Saturday, January 23, 2010


Author: M. C. Beaton
Copyright 2010
Grand Central Publishing
Hachette Book Group
Paperback $ 6.99
ISBN 978-0-446-61549-5
246 pages

Hamish Macbeth enjoys his bachelor life as a police constable in the Scottish town of Lochdubh with his dog and wild cat. He knows the people in his tight-knit community and understands their superstitions and eccentricities. His longtime service to them has earned a mutual trust for his form of justice for these secluded people.

Lochdubh isn’t always receptive to newcomers, but when a single woman moves here, she quickly has an herbal business which is catering to the older men. Hamish begins to question the woman who claims to be a witch after learning that she is selling an herb to these men that supposedly enhances their sexual prowess. The local physician informs Hamish that this particular herb is actually damaging their organs. The questioning of her is difficult and irritates him so much that later on he mentions that he would like to kill her.

When he returns to her house, no one answers the door so he lets himself in only to discover that someone already killed the woman by cutting her throat. While he is wondering if he be accused of being the murderer after his threat, the house begins to burn forcing him to quickly leave. Is the killer still around and now burning the house? This launches the investigation into the witch’s past and is complicated by three additional murders of other women in this small village.

To further complicate Hamish’s life, he does not get along with the upper echelon in the police. His superior does not value his experience and connection with his community and would prefer for him to retire or just to leave. So now, what if he is accused of murdering this witch?

Hamish also has the challenge of being a bachelor with three women expecting their own exclusive relationship with him. There is Lesley who is the new forensic expert brought in to assist in the investigation. She’s a little on the pudgy side, and is definitely interested in him. Elspeth is his longtime friend but works as a reporter. Priscilla is the daughter of the owner of the local hotel. He expects them to be there for him whenever it pleases him.

To be able to write the 25th mystery in a series has to be a challenge. How could a writer continue the development of the continual characters without having to restate all the previous novels and still allow the loyal readers further insight into the characters? Obviously there are some of the series that are better than others. Death of a Witch is definitely a well-written mystery. The story winds, twists, and turns in unexpected but logical paths with the humor from this small Scottish town.

M.C. Beaton is the pseudonym for Marion McChesney who has also written under the names Sarah Chester, Helen Crampton, Ann Fairfax, Marion Gibbons, Jennie Tremaine, Charlotte Ward, and Marion Chesney. Depending on the genre and the protagonist, she has written historical romance novels and mystery novels.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Author: Kit Sloane
Copyright 2010
Oak Tree Press
Paperback $14.95
ISBN 978-1-892343-61-1
246 pages

People in the entertainment business realize their lives rotate between being overwhelmed with work or the silent lull in-between jobs. That is the situation for Margot and Max.

Margot usually works as a film editor for her significant love, Max. Unusually now, he has no film projects that he is writing or directing. The two are enjoying each other’s company in this time which is not hectic while Max searching for a new film story.

While being part of the audience for their son in his college theatrical performance, Max and Margot are honored to meet the cast who is honored to meet these professional film-business celebrities. Especially noticeable is the diva, Lenore Chambers who is thrilled to meet them, especially Margot. Lenore does mention that they recently lost a member of their musical group who even though the soprano was rumored to die by being impaled, in actuality, she was poisoned.

Lenore later arranges to send Margot and Max tickets for Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado which is being performed by the touring troupe in Los Angeles. Max feels that his recent experience of one musical by Gilbert & Sullivan has more than fulfilled any need in that category and suggests that Margot go and take one of her friends with her.

As the two are arriving at the theater, they are shocked to see SWAT teams circling the theater. Curiously, the two walk to the theater and observe Lenore holding the hand of someone who is on a stretcher with a sheet covering them. Later they are told that a bomb went off in the theater killing the director of the production. Who would kill the director of a musical performing company who specialize in Gilbert & Sullivan musicals?

Now, Margot has agreed to work with the company as the director in their performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience. The company knows their lines, but Margot wants to find a new way to raise their performance to a higher level.

THE FAT LADY SINGS is fun reading. Each chapter keeps you wondering about who is safe, who could be killed, and why. Added to that is the taste of the satirical Gilbert & Sullivan’s operettas which pokes fun at society at all levels.

THE FAT LADY SINGS is the 7th in the Margot and Max series by Kit Sloane featuring film editor, Margot O’Bannon and her significant partner, Max Skull, a well-known film director. Ms. Sloane is recognized as the first fiction editor of FUTURES Mystery Magazine, a longtime member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Mystery Women of the UK. She lives with her husband, who is a professor, on a horse ranch in northern California.

Teri Davis

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Where the Heart Was

Author: Glenn G. Boyer
Copyright: 2010
Legendary Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-887747-40-0
552 pages
Fiction/Historical Fiction/Biographical

“ I, Edwin Newton, Cheek, rode off to war that spring I was eleven, in the warm fly-buzzing days-in the spring of the lush lilacs, 1861. I rode on my little Indian pony, Cannonball, beside my father, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cheek. I wasn’t exactly a drummer boy, though I was enlisted as one. I had more freedom. I never beat a drum. I was more a mascot. I rode down the main street at the head of the regiment with Pa and Colonel Smith, the regimental commander, passing between hunting-draped business houses, all closed in our honor.”

Through the eyes of Ben Edward Todd, the protagonist, WHERE THE HEART WAS is a journey into the real day-to-day life of growing up in America since the Civil War. This American Saga reflects the history and the determination and loyalty of diverse people from various ethnic groups all making the best of whatever situation or difficulty they encounter. This is the lovingly written story of a family and their lives in this country, especially during the Great Depression years.

The writing style reminds me of James Michener. The change in our country from the people literally living at a subsistence level to becoming educated and successful as industry became a vital component, is the underlying basis as our basic social needs changed over time. As the time progresses, Mr. Boyer actually takes the reader into the daily living trials and tribulations.

The strength of this novel is the accurate sense of time. As you read each page, the accuracy of being with each character demonstrates the strong personal voice of being there with having an understanding of the social and economic situations of the time. From dealing with the issues of racism, to wars, to the reality of life during the years of Herbert Hoover and F.D. Roosevelt, you feel as if you are thrust back into time. Glenn Boyer succeeds in using all the senses in American story.

WHERE THE HEART WAS begins with the Civil War but looks at it from the point-of-view of someone who is actually witnessing each event. There is the vision that the war was more than the slavery issue. The differences in the economic situations were more underlying causes than the obvious.

WHERE THE HEART WAS immerses your thoughts with the patriotism and history of building our country. It is obvious that this was a labor of love for the author. He truly loves his characters and their lives as he magically tells Bennie’s story, which is somewhat autobiographical based on himself.

Glenn G. Boyer based this book on his life growing up in north central Wisconsin. Previously he has been considered to be the expert on Wyatt Earp. WHERE THE HEART WAS also shows him to be a masterful storyteller about his life and his family.

Teri Davis January 6, 2010