Sunday, 13 August 2017 19:29

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When the total solar eclipse begins around 10 a.m. on August 21, its path will start in Oregon and ending in South Carolina. Along the way, certain areas and towns have been designated by scientists as the best place to view this feat of nature.

In all, 12 states are in the totality path to this point. And places in the totality path are expected to attract up to tens of thousands of people who come to view the eclipse as well as enjoy the many festivals that will be held during the solar event.

Small towns of less than 10,000 may be overrun with more than 50,000 visitors, some of whom may have to stay in hotels two hours away to see this phenomenon. Rural areas with wide-open spaces are the best, such as Marshall, Missouri.

These eclipse chasers plan for years to attend the best viewing spots, spending time charting the eclipse with maps, and visiting forums and social media.

OK, so all this is very interesting, but what does it have to do with mysteries?

A month or so ago, I would have wondered the same thing until I read the brilliant thriller He Said/She Said (Minotar) by Erin Kelly.

These eclipse chasers, who relish “celestial mechanics,” provide the background for this innovative mystery. While Kelly includes plenty of lore about seeing an eclipse, the author also delivers an unusual psychological thriller about a marriage, as well as obsessions, secrets, and how rape is viewed.

At first glance, it would seem that eclipses are about an insular community of people who travel great distances to watch. But He Said/She Said shows that it’s not just a small group but a wide swath of people, some of whom have never seen an eclipse and others who have no interest in the science behind it.

Christopher “Kit” McCall has chased solar eclipses his entire life, and considers “real life as the boring bit between eclipses.” Kit and his girlfriend, Laura Langrishe, are celebrating the 1999 solar eclipse at a festival in Cornwall when they stop the apparent rape of a stranger. The lives of Kit and Laura are entwined for years in the lives of the victim and her abuser.

He Said/She Said alternates between 1999 and 16 years later when Kit and Laura are married and expecting twins. Now another eclipse looms, and the best place to view is the Faroe Islands. Kit will go while Laura stays home because of her advanced pregnancy.

The eclipse is an exciting background to He Said/She Said as Kelly adds enough science and sky lore to make readers want to rush out to get those glasses one is supposed to wear during a viewing. But Kelly never allows the science to overwhelm her unusual thriller.

He Said/She Said is the perfect companion to the 2017 solar eclipse.

“He Said/She Said” and the Solar Eclipse
Oline H. Cogdill
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Thursday, 03 August 2017 00:55

grippandojames goneagain

James Grippando’s skill with suspenseful plots reached another level in his gripping Gone Again, published in 2016.

In this 13th novel about Miami attorney Jack Swyteck, Grippando led the reader on a twisting tale of grief, obsession, and the disintegration of a family—as I wrote in my review of Gone Again.

“In a career highlighted by a number of superb novels, Gone Again ranks at the top of Grippando’s work,” I wrote.

I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed Gone Again.

Gone Again has been awarded the 2017 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

The award was selected by a panel including Deborah Johnson, winner of the 2015 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction and author of The Secret of Magic; Cassandra King, author of The Same Sweet Girls Guide to Life; Don Noble, host of Alabama Public Radio's book review series as well as host of Bookmark, which airs on Alabama Public Television; and Han Nolan, author of Dancing on the Edge.

In the press release announcing the award, Han Nolan remarked, “It best exemplifies Harper Lee's desire for a work of fiction that illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change. Jack Swyteck is a lawyer's lawyer. He works within the system, relentlessly searching for the truth as he races against time to defend a death row inmate.”

Don Noble added, “If I am ever in legal trouble, there is no lawyer I would rather have than Grippando's Jack Swyteck,” he said. "The man is dedicated to social justice, resourceful and tireless."

Needless to say, Grippando is thrilled. “This is pretty amazing ... and the autographed copy of To Kill a Mockingbird has me over the moon.”

The 2017 prize will be awarded at The University of Alabama School of Law on September 14.

Meanwhile, the best congratulations for Grippando would be to pick up a copy of Gone Again.

In Gone Again, Jack takes on Debra Burgette as a client for Miami’s Freedom Institute. Deborah’s daughter teenage daughter Sashi was murdered about five years before. Ex-con Dylan Reeves is on death row, awaiting execution.

But Debra’s tale isn’t what Jack expects. She wants to stop the execution because Debra maintains that Sashi is still alive.

In my review, I wrote, “Debra’s fanaticism is realistically portrayed and while it is easy to understand her motives Grippando also shows the destructive nature of her fixation. Grippando also gracefully weaves in Jack’s pending fatherhood and his loving relationship with his pregnant wife, Andie, a FBI agent, without losing the story’s suspense.”

James Grippando Honored With Harper Lee Award
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Sunday, 30 July 2017 00:45

Mystery Scene continues its look at authors’ writing process. Today, Jason Pinter shares how he wrote The Castle, a political thriller.

Politics With a Twist

By Jason Pinter

pinterjason thecastle
How do you write a political thriller about a billionaire businessman who runs for president on a populist campaign, upturning the political landscape like a bull in a china shop, and not have it feel a little too familiar?

That was the question I faced while writing my new novel The Castle, which centers a young man, Remy Stanton who joins the campaign of billionaire Rawson Griggs and watches the country nearly tear itself apart.

So how do you make a story that’s led the news every day for two years feel fresh?

First off, you take everything people will think they know about the characters, and make them do a 180 degree turn.

So “you know who” in the White House appears to lack impulse control?

Well, there’s a method to Rawson Griggs’s madness. If Rawson appears unhinged—that may be how he wants to appear.

He’s thought this through. He knows how to play emotions—and voters—like a Stradivarius.

And what about Alena Griggs, the brilliant, poised heiress to one of the world’s biggest companies?

Does that person familiar? Well, not in this book.

You see, in The Castle, Alena may be the billionaire’s daughter, but she has some serious reservations what money and fame have done to her personal life.

She may be her father’s daughter, but Alena has serious reservations about following in his footsteps.

In fact, she married an accountant (yes, an accountant) because she wanted a normal life.

And how’s that regular dude holding up in the face of the media and political scrutiny? Not so great…

So, as a writer, how do you stay away from political reality?

Well, Rawson Griggs isn’t running for President as a Republican. But he’s not running as a Democrat either.

So how is he running? Let’s just say he’s looking toward America’s past to pave its future. What came before the tea party?

As for Remy Stanton, my protagonist, well, Remy is just like us. He works a soulless corporate job.

He didn’t expect to find himself in the eye of the hurricane of the most controversial election ever.

Part of Remy, a big part, loves the power and attention that comes with being in Rawson’s campaign. But when he starts to notice a nasty undercurrent, he may have to give it all up to protect the ones he loves. And that might just include an heiress.

The Castle is a thrilled that takes today’s headlines and your expectations, throws them in a blender, and presses puree.

 I hope you enjoy the read. And just remember: Politics is War.

Jason Pinter is the author of the new novel The Castle, as well as the bestselling author of five novels in his Henry Parker series, which have been nominated for the Thriller, Strand Critics, Shamus, Barry and RT Reviewers Choice awards, with over a million copies in print worldwide. He is also the founder and publisher of Polis Books. Visit him at www.JasonPinter.com or follow him at @JasonPinter.

JASON PINTER: THE CASTLE
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