Archives for category: mystery novel

The 2015 Agatha Awards, from last night’s ceremony at Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland. The winners are in bold. Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees!

The Good, The Bad and The Emus by Donna Andrews
A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet
Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny
Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron

Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd
An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd
Wouldn’t it Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen
Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson

Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy
Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris
Finding Sky by Susan O’Brien
Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran
Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber

400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman by Adam Plantinga
Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey by Hank Phillippi Ryan, Editor
Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice by Kate Flora
The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley
The Poisoner: The Life and Crimes of Victorian England’s Most Notorious Doctor by Stephen Bates

“The Odds are Against Us” by Art Taylor, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2014
“Premonition” by Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays
“The Shadow Knows” by Barb Goffman, Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays
“Just Desserts for Johnny” by Edith Maxwell
“The Blessing Witch” by Kathy Lynn Emerson, Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave

Andi Under Pressure by Amanda Flower
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Uncertain Glory by Lea Wait
The Code Buster’s Club, Case #4: The Mummy’s Curse by Penny Warner
Found by Harlen Coben


Thanks to Donna Andrews for posting the winners in real time on Facebook for those of us who couldn’t be at the ceremony.


Looking for a great holiday gift for the cozy mystery reader on your list? Don’t know what to buy, or what books have been read? Chances are they’ll find all of their favorite authors (including me!) in this cookbook, available in paperback and in Kindle.

Because Edgar Allan Poe’s poems and short stories pervade pop culture and are taught in middle school they are considered by some to be among the lower rungs of the literary canon. That’s a shame. He was the first major American writer to attempt to make a living at writing, and he invented the detective story genre. Some of my favorite writers and thinkers dismissed Edgar Allan Poe. Yeats and Huxley both reportedly called him “vulgar” and upon reading “The Raven” Emerson said, “I see nothing in it.” But Arthur Conan Doyle got him. He said, “Each [of Poe’s detective stories] is a root from which a whole literature has developed….Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?” Poe originated the detective genre in his short story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” with the character C. Auguste Dupin who solved crimes in Paris before the word “detective” had been coined.

 Edgar Allan Poe invented some of the major characteristics we know and love in mysteries today—the bumbling police sergeant representing the by-the-book authority figure as opposed to the creative, eccentric but analytically brilliant detective, the first-person narrative by a friend (Watson to Holmes), and the gathering of the suspects together to announce the identity of the murderer that we love so much when Poirot calls everyone to the drawing room.


I don’t advocate marrying one’s 13 year old cousin, but I have been deeply moved by Poe’s love poems to his wife Virginia, especially one written after her death, probably his most famous poem, Annabel Lee. I read this poem for the first time when I was a young romantic pre-teen. In fact, my mother brought me to visit Poe’s Cottage in the Bronx for my twelfth birthday.


At that age the over-the-top portrayal of his love for her (“But we loved with a love that was more than love”) thrilled me. The idea that he missed her so deeply that “And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side/ Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,/ In her sepulchre there by the sea—/ In her tomb by the sounding sea.” Was her tomb really next to the sea? Did he really go and lie down next to it at night? Whether he did or not, this stirred my imagination, they were like Romeo and Juliet. Then, it seemed sweet and romantic, but in my youth I didn’t fully comprehend his suffering. As an adult I do, and I am slightly embarrassed by his angst displayed so openly. But I still love the poem.


I saw the Annabel Lee original manuscript on display when my family visited the Edgar Allen Poe exhibit at the Morgan Library in New York a few months ago.

 As we stood before it, I tormented my teenage son by reading it aloud to him (I knew most of it from memory). Embarrassed, he eyed a man standing next to us within earshot. The man saw what was going on and said, to our surprise and my delight, “My mother used to recite that poem to me all the time when I was young. I loved it.”

In one of the displays at the Morgan I saw a sample of Poe’s signature. I had never examined it closely before, but this time I noticed the circular curls in the way he wrote the letter “E” and rejoiced at the realization that Peter Lo Ricco, who designed the cover for Cinnamon Girl, my mystery novel, unwittingly channeled Poe in his choice of font. I think we’ll keep that font for the Annabel Publishing logo. Yes, the company was named after the poem. And after a beloved cat who was named after the poem.



Cinnamon Girl_Front Cover Crop_Lo-Res_72dpi - Copy


It is the day before Thanksgiving. Home cooks all over the United States are waking up this morning wondering if they should go ahead and make that new dish they are thinking of, or stick with the tried and true. It’s hard to break tradition on Thanksgiving. Turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, apple and pumpkin pie are the essentials. In some areas of the country, green been casserole is a must, although I have never eaten it and don’t know anyone who makes it. Given the number of television commercials for the ingredients, you’d think that it is as ubiquitous on the American Thanksgiving table as the turkey!

Other musts for many—sweet potato whatever (casserole with marshmallows? another never tried dish in my world), and something made from corn. I honor the corn tradition because of its historic connection to the pilgrims. Sometimes I serve corn (I heat up a can of corn- yikes, I admitted it!) but most years I make cornbread. I’ll be baking it today. Once I used Mary Steenbergen’s Corn Spoon Pudding recipe from the cookbook Potluck at Midnight Farm. It was tasty, but people didn’t like the corn kernels in it. Once, when we lived in a house with a double oven, I made cornbread in a cast iron skillet and served it right from the skillet. That was cool.

There is a recipe for Moroccan carrots that often graces our Thanksgiving table. I am not making it this year, but my sister and her boyfriend are making it, in Florida. I am glad they are. This year I am making plain carrots. I will be using the almonds found in the Moroccan carrots recipe in a new dish, Alton Brown’s green beans with almonds and pomegranate seeds. A colleague saw the recipe in a People magazine he read at the dentist’s office, and shared it with me. This will be a break from tradition this year — one new dish. The pomegranate seeds will be our homage to Jewish tradition, since this year Hannukah and Thanksgiving coincide.

I always serve hot and cold cider. Hot cider with cinnamon sticks to warm up  guests when they arrive. Sam Sifton, in his delightful little book Thanksgiving, says (pp. 8-9):

“Put plainly, we are going to cook Thanksgiving correctly.

And what exactly does that mean? It means there is going to be a turkey, and side dishes and dressing to go with it, and plenty of gravy as well. There is going to be a proper dinner table even if it turns out to be a slab of plywood over some milk crates, covered by a sheet. There are going to be proper place settings for each person and glasses for water and wine. There are going to be candles. There will be dessert.

            It means there will not be salad at meal’s end, or appetizers at its beginning. Please understand that from the very beginning. There can be a soup course at Thanksgiving if you wish, some delicate oyster bisque or creamy squash to guard against the chill of advancing winter. But you should not be filling a Thanksgiving guests’s stomach with onion tarts or nuts or corn chips or wee little amuses bouches in advance of a trencherman’s feast of turkey with four sides, the whole thing covered with gravy. Appetizers may promote the appetite of those who order and consume them in restaurants. At Thanksgiving, through, appetizers take up valuable stomach space. They are insulting to your own hard work.”

I agree with you, Sam, but I can’t quite bring myself to put NOTHING out. It’s usually an hour or so between the time guests arrive and dinner is served, and our guests travel 45 minutes or more to get to our house. So I put out nuts, carrots and hummus, crackers, sometimes chips. Chocolate covered cranberries in the silver candy dishes. And hot cider with cinnamon sticks of course. Since the publication of Cinnamon Girl, I have been noticing more and more foods and recipes involving cinnamon. I found a goat cheese log covered in apple and cinnamon at Trader Joe’s that we’re going to have. We taste-tested it when we had company last weekend, and found it delicious.

For me, the biggest break from tradition this year will be having flowers on the table. Usually I make a fruit centerpiece based on 18th century American tradition, using a mold I bought at a Williamsburg, Virginia  shop. Sometimes I use apples, sometimes oranges, sometimes both. Our house was built in the 1750s, so I do this to honor the colonial history of the house. This year I am a bit under the weather, and have decided to forgo this project to lighten my load a bit. I have the flowers ready to go, and they are lovely. But I’m already regretting the decision. I don’t know how important the centerpiece is to the others, but I know it is important to me. We’ll see how I feel the day after Thanksgiving.  

Cinnamon Girl_Front Cover Crop_Lo-Res_Facebook-Twitter_72dpi

A mystery for cookbook lovers!

While she is busy getting ready for her annual cooking contest/author event at her cookbook and cookware store, Bonnie Emerson, daughter of a former U.S. president, finds the body of a woman near a stream on her property. When Bonnie’s tires are slashed, her father hires a private security company. When she is shot at, he calls in the Secret Service and the author’s agent threatens to cancel her appearance. But it could be worse. If Cookbooktoberfest goes on with a killer on the loose, they might all be in danger.

Cookbooktoberfest and the lives of Bonnie and her family are all in jeopardy unless Bonnie can — with or without the Secret Service — find the killer.

Filled with cooking and cookbook lore, Cinnamon Girl is the first in a series of VILLAGE COOKS mysteries.

Cinnamon Girl: A Village Cooks Mystery by Valerie Horowitz

ISBN 978-0-9899110-1-6. Paperback. $11.95

A life-long cookbook lover, Valerie Horowitz has always worked with books. She has sold out-of-print and rare books, was manager of a bookstore in New York’s Greenwich Village and held various marketing and editorial positions at trade and professional publishers. Currently she is the managing editor of a scholarly publishing company. She is an associate member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, and belongs to Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She lives in a house built in the 1750s with her husband, son, and cat in the bucolic northwestern New Jersey farm and horse country where Cinnamon Girl takes place. You can find her online at her Facebook author page:

We held the Book Launch party for my first culinary cozy mystery, Cinnamon Girl: A Village Cooks Mystery at Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe (winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars) in Chester, NJ on October 27, 2013. The book is set in a cookbook/cookware store in a fictional Morris County, NJ town, and Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe was the perfect party “spot.”



What an event it turned out to be! There were over 80 people — I know there were at least that many because we ran out of chairs!

Launch party guests

Because it was Halloween weekend, and what’s Halloween without Vincent Price?—we gave away a gift basket containing Vincent Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes and all of the makings for his recipe for banana nut bread, which is featured in the book. Cinnamon Girl includes quotes and recipes from treasured cookbooks in every chapter.

gift basket

We served light refreshments based on the book, including the banana nut bread.


banana bread sign

I gave a short reading and answered questions.

Valerie Horowitz reading

And signed lots of books!

signing a book

I gave a gift of cinnamon sticks with each book.

book and sticks

Love this basket of cinnamon sticks. Just imagine one in a cup of hot cider!

cinnamon sticks

After many years as a book editor, I am delighted to have published my first book. I am humbled and thrilled to have been able to share this day with so many. Thank you everyone for your interest and support.


CG sign

It was a beautiful day, and everyone had a great time!

%d bloggers like this: