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Veronica Heley

Veronica Heley has been writing a genial series of British cozies, one a year since 2000.  They star well-to-do middle-aged Ellie Quicke, recently widowed in the first novel, Murder at the Altar (HarperCollins, 2000).  Ellie lives in Ealing, a suburban area west of London.  She has plenty of work on her hands, what with her spoiled daughter Diana and her late husband Frank’s wealthy, difficult Aunt Drusilla.  All Ellie really wants to do is to use Frank’s money to fix up her home and do some charity work with her local parish church, but complications, and mysteries demanding to be solved, keep turning up on her doorstep.  Heley’s latest, Murder My Neighbor (Severn, 9/2011) concerns the disappearance of a former neighbor, Flavia Pryce.  English author Veronica Heley is also the author of historical romances under the pseudonym  Victoria Thorne.

–posted 9/26/2011

Posted September/26/2011

Here comes Stephanie

Explosive Eighteen (Bantam,  11/22 2011)    This time out bounty hunter Stephanie Plum gets tangled in an international murder case because she is the only person who has seen a particular photo—the other person, the one who was carrying it,  is found dead in a garbage can.  The publisher’s description continues “With the help of an FBI sketch artist Stephanie re-creates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she’ll need to watch her back.”  Is there anyone who doesn’t enjoy the exploits of Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger?

–posted 9/21/11

Posted September/21/2011

Phryne Fisher TV series

The Australian Broadcasting Company is adapting Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher murder mysteries for a 13-part television series.  Phryne will be played by Australian actor Essie Davis, perhaps most familiar to Americans as Fern Arable’s mother in the 2006 film, Charlotte’s Web.  The TV series will be called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and will air in Australia in 2012.  How long will it take Masterpiece Mystery to catch them?  Phryne’s fans will be hoping for quick action.

–posted 9/17/2011

Posted September/17/2011

Capucine Culinary Mysteries

Alexander Campion has created a beguiling heroine in Commissaire Capucine Le Tellier, a chic, 28-year-old detective in the Paris judicial police.  When a dead body is found in the freezer of a three star restaurant, she jumps at the chance to leave her boring desk job and prove herself capable of solving a homicide.  She is a natural for the case because her husband, well-known gourmand and food critic Alexandre de Huguelet, gives her special entré to the Parisian culinary scene.  And Capucine has her own connections, through her influential family.  Everybody but Francophobic vegans will love these mysteries.  Crime Fraiche (Kensington, 7/2011) is the second book in a series that we hope will go on for a long time.  In it the Commissaire and Alexandre journey to Normandy, when Capucine’s aristocratic uncle, Aymerie, asks her to look into two fatal shooting accidents that occurred during hunting season. Campion is an American who lived in Paris for 35 years.  He is–you guessed it—a restaurant critic.

–posted 9/12/2011

Posted September/12/2011

Hurricane Novels

Hurricane novels: Great Reading before, between, or after storms (or during if the lights stay on)


Bonansinga, Jay     Twisted (Pinnacle, 2006)    Former FBI profiler Ulysses Grove comes to post-Katrina New Orleans for the funeral of a  friend.  As he uncovers disturbing traces of past ritual murder, another hurricane approaches.

Casey, Kathryn     The Killing Storm (Minotaur, 2010)      Lt. Sarah Armstrong, a criminal profiler for the Texas Rangers, searches for a kidnapped 4-year-old as Juanita, a category 4 hurricane, heads for Galveston.

Clark, Mary Jane     Nobody Knows (St. Martin’s, 2002)     TV reporter Cassie Sheridan, now a reporter for a local Sarasota (FL) television station, is following  the course of a hurricane as a hunt for a stolen ring follows its own course.

Connor, Beverly    Skeleton Crew (Cumberland, 1999)     A hurricane interferes with  forensic archeologist  Lindsay Chamberlain investigation of a 500-year-old galleon sunk off the Georgia shore.

Conwell, Kent    Skeletons of the Atchafalaya (Avalon, 2003)     During a family renion at a plantation house in Whiskey Bend, LA, private eye Tony Boudreaux is trapped with everyone else when hurricane Bella blows through—followed by three murders.

Cussler, Clive  Trojan Odyssey (Putnam, 2003)     A hurricane threatens the Ocean Wanderer, a luxury floating hotel in the Caribbean owned by a mysterious billionaire.

Haddam, Jane     Baptism in Blood (Bantam, 1996)     Bellerton, North Carolina, is the scene of a hurricane and the murder of an infant whose body is found on the grounds of a controversial women’s retreat.

Parrish, P. J.     Island of Bones (Pinnacle, 2005)     After a hurricane whips into Florida, Private Investigator Louis Kincaid finds a baby’s skull on the  debris-filled beach on the Gulf.

Wingate,  Anne     The Eye of Anna (Walker, 1990)     Japanese-American police chief of Bayport, Texas Mark  Shigata fights Hurricane Anna as he  searches for a serial killer.


Abel, Kenneth    Down in the Flood (Minotaur, 2009)     Set in New Orleans shortly before and during Hurricane Katrina. Danny desperately tries to save Louis Sams, who has been kidnapped to prevent him from testifying against his crooked    concrete manufacturer boss.

Burke, James Lee    Tin Roof Blowdown (S&S, 2007)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, detective Dave  Robicheaux is assigned to investigate the shooting of two looters who were foolish enough to ransack the home of New Orleans’s most powerful mobster.

Downs, Tim     First the Dead (Nelson, 2008)     In New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina,  Dr. Nick Polchak, the “Bug Man”, discovers several floating corpses who were dead before the hurricane hit.

Dunbar, Tony   Tubby Meets Katrina (NewSouth Books, 2006)      Tubby winds up in New Orleans’ Convention Center as Hurricane Katrina hits and his daughter finds herself the target of an escaped psychopath who sees himself as the human embodiment of the storm.


McDonald, Craig    Toros and Torsos (Bleak House, 2008)      The  Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 hits Key West  in a mystery about a killer who rearranges his   victims to resemble surrealistic art.  Ernest  Hemingway and Orson Welles play cameo roles.


Hiaasen, Carl     Stormy Weather (Knopf, 1995)        New York ad executive Max Lamb decides to add  excitement to his Orlando honeymoon by taking his bride and his camcorder into the teeth of  Hurricane Andrew.

Barry, Dave   Tricky Business (Berkley, 2003)      The usual Dave Barry crooks and fall guys are aboard an offshore gambling boat when a   hurricane hits.

Dorsey, Tim   Hurricane Punch (Morrow, 2007)      Lovable homicidal maniac Serge A. Storm roars across Florida in a stolen Hummer with his  usually drunk or stoned friend, Coleman, following one hurricane after another, evading his  nemesis, Agent Mahoney.


Koontz, Dean   Dead and Alive (Bantam, 2009)      As a devastating hurricane approaches New Orleans, the future of mankind depends upon Frankenstein’s original creation.

Lehane, Dennis   Shutter Island (Morrow, 2003)       Two U. S. Marshalls tackle a missing person case at a     hospital for the                 criminally insane.   The gale force winds of an approaching hurricane heighten the suspense.

Light-hearted mysteries (Cozies)

Andrews, Donna   Murder with Puffins (Thomas Dunne, 2000)      Hurricane Gladys hits Maine as Meg  Langslow and her boyfriend travel to Monhegan Island for their vacation.  A very unpopular local artist is murdered soon after they arrive.

Cohen, Nancy    Died Blonde (Kensington, 2004)      Marla Shore, hairdresser and owner of the Cut’N’Dye beauty Salon in Florida is the star of the Bad Hair Day mysteryseries.  In this episode Marla finds a dead body in her shop as a hurricane  hits town.

Hart, Carolyn    Dead Man’s Island (Bantam, 1993)      Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins ( “Henrie O”), a retired investigative reporter, helps an old friend  discover who tried to kill him with poisoned candy.  Hurricane Derek complicates things.

Lakin, Rita    Getting Old Is a Disaster (Dell, 2009)      Fort Lauderdale retiree  Gladdy Gold investigates the long-buried skeleton of a murder victim  is unearthed at the Lanai Gardens apartment complex after a hurricane hits.

Maron, Margaret    Storm Track (Mysterious, 2000)      Judge Deborah Knott investigates the murder of a local woman found strangled in a motel room while Hurricane Fran bears down on the small town of Colleton North Carolina. Her large family clan gathers for hot chocolate and a hurricane party.

Taylor, Phoebe Atwood    Proof of the Pudding (Norton, 1945)       Now here’s an old one:  Cape Cod’s amateur sleuth, Asey Mayo, finds a corpse among the  wreckage following a hurricane

Viets, Elaine     Murder Unleashed (Signet, 2006)       Helen Hawthorne, now working at  the Pampered Pet Boutique must solve a murder and find a   kidnapped Labradoodle puppy before a Category 3 hurricane hits Fort Lauderdale.

–compiled by Janet Husband for

Posted September/2/2011

Two by Ellen Block

After surviving the house fire which killed her husband and four-year-old son, Boston lexicographer Abigail Harker hopes that moving away from Boston will help her overcome her grief.  She takes a job as a lighthouse keeper on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.  At first considered an outsider , she  eventually makes friends with some of the locals, and is able to help Nat, the island pariah with a tragic past like hers.  As she repairs the lighthouse and her cottage, she moves through her grief in stages.  This is a moving character study of an engaging woman and an intimate exploration of grief.   Light humor and a bevy of quaint locals add interest.  The mystery element in these two novels is secondary. In The Language of Sand (Bantam, 2010), Nat is suspected of murder.  The Definition of Wind (Bantam, 6/2011), shows the Outer Banks roiling with demanding tourists and rumors of sunken treasure off the coast.

posted 8/31/2011

Posted September/1/2011

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