Monday, July 12, 2010

eBooks on the “Down Low”

I’m finishing Elena Santangelo’s Poison to Purge Melancholy, which I bought at Malice Domestic this year. I’m enjoying the way she works poisons into the historical subplot and how readily available those poisons were in the 1700s. Even before I started reading it, I had heard a NPR radio interview with Deborah Blum on her new book about poisons and forensic science in New York City in the 1920s.

I’m not a CSI TV show watcher; in fact I don’t think I’ve watched a cop show since “Hill Street Blues.” Forensic science is fascinating. I’ve heard multiple opinions from the real technicians: Either they say the TV labs have more funds and equipment than real life could ever hope for, or they say they never get involved and only write up reports – not much drama there. So I think I avoid those CSI-type programs because I don’t want to write a mystery where the research comes from watching TV. That’s second-hand knowledge.

Back to the poisons. Now the public is gaga over forensics. I don’t know if Blum’s book would have been on NPR if it weren’t for the success of television shows like CSI. I listened to the interview as I drove and found her anecdotes fascinating. I went into the William & Mary Bookstore yesterday and bought The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum. It has bumped up on my reading list to follow Santangelo’s mystery, which is just a few chapters from the end.

The “Down Low” part of this tangential blog is how self-conscience I felt walking around town with a book titled The Poisoner’s Handbook (trying to be green, I declined the shopping bag for the one item). Sunday afternoon is a time for beer in Colonial Williamsburg. People tended to guard their drinks when I sat down near them and they saw the book’s title.

[I will clarify: Blum does not give poison recipes.]

I thought, maybe I should have bought the Kindle copy. That way, no one would know what I was reading.

That covert reading is a plus for eBooks. I will admit I have bought Kindle books that I probably wouldn’t have bought in paper form – mainly because of the cover or title. Some books look too much like romances (not that there is anything wrong with that), when they aren’t. Some aren’t as literary as you want your reading image to convey. Some covers are just too sexy to have complete strangers see you carry on the train or bus.

My first Derek Mason Mystery Fingering the Family Jewels is doing great Kindle sales. Yes, I know the title is a bit risqué for some people, and I wonder if that’s who is buying it in eBook format. Read the book, but don’t let mama know.

Where the Internet opened up a way to buy any book without awkwardness, now eBooks let you read any book, anywhere with complete subject/storyline anonymity.

Be it books on poison, romances, erotica, Dr. Ruth, Dr. Phil, or books with risqué titles, now you can read on the down low. And that (as VP Biden likes to say) is a big f-ing deal.

Read what you want!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Mystery Releases Today


New Mystery Skewers Tourist Town Personalities

(Williamsburg, VA • July 1, 2010) Cherokee McGhee Publishing announces the release of Greg Lilly’s newest Derek Mason Mystery – Scalping the Red Rocks.

The novel is set in Sedona, Arizona, one of the top tourist destinations in the United States. Sedona is known for the breathtaking natural beauty of the red rocks; its vibrant arts community; the rich Native American, pioneer, and western movie culture; a variety of hiking trails, Jeep tours, and journeys into the New Age movement; all topped with world-class resorts and restaurants. These unique elements contribute to the lively real estate market and spur the story’s beginning.

In Scalping the Red Rocks, the town’s inhabitants are divided by urban growth. Some entrepreneurs try to make a quick buck by selling out the very aspect of the town that drew them: the awe-inspiring views and natural beauty. Spirited, passionate, and a bit mettlesome, Derek Mason helps his aunt Ruby find her place in the New Age haven, but instead they discover her real estate agent scalped in an empty condo. The crafty real estate agent had intended to sell off part of the pristine landscape, to scalp the land to the highest bidder, but someone scalped him first.

Derek meets Myra and Topher, best friends with a shared secret from Devil’s Bridge; Kimbo Blue, a former child star from Hollywood with a eunuch-ness that defies his adult persona; Clarity Received, the New Age girlfriend of the victim; and Tricia, the diva ex-wife. Along with a troupe of paranoid art gallery owners, gossipy sales clerks, sexy day laborers, and a Jeep-driving Yavapai-Apache, the quirky characters of the resort town hamper Derek’s attempts to expose the killer.

Small town secrets, shady deals, and serial arsonists threaten to throw Derek off the trail. The destructive power of greed materializes in the idyllic setting, and Derek struggles to keep his sense of self-value over the immediate gratification of self-indulgence. Temptation from his past jeopardizes his future, unless he can tame his libido and focus. Or will he lose his head too?
“I lived for five years in Sedona, Arizona,” author Greg Lilly says. “The story could only happen in that setting, in that culture.” Lilly had lived for several years in Charlotte, North Carolina before moving to Arizona for a “simpler life.” In the city, he had written the first Derek Mason Mystery that dealt with a large family-owned business. His second novel, Devil’s Bridge, follows characters who tire of the city and end up in Sedona ─ just as he did. “The novel Devil’s Bridge foreshadowed my own escape from the city,” Lilly explains. “So, with this latest mystery, I had to bring those characters into the tale to show the dream versus the reality of a resort town life.”

The early reviewers praise Scalping the Red Rocks for its setting, plot, and characters. "Greg Lilly gives us some unforgettable characters and his ability to create them is amazing,” says Amos Lassen of Literary Pride book reviews. “The residents of Sedona are the kind of people you will never forget."

Author Keith Pyeatt (Struck, Regal Crest Enterprises, 2009) added, “The characters are diverse and real enough to touch, the story is set so firmly in Sedona, it couldn't take place anywhere else, and the varied agendas and motives keep you wondering whodunit to the very end."

Sedona resident and award-winning mystery writer Kris Neri (Revenge for Old Times’ Sake, Cherokee McGhee, 2010) calls the book “A winner!” Then adds, "With eco-terrorists, wildfire and a shocking scalping, Greg Lilly’s Scalping the Red Rocks rips the mask off the superficial New Age haven of Sedona, Arizona, to reveal its darker side, in a don’t-put-it-down mystery that will keep you guessing right up to its stunning climax.”

Echo Magazine’s book critic Bob Lind rates the mystery “five full stars out of five.” Lind, an Arizonan, adds, “I can tell you that Lilly has absolutely nailed the prevailing mindset of many longtime residents of that town (Sedona), making the mystery even more realistic to me... an exciting, well-written page-turner, which will keep you guessing as you slowly learn more about each of its colorful, complex characters.”

Although the book skewers some attitudes and personalities of tourist towns, Lilly says he feels the murder mystery creates a fast-paced story to entertain readers, all readers ─familiar or not with a small town dependent on tourists. “Hilton Head, Williamsburg, Taos, Asheville,” Lilly lists. “These are places with a lot of deals going on behind the scenes. That can make for some interesting characters and situations.”

Scalping the Red Rocks – A Derek Mason Mystery is available now at bookstores and on-line at and More information about Greg Lilly and his novels can be found at