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Book Blast: Audition for Murder by P. M. Carlson

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Book Blast: Audition for Murder by P. M. Carlson

Book Blast: Audition for Murder by P. M. CarlsonAudition for Murder by P.M. Carlson
Series: Maggie Ryan #1
Published by Mystery Company on September 28, 2012 (first published May 1985)
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 236
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Nick and Lisette O’Connor need a change. They leave New York City for a semester as artists-in-residence at a college upstate, professional leads in a campus production of Hamlet. Threats and accidents follow Lisette, and Nick worries it might be more than just petty jealousy. Maggie Ryan, a student running lights for the show, helps investigate a mystery steeped in the turmoil of 1967 America.

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Lisette stumbled on the way to the car, and Nick caught her elbow to steady her. Rob had unlocked the back door, and Nick helped her in while Rob let Maggie into the front passenger seat and then went around to the driver’s side. There were a few snowflakes blowing in the wind, and his pale hair licked about his forehead like little flames. He sat down, closed the door, and stared at the wheel a minute.

“God,” he said. “I’m stoned. A little.”

“Do you want someone else to drive?” asked Maggie.

“No. I’ll be fine.” He raised a dramatic finger and declaimed, “Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used.”

“Every inordinate cup is unblessed,” countered Nick, who had maybe had a drop too much himself.

“I’ll be extremely careful,” Rob promised. He turned the key and started out of the lot. Lisette lurched against Nick as they rounded the corner onto the highway.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Very tired,” she said.

Nick tipped her chin up and studied her a minute in the headlights of the car behind them. “You look bad,” he said, concerned. He could see her honey-brown eyes in the wavering light. The pupils were tiny. “Do you feel sick?”

“M’all right,” she said. The eyes closed. Nick leaned forward.

“Rob, she looks bad.. Could we get her to a hospital, do you think?” Maggie turned to look at Lisette.

“She says she’s all right,” objected Rob. “Are you sick, Lisette?”

She made an effort. “Just tired. Bed.”

“I’ll just take you home,” said Rob soothingly.

“Home,” murmured Lisette. Her cheek was cold and damp. Nick felt panic rising.

“Rob, please!” he said.

“Come on, Nick,” said Rob. He had stopped at a stoplight, and turned to look back at them, the red glow making his hair shine like embers. “The hospital is miles away, and she says she’s just tired. I believe her. I’m tired too.”

“Nick’s right,” said Maggie suddenly. “She’s not just tired.”

“Jus’ tired,” repeated Lisette.

“See?” said Rob. “You two alarmists are interfering with her rest.”

Maggie leaned across Rob, switched off the ignition with one hand, and opened his door with the other. “Out, Rob,” she said.

“What?”

“Out. Get out. Now.”

“You’re crazy!” He stared at her unbelievingly. The light blinked to green.

“Sorry, kid,” she said, leaning back against her door and placing an elegant French boot, still muddy, against his thigh.

“My God! My coat!” Shocked, he flinched away from the boot. She shoved, and he suddenly found himself outside, arms flailing for balance. Maggie slid smoothly into the driver’s seat and turned the ignition. The car moved forward and left Rob on the pavement, staggering. When they were clear of him Maggie pulled the door closed and made a rapid U-turn, then pressed the accelerator. The car vaulted up the hill toward the hospital.

By the time they had run their third red light, a patrol car was chasing them. Lisette was slumped against Nick, and he braced himself to keep them both from ricocheting around the back seat as Maggie traced a complex, competent line through the other traffic. He was dimly aware of the flashing lights from behind intersecting the rapid flow of the light from street lamps. She did not slow, and the sirens and lights behind them got other traffic out of the way. When she turned into the hospital driveway the patrol car seemed to relax a little. She skidded to a halt in front of the emergency room and was out opening Nick’s door instantly.

“Need help?”

“She’s not heavy,” he said. Lisette was unconscious.

“I’ll follow when I’ve talked to the officers.” She made sure the emergency door was open and then walked toward the patrol car. Nick carried the limp body into the emergency room.

Excerpt from Audition for Murder by P.M. Carlson. Copyright © 2017 by P.M. Carlson. Reproduced with permission from P.M. Carlson. All rights reserved.


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About P.M. Carlson

P. M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun. She has published twelve mystery novels and a collection of mystery short stories. Her novels have been nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Macavity Award, and twice for the Anthony Awards given at the World Mystery Convention (Bouchercon). Two short stories were finalists for the Agatha Christie award. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as President of the international organization Sisters in Crime. She lived in southern Indiana for seven years. Besides reading mysteries, she enjoys working on her Victorian house and traveling. Currently she lives in New York with her husband and a Belgian sheepdog named Nero Wolfe.

A Voice in the Night by Andrea Camilleri

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A Voice in the Night by Andrea Camilleri A Voice in the Night by Andrea Camilleri
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Series: Commissario Montalbano #20
Published by Blackstone Audio on November 15, 2016
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 6 hrs 18 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Montalbano investigates a robbery at a supermarket, a standard case that takes a spin when manager Guido Borsellino is later found hanging in his office. Was it a suicide? Inspector Montalbano and the coroner have their doubts, and further investigation leads to the director of a powerful local company.

Meanwhile, a girl is found brutally murdered in Giovanni Strangio's apartment - Giovanni has a flawless alibi, and it's no coincidence that Michel Strangio, president of the province, is his father. Weaving together these two crimes, Montalbano realizes that he's in a difficult spot where political power is enmeshed with the Mafia underworld.

I’ve read/listened to several Montalbano mysteries. In A Voice in the Night we’ve got several of the series standards – corrupt politicians, police who are being pressured for certain results,  good food. Montalbano is a good cop, in that he’s not in the mafia’s pocket and is not afraid to go against the politicians. He doesn’t always stick to the law, though.

Both of the mysteries have their twists and turns. I especially liked how the young woman’s murder was plotted, even though I felt bad for the boyfriend. As always, I find Salvo amusing and interesting. The title is perfect, it pulls from a pivotal part of the story, one that may not actually put Montalbano in the best light, but does highlight his need to find the real culprit, not just accept what “they” want.

I’ll definitely read more in the series, but they’re not gripping enough to buy; I always borrow them from the library. They are consistent though – light, pretty short, decent mysteries and characters who are pretty consistent over the series. I know what I’m getting when I pick up a Montalbano story and I’m rarely disappointed. I’m also rarely astounded.

About Andrea Camilleri

Andrea Camilleri (born September 6, 1925 in Porto Empedocle) is an Italian writer. He is considered one of the greatest Italian writers of both 20th and 21st centuries. Camilleri lives in Rome where he works as a TV and theatre director. About 10 million copies of his novels have been sold to date, and are becoming increasingly popular in the UK and North America.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Scattershot by Bill Pronzini

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Scattershot by Bill Pronzini Scattershot by Bill Pronzini
Series: Nameless Detective #8
Published by PaperJacks on May 1987 (first published 1982)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 172
Format: Paperback
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Business is booming for Nameless; he's started in on three new cases in one week. But every single one of them turns bad some way. In the first, a husband disappears from a car that Nameless has been following. In the second, a woman is mysteriously murdered while Nameless stands outside her bungalow. In the third, a valuable ring disappears from a locked room that Nameless has been guarding. The papers are full of bad publicity. After being at the scene of two homicides, everyone is suspicious of him. He is at risk of losing his PI license. At the same time, he recently proposed to the woman of his dreams and she is becoming more distant from him every day.

Nameless is having a really bad week. Three cases, all of which should be quick, easy money, go awry, landing him in the hot seat. And, to top it off, thing are not going great with his girlfriend.

I don’t really have much to say about the book, even though I definitely enjoyed it. It’s a quick story and I love how Nameless manages to solve the crimes. All three are basically locked room mysteries and getting to the answers take both seeing the clues and having that flash of insight. I also appreciated that even though we do have three mysteries, they’re actually unrelated. Too often in mysteries, everything conveniently ties together; here they don’t, which feels  more realistic to me.

I could have done without the moping about the girlfriend. I’m pretty sure that his pressuring her was not helping their relationship. This is the first full-length Nameless story I’ve read, so I’m not sure how it compares to others, but I’m adding it to the list of series I pick up when I see them at used bookstores.

About Bill Pronzini

Bill Pronzini (born April 13, 1943) is an American writer of detective fiction. He is also an active anthologist, having compiled more than 100 collections, most of which focus on mystery, western, and science fiction short stories.
He is married to Marcia Muller with whom he has collaborated on several novels.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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