Edgar Award Winner Julie Smith is a great way to start the week off right. Funny and witty, with a clever, outspoken characters, her cozy mysteries show an Agatha Christie-like capacity for making much ado about clues, concocting straw hypotheses, and surprising us, in the end.

Death Turns A Trick : A Romantic and Humorous San Francisco Cozy (Rebecca Schwartz Mystery Series Book 1) (The Rebecca Schwartz Series)
Julie Smith
4.2 Stars (64 Reviews)
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

The FIRST book in the Rebecca Schwartz mystery series by Edgar Award Winner Julie Smith.


“A lively romp of a novel … Smith shows an Agatha Christie-like capacity for making much ado about clues, concocting straw hypotheses, and surprising us, in the end … Smith’s crisp storytelling … and her likable, unpredictable heroine will make readers look forward to more.” -San Francisco Chronicle

Rebecca Schwartz, nice Jewish lawyer with a few too many fantasies, is happily playing the piano in a whorehouse when she suddenly finds herself assigned to make sure a near-naked state senator escapes a police raid. That dirty job done, a lovely evening turns even more delightful when she’s picked up by the cops and spends the next two hours at the Hall of Justice. Could this day get any worse? Of Course! Guess who arrives home to find a dead hooker on her living room floor!

Handsome Parker Phillips, Rebecca’s new beau and the most attractive man she’s met in ages, is arrested for the murder. (Worse, she suspects he might actually have done it.)

On the plus side, another very attractive man is following the case–reporter Rob Burns of the San Francisco Chronicle, a possible ally. And there are other possibilities.


Basically, I am the kind of girl that mothers wish their sons would marry. But nobody’s son did, and anyway I couldn’t be bothered. I was too busy living up to my father’s ambition for me. Or what I imagined it to be. He always said, “Be a doctor, Rebecca. There’s no money in law,” but anybody could see he was joking. When I was a little girl, he used to take me to watch him in court, and when I was a teenager, he’d discuss his cases with me. What did I know from doctors? I had a lawyer for a role model.

Now if you had led this kind of life and someone came along and said, “Listen, how would you like to play the piano in a whorehouse for just one night—you’ll be among friends; nothing can happen,” wouldn’t you do it? Especially if it were a feminist bordello? It wouldn’t have to be a case of getting back at your mom.

I should explain about Elena. She is a prostitute, and she’s also very close to being a madam, only she isn’t quite because this is a co-op bordello we’re talking about. It’s co-op because ostensibly everyone has an equal say in decision-making and the money is split among the members, but Elena is actually the brains and the driving force of the thing. She’d be a madam in the old-fashioned sense if she weren’t political.

I got to know her when she got busted and Jeannette von Phister asked me to take her case. Despite certain reservations I have about prostitution as a feminist issue (“horizontal hostility,” Jeannette calls it), I was already on the legal staff of HYENA, the “loose women’s organization” Jeannette had founded. As you no doubt know, HYENA is an acronym for “Head Your Ethics toward a New Age,” and its ultimate goal is to get prostitution legalized.

Sitting over crab salad and white wine in my gray flannel blazer and Cacharel blouse, I felt pretty naive as Elena spun tales about a world of crystal chandeliers and high-heeled sandals. A world where indulgence of personal vanity was not only not condemned but was actually applauded. I loved getting a peek at it.

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House of Blues: An Action-Packed New Orleans Thriller; Skip Langdon #5 (The Skip Langdon Series)
Julie Smith
3.8 Stars (78 Reviews)
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

House of Blues is the FIFTH book in the Edgar Award-winning Skip Langdon Series by Julie Smith.


Sugar Hebert arrives home from a ten-minute errand to find her husband shot to death and the rest of her family missing—including her daughter Reed, heir apparent to the Hebert restaurant dynasty, and Reed’s eleven-month-old daughter.

Detective Skip Langdon’s hunt for a murderer and the missing Hebert heirs embraces worlds within worlds—splendid but dangerous Garden District digs, Faubourg Marigny drug dens, broken-down projects, lowdown bars, an elegant hangout for crooked politicos, and a dealer’s crib masquerading as a sultan’s palace, harem and all. A palm reader warns Langdon of danger, but it comes when she’s least prepared for it. Before long, the mob’s involved (maybe there’s a reason Hebert’s Restaurant won the lucrative casino contract), and so are family secrets so ugly they’d make Tennessee Williams wince. Everyone has them—the Heberts, the mob princess, even the crooked cop.

And Langdon finds she should have listened to the damned palm reader.

Fans of Ace Atkins, Tana French, and Marcia Muller will love cop-protagonist Skip Langdon’s pluck in this murder mystery of unusual emotional depth.


Finally, arriving slightly out of breath, she remembered she hadn’t brought her purse, had simply picked up Reed’s key and hurried out.

Feeling silly, she rang her own doorbell and waited. It was probably a full two minutes before she realized no one was coming. Glancing around for Reed’s car, she didn’t notice it at first, wondered if Dennis and Reed had gotten so mad they’d stalked out.

But in that case why hadn’t they come home?

She marched to the side of the house and turned over the rock under which she kept an extra key. Letting herself in, she felt for the first time a slight sense of foreboding; the lock didn’t give at first, not until she’d turned the key a few times. Could it be the door hadn’t been locked? Had she unwittingly locked it herself, then had to fiddle to unlock it?

“Arthur?” she called. Getting no answer, she turned from the hall into the dining room, where her family should have been.

Instead there was blood.

Red on the cream walls, splashed as if a kid had filled a balloon with blood and fanned his arm in a great and joyous arc to empty it. But it was as if he’d done it sitting on the floor. The blood was low on the wall, and above the splashes, there was a bloody handprint. Blood was also pooled on the floor.

Blood. Like something in a movie. Or on television; an event in someone else’s life.

The heavy mahogany table had been upended. China, silver, and beans had spilled every which way, and chairs were overturned, though not Sally’s high chair, which was empty.

Arthur lay on the floor, face-up, eyes open, white shirt soaked red. There was blood on his pants too, at the groin.

The house was so still Sugar’s breath sounded like screaming.


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Huckleberry Fiend (Paul Mcdonald Mystery #2) (The Paul Mcdonald Series)
Julie Smith
4.1 Stars (21 Reviews)
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense



The most priceless American manuscript in existence has unceremoniously dropped into Paul Mcdonald’s hands–now what?

In between much-needed therapy sessions, Paul’s neurotic friend Booker the burglar stole it from his dad’s girl friend’s roommate, and now wants sometime-sleuth Paul to find its rightful owner. Because he’s pretty sure the roommate’s not it.

Paul is so awed he can hardly bring himself to touch it. It’s none other than the missing holograph of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And Beverly the roommate’s no librarian, she’s a flight attendant, so Booker suspects chicanery. He’s only too right: Beverly, it turns out, is dead. Murdered for the manuscript, if Paul’s guess is right.

He finds out it’s in high demand from a zany collection of collectors, Huckleberry Fiends of all stripes of crazy, every single one of them capable of murder. Suddenly he’s the protagonist of A Literary Nightmare, surrounded by Mysterious Strangers, playing out A Double-Barrelled Detective Story involving A Stolen White Elephant and pretty much Roughing It with the bullying Homicide Inspector Howard Blick.

It’s truly, A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage….no, not a marriage, a manuscript! But Paul does have his eye on tough and savvy Sardis Kincannon…

The liberally-sprinkled Mark Twain quotes and references make this witty yarn a treat for the literary-minded, and better yet, the twisty plot will satisfy the pickiest mystery fiend.

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Axeman’s Jazz: A Female Cop, an Obsessed Killer, an Offbeat New Orleans Setting; Skip Langdon Mystery #2 (The Skip Langdon Series)
Julie Smith
3.8 Stars (153 Reviews)
Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

The SECOND book in the Edgar Award-winning Skip Langdon mystery series by Julie Smith.


A place where he (or maybe she) can learn your secrets from your own mouth and then make friends over coffee. A supposedly “safe” place where anonymity is the norm. The horror who calls himself The Axeman has figured it out and claimed his territory—he’s cherry-picking his victims in the 12-Step programs of New Orleans.

And he’s had the gall to name himself after a historical serial killer. He just needs to go down, and fast, because this is New Aw’lins, dawlin’—half the town is either alcoholic or co-dependent!

Who better to take him out than tall, funny, social-misfit Skip Langdon, now a homicide detective on the Axeman team, a gig that takes her into the 12-Step groups to meet the suspects (giving author Julie Smith a chance for gentle satire). As Skip threads her fascinated way from one self-help group to another, she finds she has more in common with the twelve-steppers than just the murder—her mother, for one thing, whom she encounters at Overeaters Anonymous! And she knows what they do not: that among their anonymous numbers is a murderous, and dangerously attractive psychopath…


“Langdon! In here!” Joe sounded furious.

“What is it? Did somebody leak the scarlet A’s?”

“Worse. I swear to God it’s worse.”

With a pair of tweezers, he handed Skip a letter, typed on plain white paper. “Look at this.”

It said:

Dear Broadcaster:

You probably remember me. The first time, I wrote to the print media, but there was no television then. I also used an axe. That, of course, would be messy in this day and age and I have two perfectly good hands to strangle with. So forget the axe, but I’m still who I am. My signature is awritten in blood. I kill whom I need to kill, both women and men.

As I mentioned before, they never caught me and they never will. I am not a human being, but an extraterrestrial. (Or perhaps that is the best way you can understand it.) I am what you Orleanians used to call the Axeman—make no mistake, I’m back.

It’s me.

I’m baaaaaack.

Here’s the deal: It’s the same as before. Jazz is the lifeblood of this great city of ours—it was then and it is now. It’s the only constant, the only universal. My spaceship lands Tuesday, and I’ll be out for blood. (Did you know we extraterrestrials are vampires?) But I have an endless supply of infinite mercy and I will show it to anyone in whose home a jazz band is playing between the hours of 7 p.m. and daylight. Take heed—you will be spared!

But no matter if you aren’t, my infinite mercy extends to my victims. I am quick and I am painless. Ask Linda Lee and Tom.


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Louisiana Bigshot: A Humorous New Orleans Mystery; Talba Wallis #2
Julie Smith
4.1 Stars (214 Reviews)
Genre: African American | United States | Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Louisiana Bigshot is the SECOND book in the Talba Wallis mystery series by Edgar Award-winning author Julie Smith.

Meet the hottest detective duo in New Orleans–she’s Queen Latifah. He’s Danny DeVito. Or they would be if this were a movie–in print, they’re Talba Wallis and Eddie Valentino. Talba’s got the beauty, the brains, the computer savvy, the poetic soul,the youth, the right demographic, and the sass. Eddie’s got the detective agency. Also a short fuse and yes, wisdom. Not only do they make it work, they’ve got chemistry.

And they need every skill and ounce of courage they can summon in this intricate tale of a decades-old conspiracy only now coming home to roost, with the murder of Talba’s friend Babalu Maya. Babalu is actually Clayton Robineau, daughter of the local banker in a small Louisiana town that bears her name, a town buried under the weight of its own malevolent past.

Something terrible happened to Clayton as a child, but it was far from the usual “something terrible”. As Talba and Eddie investigate, they find it was an injury—both pscyhic and physical–so bizarre, so shameful and damning that almost anyone in town would kill to cover it up. Or so it seems to the New Orleans duo as they dodge bullets and what passes for the law in this malignant enclave, fetid with the rot of its corruption, yet determined to keep its sordid skeletons buried.

Never did Faulkner’s words ring so true as in Clayton, Louisiana: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

*Author’s note: It’s based on a real event.

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