A Blast From the Backlist – Something You Missed?

A Blast From the Backlist – Something You Missed?

In a 2003 interview this is what Carol O’Connell had to say about her character, Mallory: ”The way her character is,” O’Connell said by phone from her home in New York, ”Is in that line from James Joyce’s ”Ulysses” — I’m sure you’ll remember when Bloom is downstairs, looking at his wife’s cat — the cat is also a metaphor for the wife: ”Cruel. Her nature. Curious mice never squeal. Seem to like it.

The chilling descriptors above set the tone in O’Connell’s Blind Sight.  A blind child and a Catholic nun disappear from a city sidewalk in plain sight of onlookers. There, then gone—vanished in seconds.

Detective Kathy Mallory and the NYPD’s Special Crimes Unit enter the investigation when the nun’s body is found with three other corpses in varying stages of decomposition left on the lawn of Gracie Mansion, home to the mayor of New York City.  Sister Michael was the last to die. The child, Jonah Quill, is still missing.

Unknown to the police, that blind boy is with a stone killer.  Though he has unexpected resources of his own, his rescuers have no suspect, no useful evidence, and no clue — except for Detective Mallory’s suspicions of things not said and her penchant for getting to the truth beneath lies.

Carol O’Connell has penned a thriller of singular intensity.  At times the plot switched back and forth, making the read a bit confusing.  O’Connell also introduced a number of characters early; this gives the reader pause to try and sort who’s who.  Nonetheless readers are rewarded by Mallory’s logic and relentless pursuit.  

Mallory takes the lead on this case. Unlike her fellow detectives, Mallory is not bound by the limits of the typical.  Her intuitions and her street smarts are unique tools.  Mallory is spot on and, as always, she keeps her SCU colleagues in the dark as she hunts.

There are many instances of “blind” in this thriller.  O’Connell thoroughly captures the world of the physically blind in her portrayal of Jonah, the kidnapped boy, where reliance on other senses is critical for survival.  But the police are blind as well – few clues, few suspects, and few opportunities to connect the dots.  

As for Mallory, she seems blind to the human aspect of the crime.  We bear witness to how Mallory armors herself to create that façade.  Deep in her psyche, she carries the eternal flame of love and compassion even if she wishes to hide and protect that vulnerable part of herself.

Blind Sight is well worth the read.  Stick with the maze of a start because the ending will blow you away.

Sharon Kriegisch is a psychological thriller fan, a beta reader/editor and successful entrepreneur

This Writing Life: Christopher Fowler and Writing as Salvation

This Writing Life: Christopher Fowler and Writing as Salvation

How do we begin our life as a writer?   For Michael Connelly, it was the work of Raymond Chandler; it fired the forge from which Harry Bosch was drawn.  For Sara Peretsky, it was about proving that women writers’ plots and prose could be as muscular as the likes of Hammett and Spillane. 

For Christopher Fowler, it was trying his hand at a genre that he adored.  He loved the writing as much as the reading.  From his trial shot of a single book to a lifetime of creation, Fowler secured his place in the body of crime fiction works.

Christopher Fowler, author of Britain’s Bryant & May series of detective novels, has died at the age of 69.  He fought the good fight after having been diagnosed with cancer three years ago.

Christopher was best known for his Bryant & May thrillers, featuring veteran detectives solving unusual crimes in London from the second world war to the present day. The series kicked off with Full Dark House in 2003, and 17 more novels followed, most recently London Bridge Is Falling Down, published in 2021.  

Christopher was the winner of the Edge Hill Prize, (for excellence in a published single authored short story collection), the Last Laugh prize (for best humorous crime novel first published in the United Kingdom), the inaugural Green Carnation Award (award for best fiction and memoirs by gay men), the E-Dunnit Award (best crime fiction ebook first published in both hardcopy and in electronic format in the British Isles) and the CWA 2015 Dagger In The Library (for a body of work by an established writer of crime fiction or non-fiction who has long been popular with borrowers from libraries).   His crime fiction was superior and quality intensified as he aged.

Christopher Fowler wrote until he could not, sharing: “It’s very hard to write now without falling asleep or forgetting what I was going to say.  All fun things have to come to an end. I love you all. Except for that horrible old troll – are there any other kind? There, now you have a smidgen of extra time on your hands, go have fun … and read a book.”

And now is a good time for you to discover Fowler’s works, if you aren’t familiar (I get no remuneration when you click a link and purchase).  What you will get though is a thrilling chase through unusual crimes in unusual times.  The usual buddy cops motif is turned upside down with gay detective partners who work in – wait for it – the Peculiar Crimes Unit.  Fowler’s series is fun.  Go to Amazon and find yourself in London, in the 40’s, in the life.  You will sit up all night.  You will not be able to put his books down.  

Let me know what you think – good or bad!  valeriewebster@valeriewebster.com

Let Us Now Praise Women Writers – Rhonda Blackhurst

Let Us Now Praise Women Writers – Rhonda Blackhurst

We at Sisters in Crime are bursting with pride that Colorado Chapter President, Rhonda Blackhurst, has won the Excellence in Arts Award – Master of Literary Arts from the Brighton Cultural Arts Commission.   Congratulations, Rhonda!

She started her first novel writing over 30 years ago. Rhonda always loved reading a good mystery, and that became the genre in which she chose to write.  

Like the Queen of Crime herself, Agatha Christie, Rhonda authors “cozy mysteries” which she describes as mysteries “one would feel comfortable having one’s grandmother read with no gratuitous sex or violence.”

Thus far, Rhonda has had ten books published: seven in the Melanie Hogan cozy mystery series, a short story, two romantic suspense novels Finding Abby and Abby’s Redemption, a standalone called The Inheritance and a non-fiction story.  

She is currently working on a series called The Spirit Lake Mysteries as well as a mystery short story “From the Darkness.” Rhonda created a publishing company, Lighthouse, that has a cover designer, an editor, a formatter, as well as beta readers. She attends many writing workshops and enjoys book signings and talks.

Because of Brighton’s vibrant and growing cultural arts community, the Cultural Arts Commission created the Excellence Awards to celebrate individuals and groups within Brighton who are cultural arts champions.

These champions were recognized with the Excellence in Arts Awards on February 9 at Eagle View Adult Center.

What Are You Going To Read Next? – Pick An Award-Winner!

What Are You Going To Read Next? – Pick An Award-Winner!

Sisters in Crime – CO member, Margaret Mizushima has announced the upcoming release of STANDING DEAD, her eighth Timber Creek K-9 Mystery.  The Timber Creek K-9 books are police procedurals. Each adventure contains a combination of K-9 cops, veterinary work, and family relationships as well as a murder case to investigate and solve.

In this episode, the case for Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo becomes personal when Mattie’s mother vanishes without a trace. After a dead man is found tied to a standing dead pine in the beetle-killed forest near Timber Creek, Mattie is forced to play cat and mouse with a killer.

In a last-ditch gambit, she goes undercover into the killer’s lair to try to save her mother—or die trying. STANDING DEAD can be found wherever books are sold and is available for preorder now. The book releases March 7th.

Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Active within the writing community, Margaret serves as past president for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, was elected the 2019 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and is also a member of Northern Colorado Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Women Writing the West.

She and her husband recently moved from their home in Colorado to the Pacific Northwest. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, Twitter @margmizu, Instagram at margmizu, and her website at www.MargaretMizushima.com

Review: Three Pines the Series

Review: Three Pines the Series

A favorite of my mine – now an Amazon Original.  How could you not love an inspector whose name is just a consonant away from ganache!  Author, bestseller and multiple award-winner, Louise Penny, brings her village of Three Pines and the insightful Armande Gamache to the streaming screen.  And what a gift!

Gamache has observed his fellow villagers and probed what doesn’t reveal itself in the everyday business of life.   But give Gamache time and connection to the player. He will, like the soul explorer he is, recognize the odd turn of phrase, the oh-so-slight incongruity.  His openness to every possibility and his vision into the human psyche are his remarkable gifts.

In Episode One of Amazon’s series, a woman named CC de Poitiers is having an affair with her photographer.  Just published, CC is a bitter woman who never says anything positive to anyone. At a curling match with the entire town watching, she is electrocuted. Inspector Gamache (Alfred Molina) is sent to investigate the case, along with Inspector Beauvoir and Sergeant Lacoste.  It’s clear to Gamache and team the theme of this murder is not just to take someone’s life but to punish them as much as possible and to make a spectacle of it. 

You won’t be able to turn away.

When Do Episodes Air: Three Pines was available on Friday, December 2, with 2 new episodes airing each week.

How Many Episodes: There will be 8 episodes in Season One of Three Pines.

Where to Watch Three Pines: Three Pines is available to stream on Prime Video (free trial)

Book Review: The Woman He Used to Know

Book Review: The Woman He Used to Know

Denver homicide detective Nick Ryan and homicide suspect Elizabeth Harper have a history.   Theirs was a passionate attraction that bound them, but a break in faith extinguished the flame.   Years later In a chance assignment, Nick encounters his past lover.  Her husband is dead and Elizabeth is the chief suspect.  The Woman He Used To Know is a page turning experience you won’t put down. 

There are 90 reviews on Amazon and more than 70 on Goodreads.  A strong mix of five- and four-star ratings.  Here are the samples that say it best.

This was a non-stop thriller. Loved the characters and the twists which kept you guessing until the end as to who was the murderer! Definitely plan to read more from this author.

Kerry O., goodreads

Helen charms us into thinking we’ll know the plot by giving us frequent glimpses not only into the mind of Nick Ryan, but also into the primary suspect’s mind as well. It is infrequent that I read a mystery book that puts us into the minds of both characters, this was a treat for the book.

Janine Bolon, Amazon

You think you have sussed out who did it but to find that you were wrong as the plot thickens.  A constant page turner that has you hooked right from the start to finish.

Fiona Pope-Bulling, goodreads

A good murder mystery with an added side of romance that had me hooked from the very first chapter. I liked the underlying spark of chemistry between Nick and Elizabeth and found myself rooting for their second-chance HEA. I found this hard to put down because I just couldn’t guess who the murderer was until it was finally revealed in the last chapters. The author does a good job keeping the reader on the edge right to the very end.

Di O’Brien, Amazon

Colorado native and former OR nurse, Helen Starbuck is an award-winning author of The Annie Collins Mystery Series and standalone contemporary romantic suspense. When she’s not writing, you can find her dressing up like a princess and ballroom dancing with her friends or reading books about strong women and interesting men who find themselves in suspense-filled situations. 

You can find more about Helen on these pages: Facebook (facebook.com/helensstarbuck), Instagram (instagram.com/helenstarbuck/), and her web site (helenstarbuck.com).