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Mystery Monday – Murder Most British series by Dorothy Simpson

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Murder Most British featuring Inspector Luke Thanet
Series by Dorothy Simpson
by Cheryl G. (Poncer)

 

I recently ran into book one of this series, The Night She Died here on PaperBackSwap. And since I love a British mystery I ordered it. And then proceded to order the next 8 books in the series.

The Kent countryside and the village of Sturrenden are described beautifully by Dorothy Simpson  in each book, as the seasons pass. They are as much characters in the books as the rest of the cast.

The Murder Most British follows CID Inspector Thanet around the Kent countryside solving murders. Thanet is not a blustery blowhard cop. Rather he is an officer who cares about his wife, children, co-workers and his victims. He actually hates his first glimpse of a dead body. Luke Thanet believes in getting into the victims life and mind to figure out who the murderer is.
So far Ms. Simpson has written 15 books in this series. I am up to number 7. Each mystery is a who-done-it, but also a why-done-it. I have only managed to figure out the murderer in 2 of them. But at the ending, they made perfect sense.

While these may be considered by many to be cozy mysteries, I think they are more “thinking mysteries”. While there is no adult content nor gory blood and guts, Inspector Thanet and his Detective Sergeant, Lineham do delve into minds, habits and motivation of suspects on their list.

In Puppet for a Corpse, Thanet says, “A good detective not only has to be intelligent, persevering and prepared to do enless boring routine work, he also needs one other quality: Intuition. I see it rather as the ability to make connections which are there but are not immediately apparent. Subterranean connections.”

Unfortunately, in 2000 Ms. Simpson suffered a repetitive stress injury and was forced to stop writing.

This series can be read out of order, but I have enjoyed reading them in order and following along as Thanet and Lineham’s personal lives and characters develop.

  1. The Night She Died   1981
  2. Six Feet Under  1982
  3. Puppet for a Corpse   1983
  4. Close Her Eyes   1984
  5. Last Seen Alive   1985
  6. Dead on Arrival   1986
  7. Element of Doubt  1987
  8. Suspicious Death   1988
  9. Dead by Morning   1989
  10. Doomed to Die   1991
  11. Wake the Dead   1992
  12. No Laughing Matter  1993
  13. A Day for Dying   1995
  14. Once Too Often     1998
  15. Dead And Gone    2000

Author Spotlight – Georgette Heyer

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Georgette Heyer Author Spotlight by Charlie M. (bookaddicted)

Are you a fan of Agatha Christie mysteries? Discover another author very similar to her in Georgette Heyer. Georgette Heyer, you say? Didn’t she write Regency romances and historical novels? Yes, and those are probably what she is best known for authoring. But, Heyer also wrote a dozen very engaging mystery novels.

Four of the books feature Police Superintendent Hannasyde Death in the Stocks, Behold, Here’s Poison, They Found Him Dead & A Blunt Instrument.

 

Four feature Inspector Hemingway, Hannasyde’s subordinate No Wind of Blame, Envious Casca, Duplicate Death & Detection Unlimited.


The final four are stand-alones: Footsteps in the Dark, Why Shoot a Butler?, The Unfinished Clue & Penhallow.

 

Heyer’s books are classic English country house mysteries and it is said her barrister husband, Reginald Rougier, provided many of the plots for the detective novels.

 

Most of the mysteries were written in the 1930’s – early 1940’s and the characters are engaging and the plot twists inventive. Heyer’s mysteries was praised “for their wit and comedy as well as for their well-woven plots”. (critic Nancy Wingate)

 

If you have not had the pleasure of settling in with one of Heyer’s mystery novels, don’t wait. They will most likely become new favorites.

 

Author Spotlight – Ken Follett

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Author Spotlight – Ken Follett

by Cheryl G. (Poncer)

One of the great things about being a member at PaperBackSwap is finding new authors to read and enjoy.  Just like not judging books by their cover, I relearn over and over again, not to judge authors by my limited experience with their books.

I thought Ken Follett only wrote books about WWII. Boy, was I wrong. A book that came highly recommended to me was The Pillars of the Earth. Matter of fact, a close friend who I have had the pleasure to get to know in real life gave me her own copy to read. Thanks, Lori!

The 983 pages seemed daunting at first, but after the first few pages I was hooked. Read it through in about a week’s time and am very glad I did. The research that went into this book is amazing, and the story winds its way through it seamlessly.

I have always marveled at the feat of church-building, even ones built in the modern age, but to follow along as a cathedral is being planned and built in the early 10th century is awe inspiring. And to follow the builder, the monks, the daily struggles of Ken Follett’s characters really put me in the medieval time. This book came highly recommended to me and now, I, too, highly recommend it.

The next Ken Follett book I read was The Man from St. Petersburg, set in England just before WWI. It follows the Walden family, Lord, Lady and daughter, through the lead-up to the war. And just like The Pillars of the Earth, I was hooked from the very beginning.

Ken Follett’s research in both books is impeccable, weaving his story lines through history, and though we know that what he writes did not necessarily happen, his novels are believable and very true-to-life. He achieves this by his careful construction of characters, surrounding them with accurate details of the eras in which he sets his stories. He says, ““I like to create imaginary characters and events around a real historical situation. I want readers to feel: OK, this probably didn’t happen, but it might have.”

Ken Follett is a prolific author. He has penned over 30 novels, and sold over 150 million copies of his books. 4 have made the NY Times best seller list. An author I avoided for far too long is one of my new favorites. Today I received A Place Called Freedom in the mail that I ordered from another member here at PaperBackSwap. Set in 1766, it too promises to be a compelling read.

There are currently over 700 copies of Ken Follett’s book available to order on PBS. And two more on their way to me, Night Over Water and Paper Money. I am hoping they will be just as absorbing as the first two books I have read.

  

What Ken Follett books have you read? Which would you recommend?

 

 

Thanksgiving Guest Blog with Author Jess Lourey

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Picky Readers, Flying without a Net, and “Thanksgivingishness”

by Jess Lourey

Yay! I’m back at Paperback Swap, or as I like to call it, “The Humane Society for Books.” Thank you for reading, for being a part of this community, and for giving me five minutes of your time (ten, if you’re a slow reader, and if it’s wonderful if you are. It means that reading might not be quick for you, but it’s important, and important always trumps quick.)

When the amazing Cheryl tapped me to write this Thanksgiving post (and to add “thanksgivingishness” to it—her word), I was spending a lot of time thinking about what constitutes a good book. I got my start in the mystery world, and you won’t find better people or more compelling stories anywhere. That said, mysteries (and romances, fantasy, westerns, and some sci fi) all get a bad rap. They are categorized as genre fiction. In other words formulaic, write-by-numbers fluff. I’m not sure who exactly started that rumor, or who perpetuates it, but it’s settled into our collective subconscious. Many genre fiction writers are defensive about this. I may be one of them.

I’d like to think this need to prove something had nothing to do with me tackling a middle grade fantasy a year ago, or a magical realism novel this past fall, but I know better. Sure, the stories were driving me, but on some level, I wanted to legitimize myself. But you know what? As I embark on the eighth round of revisions on my magical realism manuscript, I realize that a good book is a good book, no matter the genre. The story is the key. The genre is merely the vehicle that takes it where it’s going.

This awareness made me realize that I don’t have to cater to picky readers (or writers, editors, agents, or publishers), those who only read romance, or only read literary fiction or nonfiction, or who only read any single type of book because they’ve mistaken the vehicle for the key. I can’t tell you how freeing this was for me, which brought me to a major career shift: I am now flying without a net. Specifically, I’ve decided to redefine myself as a writer. I’m no longer a mystery writer who does middle grade, or magical realism. I’m simply a story teller. In service of this new vision, I’ve also fired my agent, who couldn’t support my career shift in the way I needed her to.

That means I am now dangling over the edge, no net in sight: no genre to call home, no agent. Can I tell you how uncomfortable this is? Probably not, because you don’t know how Type A I am. I make lists. I know what I’m going to wear tomorrow. I plan time to plan. Letting go of my safety nets terrifies me. I’ve lost sleep about it. But also, on a deep, deep level, I’m grateful for where I’m at. This uncomfortable space is where the growth comes from, and the big, glorious changes. And for this opportunity to leave the comfort of the familiar for the excitement and promise of the unknown, I feel nothing but a deep and abiding thanksgivingishness.

Please keep reading, and support the stories, no matter what kinda car they drive up in. Happy holidays!

 

 

 

Jess Lourey

Jess Lourey is the author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month mysteries set in Battle Lake, Minnesota, and featuring amateur sleuth, Mira James. In multiple starred reviews, Booklist says of the series, “”It’s not easy to make people laugh while they’re on the edge of their seats, but Lourey pulls it off! Get started on this Lefty-nominated mystery series if you haven’t already!” Jess has been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998.

When not raising her wonderful kids, teaching, or writing, you can find her gardening, traveling, and navigating the niceties and meanities of small-town life. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and The Loft, and serves on the national board of Mystery Writers of America.

Her latest, January Thaw, hits shelves January 8, 2014:

When Mira James moved to a small town in Minnesota, she thought she left muggings behind her . . . until she’s jumped by two men in an alley. A third man saves her, but for all his trouble he’s found frozen under an ice-covered lake.

Meanwhile, Mira’s job as a private eye in training has her tracking down the family that built the Prospect House, home of the town’s new museum. Discovering a letter that dates back to 1865, Mira finds herself embroiled in a cold case of treachery and a hot case of drug trafficking that puts the whole town in danger.

“…wry…delightfully eccentric. Readers of small-town mysteries will be charmed.”

Publisher’s Weekly

 

 

 

 

Food Week Author Spotlight – Julia Child

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

by Pat L. (PitterPat)

 

 

 

Julia Child inspired many Americans to try new cooking techniques over her many years on TV. Julia didn’t learn to cook until she was in her 30’s. She became interested in cooking after marrying Paul Child. In 1948 they moved to France, where Paul worked for the United States Information Agency. Julia fell in love with French food immediately. She attended the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and started teaching other American women how to cook French dishes. In the early 1950’s she started writing a cookbook with 2 friends. That book later became “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes one and two”.

 

 

Decades later she worked with her great-nephew, Alex Prud’homme to write “My Life in France”. It was published in 2006, 2 years after Julia died. This is a wonderful book told in Julia’s voice about the time the Childs spent in France. She describes in wonderful detail special meals they were served, the apartment they lived in, and the French people. Cooking and teaching became Julia’s passion and you can feel it through this book. You also get a glimpse into Julia and Paul’s marriage. They were truly partners and soul mates.

 

 

 

Another book that will give you more insight into Julia is “As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto” by Joan Reardon. Avis Devoto is the person who took Julia’s cookbook manuscript to publishers in the United States. Their letters reveal how much work Julia spent in perfecting each recipe that she wanted published. They also talked about politics and personal situations. Some of it I had a hard time relating to because Avis came from a life that involved hired help and lots of cocktail parties. I felt she wasn’t really in touch with the average housewife of the 1950’s. But again you see Julia’s passion in her letters about the cookbook manuscript.

 

 

 

 

If you have ever seen “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, you know that the recipes are extremely long and detailed. Julia wanted the books to teach cooks techniques not just a list of ingredients and simple cooking directions. After reading the two books about Julia, I revisited a copy of “Mastering” and had a new appreciation for how the recipes were written. I realized that Julia wanted to be in my kitchen helping me cook. She wanted everyone to enjoy the process of cooking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even if you don’t consider yourself a big fan of Julia Child, I highly recommend these books. You may also walk away thinking about what are you passionate about in life.

Bon Appétit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medieval London – A Guest Blog by Jeri Westerson

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeri Westerson is one of our very favorite authors here on the PBS Blog. She writes medieval mysteries with an enigmatic, flawed, sexy, and very different protagonist. His name is Crispin Guest and he’s a disgraced knight turned detective on the mean streets of fourteenth century London. Her latest book, Blood Lance was released in October.

 

Blood Lance is the read along book this month in the Historical Fiction Discussion Forum here at PaperBackSwap. She will be joining us there for a Q&A session tomorrow, 11/14. Come join us! Here is a direct link to the Forum LINK

 

 

Fog, a constant drizzle, gray. The miserable cold and dank of London conjures in our minds shadowy figures of Jack the Ripper or the scurrilous deeds of Mr. Hyde. But go back further before street lamps, before the Victorians cast their gloomy sway over the city. A hundred, two hundred, six hundred years before London and Westminster melded together, and you have descended into the shadowy realm of fourteenth century London where my medieval detective dwells.

 

Some cities are made for crime. Chicago, Los Angeles, New York. But I would add London. There’s too much atmosphere, too much history to leave it out. Add in the violence of the medieval mindset and you’ve really got something.

 

Of course, the streets and narrow lanes of the medieval mayhem I love so well are long gone. London was devastated by fires and simply by the whims of Newer, Better, Bigger as time marched on. The medieval London of my darkest imaginings no longer exists. A few foundations, a few churches, but the rest is lost to the name of Progress. Maps serve to give me the claustrophobic feel of constricted alleys and a puzzle of lanes. In fact, one can lay these maps on the Google Earth version of the present day London and nearly match some of it exactly. Even some of the names remain the same. My fictional detective, Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight turned detective and down on his luck, frequents a tavern to forget his troubles, which is located on Gutter Lane…a street that still exists by that name. I love that!

 

 

But there are still a few locations that can renew your sense of time and place. One obvious structure is the Tower of London. The outer walls and the White Tower within are relatively the same, sans the murky moat that used to surround it, and walking under the arches and sharp teeth of the portcullises you can get a true sense of its medieval origins, if you can ignore the gift shop signs and colorfully dressed tourists. It began life as the castle of William the Conqueror and as a residence of each monarch after him until digs in Westminster were built. Only later did it become the dreaded place of imprisonment for London’s elite.

 

I could name so many places that no longer exist or have been changed so radically from its Victorian counterpart that it is almost not worth the mention. London’s city walls, for instance—the square mile that delineated ancient London—have been obliterated by “new” buildings from the Georgian and Victorian periods and our modern time, and it is only with a helpful handheld guide that you can find its remnants. But a walk into a few structures might bring the medieval back to mind. The Temple Church of the Knights Templar, St. Bartholomew the Great, the Guildhall. Then there is the wonderfully intact Westminster Hall, the great hall that was part of the medieval Westminster Palace, whose footprint is now covered by the Parliament buildings. And, of course, Westminster Abbey, which got a brush up of remodeling in Crispin’s day in the fourteenth century. But remember, those are in what was the city of Westminster, not the London of old.

 

It’s a good thing I can visit medieval London in my imagination. I can well see the crooked, narrow lanes, the towering two and three-story shops and houses precariously leaning into the street. Running gutters wending their way down muddy avenues. Smoke from countless hearths curling along slate and tile roofs. Geese and sheep being herded down from the countryside to the markets. Horses pulling carts. Merchants calling their wares with their carved wordless signs hanging above their heads. The sights, the smells, the sounds.

 

 

And then, deep in the shadows, a dagger flashes and a body falls to the mud. That’s my kind of place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeri Westerson writes the Crispin Guest Medieval Noir series. Her latest is BLOOD LANCE, set in London and on London Bridge. Find book discussion guides and an exciting series book trailer on her website www.JeriWesterson.com.

 

 

 

Thank you Jeri! You are the Best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banned Book Week – Guest Blog by Author Jeri Westerson

Monday, October 1st, 2012

 

Jeri Westerson is one of our very favorite authors here on the PBS Blog. She writes medieval mysteries with an enigmatic, flawed, sexy, and very different protagonist. His name is Crispin Guest and he’s a disgraced knight turned detective on the mean streets of fourteenth century London. Her latest book, Blood Lance is due out in October.

 

Banned Books by Jeri Westerson

Banned books got me my first book blurb, and I didn’t even have a contract yet.

Let me explain.

I was on my way to my first mystery fan convention, the kind of place I had hoped to someday be on panels once I was a published author. I had just signed with my agent and he was going to be there and suggested I go, too, to schmooze with editors at some of the parties. That sounded like a plan to me. But I also had my own agenda. I was going to talk myself up to as many published authors as I could so I could get a pre-contract set of blurbs to show to prospective publishers. I thought a few well-chosen words from established authors would help editors make that much-needed decision to sign me up.

And surprisingly, it started on the plane ride to the conference (that would ultimately end up in Madison, Wisconsin). I was switching planes in San Francisco. I was wearing a shirt that proclaimed loudly “I Read Banned Books!” Well, sitting there with this billboard on my chest caught the attention of an author who was going to the conference and ended up as my seat mate. We got to chatting and before the end of the flight, award-winning author Cornelia Read had offered to blurb my book. I was off and running.

One more author had given me a blurb at the conference and we had some promising schmoozing with a few editors that led to my agent shipping the manuscript—blurbs and all—to a few publishers. Ultimately, it was St. Martin’s who made the offer and we are ready to release the fifth book in the series together.

And just what was that marvelous blurb that Cornelia gave my first medieval mystery? Here it is:  “Jeri Westerson’s Veil of Lies is a great read, through and through. Her finely wrought portrait of gritty Medieval London is imbued with great wit and poignancy, establishing Crispin Guest as a knight to remember.”

Cornelia is still a fan, and I’ve added such authors as Julia Spencer-Fleming, John Lescroart, Rhys Bowen, and William Kent Krueger to the Crispin blurb list. And there’s more to love with the release of the fifth book in the series, BLOOD LANCE.

If it wasn’t for banned books, where would I be now?

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You can read more about Jeri’s books (and see all the blurbs) as well as book discussion guides and the series book trailer on her website at www.JeriWesterson.com