Murder Circle

Verstraete Shrinks; Buehler Registers; Ryan Reveals Vegas

July 24th, 2009

Want to see your title in miniature print? Chris Verstraete offers “printies,” book covers for the well-read dollhouse. See her work and get your own book on tiny shelves at  What a collectible idea!

Like a bit of mysticism with your mystery? Luisa Buehler offers THE INN KEEPER: AN UNREGISTERED DEATH. Finding the bodies of a runaway slave and a socialite buried in the basement of an old boarding house is strange enough, but when forensics proves the burials were 80 years apart, amateur sleuth Grace Marsden has her 6th case to investigate. Spirits are raised when she spies the specter of the slave haunting the boarding house looking for justice.

What happened in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas! This year’s Public Safety Writers Conference nearly doubled in size from 2008. Videos are up at You Tube, just put in PSWA Conference. Kathleen Ryan posted a terrific description on Women of Mystery

I was in the room when Holli Castillo and W.S. Gager (Wendy) got the first glimpse of their debut novels. Remember that feeling? Castillo is a former New Orleans prosecutor and the author of GUMBO JUSTICE featuring Ryan Murphy, an assistant DA “who likes her Tequila cold and her cops hot.” A CASE OF INFATUATION lets Gager dust off her credits as a newspaper reporter with the creation of crime beat reporter Mitch Malone. Malone has 3 rules: blood & gore on the job doesn’t bother him, he always works alone, and he hates kids. Rules are broken when he is accused of murder and must go into hiding with a preschooler.   

Forensic handwriting expert Sheila Lowe gave a fascinating presentation of cases she’s worked on and samples of killer handwriting. Lowe uses her expertise in DEAD WRITE, the 3rd book in the Claudia Rose series. When a Russian matchmaker hires Claudia to find out why her clients are dying, the court qualified handwriting expert finds dating is more dangerous than ever before.

Keynote speaker Betty Webb told of death threats after the publication of DESERT WIVES. The book, featuring PI Lena Jones, is about polygamy practices in Arizona. Webb has launched a new zoo series with ANTEATER OF DEATH featuring zookeeper Theodora “Teddy” Bentley. Let’s hope there are no death threats from the animal kingdom.

THE POT THIEF WHO STUDIED PYTHAGORAS is another discovery I dug up at the Vegas conference. Author J. Michael Orenduff introduces Hubert Schuze, a man who digs for ancient pottery in the New Mexico soil. The government calls him a pot thief, but he believes in finders/keepers. When a customer comes to his shop asking him to steal a thousand-year-old pot from a museum, things really get dirty.

Civilized society meets the frontier when former president Ulysses S. Grant visits Leadville in Ann Parker’s 3rd novel, LEADEN SKIES. Set in a Colorado mining town, saloon owner Inez Stannert is the secret partner of the local madam. When a prostitute gets murdered, Inez must protect her investment. Even in the old West, girls gotta stick together!  

Juliet Blackwell (AKA half of the sister writing duo, Haily Lind) informs us that a group blog is known as a “grog.” She belongs to one with seven other California writers known as Pens Fatales.  Julie is also going woo-woo on us with SECONDHAND SPIRITS. Her protag is Lily Ivory, owner of a vintage clothing boutique in the Haight-Asberry area of San Francisco (and Julie’s stomping ground).

News on the street is that La-La Land has optioned Sue Ann Jaffarian’s first Odelia Grey mystery, TOO BIG TO MISS. The book’s a winner–how could it miss on the big screen?  

I want to give a shout-out to Murder Circle Favorites who made the short list for B-con nominees. Best novel: THE CRUELEST MONTH by Louise Penny; Best First Novel: PUSHING UP DAISIES by Rosemary Harris and DEATH OF A COZY WRITER by G.M. Malliet; Best Paperback Original: STATE OF THE ONION by Julie Hyzy; Best Short Story: KILLING TIME by Jane K. Cleland; Best Critical Nonfiction Work: ANTHONY BOUCHER: A BIOBIBLIOGRAPHY by Jeffrey Marks; and Best Children’s/YA: CROSSROADS by Chirs Grabenstein. Good luck to all in Indianapolis on Oct. 17.

Hart & Maron on PW’s 2008 List; Webb Goes Wild; M.E. Kemp on a Witch Hunt

December 4th, 2008

The Murder Circle is operational again and there’s lots of news worth telling!

Two Murder Circle favorites were on Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2008: Carolyn Hart for GHOST AT WORK, and Margaret Maron for DEATH’S HALF ACRE. Both books are on my growing Christmas list.

Betty Webb announces: “Surprise! My new mystery is not a Lena Jones book, but the start of a humorous new series, beginning with THE ANTEATER OF DEATH, where a zoo’s innocent Giant Anteater gets framed for murder. California zookeeper Theodora  ‘Teddy’ Bentley must find the real murderer before her furry friend is shipped off to another zoo in disgrace.” Sounds “wild” to me!

She wasn’t a witch, so the DEATH OF A BAWDY BELLE in 1692 Salem gets Hetty Henry and her sidekick, minister “Creasy” Cotton investigating. This is a long-anticipated release from author M.E. Kemp. Keep ‘em coming!   

One lump or two? G.M. Malliet is promoting DEATH OF A COZY WRITER with a spot of tea to keep warm while reading her British mystery. The novel was one of this year’s pick for bestseller by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.

Sean Chercover provides a soundtrack to accompany TRIGGER CITY and BIG CITY BAD BLOOD. The music PI Ray Dudgeon listens to can be downloaded from iTunes.

It’s a CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE confronting journalist Clare Prentice in the latest from Martha Powers. Her assignment is to interview a reclusive novelist, but she’s also on the beat to uncover the murder of her birth mother. 

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest library and ask that they order EDEN PALMS MURDER. This is the request of author Dorothy Francis in support of her publisher, Five Star. Her latest Key West whodunit will make winter feel like a summer vacation.

For those of you who write about law enforcement or any other public safety characters in your novels, check out  PSWA (Public Safety Writers Association) is the organization connecting writers with law enforcement sources. The three-day June conference is in Las Vegas, with a group signing at Cheesecake and Crime afterward. I’ll be seeing Betty Webb and Marilyn Meredith there, as well as my publisher, Billie Johnson of Oak Tree Press. Read the newsletter and learn about us!

And yes, the second of my Christy Bristol Astrology Novels, WHERE ANGELS FEAR, will be out in time for the Left Coast Crime convention on the Big Island, Hawaii.  I’m going to wear a lei, drink Mai Tais and hang out with Victoria Heckman, Simon Wood, Tim Wohlforth and Deni Dietz. Hope to see some of you there! 





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