Monday, December 15, 2014

Highlights from 2014

This week, Midnight Ink intern Jessica Nelson recaps six books in-depth from our 2014 catalog:

Trusting Viktor by Lee Mims (February)
Betting her life savings on a risky offshore natural gas enterprise, brilliant geologist Cleo Cooper has high hopes for a big payday. But a violent attack onboard the drillship darkens Cleo’s optimism.
Days later, a man washes up on the coast near the drill sight, but is it the man who assaulted Cleo? When Viktor, a promising young Russian geologist is hired as the dead man’s replacement, Cleo isn't sure if he’s friend or foe. The truth seems to be lurking beneath the surface, and as she gets closer to it, Cleo begins to wonder if she's standing between a murderer and a treasure worth killing for.
". . . a breezily entertaining whodunit."—Publishers Weekly
"[A] fun read."—Mystery Scene

Montecito Heights by Colin Campbell (April)

Saving a senator’s daughter from LA’s porn industry is one gig that needs serious discretion . . . but discretion is not Jim Grant’s specialty. Before long, Grant finds himself busting a robbery on live television, spreading his arms wide to show he’s unarmed—the same pose that earned him the nickname Resurrection Man in Boston.
The spotlight may be good for Grant’s ego, but it’s bad for his health. The Dominguez drug cartel is looking for him, and his work for the senator has uncovered a ring of dirty cops who want him out of the way. Helped by an ex-cop working on CSI: NY and hindered by a film crew that wants to make him a reality television star, Grant must tread carefully. In the city of angels, corruption runs deep, loyalty is fragile, and justice is hard to find.
". . .wry maverick Grant never fails to entertain." —Kirkus Reviews
"This gritty thriller . . . maintains a breakneck pace . . . [and] its smart structure and unrelenting suspense will please Lee Child fans."—Library Journal

The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson (May)
That was the day I met Gus, the day I grew a family as if from magic beans, the day she died. That's the point, see? It was the very same day…
Jessie Constable has learned the hard way to always keep herself safe. But meeting Gus King changes everything. Before she knows it, Jessie is sleeping at Gus's house, babysitting his kids, becoming a part of his family. And yet, she can't ignore the unsettling questions. Who does she keep seeing from the corner of her eye? Why are strange men threatening her? Most importantly, what really happened to Gus's wife?
Creating a brilliant, foreboding mystery where nothing is as it seems, master storyteller Catriona McPherson weaves an ominous tale that will keep you guessing until the very end.

"McPherson's second stand-alone is a tour de force, a creepy psychological thriller that will leave you breathless."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Keep the lights on and batten down the hatches, for McPherson’s psychologically terrifying stand-alone demands to be read all night."—Library Journal

The White Magic Five & Dime by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco (July)
Much to Alanis McLachlan's surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother's tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died.
With help from a hunky cop and her mother's live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way through tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother's clients.  But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards ... and the secrets surrounding her mother's demise.
"Cozy readers with a taste for humor will welcome this hilarious series debut . . . [and] will eagerly await the next installment."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Hockensmith...and coauthor Falco deliver a charming comic mystery, which one hopes is the beginning of a series."—Booklist
"[A] clever and compelling tale filled with colorful and engaging characters and a whodunit plot."—ForeWord Reviews
"From the unique title to the cool cover, this book has it all . . . A+ across the board!"—Suspense Magazine
"Fun and light."—Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine 

The Question of the Missing Head by E.J. Copperman (October)
Samuel Hoenig answers questions for a living. And as a man with Asperger’s Syndrome, his unique personality helps him ferret out almost any answer there is. But his latest question is a rather odd one—who stole a preserved head from the Garden State Cryonics Institute?
Arriving at the scene of the crime accompanied by his new colleague, Ms. Washburn, Samuel finds that what started out as a theft has escalated to murder. With suspects and motives emerging at a rapid rate, one final question remains—can Samuel’s powers of deduction uncover a killer in the face of overwhelming odds?
 "[A] delightful and clever mystery."—Publishers Weekly 
"In this well-crafted story, the Asperger's element . . . provides a unique point of view on crime-solving, as well as offering a sensitive look at a too-often-misunderstood condition."—Booklist
"Copperman/Cohen succeeds in providing a glimpse not only of the challenges experienced by those with Asperger's, but also of their unique gifts."—Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
"Cleverly written and humorous."—CrimeSpree Magazine

Tradition of Deceit by Kathleen Ernst (November)

Book 5 in the award-winning historical Chloe Ellefson Mystery series
Curator and occasional sleuth Chloe Ellefson is off to Minneapolis to help her friend Ariel with a monumental task. Ariel must write a proposal for a controversial and expensive restoration project: convert an abandoned flour mill, currently used as shelter by homeless people, into a museum. When a dead body is found stuffed into a grain chute, Chloe's attention turns from milling to murder.
Back in Milwaukee, Chloe's love interest Roelke has been slammed with the news that a fellow officer was shot and killed while on duty. Sifting through clues from both past and present, Chloe and Roelke discover dangerous secrets that put their lives—and their trust in each other—at risk.
"Ernst keeps getting better with each entry in this fascinating series."—Library Journal
"Everybody has secrets in this action-filled cozy."—Publishers Weekly

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Q&A with Sue Ann Jaffarian

This week, we sat down with Sue Ann Jaffarian, author of the popular Odelia Grey Mystery series. Her latest, Hell on Wheels, was released last month.

Midnight Ink: How long have you been writing?
Sue Ann Jaffarian: Steadily for about 18 years.

MI: What influence have other authors had on your writing?
SAJ: I learn so much from reading other authors’ works—both good and bad, but the most significant influence came from the first book I read by the late Anne George. It really turned me on to writing murder and mayhem with a good dose of humor.

MI: If you have a job outside of writing, what is it?
SAJ: I am a corporate paralegal for a well-known national health care law firm.

MI: What is/are your favorite thing/s to do when you’re not writing or working?
SAJ: Spending time with friends and going to the theatre, exhibits, restaurants, and travelling.

MI: Who is your favorite mystery sleuth and why?
SAJ: Hard to pick just one. I have to say that Easy Rawlins and Harry Bosch top the list. I love how each are so well written with so many complicated layers and contradictions.

MI: Do you have a favorite murder case from a book (either yours or another author’s)?
SAJ: I do and it’s from one of my books, Corpse On The Cob. In that book Odelia Grey stumbles across her long-lost mother while dear old Mom is hunched over a dead body. It’s a favorite because it added another dimension to Odelia’s character and opened the way for later books.

MI: What was your inspiration for the Odelia Grey mysteries?
SAJ: The old “what if?” question inspired that series. What if an ordinary but quirky woman finds herself constantly stumbling across dead people. Many other inspirations come from my life as a middle-aged, plus size paralegal, who, thankfully, does NOT find dead bodies.

MI: Tell us about Odelia Grey!
SAJ: As mentioned above, she’s middle-aged, plus size and works as a paralegal in a law firm. She doesn’t see the world through rose-colored glasses, but rather through Groucho Marx glasses, which makes her quirky, quick-witted, and quick-tongued. She’s smart, but doesn’t always behave as such. She’s also married to Greg Stevens, a successful business owner who is also a paraplegic.
B and Raffi

MI: How does this series compare to your other works?
SAJ: It’s written in first person, for one thing. It’s also closer to the main character because of it. Readers are treated to what’s going on in Odelia’s head all the time. Also, it’s less of a “cozy” than my Ghost of Granny Apples novels in that Odelia is often faced with more violence and adult themes in her adventures, but without being hard-boiled.

MI: Do you have a pet? Tell us about him/her.
SAJ: I have two senior citizen cats, B and Raffi. Raffi is the boss of the house, a male with a definite point of view and demands. B is a fat and fluffy Norwegian Forest Cat with a very sweet disposition.

MI: What food could you live off of for the rest of your life?
SAJ: Pasta with a basil marinara sauce.

MI: Do you have a favorite recipe?
SAJ: Not really. I recently started leaning toward a vegan diet and have been cooking up a storm, but nothing that really stands out.
MI: What is your favorite part about being an Inker?
SAJ: Receiving royalty checks.

Hell on Wheels is available online and in bookstores now!