Tag Archives: Contest

Solving Crime Puzzles from Tucson to San Francisco

Destinations: Tucson and San Francisco Bay area

Book: Fracture (2011) by Susan Cummins Miller

Want this book? Find out at the end of this review how you can get an autographed copy.

Susan Cummins Miller’s last book, Fracture,  kept me guessing–and reading–until geologist Frankie McFarlaine and her boyfriend unravel the complex mystery that involves Philo’s family. That would be the boyfriend, oddly-named Philo Dain, a Special Forces kind of guy who runs a top-notch private detective agency in Tucson.

Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park, Tucson

Frankie and Philo are just getting reacquainted after his recent return from Afghanistan when his uncle shows up wanting Philo’s help locating some valuable coins. Philo doesn’t like his Uncle, but because of inheritance, he partly owns the coins, so he agrees.  The uncles’ trophy wife turns up dead and Uncle Derek, a man used to buying whatever he wants–including respect– is the prime suspect.

The plot is too complex to summarize without giving something away. Tension builds and along with the physical threats to our hero and heroine, plenty of puzzle solving is involved. It even gets a bit Ludlum-esque when a rare coin dealer and an academic get involved trying to “decode” a family chess set that turns out to be museum-quality rare.

Meanwhile, Miller paints a realistic picture of her native Tucson, and similarly evocative scenes in a house on a cliff above the foggy San Francisco coast and the family ranch which holds the final clues to the secrets.

San Francisco fog
Photo from Wiki Commons

This review is another follow-up to the 2014 Tucson Festival of Books. See my earlier review of Townie by Andre Debus III.  And where I saw Susan Cummins Miller, here.

Miller’s Frankie McFarlane mystery series started with the the publication in 2002 of Death Assemblage. Since then she has published a total of five Frankie McFarlane mysteries and has finished a sixth–each with a geological reference in the title. Her newest book, out next year, is Chasm, set in the Grand Canyon.

The earlier books emphasized geology–Frankie seemed to stumble on bodies every time she takes students out in the field for research–and the skill set that being a scientist contributes to Frankie the myster-solver. The importance of Frankie’s geology background is dialed down in Fracture, as Frankie shares focus with the adventure-hero Philo. However, she still is independent, resourceful and smart as the dickens. And we do learn a few things about the composition of the earth around San Francisco–and fractures and earthquakes that take place in the ground as well as those that split families.

The characters are vivid  in Fracture. Miller provides us an almost tactile experience of the contrast between sweltering summer Tucson, and cool, damp San Francisco.  This mystery is a keeper.


Tucson Festival of Books
Susan Cummins Miller talks to reader at 2014 TFOB

At the Book Festival, Susan signed a copy of Fracture for me to give to one of my readers.

If you would like to have an exciting (virtual) trip to the Bay area by winning a signed, hardback copy of Fracture, leave a comment below mentioning the word ‘fracture.’  A winner will be chosen at random  on May 20. The book is valued at $30.

Winners must have a United States postal address and must be over 18. There is no limit on the number of entries. See other fine print here.

Notes: The author gave me a copy of the book for review and to use as a giveaway.  My opinions are still my own.  Links here to Amazon allow you to shop easily for this book and others and at the same time support A Traveler’s Library. Thanks.

Win A Book: Your Choice of Brand New Books!

win a book for Summer Reading
Summer Reading


We can debate endlessly what makes “summer reading”.  For some, summer–a week or two away in a cabin or by the beach–is a time to catch up on books you never have time for like Ulysses or Moby Dick. For others, summer means light and frothy.  I tend to side with the light and frothy side–books I can breeze through without a lot of thought. Written in words I don’t have to look up, with fun characters that may or may not stick with me. But whichever side of the equation you’re on, I have a book for you. Here’s how to win a book.


During the month of June, every new e-mail subscriber to A Traveler’s Library  will be entitled to choose a book. ONE book per subscriber. Present subscribers–I don’t want to leave you out. So if you forward your e-mail from A Traveler’s Library to a friend, and tell me you did it in a comment, and then the friend subscribes, they get a book and you can pick a book, too.


Win a book from the list at the bottom of this page–your choice. And I’ll add some of the books I’m reviewing this month, too, in case you want to play the odds and wait to choose. They will be brand new books I reviewed during the previous two months and during June. As books are selected, I will type a line through them on the list.


The period of sign up for an eligible e-mail subscription ends on June 30, 2013. However, you have one week after that to make your selection (Last day to request a book, July 8).  I will contact you via your e-mail newsletter subscription and you will need to reply to my e-mail and give me your mailing address, and statement that you are over 18 in order to choose your book . The usual rules of A Traveler’s Library contests apply (gotta be over 18, have a mailing address in the U.S., etc.) To see all the fine print, go to our Contest Page. And to contact me directly, write to me at my G-mail address..


And Here’s the Win a Book List –More to Come

You can search in the search box to see what I had to say about each book, if you need a reminder. Remember, you can request NOW if you are a subscriber, or immediately when you subscribe. OR you can wait until the end of June when I will have added more books. But you only get one choice.

Titles with a line through, have gone to another reader.

Communion, by Kim Fay, a memoir of a culinary journey through Vietnam, with some recipes.

What Changes Everything by Masha Hamilton, novel that swings from Afghanistan to Brooklyn.

Death in the Vines by M. L. Longworth, a mystery set in Province

The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay, set in Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia

Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman, a romance with adventure on the east coast of Australia. TWO COPIES AVAILABLE.

The Serenity Murders, A Turkish Delight Mystery by Mehmet Murat Somer, Mystery set in Turkey

The Bottom of the Jar by Abdellatif Laabi, Memoir in Morocco

There’s a God for That by Joseph Honton, Memoir in Japan

Rising Son By Charles R. Scott, Memoir, father/son bicycle trip in Japan

The Lost Artist by Gail Lukasik, mystery set in southern Illinois

All Those Things We Never Said by Marc Levy, New York novel by French writer

The Maid and the Queen:The Secret History of Joan of Arc by Nancy Goldstone, Non-fiction French history

Better Than Fiction , Don George, Editor, collection of essays from around the world

Mumbai New York Scranton by Tamara Shopsin, memoir in the 3 places in title.

The Disciple of Las Vegas: An Ava Lee Novel by Ian Hamlton, mystery novel in Las Vegas and other locations

Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson, historical novel set in Northern Africa during WWII

The Sadness of the Samurai by Victor del Arbol, historic novel/mystery, Spain

Crossing on the Paris, by Dana Gynther, Historic Novel, France to America on an ocean liner.

Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn: A Hitchhiker’s Adventures in the New Iran, by Jamie Maslin, a memoir set in Iran

Alibis: Essays on Nowhere by Andre Aciman, Essays/memoir set in Alexandra, Egypt and several other cities.

A Room With a Pew: Sleeping Our Way Through Spain’s Ancient Monasteries by Richard Starks and Miriam Murcutt, Guidebook/memoir– Spain

Harmattan, by Gavin Weston, Novel set in Africa

All Men are Liars, by Alberto Manguel. Novel set in Madrid.

Istanbul, a Cultural History, by Peter Clark, a guide book

Cara Black Invites You to Paris. Oui?

Second book featuring a strong and unconventional woman during our celebration of Women’s History Month.

You can win the book (signed by the author) AND you can win a trip to Paris. Read on..


Montparnasse, Paris street corner
Photo by Phil Beard, who says “This is boulevard de Montparnasse at the junction with boulevard Raspail. The Métro station is Vavin and the corner café is La Rotonde, in its day a notable haunt of the avant-garde.(In)1916 .. Picasso and a group of friends, including Max Jacob and Modigliani, had lunch here..”

Place: Montparnasse , Paris

Book: Murder Below Montparnasse by Cara Black (NEW THIS MONTH: March 2013)

Cara Black  juggles. And she does it extremely well. Continue reading Cara Black Invites You to Paris. Oui?