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.


February 13th, 2009

Left Coast Crime is just around the corner and here are some of the attendees I hope to hook up with!

A Canadian who writes about Los Angeles, Pat Brown creates a little LA MISCHIEF. LAPD homicide detective David Laine has trouble coming out of the closet. What’s worse is that a potential significant other is either the prime suspect in the investigation of a sadistic killer or the next victim. If you want to see Detective Laine’s hot ride, go on Brown’s website and take a gander at the ’56 Chevy sport coupe.   

A Hawaii Five-O nominee at LCC Hawaii is DEATH OF A COZY WRITER. In her debut novel, G.M. Malliet takes us to England where a millionaire mystery writer rewrites his life by announcing his elopement to a possible murderess. An heir falls when smashed with a medieval mace, and Detective Inspector St. Just is called in to break through the English reserve of the wealthy to solve the crime.

ANGEL FALLS, the third Mike Travis mystery by Baron R. Bircher, is also in the running for the Hawaii Five-O award. What can draw Travis away from his scuba charter business and back to being a detective? The disappearance of a teenage girl. Designer drugs, violent sex and his own demons turn paradise into a tropical hell. Bircher, who lives in Hawaii, is tempting LCC attendees to try two Kona lethal brews: Killer Coffee and Tropical Noir.

Where there’s A TRACE OF SMOKE, there’s fire. We’ll all have to wait until May to get copies of Rebecca Cantrell’s novel of 1931 Berlin, a crime reporter with a cross-dressing brother and an orphan who thinks they are both his parents. Hannah Vogel, devastated by her brother’s murder, conducts an investigation that goes to the top ranks of the Nazi party.

Fast forward 7 years to Jerusalem in 1938. WWII is on the horizon, but American graduate student Lily Sampson is busy with an important archeology dig. When murder, theft of artifacts and no help coming from British authorities, Sampson must conduct her own investigation. A FLY HAS A HUNDRED EYES and Aileen Baron has a terrific mystery.

Attorney Ken Isaacson makes his fiction debut with SILENT COUNSEL. When a wealthy man commits a hit-and-run, he contacts attorney Scott Heller. Keeping the man’s identity secret while negotiating a plea agreement brings in the question of attorney-client privilege.

Out just in time for Left Coast Crime is Sue Ann Jafferian’s latest, BOOBY TRAP. In the fourth outing, plus-size Odelia Grey is after the Blond Bomber, a serial killer who targets busty blonds. She would never suspect the plastic surgeon except that the info came straight from the doctor’s mother. Can she “bust” the killer? A titillating read (I did NOT just say that!).

Final note: Congrats to Murder Circle favorite Julie Hyzy for the Lovey win for STATE OF THE ONION, as well an award in the Thriller category with Michael Black for DEAD RINGER. Good show!

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