Tuesday, 04 April 2023

Sarah Caudwell Hilary Tamar 2023 reissues

Photo by Robert Taylor

Random House Publishing Group has reissued two professor Hilary Tamar novels, Thus Was Adonis Murdered and The Shortest Way to Hades, by Sarah Cauldwell (1939–2000), the pen name of English barrister Sarah Cockburn.

Set in London and narrated by the good professor, each legal whodunit centers on Michael Cantrip, Desmond Ragwort, Selena Jardine, and Timothy Shepherd, a group of junior barristers at the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn in London, and their puzzling, clever, and entertaining cases.

“Hilary’s voice was in my head before any of the plots,” Caudwell told writer Martin Edwards in an interview for Mystery Scene Magazine. “I knew from the outset Hilary must be an Oxford don—but of equivocal sex and even equivocal age, resembling that precise, donnish kind of individual who starts being elderly at the age of 22.”

Caudwell made a point in her novels, of making her narrator's gender a non-point. "A protagonist ahead of their time," says the publisher, "Caudwell believed that [gender] was besides the point of the investigation."

Read Edwards' feature "A Most Ingenious Legal Mind: Sarah Caudwell" for more on this groundbreaking, pipe-smoking, subversive author.

Caudwell Giveaway


Sarah Caudwell and Hilary Tamar, Legal Mystery Mavericks, Back in Print After 20 Years—and You Can Win Copies of Both
Mystery Scene
Saturday, 01 April 2023

Chad Zunker

Photo by Amy Melsa

"This is my eighth book and the first time I have created a storyline around a father and daughter. I think I’ve been resistant up to this point to write this type of thriller because it felt too scary real to me. I write from a deeply emotional place."

I’m blessed to have three daughters: two teenagers and one preteen. Although they are the light of my life, I admittedly wanted to have boys when my wife and I first got married. I grew up playing sports and was obsessed with football. I started at quarterback for my high school football team and even pursued this passion through college at the University of Texas. So when it came to having a family, I always envisioned myself tossing the football around with my son for countless hours in the backyard and teaching him how to play the game. To me, that would be the very best of fatherhood.

But I got something different, and better. I knew from the beginning there was something emotionally powerful between a father and a daughter. A unique connection that can’t be explained in simple words. From the start, I have felt a fierce protective instinct inside me when it comes to my daughters. I will absolutely do anything to keep them safe.

All He Has Left by Chad ZunkerAll He Has Left is about Jake Slater, a recently widowed father who suddenly finds his only teenage daughter kidnapped and her cousin murdered. To make matters worse, Jake is the primary suspect. And the only way to clear his name and find Piper is to do it on the run. Crucified by the media, pursued by the FBI, and hunted by an assassin, Jake can feel his desperation escalating with every tick of the clock. The closer he gets to the truth, the more he risks uncovering family betrayals so sinister they’re worth killing for.

This is my eighth book and the first time I have created a storyline around a father and daughter. I think I’ve been resistant up to this point to write this type of thriller because it felt too scary real to me. I write from a deeply emotional place. In each book, I try to connect with my protagonist in every possible way. But this one felt too close to home. I wasn’t sure I could personally handle the intense emotions with this story when all I could envision was myself and my own daughters with each word I put down on the page. It was not easy to write.

But in the end, I think that’s what gives this book its heartbeat. In so many ways, Jake is me and Piper is one of my daughters. So the emotional center of this book is the most genuine of all my thrillers. I believe it brings the story to life, and I hope you will find out for yourself.

All He Has Left, by Chad Zunker (Thomas & Mercer, April 2023)

Chad Zunker studied journalism at the University of Texas, where he was also on the football team. He’s worked for some of the most powerful law firms in the country and invented baby products that are now sold all over the world. He has wanted to write full time since he took his first practice hit as a skinny freshman walk-on from a 6’5, 240 pound senior All-American safety—which crushed both him and his feeble NFL dreams. He lives in Austin with his wife, Katie, and their three daughters, where he is hard at work on his next novel.


My Book: "All He Has Left"
Chad Zunker
Tuesday, 28 March 2023


The It Girl by Ruth Ware

The It Girl
by Ruth Ware
Gallery/Scout Press, trade paper, $18.99

Hannah Jones can’t believe she’s attending Oxford. Even more so, she can’t believe her roommate is April Clarke-Cliveden, the titular “it girl”—beautiful, wealthy, popular, and smart. And she considers Hannah her new college best friend.

Set between the present and 10 years prior, The It Girl unravels a murder that is not quite what it appears. Right from the beginning, we know that April is eventually killed and a creepy college porter is convicted of her murder. But when he dies in prison a decade later, the question of his possible innocence is raised.

Hannah finds herself tangled back in memories that might not have been as reliable as she once thought and now feels it’s her personal duty to investigate, as it was her testimony that sealed the porter’s fate.

The most suspenseful and captivating parts of the novel are the scenes set in the past when Hannah is first in college, making friends with her roommate, April, and the others in their orbit: Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily. The group feels the pressure of high academic expectations, but also enjoys the frivolity and thrill of college antics like strip poker. But sometimes their friendships experience fissures, as when April pranks members of the group: a ruse that makes Ryan flush his pot down the toilet, a sex doll in Hugh’s bed, and some that even more seriously impact people’s academic pursuits.

The details of April’s death are left till the end, but the possible suspects and motives are teased out as Hannah, 10 years later, returns to the past to try to solve what really happened. It is a pleasure to discover what the friends were hiding—and the possible reasons each one might have had for murdering April.

Ruth Ware also deftly and fully defines April, who feels far from the two-dimensionally drawn victims so often forgotten in murder mysteries. Ware does such a good job, the reader may find themselves hoping the murder was all a dream and that April will pop out from behind a medieval Oxford staircase after all those years, revealing to Hannah it was only a prank.

A review of this novel in hardcover first appeared in the print issue of Mystery Scene Magazine.

Review: "The It Girl" by Ruth Ware
Ariell Cacciola