Bennett Martin Public Library
136 S. 14th St. (4th Floor Auditorium)
441-8530 (Public Service Desk at Bennett Martin Public Library downtown)
The Just Desserts discussion group, focusing exclusively on Mystery Fiction, started at the Bennett Martin Public Library downtown in 2006, and moved to the South Branch Library from 2008 to 2018, before returning to the downtown library in 2019. This group meets the last Thursday evening each month, January through October, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. A specific mystery novel is selected in advance for discussion during each meeting, although general discussion about mystery fiction may follow the discussion of the selected title. Since our theme is “Death and Desserts,” (i.e. The murderer got their “just desserts.”), participants are encouraged to bring a dessert (cookies, cake, pie, tarts, brownies, cream puffs, etc.) to share with the other group members. [Coffee and juice will be provided.]
If you’d like to join us, or you would like to be added to an e-mail notification list for news about this group, you can e-mail us to let us know of your interest, at: the BookGuide e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thursday, June 25, 2020 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
This month’s meeting was held online via Zoom meeting software. If you wish to participate, contact us at Bookguide@lincolnlibraries.org by e-mail to receive an electronic invitation to that Zoom meeting! You’ll need to have Zoom installed, preferably with a computer/tablet/smartphone with a camera built in or attached.
In June, the members of Just Desserts will be reading and discussing a stand-alone suspense volume from Robert Harris, the acclaimed author of Fatherland, Enigma, The Ghost, Munich and the Cicero trilogy (among many others). The Second Sleep was released in November 2020, and is a historical thriller/suspense novel.
Here’s the plot description from the jacket blurb:
“All civilizations think they are invulnerable. History warns us none is.
1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artifacts – coins, fragments of glass, human bones – which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?
As Fairfax is drawn more deeply into the isolated community, everything he believes – about himself, his faith and the history of his world – is tested to destruction.”
Note: The libraries own a limited number of copies of The Second Sleep in regular print, Large Print and downloadable audio format (from OverDrive). This title link will take you to all formats available from the libraries. If you plan to participate in this discussion, you are strongly encouraged to place a hold on this title early and read it a month or two before this meeting of Just Desserts — there will not be enough copies of this for everyone in the group to have it just before this month’s meeting!
Thursday, May 28, 2020 — 4:30-5:45 p.m. on Zoom!
This month’s meeting was held online via Zoom meeting software. If you wish to participate, contact us at Bookguide@lincolnlibraries.org by e-mail to receive an electronic invitation to that Zoom meeting! You’ll need to have Zoom installed, preferably with a computer/tablet/smartphone with a camera built in or attached.
Continuing our annual tradition, which started in 2013, our May meeting will be a “Series Share” night! Because the libraries have volumes in so many brand-new mystery series constantly being added to the collection, most of which we don’t get in large quantities of copies, we’re not assigning any specific authors or titles this month. Instead — we encourage all attendees to sample a new “mystery”, “suspense” or “thriller” series, which launched in the past few years (2017 to 2020). Come to Just Desserts prepared to give a nutshell description of the series, the protagonist, the setting, the writing style, etc., and what your opinion is of that series — thumbs up or thumbs down. Extra points if it is a brand-new series, or a less-well-known author!
Attendees at Just Desserts are always looking for great new series to try out…our track record has been that this “series share” opportunity gives us all a lot of new authors to explore!
Note: Because of the unusual nature of this month’s discussion, we can’t guarantee that we’ll get to our traditional “Round Robin” at the end of the meeting — we hope to, but the discussion of “Series Shares” may take more time than anticipated!
Thursday, April 30, 2020 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For years, many of the members of Just Desserts have been asking why we don’t read a Stephanie Plum bounty-hunter novel by Janet Evanovich for group discussion. The answer in the past has always been that we try to sample books by authors that the majority of the group aren’t already reading. We did discuss the first Fox & O’Hare novel by Evanovich and Goldberg, a few years ago. But for April 2020, we’re finally going to tackle a “Stephanie Plum” novel — the latest one released, as it turns out — Twisted Twenty-Six (released in October 2019).
Here’s the plot description from the jacket blurb:
“This isn’t just another case. This is family. How far will Stephanie Plum go to protect the one person who means the most to her? The stakes have never been higher in this #1 New York Times bestseller from Janet Evanovich.
Grandma Mazur has decided to get married again – this time to a local gangster named Jimmy Rosolli. If Stephanie has her doubts about this marriage, she doesn’t have to worry for long, because the groom drops dead of a heart attack 45 minutes after saying, “I do.”
A sad day for Grandma Mazur turns into something far more dangerous when Jimmy’s former “business partners” are convinced that his new widow is keeping the keys to a financial windfall all to herself. But the one thing these wise guys didn’t count on was the widow’s bounty hunter granddaughter, who’ll do anything to save her.”
The Lincoln City Libraries own a total of 70 print copies of Twisted Twenty-Six, ten Large Print copies, and multiple copies in E-book format and downloadable audio format via OverDrive. The title links above should take you to all formats.[MEETING NOT HELD, DUE TO CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES.]
Thursday, March 26, 2020 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In March, Just Desserts will sample an author the group hasn’t used for a group discussion before — Ridley Pearson. Pearson writes for both adults (suspense/thrillers) and for youth (fantasy/adventure). Past series for adults have included the Boldt/Matthews series (8 volumes 1988-2004), the Chris Klick series (3 volumes 1988-1999), and the Walt Fleming/Sun Valley series (4 volumes, 2007-2010).
For the purposes of Just Desserts, group members will be looking at his latest “adult” series, the Risk Agent series. Just Desserts members are encouraged to read any of the four volumes in that series (so far): Risk Agent (2012), Choke Point (2013), The Red Room (2014) or White Bone (2016). These links should take you to the titles, in all formats, in the libraries’ online catalog. There aren’t enough copies of any one single volume to accommodate the entire group, so we will discuss the entire series is broad terms.
Here’s the plot descriptions from the jacket blurbs:
Risk Agent: “After a Chinese national working for an American-owned construction company is kidnapped in Shanghai, Rutherford Risk – a hostage rescue firm – is called in. But in China, private investigation is illegal, and operating within its borders will be difficult. For the job, the company recruits two outsiders: Grace Chu, a refined forensic expert, to follow the money – and John Knox, a hard charger who is experienced in both combat and the street culture of Shanghai. But following the money leads to more complex and hazardous consequences than either anticipated. Who is behind the kidnapping? What are their true motives? And more important, can Knox and Grace save the hostages before the deadline?” (7 copies)
Choke Point: “When an award-winning foreign journalist reveals the existence of an Amsterdam-based sweatshop known as a “knot shop” that employs and enslaves young girls as laborers, private security firm Rutherford Risk is hired by a philanthropist to find it and shut it down. David “Sarge” Dulwich, Knox’s former boss from their government contractor days, knows that Knox’s cultural knowledge, combat skills, and sympathy for the abused make him right for the job. Joined by Grace Chu, whose more subtle skills for acquiring sensitive tech information help to balance Knox’s improvisational style, he heads to Amsterdam in an attempt to dismantle the child labor operation and rescue the girls. In their way is a crime organization that has permeated the neighborhoods with goodwill turning even the victims’ parents against their would-be saviors. With enemies around every corner, Knox and Grace can’t tell the good from the bad.” (7 copies, 4 CDs)
The Red Room: “John Knox is an expert at surveillance and delicate, international dealings. So he is understandably thrown when David “Sarge” Dulwich, his contact at Rutherford Risk, hands him a photo of a transaction he recently facilitated in the Middle East. More curious to him, he’s shown that photo while in the Red Room, the private security company’s highly secure underground bunker, where eavesdropping is impossible and privacy ensured. Why all the cloak-and-dagger? Knox is pressured into accepting a job as an art broker in mysterious Istanbul, a city situated on two continents where East meets West and Islam meets Christianity. It is a melting pot of spies, terrorists, and conflicting interests. Teamed with smart, quick, and fearless Grace Chu, Knox must navigate a murky operation, the only goal of which is to spend five minutes in the proximity of a man they’ve never met. Why? What can it possibly matter? And why are so many others bound and determined to see it never happens – at any cost?” (9 copies, 2 CDs)
White Bone: “When ex-military contractor John Knox receives a text from partner Grace Chu warning that she fears her cover may have been blown while on assignment, he jumps into action. Knox must locate her overseas handlers, convince them of the threat, and then attempt to retrace the well-hidden steps of a woman who had been attempting to determine how one million euros’ worth of AIDS vaccine disappeared, all while eluding angry poachers on a parallel trail. Corruption isn’t a “problem” in Kenya, it’s the way of doing business. The poaching of ivory from African elephants, driven by insatiable demand from mainland China, fuels constant blood and slaughter. Knox faces police, national rangers, journalists, and safari companies who are each in their own symbiotic relationship with elephants, both good and bad. As the threat from Al-Shaabab militants interferes with his pursuit of Grace, Knox finds himself pitted against the most savage and suicidal fighters in the world. And there’s this woman, Grace, always in his head. His gut. As Grace watches as her civilized self slips away while abandoned in the bush, Knox races against the clock to find her.” (11 copies, 2 CDs, eBook from OverDrive)
To find out more about the Risk Agent series from Ridley Pearson, follow these links:
The Lincoln City Libraries own multiple print, book-on-cd, and eBook copies of the books in this series. The title links above should take you to all formats for each title.[MEETING NOT HELD, DUE TO CORONAVIRUS SAFETY MEASURES.]
Thursday, February 27, 2020 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In February 2020, the Just Desserts group will re-visit an author we previously discussed eight years ago, back in 2011 — Louise Penny. Penny is best known for her long-running Inspector Gamache series, and we read/discussed the first rew volume in that series back in 2011. This time, we’re reading and discussing the eighth volume in that series — The Beautiful Mystery — which just came out in 2011, and was the last book in the series set before Gamache moved to Three Pines and the series took a darker, more serious turn.
Here’s the plot description from the jacket blurb:
“No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as “the beautiful mystery.”
But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery’s massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Sûreté du Québec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.
The Beautiful Mystery is the winner of the 2012 Agatha Award for best novel, the 2013 Anthony Award for best novel and the 2013 Macavity Award for best novel.”
To find out more about the Inspector Gamache series from Louise Penny, follow these links:
Inspector Gamache series handout prepared for this meeting of Just Desserts.
The Lincoln City Libraries own a total of 10 print copies of The Beautiful Mystery, two copies in Book-on-CD format, as well as copies in E-book format and downloadable audio format. The title link above should take you to all formats.
Thursday, January 30, 2020 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Handout about Anthologies — available from our last Anthologies meeting.
To open 2020, we’re going to return to an experiment we last tried in 2017 — Anthologies & Collections.
Much the same as our annual May “series share” meeting, we won’t all be reading the exact same thing. Instead, all participants are encouraged to visit the 813.08 shelves of your favorite local library’s “non-fiction” shelves, where the thematic short-story anthologies are located, and pick out a mystery collection, filled with stories by a variety of different authors. At the January meeting, we’ll do a massive round robin, with all attendees given a couple of minutes to describe the anthology or collection they read, and to mention the highlights of what they did and didn’t like about it. If you’d rather not read a multi-author anthology, you’re also welcome to read a single-author short story collection or a short “novella” by a mystery author (both of which are shelved in the fiction section under each author’s name individually).
You can read a classic anthology/collection, like the old volumes put out under the Ellery Queen or Alfred Hitchcock banners, or the annual Best American Mystery Stories, or a more recent thematic collection — we’ve got a ton of these, especially at the Bennett Martin Public Library downtown! Even if you’re not traditionally a fan of short stories, we hope that you’ll give one a try this month…you may just find (or learn about) a new author worth pursuing![Note: While most recent anthologies will be in the Dewey Decimal 813.08 classification, some of the older ones may also be under 808.83 (especially at Bennett Martin Public Library downtown), and anthologies featuring only British authors will be in the 823.08. Also be aware — there will be lots of non-mystery anthologies (SF, Romance, Western, etc.) mixed in with the mysteries…choose carefully!]
November and December 2019 hiatus assignment
Handout with plots of all 31 novels in all 3 of Margaret Frazer’s series — distributed at the October 2019 Just Desserts meeting.
During our traditional end-of-year holiday hiatus in November and December 2019, we’re going to continue to remain active…but once again, only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won’t be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the 31 novels in any of three historical mystery series by Margaret Frazer, then visit this discussion post on the Just Desserts Blog and leave a comment on Frazer and whichever series you sampled, in a response to that post.
For those who are unfamiliar with Margaret Frazer, here’s some general background, and an overview of her three series:
Margaret Frazer, born Gail Lynn Brown (November 26, 1946 – February 4, 2013), was an American historical novelist, best known for more than twenty historical mystery novels and a variety of short stories. The pen name was originally shared by Frazer and Mary Monica Pulver Kuhfeld in their collaboration on The Novice’s Tale, the first of the Sister Frevisse books featuring the Benedictine nun Dame Frevisse. Their collaboration came to an end with The Murderer’s Tale, the sixth book in the series. Starting with the Edgar Award-nominated The Prioress’ Tale, the Margaret Frazer pen name was used exclusively by Gail Frazer. She also wrote the Player Joliffe mysteries, starring the medieval actor Joliffe, and a trio of novels in the Bishop Pecock series.
Frazer was born and grew up in Kewanee, Illinois. An actress and member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, she lived and worked in Elk River, Minnesota. Frazer died February 4, 2013 from breast cancer, aged 66
The Sister/Dame Frevisse series (21 volumes): Frevisse is a nun at the small, fictional, 15th-century Oxfordshire convent of St. Frideswide’s, with its ten (more or less) nuns; the neighboring village of Prior Byfield belongs partly to the priory and partly to Lord Lovell (an historical figure). Six of the novels are set entirely at the priory and/or village; in others Frevisse leaves the convent, either to accompany another nun on some family or convent business or on business of her own. Many of the novels have the quality of “English village” murder mysteries, in which we see at close hand the everyday material life (and the intellectual and spiritual life) of various classes of people and observe the tensions within and between them; but here, the “everyday” is of the 15th century, carefully researched. Some of the later novels are primarily historical novels, in which Frevisse serves as an observer of the well-documented events and characters which brought on the Wars of the Roses, though there is always a murder for her to solve. Frevisse is related to Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the Canterbury Tales, by her aunt’s marriage to Geoffrey’s son, Thomas Chaucer. Titles of the Frevisse novels follow the format of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, e.g., The Novice’s Tale, The Prioress’s Tale. Each book begins with a chapter or passage focusing on the title character; this is followed by a change to Frevisse’s perspective, which dominates the novel, though we return from time to time to the point of view of the title character. The role of the title character varies from book to book: murderer, victim, a person in power or a victim of others’ power
The Joliffe the Player series (7 volumes): Frazer’s second set of mysteries, also set in 15th-century England, feature “Joliffe the Player”, a spin-off character from the Dame Frevisse series, appearing first in The Servant’s Tale and crossing paths with Frevisse again in The Prioress’s Tale, The Bastard’s Tale, and The Traitor’s Tale. The Joliffe series is set in the mid-1430s; thus these novels sometimes feel like “prequels” to his appearances in Dame Frevisse novels set in a later decade. The first three Joliffe novels present the life of an acting troupe traveling through the English countryside, with Lord Lovell as their patron after the end of the first novel. In the fourth, A Play of Lords, Joliffe is recruited as a spy for Bishop Beaufort and becomes involved in the political intrigues leading up to the Wars of the Roses. The fifth book, A Play of Treachery, takes him away from the players to France on behalf of Bishop Beaufort. When Joliffe again crosses paths with Dame Frevisse in The Traitor’s Tale, he is employed as a spy for the Duke of York, after the death of Bishop Beaufort.
The Bishop Pecock series (3 volumes): Come down the Paternoster Passage, cross the church’s yard, and knock on the doors of Master Whittington’s Almshouse. Master Pecock, a man of the cloth and the greatest detective of 15th century London, will answer your call.
(This description comes (mostly) from the Wikipedia entry for Margaret Frazer)
Catalog Links: The libraries own several of the novels of Margaret Frazer, starting with The Novice’s Tale (1992) through Sins of the Blood (2012). The libraries own only scattered volumes from Frazer, in both print and digital formats but they are also commonly available in the used book market, or you can borrow her titles through our InterLibrary Loan service!
Thursday, October 24, 2019 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
[One week earlier than usual, so as to not conflict with Halloween!]
For our final meeting of 2019, in October, the Just Desserts group will be looking back at one of the most classic American mystery writers of the 20th century — Raymond Chandler, and his series of novels and short stories featuring the sleuth Philip Marlowe.
Though Philip Marlowe first appeared in the 1939 novel The Big Sleep, several earlier stories written by Chandler for the pulps featured characters very much like Marlowe but with other names (like Carmady and John Dalmas). Those stories were retroactively turned into Marlowe stories when they were reprinted in book/collection form and the earlier characters renamed “Philip Marlowe”.
Marlow was a wise-cracking, tough-drinking, down-on-his-luck gumshoe, the epitome of the “Noir” style of detective, as played by actor Humphrey Bogart in the film version of The Big Sleep. During the period from 1939 to 1958, Chandler finished seven Marlowe novels, and a handful of short stories. Chandler had begun work on the eighth Marlowe novel, Poodle Springs, but had only completed the first four chapters by the time he passed away in 1959. Robert B. Parker (best know for the Spenser for Hire novels) completed Poodle Springs, which eventually was published in 1989. [Note: Parker went on to write an original Marlowe novel, Perchance to Dream — one of several “authorized” books to continue the Marlowe series.]
To find out more about Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) and his Philip Marlowe novels, follow these links:
Hotlink into the Lincoln City Libraries catalog for Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels (be aware this also lists Marlowe titles by authors other than Chandler)
[Here are individual links to Chandler’s Marlowe novels and/or story collections in the libraries’ online catalog: The Big Sleep (1939), Farewell My Lovely (1940), The High Window (1942), The Lady in the Lake (1943), Little Sister (1949), The Simple Art of Murder (1950 short stories & essay), Trouble is My Business (1950 short stories), The Long Goodbye (1953), and Playback (1958).]
Thursday, September 26, 2019 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In the vein of our annual “Series Share”, but with a notably different focus, we’re going to try a “Memorable Stand-Alone Mysteries” night in September! All participants will be encouraged to share some details about a “Stand-Alone” mystery/suspense/thriller novel that made an impact on them! What made it so memorable? The plot? the setting? The characters? The writing style?
Titles shared can be older classics, or recent releases, but they can’t be part of a series — these novels need to stand on their own! The author might also write series novels, but for this meeting, don’t discuss any of their “series” entries.
Attendees at Just Desserts are always looking for great new novels to sample…here’s hope that this “Memorable Stand Alone Mysteries” meeting gives many of us some new authors and titles to explore!
Note: Because of the unusual nature of this month’s discussion, we can’t guarantee that we’ll get to our traditional “Round Robin” at the end of the meeting — we hope to, but the discussion of “Stand Alones” may take more time than anticipated!
Thursday, August 29, 2019 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In August, the group will read and discuss the first volume in the Cormoran Strike series of thrillers by the author Robert Galbraith (who, in reality, is “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, writing under a pseudonym). The Cormoran Strike series has met with mixed critical response, and many readers tend to falling to either a “love it” or “hate it” camp. To date, from 2013 to 2018, there have been four volume. For the purposes of Just Desserts, we’ll be reading only The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first in the series. Here’s the plot description from the jacket blurb:
A gripping, elegant mystery steeped in the atmosphere of London – from the hushed streets of Mayfair to the backstreet pubs of the East End to the bustle of Soho – The Cuckoo’s Calling is a remarkable book. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.
Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger.
To find out more about “Robert Galbraith” (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) and the novels released under that name, follow these links:
Robert Galbraith entry on Wikipedia — redirects to J.K. Rowling entry
Thursday, July 25, 2019 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In July, the Just Desserts group will re-visit an author we previously discussed six years ago, back in 2013 — Tana French. French is perhaps best known for her Dublin Murder Squad series, and we read/discussed the first volume in that series back then. This time, we’re reading and discussing a new stand-alone mystery/suspense novel — The Witch Elm — which just came out in 2018, and has shown up on many “Best Mysteries of 2018” lists.
Here’s the plot description from the jacket blurb:
“From the writer who ‘inspires cultic devotion in readers’ (The New Yorker) and has been called ‘incandescent’ by Stephen King, ‘absolutely mesmerizing’ by Gillian Flynn, and ‘unputdownable’ (People), comes a gripping new novel that turns a crime story inside out.
Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.
A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.”
To find out more about Tana French and her novels, follow these links:
The Witch Elm is available in multiple formats from the libraries, including print, book-on-cd, E-book and E-audiobook.
Thursday, June 27, 2019 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
After a few months of darker, more serious discussion selections, in June the Just Desserts members will be trying something a little lighter — a humorous “cozy” series from Donna Andrews, featuring Meg Lanslow. The series has reached 24 volumes already (with a 25th due later this year), but we’ll be focusing only on the four most-recent entries.
Here’s how the Donna Andrews blurb on Wikipedia describes the Meg Lanslow series — “Her first book, Murder with Peacocks (1999), introduced Meg Langslow, a blacksmith from Yorktown, Virginia. It won the St. Martin’s Minotaur Best First Traditional Mystery contest, the Agatha, Anthony, Barry, and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice awards for best first novel, and the Lefty award for funniest mystery of 1999″.
Here are the blurbs for the 4 most recent volumes in that series:
Gone Gull (2017)
“Meg Langslow is spending the summer at the Biscuit Mountain Craft Center, helping her grandmother Cordelia run the studios. But someone is committing acts of vandalism, which threaten to ruin the newly opened center’s reputation. Is it the work of a rival center? Have the developers who want to build a resort atop Biscuit Mountain found a new tactic to pressure Cordelia into selling? Or is the real target Meg’s grandfather, who points out that any number of environmentally irresponsible people and organizations could have it in for him? While Meg is trying to track down the vandal, her grandfather is more interested in locating a rare gull. Their missions collide when a body is found in one of the classrooms. Can Meg identify the vandal and the murderer in time to save the center’s name (and also help her grandfather track down and rescue his beloved gull)?”
“Meg’s husband has decided to escalate his one-man show of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol into a full-scale production with a large cast including their sons Jamie and Josh as Tiny Tim and young Scrooge and Meg helping as stage manager. The show must go on, even if the famous – though slightly over-the-hill – actor who’s come to town to play the starring role of Scrooge has brought a sleigh-load of baggage and enemies with him. And why is Caerphilly suddenly overrun with a surplus of beautiful caged finches?”
Toucan Keep a Secret (2018)
“Meg Langslow is at Trinity Episcopal locking up after an event and checking on the toucan that Rev. Robyn Smith is fostering in her office. After hearing a hammering in the crypt, Meg finds an elderly parishioner lying dead on the floor. Several niches have been chiseled open, several urns knocked out, and amid the spilled ashes is a gold ring with a huge red stone. The curmudgeonly victim had become disgruntled with the church and ranted all over town about taking back his wife’s ashes. Did someone who had it in for him follow him? Or was the motive grave robbery? Or did he see someone breaking in and investigate? Why was the ruby left behind? While Chief Burke investigates the murder, Robyn recruits Meg to contact the families of the people whose ashes were disturbed. During this task, Meg discovers clues that indicate that a thief broke into the church to steal the toucan the night of the murder, so Meg decides to set a trap for the would-be toucan thief…who might also be the killer.”
Lark! The Herald Angels Sing (2018)
“It’s Christmastime in Caerphilly and Meg, full of holiday spirit, is helping out with the town’s festivities. While directing a nativity pageant and herding the children participating in it, she finds a surprise in the manger: a live baby. A note from the mother, attached to the baby girl’s clothes, says that it’s time for her father to take care of her – and implicates Meg’s brother, Rob, as the father. And while a DNA test can reveal whether there’s any truth to the accusation, Rob’s afraid the mere suspicion could derail his plan to propose to the woman he loves. Meg quickly realizes it’s up to her to find the baby’s real identity. She soon discovers that the baby – named Lark according to the fateful note – may be connected to something much bigger. Something that eventually puts a growing number of Meg’s friends and family in danger. And before long, Meg realizes she can’t fix things single-handedly. Meanwhile, a war is brewing between Caerphilly and its arch-rival Clay County – and it’s not a snowball fight. Can Meg bring everyone together in time for the holidays?.”
To find out more about this, and other Donna Andrews books, follow these links:
The four volumes we have targeted for reading/discussion (each linked separately above) are all available in print, Book-on-CD (except Lark!…) and downloadable audio formats from the libraries. Earlier volumes in the “Meg Lanslow” series may also be available in E-book format, but not the four we will be discussing.
Thursday, May 30, 2019 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Continuing our annual tradition, which started in 2013, our May meeting will be a “Series Share” night! Because the libraries have volumes in so many brand-new mystery series constantly being added to the collection, most of which we don’t get in large quantities of copies, we’re not assigning any specific authors or titles this month. Instead — we encourage all attendees to sample a new “mystery”, “suspense” or “thriller” series, which launched in the past few years (2016 to 2019). Come to Just Desserts prepared to give a nutshell description of the series, the protagonist, the setting, the writing style, etc., and what your opinion is of that series — thumbs up or thumbs down. Extra points if it is a brand-new series, or a less-well-known author!
Attendees at Just Desserts are always looking for great new series to try out…our track record has been that this “series share” opportunity gives us all a lot of new authors to explore!
Note: Because of the unusual nature of this month’s discussion, we can’t guarantee that we’ll get to our traditional “Round Robin” at the end of the meeting — we hope to, but the discussion of “Series Shares” may take more time than anticipated!
Thursday, April 25, 2019 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In April, the members of Just Desserts will finally be discussing an author that several group members have been recommending for many years — Scottish suspense/thriller writer Val McDermid.
Just Desserts will be reading and discussing the “Tony Hill and Carol Jordan” series, which has had ten volumes between 1995 and 2017 (with an 11th scheduled later in 2019) — The Mermaids Singing (1995), Wire in the Blood (1997), The Last Temptation (2001), The Torment of Others (2004), Beneath the Bleeding (2007), Fever of the Bone (2009), The Retribution (2011), Cross and Burn (2013), Splinter the Silence (2015), Insidious Intent (2017) and How the Dead Speak (forthcoming 2019). Because the libraries do not own 15+ copies of any one title in this series, participants for this month’s meeting are encourage to read ANY one or more of the novels in this series, and we’ll be discussing the overall series in broad form.
Tony Hill is a psychological profiler, eager to offer his services to the police in helping to identify serial killers and other violent offenders. The problem is, he sometimes goes a little over the top in trying to get into killers’ heads, and can identify with the suspects too closely. Carol Jordan is a police homicide investigator, assigned to work with Tony Hill. Over the course of the series, their relationship changes dramatically. The crimes and killers can be a bit gruesome. The Hill & Jordan novels inspired a very popular British TV series, Wire in the Blood, starring Robson Green as Tony Hill — the libraries have all six seasons on DVD.
To find out more about the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series from Val McDermid, follow these links:
The Lincoln City Libraries own a total of 50 print copies of Vera Stanhope novels, as well as two of them in E-book format and 3 of them in downloadable audio format. Following the individual titles links in the text above to check on availability and/or to place holds.
Thursday, March 28, 2019 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In March, Just Desserts members finally tackle a thriller/mystery from long-established author John Connolly. The Woman in the Woods is the 16th entry in his long-running Charlie Parker series, released in 2018.
The series focuses on private investigator Charlie Parker. Here’s the blurb for the this volume in the series:
“From internationally best-selling author and ‘creative genius who has few equals in either horror fiction or the mystery genre’ (New York Journal of Books) comes a gripping thriller starring private investigator Charlie Parker. When the body of a woman – who apparently died in childbirth – is discovered, Parker is hired to track down both her identity and her missing child.
In the beautiful Maine woods, a partly preserved body is discovered. Investigators realize that the dead young woman gave birth shortly before her death. But there is no sign of a baby.
Private detective Charlie Parker is hired by a lawyer to shadow the police investigation and find the infant but Parker is not the only searcher. Someone else is following the trail left by the woman, someone with an interest in much more than a missing child…someone prepared to leave bodies in his wake.
And in a house by the woods, a toy telephone begins to ring and a young boy is about to receive a call from a dead woman…”
To find out more about this, and other John Connolly books, follow these links:
The Woman in the Woods is available in the following formats: Regular Print | Downloadable Audio
Thursday, February 28, 2019 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our February meeting, we’ll be reading and discussing the 2018 debut thriller/suspense novel The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn (pseudonym of Daniel Mallory).
The Woman in the Window is also being adapted info a feature film. Here’s the blurb for this title:
“It’s been ten months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.
But one evening, a scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something horrifying. Now she must uncover the truth about what really happened. But if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?”
To find out more about this, and author A.J. Finn, follow these links:
The Woman in the Window is available in the following formats: Regular Print | Large Type | Book-on-cd | eBook | Downloadable Audio
Thursday, January 31, 2019 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For the first meeting of 2019, the Just Desserts group will be moving back to the downtown library, where we first started in 2006-2008, to take advantage of the return of evening hours at that location. We’ll be sampling a popular series from a prolific British author, Ann Cleeves. Cleeves has had four successful mystery/thriller series over the years, the Palmer-Jones birdwatcher series, the Inspector Ramsey series, the Vera Stanhope series and the Shetland series. Both Vera Stanhope and Shetland have been adapted into very popular TV series as well.
Just Desserts will be reading and discussing the Vera Stanhope series, which has had eight volumes between 1999 and 2017 — The Crow Trap (1999), Telling Tales (2005), Hidden Depths (2007), Silent Voices (2011), The Glass Room (2012), Harbour Street (2014), The Moth Catcher (2015) and The Seagull (2017). Because the libraries do not own 15+ copies of any one title in this series, participants for this month’s meeting are encourage to read ANY one or more of the novels in this series, and we’ll be discussing the overall series in broad form.
Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope may not be the first person you’d think of for a heroine: she’s overweight, a bit rough around the edges, and her staff knows when to stay out of her way. Vera’s crime-solving skills, however, are more than a match for the darkly fascinating cases that cross her path. Ann Cleeves’s flawed detective won over fans of police procedurals in both the U.S. and U.K. in Harbour Street and Silent Voices. The bestselling and critically acclaimed Vera Stanhope series has been made into the hit series Vera, starring Brenda Blethlyn.
To find out more about the Vera Stanhope series from Ann Cleeves, follow these links:
The Lincoln City Libraries own a total of 50 print copies of Vera Stanhope novels, as well as two of them in E-book format and 3 of them in downloadable audio format. Following the individual titles links in the text above to check on availability and/or to place holds.
November and December 2018 hiatus assignment
Handout with plots of all 12 Rabbi David Small novels — distributed at the October 2018 Just Desserts meeting.
During our traditional end-of-year hiatus from Just Desserts meetings, group members are encouraged to keep up with your mystery-reading by being assigned a reading topic — either an author or a series — and participants are then asked to leave a comment on a BookGuide Blog post for that hiatus, identifying what they read and what they thought of it.
During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2018, we’re going to continue to remain active…but once again, only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won’t be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the 12 books in the “Rabbi David Small” amateur detective series by Harry Kemelman, then visit this discussion post on the Just Desserts Blog (to-be posted in November) and comment on Kemelman and this series in that specific discussion thread.
For those who are unfamiliar with Rabbi David Small, here’s a general overview of the series:
The first Rabbi Small novel, “Friday the Rabbi Slept Late,” was published by Crown Publishers in 1964. A mild-mannered rabbi who could hardly impress, and certainly not awe, his congregation in Barnard’s Crossing, Small seemed over-matched in the world of murder.
Yet, the rabbi prevailed. Of course, he solved the crime and got the bad guy (married, he already had the girl). In 1965, Kemelman was awarded the prestigious Edgar Award of the Mystery Writers of America for a best first mystery book.
“Friday” was followed by other Rabbi Small adventures, all featuring a trademark day-of-the-week in the title. Other books in the series included Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry, Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home and Monday the Rabbi Took Off. Inevitably, Mr. Kemelman ran out of days of the week, and seemed to run out of steam as well. Nearly nine years went by before Rabbi Small returned in 1985 in Someday the Rabbi Will Leave. The last of the series, The Day the Rabbi Left Town, appeared in 1996, the same year Kemelman died.
The books were beloved by readers and critics not only as mysteries, or not even as mysteries. They were stories of a small-town, suburban, Jewish community led by a rather quiet, introspective, often stubborn and always uncommonly bright rabbi. Members of the Barnard’s Crossing community contended with problems of assimilation, antisemitism and even the quandaries their own religion seemed to burden them with.
Along the way, readers received a painless and accurate explanation of many of the customs and laws of the Jews and their ancient religion. Such items as kosher food and Jewish holidays were explained. Characters were often of Rabbi Small’s synagogue, and they appeared supremely human. Mr. Kemelman showed Jews running the gamut, like all other groups in his books, from good to bad.
(This description comes from the Washington Post‘s obituary for Kemelman)
There were 12 volumes in the Rabbi David Small series, although the 8th volume, Conversations With Rabbi Small was not exactly a mystery, more an exploration of the Jewish faith — Rabbi Small advises a young Christian woman, engaged to a Jewish man, about conversion and discusses the meaning of Judaism with the couple, in an introduction to the beliefs, rituals, history, and culture of the Jews, told in the form of novel.
The first novel in the series was adapted into a TV-movie in 1976, starring Art Carney as Police Chief Paul Lanigan, a Roman Catholic, and Stuart Margolin (Angel on The Rockford Files) as his friend Rabbi David Small. The pilot got picked up for a series of four additional episodes in 1977, which aired under the title Lanigan’s Rabbi, as part of the NBC Mystery Movie anthology collection, alongside Columbo, McCloud, and McMillan & Wife. For those latter 4 9o-minute episodes, Bruce Solomon took over from Margolin as Rabbi Small. This series has never been released on DVD.
Catalog Links: The libraries own 11 of the 12 novels in the Rabbi David Small series, starting with Friday the Rabbi Slept Late (1964) through That Day the Rabbi Left Town (1996). There are only limited numbers of copies of each title — usually only 1 or 2 copies of each title, although all 11 titles in the library collection do exist as Hoopla downloadable E-books!
Thursday, October 25, 2018 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our final meeting of 2018, in October, the Just Desserts group will be looking back at one of the most classic American mystery writers of the 20th century — Rex Stout, and his Nero Wolfe series.
From 1934 through his passing in 1975, Stout wrote a series of 33 novels and 40 novellas that featured the portly, short-tempered, reclusive, orchid-growing gourmand, Nero Wolfe, and his more action-oriented leg man, Archie Goodwin. The libraries have quite a few of these books in our collection, some are available in free digital editions online, and they are also commonly available in new reprint editions and through the used-book market. For the purposes of Just Desserts, attendees are encouraged to read ANY one or more of the books in the Nero Wolfe series. During the meeting, we’ll discuss the series in broad terms, and do a round-robin, during which all participants will have the opportunity to speak briefly about whichever Stout/Wolfe volume they read, and their impressions of it. This meeting will be audio-recorded, for release as part of the libraries’ audio podcasts series.
In 1959, Stout received the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award. The Nero Wolfe corpus was nominated Best Mystery Series of the Century at Bouchercon XXXI, the world’s largest mystery convention, and Rex Stout was nominated Best Mystery Writer of the Century. To find out more about Rex Stout and his Nero Wolfe novels, follow these links:
Complete Checklist (with plot descriptions) of all Nero Wolfe books — handout for Just Desserts members
The Wolfe Pack — The official website of the Nero Wolfe Society
Thursday, September 27, 2018 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In September, we’ll all enjoy another author new to the group — best-selling Australian author Jane Harper, and the first volume in her new Aaron Falk series.
The Dry is Harper’s debut novel, and here’s the description:
“A small town hides big secrets in The Dry, an atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.
After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.”
To find out more about Jane Harper and her novels, follow these links:
Thursday, August 30, 2018 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In August, we’ll be enjoying another author new to the group — legal thriller author James Grippando, and a recent entry in his ongoing series featuring Jake Swyteck, Most Dangerous Place.
Most Dangerous Place is Grippando’s 13th series novel, and here’s the description:
“According to the FBI, the most dangerous place for a woman between the ages of twenty and thirty is in a relationship with a man. Those statistics become all too personal when Jack Swyteck takes on a new client tied to his past.
It begins at the airport, where Jack is waiting to meet his old high school buddy, Keith Ingraham, a high-powered banker based in Hong Kong, coming to Miami for his young daughter’s surgery. But their long-awaited reunion is abruptly derailed when the police arrest Keith’s wife, Isabelle, in the terminal, accusing her of conspiring to kill the man who raped her in college. Jack quickly agrees to represent Isa, but soon discovers that to see justice done, he must separate truth from lies—an undertaking that proves more complicated than the seasoned attorney expects.
Inspired by an actual case involving a victim of sexual assault sent to prison for the death of her attacker, James Grippando’s twisty thriller brilliantly explores the fine line between victim and perpetrator, innocence and guilt, and cold-blooded revenge and rightful retribution..”
To find out more about James Grippando and his novels, follow these links:
Thursday, July 26, 2018 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In July, we’ll be reading and discussing a relatively new author, Shannon Baker, and the second volume in her Kate Fox series, Dark Signal.
“Dark Signal by Shannon Baker is the second installment in the Kate Fox mystery series, called “A must read” by New York Times bestselling author Alex Kava, starring a female Longmire in the atmospheric Nebraska Sandhills.
Reeling from her recent divorce, Kate Fox has just been sworn in as Grand County, Nebraska Sheriff when tragedy strikes. A railroad accident has left engineer Chad Mills dead, his conductor Bobby Jenkins in shock. Kate soon realizes that the accident was likely murder.
Who would want to kill Chad Mills? Kate finds that he made a few enemies as president of the railroad workers union. Meanwhile his widow is behaving oddly. And why was his neighbor Josh Stevens at the Mills house on the night of the accident?
While her loud and meddling family conspires to help Kate past her divorce, State Patrol Officer Trey closes in on Josh Stevens as the suspect. Kate doesn’t believe it. She may not have the experience, but she’s lived in the Sandhills her whole life, and knows the land and the people. Something doesn’t add up – and Kate must find the real killer before he can strike again.”
To find out more about Shannon Baker and her novels, follow these links:
Thursday, June 28, 2018 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In June, we’re revisiting another past Just Desserts author — James Lee Burke, with his latest bestseller Robicheaux. The group last discussed a James Lee Burke title back in August 2010, with Purple Cane Road, which was a huge favorite with most group members at that time.
Robicheaux came out in January 2018, and the libraries have finished filling holds on it, so it should be easy to track down a copy for this end-of-June meeting. It is the 21st volume in the series featuring Dave Robicheaux, and here’s the description:
“James Lee Burke’s most beloved character, Dave Robicheaux, returns in this gritty, atmospheric mystery set in the towns and backwoods of Louisiana.
DAVE ROBICHEAUX IS A HAUNTED MAN.
Between his recurrent nightmares about Vietnam, his battle with alcoholism, and the sudden loss of his beloved wife, Molly, his thoughts drift from one irreconcilable memory to the next. Images of ghosts at Spanish Lake live on the edge of his vision.
During a murder investigation, Dave Robicheaux discovers he may have committed the homicide he’s investigating, one which involved the death of the man who took the life of Dave’s beloved wife. As he works to clear his name and make sense of the murder, Robicheaux encounters a cast of characters and a resurgence of dark social forces that threaten to destroy all of those whom he loves. What emerges is not only a propulsive and thrilling novel, but a harrowing study of America: this nation’s abiding conflict between a sense of past grandeur and a legacy of shame, its easy seduction by demagogues and wealth, and its predilection for violence and revenge. James Lee Burke has returned with one of America’s favorite characters, in his most searing, most prescient novel to date.”
To find out more about James Lee Burke and his novels, follow these links:
Thursday, May 31, 2018 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Continuing our annual tradition, which started in 2013, our May meeting will be a “Series Share” night! Because the libraries have volumes in so many brand-new mystery series constantly being added to the collection, most of which we don’t get in large quantities of copies, we’re not assigning any specific authors or titles this month. Instead — we encourage all attendees to sample a new “mystery”, “suspense” or “thriller” series, which launched in the past few years (2015 to 2018). Come to Just Desserts prepared to give a nutshell description of the series, the protagonist, the setting, the writing style, etc., and what your opinion is of that series — thumbs up or thumbs down. Extra points if it is a brand-new series, or a less-well-known author!
Attendees at Just Desserts are always looking for great new series to try out…our track record has been that this “series share” opportunity gives us all a lot of new authors to explore!
Thursday, April 26, 2018 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our April 2018 meeting, the Just Desserts group will finally be turning our attention to legendary British mystery/thriller/psychological suspense writer Ruth Rendell.
Unfortunately, since the libraries don’t own enough copies of any individual Rendell novel to cover the entire Just Desserts group, we’re doing another of our “grab bag” meetings: Anyone wishing to participate in the April meeting is encouraged to read ANY one or more of Rendell’s 50+ novels written under her own name. We’ll conduct this meeting in “round robin” style, giving each attendee a chance to talk about the Rendell novel they chose to read, and what they thought of it.
Rendell has written 24 novels (and a few short story collections) in a series featuring Inspector Reginald Wexford — several of which were adapted in a popular television series as The Ruth Rendell Mysteries. She has also written 30 stand-alone suspense novels, which were not part of the Wexford series. Additionally, Rendell wrote 15 stand-alone novels under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. For the purposes of Just Desserts, we suggest focusing only on the novels release as by Rendell.
To find out more about Ruth Rendell and her novels, follow these links:
Hotlink into the Lincoln City Libraries catalog for Ruth Rendell’s novels (for placing holds)
Thursday, March 29, 2018 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In March, Just Desserts members will be reading and discussing a recent equestrian mystery from Felix Francis, son of the late mystery writer Dick Francis. Felix and his father, Dick, collaborated on Dick’s final four mystery novels (2007-2010), and Felix has continued his father’s literary legacy with seven additional mysteries/thrillers set in the world of horse racing.
We will be reading Felix’s sixth original novel, Triple Crown, from 2016:
“Jefferson Hinkley is back in the newest thriller in the Dick Francis tradition, this time on a special mission to the United States to investigate a conspiracy involving the biggest horse races in the country.
The richest prize in racing. The perfect motive to commit a crime.
Jeff Hinkley, a British Horseracing Authority investigator, has been seconded to the US Federal Anti-Corruption in Sports Agency (FACSA), where he has been asked to find a mole in their organisation, an informant who is passing on confidential information to fix races.
Jeff goes in search of answers, taking on an undercover role as a groom on the backstretch at Belmont Park racetrack in New York. But he discovers far more than he was bargaining for, finding himself as the meat in the sandwich between FACSA and corrupt individuals who will stop at nothing, including murder, to capture the most elusive and lucrative prize in the world: the Triple Crown.“
To find out more about this, and other Felix Francis books, follow these links:
Official Felix Francis website
Triple Crown is available in the following formats: Print | Book-on-cd | eBook
Thursday, February 22, 2018 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our February 2018 meeting, the Just Desserts group will be reading various different volumes in a long-running series that may not be well-known to group members. The series is the Marcus Didius Falco historical mystery series, by Lindsey Davis, starting with 1989’s The Silver Pigs and ending with 2009’s Nemesis.
Anyone wishing to participate in the February meeting is encouraged to read ANY one or more of Davis’ “Marcus Didius Falco” novels, and the group will discuss the overall series in broad general terms at our meeting, with everyone given an opportunity to say which book they read and what their opinion about it was.
Here’s the description of the series from Wikipedia: “Marcus Didius Falco is the fictional central character and narrator in a series of historical mystery crime novels by Lindsey Davis. Using the concepts of modern detective stories (with Falco as the private investigator, roughly translated into the classical world as a delator or “private informer”), the novels portray the world of the Roman Empire under Vespasian. The tone is arch and satirical, but the historical setting is largely accurate.” There’s also been a spin-off series, featuring Falco’s adoptive daughter, who is becoming a female version of her adoptive dad — the Flavia Albia series, with 5 volumes out so far, and a sixth scheduled in 2018. For the purposes of Just Desserts, please do NOT read any of the Flavia Albia series — focus on the Falco series alone.
To find out more about the entire series, follow these links:
Thursday, January 25, 2018 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For the first meeting of the new year, the Just Desserts group will be revisiting an author that is popular among the group members, whom we have previously discussed. However, instead of discussing Michael Connelly’s critically acclaimed and long-running Harry Bosch series, or his less-extensive series featuring Mickey Haller, Jack McEvoy or Terry McCaleb, we will be tackling a brand-new volume (2017) in a brand-new series.
The series focuses on L.A. Detective Renee Ballard. Here’s the blurb for the first volume in the series:
“CRIME NEVER SLEEPS.
Los Angeles can be a dangerous city – never more so than in the dead of night. Detective Renee Ballard, once one of the department’s young hotshots, now works ‘The Late Show’, the notorious graveyard shift at the LAPD.
It’s a thankless job keeping strange hours in a twilight world of tragedy and violence, handing over her investigations as the sun rises, never getting closure.
Some nights are worse than others. And tonight is the worst yet. Two cases: a brutal assault, and a multiple murder with no suspect.
Ballard knows it is always darkest before dawn. But what she doesn’t know is how deep her dual investigation will take her into the dark heart of her city, her department and her past…”
To find out more about this, and other Michael Connelly books, follow these links:
The Late Show is available in the following formats: Regular Print | Large Type | Book-on-cd | eBook | Downloadable Audio
November and December 2017
In honor of 2017 being the year that we’re celebrating Nebraska’s Sesquicentennial, during which libraries across the state have encouraged readers to sample the works of Nebraska authors, your hiatus assignment this year is the works of Nebraska thriller writer Don Winslow.
During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2017, we’re going to continue to remain active…but once again, only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won’t be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the 16 mysteries/thrillers by Don Winslow, starting with A Cool Breeze on the Underground (1991), through The Force (2017), then visit our Just Desserts Blog and comment on Winslow, his works and his writing style, in a specific discussion thread. [Note: The libraries still have circulating copies of all but two of Winslow’s thrillers — California Fire & Life, which only exists in the Heritage Room, and Isle of Joy, which we don’t own at all.]
For some background on Don Winslow, and a complete list of his published works, please check out the Nebraska Author Don Winslow booklist on BookGuide — you’ll be able to click through to the library catalog for all his titles to check on availability.
Thursday, October 26, 2017 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our final meeting of 2017, in October, the Just Desserts group will return to an author we last visited in 2008. When surveyed as to which previously-discussed author’s works the group would like to revisit, Agatha Christie came up as the top vote-getter. We discussed the Mr. Parker Pyne stories in June 2008, but the group has never officially read and discussed either a Miss Marple or a Hercule Poirot novel, so it seems long overdue to tackle one of these genre-defining series!
For October 2017, Just Desserts members are encouraged to read ANY of the 33 novels, 1 play or more than 50 short stories that feature Christie’s famed Belgian sleuth, whose legendary “little grey cells” brought numerous killers and thieves to justice. Feel free to grab one of the best-known novels, such as Murder on the Orient Express, or Death on the Nile, or either the first or last Poirot tales, The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Curtain. Or pick one of his lesser-known adventures. Poirot has been portrayed on film and television (and radio) literally hundreds of times, by numerous actors, from John Moffat and Albert Finney, to Peter Ustinov and Tony Randall and Orson Welles, but is perhaps best known from the performance of David Suchet, who, in 2013, finished adapting every single Poirot novel for PBS’ Mystery.
For group discussion, we’ll let everyone speak up to identify the particular novel, play or short story collection they read, and what they thought of it.
Thursday, September 28, 2017 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our September 2017 meeting, the Just Desserts group will be reading various different volumes in a relatively new series that’s already proven popular among group members. The libraries own all 7 volumes (with an 8th due out in June 2017) in the “Mike Bowditch” series, written by Paul Doiron.
Anyone wishing to participate in the September meeting is encouraged to read ANY one or more of Doiron’s “Mike Bowditch” novels, starting with The Poacher’s Son (2010), through the new release Knife Creek (2017), and the group will discuss the overall series in broad general terms at our meeting, with everyone given an opportunity to say which book they read and what their opinion about it was.
The graphics at left are for the first and seventh volumes in the series, but you don’t have to specifically select those.
The series focuses on the life of Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch. Here’s the blurb for the first volume in the series: “Game warden Mike Bowditch returns home one evening to find an alarming voice from the past on his answering machine: his father, Jack, a hard-drinking womanizer who makes his living poaching illegal game. An even more frightening call comes the next morning from the police: They are searching for the man who killed a beloved local cop the night before—and his father is their prime suspect. Jack has escaped from police custody, and only Mike believes that his tormented father might not be guilty.
Now, alienated from the woman he loves, shunned by colleagues who have no sympathy for the suspected cop killer, Mike must come to terms with his haunted past. He knows firsthand Jack’s brutality, but is the man capable of murder? Desperate and alone, Mike strikes up an uneasy alliance with a retired warden pilot, and together the two men journey deep into the Maine wilderness in search of a runaway fugitive. There they meet a beautiful woman who claims to be Jack’s mistress but who seems to be guarding a more dangerous secret. The only way for Mike to save his father now is to find the real killer—which could mean putting everyone he loves in the line of fire.The Poacher’s Son is a sterling debut of literary suspense. Taut and engrossing, it represents the first in a series featuring Mike Bowditch”
To find out more about the entire series, follow these links:
Thursday, August 31, 2017 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our August 2017 meeting, Just Desserts members are encouraged to read ANY of the nine novels published to-date by G.M. Malliet, in either her St. Just series (3 so far) or her Max Tudor series (6 so far).
The St. Just series features Detective Chief Inspector St. Just, and the first volume Death of a Cozy Writer won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and was nominated for both the Macavity Award and the Anthony Award.
In her other series, former MI5 agent Max Tudor is the new vicar of St. Edwards in the idyllic English village Nether Monkslip. His hopes of living a quiet life, far from turmoil are dashed by deaths in the cozy community, which bring up dark memories from his own past in the field of intelligence work. The series began with Wicked Autumn in xxxx, which was nominated for both the Agatha Award and the Dilys Award.
The graphics at left are for the first volumes in both series.
To find out more about the entire series, follow these links:
Thursday, July 27, 2017 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our July 2017 meeting, the Just Desserts group will be reading various different volumes in a long-running series. The libraries own all 18 volumes (so far) in the “Dorothy Martin” series, written by Jeanne M. Dams. However, in “print” editions, we’ve got 17 of the 18, most with only one to three copies each. And via our free Hoopla Digital Service, we also have 17 of the 18 available, with unlimited licenses for downloadable copies. The “unavailable” volume in each format is a different one, so for those capable of doing both print and e-book, the entire series is available.
So…anyone wishing to participate in the July meeting is encouraged to read ANY one or more of Dams’ “Dorothy Martin” novels, and the group will discuss the overall series in broad general terms at our meeting, with everyone given an opportunity to say which book they read and what their opinion about it was.
The graphic at left is for #17 in the 18 (so far) series, Blood Will Tell, is merely an example of the entire series — it is not specifically that volume you should look for. For those participating, make sure you DON’T mistakenly read any of the seven books in Dams’ “Hilda Johansson” series.
Here’s the nutshell description of the Dorothy Martin series: “In the first volume, Dorothy Martin, an American expat living in England and feeling very sorry for herself on her first Christmas Eve as a widow, stumbles over a body as she is leaving the cathedral after the midnight service. In subsequent volumes, Dorothy continues to find bodies, and her interactions with the local police lead to her relationship with police detective Alan Nesbitt, who eventually becomes her husband and retires from the police force. Although that doesn’t stop Dorothy’s sleuthing…”
To find out more about the entire series, follow these links:
Thursday, June 29, 2017 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Thriller/Suspense writer Dennis Lehane has been publishing best-selling novels since his first book appeared in 1994, including 6 volumes in the Kenzie & Gennaro series and 3 in the Coughlin series. He has also had four stand-alone novels, plus a collection of short stories. For Just Desserts, we’ll be reading one of his stand-alone novels, Shutter Island., which was published in 2003, and adapted into a 2010 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Here’s the description: “The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this remote and barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane relentlessly bears down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades—with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems. But then neither is Teddy Daniels.
The basis for the blockbuster motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Shutter Island by New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane is a gripping and atmospheric psychological thriller where nothing is quite what it seems. The New York Times calls Shutter Island, “Startlingly original.” The Washington Post raves, “Brilliantly conceived and executed.” A masterwork of suspense and surprise from the author of Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone, Shutter Island carries the reader into a nightmare world of madness, mind control, and CIA Cold War paranoia and is unlike anything you’ve ever read before.”
Shutter Island is available in the following formats: Hardback/Paperback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable eBook or Audiobook (from Overdrive) | Downloadable eBook (from Hoopla)[At the time this title was selected, there were 12 regular print copies, 2 CD copies, 1 Downloadable eBook and 1 Downloadable audiobook (from Overdrive) and unlimited downloadable eBook copies via Hoopla, in the libraries’ collection.]
Thursday, May 25, 2017 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Continuing our annual tradition, which started in 2013, our May meeting will be a “Series Share” night! Because the libraries have volumes in so many brand-new mystery series constantly being added to the collection, most of which we don’t get in large quantities of copies, we’re not assigning any specific authors or titles this month. Instead — we encourage all attendees to sample a new “mystery”, “suspense” or “thriller” series, which launched in the past few years (2014 to 2017). Come to Just Desserts prepared to give a nutshell description of the series, the protagonist, the setting, the writing style, etc., and what your opinion is of that series — thumbs up or thumbs down. Extra points if it is a brand-new series, or a less-well-known author!
Thursday, April 27, 2017 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Thriller/Suspense writer Daniel Silva has been a favorite of several Just Desserts members over the years, so it seems only fair to finally visit his Gabriel Allon series for a group discussion. Though there is definitely character progression during this series, most of the volumes can easily be read as stand-alone novels. Thus, due to the size of the Just Desserts group, and our need for a minimum of 15 copies of discussion titles, we’ll be reading the latest (2016) entry in the series, The Black Widow.
Here’s the description: “Bestselling author Daniel Silva delivers another spellbinding international thriller–one that finds the legendary Gabriel Allon grappling with an ISIS mastermind
Gabriel Allon, the art restorer, spy, and assassin described as the most compelling fictional creation “since Ian Fleming put down his martini and invented James Bond” (Rocky Mountain News), is poised to become the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service. But on the eve of his promotion, events conspire to lure him into the field for one final operation. ISIS has detonated a massive bomb in the Marais district of Paris, and a desperate French government wants Gabriel to eliminate the man responsible before he can strike again.
Acclaimed novelist Daniel Silva has thrilled, entertained and educated readers with eighteen thoughtful and gripping spy novels featuring a diverse cast of compelling characters and ingenious plots that have taken them around the globe and back–from the United States to Europe, Russia to the Middle East. From its shocking opening to its explosive denouement in Washington, D.C., The Black Widow reveals itself as Silva’s most timely and powerful novel yet. Following the success of his smash hit The English Spy, this electrifying thriller showcases Silva’s consummate skill and brilliant imagination, and is sure to be a must read for his multitude of current and future fans.”
The Black Widow is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | Book-on-CD | eBook | Downloadable Audio[At the time this title was selected, there were 34 regular print copies, 5 Large Type, 5 CD copies, 3 Downloadable audiobooks and 3 eBook copies in the libraries’ collection.]
Thursday, March 30, 2017 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
We’re trying another experiment for the March 2017 meeting of Just Desserts — instead of all group members reading the same book, or the same author, we’re all going to be reading the same publisher — Hard Case Crime.
Hard Case Crime is an American publisher of hard-boiled detective stories, founded in 2004 by Charles Ardai and Max Phillips. Over the past 13 years, this imprint has published close to 150 different novels, some in hardback but most in paperback or trade paperback. Some of their titles are reprints of classic older works, while others are brand-new titles in the classic Noir or Hard-Boiled style, by authors both obscure and highly recognizable (Lawrence Block, Stephen King, Ed McBain, Max Allan Collins, Mickey Spillane, just to name a few.).
Much like our “Series Share” months, everyone in attendance will be given a couple of minutes to share a description of which novel they read, and what they thought about it — “thumbs up or thumbs down”. This Just Desserts meeting will be recorded on audio for release as part of the libraries’ audio Podcast series.
Here’s the Wikipedia article on Hard Case Crime, including a complete list of their published novels
Handout/Checklist for Hard Case Crime — distributed at the October 2016 Just Desserts meeting!
Thursday, February 23, 2017 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Omaha author Alex Kava is a favorite of many of the Just Desserts group members, especially for her series featuring FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell. In 2015, she launched an all-new series, starring Ryder Creed, an ex-marine turned K9 search and rescue dog trainer, although O’Dell puts in guest appearances. Two volumes in the Creed series came out in 2015 and a third is due in October 2016. Since this is a relatively new series, and not all group members have sampled it yet, we’ll be reading and discussing the first book in this series, Breaking Creed. Here’s the description: “Ryder Creed and his dogs have been making national headlines. They’ve intercepted several major drug stashes being smuggled through Atlanta’s airport. But their newfound celebrity has also garnered some unwanted attention. When Creed and one of his dogs are called in to search a commercial fishing vessel, they discover a secret compartment. But the Colombian cartels’ latest shipment isn’t drugs. This time, its cargo is human. To make matters worse, Creed helps one of the cartel’s drug mules escape—a fourteen-year-old girl who reminds him of his younger sister who disappeared fifteen years ago. Meanwhile, FBI agent Maggie O’Dell is investigating a series of murders—the victims tortured, killed, and dumped in the Potomac River. She suspects it’s the work of a cunning and brutal assassin, but her politically motivated boss has been putting up roadblocks. By the time she uncovers a hit list with Creed’s name on it, it might be too late. The cartel has already sent someone to destroy Creed and everyone close to him. But Creed and his dogs have a few surprises in store on their compound in Florida. Will it be enough to stop a ruthless cartel determined to remove the thorn in its side once and for all?”
Breaking Creed is available in the following formats: Hardback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable eBook
Thursday, January 26, 2017 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Handout about Anthologies — distributed at the October 2016 Just Desserts meeting.
To open 2017, we’re going to try an experiment we’ve been contemplating for the past couple of years — Anthologies & Collections. Much the same as our annual May “series share” meeting, we won’t all be reading the exact same thing. Instead, all participants are encouraged to visit the 813.08 shelves of your favorite local library’s “non-fiction” shelves, where the thematic short-story anthologies are located, and pick out a mystery collection, filled with stories by a variety of different authors. At the January meeting, we’ll do a massive round robin, with all attendees given a couple of minutes to describe the anthology or collection they read, and to mention the highlights of what they did and didn’t like about it. If you’d rather not read a multi-author anthology, you’re also welcome to read a single-author short story collection (which are shelved in the fiction section under each author’s name individually).
You can read a classic anthology/collection, like the old volumes put out under the Ellery Queen or Alfred Hitchcock banners, or the annual Best American Mystery Stories, or a more recent thematic collection — we’ve got a ton of these, especially at the Bennett Martin Public Library downtown! Even if you’re not traditionally a fan of short stories, we hope that you’ll give one a try this month…you may just find (or learn about) a new author worth pursuing![Note: While most recent anthologies will be in the Dewey Decimal 813.08 classification, some of the older ones may also be under 808.83 (especially at Bennett Martin Public Library downtown). Also be aware — there will be lots of non-mystery anthologies (SF, Romance, Western, etc.) mixed in with the mysteries…choose carefully!]
November and December 2016 hiatus assignment
Handout with plots of all 18 Gideon Oliver novels — distributed at the October 2016 Just Desserts meeting.
During our traditional end-of-year hiatus from Just Desserts meetings, group members are encouraged to keep up with your mystery-reading by being assigned a reading topic — either an author or a series — and participants are then asked to leave a comment on a BookGuide Blog post for that hiatus, identifying what they read and what they thought of it.
The Professor Gideon Oliver series by Aaron Elkins!
During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2016, we’re going to continue to remain active…but once again, only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won’t be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the 18 books in the “Professor Gideon Oliver” amateur detective series by Aaron Elkins, then visit this discussion post on the Just Desserts Blog and comment on Elkins and this series in that specific discussion thread.
For those who are unfamiliar with Gideon Oliver, here’s a general overview of the series: Professor Gideon Oliver is a forensic anthropologist, whose expertise (especially in ancient human cultures) frequently allows him to assist in various investigations. Together with his wife, Julie, Gideon Oliver travels the world to various historical dig sites, stumbling across murder mysteries in many international settings.
Catalog Links: The libraries own all 18 novels in the Gideon Oliver series, starting with “Fellowship of Fear” (1982) through “Switcheroo” (2016) — although there are only limited numbers of copies of each title — anywhere from a single copy to as many as 4 of some of the older entries. Although none of the Gideon Oliver series is available in audiobook or Large Type editions, it appears that all of them are available as eBooks through the libraries Hoopla digital content service!
Thursday, October 27, 2016 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our last meeting of the year in October, we’ll finally be tackling one of the Kay Scarpetta forensics novels by Patricia Cornwell. Scarpetta has appeared in 23 novels, starting with 1990’s Postmortem through 2015’s Depraved Heart (with a 24th scheduled for November 2016). The general consensus among fans seems to be that the earliest novels in the series are among the best in the series, and we have sufficient copies of the 4th volume, Cruel and Unusual (1993) for all the Just Desserts regular attendees. Here’s the description: “The fingerprints say the murderer is the man who’s just been executed…At 11.05 one December evening in Richmond, Virginia, convicted murderer Ronnie Joe Waddell is pronounced dead in the electric chair. At the morgue Dr Kay Scarpetta waits for Waddell’s body. Preparing to perform a post-mortem before the subject is dead is a strange feeling, but Scarpetta has been here before. And Waddell’s death is not the only newsworthy event on this freezing night: the grotesquely wounded body of a young boy is found propped against a rubbish skip. To Scarpetta the two cases seem unrelated, until she recalls that the body of Waddell’s victim had been arranged in a strikingly similar position. If this is some sort of game, Scarpetta seems to be the target. And if the next victim is someone she knows, the punishment will be cruel and unusual…”
Cruel and Unusual is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | Book-on-CD | (Not available in downloadable formats through the library)[NOTE: Following the selection of this as a Just Desserts title, several copies were weeded from the collection, resulting in only 8 copies to meet group needs, instead of 15.]
Thursday, September 29, 2016 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In September, we’ll be reading and discussing a recent entry in the near-future “In Death” mystery series featuring Eve Dallas, by Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb. This series has had 42 volumes (plus many, many short stories) published since it first premiered in 1995. Our selection is #40, Obsession in Death. Here’s the description: “Eve Dallas has solved a lot of high-profile murders for the NYPSD and gotten a lot of media. She – and her billionaire husband – are getting accustomed to being objects of attention, of gossip, of speculation. But now Eve has become the object of one person’s obsession. Someone who finds her extraordinary, and thinks about her every hour of every day. Who believes the two of them have a special relationship. Who would kill for her – again and again… With a murderer reading meanings into her every move, handling this case will be a delicate – and dangerous – psychological dance. And Eve knows that underneath the worship and admiration, a terrible threat lies in wait. Because the beautiful lieutenant is not at all grateful for these bloody offerings from her “true and loyal friend.” And in time, idols always fall…”
Obsession in Death is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | Book-on-CD | eBook
Thursday, August 25, 2016 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In August, the Just Desserts group is finally going to read and discuss a volume from one of the more notable and influential mystery/thriller series of the past 30+ years — the V.I. Warshawski series, written by Sara Paretsky. Out of the 16 volume published from 1983 through 2016, our selected volume is the 15th — 2013’s Critical Mass. Here’s the description: “V.I. Warshawski’s closest friend in Chicago is the Viennese-born doctor Lotty Herschel, who lost most of her family in the Holocaust. Lotty escaped to London in 1939 on the Kindertransport with a childhood playmate, Kitty Saginor Binder. When Kitty’s daughter finds her life is in danger, she calls Lotty, who, in turn, summons V.I. to help. The daughter’s troubles turn out to be just the tip of an iceberg of lies, secrets, and silence, whose origins go back to the mad competition among America, Germany, Japan and England to develop the first atomic bomb. The secrets are old, but the people who continue to guard them today will not let go of them without a fight.”
Critical Mass is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | Book-on-CD | (not available in downloadable formats from the libraries)
Thursday, July 28, 2016 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In July, we’ll be sampling a quirky series that’s been around since 2003 — the Bryant & May (a.k.a. The Peculiar Crimes Unit) novels by Christopher Fowler — a series of historical mysteries set in Great Britain. Here’s the description of the series from Wikipedia: “Fowler is the author of the Bryant and May mysteries, in which the two detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May, are members of the fictional Peculiar Crimes Unit, based on a unit [Fowler’s] father worked in during WWII.
The series comprises: Full Dark House, The Water Room, Seventy-Seven Clocks, Ten Second Staircase, White Corridor, The Victoria Vanishes, Bryant & May On the Loose, Bryant & May Off the Rails and Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood, Bryant & May and the Invisible Code, Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart, Bryant & May and the Burning Man, Bryant & May: London’s Glory with further volumes to follow. Bryant and May, as well as other characters from this series, also appear in Fowler’s Rune, Darkest Day, and Soho Black, although these books are not considered part of the series.
The Bryant and May series is set primarily in London, with stories taking place in various years between World War 2 and the present. While there is a progressive narrative, each of the cases stand alone as separate stories. The exceptions are: Full Dark House, an origin story which focuses on John May’s reminiscence of the team’s first case together during the Blitz, Seventy Seven Clocks, framed as Arthur Bryant’s retelling of a case from 1973, and On The Loose and Off The Rails, which continue characters and events across two books.”
Just Desserts participants can read any or all of these twelve volumes (13th due out in 2016) — we’ll be discussing all any and all of them at this month’s meeting!
The Bryant and May series by Christopher Fowler is primarily available as traditional print books, although three of the 12 titles are available as downloadable E-books through Overdrive. Click this link to see all titles in our online catalog!
Thursday, June 30, 2016 — 6:30-7:45 p.m. [postponed from May 2016, which was cancelled for bad weather]
Continuing our annual tradition, which started in 2013, our June meeting (postponed from May due to storms that cancelled the May meeting) will be a “Series Share” night! Because the libraries have volumes in so many brand-new mystery series constantly being added to the collection, most of which we don’t get in large quantities of copies, we’re not assigning any specific authors or titles this month. Instead — we encourage all attendees to sample a new “mystery”, “suspense” or “thriller” series, which launched in the past few years (2013 to 2016). Come to Just Desserts prepared to give a nutshell description of the series, the protagonist, the setting, the writing style, etc., and what your opinion is of that series. Extra points if it is a brand-new series, or a less-well-known author!
Attendees at Just Desserts are always looking for great new series to try out…hopefully this “series share” opportunity will once again give us all new authors to explore!
Thursday, April 28, 2016 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our April 2016 meeting, the Just Desserts group is going to read one of the “Harry Hole” mysteries/thrillers by Jo Nesbo, one of the “Nordic Noir” authors. The selected volume is 2009’s The Redeemer, published in English language translation in 2013. Here’s the description: “Christmas shoppers stop to hear a Salvation Army concert on a crowded Oslo street. A gunshot cuts through the music and the bitter cold: one of the singers falls dead, shot in the head at point-blank range. Harry Hole—the Oslo Police Department’s best investigator and worst civil servant—has little to work with: no suspect, no weapon, and no motive. But Harry’s troubles will multiply. As the search closes in, the killer becomes increasingly desperate, and Harry’s chase takes him to the most forbidden corners of the former Yugoslavia.
Yet it’s when he returns to Oslo that he encounters true darkness: among the homeless junkies and Salvationists, eagerly awaiting a savior to deliver them from misery—whether he brings new life or immediate death.”
The Redeemer is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | Book-on-CD | Downloadable E-book
Thursday, March 31, 2016 — 6:00-7:45 p.m.
For the 100th meeting of the Just Desserts group in March, 2015, we’re breaking from our normal formula — and our normal location!
For this month *only*, we’ll be meeting at the Walt Branch Library at 6701 S. 14th St. We also don’t have an assigned author/title for March. Instead, the entire meeting will be an extended Round Robin, during which we’ll go around the table and all attendees will be encouraged to talk about their all-time favorite mystery novel (or short story collection). We will be recording this meeting on audio for release as one of the libraries audio podcasts!
If you’ve considered joining us in the past, but haven’t taken the final step, we encourage you to come to this special meeting. We also encourage you to share our Facebook Event page for this gathering — we’d love to see new mystery fans join us to help celebrate 100 straight meeting of the Just Desserts Mystery Fiction Discussion Group!
And don’t forget, as our name implies, we’ve got Desserts! Any and all attendees are invited to bring a dessert selection to share with your fellow mystery fans! Decaf coffee and cold fruit juice will be provided, as usual, and Walt Branch has vending machines with sodas.
Thursday, February 25, 2016 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our second meeting of 2016, the group will finally discuss one of the incredibly popular Lucas Davenport novels by John Sandford; in this case, we’re reading one of the best-reviewer entries, Field of Prey, from 2014. Here’s the description: “‘He knows where the bodies are buried.’ A familiar expression, often said with a laugh. But in Lucas Davenport’s line of work, it’s sometimes all too true….
When a county deputy is called out to an abandoned farmhouse in the cornfields of Minnesota by a couple of terrified teenagers, he finds that a body has been stuffed down a cistern. And then another, and another.
By the time Lucas Davenport is called in, the police are up to fifteen bodies, and counting. And when Lucas begins to investigate, he makes some disturbing discoveries of his own. The victims have been killed over a great many years, one every summer, regular as clockwork. How could this have happened without anybody noticing?
Because one thing was for sure: The killer has to live close by. He is probably even someone they see every day…”
Field of Prey is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | Book-on-CD | Downloadable E-book
Thursday, January 28, 2016 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our first meeting of 2016, participants are encouraged to read one or more of the five existing volumes in Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope series, starting with Mr. Churchill’s Secretary in 2012, through Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante in 2015. The library system does not have enough copies of any single volume in the series for us all to read the same title, so we’ll be discussing the entire series as a whole, in general terms, during our meeting. The Maggie Hope series is set in the year’s leading up to World War II.
Here’s the description of the first volume: “London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined – and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.
Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.
In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character, Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.”
The five titles (as of 2015)) in the Maggie Hope series (so far) are available in a variety of formats: Hardback | Paperback | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book
November and December 2015 hiatus assignment
During our traditional end-of-year hiatus from Just Desserts meetings, group members are encouraged to keep up with your mystery-reading by being assigned a reading topic — either an author or a series — and participants are then asked to leave a comment on the BookGuide Blog post for that hiatus, identifying what they read and what they thought of it
The “hiatus assignment” for 2015 is — Holiday Mysteries. Check out the Mistletoe Mysteries booklist here on BookGuide for a comprehensive list of the Christmas Mysteries that you can choose from!
Leave your comments on this Just Desserts blog post (click to go to the post)!
Thursday, October 29, 2015 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our final meeting of 2015, in October, the group will be discussing a fairly recent volume in the Sheriff Kate Burkholder, The Dead Will Tell. Here’s the plot blurb: “Everyone in Painters Mill knows the abandoned Hochstetler farm is haunted. But only a handful of the residents remember the terrible secrets lost in the muted/hushed whispers of time — and now death is stalking them, seemingly from the grave. On a late-night shift, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to the scene of an apparent suicide — an old man found hanging from the rafters in his dilapidated barn. But evidence quickly points to murder and Kate finds herself chasing a singularly difficult and elusive trail of evidence that somehow points back to the tragedy of that long ago incident. Meanwhile, Kate has moved in with state agent John Tomasetti and for the first time in so long, they’re both happy; a bliss quickly shattered when one of the men responsible for the murders of Tomasetti’s family four years ago is found not guilty, and walks away a free man. Will Tomasetti be pulled back to his own haunted past? When a second man is found dead–also seemingly by his own hand — Kate discovers a link in the case that sends the investigation in a direction no one could imagine and revealing the horrifying truth of what really happened that terrible night thirty-five years ago, when an Amish father and his four children perished — and his young wife disappeared without a trace. And, as Kate knows — the past never truly dies…”
The Dead Will Tell is available in hardback, book-on-cd and downloadable audio formats from the Lincoln City Libraries.
Thursday, September 24, 2015 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In September, Just Desserts participants will be discussing the latest volume in the Paul Madriani series by Steve Martini, The Enemy Inside. Here’s the plot blurb: “Defending an innocent young man, defense attorney Paul Madriani uncovers a morass of corruption and greed that leads to the highest levels of political power in this electrifying tale of suspense from New York Times best-selling author Steve Martini. One of the most successful lawyers in the country, Olinda Serna, is a master at managing money as well as her influential clients. After years of fierce combat in the political trenches, Serna knows all the dirty secrets, where the bodies are buried, and how deeply they are stacked. When she’s killed in a roadside crash in the high desert of Southern California, powerful heads in Washington begin to panic, worried that their secrets may not be safe anymore. Alex Ives, a friend of Paul Madriani’s daughter, is accused of vehicular manslaughter in Serna’s death. Ives claims he had only one drink on the night of the accident, yet he can’t remember anything between the time he left for a party north of San Diego and the moment he woke up in a hospital the next morning. He’s still dazed and a little bruised but also obviously very afraid. After all, a woman is dead, and he’s sure he didn’t kill her. To save an innocent young man’s life, the brilliant defense attorney must uncover everything he can about Serna and her clients no matter how unsavory – a search that will lead him into a vortex of corruption and, at its center, a devious killer poised to strike again.”
The Enemy Inside is available in hardback, large type and book-on-cd formats from the Lincoln City Libraries, and may be added soon in downloadable audio and e-book formats as well.
Thursday, August 27, 2015 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In August, we’ll apply ourselves to a popular and quirky new series — the Carpenter & Quincannon Mysteries — a series of light-hearted historical mysteries set in 1890s San Francisco, featuring former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and her detective partner, ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon. Here’s the plot blurbs from the first three novels: Bughouse Affair: “Sabina’s case involves the hunt for a ruthless lady “dip” who uses fiendish means to relieve her victims of their valuables at Chutes Amusement Park and other crowded places. Quincannon, meanwhile, is after a slippery housebreaker who targets the homes of wealthy residents, following a trail that leads him from the infamous Barbary Coast to an oyster pirate’s lair to a Tenderloin parlor house known as the Fiddle Dee Dee. The two cases eventually connect in surprising fashion, but not before two murders and assorted other felonies complicate matters even further. And not before the two sleuths are hindered, assisted, and exasperated by the bughouse Sherlock Holmes.”; Spooklight Affair: In 1895 San Francisco young debutantes don’t commit suicide at festive parties, particularly not under the eye of Sabina Carpenter. But Virginia St. Ives evidently did, leaping from a foggy parapet in a shimmer of ghostly light. The seemingly impossible disappearance of her body creates an even more serious problem for the firm of Carpenter and Quincannon, Professional Detective Services. Sabina hadn’t wanted to take the assignment, but her partner John Quincannon insisted it would serve as entrée to the city’s ultra rich and powerful. That means money, and Quincannon loves the almighty dollar. Which is why he is hunting the bandit who robbed the Wells, Fargo office of $35,000.; Bodysnatchers Affair: Two missing bodies and two separate investigations take Carpenter and Quincannon from the heights above San Francisco Bay to the depths of Chinatown’s opium dens. For John Quincannon, this is a first: searching a Chinatown opium den for his client’s husband, missing in the middle of a brewing tong war set to ignite over the stolen corpse of Bing Ah Kee. Meanwhile, his partner, Sabina Carpenter, unsure of the dark secrets her suitor might be concealing, searches for the corpse of a millionaire, stolen from a sealed family crypt and currently being held for ransom.
Just Desserts participants can read any or all of these three volumes (4th due out in 2016) — we’ll be discussing all three of them at this month’s meeting!
The first three volumes in the Carpenter & Quincannon series are available in regular print, large type, and downloadable audio formats (vol 1 and 2 only) from the Lincoln City Libraries.
Thursday, July 30, 2015 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In July, the Just Desserts group will finally take on one of the Alex Delaware novels by author Jonathan Kellerman. Volume #27 in that series, out in 2012, was “Victims” — one of the better-reviewed of the reent volumes. Here’s the plot blurb: “Not since Jack the Ripper terrorized the London slums has there been such a gruesome crime scene. By all accounts, acid-tongued Vita Berlin hadn’t a friend in the world, but whom did she cross so badly as to end up arranged in such a grotesque tableau? One look at her apartment–turned–charnel house prompts hard-bitten LAPD detective Milo Sturgis to summon his go-to expert in hunting homicidal maniacs, Alex Delaware. But despite his finely honed skills, even Alex is stymied when more slayings occur in the same ghastly fashion . . . yet with no apparent connection among the victims. And the only clue left behind—a blank page bearing a question mark—seems to be both a menacing taunt and a cry for help from a killer baffled by his own lethal urges. Under pressure to end the bloody spree and prevent a citywide panic, Milo redoubles his efforts to discover a link between the disparate victims. Meanwhile, Alex navigates the secretive world of mental health treatment, from the sleek office of a Beverly Hills therapist to a shuttered mental institution where he once honed his craft—and where an unholy alliance between the mad and the monstrous may have been sealed in blood. As each jagged piece of the puzzle fits into place, an ever more horrific portrait emerges of a sinister mind at its most unimaginable—and an evil soul at its most unspeakable. “This one was different,” Alex observes at the start of the case. This one will haunt his waking life, and his darkest dreams, long after its end.”
Victims is available in hardback, large type, book-on-cd, downloadable audio and e-book formats from the Lincoln City Libraries.
Thursday, June 25, 2015 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In June, we’re tackling another series together, but participants can read any volume in the series, as the libraries don’t have enough copies of any single volume to accommodate our entire group. So — attendees should read ANY volume in the Doc Ford series by Randy Wayne White. The libraries own all 22 volumes (to date) in the series, from 1990’s Sanibel Flats to 2015’s Cuba Straits. The series features Marion “Doc” Ford, an ex-CIA agent and retired marine biologist, who lives and works in a fictional town on the west coast of Florida. Despite wanting to retire and relax, Doc keeps getting pulled into the troubles of friends and allies, and as the series progresses, he travels the world (especially Cuba, the Caribbean and South America) putting his skill set into use helping those who can’t help themselves. For the purposes of this month’s discussions, do NOT read the following Randy Wayne White titles — Deceived, Gone, Haunted, Last Flight Out — these are stand-alones or parts of other series. Otherwise, be prepared to discuss the Doc Ford series in general, and the specifics of whichever Doc Ford series novel(s) you read when we hold our group discussion.
Here’s a link to the Doc Ford series on FantasticFiction, so you can see the series order.
And here’s a link to all of Randy Wayne White’s titles in the Lincoln City Libraries online catalog.
Thursday, May 28, 2015 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Continuing our annual tradition, started in 2013, our May meeting will be a “Series Share” night! Because the libraries have volumes in so many brand-new mystery series constantly being added to the collection, most of which we don’t get in large quantities of copies, we’re not assigning any specific authors or titles this month. Instead — we encourage all attendees to sample a new “mystery”, “suspense” or “thriller” series, which launched in the past few years (2012 to 2015). Come to Just Desserts prepared to give a nutshell description of the series, the protaganist, the setting, etc., and what your opinion is of that series. Extra points if it is a brand-new series, or a less-well-known author!
Attendees at Just Desserts are always looking for great new series to try out…hopefully this “series share” opportunity will give us all new authors to explore!
Thursday, April 30, 2015 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our traditional April meeting on the 30th, we tackle two authors in one — Mary Higgins Clark, master of suspense, has teamed up with Alafair Burke, author of psychological suspense novels, to write The Cinderella Murder. Here’s the description: “Television producer Laurie Moran is delighted when the pilot for her reality drama, Under Suspicion, is a success. Even more, the program–a cold case series that revisits unsolved crimes by recreating them with those affected–is off to a fantastic start when it helps solve an infamous murder in the very first episode. Now Laurie has the ideal case to feature in the next episode of Under Suspicion: the Cinderella Murder. When Susan Dempsey, a beautiful and multi-talented UCLA student, was found dead, her murder raised numerous questions. Why was her car parked miles from her body? Had she ever shown up for the acting audition she was due to attend at the home of an up-and-coming director? Why does Susan’s boyfriend want to avoid questions about their relationship? Why was Susan so concerned about her roommate’s infatuation with a new-age religious sect? Was she close to her computer science professor because of her technological brilliance, or something more? And why was Susan missing one of her shoes when her body was discovered? With the help of lawyer and Under Suspicion host Alex Buckley, Laurie knows the case will attract great ratings, especially when the former suspects include Hollywood’s elite and tech billionaires. The suspense and drama are perfect for the silver screen — but is Cinderella’s murderer ready for a close-up?”
The Cinderella Murder is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | Book-on-CD
Thursday, April 2, 2015 — 6:30-7:45 p.m. [One week later than usual!!}
The Just Desserts group has previously discussed one of the Cork O’Connor books by William Kent Krueger. Ordinary Grace is a little different — it’s general fiction, with a strong “mystery” element. It is also Krueger’s favorite book among his own works — as he said when appearing in Lincoln this past April. Here’s the description: “That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.” New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder. Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.”
Ordinary Grace is available in the following formats: Traditional Print | Large Print | Book-on-CD
Thursday, February 26, 2015 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
After over 85 meetings, the Just Desserts group is finally tackling a James Patterson title – in this case, one of the more popular volumes in his Women’s Murder Club series. This one was co-written with Maxine Paetro. Here’s the description of The 9th Judgment: “A young mother and her infant child are ruthlessly gunned down while returning to their car in the garage of a shopping mall. There are no witnesses, and Detective Lindsay Boxer is left with only one shred of evidence: a cryptic message scrawled across the windshield in bloodred lipstick. The most dangerous. The same night, the wife of A-list actor Marcus Dowling is woken by a cat burglar who is about to steal millions of dollars’ worth of precious jewels. In just seconds there is a nearly empty safe, a lifeless body, and another mystery that throws San Francisco into hysteria. The most exciting Women’s Murder Club novel ever. Lindsay spends every waking hour working with her partner, Rich – and her desire for him threatens to tear apart both her engagement and the Women’s Murder Club. Before Lindsay and her friends can piece together either case, one of the killers forces Lindsay to put her own life on the line – but is it enough to save the city? With unparalleled danger and explosive action, The 9th Judgment is James Patterson at his compelling, unstoppable best! “
The 9th Judgment is available in the following formats: Traditional Print | Large Print | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book
Thursday, January 29, 2015 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
We return from our Nov/Dec hiatus with a hot new best-seller — the latest (2014) volume in Jeffery Deaver’s popular Lincoln Rhymes series. Here’s the description: “The killer’s methods are terrifying. He stalks the basements and underground passageways of New York City. He tattoos his victims’ flesh with cryptic messages, using a tattoo gun loaded with poison, resulting in an agonizing, painful death. When a connection is made to the Bone Collector – the serial killer who terrorized New York more than a decade ago – Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are immediately drawn into the case.”
The Skin Collector is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Print | Book-on-CD
November and December 2014
The Benjamin January series of Barbara Hambly!
During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2014, we’re going to continue to remain active…but once again, only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won’t be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the 13 books in the “Benjamin January” historical mystery series by Barbara Hambly, then visit this discussion post on the Just Desserts Blog and comment on Hambly and this series in this specific discussion thread.
For those who are unfamiliar with Benjamin January, here’s a general overview of the series: This historical mystery series begins with A Free Man of Color (1997) and features Benjamin January, a brilliant, classically educated, free colored surgeon and musician living in New Orleans during the antebellum years of the 1830s. At the time, New Orleans had a large and prosperous population of free people of color. Born a slave, as his mother was enslaved, January was freed as a young child by his mother’s lover, under the plaçage system. Provided with an excellent education, he gained fluency in several classical and modern languages, and was thoroughly versed in the whole of classical Western learning and arts. He studied medicine in Paris, where he trained as a surgeon. He returned to Louisiana to escape the memory of his late wife, a woman from North Africa. As a free black in Louisiana, he cannot find work as a surgeon. He earns a modest living by his exceptional talent as a musician. Each title is a murder mystery, with a complex plot and well-developed characters. Each explores many aspects of French Creole and overall Louisiana society. Most tend to emphasize some particular element of antebellum Louisiana life, such as Voodoo religion (Graveyard Dust), opera and music (Die Upon a Kiss), the annual epidemics of yellow fever and malaria (Fever Season), fear of miscegenation (Dead and Buried), or the harsh nature of commercial sugar production by enslaved labor (Sold Down the River). Important themes of the series are 1) the cultural clash between the rising Protestant English-speaking Anglo-Americans, and the declining Catholic, French-speaking Creoles, 2) skin color discrimination within the society of Creoles of color, with favor given to lighter-skinned persons 3) January’s bitterness at the many forms of racial injustice he observes, 4) the complex, partially race-based sexual politics of colonial French and United States society, and 5) January’s comparison of what he thinks of as the open and frank African outlook of his early childhood with the more restrained and rational European worldview he acquired through education and experience. This last theme occurs most often with respect to music, spirituality, and respect for law and social custom. — description from Wikipedia
The libraries own all 13 novels in the Benjamin January series, published from “A Free Man of Color” (1997) to “Crimson Angel” (2014) — although there are only limited numbers of copies of each title. Sorry, but none of the titles in this series are available from the libraries in anything other than traditional print editions (i.e. no Large Type, audio or eBook versions)!
Thursday, October 30, 2014 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our final meeting of 2014, the group will try another of our experiments, where we all read ONE of an author’s particular series, but not necessarily all of us will read the same book. The author for October is Julie Hyzy, and the series we’ll be reading is her White House Chef Mystery series. There are seven volumes out so far, but the libraries don’t own enough copies of any single one of those to cover the entire Just Desserts group. Group members are encouraged to read ANY of the seven volumes in this series, and we’ll have a very general discussion of this series and this author’s writing styles on October 30th.
Here are the seven books out so far: State of the Onion (2008), Hail to the Chef (2008), Eggsecutive Orders (2009), Buffalo West Wing (2011), Affairs of Steak (2012), Fonduing Fathers (2012), Home of the Braised (2014)
Thursday, September 25, 2014 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Laura Lippman has made a name for herself in the mystery field with the Tess Monaghan series, but also with a number of stand-alone novels. For September, the Just Desserts gang will read her latest (2014) stand-alone, After I’m Gone.. Here’s the description: “Laura Lippman, the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Most Dangerous Thing, I’d Know You Anywhere, and What the Dead Know, returns with an addictive story that explores how one man’s disappearance echoes through the lives of the wife, mistress, and daughters he left behind. When Felix Brewer meets Bernadette “Bambi” Gottschalk at a Valentine’s Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative—if not all legal—businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi’s comfortable world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes. Though Bambi has no idea where her husband—or his money—might be, she suspects one woman does: his mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she’s left to join her old lover—until her remains are eventually found. Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto “Sandy” Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web stretching over three decades that connects five intriguing women. And at the center is the missing man Felix Brewer. Somewhere between the secrets and lies connecting past and present, Sandy will find the truth. And when he does, no one will ever be the same.”
After I’m Gone is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Print | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio
Thursday, August 28, 2014 — 6:30-7:45 p.m. — Booklist Handout for This Meeting
RELOCATED TO WALT BRANCH – TONIGHT ONLY – DUE TO FAULTY AIR CONDITIONING AT SOUTH BRANCH!
Hank Phillippi Ryan’s got a new series out, featuring Jane Ryland. We’re reading the first one and discussing it in August. Here’s the description: “Reporter Jane Ryland is tracking down a candidate’s secret mistress just days before a pivotal Senate election. Detective Jake Brogan is investigating a possible serial killer that may be hunting down Boston’s young women under the city’s bridges. As the body count rises and election looms closer, it becomes clear to Jane and Jake that their cases are connected…and that they may be facing a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to silence a scandal. Dirty politics, dirty tricks, and a barrage of final twists, The Other Woman is the first in an explosive new series from Hank Phillipi Ryan. Seduction, betrayal, and murder—it’ll take a lot more than votes to win this election.”
The Other Woman is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback | Downloadable Audio
Thursday, July 31, 2014 — 6:30-7:45 p.m. — Booklist Handout for This Meeting
We’ve been meaning to tackle one of Stuart Woods’ best-sellers, and we’ll finally get around to it in July. Woods writes in several series, as well as producing stand-alone novels. Our book for discussion is the 27th volume in his popular Stone Barrington mystery/thriller series. Here’s the description: “Nothing comes easy for Stone Barrington in this riveting novel from New York Times bestselling author Stuart Woods. When Stone Barrington embarks on a trip to Bel-Air to check in on some business and personal concerns, he expects a relaxing break from the fast pace and mean streets of New York. But trouble never takes a vacation, and it has a way of finding Stone. A case that had seemingly been resolved has returned in full force—with lethal results. And this deadly situation makes for strange bedfellows when Stone finds himself teamed with the least likely ally…a gentleman of unique abilities, who can fly below the radar and above the law. From the high-stakes poker tables of Las Vegas to California’s lush beachside resorts, the trail of disguise, subterfuge, and murder leads to a shocking conclusion.”
Doing Hard Time is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Print | Book-on-CD
Thursday, June 26, 2014 — 6:30-7:45 p.m. — Booklist Handout for This Meeting
For our June meeting, we’re trying an author that’s a favorite of several of our members — Linda Fairstein. We’ll be reading the latest (15th) volume in her Alexandra Cooper series, set in New York City. Here’s the description: “New York City. Central Park. For thousands of residents and tourists who fill it every day, it’s an enormous urban sanctuary. For one killer it’s the perfect hunting ground. A young girl has been found dead in the Ramble, a secluded section of the park made up of winding paths, dense woods, and dead ends. Is she the first victim of a psychopath? Or a clue to other missing women in years past whose remains have never been found? For the answer, Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper and Detective Mike Chapman follow a twisting trail of evidence that takes them deep into the city’s dark history — and deeper into the mind of killer whose work has only just begun.”
Death Angel is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Print | Book-on-CD
Thursday, May 29, 2014 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
After our successful experiment with a “series share” month in 2013, we’re turning it into an annual May tradition here in 2014! Because the libraries have volumes in so many brand-new mystery series constantly being added to the collection, most of which we don’t get in large quantities of copies, we’re not assigning any specific authors or titles this month. Instead — we encourage all attendees to sample a new “mystery”, “suspense” or “thriller” series, which launched in the past few years (2011 to 2014). Come to Just Desserts prepared to give a nutshell description of the series, the protaganist, the setting, etc., and what your opinion is of that series. Extra points if it is a brand-new series, or a less-well-known author!
Attendees at Just Desserts are always looking for great new series to try out…hopefully this “series share” opportunity will give us all new authors to explore!
Thursday, April 24, 2014 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In April, we move from light-hearted fare back to somewhat more serious fiction, with a contemporary British mystery. Deborah Crombie’s series featuring Scotland Yard Superintendant Duncan Kincaid and his young partner Gemma James has over a dozen volumes so far, and we’ll be reading the eleventh. Here’s the description of Water Like a Stone: “When Superintendant Duncan Kincaid takes Gemma, Kit and Toby to visit his family in Cheshire, Gemma is soon entranced with Nantwich town’s pretty buildings and the historic winding canal, and young Kit is instantly smitten with his cousin Lally. But their visit is marred when, on Christmas Eve, Duncan’s sister discovers a mummified infant’s body interred in the wall of an old dairy barn; a tragedy hauntingly echoed by the recent drowning of Peter Llewellyn, a schoolmate of Lally’s. Meanwhile, on her narrowboat, former social worker Annie Lebow is living a life of self-imposed isolation, preparing for a lonely Christmas, made more disturbing by an unexpected meeting earlier in the day. As the police make enquiries into the infant’s death, Kincaid discovers that life in the lovely town of his childhood is far from idyllic, and that the dreaming reaches of the Shropshire Union Canal hold dark and deadly secrets…”
Water Like a Stone is available in the following formats: Hardback | Book-on-CD
Thursday, March 27, 2014 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
What do you get when you combine two bestselling humorous mystery novelists, like Janet Evanovich (the creator of Stephanie Plum), and Lee Goldberg (writer of the first 15 original novels featuring TV character Adrian Monk — as well as creator of the TV series Diagnosis Murder)? A new series that’s part mystery, part con job, and part comedic romance. Here’s the description of The Heist: “A brand new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, bestselling author and television writer for Monk. What’s an FBI agent to do after she’s caught the world’s most wanted – and irresistibly charming – con man? Partner up with him… Just when it seems that international crook Nicolas Fox has been captured for good, he pulls off his greatest con of all: he convinces the FBI to offer him a job, working side by side with Special Agent Kate O’Hare. Problem is, teaming up to stop a corrupt investment banker who’s hiding on a private island in Indonesia is going to test O’Hare’s patience and Fox’s skill — if the two don’t kill each other first.”
The Heist is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | Book-on-CD
Thursday, February 27, 2014 — 6:30-7:45 p.m. — Booklist Handout for This Meeting
In February, we trade the witty banter of the main characters in the Nikki Heat series for an atmospheric historical mystery by Charles Todd. Todd has two ongoing series, both set around the time period of World War I — the Inspector Ian Rutledge series and the Bess Crawford series. Our book this month is #4 in the Crawford series, following a resourceful wartime nurse and the mysteries she becomes involved with. Here’s the description of An Unmarked Grave: “In the spring of 1918, the Spanish Flu epidemic spreads, killing millions of soldiers and civilians across the globe. Overwhelmed by the constant flow of wounded soldiers coming from the French front, battlefield nurse Bess Crawford must now contend with hundreds of influenza patients as well. But war and disease are not the only killers to strike. Bess discovers, concealed among the dead waiting for burial, the body of an officer who has been murdered. Though she is devoted to all her patients, this soldier’s death touches her deeply. Not only did the man serve in her father’s former regiment, he was also a family friend. Before she can report the terrible news, Bess falls ill, she is the latest victim of the flu. By the time she recovers, the murdered officer has been buried, and the only other person who saw the body has hanged himself. Or did he? Working her father’s connections in the military, Bess begins to piece together what little evidence she can find to unmask the elusive killer and see justice served. But the tenacious and impetuous nurse must be vigilant. With a determined killer on her own heels, each move she makes may be her last!”
An Unmarked Grave is available in the following formats: Hardback | Downloadable E-book
Thursday, January 30, 2014 — 6:30-7:45 p.m. — Booklist Handout for This Meeting
For our first meeting of 2014, we’ll be discussing the five books (so far) in the Nikki Heat series by Richard Castle. These are the tie-in novels to the television series CASTLE, ostensibly written by the author character Richard Castle, portrayed by Nathan Fillion on the series. The characters in the novels are thinly veiled versions of the characters on the TV series, however they’re still quite well written, and worth reading in their own right. We won’t be discussing a specific single book in the series — instead, Just Desserts members are encouraged to read any one or more of the novels and the group will discuss the fiction series on the whole. Here are descriptions of those first five books about Nikki Heat:
Heat Wave — “Tough and sexy New York police detective Nikki Heat leads the investigation into the death of a New York real estate tycoon who plunged to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. She’s hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York’s Finest.” 
Naked Heat — “In the sequel to the New York Times bestselling Heat Wave, Richard Castle does it again with his thrilling new mystery. Tough, sexy, professional, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City’s top homicide squads. In what’s sure to be another smash sensation by blockbuster author Richard Castle, readers will once again follow Nikki Heat and hotshot reporter Jameson Rook as they trade barbs and innuendos all while on the trail of a murderer!” 
Heat Rises — “The bizarre murder of a parish priest at a New York bondage club is just thetip of an iceberg that leads Nikki Heat to a dark conspiracy that reachesall the way to the highest level of the NYPD. But when she gets too closeto the truth, Nikki finds herself disgraced, stripped of her badge, and outon her own as a target for killers with nobody she can trust. Except maybethe one man in her life who’s not a cop. Reporter Jameson Rook. In the midst of New York’s coldest winter in a hundred years, there’s onething Nikki is determined to prove. Heat Rises.” 
Frozen Heat — “NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat arrives at her latest crime scene to find an unidentified woman stabbed to death and stuffed inside a suitcase left on a Manhattan street. Nikki is in for a big shock when this new homicide connects to the unsolved murder of her own mother. Paired once again with her romantic and investigative partner, top journalist Jameson Rook, Heat works to solve the mystery of the body in the suitcase while she is forced to confront unexplored areas of her mother’s background. Facing relentless danger as someone targets her for the next kill, Nikki’s search will unearth painful family truths, expose a startling hidden life, and cause Nikki to reexamine her own past. Heat’s passionate quest takes her and Rook from the back alleys of Manhattan to the avenues of Paris, trying to catch a ruthless killer. The question is, now that her mother’s cold case has unexpectedly thawed, will Nikki Heat finally be able to solve the dark mystery that has been her demon for ten years?” 
Deadly Heat — “Determined to find justice for her mother, top NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat continues to pursue the elusive former CIA station chief who ordered her execution over a decade ago. For the hunt, Nikki teams once again with her romantic partner, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Jameson Rook. Their quest for the old spy and the motive behind the past murder unearths an alarming terror plot – which is anything but ancient history. It is lethal. It is now. And it has already entered its countdown phase. Complicating Heat’s mission to bring the rogue spy to justice and thwart the looming terror event, a serial killer begins menacing the Twentieth Precinct, and her homicide squad is under pressure to stop him, and soon. The murderer, known for his chilling stealth, singles out Nikki as the exclusive recipient of his taunting messages, then names her as his next victim.” 
All books in the Nikki Heat series are available in a variety of formats. Click the title links above to check on availability.
November and December 2013
The works of Elmore Leonard…author of nearly 50 mystery/thrillers in a lengthy writing career that spanned from 1953 to his passing earlier in 2013.
During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2013, we’re going to continue to remain active…but once again, only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won’t be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the 40+ mysteries or thrillers by Elmore Leonard, then visit our Just Desserts Blog and comment on Elmore, his works and his writing style, in a specific discussion thread — Click here for that specific post!
For some background on Elmore Leonard, and a complete list of his published works, please check out the Remembering…Elmore Leonard booklist on BookGuide — produced and put online shortly after Leonard’s passing on August 20, 2013. Leonard began his writing career by putting out novels and short stories in the Western genre. For the purposes of Just Desserts, we encourage you to avoid those, and pick one of his titles from The Big Bounce (1969) through Raylan (2012).
Thursday, October 24th, 2013 — 6:30-7:45 p.m. — Booklist Handout for This Meeting
One week earlier than usual, so as not to conflict with Halloween!
For our final meeting of 2013, we’ll be reading the early volumes in Carolyn G. Hart’s Death on Demand series. Featuring mystery bookstore owner Annie Laurence Darling, and set on an island off the coast of South Carolina, these are a witty amateur sleuth series filled with references to classic mystery novels. The libraries only own a handful of each of the early books, so we won’t all read the same volume — everyone is encouraged to read at least one of the first 10 books in the Death on Demand series, and we’ll discuss them in general terms as a group.
Here are the first ten titles in the series:
- Death on Demand 
- Design for Murder 
- Something Wicked 
- Honeymoon With Murder 
- A Little Class on Murder 
- Deadly Valentine 
- The Christie Caper 
- Southern Ghost 
- Mint Julep Murder 
- Yankee Doodle Dead 
Thursday, September 26, 2013 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In September, the Just Desserts group tackles Alone, the first volume in Lisa Gardner’s popular D.D. Warren mystery/suspense/thriller series. Here’s the description: “Alone . . . Massachusetts State Trooper Bobby Dodge watches a tense hostage standoff unfold through the scope of his sniper rifle. Just across the street, in wealthy Back Bay, Boston, an armed man has barricaded himself with his wife and child. The man’s finger tightens on the trigger and Dodge has only a split second to react . . . and forever pay the consequences. Alone . . . that’s where the nightmare began for cool, beautiful, and dangerously sexy Catherine Rose Gagnon. Twenty-five years ago, she was buried underground during a month-long nightmare of abduction and abuse. Now her husband has just been killed. Her father-in-law, the powerful Judge Gagnon, blames Catherine for his son’s death . . . and for the series of unexplained illnesses that have sent her own young son repeatedly to the hospital. Alone . . . a madman survived solitary confinement in a maximum security prison where he’d done hard time for the most sadistic of crimes. Now he walks the streets a free man, invisible, anonymous . . . and filled with an unquenchable rage for vengeance. What brings them together is a moment of violence—but what connects them is a passion far deeper and much more dangerous. For a killer is loose who’s woven such an intricate web of evil that no one is above suspicion, no one is beyond harm, and no one will see death coming until it has them cornered, helpless, and alone”
Alone is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book
Thursday, August 29, 2013 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
After a couple of serious books, we’ll take a break in August with a funny mystery, this time one of Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen bakery who-dunits. We’ve got just enough copies of her premiere volume in the series, The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, so let’s try that one. Here’s the description: “Hannah Swensen already has her hands full, between dodging her mother’s attempts to marry her off, and running Lake Eden, Minnesota’s most popular bakery, The Cookie Jar. But when the Cozy Cow Dairy’s beloved deliveryman is found murdered behind Hannah’s bakery with her famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, Hannah sets out to track down a killer. The more Hannah snoops, the more suspects turn up. This is one murder that’s starting to leave a very bad taste in Hannah’s mouth, and if she doesn’t watch her back, her sweet life may get burned to a crisp”
The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is available in the following formats: Print | Book-on-CD | E-book | Downloadable Audio | DVD adaptation – TV-Movie | Downloadable video of TV-Movie
Thursday, July 25, 2013 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In July, we’ll be reading a volume in the combined Joe Pike/Elvis Cole mystery series by Robert Crais. The series started in 1987 with The Monkey’s Raincoat, by focusing on Elvis Cole, and The Sentry is the 14th in his storyline. However, Cole’s sidekick Joe Pike has also spun off into his own series of novels, and The Sentry  is considered to be the 3rd in the Joe Pike series as well. Here’s the description: “Dru Rayne and her uncle fled to L.A. after Hurricane Katrina; but now, five years later, they face a different danger. When Joe Pike witnesses Dru’s uncle beaten by a protection gang, he offers his help, but neither of them want it – and neither do the federal agents mysteriously watching them. As the level of violence escalates, and Pike himself becomes a target, he and Elvis Cole learn that Dru and her uncle are not who they seem – and that everything he thought he knew about them has been a lie. A vengeful and murderous force from their past is now catching up to them … and only Pike and Cole stand in the way.”
The Sentry is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book
Thursday, June 27, 2013 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In June, the group will tackle one of the Rizzoli & Isles mystery thrillers by Tess Gerritsen. Although the libraries due have the first in the series, The Surgeon , as well as all of the other volumes produced so far, we’re going with the 7th in the series, The Keepsake , which is the earliest volume of which the libraries have enough copies to cover the size of the Just Desserts group. Here’s the description: “He Hides. When an ancient mummy is discovered in the basement of a museum in down-town Boston, excitement starts to mount. Under the glare of a media frenzy, the mummy is taken to hospital for a CT scan. Forensic pathologist Maura Isles is also invited to attend. He Kills. As the CT scan proceeds everyone in the room leans in – and gasps in horror as an image of a bullet is revealed. Maura declares it a possible homicide, and calls in detective Jane Rizzoli. He Keeps. When the preserved body of a second victim is found, and then a third, it becomes clear that taking their lives is not enough for this terrifying killer. And that unless Maura and Jane can find and stop him, he will soon be adding yet another chilling piece to his monstrous collection.”
The Keepsake is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book
Thursday, May 30, 2013 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
By popular group consensus, we’re trying an all-new experiment at our May meeting. Because the libraries have volumes in so many brand-new mystery series constantly being added to the collection, but of which we don’t get large quantities of copies, we’re not assigning any specific authors or titles this month. Instead — we encourage all attendees to sample a new “cozy” or “amateur detective” series, which launched in the past few years. Come to Just Desserts prepared to give a nutshell description of the series, the protaganist, the setting, etc., and what your opinion is of that series.
Attendees at Just Desserts are always looking for great new series to try out…hopefully this “book share” opportunity will give us all new authors to explore! [ Check out the list of titles discussed at this meeting, in the Just Desserts Blog! ]
Thursday, April 25, 2013 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
At our April meeting, we’ll be discussing a mystery from Tana French, the first in her Dublin Murder Squad series, In the Woods. Here’s the description: “As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours. Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox — his partner and closest friend — find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past. Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones. And look for French’s new mystery, Broken Harbor (the 4th in the series), for more of the Dublin Murder Squad.”
In the Woods is available in the following formats: Print | E-book
Thursday, March 28, 2013 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Our March meeting is another “grab bag” session for a specific author, in this case Peter Robinson, who writes the Inspector Banks series set in Britain’s Yorkshire area. The Inspector Banks series started with Gallow’s View in 1987, and has reached 20 volumes by late 2012. Once again, although the libraries have copies of all the books in the Inspector Banks series, we generally only have one to three copies of each of the books — not enough for the entire group to read the same title at the same time. So…the reading assignment for everyone in March is to pick ANY of the Inspector Banks titles by Robinson — we’ll discuss the merits of the series in broad strokes, rather than focusing on one particular volume. [Click here to see the Inspector Banks series order as shown on Fantasticfiction.co.uk]
The Inspector Banks series is available in the following formats: Print | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | DVDs of TV series
Thursday, February 28, 2013 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In February, we tackle a blockbuster bestseller from David Baldacci — He’s got numerous stand-alone novels, but we’ll be reading the first in his ongoing Camel Club series, which began with The Camel Club. Here’s the description: “Welcome to The Camel Club. Existing at the fringes of Washington, D.C., the Club consists of four eccentric members. Led by a mysterious man known as “Oliver Stone,” they study conspiracy theories, current events, and the machinations of government to discover the “truth” behind the country’s actions.Their efforts bear little fruit-until the group witnesses a shocking murder…and become embroiled in an astounding, far-reaching conspiracy. Now the Club must join forces with a Secret Service agent to confront one of the most chilling spectacles ever to take place on American soil-an event that may trigger the ultimate war between two different worlds. And all that stands in the way of this apocalypse is five unexpected heroes.”
The Camel Club is available in the following formats: Print | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | E-book
Thursday, January 31, 2013 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
The selection for our January gathering — the first meeting of 2013 — will be another of our “multiple choice” experiments. We’re picking an author — Donna Leon — who comes highly recommended, but for whom the libraries don’t own enough copies of a single, individual, book for everyone to read it at the same time. Instead, we’ll be asking all group members to pick ANY of Donna Leon’s works, and as a group, we’ll discuss their merits in general, rather than the entire group discussing the exact same volume. Leon’s series protagonist is Inspector Guido Brunetti of Venice. The series began in 1992 with “Death at La Fenice”, and as of the end of 2012 had reached 21 volumes. [Click here to see the Inspector Guido Brunetti series order as shown on Fantasticfiction]
The Inspector Guido Brunetti series is available mainly in print format, with a quite a few titles in either Book-on-CD format or Downloadable Audio format.
November and December 2012
The works of John D. MacDonald…creator of the classic mystery/adventure series featuring Travis McGee!
During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2012, we’re going to continue to remain active…but once again, only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won’t be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the 21 books in the “Travis McGee” series by John D. MacDonald, then visit our Just Desserts Blog and comment on MacDonald and Travis McGee in a specific discussion thread, which will be posted on November 1st, 2012. (we will have a direct link here on this page on that date!)
For those who are unfamiliar with Travis McGee, here’s a general overview of the character: Travis McGee is a self-described beach bum who won his houseboat (The Busted Flush) in a card game. He’s also a knight errant who’s wary of credit cards, retirement benefits, political parties, mortgages and television. He only works when his cash runs out and his rule is simple–he’ll help you find whatever was taken from you, as long as he can keep half. Described as “A knight in slightly tarnished armor, ” and “the thinking man’s Robin Hood, ” McGee rejects the modern world, adhering to a timeless sense of honor and obligation; he is more and less than a private eye.
Click here to jump directly to the blog post and leave your comment about Travis McGee!Catalog Links: Of the 21 novels in the Travis McGee series, published from 1964 to 1984, the Lincoln City Libraries still own 20 — although no more than 1 to 3 copies of each title. We’re missing only #9 Pale Gray for Guilt. Sorry, but none of the titles in this series are available in Large Print or recorded book formats! Watch out for non-Travis McGee novels by MacDonald — all of the books in this series have a “color” somewhere in the title!
Thursday, October 25, 2012 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Our last two authors for 2012 are fan-favorites, frequently read by several of our Just Desserts members, and regularly suggested for group discussion. The second is Harlan Coben’s series featuring sports agent cum detective Myron Bolitar. Here’s the description of the volume we’ll be reading, Promise Me: “Determined to keep his friends’ children safe, Myron Bolitar makes two neighborhood girls promise to call him if they are ever in a bind. Several nights later, a call comes in at two o’clock a.m. The next day, a girl is missing, and Myron is the last person who saw her. And now, he must race to find her, before she is gone forever…”
Promise Me is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book | Large Type
Thursday, September 27, 2012 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Our last two authors for 2012 are fan-favorites, frequently read by several of our Just Desserts members, and regularly suggested for group discussion. The first is Lisa Scottoline, with one of the legal thrillers involving her Rosato & Associates firm. Here’s the description of Lady Killers: “Mary DiNunzio has become a big-time business-getter at Rosato & Associates. But the last person she expects to walk into her office one morning—in mile-high stilettos—is super-sexy Trish Gambone, her high-school rival. Back when Mary was becoming the straight-A president of the Latin Club and Most Likely to Achieve Sainthood, Trish was the head Mean Girl, who flunked religion and excelled at smoking in the bathroom. These days, however, Trish needs help. She is terrified of her live-in boyfriend, an abusive, gun-toting drug dealer for the South Philly mob. Mary remembers the guy from high school, too. She had a major crush on him. Then Trish vanishes, a dead body turns up in an alley, and Mary is plunged into a nightmare that threatens her job, her family, and even her life. She goes on a one-woman crusade to unmask the killer, and on the way finds new love in a very unexpected place.”
Lady Killer is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Downloadable E-book | Large Type
Thursday, August 23, 2012 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
[Note: Meeting one week early this month!]
For August, we tackle a volume in one of Laura Child’s three on-going series — in this case, one of her Tea Shop mysteries. Here’s the description: “It’s springtime in Charleston, and just about every species of South Carolina flora and fauna is in bloom during the annual Spring Plantation Ramble. While tea shop owner Theodosia Browning serves Dragonwell sweet tea, guests mingle, enjoy flower shows, and bid at a rare plant auction. Festivities come to a screeching halt, however, when commodities broker Mark Congdon is high bidder for a rare monkey-face orchid, then promptly drops dead. It looks like a simple heart attack, but Theodosia suspects otherwise and looks for answers in the nearby Nightshade Garden.”
Dragonwell Dead is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback
Thursday, July 26, 2012 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
[Note: Meeting for one month only at the Walt Branch Library – 6701 S. 14th St.!]
In July, we finally get around to reading one of the prolific Anne Perry’s novels. With twenty-seven volumes so far in her popular Charlotte and Thomas Pitt historical series, set in Victorian era Britain, we’ve selected the 26th — Treason at Lisson Grove, in part because the libraries have it in multiple formats (including E-book) but also in part because it’s had some of the best reviews of any volume in the series! Here’s the description: “Another fantastic Pitt novel from the master storyteller of the Victorian mystery. 1895 and an increasingly violent tide of political unrest is rising fast all over Europe. Special Branch’s Inspector Thomas Pitt knows that they must find those responsible before England is overrun by reformists intent on overthrowing the government. When he finds himself in pursuit of a suspected terrorist, Pitt has no hesitation in following the chase all the way to France. But events take a sinister turn when Narraway, Pitt’s superior, is accused of involvement in the death of an Irish informant and abruptly removed from office. Aware that her husband’s own career is also in jeopardy if he is not reinstated, Pitt’s wife Charlotte determines to help Narraway clear his name. As Charlotte and Narraway depart for Ireland and Pitt is drawn deeper into the investigation in France, it becomes clear that outside forces have conspired to separate them at a crucial time in the country’s history. With no one else to trust can they make it back to England and stop the revolt before it’s too late?”
Treason at Lisson Grove is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Large Print | Downloadable E-book
Thursday, June 28, 2012 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Our book selection for June is a volume in Susan Wittig Albert’s successful China Bayles series, featuring a sleuth who’s the owner of an herb shop. Nightshade comes highly regarded, and concludes a plot arc that had infused several volumes in the series — a mystery about China’s father, within the individual volumes’ standard mysteries. Here’s the description: “China’s herb shop and catering business may be thriving, but she’s still reeling from her father’s death, and not even remotely interested in her half-brother Miles’s investigation into that event. China’s husband, on the other hand, has no such qualms. And when fate forces her to get involved as well, China realizes it’s time to bring the past to light—or else it will haunt her the rest of her life. But China and McQuaid discover that Miles may have been keeping as many secrets as he seemed determined to uncover. How deep do the layers of secrecy go? And who has a stake in concealing the truth after sixteen years?”
Nightshade is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Large Print
Thursday, May 31, 2012 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
After some darker volumes in March and April, we’re going to try another of our author experiments, with a more light-hearted author — instead of all reading the same book, group members are encouraged to read any of the six books in Suzanne Arruda’s Jade Del Cameron series, starting with Mark of the Lion in 2006 and ending with The Crocodile’s Last Embrace in 2010. Here’s the description: “Join American adventurer Jade del Cameron in six tales of mystery and suspense in exotic 1920s Africa. After driving an ambulance along the front lines of World War I, she can fire a rifle with deadly precision. Still suffering trauma from the Great War, she sets off for Africa determined to fulfill a man’s dying wish…never expecting to become involved in murder…” The Jade del Cameron series came to a conclusion at the end of the sixth volume, and although each book can stand on its own, there is a narrative progression over the course of the series.
The Jade del Cameron books are available from the libraries only in traditional print format:
Mark of the Lion | Stalking Ivory | The Serpent’s Daughter | The Leopard’s Prey
The Treasure of the Golden Cheetah | The Crocodile’s Last Embrace
Thursday, April 26, 2012 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In April, we’ll be reading a recent volume in the Decker/Lazarus series by Faye Kellerman, Hangman. Here’s the description: “Fifteen years ago, high school senior Chris Whitman went to jail for murdering his girlfriend, Cheryl Diggs. Propelled by a misguided sense of chivalry, he confessed, determined to save another classmate, the beautiful and vulnerable Terry McLaughlin, from having to testify at his trial. When the truth came out, Chris was released from prison, married Terry—pregnant with his child—and changed his last name to Donatti. He also became a professional killer. Peter Decker was the detective on the case, and over the years, he and Terry kept in touch. Now his friend is in L.A. and asking for a favor. Though Decker knows full well that getting involved will bring Terry’s sociopathic husband back into his life, the obsessive and duty-bound LAPD lieutenant reluctantly agrees. The favor soon becomes complicated when Terry goes missing and Donatti disappears, leaving their fourteen-year-old son, Gabe, with no one to turn to except Decker and his wife, Rina Lazarus. But Peter’s search for Terry must share center stage with a gruesome murder. Adrianna Blanc, a neonatal nurse at St. Timothy’s Hospital, had signed off her night shift at eight a.m. Six hours later, a foreman supervising the construction of a house in a nearby suburb discovered her body swinging from the rafters, a cable wire around her neck. Her car was found where she had parked it the night before, with no signs of foul play. A dedicated and conscientious professional, Adrianna had a circle of close friends. Yet as Decker and his able team soon learn, the young woman also had her share of detractors. A party-hearty girl, she enjoyed booze, kinky sex, and revenge-cheating on her boyfriend, Garth Hammerling, another nurse at St. Tim’s. Suspicions heat up when Decker and his team find that one of Adrianna’s last phone calls was a provocative and disturbing message to her vacationing boyfriend—who himself has vanished without a trace. Was Adrianna’s death something personal because of her carefree lifestyle? Or was this unusually cruel and very dramatic murder the first signs of a serial killer? With lives hanging in the balance, Decker and his colleagues, Sergeant Marge Dunn and Detective Scott Oliver, need to find answers and fast. As if juggling two investigations weren’t enough for the lieutenant (not to mention turning sixty!), things are becoming even more dangerous with his precarious home life. Ever the concerned parent, Decker wants to look after Terry’s son, Gabe. Yet who will protect his own family? Because if there’s one thing he knows for sure, with a sociopath like Donatti on the loose, no one is ever really safe.”
Hangman is available in the following formats: Print | Downloadable E-book | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio | Large Type
Thursday, March 29, 2012 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In March, the Just Desserters will be discussing one of the popular Harry Bosch books by author Michael Connelly. Since we don’t have enough copies of the earliest books in the series, we asked for recommendations on a good volume to introduce the long-running character to the group, and came up with The Last Coyote. Here’s the description: “Harry Bosch’s life is on the edge. His earthquake-damaged home has been condemned. His girlfriend has left him. He’s drinking too much. And after attacking his commanding officer, he’s even had to turn in his L.A.P.D. detective’s badge. Now, suspended indefinitely pending a psychiatric evaluation, he’s spending his time investigating an unsolved crime from 1961: the brutal slaying of a prostitute who happened to be his own mother. Even after three decades, Harry’s questions generate heat among L.A.’s top politicos. And as the truth begins to emerge, it becomes more and more apparent that someone wants to keep it buried. Someone very powerful…very cunning…and very deadly. Edgar Award-winning author Michael Connelly has created a dark, fast-paced suspense thriller that cuts to the core of Harry Bosch’s character. Once you start it, there’s no turning back.”
The Last Coyote is available in the following formats: 1995 Hardback | 1996 Paperback | 2007 Paperback | Downloadable E-book | Book-on-CD
Thursday, February 23, 2012 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Our book selection for February 2012 brings the group back to one of our favorite locales — the American Southwest. We’ll be reading one of Margaret Coel’s Arapaho mysteries, Silent Spirit. Here’s the description: “Margaret Coel returns to Wind River with a brand new mystery featuring Vicky Holden and Father John O’Malley. In 1923, Arapahos from the Wind River Reservation were recruited to appear as extras in the silent film The Covered Wagon. But Charlie Wallowingbull never returned home, leaving people to believe he abandoned his wife and unborn son. Kiki Wallowingbull, Charlie’s great-grandson, went to Hollywood determined to uncover the truth behind his great-grandfather’s disappearance. But Kiki has been murdered-his frozen body discovered by Father John, and his supposed killer confessing to Vicky that it was self-defense. Together, they must find the connection between two deaths separated by nearly a century.”
Silent Spirit is available in the following formats: Print | Book-on-CD
Thursday, January 26, 2012 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For the first meeting of 2012, the group takes on a volume in Earlene Fowler’s long-running Benni Harper series — Delectable Mountains. This is the 12th in the series-to-date, and got good reviews. Here’s the description: “When the musical director of Benni Harper’s church is called away, Benni finds herself “volunteered” to take over a children’s play already in rehearsal. But the production comes to a screeching halt when Benni discovers the badly beaten body of the church handyman right in front of the altar. With a growing cast of suspects, and a small girl as the only witness to the crime, Benni must unravel a plot of theft and murder before it’s curtains for her. Benni’s talent for finding trouble surfaces in an unlikely place–her own church. While volunteering at First Baptist–helping Gramma Dove direct the children’s musical–Benni finds the beaten body of the handyman. But Walt Adams’ death isn’t the only mystery in town. The valuable Aznar violin, a historic California Missions period piece, has been stolen. Despite warnings from her husband Gabe, the chief of police, Benni has no other choice but to step in to help solve the case.”
Delectable Mountains is available in the following formats: Print | Book-on-CD
November and December 2011
The works of Georges Simenon…creator of the legendary Inspector Maigret!
During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2011, we’re going to remain active…but only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won’t be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the books in the “Inspector Maigret” series by Georges Simenon, then visit our Just Desserts Blog and comment on Simenon and his works in the Inspector Maigret thread, which will be posted on November 1st, 2011.The Lincoln City Libraries owns many different novels or omnibus collections in the Inspector Maigret series — sorry, but nothing in Large Print or recorded book formats!
Thursday, October 27, 2011 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
The selection for our October gathering — the final meeting of 2011 — will be an experiment. We’re picking an author — Louise Penny — who comes highly recommended, but for whom the libraries don’t own enough copies of a single, individual, book for everyone to read it at the same time. Instead, we’ll be asking all group members to pick ANY of that Louise Penny’s works, and as a group, we’ll discuss their merits in general, rather than the entire group discussing the exact same volume. Louise Penny is the author of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, set in the fictional contemporary Quebec village of Three Pines.
There have been seven volumes published in the series to date, and, in sequence, they are: Still Life, A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder, The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, and the brand new volume A Trick of the Light.
Check out this master list of the entire Inspector Gamache series, through 2019, produced for a later Just Desserts meeting.
Thursday, September 29, 2011 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our September selection we’ll be sampling a volume in a series many of us have recommended during our monthly mystery roundtable — Nancy Atherton’s “Aunt Dimity” series. And why not start at the very beginning, with Aunt Dimity’s Death. Here’s the description: “Lori thought Aunt Dimity was just a character in a family bedtime story until a law firm summoned her to a reading of her relative’s last will and testament. Lori will inherit a sizeable estate–if she can discover the secret hidden in a treasure trove of letters tucked away at Dimity’s English country cottage.”
Aunt Dimity’s Death is available in the following formats: Paperback | Unabridged Book-on-CD
Thursday, August 18, 2011 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our August selection we’ll be be paying tribute to the late Lilian Jackson Braun, by reading the very first volume of her immensely popular “Cat Who…” series — The Cat Who Could Read Backwards. Here’s the description: “A stabbing in an art gallery, vandalised paintings, a fatal fall – this is not what prize-winning journalist Jim Qwilleran expects when he turns his reportorial talents to art. But with his partner, Koko the Siamese cat, he sniffs out clues and confounds criminals intent on mayhem and murder.”
The Cat Who Could Read Backwards is available in the following formats: Hardback and/or Paperback | Unabridged Book-on-CD
Thursday, July 28, 2011 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our July selection we’ll be reading an early volume in Kathy Reich’s Temperance Brennan series, upon which the Bones television series is loosely based. The volume we’ve selected will be Death du Jour, the second in the series. Here’s the description: “Rarely has a first-time novelist made such a spectacular international publishing debut as Kathy Reichs did with her acclaimed forensic thriller Deja Dead. Now, in Death du Jour, the author who lives the life she writes about extends her reach while still building on the rich ensemble cast, page-turning suspense, and cutting-edge forensic detail that made Deja Dead an international sensation. Assaulted by the bitter cold of a Montreal winter, the American-born Dr. Temperance Brennan, Forensic Anthropologist for the Province of Quebec, digs for a corpse where Sister Elisabeth Nicolet, dead for over a century and now a candidate for sainthood, should be lying in her grave. A strange, small coffin, buried in the recesses of a decaying church, holds the first clue to the cloistered nun’s fate.The puzzle surrounding Sister Elisabeth Nicolet’s life and death provides a welcome contrast to discoveries at a burning chalet, where scorched and twisted bodies await Tempe’s professional expertise. Who were these people? What brought them to this gruesome fate? And where are the children? Homicide Detective Andrew Ryan, with whom Tempe has a combustive history, joins her in the arson investigation. From the fire scene they are drawn into the worlds of an enigmatic and controversial sociologist, a mysterious commune, and a primate colony on a Carolina island. Tempe is overwhelmed by the case, confused by her mounting attraction to Ryan, and plagued by worries about her sister Harry’s search for spiritual awakening. Featuring the kind of forensic detail that only Kathy Reichs can provide — from skeletal reconstruction to insect analysis — Death du Jour takes the reader on a riveting journey from the morgue to the lab to the crime scene, from the warmth of a barrier island to the frigid cold of a deadly ice storm..”
Death du Jour is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback
Thursday, June 30, 2011 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For June, we’ll try some lighter fare, as the group reads and discusses a volume in Sarah Graves’ Home Repair is Homicide series, The Book of Old Houses. Here’s the description: “Once upon a time, Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree was a hotshot money manager to Manhattan’s rich and dreadful — until she left city life behind for a centuries-old fixer-upper in the quaint seaside town of Eastport, Maine. But even this tiny haven has its hazards — and they can be astonishingly deadly. When a mysterious book is unearthed from the foundation of Jake’s 1823 fixer-upper, she immediately sends it off to local book historian Horace Robotham. After all, there must be a logical explanation for why the long-buried volume has her name in it — written in what looks suspiciously like blood. But all logic goes out the window when the book disappears — and Horace turns up dead. The suspects include Horace’s spoiled daughter, who has enough credit card debt to give killing her rich daddy a certain appeal. And just about everyone’s pointing fingers at a local crackpot with a penchant for black magic and an unholy lust for its artifacts — including antique texts inked in blood. To complicate matters further, there’s a mysterious stranger in town with vengeance in his heart and a gun in his pocket. Never mind that Jake’s just taken a sledgehammer to her ancient bathroom. Or that she forgot she’s set to host a party for Eastport’s most treasured teacher. She’s also about to lose her beloved housekeeper on account of her father’s hasty marriage proposal…and her son, Sam, has just taken his first tentative steps toward sobriety. But all that will have to wait, because when two more victims turn up in a town better known for its scenic views and historic homes than its body count, she and her comrade-in-sleuthing, Ellie White, need to go on the prowl to find someone who may believe that the pages of an ancient book are the blueprint for a perfect murder.”
The Book of Old Houses is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio
Thursday, May 19, 2011 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For May, we will be reading and discussing the a volume in the Inspector Lynley series, by classic mystery author Elizabeth George — In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner. Here’s the description: “Calder Moor is a wild and deadly place: many have been trapped in the myriad limestone caves, lost in collapsed copper mines, injured on perilous gritstone ridges. But this time, when two bodies are discovered in the shadow of the ancient circle of stones known as Nine Sisters Henge, it is clearly not a case for Mountain Rescue. The corpses are those of a young man and woman. Each met death in a different fashion. Each died violently. To Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, brought in to investigate by special request, this grisly crime promises to be one of the toughest assignments of his career. For the unfortunate Nicola Maiden was the daughter of a former officer in an elite undercover unit, a man Lynley once regarded as a mentor. Now, as Lynley struggles to find out if Nicola’s killer was an enemy of her father’s or one she earned herself, a disgraced Barbara Havers, determined to redeem herself in the eyes of her longtime partner, crisscrosses London seeking information on the second murder victim. Yet the more dark secrets Lynley and Havers uncover, the more they learn that neither the victims nor the suspects are who they appear to be. And once again they come up against the icy realization that human relationships are often murderous…and that the blood that binds can also kill.”
In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner is available in the following formats: Hardback | Book-on-CD | DVD adaptation
Thursday, April 28, 2011 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
In April, we will be reading and discussing the first volume in Craig Johson’s quirky Walt Longmire series, The Cold Dish. Here’s the description: “In this outstanding first novel, Craig Johnson draws on his background in law enforcement and his deep attachment to the American West to produce a literary mystery of stunning authenticity, and full of memorable characters. Walt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County, knows he’s got trouble when Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl. Is someone seeking vengeance? Longmire faces the most volatile and challenging case in his twenty-four years as sheriff and means to see that revenge, a dish that is best served cold, is never served at all.”
The Cold Dish is available in the following formats: Hardback | Book-on-CD
Thursday, March 31, 2011 — 6:30-7:45 p.m.
For our March selection, we will be reading and discussing the latest new book in the Jack Reacher series, Worth Dying For, written by Lee Child. This one’s actually set here in Nebraska. Here’s the description: “#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child follows the electrifying 61 Hours with his latest Reacher thriller — a story that hits the ground running and then accelerates all the way to a colossal showdown. There’s deadly trouble in the corn country of Nebraska…and Jack Reacher walks right into it. First he falls foul of the Duncans, a local clan that has terrified an entire county into submission. But it’s the unsolved case of a missing child, already decades-old, that Reacher can’t let go. The Duncans want Reacher gone — and it’s not just past secrets they’re trying to hide. They’re awaiting a secret shipment that’s already late — and they have the kind of customers no one can afford to annoy. For as dangerous as the Duncans are, they’re just the bottom of a criminal food chain stretching halfway around the world. For Reacher, it would have made much more sense to keep on going, to put some distance between himself and the hard-core trouble that’s bearing down on him. For Reacher, that was also impossible.”
Worth Dying For is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | E-book | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio
Thursday, Feburary 24, 2011 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
This month’s meeting has been canceled due to a dangerous snowstorm!!
For our second meeting of 2011, we will be reading and discussing the first volume in a yet another popular new series, this time by author Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and featuring yet another intriguing heroine. Here’s a description: “Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, must exonerate her father of murder. Armed with more than enough knowledge to tie two distant deaths together and examine new suspects, she begins a search that will lead her all the way to the King of England himself.”
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is available in the following formats: Hardback | Large Type | Downloadable Audio
Thursday, January 27, 2011 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
To start up the new year’s mysteries, the Just Desserts group read and discussed the first volume in a hot new series by Spenser Quinn, Dog On It, featuring some unique detectives. Here’s a description: “Set in the Valley of an unnamed Western state, Quinn’s winning debut introduces one smart canine detective and his partner, PI Bernie Little of the Little Detective Agency, who’s pretty quick on the uptake himself. Chet, a “lively mongrel” with one white ear and one black ear, serves as the book’s narrator, communicating with Bert via doggy methods that verge on the telepathic (“I wagged my tail, that quick one-two wag meaning yes, not the over-the-top one that wags itself and can mean lots of things”). Wealthy divorcee Cynthia Chambliss hires Bernie, a former cop, to find her missing 15-year-old daughter, Madison, whose father is a real estate developer who smells suspiciously of cat. (Chet’s keen sense of smell comes in handy.) When Madison reappears and disappears again, her dad says she’s just a runaway, though Bernie thinks otherwise. Chet must use all his superdog tricks to extricate Bernie from a mighty tight fix in a climax that fans of classic mysteries are sure to appreciate.”
Dog On It is available in the following formats: Hardback | Book on CD
November and December 2010
Discuss these series in the Just Desserts Blog!
The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery series
During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2010, we’re going to remain active…but only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won’t be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the books, from any of the many generations in the “Hardy Boys” series by Franklin Dixon, or the “Nancy Drew” series by Carolyn Keene, then visit our Just Desserts Blog and leave a comment on the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew discussion thread, which will be posted in the first week of November, 2010.
Titles in these series:
The Hardy Boys | Nancy Drew
Thursday, October 28, 2010 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
To wrap up our year of mystery reading, the Just Desserts group will be reading and discussing one of the better-reviewed volumes in Sue Grafton’s popular alphabet mystery series, M is for Malice, featuring sleuth Kinsey Milhone. Here’s a description: “‘M’ is for money. Lots of it. ‘M’ is for Malek Construction, the $40 million company that grew out of modest soil to become one of the big three in California construction, one of the few still in family hands. ‘M’ is for the Malek family: four sons now nearing middle age who stand to inherit a fortune — four men with very different outlooks, temperaments, and needs, linked only by blood and money. Eighteen years ago, one of them — angry, troubled, and in trouble — went missing. ‘M’ is for Millhone, hired to trace that missing black sheep brother. ‘M’ is for memories, none of them happy. The bitter memories of an embattled family. This prodigal son will find no welcome at his family’s table. ‘M’ is for malice. And in brutal consequence, ‘M’ is for murder, the all-too-common outcome of familial hatreds. ‘M’ is for malice…and malice kills…”
M is for Malice is available in the following formats: Hardback | Book on CD | Book on Tape
Thursday, September 30, 2010 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
In September, Just Desserts goes a little lighter, with the first volume in Lisa Lutz’s popular Spellman family series, The Spellman Files. Here’s a description: “Meet Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted toGet Smartreruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors — but the upshot is she’s good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family’s firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people’s privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who’s become addicted to “recreational surveillance”); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed “Lost Weekends”). But when Izzy’s parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy’s new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there’s a hitch: she must take one last job before they’ll let her go — a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life.”
The Spellman Files is available in the following formats: Hardback
Thursday, August 26, 2010 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
In August, we’re reading a 2000 entry in James Lee Burke’s award-winning Dave Robicheaux series, Purple Cane Road. Here’s a description: “Dave Robicheaux has spent his life confronting the age-old adage that the sins of the father pass onto the son. But what has his mother’s legacy left him? Dead to him since youth, Mae Guillory has been shuttered away in the deep recesses of Dave’s mind. He’s lived with the fact that he would never really know what happened to the woman who left him to the devices of his whiskey-driven father. But deep down, he still feels the loss of his mother and knows the infinite series of disappointments in her life could not have come to a good end. While helping out an old friend, Dave is stunned when a pimp looks at him sideways and asks him if he is Mae Guillory’s boy, the whore a bunch of cops murdered 30 years ago. The pimp goes on to insinuate that the cops who dumped her body in the bayou were on the take and continue to thrive in the New Orleans area. Dave’s search for his mother’s killers leads him to the darker places in his past and solving this case teaches him what it means to be his mother’s son.”
Purple Cane Road is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback | Book on CD | Large Type
Thursday, July 29, 2010 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
In July, our Just Desserts members have selected the first volume in Nevada Barr’s popular Anna Pigeon series, Track of the Cat. Here’s a description: “A stunning mystery set against the high-country trails of the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas, where the age-old battle of man against nature is fought with a frightening twist. Anna Pigeon has fled New York and her memories to find work as a ranger in the country’s national parks. In the remote backcountry of West Texas, however, she discovers murder and violence. Fellow park ranger Sheila Drury is mysteriously killed, presumably by a mountain lion. But the deep claw marks Anna finds across Drury’s throat and the paw prints surrounding the body are too perfect to be real. Suspicious from the start and eager to prevent the needless slaughter of her beloved cougars, Anna can’t let the matter rest. The disappearance of another ranger and the frightening reality of a hiking “accident” of her own convince Anna that something is very wrong. Following a trail with few leads, Anna must confront the dark side of the desert. As she comes closer to the truth, she realizes that whatever is stalking the land she loves is now stalking her as well.”
Track of the Cat is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback | Book on CD
Thursday, June 24, 2010 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
In June we sample Minnesota mystery author William Kent Krueger’s writing, with his first Cork O’Connor novel, Iron Lake. Here’s a description of Iron Lake: “Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor is the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota – population 3,752. Embittered by his “former” status, and the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children, Cork gets by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt. Once a cop on Chicago’s South Side, he’s found that there’s not much left in life that can shock him. But when the town’s judge, Robert Parrant, is brutally murdered, and Eagle Scout Paul LeBeau is reported missing, Cork takes on a mind-jolting case of conspiracy, corruption and scandal.”
Iron Lake is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback
Thursday, May 20, 2010 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
Please note: We are meeting on the 3rd Thursday instead of the last Thursday of this month, so as not to conflict with the Mayhem in the Midlands mystery conference taking place in Omaha May 27-29.
In May we return again to the American Southwest, with author C.J. Box and his series featuring Wyoming game warden, Joe Pickett. Here’s a description of Out of Range, the 5th in the series: “Game warden Joe Pickett returns in a twisting, action-packed tale of greed, power, and murder. Joe Pickett is attempting to enjoy-all right, survive-his mother-in-law’s wedding to a local big-shot rancher when he receives some disturbing news: Will Jensen,a fellow Wyoming game warden and a good friend, has killed himself. And Joe’s been picked to temporarily run Jensen’s Teton district. Jackson, Wyoming, is a far cry from Joe’s hometown of Saddlestring-it’s the epicenter for many environmental extremists and an elite playground for the rich and powerful-and Joe quickly finds himself in over his head. Yet despite the pressures of his new job, he can’t get his friend’s suicide out of his mind. By all accounts, Will had changed in the last few months, becoming violent and unpredictable. The closer Joe comes to the truth about Will’s death, the more his own life spirals out of control-and he realizes that if he’s not careful, he may end up as Jackson’s next victim. Out of Range proves once again that C.J. Box is one of the most original and entertaining voices in mystery fiction.”
Out of Range is available in the following formats: Hardback | Paperback | Book on CD
Thursday, April 29, 2010 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
In April, we sample one of Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s popular Joe Grey cat-lover’s mysteries. The series focuses on tomcat and feline sleuth extraordinaire Joe Grey, his tabby pal Dulcie, and their tattercoat friend Kit, as well as Joe’s human companion Charlie. Here’s a description of Cat Fear No Evil, the 9th in the series: “When antiques and valuables begin to disappear from residents’ homes, Joe Grey knows that something is very wrong in sleepy Molena Point, California. Could the thief be a local or, even worse, is it the old crook who may be connected to Azrael, the sinister, yellow-eyed cat who terrorized Joe and Dulcie years ago, and whose return has Joe’s fur standing on edge? Even a seasoned tomcat like Joe isn’t prepared for the shock that awaits Molena Point residents at the opening for artist Charlie Harper. While guests are dining on hors d’oeuvres and fine wine at the joyous celebration, a young, healthy waiter drops dead at Charlie’s feet. Meanwhile, just north of Molena Point, in San Francisco, the cats’ friend Kate, a woman with a troubling secret, is followed by a stranger and robbed. Her apartment is then gutted, with claw marks and black cat hairs leading her to suspect the vicious tomcat Azrael. In the most dramatic investigation of their lives, Joe Grey, Dulcie, and Kit, following diverse leads, scratch out the truth and, with cunning feline skills, restore a distraught village to its usual cozy tranquility.”
Cat Fear No Evil is available in the following formats: Hardback
Thursday, March 25, 2010 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
For March, the group will try out the first in the increasingly popular Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. The series, set in England starting in 1929, features a young war-trained nurse who establishes herself as a private investigator. Here’s a description of the eponymous first volume in the series: “Hailed by NPR’s Fresh Air as part Testament of Youth, part Dorothy Sayers, and part Upstairs, Downstairs, this astonishing debut has already won fans from coast to coast and is poised to add Maisie Dobbs to the ranks of literature’s favorite sleuths. Maisie Dobbs isn’t just any young housemaid. Through her own natural intelligence—and the patronage of her benevolent employers—she works her way into college at Cambridge. When World War I breaks out, Maisie goes to the front as a nurse. It is there that she learns that coincidences are meaningful and the truth elusive. After the War, Maisie sets up on her own as a private investigator. But her very first assignment, seemingly an ordinary infidelity case, soon reveals a much deeper, darker web of secrets, which will force Maisie to revisit the horrors of the Great War and the love she left behind.”
Maisie Dobbs is available in the following formats: Hardback/Trade Paperback | Book on CD | Downloadable Audio
Thursday, February 25, 2010 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
In February, we turn the focus to another Nebraska mystery author. Sean Doolittle lives in Omaha, and his five novels to date have each achieved critical acclaim, the latest being 2009’s Safer. His novels are all stand-alones, and the one most clearly identified with the mystery genre is The Cleanup, actually set in Omaha. Here’s a description: “Busted to night patrol at a robbery-prone Omaha supermarket, Matthew Worth is doing time, wearing his uniform, and asking shoppers if they want paper or plastic. If that isn’t enough, he suspects he might be falling for Gwen, the shy checkout girl who may be an even bigger mess than he is. When Gwen comes to him one night scared and desperate for help, Worth discovers just how far he’s willing to go to protect and serve.”
The Cleanup is available in the following formats: Paperback
Thursday, January 28, 2010 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
In January, we return from our two-month holiday hiatus to sample one of Dana Stabenow’s recent Kate Shugak mysteries. This series, set in the remote Alaskan wilderness, featuring a female P.I., is reknowned for its excellent sense of place. Here’s a description of A Deeper Sleep: “P.I. Kate Shugak has been working on a case for the Anchorage D.A. involving the murder of a woman by her husband. Louis Deem has been the subject of investigations before, and hes never been convicted. But Kate and state trooper Jim Chopin are convinced that this time hell be punished for his actions. When hes found not guilty, Kate and Jim and the rest of Nilniltna, Alaska, are certain that a man has gotten away with murder and that its only a matter of time before he tries again. Sure enough, a few weeks later a woman and her son are shot, the victims of an apparent robbery. But this time, Kate and Jim have a witness, and theyre not going to let Deem get away again. Or will he?”
A Deeper Sleep is available in the following formats: Hardback | Book on CD | Downloadable Audio
November and December 2009
Discuss this author’s works in the Just Desserts Blog!
The works of Leslie Charteris…creator of Simon Templar – alias, “The Saint”!
During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2009, we’re going to remain active…but only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won’t be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any of the books in the “Saint” series by Leslie Charteris, then visit our Just Desserts Blog and comment on Gardner and his works in the Leslie Charteris thread, which will be posted on November 1st, 2009.
The Lincoln City Libraries owns 18 different novels or omnibus collections in the Saint series — sorry, but nothing in Large Print or recorded book formats!
Thursday, October 29, 2009 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
In October, we finished off another year of Just Desserts with one of our “classic author” months, featuring the late author Donald Westlake and the final volume in his Dortmunder series (more of a “caper” series than a true mystery, but any mystery fan should sample Westlake): — Get Real: “When a TV producer convinces John Dortmunder and his merry gang to do a reality show that captures their next score, Dortmunder hatches an ingenious plan to outwit viewers glued to their television sets and end the shoot with money in his pockets.”
Get Real is available in the following formats: Regular Print
Thursday, September 24, 2009 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
September is one of our “contemporary author” months, and we turn to Michael McGarrity and his Southwest-set Kevin Kerney series with — Under the Color of Law: “In Under the Color of Law, Kevin Kerney is back in Santa Fe, newly installed as police chief, when a U.S. ambassador’s estranged wife is found murdered in her multi-million dollar home. Before he can mount a proper investigation, an FBI antiterrorism team arrives, takes control of the inquiry, and forces Kerney to watch from the sidelines as the crime scene is sanitized, potential witnesses disappear, and the case is cleared with trumped-up evidence. Warned off, put under surveillance, and threatened with reprisals under the rubric of national security, Kerney balks at accepting the whitewash and begins a soft probe that points to a covert intelligence coverup. Convinced that unscrupulous government agents are acting outside the law, Kerney begins his own clandestine hunt for a hard target that will lead him to the truth about the Terrell homicide, knowing full well he might not survive the chase”
Under the Color of Law is available in the following formats: Regular Print | Abridged Book-on-CD
Thursday, August 27, 2009 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
August is one of our “classic author” months, and we turn to Margaret Truman and her Capital Crimes series with — Murder at the Library of Congress: “Commissioned by the Library of Congress’ magazine, “Civilization,” to write an article on a recently discovered, supposed diary of Christopher Columbus, Annabel Smith finds herself matching wits with a ruthless wealthy bibliophile, an ambitious TV journalist, and a killer to complete her assignment.”
Murder at the Library of Congress is available in the following formats: Regular Print | Book-on-Audiotape
Thursday, July 30, 2009 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
In July, we turn to another Just Desserts group member’s recommendation, with contemporary author Sarah Strohmeyer and the 5th volume in her lighthearted Bubbles Yablonsky series — Bubbles Betrothed: “In her most engaging tale yet, zany supersleuth Bubbles Yablonsky wows her fans with her investigative savvy and high-energy adventures. On her first day as a full-time reporter, Bubbles lands in jail with a murder suspect named Crazy Popeye, who grants Bubbles an exclusive interview shortly before keeling over herself. Suddenly, Bubbles’s interview notes are a hot commodity among a romance-obsessed police detective, a Polish Mafioso, and a podiatrist on the lam. Meanwhile, her longtime boyfriend, Steve Stiletto, asks if she’ll pose as his fiancee in order to stave off an overseas job transfer. When he plunks a Harry Winston rock on Bubbles’s finger, only the specter of an all-you-can-eat pierogi wedding buffet down at the Polish-American Club, the inevitable result if her mother LuLu finds out, stops Bubbles from blurting out “Yes!” Once again our not-so-scatterbrained bleached-blonde flits between crime scenes with unflappable verve. Like us, Bubbles frequently messes up, but she always pulls herself onto her tottering high heels and heads back into the fray.”
Bubbles Betrothed is available in the following formats: Regular Print | Book-on-CD
Thursday, June 25, 2009 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
Our June turn to Classic mystery authors gives us an opportunity to sample one of Andrew Greeley’s recent Father Blackie Ryan locked-room mysteries — The Bishop at the Lake: “Matters of succession lead to attempted murder in the latest of Greeley’s popular mysteries. Archbishop Malachi Nolan has designs on the Diocese of Chicago despite the fact the Most Reverend Blackwood Ryan, himself recently appointed an archbishop, is currently in line for the post. Assigned to keep watch on his rival, Blackie travels to the Nolan family estate in Grand Banks, where he soon finds himself immersed in an entirely different dynastic struggle. Spike Nolan, founder of Aviation Electronics, isn’t even dead yet, but his children, grandchildren, and their respective spouses are already feuding over who will inherit control of the multimillion-dollar company. The only family member who doesn’t have a stake in the quarrel is the clerical Malachi…so why is he the one targeted by an unknown killer? To get to the bottom of the mystery, Blackie will have to sort through the tangled family dynamics of this highly dysfunctional clan, as well as figure how out his fellow archbishop was nearly stung to death by hornets inside a locked room!”
The Bishop at the Lake is available in the following formats: Regular Print | Large Print
Thursday, May 28, 2009 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
May brings us another contemporary author, this time Laurie King, with her 2006 novel which crossed over her modern San Francisco detective, Kate Martinelli, with her historical series featuring Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell — The Art of Detection: “In this thrilling new crime novel that ingeniously bridges Laurie R. King’s Edgar and Creasey Awards—winning Kate Martinelli series and her bestselling series starring Mary Russell, San Francisco homicide detective Kate Martinelli crosses paths with Sherlock Holmes–in a spellbinding dual mystery that could come only from the “intelligent, witty, and complex” mind ofNew York Timesbestselling author Laurie R. King…. Kate Martinelli has seen her share of peculiar things as a San Francisco cop, but never anything quite like this: an ornate Victorian sitting room straight out of a Sherlock Holmes story–complete with violin, tobacco-filled Persian slipper, and gunshots in the wallpaper that spell out the initials of the late queen. Philip Gilbert was a true Holmes fanatic, from his antiquated décor to his vintage wardrobe. And no mere fan of fiction’s great detective, but a leading expert with a collection of priceless memorabilia–a collection some would kill for. And perhaps someone did: In his collection is a century-old manuscript purportedly written by Holmes himself–a manuscript that eerily echoes details of Gilbert’s own murder. Now, with the help of her partner, Al Hawkin, Kate must follow the convoluted trail of a killer–one who may have trained at the feet of the greatest mind of all times.”
The Art of Detection is available in the following formats: 2006 Hardback | 2007 Paperback | unabridged book-on-cd
Thursday, April 30, 2009 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
April is a “classics” month, and this time we’ll tackle one of Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody series — Lion in the Valley: “The 1895-96 season promises to be an exceptional one for Amelia Peabody, her dashing Egyptologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, and their precocious (some might say rambunctious) eight-year-old son, Ramses. The long-denied permission to dig at the pyramids of Dahshoor has finally been granted, and the much-coveted burial chamber of the Black Pyramid is now theirs for the exploring.Before the young family exchanges the relative comfort of Cairo for the more rudimentary quarters near the excavation site, they engage a young Englishman, Donald Fraser, as a tutor and companion for Ramses, and Amelia takes a wayward young woman, Enid Debenham, under her protective wing. But there is danger and deception in the wind that blows across the hot Egyptian sands. A brazen kidnapping attempt, a gruesome murder, and an expedition subsequently cursed by misfortune and death-all serve to alert Amelia to the likely presence of her arch nemesis, the “Master Criminal,” notorious looter of the living and the dead. But it is far more than ill-gotten riches that motivate the man known as Sethos. The evil genius has a score to settle with the meddling lady archaeologist who has sworn to deliver him to justice . . . and he’s got her dead-on in his sights. Replete with edge-of-the-seat suspense and scrupulous archaeological and historical detail, all delivered in Amelia Peabody’s unique, wry voice, Lion in the Valley is a classic installment in Elizabeth Peters’s beloved mystery-adventure series.”
Lion in the Valley is available in the following formats: 1986 Hardback | 1999 reprint | 2008 reprint
Thursday, March 26, 2009 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
March features a volume in the highly-regarded Inspector Rebus series by British author Ian Rankin — A Question of Blood: “There is no mystery. Lee Herdman stormed into a private school just north of Edinburgh and killed two boys. He was a loner, a creep, an army veteran who got kicks out of terrifying local teenagers on his speedboat – just the sort of shady character to commit a random and heinous crime. It’s a simple case of a man gone mad. But how random were the killings at Port Edgar Academy? Why did Herdman open fire only in the student lounge, bypassing the swarm of students outside the school? What exactly was his relationship with the school’s misfits? Why are military detectives snooping around the murder scene? And why is the only survivor of the attack, recuperating in the hospital, reluctant to talk? There is indeed a mystery – only this time, it’s why. When Detective Inspector John Rebus is called out of his jurisdiction to investigate the killings, he is relieved to have the distraction. His entire precinct is abuzz with rumors of his involvement in the death of Martin Fairstone, an ex-con who had been menacing Rebus’s partner, Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke. For weeks Fairstone tormented Siobhan: followed her home, left her cryptic messages, even threatened violence. But her woes didn’t end when Fairstone died in a fire that consumed his apartment. Now Siobhan has a new worry – the morning after Fairstone’s body was found, Rebus appeared with bandages on his severely burned hands. No one, not even Siobhan, can ignore the coincidence. Immersing himself in the Port Edgar killings does little to help Rebus avoid everyone’s suspicion, but an unexpected family tie draws him deeper into the case. With his superiors at police headquarters breathing down his neck, his partner’s trust diminishing, and the key witness to the entire private school inquiry staying silent in a hospital bed, Rebus finds himself up against what may become insurmountable odds, asking himself what drives a man to kill – is it a matter of revenge, or a question of blood?”
A Question of Blood is available in the following formats: Omnibus edition
Thursday, February 26, 2009 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
February is a return to a classic author, Raymond Chandler, and his hard-boiled hero Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep: “When a dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in.”
The Big Sleep is available in the following formats: Omnibus edition | Modern Library edition | Everyman’s Library edition | 2005 unabridged Book-on-CD
Thursday, January 29, 2009 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
For our first meeting of 2009, we will be tackling the contemporary “cross-over” novel, Partner in Crime, in which author J.A. Jance has her two most popular series detectives meet: “The dead woman was an artist recently arrived from Washington State, cruelly cut down in the early stages of a promising career. Now all that remains of Rochelle Baxter lies on a cold slab in the Cochise County morgue, and Sheriff Joanna Brady knows that murder has once again infected her small desert community. But there is more to this homicide than initially meets the eye – and more to the victim, who died while supposedly under the conscientious protection of the government. The big-city legal establishment has no faith in the abilities of a small-town sheriff, let alone a female sheriff. Instructed to swallow her indignation, Joanna awaits the arrival of the “help” Washington’s attorney general is sending her: the newest member of the state’s Special Homicide Investigation team – a man named Beaumont. Bisbee, Arizona, is the last place J. P. Beaumont wants to be. The ghosts of a painful past are too numerous there, and his reluctant “partner,” Sheriff Brady, resents his intrusion and cannot help but make her feelings known. But the road they are forced to travel together is taking some unexpected turns, running two dedicated servants of the law headfirst into the impenetrable stone walls of a shocking conspiracy of silence. For Brady and Beaumont’s hunt is disturbing a very deadly nest of rattlers, and suddenly trust is the only option they have. On their own in the Arizona desert, they know death can be cold and quick. And nobody is watching their backs here…they’ll have to watch each other’s.”
Partner in Crime is available in the following formats: 2002 Print Edition | 2002 unabridged Book-on-CD | 2002 unabridged downloadable audiobook
November and December 2008
Discuss this author’s works in the Just Desserts Blog!
During our holiday hiatus in November and December 2008, we’re going to remain active…but only in a virtual sense. During these two months, although we won’t be gathering for an in-person meeting, members are encouraged to read any book from Erle Stanley Gardner (the creator of Perry Mason), then visit our new Just Desserts Blog and comment on Gardner and his works in the Erle Stanley Gardner thread.
The Lincoln City Libraries owns over 100 different Erle Stanley Gardner titles in both regular and large-print editions — sorry, no audio books!
Thursday, October 30, 2008 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
For our final meeting of 2008, we will be reading and discussing the Sherlock Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle!
In addition to many different print editions (see link above), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet is available in the following non-print editions: 2002 unabridged compact disc
Thursday, September 25, 2008 — 6:45-7:45 p.m.
Moving to South Branch Library!
Our last contemporary mystery author for 2008 will be Kerry Greenwood, whose Death at Victoria Dock will be our September reading selection. Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher has been the star of a long-running Australian mystery series, set in the 1920s, which has had only limited exposure here in the U.S.
Driving home late one night, Phryne Fisher is surprised when someone shoots out her windscreen. When she alights she finds a pretty young man with an anarchist tattoo dying on the tarmac just outside the dock gates. He bleeds to death in her arms, and Phryne promises to find out who is responsible.
Death at Victoria Dock is available in the following edition: 2006 U.S. printing of the 1992 Australian original
Thursday, August 28, 2008 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Last meeting at Bennett Martin Public Library downtown!
In August, it’s back to a classic mystery author, this time Rex Stout, and his gustatorial sleuth, Nero Wolfe. Our selected title is Champagne for One. There’s nothing like murder to spoil a good meal. That’s what Archie Goodwin, the able assisstant to Nero Wolfe, discovers at a lavish dinner hosted by a billionaire. It was a casual evening among gorgeous society girls until champagne became a murder weapon. Luckily for Archie his boss knows champagne and other gourmet fare. He also happens to be a genius at deduction. That combination could mean the last call for a killer who spiked the bubbly with cyanide.
Champagne for One is available in the following editions: 1958 hardback | 1996 paperback reprint
Thursday, July 31, 2008 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
From one of our group member’s suggestions, we turn to contemporary mystery novelist Archer Mayor for our July selection — St. Alban’s Fire. This is the 16th volume in the popular Joe Gunther series. Winter is on the wane in northwestern Vermont. The moon hangs bright and cold in the silvery night sky over hundreds of square miles of a peaceful, dormant landscape of dairy farms. Young Bobby Cutts enters the family barn to tend to the beasts within…and encounters a nightmare. Suddenly surrounded by bolts of fire, Bobby and the entire herd perish in a stampeding, hellish circle of flames. Called to the scene to investigate, Joe Gunther instantly recognizes arson. But by whom? And for what possible reason? There is little insurance, the family is loving and tightly knit, and there are few neighborhood animosities. Yet murder this is, and Gunther quickly discovers that someone is wreaking havoc across the bucolic farmlands surrounding the town of St. Albans. Somewhere in the dense social fabric of the community, in the hearts and souls of Bobby’s family, and in the cutthroat farming business underneath the region’s placid exterior are the truths Joe Gunther and his team must ferret out. But what looked like a local case is about to take them from the barns of Vermont to the gritty streets of Newark, New Jersey. Before all is said and done, Joe Gunther will meet one of his deadliest opponents to date…and he will need far more than his skills as a policeman to protect the people closest to his heart.
St. Alban’s Fire is available in the following editions: 2005 hardback | 2005 book-on-CD
Thursday, June 26, 2008 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Our “classic” author for June is Agatha Christie, perhaps best known for her two primary sleuths, Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. We’ve chosen to explore one of her lesser known detectives, Parker Pyne, in Parker Pyne Investigates. From the moment Mr. Parker Pyne takes a seat on the Orient Express, crime follows him like a shadow. It takes him from the ruins of Petra to Baghdad to the tombs of the Pharaohs — where a helpless woman is given her daily dose of death…
Parker Pyne Investigates is available in the following editions: 1984 paperback reprint | 1986 reprint
Thursday, May 29, 2008 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
In May, it’s back to a contemporary author. Our title: Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith. It’s 1893, a tough year in Montana, and any job is a good job. When Big Red and Old Red Amlingmeyer sign on as ranch hands at the secretive Bar VR cattle spread, they’re not expecting much more than hard work, bad pay, and a comfortable campfire around which they can enjoy their favorite pastime: scouring Harper’s Weekly for stories about the famous Sherlock Holmes. When the boys come across a dead body that looks a whole lot like the leftovers of an unfortunate encounter with a cattle stampede, Old Red sees the perfect opportunity to employ his Holmes-inspired deducifiyin’ skills. Putting his ranch work squarely on the back burner, he sets out to solve the case.
Holmes on the Range is available in the following edition: 2006 hardback
Thursday, April 24, 2008 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
In April, we return to a “classic” mystery author, in Dorothy Sayers. Our selected title is part of her Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vale series — Gaudy Night. In this Lord Peter Wimsey whodunit, mystery writer Harriet Vane attends her Oxford reunion, known as the “Gaudy”. But the festivities are haunted by a series of ghastly warnings which threaten murder. Soon Harriet and her paramour, Lord Peter Wimsey, find themselves ensnared in a nightmare of terror. Originally published in 1936.
Gaudy Night is available in the following editions and/or formats: 1936 hardback | 1995 paperback reprint | Full-Case audio adaptation | DVD adaptation
Thursday, March 27, 2008 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Our Just Desserts title for March 2008 is Trouble in Paradise, the second Jesse Stone novel by Robert B. Parker. Robert B. Parker and his legendary Spenser series have long been considered the ne plus ultra of detective fiction. But the critics’ praise for Jesse Stone’s debut in Night Passage proved there was room for an addition to the Parker literary canon. “A novel as fresh as it is bold — Parker’s sentences flow with as much wit, grace, and assurance as ever, and Stone is a complex and consistently interesting new protagonist. His speedy return will be welcome” (Newsday).Stiles Island is a wealthy and exclusive enclave separated by a bridge from the Massachusetts coast town of Paradise. James Macklin sees Stiles Island as the ultimate investment opportunity: all he needs to do is invade the island, blow up the bridge, and loot the island. To realize his investment, Macklin, along with his devoted girlfriend, Faye, assembles a crew of fellow ex-cons –all experts in their fields–including Wilson Cromartie, a fearsome Apache. James Macklin is a bad man–a very bad man. And Wilson Cromartie, known as Crow, is even worse.As Macklin plans his crime, Paradise Police Chief Jesse Stone has his hands full. He faces romantic entanglements in triplicate: his ex-wife, Jenn, is in the Paradise jail for assault; he’s begun a new relationship with a Stiles Island realtor named Marcy Campbell; and he’s still sorting out his feelings for attorney Abby Taylor. When Macklin’s attack on Stiles Island is set in motion, both Marcy and Abby are put in jeopardy. As the casualties mount, it’s up to Jesse to keep both women from harm.
Trouble in Paradise is available in the following editions and/or formats: 1998 hardback | 1999 paperback | 1999 Large Type
Thursday, February 28, 2008 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
In February, we’ll be discussing a classic mystery by Ngaio Marsh. The title to read is Grave Mistake, one of her Inspector Alleyn novels. A bit snobbish and a trifle high-strung, Sybil Foster prides herself on owning the finest estate in Upper Quintern and hiring the best gardener. In fact, she is rapturous over the new asparagus beds when a visit from her unwelcome stepson sends her scurrying to a chic spa for a rest cure, a liaison with the spa’s director…and an apparent suicide. Her autopsy holds one surprise, a secret drawer a second. And Inspector Roderick Alleyn, C.I.D., digging about Upper Quintern, may unearth still a third…deeply buried motive for murder. From her first book in 1934 to her final volume just before her death in 1982, Ngaio Marsh’s work has remained legendary, and is often compared to that of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. During her celebrated fifty-year career, Marsh was made a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, was named Dame Commander, Order of the British Empire, won numerous prestigious awards, and penned 32 mystery novels.
Grave Mistake is available in the following editions: 1978 | 1978 collection | 2000 Reprint
Thursday, January 31, 2008 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Following our holiday hiatus at the end of 2007, Just Desserts returns in January 2008 with another Native American mystery. Our author is James Doss. Our selected title is Shadow Man, a 2005 entry in his Shaman Mysteries series, featuring Ute tribal investigator Charlie Moon. When a fomer prosecuting attorney is killed by a shot from a long-range rifle while dining late one evening at an exclusive Granite Creek, Colorado, restaurant, it seems obvious that a vengeful criminal is to blame. But orthodontist Manfred Blinkoe was sitting ten feet away and he insists to Chief of Police Scott Parris that he was the intended victim. In fact, he claims that just before the shot was fired, he saw his doppelganger — an eerie look-alike — as he has in the past just before other near-death experiences. Terrified that his would-be killer is getting closer and closer, Blinkoe hires Ute tribal investigator Charlie Moon to find this mysterious stalker before he can hit his mark. But before Charlie or Scott — or the lovely FBI Special Agent Lila McTeague, also working out of Granite Creek — can get anywhere in their respective investigations, the killer strikes again, and this time he doesn’t miss. Charlie, a reluctant private eye who would much rather be working out on his cattle ranch than playing detective, suddenly has a much bigger – and much more dangerous – case to solve.
Shadow Man is available in the following formats: 2005 hardback | 2006 paperback
Thursday, October 25, 2007 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
In October, to finish off our 2007 season, we’re reading a classic mystery by Nebraska’s own Mignon Eberhart — often called America’s Agatha Christie. The title we’ve selected is The Mystery of Hunting’s End, a traditional “locked room mystery.” The Sand Hills of Nebraska, where Mignon G. Eberhart lived as a newlywed, inspired the setting of this 1930 chiller. Smack in the middle of the rolling desolation is Hunting’s End, a weekend lodge owned by the rich Kingery family. To that place socialite Matil Kingery invites a strange collection of guests — the same people who were at the lodge when her father died of “heart failure” exactly five years ago. She intends to find out which one of them murdered him. Posing as another guest is the dapper young detective, Lance O’Leary. At his recommendation, Matil has engaged Nurse Sarah Keate to care for Aunt Lucy Kingery at Hunting’s End — not a pleasant assignment as it turns out. Gathered at the lodge, Matil’s guests are shut off from the outside by a November snowstorm. Nurse Keate is the same sharp-eyed, stiletto-tongued, strong-stomached Nightingale and sleuth who established Mignon Eberhart as a mainstay of the golden age of detective fiction.
The Mystery of Hunting’s End is available in the following editions: 1998 Reprint | Original 1930 edition in the library’s Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors
Thursday, September 27, 2007 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
In September, we tackle a modern-day mystery author, Walter Mosley, and one of his popular Easy Rawlins seires — Black Betty. In 1961 Los Angeles, Easy is tracking down Elizabeth Eady, a.k.a. “Black Betty” — a stunning beauty with mayhem in her wake. Easy’s search takes readers deep into America’s racial dilemmas and the mysteries of human character.
Black Betty is available in the following two editions: 1994 Hardback | 1995 Paperback
Thursday, August 30, 2007 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
In August, we’re reading another classic mystery — this time a noirish standard of the genre, Dashiel Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grifter named Joel Cairo, a fat man named Gutman, and Brigid O’Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett’s coolly glittering gem of detective fiction, a novel that has haunted three generations of readers.
The Maltese Falcon is available in the following editions: 2000 omnibus | 1999 omnibus | 1989 edition | 1987 edition | Russian Language edition and others…
Thursday, July 26, 2007 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
In July, we’ll shift our attention to an ethnic mystery. This time, we’re reading Tony Hillerman’s Native American mystery, The Blessing Way. When Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police discovers a corpse with a mouth full of sand at a crime scene seemingly without tracks or clues, he is ready to suspect a supernatural killer. And what he must stalk is the Wolf-Witch along a chilling trail between mysticism and murder.
The Blessing Way is available in the following editions: 1989 compilation | 1990 reprint | 1990 Library Edition | 1992 compilation | 1990 Book on CD
Thursday, June 28, 2007 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
In June, we focus on a contemporary author, Dick Francis. Our selected title is one of his popular “horse” mysteries, Blood Sport. When Gene Hawkins’s boss asks him to locate a missing priceless breeding stallion, he gets more action than he bargained for — including the affection of his boss’s daughter, advances from a millionaire’s wife, and the deadly attention of horse thieves…
Blood Sport is available in the following editions: 1967 edition | 1975 compilation | DVD – episode of the Dick Francis Mysteries, starring Ian McShane
Thursday, May 31, 2007 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
May will be a “classic mystery” month, this time with the first Brother Cadfael novel by Ellis Peters, A Morbid Taste for Bones. The ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey wants to acquire Saint Winifred’s sacred remains for his Benedictine order. And when the ensuing controversy leads to murder, Brother Cadfael investigates.
A Morbid Taste for Bones is available in the following editions: 1977 Edition | 1992 compilation | DVD adaptation with Derek Jacobi in Cadfael Set III
Thursday, April 26, 2007 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
We return to a contemporary author in April, with the latest in Joan Hess’ popular “Claire Malloy” series, The Goodbye Body. Claire Malloy runs a bookstore in the normally quiet college town of Farberville, Arkansas – an enterprise that provides a verging-on-meager living for her and her deeply sarcastic teenage daughter, Caron. When emergency work forces Claire and Caron to abandon their apartment for a few weeks, they are in no financial position to put themselves up in style, and so Claire is thrilled to accept a customer’s offer to let them stay at her well-stocked, well-equipped, palatial home while she is traveling. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. No sooner do Claire and Caron ensconce themselves than disquieting events start to occur: Dubious people show up looking for the “traveling” owner of the house; the owner herself turns out not to be who she claimed and is now seemingly on the run; and a dead body keeps turning up – and subsequently disappearing – around the grounds of the house. Claire is determined, for once, to stay out of the mysterious doings, but her hand is finally forced when the disappearing body turns out to be only the first corpse to turn up.
The Goodbye Body is available in the following editions: Print
Thursday, March 29, 2007 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Our selection for March is the Mary Roberts Rinehart classic, The Circular Staircase.
A middle-aged spinster rents a country house for the summer and soon finds herself plunged into a nasty scenario of bank defaults, stolen securities and murder. An entertaining blend of intrigue, villainy and heart-pounding suspense for crime fiction buffs and lovers of great mystery classics.
The Circular Staircase is available the following formats: Print | several different eBook versions
Thursday, February 22, 2007 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
For February, we return stateside, with a murder mystery set right here at home! Nebraska author David Wiltse’s mystery, Heartland, is set in Falls City, NE. Here’s the book blurb: Falls City, Nebraska. Just a scratch on the Great Plains. To Billy Tree, it’s home-the last refuge for the ex-Secret Service agent scarred in body and soul by an unforgettable tragedy. But he’s trading one for another. For the quiet burg of his youth has changed over the years. Darkness has taken hold. And now, the killing secrets and terrible lies buried beneath the tranquil surface of Falls City are ready to erupt…. Where it begins is with a shocking sniper attack at the local high school. No motive. No clues. Just two innocent teachers left dead, and a third injured. A woman with secrets of her own, she shares a place in Billy’s heart, his past, and his fears, when a second murder paralyzes the town. Urged by the sheriff to help in the investigation, Billy can’t refuse. Even if it means seeing old friends in a terrifying new light, and exposing himself to the insidious rage of a mysterious killer…. It all ends in the shattering silence of an isolated silo. Here blood will tell. The secrets of Falls City will unfold. And the truth could cost Billy more than he’d ever imagined…
Heartland is available only in the original hardback edition.
Thursday, January 25, 2007 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
For our first meeting of 2007, we eased back into things with another British series detective. In this case, it’s M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth, sleuth in twenty-two novels so far. Rather than select a specific title in this series, we encouraged all the Just Desserts participants to select any one or more of the Hamish Macbeth books to read. We held a general discussion of the series as a whole when we met on the last Thursday of January.
The 22 volumes (as of early 2007) of M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth series are available in a variety of formats: Print | Downloadable Audio | Book-on-CD | Large Type. In addition, all three seasons of the British television series based on the books [1995-1997], starring Robert (Once Upon a Time) Carlyle as Hamish, are also available on DVD in the library’s collections: Series One | Series Two | Series Three
Online, November and December 2006
During the Nov/Dec 2006 hiatus between meetings of the Just Desserts group, we encouraged regular attendees to participate in our online book discussion forum. At that time, we had a special Just Desserts discussion forum set up, and we challenged everyone to read any book by Ed McBain (or any of those written under his given name of Evan Hunter), then visit the Book Lovers Discussion Forums (now defunct), register to participate with a free account, and post a comment.
To introduce readers to the works of Ed McBain, we encouraged you to visit our Remembering…Ed McBain tribute page, which we created following the author’s death in 2005.
Thursday, October 26, 2006 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
For October, it was another mystery classic — Catherine Aird’s Henrietta Who?: Until her widowed mother was killed in a hit-and-run accident, Henrietta thought her last name was Jenkins. And then the post-mortem revealed that Grace Jenkins had never borne a child — that her death was not an accident. Overnight, Henrietta’s life became a nightmare of unanswered questions. Who was she? Where was her real family? Why had Grace Jenkins never told her the truth? Inspector Sloane wanted answers to other questions. Was it a coincidence that the murderer struck just before Henrietta’s 21st birthday? Who else had a key to the Jenkins cottage? The Inspector was afraid that before there were answers to these questions, the killer might strike again. And he was right.
Henrietta Who? is available in the following formats: Two different eBook formats (no longer available in physical print copies from the library)
Thursday, September 28, 2006 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
For September, we returned to a more recently published novel, Erin Hart’s Haunted Ground. This novel also features events set in differing time periods, though: A grisly discovery is made deep in an Irish peat bog — the perfectly preserved severed head of a red-haired young woman. Has she been buried for decades, centuries, or longer? Who is she and why was she killed? American pathologist Nora Gavin and archaeologist Cormac Maguire are called in to investigate, only to find that the girl’s violent death may have shocking ties to the present — including the disappearance of a local landowner’s wife and son. Aided by a homicide detective who refuses to let the missing be forgotten, Nora and Cormac slowly uncover a dark history of secrets, betrayal, and death in which the shocking revelations of the past may lead to murder in the future…
Haunted Ground is available in the following formats: Print | Book-on-CD | Downloadable Audio
Thursday, August 31, 2006 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Our August selection was one of the all-time classics of the mystery field — a mixture of contemporary and historical — Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time. Tey re-creates one of history’s most famous — and vicious — crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must read for connoisseurs of fiction. Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world’s most heinous villains — a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother’s children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England’s throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower. Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing’s most gifted masters.
Daughter of Time is available in a variety of editions; click the link for more information!
Thursday, July 27, 2006 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
For our July meeting, the group selected the first volume in Carole Nelson Douglas’ popular Midnight Louie series. Catnap  features two of the most lovable characters you’d ever want to meet: public relations expert Temple Barr, a petite redhead with a high-heeled shoe fetish, and the irrepressible black cat Midnight Louie. When these two kneel nose to nose over a dead body at the American Booksellers Association convention in Las Vegas, the fur flies and the fun starts.
Catnap is available in the following formats: 1992 Hardback | 1993 Paperback
Carol Nelson Douglas is also the author of the equally popular Irene Adler historical series, featuring the one woman who bested Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s original tales, now spun off into her own crime-solving adventures.
Thursday, June 29, 2006 — 7:00-8:00 p.m.
The June meeting of the Just Desserts discussion group focused on a pair of mysteries by former Lincolnite Harley Jane Kozak. Kozak, a film, tv and stage actress who grew up in Lincoln but now lives in California, burst onto the mystery scene with her premiere novel, Dating Dead Men in 2004, and followed up with a very successful sequel Dating is Murder in 2005. The first book won the Nebraska Book Award for Best Fiction, and also won a triumvirate of the national mystery awards: The Agatha Award, the Anthony Award and the Macavity Award (all for best first mystery novel). You can see a profile of Kozak here on the BookGuide Web site: Harley Jane Kozak.
Dating Dead Men is available in the following format: Print | Book on CD | Downloadable Audio
Dating is Murder is available in the following formats: Print | eBook | Book on CD
Thursday, May 18, 2006
For our second mystery fiction discussion, the group selected the second volume in Alexander McCall-Smith’s very popular Ladies Detective Agency series, Morality for Beautiful Girls . These mysteries, featuring Precious Ramotswe and her groundbreaking Botswana detective agency, are relatively quick reads, and if you’d rather start at the beginning with her first adventure, don’t miss No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency .
Morality for Beautiful Girls is available in the following formats: Print | Book-on-CD | eBook | Downloadable Audio
Thursday, April 20, 2006
In honor of our “death and desserts” theme, we pre-selected a culinary mystery for our first meeting, to get the ball rolling — Diane Mott Davidson’s Dying for Chocolate — but participants in the group will make their own selections for future discussions.
Dying for Chocolate is available in the following formats: 1992 Hardback | 1993 Paperback | Large Type | 1996 Book on CD | eBook | Downloadable Audio
In a timely coincidence, author Diane Mott Davidson had an appearance at Lee Bookseller’s Edgewood location on Monday, April 17th, 2006, giving a reading and signing copies of her books, including her latest Goldy Schultz book, Dark Tort.