February 2012

February 12 HoTXSinC Meeting

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter


Police Chief Gordon A. Bowers (Ret.)


Property & Evidence Management

On Sunday February 12, Sisters in Crime welcomes Police Chief Gordon A. Bowers (Ret.) as our speaker.  Chief  Bowers has consulted in the areas of policy development, planning, and technical writing, and served as a partner on property and evidence management audits for numerous police departments.  During 38 years in law enforcement he progressed from reserve police officer to police chief. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees, and also graduated from the FBI National Academy (FBINA) and California Peace Officer Standards Training Command College (CA POST Command College). He is a Master Police Officer in Texas, and most recently has studied Strategic Foresight at the University of Houston.

Chief Bowers’ articles have been published in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, The Police Chief, Journal of California Law Enforcement, The Evidence Log, and POST Pacesetter. Bowers is a Past President of the International Association for Property and Evidence and has served on its Board of Directors of since 1997. For over 10 years he was editor of the IAPE professional journal, The Evidence Log.  He is a Life Member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a Charter Life Member of Police Futurists International, and the only sworn Officer in Texas with Advanced Planner Certification from the International Association of Law Enforcement Planners.

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter, meets monthly on the second Sunday of the month at 2:00 p.m. at the Westlake Barnes & Noble bookstore, located at the southeast corner of Loop 360 and Bee Cave Road, in The Village at Westlake shopping center.

For information contact Joyce Arquette, Publicity, at (512) 266-6543.


HoTXSinC Dues Due

HoTXSinC 2012 dues are (over)due. (Sisters in Crime collects dues in January.)

Bring your $20.00 2012 membership to a meeting or send them to

Sarah Ann Robertson, Membership/Treasurer
Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter
13000 Hymeadow Drive #210
Austin, Texas 78729


Book Review

Salvation Boulevard by Larry Beinhart

Review by Sharon Scarborough

Larry Beinhart’s Salvation Boulevard opens with Carl, a detective whose life has been in the gutter, in the cell of a Muslim student. The student is accused of killing an atheist college professor who has written a book about the inherent need of humans for religion. The student is defended by a Jewish lawyer.  The detective is a born-again Christian, a man rescued from alcohol and drugs by an evangelical superstar preacher, Paul Plowright. At the end of the first page Carl’s first observation is “beware of anyone with a cause.”

The lawyer has hired Carl to help prove that the Muslim student is innocent. Not too far into the book, the lawyer is killed and, in his dying scene, makes Carl promise to make sure the kid goes free.

If this sounds over-the-top—that’s because it is.

Even further into the book, it is evident that the Reverend is encouraging Carl to leave the case. There is sex, some lying, and a climactic scene of Carl and his wife confronting each other about the preacher and the murder. Their religious beliefs are tearing them apart because Carl’s wife believes in “literal” interpretation of the scripture. Carl believes that the preacher actually is a human and a sinner. Remember that admonition about “a cause.”

To Beinhart’s credit, he is trying to make the reader consider bigger issues throughout the book. I don’t know that he succeeds.

I wanted to like this book. And at points in the narrative and the dialogue, I saw where a thoughtful premise and discussion could be salvaged. I can see the message here: People can easily be misled. People of all religions are searching for faith, and that leads them to wars and other acts in the name of religion that are untenable when considered outside the realm of religion.

But here the characters are too large and too plastic. The plot is meandering, and so many concepts are stuffed in that a reader wonders if the author had a handle on the whole thing.

Finally, the book makes some readers uncomfortable. That may be where it succeeds. If it makes anyone question their beliefs and/or their politics, or even think beyond what someone else has told them, it has probably served its purpose. It has, indeed, made the point: Beware of a man with a cause.

Larry Beinhart
Nation Books, 2008
ISBN 978-1-56858-411-9

FTC Disclaimer: The reviewer was provided with a free copy of this book; however, this did not influence the review.


Book Review

Hot, Shot, and Bothered: A Lilly Hawkins Mystery

By Nora McFarland

Review by Gale Albright

Lilly Hawkins, a TV news “shooter” for KJAY in Bakersfield, California, is trapped between a blazing, out-of-control forest fire and a crackling hot murder investigation. Lilly, a stubborn, impulsive, and fiercely independent camera woman, is shooting fire footage near the scenic town of Lake Elizabeth when she spots a coroner’s van. She quits shooting and follows the van into town, despite her boss Callum’s objections. Lilly figures that someone has been killed in the blaze and wants her station to get exclusive coverage. She is disappointed when the corpse turns out to be a woman who was fished out of the lake, apparently drowned while intoxicated.

The theme of news hounds being disappointed when things are not as gruesome as they could be is a darkly humorous running joke throughout the book. Lilly and Callum wouldn’t hurt a fly but keep hoping for the worst-case scenario from a newsgathering perspective.

Lilly thinks the story isn’t newsworthy until she learns that the dead woman is Jessica Egan, a former acquaintance from Lilly’s traumatic teenage years in Lake Elizabeth. It’s an unpleasant reminder of Lilly’s rebellious, troubled youth. Back then, the police accused Jessica of vandalizing property. But even though Jessica knew that Lilly was the guilty one, she never betrayed her.  Now, years later, Lilly learns that the townspeople and Jessica’s brother Brad are bad-mouthing the dead woman, calling her a slut, drunk, druggie, and environmental nut. They still believe she is responsible for Lilly’s teenage vandalism.

This is not the Jessica that Lilly remembers. Feeling guilty for her past sins, Lilly is determined to find out what really happened. She knows that Jessica had a shoulder injury and would not have been able to start the outboard motor on the boat she borrowed on the fateful night she died.

Lilly is frustrated because her boyfriend, gorgeous TV anchor Rod Strong; Callum the TV station boss; and the entire town of Lake Elizabeth resist her efforts to find out if Jessica really was murdered. During the course of her investigation, someone tries to drown Lilly in the same spot where Jessica died, a sniper in the woods shoots at her, and the forest fire almost finishes her off.  Throw in a mad scientist and a few displaced cougars and you’ve got a firestorm of suspense and fast-paced action.

Is Jessica’s firefighter brother Greg, who seems to hate his sister, as heroic as he seems? Will Lilly’s boyfriend Rod stop fussing over her? Will Lilly allow Rod to love her? Is the lady mayor of Lake Elizabeth, Byrdie Fitzgerald, merely an ambitious politician or something more sinister?

This is a gripping thriller with frequently witty dialog. McFarland manages to throw in a lot of technical details about the daily life of a shooter without being tedious. She draws on her own experience as a former TV news camera woman in Bakersfield.

Lilly is by turns exasperating, rude, heroic, loving and impossible. You’ll want to catch her in the first Lilly Hawkins mystery, A Bad Day’s Work, and hope that McFarland is working on her next shooter mystery.

To find out more about Nora McFarland, visit www.noramcfarland.com

Nora McFarland
Simon & Schuster, Touchstone, 2011
ISBN 978-1-4391-5556-1

Disclaimer: HoTXSinC received a free review copy of this book from the publisher. Receiving the book did not influence the review.

Gale Albright is a member of HoTXSinC, a former Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writer, and a 2008 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest Winner, YA Division. She is working on a historical novel for middle grade readers and a mystery novel.


The Word on Our Members and Friends

Sylvia Dickey Smith signed at the Hill Country Book Festival in Georgetown on February 11.

Sylvia’s cookbook–Sassy Southern, Classy Cajun–has been revised and will soon be re-released.

Watch for the Sidra Smart Spring Fling: Each of the first Sidra Smart books will be re-released, followed by release of the latest in the series, The Swamp Whisperer. Sylvia “promises contests, giveaways, and lots of fun.”

At Straight from Hel, Helen Ginger offers three reasons to read her interview of Sylvia on The Blood Red Pencil.


Also on Straight from Hel, Helen Ginger reviews Robin Spano’s Death Plays Poker, the second in the Clair Vengel series, and Scott Nicholson’s thriller Chronic Fear.



Killer Nashville’s 2012 Claymore Dagger Award will be bestowed upon the author of the best beginning of an unpublished manuscript not currently under contract. Deadline for submission of up to 50 pages is June 1, 2012 (postmarked). Winner and any of ten top finalists may be offered a publishing contract. For more information, see http://www.killernashville.com/cokina20claw.html


Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, California, welcomes submissions or original works of short fiction “from lawyers (including “recovering lawyers”), judges, law students as well as non-lawyers – anyone, really with a good story to tell” for its Legal Fiction Contest. Winning entries will be published in a future issue of the Journal of Legal Education. Deadline for submissions is 6:00 p.m. PDT, March 15, 2012 (received). Rules and guidelines can be found here.


Rasana Atreya at On Getting Published, Good Books, and Living Goddesses alerts us to Poisoned Pen Press’ Discover Mystery Contest. For rules and guidelines click here. For an entry form, click here. Deadline is 11:59 p.m. (Pacific), April 30, 2012 (due).



The Lexicon Writers Conference will be held in Denton, Texas, on July 21-22. Special events will be held on July 19 and 20, and July 23 is set aside for private meetings between conference attendees. The conference “seeks to assist, promote, and educate writers and authors in all genres and fields, including fiction, non-fiction, screenplay, and graphic novel. Published and unpublished writers are invited to attend. Meet with established writers, literary agents, publishers and marketing experts to discuss your finished or unfinished manuscripts. We will also have experts in various fields to provide technical information.”


“Special Offer: The North Texas Book Festival is taking place on April 14th, 2012 in Denton, Texas. Anyone who signs up as a participant for the festival will receive a 20% discount off the admission price to the Lexicon Writers Conference. Go to www.ntbf.org for more details.”


Killer Nashville, a “conference for thriller, suspense, mystery writers, and literature lovers,” will be held August 23-26, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee. Guests of honor are New York Times bestselling authors C. J. Box, Heywood Gould, and Peter Straub. Register for attendance at the Killer Nashville website.


Jane Friedman answers the question When Do You Need to Secure Permissions?” She offers a brief explanation of Fair Use and provides a link to a more thorough discussion in  Howard Z. Zarahoff’s  “A Writer’s Guide to Fair Use” on the Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton website.


Author and attorney Leslie Budewitz addresses the question “Does police use of a GPS tracker require a warrant?” on her blog Law and Fiction. Leslie is a member of Sisters in Crime and SINC Guppies. She is the author of Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure. 

In related post, Leslie discusses “GPS tracking by P.I.s–and other characters.”

And in a another, Leslie presents “Domestic abuse: some issues for writers to consider.”


Check out the new MysteryPeople blog here.



2/18/12 @ 4:00 p.m. – Hilary Davidson speaks and signs copies of The Next One to FallMysteryPeople @ BookPeople.


2/18/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – Leonard Pierce speaks and signs If You Like the Sopranos BookPeople.

2/25/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – Joan Hess speaks and signs copies of Deader Homes and Gardens: A Claire Malloy Mystery MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.


2/29/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – Hard Word Book Club discusses Cold Shot to the Heart – MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.


3/5/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – 7% Solution Club discusses The Sherlockian – MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.


3/6/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – Tim Dorsey speaks and sign copies of Pineapple Grenade – MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.


3/18/12 @ 4:00 p.m. – Wine, Women, & Mystery: Deborah Coonts presents So Damn Lucky; Kira Peikhoff presents Living Proof – MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.


3/28/12 @ 7:00 p.m. – Hard Words Book Club discusses Nineteen Seventy-Seven – MysteryPeople @ BookPeople.


HoTXSinC 2012 Program Schedule

  • January 8 – Detective Ruben Vasquez: “Murder Investigation Step by Step”
  • February 12 – Gordon A. Bowers: “Property and Evidence Management”
  • March 11 – Durriyah Chinwalla: “Banking as You Don’t Know It, or Laughter Is the Best Medicine
  • April 8 – Easter: No Meeting
  • April 14 or 21 – Possible Workshop
  • May 20 – Barbara Burnett Smith Aspiring Writers Event


Nolo Contendere

Please send news for the March 2012 issue of HOTSHOTS! to katherine.waller68 (at) gmail.com by February 25.


As always, if you find errors or omissions in this (or any other) issue of HOTSHOTS!, please e-mail katherine.waller68 (at) gmail.com. Blogs are forgiving–I can easily make necessary changes.



Image via Wikipedia


Disclaimer: Advertising on this blog is the responsibility of WordPress and has no connection with Sisters in Crime or Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter. HoTXSinC neither approves nor recommends any products advertised here.