Friday, July 20, 2018

A Spark of Death

Image result for a spark of death book cover

A Spark of Death
By Bernadette Pajer

                The hunt for a killer in this mystery is electric. Take a trip back in history to a vividly described Seattle of the early 1900’s. Here’s an opportunity for you to join University of Washington Professor Benjamin Bradshaw as he discovers clues and analyzes motives and opportunity in order to try to take himself off the police’s suspects list.

                No worries if you’re not a scientist, because at the hands of this skilled author Professor Bradshaw is gifted at illuminating the dynamics of the scientific principles. During the investigation the Professor schools you through the evidence in a most entertaining way. Of course, finding a killer involves analysis of more than facts and evidence, and in this book you get to know fascinating characters that may have had motive and opportunity. The author has a true talent for weaving motive into the characters. As the story is told, the characters’ lives with the troubled palpitations that they carry within their hearts are revealed. What’s fascinating is that with the burdens so many carry who among them became overcome and lashed out. The Professor’s personal life also brings an interesting dimension to the story and provides insights into the place and times.

                This book is the first in a four book mystery series. This fictional has a foundation in true history and is so very well researched. For example, in this first book the characters are preparing for an historic event for the University. It turns out that Seattle was planning for President William McKinley to visit in May 1901. The setting descriptions and the everyday activities ring true and you’ll enjoy absorbing this detail. The early days of the turn of the 20th century, is a wondrous time when the race was on to discover and invent—everything, including electricity and the Tesla coil.

                The author, Bernadette Pajer, loves the Pacific Northwest. She spent her childhood in Seattle, and studied pre-Engineering at the University of Washington.

                And if you want to hear more from the author listen on YouTube to Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Bernadette Pajer

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Remarkable Read About The Salish Sea

Salish Sea book

The Salish Sea
By Audrey DeLella Benedict & Joseph K. Gaydos

                What a wonderful celebration of the history, biology, beauty and vibrancy of The Salish Sea. This book makes a dynamic impact immediately with its incredible photography that is generously featured on every page of the book. Caught in the moment are the precious scenery and animals of this inland sea off the coast of Washington and British Columbia. Mixed saltwater and freshwater, it includes the Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Strait of Georgia. The endearing and insightful photography is mesmerizing. The remarkable images are from many contributing professional and amateur photographers. As stated by the authors, “their photographs reveal a profound sense of place and present the intricate beauty of the Salish Sea in a way that will inspire the next generation of conservation stewards.”

                Not to be outdone, authors skillfully weave the many ribbons of the story that is this Jewel of the Pacific Northwest. They share its history in the most interesting way, including spinning the tales of its biological creation, European explorers, and native peoples. They move onto descriptions of the environment, plants, and animals both above and below the surface of the water. They include some thoughtful quotes for the chapters including, “I arise in the morning torn between the desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. That makes it hard to plan the day.” – E. B. White

                Even readers who live right in this region, or visit it frequently, are sure to learn so much in this book, and at the same time be entertained and delighted. Both authors are actively involved with the SeaDoc Society. Audrey DeLella Benedict, a writer and naturalist, is a member of the board. Joseph K. Gaydos, a licensed veterinarian with a PhD in wildlife health, is Chief Scientist for this marine science and conservation program focused on the Salish Sea as a whole. Founded in 2001, SeaDoc is part of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at the University of California at Davis School, of Veterinary Medicine. Based on Orcas Island, the SeaDoc organization works on both sides of the international border to conduct and support research in many areas, and makes scientific findings available to the public and resource managers who will help shape the future of the Salish Sea. To find out more about SeaDoc, visit

Monday, June 25, 2018

Deborah Knott is the Bootlegger's Daughter by Margaret Maron


Bootlegger’s Daughter
By Margaret Maron

                A cold case has haunted the tobacco country of Colleton County, North Carolina in this novel about the Bootlegger’s Daughter that is the first in the Deborah Knott series by Margaret Maron. Eighteen years ago a mother and baby daughter disappeared. Found three days later, the baby survived but her mother was already dead. This unsolved murder became a local legend that haunted residents, including baby Gayle as she grew up. Now an adult, Gayle has hired attorney Deborah Knott to investigate so her mother can finally rest in peace with her killer finally caught, and Gayle hopes she can find some kind of peace in that closure as well.

                In the midst of all her work, Deborah presses for her passion for fair court sentencing that represents her commitment, that “punishment is supposed to deter a person from doing it again, not crush his spirit.” A particularly ruthless decree in a court case that Deborah watched while she waited for her client’s case to start next, that was the spark that began the fire of her own campaign for District Judge. The excitement of the primaries and then the election pulses through the pages. Campaigning with her family’s long history is sometimes an asset, and sometimes a liability. She is, after all, the strong-willed daughter of Kezzie Knott – notorious bootlegger, ex-con, and political string-puller. As this investigation continues, and as the campaign trail heats up, Deborah finds herself fully immersed in intrigue, debate, and the dangers of posing a threat to a murderer.

                Margaret Maron writes with an insider’s knowledge, in her Deborah Knott series, of the legacy of Southern culture – the land, the history, the issues of race, family secrets and often-troubled inheritance. The characters she creates are touching and compelling. Amidst some thoughtful, dire, and action packed issues handled in her books, there’s also some playfulness and even wistfulness in some of the characters.

                Born and raised in North Carolina, author Margaret Maron is a highly-regarded and awarded mystery writer.  She’s won the Agatha Award for her urban New York series featuring police detective Sigrid Harald, and the Edgar Award for Best Novel for Bootlegger’s Daughter. She’s also won the renowned Anthony and also the Macavity Awards.  Enjoy her 34 novels and two collections of short stories. A long-standing member of the Mystery Writers of America, she’s also held office as President of the Sisters in Crime organization. Her book, Bootlegger’s Daughter, was chosen as one of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers.

                And if you want to hear more from the author listen on YouTube to Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Margaret Maron

Monday, June 18, 2018

Renee Patrick's Design For Dying

Design For Dying
By Renee Patrick

                Lights, camera, mystery! Travel to the golden age of vintage Hollywood and see if you can find the killer as you gather clues along with partnered amateur sleuths Lillian Frost and Edith Head. That’s right, in this novel it’s 1937 Los Angeles and Edith Head has yet to gain fame and any of her eight Academy Awards. Right now she’s starting at the bottom, working the wardrobes for movie stars. She’s also helping to discover and analyze some curious Hollywood secrets.

                Murder strikes one of the many young women who have come to Hollywood on the promise of a screen test and the hope of a leading role. Who would have the motive, means, and opportunity to kill this intriguing young woman, a gem named Ruby? You’ll learn much about this beautiful victim through her friends, including Lillian Frost. Lillian was also an aspiring actress, who is working in a department store. She jumps into the investigation after handsome Detective Morrow initially pulls her aside as one of the suspects. As you gather clues with Lillian, you’re taken on a fun hunt through scenes of the entertainment industry as it’s gathering its momentum as a business of dreams. Early in this journey our young amateur sleuth meets and becomes friends with hard working Edith Head. During the hunt there are wonderful, cameo appearances by fictionalized, real name actors and celebrities that will delight you.

                The authors are a surprise too. Yes it is collaboration, written by husband and wife team Rosemarie and Vince Keenan. They’ve done an incredible amount of research about classic Hollywood and they weave this information into the story so dynamically that the background and details add dimension into this story. Some of the elements you’ll enjoy include the irresistible humor, and the alluring glamour. And at the heart is an exciting mystery to solve. After all, as one of Barbara Stanwyck’s lines in the movie Baby Face in 1933 – “What chance has a woman got?”

                There’s already a wonderful sequel available titled Dangerous To Know. In this novel you’ll meet again some recurring characters, and be introduced to new ones and more fun celebrity cameos. A third book is in the works now.

                And if you want to hear more from the authors listen on YouTube to Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Renee Patrick

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Murder As A Fine Art, A Masterpiece Read

                     Murder As A Fine Art
                                                        By David Morrell

                It’s London in 1854 and a killer has murdered a family of five people with the threat of more killings to come. It seems to be the work of a monster, yet in the result are the machinations of a person who strives to craft his brutality into a composition of scene, design, light, sentient sentiment. It’s almost artistry in the mind of the killer. Is this an original? Or is the killer copying the serial killings that terrorized London 40 years earlier? If a copy, there are more to come, and the residents are becoming stirred into a frenzy again as history seems to be repeating itself.

                To catch this cunning executioner, it will take a smart and unorthodox group of investigators who can imagine themselves into the mind of a serial killer. By 1854 a detective bureau was created to supplement the overtaxed police in London’s fast growing population. It included eight plainclothes officers who investigated in disguise, and this case was assigned to two of these men who were extolled for their extraordinary attention to detail and analytical skills, while being held under morbid suspicion by many of the population who feared their prying eyes.

                The detectives match their wits, and the tools of the infancy of forensic science, against evil. They add to their arsenal an unlikely father and daughter. He is known as the Opium Eater, and the books he writes and publishes are known as “novels of sensation”. One is a disturbing essay dramatizing the infamous Ratcliffe Highway killings of 1811. What’s described is eerily similar to these recent murders. His daughter is his companion and helper, and she is a remarkably un-Victorian woman. Her theories and observations on the case are insightful.

                The author, David Morrell is such a gifted writer. The scenes and the characters leap to life from the page to the reader’s imagination. He’s been called the Father of modern action novels. Back in 1972, he wrote a book with an unusual and iconic hero. That book was First Blood, and the iconic hero, a returned Vietnam veteran with PTSD, was Rambo. After writing the ground-breaking story of one of the best-known and most iconic anti-heroes, he has followed that with so many action and historical mystery and thriller best-sellers.

                He’s been a finalist for the Edgar, Anthony, Thriller and Arthur Ellis awards, and won the Nero and Macavity awards, as well as being a three-time recipient of the esteemed Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association. The Bouchercon Conference gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award among many recognitions. He’s also a gifted teacher of writing, with a Ph.D in American Literature, and he co-founded the renowned International Thriller Writers organization with author Gayle Lynds.

                And if you want to hear more from the author listen on YouTube to Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with David Morrell

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Savor The Elusive Elixir by Gigi Pandian

The Elusive Elixir 
By Gigi Pandian

                Centuries-old protagonist Zoe Faust, the accidental alchemist, is traveling between Portland, Oregon and Paris, France, in search of an Elusive Elixir that can help her friend and sidekick, Dorian the three-foot tall gargoyle chef. He is facing a dire dilemma as he is slowly turning into stone. As you can imagine, Dorian has to keep a low profile around Portland to avoid scaring the residents, although his innate talents and humor are truly a delight. Only Zoe can unravel the alchemical secrets that may save him. During her distraught search, she is also confronted by a cold case murder from one of her previous lives that she’s compelled to solve. As you can deduce, this inventive author has raveled some supernatural and paranormal elements around an irresistible mystery.

                As Zoe explains, “Alchemy is a personal transformation. Its core principle is transforming the impure into the pure, be it lead into gold or a dying body into a thriving one.” She is dedicated with a deep passion to her science. She’s also a loyal friend and struggles with her extraordinarily lengthy life in the social ties she makes. In this book she revels in the joys of romance, while still shuddering as she contemplates the secrets she’s keeping from him. The reader is treated to almost the feeling of time travel as Zoe recalls adventures of her previous lives. The author writes in such gorgeous details, different eras are magically brought to life.

                Gigi Pandian is a USA Today bestselling author with three books in the Accidental Alchemist series. She’s received the Left Coast Crime’s Lefty and Rose awards, as well as short listed for the Macavity and Agatha Awards. She spent much of her childhood travelling the world with her cultural anthropologist parents, undoubtedly enriching her writing by bringing depth to her settings and brilliance to her characters. She is also an enthusiastic, almost vegan health food dynamo. She treats her readers to delicious, easy-to-make recipes in her books as well.

                This is truly an original mystery, laced with supernatural components, and a modern twist on an ancient science. Will that Elusive Elixir be found in time to save Dorian from a horrific nightmare, trapped alive within stone? Will the cold case murder be solved to Zoe’s satisfaction, before she is herself accused of the murder from her past life? And can romance thrive through it all? You’ll enjoy reading about it all.

                And if you want to hear more from the author listen on YouTube to Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Gigi Pandian

Monday, April 30, 2018

A Work Of Love by Connie Connally

The Songs We Hide
By Connie Hampton Connally
                What we play for the world are the songs that the world wants to hear from us. The music that shapes the soul and reveals who we really are, those are The Songs We Hide, lovingly written about by Connie Hampton Connally.

                Evoking stunning emotions, this author conducts a magnum opus of incredibly beautiful historical fiction. Her writing brings to life the people of stark, brutal, 1951 Hungary. Katalin and Peter are young adults and upon their shoulders they bear the brunt of post World War II, where survival is made so much more difficult by the brutal regime suffocating freedoms. As Katalin realizes, “during the war she had held out hope, because some day the war would end. Now the war was over, but what was there to hope for?”

                Katalin was singing a wonderful duet with vibrant Robert, ‘Caro Mio Ben’, ‘My Dear Beloved’.  Now the same notes pained her to the core, as a loving single mother of her one year old daughter, whose father had suddenly disappeared. The government and secret police made terrifying disappearances common place. Robert hadn’t even known he was going to be a father, and she had no idea which one of the too many horrifying places he was held. That’s if he was still alive.

                Peter’s family had been rocked by the travesties of war, and then “The Collective” had confiscated what little their hard work had been able to achieve. They lived under the constant threat not only of starvation, but of their family’s separation and loneliness. Peter and his brothers had lost their mother, and their weary father had to try and carry on with his broken heart. Peter shyly sings his songs quietly to the beloved horse who works with them on what’s left of their beloved family farm. But they can’t make a living any longer on the farm alone. Peter must go to work in the city, where he meets Katalin who is waiting, for her beloved Robert. The lives of Katalin, Peter, and the people around them in this story will deepen the reverberating drum beat of your heart.

                The author, Connie Hampton Connally, became interested in Hungary’s turbulent history from her love of music. Through music she was inspired by the story of Zoltán Kodály, a twentieth-century Hungarian composer who spread music in his nation despite totalitarianism and two world wars. This author writes such memorable turns to a phrase, and such noteworthy descriptions that range the full spectrum of human emotions from despair through hope. In The Songs We Hide she’s composed a stirring tribute to the incredible strength of people, in a brutal time in Hungarian history, and the desperate need to create hope. As the crescendo builds, the reader will wonder, and hope – Can people withstand, can they be stronger than the hatred and betrayal surrounding them?