Thursday, May 1, 2014

Goddess Fish Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway for the Maggie Ryan Mystery Series by P.M. Carlson

Welcome to my stop on the Maggie Ryan Mystery Series Virtual Book Tour presented by Goddess Fish Promotions.  Today’s stop will feature author P.M. Carlson’s Murder is Pathological.  Please leave a comment or question for P.M. to let her know you stopped by.  You can enter her tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  You can also follow the rest of her tour here, the more stops you visit, the better your odds of winning.

 Me:  What category of mystery does your series fall into?

P.M.:  The plots are traditional, fair-play plots; the setting is recent history (Vietnam-era).  So historical-traditional is a good category.

Of course other ways of sorting mysteries can be applied.  As a psychologist I’m really interested in the characters and their motivations, in the many ways people may react to problems in their lives.  The main characters, Maggie and Nick, share a sense of humor and a delight in playing pranks, but at heart they are serious about helping people in trouble and making our world a little better.  So even though there are funny moments and wisecracks, the books are not comic mysteries.  As in real life, the jokes often mask deeper feelings.

Themes and physical settings vary across the series, so some of the individual books could show up on lists such as “academic mysteries” or “domestic mysteries” or “New York mysteries.”

Me:  Where do you write?
P.M.:  Victorian houses have lots of nice nooks for reading and writing, but I benefit from routine, so most of my first drafts are written at the same desk in an upstairs room decorated with Maya weaving.  Another place I like to write (if the weather is good) is sitting by the creek that runs past our backyard.  I also do a lot of travelling, and have learned to write on the bus when needed.

Me:  What advice can you offer aspiring mystery writers?

P.M.:  Techniques of plotting, writing characters, dialogue, etc. can and should be studied.  But in the end, most readers (and agents) are most interested in hearing your personal storytelling voice, the unique ways you choose what to tell and how to talk about it.  So learn the techniques, but use them to sharpen–– not dull–– your special personal voice.

Me:  What’s next for you?
P.M.: I’m roughing out another mystery right now.  The detective is a young Maya woman who was adopted from Guatemala as a war-traumatized four-year-old and is well on her way to PhD in biology from a university in Brooklyn.  She gets the opportunity to study the mountain ecology of Guatemala.  That little country is gorgeous, full of beautiful mountains and jungles, fantastic creatures, and amazing ruined temples,.  It’s also racked by a recent civil war, economic injustice, and drug conflicts.  So  my biologist will encounter plenty of crime as well as plenty of questions about her personal background.

Murder is Pathological (Maggie Ryan 1969)
By P.M. Carlson
Maggie Ryan and Nick O’Connor Mystery, Book 3

Publisher: The Mystery Company
Release Date: April 29, 2013
Genre: Mystery
Length: 214 Pages
ISBN:  978-1932325270

Buy Links:  Amazon | B&N | The Mystery Company

About the book: 

The exploding wastebasket is a prank, but slaughtered lab rats have graduate student Maggie Ryan, Monica Bauer and the rest of the lab on edge. When the custodian is murdered, actor Nick O'Connor goes undercover to investigate, help that Maggie does not appreciate-- or does she? While Nick and Maggie search for the killer, Monica struggles to connect with a veteran who was shot in the head in Vietnam.

About MURDER IS PATHOLOGICAL (Maggie Ryan 1969)

"[Carlson's] work offers a unique combination of empathy for her characters, her sense of history, and her ability to weave the social and political currents of the '60s and early '70s into the stories." –– The Drood Review of Mystery

"The vandal is elusive. When at last the mystery is solved, the conclusion is stunning."––The Armchair Detective


Actor Nick O’Connor goes undercover as neurology lab janitor, 1969.

          Nick tried to relax, but his mind kept gnawing at problems.  The troubling fate of the man whose bed he now occupied.  The welcome Maggie had given him, and the abrupt rejection.  He had to find out why.

          Was he really any better off now than he had been this morning, as her friend?  Their feelings were in the open now; that was a step forward.  And, forced to choose between banishing him by exposing his disguise, or allowing him to help search for the truth about  Norman’s death from this peculiarly useful position, she had chosen to let him help.  Things  could–– maybe–– come to a happier resolution than the one this afternoon.

          They’d better, he thought, to make up for these weeks of cleaning up rat shit.

          Like all buildings at night, the lab made its own secret noises.  A steady hum, probably the air supply.  Overlaid on that, little creaks and rustlings.  Made sense, the building was filled with mice and rats, hundreds of tiny intelligences.  Nocturnal animals, at least wild ones were.  Maybe these tame ones were also at their peak now.  Unlike Nick, who was thoroughly groggy.  Through a crack in the curtains, he could see scattered stars against the velvety country sky.  The weather had cleared, except for little, smudgy clouds blowing across part of the sky.  The stars came and went behind them.  Odd.  He flicked the curtains a little further apart, and realized what was happening.  The smoke from this building was drifting on the light wind.  The incinerator.

          God, thought Nick, I’m sleeping in a crematorium.

          But he did sleep.


P.M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun.  She has published twelve mystery novels and over a dozen short stories. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award, and twice for Anthony Awards. Two short stories were finalists for Agatha Awards. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as president of Sisters in Crime. 

Author Website :

Publisher Website:


  1. Historical-traditional is a good term!


    1. The only problem is that it reminds me of the funny speech in Hamlet, where Polonius is describing different kinds of plays-- "pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral" and so forth. But books and plays seldom fit neatly into only one category-- the interesting ones push the envelope.

  2. I love Victorian houses, they are beautiful.


    1. Yes, I love them too! In addition to doing a lot of writing in a Victorian house, I decided Maggie and Nick should live in Brooklyn in a Victorian brownstone row house. How they got it is described in the fourth Maggie Ryan book, MURDER UNRENOVATED. I hope to be back at Queen of All She Reads next week to say something about that book.

  3. the intertwining of plot & character; understanding motives & motivation

    1. Yes, I like mysteries that have clever plots and suspense, but the most important thing is characters with interesting problems and conflicts.