Spotlight on Old River by Clyde Linsley

old-river

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Title: Old River
Author: Clyde Linsley
Publisher: Wildside Press
Publication Date: August 12, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Police Procedural

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Synopsis

Sheriff John Sprenkel has only lived in Concordia Parish,
Louisiana for six years and has never had to investigate
a murder. . . until now. The badly beaten body of a young
woman dumped beside the banks of the Mississippi River
offers few clues, but when he searches for answers, all he
finds are more questions. Was the young woman Harriet
Van Dorn, graduate student in Natchez, Mississippi, or
Madeleine D’Anjou, streetwalker in New Orleans? Sprenkel
isn’t the only person who wants to find the truth. Jill Winston,
Harriet’s roommate, finds the investigation more compelling
than her graduate work, and is intrigued by hard-working
Sheriff Sprenkel. But their investigations lead to a dangerous
plot dreamed up by a madman-one that could lead to disaster
for everyone living along the Mississippi River!

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Goodreads

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clyde-linsleyClyde Linsley was born 1942 in Little Rock, Arkansas. He graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1960 (at the height of the desegregation controversy). Linsley attended Little Rock University (one year), then transferred to the University of Missouri. There, he received a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the Missouri School of Journalism in 1964. That was followed by two years of graduate study in theology and social ethics at Colgate Rochester Divinity School where he didn’t get a degree but gained interesting knowledge and significant expenses and considered it worth every penny.

After school, he worked on state and national political campaigns, two presidential inaugurations, and wrote radio news for a small New Hampshire broadcaster. He was also a reporter for a (now defunct) daily newspaper, a freelance writer and a mystery novelist. Clyde is married with three offspring (now adults) and lives with his wife in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/clyde-linsley-101a159

Book Review: The Inside Passage by Carl Brookins

The Inside PassageThe Inside Passage
Carl Brookins
Brookins Books, February 2016
ISBN 978-0-9853906-7-9
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Murder, mystery and adventure on the restless ocean waters off the rugged coast of British Columbia. Seattle PR executive Michael Tanner sails to Desolation Sound with his wife and their close friend. It’s a relaxing, shakedown cruise for three amateur sailors. On a foggy morning disaster strikes and Tanner stands accused of negligence. With no help from the authorities, Tanner sets out to find the people who murdered his wife and her friend.

Back in 2000, Carl Brookins launched the first entry in his Michael Tanner series which focused on a Seattle-based public relations executive who sailed as a hobby. Inner Passages was published by Top Publications and was followed by 4 more books. Now, the author has re-released a revised, updated edition under the title The Inside Passage and I’m very glad he did; in the ensuing 16 years, there is no doubt he has become a more accomplished writer and this new edition is all the better for it.

When a much larger boat runs down his sailboat, killing his wife and their friend, Michael Tanner becomes nearly obsessed with tracking it down, believing it to have been a deliberate attack. The authorities insist it was an accident and Michael’s friends and colleagues watch worriedly as he puts his life and career aside to search for the yacht and answers. Some people believe Michael was at fault and, while he knows in his heart the deaths of Beth and Alice were intentional, he can’t help the feelings of inadequacy and guilt. He isn’t alone, though—his partners, Jeremiah and Perry, stand beside him in his quest.

The beauty of this book lies in the author’s clear love and knowledge of sailing, evoking the lure of nautical experiences that simply can’t be fully understood by those, like me, who have limited exposure to life on the water. His descriptions of the fog…the loneliness and isolation as well as the creepiness that comes naturally with not being able to see your surroundings…put me right on that doomed boat. Another element of the story that I found unusual and really sensible is the passing of time. This is no mystery solved in two days or a week; months, even years, go by and that, to me, is really logical when it comes to an amateur investigation. This also allows for the introduction of a new love interest, Mary Whitney, without it seeming as though things were rushed.

Mr. Brookins drew me into Michael’s world and his need to find the answers that will bring justice for Beth and Alice and, perhaps, peace for himself. I like this new and improved Michael Tanner and hope to see much more of him in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2016.

The Ultimate Entertainment for a Kid

Don’t have a child? Borrow one! Become a
Big Brother or Big Sister! Take a grandparent
instead of a kid! (Well,why not? They’re
great at turning kids on to books.)
 

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Phase 2 Renovations Week 1—And So It Begins!

house-remodeling-doggie-2

Will we have a working kitchen
in time for Christmas? Enquiring
minds want to know…

Book Review: The Transatlantic Conspiracy by G. D. Falksen

the-transatlantic-conspiracyThe Transatlantic Conspiracy
G. D. Falksen
Soho Teen, June 2016
ISBN 978-1-61695-417-8
Hardcover

Oh, I do love a story about bad girls and The Transatlantic Conspiracy is quintessential.  Rosalind’s own words best define her when she explains to Alix, “I drive motorcars and I’m a suffragist, so my reputation is already a bit uncertain.”  Their mutual friend Cecily not only tinkers with clocks, but has been known to write “strongly worded letters” to express her displeasure or disappointment.  Embarking on the maiden voyage of the underwater railway, Alix is quick to confirm that her traveling companions both know “how to give a swift quick and a good stab” (with a hatpin).

Perhaps I should mention that this steampunk story begins on May 25, 1908.  My first book from this fantastical, science-fiction subgenre complete with advanced machines and modern technology.  It did not disappoint.

Rosalind is quite accustomed to traveling alone, despite being female and seventeen years old.  She has every confidence in her father’s perpetually advancing railways, whether it be traveling above water on an impossibly long bridge or seven days underneath, riding a train through the ocean from Germany to New York.   She may not cherish her reluctant role as a “pawn in her father’s advertising campaign”, but she has never felt afraid.  Until now.

From the beginning, with Cecily and sibling Charles unexpectedly announcing plans to accompany Rosalind to America, to feeling inexplicably unnerved at the station, Rosalind is overcome with unease as she boards.  A strange skepticism settles; people seem to smile around secrets tucked safely away.  Charles disappears.  Two passengers are murdered.  It is only the second day.

Fully engaging with twists and turns, sneaky surprises, loyal friendships and levity, The Transatlantic Conspiracy was a fascinating foray into steampunk.

Reviewed by jv poore, May 2016.

Book Review: Thirst by Katherine Prairie

thirstThirst
An Alex Graham Novel #1
Katherine Prairie
Stonedrift Press, February 2016
ISBN 978-0-9949377-0-4
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Explosive violence rocks Canada’s Slocan Valley after the shooting deaths of three teenagers in a bombing attempt at the Keenleyside dam. A joint U.S.-Canada military force locks down the Valley to protect Columbia River dams critical to both countries but martial law incites more violence.

Geologist Alex Graham refuses to let politics stand in her way. She evades military patrols to slip into a restricted zone in her hunt for a silver mine to claim as her own. But her plans are derailed by an intentionally set fire that almost takes her life.

Someone wants her out of the Slocan Valley.

When Alex discovers a gunshot victim in an abandoned mine, she fears she could be next. But she s never been one to wait for trouble to come to her and she tracks a suspicious man seen once too often in the lonely mountains.

All eyes are on the dams, but the true threat lies elsewhere.

Every now and then, very rarely, a story grabs me by the throat from the first page and doesn’t let go until the end. Such a story is Thirst by Katherine Prairie and I’m here to tell you, if you’re looking for a thriller with heart and a darned good mystery, this one needs to go on your Christmas wishlist right now.

I won’t waste a lot of time delving into the plot—you can get that from the jacket copy and other reviews—but I’ll just say Ms. Prairie knows how to do plot as well as all the trappings that should go with it but often don’t. First, there’s the opening setting in which we learn that this is a place subject to fearful weather, something that always sends shivers down my spine whether it’s warm or cold. Then there are the remote locations so common to Alex’s work as a geologist and the ferocious pressure that comes with hunting down gold and silver deposits. In this particular instance, political machinations, Canadian-US relations, an overbearing US military, a driving need for revenge, an attack on a critical resource and a potential for bioterrorism all mesh together to produce murder and intrigue that initially seems over the top but is, in fact, all too possible.

Alex herself is a bit of an enigma and, yet, we know enough to realize right off the bat that here is a woman who is nearly fearless though guarded, making her way in what’s usually considered a man’s field. She tries to live by certain self-imposed rules such as keeping a low profile but, when she can’t, she goes after the answers needed. As an investigator, Alex is intelligent and open to possibilities while protective of the endangered people and environment. In short, she’s the kind of investigator who isn’t shackled by professional restrictions and, as such, she can and does go the extra mile.

Thirst is Katherine Prairie‘s first novel and I hope to see much more of Alex Graham in the future. This author and her protagonist are too good not to be around for a long time and, in the meantime, this first adventure is going on my list of favorite books read in 2016.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2016.

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katherine-prairieKatherine, a geologist and IT specialist, stepped away from the international petroleum industry to follow her passion for writing. An avid traveller with an insatiable curiosity, you never know where you’ll find her next! But most days, she’s in Vancouver, Canada, quietly plotting murder and mayhem under the watchful eye of a cat. She is an award-winning presenter and the author of the thriller THIRST.

www.katherineprairie.com

www.facebook.com/katherine.prairie

www.twitter.com/authorprairie

Buy links for Thirst:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Sense of Place

I passed by a downtown corner the other day, a location I hadn’t visited in a few months, only to find that nothing looked familiar. The coffee shop, the clothing store, the restaurant I knew so well – all were gone, replaced by a plywood and chain link fence protected construction zone.

It reminded me of the challenge of writing about real places, something I’ve chosen to do in my mysteries. I want my reader to believe that the story I’m telling could happen tomorrow, and a certain amount of realism is necessary to accomplish that.

Although I visit most of the places I write about, it’s not enough. A fire can destroy a landmark building, or as happened to my corner, urban renewal can change the landscape. So how to work with real locations in fiction, especially when even careful research may not be enough?

I admit to a certain vagueness in my descriptions of stores, and restaurants. Although I can generally count on a street name, civic building or hospital to remain relatively unchanged over time, businesses come and go, even without construction! But sometimes it’s necessary to take a risk, especially if a location plays a key role in a mystery.

Thirst wouldn’t have been the same story in any other location than the Slocan Valley in southeastern British Columbia near the U.S. border with Washington, and the city of Nelson is at its centre. Nelson is a unique, special place that has its quirky side, and it was as much a character in Thirst as Alex Graham and Eric Keenan! And so, I chose to name both a well-known coffee shop and restaurant, because the coffee shop especially, is an intrinsic part of Nelson and it conveys the true essence of the city.

Many authors set their stories in fictional cities or locations that are just similar enough to real locations that they work as successful substitutes. An unnamed bedroom community outside of San Francisco that resembles Sausalito or Oakland in everything but name, or a Texan town near sprawling cattle ranches, that could be Austin, Laredo or a dozen others. These types of settings allow a reader to conclude that this place must be the city or town they know so well, but because it is never identified as such, they forgive the author’s use of non-existent names.

There’s also a sense of place that can be suggested by general locations, like Stephen King’s use of fictitious small towns in Maine. There’s an attitude and way of life in Maine that he builds on that doesn’t require the use of a specific town.

Other authors take the plunge and generously sprinkle real places into their story. It’s a gamble because you can all-too quickly date your story, and not every business will thank you for naming them. It’s important to remember that a grisly murder in a café, or a poisoning death in a romantic restaurant, can bring irreparable damage to those businesses.

If I use a real business, I always try to put it in the most positive light possible. In addition, I take the time to ask permission from the business owner, including the story synopsis and the specific excerpt in which the business is named, with my request. Generally, I’ve found them to be very supportive and down-right excited by the prospect of inclusion in a locally-set thriller, however it doesn’t always turn out that way. A winery surprised me by declining permission for a single mention of their excellent chardonnay as a romantic dinner choice, but I understood their reasoning. They had worked hard to create a brand and they wanted to protect it, and that meant that they took extreme care as to where and how their wines were mentioned. This particular winery told me that they had even turned down several movie producers too, so I was in good company!

The nature of my mysteries requires real locations, but a small detail like a local winery isn’t going to make or break the story. I’ve come to weigh each choice carefully, to risk naming real businesses, street corners, parks and other elements, only if they’re truly important to the character of the location. Otherwise I retreat to vagueness and leave the rest to my reader’s imagination.

Katherine Prairie

Waiting On Wednesday (53)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

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