Blogroll: Jungle Red Writers

Love in the Low Country!

HANK ON TOUR: in Minneapolis today! Come join me and THE WRONG GIRL at Once Upon A Crime at 7pm! And now….our special guest!

Boyer-1839-smallHANK: So funny. I thought—what should I write to introduce the fabulous Agatha-winning and USA Today best-selling Susan Boyer? And here’s the voice that came to mind “Oh my GOSH, y’all, Susan Boyer is a force of NATURE.” Then I thought, waaaitaminit, I don’t have a southern accent.

Hmm. But that is just how infectious she is. She’s hilarious, intelligent and a terrific writer. Her debut, LOW COUNTRY BOIL won the Agatha, quite a triumph for her and her terrific publisher Henery Press. (Jungle Reds LOVE Henery, y’all. I mean,  sigh, well, you know.)
So—imagine her voice answering…as we get the scoop on her brand new book! (And at the end–a question for YOU!)

HANK:  Tell us what this book is about!

SUSAN BOYERLowcountry Bombshell is the story of my Southern Private Investigator, Liz Talbot’s, next case. Liz thinks she’s seen another ghost when she meets Calista McQueen. She’s the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe. Born precisely fifty years after the ill-fated star, Calista’s life has eerily mirrored the late starlet’s—and she fears the looming anniversary of Marilyn’s death will also be hers.
Before Liz can open a case file, Calista’s life coach is executed. Suspicious characters swarm around Calista like mosquitoes on a sultry lowcountry evening: her certifiable mother, a fake aunt, her control-freak psychoanalyst, a private yoga instructor, her peculiar housekeeper, and an obsessed ex-husband. Liz digs in to find a motive for murder, but she’s besieged with distractions. Her ex has marriage and babies on his mind. Her too-sexy partner engages in a campaign of repeat seduction. Mamma needs help with Daddy’s devotion to bad habits. And a gang of wild hogs is running loose on Stella Maris.
It’s just another day in paradise…

HANK:  Wild hogs?

LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELLLOL! Yes, wild hogs. Actually, wild pigs have been around the lowcountry since the 1500s when the Spanish released them. In fact, wild pigs have been reported in all 46 counties in South Carolina. However, the Spanish pigs never reached Stella Maris as no one ever let them on the ferry. The Stella Maris hogs are a whole ’nother story. You see, in the aftermath of a hurricane back in the 1800’s, most of the livestock wandered the island until fences and barns were repaired or rebuilt. This particular gang of hogs was never apprehended. They are mostly harmless, but they like to snack on delicacies found in flowerbeds and vegetable gardens, which makes them unpopular with the human residents of the island.
There’s been a lot of discussion regarding what to do about the infestation, but no consensus has been reached. Several of the island’s matriarchs are too tenderhearted to hear tell of the hogs being exterminated, and the swine are wily enough to evade efforts at rounding them up.

HANK: What was the moment you got the first idea for the plot of this book?  Or was your first idea about “plot” ? How did you know when you had a book?

The character of Calista McQueen came to me first. In fact, my initial idea was for a book where she was the main character. She may get her own series one day, if Liz will have that. She may want to keep me busy with her stories. But I’ve always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe and her story. When I was working on the family trees for my Stella Maris families—yes all the families on Stella Maris have a family tree. I can trace them all back to the Revolutionary War—I started wondering about the loose ends in Marilyn’s family tree. I started researching her. I knew I had a book when I realized my doppelganger was in danger and would need Liz to figure out where the danger was coming from.
I love revisiting Liz and her quirky family and friends on Stella Maris. But I also love the character of Calista McQueen. Like Marilyn, she’s so much smarter than people give her credit for. And I really love that Liz’s romantic life gets to play out a bit in this book.

HANK: Talk about “low country ” What does that mean? How does that affect your story?

Ah, the lowcountry is the coastal area of South Carolina. Especially around Charleston, there’s just so much history, and it’s such a romantic place. It’s my chosen literary landscape because I have a lifelong love affair with the area. Huge live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, wrought iron garden gates that keep in the family secrets…my imagination runs wild. The setting really is a character in my story.

HANK: Have you always wanted to write mysteries? Why start now?  Did you set out to write a series?

Oh, my, yes. I’ve wanted to write mysteries since I was a child reading Nancy Drew. Actually, for a long time I wanted to BE Nancy Drew. Then I settled on writing mysteries where the detective was a little older and got to know her boyfriend a little better. But my parents were more comfortable with a career goal that wouldn’t mean I’d be living in their house another ten years in the best case scenario, so I studied computer business systems and got a “real job.” But I continued to read every spare minute and dream about writing. Then a few years—okay—now it’s been nearly nine years ago—the company I worked for went out of business. Up until then I hadn’t had time to write. I know, you do it all, but you’re a super-hero. Yes, I started out knowing I wanted to write a series because those are my favorite books to read. I love revisiting characters I know. It’s like spending time with old friends.  

HANK: What’s it like for you, writing? Are you a happy smiling person at the keyboard? Or do you tear your hair out, worrying that this will be the time you never get it right?

I am at my happiest when I’m writing. I get completely lost in my alternate reality, and just pour it all out onto the page. The “Oh my gosh this is horrible and I’ll never get it right” phase comes later in the process for me—during editing. And again while my beta reader has the manuscript, and again while my agent is reading, and most of all once I hit send to turn it in to my editor. Until I know she likes it, I’m convinced it’s horrible, and I’ll never write another book worth reading. That’s when I start wondering if I’m qualified to be a barista.

HANK: Well, it’s terrific…and I (don’t hoot at me, Kaye Barley) had no idea what “low country” was until I met your books. Guess I should have gone to geography that day!

Susan of course, is hard at work on her next Low Country adventure…what “southern” thing do you think she should include? And a copy of LOW COUNTRY BOIL to a lucky commenter!

Blogroll: Must Read Mysteries

Mrs. MRM reviews Susan Boyer’s “Lowcountry Boil”

LOWCOUNTRY BOILI just finished reading Susan Boyer’s Lowcountry Boil, and I am experiencing a severe case of PBW – Post Book Withdrawal! I haven’t had as much time for reading as I would like recently, but this book made me want to steal every minute possible to read. I was a bit hesitant at first as I am not usually a big fan of paranormal story lines, but the depth of characterization made every character (even the ghost) strong and relatable. Plus, if you’ve ever visited or lived in the Charleston area, you know it is almost impossible to experience the city and its barrier islands without feeling the ghosts of the past looking over your shoulder. Every time I found a minute to read, I found myself slipping into the warm sea air of Stella Maris, and I instantly felt like an island insider. In this fantastic debut, Boyer does a lovely job of maintaining tension while developing sympathetic, identifiable characters. Any small town southerner would be hard-pressed not to see someone they “know” in this book. She kept me guessing right up until the end, but in hindsight all the clues were there. It was smart, funny, and overall a very enjoyable read. I am impatiently waiting her next book and another Liz Talbot adventure!

Blogroll: Huff Post Books

Shrimp, Grits and Murder

by Chef John Malik

Are you looking for a clever murder mystery? One with a unique sense of place and enough quirky characters to make the cast of The Big Bang Theory take notice? Can you deal with a ghost as a central character? And I don’t mean a ghost in the traditional sense, one that fades in and out on a whisper and holds the same mass as the aromatic vapors of a warm chicken pot pie. Nope. This ghost comes and goes when summoned, holds conversations with a dear friend and plays an integral part in a tightly knit crime drama. If you can let yourself go long enough to enjoy the preposterousness of the ghost of a 17 -year-old sworn to protect the fictional island of Stella Maris, just north of Charleston, S.C., then you’re going to love Lowcountry Boil, the debut novel of Susan M. Boyer. [Read more...]

Hen House Holiday Sale!!

Ho Ho Ho!  It’s a Hen House Holiday Sale on the entire Henery Press Mystery Collection thru Jan. 13th.


Save up to 80%, so load up that kindle or nook little chickens…


Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo



Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo



Amazon      Barnes & Noble      Kobo



Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo



Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo



Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo



Blogroll: Mystery Scene Review

Humor is in the ascendancy in Susan M. Boyer’s Lowcountry Boil. A plethora of Southern eccentrics populate this rousing tale of murder and real estate on the tiny South Carolina island of Stella Maris. After her beloved grandmother dies, PI Liz Talbot suspects murder and uses her considerable investigative skills to find out the truth. Along the way, she discovers a plot to develop the serene island for tourism, something the island’s strict zoning laws have historically forbidden.

Murder may be a serious matter, but there are guffaws galore as author Boyer treats us to some of the goofiest and most loveable characters in crime fiction. There’s Liz’s cousin Colleen, who, due to her untimely death, is now a ghost who delights in popping up at untimely moments; Liz’s mother, who believes that mayhem and heartbreak can be cured by freshening up your lipstick; Liz’s shotgun-toting daddy; her brother, the perpetually perplexed police chief; and last, but certainly not least, Chumley, a drooling basset hound.

Twisted humor has long been a tradition in Southern literature (maybe it’s the heat and humidity), and Boyer delivers it with both barrels. In lesser hands, all the hijinks could be distracting, but not in Lowcountry Boil. Boyer’s voice is so perky that no matter what looney mayhem her characters commit, we happily dive in with them. An original and delightful read.

—Betty Webb

Blogroll: Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

A Very Cozy Christmas: Susan M. Boyer


Let’s welcome Susan M. Boyer, author of Lowcountry Boil.

* * * * *

Our Traditional Christmas Dinner

My husband, Jim, and I are blessed with a large family. The holidays are full, and scheduling a challenge because of all the sub-groups of family. We celebrate Christmas with my side of the family twice—once with immediate and once with extended family. Jim is one of eight siblings, most of whom have taken the “go forth and multiply” thing to heart. You can imagine the crowd. By the time we celebrate Christmas at home with our children, no one wants to look at a turkey or a ham. Over the years, we’ve put together our own traditional Christmas menu.

Using a super-secret process, Jim roasts a beef tenderloin outside in his grill. To keep it company, we make béarnaise sauce, mashed potato casserole, corn pie, green beans, yeast rolls, and a family favorite, tomato pie. The desserts may vary, but there’s always a cheesecake and something chocolate. Jim likes heavier wines than I, so we usually serve both a cabernet and a pinot noir with the meal.

I love this “recipe” for tomato pie because it’s both delicious and versatile. When we first started making it we used ten-inch pie plates. But we’ve discovered it works great in muffin pans for individual servings, and also in bite-sized pastry shells for an appetizer to take to parties. For Christmas the past few years we’ve used the muffin pans, so I guess we’ll call these tomato tarts.

Did you notice how I put the word recipe in quotes above? This is because I never use recipes. I’m one of those cooks who uses a dash of this and a little of that, and probably has never made a dish exactly the same way twice. This stresses my sister-in-law to no end, as she is forever asking me for recipes. I try to give them to her off the top of my head. She measures everything precisely, and gets really nervous when I say things like, “Just put a little in and taste it,” and “It helps if you sip a glass of pinot noir while you cook.”

From the best of my memory, this is how we make tomato tarts. If it isn’t exact, I don’t think you’d ever be able to tell it. This recipe makes 12 individual, muffin-size tarts.

Tomato Tarts
1 large sweet onion
1 stick butter, softened
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar (you can substitute honey)
3 Refrigerated pie crusts (We use Pillsbury, but my grandmother would not approve. If you really want to, you can make them from scratch.)
3 cans fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
2 cups mayonnaise (We use Duke’s, naturally, because it’s a rule in the South. But Hellman’s would work just as well. I can only tell you this because my mamma doesn’t read blogs.)
4 cups shredded 6-cheese Italian blend (We use Sargento Chef’s Blend or Publix house brand.)
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning blend (We use Emeril’s.)
Sea salt
Black pepper

Step One: Caramelize the onion
1. Thinly slice, then chop the onion
2. Place 3 tablespoons of the butter and the canola oil in a cast iron frying pan and turn on medium-low heat
3. Rotate the pan to mix the butter and oil as the butter melts
4. When the butter is completely melted and blended with the oil, add the onion to the pan.
5. Sprinkle onion with sea salt—don’t ask me how much, just sprinkle some on there.
6. You want the onion soft and an even brown. This will take 20-30 minutes. Stir every few minutes and watch carefully. If it gets too brown, it will be bitter. About half-way in, add the agave nectar or honey.
7. When the onion is caramelized, set aside.

Step Two: Prepare crusts
1. Chill your muffin pans.
2. Flatten and bring crusts to room temperature.
3. Cut circles of crust. My muffin pans have 12 muffin cups, 3” across and 1” deep. Yours may or may not be the same size, but here’s the trick: You need to make circles of crust that are the bottom width plus 2 times the height—in my case, 5” circles. I have a small metal bowl just the right size. I’ve never found a biscuit cutter big enough.
4. Butter the tins and place a strip of parchment paper across each cup that reaches all the up the sides and over the top a bit.
5. Press circles of crust into chilled tins. Form the crusts to the pan, crimping the edges.
6. Refrigerate pan.
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Step Three: Prepare Filling
1. Mix drained tomatoes, onion, Italian seasoning, and additional sea salt and pepper as desired.
2. Set aside.
3. Mix mayonnaise with cheeses.

Step Four: Assemble and bake
1. Spoon tomato and onion mixture into prepared crusts. Fill about ¾ full.
2. Generously top with mayonnaise mixture. You can use a pastry bag for this if you like. I just spoon mine on. (You may have some topping left over—I never get it to come out exact.)
3. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and continue baking another 10-15 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
5. Use pastry strips to lift tarts from pans and serve.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your holidays are filled with family, love, laughter, and good food.

About Susan M. Boyer

Susan M. Boyer has been making up stories her whole life. She tags along with her husband on business trips whenever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh coffee all day and cookies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occasionally visit. Susan’s short fiction has appeared in moonShine Review, Spinetingler Magazine, Relief Journal, The Petigru Review, and Catfish Stew. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, was the 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense recipient and an RWA Golden Heart® finalist.
Visit Susan at:


Now for a giveaway. We’re giving away a copy of Lowcountry Boil. To enter:
- complete the form below.
- giveaway ends on December 11, 2012 at midnight.
- giveaway is open international
- winners will be contacted via email

Blogroll: Shelf Pleasure

Read: Fall is a Great Time for a Lowcountry Boil

Susan M. Boyer’s Lowcountry Boil is the first in a delicious new mystery series featuring private eye and modern Southern Belle Liz Talbot. When Liz’s beloved grandmother is murdered, she hightails it back to South Carolina to find the killer – and things get even more complicated when her long dead best friend pops up. Liz took a break from detecting to pop by Shelf Pleasure and share her recipe for a true Lowcountry Boil. 

Hey y’all, Liz Talbot here. I can’t believe Halloween has come and gone. I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve stashed some chocolate away for emergencies. Before we go straight into talking turkey and put up the Christmas lights, I’m in the mood for a Lowcountry Boil. Lowcountry Boil is not just a dish—it’s an event. And fall is the perfect time for one. [Read more...]

Blogroll: Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

Review: Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer


Publisher’s Summary: Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer.

She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her.

Our Review: PI Liz Talbot has returned to Stella Maris, South Carolina, following the death of her grandmother. Liz is intent of finding the killer, even if her police-chief brother doesn’t want her to get involved. However soon its not just her grandmother that has been murdered, with more dead bodies turning up and Liz has to use everything in her power to try to find the killer, before more of her family is harmed.

Lowcountry Boil is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, and is a finalist in the 2012 Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® contest, and it’s not hard to see why. Susan M. Boyer has crafted a charming mystery, with characters that will delight mystery readers, as they follow the adventure of Liz and Rhett, her golden retriever.

I like how Susan M. Boyer has mixed it up with Liz’s brother being the police chief. All too often there is a tendency in cozy mysteries to have the policy chief/detective to a romantic interest of the amateur sleuth, and this isn’t the case here. It’s great to see a new dynamic in the sleuth’s life.

Lowcountry Boil is a very strong debut. It has all the elements of a great cozy mystery series: charming characters that a reader can relate to, a stunning whodunnit and of course the adorable sidekick in Liz’s golden retriever, Rhett!

I can’t wait for more books in this charming southern series.

Buy from Amazon

Title: Lowcountry Boil
Author: Susan M. Boyer
Series: Book 1 of A Liz Talbot Southern Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
ISBN: 978-1938383045

Blogroll: Beth Groundwater

Today’s Mystery Author Guest: Susan M. Boyer

As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author Susan M. Boyer is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday’s post.

The photo above is the cover for her September 18th release, Lowcountry Boil, which begins her new series with Private Investigator Liz Talbot. Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her. [Read more...]

Blogroll: Terry’s Place

Give Me A Beach by Terry Odell

Today I wel­come Susan M. Boyer to Terry’s Place. Susan is a life-long book lover and author of the Liz Tal­bot mys­tery series. She tags along with her hus­band on busi­ness trips when­ever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh cof­fee all day and cook­ies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occa­sion­ally visit.

Susan will be giv­ing away a copy of her book, LOWCOUNTRY BOIL to one lucky com­menter. Win­ner will get to choose for­mat: dig­i­tal or print. You have until Fri­day to enter.

And while Susan is here, I’m also giv­ing away a book at Just Roman­tic Sus­pense.

Like many folks, I love the beach. Give me a beach umbrella, a chair, and a book, and I am one happy camper. I used to swim in the ocean, or per­haps more accu­rately, bob around in it, and ride the waves on any­thing that would float. That was before my close encounter with a stingray.

The waters off the coast of South Car­olina have a fair amount of sand and such stir­ring around in them cour­tesy of the rivers flow­ing into the Atlantic in the vicin­ity. Dis­claimer: I’m not a sci­en­tist who stud­ies such things. This is the rea­son I’ve been given since child­hood when I ask why the water in South Car­olina isn’t as clear as south Florida and the Caribbean. This could just as eas­ily be some­thing Mamma pulled out of thin air to keep me quite. I digress. The point is, you can’t see the bottom. [Read more...]

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