Catching Up on Mystery Reads

headshotJacqueline Vick is the author of over twenty published short stories, novelettes and mystery novels. Her April 2010 article for Fido Friendly Magazine, “Calling Canine Clairvoyants”, led to the first Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic mystery, Barking Mad About Murder. To find out more, visit her website at


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It is so important for a writer to read. Not only will she keep abreast of what’s out there and (hopefully) enjoy the process, but she can discover new writing styles, get ideas for her books, and even learn new vocabulary words.

When my computer crashed a few weeks ago, I had the time to dig out a few selections from my very large pile of books waiting to be read. It was refreshing, like forgetting to drink water for a while and then experiencing the benefits when you finally do. I was delighted by some of the mysteries I discovered as well as by new novels by authors I’d previously enjoyed. Here’s a sample. Check them out. I think you’ll like them.

Quirky Quiz ShowSally Carpenter put out a post about her new book The Quirky Quiz Show Caper. I saw it on Facebook. (Hint: Don’t be afraid to promote your books, gently, on social media.)  I immediately downloaded a copy, realized I hadn’t read the previous book, and downloaded that one, too. (See? Promotion pays off!)

The thing I love about the Sandy Fairfax mysteries is their light-hearted approach. Sandy is a former teen idol trying to get his lifeCunning Cruise Ship Caper back together at 38 after drying out.  The choices available to him at this point in his career are pretty cheesy, but as grandma used to say, beggars can’t be choosers.

The characters and the dialogue and the situations play out like an old sitcom. That’s the genius of these books. With Carpenter’s knowledge of theater and television, the sets come to life.  Simply put, they are fun, and I can’t wait for the next one.

I have to admit I’ve fallen woefully behind on Diane Vallere’s Samantha Kidd mysteries, so I grabbed a copy of Pearls Gone Wild and dove in, which is kind of like eating dessert before dinner, since I had missed a few books between this, her sixth, and the first book in the series, Designer Dirty Laundry.

Pearls Gone WildI’m glad I did, because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the excitement. Samantha and Nick Taylor just may move their relationship to a new level, but will the handsome photographer Dante get in the way? And what’s Dante doing hanging around Samantha at Christmas anyway? He’s lending brotherly support to his sister Cat whose husband has just been murdered. Did I mention Cat is eight months pregnant? If you think it sounds like a soap opera, you’re right. Twists and surprises galore but without the annoying “scene hold” before commercial break.

Then, as I was dropping off my batteries at the library for recycling, I thought I would slip inside for a quick peek. Staring at me, front forward on the shelf, was Louis Penny’s How the Light Get’s In.  I grabbed that and two Donna Leon books and, yes, made my reading pile larger, with deadlines.

Cajun Christmas KillingI’ll have to wait until October for the next Ellen Byron novel, A Cajun Christmas Killing, and I’ve been to several bookstores looking for Ashley Weaver’s The Essence of Malice. Ooh! Did I just see an Amory Ames Kindle Single? Another for the pile!the essence of malice

In case you’re worried that I might be crushed by my growing stack of books, I did make headway on the reading pile with a few novels that I had previously downloaded to “give the author a try,” Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I won’t mention them by name because it’s just my opinion and everybody has to start somewhere. I’d hate to have my first book, written before I had gained experience, trashed online.  The point is that authors shouldn’t limit themselves to favorites. When I recognize something I don’t like, it’s a good reminder to keep it out of my own books.

Are there mysteries that you’ve discovered that you love, love, love? Share them in the comments section.






14 thoughts on “Catching Up on Mystery Reads”

  1. Great advice about the books we read. I will now put down a book if it is poorly written. That means plot as well as style or if the main character has no redeeming qualities. But Sally’s and Diane’s books are on my stuffed bookshelves and I am never disappointed with them. We do come across some terrific new writers on this blog and I look forward to hearing about them from you guys.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to read all the way through but gave that up a few years ago. It takes me the first few pages to decide I’m going to put it away. I’ve had recommendations where the people say, “Just stick with it through the first half.” Well, maybe the writer should have made the first half better!


  2. So true, your first line, “It is so important for a writer to read.” And I read for enjoyment, so thanks for the recommendations! Though my table, my library shelves, my Kindle are full…but life keeps getting in the way (smile). On the mysteries I’ve discovered in the last few years and love, love, love–Louise Penny tops the list. And I think I started reading her based on a recommendation by Jackie Houchin!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have withdrawals when I don’t read, but sometimes I get stuck in a rut and read the familiar authors instead of trying someone new. And if I don’t write the new ones down…I forget their names. Ahhh, age.


      1. Honored!!! by your comment, Jackie. Unconscious “stealing?” And yes, thank you for introducing me to her writing. She and Ngaio Marsh are my favorites…but there’s also Agatha, and P.D. James…sigh, love them all! And from your comment, read a lot of Aaron Elkens when I lived in Washington.


  3. Louise Penny is one of my two favorite authors – one living, the other dead. Penny’s writing is so smooth and well done, I could just languish in her words alone sometimes. Mary Stewart – the very first mystery author I read (after the Nancy Drew mysteries) became my favorite. (A librarian first suggested her series to me when I was 13, and I began with “Madam, Will You Talk?”) I’ve collected them all – some I had to order from the UK direct – and have read them over and over. My favorite (the all are favorites, but I find myself reading this one again the most) is “This Rough Magic.” Hmm…. I think I’ll pull that one out and read it again – right after I finish the cozy mystery I am on.
    I don’t usually lean towards the sewing/cooking/house renovation cozies, but Mary Marks’ “Forget Me Knot” quilt mystery caught my attention by the back blurb – “Welcome to the San Fernando Valley…” Since I grew up there and love to read about places I actually KNOW ABOUT, I began reading it. It is one terrific mystery! Not at all the fluff I expected. And the realistic scene about spending a night in the Van Nuys jail was really creepy!
    I also like Earlene Fowler and Aaron Elkins.


  4. I’ve read some of the authors in your post but not those particular books. And, yes, I’m always reading. Of course my favorite books and series feature animals, particularly dogs… Thanks for a thought-provoking post!


  5. Wow, thanks for the shout out! I’m honored and flattered. Sandy will be appearing in a short story in an anthology at the end of the year. Afraid he won’t be back in a book for a while because I’m starting a new series. But I’m making that one a “fun” cozy read as well.


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