July is a banner month in the Liss MacCrimmon world. The paperback reprint of Bagpipes, Brides, and Homicides was released on July 2nd. The newest entry in the series, Vampires, Bones, and Treacle Scones, will be out in hardcover on the 30th. In honor of the occasion, I’ll be putting the names of anyone who comments on this post today and tomorrow (Tuesday and Wednesday) into a hat and picking one to receive an ARC (advance reader copy) of VB&TS. I’ll contact the winner by email on Thursday to get a snail mail address.
I’ll be writing more about the new book on my other two blog dates this month (the 20th and the 30th) but for now I’ll just say it’s a Halloween book and introduces two new characters I’m rather fond of. One is the dog shown on the cover. His name is Papelbon, which made a lot more sense for a New Englander’s pet before the Red Sox traded their closer. You just can’t rely on anything these days!
What I really want to write about today, though, is new stuff from other mystery writers. In addition to reading a great many books for research and the occasional odd non-fiction that won’t end up in one of my books, I read an average of two novels a week, mostly mysteries or romantic suspense, although the occasional non-mystery/suspense historical or romance novel sneaks in. Two of my recent reads are books I haven’t seen mentioned much (or at all) elsewhere.
Left Hanging, Patricia McLinn’s second book in the “Caught Dead in Wyoming” series came out in print from independent press Bell Bridge Books and as an ebook at the end of last month. The first (2012) entry, Sign Off, introduced readers to a television newswoman whose career has just suffered a major setback. Elizabeth Danniher has lost her job in a major market and been given the choice of getting out of the business entirely or taking a job in a small city in Wyoming. If that setup makes you think of Hank Phillippi Ryan’s The Other Woman, there are a few similarities (although Jane Ryland is a print reporter, not TV news) but McLinn has her own strong voice plus plenty of hands-on experience with news people from working for many years at the Washington Post. Tight plotting, wonderful characters, and an excellent feel for life in present-day Wyoming work together to produce an thoroughly enjoyable mystery. Bell Bridge Books, incidentally, has an impressive mystery/suspense list.
My other recommendation is for a new (sort of) series from veteran historical mystery writer Lindsey Davis, best known for her series featuring Marcus Didius Falco. These books, starting with Silver Pigs, are intricately woven, carefully researched and, from the character lists in the frontmatter right through to the end, funny as all get out. What Davis has now done (and which I’m in the process of doing myself) is to take a character from the original series and spin her off into one of her own. In Ides of April, Falco’s adopted daughter, Flavia Albia, takes center stage. She’s been married and widowed, quite a few years have passed since the time frame of the earlier series, and there’s a new Emperor in Rome. That said, Flavia Albia is every bit as compelling a character as Falco was. If you haven’t read the earlier series, don’t worry. The novel isn’t dependent upon knowing past history. On the other hand, for those who are familiar with Falco’s haunts, there are some extra laughs in the way Flavia changes the old stomping grounds. I’m looking forward to more entries in this series.
Finally, a shout out to fellow Maine mystery writer Dorothy Cannell. Three of Dorothy’s books have been newly reissued as ebooks. Down the Garden Path is a stand-alone mystery. The Family Jewels and Other Stories contains eleven short stories, including an Agatha winner. The Spring Cleaning Murders is an Ellie Haskell mystery, part of a terrific humorous cozy series set in England.
So, that’s the “new stuff” for now. Don’t forget to leave a comment so you’ll be entered in the drawing for an ARC of Vampires, Bones, and Treacle Scones.