Saturday, March 24, 2018

Now You Know - Fast Falls the Night by Julia Keller

  Prosecutor Bell Elkins soon realizes that her Appalachian hometown is facing a tragically fatal challenge fighting a single day’s record number of heroin overdoses from a batch tainted with a lethal tranquilizer as Fast Falls the Night. This is the most recent in the enthralling mystery series by Pulitzer Prize winner and author Julia Keller.

                The first overdose murder comes right after midnight, followed by many more before the full day ends. The Police and Prosecutor work desperately to track down who is selling the bad batch of drugs. It’s most disturbing that this novel is based on a real life event. The author tells this story through the perspectives of the different victims and also other people in the small town of Acker’s Gap in West Virginia. The reader then gets an understanding of what brings people to the brink of tragedy, and also the impacts that one person’s actions can have on so many different people.

                While Bell Elkins is feverishly working with the police, she’s also facing some dark family issues surprisingly uncovered, that is undeniably life altering. It’s one thing to deal professionally with unspoken tragic events that affect others, but how will Bell deal with it when she’s confronted with buried emotions and acts within her own personal history?

                The author, Julia Keller, spent twelve years as a reporter and editor for the Chicago Tribune. It was during that time that she won the Pulitzer for Journalism. As the Chicago Tribune described – “. . . for a gripping, meticulously reconstructed account of a deadly 10-second tornado that ripped through Utica, Illinois.” What struck me immediately by these articles she wrote in 2004 was how she puts the reader so completely into the setting and scene of the storm, through every sense including desperation/fear, but the focus was how she made the stories about the people – their stories and the impact on their lives. It’s so much like her writing in her books. So often in mysteries it’s the acts that are the focus, but she puts the characters in the forefront. In Fast Falls the Night each chapter heading is a character, and each is written from their different points of view. The reader really gets to walk a few steps in these characters shoes, and that elicits a glimmer of understanding.

                And if you want to hear more from the author listen to Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Julia Keller

Monday, February 19, 2018

The New Noir

Dead Soon Enough
By Steph Cha

                The Juniper Song book series is written with a contemporary twist that adds dimension to the shadows inherent in a noir mystery story, while still paying homage to the great authors who created a masterful body of works in the genre’s beginnings. This newest book has a case that is a fast paced read. You’ll be intrigued as Private Investigator Juniper Song finds a victim could be found Dead Soon Enough.

                Steph Cha writes what she describes as Korean-American feminist noir. I’d add that her Private Investigator novels are mystery filled with thrills. These situations and characters appeal to a broad audience regardless of gender or background. Her books are spiced with thought provoking references to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, and then transcend that epic to make this urban noir her own. Treat yourself to a real action packed PI series with titles Follow Her Home, Beware Beware, and Dead Soon Enough.

                In this third book of the series the case concerns the mystery of a woman’s disappearance and the experiences of the Armenian-American community in Los Angeles. The search for the missing woman uncovers her activist embroiled efforts in an ugly and public battle over the erection of an Armenian genocide memorial. While handling the sinister side of Los Angeles, other issues with the client bring up questions surrounding surrogate pregnancy. The investigation also tests Juniper Song’s satisfaction with her noir lifestyle.

                This author creates a cast of characters who are all intriguing and fascinating. You really don’t know what they will do next, and the emotions that drive them are described intently and bring a meaningful dimension to the story. We all have beliefs and causes and people that we believe in, and this book explores what people will do for those. What extremes will their actions reach? In the work of this author, she writes so sincerely about raw, human emotion that will have you on the edge of your chair. That creates a fun adventure to read and also presents memorable and haunting ideas.

                And if you want to hear more from the author listen to Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Steph Cha

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Author K. J. Howe and The Freedom Broker

The Freedom Broker
By K. J. Howe

                Thea Paris is The Freedom Broker in K.J. Howe’s new kidnap-and-ransom thriller novel. Ripped from the headlines, this evil crime of kidnapping has become a dark, international financial exploitation. The protagonist in this fast-paced, forceful novel is one of the good guys who fight for captured victims. In addition to incredible actions scenes, and tense strategic maneuvering, this novel reveals the physical and mental injuries inflicted on kidnapping on the victim, as well as their family and friends. The story emphasizes the harrowing fears of death, of suffering, of helplessness, and even more deeply engrained intangibles.

                Jump straight into action right from page one, as Thea Paris and her team are dropped into Nigeria at night on a clandestine mission to free kidnapped petroleum engineer worker in a camp where he is held captive for a three million dollar ransom. As is noted, danger is everywhere on these missions, “If the mission failed, no one would retrieve her body. She’d be left to rot in the jungle unidentified and forgotten.” High stakes for all involved. And this is just the beginning of this story.

                Thea Paris vowed to become The Freedom Broker after her brother, twelve years old at the time, had been kidnapped and returned many months later. The impact of this abduction left lasting scars on her brother Nikos and his family and friends. The tragedy altered lives, just look at how it impacted Thea’s choice in her adult lifetime work.

                Now Thea and her family have no idea what lies ahead. Ironically Thea can’t stop the dramatic kidnapping of her father, Christos Paris on the verge of his sixtieth birthday. Now the time is ticking to try to find him and to try and save him, if he isn’t already dead. The author creates a suspect rich story for the reader to ponder.

                Author K. J. Howe is a three time Daphne du Maurier writing award winner and is the Executive Director of ThrillerFest, the annual conference of International Thriller Writers. She enjoys travel very much, and treats her readers to some incredible and exotic destinations as settings in her book. She became fascinated by the kidnap-and-ransom world after meeting Peter Moore, a British computer consultant who became the longest-held hostage in Iraq and the only person to survive of the five men who were taken on that day. Reading through the acknowledgements for her book you’ll see how very well researched this fictional thriller is.

                Join Thea Paris and her team as they fight in dire situations to save kidnap victims from dangerous, diabolical schemers. It’s a glimpse into what can happen in our real world.

And watch for Thea Paris' next adventure in Skyjack available April 10th.
And to hear more from the author, catch Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with K. J. Howe


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Keenan Powell's Deadly Solution Is A Hit

Deadly Solution
A Maeve Malloy Mystery
By Keenan Powell
                                The reading jury has spoken resoundingly in favor of Legal Thriller Deadly Solution and its Alaskan Attorney Maeve Malloy. Author Keenan Powell has created a stunning force in her Maeve Malloy character. Danger is ever present as Malloy uncovers powerful players’ secrets and the sinister someone who’s executing a Deadly Solution.

                It’s bigger than life when you head to Alaska, especially the mystery around the Deadly Solution by Keenan Powell. This is no small snowball scuffle, these characters are fighting for survival in an avalanche of troubles, and at the bottom of it all is murder. As in so many cities across America, Anchorage tries to help homeless people and to stop homelessness. Now it seems that someone has found a deadly solution.

                From the very beginning, this legal thriller finds both the accused and his lawyer, struggling through fierce personal storms. Perhaps that’s a reflection of the Alaskan backdrop, where the environment is extreme and inhabitants are wild.

                Lawyer and client will need to find a way to pull together. While fighting her demons, skilled attorney Maeve Malloy is analyzing and uncovering surprising motives and hidden agendas. Danger is ever present as she approaches the secrets of powerful players.

                Working as Private Investigator on Maeve’s cases is tall, intense Tom Sinclair who follows through on clues and uncovers witnesses from surprising and also unsavory places. He’s been behind her every step, both before and after her controversial decision to leave the public defender’s office, and as she set up her own practice. During the course of this investigation, even his loyalty is tested. Will it break?

                And after the mystery investigation, look forward to compelling courtroom scenes. Author Keenan Powell has created a stunning, powerful force in her Maeve Malloy character. Maeve scouts a trail through the justice system for clients and readers who yearn for truth. “The truth is what people believe it to be. The justice system doesn’t deal in truths, it deals in evidence. The truth doesn’t always leave evidence behind.” Maeve knows she has to “prove it,” and that will be the challenge of her lifetime.

                The author writes persuasively and from different perspectives about timely social topics, giving the reader a thought-provoking thriller that lingers long after the last page is turned. Keenan Powell is a practicing attorney in Anchorage, Alaska. She also has stories published in these anthologies:  Mystery Most Historical; Busted! Arresting Stories from the Beat; and Snowbound. The reading jury has spoken resoundingly in favor of Deadly Solution and Maeve Malloy – we can’t wait to read her next case.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Stuart Gibbs Writes Great Mysteries For Kids

Book Recommendations by Wendy Kendall, Anna Foy, Sofia Solano, Michael Klug

Spy School by Stuart Gibbs
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Swindle by Gordon Korman
                At the prompting of a book recommendation shared at the Friends of the Edmonds Library Kindle Raffle last fall, I discovered a wonderful kids’ mystery author – Stuart Gibbs. He is the New York Times bestselling author of four fast-paced, fun, and entertaining mystery series – Spy School, Fun Jungle, Moon Base Alpha, and Last Musketeer. As if that’s not enough, he’s also written the screenplays for movies like See Spot Run and Repli-Kate. He’s developed TV shows for Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC, and Fox, and he’s researched capybaras (the world’s largest rodents).
                I recommend his well written mysteries, which truly spark the imagination and inspire a sense of adventure. His writing also fuels a respect and love for the beauty of nature and our world. But don’t listen just to me.
                Here are recommendations from local, Edmonds 6th grade readers who recommend Stuart Gibbs’ books and also a couple of others’ mystery books . . . .

Anna Foy RecommendsSpy School by Stuart Gibbs
                Benjamin Ripley goes to a “science school,” but it is secretly a training school for smart and clever children who have potential to be spies.  Although Benjamin is very smart, he may not be as skilled as the other kids in the school.  He will have to prove to everyone else that he can be a spy.
                I recommend this book because it is funny, and enjoyable to read about Benjamin Ripley, and his surprising adventure.
                About the author, Stuart Gibbs has a wife and children.  He lives in Los Angeles.

Sofia Solano RecommendsThe Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
                The Westing Game is about 16 heirs that gather to hear the reading of Sam Westing’s Will.  The heirs are surprised to hear that one of them killed Sam Westing.  Westing wants the heirs to play a game that will reveal who the murderer is.  Who is the murderer?
                I recommend this book because it was a great story, characters and it’s so realistic.  I think people that like murder and mystery books will enjoy The Westing Game.
                About the author, Ellen Raskin wrote and illustrated over a dozen award-winning books for children and young adults in her lifetime.  Raskin was awarded the Newberry Medal for her book The Westing Game.

Michael Klug RecommendsSwindle by Gordon Korman
                A kid named Griffin Bing plans a sleepover in an abandoned house about to be demolished by morning, finds a rare Babe Ruth baseball card, hidden from the world until a mean collector named S. Wendell Palomino, tricks him out of the card. Griffin puts together a team of “friends” to get the card back. And Griffin Bing, “the man with the plan” won’t let it go without a fight.
                I recommend this book if you like a mysterious, funny, exciting, and almost impossible to stop reading book. Try the book Swindle and it might just be the right book for you.
                Gordon Korman is an excellent author with details and lots of excitement in his writing!

Thank you for the guest recommendations!
And for more information from author Stuart Gibbs, including his answers to questions from Anna, Sofia, and Michael, tune into YouTube Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Stuart Gibbs and friends

Monday, January 15, 2018

Reflecting on Light In The Trees

Light In The Trees
By Gail Folkins
                What a lovingly rendered memoir. This book is a thoughtful recollection of family and home, set in the Puget Sound area. Enjoy lots of familiar sights, sounds, and events included. The author captures a time growing up in her family home at the foot of the Cascade Mountains, near Seattle. As the author grows and changes, we also watch as her wilderness does the same. Just as we read of how their environment shapes people, and so often in surprising ways described in the book, so we also read of how this wilderness grows into suburb from the affect of people.

                The author almost poetically presents life in the Pacific Northwest with hiking, gardens, wildlife, family, and the beauty of it all from forests to beaches and so much in between. There’s also the amusing affect of Sasquatch myths on a young girls imagination. The darker side of nature is poignantly described - the storms, fire, volcano, and also the darker side of human nature with serial killer realities. The author has captured a most intriguing time in Seattle history.

                The intrinsic affect people absorb from the environment they live in is shown in a most fascinating way. Over time, as a person matures, grows in knowledge, it’s enchanting to read how a person’s views and memories evolve. The author captures that evolution beautifully. Just as a person changes, so too does the environment around them. It’s a relationship that can be noticed in great leaps of time, but what’s so special about this book is that the author describes so well the small steps of change so that you are truly experiencing moments. These are insightful descriptions you’ll want to linger over. Later in the memoir the author moves to the Southwest, and shares such interesting contrasts and surprising comparisons between the two regions. She makes frequent trips back to her Seattle home, seeing and sharing family and home town changes discovered with each trip.

                Gail Folkins is an author and a teacher. Light In The Trees is not just a lyrical memoir, but also includes a seamlessly intertwined history lesson. Her other book is Texas Dance Halls: A Two-Step Circuit which is a nonfiction book about eighteen dance halls, meeting their musicians, owners, and patrons who keep these historic sites humming.

                Now you too can follow that Light In The Trees, to home in the Pacific Northwest.

Friday, January 5, 2018

J. A. Jance Incredible Author of Mystery

Cold Betrayal
By J. A. Jance

                Any novel by J. A. Jance that you choose to read is one of the best mystery books. Her several, successful series are each filled with thought provoking characters, entertaining mystery, and fast-paced plotting. A New York Times bestseller over and over again, this is one of those authors who really know how to tell you a story.

                Previously I’ve written about one of the books in her Joanna Brady, Arizona sheriff series - Downfall. There is also the J. P. Beaumont series about a Seattle homicide detective and, by the way, the most recent released in this series is Proof of Life is a stunning read that takes you deep into the mind and heart of this detective. The Walker Family novels are a beautiful weave of current day with legends and lore of the Tohono O’odham People in the Southwest. Today I’m writing about Cold Betrayal which is a book in the Ali Reynolds series. Revenge isn’t the only dish served cold.

                Ali Reynolds is a forty-something newscaster. Now her longtime friend Sister Anselm entangles Ali in a desperate struggle investigating The Family. This is a polygamous cult, and the leader has no patience for those who try to leave. And there are other secrets about The Family that they intend will stay hidden. Ali’s investigation is propelled with urgency as she tries to protect a young runaway.

                During all this, Ali is also asked by her new daughter-in-law for help with the girl’s grandmother. What’s reported as a break-in and attempted murder of the grandmother has been investigated and dismissed by the local police as an elderly woman being absent minded. But, is that a terrifying mistake?

                J. A. Jance is an incredible author of mystery, with a dedicated following of readers. Most recently her thriller Clawback won at the Killer Nashville Conference: Best Fiction Thriller, Reader’s Choice Award for Best Thriller, and Reader’s Choice Best Book of the Year.  Born in South Dakota and raised in Bisbee, Arizona, J. A. Jance lives with her husband in Seattle and also Tucson, Arizona. She is most generous with her time, often speaking at Libraries, Conferences, and other venues.

                Most recently she recorded an episode with Kendall& Cooper Talk Mysteries with J A Jance. Listen in as we learned a lot about courage in writing, motivation, persistence, and insights into her characters and stories.