Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Guest Blogger Geraldine Evans

Geraldine Evans joins me today from across the pond, bringing an interview--and prizes! I'm happy to post this on the eve of her newest book launch, which is tomorrow, 2/24.

Here's her bio:
Geraldine Evans has been writing since her twenties, though only began to get novels published halfway through her thirties. As well as her popular Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series, she has a second crime series, Casey & Catt and has also had published an historical, a romance and articles on a variety of subjects, including, Historical Biography, Writing, Astrology, Palmistry and other New Age subjects. She has also written a dramatization of Dead Before Morning, the first book in her Rafferty series.

She is a Londoner, but now lives in Norfolk England where she moved, with her husband George, in 2000.

Deadly Reunion is her eighteenth novel and fourteenth in the humorous Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series. She is currently working on the next in the series.
She's currently doing a tour, at the end of which, some lucky commenters will win her books as prizes. Here's how that works:

The draw of all the comments throughout the Tour will take place at the end of the Tour (end-Feb). There will only be three winners, each of whom wins one signed copy of Deadly Reunion, my latest hardback (fourteenth in my Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series), one copy of each of two ebooks that are the first and second novels in my Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series, that is, one of Dead Before Morning and one of Down Among the Dead Men. They will also receive a subscription to my blog (which they can let lapse when it  runs out).

And now to the interview: 
What made you decide to take up crime writing?

Partly, it was that I kept getting my romantic novels rejected. Even after I had one accepted, the next one was then rejected. I decided the writing world was trying to tell me something. It had been dawning on me for some time that I wasn’t really suited to writing romantic novels. I think I’d only ever set out to write them because I’d thought they’d be easy. Clearly, I was wrong! I’d always read crime novels and after reading that the British crime author, Colin Dexter, the creator of Morse, had only taken up crime writing after a wet weekend in Wales during which time he read a very bad crime novel, something clicked. Because I’d recently read a very bad crime novel, too. I dared to think that maybe I could do it better. Anyway, I tried my hand at it and wrote Dead Before Morning, the first book in what went on to become my Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series, which, with my latest, Deadly Reunion, is now fourteen books strong.

Where did you get the idea for writing your latest novel, Deadly Reunion?

I’d been reading a lot about romance and social media like Friends Reunited and Facebook and people meeting up again after years apart. I thought why not take this to the ultimate and instead of love, having murder as the end result. I thought it was an idea that had legs. Who doesn’t remember the person from their youth that they hated as well as the one they had a crush on? I thought all the simmering emotions would be brought to life at a school reunion.

Tell us about your name police characters.

My main characters are Detective Inspector Joe Rafferty, my ‘ordinary Joe’ policeman and Detective Sergeant Dafyd Llewellyn, the inferior with the superior education, class and morality. Rafferty comes from a family who are over-fond of suspect ‘bargains’, a predilection that causes Rafferty some angst, especially as his police partner has morals as high as an elephant’s eye and doesn’t think that even the mothers of detective inspectors  should be above the law.

There is a lot of humour in your crime novels – why did you decide to write this kind of crime novel?

Because I had become a little bored with reading straight as a die crime novels that just had the murder and nothing else. When I read fiction I look to be thoroughly entertained and, for me, that means having a few laughs along the way. So that’s the kind of crime novel I decided to write, with poor old Joe Rafferty always being one step away from catastrophe, via his family, as far as his career is concerned. In A Thrust to the Vitals he has to somehow protect his murder suspect brother while trying to catch the real villain. In Dying For You, he creates his own little difficulty when he joins a dating agency and uses a borrowed identity to do so, then finds himself, or rather, his alter ego the chief suspect in a double murder inquiry, an inquiry which he is then forced to lead. And in Deadly Reunion, he finds himself saddled with four unwanted lodgers, courtesy of his Ma, who has decided a family reunion is just the thing. So in each book, there’s a sub-plot where Rafferty has some problem or other in addition to solving a murder.

Why did you decide to pair Rafferty with Dafyd Llewellyn?

Probably because I’m perverse! I wanted to make life as difficult for Rafferty, and potentially as amusing for the reader, as I could. So, along with a family prone to buying suspect ‘bargains’ or doing other things on the edge of criminality, I thought it would be amusing to provide Rafferty with a partner as upright as the Pope, one who was in many ways, Rafferty’s superior – whether it be in morality or education or class. A superiority of which Rafferty is only too aware.

You have, during the course of the series, introduced other family members. Could you tell us about a couple of them?

Rafferty is a gladly-lapsed Catholic, so it seemed only right to introduce the family priest who is a cousin on his mother’s side. Father Kelly regards it as his mission in life to bring Rafferty back to the Catholic fold, much to Rafferty’s chagrin. Nigel Blythe, aka Jerry Kelly, is another cousin. Nigel is an estate agent (realtor), who is a social climber with ideas above his station in life, certainly they’re above someone with a name like Jerry Kelly, hence the name change. Nigel’s another one who’s ‘superior’ to Rafferty. Unlike Rafferty, Nigel is a stylish dresser and lives in a spacious warehouse apartment. His interaction with Rafferty invariably causes Rafferty plenty of angst.

You decided to set the series in the county of Essex in England. Does this have special significance?

Yes, it does. In England, Essex is a rather derided county – there are even jokes about its inhabitants, such as: What’s the difference between Essex and Mars? Answer: There might be intelligent life on Mars. And: what does an Essex girl consider a really classy meal? Answer: A wood chip (French fries) fork with her takeaway.

I thought it was the perfect county in which to place Rafferty, whose family is working-class. Essex people have the reputation for being duckers and divers and wheelers and dealers and several of Rafferty’s family are of this type.

Though, funnily enough, having chosen Essex as the location for the series, the place seems to be becoming of less importance as the series progresses.

Rafferty’s mother, Ma (Kitty) Rafferty is a strong character. Is this the way she was always going to be?

Definitely. Ma was just another aspect of how I made life difficult for Rafferty. Right from the start, she’s been a real old-fashioned Irish mother, always poking her nose into his business, chiding him about the lapsed nature of his religion and match-making him with girls with child-bearing hips.

Deadly Reunion, as you said, is the fourteenth novel in the series. Do you foresee the series continuing indefinitely?

I don’t see why not. As long as I can keep coming up with plots and convincing funny sub-plots. If I think the stories are faltering, I’ll stop, but until then it’s business as usual in Rafferty’s Cop Shop.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on Kith and Kill, which is another Rafferty novel. In this one, a ninety-year-old woman is murdered on the night of her birthday party. The sub-plot has Rafferty striving to keep his family on the straight and narrow when they set about deciding what present to buy Ma for a triple anniversary.

Deadly Reunion
A Rafferty & Llewellyn crime novel by Geraldine Evans
Publication: 24 February 2011 (UK) 1 June 2011 (US)


Detective Inspector Joe Rafferty is barely back from his honeymoon before he has two unpleasant surprises. Not only has he another murder investigation - a poisoning, courtesy of a school reunion, he also has four new lodgers, courtesy of his Ma, Kitty Rafferty. Ma is organising her own reunion and since getting on the internet, the number of Rafferty and Kelly family attendees has grown, like Topsy. In his murder investigation, Rafferty has to go back in time to learn of all the likely motives of the victim's fellow reunees. But it is only when he is reconciled to his unwanted lodgers, that Rafferty finds the answers to his most important questions.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Read all about it!

I'm putting out a special weekend edition today, with an assortment of review news.

Here's a link to a review of my own short story collection by the tireless Kevin Tipple.
More reviews of that book are found on Smashwords.

And, as a special treat, here are two reviews I did for "Suspense Magazine". We reviewers turned in too many this month, so I'm releasing these here instead. But more reviews are in the publication, which you really should subscribe to!

Without further ado, I present the two reviews of two very different books published in late 2010.

“Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron” by Stephanie Barron:

To read this series is to be transported to Regency England, to the decadence of the Prince Regent that flourished alongside the strict morals professed by the proper folk. It's as if Stephanie Barron time-traveled to 1813 to absorb every nuance of custom and conversation, then hurried back to set it all down for us. The fascinating, bizarre cast includes the Prince Regent, of course (Prinny), Lord Byron, and Lady Caroline Lamb. These last two dissolute characters, the author says, were actually tamed down in her version, and they're wild!

In its leisurely, elegant way, the novel brings us to the death of Jane Austen's beloved sister-in-law, Eliza, Comtesse de Feuillide, and the wife of her brother, Henry. The dying woman seems to whisper something to Jane as she expires. Regret?Jane isn't quite sure what she heard. She is writing her third novel, Mansfield Park, and plans to publish it anonymously, as she has her first two. Miss Austen is not as absorbed in it as she would like, though, and agrees to accompany Henry to Brighton to dispel the gloom caused by Eliza's death.

On their way, Jane rescues a girl of fifteen, Catherine Twining, who has been abducted, bound and gagged, from the coach of Lord Byron! Byron, otherwise known as George Gordon, has just published his epic poem, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and every woman in England swoons when he draws near. Every woman but Catherine, with whom Byron is obsessed. Even Jane has to fight a physical attraction to see clearly whether or not he's guilty of the murder with which he's charged. The corrupt officials want to say the crime is solved, but have no interest in uncovering any facts, or even questioning anyone. It's up to Jane to see that justice is done.

A most satisfactory trip through springtime madness on the coast of England in a bygone time.

You can buy the book with the links at the bottom of

 “Rogue Wave” by Boyd Morrison:

This thriller starts out fast and speeds up. Kai Tanaka, loving father of thirteen-year-old Lani, and equally loving husband of Rachel, finds he must risk his job with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to save his family. An event unprecedented in human history, but one which has actually been predicted for some time, could throw his world into chaos.

Kai is acting director of the PTWC when strange events start occurring. Most of the staff is absent or unavailable. Kai and Reggie are alone in the center when an earthquake registers in the south Pacific where one has never occurred. Sensors meant to relay data from various islands then mysteriously fail. At first, they issue a tsunami bulletin, a minor notification that is ignored, as usual. If Kai orders an unneeded evacuation it will cost the islands dearly and Kai may lose his job as a result.

But if he waits too long, it could be too late for the the entire population of Hawaii. The warnings may not only be too late, the standard tsunami procedures may be useless in the face of the unbelievable gigantic rogue wave that he is beginning to suspect is on its way.

His daughter is out of reach and his wife, manager of the swank Grand Hawaiian Hotel, is staying there too long, trying to save her clients, including a group of disabled vets. Lani's best friend, Mia, and her mother Teresa, a third-year medical school resident, have not picked a good time to visit from Seattle. Kai's reckless and irrepressible half-brother, Brad Hopkins, part playboy, part Hell's Angel, refuses to get out of the say and stay in the background during the crisis. But he comes through in the crisis, in his own way.

Kai must choose between losing his job because of a poor decision and losing his wife an daughter as precious minutes tick by, leading to unimaginable catastrophe. This book had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath in case a wave washed over me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

When is a Funeral an Event?

PGR picture from wikipedia

When the deceased is an Air Force veteran of three wars and his son and son-in-law are both retired Austin police officers who both ride in the Patriot Guard Riders.

I wish I’d brought my camera. The picture I found at wikipedia will have to do.

About 50 motorcycles with large flags streaming behind each one, accompanied the hearse for a distance of twenty miles from the funeral home to the cemetery. 38 of the motorcycles were Patriot Guard, the rest Austin PD. They blocked traffic at the side intersections, leapfrogging each other to do so, some lagging back and some zooming ahead.

The cycles rode two abreast just behind the first police cycles, then the hearse and family’s car. We were pretty close to the front and could see them streaming out before us when we were heading into a dip. The entire procession was about a mile long. Almost every motorist pulled over as we met them and waited until the whole bunch of us passed by.

When we got to the cemetery, the Patriot Guard surrounded the tent with the family and friends, standing at attention with tall flags at their sides. They stood there until the last of the family left. The man also received full military honors with six uniformed pall bearers who had taps on their shoes. The sidewalk to the graveside was cement so you could hear the clicks of their precision marching. Two of them performed the flag folding ceremony, where they removed the flag that was draped over the coffin, folded it into a triangle, and one of them knelt to present it to the widow with some quiet words of thanks for her husband’s service to his country. This was followed by taps and a twenty-one gun salute.

If you don’t know about the PGR (and I didn’t know much about them before this), they are mostly military vets, but not all. They are motorcyclists who make it their mission to honor fallen soldiers. The group was formed in 2005 in reaction to an annoying bunch of people that were making it their habit to disrupt families trying to bury their dead soldier relatives. They apparently believed that the soldiers had died because our country is too tolerant of homosexuals. How they reached that conclusion is a mystery, but they were causing anguish at burials. This group decided to physically put themselves between these noisy, screaming people (members of a Kansas church called Westboro Baptist, but not affiliated with the mainstream Baptist Church). The PGR made it their mission to shield the families and let them mourn in peace.

Since then, the Patriot Guard’s activities have spread to other parts of the country. I was awed by the sight and hope you have a chance to see these men (and a few women) in action someday.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guest Blogger Peg Herring on Names into Words

I welcome Peg Herring today as my guest blogger. Be sure to read ALL the Ps! There are prizes to be had.
Peg Herring

Thanks to Kaye for a chance to stop at her blog on my Crawl! Yesterday’s post about figurative language is at

The Post - Names Into Words

I once saw a skit where Jesus met up with a guy named Sean, who had what is sometimes called a “colorful” vocabulary. Jesus asks the man, “How would you like it if every time I hit my thumb with a hammer or got cut off on the freeway, I said, ‘Sean Jamison!’”. I don’t remember the man’s response, but it made me think about names, which belong to us but often are not under our control.

Whether the honorees like it or not, names often become words, and the fifty-cent term for those words is “eponyms”. Amelia Bloomer wore a shocking (at the time) garment similar to men’s trousers, and the press dubbed it “bloomers”. An English estate manager was shunned by his Irish tenants, and the practice became known by his name, Boycott. Charles Lynch illegally imprisoned Loyalists during the Revolutionary War, and his name became a term for illegally punishing, (later hanging) suspected violators of the law.

Recently, there has been an attempt to “clean up” Mark Twain’s HUCKLEBERRY FINN. The term for that is bowdlerization, from a Thomas Bowdler, who, in the 1800s, did the same for Shakespeare. I would guess that the final result with this new attempt will be the same as the original bowdlerization, but we do remember old Tom’s name and use it for such crackpot attempts.

Product names also creep into the language and are used generically, like Kleenex, Band-aid, and Coke. Efforts have been made by the holders of those brand names to substitute “tissue”, “bandage”, and “soda”, but it’s an uphill battle.

Doctors’ names are often used for diseases they discover, define, or treat. It’s a dubious honor; possibly not appreciated by descendants of men like Alzheimer, Crohn, or Hodgkins. If you are looking for such recognition, you can get a star named after you at the International Star Registry. That seems to me better than a disease, but don’t expect it to make you a household name.

Words have to come from somewhere, and names came from somewhere, too. In the Middle Ages, Europeans began associating surnames with families. They generally came from four sources: place of birth (Hamburger, Pillsbury), father’s first name (Johnson, MacGregor), occupation (Miller, Fenstermaker), or a trait associated with the person or family (Doolittle, Reid). When we use names to designate a product or an action, the word returns to whence it came, a nice circle of usage that might make the namesake proud, like “silhouette”, or should make him ashamed, like “quisling”.

The Poser: Name three mystery protagonists who have unusual names.

The Prizes-Weekly prizes (your choice of THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY in e- or print format) drawn from the names of those who comment on the blogs as we go. Comment once/day, but the first commenter each day gets entered twice in Saturday’s drawing!

The Pathway: The next entry and the answers/comments to the Poser will be at

The Pitch: THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY, First in The Dead Detective Mysteries, paranormal mystery. Tori Van Camp wakes in a stateroom on a cruise ship with no memory of booking a cruise, but she does have a vivid recollection of being shot in the chest. Determined to find out what happened and why, Tori enlists the help of an odd detective named Seamus. Together they embark on an investigation like nothing she’s ever experienced. Death is all around her, and unless they act quickly, two people she cares about are prime candidates for murder. Read more about this book and the author at or buy the book at

The Perpetrator: Peg Herring writes historical and contemporary mysteries. She loves everything about publishing, even editing (most days). Peg’s historical series, The Simon and Elizabeth Mysteries, debuted in 2010 to wonderful reviews. The second in the series will be available in November from Five Star.
Peg’s Blog Crawl-February, 2011
January 31-Post schedule of Blog Crawl, explain prizes, etc.
Feb. 1 Peg Herring-Why Do We Say That? Part I  
Feb. 2 Chris Verstraete-Slowing Readers—Bad Policy
Feb. 3 Melissa Bradley-He Said, She Panted  
Feb. 4 Marilyn Meredith-The Dreaded Adverb
Feb. 5 Weekend-Draw for Prizes from Week 1
Feb 6 Weekend—
Feb. 7 Rhonda Dossett-The Ones Spell Check Won’t Catch  
Feb 8 Nancy Cohen-Metaphors
Feb. 9 Kaye George-Names Into Words
Feb 10 Lisa Haselton-Losing the Spice 
Feb 11. Chris Redding-Inventing Words 
Feb 12. Weekend-Draw for Prizes from Week 2
Feb.13. Lelia Taylor Syntax and Sentence Structure
Feb.14 Jenny Milchman-Why Do We Say That? Part II 
Feb.15. Pat Brown-Dialogue and What It Reveals and
Feb. 16 Debbi Mack-Portmanteau Words
Feb. 17 Peg Brantley-The Possessive Problem http://www.suspensenovelist.blogspot
Feb 18 Bo Parker-Read It Aloud
Feb 19 Weekend-Draw for Prizes from Week 3
Feb. 20 Weekend
Feb. 21 Jeff Marks-And What About Contractions? 
Feb 22 Geraldine Evans-Idioms
Feb. 23 Maryann Miller-Eccentric Phrases 
Feb. 25 –Peg Herring Open Topic
Feb. 26 Weekend-Draw for Prizes from Week 4
Feb. 27 Weekend
Feb. 29 Stacy Juba-Why Do We Say That? Part III

March 1-Final Drawing for Prizes from All Entries

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhogs, Armadillos, and Rolling Blackouts

I’m kind of fond of the first two. The last one, not that much. That one is the reason my blog is going up so late today! We “only” lost power three times and never for more than an hour at a time. Good thing, because we’re very, very cold for this part of the world. Austin, TX, is south of baking hot  Arizona and southern California, also New Mexico. We’re south of most of this country. All except Louisiana and Florida. Latitude about 30.27. My point being that it’s usually pretty dang hot here. Since moving here more than five years ago, I’ve observed two season: Summer and Not-Summer. This isn’t a place where you can wear wool. Until today!

I hear Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring. Maybe for Pennsylvania! I’m very happy for them.

In 2010 it was determined that Phil has no relevance for Texas, so Armadillo Bob emerged
from his burrow for the first time in 2010. Here are some photos of the big event:

I haven’t heard what he predicted but I can’t imagine it will be an early spring around here.

All day long Texas has experience rolling blackouts. This is where the power goes off without warning, stays off from thirty to forty minutes, officially. Unofficially, some people are losing power for hours at a time. Our Lt. Governor says that the water pipes froze at one (or maybe two?) power stations, on the coldest day in--well maybe recorded history. It didn’t get above freezing today, and won’t tomorrow either. It’s beginning to look like the panhandle around here with patches of frozen water here and there from recent rains.

The TV reporters promised we’d have no more blackouts tonight, but also said we’d have more tomorrow. Brrrrr!

Now, this gal has weathered a few years in Great Falls, Montana, so I do know what real cold is. But I also know it’s better in a house that’s built for it! I still have my wool scarf and down vest, and an awesome wool hat I bought in Iceland. I’m using them.

Stay warm!

 Photo from Rafi B at wikimedia commons