Saturday, May 27, 2017

Amanda Knox In Her Own Words

WaitingToBeHeard Final.REV

Waiting To Be Heard
By Amanda Knox
A story that monopolized international headlines for months at a time over the course of four years couldn’t tell the whole story.  A University of Washington student, who dreamed through her childhood of spending a year studying in Italy, settles into a life in Perugia, Italy.  Tragic, brutal murder of one of her housemates turns Amanda Knox’s dream into the darkest, life-altering nightmare that took years to resolve, enveloping her beloved family and friends and forever impacting their lives.  This memoir shows an isolated twenty year old who must somehow reach deep into her heart and soul to find courage, inspiration and hope.

I was so moved by the talent and skill of her writing.  I mean, this author can really write.  I felt the naïveté, the giddiness, the youthful freedom at the start of her dream adventure.  Then, I felt the accelerating horror as destiny takes hold.  And then, I was swept up in the diametrically opposed emotions as she’s jailed in Italy, put on trial in a media surroundsound, and convicted with a twenty-six year sentence for a crime she did not commit.

At the heart is Meredith Kercher who will not be forgotten.  What the reader learns about her crystallizes what a beautiful young woman’s life was stolen so young.  Amanda writes anecdotes about the short time she and Meredith had together as friends.  What a nice, naïve, giving young woman, also joyful with her own dreams and aspirations and part of a loving family and circle of friends left devastated.

The author is not only able to vividly record her own experiences, but she also gives glimpses into the experience of her family, friends, and others including Rafaelle Sollecito who was also wrongly convicted.  The reader is filled with compassion for them all for what they also endured.  You can vividly imagine the horror to be in Seattle on the other end of Amanda’s evolving phone calls home, to uproot your life, maintain a residence in Italy to be as near as possible for years, watch your finances dwindle, and struggle to maintain hope your daughter would be freed.

It takes an incredible storyteller to write about a well known, true event in a way that the reader is carried along and kept in the moment on each page.  I found myself hoping for triumphs and fearing tragedy and thinking the next page would be different, as if history can be changed.  Amanda Knox takes us on an insightful tour of the long trip from agony to ecstasy.  The author is never self-pitying, never represents herself as a victim.  Her depiction of the Italian police, the trials, her attorneys, her guards, and others she was in jail with is all riveting.

Today the author lives in Seattle and works with the Innocence Project, which is a non-profit dedicated to putting an end to wrongful convictions.  Exonerated by Italy’s highest court in 2015, almost four years after she was acquitted of murder, you can believe that such an effort would be close to Amanda Knox’s heart.  She’s also attended college courses and is an Arts Correspondent at the West Seattle Herald.  She paints a picture of a person who does not fear life, but relishes it.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Laura Childs Spills and Thrills

Pekoe Most Poison
By Laura Childs
Have you ever attended a “rat tea”?  Well, you’re invited, in the recently released, eighteenth book in Laura Childs’ cozy tea shop mystery series.  If you’re already a fan, you’ll be delighted with this return to Charleston and the world of the Indigo tea shop, which blends beautifully with mystery.  If this is your first trip to this series, you can comfortably jump right in with Pekoe Most Poison.

You’ll learn, along with our protagonist Theo, that rat teas are parties dating back to twentieth century Charleston where the cream of society would sponsor teas to promote city rodent control and better public health.  You’ll also have a seat at the table for murder.  Now it’s up to you and Theo to follow the clues and puzzle out which of the suspects has committed this crime.

As a reader I was devouring the clues eagerly, between enjoyable tidbits of history and color around Charleston.  It’s the core characters that surrounded me like old friends.  The tea shop trio personalities are so interesting they resonate, and their interactions are laced with humor and fun.  And the suspects are abundant and varied.  You’ll be challenged working through potential motives and opportunity, but follow the clues to the thrilling ending, let your theories brew a little, and you just may solve this mystery along with Theo and her friends.

Little Girl Gone
By Gerry Schmitt
For this thriller, the author tossed aside the pseudonym of Laura Childs, and she began a new Afton Tangler thriller series. This first book in the series introduces her protagonist who is a family liaison officer with the Minneapolis Police Department.  Afton works closely and empathetically with families that are crime victims, and is also very tough in her developing investigative skills.

The mystery in this book is abduction.  In a thriller, different than a cozy, the mystery for the reader isn’t who did it.  Now the mystery is if the hero can catch the villain, and the clock is ticking from the moment this baby’s abducted.  In the meantime, you learn family secrets revealed.  And the movements and motives of the abductors are fascinating.

This book is an incredible, raw ride that you’ll be excited to read.  Be sure you have time to finish the last fifty pages in one sitting, because you won’t be able to put it down.  The next in the Afton Tangler series, Shadow Girl will be available August 1st.

To hear more from the author of both series, and over 40 mysteries, listen to our episode Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Laura Childs/Gerry Schmitt.

In honor of this, our sweet 16 podcast episode and in tribute to our tea shop series author, the Treasures and Teas Shop in Edmonds created custom, first taste mystery tea blends.  These are wonderful for sipping while listening to Kendall & Cooper, or while reading your favorite mysteries.

Phyllis Carlton, tea sommelier at Treasures and Teas blended the Queen’s Mystery #2.  Like a good mystery, this blend beckons to you to chase it.  The second blend for our sweet 16 is the Evening Shadow which is particularly soothing while enthralled in thrillers, and well suited to those cozy mysteries.  The Podners were invited to a tea tasting by Phyllis and were delighted.  We left after enthusiastically purchasing each.   And we were excited to send samples to Laura Childs for her to enjoy for our episode.

Next time you’re downtown Edmonds, stop by Treasures and Teas shop and ask Phyllis or Carla for these mystery blends.  And if you want to know more about them, listen to our brief interview with Phyllis who tells more details about these intriguing blends.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Terminated by Simon Wood, The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away
By Simon Wood

Friends Zoe and Holli take a break from graduate studies for a joyful Las Vegas trip, but end up tragically abducted by a sadistic killer.  Zoe escapes with her life, forever changed.  She never sees her friend again and this villain wasn’t caught.  A year later our heroine carries the burden of haunting fears on top of a heavy load of survivor guilt.

Zoe hears of a murder investigation on TV that includes shreds of information that she’s convinced match her abduction.  Now she has to get police to believe that she can help them find this killer.  She’s desperate to have this chance to be part of stopping him.  It’s a second chance at saving someone’s life.  But becoming involved in this investigation puts her life in danger again, if this killer realizes that she’s the one that got away.  This book, typical for this author’s writing, pulses suspense.  You’ll never know what turn this tale will take next, but you’re in for a wild ride and you’ll want to stay on for the exciting finish.

It’s said that Simon Wood concocts wild and dangerous thrillers that would have given Hitchcock nightmares. I appreciate that he creates fascinating, smart villains that get under your skin, then pits them against strong heroes for a truly exciting fight.  I highly recommend this author.  The broad conflicts at the heart of his books give the reader a chance to explore different perspectives on very human issues.  In this book the dynamic issue of survivor guilt, and in his book Terminated an exploration into work place violence.
By Simon Wood
Gwen is conscientiously doing a good job at work, and was recently promoted. But Stephen is one of the employees in her department and he is not happy with Gwen’s work or her promotion.  He decides he’s not going to complain about it, he’s going to do something about it himself.  Taking what he sees as justice in his own hands, this misplaced vigilante is terrifying.

Just like Gwen, the reader doesn’t know when, where or how this self-appointed enforcer will strike next.  His moves are genius in their planning and execution.  If only he put all that energy and intelligence toward good, but then he thinks he is working to make things good.  He’s an ominous character with chilling determination and self-assurance.  He’s devious in chipping away at Gwen’s credibility with others, seeking to isolate her, increase her vulnerability, and ultimately destroy her.  Can she find a way to protect herself, and her family?  It’s a white knuckle ending.  With work place aggression an increasing issue, this book is a thought provoking plot to ponder.

Learn more about this award winning suspense and horror author, who is also a former racecar driver, licensed pilot, animal rescue volunteer, endurance cyclist, and occasional private investigator, from his interview podcast Kendall & Cooper talk mysteries with Simon Wood.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Van Shaw Thrillers

Past Crimes

Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton

This novel is the first in the Van Shaw Thriller series. Take a deep breath when you open the cover, because you’ll find yourself deep in action right from start to end. Van is now an Army Ranger serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was raised in Seattle by his grandfather. Now ten years estranged, his grandfather has asked him to come home.

Van’s welcome home is extraordinary. He finds his grandfather bleeding out on the floor from a gunshot wound to his head. And now Van is suddenly in the midst of break-ins, thefts, attempted murder, then he’s suspected and chased by police, and threatened by others. The chase and Van’s investigation is on, and one of the best parts of being a reader along for this wild ride is that this novel is all written from Van’s perspective, giving you a front row seat in real time. You’ll feel your heart pound as you walk down the dark alley with Van, trying to sneak past the bad guys knowing you have nothing but your wits for defense against their weapons. And that’s just one of the chills he shares with you.

His grandfather is not your typical relative; at least I don’t think so. He had some interesting friends and followed some questionable pursuits. Putting together the clues to find out what’s happened and who’s behind it is mesmerizing and suspenseful.

Skillfully laced throughout the novel are some of Van’s memories of his unusual youth growing up in Seattle. Some memories include his friends and some are with his grandfather, and it’s a wonderful way to entertain while giving the reader valuable insights into Van’s personality.

This award winning, best-selling author knows a lot about the Seattle area. He grew up aboard a sailboat in the Seattle area, and spent much time around the islands of the Pacific Northwest. He now lives in Burbank, California with his family but left his heart in Seattle and visits frequently.

You’ll be intrigued to find how past crimes can sneak up on you, and influence your present. They can even be part of a chance at a future. I can’t wait to pick up the sequel Hard Cold Winter available in paperback in May, and I’m looking forward to the newest in the series Every Day Above Ground available July 25th.

And hear more from the author by clicking on the episode when Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries with Glen Erik Hamilton, including more information about his new book Every Day Above Ground - 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

That's a Close Call with Laura DiSilverio

Close Call and The Reckoning Stones
By Laura DiSilverio

                I’ve discovered a delightful mystery author who has authored a wide range of books in this broad genre.  Many of you may know this author from her enticing cozy mystery series:  The Readaholics series, Mall Cop series, Ballroom Dance mysteries, or Southern Beauty Shop mysteries.  Talented Laura DiSilverio also writes mysteries and suspense that will grip you with their heartwarming, emotional depths and also chill you with their tense excitement.
                In Close Call an incidental twist of fate throws the unwitting protagonist Sydney Ellison straight into the middle of an assassination plot.  Sydney has to analyze why suddenly extraordinary events are happening around her, what is causing it, and then solve the mystery of who is behind it all before she’s the next victim.  The reader is treated to a taut race analyzing clues on how the bad guy can be stopped in time.  The twists are deftly executed by the author, and enjoyed by this reader.
                The Reckoning Stones is a very suspenseful telling of a story about solving a cold case.  It’s fascinating to read how a gruesome crime many years ago can have such immense impacts on such a number of lives later.  Especially when the person accused, convicted, and in jail is actually innocent.  For me, much of this novel is about examining loyalties well placed, and also loyalties misplaced or broken.  Betrayal is a powerful motive, among other motives.  The justice system already has someone held accountable for the crime, so they’re not assigning resources again on a whim.  It’s another compelling and resourceful protagonist, Iris, who in this case is driven to free this innocent man.  By the way, that’s her assumed name.  Why does she have an assumed name?  You’ll want to read to find out.

                National bestselling and award-winning author Laura DiSilverio is an exciting author.  She served twenty years as an Air Force Intelligence Officer before becoming a full time writer.  Her energy and enthusiasm for life is fully present in her books.  I hope you’ll give them a try.  And to learn more about her writing first hand, enjoy our podcast Kendall & Cooper Talk Mysteries withLaura DiSilverio.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

My Sister's Grave Legal Thriller

My Sister’s Grave
By Robert Dugoni

Her beloved sister disappeared without a trace 20 years ago. The grief was life altering for the loving family and friends left behind. Tracy Crosswhite has spent all this time questioning her sister’s disappearance, and also the facts in the trial that followed. Two decades later remains are found by hunters in the woods, and identified as her sister Sarah. Now homicide detective with the Seattle police department, Tracy sees opportunities to reopen the investigation into her sister’s murder. What she doesn’t realize is that those actions will lead to intense danger for herself and others.

This story grabs the reader in so many ways, emotionally, as a thriller, and as a courtroom curiosity. Robert Dugoni is a bestselling author including this Tracy Crosswhite series, the David Sloane mystery series, and also stand alone books. He’s recently been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original for The 7th Canon. His books, including My Sister’s Grave are very well researched in all aspects. The characters are especially memorable and true to life, skillfully described in the course of the story through observation, and also through comments and reactions of other characters in the book. During parts of the legal court scenes you’ll almost be holding your breath with anticipation. And the underlying danger that seeps into every scene will thrill and chill you.

Part 1 of this book begins with a quote from Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England: “Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” How does this important premise play a part in the interesting plot for this book? Here’s an opportunity to explore your feelings about the legal system from several different and important perspectives.

This book also led me to ponder why readers like me are so attracted to murder mysteries. It’s not the incredible cruelty, violence, and struggle for that final breath. Reading this book I became so engaged by the characters, almost as a reflection of people in my own life. This story became a reminder that it can all be taken away in an instant: the caring relationship, the love, the joy, the person. The mystery novel reminds us to fully live and love every moment while it’s here.

For more direct from the author, please click on the link to the Kendall & Cooper Podners in Crime Podcast.

And look for the author's newest book The Trapped Girl

Sunday, January 29, 2017

K&C Talk Legal Mysteries with Keenan Powell

Join the Podners as Kendall & Cooper talk Legal Mysteries with Keenan Powell, Author and Attorney from Anchorage, Alaska. Even Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise from A Few Good Men weigh in on the discussion.  Also book recommendations, the thin line between fiction and real life, and more