Best of 2018 “Cozy” Category

“Hollywood Ending” by Kellye Garrett (Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.; August 8, 2018): And the award goes to . . .

. . . Dayna Anderson, the semi-famous actress turned PI who steps up her sleuthing swagger in this follow-up to breakout hit Hollywood Homicide , winner of the Lefty Award and the Agatha Award for Best First Novel!

Tinseltown’s awards season is in full swing, and everyone is obsessed with dressing up, scoring free swag, and getting invited to the biggest awards shows of the year. But when celebrity publicist Lyla Davis is killed, the festive mood comes to an abrupt halt.

Apprentice private eye Dayna Anderson thinks she’s uncovered the killer. Unfortunately, what starts as an open-and-shut case turns out to be anything but. Diving deeper into the investigation, Dayna gets a backstage look at gossip blogging, Hollywood royalty, and one of entertainment’s most respected awards shows—all while trying to avoid her own Hollywood ending.

 

Suspense Magazine (S. MAG.): Hollywood pitches are very brief. How would you pitch your book to the movies in ten words or less?

Kellye Garrett (K.G.): #BlackGirlMagic meets Janet Evanovich’s bestselling Stephanie Plum series.

 

MAG.: If you could write a message to future aspiring authors and place it in a time capsule to read years later, what would you write?

K.G.: Just do it. Publishing is a very interesting business. For every high like this one, there are probably a kajillion lows. As writers, we can’t control when we get an agent, when we will get a book deal, if our book will get good reviews, if people will actually buy our books, etc.

The only thing we can control is sitting down in front of a computer (if they still have those when you’re reading this) and putting words on a page. Focus on that.

 

MAG.: If you could be a superhero, which one would you be? And what is that one special gift of his/hers you want to have and why?

K.G.: No question, I would be a Dora Milaje warrior from Black Panther. I could kick butt, hang out with a crew of equally fabulous women and get to look at Chadwick Boseman all day, every day. Sign me up please.

 

“Murder in the Locked Library” by Ellery Adams (Kensington; April 24, 2018):

Welcome to Storyton Hall, Virginia, where book lovers travel from near and far to enjoy the singular comforts of the Agatha Christie Tea Room, where they can discuss the merits of their favorite authors no matter how deadly the topic . . .

With her twins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, back in school, Jane Steward can finally focus on her work again—managing Storyton Hall, and breaking ground on the resort’s latest attraction: a luxurious, relaxing spa named in honor of Walt Whitman. But when the earth is dug up to start laying the spa’s foundation, something else comes to the surface—a collection of unusual bones and the ragged remnants of a very old book. The attendees of the Rare Book Conference are eager to assist Jane with this unexpected historical mystery—until a visitor meets an untimely end in the Henry James Library. As the questions—and suspects—start stacking up, Jane will have to uncover a killer before more unhappy endings ensue . . .

 

Suspense Magazine (S. MAG.): What is the best book you read in 2018?

Ellery Adams (E.A.): Sorry, but I have a dead tie between two very different books. Stephen King’s “The Outsider” and “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi.

 

MAG.: What can fans expect to see from you in 2019?

E.A.: Readers can expect two releases in 2019: “Murder in the Reading Room” (Book 5 in the Book Retreat Mysteries) and “The Book of Candelight” (Book 3 in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society).

 

MAG.: Finish this sentence: If I wasn’t an author, I would be ___________.

E.A.: If I wasn’t an author, I’d be chocolate wrapper in a factory with Lucy and Ethel.

 

“To Catch a Witch” by Heather Blake (Crooked Lane Books; August 7, 2018):

Wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather might be a witch with the ability to grant wishes for others, but wishing isn’t going to help her catch a killer . . .

When wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather’s personal concierge company is hired by elite runner Abby Stillwell to organize the Wicked Mad Dash, a competition that takes place in the Enchanted Village, Darcy is more than willing to help her friend. As blizzard conditions rage on the morning of the race, Darcy’s main concern is the terrible weather—until Abby goes missing . . . and is later found dead, buried in the snow.

As Darcy investigates her friend’s untimely death, she learns that she didn’t really know Abby well at all. And those closest to the woman—her secret fiancé, her roommate, her ex-boyfriend, and her co-workers at Balefire Sports—seem to have plenty to hide too. As Darcy digs deeper, she uncovers complicated relationships, a possible embezzlement scheme, and allegations of cheating against a top athlete.

Just when Darcy is convinced she’s hit a dead end in the case, a startling burglary and the hunt for Abby’s elusive ex send Darcy down a dark, dangerous trail. It will take the help from friends, family, and a little bit of magic for Darcy to stop a stone-cold killer from striking again.

 

Suspense Magazine (S. MAG.): What is the best book you read in 2018?

Heather Blake (H.B.): I recently finished an advanced copy of The Widows, a historical mystery by Jess Montgomery. The novel is beautifully written with a compelling plot and richly drawn characters. It’ll debut in January, and I absolutely loved every page of it.

 

MAG.: Hollywood pitches are very brief. How would you pitch your book to the movies in ten words or less?

H.B.: Lovable witches solve crime in an enchanted village.

 

MAG.: What can fans expect to see from you in 2019?

H.B.: In 2019, the trade paperback edition of “To Catch a Witch” will be available in March; “A Witch to Remember,” the ninth book in the Wishcraft series, will be out in April; and in July, “Midnight at the Blackbird Café,” a women’s fiction/magical realism novel, makes its debut. That one is written as Heather Webber—my other name. It should be an exciting year.

 

“The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller” by Cleo Coyle (Penguin Publishing Group; September 24, 2018):

A big bestseller leads to small town trouble.

Bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure didn’t believe in ghosts, until she was haunted by the hard-boiled spirit of 1940s private investigator Jack Shepard. Now Jack is back on the job, and Pen is eternally grateful . . .

After an elegant new customer has a breakdown in her shop, Penelope suspects there is something bogus behind the biggest bestseller of the year. This popular potboiler is so hot that folks in her tiny Rhode Island town are dying to read it—literally. First one customer turns up dead, followed by another mysterious fatality connected to the book, which Pen discovers is more than just fiction. Now, with the help of her gumshoe ghost, Pen must solve the real-life cold case behind the bogus bestseller before the killer closes the book on her.

 

Suspense Magazine (S. MAG.): What does having your book chosen as a “Best of” by Suspense Magazine mean to you?

Cleo Coyle (C.C.): A great deal—and not just to us. For nearly a decade, the long-suffering readers of our Haunted Bookshop Mysteries waited for us to resume writing the series. After such a long hiatus, we were (understandably) nervous about the reception a new entry would receive. This honor from Suspense Magazine and its fans is a miraculous confirmation that we did something right. We can’t thank you enough for this beautiful vote of confidence.

 

MAG.: If you could write a message to future aspiring authors and place it in a time capsule to read years later, what would you write?

C.C.: With few exceptions, the writer’s life has more in common with a roller coaster than a carousel (which explains why you sometimes see authors throwing up hands and screaming). Our philosophy: never lose your love of storytelling; make friends with risk (there are virtues in it); try not to take yourself too seriously; and always be game for a wild ride. As for the art and craft of writing: The best genre writing does not rely on strict formula. Never be afraid to color outside the lines. Surprise and amuse; thrill and unnerve; inspire and inform yourself, and you’re more likely to provide a satisfying story for your reader. Satisfy readers on a consistent basis, and you’ll build a career. If there’s any formula worth following, it’s that one.

 

MAG.: What can fans expect to see from you in 2019?

C.C.: “Brewed Awakening,” the 18th entry in our Coffeehouse Mysteries series, is scheduled for hardcover release next December, and we’re happy to confirm that we’ve agreed to write more Haunted Bookshop Mysteries for our longtime publisher. “The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller” was the 6th entry in the series, and we’ll be completing the 7th title in 2019 for publication by Penguin Random House’s Berkley imprint in 2020.

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