Mysteries I Read in April

Friday, April 24, 2020



You would think, what with social distancing and all, I would be reading a lot. It turns out I haven’t. For some reason, reading hasn’t been at the top of my list lately. Of course, I’ve been really busy working on my new series. I’ve also been promoting the first book. And, because I want the third book to be the best historical mystery ever, I’ve been watching a number of YouTube videos on writing, as well as dipping into the myriad writing books I own.

But I’m always reading at least one novel, so here are two I read in April.

Revenge is Sweet (Vintage Sweets Mysteries #1)
By Kaye George

First, a disclosure:
I’ve known Kaye George, at least virtually, for decades. We were members of the Guppies chapter of Sisters in Crime together, which is where we met. We’ve also met in person a few times. I like Kaye a lot.

She’s also been nominated for the Agatha Award several times for her both her short stories and novels. She’s written several series, including a historical mystery series featuring a Neanderthal tribe and sleuth Enga Dancing Flower. Now, that’s something completely different!

This book isn’t. Different, that is.

In standard cozy style, this book takes place in a small tourist town in Texas. The sleuth, Tally Holt, owns Tally’s Old Tyme Sweets, a shop where she makes and sells candy and cookies cooked from her grandmother’s recipes. Next door, is Bella’s Baskets, owned by Yolanda Bella.

Local handyman Gene Faust, handsome, sweet-talking ladies’ man, has one bad habit. He uses his charm to borrow money from these ladies, and he doesn’t pay it back.

So it’s no surprise that when he’s found dead in Tally’s kitchen with Yolanda’s scissors poking out of him, that there are a lot of suspects.

Needless to say, I wanted to like this book. And I did. But “liked” is the operative word. I didn’t love it. Part of that is probably me. I’ve grown tired of the modern cozy mysteries that seem to have cookie-cutter characters, settings, and plots. There was nothing particularly different about this one, except having dual points of view, which turned out to be not an asset, but a problem. The women’s voices weren’t different enough to make it easy to tell who was narrating the story at each point.

But if you like conventional modern cozies, this might be a book you’ll love.
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The Case of the Comely Clairvoyant and Other Miscellany

Friday, April 17, 2020
I’m finally adjusting to the new reality, just in time for things to change again. I’ve got my mask (with another one on order from Etsy) and my hand sanitizer, cans of vegetables, tuna, and salmon, and have finally been able to concentrate on writing for some period of each day. As an aside, I can tell you this mask thing is not gonna fly in Arizona in the summer! Not unless someone comes up with a way to put air conditioning in them.

So, where are the books?

I’m in the middle of proofreading The Case of the Angry Artist and should be done no later than tomorrow. (Unless I need another nap. Naps are good.) I’ve also put some serious work into plotting The Case of the Comely Clairvoyant. I think this is going to be a good one. I’ve been reading several history books for background on the Suffragist movement and the role of Spiritualism in it. I’ve also dipped into the smaller history books of the town Shipwreck Point is based on for the political atmosphere in general at the time.

While the first two books are like television show episodes, The Case of the Comely Clairvoyant is starting to feel like a feature-length film. It’s as if I was just getting warmed up so I could write this new book. The town of Whitby, aka Shipwreck Point, is being populated with a number of interesting people. I think you’ll enjoy meeting them. I know I have. It really is fun to have your own imaginary place to go to when you’re mostly staring out the windows at empty streets.

I’ve also gotten the first couple of takes on the new covers for this series. Wowzer! It’s amazing what a cover artist can do. As soon as she does the cover for The Case of the Angry Artist, I’ll put it up for pre-order. If you want to know when that will be, sign up for my newsletter (it's in the sidebar), since I’ll announce it there first.

I think that’s it for now. I have to get back to writing. Stay safe!
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Scituate Lighthouse

Saturday, April 11, 2020

To me, summertime always meant trips to the beach. While I preferred Tobay, a town beach on the barrier island of Jones Beach, my father often chose to drove to one of the rocky beaches on the north shore of Long Island. That would frequently include a stop to buy clams on the way home, which we’d eat “on the half shell” while waiting for dinner.

But it was always the large waves of the Atlantic Ocean that attracted me, pounding the coastline, the water rushing in and then pulling back endlessly. The rhythmic pulse of the surf has always relaxed me, made me feel calm, no matter what personal storms raged within me. So it was only natural that I developed an affinity for lighthouses as well.

When I moved to the south shore of Boston, Boston Light was frequently in view. This tall, white spire can be seen for miles just off the coast of Hull, Massachusetts. It’s the oldest lighthouse in America, originally built in 1716. The current lighthouse was built 1783 to replace the old one. You can take a tour during the summer, which I did at least once.

But the lighthouse that captured my imagination was Scituate Light, built on the coast of a small town south of Boston. A latecomer when compared to Boston Light, this smaller structure was built it 1811, just in time to play a part in the War of 1812.

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