Smokey the Cat
Leslie Karst

Sixty seconds with Leslie Karst...

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. An ex-lawyer like Sally Solari, her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. Leslie and her wife, Robin, divide their time between Santa Cruz, California and Hilo, Hawaii. Leslie Karst is also the author of Dying for a Taste, which was released to rave reviews in 2016. Visit Leslie Karst online at:

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Karst: I’m a gal with an insatiable appetite for learning new things, preferably at a dinner party with smart and engaging guests, sumptuous food, and delectable wines.

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

Karst: Oh, boy, that’s a hard one... It would have to be something I could listen to over and over again and still get something new from it each time. Perhaps the Bach B-Minor Mass, because it’s long and complex, but achingly beautiful.

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

Karst: The owner of a horse ranch who was married to Paul McCartney.

Nancy G. West

Sixty seconds with Nancy G. West...

Dana King

Sixty seconds with Dana King...

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December 16 2017

Well, it's almost 2018 and this will be the final issue of RTE for this year. We want to thank you all for coming by and reading our reviews and hope you'll come back next year for more. In the meantime, stay well and warm and enjoy the holidays. If you are in a giving mood, some of the following may be just the ticket.

The onset of the holiday season is the signal for new entries in long-standing series, convenient for those faithful fans to request for presents or to give in the hopes of turning someone on to share the pleasure. Peter Lovesey's Peter Diamond series has been going for more than twenty-five years and I'm delighted to say this year's BEAU DEATH is as strong as any of the previous sixteen. But you don't need to have read the earlier ones to enjoy this. Gary Disher has written more than fifty books and a number of series. Barbara Fister reports that the most recent in his Hal Challis series, set in Australia's Mornington Peninsula, is a good as it gets and happily works well as a stand-alone. Bryant & May, Christopher Fowler's improbably elderly London detectives return for their fourteenth appearance in WILD CHAMBER and, says Jim Napier, they are as engaging as ever. Sadly, not every series has quite the breath to go the distance. Helene Tursten's Irene Huss, who started off so strongly, is making her last appearance in PROTECTED BY THE SHADOWS and I did feel that the series had run out of energy.

The other staple for this time of year is, of course, Christmas crime. Anne Perry has been producing an annual Christmas novella for some time now. Lourdes Venard has read a number of them and reports that the current entry, A CHRISTMAS RETURN, is very good indeed. Peter Lovesey edited Soho's noir-tinged anthology of Christmas short stories, THE USUAL SANTAS. Lourdes thinks it would make an ideal addition to the pile of presents under the tree. (I've read it too and thought it was refreshingly free of sugar plums and sentiment without being overly dark.)

More traditional Christmas cosies abound as well. Rhys Bowen has been writing the Molly Murphy historical mystery series for a long time now and Caryn St Clair says that the current THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST is probably her favourite, at least so far. YULETIDE HOMICIDE is just the second in Jennifer David Hesse's Wiccan Wheel series, and PJ Coldren found it a good read on a snowy afternoon. Laurien Berenson's WAGGING THROUGH THE SNOW doesn't have Christmas in the title, but the cover does feature a cute dog in a Santa hat. Diana Borse is not a died-in-the-wool cosy fancier, but she did like this one very much indeed. There's nothing Christmas-y about MUCH ADO ABOUT MURDER, by Elizabeth J. Duncan, but it does provide an interesting behind-the-scenes look at a theatre group in the Catskills of New York, says Caryn St Clair.

The British Library has been re-printing what they like to call "classic" British crime. Rik Shepherd is not so sure that these qualify as classics, but those he's read all qualify as well worth reading on a number of counts. He reviews a recent re-issue, SEVEN DEAD, by J. Jefferson Farjeon, and says that not only is it a satisfying mix of amateur detection and police procedural but that it provides some interesting tidbits about life at the time when it was written (1939 in this case).

We didn't read everything this time with an eye out for the season. Con Lehane's MURDER IN THE MANUSCRIPT ROOM takes place in January, as it happens. The setting is New York City and Cathy Downs says that despite the month and the inequities of the social system, decency does make a welcome appearance. Susan Hoover was very happy to get hold of Phoef Sutton's COLORADO BOULEVARD, the third outing for Caleb Crush. Her final word to Sutton: Get busy on number 4! Orca Press has been issuing a series of "rapid reads," designed to attract reluctant readers. Vicki Delany's WHITE SAND BLUES is one of these and Jim Napier says that it would work very well for any crime fiction fans short on time, perhaps while they're waiting to board a flight. Phyllis Onstad was prepared to like Carrie Smith's UNHOLY CITY, as it has a number of promising elements, but in the end she felt that in the end, the whole did not quite come together.

Our guest in the Sixty Seconds With... chair this week is Leslie Karst. You'll find her answers to our questions over to your left.

If you want to find out more about what is going on across the ocean, the place to visit is CRIMEREVIEW.

And there you have it for 2017. Here's wishing all our readers a very happy holiday season with much to cheer the heart. We will return in the middle of January for a new start to a new year. Until then, happy reading and Happy New Year!

Best wishes,


P.S. If you wish to submit a book for review, please check here before contacting us. Please note that we do not review self-published books.

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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Since RTE first appeared, some twelve years ago, the business of books has changed out of all recognition. Then, books were reviewed in the print media for the most part, though Amazon was encouraging readers to post their reviews of the books they read. Now, newspapers across North America have reduced or eliminated the space they allot to books and, with certain notable exceptions, only best-selling authors are likely to get noticed. As a result, electronic reviewing has become increasingly important and, due to the somewhat slippery question of online authorship, occasionally problematic.

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