Friday, March 23, 2018

Hallie's paperback launch: You'll Never Know, Dear

HALLIE EPHRON: There are few moments in a writer's life that are more unalloyed pleasure than opening a box of brand spanking new, hot off the presses copies of your book. Here's the box of the paperback edition of You'll Never Know, Dear which appeared on my doorstep in the middle of the blizzard before last, and will officially ship next week.

The cover is my favorite of all my books. It's sweet and creepy, though I wish the doll's eye could blink. And go click.

This was the first book I've ever written that's based on someone else's idea. It was a friend and neighbor, Mary Alice Gallagher, who told me about helping her mother move out of their family longtime family home in Fayetteville. Her mother, Blanche, was a doll maker. All over the house, and especially from under beds, Mary Alice pulled out boxes and boxes of doll parts.  

Put that in one of your books, she said.

I couldn't shake the image of those doll parts. So I wrote about them, and ended up with this story:

Forty years after the disappearance of a little girl and the doll her mother made for her, the doll comes back. The novel is about finding the girl.

The book has been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. It was named one of the top ten mystery/crime novels of 2017 by Audiofile Magazine and received an Earphones Award.

My favorite part of writing a novel is research. I had to go to Beaufort, SC—I set the story there, though I call it Bonsecours. And of course I had to learn about how to make and repair dolls.

One of my first research trips was to a woman whose home is a doll hospital. Every room was chockablock with dolls. On every shelf. Rag dolls hanging like ripe hams from rafters. Doll parts were neatly catalogued in boxes.

I quickly lost my squeamishness about doll parts. Even the eyeballs. They're sweet.
Here are some of the arcane bits of knowledge I acquired while researching the book. Because hey, you never know when you'll need to uncloud a doll's eyeball.

- How to uncloud a doll's glass eyeballs: Clean with Q-tip and vinegar, and if the cloudiness has spread inside, hold blow dryer to eyes, 10 minutes at a time.
- How can you tell if doll's hair is human: Burn it. Human catches fire right away, flashes, then balls up into dark ash that you can crush into a dark powder with a distinctive, unpleasant odor. Synthetic hair melts and curls up into a hard ball and has a plasticky, chemical smell
- How can you tell if a hair is from a dog or a human? Look at it under a microscope.

More than you needed to know, right?

- How to cock a break-action shotgun: Close it; when closed it’s cocked and ready to go; it kicks like a mule when fired and you can easily bruise your shoulder
- What DNA do you need to tell if 2 women are sisters: theirs and (half the time) their mother's
- How could a woman kill someone on a shrimp boat and make it look like an accident? You'll have to read the book.

If you haven't read it, the paperback is available now for pre-order, shipping March 27. And, did I mention that the audio book is an award winner?

And if you're looking for me, here's where I'll be speaking in the coming months: 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Something new for fans of crime fiction: CrimeReads

HALLIE EPHRON: There's something new in the crime fiction universe, a site from the folks who bring us Literary Hub: CrimeReads.

Their tag line describes them perfectly:

Showcasing the best writing from the worlds of crime, mystery, and thrillers 

Here's just one of their articles with a reading list of "gaslit crime, apparitions, and 19th century detectives."
On day one of Crime Reads, they ran Laura Lippman’s celebration of James M. Cain’s transgressive noir, an essay on spy fiction and the black American experience, a personal story about a life of activism and writing mysteries, and a conversation with the godfather of legal thrillers, Scott Turow.

They promise a new monthly column from “The Crime Lady” Sarah Weinman, and  fiction from Jo Nesbo, Lars Kepler, Donna Leon.

I asked Molly Odnitz, co-editor of CrimeReads with Dwyer Murphy, to share their plans.

We're a gathering place for conversations about the genre, with essays, reading lists, and think pieces. We partner with publishers for some of our content, we write some ourselves, and we also have freelancers contributing to the site, so it's a hodgepodge of thought and ideas from a host of sources, including fans, editors, authors, collectors, and translators.

I wouldn't say that the site is so much about what's being published in crime fiction, although much of our content is tied to upcoming releases. It's more about what fans of mysteries, thrillers, and crime are thinking about - in the genre, in their political context, in their personal lives, or in their reading lives - and how that ties in to a larger conversation.

For example, we have a bunch of themed content to go along with International Women's Day, including a think piece on the limits ofthe Bechdel Test in the context of the Staunch Prize for thrillers.

We have an op-ed about the rise of fascism from Volker Kutscher, an excerpt on Omar from the new oral history of The Wire, and a piece in honor of Mickey Spillane's 100th birthday.

We're partnering not just with publishers, but also with mystery organizations, bookstores, blogs, etc.

And Jungle Red Writers is delighted to be partnering with you as well, celebrating and embracing crime fiction in its many incarnations and media.

Go to their web site and subscribe to their newsletter.
Warning: Do not go unless you're prepared to spend a good long time browsing, because it's packed with terrific excerpts, articles, reading lists, podcasts, and more.

I'll be sharing this post with the editors so please, weigh in with your ideas of what you'd be interested in reading about.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Jane Friedman: Not an art or science, The Business of Being a Writer

HALLIE EPHRON: Jane Friedman has a well earned reputation as a publishing industry guru with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. I try not to miss reading anything she puts out there because she's so smart and doen't mince words.

In one of her latest missives, she declared with typical tartness:
"I don’t believe that 'cream rises to the top' in the writing world."
She was on the war path against the notion that for writers, art is polluted by business concerns. She argues that while some writers are fortunate enough not to have to think about making a living wage, the rest of us need a sustainable business model that doesn't include the expectation of a six- (or even four- or five-) figure advance every year or so.

In other words, making a living as a writer doesn't just happen.

She speaks from experience:

"I learned early on that if I wanted to make a living from my writing, I’d have to learn to balance the art and the business."

That's what her new book is about: THE BUSINESS OF BEING A WRITER.
In it she exhorts the rest of us to stop being so precious about m-o-n-e-y --

"To break out of the unproductive silence about what we earn and how the industry works. We have to be more transparent about what writing pays, and how it pays, and that it takes time and an informed strategy to make it pay. We may all hope that serious art speaks for itself, and once in a while that may work for the Franzens of the world, but it doesn’t work for most of us. Educate yourself on the business, and learn how to make the system work for you."

In response, Jane provides a strategic, high-level look at how writers can establish a lifelong writing career.

The book is simply terrific. I only wish it had been around when I was inventing my own business model which has been a combination or publishing fiction, nonfiction, and magazine pieces, along with speaking and teaching gigs. Ever grateful that I had a thirty-year career and a wage-earning husband and, like industrious ants, we'd socked away our pennies before I took the plunge.

She addresses questions like the age-old:
  • Do I need a day job? (It depends.) 
  • Can't I just write and leave marketing and promoting to the publisher? (No.)

Her answers are bracing. Yes, marketing is now part of the writer's job, but that's is nothing new:
"During the Renaissance, Erasmus organized a network of agents across Europe to actively distribute his works and collect his rewards. Mark Twain’s most successful work was sold by traveling salesmen going door to door—at a time when this form of marketing was considered extremely impolite.  And everyone knows how Charles Dickens released his work in multiple formats, modified his stories based on audience feedback, and masterfully used the serial to garner attention and publicity."
The book also has solid, smart advice on the nitty gritty of getting a book published. Just for example, here are the chapters that form the middle of the book.

 9. Book Publishing: Figuring Out Where Your Book Fits

10. Understanding Literary Agents

11. Researching Agents and Publishers

12. Book Queries and Synopses

13. The Nonfiction Book Proposal

14. Working with Your Publisher

15. Self-Publishing

16. Publishing Short Stories, Personal Essays, or Poetry

17. Traditional Freelance Writing

18. Online Writing and Blogging

But the final sections have information you're not going to find in the average writing book. For example:

23. Starting a Freelance Career
25. Teaching and Online Education
26. Contests, Prizes, Grants, Fellowships
27. Crowdfunding and Donations
28. Memberships, Subscriptions, and Paywalls

I'm so happy to welcome Jane and her new book to Jungle Red. She'll be dropping by this afternoon to answer questions, so FIRE AWAY!

I met JANE FRIEDMAN when she was an editor at Writers Digest Books and I was writing my Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel for them. She was young and savvy, and in just a few years rocketed from editor to senior editor to publisher. She's now a widely respected publishing consultant, one of the most savvy people anywhere in the world about the REAL world of publishing. And about writers and writing and what it takes to succeed.

You can meet her at writing conferences where she's often invited to give the keynote, read her blog (where you can subscribe to her newsletter), subscribe to The Hot Sheet a newsletter for authors that distills what's happening in the publishing industry for authors. Her new book, The Business of Being a Writer, is being published by University of Chicago Press.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Travel adventures: Fort Lauderdale Airport's Baby Oasis

HALLIE EPHRON: I was with Hank, making our way to our gate at the Fort Lauderdale Airport a few weeks ago (on our way back from Sleuthfest) when we spotted it. . .

The little windowless, wheel-less trailer with its outside walls painted with sky and clouds, stopped me in my tracks.  Everyone else walking by stopped to gawk, too.

Of course, being a mystery writer, I was instantly curious.

The sign on the door says Baby Oasis, and the door (I tried to get in, of course, at which point Hank said I had the makings of an investigative reporter) had a fancy combination lock that you needed an app to open. Since I couldn't get inside, I had to go online to find a photo of the interior.

It looks pretty basic. White plastic. A bench, a charging station, a changing table. Presumeably lighting. Hopefully lighting.

Still, the idea of going inside with my baby and shutting the door? Locking us in?  Nuh uh.

But maybe I'm out of touch. After all, it's been a a long time since I nursed my babies, and back then it was far less common than it is now.

And I had to wonder when I saw this little box with a door on it: Is this to protect mothers and their babes from prying eyes, or to avoid offending the delicate sensibilities of other passengers. (To me, the sight of a baby being discreetly breastfed is less offensive than the omnipresent CNN feeds.)

Pumping is a different thing entirely. I don't think portable breast pumps had been invented when I had my babies, and it was unusual for a baby moms to work and travel and breastfeed. Pumping is not something I'd be comfortable doing at a crowded departure gate. And camping out in the Baby Oasis does seem a cut above trying to pump, crammed into an airplane bathroom.
So what do you think? Hip hip hooray or a royal raspberry for Broward County for installing lactation suites (yup, that's what they call them) in the airport?

My take? An enthusiastic thumbs-up, as long as no one's forced to use them. And I've now filed it in an idea-compartment: the perfect place to hide a body in a busy airport. Provided you've downloaded the app.

Monday, March 19, 2018

What's wrong with this picture...

HALLIE EPHRON: What's wrong with this picture?  

CNN published this image for their annual accounting of memorable people who died in the preceding year. Count the men. Now count the women.

Back in 2012, I started counting the number of women (versus the number of men) who had obituary articles written about them in my local paper, the Boston Globe. The ratio was SIX to ONE: six times more dead men had lives deemed worthy of the obituary writer's time than women. The ratio was the same in the New York Times.

It's a little better six years later. Today it's FIVE to ONE in the Times and FOUR to ONE in the Globe. However, in CNN's annual count of notable people we lost in 2017, out of 72 people remembered, only 7 were women. TEN to ONE. And what women did they include? Sue Grafton, Mary Tyler Moore, the woman who played one of the Von Trapp family sisters in Sound of Music, and the woman who played Joanie on TV in Happy Days.

Finally, last week in an article entitled OVERLOOKED, the Times addressed the discrepancy.
"Since 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries: of heads of state, opera singers, the inventor of Stove Top stuffing and the namer of the Slinky. The vast majority chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones; even in the last two years, just over one in five of our subjects were female."
With OVERLOOKED the Times identified fifteen women who were overlooked, and posted a form for readers to nominate candidates for future "overlooked" obits. The obituaries, written belatedly, attest to truly remarkable lives.

You'll have to read the article to see their justification for the imbalance, which to me seems a bit lame. Because the bottom line is women have ALWAYS contributed. Major league. It's the recognition that's lagging.

So what's your take on this? Is anything changing?

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I hope so. I subscribe to the NYTimes, and read the article - which is terrific - and the most jarring thing for me personally was that I had never realized the gross imbalance between the number of men selected for recognition and the number of women. And I think of myself as a very aware feminist!

To me, that's part of the objective - we have to go looking for the women who made a difference. One of the things I love about Google's doodles? The way it's made me aware of scientists, artists and others who have contributed to history who were women and people of color.

RHYS BOWEN: Women have been systematically excluded from the history books (unless they ended up burned at the stake like Joan of Arc). We know their scientific discoveries have been attributed to men.

Back in the good old days when newspapers ran book reviews they were nearly all male thriller writers. And how many women have won the Edgar awards? (Hallie and I both hope that will change this year!)

I've always been bemused by the fact that many people, men and women see a woman writer as pursuing her little hobby, men as establishing a serious career. On a plane recently I told the woman beside me that I still wrote two books a year. She patted my hand. "That's nice, isn't it," she said.

"Keeps you busy!"  

"Hey," I thought, "If I were a brain surgeon and told her I did two brain surgeries a week would she say 'keeps you busy'?

I keep hoping that perceptions are changing, but not sure they are.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, I thought the section was beautiful. Yes, it's a long time coming, but gotta count blessings, give credit for awareness and taking responsibility, and then press on.

Know what I'd like to know, though? Exactly who, in the past,  CHOSE who was going to get an obit. Think it was a woman?  I'm betting no.

LUCY BURDETTE: Of course it wasn't a woman choosing Hank! Although, now that you mention it, obituary writer sounds like the kind of job they'd give a woman. Rather than first page news reporter, right?

I do love reading the NY Times obituaries--you really get a good sense of the way someone lived. And we thought the Overlooked piece was a brilliant idea. Maybe things are changing, but really slowly. We all have to keep nudging...

INGRID THOFT: Women have always done amazing things, but in American society, it’s only during the last 60 or so years that women have been claiming their place in the public sphere.  The lack of representation is an issue of acknowledgment, but also opportunity.  There are fewer women than men in most fields, and we need to get those numbers closer to 50/50. 

This also raises the issue of what accomplishments are worthy of an obituary.  What about the mothers and fathers of all those accomplished men?  They should get some credit!

JENN McKINLAY: I believe it's changing.

I look at the girls who go to school with the Hooligans and, yeah, good luck not giving these girls their due.They are smart, they are fierce, and they are not going to stand in anyone's shade. I love these girls!

It's unfortunate that it's taken this long for women to be recognized as worthy contributors to society, but when you realize women couldn't get a credit card in their own name until 1974 or fight in combat until 2013, it's easy to see that the battle for equality is far from over but I believe we're gaining ground every single day.

I was impressed that the Times put forth OVERLOOKED and I look forward to reading about more women of note through the ages.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I read the piece in the Times--it was fascinating. And, as I've never been in the habit of reading the obits, horrifying to realize that women have been so marginalized even in death. Now, I'll be noticing, not only in the national papers and news but in my local paper, and we can only hope that awareness spreads. Still, I just checked the Friday obits in the Times--five men. Don't you bet that we lost an interesting and accomplished woman last week, too?

HALLIE: Did you read the piece in the Times? Are things changing in terms of women being recognized for their contributions?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Risk Taking: But What About My Feelings?

Jenn McKinlay: Recently, I gave a book talk at a library. It was a packed house, standing room only, which is not always the case for these talks. Stunning, I know. But on this particular night, it was a mob. Probably, because I was speaking to a writer’s group. These people meet once a month and are dedicated to the craft of writing with the goal of getting published. In short, they were my people.

Now I’m always happy to send the elevator down and share what I’ve learned on this thrilling, exhilarating, but also frequently soul crushing journey into the land of publication. I try to emphasize that the mechanics do not matter as much as the spark. In other words: “I’m going to have to pass on your Fifty Shades of Girl with a Twilight Tattoo, because you used the wrong font,” said no editor ever. Sometimes, I get through.

But consistently at every talk I give, I meet people who have a great idea and have possibly even whittled a few chapters out of their big block of a story, but they haven’t submitted it because they are terrified of rejection. As if rejection by some person they don’t know is more valid or important than how they feel about their own work. Argh! It isn’t! So, even though they desperately want to get published, they can not hit the send button on the query email. This boggles me.

I understand that we all have different levels of coping, I do. But having spent the other day hurling myself down a mountain (on skis) with a few hundred other folks, it occurs to me that while we’re so willing to risk life and limb jumping out of airplanes, falling hundreds of yards off a bridge with a rubber band strapped to our ankles, or donning a foamed neoprene suit to swim with sharks, we freak out and shut down if we think our feeling might get hurt. Last time I checked you didn’t have to wear a cast or do physical therapy because you got a thin envelope from your first college choice. Similarly, no funeral service has ever been held for someone because the person they are crushing on likes their best friend instead.

The same thing goes for sharing our art. No one ever expired because their work was poorly received. There will always be haters, especially nowadays when name calling, trolling, etc. having become a pathetic pastime for some people. Rejections, one star reviews on Amazon, nasty Goodreads posts, are all part of the job now. If you want to be published, you have to take the bad with the good, but it shouldn’t stop you from getting in the game. Feelings are not bones; they should not require the same healing time!

When I was starting out, I was rejected -- frequently. So, frequently, that I had a recovery routine. I would be sad for a few hours and then I’d get irritated, and then I’d tap into my apparently deep well of I’ll-show-you. I used the rejection to push myself just like I did when I was skiing the other day. It had been more than a decade since I’d skied and I was seriously trepidatious, as the possibility of injury was high, but I didn’t give in to it and sit in the lodge sipping cocoa. I put the skis on and hit the slopes. I am so glad I did! It felt great to fly down the mountain again, and I’m pleased to report that I didn’t fall – not once!

I genuinely believe that the only things we regret in life are the chances we don’t take. How about you, Reds and readers, what chances have you taken that were worth the risk?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Jenn McKinlay: Being Irish, there is so much that I love about St. Patrick's Day. The parades, wearing green (it's a favorite color), corned beef and boiled potatoes, the parties, and even the green beer. Seriously, how can you be glum when you're chugging green beer? It's GREEN!

While I do love my corned beef, boiled potatoes, and green beer, my favorite thing to cook on St. Paddy's Day is Irish soda bread. It has a fascinating history. Introduced in the 1800's, it was meant for people who didn't have ovens (not many did back in the day). Can you imagine? The bread with a baking soda base was cooked in a cast iron pot with a lid by putting it right on top of the hot coals. Because it was made with baking soda it was not as perishable as regular bread. A friend gave me this recipe about eight years ago, and I have made it every St. Patrick's Day since, because...Yum!

Irish Soda Bread
 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and softened
2 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1 large egg
2 cups raisins
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a large baking sheet,

knocking off excess flour. Whisk together first five ingredients.
Mix buttermilk and egg in separate bowl then add to flour mixture
until dough is evenly moistened but still lumpy. Add the raisins and
caraway seeds, do not over mix. Divide the dough in two and 
transfer half of the dough to a well-floured surface and gently
knead with floured hands about 8 times to form a soft but slightly
less sticky dough. Pat into a domed 6-inch round on baking sheet.
Repeat the process with the second loaf. Place on baking sheet with 
the first loaf and shape into another domed 6-inch round. Cut a 1/2
inch-deep X on top of each loaf with a sharp knife, then brush 
loaves with melted butter. Bake in middle of oven until golden 
brown about 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer loaves to racks to cool

And now for my favorite Irish Blessing:

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
My good luck pursue you each morning and night.

What about you, Reds and Readers, what do you love about St. Patrick's Day? 

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Trifecta of Mystery Bloggers and Their Most Anticipated Titles of 2018!

JENN McKINLAY: There are a lot of book bloggers out there but today I wanted to invite three of my favorites to tell us their three most anticipated mystery titles of 2018. If anyone out there is curious about being a book blogger, our reviewers will be popping in to chat, so feel free to ask them anything. Take it away, ladies.

First up: Cathy Cole from Kittling Books

Paring down this list was painful. I almost sent four and told you to deal with it...but then I decided to behave myself. The three I wound up with are authors that may not be as familiar to a lot of folks as some of the ones I trimmed (Craig Johnson, Stephen King, Ann Cleeves, Elly Griffiths... *sob*). The three authors I chose have also appeared on my Best Reads of the Year lists.

Here goes:

A Howl of Wolves by Judith Flanders' fourth mystery featuring Samantha Clair, editor for a London publishing house and amateur sleuth. Lots of tasty morsels about the world of publishing, laugh-out-loud funny bits, as well as the occasional downright scary scene. Flanders also writes superb non-fiction.

 See Also Proof by Larry D. Sweazy. Sweazy's third mystery featuring Marjorie Trumaine, a freelance indexer and amateur sleuth who lives in rural North Dakota in the 1960s. Yes, indexing can help you be a better sleuth, but the marvels of this series have been its wonderful sense of place and from seeing just how much neighbors and friends help each other in a rather remote area.

Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope.
The first book in Kope's FBI Special Tracking Unit series (Collecting the Dead) blew me away two years ago with its imaginative story, the character of Magnus "Steps" Craig, and its oftentimes poetic language. 

From the blog: What is the purpose of this blog, Kittling: Books? First of all, you may wonder just what "kittling" means. It is a Gaelic word that means "anything that strikes [my] fancy", and that pretty much sums up my reading tastes. Although I do have a strong perference for crime fiction (mysteries), I also love historical fiction, history, biographies, time travel...anything that satisfies my craving for strong characters, story and setting. 

Readers can get in touch with Cathy through her blog (, Facebook ( ), and email 

On deck: Dru Ann Love from Dru's Book Musings

The first book I’m eagerly anticipating is Charmed Bones by Carolyn Haines – I have read all of the books in this long-running series and fell in love with Sarah Booth and her friends. I especially liked Coleman and Sarah Booth, but the pairing never worked out for the two since they found themselves in relationships with other people. Over the last few books, the author has been closing the gap and I can’t wait for this book to show up in my kindle.

The next book I’m anticipating, as if people who know me knows, is Leverage in Death by J.D. Robb. I do not know what it is about this series, okay, it could be the vulnerability at first of Eve Dallas and her growth in the series, but I just love this series. I know that when the book opens, we are witness to a crime, but what I like best is the call that Eve gets and the arrival of my third favorite character in the series, Peabody. Can you guess who is my second favorite character?

The third book I can’t wait to read is Trust Me by Hank Phillipi Ryan. When I first read Hank’s “Charlotte McNally” series, I was impressed by her characterizations and writing style. I’ve since read all of the books she has written and every time I pick up a new book, I experience something wonderful and she never fails to bring me to a new level of reading.

These three are not the only books I’m anticipating, but they are at the top of my list. Would I like an advance reader copy of these books? No, because I want to read them all in their finished glory.

The reclusive figure of Dru Ann Love reportedly spends her working hours at the mysterious daytime situation doing “research.” She is probably not a spy. Maybe. Her non-working hours are spent less reclusively on her blog, dru’s book musings. She is an avid reader who writes poetry, creates quilts and is happy to be in “her element” within the mystery community. Dru Ann is a 2017 MWA Raven Award recipient and dru’s book musings is an Anthony Award-nominated blog.

And our closer: Lesa Holstine from Lesa's Book Critiques  (she is also the book blogger for the Poisoned Pen Bookstore).

Storytellers. I love storytellers. So, the first two books I'm anticipating are by two men who can tell stories, in writing and orally, better than anyone else I've ever heard/read.

Rick Bragg's new book is due out April 3. It's called The BestCook in the World - Tales from My Momma's Table. Here's part of the blurb in the ARC. "In The Best Cook in the World, Rick Bragg finally preserves his heritage by telling the stories that framed his mother's cooking and education, from childhood into old age. Good food always has a good story. And a recipe, writes Bragg, is a story like anything else."

Craig Johnson left us hanging at the end of The Western Star, his last Longmire mystery. In September, we'll find find out what happened. I've attached a photo from Craig's Facebook page. Here's what Amazon has to say about Depth of Winter

" Welcome to Walt Longmire's worst nightmare. In Craig Johnson's latest mystery, Depth of Winter, an international hit man and the head of one of the most vicious drug cartels in Mexico has kidnapped Walt's beloved daughter, Cady, to auction her off to his worst enemies, of which there are many. The American government is of limited help and the Mexican one even less. Walt heads into the one-hundred-and-ten degree heat of the Northern Mexican desert alone, one man against an army."

Then, there's Louise Penny. Her Armand Gamache books have topped my favorites list for the last couple years. There are a few in the series that I haven't enjoyed as much as others, but her last couple have been wonderful. And, the world she created in Three Pines! Plus Armand Gamache's wife, Reine-Marie, is a retired librarian. There's no title for her November 27 release, but I'll be waiting!

More about Lesa: She has been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. She is a mystery columnist for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, and Author of the "Mystery Fiction" chapter in Genreflecting: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (7th ed.) Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer.

She's also the blogger for Poisoned Pen bookstore,

Wow, so many great titles to add to my TBR! What about you, Reds and Readers, what books are you looking forward to in 2018?