Reading: Mystery & Suspense

A few weeks ago I won a door prize copy of Barbara Taylor Sissel’s Evidence of Life, a book I might have missed otherwise.  Sissel is a Houston area author, but I don’t know her, although we have mutual friends.   I pedal fast enough trying (unsuccessfully) to keep up with the books of my friends.

But one of those friends, Colleen Thompson, highly recommended Evidence of Life, and as soon as I opened it I understood why.   It’s a hard book to categorize, but literary thriller may come close enough.  It’s the story of a woman, Abby Bennett, whose husband and daughter, on a camping trip in the Texas hill country, disappear without a trace in the wake of a storm and flash flood (yes, that does happen).  In the course of trying to discover what happened to them, Abby learns too much that she had never suspected, about her husband, her family, her marriage and her friends.   An excellent and beautifully written novel.

Falling for FrederickFalling for Frederick, by my friend Cheryl Bolen, was one of the first of Montlake’s Kindle serials, but is now available as a full novel.  I read it in installments, which suited me because I usually read on my Kindle once or twice a week while waiting for an appointment or grabbing lunch by myself.  So when the last installment was delivered to my reader recently, I was nearly caught up, and I found myself sitting up late to finish the story.  Falling for Frederick is a contemporary romantic suspense tale, featuring an American grad student in England, the handsome earl she meets when she’s found crouching over the body of his archivist, knife in hand, a missing (and highly valuable) artifact, and an historical mystery to go with the modern one.  And, of course, a romance.

Yesterday at lunch I opened my Kindle and began reading Concrete Evidence, by my friend and fellow Starcatcher andConcrete Evidence Firebird Rachel Grant.  Although Rachel is considerably younger than I, we have quite a lot in common:  we both studied archeology at Florida State University, worked as cultural resource management archeologists, and married men involved in marine archeology.  So I wasn’t surprised to learn that Rachel’s romantic suspense novels involve archeology.  Fortunately my own involvement in archeology (and Rachel’s, I’m sure) never included the sort of danger the heroine of Concrete Evidence finds herself in.  I picked it up again last night and had to force myself to put it away at 1:30 this morning–I had too much to do today to read all night.  I can hardly wait to get back to it.

Lowcountry BoilAnother of my Firebird sisters, Susan M. Boyer, won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel last night at the Malice Domestic Conference, for her 2012 Golden Heart finalist, Lowcountry Boil.  Published by Henery Press last fall, Lowcountry Boil is a wonderfully entertaining mystery (with a paranormal twist), the first in a series.  Huge congratulations to Susan, and to Henery Press, a new publisher with a bright future.

Recent Reading

A couple of weeks ago, when the Romance Writers of America RITA® nominations were announced, I was about halfway through reading The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek, by Jane Myers Perrine, and I was delighted to see it listed as a nominee in the category Novel with Strong Romantic Elements.  I looked for it first in the Inspirational category, because it was published by Faith Words, the Inspirational Divison of the Hachette Group.  But I think the book is right where it belongs.

I had picked Welcome Committee up one night when I wanted something warm and comfortable to read, and it just filled the Welcome Committee of Butternut Creekbill.  It tells the story of a very young, newly-minted minister who arrives in a small town in Texas to take over a church, not knowing what to expect from the congregation or his new life.  Oh, he’s taken classes in church management at the seminary, but that’s not the same as real experience.  And he’s in for some new experiences, particularly at the hands of the Widows, a couple of ladies of the congregation who believe, among other things, that a minister should be married.

The Widows don’t give up on their new minister, but they set meddling in his life aside to concentrate on a damaged war vet and his physical therapist, two characters who have the reader pulling for them from their first appearance.

Jane Perrine, who is an ordained minister herself, never preaches.  She writes about life in a small town church, and about people who try to do the right thing and care about one another.  The next book in the series, The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek, is at the top of my Books To Buy list, and The Wedding Planners of Butternut Creek will be out in the fall.

Earlier this year I read another of Jane Perrine’s books, Miss Prim, a Regency romance written several years ago and published by Avalon, recently resissued on paper and for the Kindle by Amazon.  Miss Prim is the story of Lady Louisa Walker, whose staid and well-regulated spinsterhood is turned completely upside down by an old flame who pulls her into wild adventures involving French spies, a race across the countryside, and a mysterious baby.

I haven’t managed a lot of reading time since the first of the year.  Busy at work and with RWA activities, and far less writing than I’d like to claim.  I’ve read three good mysteries, Janet Evanovich’s Notorious Nineteen (who really cares about the mystery when the characters are so much fun?), Marcia Muller’s Looking for Yesterday (I’ve been following Sharon McCone’s cases–and life–since she first appeared in Edwin of the Iron Shoes in 1977), and Margaret Maron’s The Buzzard Table (Judge Deborah Knott is another series character I have followed from the beginning).

Currently I’m enjoying Colleen Thompson’s Passion to Protect, an edge-of-the-seat romantic suspense novel.  The Steampunk book is on my coffee table, with a book mark very near the beginning.  The book on The Searchers is there, too, without one.  On my Kindle I’m following a serial, Falling for Frederick by Cheryl Bolen.

Yesterday I stopped at the local Barnes & Noble to look for a copy of my Starcatcher sister Amy Raby’s first release, Assassin’s Gambit.  I found it on the New In Paperback kiosk in the middle of the store and stopped to take a picture of the book “in the wild” to send to Amy.  There I was, on one knee with my camera, when I realized a man was watching me.  “My friend’s first book,” I explained.  “Wouldn’t it be more help to buy it and read it?” he asked.  “I will,” I promised, “but I also want to send her a picture.”  Apparently satisfied, he nodded and walked away.  Without reporting me to store security.

 

Stopping By to Say Hello

I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting the blog this week in favor of–well, I’m not sure about that.  I wish I could say I’ve been accomplishing great things, or writing a fabulous number of pages on my work-in-progress, but my wall calendar isn’t giving me much help there.

I’ve done some writing for chapter newsletter obligations this week, and I spent one evening at a Houston Bay Area RWA meeting.  Our speaker that night was Colleen Thompson; we were her first try-out audience for a new workshop called “Adrenaline Shots for Plots.”  Excellent presentation, and you can read a nutshell version on Colleen’s blog, Boxing the Octopus.  (I came away with an early copy of Colleen’s latest book, Passion to Protect, a Harlequin Romantic Suspense available October 16.  Looking forward to that.)

I’ve judged some contest entries, always an interesting–but time consuming–endeavor.  Two of them were excellent, and I’m hoping to see them on the list of finalists in a few weeks.  I’ve also been helping out where I can with the West Houston RWA Emily contest.

I read my long-time friend Cheryl Bolen’s latest book, Marriage of Inconvenience, her first for the Harlequin Love Inspired Historical line.  I had an early copy.  It won’t be released until October 2, and I’ll tell you more about it then.  I’ve just started reading my new friend (and fellow Firebird) Susan M. Boyer’s romantic mystery Lowcountry Boil.

The funny little porcelain kitten in my last post appears to be a message box.  I ran across a few similar boxes on the Things Remembered website the other day.  I haven’t located any more information on the subject–Googling “message box” brings up pages of information on computer programs.  One of these days I’ll look further.  But the kitten box is certainly a suitable size and shape to hold a scrap of paper.  A love note?  The starting point of a story?

On a totally non-writing-related topic, the space shuttle Endeavor, the last one to be moved to its permanent location, came through Houston this week, flying into Ellington Field for the day on the back of its transport.  I didn’t see it on its way in, although I got caught in the traffic jam caused by folks headed to Ellington to see it up close.  The next morning, however, I was taking my morning walk, half a block from my house, when it made a farewell swing over the Johnson Space Center, and over my neighborhood.  I’ve lived near JSC for 36 years, but it’s still a thrill to see something like that go right overhead.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries