Review: A BOND WITH DEATH: A PROFESSOR SALLY GOOD MYSTERY by Bill Crider

The last book in the Professor Sally Good Mystery Series titled A Bond with Death opens with a familiar theme to readers of this series. Instead of a painting that may or may not have a satanic image (Murder Is An Art) Dr. Sally Good stands accused of being a witch. According to an e-mail that has been shared far and wide, Dr. Sally Good is following her ancestor, Sarah Good, down the road to witchcraft. Therefore she needs to be dealt with appropriately and that would include losing her job.

Sarah Good was hung for her alleged crimes on July 19, 1962. The only way Sarah and Sally Good would be related would be by marriage as Sarah Good was a distant relative of Sally’s late husband. The man passed away eight years ago so it is not possible to have him come forward and speak on the matter or provide love and support to Sally Good. The fact that Dr. Sally Good was never a blood relative of Sarah’s is one of those facts that some people choose to ignore because it kills their argument or claim.

Beyond the whole ancestor relation deal, there is the matter of the notion of witchcraft itself. The fact that anyone would believe such stupidity, even well educated men who should know better such as her boss, President Fieldstone, of Hughes Community College is annoying. Fieldstone is all about image and what people might think regarding the small college in deep Southeast Texas. This news coupled with recent events and an upcoming bond election for the school has him greatly concerned.

He ought to be more worried about the fact that someone else linked to the college has once again been murdered. Harold Curtin, decisively nicknamed by many, “The Garden Gnome” used to teach at HCC. He’d been there for years, was a lousy teacher, and finally the new department chair, Sally Good, recommended his dismissal. Of course, throwing a stapler at a student had something to do with his dismissal.

Gone for several years and off doing other things including being part of the anti-bond movement, Curtain has now gone and gotten himself dead. From what is coming out of the rumor mill it definitely sounds like a murder. Rumor has it that he choked to death on his own blood. Reminiscent of the curse that allegedly Sarah Good put on her enemies three hundred years ago that allegedly caused deaths then. Despite the fact that Sarah and Sally would only be related by marriage some have leaped to the conclusion that Dr. Sally Good is a modern day witch capable of murdering her enemies. If true, one would have to ask why it took so long for her to start as one can easily think of a few targets in earlier books.

Published in 2004 by Thomas Dunne Books (Minotaur Books), this tale by Bill Crider is another occasionally funny and always twisting ride into the dark waters of academia. Along with having to deal with students and bureaucracy, Dr. Sally Good is forced to look for answers to the identity of her e-mail accuser as well as the identity of the killer. Both threads gradually come together in a complex case that puts her in real life danger far beyond being forced to hear Seepy Benton sing.

Like the earlier ones in this series A Bond with Death: A Professor Sally Good Mystery understates the violence while occasionally inserting some laugh out loud moments. Those readers that enjoy the current trend of there must be a murder in the first three pages of the work and in the first paragraph if at all will be disappointed as the murder occurs a few pages later. In addition to plenty of clues and complexity, the family atmosphere where one quickly feels like old familiar friends with the characters is present here as it is in just about any book by Bill Crider. A solid and enjoyable tale the final book in the series is another good one.

This is a series that should be read in order starting with Murder Is An Art followed by A Knife In The Back.

A Bond with Death: A Professor Sally Good Mystery
Bill Crider
http://billcrider.blogspot.com/
Thomas Dunne Books (Minotaur Books)
http://www.minotaurbooks.com
2004
ISBN# 0-312-32296-8
Hardback (eBook version available)
218 Pages
$22.95

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Public Library System who do not care whether my review is objective or even if I review it. They just want me to bring it back undamaged and to always wear pants.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Review: THE NECESSARY MURDER OF NONIE BLAKE: A SAMUEL CRADDOCK MYSTERY by Terry Shames

The Necessary Murder Of Nonie Blake is the latest in the Samuel Craddock Mystery Series by Terry Shames. As the title makes clear Nonie Blake had to die. Why and who did it are the main questions that drive much of this book from start to finish.

Winona Blake, or Nonie, is legendary in Jarrett Creek, Texas and nearby areas. It has been twenty years since she left town and eventually wound up in a mental institution far to the north up near Dallas. When she was 14 all those years ago she tried to kill her younger sister. It wasn’t horseplay as she meant for her sister to hang until dead. If it hadn’t been for the quick action of her brother Charlotte Blake would have died that day.

Instead, it is Charlotte Blake, who calls Chief of Police Samuel Craddock to report the latest family tragedy. Her sister drowned in the stock pond behind their house.  The home of the reclusive Blake family located a few miles down a gravel road out past the cemetery on the north side of town is about to be a very active crime scene. When Craddock gets out there it is very evident to him that the main cause of Nonie’s death is certainly not drowning.  She took a significant blow to the head that also crushed her cheek and broke her jaw. The force that was used far exceeds what she could have generated by a simple fall against a tree or the ground before sliding into the water. This was not an accidental drowning by any means. Figuring out who did it and why are the primary points of an investigation that leads Samuel Craddock on a trail of secrets going back decades.

While that is the main plot there are secondary plots building off previous events and ongoing characters/situations in this highly entertaining series. Along with that, author Terry Shames had added a new character in the form of a female deputy, Marie Trevino, sent in by the state to assist as Samuel Craddock sees fit. She has her own way of doing things and that attitude is going to push Craddock to up his game.

The Necessary Murder Of Nonie Blake features yet another engrossing and complicated mystery in this long running cozy style mystery series. Macavity Award Winner for Best First Mystery author Terry Shames continues to deliver in each successive installment of the series much like what Texas author Bill Crider (prominently mentioned on the book cover) has done in his Sheriff Dan Rhodes Series, Terry Shames has created a sense of family with these characters. It doesn’t take a reader long to feel like he has known Samuel, Lorretta, and numerous others for years once one starts reading the books.

A Killing At Cotton Hill started everything off. Five books later, The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake keeps a great series rolling forward at a great pace.

The Necessary Murder Of Nonie Blake: A Samuel Craddock Mystery
Terry Shames
http://www.Terryshames.com
Seventh Street Books
http://www.seventhstreetbooks.com
2016
ISBN# 978-1-63388-120-4
Paperback (also available in eBook format)
258 Pages
$15.95

Material supplied by the publisher in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016

Author Reveal for July/Summer 2016 Issue

After careful review, Brandon and I have selected the stories for the Summer Issue of Flash Bang Mysteries, which goes live July 1, 2016. All of the authors have been notified and it’s now time to reveal their identities in a segment we call “Author Reveal”.

So, without further suspense, here’s the line-up of authors and stories for the next issue of Flash Bang Mysteries (arranged alphabetically by title):

CROSS COUNTRY by Jim Wilsky

DARK HORSE by Nancy Sweetland

DEAR READER by Cynthia St-Pierre

GATEWAY by Stephen D. Rogers

THE PHONE CALL by Herschel Cozine

THE PROFITS OF WAR by Edward W. L. Smith

As always, we appreciate all the submissions and are honored that so many talented writers submit their work for consideration!

The Editors,

BJ and Brandon Bourg

Review: SELENA by Greg Barth

When you get a book released by All Due Respect Books you know that in all likelihood you will get one heck of a graphic crime filled read. Selena, the first installment of a three book series penned by Greg Barth, definitely meets the All Due Respect Books standard.  Not only is Selena book one of a three book series, this book is made up of three novellas that tell the tale.

Waking up with a hangover is always a negative. It is made worse this afternoon for Selena as she is naked and in the bed of some guy. She has no idea what his name would be or even were she is at. Based on what she feels on her thigh the latest attempt at safe sex failed. Selena gets dressed and before she leaves she swipes his cash and his cigarette lighter. She also swipes a music CD.

That was her big time mistake. Swiping the cash and the cigarette lighter might have been ignored. Taking the CD was a huge mistake as what is on it is certainly not music. There are very dangerous people who will want it back. They will track down the 98 pound twenty something stripper and unleash their fury on her. Their mistake will be in letting her live.

Graphic in terms of actions, descriptions, violence, and every other way possible, Selena by Greg Barth is pulpy crime fiction from start to finish. One could easily dismiss it as a violence filled revenge tale, but it is far more complicated than that. On the surface massive amounts of drugs and alcohol are consumed, sex is had, and many people are killed or if lucky just maimed a bit. At a deeper level, Selena is on a journey of self-discovery and is being molded by people and events throughout the course of the book.

Carnage frequently rules the read as Selena rolls through often leaving bodies in her wake. In many cases, she is left with very few options and is in a kill or be killed situation. Selena by Greg Barth is certainly not for everyone. If you don’t like graphic violence, graphic language, etc., this is not the read for you. If you prefer cozy cats and books where the most action happens when the detective runs for a bus or chases somebody down the street before losing them, this read is not for you. However, if you ever watched Charles Bronson in the Death Wish movies and thought he did not blast enough bad guys, or that John Wick got to a good start though he talked too much to the bad guys and should have just killed everyone in sight, Selena by Greg Barth is definitely the read for you.

Review copy provided by Mike Monson of All Due Respect Books quite some time ago in exchange for my objective review. Mr. Monson has also supplied review copies of Diesel Therapy: Selena Book Two as well as the upcoming third book in the series, Suicide Lounge.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2016