Monday, December 09, 2019

Wrecked by Joe Ide

First Line: "Do you know what Abraham Lincoln said after a six-day drunk?" Jimenez said.

Isaiah Quintabe-- IQ for short-- is learning that success is no cure for loneliness. A series of successful solutions to high profile cases means that he can't even go to his neighborhood store without being recognized. His sidekick, Dodson, is now his partner and has decided that he's going to straighten out the company finances. No more chickens, sweaters, or lawn mowing in exchange for IQ's services.

But this is a concept that IQ just can't get his head around. When a young artist asks for his help in finding her mother, it's not the fee he's looking to earn, he wants the human connection. Unfortunately, that human connection leads him right into the middle of a deadly paramilitary organization, and everyone's life is now in danger.

Before I go any farther, I'll issue a warning. If you cannot tolerate or have a low tolerance for torture, you might want to give Wrecked a miss. None of the scenes are graphic-- Ide knows how to let your imagination supply most of the details-- but neither does he pull any punches in telling readers what happened. I have a high tolerance for such things, but even I was uncomfortable at times. Also, the torture is not gratuitous; it illustrates just how bad the bad guys are... and that IQ isn't Superman. But enough of that.

One of the reasons why I enjoy this series so much is that Joe Ide takes me right into the heart of the 'hood. It's a place I'd never think of going on my own, but I'm in good hands with him. I see how people live, how they think, how they talk, and how they behave. My entire visit is an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes I'm disgusted. Sometimes I get tears in my eyes. And sometimes I laugh myself silly... but that happens when I read books set elsewhere. You see, there are a lot of similarities between the 'hood and the "normal" parts of town. Some folks just don't want to admit it.

Wrecked isn't just about torture. It's also about love. How does IQ fare with the woman he loves? You'll have to read the book. How does Dodson fare with his ladylove when he keeps doing things she disapproves of? You'll have to read the book. Joe Ide's one-line descriptions may be the soul of wit and observation, but it's his characters that I love the most, and boy, there's a character in this book that made me laugh so much I was almost howling. Junior is a bad guy. A very bad guy. But he's also Mrs. Malaprop on steroids and methamphetamines. How Junior made me laugh! He's almost worth the price of admission all by himself.

But there's an engrossing story here, too. The bad guys were loathsome, and I couldn't wait to see how IQ and his posse made them pay for their crimes. What a ride! Fortunately, I don't have long to wait for the next book in the series. Long live IQ!

Wrecked by Joe Ide
eISBN: 9780316509497
Mulholland Books © 2018
eBook, 352 pages

Private Investigator, #3 IQ mystery
Rating: A+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.


Sunday, December 08, 2019

Win an Autographed Book in My Holiday Giveaway!

Cold, snowy weather is one of the absolute best times to curl up with a good book, so I couldn't resist this opportunity to give all of my blog readers the chance to win one.

Let's see what book that's going to be, shall we?

No, you're not going to win my old license plate (pretty cool, huh?) or the little trees, or any of the needlepoint at the back of the shelf. If you enter my giveaway and your name is drawn, you will win an autographed copy of Paige Shelton's first Alaska Wild mystery, Thin Ice! And as a bonus-- since I couldn't resist buying one-- you will also receive the wooden saguaro cactus ink pen you can see leaning against the book. Just a little souvenir from Arizona for you.

How can you win? Let's get down to the rules.


  • Send an email to me at kittlingbooks(at)gmail(dot)com.
  • The subject header of the email must read "Thin Ice Giveaway".
  • The body of the email must contain your name and mailing address.
  • One entry per person, US residents only.

Couldn't be simpler, could it? But beware! If your email does not contain the correct subject header or your name and mailing address, you will not be entered in the giveaway.


  • All entries must be received by Sunday, December 15, at noon Arizona time.

~~~Making Myself Perfectly Clear~~~

  • The winner will be notified by email (and blog post) on Monday, December 16.
  • Your names and mailing addresses are destroyed immediately after the drawing. I hate spam and I'm not about to add to it!
  • The drawing is for one autographed copy of Paige Shelton's Thin Ice and one wooden saguaro cactus ink pen.

You should have the book by the new year, so enter now!

Friday, December 06, 2019

A Want to Not Have to Weekly Link Round-Up

I've been sprung! My ankle monitor has been removed! I'm no longer on house arrest! Oops. Perhaps I should take a moment to curb my enthusiasm...

Okay. All better now.

Wednesday night marked the first time since forever that I went somewhere for a non-medical reason. Denis and I made our way to The Poisoned Pen Bookstore to see Paige Shelton and Mark de Castrique, two of my favorite authors. When Barbara Peters, the bookstore owner, saw me, she exclaimed, "You're back!"

The event was fun and informative (as usual), and afterward, I broke a years-long tradition. You've never seen me in a photo with any of the authors I've met. Being an only child and an only grandchild, I've hated having my picture taken since I could form a coherent thought. But this was a special occasion, and-- besides-- another favorite author, Wendall Thomas, wanted Paige to give me a hug for her since she couldn't be here for the event. There had to be photographic proof, right? So here it is.

And for any of you who may wonder... I'm not vertically challenged; I was sitting down. After this photo was taken, Paige had a lot more books to sign, so Denis and I found ourselves talking with Jenn McKinlay, another of our favorite people. I got a hug from her, too (and was told to go home and put my leg up when she learned we were leaving). I also spoke a few words with and shook hands with Mark de Castrique who was on his way to the signing table, and I got a few more welcome backs from others.

Oh boy, is it ever nice to go somewhere because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to!

On to the links!

►Books & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • On designing floating buildings with an eye to the marine species living underneath, or an upside-down artificial reef.
  • A farewell to Ming, the Siberian-Bengal tiger who spent three years in a Harlem apartment.
  • The best places around the world to see bats (by the millions).
  • A new study reveals how the last woolly mammoths died out 4,000 years ago. That's after the Egyptians built the pyramids.
  • On an active volcano, a northern fur seal population is booming.
  • Connecting with coyotes on the prowl. 
  • Compassionate divers gently coax a reticent octopus to trade a flexible plastic cup for a protective shell. (I'm becoming more and more fascinated by these creatures!)
  • A rescued dog comforts a tiny foster kitten during a bath.

  • ►The Happy Wanderer◄
  • A sleeping chateau, untouched since the Revolution, is for sale in France.
  • Germany's Waldsassen Abbey is the fairy tale library you need to visit.
  • The crime fiction of Rangoon
  • How Taiwan has achieved one of the highest recycling rates in the world.

  • ►Fascinating Folk◄
  • Why Henry VIII blamed his impotence on his wife's looks. (Uh... because he was spoiled rotten, king, and could get away with it?)
  • Iowan John Sandford read 126 books from the Cedar Rapids library one summer. Now he's a bestselling author of more than fifty thrillers.
  • How Mary Roberts Rinehart, queen of the mystery novel, was very nearly murdered.
  • M is for missing Sue Grafton.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers: A crime reader's guide to the classics. 
  • Billy Connolly: "Going to the library changed my life. It may even have saved it."

  • ►I ♥ Lists◄
  • A personal history of gothic fiction in ten books.
  • Five mystery series that will take you on a tour of the South Pacific
  • Crime novels for angry women in an angry world. 
  • Eleven books like Where the Crawdads Sing.
  • Top ten books about Europe.
  • Top ten books about black radicalism.
  • Eleven thrilling John Lawton books that will make your pulse race.
  • Eleven new cozy mysteries to crack open this fall (and winter).

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

    Have a great weekend, eat plenty of good food-- and read something fabulous!

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Black Out by John Lawton

First Line: In the London borough of Stepney very little remained of Cardigan Street.

It's 1944, and the Luftwaffe is making its final assault on an already battered London. When children playing in an East End bomb site discover a severed arm and call the police, Scotland Yard's Detective Sergeant Frederick Troy knows the arm isn't the work of a bomb.

Troy manages to link the arm to the disappearance of a refugee scientist from Nazi Germany, and that's when America's newest intelligence agency, the OSS, decides to get involved. Troy soon finds himself up to his eyebrows in secrets, corruption, and mysterious women as he tries to solve this case.

If I'd paid a little more attention to the clues planted in the synopsis of this book, I would not have purchased it-- but more on that a little later.

Black Out covers 1944-1948 in London, and as I have been enjoying a few mysteries set in that same time period, I decided to see what this book was all about. For me, there was very little real historical flavor to the setting outside of blackout curtains, potholes in the roads, and having the occasional bomb land somewhere nearby. The major reason why I should have paid more attention to the synopsis is that I do not care for spy thrillers, and that is precisely what Black Out turned out to be. Paraphrasing the words of one of the characters: Just give me an old-fashioned murder any day, thank you very much.

However, it wasn't just the spy game element of the book that left me cold; the characters did, too. The two token women, Tosca and Brack, played their jolly nymphomaniac and tall, cool femme fatale roles to perfection, but nothing they did really surprised me. Constable Wildeve was my favorite of the lot, and he deserved a drawerful of commendations for putting up with Sergeant Troy, who seemed to believe that the young man was psychic.

Troy is the son of a titled Russian émigré, and it's a combination of this background coupled with how his schoolmates and others have reacted to it that has made him distrustful. He holds himself apart and does quite a good job of behaving like a cold fish. Troy also is the sort of police officer that I don't particularly care for. He's all about the chase, regardless of whom he puts at risk. It's not so bad when the only person in danger is himself, but he willfully throws other people under the bus, too. I like my coppers with a bit more compassion because it isn't just about the chase.

So... my opinion of Black Out isn't all that great. I can see that it is fast-paced and well-written, and it does have a story that held my interest, but Troy just isn't my sort of policeman. Keep in mind that your mileage may certainly vary. Now I just have to remind myself to pay closer attention to those synopses!

Black Out by John Lawton
eISBN: 9780802195845
Grove Press © 1995
eBook, 343 pages

Historical Mystery, #1 Inspector Troy mystery
Rating: C+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

On My Radar: Paige Shelton's The Stolen Letter

After yesterday's review of Thin Ice, this post makes it an unofficial Paige Shelton Week, and I can't think of a nicer person to spend a week with. When I learned that Paige had another Scottish Bookshop mystery coming out, you know what I did. Yes, one of my little happy dances. Scotland. Bookshop. Paige. How can you go wrong?

Let's learn a bit more about the book that will be released in April 2020.

Available April 7, 2020!

"Delaney Nichols is confident she’s doing what she loves—case in point, just one day after returning from her fabulous European honeymoon, she’s eager to get back to the Cracked Spine, the bookstore where she works. But as she disembarks her bus and hurries toward the shop she and another woman collide, sending a stack of books the woman is carrying to the ground. 

Delaney’s hapless victim’s name is Mary and the two women can’t help but notice that they bear an uncanny resemblance to one another. According to Mary, they both also look like the long-beheaded Mary Queen of Scots. Even stranger, Mary believes she is the reincarnation of the Scottish queen. But peculiar as Delaney’s doppelganger is, she doesn’t have time to dwell on it: on her arrival to the bookshop, she learns the Edinburgh city council wants to close the Cracked Spine, citing code violations, and she’s determined to stop them.

But when Mary’s husband dies in a car explosion—and Delaney learns he was the very member of the city council who proposed that the city take a closer look at the bookshop’s construction—she starts to wonder if her meeting with Mary wasn’t an accident. Edinburgh has become as filled with intrigue and deception as any European court, and Delaney is determined to get to the bottom of this royal mystery."

Scotland. Bookshop. Paige. AND Mary Queen of Scots? Sign me up for a copy of The Stolen Letter! (Isn't the cover great?)

Monday, December 02, 2019

Thin Ice by Paige Shelton

First Lines: The good thing about being suddenly overcome with fresh terror is that you forget everything else you were afraid of. At least temporarily.

Known to the world as thriller author Elizabeth Fairchild, Beth Rivers was held in a van for three days by her kidnapper. Just managing to escape the nightmare, Beth has barely healed from her injuries, but she knows she has to get away. Using the knowledge she's picked up in her research, she escapes to a small isolated town in Alaska that should be a safe place to hide until the police catch her kidnapper.

Beth soon finds out there's a learning curve to living in such an isolated spot. The hotel that looked so good on the internet is actually a halfway house. There are few places where cell phones will work or where you can use the internet. She's come ill-equipped for the climate, too-- and everyone seems to be running or hiding from something. Be that as it may, Beth feels safer there than she has since she was kidnapped.

As Beth gets to know the town's residents, her memories of her time in the van begin to return... and she learns that a local woman's death is thought to be a murder. Can this thriller writer avoid getting involved in discovering the truth?

This first book in a new series for author Paige Shelton is quite a departure from the cozies she's written, and for me, it's a roaring success. (For you fans of her Farmer's Market, Country Cooking School, Dangerous Type, and Scottish Bookshop mysteries, Thin Ice may not be a cozy, but it's still a mystery that you should be able to enjoy.) Shelton's descriptions of Alaska drew me right in, and I particularly loved a scene that involves a bear and a moose.

Benedict House-- the hotel that's actually a halfway house for women-- will be a rich source of characters for future books, and speaking of tales, the woman who runs the place is full of them all by herself.

We aren't given Beth's story all at once, and when pieces are doled out, that heightens both the suspense and the readers' worry for Beth's health. Beth isn't a complete stranger to small-town living. When she's asked to work on the town's "newspaper," she realizes that the building will be a good location for her own writing as well as a source of information, and if gossip is what she wants, the local knitting classes should be a rich vein to tap. However, I think she's forgotten how nosy villagers can be. Just how long will it be before everyone knows what really happened to her?

I'm looking forward to finding out as this series progresses. The story, the setting, and the characters all have me waiting impatiently for the next book. Hurry up, book two!

Thin Ice by Paige Shelton
eISBN: 9781250295224
Minotaur Books © 2019
eBook, 288 pages

Amateur Sleuth, #1 Alaska Wild mystery
Rating: A
Source: Net Galley


Winter Grave by Helene Tursten

First Line: Her heart was pounding and her stomach contracted with fear.

Twenty-eight-year-old Detective Inspector Embla Nyström is still recuperating from her recent brush with a killer. Those injuries prevented her from defending her title of Nordic light welterweight boxing champion. She doesn't have time to dwell on that, however, when a little girl goes missing.

The last person the missing girl was seen with was a mentally disabled teenager who gave her a ride home from school. The investigation is made more difficult because the boy will hardly say a word. Public tempers are running high, and when another child goes missing and a police officer is found dead, all hell is about to break loose. Embla and her fellow detectives definitely have their hands full. It's absolutely crucial to find those missing children, and time is running out.

Tursten has created an excellent mystery involving the disappearance of two young children that shows us how easy it is for public opinion to find a scapegoat... and how some people have no business being around children at all, let alone being parents.

For those readers still missing Tursten's Irene Huss, she does make a token appearance. And while we're on the subject of characters, the lives of Embla's fellow officers are fleshed out more, and that adds a lot to the story without bogging down the pace.

I'm having a difficult time warming up to Embla. She's constantly judging people on what they eat, on their weight, how they dress, how they smell. I know human beings do this without even realizing it for the most part-- and to be honest, Embla doesn't voice many of her opinions-- but I do get tired of reading about them. She's abrasive and she knows what she wants. A lawyer in Winter Grave learns that the hard way.

Embla has recurring nightmares about the disappearance of her best friend Lollo when they were both teenagers. Embla feels a great deal of guilt because she hindered the police investigation. Winter Grave ends on a cliffhanger (I can hear groans from some of you) that leads me to believe that we may find out what happened to Lollo in the next book in this series. Even though I don't really care for Embla, I have to admit that I am interested in learning what happened to Lollo. We shall see...

Winter Grave by Helene Tursten
eISBN: 9781641290777
Soho Crime © 2019
eBook, 336 pages

Police Procedural, #2 Embla Nyström mystery
Rating: A-
Source: Net Galley

Sunday, December 01, 2019

November 2019 Additions to My eBook Stockpile

We've had two major storms roll through Phoenix lately. We've gotten rain here in the valley, and the northern part of the state has gotten a great deal of snow. The second storm had winds strong enough to down huge trees a few miles north of here, and it was loud enough to wake me up at 3 AM. What did I do when I couldn't go back to sleep? I reached for my Kindle and read until the worst of the storm had moved through.

As a reader, I can't beat my Kindle for its convenience, and I've never been left hanging because it's lost its charge. I can adjust the light, I can adjust the size of the print, and the Kindle takes up a lot less space in my purse when I'm out and about (because I'm not about to leave Casa Kittling without a book). No wonder I like to have a nice stockpile of titles at my beck and call!

The following are the titles that I added to my Kindle in the month of November. I've grouped them according to genre or subgenre, and if you click on a title to find out more about it, you will be taken to Amazon US-- so be careful if you live in another country and want to buy one of the titles.

Let's see what tickled my fancy last month...

~~~Short Stories~~~

Lost Property by Colin Cotterill. Part of the Jimm Juree series set in Thailand.

~~~Genealogical Mystery~~~

The Merchant's Daughter by M.J. Lee. Part of the Jayne Sinclair series set in England.


The Wreck of the Mary Deare by Hammond Innes. Set in various locations.


~~~Amateur Sleuth~~~

Sudden Death by David Rosenfelt. Andy Carpenter mystery set in New Jersey.
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke. Jay Porter series set in Texas.

~~~Police Procedural~~~

Reckless Creed by Alex Kava. Ryder Creed mystery set in Alabama.
I Will Have Vengeance by Maurizio de Giovanni. Commissario Ricciardi mystery set in Italy.

~~~Private Investigator~~~

Accustomed to the Dark by Walter Satterthwait. Joshua Croft mystery set in New Mexico.
The Hanged Man by Walter Satterthwait. Joshua Croft mystery set in New Mexico.
A Flower in the Desert by Walter Satterthwait. Joshua Croft mystery set in New Mexico.

~~~Historical Mystery~~~

The False Inspector Dew by Peter Lovesey. Set in England and at sea.
A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan. Set in England.
On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service by Rhys Bowen. A Lady Georgie mystery set in Italy.

The next two months should be interesting due to the gift cards I'll probably receive. I always save a portion of those gift cards for the more expensive titles on Kindle that never go on sale, so who knows what I'll be reporting in the near future!