Interview with Cozy Mystery writer Edith Maxwell

MaxwellEDITH MAXWELL

Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mystery series (Kensington Publishing), the Speaking of Mystery series under the pseudonym Tace Baker, featuring Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau (Barking Rain Press), and the historical Carriagetown Mysteries, as well as award-winning short crime fiction.

A mother, world traveler, and former technical writer, Edith lives north of Boston in an antique house with her beau and three cats. She blogs every weekday with the Wicked Cozy Authors.

Q:  Tell us about your latest release ‘TIL DIRT DO US PART.
The produce is local–and so is the crime–when long-simmering tensions lead to murder following a festive dinner on Cam Flaherty’s farm. It’ll take a sleuth who knows the lay of the land to catch this killer. But no one ever said Cam wasn’t willing to get her hands dirty…
Autumn has descended on Westbury, Massachusetts, but the mood at the Farm-to-Table Dinner in Cam’s newly built barn is unseasonably chilly. Local entrepreneur Irene Burr made a lot of enemies with her plan to buy Westbury’s Old Town Hall and replace it with a textile museum–enough enemies to fill out a list of suspects when the wealthy widow turns up dead on a neighboring farm.

Even an amateur detective like Cam can figure out that one of the resident locavores went loco–at least temporarily–and settled a score with Irene. But which one? With the fall harvest upon her, Cam must sift through a bushelful of possible killers that includes Irene’s estranged stepson, her disgruntled auto mechanic, and a fellow CSA subscriber who seems suspiciously happy to have the dead woman out of the way. The closer she gets to weeding out the culprit, the more Cam feels like someone is out to cut her harvest short. But to keep her own body out of the compost pile, she’ll have to wrap this case up quickly.

Q:  What led you to write this book?
Because I write about a farmer in New England, I wanted to follow the seasons. I knew I would have rescue chickens as well as mistreated pigs in the story. After we attended a farm-to-table dinner in October at a local farm, I had the opening scene and went from there.


Pretty much. I read non-fiction in the New Yorker, and I recently read Michael Pollan’s Cooked, but because it’s about local foods, it’s almost research! Otherwise it’s the traditional and cozy mystery for me, with an occasional suspense novel or thriller, like the latest from Hallie Ephron or Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Q:  Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest?
New England authors Holly Robinson and Elisabeth Ely both have new books out that I love. My blogmate and dear friend Sherry Harris’ debut mystery, Tagged for Death, will be out in December. I read an early version and loved it.

Q:  What books have most influenced your life?
What a question! I read tons of mysteries as a child: From Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew to Conan Doyle and Poe. I have to say that the Diaries of Anais Nin had a big influence on me, as did feminist authors like Simone de Beauvoir. For direct writing influence, Bird by Bird and Writing Down the Bones. And I aspire to write like Julia Spencer-Fleming or Louise Penny.

Q:  Have you had an interesting experience in the research of one of your books?
When I was spending time with chickens while writing ‘Til Dirt Do Us Part, I realized how funny they are. They sound goofy, they have personalities, they act in interesting ways. I didn’t expect that.

Q: What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?
“Wouldn’t you like to write an historical novel?” Why yes, how delightful you would ask! I’m closing in on the first draft of Breaking the Silence, which features single Quaker midwife Rose Carroll in 1888 Amesbury, Massachusetts. She delivers the babies of rich and poor alike, lives with her late sister’s family in the house I live in, has as mentor and friend the real John Greenleaf Whittier, and solves mysteries in town. I love writing this book and can’t wait to finish the research, have it edited, and find a publishing home for it.

Q:  Which character, from any work of fiction, would you like to be friends with in RL?
I’d love to be friends with Ollie Paras, the White House executive chef in Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef mysteries. I’m an Obama family groupie as well as a foodie, and I’d love to get the inside scoop on the current White House occupants.

You can find Edith Maxwell here:
www.edithmaxwell.com
wickedcozyauthors.com
@edithmaxwell
www.facebook.com/EdithMaxwellAuthor

 

Angela DQC

 

YA Review – I AM THE MISSION (Book #2 in Boy Nobody series)

Unknown  I AM THE MISSION

Allen Zadoff

Publisher:  Little Brown Books for Young Readers

June 17, 2014

Genre:  YA Thriller/Mystery

Description: 
He was the perfect assassin. No name. No past. No remorse. Perfect, that is, until he began to ask questions and challenge his orders. Now The Program is worried that their valuable soldier has become a liability.

And so Boy Nobody is given a new mission. A test of sorts. A chance to prove his loyalty.

His objective: Take out Eugene Moore, the owner of an extremist military training camp for teenagers. It sounds like a simple task, but a previous operative couldn’t do it. He lost the mission and is presumed dead. Now Boy Nobody is confident he can finish the job. Quickly.

But when things go awry, Boy Nobody finds himself lost in a mission where nothing is as it seems: not The Program, his allegiances, nor the truth.

Zadoff has delivered another great addition to the Boy Nobody series.  The main character can be compared to a teenage Jason Bourne – focused, determined, and unstoppable.  Yet despite all his training he still has this glimmer of humanity that forces him to question why.

I could not stop reading this book.  The complexity of the plot and characters was amazing.  I was delighted to see the return of Howard from the first book and the renewal of the query about what happened to his father but this is something that will hopefully be addressed in the next book.

Well-written, this non-stop action/thriller is a must read.

BTW – The first book, I AM THE WEAPON, has been optioned for a major motion picture from Sony Pictures and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment.  (Quoted from Allen Zadoff’s website)

SCI-FI Reviews – SEEDERS and THE RUINS

SEEDERS
A. J. Colucci
Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Press / July, 2014
Thriller, 336 Pages

From the description: George Brookes is a brilliant but reclusive plant biologist living on a remote Canadian island.  After his mysterious death, the heirs to his estate arrive on the island, including his daughter Isabelle, her teenage children, and Jules Beecher, a friend and pioneer in plant neurobiology. They will be isolated on the frigid island for two weeks, until the next supply boat arrives.

As Jules begins investigating the laboratory and scientific papers left by George, he comes to realize that his mentor may have achieved a monumental scientific breakthrough: communication between plants and humans. Within days, the island begins to have strange and violent effects on the group, especially Jules who becomes obsessed with George’s journal, the strange fungus growing on every plant and tree, and horrible secrets that lay buried in the woods. It doesn’t take long for Isabelle to realize that her father may have unleashed something sinister on the island, a malignant force that’s far more deadly than any human. As a fierce storm hits and the power goes out, she knows they’ll be lucky to make it out alive.

You’ll never look at plants the same way again.

When I was asked if I wanted to read this book, I was all over it. I love stories like this that mix spooky stuff with science. I devoured it in a week, which for me, given all I have going on, meant a lot didn’t get done.

This isn’t a new plot line–some aspects I’ve read in other stories. For example, in The Ruins, I discuss below. There’s a lot of interesting science about plant intelligence that is not all that hard to believe. After all, how many of us talk to our plants? I believe I’ve even read an article or two that plants actually do respond to this and grow better. Maybe that’s what makes stories like Seeders terrifying to read.

For me, I would have liked more scares. I would have liked to see more from Jules’ POV as things happened to and around him. I would have liked less subtlety and more in your face horror but Seeders delivered in making me believe in the possibility of plants with an intelligence that is basic, even childlike, but that only makes all the events and the result that much more horrible.

If you enjoy a slow, steady ride building up to the possibility of a horrifying, realistic, future, you’ll enjoy Seeders.

 

THE RUINS
Scott Smith
Vintage / July, 2006
Horror/Thriller, 432 Pages

Description: Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine. Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . . . and the terrifying presence that lurks there.

I first watched this story unfold on TV. But after I read Seeders, I remembered the storyline and had to go pick up the book. Sometimes the books give more insights into what’s going on behind the movie. In this case, the story is similar but a lot is different between the book and movie. I won’t go into details here but if you end up doing both, the mix up of characters and their actions is very different. However, the overall picture is the same. For myself, I think the make-up worked better in the book.

Imagine an idyllic vacation turning into a nightmare. That’s what happens to the characters in The Ruins. While I enjoyed Seeders, I found The Ruins more obvious and to me, filled with more scares.

But more than that, both stories had an idea behind them that was more than scary–it made you believe both possibilities were…possible.

The Ruins was less about the science than about the characters and experiencing the horrific thing happening to them. The only negative thing I have to say about it is the ending of both the movie and the book–I didn’t like either one of them. The book for obvious reasons but the movie because, to me, there was no ending but not even an ending one can put their own meaning onto it.

If you want a nice easy read with an interesting premise filled with characters in a no-win situation and being with them as their lives are turned upside down, you’ll enjoy The Ruins.

Reviewed for The Book Breeze by Abby Rose

 

Cozy Mystery Review – MRS. JEFFRIES TURNS THE TIDE

MRS. JEFFRIES TURNS THE TIDE 
(Mrs. Jeffries mystery)
Emily Brightwell
Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Book 31 in the Mrs. Jeffries series, Mrs. Jeffries Turns the Tide, is the first one I’ve read. What a delightful surprise. The cast of characters is bit large and a tad confusing, but I imagine 30 books ago it wasn’t as they added people along the way. A Victorian mystery set, where else, but London. The book is definitely a cozy mystery, but not fluffy or light. It’s more along the lines of Mrs. Marple but not quite as sophisticated.

Mrs. Jeffries, housekeeper for Inspector Witherspoon, is the woman behind solving a slew of his cases without him any the wiser. She is happy for him to get the glory at Scotland Yard. She has all the fun behind the scenes. Plot twists are frequent, and the killer does a good job of hiding; although, I had it narrowed down to two, one of which “done the deed.”

When the lovely, Ellen Langston-Jones is murdered in the communal gardens behind Sir Donovan Gaines house, gossip spreads quickly. Mrs. Jeffries and her crew of amateur investigators leap into action while Inspector Witherspoon and Constable Barnes conduct the more public investigation. Lucius Montague, who is disliked by everyone he knows or who knows of him, threatened Mrs. Langston-Jones shortly before her death and jumps to the top of the suspect list. Everyone is positive he is the killer, but the astute Mrs. Jeffries has questions than need answers. She turns the tide of the detective work and finds herself defending Montague. Is she wrong?

Reviewed for The Book Breeze by Mahala Church in her column Barefoot Book Reviews

 

BookBreeze3 copy

YA Reviews – I AM THE WEAPON and SECOND STAR

I AM THE WEAPON
Allen Zadoff

Publisher:  Little Brown Books for Young Readers / May 13, 2014
Genre:  YA Thriller/Mystery

Description: They needed the perfect assassin. He is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends, and doesn’t stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend’s family to die-of natural causes.” Mission accomplished, then he disappears, moving on to the next target.

Previously published under the title Boy Nobody

I didn’t know what to expect when I began reading.  The story is told in first person with a stinted writing style, which, at first, bugged me until I realized how well it fit with the character.  We have a young man who taken when he was twelve years old, told his parents are dead and trained by The Program as an assassin.  He is continually inserted into new situations with one mission – kill.  Yes, his life has been stinted.

As he moves from assignment to assignment he begins to step away from his programing and question his own actions.  He grows as a person.  This leads him into problems with The Program.

I recommend this book and I look forward to the second book in the series – I Am The Mission.

 

SECOND STAR
By Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group  (May 12, 2014)
Genre: YA

Description:  A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward his nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she’s falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of J. M. Barrie’s classic tale, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up—and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

What first drew me to this book was the surfing.  I grew up in Southern California surrounded by the beach and surf movies and while the one and only time I ever surfed I broke my nose, I can’t get enough of it.  (And yes, I still watch Big Wednesday at least once a year.)  So when this surf story landed on my desk I jumped on it and I was not disappointed.  It’s a wonderful remake of the classic PETER PAN as this Wendy searches for her ‘lost boys’ brothers.

This story of hope and heartache and making choices is a wonderful summer time read.  I definitely recommend it.

 

Reviewed for The Book Breeze by Donna Keihle