Murder at the Place of Anubis: A Review

Murder at the Place of Anubis by Lynda S. Robinson. Released 1994 by Ballantine Books.

Murder in the Place of Anubis  is a mystery set in ancient Egypt. Hormin is dead. The scribe with the bad attitude and nasty tongue is neither mourned nor missed. The problem is his body was found in a sacred place, which means his death is now the problem of Meren, the Eyes and Ears of the Pharoah. Nearly everyone Hormin knew had reason to celebrate his exit from this life. Hence, Meren and his son, Kysen, have no shortage of suspects.

Bottom line: Murder in the Place of Anubis is for you if you like traditional murder mysteries enveloped in non-traditional mystery settings.

Strengths of the story. The story is written as a modern telling of a mystery. Meaning the description of buildings and room, dress and roles, etc., are told as if these are commonplace and, as such, does not come off as a mystery set in a history book. The setting added to the dynamic of the mystery. The execution of mystery is rooted in the traditions of the Egyptian culture, which makes it interesting if not solvable for the reader.

Where the story fell short of ideal: From the end, looking to the front, the mystery story line itself is solid. My comment, then, comes from “getting lost” a few times in the movements of the investigators and a difficulty keeping some of the minor characters straight. For example, I find I ask “why did a character have to go there?” At times, it seems it wasn’t needed for the mystery but only added bulk to the story.

This was the debut mystery for Lynda Robinson. She had 6 in the series, released 1994-2001. I plan to continue reading.

Death in the Back Seat: A Review

DEATH IN THE BACK SEAT was written by Dorothy Cameron Disney and published by Random House in 1936. It is currently available from Wildside Press.

Jack and Lola Storm, artist and writer, respectively, move from New York City to Connecticut for the promised peace and quiet of country life to pursue their crafts. Life in small town Connecticut may not have the hustle of the big city, but New York didn’t have a domineering land lady, a quirky handyman, an arrogant romance writer, and a dead man right in their own back seat.

DEATH IN THE BACK SEAT is for you if you love a roller coaster ride of a mystery. It’s like a Midsomer Murder…only in 1930s Connecticut.

Strengths of the story. This is a tag-a-long mystery, meaning we follow along with the investigation, rather than try to solve it. It took a few chapters for the story to truly get started, and then it look off like a shot. I binge read the last 75%. The plot is marvelously crafted and displays a masterful use of foreshadowing that could be used in a lit class. The descriptions of the characters are particularly vivid, allowing me to keep them distinct in my mind. Nearly every time you think Jack, Lola and the local police have things in hand, well, they don’t. There is the thrill of the mystery, heroes in mortal danger, a little habeas corpus, and so much more. It is a fun, if deadly ride.

Where the story lacks compared to the ideal. Stories with twists and turns are always a lot of fun reading start to finish. But often, when at the finish and looking back, there are questions to be asked. My husband says these things bother no one but me…but he can’t be right. The actions of the characters in the midst of the story are solid. But I can’t say the same for the actions that kicked the story off. They are weak. There are a few point where the matters of resolution seem contrived only to leave us in the dark. And a dog is badly treated. No bueno, Dorothy Cameron Disney.

The Brooklyn North Murder: A Review

From Author Erica Obey

The Brooklyn North Murder is an Amateur Sleuth Mystery. Dr. Mary Watson, adjunct professor at De Sales College in the Hudson Valley, was the reluctant final leg of a triathlon relay. Her idea of fun was five hours in a library, culling through data with her AI creation Doyle, not standing outside in the weather waiting for the swimmers to finish their tasks. But that’s where she was, waiting for a man in a tiny, red speedo to emerge from the campus lake. But he never comes out. And thus begins Watson and Doyle’s first mystery.

Bottom line: The Brooklyn North Murder is for you if you like your mysteries with sharply witty prose wrapped around sophisticated humor.

Strengths of the story. The storytelling style is the shining glory of this mystery. It is fast paced, witty, and clever. The premise is fun. Mary Watson, is a bookish person using her smarts to push library science into next century using AI. AI is personified in Doyle, the virtual partner we all wish we had. He can talk to other computer systems, giving Watson access to just about everything with a pixel or 0/1. Doyle doesn’t just troll the internet, he extrapolates the data into information, but he’s not always 100% spot on. Hey, he’s evolving, give the bot a break.

The third in the party is the college security lead, Mack Byrne. He’s a complex character with a lot going on behind the stoic exterior. The characters are a strong trio, complementing each others skills and personalities.

The story has frequent references to the roots of mystery, which if you geek out on that like I do, you’ll find a true delight. Philo Vance fans celebrate!

Where the story fell short of ideal: This story brings together many classic mystery elements including the swimming pool mystery (in this case a lake), the locked room mystery, red herrings, and the mysterious one-armed man. At times, I found myself a little lost in too much of a good thing. By the end, most of the threads were neatly tied off, but I still had a question or two.

Pre-Order from Amazon

The Beetle’s Last Fifty Grand: A Review

Kevin R. Tipple’s contribution to Colin Conway’s Back Road Boddy and His Friends is “The Beetle’s Last Fifty Grand”. Rick Wilson woke up battered, beaten, and in a barn. He says, “Well…shit”, then thinks about how it summed up his life and the situation. Wilson isn’t a bad guy, not at all. But he is a man whose life proves that no good deed goes unpunished.

Through Wilson, Tipple tells the story of Wilson’s brother-in-law, Wyatt, aka The Beetle, a name given to him during his tenure as a getaway driver. Wyatt drove with the legendary Handbrake Hardy and is still owed money. With Handbrake on his deathbed and Wyatt in a similar situation, he sends Wilson to collect this money. It’s to be his inheritence.

Really, Wilson should have known it wasn’t going to be that easy.

I finished reading the story a few days ago, at first not have strong feelings one way or another. But Rick Wilson keeps floating to the top of my mind, a sure sign of a good character and strong story. Without asking for empathy, Tipple creates, in a few short pages, a character you care about. One you can’t help shaking your head and thinking, “Well…shit. He got a raw deal.”

Suicide Kings and Dead Man’s Hands

There are many things in our daily lives that are so ordinary, we never stop to consider how we got them. One such thing is featured in my next Jesus De La Cruz mystery – working title PLAYING DEAD – a deck of cards. Mr. Will Roya posted a history of playing cards back in 2018 on the website Playing Card Decks This was one of the most fascinating trips I’ve taken down the internet rabbit hole. There are few things I can think of (although I’m sure some of you can) that combine anthropology, art, societal evolution, and gaming into something that fit in the palm of your hand. Here are a few of my favorite fun facts (paraphrased, of course):

  • Face cards have long been an element of a deck but who is on the face card varies with deck origin. A king, a knight, a knave. A king, a queen, a prince (later called jack). A king and two knaves. (FYI a knave is a tricky, deceitful fellow according to Merriam-Webster)
  • 52 cards is a deck is far from standard. Some decks have 40 cards, others 48. It wasn’t so much I didn’t know this as I never stopped to think about it.
  • Hundreds of years ago, innovative printers with modern techniques who could mass produce cards and bring costs down to an “every man” level became a standard, as they were widely circulated, and had a large influence on deck of card we know today. By sheer volume, they pushed aside older styles of cards that were much more expensive and fewer people owned.

How did I use the information in the book? As inspiration my friends. How could a mystery write not be inspired by the lore of suicide kings and dead man’s hands.

And hey, since its the Holiday season, check out Playing Card Decks at main page for some fantastically unique decks will stuff that stocking. They have decks to suit every interest and hobby.

Gro is for Grotesque: A Review

Call me butter, I’m on a roll! That is right, a review of the next story in Colin Conway’s 509 Crime Anthology BACK ROAD BOBBY AND HIS FRIENDS. This time it’s Rob Pierce’s turn with GRO IS FOR GROTESQUE. Gro and a woman named Bobby are traveling from Tacoma to Spokane to tie off loose ends with the infamous and dying Handbrake Hardy Fry. For Bobby, it’s about the answer to an unanswerable question. For Gro, well, it’s personal.

Gro and Bobby have secrets…and trust issues. As they grind their way east, the story starts unpacking. They are interesting characters and the story leaves you wanting to know more about how they got where they are.

Fletch Goes for a Ride: A Review

Finally found time in between this and that for Eric Beetner’s installment in Colin Conway’s 509 Crime Anthology BACK ROAD BOBBY AND HIS FRIENDS. Fletcher Moore is worn out. A life time of driving and living hard has ruined his hips, made him slower than he should be, even at 72. But aching bones aren’t Fletch’s problem. The problem is a twenty-something who has come looking for the ten grand Fletch owes his boss.

This short story (and it is short) is worth reading twice. Beetner packs a big story in the careful crafted pages, sucking you in and then leading to a very unexpected ending. FLETCH GOES FOR A RIDE is absolutely worth a read…twice.

A Good Man?

Cleveland homicide detective Jesus De La Cruz is spending his day off with his fiancée at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It’s the break from the day-in, day-out they both need.

Until the gun shot.

Now maintenance manager Warren Taylor is dead. Was he the good man his assistant claims, a man pushing the all to be the best they could be. Or was he a stubborn, rigid boss who got what was coming? Listen to Mysteries to Die For and see if you can beat Cruz to the killer.

FADING SHADOW is a story from the De La Cruz casefile. It is set a two months after RAZING STAKES and a month before PLAYING DEAD, the fourth novel in the series, coming in a year or so.

M2D4 Fading Shadow

M2D4 Featured on Writers Who Kill

Mysteries to Die For was featured on that fantastic mystery and thriller blog Writers Who Kill. One of the writers who routinely kills is KM Rockwood, who contributed Best Friend to Season 4: A WORD BEFORE DYING. The featured post talks about how our podcast grew from an idea to a media forum tailor made for those who can’t resist a good mystery.

Ghostly Deeds

When crossing the Atlantic, few things are worse than have a ghost among the crew. The one above the Paul Henry is looking for men to join its ranks. So far, he’s acquired two souls. Dock in New York, Captain Saverfeld seeks out a pair who solved a deadly mystery on another ship, years before. Mr. Edmund Jessop and Mr. Linus Gordon have turned their time and skills to booking cargo. But they can’t resist a good mystery anymore than we can.

Listen to Mysteries to Die For and solve the mystery of The Ghost of the Paul Henry by Michael Penncavage.

The Ghost of the Paul Henry