The launch of Snake Oil and Other Tales, my second collection of crime stories is this coming Saturday, November 4th at Sleuth of Baker Street Bookstore, 907 Millwood Road, Toronto.
The paperback edition of Snake Oil will be available for sale. Sleuth’s will always be happy to take your order, too.
I’d love to meet and chat with you in person. And do take the opportunity to browse Sleuth’s unrivaled collection of vintage mysteries and buy that book you’ve always been looking for.
With huge bears hug and thank you’s to my publisher and editor, Donna Carrick at Carrick Publishing; to Sara Carrick for her fabulous cover and to Marian Misters and J. D. Singh of Sleuth’s for hosting!
Today I’m both delighted and honored to be interviewed by two great supporters of their fellow authors.
I’m visiting Joanne Guidoccio’s Friday page to share 10 tips on short crime fiction writing: the hills, valleys and rewards of pursuing this literary form. Here’s the link.
Do subscribe to Joanne’s blog. It’s a great way to discover new authors. And her interesting blogs range from humour to confidence-building to life observations.
And I’m also a guest on my dear friend and leading crime writer, Rosemary McCracken’s blog, Moving Target, talking about writing on the dark side. Here’s the link.
Subscribing to Moving Target is another excellent way to discover new crime fiction authors. Rosemary is the author of the popular Pat Tierney financial mystery series and a widely published short story writer.
I’m excited to be part of Melissa’s kick-starter for her new Dr. Hope Sze mystery, Sugar and Vice, Book 3 of the Seven Deadly Sins series. Hope attends a festival that celebrates dragon boat racing and food, an unusual pairing made sinister by a warning that someone is about to die.
Read our interview here and do check out Melissa’s kick- starter here.
Sam is a personal friend. We were both up for the CWC Best Unpublished Manuscript Award (Sam won) and later both of us were nominated for Best First Novel. We lost to Steve Burrows and his bird-watching detective, Jejeune. Sigh. We finally met in person at Portland Left Coast Crime and bonded over our love of Noir.
Sam is passionate about his home city, Vancouver and in each of the Wakeland novels, he explores a serious social issue impacting the lives of its citizens. In Sunset and Jericho, he takes on the housing affordability crisis and the increasing socio-economic wealth gap.
Wakeland’s life is ruled by violence, both perpetrated by and inflicted on him. He survives an amazing number of near-death beatings and is finally told by his doctors to quit his PI job or die. There’s no resolution to the social ills depicted in this book – just like real life. A master stylist of the PI genre, Sam keeps you reading through to the devastating twist at the end.
Sam’s next book is a standalone and he’s hinted that Sunset and Jericho may be the last is the Wakeland series. Hopefully not. I’m eager to read more of Wakeland’s adventures.
Sean Cosby is the author of four stand-alone thrillers and the winner and finalist of numerous leading awards, including the Anthony and ITW Thriller award. In each book, he explores the social ills affecting our society from an African-American perspective.
A master of style and substance, All the Sinners Bleed, is possibly Sean’s best book to date. (Stephen King gave it a rave review in the New York Times.) The book is a police procedural set in the Southern USA. It transcends the genre in the masterful first two pages about the blood-soaked, evil history of Charon County.
On the surface, the story is about the pursuit of a serial killer by Titus Crown, the first black sheriff elected in Charon. Titus, a former FBI agent, allegedly moved back home to look after his elderly father, but he left the FBI under a cloud for taking justice into his own hands. Cosby takes on financial corruption, political weaseling, cult religions and socio-economic inequity while creating a tense thriller that’s impossible to put down. It’s a tough book, violent and unsparing in its depiction of crime and social evils rooted in America’s undying racism. One of the best crime fiction books of 2023.
Eat these books! Highly recommended. Both 5 stars.
I read mostly thrillers and noir so cozies aren’t really my go-to read, BUT every once in while it’s great to switch up, which is why I’m recommending two engaging and thoroughly entertaining reads: The Merry Widow Murders (Cormorant Press) by Melodie Campbell and The Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler.
BOOK ONE: THE MERRY WIDOW MURDERS
Melodie and I are longstanding author friends and I’m big fan of her Derringer-winning Goddaughter novella series. Melodie, AKA The Mesdames of Mayhem’s Queen of Comedy, got her training in stand-up, so she’s always written short. Do take a look at her featured story, “The Kindred Spirits Detective Agency” on the Mesdames’ website and see how she creates a world in under 2000 words. That takes skill!
Melodie confided to me that writing “long” for a standard novel posed a challenge. And it’s a challenge she’s overcome beautifully in The Merry Widow Murders. Her mystery is set in 1928 aboard a luxury ocean liner. Lady Lucy Revelstoke, the wealthy young widow of an English lord, is travelling back to England when someone dumps a dead stranger in her cabin. Was this planned or an unhappy accident? Lucy and her two sidekicks, Lord Tony and her maid, Elf, don’t wait to find out. They try to dispose of the body discretely, but things don’t go as planned.
Lucy has a shady past, which would ruin her in the conventional society of the day. To safeguard her reputation, Lucy must solve the stranger’s murder. The mystery has many twists and turns and a satisfying ending. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of ocean-going life, the food and art deco decor. Melodie skillfully weaves in social comment about the position of women in 1928 and the strictures of social convention.
BOOK TWO: DEVIL’S CHEW TOY
I had the pleasure of meeting Rob Osler in person at Left Coast Crime in Tucson this year. Fellow author, Stephen Buehler, who’s also a professional magician, invited me to LCC’s Author Speed Dating – not as an author pitching a book but as a reader. This proved to be terrific training for how to pitch to readers and a most enjoyable way to discover new authors and books.
Rob’s book stood out, not only because it was nominated for a Lefty Award, but because of his humorous pitch. His bookmarks were dog bone-shaped and he promoted The Devil’s Chew Toy with a funny poem – doggerel, get it?
The premise is hilarious. Hayden McCall is a shy high school teacher, who because of his height, is constantly mistaken for one of his students. His love life isn’t great nor is his luck. Venturing out to the local gay bar, he is accidentally punched in the face by Camillo, the hot disco dancer. Feeling bad for him, Camilo takes him back to his place. The morning after Hayden wakes up to the police banging on the door. Camilo has disappeared – and Hayden is not only a suspect, he’s saddled with Camilo’s pit bull terrier.
Aided by Camilo’s feisty lesbian friends, Hayden tries to find him through a series of mishaps and misadventures. Camilo’s disappearance is tied to a shady pet store, appropriately named Barkingham Palace. Hayden solves the mystery and – surprise – for once there are NO murders in the book!
On January 13th, acclaimed British actor, Julian Sands, disappeared while hiking alone near Mt. Baldy, California The search for him resumed after the winter snows melted though deep patches still linger. Last week hikers stumbled across a set of human remains in the area where Sands’ cell phone last pinged, remains now confirmed to be his.
In Part One, I introduced Dr. Robert Koester, an expert on the behavior of people who get lost in the wilderness. Now, in Part 2, I’m recommending an excellent book about searching for missing people in the wild, The Cold Vanish, by Jon Billman.
Jon Billman, an athlete, creative writing teacher and contributor to famed Outside Magazine, uses his decades of personal experience in search and rescue to create a compelling and thought-provoking narrative on how and why people go missing in the wilds.
Billman shares representative cases of missing persons, from a runner murdered by a serial killer to deaths by falls, exposure and other misadventures to the miraculous rescue of a yoga teacher in the remote forests of Hawaii. And yes, she’d wandered off the beaten path and yes, she’d ended up many miles in the opposite direction from where logic dictated she’d be. She was spotted by mere chance by a search plane which, ironically, had also flown off course.
The overarching story that ties Billman’s book together is the case of Jacob Gray, a young man on a solo journey of self-discovery. Jacob was reported missing after his bicycle was discovered abandoned in Olympic National Park. Billman became close friends with Jacob’s father, Randy Gray, who spent years searching tirelessly for his son. Initially searchers feared that Jacob had fallen into a nearby fast-flowing river, but when divers came up empty, Randy and Billman together explored a gamut of wild possibilities, including Jacob’s joining a cult. In the end, Jacob is found, but no spoilers. Eat the book!
Missing people are located largely due to the efforts of volunteers. Billman introduces colorful characters who have made finding lost people their life mission: Duff, the blood hound handler; Michael Neiger, bushman and self-taught expert; and David Paulides, ex-cop and dedicated Bigfoot researcher.
Sadly many times the outcome is tragic. The classic scenario is that hikers or hunters stumble over the missing person’s skeletal remains, exactly the way Julian Sands was eventually found. Often it’s in a spot far from where the person initially disappeared.
The takeaways from Billman’s book reinforce Dr. Koester’s warnings: don’t stray off the main path, tell people where you are going and if you get lost, stay put! Best advice of all, don’t go out into the wilderness unprepared and alone.
I’m excited to announce that Carrick Publishing will be bringing out my new book, Snake Oil and Other Tales. Launch date is slated for October in keeping with the tradition of the Mesdames of Mayhem anthologies.
Snake Oil brings together ten of my stories and novellas published since the release of my first collection, Glow Grass and Other Tales, Carrick Publishing, 2016. Many of the stories were finalists for the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence.
Stand by for the cover reveal by talented artist, Sara Carrick. I’m especially delighted by this one!