One of the best things about attending writers’ conferences is the chance to meet new writers and learn of their work before anybody else does. At Deadly Ink I got to know Peggy Ehrhart, a charming Jersey girl who used to teach English but now mostly writes fiction and plays guitar. She has written a mystery that didn’t at first look like my kind of book but held a few surprises.

The book, “Sweet Man Gone” is a traditional mystery featuring amateur sleuth Maxx Maxwell. If you’re a blues fan you know the book has a musical theme, since the title is a gentle homage to the Muddy Waters tune, “Who’s Gonna Be Your Sweet Man When I’m Gone.” As it turns out, Maxx is a blues singer in a band on the high road to success before their guitarist takes a header from his New York apartment window. The threat to the band’s future gives her good reason to investigate this apparent suicide.

It’s not QUITE a cozy, although it has most of the elements. Still, it hooks you with the great characters and a protagonist you can’t help but fall in love with. And as a music lover, I enjoyed the blues based setting populated with Manhattan bar bands. But of course the most important part was finding a good, solid, character driven mystery plot riding on that background theme music.

Like I said, I got to see it early thanks to an Advance Readers Copy Peggy was kind enough to give me. The book is still a few days from release, but it’s not too soon to pre-order your copy, and I highly recommend that you do that right away.

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