The Land Down Under: An Encore

A while back I posted about my Australian kick, specifically my vicarious enjoyment of the Land Down Under via books, film and TV. Since that post I’ve discovered more crime dramas, one filmed in Australia and one in New Zealand.

In Janet King, a fast-paced legal thriller/political drama, the title character is a senior crown prosecutor. Is this show ever dramatic! Just when you think the drama reaches its peak, it gets ratcheted up again. And again.

Janet King is filmed in Sydney, but it’s not clear (to me, anyway) if the setting is actually Sydney or Canberra. According to the license plates, they’re in New South Wales, so either city is a possibility for the setting.

Glen and I have watched two series so far (to Australians a series is what Americans call a season) and look forward to the third.

For more information on Janet King, see this Wikipedia article.

Recently, Glen discovered The Brokenwood Mysteries, a New Zealand police procedural series set in one of those seemingly quiet small towns where murders are routine. Filming talks place in the greater Auckland area.

As I explained in my original article, I am woefully ignorant about Australian geography. I’m even more so about the lay of the land in New Zealand.

The characters in The Brokenwood Mysteries are well-drawn and quirky enough to be interesting without being cartoonish. They reveal tidbits about themselves in each episode, but never too much. The stories hold our interest. As for the country music—note to director: a little goes a long way.

The main character is Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Shepherd, played by Neill Rea. He uses the same “Just one more thing” tagline that Peter Falk made famous in Columbo when he never left a suspect or person of interest without a parting question.

As of this writing, we’re in the middle of the second series (season).

Again, Wikipedia is my trusted source. See their article about The Brokenwood Mysteries.

I’m eagerly awaiting Season 4 of the Doctor Blake Mysteries. And I understand that Jack Irish is another great detective series from Australia.

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Where Do Writers Write? In the Tub … Where Else?

Where do writers write? Have you ever asked yourself that question?

If you’re like me, the answer is “No.”

But last year I saw two movies with scenes of writers pecking away at manual typewriters and conducting business by phone all while soaking in the tub. The first was Clifton Webb in Laura and the most recent was Bryan Cranston as Trumbo (both great movies). Apparently the blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo actually did prefer the tub for cranking out his screenplays.

The blog AnOther featured a post, “Where Writers Write,” stating that poet Rod McKuen and the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie, also found themselves at their most creative in the tub. Christie munched on apples while immersed.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with bringing the first bathtub to America from France. It is said that he read and wrote in the tub. See “Benjamin Franklin and the Bathtub” in The Daily Tubber.

According to the blog Postcripts, French playwright Edmond Rostand, creator of Cyrano de Bergerac, also wrote in his bathtub. Ditto for Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita. See the post, “The Work Habits of Highly Successful Writers” on Postcripts.

Each to his or her own. I’d rather work in my comfortable, and dry, bed.

This article on BookRiot lists inexpensive essential items to enhance reading and writing in the tub (plus keeping printed and digital materials dry).

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DEATH OVERDUE by Marilyn Levinson

It’s my pleasure to welcome mystery author Marilyn Levinson, aka Allison Brook. Marilyn tells us about her latest, DEATH OVERDUE, which I highly recommend. She also shares about her winding path to publication.

Maggie, I’m delighted to be here as your guest to talk about DEATH OVERDUE, the first book in my Haunted Library Mystery series. Carrie Singleton has led a vagabond sort of life since she left college seven years earlier. Feeling downhearted, she visits her great aunt and uncle, who now live in the village of Clover Ridge after selling the family farm where Carrie had spent happy childhood summers. Uncle Bosco is on the library board and gets her a job in the local library. But the work is low level and boring, and Carrie decides it’s time to move on. The director offers her the position of Head of Programs and Events. Carrie’s about to turn it down when a voice urges her to be sensible and say she’ll think it over. Startled to discover the voice belongs to the ghost of Evelyn Havers, a library assistant who died six years earlier, Carrie reconsiders and accepts the position.

Carrie’s first big event features a detective who claims he’s solved a homicide—the murder of a local woman he was investigating fifteen years earlier. The victim’s older son wants the library to cancel the program, but Carrie convinces Sally to present it as scheduled. The detective is poisoned in front of his audience, and Carrie is beside herself. She joins forces with the victim’s younger son to solve the two murders. In the course of their investigation, Carrie exposes many secrets and witnesses various family squabbles. Still, she finds time to build friendships, engage in a budding romance and adopt a stray kitty that becomes a library favorite.

I started out writing novels for young readers quite some time ago. Years later, I wrote romantic suspense and mysteries, which were published by small presses. After encountering problems with some of the small press publishers, I published a few of my books on my own.

While my books have been well-received by readers and reviewers, none have gotten the acclaim and attention bestowed on DEATH OVERDUE, my cozy that came out in October. This time I decided to go the agent route, and my wonderful agent sold the manuscript to Crooked Lane Books. They gave me a two-book contract and asked me to write my new series under a pseudonym, which I was willing to do. I thought Allison Brook was the perfect non de plume.

This proved to be a wonderful decision for me and my Haunted Library mystery series! I have the most wonderful editor, and CLB gave DEATH OVERDUE a vibrant cover that readers love! Things started popping well before my October 10th pub date because of CLB’s wonderful publicist. Blackstone made an audio of the book. Library Journal gave DEATH OVERDUE a starred review and made it Pick of the Month. My book became available on Net Galley, which garnered it many great reviews from readers. It received a favorable review in Publishers Weekly, and thousands of readers have taken part in the Goodreads giveaways. The book is a Mystery/Literary Guild book club selection. The book was listed as #111 of the 200 most popular Goodreads books for October, 2017. I am thrilled each time I learn of  a new review or place where my book is being sold.

I’m thankful that I’m with a wonderful publishing company that sends out copies to reviewers and places that might feature my book. I could never do this as a self-published author. When I asked my local Barnes & Noble if they’d like to have me come and read from my new book, I was offered a choice of dates to appear. All this has been an amazing experience for me—and for Carrie Singleton, my sleuth in my Haunted Library mystery series.

Purchase DEATH OVERDUE at Amazon:


Marilyn’s Amazon page:

Allison Brook’s Amazon page:









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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.

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