Anthologies for the Holidays

In Iceland, the best Christmas gift is a book. For me, it’s the best gift anywhere, anytime.

How about an anthology for the mystery/thriller fans on your list? It’s the solution to the quandary, “What does Aunt Denise like to read?” or “What if she’s already read what I pick out?” There are enough choices in anthologies to ensure that Aunt Denise hasn’t read all the stories. And it’s a great gift idea for you!

Here are just a few suggestions:

The Noir Series from Akashic Books. Here you’ll find vast collections of dark stories from the USA and around the world. There’s one for my home town of Richmond, Virginia.

Elm Books publishes anthologies of fiction, mysteries, poetry, science fiction, romance, and Gen-E children’s books. I especially enjoyed Death and a Cup of Tea.

This spring, Elm Books will release Death by Cupcake. I’m pleased that my story, “Cupcakes and Emeralds” will appear in what promises to be another great collection.

In Melodie Johnson Howe’s Shooting Hollywood: The Diana Poole Stories, a middle-aged actress tries to make a comeback but keeps tripping over dead bodies!

Ms. Howe guest-posted on this blog back in June. Read her post, “Images of a Writer,” here.

The Best American Mystery Stories 2018, edited by Louise Penny, includes stories by T. C. Boyle, James Lee Burke, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Charlaine Harris, Andrew Klavan, Martin Limón, Paul D. Marks, Joyce Carol Oates, and others.

Consider a gift subscription (print or digital) to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and/or Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Both publications come out bi-monthly.

50 Shades of Cabernet: A Mysterious Anthology includes stories that feature—you guessed it—Cabernet! My contribution is “Wine, Women, and Wrong.”

All these and many more are available at your favorite brick-and-mortar store or online.

Happy Holidays, my friends! Celebrate with a good book. Read about Iceland’s annual Christmas book flood here.

Readers, do you have your own suggestions for gifts-giving? Leave a comment.


Amy Reade’s Top Ten Gifts for Readers

Welcome back, Amy Reade! Amy is one of my favorite guests and today she shares her Top Ten Gifts for Readers. Wait’ll you see what’s #1!

Here’s Amy:

Maggie told me to write what moves me for this post. And since the holidays have already kicked into high gear, I thought I’d write something you can use. Something that’ll make gift-giving easier this year for the readers in your life.

Without further ado, what follows is my list of the 2018 edition of the Top Ten Gifts for Readers:

10. 100 Books Scratch-Off Poster. This poster lists 100 iconic and influential pieces of literature. As your favorite reader finishes each one, he or she scratches off the film underneath each book title to reveal a tiny piece of artwork that references the book. $15.00 at Uncommon Goods:

9. Nancy Drew Wrapped Pencil Set. Perfect for your favorite reader OR the sleuth who has everything. It’s a set of 5 no. 2 pencils, each hand-wrapped with pages from a Nancy Drew book. Note: each pencil has been shortened to the width of a Nancy Drew book page, so you’ll be getting pencils that are a bit shorter than regular pencils. A set of 5 pencils is $10.00 at Etsy:

8. Bibliophile by Jane Mount. This is a coffee table book chock full of quizzes, facts about literature, and book recommendations, among other things. Um, if anyone in my family is reading this…you know what to do. Find it for about $19.00 on Amazon:

7. Lit Chat. This is fun for families and a great activity for book groups who might need a month off for something a little lighter! It’s a deck of 50 cards containing 100 questions about literature—favorite characters, what books-turned-movies are good or bad, and lots more. It’s an entertaining conversation starter. Find it for $16.99 at Abrams Books:

6. Rechargeable Book Light. This is a perfect gift for someone who likes to read in bed. The light clamps onto the book and voila! Your reader has an accompaniment for a book he or she just can’t put down. Get it for $29.95 at Barnes & Noble:

5. Book Socks. For the reader who loves to lounge while he or she reads, this is the perfect gift. It gives clear, concise instructions to anyone who may be nearby. I’d love a pair! Find them on Etsy for under $15.00

4. Reading Lamp. Have you always wanted a reading lamp in the shape of an open book? No? Is that because you didn’t know they exist? Well, you’re in luck because they’re a thing and you can get one for less than $35.00 on Amazon!

3. Kindle Unlimited Subscription. For $9.99 per month, this is a great option for the reader who loves ebooks. There are literally (see what I did there?) a million books available on Kindle Unlimited, plus magazines and audiobooks. It auto-renews every month, so just keep in mind how many months you want to pay for and then you’ll have to cancel the subscription. But for 10 bucks a month to keep your favorite reader off the streets, lifetime reading might be a good investment. Here’s the link to subscribe:

2. Bodleian Library Treasures. The Bodleian Library was founded at Oxford University in 1602 and it contains amazing literary gems, such as maps, manuscripts, letters, and more. This book features 100 documents that trace the history of reading and writing. Find it at Bas Bleu for $35.00:

1. And last, but not least…you knew this was coming, didn’t you? A book by a favorite author, and naturally I have a great suggestion:

The Worst Noel is my first cozy mystery and features a single mom whose deadbeat ex shows up in town just about the same time the bodies start falling. The main character, Lilly Carlsen, has to deal with her ex, two teenagers, and an aging mother who’s beginning to show signs of dementia. And now Lilly is a suspect in two murders. Christmas is going to be murder this year… Find it at Amazon ( and all other retailers (

Note from Maggie: I just finished The Worst Noel and thoroughly enjoyed it! Perfect gift choice.

Thanks for having me here, Maggie!

Wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy holiday season!

About Amy

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, community volunteer, and recovering attorney.

She’s also a writer. She is the author of The Worst Noel, 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.

Let’s Connect







Amazon Author Page:

Goodreads Page:


Pens, Paws, and Claws (and Fins, Feathers, and Hooves)

If you’re an animal lover looking for your next favorite mystery author, read on!

Pens, Paws, and Claws is a group of mystery authors who love animals. Our furry, feathered, and finned friends are a part of our lives and the pages of our stories. The authors who post on a rotating schedule include: Heather Weidner (brainchild of the blog), Debbie De Louise, Jeanne Adams, K. B. Inglee, Judy Penz Sheluk, Sheri Levy, Teresa Inge, Kristina Stanley, Tracy Weber, and yours truly.

Pens, Paws, and Claws also features entertaining weekly guest posts from mystery authors who talk about their pets and field such questions as “How do you use animals in your writing?” “Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?” “Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?” “Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?”

Read posts from our most recent guests: Marilyn LevinsonChristine Verstraete, and Melissa Gole.

My latest post lists suggestions for readers who love mysteries with dogs. Read “The Dogs Have Their Day” here. I wrote a companion post, “Mysteries Need Cats,” earlier in the year. Of course, many love felines and canines and will want to add titles from both lists to their TBR piles.

Check out the archives for posts from the authors on our regular rotation and from our guest authors.

You just may find your next favorite mystery author—likely you’ll find several. Tell us about your favorite pet mysteries in the comments.

Connect with us!


Facebook: (really cute video with two dogs in a hammock)






Through a Broken Window

by Paul D. Marks

“It is through that broken window that we see the world…” – Alice Walker

Someone asked me why I had written my novels the Shamus Award-winning White Heat and the new sequel to it Broken Windows. White Heat deals with Private Detective Duke Rogers, who finds himself in a racially combustible situation in South Central Los Angeles—on the day the “Rodney King” riots break out. It also deals with race and racism in the context of a mystery-thriller. And Broken Windows (set two years later in 1994 L.A. during the time of California’s notorious anti-illegal alien Proposition 187) does the same for the immigration issue.—That person wanted to know: Did I have experience: was I a cop or a protester?

Alice Walker said, “It is through that broken window that we see the world…” And Broken Windows holds up a prism from which we can view the events burning up today’s headlines through the lens of the recent past. It all comes down to the saying we know so well, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.

While the storm rages over California’s infamous anti-illegal alien Proposition 187, a young woman climbs to the top of the famous Hollywood sign—and jumps to her death. An undocumented day laborer is murdered. And a disbarred and desperate lawyer in Venice Beach places an ad in a local paper that says: “Will Do Anything For Money.”—Private Investigator Duke Rogers, and his very unPC partner, Jack, must figure out what ties together these seemingly unrelated incidents. Their mission catapults them through a labyrinth of murder, intrigue and corruption of church, state and business that hovers around the immigration debate. Along the way we explore the fiery immigration controversy from all sides and no one escapes unscathed.

So, to get back to the question: No, I wasn’t a cop or a protester. But I did live in LA at the time of both the King riots and Proposition 187, and I remember the turmoil, the rallies, the rage on both sides. And I wanted to write about those situations, but not in a didactic way. So my way is to have a thriller story set amongst those backgrounds. For example, while I think the story in Broken Windows steamrolls along like a good thriller, one of the things I find especially interesting about it is how in the context of the Prop 187 debate and era we can get some perspective on the unrest happening today over the immigration issue. By seeing what was happening then, and how the characters deal with the situation, we might gain just a bit of insight into current events.

Also, a long time ago, not too long after the Watts Riots, some friends and I were invited down to Watts by a guy who lived there. He had seen where and how we lived and he wanted us to see where he lived—the “other side of the tracks,” so to speak. We were nervous going there, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of my life. Five or six white kids (teens) sitting in Will Rogers Park (now renamed) in the middle of Watts. Yes, we were an anomaly. But people came over and talked to us. They were curious about us and we were curious about them. But there was no animosity. No tension. It was just people with different backgrounds trying to get to know each other. And that day in particular and for some years after that, I always thought things were getting better along the “differences” lines, even though it might have been a two-steps-forward—one-step-back type of progress. And then a few years ago everything seemed to start sliding downhill again. Getting worse, as if we were largely only going backwards. (Find more of our Watts excursion story here:

Then there was the time I was living in San Diego and took the train up to L.A. It stopped in the middle of nowhere, as I recall. Not at a station. The Border Patrol got on board, handcuffed and took off at least half the passengers. We assumed it was because they had come across the border illegally. It was an aha moment. But maybe there’s something to be learned from it. Maybe the past should give some perspective on today. The same with the King Riots and the Prop 187 contentiousness. Because if we don’t learn from these things, if we don’t learn from the past, twenty years from now our kids will be asking the same questions we are, facing the same situations we are and wondering why nobody did anything about it.

Thank you for hosting me, Maggie. I’ve enjoyed being here.


Paul D. Marks is the author of the Shamus Award-winning mystery-thriller White Heat, which Publishers Weekly calls a “taut crime yarn,” and its sequel Broken Windows (dropping 9/10/18). Publisher’s Weekly says: “Fans of downbeat PI fiction will be satisfied…with Shamus Award winner Marks’s solid sequel to… White Heat.” Though thrillers and set in the 1990s, both novels deal with issues that are hot and relevant today: racism and immigration, respectively. Marks says “Broken Windows holds up a prism from which we can view the events burning up today’s headlines, like the passionate immigration debate, through the lens of the recent past. It all comes down to the saying we know so well, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’.” His short stories appear in Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines, among others, and have won or been nominated for many awards, including the Anthony, Derringer and Macavity. His story Windward, has been selected for the Best American Mystery Stories of 2018, edited by Louise Penny & Otto Penzler, and has also been nominated for both a 2018 Shamus Award and Macavity Award for Best Short Story. Ghosts of Bunker Hill was voted #1 in the 2016 Ellery Queen Readers Poll. He is co-editor of the multi-award nominated anthology Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea.

Missing Mystery Authors: Update #6

The “Missing Mystery Authors” series is back! Thank you readers, for wanting to know what happened to your favorite mystery authors who, for whatever reason, haven’t published in a while.

Some authors are easy to find, while others are not. Fortunately, many still maintain websites and are active on social media so I can contact them. Often life circumstances put her or his writing on hold. Some are making a comeback with a new series. Sadly, some have left us for the great beyond. Others have seemingly vanished.

It’s always a treat when one of these “missing” folks gets in touch and we strike up an online friendship. Bonus is discovering yet another wonderful author who keeps my TBR list alive and well.

Read on!

Dicey Deere wrote the Torrey Tunet mysteries, set in Ballynagh, Ireland. Titles include The Irish Cottage Murder, The Irish Manor House Murder, The Irish Cairn Murder, and The Irish Village Murder.

Dicey Deere was the nom de plume for Harriet La Barre, a former Cosmopolitan editor. Under her real name, she wrote the following mysteries: Stranger in Vienna, The Florentine Win, and Blackwood‘s Daughter.

Ms. LaBarre passed away in 2015 at the age of 99. Read her obit here.

Earl Emerson, author of the Thomas Black series, featuring a Seattle-based PI. Back in March, I asked for information on this author. A reader informed me that he published a Thomas Black title in November of 2017. Somehow I missed that.

Cate Price wrote the Deadly Notions series, featuring Daisy Buchanan. When one of my loyal blog readers wrote: “I just read her third ‘notions’ book and checked to see if there were any more. Couldn’t find anything after 2015,” I emailed the author. Here is her response:

Hi Maggie!

Thanks for getting in touch, and I’m so pleased that readers are still asking about me 🙂

I had a contract with Berkley Prime Crime for a series of three books, as a writer-for-hire, which means that I don’t own the rights to the series, the characters, or even the pen name “Cate Price”. The series was well-received, but Berkley did not offer for more books, because at the time they were radically downsizing their cozy mystery line. So, as much as I had many ideas for more stories, and loved writing the “Deadly Notions” series, my hands are tied and I can’t self publish.

Readers have also asked what I’m working on now, but part of the contract was that I could never identify myself (my real name) to “Cate Price”. So I’m afraid that will have to remain a mystery!

Please thank your readers for their interest. It really cheers me up to think that people are still enjoying the books.

Best Regards,


It sounds like she’s between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

Corinne Holt Sawyer In my last Missing Authors Update, I mentioned Corinne Holt Sawyer, author of the Angela Benbow and Caledonia Wingate series. Angela and Caledonia are “women of a certain age” who live in a retirement community in Southern California and bring killers to justice on a regular basis.

Soon after that post, I began a correspondence with the author. She lives in Southern California and enjoys the same lifestyle she gives her fictional sleuths. She keeps abreast of technology, but, in her words, “I’m not up to blogging.”

When I asked Corinne about her plans for continuing her series, this is what she told me:

After Donald Fine, my publisher, died, my agent had a battle with Penguin (which took over Donald Fine’s lists)…. because Penguin only wanted to do the book in paperback, but our contract with Fine specified hardcover edition first, paperback no closer than 10 months later (or words to that effect).

Agent and Penguin argued back and forth for a year before Penguin gave up and said they would just give us back our manuscript.   After that, agent couldn’t sell the 9th in the series to another publisher. And that was the end of it.

My agent is now too, alas, deceased. I could probably self-publish the 9th in the series, if I were into that. But at age 94 I don’t want to cope with any of the rigors of self publishing.   

I found the following about Corinne Holt Sawyer on Fantastic Fiction:

Very impressive! But is it totally accurate? Not according to Corinne:

Thanks for the link.   I had never seen that writeup and so went right to it…. and yikes!                 

Though my name is spelled right in the headline, it’s misspelled throughout the column. Yes, I took my PhD from Birmingham, but it wasn’t “in the south” it was in England, where they’d moved their entire graduate division of their English Department 35 miles “off campus” to Stratford-on-Avon, where we lived and worked as a community of renaissance scholars (so to speak.). I’ve only  been in Birmingham, Alabama, once in my life…. and not to go to college there!        

I was never station manager of WNCT…  I was what they call “talent” with my own house-and-home program, and a magazine-of-the-air……  etc., etc.   For one year I was their continuity writer as well….. Boooooring job, I fear.

Where on earth do you suppose they got all that misinformation?   And why misspell my name throughout? How very strange…….

I immediately checked my own entry in Fantastic Fiction. It’s accurate but needs updating.

In The Peanut Butter Murders, Corinne’s sleuth Caledonia says “peanut butter” in lieu of swearing (talk about being creative!). When I told Corinne I enjoyed the story, she shared this little known tale:

Oh, here’s a P.S. about “Peanut Butter Murders” — and it makes self publishing look much better, since it wouldn’t have happened if I’d been self-publishing:

I intended that the book start with the little rhyme:

For obvious reasons — the framework story about the girl finding the body beside the railway tracks.

Some editor from Penguin, (she wasn’t MY editor, mind you) told Donald Fine (my publisher) that rhyme shouldn’t be included… it was too gruesome for my readers, who were obviously elderly and easily shocked.  (Oh, puh-leeze!  We used to sing that as we played hop-scotch when we were little kids!)  But,” she said, “I love the title, so keep the title and find another reason for using it.”  So I had to invent the “swear words” for Caledonia, who never used them in any book before or since…..   See?  It’s not so bad not to have a professional editor. They make a lot of mistakes, and they sometimes drive you crazy.

I’ve so enjoyed my correspondence with this delightful author, and loved her behind-the-scenes tidbits. Bonus: she likes my books!

Here’s Corinne Holt Sawyer’s bibliography on Stop! You’re Killing Me. Wouldn’t it be cool if she published #9?

In Memoriam

My friend Rosie researched her own Missing Authors and sent me the following:

Willam G. Tapply and Philip R. Craig William G. Tapply, who died in 2009, wrote some great mysteries about Stoney Calhoun, a Maine fishing guide. He also wrote mysteries featuring attorney Brady Coyne.

I liked a mystery series he co-wrote with Philip R. Craig. These “Brady Coyne and J.W. Jackson” mysteries used Martha’s Vineyard as the setting. Brady Coyne was still a Boston attorney, but his buddy J.W. Jackson (ex-cop) lived on Martha’s Vineyard, and that’s where the mysteries happen! Craig died in 2007 and has three posthumous mysteries released. Craig wrote many J.W. Jackson mysteries that were not collaborations. Those featured his J.W. Jackson character, so when Craig and Tapply cowrote, those mysteries were fun because the reader saw two separate familiar characters. Each author wrote other books/series, too.

Dorothy Gilman died in 2012. I loved her Mrs. Pollifax series. Of course she wrote other books, too. I’m looking at the summary of the Clairvoyant Countess now. See her bibliography on Stop! You’re Killing Me.

Elizabeth Peters’ (Barbara Mertz) Amelia Peabody series really got me hooked. She died in 2013. Her final book The Painted Queen was finished by her friend Joan Hess and released in 2017, and then Joan Hess died in November of 2017. Stop! You’re Killing Me lists the extensive bibliographies of both Elizabeth Peters  and Joan Hess.

◊ ◊ ◊

Posts from my “Missing Authors” series, in chronological order:

Missing Rochelle Krich

Discovering a Lost Author: John J. Lamb

Whatever Happened to Gabrielle Kraft?

Whatever Happened to (Name an Author)?

In Memory of My Favorite Mystery Authors (And Maybe Yours)

Those Missing Authors: An Update

Missing Author Found!

Missing Authors: Update 2

“Missing Authors: Update 3”

“Missing Authors: Update 4”

“Missing Authors: Update 5”

Do you have a favorite mystery author who hasn’t written in some time and isn’t included in one of the above posts? Yes? Include the name(s) in the comments section and I’ll see what I can find out. It may take me some time but I will get back to you, either personally or in an upcoming blog post.