As part of my “conference experience” I’m dedicating my blog to the authors I’d most like to meet, based on their books I want to read.
Here, in alphabetical order, are my top 13 authors and why I want to read them.
Claudia Simcoe has left the tech world of San Francisco to start a new, quiet life in the peaceful coastal town of San Elmo Bay. Now she owns a market specializing in artisanal, locally-made goods. But then Lori Roth, one of her market's vendors, is strangled to death with a wire. And all of a sudden San Elmo stops seeming so peaceful. Especially when suspicion for the murder falls upon Claudia.
Things don't get any simpler when a second victim turns up. The body count is rising, and Police Chief Lennox thinks Claudia's the killer. There's friction between her and her weirdo neighbor. Lori's past yields some worrisome questions. A massive pickle jar seems to have played a role in the murder. And as if things weren't complicated enough, Officer Derek Chambers, Chief Lennox's new hire, is pretty cute.
Why I’m reading – I love the setting of these cozy mysteries, and I enjoyed the short excerpt I read. Going to start with the first book.
- Shannon Baker
When rookie agent Michaela Sanchez receives a tip from her sister that someone has gone missing in the Tucson desert, she thinks she’s searching for a lost immigrant. What she finds is the murdered defendant of a high-profile local trial.
Lacy Hollander was a humanitarian aid worker, on trial for harboring felons after she sheltered illegal border crossers. When a conflict erupts with a local vigilante group, her murder ignites a political firestorm.
Concerned about her sister’s involvement, and taking heat at home from her activist daughter, Michaela takes it upon herself to investigate.
But repeated run-ins with the commander of the vigilante group and a series of escalating threats against aid workers make one thing clear…the violence hasn’t ended with Lacy’s death.
There is a killer on the loose. And Michaela must untangle the mystery before he strikes again.
Why I’m reading – I haven’t read any Shannon Baker yet, even though she lives in my state. I’m going to go back and read her first book in the series, Echoes in the Sand, first.
A dream of Death
On a remote Scottish island, American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton investigates a brutal killing, staged to recreate a centuries-old unsolved murder.
Autumn has come and gone on Scotland’s Isle of Glenroth, and the islanders gather for the Tartan Ball, the annual end-of-tourist-season gala. Spirits are high until an unexpected turn of events takes the floor.
A recently published novel about island history has brought hordes of tourists to the small Hebridean resort community. On the guest list is American antiques dealer Kate Hamilton. Kate returns reluctantly to the island where her husband died, determined to repair her relationship with his sister, proprietor of the island’s luxe country house hotel, famous for its connection with Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Kate has hardly unpacked when the next morning a body is found, murdered in a reenactment of an infamous unsolved murder described in the novel—and the only clue to the killer’s identity lies in a curiously embellished antique casket. The Scottish police discount the historical connection, but when a much-loved local handyman is arrested, Kate teams up with a vacationing detective inspector from Suffolk, England, to unmask a killer determined to rewrite island history—and Kate’s future.
Why I’m reading - This is the first book in her Kate Hamilton Mystery series. Because the next novel I’m going to write (this summer) is based in Scotland, most of my summer reading is going to focus on that country. Call is enjoyable research.
Wildlife photographer Jade Silva’s last text message is a photo of a rare jaguar at the US-Mexico border wall. When Jade vanishes, her fellow Southwestern Research Station volunteer, Sam Westin, agonizes that something terrible has happened. But finding Jade seems an almost impossible mission in a rugged area overrun by undocumented immigrants, Border Patrol agents, vigilantes, construction crews, human traffickers, drug smugglers, and violent cartel thugs. Meanwhile, the ever-increasing militarization of the Arizona-Mexico border is destroying ecosystems and trampling the rights of US citizens. Trying to rescue her friend, Sam is sucked into a maelstrom of desperation, deceit, and danger.
Why I’m reading - This is the last of her wilderness suspense series, but it sounds so interesting. Plus, my novel has a lot of border wall conflict, so I’d like to read her version of the area.
Straight Outta Tombstone
Here then are seventeen stories that breathe new life in the Old West. Among them: Larry Correia explores the roots of his best-selling Monster Hunter International series in "Bubba Shackleford’s Professional Monster Killers." Jim Butcher reveals the origin of one of the Dresden Files' most popular characters in "Fistful of Warlock." And Kevin J. Anderson's Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., finds himself in a showdown in "High Midnight." Additional stories from Alan Dean Foster, Sarah A. Hoyt, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael A. Stackpole, and many more.
Why I’m reading – This anthology is not new but it contains so many of my favorite authors that I don’t want to miss it. Plus, you know, westerns.
Above the Bay of Angeles
A single twist of fate puts a servant girl to work in Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen, setting off a suspenseful, historical mystery by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and The Victory Garden.
Isabella Waverly only means to comfort the woman felled on a London Street. In her final dying moments, she thrusts a letter into Bella’s hand. It’s an offer of employment in the kitchens of Buckingham Palace, and everything the budding young chef desperately wants: an escape from the constrictions of her life as a lowly servant. In the stranger’s stead, Bella can spread her wings.
Arriving as Helen Barton from Yorkshire, she pursues her passion for creating culinary delights, served to the delighted Queen Victoria herself. Best of all, she’s been chosen to accompany the queen to Nice. What fortune! Until the threat of blackmail shadows Bella to the Riviera, and a member of the queen’s retinue falls ill and dies.
Having prepared the royal guest’s last meal, Bella is suspected of the poisonous crime. An investigation is sure to follow. Her charade will be over. And her new life will come crashing down—if it doesn’t send her to the gallows.
Why I’m reading – I don’t read much historical fiction, but this premise is so interesting. Rhys Bowen has written more than 40 novels, and is a Left Coast Crime winner, plus earning multiple Agatha and Maccavity Awards.
Elderly tourists visiting Branson, Missouri for a fun time instead become so sick and disoriented they end up in the ER with Dr. Maggie McCleary. She asks the sheriff to investigate and, because he happens to be her husband, Hank Worth readily agrees.
When the tour operator denies responsibility, Hank digs deeper leaving Chief Deputy Sheila Turley to handle a simmering revolt within the ranks. Their policy to eliminate overtime pay has infuriated many long-time deputies. Those fired for insubordination have filed a lawsuit, while those still there sabotage Sheila at every turn.
With pressure mounting, they're called to a hit-and-run accident. But the victim's injuries haven't been caused by a car . . . she's been beaten to death and dumped by the side of the road. And she was someone they knew.
Will the victim's aggressive business dealings come to haunt them all? And can Hank and Sheila save their department from destruction?
Why I’m reading – Interesting premise in Branson, Missouri, one of my favorite little, quirky towns.
'The most exciting development in spy fiction since the Cold War.'
Slough House is the outpost where disgraced spies are banished to see out the rest of their derailed careers. Known as the 'slow horses' these misfits have committed crimes of drugs and drunkenness, lechery and failure, politics and betrayal while on duty.
In this drab and mildewed office these highly trained spies don't run ops, they push paper. Not one of them joined the Intelligence Service to be a slow horse and the one thing they have in common is they want to be back in the action.
When a boy is kidnapped and held hostage, his beheading is scheduled for live broadcast on the net. And whatever the instructions of their masters at the Intelligence Service headquarters, the slow horses aren't going to just sit quiet and watch.
There are bad actors everywhere, and they usually get their comeuppance before the credits roll. But politics is a dirty business, and in a world where lying, cheating and backstabbing are the norm, sometimes the good guys can find themselves outgunned.
Why I’m reading – This book is the first in a series that is now a major TV series starring Gary Oldman.
The latest book in the series is Bad Actors, out May 10.
The Sacred Bridge
Sergeant Jim Chee’s vacation to beautiful Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell has a deeper purpose. He’s on a quest to unravel a sacred mystery his mentor, the Legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, stumbled across decades earlier.
Chee’s journey takes a deadly turn when, after a prayerful visit to the sacred Rainbow Bridge, he spots a body floating in the lake. The dead man, a Navajo with a passion for the canyon’s ancient rock art, lived a life filled with many secrets. Discovering why he died and who was responsible involves Chee in an investigation that puts his own life at risk.
Back in Shiprock, Officer Bernadette Manuelito is driving home when she witnesses an expensive sedan purposely kill a hitchhiker. The search to find the killer leads her to uncover a dangerous chain of interconnected revelations involving a Navajo Nation cannabis enterprise.
But the evil that is unleashed jeopardizes her mother and sister Darleen, and puts Bernie in the deadliest situation of her law enforcement career.
Why I’m reading – I’ve read most of the Tony Hillerman novels and am ready to jump to daughter Anne. The hype says The Sacred Bridge is Anne Hillerman’s best novel yet featuring Leaphorn, Chee, & Manuelito, and that Anne has done an amazing job of continuing the series that her father began.
Plaid and Plagiarism
Set in the weeks before the annual Inversgail Literature Festival in Scotland, Plaid and Plagiarism begins on a morning shortly after the four women take possession of their bookshop in the Highlands. Unfortunately, the move to Inversgail hasn’t gone as smoothly as they’d planned.
First, Janet Marsh is told she’ll have to wait before moving into her new home. Then she finds out the house has been vandalized. Again. The chief suspect? Una Graham, an advice columnist for the local paper—who’s trying to make a name for herself as an investigative reporter. When Janet and her business partners go looking for clues at the house, they find a body—it’s Una, in the garden shed, with a sickle in her neck. Janet never did like that garden shed.
Who wanted Una dead? After discovering a cache of nasty letters, Janet and her friends are beginning to wonder who didn’t, including Janet’s ex-husband. Surrounded by a cast of characters with whom readers will fall in love, the new owners of Yon Bonnie Books set out to solve Una’s murder so they can get back to business.
Why I’m reading - Plaid and Plagiarism is the start of an entertaining new Scottish mystery series, so I’m starting at the beginning. I’m emphasizing books based in Scotland, remember.
Also really want to read the latest book, Argyles and Arsenic (March 1,2022), about a 93-year-old woman who decides to simplify her life by throwing a decluttering party at her manor and let her friends help themselves to whatever they want. There’s also a murder by poisoning, one of my favorite methods of dispatch.
Artifact: Book 1 of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries
When historian Jaya Jones receives a mysterious package containing a jewel-encrusted artifact, she discovers the secrets of a lost Indian treasure may be hidden in a Scottish legend. But she's not the only one on the trail.
From San Francisco to the Highlands of Scotland, Jaya must evade a shadowy stalker as she follows hints from the hastily scrawled note to a remote archaeological dig. Helping her decipher the cryptic clues are her magician best friend, a devastatingly handsome art historian with something to hide, and a charming archaeologist running for his life. When a member of the dig's crew is murdered, Jaya must figure out which of the scholars vying for her affections might be the love of her life - and which one is a killer.
Jaya travels from San Francisco to the British Library in London to a Pictish archaeological dig in the Highlands of Scotland, piecing together the secrets of a lost Indian treasure hidden in a Scottish legend from the days of the British Raj.
Why I’m reading – I’ve read several of Gigi’s books in her Alchemist series, and now I’m ready to try her Treasure Hunt series. She’s a good writer and her subjects are fascinating. I’m also looking forward to hearing what archaeology sites she’s covering in Scotland, as I have a site in my next book. (As you can tell, personal research is the main way I justify reading for fun). She’s traveled to Scotland, so I can’t wait to pick her brain.
A Stranger at the Door
Rachel Marin is in a good place. After years of struggle, the single mother has found both a stable, loving relationship and a new purpose: putting her investigative skills to work solving crimes for the local PD. But just as the pieces of her life are finally starting to fall into place, her teenaged son’s teacher is gruesomely murdered, starting a domino effect that shatters her peaceful existence.
When Rachel discovers an ominous email the teacher sent to her just before his death, she knows she must help bring his killer to justice. But soon a figure from her past reappears, threatening to expose Rachel’s darkest secrets if she doesn’t tread lightly. And when her son is recruited by a shadowy businessman who may be connected to the murder, Rachel knows this has just gotten very, very personal.
Someone out there is dead set on keeping this grisly cover-up good and buried, which means if Rachel’s not careful, it’s only a matter of time before her dream life becomes her worst nightmare.
Why I’m reading - I read and enjoyed his first book, Hide Away, immensely. It was a true edge of the seat thriller. I’m hoping his next book will be just as scary.
- White Rabbit
Fifty years later, Cate has become a successful novelist and Joe an important artist. Then the FBI comes to her door demanding to know where their sister is, the sister the two Davis’s believe has been dead for a half century. Joe, damaged by the war, fights to keep what sanity hasn’t been destroyed by his memories, And Cate wants nothing more than to mourn the recent loss of her husband. All because the outrageous truth about what happened that day in 1968 that destroyed their family won't stay hidden forever.
Why I’m reading –
I’m a child of the Vietnam era and still enjoy reading about it. This book is said to be packed with twists and turns. Time to find out.