Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tina Whittle

Tina Whittle’s Tai Randolph/Trey Seaver series — featuring intrepid gunshop owner Tai and her corporate security agent partner Trey — has garnered starred reviews in Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Published by Poisoned Pen Press, this Atlanta-based series debuted with The Dangerous Edge of Things, followed by Darker Than Any Shadow (2012) and Blood, Ash and Bone (2013).

Deeper Than the Grave is the fourth book in the series.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Whittle's reply:
Sassy Southern Crime Fiction: Death in Perspective by Larissa Reinhart

Cherry Tucker is my kind of sleuth – whip-smart, quick-tongued, and big-hearted as all get out – and Death in Perspective shows her at her sweetly reckless best. If you like your heroines feisty, your menfolk sexy, and your plots as twisty as a dirt road racetrack, then put Larissa Reinhart’s latest on top of your Must Read list. She’s currently at work on the fifth book in the series – rumor has it that Hogzilla makes an appearance. I cannot wait.

Thriller with Depth: Cabin Fever by James M. Jackson

As a Georgia girl, I find that any novel with a snowbound setting feels as exotic as the Kremlin. And while I wouldn’t want to live surrounded by actual white fluffy stuff, I enjoy a fictional blizzard every now and then. Cabin Fever (second in the Seamus McCree series) fits the bill nicely. With blood-real characters, a twisty plot, and deft writing, Jackson delivers a slalom ride of a story and yet never neglects the telling detail. He’s especially masterful with point of view, including the first-person take of our narrator, Seamus, who for all his curmudgeonly grousing has a certain sharp charm. A passel of supporting characters adds texture to the story and to Seamus' emotional arc (and arc he does, however reluctantly). This is an ice cold book with a warm warm heart -- highly recommended.

Science-Savvy Historical Whodunit: The Edison Effect by Bernadette Pajer

I've been a fan of the Professor Bradshaw Mysteries ever since the first in the series (A Spark of Death) and I’m eagerly awaiting the fourth (The Edison Effect, which is on my TBR stack right this second). Pajer’s series is intelligent and tricky, intricately plotted and expertly researched, with complicated characters who make it easy to root for them (in both their personal lives and as crime solvers). The Edison Effect promises more of the same, including some nefarious doings with Christmas lights and the eponymous Thomas Alva Edison. Every book in the series has received the prestigious Washington Academy of Sciences Seal of Approval for its scientific accuracy, but never fear – the physics and chemistry are integrated seamlessly into a ripping good read.

Kick Ass Female Amateur Sleuth: Avoidable Contact by Tammy Kaehler

My series protagonist rolls up her sleeves and tackles whatever problem comes strolling into her yard, so it’s no surprise that as a reader, I’ll follow a strong female lead anywhere. Tammy Kaehler’s Kate Reilly is one of my favorites. She’s smart, intuitive, an intriguing mix of aggression on the race track and emotional hit-the brakes in the rest of her life (especially romantically – Kaehler does a fine job of bringing a paradoxical blend of assertiveness and caution to Kate’s love life, a continuing arc through the series). Kate’s got serious problems even before the bodies start appearing, but the same resourceful drive that helps her cross the finish line makes her an excellent crime-solver as well. I have enjoyed the previous two entries in the series (Dead Man’s Switch and Braking Points) and look forward to the third, Avoidable Contact, which is on my TBR stack.

Hot & Witty Romance: Wicked Little Secrets by Susanna Ives

I am currently reading an ARC of Wicked, My Love (coming in March from Sourcebooks) so until release day, you’ll have to content yourself with Susanna Ives’ first installment in her Wicked trilogy, Wicked Little Secrets. I’m talking smart, sexy fun if you love characters with wit, charm, and a certain predilection for trouble, then grab this novel. I’m not a big reader of romances, but Ives always delivers for me in the plotting department, with a mystery arc clever and complicated enough to keep any lover of whodunits happy. The first in the trilogy features an especially smashing plot – blackmail! murder! vengeful madams! – and a mystery true to the “play fair” school of writing. Add a subversively twisty undercurrent and two irresistible leads and you’ve got a novel deserving of its place on the Best of 2013 lists.

Lyrically Magical Short Story Collection: Safe In Your Head by Laura Valeri

I recently interviewed Laura Valeri, the author of Safe In Your Head, a collection of stories about love and war, hope and wonder, ghosts and memories, which prompted me to reread this book, the winner of the Stephen F. Austin State University Press Fiction Prize. I was amazed at how deeply it still worked on me. The stories Valeri shares are pure conjuration, a trick of literary light and magic, piercing the veil between (she includes charms and spells from Italy, her birthplace, to heighten this surreal effect). This is one of this book's recurrent themes – the power of story to transcend fact and truth, to become them after a while, all of it leavened by the raw beauty of Valeri's words. As a reader, your perception shifts with each new story, each new voice, all of it becoming more than the sum of its parts. There are spells and recipes and dreams and shifting time, and I enjoyed every sensual second I spent in these pages.
Visit Tina Whittle's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Darker Than Any Shadow.

The Page 69 Test: Blood, Ash, and Bone.

The Page 69 Test: Deeper Than the Grave.

--Marshal Zeringue