“Murder on the Horizon”: A classic cozy in a contemporary setting

Murder on the Horizon

Murder on the Horizon, by M.L. Rowland is a cleverly crafted murder mystery set in a rural resort town 100 miles east of L.A. For Grace Kinkaid, aiding in an evidence search out in the blazing desert sun is all in a day’s work. But when the Timber Creek Search and Rescue Team turns up a pair of severed hands, her view of her rural resort town and the surrounding area is about to change. Her curiosity and circumstance lead her toward the answers, and she won’t stop until she learns the truth, even when she herself becomes a target.

I truly enjoyed this story. Rowland made me feel as though I knew Gracie and her friends, and she drew me into the story, causing me to keep the pages turning. In addition to being a good mystery, it addresses social issues such as prejudice and bigotry which are so prominent in today’s world. I give Murder on the Horizon five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Interview with mystery author Gerald Darnell

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My guest today has made a career from a single mystery series. He must be doing something right. His Carson Reno Mystery series consists of 18 books and still going strong. He was awarded the 2016 Indie Author Crime Master “Best Thriller/Suspense/Murder Mystery Author” for book 18, Lack of Candor. Let’s find out how he’s done it. Please help me welcome mystery author Gerald W. Darnell.


Kaye: Can you tell me about your author’s journey? How did you get where you are today as a writer?

Gerald: I began writing in college, but nothing serious. After college I published a couple of articles for outdoor magazines and then joined the working world.  I retired after 30 years in the computer industry and wrote my first non-fiction book (which I had been working on for about 15 of those years). It is mostly a bio about my life Don’t Wake Me Until It’s Time to Go. My Carson Reno series started after that – and 18 books later…here we are.

Kaye: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Gerald: Anything outdoors. I have a boat, and when I’m not riding I’ll be fishing.

Kaye: You describe what you write as “Fiction for Fun”. Can you clarify for my readers just what you mean by that?

Gerald: Sure. I use real places with semi-real characters (reflections of my friends or people I know) and tell a story that didn’t happen – but could have.

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Kaye: In your Carson Reno Mystery series each book is a stand-alone mystery, yet you claim they have character continuity across novels. How do you accomplish that?

Gerald: While the core characters might grow (as my writing grows) they change very little from book to book.  And each new book has enough new characters to keep any reader’s attention.

Kaye: Your latest book, Lack of Candor, received the 2016 Indie Author Crime Master award for best author in thriller/mystery/suspense category. Can you tell me a little about that book?

Lack of CandorGerald: It is set in 1962 with most of the story taking place in and around Memphis, Tennessee. A Sergeant with the Memphis Police Department is found dead only hours before his scheduled testimony before a grand jury. Was it suicide or was it murder? What was he going to testify about? A handwritten note left by the Sergeant and addressed to the District Attorney disappears. What was in the note? Was it a suicide note with information regarding his pending testimony or something else? A woman claiming to have information related to his planned testimony comes forward and seeks protection.
Carson is hired to look into the matter and provide protection to the mysterious woman, but protection from whom? The situation gets out of hand quickly, and Carson finds himself in trouble with most everybody involved. A dark cloud hangs over the truth, as he tries to determine the ‘good-guys’ from the ‘bad-guys’ from the ‘bad good – guys’.
This old fashion crime story takes Carson Reno and his crew on a complicated adventure, where it seems that no one is looking for a solution.

Kaye: What is the biggest challenge in writing mystery for you? Why?

Gerald: My time period (early 60’s) has its own challenge. Limited transportation, no cell phones, no CSI type of stuff to solve these crimes. Old black and white solutions to whatever Carson is involved in.

Kaye: What is the best part of writing mystery for you? Why?

Gerald: I’ll answer that by referring to what I tell other writers or wanna’be writers. Don’t write to get rich, but to enrich others.

Kaye: What time of day do you like to do your writing? Why?

Gerald: No particular time, but I prefer the evenings with a little ‘libation’ for inspiration.

Kaye: How do you decide on your titles? Where does this come in the writing process?

Gerald: Titles are always first and I have NO idea where they come from. My friends constantly ask the same question – wish I had a catchy answer.

Kaye: Of all of your books, which one is your personal favorite? Why?

Gerald: I have two and they are my most popular and best sellers – ‘Dead End’ and ‘Murder and More’.  I like the stories and I guess my readers do too.

 

 

Kaye: Many of the events in your stories are inspired by real life events. What was the strangest or most unusual inspiration you’ve ever had for a story?

Gerald: ‘Dead End’ involves a chase scene in a rural Arkansas area where I spent many years when I was younger. The snow, the dirt roads, the mud, the outdoor part of me enjoys that.

Kaye: There are 18 Carson Reno books, one book in your Jack Sloan series: Concrete Jungle, in addition to your autobiographical book, Don’t Wake Me Until It’s Time To Go. So, is Carson Reno on the way out and Jack Sloan on the way in? Or is there more Carson in the future?

Gerald: More Carson and maybe a little more Jack.  A work in progress.

Kaye: What are you working on now? What is next for Gerald W. Darnell?

Gerald: ‘The Disappearance of Robin Murat’ and it will be out before the end of this year (I hope).  No spoilers, but a big part of the story takes place in New Orleans – one of my favorite cities. A great place for mystery and ‘bad-guys’.


I want to thank Gerald for chatting with me today and sharing his experiences and advice. You can learn more about Gerald Darnell and his books at the links below.

Website: www.geraldwdarnell.com/

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07NQRPXMW/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i5

Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4521276.Gerald_W_Darnell

Lulu.com Spotlight: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/geralddarnell

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/geralddarnell


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“Death Among Us”: A collection of short fiction mysteries

Death Among Us

Death Among Us – An Anthology of Murder Mystery Short Stories, compiled and edited by Stephen Bentley is a curious collection of stories, indeed. As I’ve mentioned before, the problem with short fiction lies in telling a complete story in a condensed form, with beginning, middle and end, and it’s one of my peeves when I walk away from a short story and it doesn’t feel complete, or it feels as if it ended too abruptly, as if the author was in a hurry to wrap things up. Some of the stories in this collection are like that, and some were more telling than showing. A few I didn’t feel really fell into the category of murder mystery at all, but for the most part each one kept me engaged despite all that. (That’s another thing about short fiction; you don’t have to keep your reader engaged for a long period of time, but that also means that you have less time to hook them and reel them in.) And there were some stories in this collection, which I’ll talk about in a minute, that were really well written and I was able to immerse myself in from start to finish.

Of particular note, Michael Spinelli’s No Man’s Land is the tale of a desert manhunt for a gruesome serial killer. It’s well-crafted, and built tension and suspense all the way up to the surprise ending. The two stories by L. Lee Kane, A Deadly Lady and Stop Me If You Can, are really two parts of one tale of abuse and revenge, crafted so that the first part offers the motive for what happens in the second. And Justin Bauer kept me fully engaged clear through Sales Meeting, although I felt the ending was tied up a little too neatly. This is not to say that the other shorts in this collection weren’t good, but these three are the ones that stick out in my mind the most.

I will also mention that there are three stories included by Writing to be Read team member, Robbie Cheadle, in this murder mystery collection: Justice is Never Served, An Eye for an Eye, and The Murder of the Monk. Robbie’s stories are each inspired by factual historic events that have to make one wonder and tell the tales the way she imagines them to have happened.

Overall, this anthology was entertaining, (and, after all, isn’t that the point?). I give Death Among Us four quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Someone is winding up the “Clockwork Doll House”

Clockwork Dollhouse

Clockwork Dollhouse, by Jordan Elizabeth is a short steampunk tale which may give readers the chills. Robert has many secrets, but Jane’s clockwork dollhouse sees and reveals things Robert would rather stay hidden. But what is really going on? Who’s winding the dollhouse after all these years and setting the stage? Is it Ainsley, his niece, the ghost of his dead sister, Jane, or is the dollhouse haunted? And can it be stopped before the truth comes out?

A brief story which captivates. Clockwork Dollhouse is a tale of murder unraveled in short fiction format. Perfect for YA audiences. I give it five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


“Lucky Sevens” offers a rare look at Las Vegas life

"Lucky Sevens" by Cynthia Vespia

“Lucky Sevens” by Cynthia Vespia

As head of security for the recreated Saints and Sinners, it’s Luca “Lucky” Luchazi’s job to keep the brass and the clients alive when a series of mysterious accidents befall the casino, starting with the death of his friend and mentor, Charles Vega, the previous owner of Lucky Sevens. But Luca isn’t feeling so lucky anymore. The casino has changed hands, changed its name and changed everything, the woman he loves won’t speak to him, and if things don’t change, he’ll be out of a job, or maybe out of his life.
Many of us have visited Vegas and seen Sin City with the cast of neon to dazzle our view. Lucky Sevens, by Cynthia Vespia, tells the story from the inside view, the angle few of us ever see. It’s the story of those that make keep the cogs moving any way they can and try not to get caught up in the machinery. When it was Lucky Sevens, run by his friend and mentor, Charles Vega, it seemed like a pretty good place to be. Now, he’s not so sure. The new boss is connected and has big corporate money behind him, the mysterious deaths that have occurred in the hotel lately all seem to be connected and black magic seems to be in the air. It’s up to Lucky to uncover what is really going on, but the question is whether he can do it before his luck runs out.
Lucky Sevens is an entertaining read that offers a different perspective on the Vegas scene, showing that it isn’t all bright lights and cash flow. Everyone wants to come out with the winning hand, even behind the scenes where the stakes may be higher than anyone realizes. Take a walk through the Vegas underworld with Lucky Luchazi, but tread carefully. You never know who’s lurking around the next corner, who can be trusted or who’s going to come out on top.