Sunday, September 16, 2018

Welcome to my closet, so to speak, where I "unpack" my writing for you. I have been writing mysteries since I was a teenager and I have published 5 of them. Four of those 5 featured gospel singing amateur sleuth Alexandra Walters. Most of them, except the final one, "The Final Note," are now out of print. For the past 8 years I have been focusing my attention on my online magazine Kings River Life, and more recently also our sister site KRL News & Reviews. Since May of 2018 a lot of my attention is also going to our mystery podcast, Mysteryrat's Maze, which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors.

This website and my mystery writing have been a bit neglected, however I am working on trying to remedy that. I have the first draft of a brand new mystery, which debuts a brand new series, featuring an entertainment Vlogger named Roxi Carlucci (If you read my other books-she is the cousin of Stephen Carlucci). The books are based in Fresno, CA, and more specifically in my favorite part of that town called The Tower District. The photo in the background of my newly remodeled (with much more work to come) website is a photo I took of the Tower Theatre in the Tower District!

My hope is that the first book in this series, tentatively titled, "Death of a Harlequin" will come out some time next year so I decided it was time to spruce up my closet! My hope is that over the next few months I can provide here tidbits about the new series-but in the meantime you know where to find me-either on one of my two magazine websites, or on the podcast-I hope you check them both out!

Happy reading,

Your Mysteryrat Lorie!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Poirot and Me By David Suchet

Review by Lorie Ham

I have been a fan of Agatha Christie ever since I was a teenager. Her books were among the first mysteries I ever read. And while I love all of her main characters, I have always had a special place in my heart for Hercule Poirot--he is just so different from most of the other private detectives in mystery fiction.

Image Source: Headline
When I discovered David Suchet's portrayal of Poirot on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery, I grew to love the character even more and have followed Suchet's portrayal through the years until the end just a couple of years ago. When I found the book Poirot and Me, I HAD to read it. In this book David shares how he came to play the Belgium detective, the lengths that he went through to make sure that his portrayal was accurate, and the adventures along the way that lasted over 20 years. He shares about it all--from how he discovered the walk and talk to what he wore, down to that funny little mustache. You also learn about many of the intimate details from behind the scenes of the show, and from other parts of David's life, as well, and how they were affected by this role.

I now love Poirot and David Suchet even more! He is an absolutely brilliant actor, and I can't ever watch any of the past Poirots ever again. David Suchet IS Hercule Poirot. He managed to portray him in every one of Agatha Christie's Poirot stories, all the way to the final one, “Curtain.”

If you are an Agatha Christie fan, and especially a Poirot fan, you have to read this book!

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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mr. Holmes: Movie Review

Review by Kathleen Costa 
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a DVD copy of Mr. Holmes. 

It is post WWII. Long retired to his Sussex farmhouse and suffering from the onset of ‘senility,’ 93 year-old Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) is greeted by his housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her son, Roger (Milo Parker). He has returned from Hiroshima with a questionable treatment using a prickly ash mixture to stave off his mental and physical decline. Dr. Watson is long gone and with a failing memory, he is compelled to pen his last investigation, The Case of the Dove Grey Glove, before his memory will not allow it. A close relationship unfolds between Holmes and young Roger often soliciting an opinion about the case as a mentor would with an apprentice along with sharing the responsibilities for caring for his apiary. Dr. Watson may be absent, but Roger appears to fill that void as companion and caregiver.
Image Source Miramax

With troublesome symptoms of senility, Holmes flashes back to his final case and sets out to pen his version of the investigation. He recalls, thirty years long gone, a husband Thomas Kelmot (Patrick Kennedy), distraught over the changes he observes in his wife Anne (Hattie Morahan), who is struggling in the wake of two devastating miscarriages. The husband is very uneasy with her behavior after she takes an interest in the glass harmonica…did he hear her call out the names of her departed children? As Holmes follows her, he sees evidence of her dark intentions. Approaching her and divulging his conclusions, she asks that they share in the strain of their loneliness. His reaction suggesting she return to her husband has devastating results leading to his self-imposed exile.

Seeking a treatment for his mental decline, Holmes flashes back to his travels to Japan where he is greeted by Mr. Umezaki (Hiroyuki Sanada) who confesses he and his mother are fans of his legendary personae and is eager to find the prickly ash he is sure will successfully manage his symptoms. Mr. Umezaki and his mother are surprised that many of the characteristics they were interested in from Watson’s stories had been “created by his imaginative license.” He indicates, “Deerstalker? I never wore one,” and “I prefer a cigar.” Showing Holmes a letter, Mr. Umezaki explains that his father went to England many years ago and sadly never returned having indicated in a ‘Dear John’ style letter he sought Holmes’s counsel and advice. Holmes says he has no recollection of his father saying that he may have “wanted a new life.” They part, the young man crushed by Holmes’s words.

Although honesty is the ’best policy,’ Holmes curmudgeon-style can be a brutal pill to swallow, sometimes with unforeseen consequences, and when young Roger mirrors this style Holmes looks deeper into his own behavior and that of those around him. He concludes his story, has a revelation about Watson’s motives for some of his literary embellishments, and tries to settle feelings with a truth about Mr. Umezaki’s father. Life is uncertain for Holmes, but he seems secure in the idea that he is not alone.

This film was the perfect end to a lustrous life. Ian McKellen was the epitome of the iconic figure, and Milo Parker, as Roger, emulated well Watson’s caring companionship and delight in learning from Holmes. The added focus on Holmes’s ‘bees,’ prickly ash, and royal jelly led me to seek out more information wondering if there is a natural therapy for my own occasional lapses in memory. I teared up when Holmes created his own ‘circle of stones’ similar to that which he observed in Japan, and Roger goes off to teach his mother about the bees.

As a ‘Sherlock Holmes’ fan, this movie earned a 5/5 pots of honey and royal jelly!

Be a Fan!

To enter to win a copy of Mr. Holmes, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “holmes,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 30, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Carolyn Hart Book Review & Giveaway

Death Comes Silently by Carolyn Hart

I have been a fan of Carolyn Hart’s Death On Demand mystery series ever since the first book and was excited when I received the latest one, Death Comes Silently.

Annie Lawrence Darling owns a mystery bookstore called Death On Demand and this setting is one of the things I love about this series. When I read one of these books I can imagine myself in this wonderful bookstore surrounded by great mystery books, the coffee nook where I can get a cup of coffee while I’m there, Agatha the big black bookstore cat, and I can take a moment and try to win the monthly contest where Annie puts up book covers on the wall and the patrons have to figure out what books they go with. I also enjoy recognizing author names as she mentions books in her store.

Through the years, I’ve gotten to know the characters in these books and reading one is like returning home. There’s the eccentric mystery author Emma Clyde, there’s Annie’s friend Henny who makes me think a lot of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Annie’s flighty mother in law Laurel who can be hard for Annie to deal with, but at other times can be great help. The best characters though are Annie and her husband Max. Max has a consulting firm where he helps people with their problems, but insists that he is not a P.I. Annie and Max make me think a lot of Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man movies—they are charming, funny and very much in love.

In Death Comes Silently Annie asks a fellow volunteer, Gretchen Burkholt, to cover for her at a local charity because she needs to be at the store for Emma’s latest book signing. Annie gets a frantic call from Gretchen saying she’s afraid of the handyman, but also informing Annie of a scandal over the death of a local wealthy citizen. The volunteer is known for over reacting so Annie ignores it and goes on with the event, but is shocked to find the volunteer has been murdered. Feeling guilty and being her normal curious self, Annie sets out to find the real killer, as Henny is determined it was not the handyman.

Annie attempts to uncover the family scandal that she feels is at the real root of the murder, only to find there’s more skeletons in their closet than she ever bargained for and to end up being a target of the murderer herself.

If you have never read one of Carolyn Hart’s Death On Demand books head on out and find them now. You can start at any point in the series, but it’s fun to start at the beginning and watch Annie and Max’s relationship blossom and grow. These books are charming, fun, funny, clever and kind of like comfort food without the calories, but instead with a great mystery!

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Death Comes Silently by emailing us at kingsriverlife [at]gmail[dot]com with the subject line Silently. Contest ends Monday, April 30, 2012. 

Also check out some wonderful mystery author video interviews from Left Coast Crime on our youtube channel

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guest Blogger Marilyn Meredith! Why I Write

I'd like to welcome long time friend and fellow mystery author Marilyn Meredith to the Closet today! Thanks so much for joining us!

Why I Write

by Marilyn Meredith

This weekend someone asked me if I was making a lot of money with my books.
I laughed before I answered. Here is what I told her. “Not really. Of course I do make some money, but I spend far more in the pursuit of promoting my books.” That sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it? When I get a royalty check from one of my two publishers, my percentage is the smallest of all. If I’m getting a royalty from a print book, the bookstore gets the biggest cut, then Ingram (the distributor) gets the next biggest amount, the publisher takes the next percentage, and I get the least amount of all. And no, this is not unusual; it’s the way it works for everyone. Of course if someone buys a book directly from the publisher, then there aren’t so many pieces of the pie taken out. If someone buys a Kindle edition, of course it’s the same thing, Amazon comes first, then the publisher and then me. There are some variables, but that’s pretty much how it works.

When I purchase books from the publisher directly and sell them myself, the cut is better for me. However, it’s not so easy to sell them myself. If I bring the books to the bookstore for a talk and books are purchased, the bookstore gets 30% and my profit will be 10%. No so great, is it.
I love to do book fairs—especially those that don’t charge anything for a booth or table—then I get to keep all of the profit (after what I paid for the books, which I do get at an author discount.)

Unfortunately, most book fairs or craft fairs charge for the privilege of being there so the trick then is to sell enough books to make back that money and then some. If you’ve traveled somewhere for the book fair then you have to take the cost of gas into account. And if it’s far away, then you’ll probably have the price of a hotel room and meals to figure in the equation. No, most of the time you really aren’t going to make a profit.
What you will be doing, hopefully, is meeting new people who will ultimately become fans and buy more books if they like the one they bought at the fair—or take a card and buy a book online. Many mystery writers also go to mystery conventions—and unless you’re a famous author, you certainly won’t sell enough books to make back the cost of attending. Most of us go because it’s a lot of fun. In my case, I’ve met so many people at these cons that each time I go it’s like attending a reunion. Years ago, I roomed with Lorie Ham at the Bouchercon in Anchorage. That’s when I really got acquainted with Lorie and we had a great time together and have been friends every since.

So, now to answer the question, if I’m not making much money, why do I write? I write because I have to. I’ve come to love the characters in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and I want to know what is going to happen to Tempe, her pastor husband, and all the people in Bear Creek and on the reservation next.
Over the years I’ve learned I really don’t have any control over the world that I live in—but I do have a bit of control over the world that I’ve created. Though bad things always happen in my books, after all I am writing mysteries, I can make sure that everything turns out the way it should in the end.

Invisible Path can be purchased as a trade paperback or e-book from or any of the usual online bookstores.

Marilyn Meredith is the author of nearly thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Invisible Path from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, An Axe to Grind is the latest from Oak Tree Press.
She is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at and her blog at

Synopsis of Marilyn's latest book, Inivisible Path:

-->While Tempe’s son, Blair is home from Christmas break, he and his roommate from college do a bit of snooping to find out about the para-military group who’ve been seen driving through town. When a young popular Indian is found dead near the recovery center on the reservation, Tempe is called in to help with the investigation. Another Native American but a newcomer to the rez, Jesus Running Bear, is the only suspect. A hidden pregnancy, a quest to find the Hairy Man, and a visit to the pseudo soldiers’ compound put Jesus and Tempe in jeopardy.
Excerpt from Inivisible Path

“Jesus, I need to talk to you.”

My grandma was the only one who could get away with pronouncing my name like Jesus in the Bible. My friends say it like “Hay-soos.” Grandma didn’t like it when she heard someone say my name like that. She usually corrected whoever it was by saying, “My grandson is not Mexican, he is Indian. His name is Jesus Running Bear.”

I don’t know what inspired my mother to give me such a name, and she wasn’t around to ask.

Grandma fixed her small dark eyes on me. When she smiled her eyes became crescent moons. She wasn’t smiling now. Whatever it was she wanted to say, it had to be important.

I put down the bowl I’d gotten out of the cupboard. Breakfast would have to wait.

“You’ve been thinking about something a lot. Something that’s going to give you problems.” Grandmother’s face was round, weathered, and brown as a nut. Her gray hair was pulled straight back and arranged in a bun. Wiry strands escaped and poked out around her ears and the nape of her neck. She wore a man’s red plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, over a pair of faded blue jeans. Beneath the baggy clothes, she was slim and muscled. Her toes peeked out from a pair of worn leather sandals.

I loved my grandma; after all she was the one who raised me after my mother left me alone while she went on a three day drunk. My uncle found me and brought me to grandmother’s house where I’ve been ever since. No, I don’t miss my mother because I don’t even remember her. I only know what I’ve been told about her—not much of it good.

I wasn’t sure what kind of problem Grandma meant. Sure, I’d been going down to the beer joints with my cousin and friends even though I knew she didn’t want me drinking. Maybe that’s what this was about. I respected my grandmother, but I hadn’t obeyed her warning about never touching alcohol. She hated alcohol. Grandfather had died from drinking too much. Maybe my mother was dead too. No one had heard from her in years.

“Come. Sit down.” She motioned to the chair where I usually sat. In front of her was a cup of tea. “We’re going to find out exactly what is going on with you.”

I sat on the edge of the seat. She was going to do some weird Indian stuff. We were Miwok—though we didn’t live on or near a reservation. We lived in a small town in the foothills above Modesto which is in the Central Valley of California. Frankly, I didn’t know much about my heritage except what my grandma told me.

She was an amazing woman, and could do so many things. I was proud of most of what she did. She knew how to gather herbs that could cure most sicknesses. She wove beautiful baskets that she sold at Pow Wows and to tourists in gift shops in Yosemite and other places.

When I was a kid, she took me on camping trips into the back country. She could out hike me even today. But I wasn’t crazy about all the Indian stuff she did that I didn’t understand.

Grandma stared into the cup and began speaking in her native language. That’s what she always did when she was concentrating on something.

She lifted her head and fixed her eyes on me again. “You’re looking for a girlfriend. That’s it, isn’t it?”

Well, sure. What young guy isn’t trying to find a girl? But for once I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut.

Again, she peered into the cup. “I see all kinds of women. Be careful not to choose the wrong one. If you do, you’ll be miserable.”

She stared and her eyes looked funny, like she was seeing something far, far away.

I squirmed, wondering where this was leading. Maybe she already had someone picked out for me.

“I see a pretty girl with a nice figure. She has long straight hair, clear down to her waist. She’ll wiggle her plump bottom and you won’t be able to think. Women have power–especially young pretty ones. Don’t you so much as give her more than a passing glance. If you do, you’ll be miserable your whole life.” Grandma didn’t look up.
In my mind I could see the pretty girl walking down the street, her shiny black hair swinging back and forth like her hips.

After a few minutes my day dream ended when Grandma said, “There’s another one. Short and skinny like I was when I was young. But beware, she’s nothing like me. This one is sneaky. She’ll act like she cares for you when she has lots of other men.”

Interesting. This was more fun than I’d expected.

“I see another one, curly headed and laughing. She’ll welcome you to her bed.”

This was sounding better and better, and I risked a smile.

“Take my warning, grandson. Don’t marry her. She knows nothing about being a wife or taking care of children. She only knows how to have fun. She only wants to party, party, party. She’s not for you.”

I was beginning to wonder if there was anyone Grandma would see in that teacup who was good enough for me.
“Ah, there’s the one you must look for. She’s a sweet girl, with dark brown wavy hair and a dimple in one cheek. She knows and respects the old ways.”

“Where is she? Does she live around here?” I was ready to introduce myself to this wonderful woman.

“No, she lives far away. It may take a long, long while before you meet her.”

That wasn’t such good news. “How will I find her?”

“The path lies straight ahead. Sometimes it will be invisible, but it’s always there.”

Grandma’s discussion about my future seemed to be over.

She picked up the cup and dumped the dregs in the sink. Wiping her hands on a tea towel that had been draped through the handle of the old refrigerator, she asked, “Are you ready to eat?”
* * *

I almost forgot about Grandma’s predictions, because I started drinking more and more with my buddies. I became an embarrassment to her and my other relatives, and I didn’t care.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Story of a Magazine, or You Can’t Write That

I have been writing most of my life. My first poem was first published at the age of 13. Through the years, I’ve had magazine articles, poems, short stories, and novels published, and written off and on for local newspapers and magazines.

However, you may ask how did you end up deciding to start a magazine? Well I’ve noticed that things seldom happen “as planned” in life—changes hit you out of the blue all the time. One such change happened to me in December of 2009 when without warning I was laid off from my current job. I found myself going okay now what? And then it hit me! While working in the newspaper world I’d had many ideas of what I felt would be interesting stories that I believed people would enjoy, and been constantly told no we don’t do stories like that, or no we don’t have room, or even no I don’t think people around here would find that interesting. In other words, you can’t write about that. My favorite though was—you go too in depth with your stories.

I decided why not start an online magazine where I’m in control of what goes in it. At first glance it may seem a little self indulgent, but don’t we all have times when we wish we could do what we feel is right? When you reach a point where you’re tired of people telling you that you can’t do what you really want to do and feel in your gut is the right thing to do. So now I’m finally able to do those stories I never got the chance to do, and follow those ideas. I now can write that!

After the idea, came months trying to figure out exactly what would be the focus, what would be a good name, where to find other writers since I had no intention of filling up an entire magazine with only my writing lol, and so on. So I got together with some creative friends and started brainstorming on a name—which seemed to be the place to start. We came up with Kings River Life Magazine. The Kings River runs through my town of Reedley, California and through many other towns in the San Joaquin Valley. The desire was to not be limited to just one community, but be open to writing stories from all the surrounding cities as time went along, so this seemed to be a name that left us open to cover all life on the Kings River.

Next, we needed a logo, a photo that was all ours, so the process was started to make that happen and I’m very pleased with what we came up with.

So now what exactly would be our focus? Why not start with areas I know and that I have connections in. One good thing about living in an area your whole life, and working with various local newspapers and magazines, was that you made connections. I’ve gone to church and sung in churches my whole life so let’s cover local ministries—with a special focus on what people are doing to help those in their community. I’m a member of the local Historical Society board so why not local history. My daughter is involved in local theatre and it never gets the coverage it deserves so why not theatre. Music—well I’m a singer so that’s a given. I’ve had a heart and connection with local teens since working with them at the library—so why not a section just for them. Better yet, why not let them write it? I firmly believe in going green—so let’s include that. And reviews of books, music, TV, movies, etc. Yes that sounds good—oh and animals, I love animals and was involved in animal rescue for several years. So that seemed like a good mix—a good place to start. Oh and wait—I write fiction set in the Valley, why not include some of that too. And my husband is involved in sports, and I know a lot of people in the City and Education…

The beauty of it being online and with such an all-encompassing name like Kings River Life, is we aren’t hemmed in to anything. As time goes along, we can expand not only to other communities but to covering whatever we find people want to read.

As to writers—it’s amazing once you start talking about what you’re doing how many people say hey I’d like to write something. Yeah not everyone who wants to write can write, but we’ve lucked out and ended up with a great group gathered from all different walks of life and all different ages from 15 to senior citizens. I also talked to some English classes at the local high school and found some writers there, along with teens I already knew.

We went live on May 29 after a LOT of work! And have been going strong with a new issue up every Saturday morning at 10 every week since. We’re still growing and deciding what works and what doesn’t, what people like and what they don’t, but it’s going great and we can’t wait to see what the future holds! (FYI none of this would ever have happened without the awesome talents of our webmaster/editor Dorian Rhodes who works crazy hard.)

Honestly, the best things about it so far is the great team that’s come together to make Kings River Life happen each week and having people send us emails saying hey I loved that story or thanks for letting people know about us, and no longer having someone say “sorry but you can’t write that” lol.

So check us out at Follow us on twitter @kingsriverlife and find us on Facebook and MySpace. Watch us grow and evolve and if you have an idea of something you would like to see in an issue, or maybe you even would like to try your hand at writing something—let us know And you may notice when you check us out we really aren’t limited to just the area of the San Joaquin Valley of California along the Kings River—we have reviews, author interviews, articles and fiction that can appeal to people where ever you live! So check us out.

And that’s just another thing in my closet.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Review of Dispel the Mist by Marilyn Meredith

It's been awhile since I've had time to review a book myself, but I always make the time to review Marilyn Meredith's books as I know I'm going to love them and this one is no exception.
Hope you enjoy the review, and hope you get yourself a copy of the book.
Happy Reading & Good Coffee,

Dispel the Mist, A Tempe Crabtree Mystery
By Marilyn Meredith
Mundania Press, 2009
ISBN 978-1-59426-402-3

Dispel the Mist is the latest book in Marilyn Meredith’s Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, set in the mountains above the San Joaquin Valley. In this book Tulare County supervisor Lilia Quintera dies under suspicious circumstances soon after the announcement of a planned project for a new hotel and golf course on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation—a project that quickly causes a heated debate. Her mixed Mexican and Native American heritage played a significant role in Lilia’s election and many on the Reservation expect her to support the new project. Lilia recently helped bring a casino to the Reservation to allow for more jobs and a better life for those living there.

Before her death, Lilia also became involved in another controversial project—the opening of a home for women with disabilities in the new gated community of Shadow Hills. This project has a personal side for her in that her niece would be residing in that home. Some of the Shadow Hills residents think the home will bring down property values.

Tempe is put on special assignment to investigate this murder due to her ties to the community and the Reservation. She quickly finds the suspect list growing to include those that were against the proposed projects, Lilia’s much younger husband, and even her own sister.

Not only is this an excellent mystery, but Marilyn weaves into the story the Native American elements that make it unique—including the lore of the Hairy Man. Could it be more than just a myth? The relationship between Tempe and her preacher husband Hutch is also a joy to watch unfold as they work to find a balance between their busy lives and differing beliefs.

I highly recommend Dispel the Mist. For more info on Marilyn’s other books check out her website at