Darcie Wilde: And Dangerous to Know

This review comes to us courtesy of long time Aunt Agatha’s book club member and friend, Vicki Kondelik.  This novel will be published on December 31, 2019 and is available for pre-order.

And Dangerous to Know is the third in a series by Darcie Wilde (a pseudonym for Sarah Zettel) set in Regency England and featuring Rosalind Thorne, a gentlewoman living in reduced circumstances after her father abandoned his family because he was heavily in debt.  I have not read the previous two, but this book made me want to go back and read them.  It stands on its own very well, and I was able to gather all the information I needed about Rosalind’s background. read more

Allison Montclair: The Right Sort of Man

This is one of the most intelligent and funny first novels I’ve read in a long while.  Set in immediate post WW II London – any fan of Call the Midwife will be familiar with the setting – it’s a period of time still governed by rationing and coupons, and people who have suffered some war trauma, be it loss, living through the Blitz, or actually fighting in the war.

Our two central characters are Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge.  Iris has a secret history of resistance fighting and espionage, none of which she can talk about; Gwen, an almost titled member of the upper classes, has lost her husband and is raising her son at her mother-in-law’s after a stint in a mental asylum.  She refuses to talk about it. read more

Author Interview: L.A. Chandlar

L.A. Chandlar is the national best-selling author of the Art Deco Mystery Series: The Silver Gun (2017), The Gold Pawn (2018), and The Pearl Dagger (2019). She also wrote the nonfiction book, Brass: Fight to Keep Creativity Alive (2015). She grew up in Michigan.  Fans of the Phyrne Fisher books or Rhys Bowen’s Lady Georgie books would enjoy these reads.

Carin Michaels, a freelance journalist and playwright, interviewed L.A Chandlar during her book tour stop in Ann Arbor.

Michaels: I met you on May 18, 2019 at an interactive workshop that you held for writers called Keep Creativity Alive at a Michigan Sisters in Crime conference. This local chapter of writers is great because it promotes professional development of women crime writers. read more

D.M. Pulley: No One’s Home

Meet D.M. Pulley at the downtown library on Saturday, October 19 at 2 p.m.

This is an honest to god ghost story, inspired by Shirley Jackson’s classic The Haunting of Hill House.  It’s guaranteed to give you the shivers.  Threading together the stories of several – very tragic –families who have shared the same house from 1922 to the present, the connections move into sharper focus as the book unfolds.

The story opens with the Spielman family, who are making a move from Boston to the wealthy Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, where they are amazed by the amount of house they can get for their money.  While Rawlingswood seems impressive, it’s also a graffiti covered wreck, with stripped pipes and broken windows.  The graffiti is more than disturbing, calling the house a “murder house” and referencing dead girls. As Myron and Margot check the place out, Myron gets more and more excited, and Margot, more and more worried.  Despite her objections they buy the house and begin to renovate it immediately, where all kinds of things go wrong, spooking the contractors, who eventually refuse to go up into the attic at all. read more

Charles Fergus: A Stranger Here Below

Review by Nancy Shaw

Gideon Stoltz has come to Adamant, Pennsylvania, in the 1830s from his family’s farm in Pennsylvania Dutch country. A run-in with brigands has led him to the sheriff of fictional Colerain County, an area of deep hollows, heavily-forested hills, small farms, and a prosperous ironworks. He becomes the sheriff’s assistant, despite being out of his element. The local Scotch-Irish deride his Pennsylfawnisch Deitsch speech and habits. When he marries, he endures his in-laws’ teasing. He adores his wife and son, but feels he is a stranger. The historical mystery A Stranger Here Below is the first of a planned series about this sympathetic protagonist. read more

Book Club: City of Ink

Our September book club will meet Thursday, September 19, 6 p.m at the Classic Cup Cafe.  We’ll be reading Elsa Hart’s City of Ink.  It’s available on our store page at a discount. The publisher’s description:

Following the 18th century Chinese mysteries Jade Dragon Mountain and White Mirror, comes the next Li Du adventure in City of Ink.

Li Du was prepared to travel anywhere in the world except for one place: home. But to unravel the mystery that surrounds his mentor’s execution, that’s exactly where he must go. read more

A Conversation with James R. Benn

James R. Benn

James R. Benn, the creator of the Billy Boyle series, agreed to answer a few questions about his wonderful WWII set novels.  His newest book, When Hell Struck Twelve, will be published in September.

Robin: How did you come up with the initial idea to have Billy be Eisenhower’s nephew?

Jim: I wanted to create a mechanism that would allow Billy Boyle to follow the course of the war in Europe (and beyond) and to be close to major events. Having him work out of Eisenhower’s headquarters gives him carte blanche to go anywhere I need him to go. The notion of his being Ike’s nephew provides the opportunity to humanize Eisenhower through their occasional interactions; it was also the mechanism to explain Billy’s ascendancy to the lofty realms of high command, since Uncle Ike wanted a trusted family member to run his investigations into low crimes in high places. The relationship also explains how a lowly lieutenant, later captain, can act with relative impunity within the chain of command. read more

Rhys Bowen: Love and Death Among the Cheetahs

Every time I finish a Lady Georgie book by Rhys Bowen I think to myself, well, there’s no way she can write another book that’s so insanely enjoyable. But every time…she does write one that’s just as positively crazily enjoyable as the one before. She has the gift of narrative in spades, but she also has a light hand with it. Each time, she puts her characters in a fresh situation, and this is book 13 in a series. In the last book (Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding) Georgie and Darcy were married at last. So what comes next? A honeymoon, naturally. read more

After the Great War

This wonderful essay comes to us from occasional contributor Nancy Shaw.

The wait is over. The recently-released Maisie Dobbs mystery, The American Agent, puts her in the middle of the London Blitz on ambulance runs, bringing her back to the scenes of wartime carnage that molded her life into “psychologist and investigator,” the job she created after nursing in France in World War I. Jacqueline Winspear makes the trauma of war her major subject through her beloved series. Shell shock lingers in the lives of Brits and pops out in a variety of malignant ways, volume after volume. read more

William Kent Krueger: This Tender Land

While this wonderful novel bears all the hallmarks of William Kent Krueger, it’s not exactly a mystery. There are some mysterious – or criminal – elements and the fact that it’s not a straight up mystery should keep no reader away. Written as a companion to Krueger’s classic, Ordinary Grace, it is a spiritual companion but it’s not a sequel or a prequel or anything like it. It’s very much its own country.

Set in 1930’s Minnesota, it’s the story of Odie, his brother Albert, and their friend Mose, who doesn’t speak. All of them are young and living in an “Indian” boarding school. At the time (and up through the early 70’s) native children were taken from their homes and put in these harsh schools where they were allowed little to no contact with their families and were forbidden – even punished – if they spoke their native language. They were given western style haircuts and forced to anglicize their names. read more