This month, mystery authors are putting the “terrifying” into terrifyingly good, and while that might not sound so spooky, we promise you that August’s new releases have more than enough thrills and chills to rattle your very bones! If you can’t get enough of creepy tales that have you double-checking your locks at night, you’ll love debut author Jeff Crook’s The Sleeping and the Dead, an RT Top Pick! We go behind the scenes to get a better picture of what inspired this frightening fare. But Crook isn’t the only one serving up the scares, three long-time favorite authors are returning to put the “super” into supernatural (see what we did there?). Additionally, we investigate stories that raise the undead as several fictional characters get new lives long after their original authors have passed away. However, if you prefer your novels without a helping of horror, don’t worry — you can check out what’s happening in this month’s cozy corner as several new tales are coming our way.
MOVING TO MYSTERY
Fantasy author Jeff Crook treats August's readers to his first outing into a new genre — and he does so with a bang, literally, with The Sleeping and the Dead. RT reviewer Page says, “This series starter should go right to the top of all bestseller lists. It is very well written, with fresh new characters, an unusual atmosphere and setting and an explosive ending.” The novel follows anti-heroine Jackie Lyons, a crime scene photographer who is also able to see ghosts. But as her camera starts to bring the unearthly into sharper focus, and the Playhouse Killer continues a killing spree that leaves victims in poses of famous plays, Jackie’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. With so much going on in this story, we went to the author to get an insider’s look about what inspired this multifaceted tale ...
The Sleeping and the Dead was inspired by an incident that occurred on Easter several years ago. At some point during a family gathering, my brother-in-law's camera took a set of 10 photos of my youngest son, in two of which a blurry something can be seen passing behind him. These photos can be seen here. Although the photos are inconclusive, the fact that no one remembers shooting the photo series is the weirdest part of the story. Thus was born, one day while showing the photos to a friend, the idea of a haunted camera. A haunted camera is both a mystery and a ghost story, so that's what I wrote. It became noir when Jackie started telling the story — her voice demanded it, and you don't say no to Jackie.
Many writers basically write themselves, or their idealized vision of themselves, but Jackie Lyons and I are nothing alike. I'm not a photographer, an addict, a detective, or a woman. Even though I had to do a ton of research on everything from photography to heroin slang to Memphis theatre history, the story basically wrote itself. Jackie told me what to say, and I wasn't about to argue with her.
My previous novels were fantasy, but The Sleeping and the Dead isn't my first foray across the genre lines, or even across mystery lines. I've written and published over forty short stories in multiple genres, including mystery, horror, historical, sci-fi, literary fiction, you name it.
- Jeff Crook
But Crook certainly isn’t the only author slipping some out of this world action into his stories. Several mystery authors have things that go bump in the night bumping people off. From vampires to ancient evil and beyond, creatures of the night are making their presence known in this month’s new releases.
With Blood Bath & Beyond, author Michelle Rowen brings back a popular paranormal romance heroine for a new spin-off series in a new genre. You’ll love this story of a woman trying to save her vampy fiance from the trouble he encounters during his day job as a secret council enforcer. This Vegas-set story is may leave you dying of laughter!
Meanwhile, Dean Koontz’s latest in his Odd series has RT senior reviewer Jill raving “Spooktacular!” Hero Odd Thomas knows that he has to protect the pregnant Annamaria and her baby, but he’s not sure exactly who (or what) is trying to put this mom-to-be out of commission. They are staying at Roseland, the home of a reclusive billionaire, but it’s not clear if the money man is friend — or foe. You’ll just have to read Odd Apocalypse to find out …
And finally, author Kay Hooper delights readers with Haven which follows several operatives from the author’s long-running Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series. In this installment ghost-seeing Jessie returns to the hometown she fled years ago and helps the team uncover a dark evil. However, will their powers combined be enough to expel this force? Crack open this book and you won’t want to put it down until the story is over.
RE-ANIMATED CHARACTERS: JANE EYRE AND CO.
The characters of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre don’t seem ready to sit quietly on the shelf, waiting for a reader to pick up the classic. Instead, they are making several appearances on the silver screen, and are popping up in the strangest of places — from mashups like Jane Slayre, which gives the heroine the ability to vanquish demons, to erotic romance versions like the upcoming Jane Eyre Laid Bare. But one of our favorite re-imagining of these classic players is certainly this month’s Death of a Schoolgirl by Joanna Campbell Slan.
Set in the heroine’s own time, this story imbues our beloved character with super sleuthing skills and kicks off Slan’s new Jane Eyre Chronicles. It opens with the famous female heading to visit Adele Varens, her beloved Edward’s ward, at the young woman’s boarding school. A cryptic missive has Jane ready to look into a suspicious death at the school and ready to protect Adele — no matter the cost. However, what Jane uncovers about the slain student is more disturbing than she’d ever imagined. RT’s Sandra calls the story, “a very entertaining, believable extension of Jane Eyre” and continues to praise Slan’s work by saying, “she has done an impressive job using rich historical details to transport readers back in time.”
We can’t get enough of the heroes and heroines of this month’s cozy mysteries. With two legs or four, on wheels or on TV, this month several mystery-solvers are part of long-running series. But it’s up to you to decide if you want to go from book one or skip to latest in the series, metaphorically eating dessert before dinner. (But with books this good we’re betting you’ll enjoy this series in any order you choose to read them!) Clocking in as the largest of the connected “tails” in this month’s spotlight, Carole Nelson Douglas brings back her feline investigator, Midnight Louie, and his human pal for Cat in a White Tie and Tails, book 24 in this purrfect collection. However, if you’re on the hunt for several books to dig your teeth into we suggest your order up A Brew to a Kill. The latest Cleo Coyle mystery, number 11 if you are keeping track, features coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi who takes advantage of the food truck craze sweeping the nation. Yet if you don’t have time to invest in nearly a dozen novels, but still want to be engrossed in a gripping series, Julie Kramer’s fifth novel in her Riley Spartz books will leave you excited to read the rest. This month Shunning Sarah hits shelves, following the spunky TV reporter to Amish country to prove that even a mystery involving the “Plain Folk” isn’t as simple as it seems at first glance!
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