Trace evidence helps tell the story of what happened at a crime scene. As our "crime scene" is the book we're reading, the "Trace Evidence" is information related to the book: Our Cast(s) of Characters, Graphic Crime Quizes, and Links related to the author and the story.
Each book's entry begins with the Cast of Characters, then moves on to the graphic crime quiz we had for the book, links, photos & other interesting points. Some of the things that were gathered for the discussions will take longer than others to make it to this page - but they will make it here! Please note: if you have not read the book yet, you may want to skip the Graphic Crime Quiz until you do.
To help you locate a particular author's entries use the table below. It covers all our authors since 2015; for some authors, we've read more than one book, so they have multiple entries.
Entries by Author Name
To find the books we've read in a particular year, go to the year's Authors & Their Books section below. There are tables for 2015 through this year's authors. There are links by author name to take you directly to the author/book you want to go to.
You can also scroll down through the authors to find the one you want: all of the authors are in order by Last Name (regardless of which year we read them in).
This Year's Authors and Their Books:
*This table will have active links added as we read each book each month.
2020 Authors and Their Books:
|Clark, Tracy - Broken Places COVID Cancellation; Zooming in April 2021!
||Lodge, Gytha - She Lies in Wait
|De Hahn, Tracee - Swiss Vendetta
||Massey, Sujata - The Widows of Malabar
|Freeman, Dianne - A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder COVID Cancellation; Zooming in November 2020 instead!
||Rader-Day, Lori - Under a Dark Sky
| Galbraith, Robert - The Cukoo's Calling
||Ryan, Hank Phillippi - The Murder List
|Gentill, Sulari - A Few Right Thinking Men COVID Cancellation
||Freeman, Dianne - A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder Re-Scheduled
2019 Authors and Their Books:
|Carlisle, Kate - If Books Could Kill
||Locke, Attica - Bluebird, BlueBird
|Giordano, Mario - Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
||Orr, Jill - The Good Byline
|Gordon, Alexia - Murder in G Major
||Rader-Day, Lori - The Day I Died
| Horowitz, Anthony - The Word is Murder
||Ryan, Hank Phillippi - Trust Me
|Jonasson, Ragnar - Snowblind
||Thompson, Victoria - City of Lies
2018 Authors and Their Books:
2017 Authors and Their Books:
2016 Authors and Their Books:
2015 Authors and Their Books:
Cast of Characters from Mycroft Holmes
Emanuel – the first character we meet, he’s an 87 year old native of Trinidad living in a village near the sea where children are being taken and killed. He and the other villagers fear it is a doen and a lougarou.
Mycroft Holmes – a twenty-three year old secretary to the Secretary of State for War during the reign of Queen Victoria. He is blond and sturdily-built, but his real strength is his brilliant Holmes’ deductive skill. We meet him first at the annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He’s in love with his fiancé , Georgiana, a love that leads him to adventure and peril in Trinidad.
Cyrus Douglas – Mycroft’s best friend, a “black man, his skin the color of cinnamon” is a very successful, tobacco tradesman with a tobacconist shop in London. He and Holmes bonded over cigars and whiskey, and a mutual appreciation for each other’s knowledge. Gerard and Ava Pennywhistle work in his tobacco shop – and appear to be the owners to its customers.
Georgiana Sutton – is Mycroft’s fiancé and a “quintessential English rose”, blond “wth cream-colored skin, pink cheeks, and sparkling blue eyes”. She was born in Port of Spain where her family has a large, and by all accounts prosperous, sugar plantation. She has been well-educated and has very “progressive” ideas. The red and black seed bracelet she wears is the “only visible symbol of her native homeland”.
Edward Cardwell – Mycroft’s boss, the Secretary of State for War who relies on Mycroft to “pinpoint the world’s trouble spots with the deadly accuracy of a champion archer”. He has graying hair and “fulsome muttonchops”.
Charles Parfitt – the young junior clerk and errand boy who is Mrs. Hudson’s nephew. Mycroft helped him to get the job, and he looks after Mycroft’s horse.
Adam McGuire – the “intense brown-haired chap who’d been eyeing Douglas and Holmes on board. He’s an American who seems to be some kind of government official. He is also seen with the men who attack Holmes and Douglas.
The duffer – the young pickpocket from the ship who was writing a love note to the mysterious Annabel.
Captain Miles – the man in charge of the steamship to Trinidad, he has been guilt-ridden over what he knows about the attacks on Holmes & Douglas, so much so, that he gives Holmes a critical list of names to be opened when Holmes goes to the governor’s office.
Edward Dedos – the infamous Trinidad poisoner also known as Three-Fingered Eddie. His meat pies are deadly…
Huan – the Chinese man who is good friends with Douglas. He, his son Little Huan, and his friends provide a safe shelter in Port of Spain for Holmes and Douglas, as well as martial aid (through the Sacred Order of the Harmonious Fists) later in the story.
Mrs. Sutton – Georgiana’s mother and her maid Maria are the last people at the decaying Sutton Plantation. She shares details of her husband’s great-great grandfather and his wife migrating from Britain as indentured servants. When she shares one of Georgiana’s letters to her, Holmes learns Mrs. Sutton’s full name…
Beauchamp – the supercilious, aide of Trinidad’s Governor Sir Hamilton-Gordon. He snootily informs Holmes that the governorship is to be taken over by Sir James Robert Longden as the recent governor has fled to Mauritius.
Count Wolfgang Hohenlohe-Langenburg – the cousin of Queen Victoria’s half-sister, Feodora’s husband (Ernst). He has been involved in a venture that is funneling money from the Bank of England to Jamaica.
Jessup Jones – the young Meriken whose grandfather fought in First Company alongside the Britishers (during the War of 1812). When he hears that Holmes and Douglas are trying to save people from slavery he challenges his fellow Merikens to help them out.
Nestor Ellensberg – the “rheumy-eyed German business man who is one of Adam McGuire’s cohorts and investors. His mysterious employer obtained the funds for their criminal venture that Holmes later “frees” for the Crown.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for Mycroft Holmes
What is a douen?
The douen is a demon who aids the lougarou to kill people and take their blood. The douen looks like a child, but its feet are backwards, and it wears a traditional Trinidad hat.
What is the name or breed of Mycroft's beloved horse?
Abie is his name, and he is a Hanoverian – one of the warmbloods competitive equestrians love.
Who gives Mycroft the walking stick with the sword inside?
His brother Sherlock – who stipulates that Mycroft makes sure he returns it.
What is the name of the Victorian steamship that Holmes and Douglas take to Trinidad?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Web Site
Fantastic Fiction's Kareem Abdul-Jabber Web Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Web Page
Wikipedia's article on Merikens
Wikipedia's article on Bloodletting (has a section on methods that talks about the scarificator)
Wikipedia's article on Abrus precatorius - the poison used on Mycroft!
Wikipedia also has articles on Port of Spain - where Georgiana was born & San Fernando -- Cyrus Douglas' hometown.
Back to the Entries By Author Name Table
Cast of Characters from And Only To Deceive
Lady Emily Ashton – is the main protagonist of the story, and the daughter of an earl. We meet her just as she’s become the widow of Lord Philip Ashton a big game hunter and wealthy viscount. Emily first sees him only as the means to escape her mother, Lady Catherine Bromley, and her non-stop efforts to marry Emily off. She comes to learn there was much more to Philip than first met the eye.
Colin Hargreaves – Philip’s best friend and fellow traveler, they shared a common interest in ancient Greek artifacts and Greek literature. He initially meets the young widow to offer to make arrangements for her to see Philip’s villa on the Greek isle of Santorini, but his reasons for continuing to see her grows, as does the mystery surrounding Philip’s death and collections.
Davis – is the butler, a consummate professional, at the Ashton’s London house in Berkley Square. He has served Philip and his family faithfully from Philip’s birth, and continues to support Lady Emily since Philip’s death.
Alexander Murray – the Keeper of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the British Museum who first makes Emily aware of just how respected Philip has been for his knowledge and collection of Greek antiquities. He presents her with a copy of a book he had written: Manual of Mythology.
Ivy Cavendish – Emily’s best friend and confidante. We meet her as she’s about to marry Robert Brandon in two weeks.
Emma Callum – one of Emily’s fellow debutantes. Given her simpering propensity for flirting with Philip in an attempt to secure his proposal, she is not one of Emily’s favorite people.
Arabella Dunleigh – another fellow debutante who could become affianced to Andrew Palmer’s younger brother, Arthur.
Andrew Palmer, the elder brother, prides himself on his charm and outrageous manner. He is highly attracted to Lady Emily, and is not so subtly trying to court her. Both he and Arthur are sons of Lord Palmer, who is also a passionate collector of Greek antiquities and a Greek scholar. Lord Palmer would like to publish a monograph he and Philip had been working on, and asks Emily to see if she can find Philip’s copy of it.
Meg – Lady Emily’s loyal maid. Emily loans her a copy of Amelia Edwards’ book A Thousand Miles Up the Nile hoping to inspire enthusiasm for traveling in her very English maid.
Monsieur Renoir – the impressionist painter in Paris who has recently married Aline, brings Emily a painting that Philip, a loyal customer & friend, had asked Renoir to paint of her.
Cecile du Lac – an older, sophisticated Parisian aristocrat whom Emily met at a dinner. She becomes one of Emily’s liveliest champions and friends. The extent of both her wealth and connections seem boundless.
Jean Pontiero – Lady Emily’s French drawing master, he was recommended to her by Renoir.
Aldwin Attewater – a master sculpture who openly copies masterworks for wealthy patrons who know they are buying copies; some question whether he really stops at copying – and actually produces forgeries.
Miss Margaret Seward – an American who recently graduated from Bryn Mawr, she suggested that Emily learn to read ancient Greek. She becomes friends with Emily and heartily supported Emily’s ventures in scholarship and travel, as well as her investigations.
Monsieur Beaulieu – the manager at Le Meurice hotel in Paris where Lady Emily’s room is ransacked.
Mrs. Henley – the housekeeper at Ashton Hall, Philips country estate, assures Lady Emily that all the boxes that Philip had sent there have not been disturbed when Emily goes there to see what original pieces Philip may have collected, and catalog them.
Monsieur LeBlanc – a man “of dubious character” who assures Madame Cecile that he has artisans who could produce a copy of anything she desired. He confirms to her that Philip has had dealings with black market sellers of antiquities.
Wesley Prescott – a “tall, rail-thin, sunburned man who was dressed terribly” tells Lady Emily that he is a missionary with the Anglican Church Missionary Society in eastern Africa. He goes on to say that they received an Englishman there who was very ill, but is now in recovery. He gave Prescott a picture from his wedding day of his new bride. It is a picture of Lady Emily.
Caravaggio – a sobriquet used by the man who is stealing antiquities from museums and replacing them with forgeries.
Lord Lytton – the real-life English ambassador in Paris (from 1887 until his death in 1891) who Emily approaches about a rescue search for Philip in Africa. According to the end notes of this novel, his father, Edward Bulwer Lytton wrote Last Days of Pompeii, a book that was wildly popular in the nineteenth century. He is also more widely known today for his much-quoted first line to his novel, Paul Clifford: "It was a dark and stormy night“. This inspired the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC), a tongue-in-cheek contest "to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels" held annually by San Jose State University.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for And Only to Deceive
What Greek nickname does Philip use to refer to Lady Emma?
He calls her Kallista which means ‘most beautiful’; the words “Te Kalliste” were supposedly written on the golden apple that Paris awarded to Aphrodite – whose support of Paris’ love for Helen led to the start of the Trojan War.
Can you name one of Madame du Lac’s lapdogs?
Brutus or Caesar.
Who owns the rare Mycenaean seal ring?
Tasha Alexander's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Tasha Alexander Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Tasha Alexander Page
Cast of Characters
Olivia Taylor-Jones – The heroine who finds out that she’s the adopted daughter of renowned Chicago philanthropist, Lena Taylor and Arthur Jones, owner of the iconic Mills & Jones department store. Her birth parents are the notorious serial killers, Todd and Pamela Larsen. (Olivia’s birth name is Eden Tiffany Larsen.) It is learning this fact that leads her to the eerie, small town of Cainsville, IL.
James Morgan – CEO of Chicago’s fastest growing tech firm and son of a former senator. He is Olivia’s fiancée and a direct descendant of the Mills family who had co-owned Mills & Jones until recent times. His clingy mother Maura, has never wanted him to marry Olivia.
Howard – the Taylor-Jones family lawyer. His advice strongly skews to Lena and her needs in dealing with the adoption revelation and media fallout.
Grace’s 2nd Cousin Jack – the old man Olivia helps out when two girls in his bad neighborhood are out to get his groceries/money. He gives her a note to present to Grace in order to get an apartment in Cainsville. It is after she meets Jack that Olivia ends up at the cheap hotel with the creepy hotel clerk.
Ida & Walter Clark– two of the mysterious elders in Cainsville who are deeply interested in Olivia and the Larsen case.
Rose Walsh – the town’s Tarot, palmistry and astrology expert, she is also Gabriel’s aunt. Her house is the first one that Olivia notices has gargoyles on it.
Grace – the crotchety landlady who grudgingly lets an apartment to Olivia. She expects - & gets – Olivia to deliver her favorite scones to her.
Margie – the inept server at the Corner Diner. Guiltily Olivia is hoping she’ll get turned off so Olivia can get her job. Larry Knight is the owner and chief cook at the Diner.
Patrick – the bocan that types away on his laptop in the diner. He too is interested in Olivia and seems to have a mysterious hold on a number of the residents – including Rose and Gabriel. He recognizes that Olivia has a different type of old blood than he does.
Gabriel Walsh – the attorney who last handled Pamela Larsen’s plea for re-trial. He is a huge man, roughly 6’4” with inky dark hair and frozen blue eyes. He is out for himself and has no problem with people seeing that. He desperately wants Olivia as his client on both a cash and PR basis. He has had a rough background and is seen as a dangerous man by many characters. Her first inkling that some of this may be true is when he skillfully steals her scone for Grace – presenting it to Grace as his own idea. His mother Seanna Walsh died under questionable circumstances, possibly drug-related.
Peter Evans & Jan Gunderson – Pamela indicated that the conviction she & Todd got for their deaths is highly questionable, and that if Olivia can get some Innocence project to review this case, it could be overturned.
T.C. – The Cat. A black cat (that brings good luck?) and who has been called “matagot” by Veronica, one of the Cainsville elders.
Christian Gunderson – Jan’s strange brother who committed suicide after her death.
Dr. William Evans – the psychiatrist whose son Peter was killed with Jan Gunderson, he indicates that Christian might be a viable candidate for having killed the two instead of the Larsens.
Dr. Edgar Chandler – Evans boss in the CIA. Chandler and his bodyguard, Anderson play a key role in solving the murders of Peter and Jan - and how it tied to the CIA.
Kelly Armstrong's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Kelley Armstrong Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Kelley Armstrong Page
Cast of Characters
Amos Decker – the titular Memory Man and 42-year-old hero of the story, he has suffered two, very traumatic events in his life: the profession football hit that nearly killed him, and the murders of his brother-in-law Johnny, wife Cassie, and his almost 10 year-old daughter Molly that he discovered in his home after a late night working as a police detective. The first, led to his hyperthymesia and synesthesia where he remembers everything in great detail, and sees numbers in color. The second ruined his career as a cop and led to his life as a homeless person. He’s just starting to get by with questionable clients for his PI business.
Jenny Marks – Amos’ client, Mr. Mark’s rich, spoiled daughter with a penchant for low-life boyfriends.
Det. Mary Lancaster – Amos’ former partner, she is the one to bring him the news that someone has confessed to the murder of his family.
Sebastian Leopold – a wild looking, homeless man with twin dolphins tattooed on his shoulder who has confessed to murdering Amos’ brother-in-law, wife and daughter.
Alexandra Jamison – the ambitious, local News Leader reporter who works the police beat & is determined to get Amos’ side of the story on the murders of his family.
Dwayne LeCroix – the rookie pro who laid Amos out on the football field. “He was out of the league in four years with both knees devoid of cartilage, his left shoulder pared down to nothing but bone on bone and his bank account overdrawn. He was currently residing in a max prison in Shreveport.”
Pete Rourke – the older cop Amos asks about the police gathering to go to the school shooting at Mansfield High.
Sally Brimmer – the Public Affairs officer at the police department. She lets Amos speak to Leopold.
Captain Miller – the Burlington police chief who is Amos’ former boss. “MacKenzie Miller was in his late fifties, puffy as a bullfrog and with similar coloring. He was as wide as he was tall, Decker in miniature.” Initially angry with Amos’ interference in the case involving Decker’s family, he eventually hires Amos as a consultant on the shooting at the high school.
Debbie Watson – is the first victim found near her locker at Mansfield High after the shooting. She was a senior who had just turned eighteen. She had asked for a slip to go see the school nurse.
Andy Jackson – the English teacher at the school who tried to stop the shooter. He and seven other people died.
Melissa Dalton – a survivor of the school shooting, she remembers hearing a door close “like a vacuum closing” in the hall by her locker. This leads Amos to the cafeteria freezer – where the thermostat has been turned down, and he believes it is where the gunman hid.
Ms. Sheila Lynch – the prosecutor in the Leopold case.
Billy – the man mopping the floor at the local 7 Eleven. He and the woman on the counter are asked by Decker whether they recognized a picture of Leopold or not.
George and Beth Watson – parents of Debbie – who drew pictures of a man in camo with a face shield in one of her books. When Decker & Mary go into Debbie’s room there’s a hand-written musical score there that Decker believes the killer left there. They also learn that Debbie’s great grandfather worked at the old military base next to the high school before it closed.
Special Agent Ross Bogart – the six-foot-tall, broad-shouldered FBI agent who heads up the FBI team investigating the school shooting. He mentors another young agent, Special Agent Nora Lafferty.
Daisy – the florist who remembers when the Cognitive Research Institute was in her parents building in Chicago. This is where Amos went to for help with his brain conditions
Dr. Harold Rabinowitz – one of the doctors at the Institute who indicated that a former psychologist, Chris Sizemore was asked to leave after forming special relationships with his female patients.
Darren Marshall – the current head of the Cognitive Institute. He fills in details about the one woman Decker remembers in their patient group, Belinda Wyatt. Like Amos, she was hyperthesian from being violently attacked not born with the condition.
Inez Cato – Characterized as “small, pale, lost Inez who everyone forgot to mention because beside the other girl [Miranda] she simple faded”. She was the photographer the summer they all stayed with Lowell.
Tom & Bernie – the two paramedic pals of Max and Raminder who come to the house after Raminder’s fall is called in.
How did Amos meet Cassie?
She was his physical therapist after the football injury.
What is the significance of the 7 eleven in this story?
That it is not referring to a 7 eleven store, but to something more personal in Amos’ life.
What does the email address: mallard2000 stand for?
It’s code for a street address well known to Amos: Duckton St.
What does Decker call his ability to recall every detail about something that he see all in his mind?
What does Lancaster tell Decker about the gun used at the Mansfield shooting?
It is the same gun that was used to murder his family.
David Baldacci's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's David Baldacci Page
Stop You're Killing Me's David Baldacci Page
Cast of Characters
Cynthia Bigge – the heroine of the story, she is first introduced as a teenager experiencing the day she wakes up to find her entire family: father, Clayton, mother, Patricia & brother, Todd is gone without a trace.
Vince Fleming – Cynthia’s boyfriend when she was a teen, he comes from a notorious family and is definitely a bad boy. He still has a role to play in her life as a grown up.
Paula Malloy – the ambitious TV interviewer who pushes for Cynthia to re-live her worst day for Malloy’s news/entertainment show Deadline. Cynthia and her husband, Terrence (Terry) Archer, hope the segment will finally bring Cynthia some answers. Terry is the narrator of the main story.
Rolly Carruthers – the principal at the school where Terry teaches, and a longtime friend of both Cynthia and Terry. He’s quickly burning out on the job, and looking forward to his retirement.
Jane Scavullo – a student in Terry’s creative writing class, she’s a troubled teen with a tough homelife, who “writes like an angel” -- a talent that Terry is determined to encourage. He’s helping her to keep from being suspended from school.
Lauren Wells – fellow teacher at Old Fairfield high school with Terry who has a definite interest in him, that may or may not be a simple attraction to him.
Grace Archer – Cynthia & Terry’s eight year old daughter. She’s more aware of her mother’s tragic history than either parent wants her to be.
Pam – Cynthia’s boss at the dress shop, she’s been friends with her since they were teens.
Dr. Naomi Kinzler – the therapist who is working with Cynthia and Terry for the last four months. She is concerned that Cynthia has been hearing members of her family speaking to her.
Aunt Tess Berman – Cynthia’s aunt who took on the task of raising her after Patricia and the rest of the family disappeared. A divorcee working a blue collar job, she somehow found the funds to send Cynthia to college, and has always cared for Cynthia, Terry and Grace.
Jeremy Sloan – the man Cynthia sees in the mall and thinks is her brother Todd.
Keisha Ceylon – the psychic who approached Cynthia through the Deadline staff to say that she has information on Cynthia’s family that she needs to know.
Denton Abagnall – the private detective that Cynthia and Terry hire to try what he can, to find out what happened to her parents and brother.
Anthony Fleming – Abagnall finds out that Anthony, Vince’s father, was a major player in organized crime. He would have had the cash to send to Tess.
Connie Gormley– the woman featured in a 1982 clipping Clayton Bigge has saved about her being found dead in a ditch.
Rona Wedmore– the Milford police detective handling the homicide of a key character, she has her eye on Cynthia and Terry.
Howard Gormley– Connie’s brother, he confirms there were issues with Connie’s death beyond the hit-and-run.
Enid Sloan – the wheelchair-bound mother of Jeremy Sloan.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for No Time for Goodbye
And here are the questions (and answers) for the Cast of Characters graphics for No Time for Goodbye.
Please note some answers may be potential spoilers!!
Hat: Why does Cynthia say the fedora is her dad’s?
A: She sees the letter “C” in the headband on the inside.
How does the cash sent for Cynthia’s education lead to Tess’ death?
A: There’s a chance the envelopes and notes that came with it could identify who sent it.
Why did Clayton keep the newspaper clipping about his son’s basketball team?
A: He wanted a memento to keep – he just kept it in the wrong place!
What role does the lack of a note play in the story?
A: It is the main impetus behind Cynthia’s desperate need to know what happened.
Linwood Barclay's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Linwood Barclay Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Linwood Barclay Page
Globe & Mail Interview with Linwood Barclay
Barclay wrote a sequel to No Time For Goodbye called: No Safe House. Click this link to go to our copy of it!
Cast of Characters
Molly Murphy – a young Irish woman from Ballykillin, desperately trying to avoid being charged with murder, arrives at Ellis Island hopeful that she will be allowed into the country and will make her fortune there. This idea is threatened almost from the start, and she’s eveloped in another crime in NYC.
Justin Hartley – the arrogant bully whose family owns the farm that Molly’s family works on. His ill intentions towards Molly leads to his accidental death – which she knows she’ll still be blamed for. As Molly says “You don’t get away with killing gentry.”
Kathleen O’Connor – the young mother of Seamus & Bridie whose terminal illness leads her to ask Molly to get her children to America on the Majestic, which is due to leave in the morning. Her husband Seamus will be waiting for them at the dock.
Mr. O’Malley – the loud, menacing, leering man who Molly comes across during the voyage. He knows that Molly isn’t Kathleen, as he grew up in the same village as Kathleen. When he insults Molly in front of other people, she slaps his face – hard.
Michael Larkin – is a fellow steerage passenger who is from Plumbridge, County Derry. His almost delicate good looks have made him a target for abuse from O’Malley & his cronies. He assures Molly that he is well able to take care of himself.
Billy Brady – the highly popular Irish entertainer who performs on Ellis Island for the well-to-do attendees, including NYC mayor, Mr.Van Wyck, for the dedication of the “new” Ellis Island building, and is watched by Molly and her fellow immigrants.
Edward McSweeney – administrator on Ellis Island. He’s not pleased to have his island guards questioned about the murder. One of the island’s guards, Mr. Bernard ”Bully” Boyle, is the closest to what Molly remembers the night guard to have been that she saw outside the men’s dormitories where the murder took place.
Captain Daniel Sullivan – the young, NYPD police officer in charge of the murder investigation. Molly find him to be a very attractive man – who could potentially arrest her for either the murder in Ireland or the one in the dormitories on Ellis Island.
“Auntie” Nuala O’Connor – the children’s aunt, is married to Seamus’ cousin, Finbar and they have three scruffy boys. Both are shown to have nasty habits that lead Molly to trying to find some other lodging. Nuala explains to Molly what Tammany Hall is, and why all the Irish in NYC are respectful around anyone working for Tammany.
Liam McCluskey – Kathleen’s real brother who was hanged as one of the “Plumbridge 9”. When Molly learns this, she also discovers that Michael Larkin also had a relative in the 9 – his brother Thomas.
JamieMcPherson – the young Scottish reporter from the group who came to Ellis Island’s dedication ceremony. He tells Molly who the photographer was who took Bridie’s picture with the mayor. He’s a Jewish photographer named Simon Levy.
Alderman McCormack – the person in Simon Levy’s picture of the group of honorees at the Ellis Island dedication who looks most like the man Molly saw at the time of the murder on the island. Holmes is his butler who runs the alderman’s household and who approves Molly as a temporary parlor maid for the evening’s party at the alderman’s house. The housekeeper, Mrs. Brennan gives Molly her tasks to do. Co-worker Daisy helps her to figure out how to do some of them. Molly overhears McCormack talking to “Bertie” about things that could be suspicious for them to be involved in.
Rhys Bowen's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Rhys Bowen Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Rhys Bowen Page
RMS Majestic - Molly's ship from Liverpool to the U.S. capacity was for 1490 Passengers with 1000 of the as "Third Class" travelers.
19th Century Emegrant Experiences
The Statue of Liberty: Ellis Island
The Tombs - New York City
Ballykilleen (Molly Murphy's Ballykillin cottage perhaps?)
Cast of Characters
Joe Pickett – a Wyoming Game Warden, Joe is the main protagonist of the story. He’s an upright, square-dealing man who loves his wife and little girls. He’s had his embarrassments and successes as a Warden, but as the story progresses, he’s in danger of losing his career -- and more.
Maxine – Joe’s eight-year-old yellow Labrador who follows him everywhere she can.
Ote Keeley – is a “big man, built solidly with thick arms and a barrel chest”. He’s a professional hunting outfitter. We first encounter him poaching elk, holding a dripping knife in his hand. The end of this encounter becomes a local legend, one of the main embarrassments for Joe, and a critical issue by the story’s end.
Sheridan Pickett – Joe’s seven year old daughter is a dreamer and the eldest. Lucy is her three year old sister. Sheridan has a tough time at school where a game warden is often seen as the enemy of the local hunters and even businesses. It doesn’t help that she recently had to get glasses, and her pets have been eaten by local wildlife predators. She’s thrilled when she stumbles on little creatures she comes to think of as her pets.
Marybeth Pickett – Joe’s wife. She’s pretty, pregnant, and force to deal with. She is also Joe’s strongest supporter – despite her mother Missy Vankeuren’s disdain for him. Missy had loftier plans in mind for Marybeth, which Joe acknowledges Marybeth has the talents and brainpower to have done, if she hadn’t married him.
O.R. “Bud” Barnum – the curmudgeonly county sheriff who seems more interested in his chances for re-election than in pursuing crimes. He’s “an institution in Twelve Sleep County and he has been in office for 24 years... very little got past Sheriff Barnum.”
Deputy John McLanahan – the young officer Barnum sends with Joe and Wacey to see what’s happened at the elk outfitters’ camp. Ote was there with two other outfitters, Kyle Lensegrav and Calvin Mendes.
Wacey Hedeman – Joe’s counterpart in the next district (Basin), he and Joe were both hand-picked by Vern as game wardens. (Joe is the warden for the Saddlestring district.) Wacey is a former rodeo cowboy who’s making a serious bid to oust Barnum and become the next Sherriff. Joe finds him a bit oily, but basically a friend who can charm just about anybody. Marybeth doesn’t trust him.
Vern Dunnegan – the former game warden who is legend in Wyoming, with a lot of powerful connections. He comes to Twelve Sleep to observe the elk outfitter case. Vern currently has a high-paying job with InterWest Resources, an energy company, who are in the running for a new pipeline in the area. As the case progresses, he wants to recruit Joe.
Aimee Kensinger – the wife of Donald Kensinger, an affluent member of the Eagle Mountain Club, she’s having an affair with Wacey, and lets it be known she loves game wardens…
Clyde Lidgard – one of the three men (along with Kyle Lensegrav and Calvin Mendes) who were at the elk hunter camp. Wacey and McLanahan both shoot him when he comes out of his tent. His gun is the murder weapon for the deaths of the other two men. Clyde is air-lifted to a hospital. He’s “a mentally unbalanced modern-woodsman type who lived on a disability pension & fees for looking after summer lodges.” He is also fond of taking odd and questionable pictures.
Dave Avery – a college friend of Joe’s who now works as a game biologist for the Montana Fish and Game department in Helena. Joe send his second sample to him after the first mysteriously disappears from game biology at the headquarters in Cheyenne.
Les Etbauer – the bureaucrat at the Game and Fish Headquarters in Cheyenne whom Joe has to see about the potential suspension he is facing that stems from Ote taking Joe’s gun, and the rumor that Joe burned down Clyde’s trailer – a loss of potential evidence in the case.
For Open Season
What is the name of the species of “little animals” that Sheridan discovers in the woodpile?
They are called “Miller’s Weasels” in the story, and are an imaginary species – the author based them on the black-footed ferret.
Where do they move to when they leave the woodpile?
Under the foundation to the Picketts’ garage.
Where does Joe find the critical role of film with Clyde Lidgard’s last pictures?
At the Barrett’s Pharmacy under “Unclaimed”.
What happens to Ote Keeley’s Ford F-250 XLT Lariat turbo truck?
His widow buries him in it – his last request!
C. J. Box's Web Page
C. J. Box's Bio on Joe Pickett
Fantastic Fiction's C. J. Box Page
Stop You're Killing Me's C. J. Box Page
Crazy Woman's Canyon
Ten-Not Twelve! Sleep, Wyoming
Cast of Characters:
Liz Talbot – the main character of this series, she is a native of the Lowcountry, specifically Stella Maris. She’s moved home from Greenville, NC where she and her former brother-in-law, Nate Andrews run a successful private investigators business. She’s hoping to keep the business running in both places, but a lot of that depends on Nate – and what kind of relationship may be occurring between them.
Colleen Stevens – the ghost of Liz’ best friend growing up on the island. Colleen has informed Liz that Colleen’s there as the guardian spirit of the island; but she’s not opposed to lending Liz a “hand” as well, when needed.
Calista McQueen – the client at the center of the story who strongly resembles The Blonde Bombshell in American culture: Marilyn Monroe. Disturbingly, she’s been raised in such a way by her groupie mother Gwen/Gladys Monroe and her mother’s questionable friend “Aunt” Grace McKee/Donna Clark so that major events in Marilyn’s life have been duplicated in Calista’s – including being given to an orphanage so their stories of childhood would match!
Michael Devlin – the contractor/designer of Calista’s new house. He is also Liz’s former -- & possibly future -- love interest.
Joe (Jose) Fernandez– a baseball player, like Joe DiMaggio, and also like DiMaggio, Calista/Marilyn’s second husband. Calista’s Joe was the coach of the Charleston Riverdogs, a class A farm team for the New York Yankees. He loved to buy lottery tickets, and was killed by a carjacker before finding out that he’d won the lottery for $700 million dollars.
Moon Unit Glendawn – the owner of the Cracked Pot, Stella Maris’ local diner – and gossip center. Her parent, John & Alma Glendawn, own the Pirates’ Den, a popular restaurant & bar. She tries to remember the name of the son Elenore Harper had before marrying the doctor.
Blake Talbot –Liz’s brother, the chief of police on Stella Maris. He and Liz are close, but since she’s moved home, he’s had issues with her being a P.I. on his turf. Rodney is one of his patrol officers.
Warren Harper – the town physician on Stella Maris, he identifies the pills left on Calista’s bedside table as Nembutal – the drug that killed Marilyn Monroe.
Robert Pearson – the Stella Maris attorney handling Calista’s legal issues.
James (Jimmy) Edward Davis – Calista’s first husband who was basically forced on her by her mother and Grace. She left him as soon as she turned 18, and changed her name. She’s avoided seeing or being in contact with him – until now…
Harmony (a.k.a Helena Calhoun Rigney) – Calista’s life coach, who is shot and killed. She was also a clairvoyant and claimed a man from Calista’s past who means her harm & thinks Calista owes him money.
Elenore Harper – the odd former wife of Stella Marris’ Dr. Harper. She is Calista’s housekeeper.
Niles Ignacio – Calista’s yoga instructor who seems overly interested in Calista. He comes over from Mount Pleasant just to give her private lessons.
Sonny Ravenel – an old family friend of the Talbots, he’s a Charleston city police detective, and in charge of Harmony’s murder investigation.
Mack Ryan – the contact Calista has for Security Solutions, the firm who installed her security system. Many of the employees have military and/or police backgrounds. Their system has problems getting activated. Tim Poteat & Ryder Keenan worked for the Charleston police before joining the firm.
Phoebe DiTomei – owner of Phoebe’s Day Spa, she’s the hairdresser on the island.
Dr. Charles Gadsden – Calista’s therapist, whose Svengali-like relationship with Calista, leads Liz to suspect him and his insistence that Calista should have an injection to deal with her stress.
Mr. Patel – owner of the minimart where Roy Lee Jenkins disappeared from after the winning lotto ticket was sold to Joe.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for Lowcountry Bombshell
What is the name of Liz’s faithful golden retriever?
Why does Calista choose McQueen as her last name?
In honor of Steve McQueen’s movie, The Getaway. Calista was getting away from the whole Marilyn craziness with her mother, “aunt” and ex-husband.
Along with the Nembutal, what else contributed to Marilyn Monroe’s death that turns up in Calista’s house?
An enema with a big dose of chloral hydrate; an enema kit that was on the housekeeper’s grocery list for Calista
What personal quirk does Liz have that she even stops her romantic night with Nick for?
Liz is somewhat obsessed with using hand sanitizers/washing hands. She constantly offers her bottle to others.
Who is in the tan Toyota Camry across from Calista’s house?
Her ex-husband Jim Davis.
Here are just a few of the pictures from Susan's visit with us. To see more, go to our Flickr page!
Photographic evidence of Susan's cake just moments before the staking...
MAF members enjoying talking with Susan individually while getting personalized books!
Many MAF members participated in this group shot by Susan's husband -- a true Southern gent!
Susan M. Boyer's Page
Susan's Map of Stella Maris
The Inspiration -- & Location! for Stella Maris: DeWees Island, S.C.
Feral Pigs Go Hog Wild in South Carolina, Worrying Naturalists
What is Pimento Cheese?
Fantastic Fiction's Page on Susan M. Boyer
Stop You're Killing Me's Page on Susan M. Boyer
Cast of Characters
Alice Humphrey – the 37 year old daughter of a famous film director, she’s been determined to make it on her own. This leads her to eagerly jump at the offer to manage a new art gallery – without knowing the mysterious client who is funding it, or the man who is fronting the gallery.
Drew Campbell – is the man who meets Alice at one of her favorite galleries while buying a painting for his client. He offers her the gallery manager job at a new gallery. He acts as intermediary to the client and his pet artist in starting the gallery which is committed to featuring the artist n shows at the new gallery.
Becca Stevenson – is a teenage loner who lives in New Jersey and has only one good friend, Sophie Ferrin. She has a massive crush on one of the school’s popular jocks, Dan Hunter. Her relationship with Dan and with someone else are her two big secrets from her single mom. Even Sophie doesn’t know about her second relationship.
Lily Harper – Alice’s close friend, she’s a travel editor for a magazine, working for “the Gorilla”. Alice met her in a spin class the previous summer, & their friendship has grown since then. She’s initially suspicious about Campbell’s job offer, but supports Alice when the Highline Gallery starts coming together.
Jeff Wilkerson – Alice’s longtime, on and off boyfriend. He’s a lawyer whose desire to father children is the critical issue that separates them: Alice cannot have children.
Hank Beckman – an older FBI agent who, despite being disciplined for tracking Travis Larson, the guy who killed his sister, is following the guy on his own time.
Hans Schuler – the artist being supported by Campbell’s anonymous client. His pictures are graphic, violent, and in very questionable taste. The artist refers to his work as being “radical introspection”. Others would call it porn. He includes a thumb drive to his pictures with the sale of one of his photos. These sell extremely well online.
Joann Stevenson – Becca’s single mom has had a rough life, but lives for Becca. Her guilt over having a man sleep over (Mark) pales when she realizes in the morning after, that Becca did not come home.
Rose and Frank Humphrey – Alice’s famous parents. Her mother, the former actress Rose Sampson, is a drinker, and her father is in the news for his Oscar-winning direction of In the Heavens, & for his (likely) affairs with other women. Alice’s brother Ben, is a dilettante in the film industry, mainly living off his father’s name and money. He is also a “recovering” drug addict, but his affection for Alice, and hers for him, is genuine.
Officer Jason Morhart – is with the Dover, New Jersey police investigating the disappearance of Becca Stevenson. He is fair-haired, blue-eyed and somewhere in his thirties – not at all what Joann expected the investigating officer to look like. He is very empathetic with Becca’s mom, Joann, and he grows stronger in his determination to find the girl, the better he gets to know Joann. He’s the one to find a connection between the Stevenson disappearance case & Campbell’s murder.
Reverend George Hardy – the tall, gaunt leader of the protesters outside the Highline Gallery. He is with the Redemption of Christ church are specifically protest a photo they claim is underage porn. He has a personal interest in the issue as well.
Ashleigh Reynolds – the once and future girlfriend of Dan Hunter, she calls Becca a slut on Facebook.
Det. John Shannon and Det. Willie Danes – the officers in charge of Campbell’s murder investigation. They are the ones to show a copy of a picture to Alice that looks like she’s kissing Drew Campbell.
Arthur Cronin – one of Alice’s parents’ best friends, he is also the “go-to attorney for all remotely law-related Humphrey family problems. Alice’s father Frank recommends that she use him instead of Jeff when it looks like she’ll need a lawyer.
Susan Kellermann – owner of the art gallery where Alice met Drew, Alice goes back to find that Drew never picked up the picture that he had “bought for a client” the night they met. She also finds out that Drew introduced himself to Susan as Steve Henning.
Julie Kinley – is the person named in an agreement with ITH Corporation in which “the corporation agreed to put all of its existing assets into a trust for her benefit. In exchange Kinley agreed to release all potential legal claims against ITH and its agents, officers and employees, both in their official and personal capacities.” Alice later learns that Julie had been at her brother Ben’s high school party where things got enough out of hand, that the police came to the house. Julie has passed away, but she has a daughter named Mia.
Robert Atkinson – the tabloid reporter who is overly-interested in both Alice Humphrey and her famous father. He is later killed in a car accident driving home from Bedford.
Mrs. Withers – is Gloria & Julie Kinley’s gossipy, next door neighbor. She relates the story of the time Julie was sent away to a girls school after a wild high school party, and Gloria unexpectedly found herself pregnant with Mia.
For Long Gone
What popular social media site is Morhart trying to access when his account is blocked at the Dover police station?
Facebook. He’s trying to get to Dan & Becca’s pages.
Alice’s gloves: How do they incriminate a character other than Alice in the murder investigation?
They are the one piece of evidence that seem to prove that Alice shot Campbell. The discovery of the gloves by the police leads her to follow Lily’s advice and go on the run.
What is the secret that the ITH corporation was formed to hide?
That it is a dummy corporation set up by Arthur Cronin for Frank Humphrey for reasons revealed late in the plot.
What name does Alice use when she moves to Portland?
Alice Janine Benjamin
Alafair Burke's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Page on Alafair Burke
Stop You're Killing Me's Page on Alafair Burke
Dorothy Cannell - Murder at Mullings [June, 2015]
Cast of Characters
Florence Norris – widow of Robert Norris of Farn Deane (home farm of the Stodmarshes) the current housekeeper at Mullings, she has worked there since she was a 14 year-old housemaid much of the story is seen through her eyes.
Lord Edward Stodmarsh – master of Mullings, father of Lionel who has passed away, and younger son William. He is devoted to his ailing wife Lady Stodmarsh (Lillian).
Mrs. McDonald – the “Mrs.” is a courtesy title for Mullings’ excellent cook who (while never leaving Yorkshire) is proud of Scottish heritage. She and Florence become great friends as well as loyal coworkers for the family.
Edward (Ned) Stodmarsh – the heir to Mullings, he is the grandson of Lord Stodmarsh and son of Lionel and his wife – both killed in a car accident. His vicious hard-drinking nanny, Nanny Hilda Stark not only verbally abuses him, she later creates havoc with spreading other nasty rumors. Florie adores the young boy and he continues to rely on her as a young man. She is instrumental in having Hilda fired.
Mr. Grumidge – the butler at Mullings, he too is very loyal to Lord Stodmarsh and his wife Lilian. He also has a semi-secret affection for one of the maids, Molly.
William and Gertrude Stodmarsh– William is the petulant younger son of Lord Stodmarsh who resents his father’s (perceived) favoritism of his older brother. His hot temper and rude manners do not faze his stolid, long-suffering wife Gertrude.
Mrs. Eugenie Tressler – the maternal grandmother of Ned Stodmarsh. Her stays in a mental hospital are one of the things that Hilda taunted Ned about.
Annie Long – one of the house maids at Mullings, she is both as timid as a mouse – and afraid of them too.
Mr. Derwent Shepherd – master of the local school where Mr. Fritch tries to get a job, he introduced George to Florence.
George Bird – a large man & widower approaching fifty, childless but a fond support of his godson/nephew Jim Leighton, an aspiring artist. He move to Dovecote Hatch and buys the local pub, the Dog & Whistle, where he becomes very popular with the locals, as well as very fond of Florence Norris. Lacking any backing from his parent, Jim writes to tell George he’s found a place to live thanks to an elderly woman who is interested in supporting his art.
Alf Thatcher – the long-standing postman of Dovecote Hatch, he becomes friends with George (Birdie) Bird who dines with he and his wife Dorie. Alf has his ear to the ground about all the goings-on in the area.
Tom and Gracie Norris – the couple who run Farn Deane, the home farm of Mullings. They are Florence’s affectionate in-laws.
Mr. Cyril Fritch – the former schoolteacher who ends up working part-time at Craddock’s Antiquarian Bookshop, and later as part-time accountant at Mullings as well. As a result of his second job, he develops a relationship with poor relation, Madge Bradley, a cousin who had been left standing at the altar by her bridegroom.
The Stafford-Reids, Blakes, & Palfretts – the other major landholding upper class families in the area who are more concerned with social standing and fashion than the Stodmarshes. The Stodmarshes witness this first-hand when young Ned develops a crush on Miss Lamorna Blake daughter of Lord Winthrop & Lady Blake.
Regina Stapleton/2nd Lady Stodmarsh – the older woman who becomes Lord Stodmarsh’s wife when he goes on a trip to Weymouth. She is from the Tamersham family in Northumbria at Cragstone where Florence’s mother worked happily as a maid. The 2nd Lady Stodmarsh however, proves icy, difficult to work for, and a troublemaker for the family. She is determined that Mullings will be the place for the fashionable upper class to aspire for an invitation to visit – and that her family’s “ornamental hermit” be given a hut to now live in the woods at Mullings.
Jeanie – the saucy maid who delivers meals to the hermit at his hut.
Hattie Fly – a cousin of Florence Norris, she owns a boarding house in Kings Cross where one of her boarders is a young woman called Miss Toffee Jones. She is the one who tells Toffee about Lord Stodmarsh’s recent marriage to a woman named Regina Stapleton who brought an ornamental hermit to Mullings. Disguising herself, Toffee furtively arrives at Mullings – where she has a stunning announcement to make.
Inspector LeCrane – the detective who comes to Mulling when a violent murder occurs, and the main suspect of a murder in London is believed to be in the area.
Dorothy Cannell's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Page on Dorothy Cannell
Stop You're Killing Me's Dorothy Cannell Page
Maine Crime Writers' Interview with Dorothy Cannell
A Chance to See Dorothy in Action!
Kate Carlisle - If Books Could Kill [March 2019]
Cast of Characters
Brooklyn Wainwright – the main character, who recently inherited a fortune, but is maintaining her career as a highly-regarded, professional book binder. She’s come to Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Book Fair and is looking forward to teaching book binding-related classes, attending lectures, and wandering the book tables to network & buy books – not to find bodies & be accused of murder – but both things happen anyway!
Helen Chin – a fellow professional book binder whose marriage to Martin Warrington is heading for divorce, and she’s in love with Kyle McVee.
Perry McDougall – the tall, heavy-set man who is a rare-book specialist who specializes in Scottish history, the Georgian & Regency periods of the British monarchy, and being insufferably rude and arrogant.
Kyle McVee – the handsome “bad boy” of the book trade, he’s “an unapologetic devil through and through” and thoroughly appealing to women. He comes “from money, lots of money. Among other things, his family owns a respectable London book publishing company”, and he has a rare books collection that matches “any museum collection in the world”. He is also interested in getting Brooklyn to evaluate the authenticity of a rare collection of poems by Robert Burns that includes poems never seen before – and it is reputed to contain poems that support rumors he fathered an illegitimate child with Princess Augusta Sophia, daughter of George III.
Minka LaBoeuf – Brooklyn’s archenemy and worst nightmare. She is a sad excuse for a book binder in Brooklyn’s opinion – and others as well. If there’s a way to discredit or attack Brooklyn she gleefully will do it. She’s working at the book fair for Perry.
Derek Stone – the former British Royal Navy Commander now security specialist Brooklyn met in the first book. He’s had his eye on her ever since – but he’s also in Edinburgh on mysterious “business”.
Detective Inspector Angus MacLeod – the detective in charge of the case, he is “big and burly, at least six feet four inches tall, with boyish, sandy blond hair, the man had muscles on his muscles”. He’s shrewd and capable of handling this case – or a claymore!
Robin Tully – Brooklyn’s best friend since childhood. She owns her own travel company and has a trip planned that will take her to Edinburgh. She is also staying at the Royal Thistle Hotel.
Royce McVee – Kyle’s less-charismatic, stogy cousin. He co-owned the bookstore with Kyle and handles the accounting, financial side while Kyle handled customer and vendor relations. Royce seems to genuinely mourn Kyle, but there’s a thread of resentment there as well. He asks Brooklyn to hold onto the Burns book and authenticate it when she has the time for it.
Winifred Paine – the “elderly, powerful president of the International Association of Antiquarian Booksellers. She’s a long-shot as a potential suspect.
Serena McVee – she claims to be Kyle’s wife when she shows up at his memorial service. “She was blond and her face was pale and thin. In general, she seems too mousy to have appealed to Kyle, but she says they’ve known each other since childhood. Royce is particularly put out by her appearance on the scene, and doesn’t believe her story.
Jim and Rebecca Wainwright – Brooklyn’s parents who surprise her by showing up in Edinburgh with Robin. They are former commune members of The Fellowship for Spiritual Enlightenment and Higher Artistic Consciousness, and are definitely New Age children of the 60s. Robson Benedict, a.k.a. Guru Bob was the leader of the Fellowship.
Tommy, Dr. Harry McFarland, & The Third Man – Freemasons who are members of the Robert Burns Society.
Gabriel (no last name) – literally a man of mystery – and professional thief, he helped save Brooklyn from a psychopathic teenager who’d been hired to kill her. He chases away the man who breaks into Brooklyn’s hotel room.
Graphic Crime Quiz: If Books Could Kill
What is the name of the book bindery that Brooklyn unerringly identifies as the one who produced the book of poems by Robert “Rabbie” Burns?
Cathcart – the bindery of William Shaw Cathcart. This example includes the Scottish wheel binding and pentagrams that Brooklyn describes as potential signs of his work.
Who sent Kyle the poisoned pen letters?
Serena – as part of the plan to help her brother scare Kyle away from Helen
What two book binding tools were used to incriminate Brooklyn?
Her book binder hammer & her knotting owl.
Why does Brooklyn get kidnapped?
The local “Rabbie Burns” group is outraged at the idea that the book of poems is a “proof” to the rumor that their hero would ever have bedded a Sassenach Princess!
*Special thanks to Lisle's own Book & Paper Arts Guild, and Maria Saxena in particular, for sharing two wonderful examples of her handmade books with us!
Kate Carlisle's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Kate Carlisle Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Kate Carlisle Page
Robert Burns - Wikipedia
Princess Augusta Sophia - Regency History site
Selected Lisle Library Books -- on Making Books!
Edinburgh & Nearby Area Sites Used In If Books Could Kill :
The Edinburgh Book Festival
Edinburgh Thistle Hotel
Ensign Ewart Pub
Mary King's Close
The Mitre Bar
St. Margaret's Chapel, Edinburgh
Bookbinding Classes in Chicago
Center for Book & Paper Arts - Columbia College, Chicago
American Academy of Bookbinding
G.(Gilbert) K. (Keith) Chesterton - The Innocence of Father Brown [September, 2019]
The Blue Cross
Flambeau, the great criminal has been tracked to England by Aristide Valentin, the head of the Paris police and the most famous investigator of the world. From a train station in England Valentin finds himself following two clergyman – who are neither of them all they seem…
The Secret Garden
Here, Aristide Valentin is the host of a dinner at his house that includes Father Brown and a number of guests whose religious positions run from “Brayne, the hoary Yankee who believed in all religions, to Valentin the grizzled Frenchman who believed in none”. Despite its lack of any entrance except from the house, a body is found in the garden.
The Queer Feet
“The Twelve True Fishermen” at their annual club dinner at the Vernon Hotel are a group where exclusivity means everything, right down to their celebrated set of fish knives and forks. Father Brown is made an exception in order to write out an important statement for one of the hotel’s Catholic waiters. Father Brown proves uniquely capable of unmasking the “archangel of impudence” who attempts to steal the silverware.
The Flying Stars
Here Flambeau relates “the most beautiful crime I ever committed… also, by singular coincidence, [his] last.” At a family’s Christmas gathering the Canadian uncle gets the others to participate in a “proper, old English pantomime” which nearly results in the theft of a special diamond necklace.
The Invisible Man
John Turnbull Angus, a tall, burly, red-haired young man attempts to convince the young woman in a confection shop to marry him; but she’s narrowly avoiding two other men and their proposals. As one man is threatening the life of the other, Angus brings aspiring detective Flambeau and his friend Father Brown in to help resolve the matter.
The Honor of Israel Gow
Father Brown joins Flambeau at Glengyle Castle where Flambeau is investigating the death of the late Earl of Glengyle. The odd relationship between the late Earl and his gardener/valet – and just which of them is a villain, becomes the key issue – along with why there are piles of snuff, loose jewels, metalworks, and wax candles without candlesticks, all over the house.
The Wrong Shape
Flambeau and Father Brown go to see a once famous poet on the Thursday before Whit-Sunday (commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles) in his heavily Oriental-styled and oddly shaped house. The odd shape of the poet’s paper, and the true meaning of his words “They will tell you that I die by my own hand, yet I die murdered.”
The Sins of Prince Saradine
There is more than one meaning to the title of this story, which takes place at a reed house that Flambeau and Father Brown come to at the open invitation Prince Saradine made to Flambeau back in his thieving days. In it, the prince had written “If you ever retire and become respectable, come and see me. I want to meet you for I have met all the great men of my time. That trick of your of getting one detective to arrest the other was the most splendid scene in French history.” The note becomes significant in the events that follow.
The Hammer of God
A tale of two brothers: one a man of God, Reverend Wilbur Bohun, and the other is a dissolute former Colonel, Norman Bohun. Father Brown becomes involved in the investigation of Norman’s death when it looks like the Catholic blacksmith’s hammer was used to commit the crime.
The Eye of Apollo
Kalon the Prophet of a new sun-worshipping religion holds the office above Father Brown’s friend, private detective M. Hercule Flambeau. The two sisters who own the typing business below Flambeau’s office, become involved with Kalon; the elder sister Pauline going so far as to leave her fortune to him in her will.
The Sign of the Broken Sword
Father Brown and Flambeau visit the churchyard where war hero General Sir Arthur St. Clare “Hero and Martyr” is buried with his broken sword under a stone sign that continues “who Always Vanquished his Enemies and Always Spared Them, and Was Treacherously Slain by Them at Last. May God in Whom he Trusted both Reward and Revenge him.” Father Brown raises issues with this statement and continually asks the question “Where would a wise man hide a leaf?”
The Three Tools of Death
Father Brown is consulted in the death of the entertainingly comic Sir Aaron Armstrong. Though “Sir Aaron was a philanthropist and thus dealt with the darker side of our society, he prided himself on dealing with it in the brightest possible style.” At the crime scene there is rope, a gun, and a “long horn-hilted” knife – that all seem to be part of Sir Aaron’s death, though in the end, he died by either being pitched out, or falling out a window.
The Society of G.K. Chesterton's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's G.K. Chesterton Page
Stop You're Killing Me's G.K. Chesterton Page
The Margaret E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, Wheaton IL - Has desks, and more belonging to J.R.R. Tolkient, C. S. Lewis, and G.K. Chesterton. We will look into taking a tour here as a group in 2020!
The Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton has a wealth of information about the author, his life and writings.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Father Brown
Wikipedia has a wonderful and lengthy article on Chesterton as well.
There's even an article on Flambeau on Wikipedia!
And here is the Cast from the Father Brown BBC TV series!
Tracy Clark - Broken Places [April, 2021]
Meeting Notice Information
We finally get a chance to catch up with Chicago area author, Tracy Clark!, She will Zoom with us to talk about our discussion book, Broken Places, and how it launched her mystery career on a high note! This novel has been a finalist for three major mystery awards: the Anthony, the Lefty, and the Shamus. Broken Places, was also shortlisted for the American Library Association’s RUSA Reading List, named a CrimeReads Best New PI Book of 2018, a Midwest Connections Pick, and a Library Journal Best Books of the Year.
Here's what Goodreads says about it:
Former cop Cass Raines has found the world of private investigation a less stressful way to eke out a living in the Windy City. But when she stumbles across the dead body of a respected member of the community, it’s up to her to prove a murderer is on the loose . . .
Cops can make mistakes, even when they’re not rookies. If anyone knows that it’s Cass Raines, who took a bullet two years ago after an incompetent colleague screwed up a tense confrontation with an armed suspect. Deeply traumatized by the incident, Cass resigned from the Chicago PD, leaving one less female African-American on the force. Now she’s the head of a one-woman private investigation agency, taking on just enough work to pay the bills. She spends the rest of her time keeping an eye on the tenants in her little Hyde Park apartment building, biking along the lakefront, and playing chess with the only father figure she’s ever known, Father Ray Heaton.
When Father Ray asks Cass to look into a recent spate of vandalism at his church, she readily agrees to handle the case. But only hours later she’s horrified to discover his murdered body in the church confessional, a dead gangbanger sprawled out nearby. She knew Pop, as she called him, had ticked off plenty of people, from slumlords to drug dealers and even some parishioners and politicians, with his uncompromising defense of the downtrodden. But a late-night random theft doesn’t seem like much of a motive at a cash-strapped parish like Saint Brendan’s.
The lead detective assigned to the case is all too ready to dismiss it as an interrupted burglary gone awry, just another statistic in a violent city. But Cass’s instincts tell her otherwise, and badge or no badge, she intends to see justice done . . .
Please join us for a chance to talk about one of the most suspenseful and engrossing debut novels of any year, with its author and find out what it takes to achieve a terrific series starter.
Tracy Clark's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Tracy Clark Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Tracy Clark Page
Ann Cleeves - The Long Call [May, 2021]
Meeting Notice Information
We’re meeting at a special time (at noon) this month so that a very special author will be able to Zoom with us – award-winning author, Ann Cleeves. She will be joining us from England – hence—the special meeting time.
Author of both the Detective Vera Stanhope and the Shetland series (featuring Detective Jimmy Perez) both have become two highly successful TV series: Vera and Shetland. Raven Black, the first Shetland book, won the highest British mystery honor, the Golden Dagger award.
We, however, will be talking with Ann about The Longest Call, the first in her new Two Rivers series. It starts this series on a high note as it is the Best Contemporary Novel winner from the 2019 Agatha awards. This book too, has commissioned a four-part event dramatization on British TV!
Here’s how Ann’s website describes the story:
In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father's funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.
Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.
The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.
Other major mystery authors have commented:
“In Matthew Venn, Ann has created a complex, daring, subtle character.” – Louise Penny
"Brilliant, thoughtful and deeply engaging." - Sara Paretsky
"Clever, compassionate and atmospheric, with a great cast of new characters to love. I am already a Matthew Venn fan." - Elly Griffiths
… And many more have also praised it!
We hope you can join us as we “converge” to share our thoughts and comments with this wonderful author.
Ann Cleeves's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Ann Cleeves Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Ann Cleeves Page
Information on the North Devon setting
Barnstaple -- where Matthew grew up & where his father is being buried
Maurice and Lucy live in a cottage near Lovacott
This sign welcomes you to Lovacott and this house is an example of a semi-detached cottage.
A church in Lovacott
There are many sites to see in the area!
Fun Interview with Ann Cleeves
Cick on the Writers Write logo above to read the article!
Deborah Crombie - A Share in Death [March, 2018]
Cast of Characters
Duncan Kincaid – a new Detective Superintendent with New Scotland Yard whose long awaited vacation is interrupted when guests at Followdale House, the timeshare in Yorkshire his cousin had booked, start turning up dead.
Gemma James – the divorced young mother of Toby who is Kincaid’s sergeant. She assists him from London with interviewing interested parties in the crimes.
Cassie Whitlake – the sales manager at Followdale House, she is involved in more than just the running of the place. She worked with – and despised – Sebastian.
Sebastian Wade – the assistant manager, whom Duncan found to be very likable, if not particularly charitable in his options of either Cassie or some of the guests. He was quite kind however to Angela Frazer, the sullen and rebellious daughter of one of the guests.
Penelope & Emma MacKenzie – the aging daughters of a rector from Dedham. Penny is starting to have memory problems, and is unsure whether she should say something about her observations from the night the first victim died – or who to tell. Emma is her brisk, no-nonsense sister who is exasperated by Penny, but loves her.
Hannah Alcock – the career scientist who works on curing a rare disease at the Julia Sterrett Clinic, set up by her husband Miles after she died. She’s come to Yorkshire with a specific, personal mission, but is drawn to Duncan as well.
Patrick Rennie – a rising young M.P., he is married to Marta whose family is both wealthy and politically influential. This does not stop other women (including some of the guests) from flirting with him.
Edward (Eddie) Lyle – Sebastian describes him as “a fussy, ex-army, though you wouldn’t think it – he looks a perfect twit”. He is also something of a domestic tyrant with his wife Janet and he likes to hold forth on various topics or complain about them.
Maureen and John Hunsinger – described by Sebastian as “retrograde hippies who own a natural food store in Manchester who arrive with their kids” (Bethany and Brian).
Graham & Angela Frazer – a father and daughter who are deeply unhappy with each other. He’s especially unhappy about his nasty divorce situation. Angela is just fifteen and as Sebastian states, “She’s the prize of war” between her parents.
Det. Chief Inspector Bill Nash – the local Yorkshire policeman in charge of the case(s). He is overly antagonistic with Kincaid – and resents both his presence and his efforts with the evolving cases. Kincaid’s superior rank and the fact he’s a “Yard man” contribute greatly to this, and Kincaid inadvertently showing him up doesn’t help. Nor does the fact that Nash’s direct report, Det. Inspector Peter Raskin, comes to support and assist Kincaid’s efforts.
Anne Percy – the local doctor who is called in to examine the bodies in the case. She’s a very attractive, profession young woman, who is married and has a child, and an often absent husband. She too, backs up Kincaid’s conclusions on a number of things.
Mrs. Louise Rennie – the mother of Patrick who Gemma visits as part of their investigation. She and her husband, Major Rennie are well-to-do and adoring parents to him.
Graphic Crime Quiz
What does the “burglar” find when they ransacked Hannah’s desk back in Oxford?
Her reservation for the timeshare.
What did Kincaid find in the back of Sebastian’s closet?
A file he kept on all the guests and employees at Followdale House.
What is significant about Followdale House’s only empty suite?
It’s where Cassie and Graham Frazer meet for their affair.
What does Gemma learn when she compliments Mrs. Rennie on the portrait of Patrick as a young boy?
That he was adopted.
Deborah Crombie's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Deborah Crombie Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Deborah Crombie Page
Tracee de Hahn - Swiss Vendetta [December, 2020]
Tracee de Hahn's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Tracee de Hahn Page
FICTIONDB's Tracee de Hahn Page
J. T. Ellison - A Deeper Darkness [November, 2014]
Cast of Characters
Dr. Samantha Owens – Sam is a forensic pathologist & the chief medical examiner for the state of Tennessee who lost her husband Simon and children (Matthew & Maddie) in a devastating flood. Since then she has been battling OCD behaviors and trying to find reasons for living. She finds this and more when she is asked by his mother to do a second autopsy on the first man she loved.
Eddie Donovan – formerly Major Edward Donovan, 75th Ranger Regiment, was Sam’s first love, but is happily married to his second love, Susan Donovan. He’s the father of two girls, Vicky & Ally – and he’s carrying a heavy secret that will lead to his death.
Susan Donovan – passionately loved her husband, and resents having Sam involved in the second autopsy that she initially thinks is a painful waste of time. She is the daughter of a military man as well as the wife of one, and she’ll need all the courage and strength these relationships have given her to keep her girls safe while finding out the truth about Donovan’s death.
Eleanor Donovan – Donovan’s mother and a dear friend to Sam. She is the one requesting the second autopsy – and that Sam be the doctor to do it.
Maggie Lyons – the single mother of Jennifer Jill Lyons, she is deeply concerned when she learns that Harold Croswell has been killed in the empty house in her neighborhood, while the owners are out of town. When added to Donovan’s death, and the presence of her abusive ex-husband Roy, she decides she and her kids are leaving town.
Det. Darren Fletcher– the divorced father of a son he’s limited in seeing, he is a workaholic leading the investigation into Harold Croswell’s death – and all that follows it.
Det. Lonnie Hart – Fletcher’s partner, and friend who is happily married, but sympathetic about Fletcher’s situation, while not blaming Fletcher’s wife.
Harold “Hal” Croswell – the victim found in the empty house was married and had three kids. He was also in the same regiment as Donovan, and his wife Betty tells the police he suffered from PTSD. Both Hal and Donovan had gotten notes that said “DO THE RIGHT THING”.
Dr. Amado Nocek – the assistant chief medical examiner in charge of the morgue where Donovan is awaiting the second autopsy. He and Sam establish a mutual respect while they do the autopsy where he explains that there is sand in Donovan’s lungs, which is something they see with soldiers who’ve served in the desert from breathing it in.
Rod Deter – Donovan’s boss at Raptor, the defense contractor company where former colonel Allan Culpepper is CEO. Hal Croswell had also briefly worked for Raptor.
Xander Whitfield – Susan tells Sam about him when the sand in Donovan’s lungs turns out to be from Savage River – where Xander has been living since he and Donovan left the regiment after their last tour in Afghanistan. He has a black & tan German Shepherd.
William Everett – another member of Donovan’s group in Afghanistan that they all called Billy Shakes, for his habit of quoting Shakespeare. Hal was Jackal, Donovan was Doc, (& Mother Hen) Xander was Mutant, and others in the regiment also had nicknames, including Perry King, (King) who was killed in Afghanistan.
Felicia – Det. Fletcher’s ex-wife who helps him to get secured personnel information about the five soldiers from the regiment; and to tell him she’s pregnant.
Gino Taranto – the reporter Xander impersonates when he approaches Sam about Major Donovan being involved in an incident of friendly fire. The real Taranto writes a weekly columnon the DOD. He is not a friend of the military, and he is following the story about friendly fire. Karen (King) Fisher goes to him saying she thinks her husband was killed by a friendly over in Jalalabad. She had talked to “Orange” who denied everything, so she came to Gino to pursue it.
J.T. Ellison's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's J.T. Ellison Page
Stop You're Killing Me's J.T. Ellison Page
J. T. Ellison - No One Knows [March 2017]
Cast of Characters
Joshua Hamilton – the dark-haired, blue-eyed husband of Aubrey Hamilton, he is a doctor who has disappeared during a bachelor/bachelorette party at a hotel in Nashville TN. The story opens with Josh being legally declared dead – something his mother has pursued in her attempt to keep her daughter-in-law from getting a hefty life insurance settlement on Josh.
Aubrey Hamilton – is a Montessori school teacher and she and Josh have known and loved each other since childhood. Aubrey’s childhood was particularly traumatic, and Josh’s mother made it very clear she dislikes Aubrey intensely. Aubrey is deeply distraught that she must believe that Josh is dead.
Linda Pierce – the head of the Montessori school, she is Aubrey’s mother’s good friend who stood by Aubrey when the police arrest Aubrey for Josh’s murder when her juvenile record and the $5 million dollar life insurance policy come to light.
Daisy Hamilton – is Josh’s highly possessive mother. She felt Aubrey’s adopted mother, Marie Trenton, looked down on her, which added to her dislike of Aubrey. Her main problem with Aubrey is her hold on Josh. Very few women are friends of Daisy, who has been married multiple times. Ed Hardsten had been Josh’s father – and an abusive husband. We later learn her first husband was a soldier, but the baby she had was with a man named Martin Edwards. She’s a semi-closet drinker who married Tom Hamilton for security and to have a decent father for Josh. She has never loved him.
Arlo Tonturian – the lawyer in the DA’s office who is best friends with both Josh and Aubrey. He’s the one who tried to find Josh at the hotel, and later, is the one Aubrey turns to when she learns about the drug dealer Derek Allen, and what involvement Allen might have had with Josh.
Meghan Lassiter – is Aubrey’s best friend and the owner of the local coffee shop, Frothy Joe’s. She has also been Aubrey’s confidant and is, in her own way, as much a mystery as Aubrey is. Her exact background is a mystery, about which she tells many, sly stories.
Chase Boden – is the fair-haired, brown-eyed stranger Aubrey mistakes for Josh. He reminds both Aubrey and Daisy of Josh – and Aubrey feels the same unusual zing of attraction for him that she had with Josh. Her impulsive move to stop him outside his cab, gives Chase a chance to talk with her. A chance he’d wanted even before he met her.
Tyler – Aubrey’s foster-brother growing up, he is an ex-con and drug user who periodically shows up for money, but also seems to care about her, at least a bit. He has been watching her, and her growing relationship with Chase, and avoiding telling her about a key encounter he had where he said more about Josh than he should have. He’s also very interested in the life insurance policy and when it will come due.
Daniel Cutter – the ex-husband of Meghan, who just happens to be a P.I. He agrees to check into whether or not there is a connection between Derek Allen and Josh.
Robert Boden – Chase’s adopted father, he married Chase’s mom after her first husband walked out on her.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for No One Knows
What is the name of Josh and Aubrey's beloved Weimariner?
What else is significant about Josh and Aubrey's oak tree in Dragon Park?
It has a secret hollow in one branch where they leave letters and other things for each other...
What is the name of the hotel where Josh disappears?
The Opryland Hotel.
What is the significance of the pearl ring?
Daisy claims that Aubrey broke into Daisy's house to steal it when Daisy comes home to see Josh and Aubrey fooling around.
J.T. Ellison's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's J.T. Ellison Page
Stop You're Killing Me's J.T. Ellison Page
Dianne Freeman - A Lady's Guide to Etiquette and Murder [November 2020]
Thanks to Dianne, we have an actual shot of the house in Belgravia that belongs to Frances Wynn, the wealthy Countess of Harleigh -- and our story's heroine.
Here's what Dianne shared about it: "I double checked France's house and found a new photo! You can even see Wilton Mews and the entrance to her garden." Pretty cool, right?!
Dianne Freeman's Web Site
Fantastic Fiction's Dianne Freeman Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Dianne Freeman Page
Tana French - In The Woods [March 2016]
Cast of Characters
Adam Robert Ryan – a young detective in the Dublin police’s Murder Squad, he’s handling one of his first major cases – one with deeply personal issues tied to it from a crime that occurred during his childhood. He stands out from other members because his accent is more English due to his boarding school background. As the main narrator of the story, we learn much about his vulnerabilities, concerns, and the degree to which his past haunts his present.
Germaine (Jamie) Elinor Rowan – together with Adam and Peter Joseph Savage, they were the
Cassie Maddox – Rob’s partner on the Murder Squad, they have unmatched teamwork in the squad, and as friends. Both have their secrets however, and we only learn things about Cassie from what they are willing to share with each other. With her background experience and study of psychology, she’s been the department’s de facto “profiler”. She is only the 4th woman they’ve had in the Murder squad.
Sam O’Neill – a fellow detective in the Murder squad, he becomes part of their team when it is assigned the “Operation Vestal “case. Sam is “a stocky, cheerful, unflappable guy from Galway who is somewhat naïve in his political and investigative beliefs. His uncle Redmond O’Neill is a successful, mid-level politician.
Quigley – the “wackiest [on] the squad” a “cretin” who is always looking to impress guys further up the line.
Tom Costello – the grizzled veteran of the Murder squad, he’s the lead on many cases.
Superintendent O’Kelly – head of the Murder Squad, he is a tough mix of professional cop and upholder of the status quo. He dislikes giving “Operation Vestal” to two rookie detectives, especially as the case grows. He is unaware that Rob has a critical connection to a possibly related case.
Ian Hunt – the older archeologist on the site where Katy Devlin is found dead. He is the Site Director for the dig – which is hoping against hope to save the dig from upcoming plans to put a highway through it.
Mark Hanly – the senior archeologist under Hunt, he is the most impassioned about saving the site from the planned highway. He also tends to come out to the site at night and sleep there. He is alibied by a fellow member of the archeology team, Melanie Jackson, with whom he is sleeping.
Cooper – the forensic pathologist for the Murder squad.
Damien Donnelly – the youngest go-fer on the archeology team, he & Mel are the ones who found Katy’s body. Rob takes a dislike to his “short brown curls and sweet, frank freckled boy-band face.” He particularly disgusted with Damien’s helpless demeanor.
Sophie Miller – one of the crime-scene techs, she is Rob’s favorite. He and Cassie owe her a drink for help in a previous case. She’s the one to tell Rob more about the scene where Katy is found -- & that it is not the primary crime scene.
Charlie – formerly a closer friend of Rob’s, he is one of the very few to know Rob’s true identity.
Katy Devlin – the twelve year old victim who was about to fulfill her dream of attending the Royal Ballet school and becoming a professional ballerina. Her twin sister Jessica, has had both physical and mental illnesses, and is most often looked after by their older sister, Rosalind. The post-mortem shows that Katy was sexually assaulted with an object after death. Their mother Margaret, is “fuzzy” and not really able to cope with either Jessica’s situation or Katy’s death.
Jonathan Devlin – the girls’ father, he is the main force behind “Move the Motorway” – the group trying to stop the highway from coming through the woods at Knocknaree. He knows, once the detectives see his daughter Jessica, that they’ve gotten a positive ID on the dead girl being Katy. As the detective look further into his background, Rob realizes Jonathan played a dark role in his early life as Adam.
Rosalind Devlin – the older daughter, she is tall, slim, and pretty. For Rob, she has “a vital, electric presence that filled the room.” She has a “newsreader accent that didn’t match Jonathan and Margaret’s soft, small-town working class”. She and Jessica had stayed with their Aunt Vera, Jonathan’s sister, the night Katy died.
Simone Cameron – Katy’s ballet instructor, she verifies that Katy had real talent, was “serieuse”, and deserved to go to the Royal Ballet. There are newspaper shots of Katy and a fund that went across the country to help send her there. Simone also found it odd that Katy stated that she would not be sick again (& miss her second chance at going) and that she did stop getting sick.
Heather Quinn – Rob’s roommate “a civil servant with a little-girl voice that always sounds as though she’s about to burst into tears.” Physically, she is Rob’s type: “five foot nothing, tiny build, big blue eyes, hair down to her arse” – but they have a quietly contentious relationship which he attributes to her” array of neuroses”.
Kiernan & McCabe – are the officers who handled the older case involving Peter, Jamie and Adam. Looking through their notes, Rob learns that as a teenager, Jonathan Devlin used to hang with two other questionable teens: Cathal Mills & Shane Waters. Mrs. Fitzgerald is one witness who recalled these teens hanging about the wood “courting”. This eventually leads Rob to Sandra Scully, whom he and his childhood friends witnessed being raped by at least one of the teens.
Tana French's Website
Fantastic Fiction's Tana French Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Tana French Page
Munchausen Syndrome -- the disorder that Rob & Cassie at first think Katy, and later her mother or sister may have had that would cause Katy to be ill. If others were causing Katy to be ill, it would be called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.
The (British) Royal Ballet School - the is the ballet school that Katy wanted so badly to go to.
Where is Knocknaree, Ireland anyway? Click here!
Trinity College, Dublin - where Cassie went to school.
Sandymount - Cassie has a studio flat in a Georgian house here.
Leixlip - the town Rob's parent moved to after Peter and Jamie disappeared and Rob was at boarding school.
Garda Síochána College - where most of the Murder Squad (including Cassie and Rob) got their police training.
Want to know more about the names of characters in Shakespeare's plays? Click here!
And here are the Quiz questions (and answers) for In The Woods by Tana French.
Please note some answers may be potential spoilers!!
What fact are we told about the blood-filled trainers that Adam Ryan wore as a child?
That the blood was not his.
Which figure in English Literature did Jonathan Devlin get the names for his children from?
Which Shakespearian plays do the Devlin children’s names come from?
Rosalind: As You Like It
Jessica: Merchant of Venice, Shylock’s daughter
Katharine: Love's Labour's Lost; Queen Katharine in Henry VIII & Henry V
Who saw the man in the sweat suit around the crime scene?
Initially, Damien, but Jessica (with Rosalind's "persuasion") says she saw him too.
What was Katy’s body on within the dig?
A Bronze Age altar.
What does Rob call Cassie’s Vespa?
The Golf Cart
Robert Galbraith - The Cuckoo's Calling [February 2019] [pseudonym for J.K. (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling]
Cast of Characters: The Cuckoo's Calling
Detective Inspector Carver – the primary detective on the Lula Landry case, he is “a paunchy man with a face the color of corned beef whose shirts were usually ringed with sweat around the armpits…[who has a] short supply of patience”. He’s just as unappealing as a person.
Detective Sergeant Eric Wardle – Carver’s subordinate on the same case. He’s good-looking, and much better at working with people.
Robin Ellacott - a tall, & pretty, young woman who has recently moved to London from Yorkshire and become engaged to Matthew. She’s also enthralled with working as a temp for a detective – although she tries to keep this strictly to herself.
Cormoran Strike – the private detective, and main protagonist, he’s “sixteen stone [over 200 lbs] … a massive, generally hairy, man who “coupled with a gently expanding belly suggested a grizzly bear”. Strike is sharply intelligent, a former member of the British military police, and an amputee from serving in Afghanistan. His mother's name was Leda,and the only thing he has or knows about his father is his unusual last name. He has also just ended a long-time, contentious relationship and is desperately in need of a place to stay and better finances.
Charlotte – the treacherous, dramatic, and beautiful woman Strike has broken up with – this time for good.
Mr. John Bristow – the adopted brother of Lula Landry who knows of Cormoran from Strike’s friendship with John’s brother Charlie (also adopted) who died as a child in a tragic accident. He hires Strike to prove that his sister was murdered, not a suicide.
Lula Landry – the subject of Strike’s case was a young, beautiful, mixed race model who had been interested in finding her black birth family after having been adopted by Lady Yvette and Sir Alec Bristow, who were both white and wealthy. Lula had become famous & wealthy on her own as a highly successful model – but had suffered from mental illness, stressful relationships both with her adopted family and her druggy boyfriend.
Guy Somé – the outspoken designer who helped make Lula a rich model for his designs. He knows all the players they both were surrounded with. He genuinely loved Lula and hated Evan Duffield – a minor music/actor sensation and Lula’s acrimonious – even abusive boyfriend.
Allison – the secretary to John’s boss and uncle, Tony Bristow; she and John have recently started dating. She considers doing an investigation a complete waste of time and money.
Ciara Porter – Lula’s best friend and fellow supermodel; she’s supportive of her relationship with Evan and of Lula’s efforts to find her family – although she too agrees that Lula’s birth mother is just out for what she can get from Lula.
Deeby Macc – a hugely successful and wealthy rapper who had written 3 songs alluding to Lula. He was supposed to be staying in the flat below Lula in her fancy building.
Detective Inspector Richard Anstis – Cormoran’s friend in the Metropolitan police. Their friendship was forged “under exceptional conditions”. He helps Strike with contacting Carver & Wardle to get access to Lula’s case.
Peter Gillespie – the person who is trying to collect Strike’s debt from money given to him by famous rocker Jonny Rokeby – who is Strike’s father.
Freddie & Tansy Bestigui – Freddie owns the building where Lula lives. They have a flat in it as well, and it is Tansy who claims to have seen and heard a man arguing violently with Lula, and that he pushed her over the balcony the night she died. Both Freddie & Some were hoping to put Lula together with Deeby: Gu for his fashions, and Freddie for his films.
Derrick Wilson – the security guard on duty at the desk overnight had felt unwell and went to the back bathroom for approximately a quarter of an hour the night Lula died.
Marlene Higson – Lula’s grasping birth mother; she may be telling the truth that Lula’s father was a professor from somewhere in Africa.
Kieran Kolovas-Jones – Lula’s ambitious driver who is hoping to get a part in Freddie’s film. He was driving Lula, Evan and Ciara around the night she died. He also knows Lula’s homeless friend who also spent time with Lula that day.
Spanner – the computer geek Cormoran turns to to get into Lula's laptop. He has "a first-class degree in computer science, and was much better paid than his clothing suggested".
Honorable Jago Ross – Cormoran has known him and his well-bred friends as long as he's known Charlotte -- and known that Jago wanted her too.
Rochelle Onifade – the homeless young woman befriended by Lula who knows more about Lula's last day and family situation than she's willing to share with Strike. She proudly wears the "very noticable short coat of magenta-colored fake fur".
Lucy Strike – Cormoran's married, younger sister. She worries about him and what a break up with Charlotte will do to him. She's always wanted him to marry his fellow SIB officer Tracey and settle down in his military career.
Brian Mathers – Cormoran's former client who convinced himself that Cormoran was seduced by his wife after he'd hired Strike to follow his wife. He's the one who now sends threats to Strike on the pink kitten paper.
Lieutenant Jonah Agyeman – he was contacted by Lula for a very special meeting – that led him to see her fall from the balcony.
Graphic Crime Quiz for The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
What role does the pink-with-kitten paper play in the finale to the main story?
The killer knows that Cormoran gets these with death threats on them, which leads him to use a knife when confronting Strike.
Why are the fashion handbags Guy Some gave to Lula important to the story?
Because a critical piece of evidence is found in one.
Robert Galbraith's Website
Fantastic Fiction's Robert Galbraith Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Robert Galbraith Page
The "SIB" - that Cormoran was in - stands for Special Investigation Branch
Denmark Street - where Cormoran Strike's office
Pot Noodle - the main food Strike lives on
Serpentine Bar & Kitchen in Hyde Park - Strike meets John Bristow there
Sulari Gentill - A Few Right Thinking Men [March 2021]
Cast of Characters
Rowland (Rowly) Sinclair – the main character, a dark-haired, blue-eyed, young man of 26. He’s a member of a very rich and distinguished family, but he’s drawn to the artistic and rebellious people, like his three comrades: Edna, Clyde, and Milton. He is himself a very talented painter – but among his family both he & his uncle/namesake are considered somewhat black sheep. The death of this uncle is what drives Rowly to the dangerous situations he encounters trying to find out how killed Uncle Rowland.
Uncle Rowland Sinclair – was an unrepentant “old rogue” who had traveled the world, diligently pursuing all the pleasures of life – some of which his nephew Rowland will find a shock to discover while pursuing his uncle’s killer.
Edna Higgins – one of the three loyal friends and housemates at Woodlands House, is a quite accomplished sculptress. In addition to her questionable lifestyle, she’s been a nude “life” model for Rowly and others. She’s also the Rowly’s not-so-hidden source of his longing.
Mary Brown – the long-suffering, conventional housekeeper at Woodsland House. She has served the Sinclairs her entire life – which is the only reason she stays & tolerates Rowly’s friends.
Wilfred (Wil) Sinclair -- the eldest Sinclair bother, he and the second Sinclair brother, Aubrey, follow the expectations of their class. Both participated in the first World War, where Aubrey was killed in action. Mrs. Sinclair, their mother, never recovered from this loss. Wilfred runs the family estate Oaklea and is a proud member of the ruling class, adhering to the principles of the “Old Guard”.
Kate Sinclair – Wilfred’s wife and the mother of four-year old Ernest. Ernest is enthralled with Rowly’s ability to draw. Wilfred can’t wait for him to ride his first horse! Kate (with collusion from Wil) constantly tries to get Rowly to marry one of the upstanding young ladies she introduces him to.
Clyde Watson-Jones – a fellow painter whose name comes in handy during the course of the story. He’s struggling with a portrait of old Lady McKenzie.
Milton Isaacs – the only housemate whose artistic talents lie in his poetry and his extraordinary wardrobe. He is also the most outspoken radical of the four, and a proud member of the Communist movement.
Henry Alcott – the scarred young man with the blond hair who defends Rowley at a Communist rally. He was Rowly’s brother Aubrey’s best friend .It is his disgust over Rowly’s Communist friends that makes him offer to introduce Rowly to “a few right-thinking men, Loyalists”
The New Guardsmen – the extremist group who not only despise Communists and denounce the Labor movement, but would impose a totalitarian style of government on all of Australia if they can. The Depression fuels all groups to take action. They’re led by Eric Campbell.
Mrs. Donellly – Uncle Rowland’s housekeeper who is going deaf. She’s also concerned not only about her future employment, but whether she’ll escape the police suspicions about her.
Constables Peters and Delaney – first met Rowley and company when they break the news that his uncle has been murdered. Their boss is the stuffy and pretentious Inspector Bicuit – who naturally comes to be known as Inspector Biscuit.
Johnson – the Sinclair’s chauffer at Woodlands House. Rowly far prefers to get around in his yellow Mercedes.
Premier Jack Lang – beset head of New South Wales, he’s constantly challenged by Campbell
Mrs. Kendall – the housekeeper at Oaklea, home of Wilfred, his wife Kate and son Ernest, and Wilfred and Elisabeth, Rowley’s fragile mother. She confuses Rowly with Aubrey.
McNair – the gardener at Oaklea and a veteran of the Great war; he “returned without his right arm and with a permanent limp. Wil has kept his job secure, and just hired extra help.
Dr. Maguire – a friend of Wil’s, he is sent for when Rowly gets shot by accident while trying to overhear what Wilfred and his cohorts are up to. He is also a member of the Old Guard.
Colonel Eric Campbell – the fanatical leader of the New Guards. He is the lynchpin to their success – and a source for Rowley to get information that could help him identify “the black robed men”: his uncle’s murderers. Rowley convinces Campbell to let him paint his portrait for the coveted Archibald art prize.
Herbert Poynton – calls Rowly “Jonesy” when Rowly impersonates Clyde. He’s Campbell’s gregarious head of security who takes a shine to “Jonesy” – and tells him more than he should.
Captain Francis De Groot – Irish retired soldier who is highly positioned in Campbell’s ranks.
Sulari Gentill's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Sulari Gentill Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Sulari Gentill Page
Mario Giordano - Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions [February 2019]
Cast of Characters: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
Auntie Poldie (a.k.a. Isolde Oberreiter; a.k.a. Donna Poldina; a.k.a Poldi) – the main character, aunt to the author in real life and the fictional aunt to her nephew the writer through her recently dead, Sicilian husband Giuseppe (a.k.a.Peppe). He is the main narrator and sometimes lives with her in her new house in Sicily. She is a larger-than-life heroine who wears wigs, smokes like a chimney, and initially “moved to Sicily, intending to drink herself comfortably to death with a sea view”. Instead, she gets involved with a local murder.
The three Sicilian Sisters-in-Law – Caterina, Luisa, and Teresa (who “calls the shots”) and is “Amore” – married to Uncle Martino (who loves to drive, hold forth on politics, Sicilian history, and mushrooms).
Valentino Candela – the young handyman Poldi sometimes employed, who she finds on the beach – viciously murdered. He had been toying with moving to Germany. Poldi does not find out much from his grieving parents, Maria & Angelo Candela when she brings them chocolate & pistachio gelato, but she does find a yellow crystal in Valentino’s bedroom.
Signora Cocuzza – the “sad lady” who sits at her till in the Bar—Gelateria Cocuzza, the air-conditioned paradise in town that makes delicious granitas. A generous act on Poldi’s part leads the Signora to confide a key fact in the solving of the crime.
Georg Oberreiter – Poldi’s father who had been a detective chief inspector in Augsburg, who is her inspiration for detecting, as they both have “the hunting instinct”.
Italo Russo – the rich tree nursery (Piante Russo) owner whose business in near Femminamorta. He is a tanned, good-looking man in his mid-fifties who owns most of the land around him. Valentino sometimes worked for him. He does everything he can to avoid visitors, and is also a deal-maker. He refuses to discuss Valentino with Poldi. She describes him as “shaven-headed and endowed with a pair of pale, darting, lizard-like eyes that miss nothing and radiated serene self-confidence”.
Valerie Raisi di Belfiore – a ‘slim young woman…pale-faced, jeans, threadbare roll-neck sweater, sunglasses, her short dark hair tousled as if she’s just got out of bed.’ “Every chain=smoking French film director’s dream” – as Poldi describes her. She owns a dilapidated Sicilian country house in Femminamorata that she runs as a sort of inn, and she is Russo’s only neighbor. The Sicilian lion(s) flank her entryway.
Domenico Pastorella di Belfiore (a.k.a. “Mimi”) – the cousin and “frightful bore” of Valerie. Poldi is invited by Valerie to meet him & enjoy his wife Carmela’s fantastic cooking. He owns a scary Doberman, the latest in his unending chain of Dobermans, all named Holderin. Mimi is a great admirer of the German poet by this name. Mimi has been writing a book about him for 30 years. He supports himself by selling of pieces of the land and estates he inherited.
Corrado Patane – a building contractor from Riposto, he “bore a closer resemblance to Poldi’s Mafioso stereotype: swarthy, ill-shaven, thickset, collar sprinkled with scurf… [he] followed Russo around like a dog” trying to get Russo to do a deal with him.
Vito Montana – the detective chief inspector from the state police’s homicide group in charge of the case. Poldi is overwhelmingly attracted to him and his “beautiful eyes” – and is just as determined to be involved with the case as he is, to keep her out of it.
Turi – an old man who works for Russo who is missing a little finger.
Totti – Teresa and Martino’s dog, the mushroom and aspiring murder victim scent hound. He is “yellow with a black muzzle, huge ears, huge paws, and a heart of gold”.
Mr. X (a.k.a. Dr. Frank Tannenberger) – the mysterious man in the photo with Valentino. He has red hair a sunburn, sunglasses, white polo shirt and looks Central European to Poldi.
Assistente Rizzoli – the chubby-cheeked young police sergeant who keeps watch on Poldi after she’s been given the knock-out drops.
Alessia – the young woman in the black bikini who is Montana’s “complication”.
Marisa Puglisi – the young woman whose body is found at the mine in the old cistern.
Death, Inspector Chance, Ringo Starr, Benny and Bjorn also make appearances in the story.
Graphic Crime Quiz: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano
What does the “sad signora” at Bar-Gelato Cocuzza know about that is key to solving the case?
She knows about Marisa Puglisi, and the motive of the person who killed her.
What do the Italians call this brand of cigarettes?
“Morto sicuro” – or “certain death”
What does Poldi like to take pictures of?
Handsome policemen from all over the world.
Why is one of Valerie’s Sicilian lion statues missing?
Because Valentino stole it and the items hidden in it.
Auntie Poldi Locations List
Acireale – has the Caffe Cipriani, the only place to consume Granita
Augsburg – where she and Peppe lived
Catania – has Uncle Martino’s “temple” – the fish market he goes to every day. And cannoli all crema di ricotta can only come from Pasticceria Savia on Via Etnea.
Enna – the Femminamorata that has a mine near it.
Etna – the site of much mushroom picking, as well as a volcano
Munich – where she worked in TV as a costume designer & Peppe was a tailor
Neufahrn – where Polidi’s nephew’s parents live
Pattaya – the place where Poldi got her Phoenix tattoo.
Praiola – a remote little pebbly beach in Torre Archirafi – it is where Poldi found Valentino.
San Giovanni la Punta– the place to eat Arancini di riso at Urna
Santa Maria LaScala – only place to eat fish outside your home, and also serves the best pasta al nero di seppia.
Santa Venerina – the place to get marzipan at Pasticceria Russo
**Sicily – the island Poldi retires to and the site of Poldi’s three sisters-in-law: Aunt Teresa, who calls the shots, Caterina, and Luisa (married to Uncle Martino)
Syracuse – has the tastiest mandarins and figs in San Gregorio
Tanzania – the site of Poldi’s regretted land transaction loss
Taormina – most well-known city in Sicily, frequented by celebrities, the rich, and the gay community.
Torre Archirafi – the Sicilian town where Poldi finds her house on Via Baronessa (where “the ice is thick enough”). The nearest shopping town is Riposto. It does, however have Bar-Gelateria Cocuzza which everyone patronizes.
Mario Giordano's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Mario Giordano Page
Interviews with Mario Giordano:
Food & Song:
Gloria -- the song we know sung by Laura Brannigan was first sung by Umberto Tozzi and was a huge hit in Italy! And here's the YouTube file we heard
The group correctly identified the "Benny and Bjorn" that Auntie Poldi talked about as founding members of the group ABBA.
Among the tasty foods mentioned in the book were Pizzette Rosso, which are basically small, hand-sized pizzas, Arancini di Riso, deep-fried bread crumb balls with rice, meats or vegetables, and cheese in them (here's a recipe!), and the impressive-sounding Tramezzini -- which turn out to be sandwiches!
And last, but not least, here is the link to the picture we saw of a beautiful lido in Sicily. Would that we were all having granitas or grappa at one of these!
Leonard Goldberg - Daughter of Sherlock Holmes [December, 2018]
Cast of Characters
Dr. John Watson, Jr. – son of the Dr. John Watson who is the “close friend and longtime associate of the famous Sherlock Holmes”. His father still lives at 221b Baker Street. Dr. Watson Jr. is (also) a young physician (32 years old) working for the pathology department at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. He too has a soft spot for adventure and solving mysteries.
Dr. Peter Willoughby – the unpleasant head of Dr. Watson Jr.‘s department who “covers his shortcomings with a mean bark and an even meaner bite.”
Miss Hudson – the daughter of the late Mrs. Hudson who has taken over as housekeeper at 221b.
Mary Harrelston – the young woman who initiates the case with Dr. Watson & his son. She’s convinced that her brother, Charles Harrelston, did not commit suicide and wants Watson to clear her family’s name. They are the children of Lady Harrelston and Sir William Harrelston. Joanna’s claim that Lady Harrelston supports her, secures cooperation from many people.
Dr. Christopher Moran – the friend whose house is where Harrelston died. They had been playing cards, and Charles was deeply in Moran’s debt. His version of events does not hold up when Joanna starts asking questions…
Mrs. Joanna Blalock – A young mother whose son saw Charles “floating down” from the top of Moran’s house. Together with Moran’s gardener, they are the only witnesses to this. She lives in Belgravia with her father-in-law, Sir Henry Blalock – and she is (secretly) the daughter of Sherlock Holmes & Irene Adler, and a former, practicing nurse. Her deceased husband, was Dr. John Blalock, a surgeon. Her son, Johnnie, bears a striking resemblance to Holmes for Watson Sr.
Inspector Lestrade – a tall middle-aged man… except for his eyes that seemed fixed in a permanent squint. He is “the son of the well-known inspector” chronicled by Watson.
Sir Henry Blalock – his house is “elegant and dignified, yet formidable” befitting a man who has been “an esteemed statesman who had once held the offices of Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary.”
Mrs. Emma Lambert – Moran’s housekeeper, who lives elsewhere. She is hard of hearing, “a plump woman in her mid-fifties”
Dr. & Mrs. Thomas Middleton – the couple who adopted Irene Adler’s baby, Joanna Blalock. The doctor was a colleague of Watson’s, so he could keep an eye on her.
Benjamin Levy & Derek Cardogan – together with Christopher Moran and Charles Harrelston, they served in the military during the Second Afghan War. Sir William Harrelston informs Watson & company that Levy has died suddenly and unexpectedly the day before their visit to him. He died at the Athenian Club where all four were members. Cardogan suffers from malaria.
Jonathan Cole – the pompous manager of the Athenian Club.
Toby Two – even Holmes famous canine helper has a detecting descendant!
Martin Morris – Christopher Moran’s former secretary. He relates a negative portrait of Moran to Joanna & the Watsons.
Sir David Shaw – a curator at the British Museum in charge of ancient Mesopotamian script and languages who helps them with the strange coded message Charles had left behind.
George Girard – a thug who was in Dartmoor prison with another character…
Dr. Stephen Marburg – the specialist in malaria at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.
Mrs. Helen Hughes – the nurse in charge of the special care unit at the hospital.
Phillip Chapman – who works at the London Zoo and helps to “gather up evidence”.
Nifty Ned – can open just about any kind of safe.
Graphic Crime Quiz for The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg
Who is Joanna Blalock’s birth mother?
With Sherlock Holmes as her birth father, it couldn’t be anyone other than – Irene Adler!
Who is Christopher Moran related to?
An old enemy of Sherlock Holmes: Sebastian Moran.
How does the housekeeper get fooled into thinking Charles Harrelston was on the sofa?
The villain’s henchman didn’t leave for lunch and pretended to be Charles on the sofa. Her bad hearing meant she couldn’t really tell who was speaking from there.
How does Joanna solve the secret code?
She realizes the symbols are hands on the face of a watch indicating specific numbers that translate to alphabetic letters.
What was in Moran’s safe besides the treasure?
Two cobra snakes to guard it!
Leonard Goldberg's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Leonard Goldberg Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Leonard Goldberg Page
Interview with Leonard Goldberg
Dr. Joe Bell - Doyle's Inspiration for Shelock Holmes
Wikipedia on Sebastian Moran
Wikipedia on Simpson's-on-the-Strand
Simpson's Current Menu!
Alexia Gordon - Murder in G Major [August, 2019]
Cast of Characters
Gethsemane Brown – talented American musician and orchestral maestra, as well as the main character, is smart, feisty, and determined to make the most out of her new job directing an Irish boys’ school orchestra at St. Brennan’s School for Boys. To her it is quite a come-down from the assistant conductor position she’d been assured she would get back in the States. She also didn’t count on getting involved with the ghost of her musical idol, Eamon McCarthy when she ends up staying at Carraigfaire Cottage and Carrick Lighthouse – the home he shared with his beloved wife Orla. Orla, a famous poet, was supposedly killed by Eamon, who then committed suicide. Gethsemane’s disbelief in his guilt – and initially, in his ghost – motivate her to investigate these deaths.
Billy McCarthy – Eamon’s nephew who sets Gethsemane up in his uncle’s cottage in Dunmullach. Billy plans on turning the cottage into a museum honoring both Eamon and Orla – but his plans prove to be “flexible”…
Teague Connolly – Orla’s baby brother, he’s a “stocky, brown-eyed blond” who is the contact Billy gives to Gethsemane if she needs anything. He also lends her his half-sister Orla’s wardrobe as Gethsemane’s clothes, and money have been stolen.
Father Tim Keating – the local parish priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrows church in Dunmullach, he is also the school’s chaplain – with a poison garden by the church and an eccentric book collection for a priest…and he has a brother Michael who has a collection of grimoires with banishing and binding spells.
Richard Reardon – the headmaster at St. Brennan’s. He’s determined that Gethsemane will lead the orchestra to win the All County Orchestra competition – which is only 6 weeks away, and they’ve yet to pick a piece to perform.
Kieran Ross – Dunmullach’s answer to Boo Radley, according to Teague. He roams the cliffs and does odd jobs.
Eamon McCarthy – or at least his ghost, appears to Gethsemane, and they can talk to each other. As characterized by Gethsemane, he was a “gifted pianist, brilliant composer, and notorious hothead.” This last, is what his accusers say was the motive for pushing Orla off a cliff – he supposedly lost his temper.
Declan Hurley – one-time member of the garai (Irish police). His handling of Eamon’s and Orla’s deaths was sloppy at best, and potentially vengeful as well. Jimmy Lynch, one of Hurley’s ex-con cronies, swore he saw Eamon in the cliff area where Orla fell.
Inspector Iollan* O’Reilly – the well-shod, cool, grey-eyed detective in charge of cold cases. He is decidedly cool towards Gethsemane – and her attempts to get him to reopen the 25 year old case. [*ul+an]
Francis Grennan – the lanky, red-headed maths professor at the school. He and Gethsemane develop a flippant, and somewhat snarky friendship while he challenges her chances to succeed in winning the All County, and sourly anticipates her likelihood to leave the school.
Peter Nolan – the executive director of the Boston Philharmonia is judging the All County contest. Dunmullach’s Nolan’s hometown, and Colm Nolan, the talented but rebellious violinist in the orchestra is his nephew.
Aengus & Feargus Toibin, – the mischievous, and somewhat punk twins who are also members of the orchestra.
Pegeen Sullivan – she, Orla, and Eamon grew up together and were best friends. She takes care of Nuala to honor a promise made to the father they both loved, Joe Sullivan. She dated Oisin Ardmore at one point, but has never married.
Hieronymus Dunleavy – the major contributor to St. Brennan’s & the orchestra. He too is obsessed with seeing the school win the contest and plans to fund the new auditorium if they do… He also shows a definite prejudice against Colm Nolan.
Ruairi O’Brien – the small, shy boy who is almost as talented a violinist as Colm – and harder-working. He also has a crush on Colm’s sister Saoirse. [* ro + ree] Saoirse is also interested in him – as well as Father Keating’s occult books.
The Morrises – the couple who were great friends of Orla and Eamon. On the night Orla died, Eamon played a concert for them before they left for Africa. They would have been his best alibi for the time of her death, but they could not contacted.
“Sister” Siobhan Moloney – the village psychic, who at least had the power to intimidate fellow villagers. Gethsemane quickly regrets bringing her to the cottage to try and reach Eamon.
Nuala Sullivan – along with her sister Pegeen, Nuala is a daughter of magician Joseph Sullivan who taught them both many tricks. Nuala has blatant psychological problems that make her dangerous and an on-going trial for Pegeen and the local authorities. She also has a way with tea sandwiches that the wise locals avoid eating.
Deirdre Lynch – the sister of Jimmy who was obsessed with Orla McCarthy and friends with Nuala Sullivan.
Mrs. Toibin – the head music librarian and mother of the notorious Toibin twins. She tells Gethsemane about the McCarthy concert tapes she has just acquired from the Morris’s cousin in Canada.
Hank Wayne – the rich & soulless developer of cheap, and barely legal hotels. Billy McCarthy is in talks with him about Wayne buying Eamon & Orla’s cottage and land.
Aoife Fitzgerald – the pharmacist in Dunmullach who helps Gethsemane out – first with aspirin, then with information about Oisin Ardmore, a one-time love of hers, and someone Aoife’s father supported both with a job and education. He became a drug user which led to his death. She also lets Gethsemane know about Siobhan’s interest in the old pharmacy records. She has her suspicions about who would have taken drugs from the pharmacy.
Eileen Connolly – the wife of Teague who hoped to catch him with Aoife Fitzgerald in the light house, but gets caught herself with someone – in compromising circumstances, by Gethsemane.
Murphy – the barman at The Mad Rabbit
Maureen Lynch/Sullivan – the wife of Joe Sullivan magician, cheater, and father of Pegeen & Nuala. She was committed to St. Dymphna’s after stabbing Joe’s girlfriend & attempting to kill him as well.
DI Kildare – the detective from Cork’s An Garda Siochana cold case unit looking into Oisin’s death.
Graphic Crime Quiz for Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
Whose music does Gethsemane hear when a situation is heading south?
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
What is the name of the double-oaked Reserve bourbon that both Eamon and Gethsemane are fond of?
Waddell and Dobb Double-oaked Twelve-year Reserve single barrel bourbon from Kentucky!
What evidence comes into Gethsemane’s possession that clears Eamon from having killed Orla?
The amateur video his missionary friends took before leaving for Africa; it is both date & time-stamped.
What scents does Gethsemane smell when she may be sensing Orla’s presence?
White roses, powder, and vetiver.
What did Nuala Sullivan put into the tea sandwiches she offered to Gethsemane?
Some foxglove to spice it up!
Murder in G Major features a number of Irish expressions as well as musical ones. Click here to see some fun examples!
Alexia Gordon's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Alexia Gordon Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Alexia Gordon Page
Our Wonderful Author *Just* Got Back from American Samoa; Here's a link that shows just how far she'd traveled before our Skype!
"Waddell and Dobb" the "Double-oaked Twelve-year-old Reserve single barrel bourbon doesn't actually exist: but Alexia's inspiration, "Wattle & daub" -- does! And we definitely agree that it sounds like either a law firm or a bourbon! Click here to know more about "Wattle & daub" -- which would easliy be found throughout Ireland.
The "fiddle" that was loaned to Gesthemane so she could play in the pub was made by a real violin maker: Honore (Jean-Joseph) Derazey
The song that Gesthemane asksO'Reilly to sing, "Dicey Reilly", is a real Irish ballad: Click here to see the Lyrics
And one of the songs Gesthemane played was "The Friendly Visit". Click here to see the musical score for this tune.
Francis Grennan may be the local master of the hoax, but the two Gesthemane mention for famous hoaxes are real-life masters! Click here to read more about Morris Newburger's and Steven Noll's famous pranks!
Andrew Grant - Run [June, 2016]
Cast of Characters
Marc Bowman – main protagonist of the story, he’s a highly successful analytical software consultant who has inexplicably been let go from his latest job working for troubled company AmeriTel.
Mr. Roger LeBrock – the CEO of AmeriTel who had brought Marc in to resolve a major financial software issue for them. Roger is very concerned about the company’s pending bandwidth bid. The whole future of the company is riding on it.
Carolyn Bowman – Marc’s wife, a ten year veteran of AmeriTel. Marc has believed until now that their marriage is rock solid, and that Carolyn will support his decisions regarding the flashdrive(s) he has from AmeriTel.
Troye Liptak – Marc’s art dealer and friend who owns the TL Gallery, where Marc has purchased some of his favorite painting, which include original Lichtensteins.
Simon Wakefield – the Chief Operating Officer at AmeriTel who ordered the security officer to stop Marc when he entered the building on the day of his firing. He also is the one who informed Roger that Marc had downloaded a mass of proprietary data, and they couldn’t find where he’d copied it to (indicating it was probably on a memory stick in Marc’s possession) anywhere on the office computers or memory sticks.
Detectives Hayes & Wagner – the two are local police officers who come to Marc’s house after he reports the burglary to 911. They are underwhelmed with Marc’s situation and critical of the evidence he’s unwittingly destroyed.
Jordan McKenna – a tall man in his mid-forties, he’s the agent who first stops Marc when he goes out for pizza and gets boxed in by McKenna and his cohorts. McKenna shows Marc his badge: U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He shows Marc that Marc’s home has been bugged. Between them, the bug & McKenna, Marc realizes there’s more than missing AmeriTel data going on.
Karl Weimann – First appears in the story in a photo with Carolyn taken by McKenna’s agents. He’s a professional rival of Marc’s, which is only one reason Marc hates seeing them together. Marc had helped Karl’s wife Renee to get a job that Carolyn wanted, but Marc needed her to keep earning her corporate salary so he could fund his first big software product.
Agent Daniel Peever – the second agent from Homeland Security who is after Marc because he had access to ARGUS access node – the largest national security database the world has even known. As the story progresses, Marc comes to question which agent Peever or McKenna is really working for Homeland Security.
Otto Schmidt & his wife – an elderly couple who inadvertently help Marc to escape police at one point, and to get to Troye’s gallery.
Agent Brooking – the Homeland Security agent who informs Marc about the damage he’s done to some Homeland agents, and worse yet, that they believe he put together the virus that is on his machine, not AmeriTel’s, that could be targeting a major DC location.
Michael Millan – AmeriTel’s CFO, who may have revealed corporate information on a throwaway email account.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for Run
Graphic Crime Quiz for Run by Andrew Grant
What does Marc think is the reason why Carolyn gave him this Swiss army knife keychain?
He thinks she gave it to him as a ploy to see if he has the memory sticks on his current keychain.
Marc’s art gallery friend goes by the name Troye Liptak. What is his real first name?
His first name is Brian.
What trick does Marc pull using the Mac computer to escape his pursuers at Brian’s apartment?
He uses the closed camera security footage to make it look like he’s outside in the parking lot.
Andrew Grant's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Andrew Grant Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Andrew Grant Page
Elly Griffiths - The Stranger Diaries [June, 2021]
Cast of Characters
The Stranger – at once a character in the italicized diary entries and a possible character linked to the menacing & death of the contemporary faculty at Talgarth High. Could he be R. M. (Roland Montgomery) Holland himself? Holland is the author of "The Stranger" short story. His wife Alice is supposed to have died from a fall down the stairs.
Clare Cassidy – one of the three characters who share their points of view throughout the story. She is tall, slim, and to many – glamorous. She is an English teacher at Talgarth High where, among other things, there is an enshrined Victorian Study dedicated to the school’s founder, and left exactly as it was when he died. Holland and The Stranger diary fascinate her. It is also the subject of a book she is writing.
Simon -- Clare’s ex-husband, now married to Fleur. He is also Georgie’s father.
Georgie – Clare’s daughter who also goes to Talgarth High. Both she and Clare keep secret diaries and writing from each other. She has an older boyfriend named Ty.
Rick Lewis – the head of the English department, he’s Clare’s boss.
Ella Elphick – Clare’s best friend who also is in the English department. She becomes the first victim.
Debra Green – a fellow teacher at the school in the History department. She, Ella and Clare socialize together. She is married to Leo, and they have children.
Herbert – a time-traveler, his name is used for both Clare’s dog, and the Stranger’s dog. Clare’s dog proves to be a very courageous poodle.
Tony Sweetman – he’s the head of the school. Very focused on damage control, and getting Talgarth High to be one of the top rated schools in England by way of student getting great GCSE grades. (This is the General Certificate of Secondary Education certificate). His wife Daisy dislikes Clare intensely.
Marianna – mentioned by Holland, it’s believed that she was his daughter.
Tash – one of Georgie’s school friends. Both are members of a secret circle formed by one of the local college professors, Bryony Hughes.
Henry Hamilton – a Senior Lecturer in English at Cambridge. He contacts Clare when he gets possession of some letters written by Holland.
Gudgeon, Peter, and Ted – initiates to the Hell Club at Oxbridge. Part of the initiation is to call out “Hell is empty”.
DS Harbinder Kaur – the lead investigator in the murders at Talgarth. Her partner is DS Neil Winston.
Elly Griffiths' Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Elly Griffiths Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Elly Griffiths Page
BookPages Interview with Elly Griffiths
YouTube Interview with Bestselling Crime Writer Elly Griffiths
Points of Interest
Elly told us that the school that inspired Talgarth is in West Sussex. This is the West Sussex County Council flag.
This is the coat of arms for the West Sussex County Council
The Red area of this map shows where West Sussex lies within England.
Shoreham-bySea, only 15 minutes away, is one of the two places Elly said was near the school.
The other town is a bit more well-known, Chichester. It's "only half an hour away - on a good day". Chichester is in the distance.
Elly's neck of the woods is around Saltdean near Brighton
More about the British Education System
Andrew Gross - No Way Back [July, 2014]
Cast of Characters
Sam Orthwein, Ned Taylor, and Ana Lasser – the three college students who take a break to head across the Mexican border to go to Agualzula. They are killed by Lupe in Culiacán, at his uncle’s order -- along with a couple who was also in a white Jeep just ahead of them. The couple turn out to have been U.S. government agents.
Wendy Stansi Gould – one of the main characters, she stumbles into more than she bargained for when she almost sleeps with a handsome stranger named Curtis Kitchner. The subsequent scene sets her up for appearing to have murdered her husband Dave Gould. The only clue she has to why first Curtis, and then Dave are killed is the brief statement the Homeland Security agent makes while killing Curtis: “This is for Gillian”. Their two children Neil & Amy Gould are Wendy’s step-children and an argument over them was what led to her going to the bar where she met Curtis.
Curtis Kitchner – the man who Wendy meets in a bar and charms with his piano music into almost sleeping with him. He is a freelance journalist who has a picture in his phone of a petite black-haired woman in a hospital bed with just the letter “L” on the photo. Later in the story Wendy makes contact with his mother Elaine Kitchner.
Ray Hruseff – the Homeland Security agent who kills Curtis Kitchner. He had previously worked for the DEA out of the agency’s El Paso office.
Pam – Wendy’s friend who was supposed to meet her at the bar where she connects with Curtis.
Jamie & Taylor Bachman – the children that Lauritzia Velez takes care of as their live-in nanny.
Lauritzia Velez – in addition to being the Bachman children’s nanny, she’s a student at the local community college hoping to go into retail merchandising. She is hiding a number of dangerous secrets relating to her native country of Mexico, and the drugs and gang violence she has known there.
Harold Bachman – a real estate lawyer who is senior partner in his law firm, and who deeply loves his wife and family. He supports his wife’s efforts to help Lauritzia any way he can.
Roxanne Bachman – a well-to-do wife, who has honest commitments to the charities she’s been involved with, but nothing like the one she has to Lauritzia – especially after the nanny saves her children’s lives while putting herself at risk. Roxanne is determined to save Lauritzia from both the government, which may deport her, and the criminals who would do far worse.
Vincent Juarte – runs the Juarte cartel in southern Mexico. Also known as ‘El Oso’, the Bear, his cartel is one of the biggest in the country.
Eduardo Cano – Juarte’s brutal enforcer also known as ‘El Pirate’ and Jose Maria Rivera. He was once part of a gang called Los Zetas, the Zs who were once part of the Mexican armed forces. His first real charge for Lauritzia’s father Oscar Velez, was for Oscar and his nephew Lupe to kill the people in Culiacán. When this goes wrong, and Oscar turns state’s evidence against Cano to U.S. agents, Cano takes revenge by killing Oscar’s family members one by one.
Alton Dokes – the Senior Homeland Security agent involved with both finding Wendy, and the Zeta gang issues.
Joe Esterhaus – the retired head of Nassau County Police’s Crime Unit, he was friends with her father & took her under his wing. He tries to help her turn herself in safely, & looks for evidence to support her story of what happened at her house in Pelham where Dave died.
Sabrina Stein – has been the head of the DEA’s office in El Paso, as well as the government’s covert action unit there called EPIC. Her agents had been the target of the hit in Culiacán. She’s now working for the Justice Department as assistant attorney general for drug enforcement policy.
Robert Lasser – father of the college girl who died in the hit in Culiacán. Wendy searches for him and what answers he may hold about possible connections between Culiacán and the dead students. His henchman Emmit is tough on Wendy when she tries to talk to Lasser.
Andrew Gross' Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Andrew Gross Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Andrew Gross Page
Carolyn Haines - Them Bones [April, 2017]
Cast Of Characters: Them Bones by Carolyn Haines
Sarah Booth Delaney – heroine of this, and the other novels in this series. When we meet her, she is “the last of the Delaneys, a thirty-three-year-old, unwed, unemployed failure.” She’s also desperate to save her family’s 1860s home, Dahlia House. This leads her to discussing her life and situation with Jitty – her great-great-grandmother’s nanny who, “though she died in 1904 at a ripe old age, she has evoked some ghostly privilege and returned in her prime”.
It also leads her to contemplate, with Jitty’s encouragement, the kidnapping of her fellow Daddy’s Girl, Tinkie Bellcase Richmond’s Yorkie, Chablis. Tinkie is living the expected life of a Daddy’s Girl, but there’s something about her, that has kept her friends with Sarah Booth.
Tinkie wants Sarah Booth to find out the truth about the “dark man from her past”, Hamilton Garrett, who may be returning from Europe to his family’s estate, Knob Hill, site of family tragedy in the past. How deeply involved was Hamilton in past events?
Avery Bellcase – Tinkie’s father, and one of the board of directors for the Bank in Zinnia that Sarah Booth has been hoping will give her a loan.
Madame Tomeeka – the local fortune teller, she is also Tammy Odom, a casual friend of the Delaneys. She’s African American and has had a rough life as a single mother. Her daughter Claire is friends with Sarah Booth, and Claire has recently had a little girl she’s named Dahlia. Tammy knows many of the secrets kept in all the social circles of Zinnia – but sticks to offering oblique advice as Madame Tomeeka.
Oscar Richmond – Tinkie’s well-to-do husband.
Harold Erkwell – the banker who works side by side with Tinkie’s father. He is interested in having a personal arrangement with Sara Booth that would allow her to keep Dahlia House.
Cecily Dee Falcon – the sex-changed, society columnist for the Zinnia Dispatch who loves the Danishes and dishing high society gossip that Sara Booth could use – and bring back to Cece. Maneuvered by Sarah Booth, she shares the known details about the deaths of Hamilton and his sister Sylvia’s parents. Sylvia had to be institutionalized following the tragedy, and handsome Hamilton left for Europe. The Garretts have the reputation for being “landed, wealthy, and hot-blooded”.
Hamilton (Guy) Garrett the Fourth – the present Hamilton’s father, was killed in a hunting accident in a dove field. Rumor has it that not only was Hamilton the Fourth was killed by his wife, Veronica Hampton Garrett, but that Hamilton the Fifth killed his mother at his sister Sylvia’s urging. Veronica had a lover, and wanted to be free of her husband. She was killed not long after him in a car “accident” where the brake line had been cut.
Delo Wiley – the owner of the cornfield where Hamilton the Fourth was found dead. Delo had gone into the field when Mr. Guy hadn’t come in from the field with the other hunters. He tells Sarah Booth the participants in the hunt: Isaac Carter who arranged the hunt, Camden Wells, Lyle Bedford, Asa Grant and Myles Lee. The death was ruled accidental by the coroner, Fel Harper and Sheriff Pasco Walters backed this up by also ruling it an accidental death.
Amos Henry – the gardener that Hamilton the Fifth abruptly pays off. Amos tells Sarah Booth that “Mr. Guy wasn’t no hunter”.
Millie Roberts – owner of Millie’s café, one of the centers of gossip in town. She too, strongly disliked Veronica and had feelings for Mr. Guy. Millie’s brother Billie is the town’s mechanic, and works on everyone’s automobiles. Her younger sister Janice worked for Billie the summer that Veronica died in the car wreck.
Sheriff Coleman Peters – the son of sharecroppers who worked on the Bellcase plantation, Sara Booth has known him since he played football at their high school were he was “a big boy who did his duty without flinching.” He becomes aware of Sarah Booth’s interest in the Garrett case when she comes to the office to look at Pascoe Walters’ report on the case. The deputy, Gordon Walters, son of Pascoe, aggressively warns Sarah Booth to back off her “book” project.
Kincaid Maxwell – the Daddy’s Girl who hosts a Southern Country party and had an arrangement to use one of Delo’s camps to have an affair with Isaac Carter. Carter then reveals the real reason that his fellow “hunters” had gone to the dove field with Mr. Guy.
Graphic Crime Quiz: Them Bones by Carolyn Haines
What is the significance of Veronica’s Lalique butterfly hair combs?
They were missing from the body after the car wreck.
What does Sarah Booth call the male counterparts to the Daddy’s Girls?
The Buddy Club “They were the movers and shakers of the Delta, the men who controlled the money and married the Daddy’s Girls”.
Who was the driver of the big Town car that took Sylvia to Delo’s cornfield?
Millie drove it.
What does Sara Booth serve Harold in her mother’s Waterford crystal glass?
Some of the moonshine stored in her basement.
What happens to the half million dollars that is supposed to be buried in Delo’s cornfield?
Nothing. The money is a ruse to reveal the true murderers.
Carolyn Haines' Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Carolyn Haines Web Page
Stop You're Killimg Me's Carolyn Haines Web Page
Wikipedia's article on the Mississippi Delta (with map!)
"How to Build an Awesome Dove Field"
MAF members toast CeCe, Sarah and their awesome author, Carolyn Haines -- with Danishes!
Sophie Hannah - Monogram Murders [January, 2016]
Cast of Characters
Jennie – a mysterious young woman with fair hair, a pale brown coat, and a darker brown hat, who bursts into Pleasant’s Coffee House who is simultaneously scared for her life, and stating that she deserves to die.
Hercule Poirot – the world-famous Belgian detective. He is now “retired” and staying at a boarding house across the park from his apartment as a vacation for his little grey cells – and those that still come to him for cases. He takes note of Jennie, and is very concerned about saving her before it is too late.
Edward Catchpool – Poirot’s young friend, a Scotland Yard detective who is also staying at the same house as Poirot. We hear the story from his point of view. He is the one who brings Poirot into the murders at the Bloxham Hotel where two women and a man are dead – with a monogramed cuff link in each of their mouths. He also finds out that all three victims are (or have been) residents of Great Holling.
Fee Spring – the waitress with the fly-away hair who is very observant and blunt. She can’t quite bring to mind what she observed with Jennie in the coffee house, but she is able to tell Poirot Jennie’s first name, and that “she works for a lady with a big house. Lives in. Comes right across town” & that Jennie has made a concerted effort to “talk like she’s a lady herself”.
Mrs. Blanche Unsworth – the fussy owner of the very “feminine” flounce-bedecked boarding house where Poirot & Catchpool are staying.
Mr. Luca Lazzari –. The “helpful, startlingly enthusiastic” manager of the Bloxham Hotel. While he is very concerned about the hotel’s reputation, he is adamant that all of his staff are blameless, and that they all cooperate with Poirot and Catchpool in any way they can. He reveals the names of the victims: Mrs. Harriet Sippel (Rm. 121) Miss Ida Gransbury (Rm. 317) and Mr. Richard Negus (Rm. 238).
Mr. John Goode – the clerk at the hotel Lazzari called “the most dependable man of [his] entire acquaintance”. He is also praised for his memory with guest names and faces.
Henry Negus – the brother of murder victim, Richard Negus, who was “not the man he once was” and who is rapidly depleting his inheritance while living with Henry and Henry’s wife in Devon.
Rafal Bobak – the “stout, bald man [who] …looked to be around fifty and had the jowlish tendency and mournful eyes of a basset hound”, he is the waiter who delivered the “afternoon tea” to the three victims, who had gathered in Ida Gransbury’s room (317). He later recalls some vital conversation that helps to solve the case.
Mr. Thomas Brignell – a junior clerk at the hotel, he informs Poirot that he saw Richard Negus & talked to him at half past seven outside the hotel’s dining room. This indicates Negus left Room 317 only 15 minutes after tea had been served. He is also the one who gives Negus his glass of sherry.
Mr. Samuel Kidd – a boilermaker wearing a “dirt-marked shirt with the missing button, and the partly shaven face… he plainly had trouble using a razor. The evidence suggested that he had started to shave, cut himself badly, and abandoned the enterprise.” Kidd mockingly imitates Poirot’s accent and speech, while relating that shortly after eight on the night of the murders, he witnessed a woman run out of the hotel, panting and looking frightful. She dropped two gold-colored keys that he saw long enough to tell they “had numbers on ‘em … One hundred and summat … the other, It was three hundred and summat”. He also believes he’s seen the lady somewhere before…
Ida Gransbury – through Henry Negus, we learn that she was once, years ago, the fiancé of his murdered brother. They broke up in 1913. Ida was seen to be a very self-righteous woman.
Richard Negus – the murdered man was Henry’s older brother, formerly a successful, practicing attorney. According to Henry, he had a brilliant mind, was meticulous, and everyone deferred to him. After leaving Great Holling in 1913, he turned withdrawn and dour, and began drinking heavily. Only in recent days had he seemed to “perk up” somewhat.
Mr. Victor Meakin – the mean-streaked owner of the King’s Head in Great Holling who almost makes it impossible for Catchpool to find out anything about the murder victims. He adds to the highly negative impression Catchpool has of Great Hollings.
Harriet Sippel – reputed to have been a kindly, happy person at the time of her marriage, with the unexpected death of her husband she was left a very young widow, who became more and more bitter and “spiteful and sanctimonious” in slandering other people. She was supported in this by Ida Gransbury, particularly after Richard Negus ended their engagement & left town.
Patrick James Ive – the good vicar of Holy Saints church in Great Holling who came to be wrongly accused of spiritual impropriety and more. Both his wife Frances and he committed suicide.
Margaret Ernst – the wife of the recently deceased vicar, Charles Ernst. They both attempted to repair the damage done to Patrick’s reputation, which they believe was purely vicious gossip on the part of the servant girl who first spoke of it, with flames added by Harriet, Ida, and Richard. She watches over their gravestone and supports Dr. Flowerday, who knew them well, in his view of Patrick and Frances Ive. She is also able to identify the servant girl.
Nancy Ducane – a celebrated artist, Samuel Kidd sees her picture in the newspaper and goes to Poirot to let him know that she’s the woman he saw fleeing the hotel. Her much older husband William was headmaster at the local school in Great Holling. When he died in 1912, she was still very young and visited the vicar, Patrick often. This led to the accusation made by the Ive’s servant girl, and eventually to Patrick & Frances’ deaths.
Walter Stoakley – the former Classicist and Master at Cambridge who introduced Patrick, his protégé, to his daughter Frances, and who had arranged for the servant girl there to work for Patrick and Frances in Great Holling. He now spends his life drinking in the King’s Head.
Lady Louisa Wallace – the friend and patroness of Nancy Ducane whose husband, St. John, is a fellow artist, but “an appalling snob”. He is a zoological and botanical artist who “paints plants and fish”. Together, they are able to provide an alibi for Nancy on the evening of the murder, since she was at their home from six to nearly ten o’clock.
Stanley Beer – the Scotland Yard Constable who assists Catchpool.
Dorcas – the new and clumsy maid working for Lady Louisa.
Sophie Hannah's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Sophie Hannah Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Sophie Hannah Page
Agatha Christie Limited's "Agatha Christie" Web Site - The Monogram Murders page
Charlaine Harris - Real Murders [June, 2018]
Cast of Characters
Aurora (Roe) Teagarden – the main series character, is a librarian and property manager (for her mother Aida, a highly successful real estate manager) in Lawrenceton, Georgia. She is also the originator of the idea to have the Real Murders club for folks who like to re-explore old murder cases. She has a half-brother named Phillip who loves to visit with her.
Bankston Waiter – a member of the Real Murders group, he is dating fellow member Melanie Clark, a clerk at Mamie’s husband Gerald’s insurance office. He is a bank loan officer at the local bank and lives two doors down from Roe.
Mamie Wright – is the first victim who is found in circumstances similar to the victim of the case Roe was going to present at the start of the story.
Sally Allison – a fortyish woman who, in addition to being a group member, is a reporter on the local paper and the mother of the group’s “problem child” Perry.
Lizanne Buckley – a friend of Roe’s who brings noted mystery writer, Robin Crusoe, to the Real Murders meeting. She is stunning yet kind, and loves her job working as receptionist at the Power & Light Company where nothing much is demanded of her. Her father Arnie is a 66-year old “white-haired retiree with a mind like a steel trap” who volunteers at the library.
John Queensland – the wealthy real-estate-rich president of Real Murders who is dating Roe’s mother.
Det. Arthur Smith – a local cop assigned to burglary who ends up part of the murder investigation team since he is also a Real Murders member.
Jane Engle – a retired school librarian who substitutes at both the school and local libraries who is a surprisingly sophisticated spinster who specializes in Victorian murders.
LeMaster Cane – is the group’s only black member, a stout, middle-aged, bearded man who owned a dry cleaning business.
Gifford Doakes – a Real Murders member who comes to meetings with his friend Reynaldo and is interested in massacres.
Sgt. Jack Burns – the sergeant of detectives, he’s in charge of homicide, he’s not a fan of any of the Real Murder members, particularly Roe.
Benjamin Greer– the member of the group who missed the meeting where Mamie was found dead. He’s a butcher with aspirations to be in politics by being campaign manager for Morrison Pettigrue, the Communist candidate.
Det. Lynn Liggett – the tall homicide detective who doesn’t particularly like Roe, and does particularly like Arthur Smith.
Lillian Schmidt – a librarian at Roe’s library who is surprisingly supportive of Roe when the papers start picking up the story, but she is not always decent to her.
Sam Clerrick – Roe’s boss at the library.
Amina Day – Roe’s best friend and (fashion consultant!) who lives in Houston.
Graphic Crime Quiz
What is the name of the case/couple that Roe was going to talk about at Real Murders first meeting?
The Wallace Case
Who helps Roe to find the parallel case to the poisoned chocolates she and her mother received?
Jane Engle/The Victorian Murder case expert
Whose briefcase is the hatchet found in?
What does Roe realize when Melanie drives by in Bankston’s car?
She’s pretending not to know that Roe was screaming for help.
Charlaine Harris' Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Charlaine Harris Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Charlaine Harris Page
Mette Ivie Harrison - The Bishop's Wife [April, 2018]
Cast of Characters
Linda Wallheim – the main protagonist and titular Mormon bishop’s wife, she finds her role expanding when a young mother in their ward has gone missing, and she suspects the situation is darker than her disappearance alone. She is also the mother of five boys: Adam, Joseph, Kenneth, Zachary & Samuel, the only one still at home.
Bishop Kurt Wallheim – Linda’s husband and the current bishop for their group. He is widely respected and their marriage has been a good one. Questions Linda had recently been asking and her actions in the events of the story have led to some strain.
Carrie Helm – the young mother of five-year old Kelly, she’s the mother who has disappeared. Her husband Jared Helm has come to ask the bishop for help, but circumstances in their marriage and his rigid adherence to old-time Mormon standards, has led Linda to suspect his involvement in the departure of his wife.
Cheri Tate – the head of the church’s Relief Society, she’s concerned about her daughter Perdita who is very young and getting married in a non-temple ceremony.
Anna & Tobias Tortensen – an older couple in the ward, it was Tobias’ second marriage when he wed Anna. He is quite ill and seems distressed about something that may concern his first marriage. Anna is one of the few women in the ward with a graduate degree & had worked full-time until she married Tobias. She’s been a beloved stepmother to his two sons, Liam and Tomas. And Linda is hoping to form a stronger friendship with her.
Judy & Aaron Weston – Carrie Helms’ parents, who are upset not only about Carrie’s disappearance, but the fact that their grand-daughter Kelly has been left with Jared – whom they do not trust, and believe that he was abusing Carrie. They look to the Willheim’s to support their desire to take Kelly away from him.
Gwen Ferris – a young woman who was friends with Carrie, and who seems troubled and unhappy. She and her husband Brad come to Kurt for counseling.
Will – the man in Las Vegas who answers the phone number Jared got when Carrie is supposed to have called to talk to Kelly after Carrie left her husband & daughter.
Alex Helm – Jared’s father who is also a rigid, old-school Mormon with constrained views of the “right place” for women.
Helena Tortensen – Tobias’ first wife. No one seems to know what caused her death, or where she is buried.
Det. Dun – the officer who comes to the Tortensens’ house when a body turns up in the garden.
Graphic Crime Quiz
What role does the revelation of Gwen Ferris’ secret play in the story?
She confirms that Carrie was also a victim of sexual molestation by her father.
What is the significance of the pink dress Linda finds in the Tortensen’s shed?
It belonged to Tobias’ first wife and it’s the first indicator there was something hinky about her death: there’s a possible blood stain on the neckline…
Who is Ellie Vasquez?
The woman Tobias saw on a trip to California who reminded him of his first wife after Helena had died. Ellie tries to claim that she is Helena after Tobias dies to try to claim half of his estate.
What does Detective Dun find behind the oddly placed wall in the Tortensen’s house?
Mette Ivie Harrison's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Mette Ivie Harrison Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Mettie Ivie Harrison Page
Fun Facts on Draper, Utah from Wikipedia
Mette's Interview on "The Bishop's Wife" with NPR
Mette's NY Times Review on "The Bishop's Wife"
Paula Hawkins - The Girl on the Train [January, 2017]
Cast of Characters
Rachel Watson – the main character who is an alcoholic and unemployed divorcee who is in denial about all three things, most especially that her marriage is over. This is despite the fact that her husband Tom Watson has remarried and is the father of a baby girl. Her lack of a job hasn’t kept her from taking the same trains to work and home that she used when she was working, which is how she sees the incident that precipitates the major events of the novel.
Jason & Jess – Rachel’s names for Megan Hipwell and Scott Hipwell, whom she sees as a “perfect, golden couple”. Megan is another major character and readers spend a good amount of time seeing the story from her perspective as well. She is a former “wild child” who was involved with an older man as a teen, managed an art gallery until recently, and is now a stay-at-home mom married to Scott. Scott is “dark-haired, well built, strong, protective, kind. He has a great laugh.” “Jess”/Megan is “one of those tiny, bird-women, a beauty, pale-skinned with blond hair cropped short.” Rachel learns her illusion is far from real – just before Megan disappears.
Tom Watson – had an affair with his and Rachel’s real estate agent, Anna. He was tired of trying to deal with Rachel’s drinking and the negative effect it was having on his job and home life. He fell in love with Anna, divorced Rachel. Tom and Anna recently had a baby girl Evie and want to move on with their lives (while living in the same house that Tom and Rachel did). But Rachel isn’t letting them, and Tom still has concerns about her that anger Anna.
Cathy – She and Rachel were friends at university. She happened to have a spare room that Rachel thought would suit her temporarily after the divorce. Rachel has been there 2 years. Both Cathy and her boyfriend Damien are getting sick of putting up with Rachel and her drinking. Cathy also does not know that Rachel was fired from her job, and is just sticking to the same train schedule she had when she was working, still going into London.
Dr. Kamal Abdic – the therapist that first Megan, and then Rachel go to see. Megan describes him as ‘mid-thirties, although he looks very young with his incredible dark honey skin. He has hand she could imagine on her, long and delicate fingers, she can almost feel on her skin’. He later comes under suspicion for Megan’s disappearance.
Tara Epstein – Megan’s older (“around 40”) friend who covers for her with Scott when Megan is out places she doesn’t want her husband to know about. She is certain that Scott would never hurt Megan. Megan was supposed to have been staying with her the night she disappeared.
for The Girl on the Train
What shocking thing does Rachel see from the train?
She sees Jess/Megan kissing a dark-haired man who isn’t Meagan’s husband.
What is the significance of the pile of clothes Rachel sees (with something blue in it) by the tracks?
She’s actually remembering the blue dress that Anna was wearing, & was mixing it up with seeing the red top and jeans that Megan was wearing before she disappeared.
Who left a message on the mobile phone Anna finds in Tom’s workout bag?
What is the name – or significance – of the “red-haired man”?
His name is Andy, and he is the one element that Rachel remembers from what happened at the train station the day Megan disappeared. He tells Rachel that she seemed upset when her ”bloke” drove off with a woman in his car.
Paula Hawkins' Website
Fantastic Fiction's Paula Hawkins page
Stop You're Killing Me's Paula Hawkins page
Paula Hawkins’s Journey to ‘The Girl on the Train’; New York Times 1-30-2015
New York Times Book Review for "The Girl on the Train"
NRP's Book Review for "The Girl on the Train"
Henry Miller's Letter to Anais Nin that Tom quotes in "The Girl on the Train" ("Don't expect me to be sane...")
Georgette Heyer - The Unfinished Clue [September, 2017]
Miss Dinah Fawcett – the younger sister of Fay, the second Lady Billington-Smith. She is outspoken and unlike her sensitive “helpless and malleable” sister, takes no bullying from General Sir Arthur Billington-Smith
General Sir Arthur Billington-Smith – the wealthy, ill-tempered, and controlling martinet who is hosting more guests at his mansion for the weekend than he wanted to.
Geoffrey Billington-Smith – Sir Arthur’s son from his first, unfortunate marriage. Sir Arthur regards Geoffrey with dislike and contempt for not being a military/sportsman type of man. He is about to have even more issues with his father when he arrives for the weekend with Lola de Silva…
Lola de Silva – Lola is a stunning, popular cabaret dancer from Mexico – and Geoffrey’s fiancée. He suffers from the delusion that his father is only to see her & he will instantly approve of the match. Her initial concern is only with the arrival of her maid Concetta and her other luggage.
Camilla Halliday – a “rather pretty and smart” woman who know her appeal to the General, and is prepared to indulge it, if he makes it worth her while. She and her husband met the Billington-Smiths on holiday in the south of France.
Basil Halliday – Camilla’s nerve-strained, short-tempered husband who is miserably aware that his inability to earn much has led to putting up with Camilla’s sleazy flirtations so they can stay in nicer places. He in uneasy about how far she’s willing to go with Sir Arthur.
Stephen Guest –a “connection” to Sir Arthur, he is a large, rugged man with a calm temper who nevertheless gets across that he could be a dangerous adversary. He is hopelessly in love with Fay. He is trying to get her to divorce Sir Arthur – or just come away with him – but Fay is too worried about the conventions to agree to either course. Just his presence helps to calm her, so he puts up with visits, like the current weekend one.
Francis Billington-Smith – the nephew Sir Arthur prefers to his own son, Francis has a biting, snide sense of humor, but does the “right” things: cavalry, horses, and gaming – though this last draws Sir Arthur’s ire. He is “a tall, slender young man with sleekly shining black hair, and thin lips under a tiny moustache”. He is interested in Dinah, who wants nothing to do with him.
Dawson – the Billington-Smith’s maid who is tremendously impressed with Lola and her wardrobe, and loves drama. Her observations about Geoffrey’s behavior bring him under more scrutiny from the police.
Finch – the Billington-Smith’s indispensable butler. He rectifies the absinthe situation, doing what he can to try to keep things calm -- and when they are not, he assists both the family and the police.
Emmy Chudleigh – the busybody wife of the town’s vicar, Reverend Hilary Chudleigh. He disapproves of divorce, so they infrequent visitors at the mansion; unfortunately for Sir Arthur, the evening’s dinner party includes them.
Mrs. Julia Twining – a worldly, sophisticated widow who has known Sir Arthur since his first marriage, she has some influence with Sir Arthur that she sometimes uses to help Geoffrey. She is Miss Fawcett’s first line of defense when events with Sir Arthur become tense.
Dr. Raymond – the local doctor who initially comes to the mansion to treat Fay’s nerves.
Mrs. Moxon – the no-nonsense Billington-Smith cook.
Major Grierson – the Chief Constable who initially arrives to investigate the murder. He is troubled by both his runny nose, and that he’ll need to call Scotland Yard.
Superintendent Lupton – the local policeman in charge of the case, he’s wary of the Scotland Yard Inspector, and how high-handed he expects him to be.
Inspector John Harding – the Scotland Yard detective sent to help with the case. Despite his obvious public school background, he is able to set the Superintendent’s mind at ease by being both sharp and respectful. Lupton’s Sergeant Nethersole is gratified to be assigned to Harding who stands up to Nethersole’s rather ominous stare. Harding himself does a fair amount of staring at Miss Fawcett!
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for The Unfinished Clue
What is Lola’s objection to her seat at the dining room table the night of the dinner party?
Being “made to look at a dead animal with blood on it” in the picture on the wall.
What does Francis need the money for?
Paying off a gambling debt of honor.
What does Stephen Guest say caused the blood on his wrist?
Opening a tin of tobacco in his room.
What word is on the piece of paper that Inspector Harding is puzzling over?
What is Basil Halliday anxious to retrieve from a wastebasket in Sir Arthur’s study?
The pieces of the check Sir Arthur wrote out to Camilla
Georgette Heyer Official Fan Web Site
Fantastic Fiction's Georgette Heyer page
Stop You're Killing Me's Georgette Heyer page
Anne Hillerman - Spider Woman's Daughter [November, 2015]
Cast of Characters!
Joe Leaphorn – a legendary Navajo Police lieutenant, now retired. He is shot outside the restaurant where he has just had breakfast with a group of his fellow cops.
Bernadette (Bernie) Manuelito – the main protagonist, also a Navajo Police officer, who is married to Jim Chee, a Navajo police man who was mentored by Leaphorn.
Captain Howard Largo – the boss that both Jim Chee and Bernie report to in the Navajo Police. He keeps trying to put Bernie on leave after the shooting.
Officer Harold Bigman – tries to keep on-lookers back from the crime scene, and assists in other ways as the story progresses, particularly as Bernie’s contact at Window Rock.
Agent Jerry Cordova – the main FBI agent working with Chee, and Bernie (whom he takes quite an interest in) to find the shooter.
Louisa Bourebonette – the white woman anthropologist living with Leaphorn. They’ve been involved with each other for quite some time. She has appeared in previous novels. In this one, she seems to have disappeared right before the shooting.
Bernie’s Mama – a highly respected Navajo weaver, she is arthritic now, and needs caretaking that Bernie’s alcoholic, younger sister Darleen seems increasingly unable to provide. Bernie is also not impressed with “Stoop Boy” a.k.a. Charley Zah, the guy Darleen is partying with. Mrs. Darkwater, nearby neighbor, also helps look out for Bernie’s Mama.
Mrs. Gloria Benally – the Navajo woman we meet when she’s rolling her groceries out of Bashas to her car – which has just been impounded to be checked for evidence that is was used by the shooter. She lets police Officer Wheeler a tough time when he keeps her from going to the car.
Jackson Benally – Mrs. Benally’s son who drops his mom’s car at Bashas on his way to a local college in Gallup that he attends.
Leonard (Lizard) Nez – A young Navajo friend of Jackson Benally with a checkered background, the police have trouble trying to find him, and Jackson refuses to be helpful.
Dr. John Collingsworth – the head of the AIRC (American Indian Resource Center) in Santa Fe, he had commissioned Leaphorn to do some research into the appraisal of the recently acquired McManus Foundation pottery holdings from a private collector in Asia. He is disparaging of Leaphorn for not turning in his report, until he learns Joe is in the hospital.
Dr. Moxsley – the doctor in charge of Joe Leaphorn at the Santa Fe hospital. He identifies Collingsworth as a Ph.D. and director of the AIRC.
Mark Yazzie – the Navajo gardener/worker at the AIRC who meets both Bernie and Chee.
Dr. Maxie Davis – the attractive, blond, assistant director at the AIRC, she is obsessed with her pottery research and the exciting plans for the new gallery for the McManus foundation donations.
Marjorie Rockwell – Dr. Collingsworth & the department’s secretary.
Notah & Garrison Tsosie – brothers who are self-taught Navajo jewelry makers working in silver. Chee buys earrings made by Garrison while talking to him about Notah’s feelings toward Leaphorn, the officer who got him put in jail. Garrison sometimes uses Jackson Benally’s (mother’s!) car.
Michelle Abernethy – the FBI hypnotist who helps Bernie to remember the shooter is wearing a sand-cast silver bracelet.
Randall – the former fiancée of Maxie Davis who keeps his remains in a Navajo cylinder urn.
Rocko Delbert – the former Navajo officer who works for the New Mexico museum system who tells Bernie and Chee about EFB Appraisals owner, Ellie Friedman-Bernal. EFB is the company who did the appraisal of the McManus foundation objects.
Karen Dundee – the park visitor who tells Bernie and Chee about the two people she saw having a physical confrontation in the canyon.
Slim Jacobs – the owner/manager of the Double X Ranch, he is very well acquainted with Ellie. He also shares information about both Jackson Benally and Leonard Nez. Jackson works part time for him.
Reverend Rodriguez – the hospital chaplain who works with Chee to have a healing ceremony for Leaphorn.
Anne Hillerman's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Anne Hillerman Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Anne Hillerman Page
Tony Hillerman - The Blessing Way [October, 2015]
Cast of Characters!
Luis Horseman – young Navajo man who is wanted by the police. He hides in the Lukachukai Mountains – where someone – or something – wants him to leave.
Joe Leaphorn – the “Blue Policeman” who works in the Law & Order Building, he is looking for Luis, and hoping that an old friend, Bergen will finally come back to the Reservation for his witchcraft research. He and his wife Emma, have enjoyed arguing the basis for the Navajo Origin Myth.
Bergen McKee – together with his academic colleague Dr. J. Canfield, for both of them to continue their research. Both teach anthropology at the University of New Mexico. Bergen hasn’t been back since his wife left him.
Ellen Leon – the young woman looking for her fiancé, Jimmy W. Hall, a Ph.D. electrical engineer who is testing gadgets somewhere on the Reservation, possibly in the Lukachukais mountains. She is hoping either Bergen or Canfield can help her to find him.
Old Man Shoemaker – the Navajo who owns a trading post where Leaphorn and Bergen meet up, and where Joe is asking after Horseman. It is also where Joe and Bergen run into a Big Navajo who is looking for a new hat.
Big Navajo – the Navajo Wolf – a type of witch who can transform into a wolf. He’s been spotted by sheepherders in the mountains, and that sheep are being killed as a result.
Joseph Begay – the Navajo who finds a body in Teastah Wash.
Old Woman Gray Rocks – lives in a Hogan in the foothills of the Lukachukais and talks to Bergen about Navajo Wolves and witches. She’s the first to speak of the Wolf as an outsider. She also lets him know that Horseman has cousins in the area.
Billy Nez – A younger brother of Horseman’s, he’s the one who went to let Luis know that the man Luis attacked, has survived. He is also the Scalp Carrier – the one who took the black hat.
Charlie Tsosie – one of those who’ve been bothered by the Navajo witch, his family is holds an Enemy Way ceremony to rid them of the witch. Holding the ceremony is evidence that they don’t think Horseman was a witch.
Sandoval – the old Navajo Singer who, together with a Hand Trembler, conducts the Enemy Way for the Tsosies. When Leaphorn sees the symbolic “scalp” is a black hat, he realizes that the Big Navajo is the Navajo Wolf/witch.
Eddie Poher – the blond man who is working with the Navajo Wolf and an unknown man.
George Jackson – also works with Poher and the unknown man.
Dr. Green – the chair of Bergen & Canfield’s department. Bergen tells his captors that he and Green stay in touch while he’s in the field.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for The Blessing Way
And here are the questions (and answers) for the Cast of Characters graphics for The Blessing Way.
Please note some answers may be potential spoilers!!
Who owned the silver concho headband?
A: George Jackson, a.k.a., the Navajo witch
What did Bergen say was the frog fetish supposed to do for the person who had it?
A: Bergen mistakenly said it would protect the person from witches. Dr. Canfield had it.
What key fact did Bergen know about the cliff dwellings that his captors did not?
A: Bergen knows that the Anasazi put a hidden pathway to the surface in the dwellings so they wouldn’t be totally reliant on the ladders to get out.
How was Bergen able to hold on to his pocket knife after he is captured?
A: The big Navajo didn’t search his shirt pocket – it was “a ridiculous place to put a pocket knife”.
What did Bergen’s certificate proclaim him to be?
A: As the Monster Slayer he was “conceived” out of wedlock, and therefore a Bastard.
Tony Hillerman Page on Wikipedia
Fantastic Fiction's Tony Hillerman Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Tony Hillerman Page
Anthony Horowitz - The Word is Murder [December, 2019]
Cast of Characters
Diana Cowper – the primary victim, who arranges her own funeral – and then dies six hours later.
Irene Laws – the pleasantly efficient personal assistant to Robert Cornwallis, the funeral director at Cornwallis and Sons; the funeral home chosen by Diana Cowper.
Andrea Kluvanek – the Slovakian cleaner who worked for Diana twice a week, discovered the body lying face down in the living room with a length of red cord [a curtain tie-back] around her throat.
Anthony Horowitz – the well-known author of many screenplays, as well as successful children’s and crime novels, is the narrator of this story and the writer “hired” by Hawthorne to write up Hawthorne’s investigation.
Daniel Hawthorne – the sharp, acerbic, former police detective who verbally bludgeons Horowitz into following him while he investigates Diana Cowper’s murder, and writing a novel about it.
Raymond Clunes – the theatrical director who’d been friends with Diana, but later caused her to lose fifty grand in a musical he’d produced. He had lunch with her on the day she died.
Damian Cowper – Diana’s famous actor son who may’ve had money problems back in Hollywood.
Detective Inspector (Jack a.k.a. Charlie) Meadow – the detective in charge of the case for Scotland Yard, he’s a “pillock” to Hawthorne, and the feeling is mutual.
Jeremy & Timothy Godwin – the eight-year-old twins who were hit by Mrs. Cowper’s car when they tried to run across a street in Deal towards an ice-cream shop. Timothy was killed, and Jeremy received severe lacerations to the brain.
Mary O’Brien – was the Godwin twins’ young nanny. She continues to care for the surviving twin.
Judge Nigel Weston – like Diana Cowper, a board member to the Globe, but also the judge who was highly criticized for giving her such a light sentence and no jail time.
Judith Godwin – the embittered mother who is being forced to sell the only home Jeremy has known since her husband, Alan Godwin, and she divorced and his business is rapidly failing.
Grace Lovell – Damian Cowper’s girlfriend, a former actress, and the mother of his three year-old daughter Ashleigh.
Bruno Wang – Da major theatre producer, he is also a well-known philanthropist who knew Diana from these connections. He had tried to warn her that Raymond Clunes was being investigated by the authorities, and she fully intended to take action.
Dr. Butterworth-er- Buttimore – Diana’s doctor, who tells Hawthorne & Horowitz that she’d been having trouble sleeping recently and was worried about her son living in Hollywood.
Charles Kenworthy – Diana’s lawyer who was also on the board for The Globe Theater. He verifies that Damian will inherit everything.
Barbara Cornwallis – Robert Cornwallis’ wife who proudly tells Hawthorne & Horowitz about their son’s play and that acting runs in the family. She also reveals that Alan Godwin made an anonymous call to find out when & where Diana Cowper’s funeral would be.
Hilda Starke – Horowitz’s literary agent, who is not best pleased with his plan to write Hawthorne’s book, although she also thinks “Hawthorne Investigates” is a great title. She also verifies the rumor that Clunes is being investigated for fraud.
Derek Abbott – a sixty-two year old retired teacher who was arrested for trafficking in child pornography when Hawthorne was a cop. He handcuffed Abbott and may have “tripped” Abbott who went head first down 14 stairs at the police station.
Gail Harcourt – owner of Gail’s Ice Cream in Deal, she tells Hawthorne & Horowitz that most ironically, the shop was closed to fix a burst pipe the day the twins had tried to run across the street.
Graham Traverton – the owner of Pier Pharmacy in Deal is able to tell them that he saw the accident because a mystery man who had been his customer activated the entrance door. His memory is so good, he’s able to recall the jar of honey and packet of ginger tea that this man bought, and that he was wearing sunglasses when it wasn’t a particularly sunny day. Sadly, he also remembers the one child calling for his daddy.
Mrs. Rendell – the hotel manager who was on duty when the boys and their nanny stayed there. She remembers that they had the family room that has a king-sized bed and bunks.
Martin Lovell – Grace Lovell’s father and Ashleigh’s grandfather. A “bear-like” man in his late fifties, he lives in Hounslow near to Heathrow Airport where he works as a senior commercial manager. There, Grace tell the two about her RADA years when she, Damian, Amanda Leigh & Don Roberts were best friends and were all in Hamlet together.
“Liz” – Horowitz’s friend at RADA who helps him look into the group who’d been there while Damian and Grace were there. She remembers Damian as a “cocky little sod” – but talented.
Derek Abbott – a sixty-two year old retired teacher who was arrested for trafficking in child pornography when Hawthorne was a cop. He handcuffed Abbott and may have “tripped” Abbott who went head first down 14 stairs at the police station.
Graphic Crime Quiz
What did Hawthorne reveal about Diana Cowper’s request that Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary be played at her funeral?
Both Jeremiah Clarke and Sylvia Plath (the poet whose poem she wanted to be read) committed suicide.
Why were there only four sets of keys on Diana Cowper’s key hooks?
The murderer took the last set of keys.
What was wrong with the text message Diana tried to send to her son?
Auto”correct” changed a critical word in the message.
What is the name of Diana Cowper’s cat?
They call him – Mr. Tibbs!
Anthony Horowitz's Website
Fantastic Fiction's Anthony Horowitz Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Anthony Horowitz Page
Anthony Horowitz - Film Industry Connections
IMDb's Anthony Horowitz Page - for his Writer-Director-Producer Credits
IMDb's Charlie Creed-Miles Page - the actor who looks like Daniel Hawthorne, according to Horowitz (the character!)
Some of the Places Hawthorne & Horowitz Go To In Pursuing the Case
Clerkenwell, where Horowitz (the character!) lives
River Court, Blackfriars in London is where Daniel Hawthorne is currently residing.
Deal, Kent where the boys were hit by Diana's car
Harrow on the Hill is where Judith Godwin and her remaining son have lived since before her other son died.
Hay-on-Wye, where the book festival was held that Horowitz attended & faced an uncomfortable question from an attendee.
Walmer in Dover, Kent where Diana used to live
Joe Ide - IQ [November, 2018]
Cast of Characters
Isaiah Quintabe – Known to most people in his Long Beach neighborhood as “I.Q.” for his formidable intelligence which he applies as an unlicensed and underground crime investigator. Now a young man in his twenties, he was raised by his older brother Marcus, & has been on his own since Marcus’ death when he was in high school.
Deronda – a largely curvaceous woman known for her badonk & being crowned Miss Big Meaty Burger, she’s a former girlfriend of Isaiah’s frenemy, Dodson.
Blasé – an R&B singer IQ has helped in the past when he was being blackmailed about his homosexuality. He in turn, helps Isaiah later in the story.
Boyd – child abuser who stalks a young girl called Carmella, but ends up abducting Teresa instead. Isaiah & Deronda witness the abduction and give chase.
Juanell Dodson – a sometimes friend of Isaiah’s, who once roomed with IQ in IQ’s apartment. A talented cook, he’s a small time drug dealer with high ambitions as well as a love/hate admiration for IQ. It leads him to contacting IQ for a high paying case. Lupita Tello taught Dodson how to cook. “Dodson got his dope from Kinkee, who got his dope from Junior, top of the food chain.”
Flaco – A young Mexican boy who is handicapped and became friends with Isaiah. IQ brings the cutout of Margaret Cho to Flaco who is an avid fan. IQ is doing everything he can to be family for Flaco – who lost his parents in the gang war IQ was involved in.
Calvin (Cal) Wright – a mega-star rapper also known as Black the Knife, someone is trying to kill him. He’s unconvinced he can just rely on his bodyguards/security: the Moody brothers, Bug and Charles. Cal is convinced his “evil ex-wife Noelle” is behind the attack on him.
Anthony – Dodson’s second cousin, and Cal’s personal assistant. He’s the one who brings Dodson and Isaiah in to solve the case. Cal won’t leave the house to go to the studio to record his next album; a fact that is creating bad business for Cal and everyone associated with him.
Bobby Grimes – Anthony used to work for Bobby, but Bobby passed him on to Cal. Bobby is obsessed with getting Cal into the studio to make his record that Cal is contractually obliged to have done by “the Monday after next”.
Kurt – the Hatchet Man – A former wrestler who does security for DStar’s clients. [DStar is “the dealer to the stars”, Jimmy Bonifant. “People who mess with Jimmy end up dead in a ditch somewhere”.] He meets with the serial killer about a rapper who “needs to not be here anymore”.
Dr. Russell Freeman – the radio self-help doctor whose book on burnout becomes Cal’s bible to a better life.
Harry Haldeman – I.Q.’s expert on dogs. Isaiah worked for Harry at the Hurston Animal Shelter in one of his many jobs. Harry helps I.Q. to identify who is breeding oversized, vicious pit bull mix-breeds – the answer will bring them to the serial killer who is after Cal.
Skip Hanson – Breeder of very large pit bull terriers and pit-cross breeds at the Blue Hill Pit Bulls in Fergus.
The Locos – the Mexican gang that Crip Violators blame for the shooting at Junior’s place.
Cherise – Dodson’s present day girlfriend.
Sedrick, Stokely, & Booze – three more of the Crip Violators (the gang that Dodson belongs to); Booze works with Junior.
Kaylin Kennedy – the former weathergirl who reports on the gang war between the Violators and the Locos.
Selena & Hector Ruiz – Flaco’s parents who are killed when Dodson is trying to escape being shot by Locos members. Dr. Amelia Lopez treats the ten-year-old boy when he is struck in the head by a bullet.
T.K. – Another of Isaiah’s former employers and friends, he owns T.K.’s Wrecking Yard and taught Isaiah all he knows about cars, as well as lame jokes.
Miss Myra Jenkins – She becomes Isaiah’s first client when the hotel that her daughter’s wedding presents were stolen from wasn’t going to do anything about it. When Tudor becomes another client, he learns he can charge much more if he feels the client should pay it.
Graphic Crime Quiz
How did Isaiah get Alejandro?
Mrs. Marquez sent him and a recipe for arroz con pollo to IQ as payment.
What does Cal keep in his umbrella stand at his mansion?
An AK-47 assault rifle.
What unforgivable thing does Dodson do to Isaiah back in 2006?
He sells Marcus’ tools.
What is the significance of the wrecked car with the purple L in its back window?
It is the car that killed Marcus.
Joe Ide's Website
Fantastic Fiction's Joe Ide Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Joe Ide Page
Craig Johnson - The Cold Dish [December, 2015]
Cast of Characters
Walt Longmire – a Vietnam vet who is thinking about retiring as the sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County. He is still dealing with the death of his wife Martha four years ago. His daughter Cady is a lawyer working in Philadelphia.
Ruby – the tall, slim, wise-cracking receptionist/dispatcher who “keeps the riffraff out of the office” – and tries to manage Walt as well as the office.
Victoria Moretti – Walt’s Deputy, Vic is brash, foul-mouthed and highly qualified & competent as a police officer. She comes from a family of cops, was highly regarded in Philadelphia, and only came to Wyoming when her husband Glen got a job there. Walt is hoping she’ll take over as sheriff when he retires.
Melissa Little Bird – the young Cheyenne teen who was raped by Cody Pritchard, Jacob and George Esper (fraternal twins) and Bryan Keller. She has fetal alcohol syndrome. Her high school English teacher, Mary Roebling got her to talk to Walt about it. Many in town and all of the Northern Reservation, were highly disappointed with the light sentencing they got, including Walt. She is currently living with her Aunt Arbutus.
Henry Standing Bear – Walt’s best friend who is also a Vietnam Vet. He was lethally capable as a soldier, but now owns & runs the Red Pony bar, and tries to get Walt to come out of his depression by making him food, and nudging him into running. Henry is very popular with the ladies, and is a cousin of Melissa Little Bird. Walt likes him as much as he can’t stand Henry’s truck.
Dena Many Camps – Once a protégé of Henry’s at billiards, she is now a professional bound for a big game in Vegas. She tends bar for Henry when he isn’t there, and though she is much younger, she is very interested in Henry himself.
Vonnie Hayes – is “old school Wyoming”, her grandfather had a spread of 30,000 acres. When her father committed suicide, she went to school in the east, and stayed there for a number of years. An accomplished sculptress, she came back to care for her mother, & since Walt’s wife’s death, his daughter Cady has tried to fix them up. Walt is now considering the possibility…
Roger Russell – the town electrician, he is also interested in Vonnie – and is on Omar’s short list for sharpshooters.
Cody Pritchard – the ringleader of the boys who raped Melissa, he was the least repentant at the sentencing, making statements that further angered the local Indian population. He is the first victim in the story. T.J. Sherwin, director of the Division of Criminal Investigation’s lab, Search & Rescue leader & Deputy Jim Ferguson (Ferg), and Vic are the first on the scene.
(Brian)Turk Connally – owner of a fancy Trans Am, he is also one of Walt’s deputies – and wants Walt’s job, even though Walt considers him the least adequate for the job. He only hired him as a favor to Turk’s great-uncle Lucian, the former sheriff and Walt’s friend.
Lucian Connally – in addition to being the former sheriff, Lucian served in the Army Air Corps, and managed to drive himself in subzero temperatures to the hospital where he lost the leg. Now living at the Durant Home of Assisted Living, he’s still very interested in helping out on cases, and beating Walt to a pulp playing chess.
Dorothy Caldwell – yet another of the women in Walt’s life – she keeps him supplied with coffee and food at her diner in Durant, the Busy Bee – also known for its hive of gossip.
Jules Belden – the man Turk put in their jail for urinating on him and his car.
Lonnie Little Bird – Melissa’s father who is a diabetic with both legs amputated, yet still finds ways to get around – and is an expert shot who owns a Sharp rifle.
Omar Rhoades – the “big dog of outfitters along the Bighorns”, his ranch is “about half the size of Rhode Island”. Walt is well acquainted with him and his estranged wife Myra” who’ve attempted to kill each other over the years. She is currently living apart. Not only is he an expert shot, he is very knowledgeable about the older, historic guns and ammo. And he has a Neiman Marcus helicopter!
Bryan Keller – the former football hero and student involved in the rape. While he didn’t participate, he didn’t try to stop anything either. His parents, Jim and Barbara have been at odds over him ever since; and Jim Keller has gone out hunting – even though he doesn’t hunt.
Jacob and George Esper – the fraternal twins who raped Melissa Little Bird. There’s a strong likely-hood that Cody Pritchard’s killer is also after them. They haven’t been found since Cody died, and their parents haven’t been traceable either. Late in the story Bryan is able to tell Walt that George likes to fish at Lost Twin Lake. While Walt & Henry find George, he becomes something of an escape artist.
Artie Small Song – also a member of Omar’s short list of sharpshooters, he is one of the reservation Indians who was upset with the trial verdict. A visit to his house reveals he is also a closet militia-ist.
Al Monroe – the owner of the cabin across the lake from where Jacob Esper’s body is found. Although he is a borderline alcoholic(4.2 blood alcohol), he is positive about the time he heard the shot and saw enough of the probable killer, to say they have long hair “to the shoulders”, was wearing insulated overalls, and that the weapon was “long”.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson
Please note some answers may be potential spoilers!!
What name does Walt’s police car have?
The Silver Bullet, or just Bullet.
What is the brand name & size of the boots they suspect the killer wears?
Vasques. Size 9.
What is the name of the pattern on the antique Cheyenne beaded rifle scabbard?
Dead Man’s Body
What name does Lucian use instead of Standing Bear for Henry?
Tie-breaker: What is the name of Henry’s T-bird? '
Craig Johnson's Website
Fantastic Fiction's Craig Johnson Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Craig Johnson Page
Lisle Library's Longmire DVDs!
Lisle Library subscribes to this, and has this issue. It is the Autmn 2015 issue, Vol. 31, #4 pp. 24-29. You can go to the Reference desk and ask for it. Back issues can be checked out. Enjoy!
Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson [November, 2019]
Cast of Characters
Ari Thór Arason – the story’s primary character, he is a very young policeman (24 going on 25) who has just completed his studies at the police college in Reykjavik. His live-in girlfriend Kristin is still finishing her studies to be a nurse. Unexpectedly, he is offered a job in Siglufjördur, a very small, almost inaccessible village in the northernmost region of Iceland. Kristin does not take it well when Ari Thor decides to take it.
Tómas – the chief of the Siglufjördur police who offered the job to Ari Thór. He appears to be in his fifties, and tells Ari Thór that theirs is a town where nothing ever happens. And Ari Thór is sure Tómas wants it to stay that way.
Ugla – the young woman who is befriended by famous Icelandic author and local Hrólfur Kristjánsson. He lets her rent his basement apartment, and later champions her getting the lead in the local play.
Hrólfur Kristjánsson – a spry gentleman approaching ninety, he is world famous for his book North of the Hills which made him Iceland’s most famous author back in his early twenties. He lives in a “magnificent house on Hólavegur”, has an “elderly red Mercedes” and is the chairman of the local Dramatic Society.
Hlynur – the other young-ish police officer in Siglufjördur. He’s in his mid-thirties and being another local, he only makes Ari feel even more like an outsider.
Karl Steindór Einarsson – the dark-haired man who is “a couple of hears past forty” who is the lead in the Dramatic Society’s play. He lies to his wife Linda Christensen about more than the fact that the rehearsal had finished long before he heads home. She is a nurse and they are mainly living on her salary. His compulsive gambling has led to their moving to his home town, Siglufjördur.
Úlfur Steinsson – the Dramatic Society’s director. He had hoped the group was going to do his own play, but Hrólfur picked Pálmi’s play instead.
Pálmi Pálsson – the playwright, has recently acquired two house guests he barely knows: visitors from Denmark Rosa who had known Pálmi’s father (Páll), and her son Mads.
Leifur – the Dramatic Society’s handyman. He loved working with his hands, especially doing carpentry work. He is a very shy man, still affected by his older brother Arni’s death in a car accident many years ago. He lives in an apartment above Karl and Linda where his carpentry work helps to drown out their arguments. He also has a crush on Anna, another cast member.
Anna Einarsdóttir – is a young woman who works at the Co-op and the hospital where her grandfather is. She is hoping there will be an opening for a teacher in the spring. And is having an affair with Karl.
Nina Arnardóttir – an older woman who works backstage on the play with Leifer. She also has a secret crush on Pálmi.
Sandra – the old woman in the nursing home who was friends with Hrólfur, and knew Páll as well. She feels sorry for Pálmi for having lost his father so young. Páll died of TB in Copenhagen at an early age. He was very artistic, and “struggled to put down any roots”. She also states that Páll “wasn’t the type not to stray”. She also thinks Karl was “a lovely boy” who helped Palmi’s mother out “even turning himself into a rat catcher when needed”.
Thorsteinn – the lawyer who has Hrólfur’s will. Ari Thor finds out that Palmi inherits the rights to Hrólfur’s book. Úlfur gets Hrólfur’s expensive wine collection, and Ugla gets the house, its contents, and the red Mercedes.
Graphic Crime Quiz
Who makes the call to the police station that Ari Thor picks up on Christmas?
Linda - Karl’s wife.
Why does an intruder go into Ari Thór’s apartment?
To steal his camera.
What part of North of the Hills has an unexpected link to Palmi’s guest Rosa?
She is the “Linda” in the Verses for Linda – tragic love poems “that have long held a place … in the national psyche”
What is the significance of the old jeep that Anna’s father bought from Karl years ago?
It proves Karl stole from Pálmi’s mother to buy it.
Ragnar Jonasson's Website
Fantastic Fiction's Ragnar Jonasson Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Ragnar Jonasson Page
Interview with Ragnar Jonasson about Siglufjordur
Interview with Ragnar Jonasson about Snowblind
Facts about the Icelandic Police
Major Towns in Snowblind:
Siglufjörður: Guide to Iceland
Major Tunnel in Snowblind:
As Promised: Not One But Two Recipes for Icelandic Spice Cake! Click on the pix to go to their recipes.
Icelandic Horses -- Just Because!
Interested in seeing/riding one in Iceland? Here's a link to a stable there!
And here's an example of an Icelandic Horse doing the "tolt" gait!
A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller [May, 2017]
Cast of Characters:
Carla Elkins – the main protagonist’s teenage daughter, she is in the Salty Dawg diner when the three old men are gunned down. She and her mother are at odds with each other, which leads Carla to withhold some critical information about the case, and to decide that she wants to live with her dad, Sam Elkins, Bell’s ex.
Belfa (Bell) Elkins – the main character, her childhood was a nightmare and ought to have led her to stay away from Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, but her burning passion for doing whatever she can as the county prosecutor to improve the lives of its rural citizens has led her back. She is particularly militant about stopping the burgeoning flow of prescription drug abuse.
Lonnie Prince – Carla’s slacker boyfriend who has taken her to drinking parties where there are also prescription drugs being passed around.
Deputy Charles Mathers – a “wide man with slicked-back hair, a perpetual frosting of swear on his bright pink forehead, and a small dimple in his chin that looked like the half-moon print of a baker’s thumbnail pressed randomly in a ball of dough.” He’s addicted to self-help books and is not without ambition.
Rhonda Lovejoy – one of Bell’s two employees, she is Bell’s assistant and almost complete opposite. She is from a very long-standing family in Acker’s Gap and her connections are possibly the only reason she still has a job.
Albie Sheets – the subject of the complex case Bell is working on when the shooting occurs. He is a mentally challenged man who she is deciding whether to indict for the murder of six year old Tyler Bevins. His sister Deanna and mother Lori are adamant that he didn’t know what he was doing.
Sheriff Nick Fogelsong – Bell’s boss and the man who took looked after her as a child until foster services arrived when her family’s trailer burnt to the ground. He is a big, grizzled man who, like Bell, has been fighting the influx of drugs to their town. His wife Mary Sue has recently been receiving treatment for depression. Bell knows she can learn a lot from him about administering justice in a place like Acker’s Gap.
Dorothy Burdette (Dot) – is presumed to be an old high school friend of Bell’s – except Bell didn’t have any friends when she was in school in Acker’s Gap. She’s a VP at the local Mountaineer Community Bank. She loves being on top of the town’s gossip and her family has some power in town politics. Her brother Sammy, is one of three Raythune County commissioners as well as a proud representative of the Mountaintop Mutual Insurance Company.
Daniel (Dean) Streeter, Paul (Shorty) McClurg, Ralph (Lee) Rader – the three old men who are shot in the diner. Both the Sheriff and Bell are puzzled why any of them would be targeted by the killer. Streeter is the former high school drivers ed teacher, and Rader is a vehement opponent to drugs. Shorty is the man that Lee called before they died.
Tom and Ruthie Cox – Bell’s nearest neighbors and two of her few close friends. Tom is a local veterinarian, who works out of his house, and Ruthie is a semi-retired physician and cancer survivor. She’s the one who reminds Bell that Dean Streeter’s daughter was in Ruthie’s cancer survivor support group until she passed away six months ago.
Charlie (Chill) Sowards – a thin, youngish man with a scraggly beard that does not cover his acne, and tiny (pig) eyes. He has delusions of grandeur over the crime he has committed, and the others he plans to do, once he’s gotten his orders from “the boss”.
Hickey (Hick) Leonard – formerly a fellow candidate for the county prosecutor’s job, Hick now works for Bell as an assistant prosecutor. He’s also the person who pushed hard for Bell to hire Rhonda as the other assistant.
Shirley Dolan – the older sister Bell never talks about – even with her daughter. Shirley is in prison and doesn’t communicate with Bell. Their mother left them and their father, Donnie Dolan was an abusive father.
Serena Crumpler – the lawyer defending Albie Sheets.
Linda & Bob Bevins – the parents of the six year old murder victim, Tyler.
Eddie Briscoe – Lonnie’s friend who hosted the party that Lonnie took Carla to.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for A Killing in the Hills
Graphic Crime Quiz: A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller
What is the name of the diner that Belle and the locals go to?
Ike’s. The last non-chain eatery in town.
What do locals put on the casserole dishes they take to people in crisis?
An index card with heating instructions, and their name so they’ll get the dish back.
What is the significance of The Red Badge of Courage in this story?
Henry Fleming is the main character in the book – and the name the killer uses at the motel where he uses the same gun to kill a prostitute.
What is significant about the green garden hose play in this story?
It is a red herring not the real cause of death.
Julia Keller's Web Site
Fantastic Fiction's Julia Keller Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Julia Keller Page
Cast of Characters -- Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger [November, 2016]
Frank(ie) Drum – the narrator and main character who we meet as an adult in his 40s, but who tells his story from the perspective of his 13 year old self, relating the life-changing events that affected his family, his community, and himself. One of his delights is peeking through the fence at neighbors Avis and Edna Sweeney’s laundry line where he can easily eye her bosom” like the prow of an aircraft carrier”. He later learns information about them he wishes he didn’t know.
Bobby Cole “a sweet,-looking kid …had eyes that seemed full of dreaming…a small kid, a simple child, no match at all for the diesel-fed drive of a Union Pacific locomotive. He is the first death Frankie encounters that summer.
Jake Drum – is Frankie’s younger brother who suffers from having a pronounced stutter. He is keenly observant as a result of his tendency to stay on the fringe of events. He is also the only person other than her brother that Lise Brandt seems to see as her friend.
Nathan Drum – the boys’ father and the minister at their church, as well as two other small churches in the area. He could have become a lawyer – and their mother, Ruth, seems very disappointed that he followed a calling to the church instead. Being in the war (WWII) changed him in ways he will never speak of.
Gus – a former soldier who’s known Norman since the war, he tends to get drunk and end up in jail. He does odd jobs for both the church and other businesses, and the two boys are quite close to him, & consider him family. They also love getting rides in and on his Indian Chief motorbike.
Morris Engdahl – from the moment he’s introduced, it is plain that he’s “a bad sort. Black hair slicked in a ducktail…fond of black leather jackets.” He and Gus are in jail because of the fight they’ve had. He is a bully, who makes fun of Jake, insults their sister and father, and comes to threaten Frankie later in the story. He’s a natural suspect when Ariel disappears as well.
Doyle – one of the local cops, he never seems to be referred to as Office Doyle. He’s sort of a friend of Gus’, but is not an appealing person – especially as Frankie sees him. He’s not above bullying himself, as well as gossiping and throwing punches.
Ariel Drum – the boys’ older sister who had recently graduated from high school and is slated to go to Juilliard. She is very talented musically, both as an organist and composer. She has been studying with local musical legend, Emil Brandt, who long ago was engaged to Ariel’s mother. Lately she’s been talking about not going to Juilliard, and she’s been seen leaving the house late at night.
Ruth Drum – mother of Ariel, Frankie and Jake, she was once a very promising singer and still has a beautiful voice. She conducts the local choir and is intensely proud of Ariel and her musical talent. She has less attention for the boys, and her relationship with their father is rocky.
Warren Redstone – the mysterious Sioux uncle of their friend Danny O’Keefe who has recently come to live with Danny’s family. He also has a lean-to near the railroad trestle and riverbank where Bobby Cole was found. He is there when Frankie and Jake realize there’s a dead man nearby. There is a strong prejudice against Indians in New Bremen and beyond.
Karl Brandt – the golden boy of the well-to-do Brandt family, and he is Axel and Julia’s only child. His father owns the local beer company, and is a major employer of the town’s residents. Julia is very class-conscious and resents the fact that Karl is seeing Ariel. Karl and Ariel have always been close, and there’s a definite rumor that they may be talking about marriage.
Mrs. Amelia Klement – a woman “with a strong alto voice. She was [Ruth’s] age and had a son named Peter who tends to sit at church with the boys, and sometimes plays with them. Mr. Travis Klement is a troubled man who has abused both his wife and son in the past.
Emil Brandt – achieved great success in his musical career, especially in Hollywood circles. He is “the best composer and pianist in Minnesota”. Even though he abruptly left Ruth while they were engaged, he and Ruth have managed to stay friends through their love of music, and Ruth’s hopes for Ariel’s career. He has had a disfiguring accident and has gone blind. He lives a reclusive life looked after by his troubled sister, Lise, who is deaf and prone to ear-splitting tantrums – particularly if she is touched. She is completely devoted to her brother and her gardens.
For Ordinary Grace
Where do Bobby Cole’s glasses turn up & who has them?
Warren Redstone has them. He claims he just found them, but Frankie & others think he may have killed Bobby.
Where does Frankie find Ariel’s mother of pearl barrette & gold watch near the end of the story?
In the shed at Emil Brandt’s house.
Who is the Greek playwright that Frankie’s father quotes?
Aeschylus. The quote involves the “awful grace of God”.
How does a heating duct become a key element in revealing characters’ secrets?
The church’s duct is stuffed with rags that Gus removes to hear what Norman is saying to parishioners in private in the church.
William Kent Krueger's Web Site
Fantastic Fiction's William Kent Krueger Page
Stop You're Killing Me's William Kent Krueger Page
Cast of Characters -- The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica [July, 2021]
Sadie Foust– the island doctor who is married to Will. They have two boys, Otto and Tate, ages 14 & 7 respectively. Otto was bullied in his Chicago school, which led to a traumatic incident, followed by therapy. He has always been artistic and loves to draw; something he hasn’t done since the incident. They are attempting to have a “clean break” by moving to his deceased sister’s house on this small Maine island.
Will Foust – a college professor. Before he married Sadie, he had been engaged to Erin Sabine, his high school sweetheart. She later died in a tragic car accident. It is after her death that Sadie comes into his life.
Imogen– something else Will and Sadie have inherited from his sister Alice. Their 16 year old niece. She is crass, rude, and aggressive towards both of them. They’re trying to go slow, not only because her mother just died, but the fact that she committed suicide.
George & Poppy Nilsson – Will & Sadie’s neighbors: an elderly man who pushed his wife’s wheelchair around the neighborhood.
Morgan Baines – Sadie & Will’s next door neighbor, only Will has ever spoken with her. She is found stabbed to death in her house.
Jeffrey Baines – Morgan’s husband who works most of the time out of the country.
Camille– the mystery woman & lover in Will’s life. She knows about Sadie but Sadie doesn’t know about her. Will saved her life when he pulled her back from an approaching taxi. She will do anything for Will.
Officer Berg – one of the few patrolmen on the island, he is in charge of the murder case. He’s “in his fifties or sixties, with receding hair and pitted skin. A small tract of hair grows above the upper lip, a would-be mustache, brownish ray like the hair on his head.” From the start, he has misgivings about the whole Foust family, especially when he gets contradictory information from them and other folks on the island.
Mouse– a six year old girl who initially lives with her father alone, as her mother has passed away. Her father remarries, and Mouse calls her Fake Mom. Fake Mom is her stepmother, and she’s abusive with Mouse when her father isn’t around.
Carrie Laemmer– a second-year pre-law student with aspirations of becoming an environmental lawyer. She’s tall, blond and wears tight figure-hugging clothes. Seeing her flirt with Will makes Camille extremely jealous.
Karen & Susan – the women Sadie meets at the memorial service for Morgan. They reveal that Morgan’s mother Patty lost another child besides Morgan. They also tell Sadie that Jeffrey was still married to Courtney when he began an affair with Morgan.
Courtney Baines– Jeffrey’s first wife, mother of the six year old daughter who found Morgan’s body. A tall brunette wearing a bright red dress with a slight show of cleavage watchers can see that she’s focused on Jeffrey & that they seem to have some sort of dispute.
Jackie – a woman in the local restaurant who tells the other locals that the coroner has determined that the weapon that killed Morgan was a boning knife.
Mary Kubica's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Mary Kubica Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Mary Kubica Page
Goodreads did an excellent interview with Mary Kubica featuring The Other Mrs. Click on the Goodreads logo to read the interview.
Cast of Characters -- The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn [July, 2018]
Professor Lila MacLean – the 30-ish, brand-new Americanist & Assistant Professor at the English department at Stonedale University in Denver. She’s got a lot to learn about departmental politics, the difficulties involved in being on the tenure-track, and avoiding arrest for her perceived involvement in the ever-growing number of murders that center on her department.
Millicent Quayle – the executive assistant to the English department chair, she is a “squarish, middle-aged woman whose dull brown hair perfectly matches her suit.” She “practically hum(s) with efficiency” and is the mistress of her domain.
Professor Tad Ruthersford – a member of the English department staff whose recent tenure was nearly turned down based on the chair’s highly negative input on it. He’s related to the Ruthersfords who paid for Ruthersford Hall, and his father is a former professor of the university.
Professor Roland Higgins – is the English department chair. He’s very conservative in his curriculum views and chauvinistic in his views on female writers – and professors. He is dismissive and insulting to Lila Maclean and her publication project that is not only about a female author, but one who wrote mysteries, (genre fiction is highly sub-standard literature in his view. He also holds forth on how junior faculty need to know their place.
Professor Calista James – is Lila’s cousin who encouraged her to apply for the Americanist professorship at the university. She is also a professor in the department, with poetry as her focus. “She [is] blonde and shortish whereas [Lila is] brunette and tallish. Her hair is straight and Lila’s is wavy; her eyes are gray, [Lila’s] are green. They share an inclination to blurt thing out at unfortunate times and a disinclination to suffer injustices quietly – habits that have and will get them into trouble. They are close and completely loyal to each other.
Professor Judith Westerly– Lila’s’ assigned mentor, she is always impeccably, and stylishly dressed with her long white hair swept back in complicated twists. She’s been at Stonedale for almost thirty years and is married to Professor Spencer Bartholomew, a Renaissance scholar like Roland Higgins. Spencer is made interim chair after Roland’s death.
Detective Lexington Archer – a somber-faced man in his late 30s, or early 40s, with sharp cheekbones and a buzz cut, a muscular build and dark hair. He strikes Lila as the kind of guy you’d see playing a Secret Services agent: neatly contained but clearly dangerous. And he is not a fan of Lila – particularly when she’s found at each of the murder scenes…
Professor Norton Smythe– another English faculty member, a fiftyish medieval scholar, who has constantly tried to be elected chair, who shares Higgins’ limiting view of the curriculum and his opinion of women writers. He is also convinced that Calista murdered Roland.
Chancellor Trawley Wellington – the head of the university, a Harvard man “and don’t you forget it”, who is focused on donations to the school – and keeping its name out of bad press.
Professor Nate Clayton – is the other American lit professor who is a Hawthorne scholar who is working on a book about Hawthorne’s “The Blithedale Romance”. He can commiserate with Lila as Roland thinks Nate’s topic is also of little literary significance.
Professor Simone Raleigh – like Lila, she is a new professor in the English department for Victorian literature with a specialty in Charlotte Bronte. Her mother is a former professor from the university, and since her sister Selene interviewed for the position Lila got, she is not particularly friendly to Lila.
Professor Elisabetta Vega – the professor who previously held Lila’s position, there’s some question about whether inappropriate pressure from Roland led to her retirement. She is still involved with the university, and amiably helpful to Lila. She’s good friends with Judith, Willa and Calista as well.
Professor Willa Hartwell – very good friends with Judith, and Calista, together with Judith she is taking Lila under her wing. She’s a drama professor at the university.
Professor Eldon Higgins – the almost look-alike brother of Roland, who is also a Shakespearean scholar. The Chancellor asks him to take over the university’s Shakespeare classes for his deceased brother
Addison Goldman– a professor who teaches Myth and Folklore who was extremely close friends with Roland “although Roland treated him like an indentured servant.”
“Poe Collins” – a name Lila runs across while looking for Roland’s copy of the tenure letter he was writing about Calista. Collins is a literary critic who is scathing in his reviews.
Graphic Crime Quiz
What is there about the design on the knife at the murder scene that ties Calista to it even further than the fact she had it in her office?
She has a tattoo of it on her back.
When Det. Archer is talking with Lila about the canon, he thinks she means a real cannon, like a Revolutionary War cannon. What is she really talking about?
A Canon is a list of texts which over time, people come to see as the most important. The original Sherlock Holmes stories are widely regarded by Sherlockians as “The Canon” also.
What type of weapon does Judith’s attacker use – that Judith herself ends up using later herself?
A heavy book.
Who sent Millicent the flowers with the card signed with the letter B?
Elisabetta, who is Millicent’s beloved half-sister. Millicent calls her Betty.
Cynthia Kuhn's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Cynthia Kuhn Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Cynthia Kuhn Page
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Cast of Characters -- Liar, Liar by K. J. Larsen [October, 2016]
Cat (Caterina) DeLuca – heroine of the story, she’s a 5’10” P.I. with chestnut hair and green eyes who owns her own “Pants On Fire” detective agency, devoted to catching lying, cheating spouses – like her ex, Johnnie Rizzo.
Chance Savino – is the very image of a Man of Mystery. He is introduced as the “lying, cheating bastard” married to Rita Sorvino. Later in the story he’s the bane of Cat’s existence, since no one she talks to will believe he’s not dead.
Cleo Jones – is one of Cat’s clients who not only wants to kill her cheating husband, but join Cat’s agency.
Inga – Cat’s four-footed partner, an “overgrown, energetic beagle” who loves Italian sausage.
Mama DeLuca – the dramatic diva and matriarch of the DeLuca clan, she definitely runs the show, despite the fact all the DeLuca men are cops. She’s determined that Cat give up her “dirty pictures” and become a dispatcher at the police station.
Sophie (DeLuca) – is characterized by Cat as her “wacko, crazy sister”. Known for telling tales, but toeing the line expected of DeLuca women (getting married & having babies) she loves to find fault with Cat.
Papa (Tony) DeLuca – the DeLuca patriarch, a retired Chicago cop who is legend for shot while on duty. By a rookie cop. In the behind. Papa loves to show it to people.
Rocco DeLuca – the eldest of the DeLuca siblings, he is Cat’s favorite. He and his wife Maria, try to support and protect Cat. He’s a well-respected Chicago Detective and has a good partner Jackson, who is “Samoan and built like a government machine. In a world of Fords & Chevys, few argue with a tank.”
Vinnie & Michael DeLuca – Cat’s “meaty” twin brothers, also cops.
Uncle Joey – in his own, semi-legal way, he is a man of mystery. He knows people. And he gets things done.
Rita Savino – is a reporter using this false name to get the goods on one of the questionable leaders in power in Chicago, Eddie Harr. She also volunteered at Kids First, a charity Eddie supports. Cat finds out Rita’s real last name there.
Tino Maroni – “a round bear of a man who gives candy to the neighborhood children and owns Tino’s Deli: his capanota is unrivaled in Chicago – as is Tino’s reputation as a fence, high-stakes gambler, and possible spy.
Larry Harding – the Special Agent at the FBI who very reluctantly sees Cat and denies that Chance is alive. He also denies that the “accident” in which Cat got her concussion and “Chance” died, was a bombing. In short, he too says she’s seeing things.
Eddie Harr – the “fat, bald man” featured in pictures at Kids First that prove he’s one of Chicago’s movers & shakers – who may be involved in something illegal, but no one want to cross him. One of his gang members, A.J. is the tattooed victim of the explosion that caused Cat’s concussion.
Harry Kaplan – Rita’s boss at the newspaper, and a former client of Cat’s. He helps her to leave the newspaper office with Rita’s laptop. He’s the one who led Rita to Cat.
Joe Jr. – Uncle Joey’s computer genius of a son, he helps Cat hack into Rita’s computer.
Father Timothy – the DeLuca seniors’ pastor, “a man who knows all (Cat’s) shit from the confessional”, is often called upon by Mama DeLuca to speak with Cat. He’s a featured speaker at Mama’s Interfering – a.k.a. intervention.
Captain Bob Maxfield – the head of Rocco’s department, he comes down on Cat for compromising an FBI investigation – among other things…
Jack – Cat’s mechanic since she was sixteen, his grease-stained hands are missing a few fingers lost in engines during the years he was drinking. He has a nephew Devlin who Cat went to high school with. Devlin since “did his graduate work in Joliet prison”. Jack’s loan of his pet car Dorothy leads to serious problems for Cat.
Charles Ross – a.k.a., Ratman. He’s the low-life henchman of Eddie Harr who puts the dead rat in Cat’s bed, and has been stalking her since the start of the case.
Tommy – the rookie cop in Rocco’s department who, almost fatally, offers to drive Dorothy home for Cat.
Max Pedersen– the hunky bodyguard hired by Tino to protect Cat. He and Tino have a secret past.
Roger King – the brother of one of Cat’s clients, he hires her to find out if his wife wants to leave him. She wants worse. And Cat thinks he’s perfect for her geeky cousin Ginny.
For Liar, Liar
Despite what Mama DeLuca says, what actually caused Cat’s concussion?
A: “For Lease” sign.
What brand of soda is Cat’s lipsmacker lipstick?Cut
A: Dr. Pepper
What kind of car is Dorothy?
A: A classic Mustang
How does Cat use the wall-full of the pictures Charlie took of her, to her advantage?
A: She uses them to convince Charlie’s Mom that she’s his girlfriend so she can search his room.
What happened to the diamonds in the end?
A: Most of them went to three research hospitals in Rita’s name -- & Cat’s earrings from Uncle Joey!
K.J. Larsen's web site
Fantastic Fiction's K. J. Larsen web page
Stop You're Killing Me's K. J. Larsen page
Click HERE to go to information about Bridgeport, Chicago -- where Cat grew up, and where her parents still live!
Click HERE to go to a savory recipe for Capanota Stuffed Eggplant -- could it be as good as Toni's -- which as we know is "unrivaled in Chiago"?
John Le Carre - A Call for the Dead [September, 2021]
Cast of Characters
Lady Ann Sercomb – the wife of George Smiley until they divorced. They continue to get together even after the divorce. They met when Lady Ann was Steed-Asprey’s secretary.
George Smiley – describes as “short, fat, and of a quiet disposition”. He has a scholastic bend to his interests, including lesser German poets, and “incursions into the mystery of human behavior disciplined by the practical application of his own deductions.” These last interests, in particular, help to make him a highly respected intelligence officer. His first job takes him to a provincial German university to scout out potential agents.
Jebedee – Smiley’s tutor in college. He is the one who set George up for an interview with the “Oversees Committee for Academic Research” – which turns out to be with the Secret Service.
Steed-Asprey – George’s interviewer who first mentions the Secret Service to George. He and Fielding – a French medievalist from Cambridge both work for the Secret Service as well. The group becomes known as “the Circus” due to being found on Cambridge Circus.
Maston – the “career man” from Smiley’s original network of spies. He’s the Ministers’ Advisor on Intelligence. He completely fits in with the brilliantly lit corridors and the smart young men. He’s the one who interfaces with the government and the control group of spies.
Samuel Arthur Fennan – The man Smiley has interviewed to validate Fennan having access to secured documents in the Foreign Office. Smiley tells him he has basically passed, but that’s not what George is told at a later date by Maston.
Peter Guillam – Smiley’s protégé, he’s “a polished and thoughtful man who had specialized in satellite espionage…”the kind of friendly spirit who always has a timetable and a penknife.”
Mrs. Elsa Fennan – Described by Maston as “Foreign. Jewish too, I gather, suffered badly during the war, strong-minded and relatively unmoved by her husband’s death.” Smiley finds her to be “a slight, fierce woman…although frail, she conveyed an impression of endurance and courage. He later finds that she has lied to him. An 8:30 call to her house leads Smiley to further discoveries.
Inspector Mendel – joins Smiley in the investigation into Fennan’s death. He’s described as “a thin, weasel-faced gentleman who spoke very rapidly out of the corner of his mouth. He’s in the CID in Walliston – the town where the Fennan’s live. This case will be his last before retirement.
Adam Scarr– the person that handles scrap metal, second-hand cars, & getting hot cars for nefarious purposes. One of his is the car of the person who snuck into Smiley’s house.
Mrs. Oriel – the woman at the Weybridge Repertory Theatre who talks with Mendel when he checks on seating plans and attendees on the night of Fennan’s murder.
Elizabeth – the young woman at the theatre that tells Mendel how Mrs. Fennan and a man she supposes is her husband bring music cases with them.
Dieter Frey – a young man Smiley once interviewed as a potential agent. He is Jewish, has dark hair, handsome looks, and has to use a cane to walk anywhere. He was a socialist. Smiley characterizes him as “the idol of his generation”. Smiley believes he is too much of a firebrand to be an effective agent. Dieter essentially recruits himself anyway, & Smiley does say that he was a magnificent agent. And he is currently running East German Steel Mission. He thinks Smiley is the best agent he ever met.
Freitag – a nickname Fennan & Dieter found funny for a fellow spy. His actual name is Mundt, and he’s a protégé of Frey’s who is in on the whole game.
John Le Carre's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's John Le Carre Page
Stop You're Killing Me's John Le Carre Page
Links to A Call for the Dead & John Le Carre Fun Facts
British Review of Le Carre's Memoir
John Le Carre - a Bio
So What is a "Music Case" anyway?
According to the Collins dictionary, it is "a kind of briefcase for carrying sheet music". It is still used today. Click here or on the music case graphic above to go to an example from the Swaine Adeney Brigg blog.
(Alec Guinness as Smiley)
Who was George Smiley based on in real life?
(Reverend Vivian Green)
Click on the picture of Reverend Green to learn more about him and his connection with John Le Carre.
A Call for the Dead on Film , TV , and Radio
Call for the Dead was filmed as The Deadly Affair (1966). It was directed by Sidney Lumet from a script by Paul Dehn, and starred James Mason as Charles Dobbs, (not George Smiley, as le Carré had sold the rights to use the name "George Smiley" to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold), Harry Andrews as Mendel, Simone Signoret as Elsa Fennan and Maximilian Schell as Dieter Frey. The major change in the script from the book is the addition of an affair between George's wife Ann and Dieter Frey, which presages the events of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Call for the Dead was first adapted as a BBC Radio 4 drama in 1978. Subsequently, it was the first story to be broadcast in BBC Radio 4's major series to feature all the Smiley novels ("The Complete Smiley"), with Simon Russell Beale in the main role. Other characters and actors are as follows; Inspector Mendel—Kenneth Cranham, Elsa Fennan—Eleanor Bron, Ann Smiley—Anna Chancellor, Peter Guillam—Richard Dillane, Maston—James Laurenson, Dieter Frey—Henry Goodman, Adam Scarr/Mundt—Sam Dale, Ludo Oriel—Janice Acquah, Nursing Sister—Caroline Guthrie with Benjamin Askew and Jonathan Tafler. The novel was adapted as a 90-minute drama by Robert Forrest, produced by Patrick Raynor, and was transmitted, also on BBC Radio 4, on 23 May 2009. ~ Courtesy of Wikipedia
Attica Locke - Bluebird, Bluebird [October, 2019]
Cast of Characters
Geneva Sweet – the African American grandmother of Faith, who owns and runs Geneva Sweet’s Sweets, a small café in the small town of Lark off Highway 59 where she makes the “Best Fried Pies in Shelby County”. Widow of a noted musician, Joe Sweet, and the mother of Lil’ Joe. Both were killed years ago. And now there’s the dead body of a white woman, Melissa, “Missy” Dale, found in the bayou behind Geneva’s café.
Wendy – Geneva’s sometime “business associate” who displays her wares on a blanket outside the café.
Sheriff Parker Van Horn – the local lawman in Shelby County, he is in charge of looking into Missy’s death, as well as that of a black man who has also been found dead the week before.
Isaac Snow – a “slender man in his late fifties, light-skinned, with coppery freckles.” He rents fifty square feet at the end of the food service area from Geneva to run his barber business.
Darren Mathews – the black Texas Ranger and former University of Chicago law student, who becomes involved in both cases while initially on suspension pending a trial back in Houston that involves the defendant, Rutherford “Mack” McMillan, long-time friend of his family. Mack looks out for Darren’s family’s property in Camilla, where Darren was raised. Mack is accused of killing Ronnie Malvo, a white criminal who had hassled Mack’s niece, Breanna. The grand jury involved in the case suspect that Darren may have hidden Mack’s missing gun.
Lisa – Darren’s wife is furious with him for going to Mack’s house the night of the shooting, and for giving up becoming a lawyer to follow his revered uncle William into the Rangers; a move that also disappointed his other uncle, Clayton. She’s even less pleased when he agrees to do a favor for a mutual friend of theirs, FBI agent, Greg Heglund – a favor that takes him to Shelby County to look into the death of the black man who was found there.
Ranger Fred Wilson – Darren’s boss and lieutenant, he was reluctant to put Darren on the taskforce into the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) an extremely violent hate group with heavy duty drug connections. Wilson was also an admirer and friend of Darren’s uncle William.
Michael Wright – the black lawyer whose drowning in the Attoyac Bayou is suspicious; especially since it is likely tied to the death of the white woman, Missy Dale found a quarter of a mile downstream from him. Darren sees uncomfortable parallels between his background and Michael’s.
Bell Callis – Darren’s slatternly, alcoholic, mother who was married to Darren’s father, William and Clayton Mathews’ younger brother Darren (known as Duke), who died in a helicopter accident in Vietnam. Darren was raised by his Matthews relatives. She’s constantly in need of money.
Naomi Matthews – the widow of William Matthews, now married to his brother Clayton. Darren views Clayton’s present romance with her as Naomi, “clinging to matching DNA, a perfect science that made for what had to be a second-rate romance”.
Randie Winston – Michael’s wife, a highly successful photographer who, despite the fact they were separated and that Michael had cheated on her, is determined to get to the bottom of Michael’s death.
Missy Dale – the other victim, a “graduate of Timpson High School, enrolled for a semester and a half in cosmetology studies at Panola College, she was most recently a waitress at Jeff’s Juice House, an icehouse right off 59 in Lark.” Her husband Keith Avery Dale, works for Timpson Timber Holdings, and is “fresh from a two-year stint as the Walls (prison) in Huntsville on drug possession and intent to sell.” He is possibly a member of ABT.
Wallace “Wally” Jefferson III – is “six two in boots, and had a wide head and black hair he’d tamed into a thin pompadour, streaks of gray taking over at the temples… he wore a wedding band studded with a diamond” and he owns the “odd redbrick house across the highway” with a view of Geneva Sweet’s Sweets from his front parlor. He’s the big fish in this small pond, and Sheriff Van Horn defers to him when he can.
Laura Jefferson – Wally’s wife, and the one who is taking care of Missy’s baby, Keith Jr.
Brady – the manager of Jeff’s Juice House, the icehouse that Wally owns, where Missy had worked and Michael had spoken to her. He was one of the guys with ABT tattoos who kicked Randie & Darren off the property at one point. Lynn, another waitress there tells Darren Missy waited on Michael, & that they walked out together.
Booker Wright – Michael’s uncle who played with Joe Sweet in his Joe Sweet Midnight Revelers band.
Graphic Crime Quiz for Bluebird, Bluebird
Why did Michael Wright come to Lark, Texas anyway?
He wanted to return Joe Sweet’s guitar to him.
Why does the waitress Lynn bitterly tell Darren “Some folks never learn” when talking about Missy?
Because she had fooled around with Lil’ Joe as well as flirted with Michael.
What does Wally’s “odd redbrick house” resemble?
Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello
What is the significance of the new oak tree on Darren’s property in Camilla?
Darren’s mom finds a .38 buried in the dirt around the tree.
Attica Locke's Website
Fantastic Fiction's Attica Locke Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Attica Locke Page
Dying to try Fried Fruit Pies? Here's just one recipe!
"Ice House" definitely means something different in East Texas -- among other places...
Learn more about both the history & current state of The Texas Rangers -- from its Official Historical Center
(We were specifically interested in the section on "What Texas Rangers Do")
Where exactly does Highway 59 run?
The Attoyac Bayou is a real place -- check it out!
Part of Darren's ancestry is Caddo Indian. This is a real Native American Tribe. Read more about it!
Even little Camilla, Texas in real!
Gytha Lodge - She Lies in Wait [February, 2020]
Gythsa Lodge's Facebook Link
Fantastic Fiction's Gytha Lodge Page
Goodreads Gytha Lodge Listing
G. M. Malliet - Wicked Autumn [October, 2018]
Cast of Characters
Elka Garth – Owner of the Cavalier Tea Room and Garden, and mother of the feckless Clayton, she was pressured by a relentless Wanda to donate her services for the Harvest Fayre.
Awena Owen – Owner of Goddessspell, the village’s New Age shop. Down-to-earth Awena predicted cosmic consequences if Wanda were not brought under control.
Maxen “Max” Tudor – A former MI5 agent turned Anglican priest, he thought he’d found a measure of peace in the idyllic South West English village of Nether Monkslip until murder invaded his Garden of Eden.
Gun Nicholls – Cher and restauranteur, he was also dragooned by a persistent Wanda into donating his services to the Fayre.
Dr. Bruce Winship – An expert in general ailments, he reveled in theories of how the criminal mind operates.
Major Batton-Smythe – Wanda’s long-suffering husband, he claimed to be quite fond of his wealthy wife.
Tara Raine – A lithe, attractive yoga instructor, she rented studio space at Godessspell.
Frank Cuthbert – Local historian, author (Wherefore Nether Monkslip), and husband of Mme. Lucie Cuthbert, who was proprietress of La Maison Bleue, Frank clashed with Wanda over his beloved books.
Mrs. Hooser – Max’s housekeeper at the Vicarage, and the mother of Tildy Ann and Tom.
Noah Caraway – Wealthy owner of Noah’s Ark Antiques and of Abbot’s Lodge, site of the fatal Harvest Fayre.
Constable Musteile – An officious man, he was the first official on the scene of the crime.
Detective Chief Inspector Cotton – The kinetic DCI was dispatched from Monkslip-super-Mare to investigate a most suspicious death.
Detective Sargent Essex – DCI Cotton’s assistant.
Miss Agnes Pitchford – A retired schoolmistress, prim Miss Pitchford was a walking cross-indexed repository of all village gossip.
Jasper Batton-Smythe – Absent son of Wanda and the Major, and a talented young man with a burgeoning artistic career.
Lawrence Hawker – Jasper’s friend-turned-enemy from his school days.
Lydia Lace – Acolyte at St. Edwold’s, she knew she was not just seeing things when she spotted a killer.
Graphic Crime Quiz for Wicked Autumn
What did Wanda always keep in her purse that was missing at the scence of the crime?
What is the “backbone”, the true power group in Nether Monkslip?
The Women’s Institute – which Wanda commands!
What was the significance of the Shepherdess figurine in the Village Hall?
It was a signal between Wanda and her admirer that the coast was clear to meet.
Miss Pitchford heard Wanda say “key” before entering the Village Hall – but what did Wanda really say?
Guy (pronounced like “Key”, in French)
G.M. Malliet's Website
Fantastic Fiction's G.M. Malliet Page
Stop You're Killing Me's G. M. Malliet Page
Sujata Massey - The Widows of Malabar Hill [October, 2020]
Sujata Massey's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Sujata Massey Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Catriona McPherson Page
Catriona McPherson - Dandy Gilver & A Deadly Measure of Brimstone [April, 2015]
From Catriona: The World of Dandy Gilver, for Brimstone beginners
Dandy Gilver – (née Leston), 43,our heroine, English but living in Scotland for more than half her life. She was brought up by Nanny Palmer, Mademoiselle Toulemonde and the mistresses at her finishing school. Her life was set – but see below.
Hugh Gilver, - 50, Dandy’s husband. Scottish. Hugh was born and will die at Gilverton, in Perthshire, like many of his forefathers and – he hopes – many of his descendants. He improves the land drains and the tree plantations and tolerates Dandy’s career. Just.
Donald Gilver, - 18, Hugh and Dandy’s elder son and Hugh’s heir. Donald is not academic and has taken on the neighbouring estate of Benachally instead of going to university.
Teddy Gilver - 17, Hugh and Dandy’s second son and Hugh’s ‘spare’. Clever, mischievous, amused by his father, devoted to his mother and usually pitched in competition with his brother.
Alec Osborne, - 39, Dandy’s Watson and the other half of the detective agency “Gilver and Osborne: servants of truth.” Dandy and Alec met during what turned into their first case (see After The Armistice Ball). Alec was engaged to Cara Duffy when what started as a jewel theft - the mystery of the Duffy diamonds – turned into a murder with Cara’s death. Alec has not replaced her in the seven years since.
Mr Pallister - 58, the Gilvers’ butler. Pallister is Hugh’s ally in all things and does not approve of Gilver and Osborne.
Mrs Tilling - 61, the Gilvers’ cook. Mrs T is fond of the whole family and does her best to cook less Scottishly for Dandy.
Miss Grant - 40, Dandy’s maid. Grant comes from a theatrical background and loves fashion. She knew about Gilver and Osborne long before Dandy officially told her and she is itching to help.
Bunty - 14, Dandy’s Dalmatian. The dog of her life and her closest friend.
Our Story’s Cast of Characters!
Mrs. Enid Addie – the recently deceased mother of Herbert Addie and Mrs. Jas. Bowie (née Addie) from Edinburgh, whose death at the Laidlaw Hydropathic Establishment in Moffat is the main case Gilver & Osborne investigate in this story.
Dr. Ramsay – the doctor who signed Mrs. Addie’s death certificate – even though Dr. Laidlaw was present when Mrs. Addie died.
Mrs. Cronin – the “magnificent figure…quite six feet tall in her flat shoes and tremendously ill served as to ligne by her plain white dress…on her head was a confection o fstarched linen, twisted & folded into a fantastical shape”. Dandy speaks of her as “the matron” of the Hydropathy Establishment.
Thomas (Tot) Laidlaw– described by Dandy as having a “sleek, pink face, confident manned and … fruity voice” he forms a great contrast with his sister, the current Dr. Dorothea Laidlaw at the Hydro. She and Alec find him almost immediately to be a questionable character, while his sister “dressed in rather plain tweeds and one of those very soft felt has which look as though a limp lettuce leaf has been laid on one’s head and left to wilt there” is demonstrably committed to her medical research, & keeping the Hydro running.
Regina – the “round little person” who works in the Hydro baths and massage areas – and is worked on by Dandy to get answers about Mrs. Addie’s death.
Sergeant Simpson – the Moffat policeman who was called by Dr. Laidlaw when Mrs. Addie was discovered dead. He is also the first to tell Dandy that according to Dr. Laidlaw Mrs. Addie had suffered a shock: she’d been frightened by a ghost that she saw.
<Madame Molyneaux – one of the leaders of the mediums (including Mrs. Scott) who descend on the Hydro when news of ghost sightings reached her.
Olivia – the “white-face womand with thin pale hair and enormous pale green eyes like gooseberries”. A member of Mrs. Molyneaux group. They lead Dandy to researching local hauntings like Devil’s Beef Tub, Gallow Hill, and the Black Bull Inn were a century previous, either William Burke or William Hare was supposed to have stopped the night.
Loveday Merrick – the Great Personage Dandy meets wearing “a homburg hat as glossy as an otter and an astrakhan coat (Persian lamb) … [carrying an ebony cane that has] an ebony knob … and his tie was yellow satin”. He is almost revered by the spiritualists and has a definite otherworldly purpose in coming to the Hydro.
Gilchrist – Hugh’s factor (man of business) who Dandy involves in getting central heating for Gilverton and Benachally, the Gilvers’ two estates.
Catriona McPherson's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Catriona McPherson Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Catriona McPherson Page
Catriona McPherson - Quiet Neighbors [October, 2017]
Cast of Characters
Jude – (Jemimah Hamner?) the main protagonist of the story, we only learn about her in relation to the pieces of her life we know from before she comes to Wigtown, and what we learn about her current life working in the Lowland Glen bookshop, building relationships with Lowell, Eddy and the townspeople – present and past. She’s harboring a huge secret that could affect the new life she’s attempting to have.
Lowland (Lowell) Glen – Lowell is uniformly kind and a bit eccentric. He’s had a mildly “wild” past with a group of semi-hippies about 20 years ago, and that makes it possible for Eddy, who shows up on his doorstep, to really be his daughter. He loves the work Jude is doing to organize and set up the bookshop for better sales, but refuses to let either she or Eddy see his secret photo collection. In addition to owning the bookshop, he has his family’s home, Jamaica House, a cottage, and the former surgery made into a bungalow.
Dr. Glen – Doctor Glen was a force to be reckoned with in the town, and fairly rigid in his relationship with Lowell. He was disappointed that Lowell did not follow his footsteps into medicine, which led to Lowell working in a nursing home before he came into his inheritance from his grandmother.
Max Hamner – Jude’s former husband, and ambulance paramedic. He cheated on Jude with Raminder (also a paramedic) who he later married and had a child with. They named the child Jade. Max is also a habitual drinker – though Jude denies he was an alcoholic.
Eddy Preston – the nineteen year-old who shows up on Lowell’s doorstep, pregnant, with nowhere to go. Her mother, Miranda, has passed away, and her stepfather is less than helpful. She’s hoping to learn more about her mother from Lowell, and the events of the spring & summer Miranda and others spent at Jamaica House. Jude has suspicions about Eddy’s pregnancy that she, so far, is keeping to herself.
Miranda Preston – a larger-than-life person with thick, dark hair, red lips and an Amazonian frame. She arrives with Inez at Lowell’s house and even the pictures Inez took show how charismatic a person she was.
Dave Preston – married Miranda and Eddy’s his stepdaughter. He’s part of the commune group that Eddy’s left and she infers that while he wasn’t a bad person, he was rough on her – and he’s not a source for help.
Etta Bell Day – Jude learns of Etta (Henrietta) through her “T. Jolly notes” in his book club books. She was an old friend of both Archie & Todd Jolly. Jude later learns she was born a McLennan.
Lorna McLennan – another old woman Jude learns about through Todd. She was Jackie’s aunt and book club friends with Todd Jolly, Archie, and Etta Bell Day.
Mrs. Hewston – is the former nurse who lives in the bungalow that was the surgery. Her adored Dr. Glen set that up for her on his retirement – to spite his son, who Mrs. H can’t stand. She’s intrusive, opinionated, and rigid, living more in the past then the present. She’s also starting to become confused and forgetful, and she has vital information for the questions that Jude has raised about the older folks in Todd Jolly’s circle who’ve passed away.
T. Jolly (Todd) – was married to Margaret Payne & had two kids: Todd & Angela. After her death, he joined into a number of the town’s activities, and used the books from the book club his daughter signed him up for, to leave comments on the books which entertain Jude, and statements of a serious nature that Jude can’t puzzle out. He died in May 1985. Jude comes to live in his former cottage.
Archie Patterstone – was one of Dr. Glen's last patients, and one of the first that Jude learns about from the gravestones near the Jolly cottage when she moves in there.
Jackie McLennan – works at the Co-op & newsagents store that includes the post office. She shared information about the town and its people with Jude – up to a point. When Jude starts asking about the book club members who have passed, Jackie not only gets upset with her – she ends up in a hospital emergency room.
Raminder (Mindy) Hamner – is Max's mistress & 2nd wife. She, Max and their baby Jade, all prey on Jude’s mind – and conscience.
Norma Oughton – was the wife of Frank, and mother of Frances & Peter. She was against improvements her sons wanted to make at the dairy farm. She wanted it to run the way her husband had set up. Her death in December 1983, marks the beginning of the book club members’ deaths.
Liam Doyle & Terry Ennis – are soon to be the parents of Eddy’s baby. She’s acting as their surrogate, and hasn’t told them she’s left Ireland after her mother died.
Elspeth Day – Elsie is another deceased book club friend. After she died, Elsie’s daughter moved into the house.
Maureen Bell – is the owner of the charity resale shop in town, and is related to Etta Bell. She too is a source of town gossip – until Jude’s questions get into the sore points about the death of Etta & the others.
Billy McLennan – is Jackie’s ailing husband. Jude and Eddy go to see him after Jackie is taken to the hospital. They hope to find out what caused the attack that sent Jackie there. A cousin of Maureen Bell wipes Jackie’s phone log so they can’t find out who Jackie met outside prior to the attack.
Inez Cato – Characterized as “small, pale, lost Inez who everyone forgot to mention because beside the other girl [Miranda] she simple faded”. She was the photographer the summer they all stayed with Lowell.
Tom & Bernie – the two paramedic pals of Max and Raminder who come to the house after Raminder’s fall is called in.
What is the name of the author whose book Jude is so excited to find?
O. Douglas – the sister of author John Buchan; her real name was Anna Buchan
What did Jude say to 999 when she called them on Raminder’s phone?
“He pushed me.”
What does the O.J. Simpson scandal have to do with Eddy’s birthday?
Absolutely nothing! The “terrible event in America” was the Oklahoma bombing, which was pretty near Dallas (roughly 3 hours away) – where Lowell was at the time.
What are the “odd” photos in Lowell’s collection pictures of?
“Victorian Memento Mori Pictures” that show living relatives with a dead relative in them, or a dead relative positioned to look alive.
What does Todd Jolly mean in the note he left that said “I will tell Dr. Glen enough is enough”?
Todd is convinced that Dr. Glen is killing off the last of his patients.
What two things were buried in the garden?
Inez and the engagement ring Lowell gave her.
Catriona McPherson's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Catriona McPherson Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Catriona McPherson Page
Jenny Milchman - Cover of Snow [May, 2015]
Nora Hamilton – Widow of Brendan, a cop in the small Adirondack town of Wedeskyull who appears to have committed suicide by hanging. What would make a good man do a very bad thing?
Teggie – Nora’s sister and aspiring ballet dancer. She loved Brendan and speaks her mind. She loves and supports Nora, but finds her a bit weak, unable to face harsh issues.
Club Mitchell – Brendan’s partner on the police force, he’s not as supportive of Nora as she has assumed he would be. His huge black lab, Weekend, is far more friendly and comforting. His mother Ada lets Nora know that Club’s father Burt, had also been a policeman, and that his death was considered accidental by the police.
Police Chief Vern Weathers – the current generation’s Chief Weathers, he is a bear of a man. Vern’s father Franklin, and his father before him have all been the chief of police in Wedeskyull. He takes this very seriously and will do anything to do what he thinks needs doing to protect his town. In this he is aided by his brother Dave who is also a Wedeskyull cop.
Eileen Hamilton – Brendan’s mother who lives in one of two twin foursquares in town. Her late husband Bill’s sister, Jean, lives in the twin. She is a hard, bitter, woman who doesn’t particularly like Nora -- or Brendan for that matter.
Jean Hamilton– Brendan’s aunt (his father’s sister), a large and loving woman who owns the house that Brendan and Nora live in, and was letting them make small payments on to buy it from her. She has been pretty and slim in the past, but her love of food has made her quite heavy. She and her deceased brother Bill (also a cop) were Brendan’s main source of love.
Ned Kramer – the lanky, red-headed local reporter, he met Nora during the course of the article he wrote about her business. He now wants her to renovate his rather dilapidated Victorian and help her to get answers about her husband’s death.
Dugger McKenzie – the autistic man who works for Al Meter at Al’s Gas & Service – the place where all police officers and their families take their vehicles for service. Nora meets Dugger when she’s pulled over by Vern for a broken taillight on her way to talk to Donny Brannigan, the pharmacist. He’s a gifted mechanic, and uses rhyming trying to express thoughts concerning troubling aspects of the case.
Gregory “Red” Hamilton – Brendan’s little brother who died as a child.
Officer Tim Lurcquer – he and Club are involved in covering up a death in a shallow grave using equipment from Lenny Paulson, owner of the local concrete company, who is tight with Vern.
Gabriel Deacon – the owner/manager of the Gabriel Deacon Dance Company, he and Teggie are headed for a serious relationship. He is kind and supportive of Nora as well.
Gilbert Landry – the former soldier now working as one of Vern’s cops. Brendan characterized him as “a firecracker, always ready to go off.
Melanie Cooper – approached Nora after a meeting in Troy, NY about her husband John, who has gone missing from Wedeskyull. He had been working at Lenny Paulson’s plant.
The Golden-Haired Young Man in the Stonelickers T-shirt – Dugger takes Nora to the place where he found the young man.
Dick Granger– the relatively new owner of the inn in Cold Kettle where the Stonelickers bar is also located. He puts Nora in touch with Liv Peterson, the grandmother of the boy in the T-shirt.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for Cover of Snow
And here are the questions (and answers) for the Cast of Characters graphics for Cover of Snow.
Please note some answers may be potential spoilers!!
Rope: Where did Brendan find the rope he used?
A: At his mother’s house in her “special” room.
Two items Bill made had leather covers: one was Brendan’s photo album – what was the other?
A: His secret diary
What was the drug that was in Nora’s glass the night before Brendan died?
A: Sonodrine. A prescription Nora had no idea Brendan had. The red mark on the label has special significance, & leads Nora to question even more what happened on the 16th…
Who do you hear on the tape Duggery gives to Nora?
A: Police chief Vern Weathers, his brother, and his father – who was police chief at the time.
What color are the hockey laces in the story, and how are they used?
A: The red laces are from Brendan’s hockey skates – which Nora never knew he had – and date from his brother’s death. They are used in Brendan’s suicide.
Jenny's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's List of Jenny's Books
Stop You're Killing Me's Jenny Milchman Page
Jenny writes about "Cover of Snow"
Allison Montclair [October 21, 2021]
First comes love, then comes murder.
In a London slowly recovering from World War II, two very different women join forces to launch a business venture in the heart of Mayfair--The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Miss Iris Sparks, quick-witted and impulsive, and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, practical and widowed with a young son, are determined to achieve some independence and do some good in a rapidly changing world.
But the promising start to their marriage bureau is threatened when their newest client, Tillie La Salle, is found murdered and the man arrested for the crime is the prospective husband they matched her with. While the police are convinced they have their man, Miss Sparks and Mrs. Bainbridge are not. To clear his name--and to rescue their fledging operation's reputation--Sparks and Bainbridge decide to investigate on their own, using the skills and contacts they've each acquired through life and their individual adventures during the recent war.
Little do they know that this will put their very lives at risk. -- Summary courtesy of Goodreads
And Laurie R. King has this to say about this book:
"A delightful immersion in the period and personalities, with that touch of depth that transforms a good series to a great one.
Cast of Characters
Tillie La Salle – A hopeful client of The Right Sort of Man marriage bureau, she is pretty and eager to find a suitable husband – but the two owners of the bureau feel “something not quite right about her”…
Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge – One of the two owners of The Right Sort of Man bureau. She is a tall, sophisticated blonde who is definitely a member of the upper classes. Yet she is a very personable, friendly person who has lost her husband during the war and has a young son named after him – Ronnie Jr. who is the most important person in her world. She was so in love with her husband that she was sent to a psychiatric clinic, and her in-laws were granted custody of her son. She is exceptionally good at reading people.
Miss Iris Sparks – She is nicknamed Sparks by the many people of all classes that she has connected with. A small brunette with an outgoing, devil-may-care attitude, and a slightly outrageous way of expressing herself. It becomes clear that she has had an adventurous – even dangerous life. Her work during the WWII remains a secret. And that becomes increasingly annoying to Gwen.
Mr. Angus MacPherson – the office building manager where The Right Sort of Man is located.
Mr. Alfred Manners – a dustman who comes to the Right Sort after Tillie has left. He makes his own inquiries into the business and seems to be interested in it – until Gwen lets him know that five pounds are needed upfront.
Mr. Dickie Trower – the client Gwen & Iris think would be a great match for Tillie. He’s an “accountant but he comes from working-class people”, and he has a goldfish named Herbert.
Andrew – Iris’s lover who is married to Poppy. He and Iris have a common bond from their days in the secret services during the war. He brings her Vol de Nuit from Paris. He is a continental traveler, and still part of the organization they were in. He conveys a message from their boss who wants Iris to rejoin.
Dr. Milford – Gwen’s psychiatrist. He genuinely cares about her health.
Lady Carolyne Bainbridge – Gwen’s mother-in-law otherwise known as the dragon lady. Her husband, Lord Harold Bainbridge. He is currently in Africa. They is very unsympathetic towards Gwen. Lady Carolyne constantly needles Gwen about working at The Right Sort, let alone co-owning it. And she’s not above considering grounds to have Gwen re-committed to an asylum.
Constable Larkin – together with Detective Superintendent Phillip Parham & Detective Sargent Mike Kinsey he’s one of the policeman who first questions Iris and Gwen about Iris about Tillie – and they tell the two that Tillie has been murdered. They also reveal that Tillie was stabbed through the heart. We also learn that D.S. Kinsey has had a tumultuous history with Sparks but is engaged to marry Beryl Stansfield.
Sir Geoffrey – Gwen and Iris’ solicitor. He advises them to cooperate with the police.
The Brigadier – Iris and Mike’s superior during the War.
Phillip Carter/Gareth Pontefract – The sleazy reporter for the Daily Mirror who tries to pass as a client but Iris & Gwen easily reveal his real name and job. Neither are appealing to them.
Mrs. Dowd – the woman who lets rooms at the boarding house where Dickie Trower lives.
Salvatore Danielli – a.k.a Sally. The large, broad-chested man who helps Iris and Gwen to collect fees that clients haven’t paid, like Mr. & Mrs. Cornwall. His thoroughly frightening & menacing facial expression does half the work for him. His subtle threats do the rest. He’s actually another friend of Iris’ from their war years, who is now a budding playwright.
Percival – the Bainbridges’ snooty butler.
Elsie and Fanny – the two friends of Tillie’s that they meet at Grimble and Sons for Tillie’s wake. The friends are able to shed more light on Tillie’s not so legal activities.
Des -- the dock worker who befriends Gwen in her role as “Sophie” to Iris’ “Mary”. He’s the one who tells Gwen about Tillie’s ex-boyfriend,
Roger Pilcher. He’s “tall, dark, and handsome. The girls recognize him as having been a totally different person with a different name.
Jessie Kemp – Iris’ “insider” with the police.
Mr. Martin Tolbert – the owner of Tolbert’s Fine Clothing store, the place where Tillie worked. When they go there, both Iris and Gwen believe there’s something “off’ about him.
Archie – the “spiv” who “finds” banned nylons for women. He is a “powerfully built man who expects – and gets – locals to part before him. Both Tillie and Elsie have gotten them from him.
J. B. Smalley – yet another friend of Iris’ – who also happens to have a crime record. He shares information on printing and copying.
Allison Montclair's Publisher Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's List of Allison Montclair Books
Stop You're Killing Me's Allison Montclair Page
Links to The Right Sort of Man Fun Facts
Wikipedia's entry about Dating Agencies/Marriage Bureaus
Britannica's entry on Britain since 1945
BBC article on the end of rationing in Britain
Life in London after WWII
ing Agencies/Marriage Bureaus
Erica Ruth Neubauer [February 18, 2021]
Cast of Characters
Jane Wunderly – Recently -- & happily – young widow who had a deeply, unhappy marriage. She’s made the trip with her aunt, and it is her first trip out of America.
Millie Stanley – Jane’s well-endowed Aunt, who is paying for their trip. Jane’s husband Grant had been Millie’s husband’s nephew. She is on the hunt for a new husband for Jane – as well as forming a new friendship with two young women, Lillian & Marie. Her main requirements: quality liquor & a warm climate.
Mr. Redvers – a handsome Brit who supposedly works for a bank. He has a notable coolness towards Colonel Stainton.
Colonel Justice Stainton – an older, ex-British Officer who takes a liking to Jane. She likes him too – despite his spoiled, man-hungry, daughter Anna who had dubious morals.
Mr. Amon Samara – a “caramel-skinned man in a pristine white linen suit.” – and a man of mystery. Jane soon learns that he has a certain reputation, “not the kind to be discussed with young ladies”. Jane’s aunt doesn’t hide her dislike for the man.
Zaki – the Egyptian head waiter at the Mena House. He is quick to please, and proud of his position at the hotel.
Miss Lillian Hughes is one of the two girls “barely in their twenties” that Aunt Millie has taken up. She is a tall, trim girl who is a very, talented golfer. Her friend Marie Collins, hero-worships her.
Dr. Williams – an Australian, former Major & army doctor who lives at the hotel and sees to ailing guests. Jane suspects he is involved in the drug trade. He is the first potential suspect to own a service revolver from his time in the military.
Inspector Hamadi – the small, grim-faced detective in charge of the murder case. He’s particularly suspicious about Jane.
Deanna & Charlie Parks – a honeymooning couple who work in vaudeville. Charlie is a master at card tricks, and reminds Jane of someone. She comes to like the fun-loving pair very much.
Hasan – the young server at the hotel who unknowingly brought Jane more than her cup of tea…
Nenet – the young woman who has a dressmaking business & comes to the hotel with outfits for Millie and Jane to try on.
Erica Ruth's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Erica Ruth Neubauer Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Erica Ruth Neubauer Page
Jill Orr - The Goodbye Line [May 2019]
Cast of Characters
Riley Ellison – the millennial-aged heroine who is “not-quite” a librarian nor a journalist, but has unacknowledged aspirations for the later – especially for writing obituaries like her beloved grandfather was famous for writing. A twist in fate leads to her being asked to write the obituary for Jordon James, a former friend, an ambitious, talented journalist who was working on the Tuttle Times. Riley just can’t believe Jordon took her own life – and begins to research this as well.
Skip and Jeanie Ellison – Riley’s parents who perform as the Rainbow Connection playing guitar and singing to the under-six set.
Ryan Sanford – the boyfriend Riley met in high school, and was sure she was fated to marry. He tells her he still loves her – but moves to Colorado, and into a new relationship with a Swedish snowboarder named Ridley.
Charlotte Van Stone – one of the Tuttle Corner Johnnycake Festival organizers who bulldozes Riley into judging the three-legged race, since Riley no longer has Ryan to partner with her.
Mr. Kevin Monroe – Riley’s and Jordan’s middle school social studies teacher, is now the county prosecutor.
Dr. Hershel Harbinger – the head of the Tuttle Corner Library, a professor of library science at Cardwell College, and Riley’s boss. He’s been acting oddly of late – even dangerously so.
Tabitha – the Tuttle Corner professional librarian who is only too happy to keep reminding Riley that Riley is not a librarian.
Mrs. Deborah James – Jordan’s distraught mother who, along with Riley, is convinced that Jordan’s death was not a suicide. She is the one who asks Riley to do Jordan’s obituary. Jordan’s father, Robert, is more accepting of it, but is devastated by the loss.
Albert Ellison – Riley’s grandfather, whose death was also determined to be a suicide by the local police. Riley’s adamant refusal to believe this lead her to write a now-infamous op-ed to the paper the she herself called “scathing” about the shoddy police work done on her grandfather’s case.
Hal Flick – was one of Riley’s grandfather’s best friends and a newspaper colleague of his as well. He also tried to talk her out of publishing the op-ed, and they have been estranged ever since.
Ajay257 – a.k.a Ajay Badal – the Click.com match for Riley who is a cute professor at Cardwell College, an explosives expert, and a “certified forensic geotechnical scientist”. He and Riley manage to connect despite several dating horror events, but as the story progresses, she becomes convinced he’s hiding a secret that impacts her investigation into Jordan’s death.
Kay Jackson – the Tuttle Times managing editor. She is able to fill Riley in on much of Jordan’s work life, and Jordan’s interest in the Juan Pablo Romero project to donate a large plot of land to the Tuttle County Parks Department. Juan Pablo’s uncle Mateo is a small-time kingpin in New Jersey. Juan Pablo broke with his uncle and has since opened numerous successful Romero restaurants. He is also running successful Tacos Los Locos food trucks up and down the East Coast.
Will Holman – an eccentric but brilliant and award-winning investigative journalist. He becomes interested in Riley’s pursuit of truth for Jordan. He had Jordan assisting him with his investigation into the Juan Pablo Romero story, and he tells Riley that Jordan had a boyfriend no one knew about.
Sheriff Joe Tackett – The sheriff who wouldn’t pursue other directions when Riley’s grandfather’s death was called a suicide. He also won’t do anything more about Jordan’s death.
Deputy Sheriff Carl Haight – Carl is more sympathetic with Riley and is also bothered by the manner of Jordan’s death.
Mark Twain – the alias used by the person who is trying to bully Dr. H into accepting the bookmobile offer. He brings Charles Dickens and F. Scott Fitzgerald with him on his second visit to push the bookmobile deal through. They tell him things could “blow-up in his face”. Twain is later identified as Fausto Gonzalez, head of security for Romero’s LLC.
Gail York – Ryan’s cousin who mans the front desk at the police station.
Graphic Crime Quiz for The Good Byline
What was the name Riley and Jordan used to publish their junior high “Obituary” column under?
The Obit Girls
What is the name of Riley’s “Personal Romance Concierge” on Click.com?
How did Jordan die?
The killer overdosed her insulin.
Why does Riley’s library boss, Dr. H, shoot his orchid plant?
He’s trying to protect himself and the library from the goons who are pressuring him to agree to a donation of library bookmobiles.
Jill's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Jill Orr Page
Has Coltrane Made You Interested in Police Dogs? Click on this!
In Honor of Tuttle Corner's Johnnycake Festival: Here's More on What They Are
And Here's a Recipe for Making Them!
More on what the DEA actually does Drug Enforecement Administration (DEA)
Chris Pavone - The Expats [June, 2014]
Cast of Characters
Kate Moore – formerly Kat or Katherine, she’s changed her name to suit her new expat status in Luxembourg. It isn’t the first time she’s had a different identity – but this time, her husband knows about it. Her secret is central to the plot – in which she discovers, she’s not the only one with a highly charged covert activity.
Dexter Moore – Kate’s husband, an expert in computer system security. He’s been hired to test a bank’s security software in Luxembourg, and his long hours at work becomes contentious with Kate. She’s initially annoyed, but later suspicious of what exactly he is doing. Jake & Ben are their two young boys.
Joe – Katherine’s boss – who lets her know there’ll be lots of interviews to go through before she leaves her job in the U.S.
Lorenzo Romero – the first man Katherine ever killed.
Adam – a “squared-off ex-military type” one of “tens of thousands of people over the globe” that her company employs. He is Kate’s final exit interviewer.
Julia Maclean – a fellow expat, her husband also works in finance. She is a blue-eyed blonde in her mid-30s who is pretty but not beautiful, and whose garrulousness takes Kate aback. “The more distinctive a surface personality appeared, the more Kate was convinced that it was a veneer.”
Bill Maclean – Julia’s husband. An “alpha male” who is “one of those experts in everything, a guy who had a favorite Alp resort and Caribbean island and Bordeaux vintage; he’d researched ski bindings and tennis strings, had a preferred British rugby team and cult sixties TV show. Dexter was in awe of him.”
Evan – another one of Katherine’s interviewers, he is the one to finally ask her about Eduardo Torres.
Hayden – shows up at a clandestine museum meeting with Kate wearing a sport jacket and necktie and pocket square, flannel trousers and suede shoes. He sports horn-rimmed glasses, carefully groomed silver hair, and could be anywhere between 45 and sixty years old. He offers up bits of trivia for Kate to rate whenever they meet. He is an old co-worker and he has become an important person in Europe. Kate hopes he will help her find out more about the Macleans.
Plain Jane – one of Kate & Julia’s circle of expat wives, she had probably had an affair with Bill. The Macleans’ relationship comes into question elsewhere in the book when first Bill flirts with Kate and Julia flirts with Dexter.
The Colonel (Petrovic) – a mysterious player in whatever is going on with Dexter, his contacts, and eventually Kate and the Macleans.
Marlena – a beautiful young woman somehow involved with Dexter - and the Colonel.
Chris Pavone's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Chris Pavone Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Chris Pavone Page
Anne Perry - The Face of a Stranger [January 2015]
Cast of Characters
Victorian Cane ; Nightingale Nurse, Crimea Era; Victorian Pocket Watch; Hansom Cab
Mr. William Monk – We learn about him as he learns about himself. He’s “Peeler” who has lost his memory after a serious carriage accident. Literally everything he knows about himself, he has to learn from others – and he has to prove to his antagonistic boss at Scotland Yard that he is still capable of being a detective.
Mr. Runcorn – the inspector at Scotland Yard who is Monk’s boss. He assigns Monk the difficult case that another officer, Lamb, had been working that is bringing a lot of negative attention to the police for its lack of progress. His hatred for Monk has him dancing at the idea of Monk failing to find the murderer of aristocratic ex-soldier Joscelin Grey.
Mrs. Worley – runs the rooming house at 27 Grafton Street where Monk lives. She does her duty by him, but he can tell they don’t have friendly relationship.
Beth Bannerman – Through a letter at his quarters Monk learns he has a sister in Northumberland. He goes to visit her and her fisherman husband Rob, to see if she can help him fill in the blanks in his life, and to see what memories the area has for him.
Major Joscelin Grey – the violently murdered younger brother of the Lord Shelburne, he survived the Crimea, but with a limp. Generally regarded for his charming manner, his wit was sometimes stinging, but about the worst thing that has been found out about him. He was beaten even after death, most likely with a cane, at his lodgings in Mecklenburg Square. In his mother’s eyes he could do no wrong, and she’s determined to make the police find his killer.
John Evan– the young policeman Runcorn assigns to help Monk. He is inexperienced, but very intelligent, the son of a minister, and quite eager to help Monk.
Grimwade – the porter at the victim’s lodging. He only leaves his post when he is taking visitors up to see tenants. Mrs. Huggins, the cleaning woman there was the one who discovered the body.
Mr. Yeats – a resident at the victim’s lodging who had a visitor during the critical time frame of the murder.
Dowager Lady Fabia Shelburne – the mother of Lovel Grey (Lord Shelburne), Menard Grey, and the victim, Major Joscelin Grey, she is a force to be reckoned with and has powerful political and social connections which she has used to push the police to solve her son’s murder. She has no great liking for either of her two older sons, whom she finds “boring”, or even her daughter-in-law, Love’s wife Rosamond, but she is devastated by losing Joscelin.
Lady Callandra Daviot – the sister of the late Lord Shelburne, she is Lovel, Menard, and Joscelin’s aunt who also lives at Shelburne Hall. She is also friends with Hester Latterly.
Imogen Latterly – the wife of Hester’s older brother Charles. She has been gently raised and a proper wife, but she does pursue a better answer to her father-in-law’s death than her husband wants her to do. She and Hester quite like each other although they are very different women.
Hester Latterly – a striking, independent thinking woman, she’s Charles Latterly’s sister who has just returned from being a nurse in the Crimea. Her eldest brother died in the Crimea, and her father’s disturbing death being followed by her mother’s death has sent her home to help her family. She is courageous, opinionated, and impulsive, and her brother isn’t quite sure what to do with her. She is planning on becoming employed in some nursing capacity – which Lady Callandra supports her in doing.
Mr. & Mrs. Dawlish – they got to know Joscelin when he approached them after he told them about settling their son Edward’s gaming debts after Edward was killed at Inkermann in the Crimea. This incident also led to their distancing themselves from Menard Grey, even though the two had been best friends. The Dawlishes were also interested in an investment idea that Joscelin brought to them.
Zebedee Marner & Mr. Robinson – the moneylender and the investor who were involved with Joscelin’s business ventures.
Anne Perry's Web Page
Fantactic Fiction's Anne Perry Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Anne Perry Page
Elizabeth Peters - Crocodile on the Sandbank [September, 2018]
Cast of Characters
Amelia Peabody – the 32 year old “middle-aged spinster” is both the narrator and heroine of the story set in the 1880s. When she inherits a fortune from her beloved, scholarly father, she decides to travel to Egypt – where she proceeds to insert herself into an archeological dig with unexpected, and murderous results…
Evelyn Barton-Forbes – the young woman Amelia rescues in Rome and hires as her travel companion. She is the grand-daughter of the Earl of Ellesmere and is beautiful and intelligent, with a great sense of humor – which she needs in assisting Amelia. She is also a skilled artist. There is a scandal in her background that also plays a part in the story.
Piero – Amelia’s Italian guide who thinks he’ll be able to get things past a solitary English lady, soon learns that Amelia’s ability to “bully the baker and badger the butcher… quite effectively” ensures Piero – and others, give her “no trouble at all”.
Mr. Fletcher – is the English solicitor who very capably keeps Amelia’s brothers from being able to contest her father’s will when they learn just how much she inherited. He also proposes to Amelia, who makes it quite plain that she sees no reason “why any independent intelligent female [would] choose to subject herself to the whims and tyrannies of a husband”.
Lucas Elliot Hayes (a.k.a. Conte d’Imbroglio d’Annunciata) – is Evelyn’s cousin who is due to inherit from the Earl of Ellesmere. His mother was disowned by the Earl and her name struck from the family Bible. Evelyn, however, has been due to inherit the Earl’s private fortune.
Alberto – the blaggard and art instructor who convinced Evelyn to elope with him, and then abandoned her.
Michael Bedawee – the Copt, or Egyptian Christian dragoman Amelia hires for their trip on the Nile. He is “a short, plump, coffee-colored man with a fierce black beard and a turban… [distinguished] by the friendliness of his smile and the candor of his soft brown eyes.”
Reis Hassan– the reis, or captain, of the Philae, the Dahabeeyah (houseboat) Amelia and Evelyn pick for their journey. He is an Egyptian from Luxor.
Travers – Amelia’s supercilious and dour maid. Amelia eventually packs her back to England!
M. Maspero – is the French director of antiquities at the museum at Boulaq. The disorganized and dusty state of the museum makes Emerson irate – and annoys Amelia as well. Amelia also does not care for his assistant, Herr Emil Brugsch.
Radcliffe Emerson – “a tall man with shoulders like a bull’s and a black beard cut square like those of the statues of the ancient Assyrian kings… a face tanned to the shade of an Egyptian, vivid blue eyes (that blaze at Amelia).. And a deep reverberating bass that scolds her. He is an archaeologist, well-known for his excavating. He works with his younger brother Walter, who is a highly respected linguist and scholar of ancient languages and hieroglyphs. He is also immediately taken with Evelyn.
Sir Evelyn Baring – the Consul General and British agent who works to restore the financial stability of Egypt, known to be “the chief power in Egypt”. He safely stores the boxes from Evelyn’s grandfather for her in Cairo.
Mr. Lucas Hayes – Evelyn’s cousin, newly made the Earl on Evelyn’s grandfather’s death. He pursues Evelyn to “make things right” by marrying her. “He was a tall, broad-shouldered young chap, dressed with elegance that verged on foppishness… the candid cheerfulness of his face was very English, but his swarthy complexion and large dark eyes betrayed his father’s nationality (Italian). Amelia does not care for his hands – or for anything about him.
Abdullah – the foreman of the Emersons’ dig site. “A stately figure of a man, almost six feet tall; his snowy, flowing robes, long grey beard, and voluminous headcloth gave him the look of a Biblical patriarch.”
Mohammed– the site worker who finds the mummy that later disappears – and starts the rumor of the curse on the Emersons and their group. His father is the mayor of the village the workers come from.
Graphic Crime Quiz
What was the name of Amelia’s first female companion?
Miss Pritchett -- who “failed her” by succumbing to the typhoid “like the weak-minded female she was”.
What does M. Maspero do when Emerson manages to really irritate him during his tour with Amelia and Evelyn?
He gives each of them a faience necklace from the museum’s collection.
What nickname do the locals give to Amelia?
Sitt Hakim – Lady Doctor.
What unusual feature does the Mummy’s disguise have?
It buttons up the front!
Elizabeth Peters's Website - also for Barbara Michaels and Barbara Mertz
Fantastic Fiction's Elizabeth Peters Page
Fantastic Fiction's Barbara Michaels/Barbara Mertz Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Elizabeth Peters' Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Barbara Michaels Page (Section)
Click the graphics below for more information on the particular object/location/etc.
Ferrule – the tip of a walking stick
Shepheard’s Hotel – in Cairo where Amelia and Evelyn stay.
Mahdi and Gordon at Khartoum and Gordon's final battle.
Sir Garnet Wolseley at Wadi Halfa also known as the Nile Expedition.
Museum of Antiquities that was headed by M. Gaston Maspero as director general of excavations and antiquities.
Dahabeeyah a passenger boat used on the Nile, typically with lateen (triangular) sails.
Dragoman an interpreter or guide, especially in countries speaking Arabic, Turkish, or Persian.
Gizeh also spelled Giza (modern) where the most famous Sphinx is located.
Khufu Khufu was one of several children born to King Sneferu and Queen Hetepheres and had fifteen daughters and nine sons of his own, including his successor, Radjedef. According to the Turin King List, Khufu reigned for 23 years. Other sources ascribe varying lengths: Manetho 65 years; Herodotus 50. Regardless of the differences, one thing is certain; history does not remember Khufu kindly. In fact, for a man of his apparent renown, it hardly remembers him at all.
Sakkarah a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis.
Dahshoor also spelled Dahshur a royal necropolis located in the desert on the west bank of the Nile approximately 40 kilometres (25 mi) south of Cairo.
Faience Beads Egyptian faience is a sintered-quartz ceramic displaying surface vitrification which creates a bright lustre of various colours, with blue-green being the most common. Defined as a “material made from powdered quartz covered with a true vitreous coating, usually in a transparent blue or green isotropic glass," faience is distinct from the crystalline compound Egyptian blue.
Beni Hassan an Ancient Egyptian cemetery site. It is located approximately 20 kilometers (12 mi) to the south of modern-day Minya in the region known as Middle Egypt, the area between Asyut and Memphis.
Khuenaten Akhenaten (/ˌækəˈnɑːtən/; also spelled Echnaton, Akhenaton, Ikhnaton, and Khuenaten; meaning "Effective for Aten"), known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV (sometimes given its Greek form, Amenophis IV, and meaning "Amun Is Satisfied"), was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, which is sometimes described as monolatristic, henotheistic, or even quasi-monotheistic.
El-Amarnah/El-Amariah /Amarna (modern) an extensive Egyptian archaeological site that represents the remains of the capital city newly established (1346 BC) and built by the Pharaoh Akhenaten of the late Eighteenth Dynasty, and abandoned shortly after his death (1332 BC). The name for the city employed by the ancient Egyptians is written as Akhetaten (or Akhetaton—transliterations vary) in English transliteration. Akhetaten means "Horizon of the Aten".
Rational Dress League Victorian dress reform was an objective of the Victorian dress reform movement (also known as the rational dress movement) of the middle and late Victorian era, comprising various reformers who proposed, designed, and wore clothing considered more practical and comfortable than the fashions of the time. Dress reformists were largely middle class women involved in the first wave of feminism in the United States and in Britain, from the 1850s through the 1890s.
Mr. Petrie Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, FRS, FBA (3 June 1853 – 28 July 1942), commonly known as Flinders Petrie, was an English Egyptologist and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and preservation of artifacts. He held the first chair of Egyptology in the United Kingdom, and excavated many of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt in conjunction with his wife, Hilda Petrie.[3
Laudanum a tincture of opium containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the equivalent of 1% morphine). Reddish-brown and extremely bitter, laudanum contains almost all of the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine. Laudanum was historically used to treat a variety of conditions, but its principal use was as a pain medication and cough suppressant.
Biography and Obituary for Barbara:
Barbara's biography in her own words
The Washington Post Obituary for Barbara Mertz
Links for Dorothy's books too:
Fantastic Fiction's Dorothy Cannell Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Dorothy Cannell Page
Jodi Picoult - Leaving Time [January, 2018]
Cast of Characters
Jenna Metcalf –the precocious 13 year old daughter who initiates the current effort to solve the cold case involving her mother’s disappearance: to either find her mother – or what happened to her.
Alice Kingston Metcalf – Jenna’s missing mother who was totally devoted to elephants and learning how they handle grief. Together with her husband, they had started an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire.
Jenna’s Grandmother – With her father living in a metal institution, Jenna lives with her maternal grandmother in New Hampshire.
Thomas Metcalf – Jenna’s father who had been known as a major conservator saving elephants. He’s been troubled most of his life with mental health issues – that Alice knew nothing about before marrying him. He’s now a resident at Hartwick House, not far from where Jenna and her grandmother live in New Hampshire.
Serenity Jones – the down on her luck psychic with the “ice cream swirled pink hair” who reluctantly agrees to help Jenna find out what happened to her mother. Her highly televised prediction that a senator’s son would be found alive was horrifically wrong.
Virgil (Victor) Stanhope – he and Donny Boylan were the detectives working the case where Alice disappeared and Nevvie was trampled by an elephant. Boylan was almost retired, and has since passed away. Stanhope is now an alcoholic P.I. and goes by Vic Stanhope.
Gideon Cartwright – the victim’s African son-in-law who was considerably older than his wife Grace. He is as impassioned about the elephants as Alice, Thomas and Nevvie.
Gordon Gordon – the local produce market (Gordon’s Market) where the New Hampshire Elephant Sanctuary got food for the elephants. It is also where Serenity and Virgil go to see if they can track down Gideon from there.
Nevvie Ruehl – is Grace Cartwright’s mother and Gideon’s mother-in-law. She learned what she knows about elephants through her work with local circuses in Tennessee and the South. The three of them are Thomas’ whole staff at the sanctuary. She’s butted heads with Alice over contrary opinions on elephant and infant care.
Tallulah – the former dental assistant that Virgil knows. She now works for a firm that does DNA testing, and Virgil reluctantly pulls out the charm to get her to test the red hair, Jenna’s buccal swab, and later: a fingernail and the Sanctuary outfit found on the dead woman there.
Abigail Chivers – the old woman who is Virgil’s landlady who highly disapproves of his drinking.
Detective Mills – a police officer with the Boone Police Department who Serenity talks into searching the site of the murder at the Sanctuary one more time. He also contacts a lead character in Africa.
Graphic Crime Quiz
What role does Jenna’s origami elephant play in the finale of the book?
It convinces Alice that Serenity really has been talking to Jenna.
Why did Thomas suddenly slap Jenna when she wore this necklace to see him?
He knew it had been a gift from Gideon to Alice.
Who are Desmond and Lucinda?
Serenity’s spirit guides.
Where does the human tooth turn up?
At the gravesite of the baby elephant in the old sanctuary grounds.
Jodi Picoult's Website
Fantastic Fiction's Jodi Picoult Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Jodi Picoult Page
Lori Rader-Day - The Black Hour [February, 2016]
We have enjoyed a number of Hank's books - so this is the first book we did. Scroll further down to see her other ones.
Cast of Characters
Dr. Amelia Emmet – a young professor of sociology, she teaches & studies the sociology of crime at a major Chicago university by the lake. We meet her after she was shot by a student she had never met. The student, Leo Lehane, then killed himself, leaving Dr. Emmet trying to overcome the physical pain and restricted movements while struggling with the question: Why her?
Dr. Jim Perry – the University Dean at Rothbert University with “hamster-sized eyebrows”, who tried to persuade Amelia to retire.
Dr. Nicholas Doyle – Amelia’s boss, the director of their department – and Amelia’s former lover. They’ve managed to go on professionally with each other, but Doyle has recently married (Nancy), and Amelia is striving to keep a friendly relationship going with him. He remains the biggest supporter of her career.
Dr. Corrine Talbot – Amelia’s best friend, she shares the office with her in Dale Hall that Amelia loves so much. She has been constantly at Amelia’s side since the shooting, but seems more distant now that Amelia is back on campus.
Nathaniel (Nath) Barber – the grad student who wants Amelia to be his advisor. He has a hidden agenda for wanting this – just as Amelia has, in accepting him as her assistant. A loner, he’s trying to connect with other students such as Cara, Julia, and Ryan, whom he meets at the Mill for drinks. While he has an ex-girlfriend Bryn, whom he thinks about quite a bit, he is also drawn to Amelia.
Joe – the bartender at The Mill who had a close relationship with Amelia before she and Doyle got together, and remained friends after. In the aftermath of the shooting, she’s not sure Joe even considers her a friend.
Dr. J. Benjamin Woo – a department peer of Amelia’s, he’s been annoyed that she got tenure at the same time he did, as he’s very disdainful of her state school academic background. Amelia is wary about accepting Nathaniel as her assistant, because Dr. Woo is the person who sent Nath to Amelia.
Dr. Alberta Joss – the older, veteran sociology professor who has frequently published books, she’s the one who first gets Amelia to recognize that Melly does have a new project: solving the whydunit of her shooting.
Phillip Carrington-Wells – the lead in the Office of Psychological Services for the university. He shows deep interest, and concern, for both Amelia and Nath. They, in turn, are very interested in what they can learn from him and his student assistants. Trudie, Win, and Zach are all part of the (unofficially called) “suicide watch” on campus.
Kendall – Nath’s roommate who frequently criticizes just about anything Nath is doing, wearing, saying… He particularly loathes the photo from the St. Valentine’s Day massacre that Nath has on their bulletin board.
James Baker – the plump former roommate of Leonard Lehane. Nath hopes to learn more about Leo from James, and in an unexpected way, he does.
Rory McDaniel – a local news reporter, he is trying to move beyond the poorly paid local paper – and initially hopes getting the real story from Amelia – or indirectly through Nath. Later, he seems genuinely interested in Amelia herself.
Win Harlan – not only is Win a member of Phillip’s suicide watch team, and the scion of a wealthy family, he’s related to the founder of the school, and has a boat he plans to sail with his friend Dutch in the University’s Night Sail event. As his interest in Nath grows, he urges Nath to go sailing with the two of them.
Mrs. Lehane – Leonard Lehane’s mother. She too is trying to make sense of the whole shooting and death of her son. As with so many others, she has felt that Amelia knows more than she has said.
The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day
- What did Win say to Dutch that resulted in Nath going overboard?
- What tasty treat did Amelia cook up on the grill?
- What memory came to Amelia when she saw the picture of Leo that his mother keeps?
- What is “the Black Hour”?
Please note some answers may be potential spoilers!!
- “Jibe” –which swung the boom at Nath & knocked him overboard.
- Her manuscript for her book: Silent Witness: The Sociology of Violence in the American Midwest
- She remembers Leo standing outside the office door at Dale Hall before the day he shot her.
- The time in one’s life that is darkest to survive: how long one stays “locked in the black room”.
Lori Rader-Day's Web Site
Fantastic Fiction's Lori Rader-Day Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Lori Rader-Day Page
News Article about the NU Professor Who Was Shot
Lori Rader-Day - The Day I Died [April 2019]
Cast of Characters: The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day
Anna Winger – the main character, a handwriting specialist who works with lonely-hearts, corporations, and law enforcement to determine characteristics of people from their handwriting. She and her thirteen-year-old son Joshua have been on the run since leaving Wisconsin many years ago for reasons that become clear – and entwined – with other threads of the plot.
Aiden Ransey – a two year old boy whose disappearance, along with his mother Leila, is the lynchpin to the other events in the story.
Margaret Percy – the elderly woman who lives upstairs from Anna & Josh who is given to poking the ceiling with her broom: both when a noise is annoying her, and when she wants attention.
Stephanie Bux & Grace Mullen– the moms Anna knows slightly from Josh’s high school football team events. They get Anna to help out at the football game in the Booster’s concession stand. Grace is married to the sheriff’s right-hand man, Shane.
Mrs. Bea Ransey – Aidan’s grandmother, whom Anna first sees sobbing at the media coverage at the police station. Her son Bo, daughter-in-law Leila, Aidan and her nephew Steve all live with her. Her daughter Bonnie, Steve’s mother, is out of town. Steve, a cocky, trouble-maker at the high school, later befriends Josh. The whole Ransey clan has less than desirable reputations in the town.
Kent Schaffer – Anna’s mentor, and the person who recommends her to corporate and police clients. He’s a “fed” and she is a subcontractor. He recommended her to the Parks County Sheriff’s Office.
Sherriff Russ Keller – the Parks County Sherriff, he’s not thrilled to be using Anna’s skills on the case, but is unwilling to let any possible source of help go untapped. Anna’s first impression: while tall and handsome, “he was as hard and stern as a billy club.”
Charity Jordan – Aidan’s good-looking, young babysitter, who had also gone missing, is found dead in Memorial Park.
Sherry – the Parks County Sheriff’s Office receptionist. She’s sharp, upbeat, and inclined to making a friend of Anna.
Joe Jeffries – the assistant football coach and high school guidance counselor at Josh’s school. He’s fascinated by Anna’s profession, and interested in Anna herself.
Deputy Tara Lombardi – the “pixy-faced” young deputy who is rumored to be interested in the sheriff, she’s visibly disdainful of Anna and her “service”.
Pamela Harris – the woman from Riordan, the company whose CEO received the death threat Anna was analyzing. She dumps on Anna over what’s happened to the CEO since Anna’s assessment.
Eliot Ray Levis – Anna’s abusive ex-boyfriend. She very reluctantly goes to Sweetheart Lake to see if Joshua has gone there. He’s now married to Mamie and has possibly turned over a new leaf.
Theresa – Anna’s only friend growing up in Sweetheart Lake. Theresa owns the t-shirt emporium in town and she has important information for Anna about her father.
Graphic Crime Quiz: The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day
What was the name of the ice cream shop that inspired Anna decision to stay in Parks, Indiana?
It is called the Dairy Bar.
Who is sending the distressing anonymous mailings, such as the Sweeteart Lake catalog to Anna?
Her son, Joshua.
What one thing does Anna keep having to ask Sheriff Keller for – to both of their annoyance?
An original of people’s handwriting.
What is the significance of the note on torn pink paper that Anna slips in her pocket?
It isn’t a ransom note.
Lori Rader-Day's Web Site
Fantastic Fiction's Lori Rader-Day Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Lori Rader-Day Page
We had some fun with having "ice cream cones" -- a tie to the heroine's fondness for the local chain of "Dairy Bars" (similar to Dairy Queen). To avoid the melting issue, these were actually cupcakes!
We also wanted to let Lori know we were staunchly behind her nomination for an Edgar Award -- the ceremony was the same night as our meeting -- which is the only reason she didn't join us for the discussion.
We all agreed she had the absolute best reason for this, and we look forward to her coming to our December meeting. Lori also sent some fun mystery swag for the group.
Lori Rader-Day - Under a Dark Sky [July, 2020]
Cast of Characters: Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day
Setting: Straits Point International Dark SkyPark near Mackinac Island, MI.
Eden (Edie) Wallace – Heroine & Narrator
Bix (Benedict) Wallace – Eden’s husband who has somewhat recently died
Dex – The first of the group of six friends Eden meets, who is not looking forward to Malloy’s arrival
Paris – Dev’s fiancé who still has an eye on Malloy
Erica Ruth Neubauer – assistant to the park’s director.
Warren Hoyt – the park director whose name requires having a nickname, according to Eden.
Malloy – the cynosure of this group – and has been since they were all in college – at least after his girlfriend Tash passed away.
Hillary – Malloy’s current girlfriend who he’s very attached to, and who has never met the group before.
Martha – their red-headed friend who is a paralegal hoping to get her JD and has an eye on Malloy too.
Sam – the bearded one arrives with Martha but is mainly disregarded by the group. He’s a wine expert – especially the drinking of it.
Bridget Cooney – the conservation officer who has recently lost her four-footed partner & is not looking forward to the next being a person. She also is not pleased that her main role is as pseudo taxi service for the suspects.
Sheriff Jeff Barrows – the blustery officer in charge of the case. He’s suspicious of the whole group – and includes Eden in it.
Terry & Clare – Malloy’s parents who hadn’t cared for Malloy’s first girlfriends, Natasha (Tash).
Michele – Eden’s older sister who has always looked out for and criticized Eden.
Colleen Rynski – the name on the park’s register for the reservation Bix had made. Her mother comes to the park for reasons of her own.
Interviews & Reviews:
with Lori about Under a Dark Sky
Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day - Goodreads
Interview with Mystery Scene magazine
Dark Sky Places:
Find a Dark Sky Place
10 U.S. Dark-Sky Parks You Need To Visit - Sky & Telescope ...
Adler Planaterium - Chicago, IL
Mount Wilson Observatory - Pasadena, CA
Information on Dark Skies:
Click on the Pic!
Lori Rader-Day's Web Site
Fantastic Fiction's Lori Rader-Day Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Lori Rader-Day Page
Lori Rader-Day - The Lucky One [November, 2021]
As a child, Alice was stolen from her backyard in a tiny Indiana community, but against the odds, her policeman father tracked her down within twenty-four hours and rescued her from harm. In the aftermath of the crime, her family decided to move to Chicago and close the door on that horrible day.
Yet Alice hasn’t forgotten. She devotes her spare time volunteering for a website called The Doe Pages scrolling through pages upon pages of unidentified people, searching for clues that could help reunite families with their missing loved ones. When a face appears on Alice’s screen that she recognizes, she’s stunned to realize it’s the same man who kidnapped her decades ago. The post is deleted as quickly as it appeared, leaving Alice with more questions than answers.
Embarking on a search for the truth, she enlists the help of friends from The Doe Pages to connect the dots and find her kidnapper before he hurts someone else. Then Alice crosses paths with Merrily Cruz, another woman who’s been hunting for answers of her own. Together, they begin to unravel a dark, painful web of lies that will change what they thought they knew—and could cost them everything.
Hank Phillippi Ryan - Truth Be Told [September, 2015]
Cast of Characters!
Jane Ryland – the heroine of the story, Jane is an investigative reporter currently working for the Register, a local paper/eNews site based in Boston. Still feeling regrets over losing her TV reporting job, she still pursues big stories with large human impact while seeking the truth.
TJ (Teege) Foy – the Register’s videographer. He’s with Jane filming a number of significant crime scenes. Elliot Sandoval – the construction worker whose house was foreclosed (now an REO – Real Estate Owned house), and whose wife MaryLou is currently pregnant.
Emily-Sue Ordway – the teenager who is the first victim killed in a foreclosed house. (Her parents’ house on Springvale Street.)
Detective Jake Brogan – one of Boston Police Department’s finest. His usual partner, Det. Paul DeLuca is on vacation (with medical examiner Kat McMahan) for most of the story, so Jake is seen mainly on his own. He’s trying to deal with the multiple foreclosed house murders, as well as Boston’s most notorious cold case: the Lilac Sunday case – which has just become hot again, right before the anniversary of the crime. Jake also has personal reasons for wanting to see this old case solved.
Carley Marie Schaefer – the victim in the 20 year-old Lilac Sunday murder case. Her body was found by picnickers at the Arnold Arboretum. Jake’s grandfather, the police commissioner at the time, was obsessed with the case for the rest of his life.
Gordon Thorley – an ex-con who has just confessed to the Lilac Sunday murder.
Detective Branford “Bing” Sherrey – a fellow investigator of Jake’s, Jake considers him to be “a remarkable asshole”. He is the first officer to interview Thorley after the ex-con confesses to the Lilac Sunday murder.
Dr. Nathaniel Frasca – A professional associate of Jake’s, he is now in Washington, DC. Jake goes there to try to verify if Thorley could really be the Lilac Sunday killer.
Victoria Marcotte – Jane’s new boss at the Register, she is less interested in getting the truth, than a big story that will play well on “Multimedia” – her by-word. She’s the one who puts Jane on the feel-good story for the Atlantic & Anchor (A&A) bank.
Lizzie McDivitt – a newly-made customer affairs liaison at A&A, she is passionate about working the numbers to help folks whose houses are about to go into foreclosure. She is also very interested in the bank’s REO manager, Aaron Gianelli who is showing a flattering interest in her. Stephanie Weaver, is her new assistant.
Aaron Gianelli – the handsome man Lizzie is interested in, has a hidden agenda, and is using the bank’s keys to REO properties in ways the bank would strenuously object to. Mr. & Mrs. Iantosca – the desperate couple who are stunned to learn from Lizzie that they’re not going to lose their house. Their file is on Lizzie’s desk when Aaron stops by to flirt with her.
Peter Hardesty – the criminal defense lawyer who invites himself into Jake & DeLuca’s interview with Gordon Thorley after being hired by Doreen Rinker, Thorley’s sister. He’s determined to keep Thorley and later, Sandoval, from being jailed while he works with (& around) Jane to find the truth about the killings. Over time his interest in Jane becomes personal.
Vitucci & Callum – the Boston street cops who guard the Waverly St. crime scene.
Colin Ackerman – A&A’s public relations person, and a cohort of Aaron Gianelli. He’s particularly unhelpful to Jane when she comes to do the paper’s puff-piece on the bank.
Shandra Newbury – the murder victim in the Sandoval’s foreclosed house, she was a real estate agent for Mornay & Weldon.
Brian Turiello – the office manager at Morney and Weldon Realty, he was Shandra Newbury’s boss.
Chrystal Peralta – another reporter at the Register, she originally had the bank “puff-piece” and had interviewed Lizzie McDivitt. She also worked on the Lilac Sunday story at the time the murder occurred.
Maddie Kate Wendell – one of the college-aged renters who live in one of A&A’s foreclosed properties.
Treesa Caramona – a rehab-needy ex-con who is murdered at the property on Moulten Road – also near the Arboretum.
And here are the questions (and answers) for the Cast of Characters graphics for Truth Be Told.
Please note some answers may be potential spoilers!!
Who left the blood-spattered 2 X 4 at the 42 Waverly foreclosed house (where Shandra Newbury, the real estate agent was killed)?
A: Elliot Sandoval, the construction worker who had owned the foreclosed house. Pregnant wife (MaryLou)
What role does this bunch of keys play in the story? Whose keys are they?
A: These are Aaron’s keys that he chucked at Lizzie – leading her to discover the secret of the foreclosed properties.
Who is The Man in the Towel?
A: Defense attorney Peter Hardesty whose interest in Jane goes beyond working on the cases …
What significant role does Jane’s totebag play in the story?
A: Jane forgets it in the foreclosed house where someone may be trying to kill her. As a result, she scrambles to find the spare ignition key for her car to get away.
What is the name of Jane’s cat?
A: Coda, or Codarita. She’s a calico cat.
Hank Phillippi Ryan's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Hank Phillippi Ryan Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Hank Phillippi Ryan Page
Hank Phillippi Ryan - What You See [April, 2016]
Cast of Characters!
Det. Jake Brogan – one of the major characters in this series, he has a relationship with Jane Ryland that’s currently flying below the radar as far as the Boston police and Jane’s (former) newspaper have been concerned. As things currently stand, there’s a chance that they might be able to reveal their connection, but Jane is still actively yearning for a news job, particularly on TV. Her temporary gig with Channel 2, puts her squarely in the path of Jake’s latest investigation. He’s on the chaotic scene where a man has been fatally stabbed – right in the middle of Curley Park, a part of the “visitor-magnet Freedom Trail”.
Det. Paul DeLuca – Jake’s partner on the Boston police force. He is romantically interested in their medical examiner, Kat (Dr. Katherine McMahon). Jane describes her as “one of those Russian dolls in a doll, all dark hair, and red lips and curves.” It took Jane and Kat “a month or so to reach feminine détente, but they were ok now.”
Angie Bartoneri – the sexy detective that Jake almost had a relationship with long ago. Even now, she’s eyeing him, but he’s not sure it’s a friendly eye. She still seems upset that he became a detective before she did. He’s heard she’s hooked up with some computer whiz, and helps out homicide when she isn’t working on white collar crimes.
Marshall (Marsh) Tyson – the director of Channel 2’s news, he’s “all smiles and pinstripes” when he asks her the most dreaded question: “Why did you leave the [Boston] Register?” Jane’s situation with this newspaper is one of the subjects in the previous book in this series, Truth Be Told. Suffice to say, Jane has once again been the “victim of her own damned ethics”. Tyson hires Jane to cover the breaking story in the Faneuil Hall area – which just happens to be the case that Jake has gotten.
Bobby Riaz/Land – the young, would-be news photographer who thinks he just may have taken a career making shot at the crime scene of the actual Curley Park murder (and murderer).
Tenley Siskel – the young college student whose mother helps her get a very boring job at city hall manning a traffic surveillance screen. She also despises her supervisor Ward Dahlstrom, who keeps her from recording the view of the crime scene she sees at her station. She can’t understand his appeal to women, as she thinks he’s a creep. She strikes up a friendship with a slightly older girl named Brileen Finnerty, who she at first mistakes for Lanna, her older sister, who disappeared and was then found dead. Brileen tells Tenley she’s a grad student at Tenley’s college.
Calvin Hewlitt – the red-headed security firm guy who tackles the man in Franklin Alley who Calvin says stabbed the man in the park. As the man is unconscious, the police refer to him as John Doe #2. (The stabbing victim is John Doe #1.) We learn that John Doe #2 may have a tattoo on his forearm, which could clinch him as John Doe #1’s murderer.
Melissa (Lissa) Ryland – Jane’s younger sister whose wedding to rich financier, Danial Fasullo, is coming up on the weekend following the murder. Melissa calls Jane when her soon-to-be stepdaughter has not shown up at Daniel’s ex, Robyn Fasullo Wilhoite’s house. Gracie left school with her stepfather, Lewis Wilhoite, as usual, but no one has heard from them since.
Derek Estabrooks – the assignments guy at Channel 2, he’s the one who sends reporters, etc. to the scene of different stories.
Catherine Siskel – Tenley & Lanna’s mom, and Greg Siskel’s wife, she’s also the mayor of Boston’s chief of staff.
Kelli White Riordan – the veteran city’s attorney, who insists on using her middle name to amplify her old-Boston political genealogy. She is working with Catherine Siskel and Ward Dahlstrom on how traffic surveillance footage is handled by Mayor Elihu Holbrooke & the city’s officials.
Warning: There May Be Spoilers...!
Who told the police cadet there was something – or someone – in the dumpster in the alley near the murder scene?
What is the name of Tenley’s therapist?
A: Dr. Maddux
Where was Gracie hiding in the hotel?
A: The gift shop, behind the candy counter.
What key footage did Jane capture on her Quik-shot camera?
A: Footage of Calvin Hewlitt at Curley Park at the time of the murder.
Hank Phillippi Ryan's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Hank Phillippi Ryan Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Hank Phillippi Ryan Page
Corey Road in Brookline MA -- where Jane Ryland lives (click map for bigger picture link)
Could this be Jane's townhouse? Click the picture to see more of "Jane's place"! (Only Hank could tell us for sure...)
Jake, on the other hand lives in South Boston. Click picture to learn more about this part of the city!
Boston City Hall -- where Tenley Siskel works the traffic monitors and her mom deals with polls. Click picture to read more about it!
And here's a picture to give you an idea what the room she works in might look like,
Faneuil Hall in Boston -- the knifing takes place in broad daylight just past here, in James Michael Curley Park, when the area was filled with tourists... (Click picture to learn more about it!)
More on the murder site: James Curley Park is available when you click on the picture.
Hank Phillippi Ryan - Say No More [June, 2017]
We have enjoyed a number of Hank's books - so this is the first book we did. Scroll further down to see her other ones.
Cast of Characters: Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Jane Ryland – our heroine, an investigative reporter, is shifting from on the scene TV reporting on Channel 2 news, by working on a documentary on the state of sexual assault and support efforts for victims on college campuses. What she sees at the opening accident scene, puts her back on the front lines once again.
Fiola Morrello – Jane’s new producer who is perhaps overly committed to the documentary they are making. She’s only been in Boston for a week. She is also the driver when Jane sees the car hit the delivery truck.
Jake Brogan – our hero, and a noted homicide detective in the Boston PD. He and Jane have moved a significant step closer in their relationship.
Grady McWhirter Houlihan – a quite young man who “casually attends high school” & is Jake’s informant. He’s now panicking about what Clooney Sholto, the local crime boss, and his organization may do to him. He’s convinced they’re after him. Sholto is “more reclusive than Howard Hughes and nastier than Whitey Bulger.” Sholto cemented an inner-neighborhood war by marrying the flamboyant Violet O’Baron.
Paul DeLucca – Jake’s partner and best friend. Lately he has been overly abrupt and distant with Jake. His “teasing” hitting hard. At 47 he’s “moving ever closer to his dream of early retirement, and he has no patience with snitches like Grady.
Marsh Tyson – the Channel 2 news director who put Jane and Fiola together to make the documentary.
Frank McCusker –Assistant District Attorney for DA Santora. He’s a veteran legal insider “with his trademark suspenders and shaved head and imperious attitude. Dealmaker.Tough guy.” Who gets tough with Hank over her account for the accident and who the driver might be.
Avery Morgan – the dead woman in the pool at the Morgan House  in The Reserve “an off-the-official map enclave of blue-blooded affluence.” Uniformed officer, T’shombe (Shom) Pereira who is on the scene is “stand-up, and as close to making detective as anyone on the force.” Avery is a visiting adjunct professor with Adams Bay College in its Drama department.
Kat McMahan – medical examiner with the Boston PD and non-advertised love interest of Detective DeLucca.
Willow Galt – a reclusive young woman, both she and her husband Tom keep to themselves, Willow, in particular, avoids interacting with people. She is very reluctant to say anything about the day Avery died – and what she may have seen from her window overlooking the Morgan house backyard.
Isabel Russo – young woman attending Adams Bay College who is grimly determined to finish her degree and leave the area. She’s an opera singer who has been assaulted, now contemplating participation in the documentary.
Edward Tarrant – Dean of Students at Adams Bay College, married to the school president’s daughter. He’s interviewed by Jane & Fiola for the documentary – and then further interviewed by the police involved in solving Avery’s death. Fond of expensive things and circumventing reports of assault, his disdain for his student assistant, and his relationship with Avery will come back to haunt him.
Trey Welliver – the student who is one of Tarrant’s “helpers”. He lets Edward know the police and ambulance were at Morgan house before the police get to interview him.
Sasha Vogelby – fellow drama adjunct professor, she toadies to Edward Tarrant.
Randolph Hix & Ms. Ovele – the lawyers representing Rourke Devane, the young man who says he drove the Cadillac.
Elaine Whitfield-Sharp – the group leader of SAFE for victims of sexual assault on campus.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for Say No More
What is the color/name of the delivery van’s company?
What is one of the things Jane repeats to herself to remember what the driver looks like?
Middle-aged, Caucasian, widow’s peak, grayish hair, pointy cheekbones, thin lips, clean-shaven
What is the name of the little dog DeLucca takes home?
What novelesque name does Dean Edward Tarrant’s college assistant have?
What name does Isabel Russo give to Jane to call her?
Hank Phillippi Ryan's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Hank Phillippi Ryan Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Hank Phillippi Ryan Page
Hank Phillippi Ryan - Trust Me [June, 2019]
Cast of Characters: Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Mercer Hennessey – the emotionally fragile heroine who is still dealing with the loss of her husband Dex, and her young child, Sophie, in a car accident as the story opens. She’s a noted true crime reporter whose publisher Katherine Craft, wants her to write the inside true story of a gruesome crime in which young mother Ashlyn Bryant is accused of killing her baby daughter, Tasha Nicole Bryant.
Royal Spofford – the District Attorney prosecuting the Baby Boston case.
Quinn McMorran – the defense attorney, she’s a friend of Mercer’s husband, Dex.
Judge Green – the judge at Ashlyn’s trial.
Tom & Georgia Bryant – Ashlyn’s parents (& Tahsa’s grandparents) were interviewed in Dayton, Ohio. He’s a retired insurance adjuster and she’s a homemaker. Both were devoted grandparents to Tasha and took care of her every day, even once Ashlyn moved out of her parents’ house. Ashlyn had always wanted to be free of her “loser” family. Ashlyn never talked about Tasha’s father.
Bryce Overby – the Boston detective who opened the green trash bag to find a murdered child after Estrella Amador’s dog, Frisco, found it at Castle Island Beach. Estrella’s testimony gets stipulated, so there’s no on-stand testimony of it for Mercer and others to watch.
Joe Rissinelli – a reporter who “always gets the scoop”. He works freelance, dong undercover investigations, so talented he can write his own ticket. He’s on the team covering the trial for the Boston Globe – and he’s willing to tell Mercer what he knows about Ashlyn’s pregnancy & the potential father, Barker Holt.
Wadleigh Rogowicz – the “mid-level journeyman” who started the Dayton police investigation into finding Ashlyn and Tasha, after Ashlyn lied to her mother at the Dayton airport.
Valerie – the woman who supposedly is Tasha’s babysitter. Her last name might be Lucio or Luciano – if she exists… Luke Walsh – is also an open question: does he exist and was he the boyfriend Ashlyn claims she left Tasha with at one point.
Sandie DiOrio – Ashley’s friend and a hostess at the bar Ashley frequents. She Facebooked Ashley and the bar owner, Ron Chevalier, going to the movies in Dayton – two days after Ashley supposedly left Dayton on a flight to go get Tasha.
William Pritchett – the attorney who did Dex and Mercer’s wills. He calls Mercer to let her know they’re sending Dex’s office things to her.
Barbara Zimbel – the Medical Examiner, “a slim, dark-haired woman, quietly professional in long-sleeved black, and glasses on a silver chain. The DA is hoping she can pinpoint the time of death, they could see where Ashlyn was at that time.
Al Cook – the sketch artist who did such a poor job of “Baby Boston’s” picture, that she almost wasn’t identified correctly as Tasha.
Koletta Hilliard – the Boston cop who comes to Dayton to meet Rogowicz to determine if Baby Boston is the missing Tasha; later, she’s the one who takes the refrigerator duct tape from the Bryant’s kitchen to be analyzed.
Perry Chaudhary – The Evidence Analyst for the State Police Crime Lab, he testifies that all duct tape is not the same…
Denholm Shaw – the owner of the car in Dayton that was stolen by the cokehead who ran Barker Holt off the road.
Graphic Crime Quiz -- Trust Me by Hank Phillipi Ryan
How was Det. Wadleigh Rogowicz able to recognize Tasha from the Boston sketch?
By her purple butterfly barrettes.
What does Mercer write on her mirror?
The number of days it has been since Dex & Sophie were alive.
What piece of information does Mercer have about the trial that she ends up telling to the defense attorney?
That one of the female jurors (last name beginning with G) is talking to her daughter about the trial.
Who is the crime scene technician who testifies about the victim’s bites and adhesive from duct tape on the body’s mandible?
Patricia Ruocco (!)
Hank Phillippi Ryan's Web Site
Fantastic Fiction's Hank Phillipi Ryan Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Hank Phillippi Ryan Page
Interview with Hank on "Trust Me"
Radio Interview with Hank on "Trust Me"
Caylee Anthony Case - Information on Wikipedia
Hank's Picture on the WHDH 7NEWS Boston site! (Filter By: Reporters; Click on her picture to get to the station's Bio on her!)
A. D. Scott - A Small Death in the Great Glen [February, 2018]
Cast of Characters!
John McAllister –the new editor-in-chief of the Highland Gazette, McAllister pushes staff for more complex news stories – and investigative reporting. The story of the drowned boy Jamie offers that and more: a connection to a past tragedy in his life involving Kenneth, his younger brother.
Rob McLean – the Highland Gazette’s young reporter who isn’t above using his charm and connections to work a story. His father Angus, is the town’s solicitor who tries to help the young Polish men the Inspector means to charge and convict for the boy’s death, among other things.
Joanne Ross – Married to an alcoholic, & abusive husband, Bill Ross, she has managed to hold on to her part-time job at the paper, but is hoping to be more than just a typist. Her two girls, Annie & Wee Jean, are the only possible witnesses to Jamie’s abduction, but they describe the one who took him as a “hoodie crow” – a local mythical creature.
Don McLeod – the veteran chief editor of the paper, he’s a racing aficionada, a keeper of dark secrets” & “a newspaperman subeditor down to his bones”. He comes to support McAllister’s efforts with the case, and Joanne’s appeal for help in dealing with her marital situation. He’s a long-standing friend of the Travelers, particularly the McPhees.
Gino Corelli – the Italian immigrant who owns the local café & “chip shop”. His daughter Chiara, best friend of Joanne is about to get married to one of the Polish immigrants, Peter Kowalski.
Jamie Fraser – the young boy who is killed, was “a timid, wee soul”, and a relative newcomer to the area. Both Jamie and his parents were loners. His family home is “Hebridean”, and “speaks Gaelic among themselves”. The locals find out that he was dead before he was found in the water.
Karl a.k.a. Karel Cieszynski – the Polish seaman who jumps ship from a Russian freighter out of one of the Baltic ports. Peter helps him find temporary shelter – and act that leads Inspector Tompson and locals to suspect them of both breaking immigrant laws and potentially killing Jamie.
Granny and Grandad Ross – Bill Ross’ parents, Joanne’s in-laws. Her mother-in-law always backs Bill up when he is critical of Joanne, and agrees that it is an embarrassment to her son for Joanne to have a job outside the home.
Inspector Tompson – “gained his position on the police force as a direct result of his time as a military policeman, not from merit.” He has a marked antipathy for foreigners (which could include McAllister as a former Glaswegian, and the Frasers as unremarkable islanders). He’s determined to arrest either or both
Jenny McPhee – the formidable head of a Traveler clan, she, Jimmy & Keith McPhee helped the Polish seaman, and offer further help as the story progresses.
Father Morrison – the local priest, he scares Jean Ross at the big dance. He lives next door to Rob’s parents, and their only complaint about him is the overgrown, rhododendron “forest” between their houses.
Mr. Findlay Grieg – the town clerk involved in dicey transactions with area land deals and builders.
Duncan McDonald – the minister of Joanne’s church, as well as her brother-in-law, married to her sister Elizabeth. They are a source of comfort for Joanne, especially as her parents have more or less disowned her.
Father Bain – the priest who headed up the boys’ boxing club in Glasgow, he also does photography as a hobby.
Woman Police Constable Ann McPherson – likes Rob, and tells him about the Ross girls’ story of the hoodie crow who took the boy.
Mhairi Mackinnon – a young woman who used to work for Joanne’s sister Elizabeth and her husband Duncan. Joanne runs into her at the hotel “in the west” when she and Bill take a short trip to check on houses he is working on. She has a critical secret that she reveals to Joanne.
Mr. Burke – the local mortician, and a friend of Don McLeod’s, he calls Don to let him know that Jamie was “interfered with”.
Detective Chief Inspector Westland – Chief inspector from Aberdeen in charge of the investigation into Jaimie’s death. Being from “away” he’s more open to McAllister’s theories and, like McAllister, he has reservations about Inspector Tompson’s arresting Karl. PC Willie Grant also helps with the case.
The Gordons – led by Jimmy Gordon, they show up at Joanne’s house looking for Bill claiming he owes them one thousand pounds, and subtly threatening Joanne and her children.
Graphic Crime Quiz
Who does McAllister first recognize with his brother in the boys boxing club photo?
What is the name of the newspaper McAllister and company work for?
What do Annie and Jean call Jamie’s abductor?
A Hoodie Crow
Rob’s band plays only two rock and roll songs: one is Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley – what is the other one?
Tutti Fruitti by Little Richard
Besides knowing his mother is alive, what else do we learn about the Polish cross necklace when Peter receives it?
That Peter is actually a Polish count.
A.D. Scott's Facebook
Fantastic Fiction's A. D. Scott Page
Stop You're Killing Me's A.D. Scott Page
Zoe Sharp - The Blood Whisperer [February 2015]
Cast of Characters!
Kelly Jacks – Once known as “The Blood Whisperer” for her forensic CSI work, she now works as a crime scene cleaner – the only job she could get after getting out of prison for a crime she’s not even sure she committed. A chance observation at a crime scene cleanup leads her to question the past – and to a new accusation.
Tyrone Douet – young, black, and Kelly’s crime scene cleaning partner, he has seen and lived a rough life, and he appreciates having a good job, and has a “secret” crush on Kelly
Ray McCarron – a retired cop and friend of Kelly’s when she was a cop, he is now her boss at McCarron Specialist Cleaning Service.
Matthew Lytton – A wealthy real estate developer, Lytton has come up through the trades to his present power position. He is the husband of Veronica (Vee), whose death was called a suicide – until Kelly came along. She had been very much a member of the upper class and their marriage has been more of a successful business partnership. Given that, he is still very determined to find out the truth about her death.
Steve Warwick – Lytton’s business partner who is married for the second time to dowdy, meek, Yana. He carries on an affair with an S&M-oriented mistress named Myshka, and is a big spender who makes reckless decisions, but knows his way around the internet. Both men are deeply involved in the Lytton-Warwick Cup – a new thoroughbred racing event that could make or break their company name.
Dmitry Lyzchko– the right-hand man to a noted crime boss, Harry Grogan and co-worker of Viktor, he is also involved in a plot that Myshka has initiated. In addition to being involved with Steve Warwick, she is Harry’s mistress. Dmitiry puts the hurt on Ray, and Tyrone among others.
Harry Grogan – the criminally-connected boss who is also investing in the Lytton-Warwick Cup – and expects his colt to win.
Det. Insp. Vince O’Neill – the main investigator on the current crimes, he develops an interest in Kelly’s previous conviction while sorting out if she’s responsible this time around. He “has dark hair, and a young-but-old face with a nose that had been broken more than once. He carried himself with an aggressive, muscular stance.”
Constables Jacobson & Ferris – the street cops who find the burn victim and more while on patrol.
Chief Superintendent John Quinlan – the chief who is close to retiring, he was involved in the original case involving Kelly Jacks, and he wants to see this one through too.
Frank Allardice – the D.I. who handles the investigation on the first Kelly Jacks case, he’s retired to run three bars and a restaurant in Spain, but comes to England when her name comes up on the current case.
Callum Perry – the murder victim in the first case where Kelly was convicted of killing him. He was involved in the case of a dead prostitute who Kelly was convinced had been murdered.
Tina Olowayo – six-foot tall with blue-black skin and the sinewy muscled build of an athlete, she was Kelly’s friend in prison. Kelly helped her to get her sentence overturned. She lives in Brixton with a white guy named Elvis who is over-interested in the price the streets are saying is on Kelly’s head.
Bob Tate – the CSI who runs the blood work on Kelly’s bag of blood leading to a new clue in the case.
Brian Stubbs – the alcoholic vet who supplies ketamine under the table along with caring for Harry Grogan’s horses.
Erin – Callum Perry’s ex-girlfriend and mother of his daughter – someone is threatening her to keep quiet about what Callum knew about the murdered prostitute in the first Kelly case.
Shula – the waitress at the racecourse who comes to Kelly’s aid.
Zoe Sharp's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Zoe Sharp Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Zoe Sharp Page
Yrsa Sigurdardottir - Last Rituals [December, 2014]
Cast of Characters!
Tryggvi – the head caretaker at the University of Iceland. The women who do the cleaning start screaming when the body falls on Professor Gunnar Gestvik.
Professor Gunnar Gestvik – the head of the History department, he’d attended the faculty party to celebrate the cooperative project with a Norwegian university involving a large grant. With this success, he’s contemplating running for vice chancellor.
Harald Guntlieb – the murdered student from Germany who led an odd group of peers who were all interested in witch hunting and its rituals. He came from a very wealthy background, but was not close to anyone except his grandfather, who left him a fortune and his witch hunting collection, and sisters, one of whom was handicapped and died some time ago.
Thora Gudmundsdottir – the heroine of the story, she’s a struggling lawyer and single mother of two: Soley her six year old daughter, and a sixteen year old son, Gylfi. Harald’s mother, Amelia Guntlieb, is determined that Thora find out the truth about her son’s death. Thora speaks German and her former German professor had characterized her to Amelia as “obstinate, firm, and tough” qualities Amelia believes are needed to get past the police’s jailed suspect: Hugi Thorisson, a friend of the deceased who supplied dope to Harald and his circle. Hugi is a childhood friend of another member for the circle: Halldor Kristinsson.
Bella – the sullen, inept secretary Thora and her business partner, Bragi were forced to hire because she’s the landlord’s daughter who made hiring her a condition of getting their office space.
Halldor Kristinsson – the main friend of Harald with his group of friends. He is studying medicine to be a doctor, while working part-time at a clinic. The other friends in the group who joined Harald’s society, “Malleus Maleficarum” are: Marta Mist Eyjolfsdottir, a goth dressing red-head doing Gender Studies, Brjann Karlsson, a History major like Harald, Andri Thorsson, studying chemistry, and Briet Einarsdottir, a curvy blond with an eye on Halldor, particularly now that Harald is dead. Professor Thorbjorn Olafsson was Harald’s dissertation advisor. Harald was interested in the witch burning in Iceland as compared to it in Germany.
Matthew Reich– initially Thora is annoyed that Amelia Guntlieb also has Matthew investigating the case. He is the head of the Guntlieb family’s security guards and a former Munich police detective. He ‘looks around forty, [sits] straight as a beanpole, with broad shoulders that hide the seat back’ and initially comes across as stiff and formal. He has known the family for many years.
Gudrun – Her husband and she were Harald’s landlord. They lived downstairs, and Harald’s apartment was upstairs.
Maria Einarsdottir – the director of the University of Iceland’s Manuscript Institute, she is very put out with Gunnar and Harald Guntlieb because Harald was the last person to have used a rare Danish manuscript that needs to be returned to the Royal Library in Denmark with the rest of an exhibit in just a few days. She holds Gunnar responsible for it since he’s the head of Harald’s department.
Laura Amaming – one of the university’s cleaning women who finds traces of blood in the student’s common room, by one of the window’s latches.
Elisa Guntlieb – Harald’s younger sister, the only remaining child out of the four that Amelia and her husband had who is still alive. She’s a highly talented cellist, but her father wants her to go into business so she can eventually take his place. She was very fond of her brother and says she understood him. She confirms that neither of her parents seemed to have time for Harald.
Sigga – a friend of Gylphi’s, she is involved in his problem.
Hannes – a doctor, and Thora’s ex-husband. He takes the two children horseback riding even though neither wants to go, and he’s little help with Gylfi’s problem.
Thorgrimur – the young man at the cathedral in Skalholt. Together with his friend Pall who has encyclopedic knowledge of Icelandic magic symbols and rituals, they shed more light on Harald’s interest in a ritual from an Icelandic book of spells that could account for what happened to Harald’s eyes.
Markus Helgasson – the Reykjavik police detective Thora and Matthew work with in getting and giving information with the police.
Graphic Crime Quiz Answers for Last Rituals
And here are the questions (and answers) for the Cast of Characters graphics for Last Rituals.
Please note some answers may be potential spoilers!!
What other name is the book "Malleus Maleficarum" known by?
A: The Witch Hammer
There are three significant things the author tells us about the Hotel Borg: it is the oldest hotel in Reykjavik; it is where Matthew is staying & first meets Thora; and ... ?
A: It is where Matthew & Thora make a conscious decision to sleep together
This tourist is about to go into the caves at Hella -- who lived there?
A: The Irish Monks who preceeded the Vikings
What was significant about Thora finding this in Harald's apartment bathroom?
A: Bunte is a women's magazine - proving that a female had spent time in his apartment with him.
Yrsa Sigurdardottir's Facebook Page
Fantastic Fiction's Yrsa Sigurdardottir Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Yrsa Sigurdardottir Page
Karin Slaughter - Pretty Girls [December, 2017]
Cast of Characters
Sam Carroll – the father of three pretty girls, Julia, Lydia, and Claire. We read his notes written 24 years ago to Julia, after she had disappeared. He continued to search for her until he passed away.
Claire Scott – the former Claire Carroll, now married to Paul Scott lives a life of luxury and private anguish over the loss of her eldest sister Julia and her discontent with life that she cannot identify a cause for.
Paul Scott – Claire’s devoted husband, son of Gerald Scott, and a highly successful architect. They’ve been married for eighteen years and he constantly lets Claire know that he loves her and will never part with her even as he knows she’s slept with Adam Quinn, his best friend and business partner. He takes a knife to the stomach in an alley to save her from the man who was robbing them.
Anna Kilpatrick – the missing 16 year old girl whose disappearance is all over the Atlanta news. She is white, pretty, and middle class – and similar to Julia. She and Dee, Lydia’s daughter went to the same middle school.
Lydia Delgado – the middle Carroll sister who was wild in her teens and twenties, getting involved in drugs and more after Julia disappeared. She is now an overweight, mother to a 17 year old daughter, and lives next door to her lover, Rick Butler. She runs a successful small dog grooming business and has not been in contact with her remaining sister Claire since they had a falling out over Paul.
Rick Butler – a pony-tailed, mechanic at the local gas station, he could be “a redneck of a hippie depending on what kind of mood he was in.” He and Lydia fight fiercely, but they love each other, and Rick cares deeply for Dee, who is essentially his step-daughter although he and Lydia have never married.
Helen Carroll – Julia, Lydia and Claire’s mother. She is a former librarian, now 62. She and Claire’s grandmother Ginny, support Claire at and after the funeral, even though Ginny had hated Paul.
Captain Jacob Mayhew – the Dunwoody Police captain who’s in charge of the Anna Kilpatrick case also becomes involved with the robbery at Claire’s house when Congressman Johnny Jackson asks him “to handle this personally”. Jackson has been Paul’s benefactor almost from the start, awarding him jobs that should have gone to more experienced architects. As Paul & Adam’s firm has grown Paul’s personal Amex bill was “riddled with charges for chartered planes he never flew in, and five-star hotels where he never stayed.” Mayew also tells Claire that the films she finds on Paul’s computers are fakes.
Det. Harvey Falke – a Dunwoody police detective who works with Mayhew and connected the hard drive to the police computer so he could tell Claire the movies were fake.
Fred Nolan – an FBI special agent who also shows up after the robbery and continues to pursue the case – as well as information about Paul Scott.
Sheriff Carl Huckabee – the “clumsy Barney Fife type with a stiff mustache he keeps trimmed in a straight line & sideburns he grooms so often you can see the furrows left by the teeth of his comb.” He was the officer in charge of Julia’s disappearance, who later says that a known suspect for a similar crime, Daryl Lassiter, killed Julia. He gave the tape of her death to Johnny Jackson, who was an FBI agent at that time.
Lexie Fuller – the female voice on the phone when Claire dials the farm house. The Fuller name comes from Paul’s admiration for Buckminster Fuller, noted architect. After hearing it, Claire insists on going out to the farm house.
Eleanor & Bob Kilpatrick – the parents of Anna who reveal at a televised press conference all the horrible things that were done to Anna when they went to identify the body.
Ben Carver – the death row inmate that Sam Carroll visits because he believes Ben has knowledge of what’s happened to Julia.
For "Pretty Girls"
What do Claire and her family call incompetent cops?
What is on the USB key chain that Paul got as a present from Claire?
A medallion for Auburn University where they both went to school and met... and Paul's customer list.
Why is Claire’s picture of the farm Paul grew up in an inside joke to Paul?
He knows what’s really going on there, and that Claire would never have painted it had she known as well.
What is significant about the locket Julia was wearing when she disappeared?
The locket wasn’t hers, it was Lydia’s.
What is the significance of the movie zooming in on the victim’s face?
It proves that more than one person is involved in making the movie.
Karin Slaughter's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Karin Slaughter Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Karin Slaughter Page
"Pretty Girls", A Conversation with Karin Slaughter article
"Writer's lives: Karin Slaughter article
Turning Point: An interview with Karin Slaughter article
An Interview with Karin Slaughter, author of "Pretty Girls" article
Rex Stout - Fer-de_Lance [September, 2016]
Cast of Characters
Archie Goodwin – the narrator of all Nero Wolfe and Archie adventures, we get to know Archie as we hear him relate the story. He lives in Wolfe’s West 35th Street brownstone and acts as Nero’s arms and legs in going after information and suspects. He’s about 6’ tall and has seen his share of brawls and uses his street smarts in trying to keep up with Nero.
Nero Wolfe – is the very large, eccentric, genius featured in 33 novels and 39 novellas who is a passionate grower of orchids, and a consumer of large amounts of beer & fine food, who “rarely leaves the brownstone and hopes to never leave it on business” ~ Wolfe Pack web site. His crime-solving skills are unparalleled.
Fred Durkin – is one of Wolfe’s “go-to” hired detectives. It is his wife who has asked him to ask Wolfe to help Maria Maffei, the initial client in the story. She is concerned about the disappearance of her brother Carlo. Durkin assists with uncovering the murderer and helping to protect Anna Fiore. Saul Panzer and Orrie Cather, two other cohorts of Archie and Nero, also help out on this case.
Fritz Brenner – Wolfe’s loyal and “unflappable cook and major domo”. He also steps in to help with cases when Wolfe calls on him.
Carlo Maffei – lives in rooming-house on Sullivan Street where he used his mechanical/jewelry-making skills on a private project. His cutting of an article from the paper and subsequent actions lead Archie to find him murdered.
Anna Fiore – a gawky, “homely kid about twenty with skin like stale dough” she overheard a critical conversation between Carlo and an unknown called just before he disappeared. Wolfe also learns from Anna about Carlo cutting the article from the paper, and that is was about a university professor dying from a heart attack on a local golf course. When Wolfe asks her if she’s ever seen a golf club in Carlo’s room, her response is telling, even though she says nothing.
The landlady, Mrs. Ricci employs and watches over Anna – and she’s not crazy about the way Archie treats either of them. In time we learn that Anna may possess a secret that could either help solve the case, or lead to her death.
Peter Oliver Barstow – the well-liked president of Holland University whose death at the Green Meadow golf club, Wolfe declares, was not from a heart attack, but from a cleverly administered poison. His wife Ellen, who suffers from a neurological condition, thinks she may be the only person who wanted him dead. She offers a $50,000 reward for the identity and punishment of his killer – and enticement and a challenge Wolfe can’t resist.
Lawrence Barstow – the son of the murder victim, he has a potential airplane design business in the works with Manuel Kimball. He initially thinks Wolfe’s claim that his father was murdered is preposterous.
Sarah Barstow – the daughter of the murder victim, she is more inclined to consider what Archie and Wolfe have to say, but is harboring fears for her mother. She is twenty-five, popular, a graduate of Smith and prominent in Westchester society.
E. D. Kimball – a very successful, wealthy grain broker who, together with his son Maneul, was playing golf with the two Barstows when the elder Barstow had the attack and died. He spent twenty years in South America, mostly in the Argentine.
Manuel Kimball – has only recently been living with his father. He grew up in South America, and is very enthused about his airplane venture with Lawrence as he is a talented pilot. He is also very interested in Lawrence’s sister,
Theodore Horstmann – Wolfe’s gardener, responsible for maintaining Nero’s fragile and extensive collection of rare orchids.
Fletcher M. Anderson – the District Attorney for Westchester County in White Plains, where they find Carlo, stabbed to death. His ire and bewilderment with Wolfe begins with Wolfe’s $10,000 bet that if they exhume Peter Barstow, they’ll find proof he was poisoned. His chief assistant, Derwin, is none too crazy about Archie either.
H. R. Corbett – the detective from Anderson’s office who definitely rubs Archie the wrong way; Archie delights in tweaking Corbett whenever he can.
Dr. Nathaniel Bradford – Wolfe questions whether this doctor’s finding (heart attack) on Peter Barstow’s death was a deliberate oversight, or an attempt to cover someone.
Ben Cook – the chief of police in White Plains – another official who is not enarmoured with Wolfe or Archie, he tries to strong-arm information out of Archie and how Wolfe was able to figure out the poisoning.
Mike Allen – Peter Barstow’s “chunky”, young – and observant caddie. William Riley – the elder Barstow’s caddy who reveals a key fact when Wolfe is questioning the boys about the game that day.
Mrs. T.A. Carter – the woman who saw the plane land in a nearby pasture – just as Archie is trying to verify.
What creature is a fer-de-lance?
A South American viper/snake.
How does Wolfe kill it?
With his beer bottle.
What is the significance of the $10 bill with the 4 names on it?
It proves that Carlo knew Manuel – and vice versa…
What happened to Peter Barstow’s new golf clubs?
Sarah threw them in the river at Tarrytown.
Why doesn’t their fate matter?
Because the actual club that killed him was E. D. Kimball’s driver.
Rext Stout Page on the Wolfe Pack web site
Fantastic Fiction's Page on Rex Stout
Stop You're Killing Me's Rex Stout page
Victoria Thompson - Murder On Astor Place [May, 2016]
We have enjoyed a number of Vicki's books - so this is the first book we did. Scroll further down to see her other ones.
Cast of Characters
Sarah (Decker) Brandt – one of the two main characters for both this book and this series, she is a widowed midwife in turn of the (19th) century Manhattan. Estranged daughter of magnate & old Knickerbocker descendant, Felix Decker, she hasn’t been in contact with her parents for year – but this case reopens that door. Her delivery of Mrs. Higgins’ baby girl at the Higgins’ boarding house puts her on the scene when a young girl dies there. She works out of the home in Greenwich Village that she shared with Dr.Thomas Brandt, her deceased husband.
Ham Fisher – the young boarder at Higgins boarding house who fetches Sarah to birth the baby. He’s “a strapping youth with a pockmarked face, a mouthful of bucked teeth”. His involvement with the murdered young woman, Alicia VanDamm, is questionable – but he has flown the scene.
Alicia VanDamm – the 16 year old girl from a very, upper-class, Knickerbocker family, who was 6 months pregnant when she is strangled at the boarding house. Sarah at first mistook her for her older sister Mina VanDamm the night of the murder.
Mrs. Elsworth – Sarah’s busybody elder neighbor, who has an endless list of superstitions, and the cleanest porch in the neighborhood – which she sweeps while spying on her neighbors.
Det. Sergeant Frank Malloy – the other main protagonist in this book and series, we meet him at the boarding house where he’s in charge of the Alicia VanDamm case. He’s annoyed, because solving this case won’t do anything to help advance his career: his main objective in everything he does -- & doesn’t – do. He is reluctantly impressed with Sarah’s ability to get information and privately thinks she’d have been a good detective, is women did such a thing. His motivation for needing to get ahead lies in his desire to ensure a good future for his disabled child, Brian. His mother, Mrs. Malloy, takes care of Brian for him.
Cornelius VanDamm – Alicia’s & Mina’s father. He is a powerful member of the old Knickerbocker families, who uses his money and influence to keep news of Alicia’s baby – and murder – out of the public eye. His wife, Francisca, is a “fragile, birdlike creature” who keeps to her bed and doses herself with morphine, among other things. His older daughter Mina VanDamm, is “large-boned, and tall for a female”. She is more upset about the loss of some family jewelry, and the potential family scandal, than her sister’s murder. She wants Alfred, the family butler, to identify Alicia so her father won’t have to.
Emma Petrovka – an abortionist who is middle-aged and of “substantial girth” who walks with a silver-headed cane. Frank interviews her as part of his follow-up on the curette found in Alicia’s boarding house room.
Mary Grace Higgins – the 10 year old daughter at the Higgins’ boarding house who saw something important the night Alicia died – but no one has talked to her until Sarah does.
Dolly & Will Yardley – are new parents to a baby girl who Sarah helped to deliver. She asks Will to help with information when he cannot pay for her services. Since she knows he’s a thief, she asks him to help her find Ham Fisher.
Mrs. Hightower – the housekeeper at Greentree – the VanDamm’s country house in Mamaroneck, where Alicia loved to ride her horse, and write in her diary. Mrs. Hightower doesn’t want Malloy in the house, but he finds a way round her, and also speaks to Alicia’s former maid, Lizzie. Lizzie tells him she was kept from waiting on Alicia during her most recent stay at the house. When Malloy meets Harvey, the groom who cared for Alicia as well as her horse, he recognizes Harvey from the pawnbroker’s description.
Sylvester Mattingly – the VanDamm’s lawyer. He is almost old enough to be Alicia’s grandfather, but her father was contemplating marrying her to Mattingly anyway. Mattingly also employed Ham Fisher and is known as a dangerous man to cross. Chief Conlin takes Frank off the case after Malloy’s interview with Mattingly.
Mrs. Elizabeth Decker – Sarah’s mother, who does her best to help Sarah confirm the rumor about Mattingly & Alicia, which helps with healing the rift that has existed between them since Sarah’s sister Maggie, and brother-in-law Peter, tragically died.
Warning! There May Be Spoilers!
What is the name of Dolly and Will Yardley’s baby girl?
A: Edith Rose or Rosie
What was the significance of Sara and Frank finding this tool?
A: It’s a curette – a tool used by abortionists – and one proof that Alicia was pregnant.
When Sara presents her calling card to the VanDamm butler, what does she do to it, and what does it signify?
A: She bends the top right corner to indicate she’s calling to pay her respects.
What is the unusual feature to Mrs. VanDamm’s bed?
A: She, like Marie Antoinette, has a fence around her bed.
Victoria Thompson's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Victoria Thompson Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Victoria Thompson Page
NPR's Interview with the author of Island of Vice: about Teddy Roosevelt's 'Doomer' War on New York Vice
Article on How Calling Cards Were Used by the Victorian Upper Class
Sample Picture of What the VanDamm's "Country House" in Mamaroneck, NY Might Look Like
Victoria Thompson - City of Lies [January 2019]
Cast of Characters
Jake “Perkins” – the brother of Betty Perkins, a.k.a. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Miles. He is her cohort in the initial con they are running on Oscar Thornton.
Betty Perkins/Elizabeth Miles – the Counterfeit Lady of the series title, a talented grifter and adventuress pretending initially to be a well-bred young lady, and later, a suffragist. Quick-witted, pretty, intelligent, and a survivor, she needs all these skills to deal with imprisonment in a workhouse, and the vengeful and violent “mark” who is after her – Oscar Thornton.
Oscar Thornton – in revenge for being taken by Jake and Elizabeth, he and his goons (Fletcher & Lester) nearly kill Jake and have very nasty plans for Elizabeth. She seeks refuge in a suffragist march in Washington, but even that doesn’t keep Thornton from having her hunted down. His former in-laws also believe he had a hand in his wife Marjorie’s demise.
Mr. Coleman – the third member of Jake and Elizabeth’s initial con scheme, he helps them to get 50,000 dollars from Oscar Thornton.
Anna Vanderslice – the young, pale blonde woman who lends Elizabeth her suffrage banner, and is later taken into custody with Elizabeth and the other suffragists who are then taken to the Occoquan Workhouse instead of the D.C. jail. The experience forms a strong friendship between them. One of her heroines is Miss Alice Paul (a real suffragist) who is on a hunger strike at the district jail.
Mrs. Herndon – the “hatchet-faced woman in a gray dress” who is the matron at Occoquan.
Mrs. Hazel Bates – an older woman who is a close friend of Anna’s mother, Clarissa Vanderslice, and a passionate suffragist. She is the mother of Gideon, and later invites Elizabeth to stay with her.
The Old Man – a mysterious character who is the leader of Elizabeth’s true group. He is a major influence on her, and is often involved in schemes with her.
Superintendent Whittaker – the warden at Occoquan, “an ugly old man… From the looks of him, he ate little babies for breakfast, so a few dozen suffragettes were no more than a nuisance”. He works with Wilson’s personnel to hold and punish the women.
Gideon Bates – the son of Mrs. Bates, he is a New York City lawyer at Devoss and Van Aken, and best friends with David Vanderslice. From the minute he meets Elizabeth Miles, he knows he’s met someone special – he’s just not sure what he makes of her… He is staunchly behind his mother and the suffragists who were taken to the workhouse.
David Vanderslice – Anna’s devoted brother, and a very handsome – if somewhat stupid – young man. He is easily led, and conservatively-inclined. Both the Bates and the Vanderslices are part of the old, New York Knickerbocker families.
Senator James Wadsworth – the senator who introduces Oscar Thornton to David Vanderslice to make the connections he needs to sell his rifles to the army.
Mr. O’Brien – the attorney working for the Women’s Party in D.C. trying to get the women out of Occoquan.
Mr. Ingalls – the attorney from Wilson’s administration who comes on behalf the President to try to get the women to refuse the writ that Mr. O’Brien is trying to get served so that the women can be seen in court – the last thing the administration wants.
Cybil – the good friend of Elizabeth who lives in Greenwhich Village who has the “same auburn hair and bright blue eyes” as Elizabeth, although she’s half a head taller. She’s a sophisticated woman, in “a red silk kimono over a pair of baggy black trousers gathered at the ankles who lives there with Zelda, a “tiny blond woman… as prim and proper as any lady Anna’s mother might have known”.
General Sterling – the retired general who is considering purchasing as many rifles from Oscar Thornton as Thornton can come up with. He is more than a bit nonplussed when Colonel Inchwood shows up during the final sale.
Graphic Crime Quiz City of Lies by Victoria Thompson
Where did the workhouse dresses that the suffragists were made to wear come from?
The other workhouse inmates, mostly black women, who were made to wear just rags instead.
Who is the red-haired woman who was “handcuffed with her arms stretched agonizingly above her head” when she tried to ask after Mrs. Lewis when Mrs. Lewis was separated from the other women?
Lucy Burns – a passionate activist in the United States and in the United Kingdom. Burns was a close friend of Alice Paul, and together they ultimately formed the National Woman's Party. This incident really happened at Occoquan.
How does Elizabeth acquire suitable luggage to take with her to New York City?
She bribes the bellman who is insulted by a spoiled young woman who owns the luggage to take it out to the cab where Gideon is waiting.
What surprising thing happens when Elizabeth and David announce their engagement?
Anna burst into tears and leaves the room.
Victoria Thompson's Web Page
Fantastic Fiction's Victoria Thompson Page
Stop You're Killing Me's Victoria Thompson Page
"Save the Cat!" Beat Sheet -- Explained on an author web site
June 2020 Interview with Victoria Thompson
Points of Interest
The Lorton Reformatory began as "a prison farm called the Occoquan Workhouse for non-violent offenders serving short sentences " which coveres the suffrage era that Vicki set City of Lies in.
Click on this sign for the Occoquan Workhouse to learn more about it.
Since our discussion, there has been a new Suffrage Memorial built on the grounds of the Occoquan Workhouse. Click this logo for information on the memorial.
The other side of this story dealt with the "upper class" of New York City at that time: the Knickerbockers. Click this photo to learn more about them!
Red & Yellow Suffrage Roses
More on the fascinating history of America's own "War of the Roses" -- yellow roses for Suffrage supporters, and Red Roses for those who strongly opposed giving women the right to vote. Each rose above has a different link about this piece of floral history.
As Vicki mentioned, the decisive moment for passing the amendment ot give women thevote in the U.S., came down to one young man from Nashville, Tennessee on August 18, 1920. Read all about this tension-filled moment in time -- and how one mother's note to her son made history.
Sarah Wisseman - Burnt Siena [May, 2018]
Cast of Characters
Flora Garabaldi McDougal – the heroine of the story, she’s an art restoration specialist working in Siena for the acclaimed firm, Restauro Lorenzetti. She is an American of both Italian and Scottish descent from the Chicago area. She had strong feelings for Ernst Mann who had been her co-worker and roommate. Linda Maguire is their third roommate.
Captain Paolo Rizzo – the lead investigator from the Siena Carabinieri (the army-based police). He is a long-time friend of Beppe Lorenzetti, as well as lovers with a Lorenzetti relative, Matilde Brunetti. Both circumstances make him reluctant – and potentially prejudiced – again investigating both the murder and the potential forgeries and stolen art crimes the family is suspected of committing.
Sottotenente Vittorio Bernini – is Rizzo’s young Second Lieutenant, a tall skinny man with sharp hazel eyes that take in everything, and are interested in Flora as both a potential suspect and an attractive woman.
Beppe Lorenzetti – married to the formidable Giannetta (Gia) Brunetti Lorenzetti, he and his oldest son, Pietro, run Restauro Lorenzatti in Siena, which is intimately connected by other branches of the Lorenzettis to Rome, and other parts of Italy. The firm is intensely, family-based, and they hire outsiders reluctantly.
Marco Lorenzetti – the middle Lorenzetti brother, is a passionate sculptor – which makes him something of an outsider in his family which is known for its painters. He has recently been working on creating replicas of ancient statues that his father and brother Pietro are interested in. He is also interested in Flora, which upsets his mother Gia who announces that he is engaged to her cousin, Caterina Brunetti.
Filippo Lorenzetti – the youngest son of Beppe and Gia, does some painting restoration, but is more involved with the shipping and packing of art works. His potential fiancé, Costanza Brunetti (a niece of Gia) is involved not only with restoration work, but spying on Flora for Gia – among other things!
Major Esposito – Rizzo’s former boss at the Florence branch of the Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. He is involved with the Lorenzetti investigations concerning the potential illegal forgeries and stolen antiquities. He also becomes interested in Bernini as he sees how sharp he is.
Graziano – a cousin or nephew, also works for Restauro Lorenzetti, and also spies on Flora.
Commissioner Mancini – together with Inspector Querini are from the Polizia di Stato, and are senior officers also working on art crimes. As with Esposito, they have concerns about Rizzo’s fitness to conduct investigations.
Fabio Alberto Lorenzetti – Beppe’s brother who has the shop in Rome near the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. His son Luigi is involved with the shiping and packing of art there.
Raffaelo Lorenzetti – a cousin who lives in Chiusi – where Marco gets his marble from, wholesale. He took over from Carlo, who also liked to sculpt big figures, but was killed in a motorbike accident. Both are sons of Stefano, a brother of Beppe. There is also an uncle, Niccolo (a brother of Beppe) who lives in Orvieto.
Astorre Orsoni – member of the Art Fraud Squad in Rome. He is also tall and skinny, but red-haired and blue=eyed. He tells Flora and Vittorio that the squad is almost certain that the Lorenzettis have been getting stolen antiquities from sites such as Morgantina in Sicily. He helps them by getting them to a recognized sculpture expert, but Flora gets to one first through her friend Lisa Donahue, an archaeologist from Boston. The expert, Assunta Vianello, works at the Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia in Rome, so Flora and Vittoria visit her there while in Rome. Dottoressa Vianello is able to show Flora what a real antique marble of the type Flora is interested in should look like.
Giovanni Bertoldi – the gay son of a major competitor to Beppe, Costanza contacts him to make money on the side by giving him information on the things the Lorenzettis have been getting up to.
Luigi Turchetti – the second “Luigi” who owns an art gallery near the Campo.
Graphic Crime Quiz
Graphic Crime Quiz – Burnt Siena by Sarah Wisseman
What does Flora do to identify her copy of the small Martini Madonna painting?
A small wheel symbol hidden in the painting.
Name one of the lovely ingredients used to age marble…
Manure, cat urine, acid rain or other sulfur compounds
Where does the men who kidnap Flora take her to?
Past the Dolomites and the Brenner Pass into Bolzano, the transalpine region of Italy near Austria and Switzerland.
What famous exhibit does Flora run to in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology?
Otzi, the Iceman.
Sarah Wisseman's Web Page
Sarah Wisseman Bibliography - opens a Word document
Sarah Wisseman's Facebook Page
Kouros - at the J. Paul Getty Museum - This is the one that was mentioned in this story and that we talked about with Sarah. It even acknowledges that it may be a modern forgery!
Nice Overview Article on Kouros from Britannica
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kouros - Even more on Kouros from Wikipedia!
More about the "Palio di Siena" - the world-famous horse races held in Siena, Italy