What An Amazing Week in LGBTQ History and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Rainbow Empire State BuildingLast week was such an amazing week for the LGBTQ community.  SCOTUS ruled on DOMA and Proposition 8, declaring DOMA unconstitutional and returning Prop 8 to the lower courts, essentially removing the opposition to gay marriages in California, marriages which resumed almost immediately following the decision.  Celebrations were countrywide, loud and joyous.  Even the President phoned to offer his congratulations on the ruling to the couple named in the suit.   True, the opposition has vowed to continue to fight equality, but that tide is turned and their efforts will ultimately be futile ones.   Some people will always continue to be clueless (see Paula Deen) about history lessons. No putting the genie back in the bottle or ushering people to the back of the bus once they have tasted equality.  To be adult about it, nuhuh, ain’t goin’ to happen, folks, so just deal! Woohooo, what a week.

In the FYI portion of the blog, I found Fynn’s F*&k You Scarf Pattern from Missouri Dalton’s The Night Shift.  You can find the pattern here, courtesy of Ravelry and Missouri Dalton.  Really, this pattern is too hysterical for words and looks great too.  Winston is doing great in his adjustment to the household and other dogs, almost seamless.  He is a joy for all of us.  New books are arriving in the Bellingham Mysteries series from Nicole Kimberling (Loose id) and the Recon Diaries series by Kendall McKenna, so look for book giveaways soon.

It’s been a soggy, humid week around here, with fireworks going off willy nilly it seems at local jurisdictions seemed to have planned Fourth of July celebrations anywhere but on the fourth.  Let me tell you, my dogs are  not happy about that! Sigh.

So here is the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, July 1:                      Scattered Thoughts June Book Review Summary

Tuesday, July 2:                     The Curtis Reincarnation by Zathyn Priest

Wed., July 3:                           Birds of a Feather by Nicole Kimberling

Thursday, July 4:                   Son of a Gun by A.M. Riley

Friday, July 5:                         Bully for You by Catt Ford

Sat, July 6:                               Pickup Men by L.C. Chase

American Flag CocktailAnd here is a Fourth of July cocktail recipe for you to enjoy.  Happy Fourth of July in advance!

American Flag Cocktail:

American Flag drink recipe made with Blue Curacao,Creme de Cacao,Grenadine,. How to make a American Flag with all the instructions and ingredients.
Recipe Rating: 4.6 stars based on 13 votes
Ingredients to use:
0.33 oz Blue Curacao
0.33 oz Creme de Cacao
0.33 oz Grenadine
Directions:
Mix together with crushed ice in a glass and garnish with mint leaves

For more Fourth of July cocktail recipes, visit this site.

Why A Series Can Make My Heart Sing!

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It’s no secret that I love books and always have.  From my earliest memories of listening to someone read to me then transitioning to being old enough to pick up a book myself to while away the time. When I was younger, my family moved around every couple of years or more as my father’s job was to evaluate school systems. While not a hardship, it’s not conducive to the young who find it hard to leave friends and special places behind again and again.  As I got older and the moving proved more stressful, I turned to books for companionship.  Books, never far from me from birth (a given with parents as educators), became my constant companions. They became my escape from reality, an acceptable form of “invisible friend”, my Harvey. I was lucky in that one of my uncles, a great uncle really, worked at Charles Scribner’s & Sons. Uncle Wade sent us boxes of books of all types and genres, most of which were too old for me (Frank Yerby, really?) and that created its own special allure, to be old enough to read all those  books!  A new goal and easily fed addiction formed early in life – I was seven by then.

Have I said that books fascinate me? It was always just a matter of minutes before I lost myself in an author’s special universe. Their characters jumped to life on their pages waving swords or crawling through tunnels, the places they created became worlds whose paths I wished to tread and on whose seas I wished to voyage. Don’t you remember picking up a book and starting to read, and thinking please, please, never let it end?  That was me, out in the woods or under a blanket in bed, book in hand, eyes shut tight and wishing with all my might for a magic wand and horses with wings.

With some books, just one book is sufficient to satisfy your need for the world the author created.  You read it and are happy to have visited there.  They were great hosts, told you a marvelous story and fed you a meal that left you full if not completely replenished. When it came time to take your leave,you wished those characters well and felt that while you have enjoyed the visit other destinations were calling and you must be off. My Friend Flicka was one. Treasure Island was another.  So was Old Yeller, Dahlgren and National Velvet and hoards of nameless books of my youth. But then there are those books whose characters became friends or heros, the worlds they lived in were places I yearned to go, each and every element necessary and magical to me at the time. Those stories had multiple books called a series! From the mundane to the mystical, I gobbled up series with all the ardor and fervor of a zealot.

For me a series meant never having to leave your favorite characters behind or the universe they inhabited.  After you finished one story, you could look forward to a new adventure, a new challenge or a new journey taken with the same beloved people/beings you met in the first book.  Sometimes the characters stayed the same, they lived in their old house, had the same friends and stayed the same age.  I am thinking Nancy Drew here with Beth, George and Ned.  And sometimes the characters grew up like those in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.  But whatever the shape the narrative took, I knew that I would be visiting a familiar place but with unknown consequences. Oh the anticipation, the agony, the  time I spent daydreaming about what was to come next for my heros (of all genders and species).

Whether it was L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings , book series have been my affordable addiction. Not possible to own a herd of horses in a suburban backyard? Let’s substitute dragons for horses and scarf up Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. My parents inform me that we are southbound, going to visit the relatives again this summer. My first reaction? OK, second reaction? Hide all of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books in my suitcase to pull out at the cousins first suggestion to Dippity Do my hair and head out to the Dairy Queen. Series after series, genre after genre, my addiction grew and my bookshelves groaned.

Has my addiction to series dwindled as I have aged? Not on your life! Don’t look at me like that!  I know you have been there along with me. Haven’t you ever reached the end of a book that has kept you mesmerized from word one and wanted to scream out ‘Noooooooo, I don’t want it to end”?  Or had the characters in the latest book you were reading seem so real that the last sentence of the epilogue left you feeling bereft? Or maybe the world that came alive in between the pages was so vivid that you could smell the alien air and feel the magic in the landscape?   It still happens to me at 2 or 3 am in the morning (just like always) when I come to the end of a gripping saga I started earlier that day and never put down.  I scramble to get back to the pages in front and then in the back to see what else the author has written. If stymied, and who wouldn’t be  at that time of the morning, I turn on the computer (ok this part is new) and check for updates at their publishers or websites, never mind the dogs glaring at me because I have disturbed their sleep.  And when my search turns up that the book is a part of a series? Well, let’s just say I give the ol’ Rebel Yell a run for its money and make my Celtic ancestors proud!

Some of my favorite series?  Hard to separate them out as I have so many in different genre’s.  Mystery authors make it easy for me.  Love you Martha Grimes and Inspector Jury, same to you, P.D. James and Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, and on right to up Sarah Paretsky and her female private eye, V I Warshawski and Stieg Larsson and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Once a mystery author creates a character, a series is sure to follow.  Authors of the supernatural and fantasy are much the same.  Look at Laurell K Hamilton and Anita Blake.  Hit List is the 20th Anita Blake novel.  Or Terry Pratchett and his Disc World series that is comprised of 33 novels.  That could be a little daunting if not for the treasure that is Disc world.

Sooooo, where was I? Oh yes, my love for book series.  Today with the advent of eReaders and ePublishing, the novel and book series has never been more popular.  Especially with my m/m fiction, I have so many favorite series that I hardly know where to start.  Perhaps I will start with a series I began my m/m journey with.  That would be Carol Lynne’s Cattle Valley series, still going strong today at book no. 27. I love  Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English series and Kate Steele’s Bond of the Maleri books. Can’t go wrong there.  I would wave Jet Mykles Heaven Sent series at you, can’t miss those! Or JL Langley’s With or Without series with her wolf shifters that are so hot and memorable. So many that I need to start a list.  And just look at the books I have reviewed lately.  Some of my must read series are among them: Cut and Run from Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux (now just written by Roux), Infected by Andrea Speed (I groan just thinking about Roan – snicker), the Lost Gods series by Megan Derr, the Cambridge Fellows books by Charlie Cochrane, Katey Hawthorne’s Superpowered Love series and so many more.  I feel like one of those people at an awards show with a never ending list.  I could go on and on and on while a guy in the wings gives me the signal to shut up.

So here I am all these years later and nothing has changed.  OK, yes some things have changed.  Sheesh! You think you would let a girl get by with some things…but my love of books and a series of books?  Never.  A great series still fills me with excitement and the expectation of wonderful surprises just on the horizon.  I look forward to each new twist and turn the author can think up and that I never saw coming.  I can’t wait for the paths unexplored and the roads not yet taken by characters I love on worlds new and known.  And  that is why a series makes my heart sing.

Small list of my favorite series in no particular order and yes I know I left a lot out.  Please send us your favorites:

M/M Series (3 or more books):

Promised Rock series by Amy Lane
Lost Gods series by Megan Derr (fantasy)
Conquest series (rockers) by S. J. Frost
Heaven Sent by Jet Mykles (rockers)
Adrien English Mystery series by Josh Lanyon contemporary
Cut and Run by Urban and Roux, now just Abigall Roux – contemporary
Infected series by Andrea Speed (science fiction)
Sanctuary series by RJ Scott action/adventure
Faith, Love, and Devotion series by Tere Michaels contemporary
St. Nachos series by Z.A. Maxfield contemporary
Cattle Valley by Carol Lynne cowboys contemporary
With or Without series (shifters) by JL Langley
Sci Regency series by JL Langley
Cambridge Fellows series by Charlie Cochrane
A Matter of Time series by Mary Calmes
Warder series by Mary Calmes
Home series by TC Chase
Superpowered Love series by Katey Hawthorne

and all the series I have written about this week, Infected, Cambridge Fellows, Lost Gods, Dance with the Devil, The Sanctuary series…..

Bellingham Mysteries series by Nicole Kimberling  – last day to make a comment and be entered into the book giveaway contest for Primal Red.

Review of the Bellingham Mystery Series by Nicole Kimberling

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I  first became acquainted with the small township of Bellingham, Washington and it’s excentric collection of inhabitants in 2009.  That’s when Primal Red was first published and Nicole Kimberling introduced us to Peter Fontaine, intrepid reporter for The Bellingham Hamster, reclusive painter Nick Olsen, Peter’s best friend found object artist Evangeline and her stoner boyfriend, Tommy. In each book, Peter Fontaine investigates a mystery with all the enthusiasm and determination of an Edward R. Murrows (his idol) and with the assistance of some of the quirky new age/back to the earth/greenie inhabitants of the City of Subdued Excitement also known as Bellingham. Peter’s forays for clues and evidence often puts him and others around him in danger, at times keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.

Along with some wonderful mysteries, we get Peter’s idiosyncratic inner monologue which is a absolute delight. Whether Peter is racing down the streets of Bellingham on his bike (his preferred method of locomotion) or sitting at his desk at The Hamster, he is constantly composing either paragraphs for a book or a column for the newspaper.  His thoughts vary from the whimsical to the sarcastic but are always entertaining. Here is an example from the latest book in the series:

“From the Turgid and Tempestuous Chronicles of the Castle at Wildcat Cove: On a stormy Friday evening in April, in the year of our Lord 2011, Evangeline Conklin (sometime found-object artist and all-time best friend of Peter Fontaine) approached the cliffside residence that Fontaine shared with artist Nick Olson. Evangeline’s long curling hair, plaited with dozens of ribbons of astonishing variety, now hung bedraggled by rain and wind and dripped water on the entry mat as she exclaimed, “Thank God you’re home. I really need a favor!”

Peter and Nick first meet in Primal Red and their relationship deepens and matures with each book, in conjunction with the investigation of a mystery as more of Nick’s mysterious history is revealed to Peter and the reader. I love this slowly building of a relationship that is full of hesitation, fear of commitment, love and the necessary adjustments a person makes to accommodate the one they love.  Nicole Kimberling does a great job with all her characters but Peter and Nick hold a special place in my heart. Both men with their diverse backgrounds love their town and the people that live there.  Whether its townfolk search for the mystical, the best ceramic glaze or the finest method of composting, tolerance and acceptance is the key foundation of those who live within its boundaries. In each book I also learn something new about a topic the author is either invested in (beekeeping) or interested in.  I love this element as well as her characters and find the time I spend within the covers of her books one of enjoyment and satisfaction.  I understand Kimberling is going to write another in the series.  I hope so as I can’t wait to visit again in the City of Subdued Excitement!

Nicole Kimberling is giving away a copy of Primal Red (I love that cover).  To enter, please leave a comment with your email address.  A name will be selected late today and the name announced on Sunday.

The BELLINGHAM MYSTERIES Series in the order they were written and should be read in order to better understand the characters, their history and their town of Bellingham:

Primal Red, Bellingham Mystery #1:   4.5 star rating. Peter Fontaine is a reporter with a local free newspaper with a knack of falling right into a story or in this case being in the thick of things. Peter just happens to be on the premises when Shelley Vine, local art professor and rising star of the art world, is stabbed to death in the Vitamilk Building, an historical edifice now housing artists of all media.  Also renting out studio space is reclusive artist Nick Olsen, an enigmatic man Peter finds himself attracted to.  Peter hopes his investigation into Vine’s death propels his career as an investigative reporter forward into the ranks of writers he admires.  But the deeper Peter investigates into Vine’s  past, the more connections he finds with all of the artists in the building, including Nick Olsen.  But nothing will stop Peter from finding out the truth, even if it means the arrest of Nick. This is a wonderful introduction to the very earliest beginnings of the partnership of Nick and Peter.  Peter is also just starting out his career as a journalist and pursues this case with all the eagerness of a first time reporter on the loose.  Loved it.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside, Bellingham Mystery #2: 4.5 star rating. Small town reporter, Peter Fontaine is in the middle of a personal crisis.  He is turning 30 and upon receiving a job offer from a prodigious newspaper in Austin is reexamining his life.  His boyfriend Nick Olson, artist, recluse, and snow-loving outdoorsman, is firmly based on the Northwest, specifically Bellingham, and going to Austin might mean leaving Nick behind.  When Nick and his cousin enter Freezing Man snow sculpture competition, Peter accompanies him, hoping for answers and another column for The Hamster.  Before he can tell Nick of his job offer, they come across a frozen corpse inside one of the competition snow sculptures and the race is on to find a murderer before the contest is over.  This is one of my favorite books of the series.  Peter is forced to examine the state of his relationship with Nick as well take a hard look at his ambitions as a reporter.  More of Nick’s background is also revealed and we get to see what contributed to his character’s reclusive nature.

Black Cat Ink, Bellingham Mystery #3: 4.25 stars. It’s Halloween, Nick and Peter’s favorite holiday and time to host their famous Halloween party.  But first Peter and Nick must first recover a stolen statue from the local museum, a theft made all the more interesting as its sculptor was Nick’s deceased lover.  To find the statue and discover the identity of the thief, Peter must look into Nick’s background for the answer, something Nick is not comfortable Peter doing.  And then black cats start disappearing and a goat is stolen.  As the mysteries pile up, Peter is going to have to work overtime to solve all the mysteries before Halloween, their party and his new slutty nurse costume can make its debut! What is an intrepid reporter to do?  A fun outing that turns serious at points as Peter and Nick’s relationship moves forward towards a level of commitment that Peter has just now understood that he wants.

One Man’s Treasure, Bellingham Mystery #4: 4.5 stars.  When Evangeline begs a favor from Nick and Peter, they end up assisting at her booth at the Bellingham Farmers Market just in time to see Nick’s friend and fellow ceramic artist, collapse at the booth.  When they learn that Roger died at the hospital and the cause of death was poisoning, both Peter and Nick investigate Roger’s background and the motives of those around him. For Nick, watching Peter put himself at risk once more for a story, makes him wonder at Peter’s commitment to their relationship.  For Peter, it has been 4 wonderful years since they first met.  They live together, have a cat, and Peter’s columns have brought him several awards. Yet, his boundless curiosity in search of a story and bad habit of throwing himself into dangeroussituations once again threaten the stability of his relationship.  Peter must figure out where he priorities lie even as he searches for a killer at the Green Goddess Farms and Farmers Market.

April Martinez is the cover artist for all the covers and does a nice job with the graphics but none of the designs really speaks to the stories within.

Author Spotlight: Nicole Kimberling and Book Giveaway!

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I first happened upon Nicole Kimberling when I read Primal Red, the first in the Bellingham Mysteries series.  From the very first sentence, I sensed the author’s deep connection to her story’s setting and it’s quirky, oddball cast of characters. Bellingham, Washington emerges as a character all its own in the Bellingham Mysteries series as the author’s love and respect for her town and it’s idiosyncrasies  flows through each storyline.  Through Peter Fontaine, steadfast reporter for The Bellinghamster aka The Hamster, the author gives us a character able to reflect on his town many foibles from the new agers to the niche farmers, the arty set to the druids and everything in between.  Sometimes it’s with humor, sometimes exasperation, a tiny bit of sarcasm, but mostly Peter investigates and meddles with the non-judgmental fondness of someone who loves and appreciates his town and its people.

Nicole Kimblerling’s writing brings her Bellingham into our lives, complete with realistic characters that embed themselves in your heart and mind. I can’t begin to tell you how often I laughed out loud over the antics of Peter or Evangeline or Peter’s editor, Doug Bowles. Nick, Peter’s boyfriend is far too Nordic for the laugh out loud moments but serves as a needed balance for the hijinks and tomfoolery the others are capable of.

Then there is the many subjects that come up during the course of each mystery.  One time it was the plein air artists, another ceramic forgery, and during One Man’s Treasure, it was beekeeping and mushroom poisons.  She always sends me rushing to further research a subject she has included in her plots that adds another wonderfully authentic layer to her storyline.  It’s marvelous and it fills me with anticipation to see what the next novel in the series brings.

I contacted Nicole Kimberling to talk about herself and her writing and the many elements she brings to her books. And this was her reply to my question about the inclusion of the arts in her mysteries:

“Well, I guess I would say that the reason the arts figure so heavily

in the Bellingham Mysteries is that my wife is an artist so I have had
the good luck to have an expert on the visual arts on hand when I need
to know technical details about paint or clay or counterfeiting. And,
of course, I’ve gone to a lot of openings and gallery shows for her
and for her associates so I’ve met a lot of quirky, real-life
characters.

The same goes for the characters in the Farmer’s Market. I actually
worked last season there, selling sandwiches, rain, wind and shine and
so I got a lot of first-hand experience with the culture of the market
and of the local organic farmers here in Whatcom county.

Because I live here, I’m constantly discovering new facets of the city
and new slices of society–more than I think I’ll ever be able to fit
into the stories. There are the illegal mountain bike trail builders,
the rustic folk musicians, the unschoolers, the gamers. And then there
are the institutions, like the bible software company that basically
owns two whole city blocks downtown, the Humane Society, the Alternate
Humane Society, the Alternate Alternate Humane Society… The town is
rich with unexplored weirdness.”

Thanks, Nicole.  And yes, that does explain so much about Bellingham and its importance in your writing.

Nicole has generously donated a copy of her book, Primal Red, to be given away during series week.  To enter the contest, send me your name, email address and  your favorite m/m series.  I will pick a winner on Sunday.
Nicole Kimberling’s website: http://www.nicolekimberling.com

Nicole Kimberling lives in Bellingham, Washington with her wife, Dawn Kimberling, two bad cats and approximately 100,000 bees. Her novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror.

Books by Nicole Kimberling (available at Loose id, Amazon, All Romance):

Primal Red (Bellingham Mysteries #1)

Baby, It’s Cold Outside (Bellingham Mysteries #2)

Black Cat Ink (Bellingham Mysteries #3)

One Man’s Treasure (Bellingham Mysteries #4)

Turnskin

Hell Cop Anthology #1

Hell Cop Anthology #2

Irregulars Anthology

It’s Series Week at Scattered Thoughts and Our First Book Giveaway!

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This week is series week here at Scattered Thoughts… and Joyfully Jay.  JJ and hubby were hurrying off to Scotland to celebrate their 40th birthdays (yep, won’t see that one again) and 15 years of marriage (not this one either) and wanted to know if Sammy and I had anything we wanted to write about.  Well, little love pandas, I have been reading some outstanding series and loving on the fact that my journey with each cast of characters would not be stopped short at one book! And as my mind wandered over the various landscapes and emotional terrains of those series, a little LED light went off in my head, I waved my hand and piped up “Series!  I want to write about how I love series!”  Sammy and JJ both had favorites series too, everyone got excited and so the idea of series week was born.

So what an exciting week ahead here in Maryland to offset the return of 100 degree temperatures and humidity that would not be out of place in the Congo!  I will be talking about why I love a series,  I am listing my favorite series and favorite series covers. I thought about listing my all time worst series but hey we are not about negativity here, at least this week.  There are author spotlights and our first ever book giveaway!  Nicole Kimberling will be giving away a copy of Primal Red, the first in the Bellingham Mysteries series being reviewed this week!  So watch out for her Author Spotlight and the series review.  Make a comment and I will choose a winner by the end of the week!

So here it is, my sweet baboos, the schedule for Series  Week!:

Monday:                               Series I Am Excited About (And Still Reading)

Tuesday:                              Favorite Series and  Series Book Covers

Wednesday:                        Series Spotlight:  The Warder Series by Mary Calmes

Thursday:                           Author Spotlight:  Nicole Kimberling

Friday:                                 Series Spotlight: The Bellingham Mysteries Series by Nicole Kimberling

Saturday:                             Why A Series Makes My Heart Sing!

Also stop by Joyfully Jay this week.  Check out the authors and series reviewed there.  She is having book giveaways from Ava March and Katey Hawthorne! Woohoo.  Love both of those authors and their books so  you can’t go wrong.

Here is another great summer cocktail recipe in our battle against the summer heat and doldrums:

The French 75:

Ingredients:

1 lemon
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) gin
1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) simple syrup
1 cup ice cubes
1/4 cup (2 ounces) dry sparkling wine, such as brut Champagne, chilled

 

 

 

Preparation:

Using zester or paring knife, slice peel from lemon in long, thin spiral. Reserve lemon for another use and set peel aside.
In cocktail shaker, combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into chilled Champagne flute and top with sparkling wine.
Curl lemon peel around finger to create twist at least 6 inches long. Garnish drink with twist and serve immediately.

Review of One Man’s Treasure, Bellingham Mysteries #4 by Nicole Kimberling

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Rating: 4.25

Peter Fontaine, intrepid reporter for The Bellinghamster, and his long suffering artist partner Nick Olson are back again in another mystery  set in the City of Subdued Excitement, Bellingham, Washington.  Along for the ride are their many quixotic friends and outlandish acquaintances we have gotten to know over the last three mysteries . This time around, Peter and partner nee boyfriend Nick have been strongarmed by Peter’s BFF Evangeline Conklin, sometime found object artist, into helping out at her Go Go Gyoza stall at The Farmers Market on Earth Day.  Normally her stoner boyfriend, Tommy, would be helping out but the Farmers Market Association talked Tommy into wearing the Spunky the Squirrel costume and participating in the ecoterrorist play put on to benefit the Whatcom Emergency Farm Fund,  Ergo, Nick and Peter’s assistance is required.

As Peter manages the front of the booth, Nick and Evangeline are busy producing her gourmet gyozas (with fillings both traditional and experimental) to the rain soaked and quickly dwindling crowd.  Roger Hager, famous ceramics artist and old friend of Nick’s, had ambled over from his stall across from theirs earlier in the morning to sample the gyozas and pass the time with Nick.  In fact he had pretty much abandoned his booth and taken up permanent residence next to Nick as they chatted the morning away.  But then Roger starts coughing and  doubles over in pain. Peter calls for an EMT and ambulance who whisk Roger away to the hospital too late to save him.

A casual inquiry by Peter as to the cause of death  boosts his always present curiosity into the determined stage of inquisitiveness that Nick has come to know and dread.  Roger has been poisoned and all roads lead to the Green Goddess farms.  Peter’s previous investigations have always put him and others into life-threatening situations and Nick expects it to happen again.  They really need to have a little talk about Peter and his impulses, that is if the murderer doesn’t get them first.

With One Man’s Treasure, Nicole Kimberling once again embroils us into that damp, politically correct world of Peter and Nick in Whatcom County, Washington.  With Peter as her snarky Diogenes, Nicole Kimberling gently pokes fun at the new age/old hippie/green lifestyle that taken root in Washington state and the northwest coast.  Whether it is the Spinnin Wimmen comprised of women named Luna and Cinderella, to Roger’s wake where pottery students and mourners are asked to turn Roger’s ashes into ceramic pots, Nicole Kimberling gets the flavor of the town and its citizens just right.  Her descriptions and characterizations are perfectly spot on, delighting us with new fully realized characters and tidbits of esoteric information about ceramic glazes to toxins derived from the Zigadenus species known as death camus.   The author’s fondness for the area and its inhabitants never interferes with the clarity with which she sees them all.

I have followed Peter and Nick’s relationship from the very beginning.  They met during a murder mystery in Primal Red, our first introduction to Bellingham, Washington, and its quirky denizens.  It was a rough start for both of them, but still they had managed a date and more by the end. Baby, It’s Cold Outside finds Peter and Nick involved in a monogamous relationship and we start learning more about Peter, his family, and Kjell,the plein air artist that is Nick’s cousin.  Both men are dealing with their emotions, Peter is turning 30 amidst a midlife crisis, and decisions need to be made about their deepening relationship. By the time we get to Black Cat Ink, Bellingham Mysteries #3, Peter and Nick are living together in The Castle and still working on their relationship issues and Peter’s impulses while tracking down a stolen statue in time for Halloween.

In each book, Peter and Nick’s relationship progresses realistically, with its hitches and misfires.  Nick Olson’s nordic stoicism contrasts  beautifully with Peter’s emotionally inquisitive outlook but not always in a manner conducive to maintaining the relationship.  At the end of Black Cat Ink, the Fontaine/Olson household had acquired a black kitten, and Peter some maturity in acknowledging that his methods often harmed more than helped his relationship with Nick. And Nick had obtained a promise of sorts that Peter would think before he rushed into action because they both wanted a long future together.

And here we come to my one and only quibble with this installment in the Bellingham Mysteries and partnership of Fontaine/Olson. Yes, yes, I know some will say the murderer was easy to spot.  While that may be true, it is always the how and the why and not the who that I enjoy about the Bellingham Mysteries.  But let’s get back to the relationship at hand. The two have been making strides in settling down, Peter’s over his insecurity at remaining at The Hamster as his local newspaper is fondly called, and Nick becoming more comfortable at pdas.  When a murder happens (my expectations always run high at methods the murderer will use), Peter’s inherent nosiness is on alert.  No one, including Nick and this reader, expects that to ever change.  As Peter snoops around their community, with Nick’s assistance in this case, I start thinking “aha, Peter is not going this alone as promised.  Good one.” But alas, that is not to be.  Even as Nick proposes and they enter into a “kinda married domestic partnership”, Peter’s old habits rise up at the end, his promise to Nick forgotten as he confronts the murderer in a spectacularly stupid fashion. I was so amazed at both his stupidity and the fact that he put someone close to him in harms way. I was still irritated at the character hours later. Oh yes, I know Nick’s resigned to Peter’s methods, Peter knows he’s screwed up again(but doesn’t really apologize) and I just wanted to throttle him.   Not the way I wanted to end this book.  Or my relationship with Peter, Nick, and the Bellingham tatterdemalions.

So I am hoping for a 5th book in this series and for Peter to gain some long overdue maturity.  Nick deserves better. As does their readers.  This reader continues to be very fond of the both of them.

Here are the books in order:

Primal Red, Bellingham Mysteries #1

Baby, It’s Cold Outside, Bellingham Mysteries #2

Black Cat Ink, Bellingham Mysteries, #3

One Man’s Treasure, Bellingham Mysteries, #4

All available at Loose – id, Amazon, and ARe.

Cover:  I have loved all the covers of this series.  All are by April Martinez.  Just perfection in tone, graphics and font.  Well done.