What better way to get into a hot summer read than to sample a few lines? For fun, this time around I asked several authors to share their favorite lines from their latest works. Here’s what they had to say.
Husband and wife co-authors Mary Reed and Eric Mayer are known for their Lord Chamberlain series (Poisoned Pen Press), which came about “in an unusual way,” says Reed. http://home.earthlink.net/~maywrite/
“Master anthologist Mike Ashley rang up one day and asked if we could provide a short story for an historical mystery collection he was editing to a tight deadline. Eric had long been interested in the Byzantine Empire and had a number of books about it, so we had research material already to hand. We decided on our protagonist and something of his history and so it A Byzantine Mystery appeared in due course in Mike’s The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits. Other short stories about John followed and one day we thought why not a novel? We did not anticipate writing more than one book about John but as you see…”
The latest, Murder In Megara is book 11(!) in the series – and the first to have a non-number title. The series involves investigations by John, Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian, and is set largely in and around Constantinople. The number titles were taken from the children’s counting rhyme, and when we ran out of lines we invented a couple of our own.”
They keep writing the series, she says, since “it is such a vivid period with scope for lots of interesting and unusual or quirky characters. The history of the time is full of incident and we have used real persons to great effect. There is also Procopius’ scandalmongering in his Secret History, which has provided inspiration for plots, and the city itself is a character in its own right.
“We chose the period because it had then not been utilized often—if at all—for a mystery, and the nature of society at the time, with its striking contrast between luxurious court life and the grinding poverty outside the palace ground walls, as well as the actual historical events of the time, gave us plenty of scope for a number of unusual and striking developments in plot and incident.”
About the Book:
John, former Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian, has been exiled to a rustic estate in Greece. But exile proves no escape from mystery and mayhem. Before long he finds himself accused of blasphemy and murder. Now a powerless outsider, he must find his way out of the labyrinth of lies and danger into which he has been thrust, before disaster strikes and exile turns into execution.
The only difference between court and countryside is that those with evil intent would not be dressed in silk garments, though their blades would be as sharp.—From Murder In Megara.
Reed and Mayer also have a new book set in 1941 Britain. The Guardian Stones by Eric Reed (Poisoned Pen Press) was inspired by their long interest in the civilian experience during World War II.
“A remote village was chosen as being a place where we could introduce such diverse topics as herbal medicine, folklore, and persuasions or as some call them spells,” says Reed. “We’re currently writing the sequel, set in Newcastle on Tyne in December 1941. So from a remote part of the countryside Grace Baxter, one of the protagonists in the first novel, finds herself living in a grimy industrial city working flat out clock-round at the war effort—but darker doings just along the street show crime has not taken a holiday for the duration of hostilities.”
About the Book:
Summer, 1941, Britain. Children are vanishing from a remote Shropshire village. Is it the powers of an ancient stone circle at work, or a modern predator? But when retired American professor Edwin Carpenter, pursuing his study of standing stones, visits the village and discovers bloody clothing in the forest, it is clear there is a more sinister explanation.
Evil doesn’t need a reason.—From The Guardian Stones.
Terrie Farley Moran’s latest, Read to Death, is the third book in the Read ’Em and Eat cozy mystery series. It will be released July 5. It was inspired, she says, by the fact that “everyone has secrets and fears discovery.” http://terriefarleymoran.com/
About the Book:
After a lovely excursion, the Cool Reads/Warm Climate book club returns to the café for lunch and a book discussion, but the group falls silent after Oscar is found dead in his van. The sheriff’s deputies have some questions of their own for the group, and if the ladies don’t find some answers soon, the next book they read might be from a prison library.
Oscar didn’t seem to notice that his plaid shirt was misbuttoned. He reached for the longer hem, grabbed at the fabric and began polishing the lenses of his sunglasses. He glanced at Ophie. “Hey girl, come if you’re coming.”
Ophie stood stock still until she realized that Oscar had no intention of helping her climb into the van. Then she pulled herself up two high steps, settled into a seat and gave a honey cheerful “Hi y’all” to the other occupants.—From Read to Death.
Joanna Campbell Slan is author of two mystery series, including the Kiki Lowenstein scrapbook series and the Cara Mia Delgatto series. Her latest short stories featuring the two characters are included in the just released anthology, Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime. The anthology features short, “summery” mysteries from a dozen authors. http://joannacampbellslan.com/.
In “Cara Mia Delgatto and the Empty Nest,” Cara Mia is involved in an event inspired by the local news where a man was charged with standing on a corner and selling turtle eggs.
Poppy got to his feet and rubbed a fist against his eyes. “Good gracious above. Why does anyone do such harm, one to another? Gives me a belly-ache. I done been through war and watching what humans do in the name of God and justice, and I can tell you, granddaughter, I still can’t explain what moves us to sink lower than the lowest creature that crawls this here earth. I surely cannot.” –From “Cara Mia Delgatto and the Empty Nest.”
Slan says the second story, “Kiki Lowenstein and the Shark Bait,” harkens back to a college boyfriend, who was a member of the Hingham Yacht Club.
“I never thought I’d say this—and I’ll deny it to the death if you quote me—but some memories are best forgotten.”
“Nana once told me that a smile is the best fashion accessory anyone ever invented.” –Both quotes from “Kiki Lowenstein and the Shark Bait.”
The anthology also includes my story, “Surf’s Up,” which features my part-zombie character Becca, from my book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie. This time Becca, her cousin, Carm, and their mothers head to Florida to solve a murder mystery centered around a miniatures contest.
Joanna, Imelda, and Manuela had taken their time following us. Now Joanna set her small building at the end of the table with the number twelve in front of it. “Voting doesn’t begin for a half hour.” She sniffled and cleared her throat. “I still wasn’t sure I should bring this.”
“Oh, you definitely had to,” Carm said. “Everyone should see it!”
I agreed. “Your cousin Dean would be happy you entered. I think it’s a great idea for everyone to see it here—maybe even the person who killed him.”—From “Surf’s Up” by C.A. Verstraete in Happy Homicides 3: Summertime Crime. http://cverstraete.com.
Robert W. Walker, author of the Inspector Ransom series, Tres Blue and dozens of other novels, enjoy blending the supernatural with a touch of mystery or horror. His latest, Gone Gorilla (coming out June 21st, Imajin Books), is the first in his new Chicaghosts series of novellas. It will be followed by The Spiral Hole and Goat Busters. http://www.robertwwalkerbooks.com.
About the Series:
Walker calls the series “tongue-in-cheek horror and supernatural urban fantasy all rolled up into one.” It follows the exploits of four retired Chicago detectives called upon to deal with the oddball, weird, bizarre cases no one else in Chicago wants to know about. The fun takes us through all of Chicago’s famous and infamous places where hauntings and strange happenings just seem to happen. While the Old Fart Squad leading up the investigations lends a great deal of humor to the horror, trust me, there will be blood.
The noise that echoed through the corridors of the museum this minute of the night sounded as if Sue had roared, but Sue was in the opposite direction from which the howling and smashing had come. Immediately upon hearing the strange, terrifying, resounding crash, the night watchman, Joel Stein, all 67 years of him, quaked. Never in all his years at the museum had he ever heard such a ruckus. He knew the recorded sound of the giant dinosaur named Sue. That was only played during visiting hours, so this was not that. The sound was not emanating from the dark mummy section, not among the other corridors. No, it was definitely coming from the Animal Kingdom Hall. But what could it possibly be? Who or what could be behind it?
—From Chicaghosts, Gone Gorilla.