Thursday, April 30, 2009

Worth Mentioning - Hardboiled Heroes & Cozy Cats 2009

This upcoming event is worth mentioning. This Mystery Writers of America, Southwest Chapter Conference is scheduled to be held on Friday and Saturday, June 19-20, 2009 in Dallas, Texas. For more information, see

5/9/09 I checked the website today and noticed this year's conference has been cancelled!!! That is too bad.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Back To The Beginning - A Fresh Baked Mystery

That is CORRECT!!! I've gone back to the beginning of the Fresh Baked Mystery Series. Recently I had a post about the first book I read OF the series - The Christmas Cookie Killer - it was NOT the first book IN the series. So ... I've gone back ... and read A Peach of a Murder by Livia J. Washburn.

This is where it starts for our retired teacher turned sleuth - Phyllis Newsom. Phyllis and others are picking out choice peaches in preparation for a cooking contest at the annual Peach Festival. This is the first time she finds a dead body - the owner of the Peach Farm. It appears this could have been a death by accident but later Phyllis questions if it was an accident or if it was murder.

But there are a few other things to take Phyllis' mind off the accident. First, she is trying to come up with a winnable recipe for the cooking contest. Also, she has some concerns about another retired teacher who boards with her who is becoming more and more distant. In addition, she has a vacant room to board and the next person interested in boarding (also a retired school teacher) is a man - Sam Fletcher. This may not set well with her other female boarders. Finally ... on the day of the contest, one of the cooking contest judges dies ... in front of her booth ... after eating her contest entry ... from an apparent poisoning. She has suddenly become a suspect. One of her other boarders, Carolyn, who always wins in the cooking contests, becomes the most likely suspect. Phyllis vows to herself she will find the real killer.

Let me tell you, a lot happens and I will not reveal too much of it because I think it is worth reading. But there are a few observations I want to make. First as in most other things entertaining, you need to find something that would appeal to your audience. In the case of this series, besides it being a mystery series, there is the theme of baking. The author has several recipes that are prepared in the course of the book. As a bonus the author gives the recipes for some of these - Phyllis's Spicy Peach Cobbler, Carolyn's Peaches and Cream Cheesecake, and Mama's Roast Supreme (Coke Roast). (Note: I think our author has probably done some experimenting like Phyllis did to come up with some recipes herself - see this post in her blog -

I think another example of her finding to appeal to her audience is a timely use of a recognizable quote like the one used by Sam Fletcher - "No brag, just fact". This has the same kind of appeal they are using in TV shows where they use songs and oldies to appeal to their audiences.

And finally, in this book, she used something emotionally and "real" to appeal to her audience. She lets us see how having somebody growing old and having problems keeping it together affects everybody around them - specifically ourselves. Again ... one of the things helping a writer to keep an audience is their ability to write from experience and research ... AND ... most likely this writer is using both.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Ice cream is ice cream --NOT!!! My favorite is Blue Bell's Homemade Vanilla (see the picture - I was inspired by Jennings Junk). Now, Blue Bell has other flavors and I have tried some. Of course there are many other brands of ice cream and I have tried some of them as well. But as I have already mentioned, I really like Blue Bell's Homemade Vanilla -- and I don't think it is because it was made here in Texas (LOL)!!!

Are you wondering why I am talking about ice cream on my blog about mystery reading? Well...., as I know, there is more to read besides mysteries. Almost a month ago, I heard an author read from his collection of short stories at Sachse Library. The author was Glen Pourciau. See the post about the event at

I got his book - Invite. I just finished reading it. This definitely was not something I would normally read but once I started reading it, I had to finish it - not in one sitting. His stories were NOT mysteries but his writing was intriguing. He reveals a lot about the character's inner self through his stories. And his stories cause you to think - Imagine that!!!
So what do you prefer? How you answer this is totally up to you. You can decide to answer it based on your choice of ICE CREAM. Or you can answer it based on your choice of what you like to read.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Reading A Christmas Gift

One of the gifts I got for Christmas was this book by Phillip Margolin call After Dark. (Thanks Cathie and Tracy!!) Yes ... I finally got around to reading it and Tina read it before me. (By the way, she enjoyed it also!!) It was a very interesting Crime Thriller. It may also be classified as a legal thriller.

Abigail Griffin is a successful prosecutor in the DA's office. That is until one of the most dangerous person she put on death row has his case overturn by the Oregon State Supreme Court - a decision made in part by one of the Justices on the court - her husband. She feels he did it to get back at her because she has filed for a divorce. And things just get worse for her (or better for the story) when her husband is blown up by a bomb (similar to the one used by the person she had put on death row who was released by her husband). At first everything seems to point to Charlie Deems - that dangerous person. Then things start pointing to her. She is also suspected of murdering her husband's clerk a few weeks earlier.

Abbie has to rely on help from Matthew Reynolds (the other side) to get her out of jail and out of this predicament. Matthew Reynolds has made a successful practice out of keeping persons off death row. It is from him we learn the meaning of "after dark". It is "after dark" when an attorney finds themselves visiting the penitentiary and leaving in the morning after their client has been executed. His motivation is on a personal level - his father was executed for a crime he did not commit - a crime somebody else confessed to afterwards.

There is a lot of "stuff" going on in this book. There are so many twists and turns. If Abbie did not commit the murders, who did? And who will figure it out? You may figure it out "or" you may suspect you have figured it out but I am not going to give it away. There are just some things you have to see for yourself.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Discussion Group Selection For April

The April selection for the Firewheel Barnes and Noble Mystery Discussion Group is shown in the picture. It is Strangled Prose by Joan Hess. It is another mystery involving a book store. BUT WAIT A MINUTE - because it is NOT another Booktown Mystery as discussed in some previous posts. This is the first book in A Claire Malloy Mystery. I did some checking on the Internet and there are currently 17 (yes, seventeen) books in this series by Joan Hess. I am not certain who in our group suggested reading this book but it looks like I have a lot of reading to do.
By the way, if you cannot tell from the above paragraph - I liked the book. So as the tradition of our reading group goes, I give the book a THUMBS UP. I will followup with a comment after our group meets to let you know what the consensus was of the group.
Claire Malloy is the proprietor of a book store called Book Depot. She has a friend - Mildred Twiller - who is an author of a series of "torrid" romance novels under the name of Azalea Twilight. Her friend has asked her to host a reception for her newest book at the Book Depot. She reluctantly agrees. (By the way, Claire's 14 year old daughter and a friend of her daughter's are big fans of Azalea Twilight.)
When the reception starts, every thing seems to be going well. However, a group has gathered outside to protest the book. At one point during the reception, one of the protesters comes in with a copy of the book and reads out some passages from it. These passages hit close to home describing embarrassing situations for several of the local college staff including Claire Malloy's dead husband. The author is flustered and leaves the reception. Shortly thereafter, she is found murdered and there is no shortage of suspects - including Claire Malloy.
Needless to say, Claire Malloy gets involved in investigating the murder and discovers some surprises. One surprise is that her friend "the author of the book" did not write the book. I will NOT give anymore away. If you are interested, you need to read the book. I think you will find it interesting. Who knows ... you might get hooked on the series!!