Thursday, January 18, 2018

Unifying Themes - Seven Sinister Sisters Tour

We’re the Seven Sinister Sisters and we’re on a mission: Seven mystery authors; seven new releases; seven answers to a central question at each stop on our tour. The Stiletto Gang is our second stop and our question this week is…

Is there a theme underlying or unifying your books?

Cathy Perkins’ Holly Price mystery series revolves around family and loyalty. After her father cliches a midlife brain-fart and absconds with his yoga instructor, Holly agrees to temporarily return to her hometown in order to keep the family business afloat. Clients can do the damnedest things, however, making her question all relationships. With the next book in the series, In It For The Money, Holly’s cousin is the catalyst for her involvement in another murder investigation. Refusing to believe the rumors flying around the extreme sport circuit about his alleged treachery, she follows the money – another consistent theme – to find the actual villain.   

Sue Star also writes about families in chaos. Nell Letterly is a menopausal single mom, trying to raise her teenage daughter, as well as fielding well-intended interference from the rest of the family, including Gramps and Nell's fashionista, soon-to-be ex sister-in-law. They all disagree how a teenager should be raised, but as a family they have a special bond. In Murder by Moose, Nell tries to protect her family from a killer on the loose while she teaches a self-defense class at a dude ranch in the mountains. But when the going gets tough, the family always comes together to help Nell solve the mystery.  

In Biscuits and Slashed Browns—as in the series as a whole—Edith Maxwell (writing as Maddie Day) expands this family theme to community. How do friends and family rally 'round when someone is at risk or wrongly accused? How does a country store breakfast-and-lunch restaurant serve as a focal point for the community, a gathering place? In this particular book, the father of one of her protagonist's employees is accused of murder. This motivates Robbie Jordan and others in the small town of South Lick, Indiana to work together to find out who is the killer.

As with all murder mysteries, Leslie Karst’s Sally Solari culinary series concerns issues of truth and justice. Equally important, however, are themes of family and the food movement, and how the two create a conflict between Sally and her father. The Solaris are descended from one of the original Italian fishermen who arrived in Santa Cruz in the 1890s, and Sally’s dad is fiercely proud of the family’s traditional Italian seafood restaurant on the historic wharf.  When Sally inherits her aunt’s trendy restaurant, Gauguin, her father—hurt that Sally no longer wants to work at Solari’s—becomes convinced she now looks down on her family heritage.

Becky Clark takes a different tack in her new series, the Mystery Writer's Mysteries series. Officially, all the books are set in the world of a mystery author, so with Fiction Can Be Murder, she pulls back that curtain for her readers. Unofficially, her books always have the same underlying current, that of the reluctant hero. It seems she likes to explore characters who are going about their boring, normal lives when — BLAMMO — something bizarre happens to them. They're way out of their comfort zone and flounder for a while before forcing themselves to pull up their big-girl undies and fix whatever the problem is.

Returning to our recurring family theme, a few things always show up in Shawn McGuire’s work. First, relationships – whether between family members, romance, best friends, parent and child, co-workers, etc. – are a prime element to the story. Second, there’s always humor of some kind because even in the most intense situations, humor helps. Third, an element of truth or finding your path in life often shows up. Then with each book, a theme unique to that story or series will appear. With her Whispering Pines series, while she hadn’t originally planned it, religion turned out to be a strong theme.

In the first two books in the Cole & Callahan PI series, Pat Hale says religion plays an underlying role. In The Church of the Holy Child, (September 2017) the serial killer torments a priest with information on the murders, knowing he’s bound by his holy orders not to reveal what’s heard in the confessional. In Durable Goods, (April 15, 2018) young girls are drawn into a sex trade organization under the guise of coming to a religious refuge for indigent women. The sub-theme of both books considers the confines and constructs found within religious doctrine and their use for good and evil. 

Thanks so much to The Stiletto Gang and all their readers for joining our tour. We’re happy to address any comments or questions. And feel free to contact any of us through our websites. Our next stop will be January 25th with MJB Reviewers. See you there!

To celebrate our new releases, the Seven Sinister Sisters are having a giveaway!

Seven lucky winners will receive an ebook from one of us.

One GRAND PRIZE winner will receive a signed copy from each of us!

Enter to win by leaving a comment below. Our tour runs from January 6th to April 30th and we’re answering a different question at each blog. Leave a comment at each blog for more entries! We’ll draw the winner from all the combined comments at the end of our tour.
Watch our Facebook page for the next stop on the tour.


  1. Thanks so much for having us! Love your site!

  2. All of your books sound good. I want to read all of them.

  3. I see new authors to look for. Thanks.

  4. I see new authors to look for. Thanks.

  5. I enjoyed reading about your work. Juli

  6. I like books that have strong family characters, sometimes they make the best foils for the main character! Congrats on the releases, looking forward to them!