Ron Hervey's Whodunit

The Mystery and Suspense Pages

Call for Submissions

Looking Forward to Bouchercon

boucherconI am looking forward to September, mostly because this year I am attending Bouchercon. For those not familiar with Bouchercon, it is the world’s largest convention of writers and fans of mystery and detective fiction. It’s named in honor of writer, reviewer, and editor Anthony Boucher. 

As an added bonus for me, this year’s event is in New Orleans! I love that old city, but I haven’t been back since Katrina. I can hardly wait.

Today I was looking at a list of authors that will be attending Bouchercon. I compared it against a list of author’s books that I have reviewed here on my blog. I guess I was figuring out my odds of being murdered while at the convention. As it stands, it looks like it’s about 50/50.nolins

Death by Diploma – a Review

deathdeplomaLeaving her old life behind, Emma Lovett begins the next chapter in her life by traveling across the country to take a job as a teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in Colorado.

One day at school, she overhears a heated conversation about something special being done for some of the school’s athletes, but she doesn’t hear enough to understand the full conversation or who was having the conversation.

Not long after, arriving early at school one morning she finds custodian Melvin McManus dead from a head wound. Emma and her new friend, fellow teacher Leslie Parker, decide to take it upon themselves to solve the murder.

Did the conversation Emma overheard have anything to do with the murder? One by one, the amateur sleuths cross suspects off their list. Will they find the killer before the killer finds them?

Death by Diploma (Chalkboard Outlines #1) by Kelley Kaye was published on January 6, 2016 by Red Adept Publishing, LLC. The book is available in both paperback and eBook.

The Author taught High School English and Drama for twenty years. Her experience as a teacher comes through in her writing, giving the reader a believable view of school life from a teacher’s perspective. We also get a good feel of interaction between teachers, even the dislike of coaches by the more academically minded faculty.

The pace seemed slow at the beginning as we met several of the characters. No page-turners in the first half, but it picks up once the murder was committed and the investigation begins.

The main characters were well developed, and Kaye did a good job of making the reader like the characters.

By biggest hang-up with the book is the author’s attempt to convey Emma’s southern accent. Throughout the book she uses “ah’m” for I’m and “ah”for I. The first few mentions of this pronunciation were fine, but it became a little distracting as the book progressed. The best use of accent is to use the accent in in the first few lines of dialog, then drop it completely. The reader will “read” the accent into the character’s voice for the rest of the story on his or her own. I’m not sure why her editor did not catch this.

At one point the author inserts herself into the story when she tells the reader “she will use her English teacher status to make up her own words” after using the word dentier. I realize it’s an effort at humor, but for me it was a little distracting, jarring the reader away from the story line. Again, how this made it past her editor is beyond me.

I have not found other works by Kaye, so I am assuming that this is her first book. If that is the case, I can see the foundation for a great storyteller. I look forward to reading more of her work and watching her grow as an author.

This book will resonate well with Janet Evanovich readers, as Kaye does a good job at inserting humor into her story. In fact, I think she must be a fan of Evanovich, giving a nod to the bestselling author by naming one of her characters Adam Evanovich.

There’s no hard edge or blood and guts in this story. It undoubtedly fits well within the cozy genre. Many chick lit fans will also find Death by Diploma entertaining, while some male readers may find it a little too fluffy.

I give Death by Diploma three out of five stars.

The author of this book provided a copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

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Call for Submissions

Are you a short story writer? Copper Pen Press is currently seeking submissions of high-quality fiction for Freakshow: Freakishly Fascinating Tales of Mystery and Suspense, a forthcoming short story anthology set within the world of the traveling freak show. Writers can spin their yarns in the past, present, or future. Click here for submission details.

Copper Pen Press Launched

Last night we held a wine and cheese reception to officially launch Copper Pen Press. The turnout was higher than expected, and from all indications, everyone had a great time. We were able to get the word out about our new publishing house, along with giving away some great prizes. We would like to thank everyone that turned out to help us celebrate the kickoff of Copper Pen Press.

We originally intended to have a virtual party to coincide with the live wine and cheese reception. With limited space for the reception, we thought that this would be a great way to get more people involved with our celebration. The plan was to give the online partiers the same info about Copper Pen Press that we were giving at the live reception, while posting pics from the live event. We also planned to give the folks online a chance to win the same prizes that the people at the reception were winning.

You know what they say about the best laid plans… and unfortunately we ran into some technical difficulties. We were able to do prize drawings for the virtual group, so all is not lost.

The virtual party was to be held on the Facebook group “Copper Pen Press Virtual Launch Party,” and many people joined that group for the party. Even though the party is technically over, In the next few days I am going to be adding info to the group that was given out at the live event. I am also going to be opening the group up so you don’t need an invite or to be approved by a administrator to join the group.  I’ll leave the group up for a few months so that anyone that wants to check out the information can.

I would like to thank the family and friends that showed up at the live reception, along with those online, for helping us celebrate the launch of Copper Pen Press

My New Business Venture

If you noticed that my reviews have been slow lately, here is why – I was busy setting up a new business venture.  I am excited to announce that I will be launching my new small publishing house, Copper Pen Press, this Friday. I won’t flood this post with all of the details, but I will post links so if you are interested, you can find the info yourself.

cpp-vlp info

I will have a virtual launch party on Friday, July 8th between 7:00 and 9:00 pm (central time) with door prizes for those online at that time.  Check the Copper Pen Press website for details.

Other Copper Pen Press resources:

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Macavity Nominees Announced

The 2016 Macavity Award is named for Macavity the Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot. The Macavity Awards are nominated and voted on by members of Mystery Readers International. The Macavity Awards will be presented at Bouchercon New Orleans in September 2016.

Best Mystery Novel
The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney
Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton
The Hot Countries by Timothy Hallinan
The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson
Life or Death by Michael Robotham
The Cartel by Don Winslow

Best First Mystery Novel
Concrete Angel by Patricia Abbott
Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton
The Killing Kind by Chris Holm
Where All Light Tends To Go by David Joy
The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan
On the Road with Del & Louise by Art Taylor

Best Critical/Biographical
The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story by Martin Edwards
A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup
Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald by Suzanne Marrs & Tom Nolan, editors
Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid
The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett by Nathan Ward

Best Mystery Short Story
The Little Men by Megan Abbott –  A Bibliomystery by MysteriousPress.com
On Borrowed Time by Mat Coward – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June 2015“Sob Sister” by Loren D. Estleman – Detroit Is Our Beat: Tales of the Four Horsemen
A Year Without Santa Claus by Barb Goffman – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, January/February 2015
Quack and Dwight by Travis Richardson – Jewish Noir: Contemporary Tales of Crime and Other Dark Deeds
A Joy Forever by B.K. Steven – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, March 2015

Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award
The Masque of a Murderer by Susanna Calkins
A Gilded Grave by Shelley Freydont
Tom & Lucky and George & Cokey Flo by C. Joseph Greaves
The Lady from Zagreb by Philip Kerr
The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe
Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

2016 Shamus Nominees Announced

The Shamus Award is given annually by the Private Eye Writers of America to honor excellent work in the Private Eye genre. The awards will be presented at the PWA banquet, to be held in September 2016, in New Orleans, Louisiana, during the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention.

Best P.I. Novel
The Promise by Robert Crais
Dance of the Bones by J.A. Jance
Gumshoe by Rob Leininger
Brush Back by Sara Paretsky
Brutality by Ingrid Thoft

Best P.I. Paperback Original
Circling the Runway by J.L. Abramo
The Long Cold by O’Neil De Noux
Split to Splinters by Max Everhart
The Man in the Window by Dana King
Red Desert by Clive Rosengren

Best First P.I. Novel
The Red Storm by Grant Bywaters
Night Tremors by Matt Coyle
Trouble in Rooster Paradise by T.W. Emory
Depth by Lev AC Rosen
The Do-Right by Lisa Sandlin [review]

Best P.I. Short Story
The Runaway Girl from Portland, Oregon by C.B. Forrest – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery  Magazine, October 2015
The Sleep of Death by David Edgerley Gates – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, December 2015
The Dead Client by Parnell Hall – Dark City Lights: New York Stories
The Dead Detective by Robert S. Levinson – Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea
The Continental Opposite by Evan Lewis – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, May 2015

June Hardcover New Releases

New Releases15th Affair (Women’s Murder Club #15) by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
A Hero of France by Alan Furst
A Killer Ball at Honeychurch Hall (Honeychurch Hall #3) by Hannah Dennison
The Art of Murder (Dead-End Job #15) by Elaine Viets
Assassin’s Silence (David Slaton #3) by Ward Larsen
Aunt Dimity and the Buried Treasure (Aunt Dimity #21) by Nancy Atherton
Back Lash (Sam Acquillo #7) by Chris Knopf
Better Dead (Nate Heller #18) by Max Allan Collins
Beyond the Ice Limit (Gideon Crew #4) by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Blood Cries (John Jordan) by Michael Lister
Blood Defense by Marcia Clark
Blood Flag (Paul Madriani #14) by Steve Martini
Bloodroot (Victoria Trumbull #12) by Cynthia Riggs
Boar Island (Anna Pigeon #19) by Nevada Barr
Cape Hell (Page Murdock #9) by Loren D. Estleman
The Circle (Grand & Batchelor #2) by M.J. Trow
City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong
Dead at Breakfast by Beth Gutcheon
Diana’s Altar (Joe Sandilands #13) by Barbara Cleverly
Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica
Don’t Believe a Word by Patricia MacDonald
The Emperor’s Revenge (Oregon Files #11) by Clive Cussler & Boyd Morrison
Evil Turns (Madeline Maclin #5) by Jane Tesh
Fatal Thunder (Jerry Mitchell #5) by Larry Bond
The Fireman by Joe Hill
Forbidden Love in St. Petersburg by Mishka Ben-David
Forgive Me by Daniel Palmer
Freedom of the Mask (Matthew Corbett #6) by Robert McCammon
Goodbye Forever (Kit Doyle #2) by Bonnie Hearn Hill
He Said, She Said by John DeCure
The Highwayman (Walt Longmire novella) by Craig Johnson
The Ides of June (Libertus #16) by Rosemary Rowe
The Last Good Girl (Anna Curtis #5) by Allison Leotta
Lost and Gone Forever (Murder Squad #5) by Alex Grecian
Mercy by Michael Palmer & Daniel Palmer
Murder in Morningside Heights (Gaslight #19) by Victoria Thompson
Nantucket Grand (Henry Kennis #3) by Steven Axelrod
Night Shift (Midnight, Texas #3) by Charlaine Harris
The Night Wanderer (Aelf Fen #7) by Alys Clare
Prayers the Devil Answers (Appalachian Ballad #11) by Sharyn McCrumb
Quick and the Dead by Susan Moody
Redemption Road by John Hart
Robert B. Parker’s Slow Burn (Spenser continuation) by Ace Atkins
Rock-a-Bye Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney #16) by Carolyn Haines
The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton
The Service of the Dead (Kate Clifford #1) by Candace Robb
Seven Days Dead (Emile Cinq-Mars #5) by John Farrow
The Singer from Memphis (Nicolaos #6) by Gary Corby
Stealing the Countess (Mac McKenzie #13) by David Housewright
Straw Man (Jack McMorrow #11) by Gerry Boyle
Tall Tail (Mrs. Murphy #25) by Rita Mae Brown
Tea with Jam and Dread (Pennsylvania Dutch #20) by Tamar Myers
Trail of Echoes by Rachel Howzell Hall
Troublemaker by Linda Howard
Unknown Remains by Peter Leonard
Walleye Junction (Macy Greeley #3) by Karin Salvalaggio
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway #8) by Elly Griffiths
Zigzag: A Nameless Detective Collection by Bill Pronzini

Pagan Moon – a Review

pagen moonIt all starts with a murdered prostitute. It was not a typical murder in that a hole in her chest revealed that her heart had been removed. Since then, Detective Mike Gage had pieced together a string of homicides that appeared to be connected to the hooker’s demise.

There is a break in the case when a young woman, chosen as a sacrifice, escapes from a bloody ceremony. As the puzzle starts to fall in place, Quentin Van Eck, a well-known philanthropist, is exposed as the high priest of an evil cult.

After Van Eck’s sudden death, Gage works with his beautiful widow to uncover a tale of cryonic suspension, human sacrifice and satanic worship, all leading up to an attempt to release a wicked spirit that will doom mankind.

Pagan Moon by William G. Davis, was published on April 20, 2000 by 1st Book Library (456 pages). Davis has since published two more books in the series – Black Karma (Mike Gage Thrillers Book 2), released on July 31, 2013, and The Shooting (Mike Gage Thrillers Book 3), which was released November 26, 2015.

This book will appeal to many different readers, as you cannot pigeonhole it into one category. Mystery fans will appreciate the book, as overall it is a good detective story. Cliffhanging chapters should satisfy suspense and thriller readers. There is enough of a supernatural element to hold the attention of readers of that genre.

Davis does a good job of keeping a fast pace. It is easy for a book of this size (456 pages) to have sections that bog down, but the pace and twists holds the reader’s attention, making a long book seem like a quick read. I also appreciate the relatively short chapters.

The main characters are nicely developed and “fleshed out.” Davis creates heroes that the reader wants to cheer for, and villains they take joy in booing.

My only criticism of this book, and one has to reach deep to find fault, is that there are a few typos, but not enough to be a distraction. Besides, very few, if any, books are perfect.

For a first book, this is a well-written, smartly crafted story. I look forward to reading more of his work, as he will only grow stronger as a writer.

I give Pagan Moon four out of five stars.

The author of this book provided a copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.