Sunday, July 21, 2013


by Mel Bradshaw

Fire on the Runway
is not so much of a mystery as a spy story set mainly in Toronto during the Jazz Age, after World War I. It's the second outing for Bradshaw's Toronto cop, Paul Shenstone, a man who like many at that time, had served overseas during the war.

The story is as much that of 'Lucy', a mysterious woman who is found unconscious at the scene of a bomb blast in a downtown hotel. When she comes to, it appears she doesn't speak English so Shenstone has her taken to the hospital while he continues the on-site investigation. When it comes time to further question Lucy, she's done a runner and Shenstone blames himself.

Lucy's story is intertwined throughout the novel. We learn of her early days growing up in Poland and the point at which her sympathies turned to the Marxist credo and her loyalties, to Russia as they invaded her home country in 1920. Her life as a spy and temptress is as intriguing as the details of the war unfolding in that part of the world. Her story continues as, disillusioned, she flees to the U.S. with stolen film outlining German rearmament, with the aid of Russia. Turns out, she's being tracked every step of the way and the bomb in Toronto was meant for her.

As Bradshaw finds Lucy again, rather she finds him, and he learns of her story, he's drawn into the urgency of her quest. At this point, she wants to turn over the film to the Canadian government. Unable to elicit the support of the Toronto police, Shenstone turns to the RCMP, and eventually to a WWI flying ace, Kip Whitehead which leads to a betrayal that shocks them all.

There's plenty of action in Fire on the Runway to keep readers turning the pages. The attention to historical detail is well worth the read. In fact, this novel can be read on many levels -- as history, as spy thriller, and as the continuing adventures of a Toronto cop.

Mel Bradshaw, nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel for Death in the Age of Steam, continues to delight crime fans who enjoy delving into the past, along with solving their mysteries.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


That whole promotion thing!

With my new book coming out in a few weeks -- Cover Story, the third in the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries -- at the same time as I'm trying to whip through book #4, it's priority time once again.

Every author knows how much time and energy can be, and is expected to be by the publishing world, eaten up with promoting a new book. It is a necessity if you want the sales which lead to a renewed contract. The world of promotion has taken on new complexities over the past decade, as we're all well aware. Social media is first and foremost in most writers' arsenals of tactics. And I'm a part of it -- Facebook pages for the real me and for Erika Chase; ditto with websites and Twitter accounts; Pinterest; guest name it, I'll usually try it.

But I've been reflecting while scrolling through all the author promotions that appear each hour on Twitter. What does it all mean? There are too many authors to count flogging their wares, many more than I'll ever read or even have an interest in reading. How does the average reader (that would be me)whittle it all down for allotting reading bucks? I know one thing, I won't rely on Twitter and probably not even Facebook to help me make those choices.

What works the best, IMHO, is the personal recommendation. Friends telling friends, getting them hooked on new authors, sharing the word in the reading wilderness. Of course, a Facebook recommendation by a real friend, someone you really do know, counts as a personal recommendation.

Call me old fashioned but that's what works best for me. Hopefully, for you, too. Or, do I have it all wrong? Has social media tipped the scales yet again and I'm getting left behind in the dust with my meager postings?

And what about the writing part of it all?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

Berkley Prime Crime, now available
A KILLER READ, also available at your favourite bookstores and online.
Agatha Award nomiee, Best First Novel 2012
COVER STORY available for pre-order; coming Aug. 2013.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Travels with my characters.

A writer never travels alone. And I'm not referring to the 40 other choir members on this concert tour of Romania. I find that Lizzie Turner and the gang from the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries are tagging along, eager to pop into my brain at more relaxing times. Like on a 6 hour bus drive from Constanta to Brasov. Or while wandering through a perfectly sculpted park in the centre of the thriving city.

They're there to provide solutions to a plot problem I've been having, complete with dialogue to drive the story forward. Of course, I think they also want to enjoy the trip and see some of this wonderful countryside. They've been staying quiet in Brasov though but I suspec that's because it's been such a busy few days with some shopping time, some side tours, rehearsals, concerts and a lot of eating, wining and even, folk dancing. I do think Lizzie was involved in that though.

I have managed to carve out some writing time but mostly I've been immersing myself in this learning experience. There is such wealth in the oldness of countries like Romania. I'm overwhelmed by the beauty and sense of history to be found in the buildings, particularly the churches. If Canada lacks anything, it is this intense sense of a past which is present in everyday life. I love it.

I'm wondering if Lizzie will want to take a trip here sometime, maybe solve a murder or two, although I highly doubt it. Enough that she's visiting it now. It will give them all something to talk about.

Of course, that's what all writers experience. Travels with their characters. Where have yours been lately?