Win the March ’15 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

March 1, 2015

MAR 15
March is truly international with thrillers that move through New York, Paris, Belfast, Croatia, Swedish Lapland and more! I updated the Win Books page with some terrific books. This month there is a mix of NY Times bestsellers, the latest in some of my favorite series, and a debut.

The Patriot Threat  is the latest Cotton Malone novel by New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry and offers a tantalizing premise; what if the Federal income tax is illegal? Full Tilt by Rick Mofina is a chilling thriller about a manhunt for a killer who’s kept a collection of victims prisoner for years without detection and is sure to be an all night read. A woman looking for love online is entangled in a killer’s terrifying scheme in The Black Widow by Wendy Corsi Staub.

Several new historical thrillers are offered, starting with David Morrell’s latest Thomas De Quincey novel, Inspector of the Dead, set during the Crimean War, with Queen Victoria the target of a killer. M.J. Rose brings us the latest in her brilliant Daughters of La Lune series, The Witch of Painted Sorrows, a gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris. Too Bad to Die by Francine Mathews is a tense and enthralling historical thriller in which British Naval Intelligence officer Ian Fleming attempts to foil a Nazi plot to assassinate FDR, Churchill, and Stalin.  

Adrian McKinty brings back series favorite Belfast Detective Sean Duffy, who is struggling with burn-out as he investigates a brutal double murder and suicide in Gun Street Girl. Doug Wynne’s latest, Red Equinox,  is an homage to Lovecraft, and the Lovecraft eZine says, “No Lovecraft fan–or horror fan for that matter–should miss this one.”

Finally, the debut novel Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback is another historical thriller, set in Swedish Lapland in 1717, when the harshest winter in memory, the “wolf winter,” leaves settlers struggling to survive living in the shadow of a mountain with a dark history.

You can win autographed copies of all these books! If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. We put together a list of books including bestsellers and debut authors, so you can win some of your favorites and find some new favorites.

What makes this contest really special is that all of the books (except eBooks) are signed by the author!

Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog, you get an extra entry into every contest you enter. Check out the Win Books  page for more information on all these books and how you to enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

Sleuthfest 2015

February 28, 2015

I just spent three days hanging with mystery writers at Sleuthfest. This is always one of my favorite conferences. This year they returned home to Deerfield Beach at the Doubletree Hotel. There were 340 people registered so its a small, intimate conference.

There are three tracks, which sometimes means making tough choices. But at least here if I can’t get to a favorite author’s panel (I’m talking about you, Charles Todd & Paul Levine!) I know I will see them sooner or later and I did.

There were some really great, hands-on writing panels, really more like workshops. Michael Sears taught about the importance of opening lines & everyone got to write a bit then critique each other’s work. Deborah Sharp gave out pointers on dialogue and Victoria Landis explained how to use settings as character.

I loved Hank Phillippi Ryan’s presentation on Writer’s Block. She was warm & wonderful as always, and even gave out her cards with instructions to contact her for more help as needed.

Some of the most popular panels were the Editors Round Table, where editors from Putnam, Henry Holt & St. Martins discussed what they are buying, including the advice to ignore trends, they’ll have changed by the time your book is done, and the Agents Round Table where they discussed what they are buying and query letters that get read and ones that don’t (emoticons & exclamation points are a sure road to the delete button.)

James W. Hall was the keynote speaker on Friday, and he discussed his top writing tips. I sat with Caroline & Charles Todd, Bob Williamson & a new writer, Tom Turner. James Patterson was the keynote on Saturday and security was tight. He sounded like a proud papa; his son is the reader on his new kids audiobook.

Nancy J. Cohen was the authority on a presentation called Beyond the Book. She explained the importance of websites, blogs & social media, how to tie them together, and how to use them to the best advantage with s multi-page informative handout.

I was on a panel called Love in the Libary along with Pat Lane, another librarian with the Palm Beach County Library and was moderated by Chris Jackson. It was a lot of fun.

Heather Graham & the Slush Pile Band performed at a raucous, spectacular party, and there was a murder mystery going on with a Kindle Fire going to one lucky attendee (wasn’t me!)

Paul Levine & Randy Rawls faced off over self publishing versus traditional, moderated by the great Neil Nyren, Putnam editor extraordinaire. Michael Barson weighed in on the inside scoop on book publicity and there was a panel on the steps to take to publish your e-book.

Dave Barry is the keynote tomorrow at the closing brunch and he is worth the price of admission alone. Everyone I saw was having a good time and more than once I heard “best Sleuthfest ever!” Congrats to co-chairs Victoria Landis & Joanne Sinchuk for pulling off a terrific event.

THE VOICES by F. R. Tallis

February 26, 2015
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Click to purchase

Christopher and his wife, Laura, have found the perfect new house for their soon to expand family. It’s an old Victorian in a nice neighborhood, a house that’s been empty long enough that even with Christopher’s planned renovations it still falls within their budget.

Soon after moving in, though, strange things begin to happen. First, the builders find a bunch of old stuff apparently connected to a medium who’d previously owned the home. Then the couple begins to hear noises: knocking on the walls and voices that Christopher decides will make a great subject for an experimental recording project. But as he becomes more and more obsessed with the voices, Laura becomes convinced the strange occurrences are having a negative effect on them all.

Much of The Voices is about the deterioration of Christopher and Laura’s relationship. The longer they live in the house in question, the more time Christopher spends in his studio devoting all of his energy to the voices. And Laura is correct in believing that the voices are bad.

The setting is a definite stand out. Tallis set his tale in the mid 70s, which adds another layer of friction between the couple – the changes in both of their chosen industries and societal changes as well.

Tallis, whose background is in psychology, no doubt intended this to be a subtler haunted house story. On the one hand I admire it and admit that it does make for a different approach; it’s a clever spin on the classic ghost story. On the other hand, I really wanted more of the thrills and chills and more of Maybury’s story.

2/15 Becky LeJeune

THE VOICES by F. R. Tallis. Pegasus (December 14, 2014). ISBN: 978-1605986562. 352p.


February 24, 2015

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 Rules of Scoundrels (Book 2)

First up, I must confess I didn’t read book one of this series. That said, after reading this one I probably will.

Our heroine drew me in right away, described as “brilliant, bespectacled daughter of a double marquess [who] cares more for books than balls.” I was hooked by reading the back cover.

Lady Phillipa, better known as Pippa, is engaged to be married to a very nice Earl, but a rather simple one who doesn’t seem too interested in her. Pippa is resigned to the fact that she will spend the rest of her life living with a man she likes but does not love, but who will allow her to keep her dogs and her scientific experiments.

When she’s two weeks away from the wedding, Pippa decides she needs to learn more about sex than she can find in books, and she figures the best way is to ask a scoundrel to help her out.

Cross is a well known rogue and owner of gambling hell, but when Pippa propositions him in her scientific way, he is determined to treat her like the lady she is. But she is smart and tenacious, and she perseveres. Cross is as smart as Pippa, and just as determined not to let her get her way or learn about the skeletons in his closet.

It is a lot of fun watching the two of them spar. Pippa is so smart about some things, and very naive about others, and that really helps make her character come to life. There is a lot of heat in this romance, but a lot of tenderness too. I really enjoyed it.

2/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ONE GOOD EARL DESERVES A LOVER by Sarah MacLean. Avon (January 29, 2013). ISBN 978-0062068538. 384p.

THE PORTLANDIA COOKBOOK by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein & Jonathan Krisel

February 20, 2015

portlanCook Like a Local

This is the companion cookbook to the popular TV show that has just been renewed for 2 more seasons (that’s 6 & 7 in case you aren’t caught up!) It includes 50 recipes from a variety of sources.

If you haven’t seen Portlandia, it is a comedy sketch show starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. They play several different regular characters and the stories are all set in Portland. I hesitate to say they make fun of the local culture, but they do, with great affection.

The book is half comedy, half cooking with actual recipes, and they all tie in to an episode of the show. Fans will get the references, newcomers may be bewildered. For example, there is a recipe called “Butterflied Chicken Roasted Over Bread” that is a direct reference to the series premiere episode. That episode featured this nice young couple who are dining out and ask about the spatchcocked chicken on the menu. They are told it’s locally raised, and then the waitress brings them a dossier on the chicken whose name is Colin. They decide to visit the farm where he was raised to make sure he had a good life before they eat him, and it just gets crazier from there.portlan Colin

While I might actually try to make the Butterflied Chicken recipe, most recipes didn’t really inspire me to try them. The borscht had carrots in it, and I don’t remember my grandmother doing that (although the beets episode of the TV show is one of my favorites.) I did make one of the first recipes in the book, the “Brussels Sprouts with Bacon” which was great. It also had hazelnuts which added a nice crunch, but let’s face it, how can you go wrong adding bacon to a veggie dish!

As a cookbook, I wouldn’t really recommend it but any fan of the show will definitely want it.

portlan contributors

portlan intro

2/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE PORTLANDIA COOKBOOK: Cook Like a Local by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein & Jonathan Krisel. Clarkson Potter; 1St Edition edition (October 28, 2014). ISBN 978-0804186100. 176p.

BRED TO KILL by Franck Thilliez

February 20, 2015

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It’s been a year since Franck Sharko and Lucie Hennebelle were brought together in the strange and shocking investigation of Syndrome E. And while the two were undeniably drawn to one another, fate has since torn them apart. Sharko has forgone retirement but has taken a voluntary step down in the ranks so that he can once again work the streets. Hennebelle, though, has left the police force altogether in an attempt to heal after the tragic events that led to their breakup. And yet, another odd case will force the two back together once again.


Sharko is called to the scene of a brutal attack at a primate research facility. The victim is a student who had been doing her graduate studies there. The case looks to be pretty airtight – the suspect, a chimp, is found locked in the pen alongside the girl’s body. But things aren’t quite as they seem. The chimp, trained in sign language, describes the killer to the best of her abilities and the evidence seems to indicate she’s telling the truth. And so Sharko must turn to the victim to find a motive behind her murder. At the same time, Lucie has started her own off the books investigation – one that brings her straight into Sharko’s territory and is undeniably linked to the student’s murder.

Franck Thilliez brings together science and mystery to create some of the most fascinating plots I’ve ever read. This time the two cursed detectives (‘cause Thilliez really does throw them to the wolves) uncover a link between evolution and violence that could trace all the way back to the Cro-Magnons. Their hunt for the truth takes them to some of the darkest recesses of the world and forces them both to confront the very thing that ripped them so suddenly apart.

Bred to Kill is just the second of Thilliez’s titles to be translated into English, though it does appear to be the fourth installment in the series (Syndrome E was apparently book three). There’s no word yet on future translations, but given that this has quickly become a favorite of mine I do hope we’ll see more of them here in the years to come.

2/15 Becky LeJeune

BRED TO KILL by Franck Thilliez. Viking (January 8, 2015). ISBN: 978-0670025978. 384p.


February 19, 2015

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Dr. Lise Shields has concerns about her latest patient. Jason Edwards arrives at Menaker State Hospital with no referral or patient information in his chart. It’s against protocol in every way, but Lise has been assured that everything is fine. Why then does it seem that Jason shouldn’t even be a patient at all? Why, after questioning his case, does Lise suddenly find that she’s being followed? And why are the FBI approaching her to talk about Jason?

This latest from John Burley is a fascinating psychological suspense read. The characters are fabulously drawn and the plot is quite deftly woven.

The only hiccup here is that a well-read fan of this type of tale might be able to untangle the thread of the plot a bit easier than they’re meant to. Burley does it well, but it’s not as unique as I’d have hoped, to be quite honest.

2/15 Becky LeJeune

THE FORGETTING PLACE by John Burley. William Morrow Paperbacks (February 10, 2015). ISBN: 978-0062227409. 352p.

Guest Blogger: Peter Swanson

February 18, 2015

Kind Worth Killing

I am excited to welcome guest blogger Peter Swanson – and be sure to read on to the end to find out how you can win a copy of The Kind Worth Killing!

In this piece Peter Swanson, author of The Kind Worth Killing, shares some advice for BookBitch readers who may be writers or aspiring writers.

Book Release Day by Peter Swanson

My second novel was just published at the beginning of this year, and to be honest, release day for book two was more nerve-wracking than release day for my debut novel. I think that when my first book, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, came out at the beginning of 2014, I was far too excited to be that nervous. I also had zero expectations. I had one goal in my writing life—to publish a novel—and it had just happened.

But this year it felt a little different. More anticipation, somehow. More hope. Also, your goals change. I am now hoping to publish more than two books, and it seems important that I secure some good reviews, plus some decent sale numbers, to make that happen. Hence, the nerves.

But here’s the thing about Book Release Day. There’s nothing you can really do about it. You’ve already done your work and the book, for better or for worse, is out there. I suppose you can check out twitter for people mentioning you, and then thank them for the mentions, but that’s about it. If you live near a bookstore, you can go there and sign copies (if they have them), and bring the booksellers doughnuts.

What I recommend is that you have a few drinks (alone or with company) at your favorite local bar or restaurant. And do it without a laptop or a smart phone handy. Sometimes it’s nice just to celebrate the day without looking to see if you’re getting any comments on twitter, or blog reviews. Just be in the moment. Your book is out in the world.

Then, when you’re done celebrating, go and start work on your next book.

About The Kind Worth Killing

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start—he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit—a contrast that once inflamed their passion, but has now become a cliché.

But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.” After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying, stinking, cheating spouse. . . .

Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda’s demise. But there are a few things about Lily’s past that she hasn’t shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.

Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive . . . with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail.

About Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson PhotoPeter Swanson is the author of two novels, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, and The Kind Worth Killing, available from William Morrow in the United States and Faber & Faber in the United Kingdom. His poems, stories and reviews have appeared in such journals as The Atlantic, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Epoch, Measure, Notre Dame Review, Soundings East, and The Vocabula Review. He has won awards in poetry from The Lyric and Yankee Magazine, and is currently completing a sonnet sequence on all 53 of Alfred Hitchcock’s films. He lives with his wife and cat in Somerville, Massachusetts. Read more and find links to social media profiles at:

To win your own copy, please send an email to with “WIN THE KIND WORTH KILLING” as the subject.

You must include your snail mail address in your email.

All entries must be received by February 28, 2015. Two (2) names will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States or Canada. Your book will be sent by the publicist.

One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.


February 17, 2015

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Dr. Zoe Goldman is a resident in psychiatry at a Buffalo, New York hospital. She takes a real dislike to one of her patients, Sofia, a beautiful sociopath who murdered her mother, maimed her brother and has spent more than twenty years in one hospital or another. Zoe’s supervisor suggests that Sofia be released, which makes Zoe very uncomfortable.

Zoe is dealing with some personal issues as well. Her boyfriend recently moved away and the long distance relationship is strained. The mother who adopted her is suffering from increasing dementia, and Zoe is desperate for information about her birth mother. All she has is a name and a photograph, but doesn’t know much more.

The deeper she delves into her past the more confused she gets. She is having recurring nightmares from her childhood, when she was caught in a house fire, and her therapist reluctantly tries hypnosis with minimal results.

This is a serious look at a variety of mental illnesses, especially blocked memories, and the suspense keeps building throughout until the shocking ending. This is a riveting debut from a promising new thriller writer.

Copyright ©2015 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

2/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LITTLE BLACK LIES by Sandra Block. Grand Central Publishing (February 17, 2015). ISBN 978-1455583737. 352p.

MY SOUL TO TAKE by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

February 16, 2015

Thora Gudmundsdottir Novels of Iceland

Thóra Gudmundsdóttir isn’t averse to cases that are a bit weird, but her latest might be hard to defend. A client intent on opening a wellness spa claims that his recently purchased land is haunted. This supposed haunting is bad for his business’s mojo and he believes the previous owners had to have been aware of it. Even his employees talk as though it’s been a long-time subject of local gossip.

Thóra is definitely skeptical but the promise of some R&R and spa treatments convinces her to at least take a look. Things become complicated, however, when her client’s architect turns up dead the same day Thóra arrives. Now, what should have been a weekend interview and a few formalities has become a murder investigation with Thóra’s client as the prime suspect.

I really enjoy this series, particularly thanks to the incorporation of Icelandic history and folklore in the plot. In this instance, it’s WWII history and the folktales of Jón Árnason. So far there’s a nice supernatural leaning to each of the books as well, something that’s promised to continue in the subsequent titles (there are currently four books available in the series with the fifth set to hit shelves shortly).

There’s lots of great development as far as Thóra is concerned, what with her relationship and her children, and I’m thoroughly enjoying following her character. As for the mystery itself, this second of the series wasn’t quite as tightly plotted as its predecessor, Last Rituals, but was still pretty enthralling overall.

2/15 Becky LeJeune

MY SOUL TO TAKE by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir. William Morrow (February 3, 2015). ISBN: 978-0062330260. 352p.


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