Reviewer Wally Wood: Wally is a a professional writer and a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He holds a master's degree in creative writing from the City University of New York as well as a bachelor's degree from Columbia University where he majored in philosophy. As a volunteer, he has taught writing in men's state prisons and to middle-school students in his local library.
His first novel, Getting Oriented: A Novel About Japan received positive reviews even from people who do not know him. As a ghost-writer, he has written 19 business books, all published by commercial publishers. He has recently published The Girl in the Photo which is currently available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a trade paperback or Kindle download.
Author: Jane Tesh
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
I didn't know you could write a charming murder mystery, which probably reflects my limits rather than the genre, but I would call Jane Tesch's Just You Wait charming. It is the fifth novel in a series set in a small fictional North Carolina city and has an ensemble cast who live in a big old house on 302 Grace Street. The narrator is twice-divorced (but young) PI David Randall and a key resident is his friend Camden.
Camden is psychic, develops a second mental power during the story, and is engaged to Ellin who wants him to move out of 302 Grace Street. If you are willing to suspend disbelief and accept Camden's powers (I was), the book dances right along. Camden, for example, senses that a missing woman has been buried in her basement because one of the house cats rubs against his leg. When the cops dig in the basement, there she is. Unfortunately for Camden and anyone who would like to hire his powers, they can be erratic and ambiguous.
The body in the basement was an actress in the town's community theater and a thread through the novel is a production of My Fair Lady, thus the book's and chapter titles. Within a few pages we are thoroughly involved with Randall's cases and the personal lives of his friends. The cases include the dead woman, an absconding partner of a cosmetics entrepreneur (who has the great name Folly Harper and a passion for peach), shoplifters stealing pharmaceuticals, and—pro bono—helping a jazz musician woo his woman. To Tisch's credit, she never has to abandon Randall's point of view and never loses the reader as he works his way through events to identify the villain.
She also is able to say a lot in a relatively few words: "I glimpsed her blond curls bouncing indignantly as she charged out to her sleek silver Lexus. She looks really good going away. She has a dynamite figure, plus big blue eyes and a great smile." One more example: "I had deputized various members of the household before with good results [no doubt reference to earlier books in the series]. Angie looked like Queen of the White Trash Mamas, but I knew beneath that tonnage lurked a shrewd mind. I also knew she could take care of herself, and she could more a lot faster than anyone would suspect."
So, Just You Wait has off-stage murder, complicated romance, extrasensory perception, small city life, jazz, community theater, all with a plausible villain. What else could you ask for?