Ev’rybody Had a Good Year*

2013 ReleasesI’m very lucky. I’m a member of a wonderful crime fiction community and that in itself means a lot to me. Some of my friends in that community are also writers, and several of them had books come out this year. I know how busy everyone gets as the year goes by; I know I do anyway. So I thought I’d take a bit of time now before we close the doors on 2013 to share some great releases from this year in case you missed ‘em.

Rob Kitchin’s Stiffed is a terrific screwball noir story. Tadhg Maguire knows it’s going to be a bad day when he wakes up next to a dead man. It only makes matters worse that the dead man is Tony Marino, ‘right hand man’ to powerful gangster Aldo Morelli. Maquire knows that calling the police isn’t an option. If they don’t arrest him for murder, he’ll probably have a very life-shortening ‘meeting’ with someone in Pirelli’s gang. So instead, he calls his friend Jason Choi and asks him to help get rid of the body. Choi agrees and the two men get to work. But they soon discover that finding a place to dispose of the body is going to be the least of their problems…

Paddy Richardson’s Cross Fingers was also released this year. In that novel, Wellington television journalist Rebecca Thorne is working on an exposé of dubious land developer Denny Graham. Graham has apparently fleeced several clients of all of their savings, and Thorne’s gathering names, amounts of money, and so on. But then, her boss asks her to switch her focus and do a story on the 30th anniversary of the Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand. ‘The Tour’ was extremely controversial because of South Africa’s then-in-place policy of Apartheid. There were protests, reports of police abuse, and a lot of divisions and conflicts. At first Thorne’s reluctant to pursue the story, as she feels it’s already been done. But then she discovers an unsolved murder from that time. Now she’s got the fresh angle she wants. She also finds out that there are some people who do not want that murder solved.

Also released this past year was Angela Savage’s The Dying Beach. Bangkok-based PI Jayne Keeney and her partner Rajiv Patel are enjoying some time off from work at Krabi, on the Thai coast. While they’re there, they take a tour guided by a young woman who calls herself Pla. Both are very upset when they learn later that Pla’s body has been found in a cave. The official report is that she drowned, either accidentally or by suicide. But Keeney doesn’t believe it. For one thing, Pla was an expert swimmer. For another, the forensics findings are not really consistent with death by drowning. So Keeney decides to ask some questions. She and Patel learn that Pla was working on a project with an environmental group. Her job was to attend meetings between villagers and a development company and ensure that the villagers’ questions and concerns were heard and addressed. On one level then, it seems that no-one would have wanted to kill Pla; the villagers benefited from her presence, and the company needed her to prove its responsiveness to local needs. But as Keeney and Patel dig deeper, they find that Pla had learned something that it wasn’t safe for her to know. That knowledge cost the young woman her life.

Martin Edwards’ The Frozen Shroud is the sixth in his Lake District series that features DCI Hannah Scarlett and Oxford historian Daniel Kind. In this outing, which takes place in the small town of Ravesbank, Scarlett and her team investigate three murders committed many years apart. One is the murder of a housemaid Gertrude Smith, which occurred just before World War I. The next is the five-year-old murder of Shenagh Moss, who had settled into the same house. That’s when Kind gets interested in what might link the murders.  And then another occurs, one that strikes closer to home.  Each victim is a young woman who’s murdered at Hallowe’en. And each victim is found with her face covered by a cloth that seems to serve as a shroud…

For those who like historical mysteries, William Ryan’s The Twelfth Department was also released this year. It’s the third in his Alexei Korolev series, which takes place in pre-World War II Stalinist Moscow. In this novel, Moscow CID Captain Korolev and his assistant Sergeant Nadezhda Slivka are assigned to investigate the murder of an eminent scientist Boris Azarov. His work is considered both important and top-secret, so the NKVD wants the case handled as quietly as possible. All signs point to one particular person, but then that person too is murdered. Now there will have to be a further investigation, and as Korolev and Slivka dig deeper, they find out that the truth about Azarov’s work and his murder is very dangerous indeed.

Another historical mystery that came out this year was K.B. Owen’s Dangerous and Unseemly, the first in her Concordia Wells series that takes place beginning in 1896. Wells is a professor at Hartford Women’s College, where she’s kept busy with classes, preparations for the school’s production of The Scottish Play, and of course, the many needs and issues that arise when a group of students is away from home for the first time. Then, college bursar Ruth Lyman is found dead, apparently a suicide. There are also some very malicious pranks and even arson to contend with at the school. Matters come to a head when Wells’ sister Mary dies. It’s already been made clear to Wells that she’s expected to act with decorum – ‘like a lady’ – and not play hero. But she is determined to find out who’s responsible for what’s going on at the school. Oh, and what’s really exciting is that the second in this series, Unseemly Pursuits, has just been released. More on that soon!

Prefer a cosy mystery? Elizabeth Spann Craig’s had a few releases this year. One is Rubbed Out, the fourth in her Memphis Barbecue series which she writes as Riley Adams. Aunt Pat’s Barbecue, which is owned and run by Lulu Taylor, is one of Memphis’ most popular restaurants and it keeps Lulu busy. But she’s persuaded to attend the Rock and Ribs Competition. Then, one of the other competitors Rueben Shaw is murdered. Lulu’s friend Cherry Hayes had an argument with him shortly before the murder, so of course, she’s a suspect. Lulu knows her friend’s not a killer though, and determines to clear her name.

Another release from Spann Craig is Knot What it Seams, the second in her Southern Quilting series. In this novel, Beatrice Coleman has joined the Village Quilters guild in Dappled Hills, North Carolina. She’s settled into small-town life and has made friends. Then, the guild’s newest member Jo Paxton dies in what looks like a tragic car accident. But when it turns out that someone tampered with her brakes, the Village Quilters know that one of them may be a murderer…

Also published this year was Jill Edmondson’s Frisky Business, the fourth in her Sasha Jackson series. In this story, Raven Greywolf hires Jackson to find out what happened to her friend Julia McPhee, who went by the name of Kitty Vixen. McPhee was a porn film actress who was beaten to death and found at a construction site. The case hasn’t been solved, and Greywolf doesn’t think the police are going to do much about it. Jackson agrees to take the case and begins to look into the victim’s life. There are plenty of possibilities too. For one thing, she worked for a sleazy porn film company where the actors aren’t treated well and not expected to complain. The problem for the company was that McPhee had started agitating for better protection for the film workers and better working conditions. And then there’s her personal past. Jackson finds more than one suspect there, too. Bit by bit, Jackson gets to the truth about McPhee’s last days and weeks and finds out who really killed her and why.

Oh, and a very special thanks to Martin Edwards, Lesley Fletcher, Pamela Griffiths, Paula K. Randall, Jane Risdon, Elizabeth Spann Craig and Sarah Ward for their hard work on In a Word: Murder, an anthology of stories about crime in the publishing, writing, editing and blogging fields. Their stories are excellent, folks. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, you’ll want to. Not only are you getting some great stories, but you’re doing good as well, since all the proceeds from this anthology go in aid of Princess Alice Hospice.


Yes, it’s been quite a year for some terrific releases. If you haven’t had a chance to check these out, you may just want to add them to your 2014 reading list.



*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Beatles’ I’ve Got a Feeling.


Filed under Angela Savage, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Jane Risdon, Jill Edmondson, K.B. Owen, Lesley Fletcher, Martin Edwards, Paddy Richardson, Pamela Griffiths, Paula K. Randall, Riley Adams, Rob Kitchin, Sarah Ward, William Ryan

33 responses to “Ev’rybody Had a Good Year*

  1. Margot, thanks so much for the shout-out! I love this mystery writer community – such a fab group of people. Looking forward to many intriguing reads in 2014!

    • Kathy – It’s my pleasure to mention Concordia Wells and her adventures. You’re right; the online crime fiction community is such a terrific group isn’t it? I’m lucky to be a part of it and I look forward to more of that in 2014 too.

  2. Thanks for this list, Margot. I don’t keep up with the latest releases. Several here I want to try. I have Stiffed by Rob Kitchin and both my husband and I plan to read that. I want to try some of Elizabeth Spann Craig’s southern-based mysteries. Also plan to start reading Angela Savage. Others on this list are also of interest.

    • Tracy – I know what you mean about being able to keep up with new releases. I’m not nearly as good at that as I wish I were. That’s the thing isn’t it? There just isn’t the time to read all we want to read. I do recommend Angela Savage’s Jayne Keeney series; it’s top-notch. And of course Stiffed is terrific, and so is Elizabeth Spann Craig’s writing. When you get the chance for these, you’re in for some very good reads.

  3. Great list for me to check up on, see what I’ve been missing! I like the sound of Concordia Wells very much…

    • Moira – I think you’d like her. She’s a great character and I think Owen does an effective job of evoking the era in an authentic way. Certainly she’s ‘done her homework.’

  4. Happy New Year, Margot. I’m looking forward to another year of good reads, not just mysteries although I love them, but the other genres I love too. I’m also looking forward to another year of your thought-provoking blog posts.

  5. Interesting list, Margot. I’ve read some of Martin Edwards’ books and I enjoy him – may have to try this one. Have a healthy and happy new year!

    • Les – Thanks – I wish you all the best for 2014 too. I think Edwards is very talented and this is one series I really enjoy. I recommend this entry in it too.

  6. Jill Edmondson

    Margot: You always put a smile on my face! Thank you! {{{hugs}}}

  7. I am not into contemporary mysteries at all but all these sound interesting. Thanks.

    • Neeru – The nice thing about crime fiction is that there’s something for everyone, and you’re by no means the only one who prefers the classics. If you do sample these I hope you’ll like them.

  8. Thanks as always for the shout out, Margot. I feel honored to have The Dying Beach included in such fine company. The Paddy Richardson sounds like my kind of book.

    Here’s to a great year of reading and writing for you in 2014.

    • Angela – It’s my pleasure as ever to mention your work. The Dying Beach was an excellent read. I think you’d like the Paddy Richardson; I hope you’ll get the chance to read it. I wish you a great 2014!

  9. Another wonderful list to consider. I love all the new authors you find to inform us about. Thanks so much for your hard work here; so much to read and enjoy and digest – bit like Chrismas pudding – wonderful hot but oh so lovely cold with some sugar. Your blog is both! I like to dive in now and again and digest it slowly after the first read through. It has been great meeting everyone here and sharing our great love of all things writing and crime-related. It was an honour to be included in the anthology and I shall continue to do my best to get it out there and help the hospice and Maxine’s memory too. Thanks for the friendship Margot and everyone. I am looking forward to more sugar in 2014 and wish you all a Very Happy, Safe, Healthy and Successful 2014. Jane xx

  10. Margot: It is a good list. I read and liked Stiffed and have started Frisky Business. I am finding the subject matter of Frisky Business challenging. Is it about as close as you will get to a Best of 2013 list?

    • Bill – Thanks. I’m lucky to have some extremely talented writer friends. Frisky Business does, indeed, deal with very difficult subject matter and I respect Jill Edmondson for being willing to tackle it. I hope you’ll enjoy it. As for a ‘best of…’ list, I don’t usually do that sort of thing. Chiefly that’s because I read a lot of excellent books. Besides, everyone’s taste is different, and what I find excellent, others might not. I was fortunate enough though to be invited to share my year in books at author Andrew Nette’s excellent site Pulp Curry. There you can find a bit of description of five books that had an impression on me.

  11. Col

    The only one on the list I have read is Rob’s and it was a great read.

  12. Ms. Kinberg, if I could I’d have added your name, too, to this fine list of crime fiction writers. Some of them are already on my to-read list. I have read only one book by Martin Edwards and I liked it very much. I hope to read others in the Harry Devlin series.

  13. Thanks Margot. I haven’t read as many books written by friends as I would have liked this year but I’m determined to rectify that in 2014. I already have a mental wish list of books – perhaps if I to them down I might do something about reading them!

    • Sarah – I find it well-nigh impossible to read all of the books I want to read, and even though I do try to keep up with friends’ novels, I don’t always *blush of shame.* I think you have a good idea about making a list…

  14. Hi Margot. Thanks for the plug. It was great to meet you in Los Angeles last year. I hope you have a great 2014 and the blog continues to go from strength to strength, Rob

    • Rob – Thanks for the kind words. It’s always a pleasure to mention your work. I had a great time meeting you, too, and I wish you all the very best for 2014. Have a good year!

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