Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Anthony Award Nominations for 2018

I am so excited to share the nominations for the 2018 Anthony Awards.  It's gratifying to see some of my choices making the list.  There are so many deserving authors and mystery/crime community members for these awards, and I wish they all could be nominated and win.  It's going to be a special night in September when I am sitting at the awards ceremony at Bouchercon to hear the single name called who has been selected from so many.  Here are the nominees and the work for which they are nominated.

Best Novel:

The Late Show by Michael Connelly
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz 
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
Glass Houses by Louise Penny
The Force by Don Winslow

Best First Novel:

Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
The Dry by Jane Harper
Ragged; or, The Loveliest Lies of All by Christopher Irvin
The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka

Best Paperback Original:

Uncorking a Lie by Nadine Nettmann
Bad Boy Boogie by Thomas Pluck
What We Reckon by Eryk Pruitt
The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day
Cast the First Stone by James W. Ziskin

Bill Crider Award for Best Novel in a Series:

Give Up the Dead (Jay Porter #3) by Joe Clifford
Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosch #20) by Michael Connelly
Y is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone #25) by Sue Grafton
Glass Houses (Armand Gamache #13) by Louise Penny
Dangerous Ends (Pete Fernandez #3) by Alex Segura

Best Short Story:

The Trial of Madame Pelletier by Susanna Calkins from Malice Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical
God’s Gonna Cut You Down by Jen Conley from Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash
My Side of the Matter by Hilary Davidson from Killing Malmon
Whose Wine Is It Anyway by Barb Goffman from 50 Shades of Cabernet
The Night They Burned Miss Dixie’s Place by Debra Goldstein from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, May/June 2017
A Necessary Ingredient by Art Taylor from Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea

Best Anthology:    

Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash, Joe Clifford, editor
Killing Malmon, Dan & Kate Malmon, editors
Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, Andrew McAleer & Paul D. Marks, editors
Passport to Murder, Bouchercon Anthology 2017, John McFetridge, editor
The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, Gary Phillips, editor

Best Critical/Nonfiction Book:

From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon by Mattias Boström
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
Chester B. Himes: A Biography by Lawrence P. Jackson
Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction by Jessica Lourey


Best Online Content: 

Writer Types Podcast  
Do Some Damage: An Inside Look at Crime Fiction 
Jungle Red Writers 
Dru’s Book Musings 
BOLO Books

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Author Guest Post, Tracee de Hahn: The Importance of Place (Switzerland!)

Author Tracee de Hahn is a guest on the Reading Room today.  She is author of the new Agnes Luthi mystery/crime series, an immediate favorite of mine.  The series debuted last year with Swiss Vendetta and quickly set the pace for exciting adventure and malicious murder in the beautiful setting of Switzerland.  A Well-Timed Murder was released in February of this year, and continues the excellence of the first novel.  My reviews of both books can be found at


                                         Springtime in Switzerland!
                                             Tracee de Hahn 

As readers and writers we’ve probably all heard the question: how important is place in the book? Since I started my professional life as an architect, the answer is always: incredibly important. I like to think that the story couldn't happen without that exact place. After all, how many people live in a château set on the edge of a deep lake where an ice storm can cut them off from help? That’s certainly what happened in Agnes Lüthi’s first adventure, Swiss Vendetta.

What about the death of a watchmaker in a valley filled with watchmakers (dare we say jealous watchmakers?). This won’t happen in just any valley in the world. It can only happen in Switzerland (and in A Well-Timed Murder).

Since the Agnes Lüthi series is set in Switzerland, where I’ve been fortunate to spend many years, I think constantly about the importance of place. Now that spring has arrived, and appears to want to stay, I’m thinking about Switzerland in the context of the seasons. A Well-Timed Murder lets Agnes leave behind the desperate cold of a cataclysmic ice storm and enjoy the prospect of warmer weather. Farmers start to think about releasing cows from their winter barns, and eventually driving them up into the high summer pastures. Unfortunately for Agnes, this also means muddy fields where evidence is diluted by rain. At the same time, the smoke from a wood burning stove might also be evidence! Thank goodness there’s still a bit of a chill in the air.

My husband is Swiss and in the years we lived there, and when we return for our annual visit, we try to stay true to seasonal delights. However, there are a few heresies. I can’t visit without going to the Castle of Gruyeres, and since the cheese is produced in the village at the bottom of the fortress we have to indulge in a fondue. Hot melted cheese in July? Why not (just don’t tell any Swiss friends).

Agnes’s world centers on her village of a few hundred families and her work in Lausanne. Her village is typical of the French speaking part of the country, nestled in the hills that rise from Lac Léman (also known as Lake Geneva), and populated with a mix of traditional wood chalets complete with window boxes and red geraniums, more modern stucco structures, and perhaps a few VERY modern poured-in-place concrete buildings. As much as the Swiss cherish their history, they are on the cutting edge of contemporary architecture, using exquisite concrete, wood and, of course, large windows to enjoy the ever-present spectacular views.

Agnes’s work takes her across the country in pursuit of criminals. Lausanne, where I’ve spent most of my time, is an enchanting truly Swiss city set on steep hills facing the French alps and the lake. In A Well-Timed Murder Agnes ventures to Basel and the outward face of Switzerland – that of watchmaking. There’s nothing like the protection of tradition to rile people to murder.

So, when the question is posed: Does place matter? I can only say absolutely, yes! 

                                              Fondue at the Castle of Gruyeres

Bio Info for Tracee:
Tracee de Hahn was born in Missouri and grew up in Kentucky, later spending several years in Europe. Her time in Switzerland was the inspiration for the Agnes Lüthi mystery series published by St. Martin’s Press / Minotaur Books. The first book, Swiss Vendetta, published in 2017, was followed by A Well-Timed Murder which Publisher’s Weekly calls “an intriguing sequel…. Dynamic setting and fascinating glimpse into the Swiss watchmaking world.” Learn more about Tracee at She is on social media at FB TraceedeHahnWriter; Twitter LuthiMysteries; Instagram TraceedeHahn; and Pinterest LuthiMysteries.


Friday, May 4, 2018

Gia and the Black Widow by Kristi Belcamino: Reading Room Review

Oh, Gia Santella, you so keep me on pins and needles. You can go from zero to being in a life and death situation in the blink of an eye. And, I love every minute of your crazy, dangerous life. Kristi Belcamino packs far more action into the Gia Santella #5 than a reader would ever expect with the setting of an ocean cruise. Of course, this author has never been guilty of a dull moment. Gia is a creation of nerves living on the outside, and proof that playing nice is only one option.

Still struggling with her grief from her boyfriend's death, Gia has shut herself away from the outside world. But, her closest friend Dante is determined to snap her out of that dark place and sends her on a two-week Mediterranean cruise. Luxury accommodations, relaxing by the pool, visiting exotic places is a perfect prescription to cure Gia of her morose mood. And, it's as if the gods of happiness are finally shining on Gia when she meets a new friend before the ship even sails. Natasha is the young bride of an older, insanely rich gentleman and is immediately drawn to Gia as another young, fun-loving companion. They hit it off so well that Gia begins to wonder if having a female friend is something she has needed in her life. Of course, trouble and Gia always seem to travel together, and it's not long before the bluebird of happiness drops a dollop of doo-doo on Gia's head. Natasha's sugar daddy disappears, and when Gia tries to help, the friendship that started off with a bang becomes strained. The twists that end up with Gia's life in danger (granted, a normal place for our Gia) are deliciously played out to reveal a dark force on a merciless mission. 

Kristi Belcamino never wavers in her ability to tell a story that pops and her talent in creating thrilling characters. The Gia Santella series is one that has captured a special place in my favorite reading. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Merry Month of May: New Books

May has shaped up to be a sweet month of reading indeed.  Of course, I mean sweet in the sense of lots of great murder, mayhem, and crime.  As I'm still typing with my broken hand and cast, I will suffice it to say that I think more than a few of these titles will be a welcome addition to spring reading. There are some authors I will be reading for the first time, as it's so hard to get to all of the amazing writers and stories.  And, there will be some old friends, such as Elly Griffiths (the 10th anniversary book of the Ruth Galloway series) and Matthew Pearl (a follow-up to his popular Dante Club).  I have already reviewed Elly's The Dark Angel here on the blog and will be posting it again before the book's release date, and, of course, the book is outstanding. Two authors are on their second book in their series, Kristen Lepionka and Susan Shea, and I loved both of the first books last year.  First up is a list of books and then a few descriptions to whet the appetite.

May 2018  

Alter Ego by Brian Freeman (May 1st)

Dressed for Death in Burgundy: A French Village Mystery by Susan C. Shea (May 1st)

What You Want to See: A Roxane Weary Novel by Kristen Lepionka (May 1st)

See Also Proof: A Marjorie Trumaine Mystery by Larry Sweazy (May 1st)

Gale Force by Owen Laukkanen (May 8th)

Beyond the Pale: A World of Spies Mystery, #1 by Clare O’Donohue (May 8th)  *

Warlight: A Novel by Michael Ondaatje (May 8th)

The Retreat by Mark Edwards (May 10th)

The Dark Angel (Ruth Galloway Mystery) by Elly Griffiths  (May 15th)

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin (May 15th)

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (May 29th)

The Dante Chamber by Matthew Pearl (May 29th)

After finding herself mixed up in a murder investigation the previous Summer, Katherine Goff’s life simply has not been the same. Her husband has been in the US recording a new album, the Burgundy region locals are finally starting to see her as a real neighbor, and Katherine has even started helping out with “tourist” excursions. It seems she’s finally found her place in the small community of Reigny-sur-Canne.

But when Katherine stumbles across a body in the local museum during a tour, she finds herself caught up once again in a whirlwind of gossip and speculation. When the police zero in on her friend Pippa as a suspect, Pippa and Katherine team up to find the real killer and clear her name.

However, the more clues they discover, the more the real killer wants them off the trail. When Katherine and Pippa start receiving threats, they must decide what they are more afraid of—the police getting it wrong, or possibly becoming the killer’s next targets.

Marin Strasser has a secret. Her fiancé thinks her secret is that she’s having an affair, and he hires P.I. Roxane Weary to prove it. Then, just days into the case, Marin is shot to death on a side street in an apparent mugging. But soon enough the police begin to focus on Roxane's client for Marin’s death, so she starts to dig deeper into Marin’s life―discovering that the elegant woman she’s been following has a past and a half, including two previous marriages, an adult son fresh out of prison, and a criminal record of her own. The trail leads to a crew of con artists, an ugly real estate scam that defrauds unsuspecting elderly homeowners out of their property, and the suspicious accident of a wealthy older woman who lives just down the street from where Marin was killed.

With Roxane’s client facing a murder indictment, the scammers hit close to home to force Roxane to drop the case, and it becomes clear that the stakes are as high as the secrets run deep.


Dickinson, North Dakota, 1965. It's a harsh winter, and freelance indexer Marjorie Trumaine struggles to complete a lengthy index while mourning the recent loss of her husband, Hank. The bleakness of the weather seems to compound her grief, and then she gets more bad news: a neighbor's fourteen-year-old disabled daughter, Tina Rinkerman, has disappeared. Marjorie joins Sheriff Guy Reinhardt in the search for the missing girl, and their investigation quickly leads to the shocking discovery of a murdered man near the Rinkermans' house. What had he been doing there? Who would have wanted him dead? And, above all, is his murder connected to Tina's disappearance?

Their pursuit of answers will take Marjorie all the way to the Grafton State School, some six hours away, where Tina lived until recently. And the information she uncovers there raises still more questions. Will the murderer come after Marjorie now that she knows a long-hidden secret?

In the high-stakes world of deep-sea salvage, an ocean disaster can mean a huge payoff--if you can survive the chase.

McKenna Rhodes has never been able to get the sight of her father's death out of her mind. A freak maritime accident has made her the captain of the salvage boat Gale Force, but it's also made her cautious, sticking closer to the Alaska coastline. She and her crew are just scraping by, when the freighter Pacific Lion, out of Yokohama, founders two hundred miles out in a storm.

This job is their last chance--but there is even more at stake than they know. Unlisted on any manifest, the Lion's crew includes a man on the run carrying fifty million dollars in stolen Yakuza bearer bonds. The Japanese gangsters want the money. The thief's associates want the money. Another salvage ship, far bigger and more powerful than Gale Force, is racing to the rendezvous as well. And the storm rages on. If McKenna can't find a way to prevail, everything she loves--the ship, her way of life, maybe even her life itself--will be lost.

It's an easy, twenty-minute job. At least, that's the pitch from Interpol to professors Hollis and Finn Larsson. Going undercover to procure a priceless rare book manuscript means an all-expenses paid trip abroad. A little danger thrown into the mix may even spice up their marriage.

Soon after landing in the Emerald Isle, they realize the job is anything but easy. Their contact is a no-show and they're left with fifty thousand euros, a death threat, and some serious questions. Ducking and dodging their way across Ireland, Hollis and Finn must hunt down the priceless manuscript and a missing agent while trying to stay one step ahead of a dangerous and unknown enemy.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

It’s not every day that you’re summoned to the Italian countryside on business, so when archaeologist Angelo Morelli asks for Ruth Galloway’s help identifying bones found in the tiny hilltop town of Fontana Liri, she jumps at the chance to go, bringing her daughter along with her for a working vacation. Upon arriving, she begins to hear murmurs of Fontana Liri’s strong resistance movement during World War II and senses the townspeople are dancing around a deeply buried secret. But how could that be connected to the ancient remains she’s been studying?

Ruth is just beginning to get her footing in the dig when she’s thrown off-guard by the appearance of DCI Nelson. And when Ruth’s findings lead them to a modern-day murder, their holidays are both turned upside down, and they race to find out what darkness is lurking in this seemingly picturesque town.

An obsessive young woman has been waiting half her life—since she was twelve years old—for this moment. She has planned. Researched. Trained. Imagined every scenario. Now she is almost certain the man who kidnapped and murdered her sister sits in the passenger seat beside her.

Carl Louis Feldman is a documentary photographer who may or may not have dementia—and may or may not be a serial killer. The young woman claims to be his long-lost daughter. He doesn’t believe her. He claims no memory of murdering girls across Texas, in a string of places where he shot eerie pictures. She doesn’t believe him.

Determined to find the truth, she lures him out of a halfway house and proposes a dangerous idea: a ten-day road trip, just the two of them, to examine cold cases linked to his haunting photographs.

Is he a liar or a broken old man? Is he a pathological con artist? Or is she? In Paper Ghosts, Julia Heaberlin once again swerves the serial killer genre in a new direction. You won’t see the final, terrifying twist spinning your way until the very last mile.

The year is 1870. Five years after a series of Dante-inspired killings disrupted Boston, a man is found murdered in the public gardens of London with an enormous stone around his neck etched with a verse from the Divine Comedy. When more mysterious murders erupt across the city, all in the style of the punishments Dante memorialized in Purgatory, poet Christina Rossetti fears her brother, the Dante-obsessed artist and writer Gabriel Rossetti, will be the next victim.

Christina enlists poets Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson, and famous scholar Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, to assist in deciphering the literary clues. Together these unlikely investigators rush to unravel the secrets of Dante's verses in order to find Gabriel and stop the killings. Racing between the shimmering mansions of the elite and the dark corners of London's underworld, they descend further and further into the mystery. But when the true inspiration behind the gruesome murders is finally revealed, Christina realizes that the perpetrator has even bigger and more horrific plans than she had initially thought.