Tag Archive for: Maggie Toussaint

Looking Forward to Deckle Edge

by Paula
Gail Benson
This weekend, I’ve delighted in reading
about all the activities at Sleuthfest. Next weekend, in Columbia,
S.C., we’re looking forward to our own literary festival, Deckle Edge, on
Saturday, March 23. The “deckle edge” is the rough edge on hand cut
paper, often seen on early printed books. If you’re in the area, please come to
the main library on Assembly Street for a day of celebrating the written word.
I’m particularly excited to be moderating a
panel about the Detective in the South. The panelists are authors David
Burnsworth, Sasscer Hill, Roger Johns, Raegan Teller, and Maggie Toussaint.
Here’s some information about the topic and participants:
To paraphrase Raymond
Chandler, “Down the mean streets a detective, man or woman, must go, who is not
himself or herself mean.” What happens when those mean streets happen to be in
the American South? Does the setting change the crime or detective, or both?
Join us for a lively discussion involving traditional and unique fictional
detectives whose investigations have a Southern flair!
David Burnsworth became
fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a receiving a degree in
Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in
the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. Having lived in
Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting for his Brack
Pelton novels was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina
home. He also writes a series featuring private detective Blu Carraway. http://davidburnsworthbooks.com/
Sasscer Hill is the author of
the Agatha and Macavity nominated Nikki Latrelle horseracing series. Her latest
novels, Flamingo
 and The Dark Side of Town,
have followed Fia McKee, who after being put on leave for use of excessive
force as a Baltimore police officer receives a second chance working for the
Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. Flamingo Road won
the $10,000 Dr. Tony Ryan Best in Horse Racing Literature Award for 2018. In
addition, Sasscer, herself and expert horsewoman, has written a Nikki Latrelle
prequel for Young Adults and a number of short stories. https://www.sasscerhill.com/
Roger Johns writes the Wallace Hartman Mysteries from
St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books: Dark River Rising (2017)
and River of Secrets (2018). He is the 2018 Georgia Author of
the Year (Detective·Mystery Category), a 2018 Killer Nashville Readers’ Choice
Award nominee, a finalist for the 2018 Silver Falchion Award for best police
procedural, runner-up for the 2019 Frank Yerby Fiction Award, and the 2019 JKS
Communications Author-in-Residence. His articles and interviews on writing and
the writing life appear in Career Authors, Criminal Element, and the Southern
Literary Review. He co-authors the MurderBooks blog at 
Raegan Teller is the award-winning author of the Enid
Blackwell series. Murder in Madden (Pondhawk Press, 2016) was
her debut novel, followed by The Last Sale (2018) and Secrets
Never Told 
(2019)Her mystery novels are set in and
around Columbia, where she lives with her husband and two cats. Teller writes
about small town intrigue, family secrets, and tales of murder, and while her
books are fiction, her books are inspired by real events. She is a summa cum
laude graduate of Queens University, Charlotte, and a member of Sisters in
Crime, South Carolina Writers Association, and Charlotte Writers Club. 
Maggie Toussaint is a
scientist by training, a romanticist at heart, and an award-winning author of
mystery, romance, romantic suspense, and science fiction. Her series
protagonist Baxley Powell has inherited the ability to dreamwalk in order to
find answers about crime. Through her investigations, Baxley seeks justice for
the dead and solace for the living in a unique lowcountry setting. Maggie is
the Past President of the Southeast Mystery Writers of America and a member of
Low Country Sisters in Crime. https://maggietoussaint.com/
We hope you can join us!

Pets in Mysteries

A scientist by training, a romanticist at heart, Maggie Toussaint loves to solve puzzles. Whether it’s the puzzle of a relationship or a who-dun-it, she tackles them all with equal aplomb and wonder. Maggie’s cozy mystery from Five Star, IN FOR A PENNY, is about a terrible golfer trying to save her best friend from a murder rap. Her three other published works are pet-laden romantic suspense books, one of which won Best Romantic Suspense in the 2007 National Readers Choice Awards. Her day jobs include freelancing for a weekly paper and leading a yoga class. Visit her at http://www.maggietoussaint.com/.

Readers love sassy felines and lovable pooches. In the mystery genre, pets are often instrumental in solving the crime. Whether pets hog the limelight or play the role of sidekick, their presence in a story is often sought-out by mystery fans.

Some writers employ an animal’s natural abilities, such as a cat’s curiosity or a dog’s keen sense of smell to solve the riddle of who-dun-it. These writers intuitively understand the affinity people have for animals. Readers may connect with pets on a physical and emotional level. In return, pets often display loyalty and affection for their humans despite the species language barrier. A few examples of dogs and cats in mysteries follow.

In my cozy from Five Star, IN FOR A PENNY, a grieving St. Bernard helps sleuth Cleopatra Jones run down the villain. Carola Dunn writes about a perfectly normal mutt, Nana, who finds a vital mystery-solving clue in MISTLETOE AND MURDER; Nana also finds the body in BLACK SHIP. In Glynn Marsh Alam’s upcoming March release, MOON WATER MADNESS, swamp dog Plato helps sleuth Luanne Fogarty by digging up a weapon. A four-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback named Baraka shines in Maris Soule’s mystery, THE CROWS.

Marcia James has a Chinese Crested hairless dog named Smokey, a DEA drug-sniffing dog, who goes undercover in AT HER COMMAND. (Janes includes Chinese Cresteds in all her books; her upcoming short story in TAILS OF LOVE benefits a no-kill animal shelter.) And who can forget Asta, the playful terrier tugging Nick and Nora Charles around in THE THIN MAN series? Tom Shreck has an adventurous Muslim basset hound named Allah-King in his Duffy Dombrowski series, of which TKO is the latest release. Shrek’s series was recommended by author Barbra Annino, who has a similar pet in her series, which is in acquisitions. Phyllis Humphrey is penning a cozy in which the dog’s behavior helps her sleuth solve the mystery.

But mysteries aren’t just populated with dogs. Felines Koko and Yum Yum from Lillian Jackson Braun’s THE CAT WHO… series solve crimes in book after book. Author CP Perkins recommends the five-book Dixie Hemingway Pet Sitter Series, written by Blaize Clement, in which amateur sleuth Dixie has all manner of interactions with her pet clients.

Other authors seek to up the stakes by adding a twist to animals in mysteries. They include an enhanced level of communication that goes beyond routine pet/owner interactions. This information exchange ventures into the realm of extrasensory perception, allowing direct thought transference between sleuth and pet or animal to animal. To illustrate, I’ve included a few titles from this subgenre of books.

Piper Rome told me about an upcoming pet series by Judi McCoy. In McCoy’s books, Rudy the talking dog communicates with Ellie the NY dogwalker. Look for McCoy’s titles to release soon: HOUNDING THE PAVEMENT (March) and HEIR OF THE DOG (October); McCoy reports that her books have been optioned into a weekly television series. Angie Fox writes a paranormal mystery/romance series, the first of which is THE ACCIDENTAL DEMON SLAYER, where Pirate the talking dog is a reader favorite.

Let’s not forget the cats. Rita Mae Brown has another installation in her sleuthing cat series, THE PURRFECT MURDER, coming out this month, where felines Mrs. Murphy and Pewter share duties with Tee Tucker the Corgi. THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE by David Wroblewski, a literary thriller, mixes fact and fiction as the dog Almondine communicates with a deaf mute boy.

Other authors change it up even more. They write about pets as sleuths. In Vic diGenti’s WINDRUSHER series, the story is told entirely from a feline point of view. Author Karen McCullough reminded me to include Carole Nelson Douglas’s Midnight Louie series, where the cat is the private investigator.

Why are so many authors inspired to write pets in their books? I believe it is due to their experiences with pets. The unconditional affection of dogs and grudging respect of cats that occurs when animals and people cohabitate creates lasting feelings and memories. Pet stories speak a universal language, one that pet owners understand intuitively.

To put it another way, characters populate stories. Story characters have their own agendas, their own means, motives, and opportunities. Pets come pre-programmed with where they want to sleep, what they want to eat, when they want an adventure, etc. For writers and readers, an agenda-driven pet is pure gold.

Lists of pets in mysteries are available online. Here’s one such list that may provide more information: http://librarybooklists.org/fiction/adult/mystery.htm#mystanim

My examples of mysteries with pets are by no means exhaustive, and I apologize if I’ve omitted anyone’s favorite. Be sure and add any omissions to the comments.

A special thanks to Evelyn David and her friends at The Stiletto Gang for inviting me to be here today. Thanks for stopping by the blog!

IN FOR A PENNY, ISBN 9781594146466 (hardcover and large print) Buy it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or ask your librarian to order it!

HOUSE OF LIES, Best Romantic Suspense, National Readers’ Choice Awards ISBN 9781601540317 buy it: Amazon, The Wild Rose Press, Kindle

NO SECOND CHANCE, buy a book, help a horse ISBN 9781601541628 buy it: Amazon, The Wild Rose Press, Kindle

SEEING RED (ebook) Buy it at Fictionwise

Maggie Toussaint