Book Review: King Maybe by Timothy Hallinan

King MaybeKing Maybe
A Junior Bender Mystery #5
Timothy Hallinan
Soho Crime, April 2016
IBSN: 978-1-61695-432-1

A large, sprawling text. By turns, funny, intriguing, self-indulgent, long, meandering, plot-centric but character driven. The story is clever and overloaded with odd, interesting and often out-of control characters. As such, the book provides an interesting if skewed insider look at Hollywood and some of its more popular if lesser-known residents. First we have the principal driving force. Here, readers have a choice between Ronnie Bigelow, sexy, enigmatic, passionate, she of mysterious logically criminal past, and Junior Bender, a burglar of some reputation in Los Angeles. Junior is usually a contract thief, targeting homes and businesses for specific objects at the request of other criminals.

Fine. The project becomes dangerous almost from the start when a meticulously timed foray dumps Junior into a tag team aimed at deleting him with the aid of baseball bats. Junior escapes with the help of the aforementioned Bigelow, ivy covered walls and a crotchety neighbor. But the adventure isn’t over. A rollicking car chase involving one aging Toyota (Bender’s) against a fleet of modern high-powered vehicles (the bad guy) rolls over the Hollywood hills, endangering, at least momentarily, a high percentage of local and possibly innocent citizens.

Suffice it to say, everything works out in the end after a number of additional violent confrontations, some intense interpersonal connection and a lot of words, sarcastic, funny and largely enjoyable.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2016.
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Cover Reveal: 5 Chances by B. Austin

5 Chances Outcast Book Cover


Title: 5 Chances
Series: Outcast #2

Author: B. Austin
Publication Date: September 13, 2016

Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult



Ivory vows to find out more about what is going
on at Dead Horse Bay but she wrecked the
Renegade and must find a rogue replacement, a
fixer-upper boat someone threw away a long time ago.
Ivory is a Smuggler, a member of one of the
Outcast underground groups of New York City.

Ivory is obsessed with saving Outcasts from vanishing
from the Commonwealth of Earth. She has smuggled
an Outcast out of Dead Horse Bay, but can she
smuggle herself in to learn more about
the secrets the Commonwealth is hiding?

Or perhaps the answers she and her friends seek are
in Lockup, the dreaded insane asylum Outcasts are
dragged to when they have accumulated 50 demerits.
At Lockup is the Mortuary, a tunnel leading into
darkness. All Ivory must do to be thrown into Lockup
is to act even more rebellious and gain the attention
of Behavior Drones and the FRE (Fanatic Rule Enforcers).

Ivory will do whatever it takes to save herself and her
friends from extinction in a world where people have
become immortal, except for Outcasts, the
thorn in the Commonwealth’s side.

5 Chances is the second book in the Outcast series.



About the Author

B. AustinAuthor B. Austin writes Dystopian and Science Fiction Books. She is the author of the Young Adult Dystopian series Defective.
Author links: 


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Waiting On Wednesday (34)

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:

Continue reading

Book Review: The Outlaw by Alan Janney

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Title: The Outlaw: Origins
Author: Alan Janney
Publication Date: May 28, 2015
Cover Re-issue Date: February 26, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult



Purchase Links:

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The OutlawThe Outlaw: Origins
Alan Janney
Sparkle Press, May 2015
ISBN 978-0-9962293-2-6
Trade Paperback

From the author—

A masked vigilante stalks the streets of downtown Los Angeles, disrupting crime and rescuing movie starlets. After being spotted on security cameras and thrust into the national spotlight, he is pursued by both the media and powerful new enemies. Little does the world know the Outlaw is just High School junior Chase Jackson wearing a mask and wondering why his body is suddenly…extraordinary. 

The story continues in Book Two of the Outlaw Series. ‘Infected’.


Psst. Have you noticed? Superheroes have taken over our world! They’re everywhere….comic books and graphic novels, movies, tv, action figures, Halloween costumes, you name it, even occasional books. I get into the movies and most of the tv shows but not so much all the other stuff which is probably why I decided to try this book, expanding my tastes you might say.

Chase is a nice young man, a superhero through no fault of his own. In fact, he reminds me quite a bit of Peter Parker (Spider-Man) because he also was a teenager who didn’t ask for his superhero status. Chase is a charmer in many ways but unsure of himself and his place. W get to really know this boy in all aspects of his life and I really enjoyed that. Football is his great love and I was transported back to my own high school days and those all-important games. Loads of fun then and now 😉 but Chase is more than just football and superhero stuff—he’s a normal kid with all the usual teenaged issues.

On the downside, I could really have done without the romance and Chase’s rather immature attitude towards girls.

The author chooses to be very limited in his public persona and that’s certainly his right but I do wish we could get more than just a glimpse into who Alan Janney is. For me, at least, that would add another dimension to this fun story. Failing that, I’ll look forward to Chase’s next adventures.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2016.


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Doing Research

Kathleen Delaney with BooksKathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to talk about the fun research she does for her cozies.

Murder by Syllabub, fifth in the Ellen McKenzie series, is available in bookstores now. Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get as an author is “do you do much research for your books?” The answer is a definite…it depends.

I write cozy mysteries. By their definition, the plot revolves more around the people, their characters and motives than around events that require a lot of research such as the inner workings of the CIA or how to operate a submarine. That said…cozies do require research of a sort.

 I decided early on that I wanted my books to be about more than just the murder and finding out who did it. I wanted to frame the stories with some kind of occupation or event that made the protagonist need to learn something she hadn’t known before and hopefully the reader as well.  I don’t mean ‘the hook’, although that’s important. Ellen McKenzie is a real estate agent and Mary McGill is retired and runs every committee in town. I didn’t want to write a ‘how to’ book either. I wouldn’t want to teach anyone how to set up fraudulent partnerships or smuggle drugs in a horse trailer, but I wanted a theme that would run through the book, making it a vital part of the story. That’s where the research came in.

The first two books centered on things I already knew something about. Dying For A Change involved land purchase and fraudulent partnerships, Give First Place to Murder horse shows and horse transport. About then I ran out of first hand experiences and needed to collect information.

And Murder For Dessert opens in a winery during a prestigious wine maker dinner, featuring a famous chef who ends up dead in a wine fermenting tank. Such fun. The town where I then lived was home to some of the most famous wineries on California’s Central Coast. I had visited most of them and was fortunate enough to know some of the owners and wine makers. I had sipped wine on the cellar floors, wandered in the vineyards, and represented both buyers and sellers in the purchase or sale of wineries and vineyards. I’d done a lot of research but not for the express purpose of writing the book. That came later but I made good use of the knowledge I’d gained.

A lot of Murder Half-Baked takes place in a bakery, and as I’ve said about cozies, it is mainly about the characters, why the victims came to be that way-dead-and what happened to make the killer kill.  I did a lot of research about domestic abuse to write this book, its effect on the abused woman, her children, and its long term effect on the whole family. However, since it is in a bakery it seemed only fair to look into how a bakery works, which isn’t much like your average household kitchen. At least, not much like mine. I’d never heard of a pouffer and at first thought I had the spelling wrong. I didn’t. It’s a sort of oven that gets the bread/pasteries to rise more quickly. It turns out bakery people are very generous with their information as well as their cherry Danish. I learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes while feeding my sweet tooth.

Curtains for Miss PlymMurder by Syllabub was different. I had been to Colonial Williamsburg several times and was fascinated by life in the eighteenth century. Did you know that the expression “sleep tight” came about because there were no box springs, just rope ties and if they weren’t tied tight you sagged? All night. That’s just one piece of trivia I learned. I went to Williamsburg twice just to do research, stayed in the historic district, watched women make wigs, cook in the Payton Randolph house and the Governor’s mansion and tend the flower and vegetable beds which contain no flowers not planted in the eighteenth century. I bought books on eighteenth century living and poured over them investigating rooms both modest and elegant, read recipes, and learned how to tell if an oven is hot enough or too hot by sprinkling flour on the bottom. I also learned about Syllabub, a sweet dessert drink, and a couple of really good ways to poison people with things found in a typical eighteenth century garden. Such fun. You really should read it.

Then I started a new series. The Mary McGill canine mysteries, and her cocker spaniel, Millie. In the first book, Purebred Dead, I ended up calling dog breeders and the president of the Bay Area Poodle club in search of information about genetic traits in dogs. What I found out was fascinating and I used it in the story. Curtains for Miss Plym is about an elderly lady who wanders, in both body and mind. I had to do research on dementia to get her right. There are many different types and different degrees and I found the subject fascinating. How to keep track of someone suffering from dementia was also a subject of research. I found some interesting ones, not always ways I approved of but one I used. I also learned something about quilt making.

The third Mary McGill and Millie is in progress. This book starts during a 4th of July celebration and I meant to write about German Shepherds and fireworks. It’s not working out that way. Instead it’s about jewelry designers and jewelry store robberies. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. But I’m finding out things I never knew before. Like how to melt gold, that designers make their initial designs in wax, and how to rob a jewelry store and get away before the alarm goes off. Interesting things to know, but not too useful for most of us.  And, there is a German Shepherd along, of course, with Millie and her three legged pal, Morgan. I’m not sure how it ends, but the research has been great fun. I’ll let you know what happens as soon as I figure it out.

The working title for this book is Blood Red White and Blue. If you have a suggestion for another title, I’m open.

In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about making jewelry, please use the internet. I’m still trying to understand what ‘lost wax’ means.

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Cover Reveal: Cat in an Alphabet Endgame by Carole Nelson Douglas

Cat in an Alphabet Endgame


Title: Cat in an Alphabet Endgame
Series: A Midnight Louie Mystery #28
Author: Carole Nelson Douglas
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Cozy Noir, Private Investigator




In the twenty-eighth Midnight Louie mystery, the
hardboiled feline PI must find the pot of gold at the
end of the IRA Irish treasure hunt. Then he must don
hated white tie and tails to play Ring Bearer for the
wedding of PR powerhouse, amateur sleuth and Louie’s
faithful roommate, Temple Barr. Will syndicated  radio
counselor and ex-priest Matt Devine’s inside track lose
out to the return of that wily dark horse, magician
Max Kinsella? The suspense is killing somebody.

Meanwhile, a Las Vegas mob resurgence could have
Temple in search of an undertaker instead of a Justice
of the Peace. Luckily, Louie and the Las Vegas Cat Pack
are planning their finest four-footed scheme to help
bring down the crooks. But no one can help Temple decide
which direction her wayward heart must go.


About the Author

Carole Nelson Douglas 2For a quarter of a century, Carole Nelson Douglas’s Midnight Louie mystery series has explored social issues and pop culture through a cast of four human crime solvers: two women, two men; two pros; two amateurs. Midnight Louie’s intermittent voice and investigations, described as “an irresistible combination of Nathan Detroit and Sam Spade”, both celebrate and satirize Noir detective fiction.

Driven to write popular fiction during college by helpless female protagonists, Carole had an award-winning newspaper journalism career before she finished and sold that college novel. She’s written sixty New York-published novels, including the New York Times Notable Book of the year, Good Night, Mr. Holmes. Carole was the first woman to write a Sherlock Holmes spin-off series and the first to use a female protagonist from the Canon, Irene Adler. She’s also written nationally bestselling high and urban fantasy series. Off the keyboard, she rescues cats, collects vintage anything, and designs book covers for her new indie pub career.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads



Follow the clues from the Cat in an Alphabet Soup
foundation novel through a colorful kaleidoscope of
crimes to the forthcoming Cat in an Alphabet Endgame
as the USA Today bestselling cat mystery series
goes from A to Z between the “Alphabet” title bookends.


Congratulations to Carole:

On June 24, 2016, Cat in a Yellow Spotlight won
Best Novel at the 22nd annual Cat Writers’
Association Communication awards in Phoenix.

Book Review: Fox is Framed by Lachlan Smith

Fox is FramedFox is Framed
A Leo Maxwell Mystery #3
Lachlan Smith
The Mysterious Press, April 2016
ISBN 978-0-8021-2504-0
Trade Paperback

In this, the third novel in the Leo Maxwell series, Leo’s older brother, Teddy, obtains a new trial for their father, Lawrence, who has served 21 years in San Quentin for the murder of his wife, Caroline.  The basis for the retrial was prosecutorial misconduct, the withholding of evidence from the defense.  In the second trial, it is never clearly explained by either the DA or the defense attorney if disclosure originally would have made any difference.  However, the new trial allows the author, a practicing attorney, to write a detailed and interesting description of the tactics and planning for a murder trial.

In the new trial, the DA introduces evidence of a “confession” made by Lawrence to a fellow inmate while incarcerated.  Soon, however, the snitch is found dead and the specter of Lawrence being charged for the murder looms over the trial.  While a brilliant attorney defends Lawrence in court, it remains for Leo to follow up on leads, both large and small.

To give the author his due, he graphically portrays the courtroom scenes realistically, showing how the judge rules with wisdom and fairness, as well as how an attorney goes about probing a witness.  He continues the high drama surrounding the Maxwell family found in the previous novels and lays the groundwork for the next addition to the series.  A very fast read, and one which is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, April 2016.