Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Buns and Roses

Some of the members of my discussion group (and my wife) attended an event – the second annual Buns and Roses Romance Tea for Literacy. They were scheduled at the table of author Brenda Novak who in addition to writing romance novels also wrote a series starting with Dead Silence. I decided I would read this book. Is this book a mystery? Well … not really. Technically it is classified a romantic suspense novel. It does not have a typical “sleuth” which is generally associated with a mystery. Is there a mystery? Yes there is – what happened to and where is Reverend Barker a respected member of the Stillwater community who disappeared some 16 years earlier than the book. But it is no mystery to the Montgomery family.

Most of the Stillwater community suspect murder and still believe the Montgomery family is responsible. Grace Montgomery who left Stillwater 13 years ago and became a successful assistant D.A. is returning to Stillwater for a visit. In spite of her success, most of the community still thinks she is trash. We learn in this book why the there is this image of her and the underlying reason. As a young kid, she had been abused by her stepfather – the reverend. As a result she had a very low esteem as a teenager and fell into a trap of getting approval by letting the boys have sex with her. Yes this is fiction but it is not unusual for the same thing to happen when a kid is molested. Grace Montgomery’s return restirs the suspicions of the community that the Reverend was murdered by the Montgomery family. We learn what the Montgomery family knows about the death of the Reverend. But was he murdered?

We learn the circumstances leading up to his death. Giving this information, we understand why it happened. I am no lawyer but it would be my opinion that no legal charge of murder should be made. But given the attitude of the community and their feelings towards the reverend, the Montgomery family feels alone. However, they learn they have allies. And when you think the truth (that the reverend is buried on the family property) is going to come out, it still remains a secret. In the end Grace gets some peace in knowing she was not responsible for what the reverend did to her. Also she finds love and a family. But since this is the first in the trilogy, this is obviously not the end.

Even though this was not what I consider a mystery, I enjoyed the book and will probably read the other two books in the trilogy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

List of Some Favorite Texas Mysteries

As requested, Here is a list of Texas Mystery Authors I have read. TTT indicates the author is in Texas, the sleuth is a Texan, and the books generally take place in Texas. Let me know of any you might be aware of - I am always looking for more.

TTT. Texas Author – Susan Wittig Albert; Texan Sleuth – China Bayles is a former lawyer from Houston, Texas who moves to become a herb shop owner; Texas Location – Pecan Springs. Books Include: Thyme of Death (1992); Witches’ Bane (1993); Hangman’s Root (1994); Rosemary Remembered (1995); Rueful Death (1996); Love Lies Bleeding (1997); Chili Death (1998); Lavender Lies (1999); Mistletoe Man (2000); Bloodroot (2001); Indigo Dying (2003); A Dilly of a Death (2004); Dead Man’s Bones (2005); Bleeding Hearts (2006); Spanish Dagger (2007); and An Unthymely Death (2003).

TTT. Texas Author – Jay Brandon; Texan Sleuth – Mark Blackwell is the District Attorney in San Antonio, TX; Texas Location – San Antonio. Books Include: Fade the Heat (1990) and Loose Among the Lambs (1993).

TTT. Texas Author – Jay Brandon; Texan Sleuth – John Marshall (Lawyer); Texas Location – Green Hills. Local Rules (1995).

TTT. Texas Author – Jay Brandon; Texan Sleuth – John Marshall (Criminal Lawyer); Texas Location – San Antonio, Tx. Books Include: Rules Of Evidence (1992).

TTT. Texas Author – Jay Brandon; Texan Sleuth –Chris Sinclair is a San Antonio District Attorney; Texas Location – San Antonio, TX. Books Include Angel of Death(1998); After-Image (2000); Silver Moon (2004); Grudge Match (2004); and Running With The Dead (2006).

TTT. Texas Author – Bill Crider; Texan Sleuth - Dr Sally Good is the Dept Head at Hughes Community College; Texas Location – Hughes, TX. Books Include: Murder is An Art (1999); A knife In The Back (2002); and A Bond With Death (2004).

TTT. Texas Author – Bill Crider; Texan Sleuth - Carl Burns is a college professor; Texas Location - Pecan City, TX. Books Include: One Dead Dean (1988); Dying Voices (1989); A Dangerous Thing (1994); and Dead Soldiers (2004).

TTT. Texas Author – Bill Crider; Texan Sleuth - Truman Smith is a PI; Texas Location - Galveston, TX. Books Include: Dead On The Island (1991); Gator Kill (1992); When Old Men Die (1994); The Prairie chicken Kill (1996); and Murder Takes A Break (1997).

TTT. Texas Author – Bill Crider; Texan Sleuth - Dan Rhodes is a Sheriff; Texas location - Blacklin County, TX. Books Include: Buster (1991); The Empty Manger (2001); Chocolate Moose (2001); Too Late To Die (1986); Shotgun Saturday night (1987); Cursed To Death (1988); Death On the Move (1989); Evil At the root (1990); Booked For A Hanging (1992); Murder most fowl (1994); Winning Can Be Murder (1996); Death by accident (1998); A Ghost Of A Chance (); A romantic Way To Die (2001); Red, White And Blue Murder (2003); A Mammoth Murder (2005); and Murder Among the Owls (2007).

TTT. Texas Author – Ben Rehder; Texan Sleuth – John Marlin is a game warden; Texas Location - Blanco County, TX. Books Include: Buck Fever (2003); Bone Dry (2004); Flat Crazy (2005); and Guilt Trip (2006).

TTT. Texas Author – Chris Rogers; Texan Sleuth - Dixie Flanagan is a bounty hunter; Texas Location - Houston, TX. Books Include: Bitch Factor (1998); Rage Factor (1999); Chill Factor (2000); and Slice of Life – an online book (2003).

TTT. Texas Author – Barbara Burnett Smith; Texan Sleuth - Cassie Fletcher is a radio personality; Texas Location - Austin, TX. Books Include: Mauve and Murder (2000).

TTT. Texas Author – Barbara Burnett Smith; Texan Sleuth - Jolie Wyatt is an aspiring writer and newscast producer; Texas location - Purple Sage, TX. Books Include: Writers of the Purple Sage (1994); Dust devils of The Purple Sage (1995); Celebration In Purple Sage (1996); Mistletoe From Purple Sage (1997); and Skeletons In Purple Sage (2002).

TTT. Texas Author – Barbara Burnett Smith; Texan Sleuth - Kitzi Camden is a retired politician and public speaker trainer; Texas Location - in Camp Green Clover, TX. Books Include: Bead on Trouble (2005); Beads of Doubt (2007) (completed by Karen MacInerney –another Texas Author).

TT. Texas Author – Karen MacInerney; Texan Sleuth - Natalie Barnes retired from state job in Texas to buy and operate the Gray Whale Inn; Location - Cranberry Island, Maine. Books Include: Murder on The Rocks (2006) and Dead And Berried (2007).

TTT. Texas Author – Leann Sweeney; Texan Sleuth -Abby Rose is a Texas heiress who becomes an adoption PI in the Yellow Rose mystery series; Texas Locations – Houston, Tx. Books Include: Pick Your Poison (2004); A Wedding To die For (2005); Dead Giveaway (2005); and Shoot from the Lip (2007).

TTT. Texas Author – Rick Riordan ; Texan Sleuth - Tres Navarre is a private eye, martial arts master and English Ph.D. in medieval literature; Texas Location - San Antonio, TX. Books Include: Big Red Tequilla (1997); Widower’s Two Step (1998); The last King in Texas (2001); The Devil Went Down to Austin (2002); Cold Springs (2004); South Town (2004); Mission Road (2006); and Rebel Island (Aug 28, 2007).

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Treasure and The Amber Room

“The Amber Room” by Steve Berry. This sure takes me out of the normal Texas mysteries by Texas authors that I like to read. This is the book of the month for our Mystery Discussion Group. I suppose this is one of the things good about the discussion group – the selection is broader than I normally would read so I experience some new things in my readings. This is the first of five books by this author with another on the way. He has a website at Based on what I read in this book, I think I will read more by this author.

I really have had a lot of trouble writing this. If I were a real writer, I guess I had a writers block. Ha Ha . All I can say is I enjoyed it.

Based on the books I have read in the past, I would say this one comes closest to “The DaVinci Code” than any other I have read. It is a great fictional account with some factual/historical basis. It was fascinating how the author bought so many webs and conflicts into the one book - especially since this is an author outside of his traditional / occupational area of expertize.

One of the interesting ideas introduced was the concept of a club of wealthy collectors of stolen arts. The fact they stole only stolen art for their private collections justified in their minds what they were doing. And the murders committed to keep their private collections private did not seem to bother them.

What was especially interesting were the different relationships. Even our sleuth Atlanta Judge Rachel Cuttler evolved in her relationships. At the beginning of the book, she had a civil relationship with her ex-husband. She meets Christian Knoll and finds him exciting. This is before she realizes who he really is - the killer of her father for one. Her ex-husband joins her and sticks with her through this journey. It is during this journey that she realizes what she had all along.

Of course this ends up as the traditional good wins in the end - but it was not necessarily traditional. The good guy wins, the bad guy loses, abd the treasure is returned to its' rightful owners. I can't wait to see what others in the discussion group thought about the book.