Tuesday, February 20, 2024



A Cold White Sun   

By Vicki Delany

ISBN: 9781464201585

A 20013 hardcover release

From Poisoned Pen Press

A fine, judicious blend of action, mystery, thoughtful introspection and exploration of human conditions and motivations marks this novel. The story is a part of the author’s continuing series about the development of a young constable in the police force of a small community, Trafalgar. The town is located in a prime tourist region of British Columbia. That’s a province of Canada. The mountains offer prime skiing, the streams fishing and the forests hunting of various animals. Tourism is big business but that brings troubles as well.

Moonlight Smith, born of a hippie activist American couple, a near-champion downhill skier, much to her mother’s initial consternation has settled, at least temporarily, for a career as a cop. She’s bright, good-looking and not entirely sure of her life direction. Delaney has set this interesting character up with two bosses. She’s basically a patrol officer in the small department, but because the head of murder investigations, John Winters, recognizes her intelligence, Moonlight—Molly—Smith is frequently tasked to participate in his investigations.

This time the crime is murder. Out for her daily walk, high school English teacher Cathy Lindsay is slain, shot in the back. Subsequent investigation can find no plausible reason. Why was she a target? Was it a mistake?

As the investigation winds through Trafalgar, the author takes the opportunity to examine relationships between her principal characters, their family members, and members of the constabulary. Some of the scenes are loving, some are rife with anger and tension. The pace is good and if the threads occasionally fray and lose a little direction, that’s inevitable. This novel has a lot of thoughtful observations and this reviewer felt enriched. I’d award 4.75 stars if that was possible.


Friday, February 09, 2024


Minneapolis native J. L. Anderson wrote an entertaining crime novel about the death of a resident of Willow Lane. In the process of solving the crime, the author has revealed a whole host of interesting facts about the sometimes more that ordinary lives of the residents of this neighborhood.

Add to that a conflicted squad of Minneapolis homicide detectives who seem to spend almost as much energy fighting each other as they do trying to figure out who killed the bee in the neighbor's bonnet. The story moves along, builds clue after clue pointing at different suspects and is resolved in eminently satisfying ways. 

This is not a highly unusual neighborhood--it could be yours--or mine. From all appearances the residents of Willow Lane are nice, well-educated, intelligent people, with an exception or two. But somehow the web of deceit has entangled more than is obvious. The author does a fine job of setting up the reader and then precisely and logically solving the puzzle and revealing  many Secrets of Willow Lane, a 2019 publication by J.L.Anderson from Fuzion Press.

Sunday, February 04, 2024



A Murder In Passing             

By Mark De CastriquE

ISBN: 9781464201493

A 2013 release from

Poisoned Pen Press

History, race relations, and persistent attitude are all blended in this fine story. With sensitivity and care the author has developed a believable inter-race relationship story of love and sacrifice. As the title suggests, murder is also part of the mix.

With few clients in hand, Sam Blackman and Nakalya Robertson need some outlet for their energy. Connecting with an outdoor mushroom-searching band, Sam stumbles over a skeleton that appears to be quite old. The discovery sets in motion inquiries by several agencies and since Robertson and Blackman are at loose ends with almost no business, they join the search for answers on an ad hoc basis. Then a potential client shows up asking them to try to locate a photograph, apparently stolen several years earlier.  Even though the picture was made by a well-known photographer, its value doesn’t seem to reach the level where hiring a detective is appropriate. What’s even more intriguing is that the subject of the missing photograph is a small group of children linked to the skeleton discovered by Blackman.

The story unwinds in a very logical and thoughtful manner. The writing is clean and the characters are interesting in their attitudes and development. Everything about this book is of the level we have come to expect from this publisher and its authors.


Thursday, February 01, 2024


 This week, 550 National Guard citizens of Minnesota will deploy to Kwait. It's a 10-month assignment into an unsettled area of the world. This is what we do. Salutes to the Guard members  and to their families.

Meanwhile, politicians play their games. Just remember that deployment of service members across the turbulent world is a consequence of our political activities. Be sure you pay attention and vote.