"In the Key of 13": An Anthology of Music and Murder By Mesdames of Mayhem: Review/Giveaway

by Cynthia Chow

We are doing only ebook giveaways this week in honor of Earth Day. Details on how to win an ebook copy of this book at the end of the review and links to purchase it.

In this fourth anthology featuring short stories by nineteen Canadian-based authors, music and murder take center stage as they inspire tales of human vulnerability, depravity, and compassion. These short stories are perfect for whiling away stressful confinement through their compelling plots that quickly draw focus and propel readers towards twisty and creative conclusions.

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Image Source Carrick Publishing
In Caro Soles’s The Moonlight Sonata, a young pianist takes competition to fatal new heights, while A Contrapuntal Duet by Blair Keetch has a deadly duo in sync with their lethal intentions. The funeral of the King in 1977 has Rosemary McCracken’s Elvis-fanatics venturing from Canada to Memphis in order to honor their idol, although one of them plans to use it as a cover to start a new life. Anyone who has never correctly sang the lyrics to a song will relate to Lisa de Nikolits’s Hit Me with Your Pet Shark, although the clever twists on words hide a far darker plot by a young woman lured in by an appealing, attractive couple. Jane Petersen Burfield’s Requiem deserves its nomination for a 2005 Bony Pete Award, where a dentist is tempted to merit out justice twenty years later, only to discover that he is not the only one with revenge on his mind.

The tragedies of WWII are brought to the forefront in Kevin P. Thornton’s Under the Lamplight, while international spies and their deceptions are central to Marilyn Kay’s The Perfume. The anthology veers towards the paranormal in Soul Behind the Face, where author Madona Skaff’s fraudulent psychic discovers an unexpected ability to communicate with the dead in order to solve a murder and serve out justice for the victim. Librarians are no strangers to odd, and often gross, objects being used as bookmarks in their collection, but Catherine Dunphy’s geeky library IT specialist finds not just a valuable music-hits list hidden away in a returned book, she finds a body on the library doorsteps. Squabbles over an inheritance and a much-detested stepmother are the focus of M.H. Callway’s Brainworm, while a family escapes the detestable patriarch of Melodie Campbell’s Death of a Cheapskate as a result of his own penny-pinching obsessions. One wouldn’t think that art-fraud could be interwoven into tales of musical intrigue, but Rosemary Aubert’s scammer in The Beethoven Disaster steers towards his own darkly comical ruin when he overreaches and enlists an artist to copy a priceless musical composition. Perhaps the most unique tale of these nineteen short stories is Rosaline Place’s Bad Vibrations, where a community orchestra’s instruments are the ones who not only narrate portions of the story, they take homicidal action to improve their performances.

One of the coziest and laugh-filled tales is Lynne Murphy’s Let the Sunshine In, which has a senior pressured into going undercover in an assisted living facility after a number of complainers meet their ends rather prematurely. Readers will quickly be brought back to the twisted and ominous Gentle Rain from Heaven, where Catherine Astolfo’s seemingly compassionate nurse hides her own dark intentions. The theme of music is never stronger than in Sylvia Maultash Warsh’s None Shall Sleep, which sees thirty years passing before a wedding gown designer gets her revenge upon the Russian officer who brutalized her and stole her voice. Veering away from the opera and into Rock and Roll territory is Donna Carrick’s Solace in D Minor, where the daughter of a rock star is led astray by love but finds her way back through melodies. Ed Piwowarczyk’s noir The Ballad of Will Robinson finds that love and a valuable LP collection do not mix, delivering a conclusion that is both ironic and a tribute to music collectors. This anthology would not be complete without a musical tribute of its own, cleverly delivered in Cheryl Freedman’s I am the Very Model of a Modern Mystery Scribble’er that is her parody and appreciation of the Pirates of Penzance.

By including such diverse styles of short stories - cozy, noir, espionage, or historical are but a few - readers will be introduced to genres they might not normally pursue. That would be a loss, as these talented authors all deliver their own unique and highly entertaining tales inspired by the combination of music and murder. There is something for every reader in this collection, which hits all the right notes and should inspire fans to seek out the three other equally impressive anthologies.

To enter to win an ebook copy of In the Key of 13: An Anthology of Music and Murder
By Mesdames of Mayhem, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "key 13,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 25, 2020. U.S. residents only and you must be at least 18 to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our mystery podcast featuring mystery short stories and first chapters read by actors. A new episode went up this week!

You can use these links to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Sounds like a good anthology! Count me in!

  2. This sounds really good! Legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

  3. Sound like another great anthology. Thanks for the chance.


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