Friday, May 24, 2013


Money and Murder

After her debut in Safe Harbor last year, Pat Tierney is back. This time, she’s immersed in Black Water. Just released as an ebook on Amazon today and due out as a paperback shortly, Black Water takes Pat into Ontario cottage country where she opens a new branch for her investment firm and finds herself untangling a web of fraud, drugs, bikers and murder.

Pat’s work as a financial advisor has taught her that money isn’t about figures on a spreadsheet. Money is about people—the young couple saving for their first home, the elderly couple worried that they may outlive their savings.
As a financial advisor, Pat needs to know what’s is going on in her clients’ lives to ensure that they’re in suitable investments. She knows which clients have health concerns. She knows how much money they have—or don’t have. And who they plan to leave it to when they die. This insider knowledge gives her an edge as an amateur sleuth.
And she knows that some people can never have enough money, and that this kind of greed is a powerful incentive for theft, fraud and even murder.

Pat is particularly well positioned to spot white-collar crime. The world of finance provides opportunities for people who are clever and greedy enough to challenge the system. In Safe Harbor, red flags go up for Pat when a rookie advisor is given a large investment account to manage. When Pat looks more closely at that account, she sees that a sizeable part of its assets in invested in slowpoke stocks. Things don’t add up. And when thing don’t add up for a financial professional, something is very wrong.

In Black Water, Pat learns that money has gone missing from client accounts at a rival firm, and an elderly man whose sister has been one of the victims has been murdered. Was he killed because he discovered who was behind the fraud? Pat is determined to put the pieces of this puzzle together. The more she delves into the goings-on in a seemingly idyllic rural community, the closer she comes to a long-buried secret and its fatal consequences.

Unlike Pat Tierney, Rosemary McCracken is not a financial professional. Why did she build her mystery series around a character who makes her living managing people’s money?

Well, Rosemary knows a little about the work Pat does. She’s a Toronto journalist who specializes in personal finance and the financial services industry. For her articles, she talks to financial advisors and investment managers. She attends their conferences. She knows the issues they face and the concerns they have. At one point, she considered becoming a financial advisor herself, but decided that she wouldn’t have the stamina. She knew she’d have sleepless night during down markets, and markets have been murder in recent years. But when she set out to write a mystery series and was looking for a central character, an investment advisor was the first thing that came to mind. Pat is an advisor who cares about her clients. She’s a champion of small investors. She’s the one who has sleepless nights during down markets.

Rosemary’s first Pat Tierney novel, Safe Harbor, was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger in 2010. It was published by Imajin Books in 2012. Its sequel, Black Water, has just been released as an ebook, and the paperback will be available next month.
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Friday, May 17, 2013


Twilight is Not Good For Maidens
by Lou Allin

This third outing in the Corporal Holly Martin series had me riveted right from the beginning. Here we have the quiet Vancouver Island community of Sooke, not far from the ocean, a vacation dreamland. Sounds ideal, doesn't it? The perfect setting to be marred by an attempted sexual assault, and later, a murder.

That's what mystery authors do. They pick the perfect setting and then turn it on its head by inflicting a crime. The fact that Allin is adept at describing her setting so that the reader actually sees it, adds to the drama. Another aspect of Allin's writing that keeps the reader turning the pages is how she manages to weave reality into the fiction. RCMP Corporal Martin relates what's happening in her small detachment to the broader spectrum of recent police tribulations in the province. It turns the fiction into another story from the headlines.

This time, her constable, the amiable Chipper Knox Singh, is accused of sexual assault by a teenage driver he stopped. Holly believes he's innocent but realizes, because of regulations, she's unable to help him. Then there is another attack at the oceanside campgrounds, this one ending in the murder of a young woman.

When a third attack at French Beach results in the victim giving a description of her attacker, the wary police officers are hopeful of putting an end to the crimes. But Holly is a lowly Corporal and the RCMP hierarchy has the Integrated Crime Unit from West Shore in charge of the cases. But it's just a matter of time until she's putting the clues together and ends up as the killer's next target.

An ongoing thread in the three Holly Martin books is the unanswered question of what happened to her Mom who went missing several years earlier. This time around, Holly finally gets some leads and her determination to get some answers sends her on another quest.

The two earlier books in the series are, And on the Surface Die, and She Felt No Pain. They do not have to be read in order but you'll want to start the journey with Holly from the beginning. She's a vulnerable, determined, smart young police officer; a fine addition to the police procedurals set in Canada. I'm already waiting for the fourth!

Lou Allin is the author of two series, the Holly Martin and Belle Palmer mysteries. After teaching for many years at Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ontario, she now lives near Sooke on Vancouver Island. Her Rapid Read novel, Contengency Plan has been shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Best Novella Award this year from Crime Writers of Canada.

Friday, May 3, 2013


by Victoria Abbott
Berkley Prime Crime

What kind of work do you look for when you need a job that isn't minimum wage - slave drudgery like telemarketing, your student loans are staring you in the face, and you urgently need a new place to live?

The Christie Curse, the first in Victoria Abbott's new series, introduces Jordan Bingham, a recent English literature graduate with a master's degree, who is facing all of the above. To add to her problems, she comes from a family with a chequered history, and can't put her real surname on her resume.

She finds a Want Ad for the almost-perfect researcher's job. The imperfect part appears to be her new employer, a sour old lady rare-book collector who happens to be the most hated citizen in Harrison Falls, New York.

Jordan is nothing if not resourceful. Once into the job and the great little apartment in her employer's mansion that comes with it, however, she learns some disquieting facts that weren't mentioned during the interview. Her predecessor died while looking for the same rumoured Agatha Christie unpublished play that Jordan has been hired to find.

Her chequered family background and shady relatives turn out to be assets as she leads the reader through a wild chase in search of a play that may or may not exist. The chase includes a possible murder, the usual and unusual suspects, a psychotic cat, and a pug dog.

The mother and daughter team of authors Mary Jane Maffini and Victoria Maffini combine to create a seamless story under the pseudonym Victoria Abbott in this first Book Collector Mystery.

Don't miss this one! Agatha Christie herself would have loved it.

Reviewed by Carole Dalgleish