Monday, December 7, 2015


 by Robert Williamson

The book Chaos Theory is a teen mystery drama written by M. Evonne Dobson. This book’s protagonist is a high school student girl named Kami. Kami is a nosy, curious girl who sees people as data and nothing more. Kami gets interested when a new student (whom she nicknames “Drug Guy”) comes to her school. According to Kami’s friend, Sandy, “Drug Guy” had killed his sister by letting her steal his drugs and she overdosed. So naturally, Kami stalks this new student and finds out the truth about his sister. Kami helps “Drug Guy” solve the mystery surrounding his sister with the help of her friends, Sandy and Sam the Boy of 100 Nicknames.

Personally, I think this was an okay book. There were a few good parts, but there were also parts I did not like. I did not feel any attachment to any of the characters, nor do I remember getting surprised by any upcoming events. There weren’t many plot twists as far as I remember, so the story was pretty predictable. I don’t think a book in the mystery genre should be as predictable as this one was. One more thing I found annoying was the unnecessary plot details. There were certain moments in the book where I just thought to myself “What is the purpose of this being in the book? It is not essential to the plot and is put in only for more trouble to show up.” Maybe if some of these issues were not there, this book may very well have been a really good and interesting book. These issues could have been avoided in a few ways:

1. Making the characters more relatable. The characters were not very relatable, therefore, I did not connect to them as much as I would have liked. Having more relatable characters tends to lead to a book being more entertaining for the readers. An example of a unrelatable character was Daniel. It felt like at times M. Dobson wanted us to feel sorry for Daniel and his predicament. However, I did not feel sorry for him.

2. Making the book's plot points less obvious. If a book is in the mystery genre, the characters shouldn’t be the only ones to be questioning the mystery. The readers themselves should be trying to figure out the mystery. In the case with this book, the BIG bad was not introduced at the beginning, making the mystery not much of a mystery of who did it.

3. Taking out or edit the unnecessary moments. Like I said above, there are moments that make me question why they are in the book in the first place. These moments do nothing or close to nothing to further the plot. The only reason these parts of the story was put in was for some extra drama. Maybe editing them to the point where they have some relevance with the plot would help. One of the unnecessary moments was the love triangle. The love triangle was not helpful to the plot whatsoever.

While these issues were not bad enough to make the book terrible, they were still issues I had that interfered with my liking it as much as I could have. Should these issues have been avoided, I believe the book would be better and a more enjoyable read.

REVIEW TIME: Wabanaki Blues by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel

Wabanaki Blues is the story of Mona Lisa LaPierre, a New Hampshire girl of Indian heritage who is trying to make her life as a Blues musician. She planned to start her career after her high school graduation, but her parents have different plans. Her mom and dad are going away to Russia for a month to study ancient bear sacrifices, and they have decided to make her isolated from all civilization with her Mohegan grandfather, Grumps. Grumps is an Indian that is stuck in the past, who lives in a cabin with little to no electricity, and almost no modern conveniences.

Mona expects life up in rural Vermont to be dull and boring due to this revelation, but she surprises even herself when she becomes friends with a college kid named Del. Del and Mona get along nicely until she notices that Del’s dad is the owner of a green-flamed motorcycle, the motorcycle that was seen driving away from her very own school when a student named Mia Delaney disappeared forever. This disappearance was one that always haunted Mona’s mom. Alongside with Biliki, Mona’s dead Abenaki grandmother who gives her guidance, Mona is determined to solve the disappearance of Mia Delaney once and for all.

This book surprised, in a very good way. My first impression of Mona and the book as a whole was that this book was another “misunderstood teenager in high school attempts to solve mystery that the police can’t,” but this book developed into something distinctly different than that later on.

While the book’s main mystery is the mystery of Mia Delaney, intertwined in the story is the Secret of Wabanaki, something she learns more and more about through her Indian relatives. In my opinion this book tries to mix a modern mystery with Indian traditions and stories, which it does with moderate success.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Solution

All four suspects had motives, as Seamus McCree explained. It was means and opportunity that implicated the murderer.

Payton Olliver couldn't have done it -- our "artist" had her hands covered in shaving cream, which stickified everything she touched. The bourbon bottle had fingerprints, but no shaving cream, which that it hadn't been wiped down . . . which meant she couldn't have put the nuts in it.

Ray Vuss Wordum couldn't have done it -- at the time the dargon nuts were being stolen, he was being snatched by hotel security.

Fran Van Helsing couldn't have done it -- when the murder occurred, she was being evicted from the hotel by hotel security.

That leaves only Helen Bvtzchknn with means (the nuts), motive (getting banned from the EWW) and opportunity (right there in the bar).

When arrested, Helen said . . . well, nobody understood what she said because it made no sense. Regardless, justice was served!

Dee T. Ective's First Homicide Mystery: Winners

The mystery has been solved! Thanks to all who participated -- we really appreciate your time, effort, and support for our little blog. We spent a lot of time and energy creating and staging this interactive mystery, and we really grew to love the characters (criminals though they may be).

We would like to thank Reavis Wortham for being our wonderful victim, Jim Jackson and Seamus McCree for their enlightening insights, Tai Randolph for her helpful commentary, and the lovely rulers of Bouchercon for allowing us to commit all sorts of tom-foolery. Oh, and Sisters in Crime for paying our way. Thanks, you guys.

Most of all, however, thank you to hotel security for NOT kicking us out when you found a group of teenagers huddled out by the bathrooms taking pictures of themselves with lampshades on their heads.

We hope you had just as much fun as we did.

Now, the time has come to announce the winner...

*drum roll*


She correctly deduced the identity of the perpetrator and won the drawing for a $25 giftcard! We also gave away five $5 runner-up prizes.

For those who are still left wondering about the culprit, don't worry. We'll clue you in -- for the solution, click HERE!

Monday, October 12, 2015


Well folks, I'm stumped. Surely somewhere in those clues is the solution to the mystery of who killed Reavis Wortham. One of our four suspects had means, motive AND opportunity, but dang if I can decide which one. Neither can Junebug (although he swears he's closer than I am).

What do you think? Who's the killer? Fran the Fan Girl? Helen the Edditer? Payton the "artist"? Or Ray Vuss the lampshade impersonator? And what evidence do you have proving their guilt?

Review the Cast of Characters HERE.

Go through the story again starting with the first chapter HERE.

E-mail your guess (tell us both the guilty party and the evidence establishing his/her guilt) to Low Country Sisters in Crime at lowcountrysinc at gmail dot com with the phrase "CCAT Mystery Contest" in the subject line. Only one guess per participant. On October 30 at midnight, we'll choose one winner at random from all the correct guesses. The winner will be announced Halloween Day.

What does the winner win? A $25 gift card/certificate to either Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Poisoned Pen Press -- winner's choice.

That's an awful lot of winning, don't you think? Don't you want to be a part of it?

Of course you do!

Get your solution to us before midnight October 30th! And that gift card could be yours!

PS: We will also have some prizes for Most Original Guess, and the One We Wish We'd Come Up With,and any other prizes we feel like awarding. 

The fine print: No purchase is necessary. You must be at least 16 years old to enter. The winners will be chosen randomly from all correct entries and notified by email. The CCAT YA Book Club and its agents are not responsible for transmission failures, computer glitches or lost, late, damaged or returned email. The prize must be claimed within 7 days or it will be forfeited.

CHAPTER 14: A Few Thoughts From Amateur Sleuth and Gun Shop Owner Tai Randolph

Look, if there's one thing I've discovered, it's that anybody can kill. We're all just dogs one meal away from turning into wolves. Of course, some people start out wolves. And maybe that's what we're looking at with our pool of suspects – a pack of ravening, bloodthirsty predators.

But . . . I doubt it. This bunch is strictly amateur hour.

In my experience, motive is the least important of the means/motive/opportunity triple threat. Motives rise and fall like the tide. And – as Seamus McCree has pointed out – all four of these suspects have good ones. Well, not good ones especially. Not the kind that reasonable people like you or I would consider good, but good enough for people like Fran and Ray Vuss and Helen and Payton.

This is the part where Trey would explain that a simple graph – or perhaps a nice series of cluster maps – would illuminate the mystery. He's probably right (he usually is). Trey and I have different ways of doing things, true enough, but there's one thing we can agree on – in most killings, it's not a matter of figuring out who could have done it; it's all about finding out who couldn't.

That's what I told Detective Ective. And that's what I'll tell you. And now if y'all will excuse me, I have to get back to the shop. There's a shipment of circa-1865 undergarments I have to sort through.


CHAPTER 13: So THAT Was The Commotion!

No wonder Brutus the bartender went to see what all the noise was -- it was hotel security dragging Fran Helsing out of the hotel lobby. Apparently she was in violation of a restraining order that Reavis Wortham had taken out against her. She didn't go willingly, or quietly -- the crime scene techs found claw marks in the carpet. But she did go . . . and they didn't let her back in the hotel.

Oh, the humanity!

Photograph Courtesy of Paparazzi #1
Photograph Courtesy of Paparazzi #2
Go to Chapter 14!

CHAPTER 12: Notes from Second Interview with Brutus the Bartender

(Detective's Notes: I did not manage to get Brutus' last name. I got very little, actually. Apparently mystery writers keep a bartender very busy. I did manage to discover several pertinent facts, however, during our second brief conversation).

1. Mr. Brutus the Bartender was working the shift when Reavis Wortham met his untimely demise at 9:55 PM in the evening.

2. Nobody else ordered Old Jack Pappy Bourbon except for Reavis Wortham, and there was only one bottle of it in the entire bar. The bourbon was contained in a clear crystal decanter (see EVIDENCE photo). The bottle itself was doctored with the Dargon nut powder, not Reavis' glass.

3. Brutus made the drink himself. He did not notice anything unusual about the bottle when he picked it up before or after making the drink, although Reavis did exclaim upon drinking it, "What kind of [expletive] is this? I did not order one of those [expletive] chocolate and pecan [expletive] things! Because I don't care what you call it, it's not---ACK!"

And then . . . death.

The crystal decanter was turned over to Crime Scene Techs for fingerprint processing -- fingerprints were found, which meant that bottle had NOT been wiped clean, probably because the killer didn't have time to slip the Dargon nut powder inside and then also wipe it down without being noticed.

However, the CST won't have results on fingerprint matches and DNA collection until tomorrow at the earliest. Like Brutus, I noticed nothing out of the ordinary about it either. It looked clean as a whistle.

4. He used a new bottle that he unwrapped himself. Therefore the bottle couldn't have been tampered with until after that time. Immediately after opening the bottle, Brutus left the bar at 9:45 PM for ten minutes to deal with a commotion out front, and then returned behind the bar (note to self: check security footage to discover what this "commotion" at 9:45 PM could have been about).

5. Brutus was my prime suspect until Junebug pointed out that he didn't have club level access and therefore couldn't have stolen Chef Blarnee's Dargon Nut Powder from her hotel room safe.

6. Brutus remembered seeing all four of the suspects in the bar, but as it was very busy, he doesn't remember who was actually in the bar during the ten-minute window of opportunity between his opening the bourbon at 9:35 PM, leaving the bottle on the bar to check out the commotion in the lobby at 9:45, returning to make Reavis' drink, then watching in helpless horror as Reavis SHUFFLES OFF HIS MORTAL COIL at 9:55! (note to self: explore writing a mystery novel myself, as I obviously have a flair for the dramatic).

But first . . . figure out what the commotion was about.

Go to CHAPTER 13!

CHAPTER 11: Initial Autopsy Results: REAVIS Z. WORTHAM

OFFICIAL Autopsy Analysis -- DO NOT TRY AT HOME!

Who knew that Reavis Wortham was horribly allergic to Dargon nuts?

All of our suspects apparently. Every single one. Well, according to Junebug anyway, who has eyewitness testimonies that Fran Helsing AND Payton Olliver AND Helen Buttchicken AND Ray Vuss Wordum ALL possessed that knowledge.

Dang. Who'd have thought Junebug's case would get all mixed up with mine?

So which one of my four suspects slipped the powdered Dargon nuts into Reavis' bourbon, creating a fatal allergic reaction in the dearly departed?

I will not rest until I discover the guilty party! Which means another interview with Brutus the Bartender!

Go to Chapter 12!

CHAPTER 10: For Love or Money: Some (Perhaps) Considered Thoughts by Financial Crimes Consultant Seamus McCree.

So you have yourself four suspects in the murder of Reavis Z. Wortham. My suggestion is to look at each of your suspects with two lenses: Love and Money. This sure isn’t a spur of the moment crime. People don’t carry around poison, just in case. Now for love, read that as a proxy for any strong emotion. Could be spurned love, or earned hate, or having been embarrassed or fearing future embarrassment. Use your imaginations. Money really means financial gain or loss.
While Detective Ecktive was making small talk with Brutus the bartender and her partner the French guy, what’s his name, sounded like Junebug to me anyway Frenchie was trying to impress the women with his accent, I used my smartphone and followed the money.
Start with Payton Olliver. She made a big deal about how she was going to illustrate Reavis' next book. Never happened and considering her work – what kind of "artist" actually wears shaving cream as a form of creative expression? I can see why. So that cost her some bucks – a monetary motive. Because even if her family's worth millions, they seem to have cut her off because of her "art." Could embarrassment be a motive? You decide.
James M. Jackson, and his very attractive wolf hat
You’d think Fran Helsing’s only motives would be on the Love side of the equation, right? Nope, I led you down a rosy path. If an author doesn’t nail something down, Fan Girl steals it. She once sat next to the guy who made me up – calls himself James M Jackson on the book jackets, but Jim in person – I digress. Anyway, Fran stole this wolf’s hat off Jim (that would be Jim on the left there wearing that hat). Posted a picture of herself with it on her Facebook page. But she never sells things until the artist is dead. Why? Because that’s when artifacts become valuable because the supply is now limited and no more can be created. And she did have several copies of Reavis' books in her possession.

And what about Helen Bvtzchknn? I again Googled both names together to see what popped up. It turns out she did some work for Reavis, and he sued her for “unprofessional work,” whatever that means. They settled out of court, sealed document, but Reavis didn’t drop the matter. Nope, he brought her before the disciplinary board of the EWW, the Editorial Workers Worldwide. Maybe she killed a gerund or something. I don’t know, but whatever it was, they threw her out of the organization. I assume her expulsion affects her ability to make a living doing editorial work. Actually, that wouldn’t technically be a monetary motive, since killing Reavis wouldn’t increase her financial prospects. But losing money could lead to revenge, right, and who but an editor would quibble over the exact definition of a financial crime?

And lastly, we have  Ray Vuss Wordem. I Googled his name and Reavis’s at the same time and up popped a ten-million lawsuit Ray Vuss filed against Reavis claiming, among other things that Reavis stole not only the idea but 74.36% of the words from an unpublished work Ray Vuss had sent Reavis asking for a blurb. So ask yourself this question: is Ray Vuss more likely to win, or at least settle, his suit with Reavis no longer able to present his side of the story, or with Reavis no longer able to churn out number one bestsellers, will that make it harder to collect big bucks from his estate?

Go to CHAPTER 11!

CHAPTER 9: Detective Jean Jeanbeaug's Dargon Nut Theft File -- Exhibits A and B

Exhibit A -- Dargon Nut Powder

You wouldn't think this powder would cost $1000 an ounce, would you? But it does! No smell, dissolves practically instantly into totally invisibility. It supposedly tastes like chocolate and pecans but in a "fancy" way, so that makes it worth someone's time to steal.

Sheesh. Forget being a bartender, I should grow Dargon nuts.

I told Junebug I doubted a thief would have had anything to do with Reavis' murder, but he gave me this European eyebrow arch, stuck his magnifying glass in front of his face, and stomped off.

Exhibit B: The Safe

Or as I call it, the Un-Safe.

Look at it. A child with both hands tied behind her back could pick that thing. I told Chef Blarnee this, and she tried to hit me with a spatula! You'd think a professional would keep valuable things like Dargon Nuts in a better safe, but I suppose chefs are good at chef matters and not security matters.

But then who expects someone to be breaking into hotel rooms and safecracking at EXACTLY 8:30 AM in the morning? But that's when it happened, according to the timing device on the "safe." Eight-thirty this very morning. And then later this same evening, Reavis is killed.

What is the world coming to?

Anyway, I can't see anything related to my homicide here. Perhaps I should get a second pair of sleuth-y eyes on it. Luckily, I know just the person. And he happens to be here at this mystery writer conference


CHAPTER 8: Detective Jean Jeanbeaug Insists on Assisting

Inspecteur Supérieur du Département de Paris
Jean Jeanbeaug
This is Jean Jeanbeaug. He's French. Interpol sent him to "help" me solve Reavis' murder. He's all rules and regulations and forensic processing, like he's a walking-talking TV show. Probably hears theme music everywhere he goes.

Sigh. THIS is the partner I get.

Anyway, he told me how to pronounce his name, but it sounded like Junebug to me. Too many unneeded vowels, but that's the French for you. Vowel overkill.

Anyway anyway, I'm laughing because he came all the way across the Atlantic and insists on investigating some nut theft instead of focusing on the – duh – homicide.

This is what a Chef Hissy Fit looks like
Yes, I said "nut theft." The fancy chef in charge of preparing tonight's fancy dinner brought some fancy nut powder all the way with her from Dublin, Ireland, and now it's missing from her room safe that someone picked open while she was inspecting the hotel kitchen. And now she's having a serious hissy fit about it.

Oh, the excitement.

Anyway, Junebug shared his report on the theft with me, although I can't imagine there's anything in there that will help me solve the murder of Reavis Wortham.

Still, worth looking at, I suppose

Go to CHAPTER 9!

Saturday, October 10, 2015


(Detective's Notes: Mr. Wordum consented to an interview, although he complained that I would be taking him away from his fans. There were no fans that I could see. He had been tossed from the convention for writing his name on copies of all five of Reavis Z. Wortham's novels. Every single book on the table was a stolen copy of Wortham's work with MR. RAY VUSS WORDUM written over the original byline and his photograph pasted over Mr. Wortham's.)

R. V. WORDUM: As I always say, “Some people just need killing.”

D. T. ECTIVE: No, that’s something Reavis Z. Wortham always said. One of his characters actually. From his first book, The Rock Hole.

WORDUM (shrugs): Life is like a box of chocolates. This time, some of em’ were poisoned.

ECTIVE: Now you’re quoting Forrest Gump.

WORDUM: Look, the point is, I didn’t do it. Nobody saw me do it. There’s no way you can prove anything.

ECTIVE: Then who do you think did do it?

WORDUM: I don’t know who all was in the room. I was wearing a lampshade over my head. I couldn't see a thing!

ECTIVE: Could you not have taken off the lampshade?

WORDUM: The only thing worse than being blind, is having sight but no vision.

ECTIVE: I don’t understand. Is that not the situation you were in while wearing the lampshade? You know? Blind?

WORDUM: Elementary, my dear Watson.

ECTIVE: Excuse me?

(Suspect refuses to respond until questioned again)

ECTIVE: So, who do you think did it?

WORDUM: Blaming everyone else is great until you’ve got nobody left around to blame but yourself.

ECTIVE: Speaking of blame, can you explain this?
(Shows Wordum photograph taken that morning outside of the mystery writer conference)

ECTIVE: Well, look what we have here -- one of the mystery conference attendees snapped this shot outside the book dealer room at 8:30 AM this morning. You're hawking your book Unlit Locations: 5th in the Crimson Stream Series. Which you claim has nothing to do with Reavis Z. Wortham's Dark Places, which is 5th in the Red River series.

WORDUM: When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however impossible, must be the truth.

ECTIVE: I don't even . . . Look, your "book" is just a copy of Reavis Z. Wortham's latest with a new cover taped to it.


ECTIVE: And your signing table is a towel draped on an ironing board. I'm pretty sure even that mustache is fake.

(Wordum crosses arms and pretends to be a lamp again).

Go to CHAPTER 8!


OLLIVER: Me? Kill Reavis? I hate that guy’s guts. He ruined my career, my liver! He embarrassed me! His book cover was supposed to be my breakout role! He’s the reason for my drinking problem you know? God, I wanted to kill that guy… but that was the old me. My AA group is helping me get through that old anger. Nearly half a year sober! Haven’t stepped in a bar for nearly that long...

ECTIVE: But I have solid evidence that you were in the bar last night.

OLLIVER: W-Who told you that!? It was that awful ex editor of his, Helen Bvtz, Butz, how does she pronounce it, Buchanan? She’s awful! I wouldn’t be surprised if she did it! Her or that stalker of his.

ECTIVE: You mean Fran Helsing?

OLLIVER:  I didn’t have much to do with that one, but from what I’d heard she’s certainly a character. She implicated me, didn't she?

ECTIVE: Actually, it was this photograph (shows suspect the evidence -- security footage of her sitting right next to the bar, her hands covered in shaving cream)

OLLIVER (sighs): Fine, if you want to know why I was in the bar last night, I was meeting with a potential client. What was his name again? Roy? No, Ray, Rayvie, Ravum...

ECTIVE: You mean Ray Vuss Wordum?

OLLIVER (snaps fingers): Yeah!  He never showed up that night. Wait! Let me see that photo again... That's him in the corner pretending to be a lamp! I can’t believe he was right there all this time! That jerk. HE was the one who pushed the meeting! I didn’t want to go. Listen, I didn’t even know Reavis was there. Go look somewhere else for your lead. Maybe start with Ray. He had this weird obsession with everything Reavis. I didn’t want to take that job for that exact reason, but well… I was strapped for cash. Mom and Dad cut me off after I embarrassed them last Christmas with my Jello and mayonnaise sculpture of Mount Rushmore. I was hoping that the whole AA thing would convince them that I was serious enough about my career as an artist for them to fund me.

ECTIVE: Did they?

OLLIVER: Long story short, they haven't. So I took the job, despite my grievances with Reavis. Why don't you quit bothering me and check out Ray? I'm sure he's still around here, probably pretending to be a water cooler. Maybe there is a deadly reason he didn't meet with me.

Go to CHAPTER 7!


(Note from Det. D. T. Ective -- The suspect refused to give an oral interview, though she did provide this written...something)

I can’t not say I wasn’t happy when I herd that Raevis was dead, that man didn’t cause nothing but troubles for me. First he fired me before I could finish editorialing his novel. And third he got me throwed out of EWW, the Editorial Writers Worldwide. And now this, the finale straw!

Then ye olde man went and got himself deaded and now I bet that crazy stalking girl is trying to frame me for MURDER! I am not a oxymoron, I know how framing someone works, I’ve red enough mysterys to know how this works -- but I've got two much on my plate to try and deal with this.

OH! That richie painto, she was their last nite, covered in some rediculous sustenance. Shaving cream and sawdust! Almost got it all over my new suite jacket.

This wood make a good story through, maybe i Should try my hands at writing. Is this able for copywright? I mean, R.I.P in piece and all Raevis, butt when they'res money to be made I gotta bee on the seen. Unlike SOME PEEPLE (shes not even a reel artist come on) I dont have a couple off richie parents too leech of off. I worked hard for my monie.

You want a official estatement? FINE

¡I DIDNT DO IT! But i bet i know who did...



CHAPTER 4: Interview with FRAN HELSING

(Detective's Note: Ms. Fran Helsing is the subject of a restraining order brought about by the deceased. She has been ordered to stay fifty feet away from Reavis Wortham at all times. She is clearly visible in the security footage, however, sneaking under the tablecloth in the bar right before Reavis was murdered).

Fran Helsing: I LOVE REAVIS! Why would I ever kill him?! I mean sure, he let that incompetent editor ruin one of his books...but that wasn’t his fault...I think!

Actually, it was probably his fault! HOW dare he try to purposely sabotage a book! I LOVE HIM! Yet he probably did it to get rid of me! WHO WOULD EVER try to get rid of me!? But I swear, I DIDN’T DO IT! He may have also ruined my favorite character... BUT I LOVE HIM! I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE HIM! NO WAY I WOULD KILL HIM! 

Especially not before he signed my book. NOW MY BOOK WILL NEVER BE SIGNED! ARGGHHH!

If I had to point fingers, I bet it was that incompetent editor Helen! Everybody knows editors are fierce and nasty people! IT WAS HER I TELL YOU! GO SEE WHAT SHE WAS DOING!

(Suspect refused to respond to further questioning, instead deciding to pace around the room, mumbling “Reavis” under her breath and pressing her hands to her heart. No further information was gathered.)


Friday, October 9, 2015

CHAPTER 3: Initial Statement from Brutus the Bartender

(Detective's Note: I only got a few moments with Brutus, but he did give me some interesting information-- he knew every single one of the people in that photograph). I will finish the interview when all the mystery writers at this place aren't clogging the bar).


"Absolutely not a single one of those people is ever allowed in this bar again!

That Fran Helsing character kept crawling under tables and scaring my customers. Ray Vuss Wordum stole my favorite lampshade and put a mustache on it. Payton Olliver's hands were covered in super-sticky shaving cream from some freaky art project -- everything at her table was covered in it. And Helen Bvtt... Brrt... Bvck... Oh heck, whatever her last name is, she stiffed me on a $27.82 dollar tab because she couldn't sign her own name to the credit card receipt. And that Reavis guy spilled his liquor everywhere and didn't clean it up. No, I don't care if he's dead, that's no excuse.
Note: Shaving cream all over the glass at Payton Olliver's table.

I don't have time to talk right now -- I've got to get back to polishing glasses, especially the ones that Payton Olliver handled, because this stuff is NOT coming off easily -- but if I were you, I'd talk to that creepy stalker chick first. Fran Helsing."



CHAPTER 2: Detective Dee T. Ective on the Case!

Down to the scene of the crime I go!

Pardon my excitement. Murder is sad and all – and this Reavis Z. Wortham seemed to be a real hoot of a guy, who will be terribly missed – but it's been SO BORING at the station recently.

Anyway, that's poor Reavis dead at the bar. From the overturned bourbon next to his body, I'm going to go out on a limb and pronounce Cause of Death as poisoning. We'll get the Official Autopsy Results soon, but for one, there was a lot of choking and turning red involved (according to Brutus the Bartender's initial 911 call – I have to interview him later) and for two, Reavis was reportedly not a man to spill his liquor unless there was a good reason. Like he was being murder-poisoned.

Anyway, I ALSO have my first clue, this image from the security camera footage that shows several very suspicious-looking characters standing next to the bar RIGHT BEFORE REAVIS WAS MURDERED!

I'm taking this right to Brutus the Bartender. He was apparently on scene when Reavis bought the big one, so he's my best witness to this heinous act.

Of course, he could be my best suspect. Hmmm...


CHAPTER 1: Murder-Death! AKA My First Homicide Case

Wow, I've only been on the job for two days and already I'm in charge of a homicide! I was thinking I'd get a uniform first, maybe a firearm, but no, they're shoving me out of the nest like an unarmed baby bird. With a badge. And some handcuffs.

My first assignment. And to think I wanted to be a bartender.

Well, time to rustle up an evil doer! Detective Dee T. Ective is on the case!


Cast of Characters

Reavis Wortham – Innocent Victim

Detective Dee. T. Ective – new to the Raleigh Writer's Conference Homicide Squad, looking forward to her first case

Detective Jean Jeanbeaug – agent for Interpol's Crimes Against Humanity Squad, assisting Det. Ective with her first case

Suspect #1 Fran Helsing – Rabid mystery fan-at-large

Suspect #2 Helen Bvtzchknn -- Freelance editor-at-large

Suspect # 3 Payton Olliver – Artist-at-large

Suspect # 4 Ray Vuss Wordum – Mystery Author. Not at large.

Brutus the Bartender – Bartender. At the bar. Which he tends.

Chef Blarnee – Fancy Irish Chef brought in to prepare special mystery dinner

Seamus McCree
– Guest Sleuth

Tai Randolph – Guest Sleuth


Don't tell anybody, but we're writing a play-along mystery starring Detective Dee T. Ective. Stay tuned here for more details on her first day of work with the Raleigh Mystery Writer's Conference Homicide Squad. You can check out our cast of characters HERE.

Prizes! Honor! Glory!

Ten Things We Wish YA Writers and Editors and Publishers Knew About Actual YAs (Like Us)

1. When Writing About Young People, Talk to Young People Alive and Young Right Now. Many YA Authors write teenagers who act much younger -- or much older --  than teenagers really behave. Or they write teenagers like the ones they see on TV (big mistake -- TV teenagers are about as accurate as TV CSI Teams)

Some writers make the mistake of basing fictional teenagers on what THEY were like at teenagers. Don't. Just because you were young once, doesn't mean you know teenagers now. We have since evolved.

2. Not All Characters Need A Tragic Backstory. Nor do they have to be the Misunderstand Loner (also known as the "I'm Not Like The Other Susans" Rule).

3. Adults Are Not Always Evil/Boring/Patronizing/Incompetent. We live with adults, and we actually care about them and sometimes even like them. And we have people in our lives who care about us.

4. Don't Force the Romantic Elements. If you want to include a romantic element in your story, go for it! But it's not required for YA readers to find the story interesting. Really.

Important Point #1 -- No Creepers. Teenagers must date other teenagers close to their own age or it's very very problematic.

Important Point #2 -- Trust chemistry. There's nothing worse than characters who act out of character just to create a relationship subplot. Make sure each character matters to the plot, and make sure they're not just in the story to be romantic decoration.

Important Point #3 -- Romance doesn't always mean boy/girl (see #6), and your romance plot does not have to include only TWO characters. If you see a love triangle forming in your story, instead of pitting the love interests against each other (creating unnecessary drama), maybe you could see how they work as a triad. Polyamorous people are real, and they are often sorely misrepresented in modern media.

In other words, YAs tend to view things -- including relationships and gender -- in non-binary ways.

5. No Cheap Tricks. Don't kill animals just to illicit an emotional response, and don't threaten them just to heighten tension. Don't dangle little children over cliffs just to hear them squeal.

6. Create A Diverse Cast of Characters.

Important Point #1 -- More LGBTQA+ characters! Please! Now! And make sure they have something to do in the story that doesn't involve their LGBTQA+-ness. Also, queer youth don't always join Drama Club or Chorus -- think outside the stereotypes. (FYI -- The A in this acronym refers to Asexual/Aromantic, which is an orientation, and not Allies. Though Allies Are Awesome).

Important Point #2 -- Also more racial and ethnic diversity. Please make sure that you do more than change a character's outward appearance (hair/skin/clothes). Diversity requires that you show us the texture of their lives and language, their identities as whole people.

Important Point #3 -- Also more differently-able people. Wheelchairs can make really awesome weapons, you guys; think about the possibilities.

Important Point #4 -- Go sit in a busy public park. Pay attention to the different kinds of people you see in one hour's time.That's how your stories should look.

7. Treat YA Mysteries As Seriously As Adult Mysteries

Important Point #1 -- Mysteries should be solved by the protagonist, through the clues she or he discovers. Readers should have access to the clues -- we don't like having solutions pulled out of magic hats at the end.

Important Point #2 -- Villains are characters too. Don't spring them on us at the end of the book. Develop them as fully as the other characters.

Important Point #3 -- Effective endings require realistic closure. We don't always need justice, but we do need loose ends tied up.

Important Point #4 -- Secondary characters require development and depth too.

Important Point #5 -- Doublecheck your plot points, people. We are very thorough readers and we don't like to drive our brains over plot holes.

8. Strong Female Protagonists Do Not Act Like Stereotypical Men. Also, contrary to popular opinion, guys will read books with a female lead. If they are good books.

9. Leave Your Moral Soapbox At Home. We can smell a lesson a mile away.

10. It's Okay To Be Serious. And Funny Too. We will read books that address serious issues, but we want them addressed in a realistic manner and we want them to matter to the book and not be added simply to illicit a response (see previous #5). But books don't have to be one or the other. Real life is a mix. YA novels should be too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review Time: MR. SAMUEL'S PENNY by Treva Hall Melvin

By: Maddy

This review is one that is long overdue. Our book club read this book a while ago, and I was the one who volunteered to write the review. Unfortunately, my laziness and general procrastination got the best of me, and something that should've been done a long time ago is only getting done now. My sincerest apologies to the author and the five or so people who check this blog often (five being a very generous number), and not only I, but the rest of our team as well hope to be more effective in the future.

Mr. Samuel’s Penny is a book about a young 14 year old girl who is a yankee at heart but goes down south to stay with her aunt, Aunt Alice, over the summer, in the small town of Ahoskie, North Carolina. This small town is mostly known for being quiet and peaceful, but this all changes when tragedy strikes. Mr. Samuel, owner of the town’s lumber yard, has been found dead along with his two year old daughter in a river after skidding off a bridge. Everybody is the under of the assumption that this was an accident as Mr. Samuel was a man liked by almost everyone in the town, but when the town’s sheriff finds evidence that they were bullets fired on the bridge, this turns an accident into a full blown homicide. However, even though it has been confirmed to be a homicide, there is almost no evidence linking to who the perpetrator is, with only one piece of evidence found at the scene; Mr. Samuel was found clutching a 1909 wheat penny as he drowned.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review Time : BROKEN by C. J. Lyons

By Destiny Geddis

Scarlet Killian wants to be a normal girl, but like most novel's which feature a child who wishes to be 'normal', she's got something keeping her from being so. In C. J. Lyons's Broken, that would be the rare but fatal heart condition, Long QT Syndrome. Realizing that time is limited and she could die at any moment, Scarlet begs her mother to let her spend what little time she has left going to public school. Scarlet soon realizes that high school's not really that great. Kids in Scarlet's school are some strange brand of teenager who thinks attempted arson is funny. Plus, during an exercise in her literature class, she realize she can't remember anything from her early childhood. What could this mean? As the days pass and Scarlet is forced to deal with the idea that high school might deadly, will she die before she can solve the mystery of her forgotten childhood?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review Time: GONE AND DONE IT by Maggie Toussaint

by Kaley Whittle

Baxley Powell is not what most people would call "lucky". With a missing husband and an energetic daughter to watch over, all Baxley wants to do is get the job done. She does everything within her power to keep her little household afloat, whether that means spending hours in the sun doing landscaping jobs or filling her house with other people's animals. Stress has become her devilish companion. Baxley is just trying to finish this hell of a landscaping job so she can get paid, and (god forbid) maybe rest easy for a while. But she's turning over more than mulch, and dead bodies have a tendency to complicate things.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Review Time: AS SHE LEFT IT by Catriona McPherson

By Destiny Geddis
As She Left It did a miraculous thing that really hasn't happened since Death Spiral: it made us universally agree that we loved this book.
Something you may not have realized, is that our little YA Review Team is unbelievably picky. One of us, a newcomer who joined during the Jesus Jackson era, had yet to truly enjoy a book that we had read. However, they ended up liking this book so much that when they ended up getting sick and being unable to attend our meeting, they demanded that we Skype them so they could talk about this book. So, while this is not technically a Young Adult novel, we will be reviewing it.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Up Next — MR. SAMUEL'S PENNY by Treva Hall Melvin

It’s 1972 and fourteen-year-old New Yorker Elizabeth Landers is sent to the sleepy town of Ahoskie, North Carolina to spend the summer with relatives. Her expectation of boredom is quickly dispelled when police sirens and flashing lights draw her to a horrible scene at the Danbury Bridge. Mr. Samuel, owner of Samuel’s Lumber Yard, has driven his car off the bridge and into the river, drowning himself and his daughter.

The medical examiner thinks it’s an accident, but the Sheriff finds fresh bullet holes on the bridge right where the skid marks are. Curiously, Mr. Samuel died clutching a unique 1909 wheat penny –a penny that is then stolen from the Sheriff’s office. Lizbeth witnesses Miss Violet’s grief upon learning that her husband and child are dead, and decides she will help by finding the penny.

Her search involves Lizbeth in the lives of many Ahoskie residents. Like the owner of the grocery store, mean old Mr. Jake, who –as all the kids in Ahoskie know –hates black folks. Plenty of pennies in his till. Then there is Ms. Melanie Neely, otherwise known as “Ms. McMeanie,” who thinks the lumber yard should belong to her. And Mr. Samuel’s handsome brother Ben, who struggles to keep the business afloat after his more clever brother’s death. Lizbeth searches through the collection plates at church and in the coin jars of crazy old Aunt Ode, a strange old woman missing one eye and most of her teeth, who keeps a flask in her apron pocket and a secret in her soul.

Review Time — JESUS JACKSON by James Ryan Daley

by Kaley Whittle

On the back cover of Jesus Jackson, a quote from School Library Journal describes the novel as “an engaging, suspenseful read that teens will not be able to put down.” I can personally attest to this fact. It took me a while to start reading James Ryan Daley’s first novel, not because I didn't want to, but because I was focused on passing geometry. When the day of our book club eventually rolled around, I had yet to even open the cover. I worked furiously through my classes, and by lunch I was finally free. I didn't eat that day; I devoured the book instead.