Fire, Fog and Water (Sgt. Windflower Mysteries) by Mike Martin
Author Guest Post
Enjoy the Story
In fiction, you have to suspend belief in order to follow the story. That means things like pretending to be in a different location with people that you don’t know in order to experience the full effect. Those who can’t do that often claim that they don’t like fiction books or stories, but I think it may be that they just don’t know how to let themselves go and be captured by the story or the characters. I also think they are missing out on a great deal of fun!!
What most people don’t realize is that writers have to do the same thing. Suspend our belief in the ordinary and escape to another reality, inside our heads. In my Sgt. Windflower Mystery series I use the very real town of Grand Bank, Newfoundland, as a backdrop for my stories. It settles the stories in a solid foundation of place that many people who have read the series now think they know. I hope so. But the setting is truly just the beginning. Because, with the exception of a few historical facts and bread crumbs, the rest is all imagination.
The main character, Sgt. Windflower, came out of the fog one night in Grand Bank and started telling me his story. All I did was write it down. Once I did that, all these other characters came along and I started writing their stories too. My main job today is to try and keep them all happy and allow each of them the appropriate time to tell their part.
If that’s not enough to stretch your imagination, there’s more. Two of Windflower’s family, his aunt and uncle, turn out to be dream weavers. They can interpret dreams, their own and others. Windflower learns how to do that too, and soon he is awake while he is dreaming and understanding the messages that come to him. I know it sounds crazy, but it really happens, at least to Windflower. He uses it to access the spirit world, the other side.
At first, Windflower appears skeptical about this whole spirit and dreaming thing. Until he starts to realize that there might actually be messages and information about himself that he can learn. That’s when he decides to ask his relatives to teach him how to do it. After a while, he comes to see that reality might be more than just what we can see in front of him. Once he accesses this power, his life becomes richer, and of course, the story gets better.
Now dreams and dream interpretation have become a central part of both Windflower and the series. In the latest book, Fire, Fog and Water, Windflower uses them to figure out what’s wrong with him, and of course, to help solve the mystery. But he has to let go of his old thinking in order to get there.
This all gets me back to the first point. You have to suspend your belief in order to enjoy the story. That is true in all fiction, and more particularly in mystery fiction. It works for Sgt. Windflower.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Winston Windflower is having a bad day. First, he has a fight with his wife. Then, he discovers that the roof on his B&B needs replacing. Finally, the weather in his hometown in Grand Banks, Newfoundland is foggy and wet. The ground still maintains its melting snow, now brown after mixing with the underlying dirt. At least, it’s not snowing. It is hard to realize that spring has sprung in Canada’s northernmost territory. It is March after all.
Attempting to forget his troubles by running on a nearby trail with his dog named Lady, Windflower accidentally falls and slides off the path into a snow-covered boulder. The incident seems to fit perfectly into his bad no-good day (and mood). However, when Lady begins digging at the boulder, Windflower quickly realizes his day is infinitely better than the day of the dead man that slowly emerges from the snow…
It is snowing outside as I read Fire, Fog and Water. This wouldn’t be remarkable if I lived in Michigan. However, I live 65 miles from Los Angeles in the desert. It was 79 degrees outside four days ago. However, this is the perfect book for winter weather. The descriptions of the scenery are so vivid that I feel like I should see snowflakes when I glance up from my Kindle.
With a dead man, an intentional hit-and-run, and an arson, there is plenty of plot running through Fire, Fog and Water. The Sergeant sets out trying to find the perps thinking that the crimes must be related. Since the murder victim was a low-level drug dealer, could all the crimes be related to the wave of purple fentanyl recently killing people in Canada?
The characters within Fire, Fog and Water were my favorite part of the story. There are no paper-thin characterizations here. The Sergeant seems like a real person dealing with getting older and becoming a father with depression and muted feelings. His interest in great literature and his indigenous peoples’ roots make him truly unique as a detective and a man.
I also loved the seamless merging of social issues into this Canadian police procedural. Drugs and depression are common in real life but are seldom shown so realistically in mystery fiction.
Because of the exquisite atmosphere, in-depth characterizations of rarely represented sub-cultures, and delicious food descriptions, Fire, Fog and Water definitely deserves five stars! It is highly recommended to police procedural fans! 5 stars!
Good luck in winning one of three print copies of the book
Sergeant Winston Windflower and his trusty crew at the Grand Bank detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have more than a few mysteries on their hands. Windflower suspects that the three cases—a homicide, a near-homicide and a fire on Coronation Street—are somehow connected, but how is proving difficult to determine, especially now that he must battle his unusually cranky mood, the never-ending winter that has gripped the coastal region of Newfoundland and his new, power-hungry boss.
In Fire, Fog and Water, award-winning author Mike Martin is true to form, retaining the light crime genre for which he is known while delving into the most perplexing social issues of our time, including mental health, addictions and workplace harassment. Windflower must not only solve the drug-and-death crimes that threaten the otherwise tranquil lives of Grand Bank’s residents, he must resolve his own internal conflicts before they consume him as surely as the blaze that engulfed the house on Coronation Street
About Mike Martin
Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland, Canada. He is the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series. Fire, Fog and Water is the 8th book in the series. A Long Ways from Home, was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year and Darkest Before the Dawn won for the 2018 Bony Blithe Award. Mike is currently Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers.
A Legacy of Murder: A Kate Hamilton Mystery by Connie Berry
Interview with Kate, lead character in A Legacy of Murder
Hi Kate. After stumbling across two bodies in less than a month, are you concerned about the same occurring on your next antiquing expedition?
Have you been talking to my mother, Diane? Linnea Larsen may be logical and down-to-earth, but even she is beginning to wonder about my bodies, as she calls them. Nonsense, of course. The Isle of Glenroth’s murky past had been simmering below the surface for generations. I just happened to be there when it finally erupted. And that’s not likely to happen again, is it?
Just in case, can you tell me where your next travel destination is and your approximate date of arrival so I can avoid it?
My next destination is Suffolk, England, a historic and perfectly safe county northeast of Cambridge. Just look at that photo! My flight from Cleveland will arrive the morning of December 5th, so I’ll be in England for all the pre-holiday celebrations (something I’ve always dreamed about). I plan to drive directly from Heathrow to Finchley Hall, the historic country house in the village of Long Barston, where my daughter, Christine, has an internship between terms at Oxford University. DI Mallory, as it happens, lives in the nearby village of Saxby St. Clare, and I’ve promised to spend as much time as possible with him—so no drama this time, please. By the way, please don’t avoid Suffolk! It’s definitely off the tourist track, but I know you would love the quaint villages and fascinating Anglo-Saxon history.
How would you characterize your relationship with English Detective Inspector Tom Mallory? Friend, boyfriend, or something more?
You do ask hard questions, don’t you? I’ve spent the past month trying to answer that question. Tom is certainly a friend, but I have to admit our relationship goes a long way beyond friendship. After Bill’s death, I thought I’d never fall in love again. After all, love is risky. Safer to live in the past. But by the end of my time in Scotland last October, I knew that Tom had captured my heart. That’s the problem—how can a transatlantic relationship ever work? His family, his job, his life are in England. Mine are in Ohio. Hopeless, right? Tom doesn’t think so, and I’ve agreed to take the next step—meeting his mother, the one who doesn’t like Americans. Yikes.
Do you think it was fate that you met Tom through careless driving on both your parts, even though he is a policeman and ought to know better?
Don’t blame Tom. I was the one distracted by memories of the island and Bill’s horrific death. Was it fate that brought us (literally) together? I’m not ruling it out. Things like that do happen—like the first automobile crash ever recorded in the United States. In 1895 there were only two automobiles in Ohio, and they managed to collide. Explain that.
Finally, is there any way to train to be an antique whisperer like yourself? Whenever I’m in a houseful of junk, I never seem to find the lone treasure.
My dad was the one who called me “an antique whisperer.” He said I was drawn like a magnet to objects of great age and beauty. An exaggeration, obviously, although (just between the two of us) I will admit to having a kind of sixth sense, almost as if I can perceive the emotional atmosphere in which an antique existed. I never talk about it, so please keep it to yourself. As far as training goes, you could certainly be trained to recognize and evaluate fine antiques, but it will take years of experience. I had the blessing of being raised by my parents, both experts in the field.
Well, it’s been lovely chatting, Diane, but I’ve got lots to do at the antique shop. If you’re ever in Jackson Falls, Ohio, stop in to see me at Antiques at the Falls!
Don’t forget to read my review of this book here and enter a giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card below!
American antique dealer Kate Hamilton’s Christmastime jaunt to a charming English village leads to an investigation of a missing ruby…and a chain of murders.
It’s Christmastime and antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is off to visit her daughter, Christine, in the quaint English village of Long Barston. Christine and her boyfriend, Tristan, work at stately-but-crumbling Finchley Hall. Touring the Elizabethan house and grounds, Kate is intrigued by the docent’s tales of the Finchley Hoard, and the strange deaths surrounding the renowned treasure trove. But next to a small lake, Kate spies the body of a young woman, killed by a garden spade.
Nearly blind Lady Barbara, who lives at Finchley with her loyal butler, Mugg, persuades Kate to take over the murdered woman’s work. Kate finds that a Burmese ruby has vanished from the legendary Blood-Red Ring, replaced by a lesser garnet. Were the theft and the woman’s death connected?
Kate learns that Lady Barbara’s son fled to Venezuela years before, suspected of murdering another young woman. The murder weapon belonged to an old gardener, who becomes the leading suspect. But is Lady Barbara’s son back to kill again? When another body is found, the clues point toward Christine. It’s up to Kate to clear her daughter’s name in Connie Berry’s second Kate Hamilton mystery, a treasure for fans of traditional British mysteries.
About Connie Berry
Like her protagonist, Connie Berry was raised in the antiques trade. After teaching theology for twenty-five years, she took up writing mysteries featuring high-end antiques and the legacy of the past. Connie loves history, cute animals, travel with a hint of adventure, and all things British. She lives in Ohio with her husband and adorable dog, Millie.
When Professor Will’s mother, Abigail, falls down her back steps and into a coma, he is forced to travel back to his small hometown in Before the Devil Fell.
The village that Will grew up in is full of secrets. Were Abigail’s friends from his childhood doing something more sinister than having a new-age’y “spirit circle”? What happened when he was five to destroy the family feeling of the town? Is there still something supernatural lurking there?
I have mixed feelings about Before the Devil Fell. On one hand, the mystery was good and I was surprised by the perpetrator. But on the other hand, I wanted more from the supernatural element. For horror, I want it to be balls-to-the-wall scary. This was just “creepy” in an atmospheric sort of way. Perhaps I read the book synopsis incorrectly but I was expecting more New England shenanigans. You know like witches or demons or something. Possibly that is because it is Halloween month. I think as long as you are not expecting that aspect of the book to shine, this would be a 4 star read for the mystery. However, for myself, I would rate it as 3.5 stars.
Thanks to Hanover Square Press, Harlequin Books, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
“You’re developing quite a tendency to stumble across murder in your middle age.” Said to our heroine, Rachel, after she finds a corpse in the men’s room on the first page of the Books of the Dead.
Rachel lives in Paris with her husband, Alan, and her best friend Magda. After solving one murder in the previous book in the series, the Capitaine asks for her to “observe and report” who among the murdered man’s co-workers would like to see him dead. The quick answer is everyone. Guy Laurent was universally hated by all who knew him. So how will Rachel, Magda, and the Capitaine solve the crime?
The reader definitely has to suspend disbelief to read Books of the Dead. I can’t picture any country’s police force asking a rank amateur to go undercover. However, if you can get past that plot point, this book has a lot to recommend it to cozy readers. Middle-aged characters, a library, and last but not least, Paris are all here to entertain any cozy reader tired of one more restaurant owner. The characters are great too. The three main characters are realistic and feel like friends to the reader by the end of the book. For those reasons, I recommend this book highly. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
“There was no greater violence than affection.” If you like that quote, I believe you will enjoy Commute, a graphic novel for the #metoo movement.
Unfortunately, I just thought the book was sad. Erin had some difficulties early in life. To “overcome them”, she drinks. Heavily. Every night. Before finding some guy in a bar to sleep with. Even though she doesn’t enjoy it. As one character in the story states, “don’t look for oranges in a gas station.” I wanted to hear her story rather than the sad-sack protagonist. The fact is that while complaining about men either desiring her or making her invisible, she is objectifying herself and all women by constantly worrying about being or becoming fat. Fat to her includes pregnancy, which is just terrible.
As you can probably tell, Commute wasn’t the book for me. I’m sympathetic with the issues portrayed. I hope that all female millennials and younger are not living the protagonist’s life portrayed here. If some of them are, then I hope they get a chance to read this empowering graphic novel. However, if you are not already on that road, I wouldn’t recommend picking this book up. 2 stars.
Thanks to Abrams ComicArts and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
“Finding one body could be considered bad luck. Finding two within the space of thirty days was beginning to look like destiny.”—most honest words ever spoken by a cozy mystery’s heroine from A Legacy of Murder.
Widow Kate is back in England collecting antiques for her shop in Ohio. While there, she stops at stately Finchley Hall to visit her daughter, Christine, who is interning there. Of course, she also agrees to have dinner with new beau, Detective Inspector Tom. Unfortunately, her first call to Tom is to report finding another intern, Tabitha, dead, an apparent victim of suicide. When the coroner rules it murder, Tom asks for Kate’s outsider viewpoint to assist him with solving the case.
A Legacy of Murder is a sweet cozy mystery with a perfect balance of mystery and romance. With a forty-six-year-old widow as the heroine, it should appeal to older readers as well as antique lovers. The characters are well-defined and the mystery is just difficult enough for a light read on a windy fall night. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
What is hiding shallowly beneath the surface of Boston’s school system? Nascent reporter, Madison, investigates government corruption in the twisty crime comic, Bury the Lede.
Madison is an intern at the Boston Lede, the New York Times of Boston. She is fetching coffee and dreaming of her first byline when suspected socialite murderer, Dahlia, agrees to talk with her in prison. Instead of talking about the death of her husband or the disappearance of her young son, Dahlia gives Madison a hint about widespread city corruption. As Madison pursues the lead, she follows a twisty and torturous path that will impact both her love life and her family.
Bury the Lede is a superior crime comic. The mystery is compelling and a challenge to solve. The relationships, both straight and LGBTQ, feel realistic. The artwork has the feel of a 1950s noir film. Overall, it’s a pleasant way for armchair detectives to spend an hour or two. 4 stars!
Thanks to Boom! Studios and NetGalley for granting my wish for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Rod Serling, famous host of the fifties sci-fi anthology series The Twilight Zone, is The Twilight Man.
Beginning his biography with his service in the Pacific theater of World War II, this graphic novel uses pictures to show us Rod’s life. He was diagnosed with shellshock after the war (now called PTSD), which left him with horrific nightmares for the rest of his life. Rod moved from college to Midwest radio to NYC television before landing The Twilight Zone.
The Twilight Man is an interesting step back into a more innocent time. World War II, its aftermath, the end of radio dramas, the beginning of television, McCarthy’s red scare, and conspicuous consumption are all addressed here. Rod definitely lived in interesting times. If you would like to read a bit of entertainment history or like biographies, this is a great choice. 4 stars!
Thanks to Life Drawn, Humanoids, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.