And the Dying is Easy, edited by Joseph Pittman and Annette Riffle, Review
The title is a play on the DuBose Heyward - Ira Gershwin lyrics from Porgy and Bess: "Summertime, and the Living is Easy." (Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high")
Each of the twenty stories in this anthology features a detective who is on summer vacation. Most of the detectives are already in a series, but a few make their debuts in this book.
Stephen Sondheim's opinion of the lyrics.
That "and" is worth a great deal of attention. I would write "Summertime when" but that "and" sets up a tone, a whole poetic tone, not to mention a whole kind of diction that is going to be used in the play; an informal, uneducated diction and a stream of consciousness, as in many of the songs like "My Man's Gone Now." It's the exact right word, and that word is worth its weight in gold. "Summertime when the livin' is easy" is a boring line compared to "Summertime and." The choices of "ands" [and] "buts" become almost traumatic as you are writing a lyric--or should, anyway-- because each one weighs so much.
Source: Joanne Lesley Gordon, Art Isn't Easy: The Achievement of Stephen Sondheim, Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, IL., 1990, p.13
From the Wikipedia page, "Summertime" (song).
Subtitle: All New Tales of Summertime Suspense
From the introduction:
They say that the living is easy, but in the world of detective fiction, life has a way of turning deadly. So we wondered, what happens when private eyes want to take a vacation? . . . Amateur sleuths are always stumbling upon dead bodies, but would they still search out a killer while sunning themselves on the beach? These questions . . . are answered, as twenty of Signet Mystery's favorite writers take their series sleuths on a holiday filled with mystery and mayhem. Each story was written specifically for this collection, so thanks to them all for rising to the challenge.
Dying for laughs?
Then, there is the quote: "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard."
But, that's not what the title of this book refers to, because the title starts with, ". . . and the . . . " like the DuBose - Gershwin lyric.
The famous quote just starts with, "Dying . . "
I always thought this quote was from Milton Berle, but apparently it has been attributed to many different actors through the centuries, even including Richard Burbage, friend and business associate of William Shakespeare.
First published in 2001 by Penguin Putnam. (Now Penguin Group USA)
Swanson is first, of course.
I first found out about "Not a Monster of a Chance" from Swanson's website.
I bought it in e-book form from Amazon. It was short, and very inexpensive. Also, a lot of fun to read. Many of the regular Scumble Riverites appear: Charlie ... Trixie ...May ... Officer Quirk ... Wally --- even Flip ... the husband of Skye's cousin Ginger.
I stored it on my e-reader, or whatever it's called, on Amazon's own website, because I have no portable gizmo.
That was fun, and interesting. Also, when you purchase it solo, there's a cute little graphic on the "cover." I liked that. It was like a little baby Loch Ness monster.
The tough part was that apparently e-books don't have pages, but "locations." That was strange for me to navigate.
I kind of missed those old things called "pages". They tend to keep things accessible and ordered.
I also became curious about the other stories in the anthology, even though not all are cozies or written by female authors. So, I ended up buying the entire book (used) from one of the Amazon vendors.
Swanson's story is not the first in the book, but I read it first.
Alas . .
I would really love to have a picture of one of the novels from each series, but rules prevent that.
Perhaps I will publish a post in another blog showing those.
Here is the Full List (including Swanson): . . .
. . . in the order of appearance.
Salt on the Rim
by Jeff Abbott
Salt on the Rim, by Jeff Abbott
A Whit Mosley Mystery
The sleuth is Whit Mosley, justice of the peace in fictional Port Leo, Texas, on the Gulf Coast. Whit has now been featured in three of Abbott's novels, but at the time of this anthology, the fist Whit Mosley mystery, A Kiss Gone Bad, had not yet been published.
This story seems to be deceptively simple at first.
It features a few characters in a small coastal beach town in Texas. A beautiful woman comes into the bar each night and orders a margarita with salt on the rim. Nobody seems to know who she is.
Whit chewed ice and watched the television mounted above the bar. The Astros were in a fourth-inning meltdown. He hadn't paid much attention to the game, lost in confessing the boring detritus of his personal life to Toni Packard; she was that old-style kind of bartender, a flesh-and-blood confessional. The woman's arrival threw him and Toni both into silence.
One evening, after finishing her Margarita, driving home alone, the woman dies in an apparent accident.
Whit is not so sure it really was an accident.
Whit has a strong sense of justice and integrity. The mystery and its solution are compelling. Whit's solution and revelation reminded me of the great Hercule Poirot.
It's not surprising that the author has won the Agatha Award.
Jeff Abbott's website
- Home - Jeff Abbott
Books. Events. News. About. FAQ.
A Case of Feline Psychopathology, by Lydia Adamson
Not worth the time or trouble. Skip this one.
The feline is not the psychopath. The only psychopath here is the author who would write such a thing.
I haven't even bothered to emphasize the title or the author's name.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
by Ann Campbell
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, by Ann Campbell
An Annie O'Hara and Claudius Mystery
" . . . unique sleuthing duo of Annie O'Hara and Claudius, a German shepherd."
Annie and Claudius have solved mysteries in two novels: Wolf at the Door, and Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.
In this story, George Vining finds underground water for Annie's bed and breakfast/antique shop. Finally,she has enough water to run the washing machine while taking a shower.
George tells Annie that Claudius needs a copper amulet to deflect bad energy.
Annie suspects that George's wife plans to murder him.
- Annie O'Hara and Claudius Mysteries Series | Barnes & Noble
FIND Annie O'Hara and Claudius Mysteries Series on Barnes & Noble. Free 3-Day shipping on $25 orders!
- Ann Campbell | Cozy Mystery List
Ann Campbell - bibliography / chronological book list and series
The Chocolate Kidnapping Clue
by Joanna Karl
The Chocolate Kidnapping Clue, by Joanna Karl
A Lee McKinney Mystery Story
The amateur sleuth in this one is a sixteen year-old girl, who apparently has some slight speech defect (although it's not totally clear). She is visiting her Aunt Nettie and Uncle Phil on Lake Michigan for the summer and working in the chocolate shop they own.
She befriends a lady in her sixties while walking on the beach. She also ends up helping another girl her own age, who is kidnapped. She used to think the girl had a really snooty, elitist attitude.
A very exciting adventure story.
And --- There is a lot of chocolate!
Links about Joanna Carl or Lee McKinney. Or both.
- Joanna Carl Book List - FictionDB
Joanna Carl -- the complete book list. Browse author series lists, sequels, pseudonyms, synopses, book covers, ratings and awards.
- Eve K. Sandstrom | JoAnna Carl
JoAnna Carl, Eve K. Sandstrom, Eve Sandstrom, Stop, You're Killing Me! has bibliographies of your favorite mystery authors and series characters.
- JoAnna Carl | Cozy Mystery List
JoAnna Carl (Eve K. Sandstrom) - bibliography / chronological book list and series
- A Chocoholic Mystery series by JoAnna Carl
Lee McKinney, a divorcee who returns to Michigan to work for her aunt's chocolate business, in the Chocaholic mysteries: The Chocolate Cat Caper (A Choc...
- Joanna Carl aka Eve K Sandstrom
website of Joanna Carl aka Eve K Sandstrom,
Never Neck at Niagara
by Edie Claire
Never Neck at Niagara, by Edie Claire
A Leigh Koslow Mystery
Edie Claire has written eight books featuring Leigh Koslow. She is working on a ninth.
She has written other books, as well, though. Check out her Facebook page. Her books are all either PG, or PG - 13. I love her for that. She is a fan of happy endings.
"Love triumphs and happy endings abound."
In "Never Neck at Niagara", Leigh is out biking by herself at Niagara Falls a few days after her honeymoon, when she hears what might be a plot to commit homicide. Her husband is attending a conference at the hotel.
Leigh begins to scramble to prevent what she thinks might turn out to be homicide, and protect the person she thinks might be the victim.
But, all is not as it seems. Leigh almost becomes a victim herself.
This story is quite the page-turner, with a lot of action.
Each title starts with "Never."
- Novelist and Playwright Edie Claire
Six Genres. One Voice! Author of the Leigh Koslow Mystery series, classic romantic suspense, women's fiction, YA romance, humor, and comedic stage plays.
- Edie Claire: Leigh Koslow Mystery Series in Order
FREE Book: Kindle eBook - Edie Claire: Leigh Koslow Mystery Series: Never Buried: Book 1 - Cozy Mystery.
- Leigh Koslow Mystery series by Edie Claire
Never Buried (Leigh Koslow Mystery, #1), Never Sorry (Leigh Koslow Mystery #2), Never Preach Past Noon (Leigh Koslow Mystery #3), Never Neck at Niagara ...
by Max Allan Collins
Unreasonable Doubt, by Max Allan Collins
A Nathan Heller Mystery Story
Max Allan Collins' Nathan Heller series started in 1983, with the novel, True Detective. It is set in 1930s Chicago. The second Nathan Heller novel, True Crime, came out in 1984.
The most recent Nathan Heller novel, Ask Not, was published in 2013.
Collins has been nominated for the Shamus Award, from the Private Eye Writers of America eight times. He has won it twice.
A-1 Detective Agency
"In March of 1947, I got caught up in the notorious Overell case, which made such headlines in Los Angeles, particularly during the trial that summer. The double murder . . . hit the front pages in Chicago, as well. But back home I never bragged about my little-publicized role . . .
"I was taking a deductible vacation, getting away from an Illinois spring that was stubbornly still winter, in trade for Southern California's constant summer. My wife, who was pregnant and grouchy, loved. L.A., and had a lot of friends out there . . . but I was also checking in with the L.A. branch office of the A-1 Detective Agency, of which I was the president."
This website is NOT family-friendly.
Author's note about an author's note.
At the end of this story, the author writes, "Fact, speculation, and fiction are freely mixed within this story, which is based on an actual case . . . "
He cites four books as reference for the fact --- which probably offers some clues as to the speculation, as well.
We are reading the fiction.
Sounds fun, right?
Murder Can Hurt Your Ears
by Selma Eichler
Murder Can Hurt Your Ears, by Selma Eichler
A Desiree Shapiro Mystery Story
Desiree's friend Jackie talks her into going to Aruba for the vacation that Jackie and Derwin were supposed to have --- before they broke up.
Desiree is staying at the Blue Waters resort on Eagle Beach, napping on the patio.
Then, " . . I was jolted into consciousness by a piercing scream from the suite next door. . . . And then in a voice filled with such terror that at times I believe it will haunt me forever: 'No . . . Please!' "
When Desiree gets there, the woman is dead.
A lot of red herrings stink up the beach before the puzzle is resolved.
Isn't that what it's all about?
- Selma Eichler Book List - FictionDB
Selma Eichler -- the complete book list. Browse author series lists, sequels, pseudonyms, synopses, book covers, ratings and awards.
by Hazel Holt
Journey's End, by Hazel Holt
A Sheila Malory Mystery Story
Two sisters quarrel on a tour. One of them is a little domineering. She constantly complains, especially when passengers in the group have to eat their sandwiches on the bus.
The tour guide seems to have encyclopedic knowledge of the area and its history.
One sister is murdered --- or has an "accident?" Either way, she won't be going on any more tours.
A mom is reunited with her long-lost son.
Links about Sheila Malory and Hazel Holt
- Mrs. Malory by Hazel Holt - Series List - FictionDB
The complete series list for - Mrs. Malory by Hazel Holt . Cover art, synopsis, sequels, reviews, awards, publishing history, genres, and time period.
- Mrs. Malory Mysteries series by Hazel Holt
Hazel Holt mysteries featuring Mrs. Sheila Malory. Also called Sheila Malory mysteries. Mrs. Malory Investigates (Mrs. Malory Mysteries, #1), The Cruelle...
- FictFact - Sheila Malory series by Hazel Holt
- Hazel Holt Blog
Hazel Holt, author of My Dear Charlotte, a new British mystery based on the letters of Jane Austen, and other popular mystery novels.
The Body in the Bay
by Peter King
The Body in the Bay, by Peter King
A Jack London Mystery Story
Jack London does investigative work for Lily Langtry.
A rousing good tale with a slight tendency toward anachronism. Nothing serious enough to make me dislike the story, though.
The violence made me dislike it. Definitely not cozy.
King is a trained chef, and the author of the Gourmet Detective series, as well as the Jack London series, which features a fictional version of Jack London as sleuth, allegedly before Jack became famous as an author.
King is a gourmet chef himself, trained at Cordon Bleu. He is also an aerospace engineer. He worked on the Apollo team.
Links about Peter King, Author, or his books
- Peter King | Cozy Mystery List
Peter King book list
- Peter King Biography - eNotes.com
Examine the life, times, and work of Peter King through detailed author biographies on eNotes.
- Peter King (Author of The Gourmet Detective)
Peter King (b. 1922) is an English author of mystery fiction, a Cordon Bleu–trained chef, and a retired metallurgist. He has operated a tungsten mine, ov...
- Peter King - Mysterious Press
- A Jack London Mystery by Peter King - Series List - FictionDB
The complete series list for - A Jack London Mystery by Peter King . Cover art, synopsis, sequels, reviews, awards, publishing history, genres, and time period.
by John Lantigua
The Jungle, by John Lantigua
A Willie Cuesta Mystery Story
"Edgar-nominated author John Lantigua introduced private eye Willie Cuesta in Player's Vendetta, set in Miami's Little Havana. He returned in The Ultimate Havana."
An old man who used to own a banana plantation in Guatemela dies in his sleep, while in his employ as domestic servants are several relatives of the folks who were oppressed by his company at the time.
The Loch Ness Mystery
by Sam McCarver
The Loch Ness Mystery, by Sam McCarver
A John Darnell Mystery Story
An elderly clergyman in Scotland is afraid stories of Nessie might bring too many tourists to his town.
Especially now that that pesky journalist has one of those newfangled gizmos that takes what the kids nowadays are calling, "photographs."
That journalist is a friend of Darnell, the supernatural detective.
Highly anachronistic. Still somewhat entertaining.
- John Darnell series by Sam McCarver
Professor John Darnell, a detective debunking supernatural theories early in the 20th century: The Case of Cabin 13 (John Darnell, #1), The Case of Compa...
Porridge and Bess
by Tamar Myers
Porridge and Bess, by Tamar Myers
A Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery Story
Magdalena Portulacca Yoder is a Mennonite woman in her late forties, She owns a "full-board establishment," (bed and breakfast) in southeastern Pennsylvania.
She is taking the very first vacation of her life, in historic Charleston, South Carolina. She is having a difficult time selecting another tour after the guide from the Lunch & Learn midday excursion was murdered.
- Tamar Myers | Barnes & Noble
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Missing, Presumed . . . by Dana Stabenow
Skip this one. Not worth it. It's pointless and silly. Also, blecccch!
I didn't even bother putting the title and author in a cool grey rectangle, like most of the other stories, with one exception.
Call it Dead Time
by Andy Straka
Call it Dead Time, by Andy Straka
A Frank Pavlicek Mystery Story
Private investigator Frank Pavlicek receives a fax from Jake Toronto, his former partner in the NYPD.
The next thing the reader knows, Jake and Frank are in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia looking for Jake's peregrine falcon.
Not a Monster of a Chance
by Denise Swanson
Not a Monster of a Chance, by Denise Swanson
A Scumble River Mystery Story
I first found out about "Not a Monster of a Chance" from Swanson's website.
I bought it in e-book form from Amazon. It was short, and very inexpensive. Also, a lot of fun to read. Many of the regular Scumble Riverites appear: Charlie; Trixie; May; Officer Quirk; Wally --- even Flip, the husband of Skye's cousin Ginger.
(Flip reminded her one more time of her embarrassing valedictorian speech, wherein she insulted Scumble River and everyone in it.)
Skye has a summer lifeguard job at the Scumble River Recreation Club, featuring a sandy beach; shady picnic spots; and a sparkling lake for fishing and water skiing.
This summer there also seemed to be a monster at the lake.
Officer Quirk tells Skye he was appointed to inform the lifeguards that a teenage boy had seen, "a spiked fin as long as a Chevy truck" in the lake.
Wally Boyd, the chief of police, is still angry with Skye regarding something she did in book 2, Murder of a Sweet Old Lady. Skye thinks the chief made up the "sea monster" story in order to get revenge on her.
Corpse on a Holy Day
by Peter Tremayne
Corpse on a Holy Day, by Peter Tremayne
A Sister Fidelma Mystery Story
From the Introduction: " . . . Peter Tremayne travels back to an Ireland of long ago, as Sister Fidelma takes the seventh century's version of a holiday."
This is the first I had ever heard of Sister Fidelma, OR Peter Berresford Ellis, OR Peter Tremayne (the pseudonym of Peter Berresford Ellis.)
Apparently Sister is quite an international sensation. There is a society named for her. I really have to read more before I can even begin to write intelligently about her. She seems to be a nun and a canon lawyer, in Seventh Century Ireland.
Maybe she's even a regular lawyer? There's plenty of material on the Net regarding Tremayne/Ellis and Sister.
This little story is interesting and kind of sad.
Does the saint have an incorrupt body? Or, did someone recently die?
If the latter, then: ~~ Who? How? and when?
Sr. says, "The law states that the rights of the mentally disturbed should take precedence over other rights. A lenient view is taken of all offenses committed by them. . . . The law also looks kindly on those whose concern it is to protect those unable to protect themselves."
Tremayne/Ellis/McAlan is an actual Celtic scholar.
This author is quite prolific. He almost reminds me of Charles Dickens ---- which is a compliment, when I say it, at least. (I know some folks dislike Dickens. I hope I never meet those folks?)
The Sister Fidelma author writes fiction as Peter Treymayne and as Peter McAlan. He also has thirty-five non-fiction titles.
- peter tremayne sister fidelma series in order | Barnes & Noble
FIND peter tremayne sister fidelma series in order on Barnes & Noble. Free 3-Day shipping on $25 orders!
Lightning Strikes Twice
by Judith Van Gieson
Lightning Strikes Twice, by Judith Van Gieson
A Claire Reynier Mystery Story
"Judith Ven Gieson's new series, featuring Claire Reynier, began with The Stolen Blue. Claire has since reappeared in Vanishing Point."
Two women in their fifties have been friends since they were in elementary school. One has lost her memory of her own childhood because of a traumatic experience.
The other does some research to help her find her past.
Under the Big Black Sun
by k.j.a. Wishnia
Under the Big Black Sun, by k.j.a. Wishnia
A Filomena Buscarsela Mystery Story
Officer Buscarsela, NYPD, and her pre-teen daughter, Antonia, are staying in a cheap hotel near Miami Beach when they notice a little disabled East Indian boy, on the beach by himself. When a man shows up frantically looking for someone, Filomena points him toward the little boy. After which:
I come upon the man resting on his heels in the sand with one arm around his son, speaking in a language whose words I do not know but whose pitches are unmistakable as the soothing, universal tones of parental nurturing, interspersed with the sharp, strict tones of a thousand years of parental warning, while Antonia looks on, invisible from four feet away.
All the stories in this anthology (except for the two I've noted) are nicely done. I would hate to have to name a favorite.
This one is poignant, sad, sweet and bitter, as well as suspenseful.
- Filomena Buscarsela series by K.J.A. Wishnia
Filomena Buscarsela is an NYPD cop. 23 Shades of Black (Filomena Buscarsela, #1), Soft Money (Filomena Buscarsela, #2), The Glass Factory (Filomena Busc...
Serve and Volley
by Matt Witten
Serve and Volley, by Matt Witten
A Jacob Burns Mystery Story
Life, death, loved ones, beautiful day, history, socialism, coming of age (if you're lucky) in fictional Jones Lake, aka "Lake Chutzpah."
There's a lake in the Adirondacks we go to every summer. On the map it's called Jones Lake. But everyone who summers there calls it Lake Chutzpah.
The Lake Chutzpah story began over eighty years ago, when a hardy crew of Jewish schoolteachers and union activists from the Bronx pooled their meager resources, bought up the lake, and built cabins there. For two months every year, they escaped the capitalist rat race and rode the milk train up to the Adirondacks to live out their utopian socialist dreams. They sunned themselves on the beach, experimented with "free love," had lively all-night debates about how best to educate the workers, and held campaign rallies for Eugene V . Debs and Norman Thomas.
Now, at the dawn of a mew millennium, those socialist dreams are as faded as an old campaign poster. Nevertheless, the descendants of the old Jewish leftists --- sprinkled now with goyim and even, horror-of horrors, the occasional Republican --- keep on coming to Lake Chutzpah each year with their children and grandchildren.
Five years ago my family started coming, too. . . . We've rented the same place for five years, and we count our blessings.
Such a blessing can also be a curse --- for some Lake Chutzpah-niks.
Books in the Jacob Burns Mystery Series.
by Wayne Worcester
Sweet Rewards by Wayne Worcester
Holmes is Not the Holiday Type?
Or, perhaps he is ??
Holmes claims the criminals will have a field day if he leaves 221B Baker Street.
Yet, by the end of the story, Holmes wants another vacation, and Dr. Watson wants to stay in London. Holmes thought that vacation would be dull, but he soon found out otherwise.
The crime-fighting at Shoreham by Sea has invigorated Holmes.
Not for the True Canonicals
If you are a fan of the true Holmes canon by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (or his client, Dr. Watson), you may be disappointed with this story. You may be able to tell right away that it's not "real Holmes."
The very first sentence of this story reads, "Until Lady Pembroke suddenly keeled over in the lobby of our hotel, Sherlock Holmes had more or less resigned himself to having a bad vacation." (Watson would have called it, "holiday.")
But, if you don't normally read or like Doyle's Holmes stories, you may not notice.
Even if you ARE a "Canonical," though . . .
. . . you still have a chance.
Just don't compare it to the canon. Enjoy reading a fun, humorous little story in its own right.
Who doesn't love the old movies and radio programs with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce? Not canonical at all.
Holmes fights the Nazis?
They WERE Holmes and Watson
- Shoreham-by-Sea - Visit Worthing
Shoreham-by-Sea, is a historic town with a centre which reflects the architecture of its fishing history. There are old cottages, houses and some beautiful churches. Yet the town is vibrant and...
- Shoreham, West Sussex | Shoreham-by-Sea guide
The guide to Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex: what's on in Shoreham and the Adur district. Attractions, community events, sport, the arts and Shoreham tourist information.
- Shorehambysea.com - the essential community guide for Shoreham-by-Sea
Welcome to Shoreham-by-Sea website, the essential guide to Shoreham by Sea.
The Beggars, by Bruegel
Worcester is retired from the University of Connecticut, where he taught journalism for thirty one years.
He has written two previous "Dr. Watson Mystery" novels.