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Wendy Hornsby

Sixty seconds with Wendy Hornsby...

An NPR interviewer aptly described Edgar-Award winning author Wendy Hornsby as "a genteel college professor by day, and by night a purveyor of murder most foul." After teaching history for thirty-eight years, Wendy has abandoned all pretense of gentility but continues to write about the dark side of human nature. Published internationally, Wendy is the author of fifteen mystery novels and many short stories. A BOUQUET OF RUE is her latest book. She lives with her husband in California's Gold Rush country.
For more about the author, go to

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Hornsby: Basically, a happy nerd

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Hornsby: Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto, no. 2, op.18

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Hornsby: A writer

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June 8, 2019

June is LGBTQ Pride month and it is appropriate to start off with two novels that take a look back to what life was like for those who were unable to find the words for who they were, let alone openly express pride in themselves without risking retribution. First off, there is the extraordinary THE CONFESSIONS OF FRANNIE LANGTON, by Sara Collins, set in London in 1828 and told in the voice of a former slave who is now accused of killing her master and his wife, her lover. I thought that this book gave the 19th century-set Gothic novel a long overdue shake and would nominate it as unmissable. Alex Reeve, author of HALF MOON STREET, is an academic interested in neo-Victorian mysteries and also noticed that a notable element of Victorian experience has been overlooked. His trans hero, Leo Stanhope, is a successful attempt to fill the gap.

Maybe it's because of the D-Day anniversary or maybe it's just that it's summer and time for some reflective reading, but we do have an ample supply of historical mysteries on the menu this week besides the two already mentioned. Taking them in ascending order of date, THE LOST HISTORY OF DREAMS by Kris Waldherr deals with both the Victorian obsession with memorializing the dead (this time in corpse photography) and with love. Cathy Downs says that this is not one mystery but many,"a novel of seeing and unseeing."

Heading into the 20th century, we go to India and the second novel featuring Perveen Mistry, THE SATAPUR MOONSTONE by Sujata Massey. It may be 1920 something, but Rebecca Nesvet notes that it is a "righteous reinvention of Wilkie Collins' MOONSTONE."

Post-World War II is a fertile period for the historical novel and we have two. The first, NIGHT WATCH by David C. Taylor, is a superb example of period American noir, says Jim Napier, one that Hammett and Chandler would certainly approve. The second, THE RIGHT SORT OF MAN, by Allison Montclair, is a first in a series mystery set in London and starring two women who have been marked by the war that has recently ended. Meredith Frazier found it well-researched and engaging.

Becky Masterman's WE WERE KILLERS ONCE is not exactly an historical, but it does return to a real crime of the 1950s that was memorialized in Truman Capote's IN COLD BLOOD. Here a previously unidentified participant in the killings tries to secure a document that would implicate him and so threatens the life and marriage of Masterman's retired FBI agent, Bridget Quinn. ONE MORE LIE is Amy Lloyd's second thriller based on a true crime. Susan Hoover reports that it scared the socks off her and she is hard to frighten.

Ilaria Tutu's FLOWERS OVER THE INFERNO is set in the present day in the Italian Alps, but in some ways is isolated in time. Meredith Frazier enjoyed this story of an ageing female police detective and a town deeply set in its unpleasant ways and looks forward to the next two in the trilogy.

If ONE MORE LIE weren't enough, the redoubtable Susan Hoover also reports on Jack Heath's JUST ONE BITE. Its protagonist has a job disposing of bodies for a crime boss in Houston. He has his own particular way of accomplishing his task and Susan recommends reading this one with the lights on and the door locked.

Wendy Hornsby's A BOUQUET OF RUE takes Maggie MacGowan to Paris where she marries a diplomat, starts a new job, and deals with the disappearance of a schoolgirl. Ruth Castleberry says that Hornsby effectively combines an entertaining mystery with serious issues of xenophobia and sexual abuse.

OK, how about a little cosy relief? Kate Carlisle's THE BOOK SUPREMACY effectively stretches the subgenre to include a spot of Robert Ludlum in the spy narrative in this engaging addition to the Bibliophile Mystery series. Diana Borse enjoyed what may be a send-up of the cosy in Catriona McPherson's SCOT & SODA, though she does warn that there is quite a lot of swearing to get used to.

Wendy Hornsby is our guest this week in the "Sixty Seconds with..." spot. You'll find it over to your left. Make sure to take a look.

If you want more news of what's on offer in British crime, then CRIMEREVIEW is the place to go.

We're operating on a relaxed summer schedule for the moment, as perhaps you are too. So look for us in the middle of July, when we'll be back with more suggestions of what to read in the lazy days of summer.

Please don't hesitate to email us if you have something you want us to know.



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Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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