Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Conversation with Mags Benson by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Mags and the AARP GangMy name is Margaret Sybil Broadly Benson, née Spencer, but you can call me Mags. I told my biographer, Nancy Lynn Jarvis, that I was going to be on Dru’s blog today and asked if she would write something for me to say, but did she? No, she did not. I’d like to think it’s because she’s involved with the cozy mystery writers’ cookbook she’s editing, but the truth is, I think she’s forgotten about me. I’m not complaining, though. In my eighty-three years I’ve learned there are advantages to being overlooked.

Sometimes people make assumptions about the elderly, imagine they know how we think, what we’re capable of, and more importantly what we aren’t capable of. Take me and the AARP Gang, for example. Our mobile home park was about to be foreclosed and we were about to be kicked out of our homes, all political und underhanded what was going on…oh, don’t get me started. Bottom line is it was assumed that at our ages we wouldn’t have any fight left; that we’d just be nice little old ladies and gents and go off quietly to live with family.

What people didn’t realize is we were already a family and that after a lifetime of living and reaching our eighties, none of us were quitters. No wonder we decided to rob the bank that held our note and pay off our mortgage with the proceeds. We liked the irony of that, besides, the bank was within walking distance, which was handy because many of us don’t drive any longer.

We devised a masterful plan that made the most of our assets. My cohorts disguised themselves as old people (yes, I know we are all already old people, but they still needed disguises) making the most of the unobtrusiveness of age, while I used my rather formidable-if-never-used-on-stage acting talents to become our distraction, keeping people’s eyes busy so they wouldn’t see what was going on behind their backs.

I was doing my award-worthy impression of a dear old lady who had lost her wallet and pleading with the people in the bank to help me find it when Melvin, who managed to bring along a rifle that none of us knew he had, got upset with a teller, brandished it, lost his balance, and fired the weapon, accidently shooting one of the overhead fire sprinklers. That happenstance caused all the other sprinklers to spurt in sympathy and automatically call the fire department. Oh my! So much for our carefully rehearsed plan.

Did we get away with it, you ask? Well, I am writing from home instead of from a jail cell, but it took quite a bit of complicated maneuvering, a whole novel’s worth in fact, to get from being soggy in the bank to where I am today. You can read all about what happened in Mags and the AARP Gang.

Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on July 3, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of MAGS AND THE AARP GANG. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
Nancy Lynn Jarvis was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty five years, but writing has proven to be so much fun that she officially retired and relinquished her license on May 5th. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare Santa Cruz at UCSC. Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years.

“Mags and the AARP Gang” represented a new direction in her writing adventure. After four Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries, Nancy put her characters, Regan, Tom, and Dave, on hiatus so she could let Mags and her gang, characters who had been forming in her mind for the past year, tell you their story.

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Weekly Roundup* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This week on dru’s book musings

June 30: Margaret Benson by Nancy Lynn Jarvis
July 1: Georgia Kelly by Jennifer McAndrews – Stained Glass #1
July 2: Carlton Smythe by Donald Bain
July 3: Eve Angelotta by Shelley Costa – Miracolo #2
July 4: Author Showcase with Amanda Kyle Williams
July 5: Stephen Rangel by Laurie Cass – Bookmobile Cat #2
July 6: Sasha Patterson by Phoebe Fox – Breakup Doctor #1

Last week on dru’s book musings

Recent contest winners

  • Night of the Living Thread by Janet Bolin – Dotty K.
  • Razing the Dead by Sheila Connolly – Nancy R.
  • Lethal Journal by Sandra Carey Cody – Becky P.
  • Death in Perspective by Larissa Reinhart – Sue F.
  • Hot Fudge Frame Up by Christine DeSmet – Michelle B.
  • Checkered Crime by Tonya Kappes – Karen D.

Recently posted on dru’s book musings

  • The Diva Wraps It Up by Krista Davis
  • Blessed are the Dead by Kristi Belcamino

At The Request Of…For Review

  • The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day
  • Hit and Run by Sandra Balzo

Reading Round-Up

  • June 2014: 19 books
    • 12 cozy mysteries
    • 5 traditional mysteries
    • 2 suspense/thriller
  • Year to Date: 118 books

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My Musing ~ Blessed are the Dead by Kristi Belcamino

Blessed Are The DeadBlessed are the Dead by Kristi Belcamino is the first book in the new “Gabriella Giovanni” mystery series. Publisher: Witness Impulse, June 2014

To catch a killer, one reporter must risk it all …

San Francisco Bay Area newspaper reporter Gabriella Giovanni spends her days on the crime beat, flitting in and out of other people’s nightmares, yet walking away unscathed. When a little girl disappears on the way to the school bus stop, her quest for justice and a front-page story leads her to a convicted kidnapper, Jack Dean Johnson, who reels her in with promises to reveal his exploits as a serial killer. But Gabriella’s passion for her job quickly spirals into obsession when she begins to suspect the kidnapper may have ties to her own dark past: her sister’s murder.

Risking her life, her job, and everything she holds dear, Gabriella embarks on a quest to find answers and stop a deranged murderer before he strikes again.

Perfect for fans of Sue Grafton and Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series!

This riveting and fast-paced drama quickly became a page-turner that was hard to put down in this well executed tome. The non-stop action propelled this story to heighten intensity with each scene read as I became more involved in the drama unfolding on the page. The author did a great job in presenting this mystery with a cast of characters, in particular Gabriella, who is vulnerable and flawed that you’ll root for in their pursuit of justice served. This is a great read and I can’t wait to read Blessed are the Meek, the next book in this terrific series.

The Diva Wraps It Up by Krista Davis

The Diva Wraps it UpThe Diva Wraps It Up by Krista Davis is the eighth book in the “Domestic Diva” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, June 2014

The holidays are domestic diva Sophie Winston’s favorite time of year. But this season, there seem to be more mishaps than mistletoe. First, Horace Scroggins tumbles from a balcony during his office Christmas party. Then, Sophie’s neighbor takes a fall from his ladder while decorating his roof with lights. But it’s the cookie swap that really starts her wondering who’s naughty or nice.

Sophie arrives at the annual event with high spirits and thirteen dozen chocolate-drizzled gingersnaps. But when an argument erupts and a murder ensues, it becomes clear that the recent string of events is anything but accidental. Now Sophie has to make a list of suspects…and check it twice!

I truly love this series and I’m so happy at the adventures the author takes me on with Sophie, Nina, Natasha and Mars. In this light fare secret lies causes havoc on neighbors when, once again, Sophie finds a dead body. . . in Natasha’s garage. With a list long of suspects, the author presents some twists and turns with the biggest surprise coming with the method of demise. Bravo and a job well done by the author. Krista keeps this series fresh and it’s always a pleasure to visit Old Town, Virginia. This is a well written whodunit that was both engaging and entertaining and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Sophie and her friends in this delightfully charming series.

A Day in the Life of Brenna Spector by Alison Gaylin

Stay With MeA typical day in my life is a lot more memorable than most. Not that my life is any more exciting than anybody else’s … most of the time. It’s just that since the age of 11, I’ve been blessed – or cursed – with hyperthymestic syndrome, otherwise known as superior autobiographical memory. I remember every single detail of every day I’ve ever lived, be it mundane, thrilling or somewhere in between.

Hard as I work at my job as a private investigator (my specialty is missing persons) it’s difficult to get from point A to point B without memories intruding. I remember with all five senses, reliving experiences in the most visceral way. And while it’s proved helpful in certain cases I’m investigating, it’s wreaked havoc on my personal life. How can you forgive and forget when you can never forget? How can you “live in the moment” when the past is a constant companion? I’m divorced, but I can’t be in the same room with my ex-husband without remembering all kinds of things I shouldn’t. Outside of my brilliant but ridiculous assistant, Trent, it’s very hard for me to form ties with people, knowing every single moment with them will endure forever in my mind.

In short, I’ve got some major issues…

My 13-year-old daughter Maya resents it sometimes. How could she not? Kids need their moms to pay attention to them. And while I want so badly to be there for her all the time, past events keep intruding. The specter of my older sister Clea — who disappeared when I was 11 years old, triggering the syndrome – haunts our lives. Maya never knew her aunt, of course. But she still makes her angry in a way that only the lack of a person can.

When Maya goes missing herself, my entire world collapses. Leveled by guilt and terror, I need to stay in the present in order to find her – even as I discover new and shocking things about my sister’s disappearance that may actually play a role in Maya’s. As I desperately try to track my daughter, will my memory prove a curse or a blessing? I’m hoping hard for the latter…

You can read more about Brenna in Stay With Me, the third book in the “Brenna Spector” mystery series, published by HarperCollins. The first book in the series is And She Was. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Meet the author
USA Today and international bestselling author Alison Gaylin received an Edgar nomination for her first book Hide Your Eyes. Her Shamus Award-winning novel, And She Was, was also nominated for the Thriller, Anthony and RT awards. In addition to her six published crime fiction novels, she’s published the Young Adult mystery Reality Ends Here (Simon and Schuster/PocketStar). Stay With Me, her eighth book – and the third in the acclaimed Brenna Spector series – was released June 24, 2014 from HarperCollins.

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