.

When we walked into the bookstore, I had some business to conduct. It's something I very rarely ever do, but when I do slip up and buy a duplicate book it seems to bring me humility for a couple of years. I exchanged my duplicate for a copy of Louise Penny's The Long Way Home, then I joined Denis in the back so I could immerse myself in an advance reading copy of Betty Webb's new Lena Jones mystery, Desert Rage. Whenever I sit and read in The Poisoned Pen, I feel as though I'm in a vault filled with Fabergé eggs. What can I say? Books are my treasures!

Time passed quickly, and in no time the room was filled with people who came from as far away as Tucson to see this evening's authors Margaret Coel and William Kent Krueger. Amongst the fans was another author-- Betty Webb. I barely had enough time to talk with her about Desert Rage before the event started, but I managed.

"I'm feeling pretty good tonight!"

L to R: Barbara Peters, a show-off bag, William Kent Krueger, Margaret Coel

Bookstore owner Barbara Peters appeared first, telling us that after Labor Day (when Louise Penny will be there to pack the store to the rafters) it would be a rather quiet two weeks, for which the staff was grateful. It's been a frenetic year for everyone at The Poisoned Pen, and they certainly deserve a little breather. As Barbara told us, this lull wasn't planned, it is simply due to the vagaries of the publishing world. Peters is already hard at work scheduling authors for next March when there's evidently a glut of crime fiction being released. 

Margaret and her necklace
When Coel and Krueger appeared to a big round of applause, Barbara showed us the gorgeous turquoise jewelry she was wearing, saying, "I got tired of Margaret upstaging me with her jewelry!" Coel, who always wears fantastic turquoise jewelry, patted the necklace she was wearing. "I priced necklaces like this in Santa Fe, and I thought [making a raspberry sound] I can make that! The toughest part is getting the stones to lay just right." Barbara shook her head and exclaimed, "See? She upstaged me again!" Yes, it would be another fun evening at The Poisoned Pen!

This isn't the first time Coel and Krueger have appeared together, and they make quite the team. Coel urged Krueger to speak first, and he asked us, "How many of you have never read a William Kent Krueger novel?" A few (very few) people raised their hands. With a twinkle in his eye, Krueger pointed at one raised hand and said, "Get out!" to laughter from us all. Before he could say anything else, Barbara urged him to "mention your Edgar" and Krueger told us that his excellent book, Ordinary Grace (one of my Best Reads this year) had won the Edgar award for best mystery novel a few months previously. "I've also been nominated for another three awards at the upcoming Bouchercon-- thank you, Lord!-- and I just got word that Windigo Island debuted at #12 on the New York Times Bestseller List. I'm feeling pretty good tonight!"

"We aren't afraid to tackle serious social issues."

William Kent Krueger and Margaret Coel
Once all the applause died down, Krueger settled down to talk books. 

While writing Ordinary Grace, Krueger spent a lot of time preparing audiences for something different from his Cork O'Connor books. He was unsure that anyone would want to publish the book based on the reaction to the fourth book he wrote, a non-Cork book called The Devil's Bed. "Anyone here read The Devil's Bed?" Several hands were raised. "Oh my God! All of the people in the entire universe who've read that book are in this room tonight! The book didn't do well, not because it wasn't good, but because readers weren't interested in anything that didn't have Cork O'Connor in it. That's why I spent a lot of time preparing readers for Ordinary Grace.

"We haven't been afraid to tackle significant social issues," he said, with Coel nodding in agreement. "Any time that the native community is an element of your work, you're going to be dealing with significant social issues. I love that we can do this. I can stand up on a soapbox and spout off without giving the other side an opportunity for rebuttal. And I've learned that when you couch that issue within the context of a really compelling mystery, people are going to read you. They wouldn't read a polemic, but they'll read your mystery and hopefully be enlightened by what's there.

"Windigo Island is probably the most issue-oriented of all the books I've written. A few years ago I began working significantly with a couple of Native American organizations in the Twin Cities area-- the Ain Dah Yung Center in St. Paul which gives Native street kids a home, food, job training and education; and the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center in Minneapolis does pretty much the same thing for Native American women who are single parents and homeless. They also work with Native women with substance abuse issues, and they work with women who are involved in sex trafficking and want to get out of that life.

"I was horrified to learn that the Twin Cities is one of the largest urban areas in the United States involved in the trafficking of vulnerable women-- a large number of whom are Native. The people in those organizations asked me if I could write a story to bring this to people's attention. How could I say no?

Available Now!
"Windigo Island is one of the darkest books I've ever written," said Krueger. "At the heart of the book is the trafficking of these very young, very vulnerable women."

When Barbara asked him, Krueger explained, "A windigo is a creature out of Ojibwa myth. A cannibal giant, a beast with a heart of ice with an insatiable hunger for human flesh. In myth, the windigo used to be a human being who, through his greed, grew into this monstrous creature. And the only way to defeat a windigo-- in this traditional myth-- is to become a windigo yourself. Once you have defeated the windigo, there is magic involved in bringing yourself back to the size of a human being. If the ceremony doesn't work, you are doomed to be forever a windigo."

Silence reigned throughout the bookstore. I would imagine more than one person shivered, including Margaret Coel, who then began to talk about her book. 

We got a special deal!

"The Ojibwa people you've talked about are related to the Arapaho that I write about," Margaret said, looking over at a nodding Krueger. "And I like what you said before-- a lot of my books arise from something I've come across that's completely shocked me. That's what happened with my book Night of the White Buffalo. In fact we're launching the book here tonight!"

"Not only are we launching it," Barbara Peters said, "we're launching it five days early."

Available Now!
"That's right," Coel said. "Everyone else has to wait until September 2."

"'cause Barbara can do that!" Krueger added to everyone's laughter. 

Barbara then went on to explain that we could get our Margaret Coel books signed early after an agreement made with the publisher. As soon as the event was over, The Poisoned Pen staff had to hide all the remaining copies away until the official launch date. Peters had to sign an affidavit to that effect-- a benefit of having a bookstore owner who once was a lawyer.

Coel had learned that the extremely rare birth of a white buffalo was akin to the Second Coming to the Arapaho because the birth was the fulfillment of a promise from the Creator. The author spends a lot of time on the Wind River Reservation. They have friends up there who own a buffalo ranch, and Coel goes out with her friends to feed the buffalo. 

"Buffalo are the most incredible creatures," Coel said. "I knew I'd have to write about them one day. The thing I like about them is that they are totally, totally wild creatures. You cannot domesticate them. Do not mess with them because you're not going to change them. They have no interest in being anything other than what they are.

"When the news gets out, 100,000 people can come to the birth of a white buffalo. These people come from all over, and they can cause a lot of damage to roads, fences, pastures-- but they also leave donations for the care of the animal. It's possible to receive $1 million in donations. However, I did have a rancher tell me one time that if one was ever born on his land, he'd kill it. Because-- well, would you really want to have 100,000 people trampling all over your ranch?"

"Hmmm... a million dollars? I don't know..." Krueger quipped.

So Coel's Night of the White Buffalo is centered on the birth of one of these rare creatures, and the murder of a rancher that follows soon after. Of course, Father John and Vicky become involved.

Peters added that she thought Coel's newest book was one of the most interesting in the series, and that she also really liked the weaving together of Catholicism and Arapaho traditional beliefs. "I also thought that this book was one of the most interesting from Father John's point of view. Unfortunately we can't tell you about the really special little plot, lest you think it's all about the white buffalo!"  Margaret smiled and said, "If you read the book, and I hope you will, I want you to know that it's based on a true story."

"I love the energy of Henry in this book."

Krueger then told us a bit more about the plot of Windigo Island. The book begins at Lake Superior with the body of a young woman washing up on the shore of a place the local Ojibwa call Windigo Island. It concludes in Williston, North Dakota, an oilfield boomtown that greatly resembles the old Wild West. Thousands of workers have poured into this small town, and these men have lots of money and nothing to spend it on... except alcohol, drugs, and prostitution. Cork's old friend Henry Meloux asks him to investigate the death of the young woman, and because the safety of Henry's family is at stake, Cork agrees. Henry is a very old Ojibwa medicine man, and he plays a significant part in Windigo Island. He's an old man on a very dangerous hunt. "I love the energy of Henry in this book," Krueger said.

William Kent Krueger and Margaret Coel
Since Henry admits to being one hundred years old in the book, Peters asked the author how long this character would remain in his Cork O'Connor books. "Henry can live forever-- or as long as I have a contract!" Krueger proclaimed. "I've made a committment to myself that the series will end when Henry takes to the Path of Souls. That will be the way the series ends."

Peters then asked Coel about the Jesuit mission in her series. "In real life, the Jesuits pulled out three years ago. But this is fiction, so Father John is still there. He will have to leave sometime, and that may be the way to end the series. I still have two books left in my contract."

"We don't want to hear that this is all about your book contracts!" Barbara protested. "These are people we're following!"

The authors then turned to talking about characters. Krueger commented that there are two types of characters: static and dynamic. Static characters never change-- like Sherlock Holmes or Kinsey Milhone. Dynamic characters do change. 

"The shocking things that can happen in these books have to change the characters in some way," Coel said. Krueger agreed. "Writing about dynamic characters keeps the series fresh for me."

Mention was made of Coel's departure from her Wind River mysteries-- two books featuring Catherine McLeod, an investigative reporter in Denver, Colorado. Coel really liked that character, but the publisher didn't, and her fans were wanting more Wind River books--"But that doesn't mean that I won't bring her back!" Coel warned us.

The three also talked for a minute about how white authors were writing Native American-themed crime fiction but Native American writers weren't, which really gave me food for thought.


Margaret told us, "I love writing about the Arapaho. Because of their location, they were involved in everything. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid out on the Wind River Reservation. Cassidy also did a bit of ranching up there when he was trying to go straight. There's a rumor up on the rez that Cassidy buried some treasure on reservation land." So... guess what figures into her next book? That's right-- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!

Krueger is working on what he calls a companion to Ordinary Grace, even though the setting and characters are not the same. After the publishing debacle of The Devil's Bed, he could only write Cork O'Connor books, but Ordinary Grace has opened a lot of doors for him. The work-in-progress is called This Tender Land and involves the coming home of World War II and Korean War veterans... "That great wounding of us as human beings and the question of how we heal."

Peters mentioned Poisoned Pen Press author Reavis Z. Wortham, and Krueger immediately exclaimed, "He's a fantastic new author!" before talk turned to collaboration. Coel jokingly told Krueger to send Cork down to the Wind River Reservation to work with Father John, but both agreed that collaboration wasn't for them. Both think it's too hard because their writing is "just too personal."

"One reason why I like what I do is that I make all the decisions. If I wanted to collaborate, I'd go to Hollywood," Krueger said.

Coel talked about a collaborative effort she'd done with other writers. Everyone had been given a list of characters to use as they wrote their alternating chapters. Unfortunately the author ahead of her brought in a completely different batch of characters which left Coel floundering a bit. "I'd bring in a character with an Uzi to get rid of all the new characters," Krueger joked, which made Margaret burst into laughter.

Krueger only thinks about Cork O'Connor when he's working on a Cork O'Connor book. Coel will finish a book around November 1, take the holidays off, and then go back to writing in January. "I think about Father John and Vicky a lot," she said.

When the evening drew to a close, Barbara Peters suggested the next time the authors appeared at The Poisoned Pen that they should bring photographs of the places they write about. Everyone-- Peters, Coel, Krueger, and everyone in the audience-- thought it was a great idea.

Once again, Denis and I left our favorite bookstore with smiles on our faces and plenty of book talk on the drive home. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Aquatic High Jump Weekly Link Round-Up

I've pretty much gotten acquainted with my new computer. I've resigned myself to some of the "improvements" in the operating system, and I've found workarounds for others because I refuse to toe the line for a bossy machine. I've started calling it "Roadrunner" because of its speed, and perhaps it says something about our sometimes contentious relationship when I say that I've always had a soft spot for Wile E. Coyote.

Other than running errands and a very enjoyable trip to The Poisoned Pen, the past week has been quiet, with me still spending time in the pool during the afternoons. I've read two "A+" books out there in the past few days: Reavis Z. Wortham's The Rock Hole (which is comparable to William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace) and Gregg Hurwitz's Don't Look Back. I was so engrossed in both books that when Denis came out to ask me questions, he startled me so badly that I almost jumped out of the pool from a seated position, hence the title of this round-up!

And speaking of round-ups, I have a huge herd of links raising quite a dust cloud. Head 'em up! Move 'em out!

Books, Movies & Other Interesting Tidbits

Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones

Book Candy
  • Well, it's not exactly "book" candy, but I love this knife block. It makes me want to swash my buckle!
  • I love the artwork created by Patrick Girouard for the 2013 Illinois Library Association's summer reading project.
  • 10 beautiful Australian libraries.

I  ♥  Lists

That's all for this week. Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll have a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure. Have a great weekend!

    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay

    First Line: It was just by chance he turned down Orchard Street and saw the window when he did.

    Ray Kilbride has come home to Promise Falls, New York, to take care of the details of his recently deceased father's funeral and will-- and to see that his schizophrenic brother Thomas has the proper care. It's not going to be easy. Thomas spends almost his entire day on his computer logged into Whirl360, his self-appointed task to memorize the details of every street in every city.

    When Thomas sees what he believes is a woman being murdered in an apartment window in Manhattan, he insists that Ray do something about it. Ray is well-acquainted with his brother's illness, and he knows that if he doesn't make at least a token effort, Thomas will make life impossible. But what Ray doesn't realize is that, by going to the art supply store and stopping by a Manhattan apartment building, the world is going to come crashing down on the two Kilbride brothers.

    Many readers think of thrillers as the wham, bam, thank you ma'am genre, with everything sacrificed to an adrenaline-charged plot. That's not the type of thriller that Linwood Barclay writes. Trust Your Eyes is filled with wonderful, nuanced characters and a thick, meaty plot that knows when to take it nice and easy.

    Thomas's illness is sympathetically and realistically drawn. His memory is prodigious, his routines are set in stone, he can be charming, frightening, infuriating, and endearing. No less real is his older brother Ray, who's made a home and a career for himself away from his father and brother. When he finally loses patience with his brother, it's all right, because we've lost patience, too. When he feels shame for giving in to his anger and feeling of hopelessness, we do, too. Barclay has drawn us completely into the lives of these two brothers.

    And these two (basically) ordinary men are rapidly drawn into an extraordinary, life-threatening situtation. The author has created a tightly woven mesh of subplots. There's the worry about Thomas and his obsession with Whirl360 and talking to people who aren't there. Did he really see a murder? Who was murdered? Who are the killers? Is there something wrong with that riding lawnmower at the bottom of the slope? So many questions unfold themselves and spread their wings that you'd think I'd get hopelessly lost. But no, I didn't because I was so immersed in the story that I remembered every character, every plot twist, and I read faster and faster to see how Barclay would bring all these elements back into some sort of resolution.

    The mood in Trust Your Eyes gets increasingly tense, and it was good to see the flashes of Barclay's humor that I enjoyed so much in his Zack Walker book, Bad Move. The author knew to place his hilarity in just the right spots so it would surprise a laugh out of the reader and relieve the almost unbearable tension.

    I don't know what kept me away from Linwood Barclay's books for so long, but I do know one thing: I've got a lot of good reading ahead of me as I catch up. 

    Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay
    ISBN: 9780451414175  
    Signet © 2013
    Mass Market Paperback, 592 pages

    Thriller, Standalone
    Rating: A
    Source: Paperback Swap


    Scene of the Climb by Kate Dyer-Seeley

    First Line: My fingernails dug into the soggy dirt as my body lurched closer to the sheer cliff face.

    Unemployed journalist Meg Reed is camping out on her best friend's couch when she gets the opportunity to apply for a position at Northwest Extreme magazine there in Portland, Oregon. Lying through her teeth about her outdoor sports skills, she gets the job and eventually finds herself scrambling up steep trails to cover a reality TV adventure show.

    Climbing a 2,000-foot mountain peak absolutely terrifies her, but when she witnesses someone plummet off the cliff, Meg discovers that she has a murder to investigate-- because the killer thinks Meg has seen too much.

    This is the beginning of a new cozy series that shows a lot of promise. Meg is a good-hearted, and sometimes bumbling, young woman fresh out of college who's always wanted to follow in her talented father's shoes as an investigative journalist. Her best friend Jill has a nice apartment in Portland and is more than willing to put up with Meg's slovenly ways. There are suitable romantic interests for our heroine, and Dyer-Seeley has created a cast that should stand up well to future adventures even if it does contain my least favorite character-- the impossible mother.

    The Portland setting with nearby sites and hiking trails made me want to go up there and experience it for myself. Scene of the Climb is a nice blend of the traditional cozy and an adventure with an edge to it, and the series should do well-- especially if a couple of things are addressed.

    Meg being a couch potato who has to go out there and learn outdoor skills is going to have a wide appeal among readers; however, I found two of her behaviors to be rather disturbing. She doesn't seem to have a complete understanding of the word "deadline" although she certainly has time to go out for coffee or meals with her friends. This might just mean that I haven't fully recovered from being one of those Type A personalities, but the other thing well and truly drives me up a wall. Without going into too much detail, she knows that her life is in danger, but instead of exercising at least a bit of common sense and caution, Meg just keeps going out to test her luck.  Not. Good.

    The other thing that bothered me is something I normally do not mention, but I feel I have to here. Incorrect punctuation a time or two, the wrong word in a sentence... if they happen less than five times in a book, I ignore it. But it happened over and over and over in this book. The proofreading and editing were abysmal. Countless instances of missing or extra words, "air" being used instead of "err," and a scene in which Meg was called first thing in the morning to meet someone who was an hour away. Meg left almost immediately, but as she was driving non-stop to her destination, the sun had set. 

    As I said before, this series has a lot of promise. I'm hoping that Meg locates her common sense, and that the next book is edited more carefully because then the promise will begin to be realized.

    Scene of the Climb by Kate Dyer-Seeley
    ISBN: 9780758295316
    Kensington © 2014
    Mass Market Paperback, 299 pages

    Cozy Mystery, #1 Pacific Northwest mystery
    Rating: C+
    Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen. 

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014

    September 2014 New Mystery Releases!

    I'm not ready for summer to be over yet, so I'm glad the heat lingers here in Phoenix. (Perfectly suited to this climate, aren't I?) I've been out in the pool all summer with a succession of tall, cold drinks and books so good that they make me lose track of time. If Denis and I ever win the lottery and get this pool heated, my toes would undoubtedly be permanently webbed!

    As usual I've been keeping track of crime fiction that will be released throughout the month of September. I'm sharing my list of my top dozen picks along with all the information you'll need to find them at your favorite book procurement locations. Book synopses are courtesy of Amazon. Happy Reading!

    === September 1 ===

    Title: The Edison Effect
    #4 in the Professor Benjamin Bradshaw historical mystery series set in early 1900s Seattle, Washington
    ISBN: 9781464202520
    Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
    Paperback, 250 pages

    *Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

    Synopsis: "Inventor Thomas Alva Edison is also a ruthless businessman, intent on furthering his patents and General Electric and beating rivals like Nikola Tesla and Westinghouse. Edison has agents in place in Seattle but he’s come himself in pursuit of a mysterious invention lost in 1901 in Elliott Bay. When Edison asks for information, few refuse. But not University of Washington Professor Benjamin Bradshaw who’s earned a reputation as a private investigator where science—electricity—is concerned. Bradshaw hopes that the lost device, one conceived in anger by an anarchist and harnessed for murder, will elude Edison’s hired divers. _x000D_ Soon, one December morning, 1903, the Bon Marché’s Department Store electrician is found dead in the Men’s Wear Window clutching a festoon of Edison’s new holiday lights. Bradshaw believes Edison had set a dangerous game in motion. Motives multiply as the dead man’s secrets surface alongside rivalries at the Bon Marché. Bradshaw, his sleuthing partner Henry Pratt, and the Seattle PD’s Detective O’Brien pursue leads, but none spark Bradshaw’s intuition. His heart is not in the investigation but in a courtship that will force him to defy his Catholic faith or lose his beloved, Missouri. Then a crossroads in the case forces him to face his personal fears and his first professional failure. Whatever the outcomes, his life is about to change…."

    === September 2 ===

    Title: Marked Down for Murder
    Author: Josie Belle (AKA Jenn McKinlay)
    #4 in the Good Buy Girls cozy series set in Virginia
    ISBN: 9780425271360
    Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
    Mass Market Paperback, 272 pages

    *Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

    Synopsis: "Between spending Valentine’s Day with her sweetheart, Sam, and shopping upcoming Presidents’ Day sales with the Good Buy Girls, everything is coming up roses and bargains for Maggie Gerber. But when the mother of Maggie’s nemesis comes to town, things stop looking so rosy. Summer’s mom is hoping to set her spoiled daughter up with Sam, and she’ll do whatever it takes to make the match happen.

    When Maggie heads to her romantic rival’s house to put a stop to the scheming, she discovers Summer standing over a dead body—holding a weapon. As much as Maggie would love to see Summer get her just desserts, she can’t shake the feeling that the meddling menace is, in fact, innocent. Now Maggie and the Good Buy Girls will have to sort through racks of suspects to find a killer—or Summer will wind up getting a truly raw deal

    Title: Night of the White Buffalo
    Author: Margaret Coel
    #18 in the Wind River series set in Wyoming
    ISBN: 9780425264652
    Publisher: Berkley Hardcover
    Hardcover, 304 pages

    Synopsis: "A mysterious penitent confesses to murder, and then flees the confessional before Father John can identify him. Two months later, Vicky discovers rancher Dennis Carey shot dead in his truck along Blue Sky Highway. With the tragic news comes the exposure of an astonishing secret: the most sacred creature in Native American mythology, a white buffalo calf, was recently born on Carey’s ranch.

    Making national headlines, the miraculous animal draws a flood of pilgrims to the reservation, frustrating an already difficult investigation. As visitors throw the reservation into turmoil, Vicky and Father John try to unravel the strange events surrounding both Carey’s murder and the recent disappearances of three cowboys from his ranch.

    It could be coincidence, given the nomadic life of the cowboy trade, but when one of them fails to appear in court to testify on an assault charge, Vicky wonders if Arnie Walkfast and his Arapaho buddies are guilty of more than just assault. And at the back of Father John’s mind is the voice from the man in the confessional: I killed a man

    Title: The Wolfe Widow
    Author: Victoria Abbott
    #3 in the Book Collector cozy series set in New York state
    ISBN: 9780425255308
    Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
    Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages

    Synopsis: "As Thanksgiving approaches, Jordan Bingham is grateful for her job researching rare books for Vera Van Alst, the infamous curmudgeon of Harrison Falls, New York. But when an uninvited guest makes an appearance, much more than dinner is disrupted—and Jordan is thankful just to be alive…

    Vera Van Alst doesn’t normally receive visitors without appointment, but she agrees to see the imperious Muriel Delgado upon arrival. Shortly thereafter, Jordan is told that her position is being terminated. Evicted from the Van Alst House, Jordan is determined to find out what hold Muriel has over her erstwhile employer.

    It seems Muriel has designs on Vera’s money and property—not to mention a particular interest in her collection of Nero Wolfe first editions. When Jordan discovers a deadly connection between Muriel and the Van Alst family, it’s up to her to put the house in order and stop a killer from going back to press.

    Title: The Low Road
    Author: A.D. Scott
    #5 in the Highland Gazette historical series set in 1950s Scotland
    ISBN: 9781476756165
    Publisher: Atria Books
    Paperback, 336 pages

    *Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

    Synopsis: "The fifth gripping and beautifully written entry in A. D. Scott’s mystery series finds star journalist John McAllister caught up in the razor-gang warfare of 1950s Glasgow.

    A. D. Scott’s extraordinary mystery novels have been called “beautifully written and atmospheric” (New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen), “a visit with an old friend in front of a fireplace” (Suspense Magazine), and “must-reads” (Booklist).

    John McAllister has come to a crossroads, torn between the stability of his life in the Highlands and the thrill of working as a renowned journalist in Glasgow at a national daily newspaper. Can he accept that this exciting new phase is over? That it is time to settle down?

    Before he knows it, McAllister is in the midst of a fast-paced hunt for his good friend Jimmy McPhee, who is involved in a blood feud with a murderous razor gang. With a fiercely ambitious young crime reporter, he tracks down Jimmy, but the gang finds them. Only when another violent clash breaks out do they have the chance to escape. Soon McAllister finds himself in danger of losing everything he holds dear—his mother, his fiancée, his friends, his integrity, and his life.

    And Joanne Ross, recovering from horrific injuries, senses McAllister’s ambivalence about their forthcoming marriage, and she knows she can only wait for him to return to her.

    From the wilderness of the Highlands to the desolation of Glasgow’s slums, book five in Scott’s mystery series is a portrait of extremes: between city and glen; between the rule of law and the laws of the streets; between safe, enduring love and unreasoning passion

    === September 4 ===

    Title: Sinking Suspicions
    #3 in the Sadie Walela series set in Oklahoma
    ISBN: 9780816531073
    Publisher: University of Arizona Press
    Paperback, 224 pages

    Synopsis: "Suspicions run high when murder mixes with identity theft in the latest installment of the popular Sadie Walela mystery series set in Cherokee Country. No sooner does Sadie embark on an unexpected business trip to the beautiful island of Maui, when her long-time neighbor, Buck Skinner, a full-blood Cherokee and World War II veteran, goes missing and becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a petty identity thief.

    Iconic lawman Lance Smith joins a community-wide search, but Buck is nowhere to be found. As evidence mounts against her old friend, Sadie rushes to return home to help—only to be delayed by an island-wide earthquake and her own sinking suspicions.

    A diverse cast of characters weave together a breathless story of murder, thievery, and the toll of war on the human spirit. In her effort to restore balance to her neighbor’s life, Sadie not only uncovers the truth, but unravels much more than a murder.

    === September 15 ===

    Title: Darkness, Darkness
    Author: John Harvey
    #13 in the Charlie Resnick police procedural series set in England
    ISBN: 9781605986166
    Publisher: Pegasus
    Hardcover, 352 pages

    Synopsis: "Thirty years ago, the British Miners’ Strike threatened to tear england apart, turning neighbor against neighbor, husband against wife, father against son—enmities which still smolder.

    Charlie Resnick, recently promoted to Detective Inspector and ambivalent, at best, about some of the police tactics used in the Strike, had run an surveillance-gathering unit at the heart of the dispute.

    Now, in virtual retirement, the discovery of the body of a young woman who disappeared during the Strike brings Resnick back to the front line to assist in the investigation into the woman’s murder—forcing him to confront his past—in what will assuredly be his last case . . . as well as John’s Harvey’s final Charlie Resnick novel

    Title: The Coniston Case
    Author: Rebecca Tope
    #3 in the "Simmy" Brown series set in the Lake District of England
    ISBN: 9780749016159
    Publisher: Allison and Busby
    Hardcover, 352 pages

    Synopsis: "Simmy is busy at her flower shop in the run up to Valentine’s Day. She has a number of anonymous messages and flowers to deliver around the Lake District, but finds these messages are not welcome upon delivery.

    One recipient, Mr. Hayter, has been reported missing and the other, Tim Braithwaite, is reported dead. Meanwhile, Simmy’s friend Kathy has come to stay. She has been worried about her daughter, Joanne, who has fallen in love with her university tutor. Kathy confronts Baz and finds he hides a sinister side, which leads to trouble

    === September 16 ===

    Title: The Stone Wife
    Author: Peter Lovesey
    #14 in the Peter Diamond police procedural series set in Bath, England
    ISBN: 9781616953935
    Publisher: Soho Press
    Hardcover, 368 pages

    *Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

    Synopsis: "At a Bath auction house, a large slab of carved stone is up for sale. At the height of what turns into very competitive bidding, there is a hold-up attempt by three masked robbers. They shoot and kill the highest bidder, a professor who has recognized the female figure carved in the stone as Chaucer’s Wife of Bath. The masked would-be thieves flee, leaving the stone behind.

    Peter Diamond and his team are assigned to investigate, and the stone is moved into Diamond’s office so he can research its origins. The carving causes such difficulties that he starts to think it has jinxed him. Meanwhile, as Diamond’s leads take him to Chaucer’s house in Somerset, his intrepid colleague Ingeborg goes undercover to try to track down the source of the handgun used in the murder.

    === September 23 ===

    Title: Silent Murders
    Author: Mary Miley
    #2 in the Roaring Twenties historical mystery series
    ISBN: 9781250051370
    Publisher: Minotaur Books
    Hardcover, 320 pages

    Synopsis: "Vaudeville actress Leah Randall took on her most daring role ever when she impersonated missing heiress Jessie Carr in order to claim Jessie’s inheritance in The Impersonator. Now that the dust has settled around that tumultuous time in her life, Leah has adopted Jessie’s name as her own and moved to Hollywood, where she's taken a modest but steady job in the silent film industry.

    Jessie’s thrilled when Bruno Heilmann, a movie studio bigwig, invites her to a party. She’s even more delighted to run into a face from her past at that party. But the following day, Jessie learns that sometime in the wee hours of the morning both her old friend and Bruno Heilmann were brutally murdered. She’s devastated, but with her skill as an actress, access to the wardrobes and resources of a film studio, and a face not yet famous enough to be recognized, Jessie is uniquely positioned to dig into the circumstances surrounding these deaths. But will doing so put her own life directly in the path of a murderer?

    Title: To Dwell in Darkness
    #16 in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James police procedural series set in England
    ISBN:  9780062271600
    Publisher: William Morrow
    Hardcover, 336 pages

    Synopsis: "Recently transferred to the London borough of Camden from Scotland Yard headquarters, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his new murder investigation team are called to a deadly bombing at historic St. Pancras Station. By fortunate coincidence, Melody Talbot, Gemma's trusted colleague, witnesses the explosion. The victim was taking part in an organized protest, yet the other group members swear the young man only meant to set off a smoke bomb. As Kincaid begins to gather the facts, he finds every piece of the puzzle yields an unexpected pattern, including the disappearance of a mysterious bystander.

    The bombing isn't the only mystery troubling Kincaid. He's still questioning the reasons behind his transfer, and when his former boss—who's been avoiding him—is attacked, those suspicions deepen. With the help of his former sergeant, Doug Cullen, Melody Talbot, and Gemma, Kincaid begins to untangle the truth. But what he discovers will leave him questioning his belief in the job that has shaped his life and his values—and remind him just how vulnerable his precious family is."

    === September 24 ===

    Title: Bright Hopes
    Author: Annette Mahon
    #5 in the St. Rose Quilting Bee cozy series set in Arizona
    ISBN: 9781432829506
    Publisher: Five Star
    Hardcover, 310 pages

    Synopsis: "Loud explosions are ruining sleep for hundreds of Scottsdale residents in the hot July nights, including members of the St. Rose Quilting Bee. Things become serious when Maggie's police officer son is injured by one of the blasts. Then a church member dies when an explosion topples a roof onto the lounge chair where he lies sleeping. The women think bored teenagers may be playing with fireworks, but Edie is thinking terrorists. The others scoff, until a bomb at a power substation throws the entire neighborhood into darkness. Suddenly terrorism is a real possibility."

    For me, this is a really good mix of favorite authors and intriguing new ones. I can't wait to dig in-- and I hope I've managed to list a title or two that made it to your own Gotta Get lists!