Hard to believe, it’s been 10 years since Joe DeMarco took the helm at Mysterical-E. And sixteen years since it went online to begin with. I haven’t been writing this column that long, but since we’re marking a decade, here are 10 new and recently published mysteries, stories and collections for you mystery lovers. Enjoy!
CATNAPPED! A Dead End Jobs Mystery – The 13th (!) book in Elaine Viets’ fun series has husband and wife PI team Helen Hawthorne and Phil Sagemont entering the claws-out world of show cats.
When celebrity Trish Barrymore’s no-account husband Mort is found brained by a mahogany cat tower, and Justine, their pedigreed Chartreux show cat, goes missing, Trish calls on Helen and Phil. Despite a ransom note from the catnapper, Trish is still the prime murder suspect in the eyes of the police. As they await the post-Mort-em, it’s up to Helen and Phil to find the feline filcher and let the cat out of the bag.
In Jeff Markowitz’s DEATH AND WHITE DIAMONDS, (Intrigue Publishing) Richie’s girlfriend suggests a romantic getaway, promising him a weekend he will never forget. So why can’t he remember what happened when he finds her lifeless body on the beach? Richie is fairly certain he didn’t kill his girlfriend, but his memory is hazy. One thing, however, is clear. When Lorraine’s body is found, he’s going to be the prime suspect in a murder investigation. If her body is found. Disposing of the body turns out to be harder than Richie could have imagined. Losing it, however, is easy.
Excerpt: “The weather was changing, clouds blocking out the stars, wind whipping the surf into a frenzy. As high tide approached, the beach was nearly gone, just a narrow strip of sand between water’s edge and dune grass, the rhythm of the waves pounding at the shore, washing away the evidence. My attention was drawn to the distant lights of a lonely freighter. There was a chill in the air. I hardly noticed. The knife was still warm in my hand.”
Inspiration: I look for dead bodies. Perhaps that needs an explanation. Whenever I’m travelling or otherwise outside of my normal routine, I have a certain writing exercise that I do. It’s an exercise in finding story ideas. I imagine the dead body and then I write a few sentences to capture the moment. Sometimes the moment becomes a story. Sometimes not. In this case, the moment became the first paragraph of Death and White Diamonds.
FAMILY MATTERS: MURDER NEW YORK STYLE, (Glenmere Press) Anita Page, editor. This third anthology by members of the New York/Tri-State chapter of Sisters in Crime features 20 short stories that take readers to neighborhoods and towns in the greater New York area they might not otherwise know. They were inspired by the city itself as well as by Tolstoy’s observation that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Excerpts: “Millie knew how this one would end. Of course the putz was having an affair, and of course this sobbing, pitiful woman would be just another friggin’ forgiver.” – Ellen Quint, “Crossing the Line.”
“I’m nothing like Woody Allen, and neither is any other guy I know. But it’s true that in New York City, if you walk out the door and spit, you might hit six therapists.” – Elizabeth Zelvin, “Death Will Fire Your Therapist.”
FIFTY MYSTERIES, The Angela Files, (Dogwood Press) is the new collection of 50 fun and clever little short stories featuring recurring characters from the “series” John Floyd wrote for Women’s World Magazine.
For the past 13 years, retired schoolteacher Angela Potts and her former student, small-town sheriff Charles “Chunky” Jones, have bickered, shared rides, and solved mysteries in their small Mayberry-like town. They are definitely an odd couple. She’s high-strung and smart and bossy, and he’s a bit lazy and, shall we say, solution-challenged.
(Congrats also to John for his Edgar Award nomination for his short story, “200 Feet” in the Strand Magazine.)
In B.J. Bourg’s new novel, JAMES 516, (Amber Quill Press), a high-ranking cop is gunned down by a sniper, and London Carter and Bethany Riggs quickly uncover information involving a sex triangle within the sheriff’s office and arrest police sniper Kenneth Lewis for the killing. But when Kenneth commits suicide in police custody and another high-ranking cop is killed two days later, London and Bethany realize the case is far from closed, especially when the mysterious message is found at two of the crime scenes—the words “James 516.”
Inspiration: Over my lifetime, I’ve read some novels featuring military snipers, but I’ve never read one featuring a police sniper so I decided to write one in an attempt to fill this void. Knowing I wanted to write from the point of view of a police sniper, I then needed a formidable antagonist who had a strong enough motivation to start killing cops. I can’t describe the scenario because it would give away the ending, but, as one reviewer put it, “…there is a message here for honesty, integrity, and ethical police work.”
Excerpt: By habit born of a million repetitions, I automatically bolted another round and prepared for a follow-up shot. Almost immediately I heard the boom from a flash-bang and a faint pop from somewhere near the bank. The two bank employees, one a woman and the other a man, were screaming as the entry team forced them to the ground and secured them. The suspect lay in a bloody heap where he had fallen, unaware that he had even died.
The police radio suddenly erupted in confusion. Amidst a dozen voices trying to talk over each other, one frantic voice dominated. “Shots fired! Officer down! Officer down!”
B.V. Larson’s new book, PLAYED TO DEATH (Crimetime Press) features former piano prodigy-turned FBI agent Scott Drayco, who is bequeathed an old opera house where a new client is murdered. Now he and the wary sheriff must navigate a maze of illicit love affairs, and hostility over immigration and coastal development, as they try to catch the killer—and before he is next…
Inspiration: “I enjoy private eye novels, but I’m not as comfortable writing in first-person, so I came up with a ‘private eye procedural’ hybrid via my protagonist Scott Drayco, a former FBI agent turned freelancer who consults with law enforcement agencies. I was entranced after visiting the area, and as far as I know, this is the first mystery novel set there. The opera house and Chopin manuscript arose out of my background in musicology.”
Favorite Quote: “Injustice, large and small, was like sour, moldy bread. Consumed often enough, it brought on hunger for the meat of revenge.”
SHANKS ON CRIME: – Award-winning mystery writer Robert Lopresti collected 13 funny stories about award-winning mystery writer Leopold Longshanks, who is reluctantly dragged into solving crimes. Most of these tales appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, but four are published here for the first time. http://home.nas.com/lopresti/shanksoncrime.html
Favorite Story: My favorite story in the book is “Shanks on the Prowl,” because it was a finalist for a Derringer Award. The first two pages – in which Shanks is awakened by a police officer who tells him his car has been “prowled,” come straight from my life. But, as usual, Shanks’ life becomes more interesting than mine…
Excerpt: Read an excerpt of his “public service” story, “Shanks Holds the Line” at the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine site.
In Terrie Farley Moran’s WELL READ, THEN DEAD (Berkley Prime Crime), two Brooklyn girls find their lives upended and throw caution to the wind, moving to the Gulf coast of south Florida
Inspiration: I have to say I was first drawn to the barrier islands of southwest Florida when I read a book called Shadow Country written by Peter Matthiessen. It is a fictionalized history of life on the Gulf Coast in the decades on either side of the year 1900. Originally I planned to write a short story set in that time and place, but ultimately I decided the location would be best served by a novel set in the present with some history woven through it.
Favorite Quote: “The Read ’Em and Eat Café and Book Corner. Breakfast. Lunch. And all you can read. Anything from Wuthering Heights to the newest graphic novel by Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman was readily available on natural rattan shelves lining two walls. The subdued color of the bookcases complemented the glossy white and yellow café décor. All of our gleaming white tables were decorated with pictures of famous writers along with snippets of their work, melding the café and the book corner perfectly.”
Free Short Mysteries:
* Like short stories? The Texas Gardener’s magazine, SEEDS, edited by short mystery writer Michael Bracken, offers some great short stories in its winter issues. The Jan. 14 issue offers a murder in the garden story, “Killer Tan” by JoAnn Lucas. See archives for all issues:
* King’s River Life online magazine also offers mystery, horror, fantasy and other stories. See Books & Tales tab at http://kingsriverlife.com/.
That’s 10! See you next time!