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.
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.
Mystery lovers, have I got a treat for you.
The nine stories of this season’s Mysteries To Die For podcast are coming to a book distributor near you. What makes this anthology so much fun for us mystery lovers is that, like the podcast, there is a pause before the big reveal to give you a chance to solve the murder. I’ve included the list of suspects and summarized the clues in a page called “Deliberation.” Whet your detective skills on these made to order mysteries.
Nuts! by Judi Lynn. Laurel and Nick’s first anniversary Airbnb getaway is hi-jacked by a woman dying on the kitchen floor. “Nuts!” she tells Laurel before losing consciousness.
Finding Hiawatha by Frank Zafiro. Jameson Burrish’s health had been failing but death came for him sooner than expected. With his daughter and nephew at his bedside, he gasps out his final word “Hiawatha.” Is it the rambling of a sick man or a decree to rewrite his will? The answer falls to private investigator Stefan Kopriva.
In Vino Veritas by Jack Wolff. The rag tag team of treasure hunters is within a day of finding the mythical Domas Dei temple when their guide, Den Deadson, meets a messy end. With his last breath he tells Detective-turned-bodyguard James Delviro “in vino veritas.” Now what the heck could that mean?
The Legend of El Melena by Mark Edward Langley. People are turning up dead around a small, burned down church outside Las Palmas, NM. Paranormal journalist Eddie Manning investigates to determine if the hand behind “El Melena” are human or something other.
No Luck like Bad Luck by TG Wolff. Richard Wedgeworth died in the middle of a party, his final words to his wife were “bad luck.” He ate the same food and drank the same drinks as everyone, yet he was poisoned. Solving the mystery is Diamond’s problem. Too bad she’s not for hire.
Sue Her by Kyra Jacobs. Marissa Steele is implicated in murder when the soon-to-be dead man points to her and says “Jimmy will sue her.” A former cop, Charlie Mullins pulls out all the stops to protect his best friend’s sister and the one woman he can never have.
Best Friend by KM Rockwood. A developmentally delayed young woman is hit by a truck and killed, the case closed as a tragic accident. But her last words “best friend” mean Darlene’s older brother and a volunteer social worker aren’t so quick to close the book.
The Ghost of the Paul Henry by Michael Penncavage. Men are dying aboard the Paul Henry. The only clue to their demise is the last word uttered by one of the damned. “Ghost.” Captain Saverfeld turns to Mr. Edmund Jessop and Mr. Linus Gordon to answer the question of if there is a ghostly hand behind it all.
Fading Shadow by TG Wolff. A day of the zoo becomes work for Detective Jesus De La Cruz when the maintenance manager Warren Taylor is shot. His dying word “shadow” leaves Cruz looking hard at those closest to the man.
This is a second-time around, romantic suspense story. Bay Bishop has moved back home to small-town Michigan with her husband Derrick to start an upscale restaurant. It is a success in so many ways. But then Derrick is killed in a hit-and-run right outside the restaurant’s back door. The investigation takes an abrupt turn when a connection to drug trafficking is found. Enter Greg Musgrove, narcotics detective and the high school boyfriend who ghosted on her nearly 20 years ago.
Bottom line: Dead in an Alley is for you if you like second chance, redemption romances, culinary morsels, and rich storylines that immerse you in the lives of the main characters.
Strengths of the story. The novel weaves together storylines: investigation into Derrick’s death; Bay’s grief over the loss of her husband and coming to grips with the sham that was her life; Greg juggling work, a new business venture, and the realization he stilled loved Bay; Bay’s conflicted reaction to being in close quarters with Greg again; and Bay’s issues with her parents and siblings. The lines are influenced by each other, which makes for a compelling, over arching story. The main characters, Bay and Greg, are likable and the main supporting characters add texture. Ms. Michalove culinary knowledge shines through and if she cooks as well as she describes in here, I want to go to her house.
Where the story fell short of ideal: The logic, my #1 test, was reasonable but not strong. I walked away with questions about why characters would do certain things – primarily the culprit and side characters, not Bay and Greg. With so many storylines, it isn’t surprising there are a lot of characters and keeping them all straight was a challenge I failed at a few times.
I haven’t decided where I fall on the start of the romance itself. Being romantic suspense, it is obvious where it is going. But Bay loves her husband. She is truly devastated when he is killed. It is hard for me to buy the quick turn to the one that got away. Yet, this is romantic suspense and that spark has to happen quickly, it’s just part of the game. Likely this is one place where readers will fall into different camps: didn’t notice; noticed but no problem with it; noticed and didn’t love it but got over it; and noticed and didn’t get over it. I enjoyed the book and am glad I finished it.
Listen to the first chapter on my Toe Tag page and everywhere you get your podcasts. Then download Dead in the Alley by Sharon Michalove for the rest of the story. DEAD IN AN ALLEY was released August 10, 2022 from Coffee and Éclair Books and is available from Amazon and other book retailers. From July 18-August 12, 2022 Dead in an Alley is on tour with Partners in Crime. Check out the tour link for more content and information https://www.partnersincrimetours.net/dead-in-the-alley-by-sharon-michalove/
Mysteries to Die For’s newest Toe Tag is SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY by Ken Harris. Listen to the first chapter on my website and everywhere you get your podcasts.
From July 11-August 5, See You Next Tuesday is on tour with Partners in Crime. Check out the tour link for more content and information https://www.partnersincrimetours.net/see-you-next-tuesday-by-ken-harris/
TG Wolff Review
This is a Private Investigator and grift story. The dynamic team of Steve Rochfish and Jawnie McGee tackle their first case as full partners. A line from later in the book gives the perfect synopsis. It’s a simple cheating husband case turned into a search and rescue, cult exfiltration and a wild ride that comes back to two old guys getting ripped off.
Rating See You Next Tuesday on a 5-point scale against the “perfect PI story”, I give this 5.00.
Strengths of the story. By now, you all know I’m hell on logic and Harris lives up to the bar. The actions of all the characters made sense for who they were. Rockfish and McGee drive the story, interfering with the bad guys plans, and the bad guys react, changing plans in a way that both creates unexpected twists and is totally reasonable given the change in their circumstances. Harris thoroughly developed his story, giving his detective material to work with. He worked them into a corner a time or two and let them fight their way out.
I liked both lead characters. Rockfish is older and has the mindset and habits that reflect those of us born in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Jawnie is his counterbalance, rooted in modern times in terms of technology, mindset, and vernacular. While either character could have been stereotypical, neither are and what really makes them work is the mutual respect and affection they have for each other.
Where the story fell short of the ideal. The first half of the story alternates between Rockfish’s and Jawnie’s points of view. As the story progresses, we have scenes written from the POV for their new Confidential Informant Lynn and, later, the bad guys. Information the reader gains here could not come from Rockfish or Jawnie. Often, I am not a fan of changing the storytelling style mid-book, but Harris did them very well. These changes in POV were the reason the logic and the story were able to stand up as strongly as they did. There were a few stylistic elements that were not my favorite but those were certainly personal preferences. Some minor editing misses were found, but not enough to detract from the story.
Bottom line: See You Next Tuesday is for you if you like PI’s who like to mix it up with the bad guys and refuse to quit—even after the cops tell them too.
It’s raining, it’s pouring
The driftwood is mooring
The puppies splashed
Then in they dashed
And muddied up our flooring
OH NO PUPPIES! WIPE YOUR FEET!
Welcome to the Harvest Moon edition of On the Prowl.
I’ve been in a lot of rabbit holes since we were last together. We’ll get into equinoxes, world times zones, the prime meridian, and the beginning of the mystery genre. Hope you enjoy!
Picking up from last month, the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox is called the Harvest Moon. Most years, the title goes to September’s full moon, but not this year. Before we get into the Harvest Moon, follow me down the rabbit hole of the Equinox. Here’s the what-you-should-know-as-a-human-living-on-earth: an equinox is a day that is closest to 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. There are two: one in spring and one in fall. Here’s something to share when you’re in a gathering and need something to say: there is an exact time for each equinox. This is the time when the sun passes across the earth’s equator. This year, the autumnal equinox was September 22, with that magical crossing happening at 9:31 EDT. Check out this video from National Geographic. It does a nice job explaining equinox and shows how it was built into ancient structures like Machu Picchu.
October’s moon is the Harvest Moon. Well, October’s first moon. We have a treat this year with a second full moon on Halloween. But this first moon will rise on October 1 and be visible after sunset. According to The Farmer’s Almanac, the timing of the moon rise increases the amount of light down here, extending the time farmers could work in the fields.
It’s About the Who Dunnit
I’ve been curious about when “mystery” became a genre. Why? I have no idea. I get curious about a lot of things. This is just one. Being impatient, I did some quick internet searching and found the term seemed to come into use in the first part of the 1900s, reflecting a style of writing that began popping up about 50 years earlier. I have begun searching for these first stories, wanting to see how they are different than what we have today and how they were different than other stories at the time. Right now, I’ve completed 4 stories and DNF (Did not finish) 3 stories.
My working theory is that mysteries shifted storytelling from a something happening to a narrator to a narrator as a removed person. Many of these stories of murder and mayhem, the narrator is either the person who did it or the person who it was happening to, which puts the stories more in the horror genre. The stories themselves COULD BE mysteries if they were told with the narrator being the cop / coroner / neighbor who investigated.
Take Edgar Allan Poe’s Black Cat. The story is told by a man in prison the evening before he goes to the gallows. He tells of being tormented by a black cat, which (spoiler) leads to him killing his wife, hiding her body, and being caught. It is an engrossing story, a perfect pre-halloween read, but there is no “who dunnit”. It is a really good horror story. Here’s a link to it on Gutenburg
Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, for contrast, the murders of a woman and her daughter are read about by our hero C. August Dupin and his unnamed assistant/narrator. The victims lived on the 4th floor, the rest of the house was vacant. The murders happened at three in the morning. The equivalent of a year’s salary was left in the room as was jewelry and other valuables. All the doors were locked from the inside. This story is all about the “who dunnit”.
If the story of the Black Cat was told by the Police Officer who when looking for the missing (cause she’s dead) wife, the story would have been a mystery. They questioned the husband three times because they caught the break they needed. We would not have known the backstory, so it likely wouldn’t have been anywhere near as cool, but it would have been a mystery.
It was popular at the time to have continuing storylines that ran in magazines. In my mind, these were pre-television soap operas. It’s easy to see why mysteries would not fit this model. Once you know who dunnit, the story is over. It’s hard for a writer to make a living on it. Horror stories could run much longer, building the suspense and intrigue. Some of my DNF were in this category. The writing was fine, the premise caught my attention but stories were just coming in bits too small for me right now.
Below is a list of the stories I’ve been reading. These are all available for free. I’ve included the link to the documents through The Gutenberg Project.
Edgar Allan Poe, The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Allan Pinkerton, The Somnabulist and the Detective
The Lock and Key Library (short stories, mix mysteries and others)
Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (A “who is she”, not who dunnit)
Thomas Hardy, Desperate Remedies (A tragedy, soap opera)
Welcome to Mysteries To Die For
This is a podcast where my piano player/ producer/ son Jack and I combine storytelling with original music to put you at the heart of mystery, murder, and mayhem. Episode art is by Shannon. You can find Mysteries to Die For on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, and Stitcher.
We are busy working on Season 2, which will feature adaptations of the story that started the mystery genre. All of the stories were written in the 1800s, They give us a glimpse into everyday life and the hotbed topics of the day, along with murder, mystery, and mayhem. Episodes begin dropping in January.
Episode 1: The Thinking Man. Two women are brutally murdered. They were in a bedroom on the fourth floor with the windows and doors locked from the inside. No money or valuables are taken. After a clerk is arrested, August Dupin takes an interest is the “impossible crime.” This is adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue.
Episode 2: Desperate Measures. Everyone liked George Gordon. He was a head teller at the bank who was murdered in cold blood for money in the vault. The heads of the Mississippi bank send for the famed Chicago detective, Allan Pinkerton. No costs are to be spared in the search for a killer. This is an adaptation of Allan Pinkerton’s The Somnambulist and The Detective.
Use the clues to find a word related to the harvest, then use the numbered positions to discover who our October Lady is. Answers are at the bottom.
Time of year that begins with the equinox: 1 _ 2 _ _ _
Tool used to cut crops: 3 _ _ _ _ 4
When there are no crops to bring in: 5 _ 6 _ _ _
The kind of belt that carries crops: _ _ _ 7 _ _ 8 _
Old school way of harvesting: by 9 _ _ 10
Cutting of grain: 11 _ _ _ _ _ 12
10 4 6 4 2 4 11, 12 8 10 10 4 3 3 8 5 2 9 4 9 1 11 7 4 3 2
BOWED HEADS for Ben and Patrick. For the hundreds of words I’ve written in this newsletter, I can’t find any to write here. The end came far too soon.
WELCOME TO THE PACK Susie’s little pup.
A SCRATCH OF THE EAR for virtual conferences and all the creative ways people are finding to keep rooted in normal.
It was a quiet month for wolf calls. If I missed celebrating your big moment, drop me a note.
Look out for the Next Edition of
On the Prowl
October 31, 2020
Where we’ll be haunting the Hunter’s Moon
I hope you have a brilliant October. See you in 30 days.