A Tribute to Linda Palmer and Melinda Wells

An actress, a playwright, a wildlife photographer, a screenwriter, a producer, former vice president of production at Tristar Pictures, a professor at UCLA, and novelist, her cat is named ‘Magic.’

This is how the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) described the extraordinary Linda Palmer. I know her as the author of two cozy mystery series. One features Morgan Tyler, a soap opera writer living and working in New York City. She pens the second series, set in Santa Monica, California, under the pseudonym Melinda Wells; her sleuth, Della Carmichael, showcases her love of cooking both as star of a cable TV cooking show and as owner of a cooking school.

The Della Carmichael series includes lots of intriguing recipes. I haven’t tried them yet—but I will! First up will be Della’s “Gangster Chicken” Cacciatore.

I first read the Della Carmichael series and looked for more books by Melinda Wells. That’s when I found that she and Linda Palmer were one and the same and that she had passed away in 2013. And so I started on the Morgan Tyler series and have one to go.

Both series are cozy, but with a definite bite. The sleuths enjoy warm relationships with their many friends, but can be as snarky and feisty as anyone. Cat and dog owners will love the descriptions of the pets. There’s lots of derring-do and hair-raising situations. At times, Ms. Palmer makes the sleuths TSTL (Too Stupid to Live), but that’s a minor point.

If you haven’t read these short and finite series, do yourself a favor and seek them out.

For bibliographies, visit Stop! You’re Killing Me.

Read UCLA Extension’s tribute to Linda Palmer.

Read a tribute from one of Linda Palmer’s students.

 

 

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Amy M. Reade Interviews Sylvie Carmichael of Highland Peril

When Maggie first asked me to write a guest post for her blog, I had a hard time settling on a topic.

I considered writing about research, my experiences in Scotland (and the Highlands in particular), family vacations in general, the mystery festival Maggie and I were going to attend together, and the craft of mystery writing.

But I was working on another blog post when I came up with a different idea: how about an interview with one of my characters? My hope is that it will give you a glimpse into my upcoming release, Highland Peril, and also give you a chance to get to know my main protagonist, Sylvie, a bit better.

___________________________________________

Interviewer (“I”): Do you mind if I record this interview?

Sylvie Carmichael (“SC”): I suppose not.

I: I’m here with Sylvie Carmichael, part owner (with her husband) of Highland Treasures, an antique shop/art gallery in the village of Cauld Loch in the Scottish Highlands. I’m interviewing her today because of her connection with one of the persons of interest in the death of Florian McDermott. Sylvie, as I understand it your husband, Seamus, has been questioned by police a number of times regarding the death of Mr. McDermott. Is that correct?

SC: It is correct, but he had nothing to do with that man’s death.

I: And we’re supposed to take your word for it?

SC: Isn’t that why you invited me here?

I: I’m the one asking the questions, Mrs. Carmichael. So we’re supposed to take your word for it?

SC: Listen, you. My husband may have spent some time in prison, but he’s paid his debt to society. He’s a sweet, gentle man.

I: Why was he in prison?

SC: He assaulted someone, but it was in self-defense. It’s not in his character to hurt people. Really.

I: Uh-huh. How did you come to be acquainted with Florian McDermott?

SC: He was a customer in our store. He bought a painting from us.

I: Was there anything significant about the painting?

SC: The man who painted it was an old Scottish master, a famous artist. Seamus first saw the painting in an old junk shop in Edinburgh and he bought it for a steal.

I: No pun intended.

SC: I don’t think you’re very funny.

I: Sorry. Please continue.

SC: Anyway, Florian came around one day and liked the painting and bought it.

I: Then he was killed?

SC: Yes. He was killed in a car accident that night.

I: The police obviously don’t think it was an accident.

SC: I suppose not. My money is on the guy who came looking for that same painting the next morning.

I: What guy?

SC: We don’t know his name, but he drove all night long, all the way up from London (or so he says), to see the painting in our shop. But by that time Florian had bought it and left.

I: Interesting. What’s so special about that painting?

SC: I have no idea. No one seems to know. But there must be something about it that would make someone kill to get it.

I: Who has the painting now?

SC: I don’t know. It wasn’t found among Florian’s things when the police found his car.

I: Do the police have any leads, other than questioning your husband?”

SC: Not that I know of. I’m not exactly on their list of people to call when new evidence turns up. But it wasn’t Seamus, of that I can assure you.

I: Yes. You mentioned that earlier. What brought you to the Highlands? As I understand it, you were previously a resident of Edinburgh.

SC: Seamus convinced me to move up here to get away from the city. At first I resisted, but I’ve come to love living in the Highlands.

I: What do you love most about it?

SC: It’s quiet, or it was until the frenzy surrounding Florian’s death. And I love the mountain behind my house and the loch that the village is named for. I’m a photographer and every day brings something new in the Highlands, whether it’s the interplay of light and shadow on the surface of the loch or the wildlife that live in the woods.

I: Do you miss living in Edinburgh?

SC: I miss some things about it. I miss my sister and her daughter, for example. When Seamus and I go to Edinburgh now it’s a treat. I don’t take it for granted anymore. But I’m always glad to be back home in Cauld Loch.

I: Anything else you’d like to say?

SC: Just that Seamus is a good man. He would never have hurt Florian McDermott. He wants nothing more than to see the police catch the person responsible for Florian’s death.

I: Thanks, Mrs. Carmichael.

SC: You’re welcome.

Amy M. Reade is a cook, chauffeur, household CEO, doctor, laundress, maid, psychiatrist, warden, seer, teacher, and pet whisperer. In other words, a wife, mother, and recovering attorney. But she also writes (how could she not write with that last name?) and is the author of The Malice Series (The House on Candlewick Lane, Highland Peril, and Murder in Thistlecross) and three standalone books, Secrets of Hallstead House, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and House of the Hanging Jade. She lives in southern New Jersey, but loves to travel. Her favorite places to visit are Scotland and Hawaii and when she can’t travel she loves to read books set in far-flung locations.

Find Amy on social media:

Website: www.amymreade.com

Blog: www.amreade.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor

Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/AmyMReadesGothicFictionFans

Twitter: www.twitter.com/readeandwrite

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/amreade

Instagram: www.instagram.com/amymreade

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2v2OAUy

Goodreads Page: http://bit.ly/2v3uWba

Buy Links for Highland Peril:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2uaP5dq

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2uzgzcD

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2v9ooHB

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2vKh6Hh

iTunes: http://apple.co/2ePwnTf

Independent Bookstore: http://bit.ly/2v39PFD

 

 

 

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From my TBR List to Yours: What I’ve Been Reading This Summer

I’ve been writing up a storm this summer, but managing to read a lot as well. And that makes me very happy. Here are just a few of the great new-to-me authors I can recommend for your TBR list:

Too Many Women in the Room by Joanne Guidoccio

At a special dinner in a Sudbury, Ontario restaurant, a lecherous photographer who has at some point managed to annoy all the women in the room, winds up dead. Did he provoke one of the women one time too many?

Lottery winner and entrepreneur Gilda Greco needs to protect her business and her investment in the restaurant, so she launches her own investigation. She uncovers the kind of secrets and resentments that can surely lead to murder.

I enjoyed the characters in Too Many Women in the Room and never guessed whodunit, but the clues were there all along. Learning about Northern Ontario and the Italian community—especially the culinary aspect—was a bonus. The author shares the recipes.

Joanne Guidoccio guest posted on this blog on July 26. Read the article here.

More on Joanne and her books.

Moral Infidelity by Rebecca Warner

Moral Infidelity is a well-crafted suspense tale of how a Florida governor’s intractable moral stance collides with his drive for money and power, threatening his marriage and political career.

There’s a great twist!

More on Rebecca Warner.

More on Moral Infidelity.

Money Grab by Frances Aylor

While financial advisor Robbie Bradford grieves after a personal tragedy, her colleague, Vivian Sutherland, steals her top client. When Vivian is murdered, Robbie becomes the prime suspect.

Can Robbie find Vivian’s killer and clear her own name before she’s the next victim of a money grab?

You’ll love this action-packed financial whodunit. Frances Aylor is an author to watch—as is her sleuth, the resourceful and feisty Robbie Bradford.

Disclosure: Frances is a friend from my local Sisters in Crime group. I was privileged to attend her launch party and look forward to many more.

More on Frances and Money Grab.

Arsenic with Austen by Katherine Bolger Hyde

When Emily Cavanaugh inherits a fortune from her great aunt, she expects her life to change. She doesn’t expect to embark on a murder investigation, confront the man who broke her heart 35 years before, and nearly lose her own life.

Emily finds parallels between the characters in Jane Austen’s Persuasion and the characters she suspects are guilty of murder.

Katherine Bolger Hyde has given readers a likeable heroine, intriguing mystery, an Oregon setting, and one of the best romances found in a contemporary mystery.

More on Katherine and her books.

View Katherine’s interview with Kings River Life here.

I met Katherine a few months ago at Malice Domestic.  I liked the premise of her series (Bloodstains with Bronte, #2 in the series, comes out in December.). To create buzz for her new release, Katherine will guest post here on November 29.

The Garden Club Mystery by Graham Gordon Landrum and Robert Landrum

Blurb from Amazon:

Rita Claymore gets things done. The Borderville YWCA would be nothing without her. And don’t forget all that street beautification she has done for the city.

Her main social bailiwick is the Buena Vista Garden Club, founded by her grandmother and now celebrating its status as the oldest such group in the state with a centennial. Rita Claymore also tramples on everyone else to get what she wants; so it is not that surprising when she is found conked with a squirrel ornament in her garden. Harriet Bushrow and Bob Kelsey come to the rescue in investigating the crime and a series of burglaries that don’t seem quite to fit in with the murder.

The Garden Club Mystery is the finale of the Social Club Mysteries series set in Borderville, Virginia (actually Bristol, Virginia and Bristol, Tennessee). I learned of this series from the “Missing Authors Update #4” post on my blog. I publish a recurring series on Missing Authors and readers submit inquiries about the authors they loved who have seemingly vanished, at least from the publishing scene. One of these inquiries was for Graham Gordon Landrum, who died in 1995, leaving The Garden Club Mystery unfinished. His son, Robert Landrum, finished the story.

This is a charming story, told in first person, but from the perspective of multiple characters. While cozy mysteries, especially those set in the South, often feature quirky characters, this author avoided that practice.

The title especially appealed to me, as I once served as Administrator for the Garden Club of Virginia in Richmond. I will add the rest of The Social Club Mysteries to my TBR list.

More on The Garden Club Mystery at Amazon.

If you question my reading the end of a series first, it’s not unusual. In fact, I posted about this very subject last September. Read my article here.

I’m off to a great start on Amy Reade’s Secrets of Hallstead House.

What are you reading this summer?

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Joanne Guidoccio: Living Vicariously Through My Protagonist

Today mystery author Joanne Guidoccio is my guest. Joanne recently published Too Many Women in the Room and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves an intriguing puzzle and great food (recipes are a bonus!).

Without further ado, here’s Joanne:

In the spring of 2001, I enrolled in the Career Development Practitioner Program at Conestoga College in nearby Kitchener, Ontario. After meeting with the course director, I sat down and meticulously planned the next seven years of my life.

I would continue teaching full-time during the day and take one online course each trimester. I even selected the order so that the more demanding courses would be taken during the summer months. Upon completion of the program, I would spend two summers interning in preparation for retirement and the launch of ReCareering, a counseling practice that would cater to boomers.

That was the fantasy.

The reality was very different.

While the first trimester went smoothly, I encountered several life challenges that derailed my “Second Act” plans. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, entered a nursing home, and died shortly afterward; my mother’s Parkinson’s disease worsened; I was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and underwent ten months of treatment. Afterward, I developed hypothyroidism and had three additional cancer scares.

Frustrated and discouraged, I met with the course director. His advice still resonates with me: “Sometimes life happens and you just have to deal with it. But stay the course and complete the journey.”

I managed to complete the CDP program in six years (one year later than planned). While undergoing chemotherapy I started reading cozy mysteries, devouring several books a week. Halfway through my cancer year, I came up with a storyline for my own cozy: What if a teacher-turned-lottery winner returns to her hometown in Northern Ontario, only to find herself the primary suspect in the murders of four blondes. Can she prove her innocence and solve this case before it’s too late?

I identified strongly with the teacher-turned-lottery winner (Gilda Greco). So much so, that I used the first person POV. Our similarities…Italian Canadian, born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, mathematics teachers, career development practitioners, yoga enthusiasts, non-foodies, and ambiverts (extraverted introverts).

Two major differences: Gilda won a $19 million lottery (I’m still hoping). Gilda also realized my “Second Act” dream and opened the first ReCareering office in Northern Ontario.

Bio

In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio retired from a 31-year teaching career and launched a second act that tapped into her creative side. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

***

The Wild Rose Press released A Season for Killing Blondes in June 2015. This past May, Book 2 (Too Many Women in the Room) was released. Book 3 (A Different Kind of Reunion) will be released in the spring of 2018.

Blurb for Too Many Women in the Room

When Gilda Greco invites her closest friends to a VIP dinner, she plans to share David Korba’s signature dishes and launch their joint venture— Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. Unknown to Gilda, David has also invited Michael Taylor, a lecherous photographer who has throughout the past three decades managed to annoy all the women in the room. One woman follows Michael to a deserted field for his midnight run and stabs him in the jugular.

Gilda’s life is awash with complications as she wrestles with a certain detective’s commitment issues and growing doubts about her risky investment in Xenia. Frustrated, Gilda launches her own investigation and uncovers decades-old secrets and resentments that have festered until they explode into untimely death. Can Gilda outwit a killer bent on killing again?

Excerpt

Carlo’s hand caressed my thigh. More sex. The man could be insatiable. And it had been almost two weeks since our last romp. We started to kiss and then his cell phone vibrated.

Carlo groaned as he leaned over and picked up the phone. He sat up, his back to me. “What’s happened?” he barked. Carlo’s shoulders tensed. A long sigh and then his terse words. “Clear the perimeter, stat.”

Clear the perimeter. My heart beat faster as I recalled the last time I had heard those dreaded words. It could mean only one thing. Another murder. Two murders in less than twenty-hours. What were the chances of that happening in Sudbury? At the Christmas party, the police chief had bragged about one of the lowest murder rates in Canada during the past twelve months.

I swallowed hard. “What’s wrong?”

Carlo turned and gave me a long glance. “Andrew Frattini was found dead in the alleyway behind the ReCareering office.”

The nightmare couldn’t be starting again. This time with different players but still with the same intent. To pin the murder on me. But that strategy wouldn’t work. I had an iron-clad alibi no one could refute.

Carlo dressed quickly. He picked up his phone and then turned toward me. “Stay clear of this, Gilda.”

“How can I ignore it?” I said as I felt myself tearing up. “Someone’s trying to frame me again.”

He leaned over and kissed me. “Well, they didn’t succeed, did they?”

Book Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CORaCadAnbA

Buy Links

Amazon (US): https://is.gd/NRjAXT

Amazon (Canada): https://is.gd/1pX3Bn

Kobo: https://is.gd/5VwbTf

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Edgy Cozies

Edgy cozies. Nancy Cole Silverman calls her Carol Childs Mystery series “cozies with a bite.” Mollie Cox Bryan writes “cozies with an edge.” And the tagline for my Hazel Rose Book Group series: “cozy with a hint of noir.”

What is an edgy cozy? Let’s back up for a minute: what is a cozy?

Jayne Ormerod, friend and cozy mystery writer, offers this definition:

So let’s take a moment to talk about everything you’ve always wanted to know about cozy mysteries, but were afraid to ask.  First stop, Merriam Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.  Mystery: a piece of fiction dealing usu. with the solution of a mysterious crime. Cozy:  Enjoying or affording warmth and ease.  Snug.  So “cozy mystery” is an oxymoron, of sorts, but it is a term used to define a sub-genre of mystery that has a warm fuzzy feeling about it.  Think Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.  Or “Murder, She Wrote”’s Jessica Fletcher.  Or the intrepid Girl Detective, Nancy Drew.  Yes, there’s a distasteful criminal element involved, but the sleuth is so charming and clever that the reader thinks of them as a friend and enjoys tagging along on the adventure.  It’s the kind of book you want to grab a cup of tea and a fleece blanket then curl up by a nice crackling fire to enjoy.  A “cozy” scenario, you’ll agree, and hence the term.

I think Jayne defines cozies nicely. Now on to the “edgy” sort of cozy:

Some use the terms “traditional mystery” and “edgy cozy” interchangeably. In an effort to distinguish between cozy/cozy and edgy/cozy/traditional mystery, here are the top quotes from the Hey, There’s a Dead Guy in the Living Room blog post “Cozy vs. Traditional”:

“That real world vs ‘cozy world’” feel is probably the key difference between the two genres for me.”

“Traditional mysteries, like cozies, sit at the limited gore and violence end of the spectrum, with people and relationships still central to the story, but the feel is more real world.”

Social issues, like racial equality, reproductive rights, and domestic violence may be part of the plot or sub-plot of an edgy cozy. Mollie Cox Bryan, author of the Cumberland Creek series and the Cora Crafts mysteries, has this to contribute:

The cozy mystery genre has a certain set of “rules.” Mine adhere to most of the rules, but I do label my books as “cozies with an edge.” Sometimes there’s a bit of cussing, which you’d most likely not find in a straight cozy. Also, my characters grapple with some dark issues, like human trafficking, the dangers of the darknet, abuse, mental health issues, cults, shady adoption practices, and drugs. Most cozies shy away from these sorts of issues. I do take a lighter look at those issues than, say, a suspense writer would.

Watch Richard’s Edgy Cozy Recommendation on YouTube’s The Cozy Book Nook. He recommends the gritty and raw (but still cozy) Grave Sight, #1 in the Harper Connelly series by Charlaine Harris.

Christine Goff on A Parliament of Owls, from The Birdwatcher’s Mysteries: “Some people would tell you I write an “edgy cozy,” but I prefer to think of my books as traditional mysteries.”

Cricket McRae, author of the Home Crafting Mysteries: “So now I call my books contemporary cozies, because I guess that’s what they really are – a little faster, a teensy bit more edgy …”

Perhaps distinguishing between the fine points of mysteries for the purpose of categorizing bores you to tears. “I just want to read a good story,” you cry.

I understand. I read all kinds of mysteries: cozies (edgy and non-edgy), private detective (Sue Grafton’s Y is for Yesterday comes out in August!), and police procedurals. I don’t read tales with gratuitous violence. As for psychopaths, no thanks.

My favorites are the stories defy categorization: they may feature an amateur detective, but there’s nothing remotely “cozy” about them. No matter what I’m reading, what I value most is a good story with compelling characters and an interesting setting.

As for my Hazel Rose Book Group series, some think it’s cozy because Hazel is an amateur sleuth. And she has cats. Others think it’s dark and edgy. But readers tell me they like the stories and they like Hazel, so that’s of the most importance to me. If you haven’t, I invite you to read my series and tell me what you think.

In addition to the above, these selected authors pen edgy cozies (they run the gamut from mildly edgy to extremely so):

Agatha Christie

Dianne Emley (Iris Thorne series)

Joanne Guidoccio

Melodie Johnson Howe

Mary Miley

Gillian Roberts

Nancy Cole Silverman

Joan Smith

Who else? Add your favorites in the comment section.

It’s summertime. Take your favorite cozy, edgy or not, to the beach or poolside.

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