Con Lehane: Murder Off the Page Tuesday, Nov 19 2019 

Lehane’s 42nd Street Library series feature the curator of the crime fiction archive-turned-sleuth Ray Ambler. Along with his colleague, Adele, whom he shares a cloudy relationship, his favorite bartender, McNulty, and detective friend, Mike Cosgrove, also return.

An attractive researcher has been using the archives of author Jane Galloway. Ray decides Shannon Darling not the usual scholar, a theory firmed up when he sees her with McNulty as he and Adele share a drink at the popular Library Tavern.

His curiosity blows up when a security man is murdered in Shannon’s room and she disappears, along with McNulty. With the spotlight falling on McNulty, the woman’s real identity is soon confirmed. She’s a married Connecticut physician who has a young daughter.

So why is she with McNulty? And why are they on the run from the law?

Believing his friend hasn’t murdered anyone thrusts Ray and even Adele into the investigation. Soon Shannon’s lifestyle choices turn up a slew of suspects that Cosgrove must whittle down, while Ray follows his own threads.

There will be more deaths, a missing professor, and even a parrot as the story unfolds and Ray tests the bounds of friendship to solve the mystery surrounding the deaths.

The personal life of Ray and his grandson Johnny fills out the complicated life of this archivist. Ray’s emotional reticence grinds his relationships into a layer of frustration he carries around, as he does the guilt he feels at not being a better father to Johnny’s dad, his own son. These counterpoints, plus a domineering grandmother Ray shares Johnny’s custody with, add a nice texture to the life illustrated on the streets of New York.

Stephen Booth: Drowned Lives Sunday, Nov 17 2019 

Stephen Booth’s long-running Cooper and Fry series is a consistent winner, so Auntie M was interested when she heard the news that he had written a standalone, Drowned Lives.

One of the hallmarks of his Peak District series is the strength of his familiarity with his Derbyshire setting and the descriptions and history of the area that imbue the novels. She’s happy to note that he brings this same strong sense of setting and its history to Drowned Lives in the canals surrounding Lichfield.

Chris Buckley is an odd duck with few friends and no remaining family, depressed after the deaths of both parents close to each other, with his council job hanging in the balance and a new business venture bringing him to the brink of financial chaos.

He’s moved into the family home he inherited and is trying to break back into his freelance journalism career, writing articles and taking his own photographs of the project underway to recreate part of the canal waterway in the Staffordshire countryside that has been buried for decades.

He’s working on one of these articles when a member of the work party brings him to meet an old gentleman who’s come to see him. Samuel Longden hints at knowing Chris’s family, claims to be an old family friend of his grandfather particularly, and is disappointed that Chris has no knowledge of him.

But Samuel challenges Chris with tidbits of family history he parses out, trying to enlist Chris to tell a story he’s begun, and urges him to help heal a rift in the Buckley family. Frustrated by the man’s guile, Chris is on the point of refusing and fails to meet Longden for an appointment, when tragedy strikes.

Samuel is murdered and his only daughter refuses to talk to Chris, but Samuel had one more trick up his sleeve from the grave: he’s left Chris his beginning manuscript of the Buckley family of canal engineers and workers, with notes and letters.

This will reluctantly thrust Chris into an investigation not only of Samuel’s murder but of the history that reaches back into the 1800s. He enlists his neighbor, Rachel, a librarian with research, and a mysterious woman who suddenly appears and offers to help.

It’s a twisted tale as more and more facts emerge but one thing is certain: Chris has put himself in jeopardy and he can’t figure out why.

A tale of secrets that transcend years and affect family histories, Booth’s language has a gothic feel that adds to the dark atmosphere in this novel from a writer The Guardian calls “A modern master.”

SJI Holliday: Violet Thursday, Nov 14 2019 

SJI Holliday’s Violet is psychological thriller that revolves around two English women who meet in a foreign country and decide to travel together.

Violet has broken up with her boyfriend in Thailand and needs a ticket to leave to travel to Russia. Carrie has come on her around-the-world trip alone, after her best friend’s accident means she’s back home in a cast.

Traveling alone has lost its glamour for Carrie, and when the two women meet at a hotel in Beijing, Carrie invites Violet to use her friend’s ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express.

The women travel through Mongolia to find their way into Russia, having adventures fueled by alcohol and drugs and something more as they become closer to each other and the intensity of their relationship changes.

But which one is the master of manipulation when things spiral out of control?
And spiral out they do, until the reader can’t see how either of the women can survive.

Holliday brings the various exotic places the women visit to life in a way that drops the reader into the midst of their journey. You’ll feel you’ve been to these exotic places, but maybe not traveling the way you personally would choose to.

A cautionary tale about trusting strangers, and perhaps not even trusting the people you love.

Will Thomas: Lethal Pursuit Tuesday, Nov 12 2019 

Will Thomas returns with his Barker and Llewelyn series in Lethal Pursuit. The enquiry agents, whose chambers are in the shadow of Whitehall, have risen to annoy most of the higher-ups in government and Scotland Yard, yet continue to solve the most recalcitrant cases.

A Foreign Office agent has fled home to England carrying an important satchel from Eastern Europe, but murdered soon after arriving. With tensions rising between Germany and England, it’s imperative that the contents are kept out of German hands.

When no less than the Prime Minister gives them a simple assignment, newlywed Llewelyn, now a partner, can’t understand why Barker is taking his time to carry out the easy charge: deliver the satchel to Calais into the hands of a waiting monsignor from the Vatican.

Just what the satchel holds is unclear, but it’s rare and ancient, from the first century. Soon there are personal agents, secret societies, and political groups all vying to retrieve the satchel and its contents, and all putting Barker and Llewelyn at serious risk. And this time, Llewelyn has a bride waiting for him at home.

With his research nailing the details of the Victorian era, from the clothing and social manners to crimes and politics, Thomas delivers a satisfying read that advances both the characters and the times.

Louise Candlish: Those People Monday, Nov 11 2019 

Auntie M was blown away by last year’s Our House, which won Louise Candlish the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the Briish Book Awards and was long listed for 2019 Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year. She hurriedly ordered Candlish’s new Those People, just as strong a read in the domestic thriller genre.

Readers are introduced to the residents of Lowland Way, a London suburb of burgeoning worth where cars are moved off the street on Sundays for the children to play. It’s kind of the neighborhood where the adults look out for each other, and we are introduced to many of them when a new couple buy one half of the house on the corner.

Darren and Jodie are vastly different from the other residents. He quickly sets up a used car business on the corner property and begins dramatic renovations on the house, doing the work himself and using whining electric tools from early in the morning throughout the day. When he’s not using power tools, he’s playing music so loudly that the couple in the attached house next door are forced to buy hearing protection for their infant son. And the cars become a huge issue as “Play Out Sunday,” which once won an urban spaces award, becomes a tug of war on the street with serious consequences.

Things soon spiral out of control as the neighborhood rules are not only NOT followed, they’re distinctly flaunted. The local council has a long-winded process for complaints, which seem mostly ineffective, and Darren continues his marauding, while the other residents form a tighter and tighter group of us vs them.

It’s a situation destined to spiral out of control and it soon does with devastating effects.

Candlish tells the story from the viewpoint of the neighbors living closest to Darren and Jodie, and all vary in circumstance and personality, but one thing unites them: their love for their street and their animus against the new couple who won’t conform.

Interspersed with police interviews, the once-united neighbors soon delve to their dark sides, revealed to the reader as things deteriorate and the already fraught pace ramps up.

The observations of the varied temperaments of the residents contrast as the tension escalates; Candlish adds several surprising twists as the darkness grows and spirals down until there’s nothing funny at all about Lowland Way.

Catriona McPherson: Strangers at the Gate Sunday, Nov 10 2019 

Catriona McPherson’s complicated plot for Strangers at the Gate will make perfect sense as readers near the end of the book, but in such a surprising way that readers will have as much confusion at times as the protagonist, Finn.

When she and her husband, Paddy, move to the small town of Simmerton, it seems to be the perfect chance for the young couple to move their professions forward. Paddy has been offered a partnership in a law firm; Finn’s slot as a deacon at a local church is full time.

The move comes with the rental of the gate house of the wealthy landowner, an almost perfect situation. Lovatt Dudgeon and his wife seem like the perfect neighbors, and as it’s his law firm Paddy will work in, Finn is relieved that she finds she quite likes his wife, Tuft. The older woman’s wit and affability impress Finn and start to dash away the odd feelings she experienced, until a bloody murder changes everything, and Finn and Paddy make choices they soon regret.
Soon the couple find they’ve each kept back information the other should have had; and as their secrets become compounded, things spiral out of control.
Events of the past run together with the present in a stunning climax that stands everything on its head.

McPherson draws fine characters, down to Finn and Paddy’s families and the local neighbors. The dark and gloomy setting only adds to the gothic feel of the novel.
Mix in the plot that twists back on itself, and readers will have no choice but to stay up late to find the resolution. With a strong atmosphere, this rather creepy yet clever mystery is perfect for Rebecca fans, or those who loved Elly Griffiths’ The Stranger Diaries.

Peter Lovesey: Killing with Confetti Friday, Nov 8 2019 

Peter Lovesey’s Peter Diamond series, set in Bath, brings the detective with his out challenging case yet in Killing with Confetti. Louise Penny calls Lovesey “a masterful plotter” with all good reason.

The son of Bath’s Deputy Chief Constable, George Brace, presents Diamond with an unusual problem. His son, Ben, is marrying a lovely girl, Caroline Irving, but there’s a major hitch: Caroline’s father is the notorious and wealthy criminal Joe Irving, a gang leader who will be released from his latest prison term just in time to walk the bride up the aisle to her groom.

What this means for Diamond is that Brace puts him in charge of Irving’s security. It’s no secret Irving has enemies and many rival gangs who would be happy for a chance to take him out. With the elaborate wedding set at Bath’s Abbey and a reception at the Roman baths that evening, Diamond must see that the father of the bride remains alive throughout the day.

His role as secret agent not a comfortable one, Diamond is uncomfortably armed, and draws on his team to help him watch Irvings’ back, while he tries all day and evening to keep Irving in his sights, despite the parents, photographers, and bridesmaids he encounters.

This is vintage Lovesey, a case Diamond takes on sufferance and executes flawlessly, although at times it won’t seem that there’s a good end in sight. Another from the master of mystery who’s received Lifetime Achievement Awards in both the US and the UK.

Paula Munier: Blind Search Tuesday, Nov 5 2019 

After the success of last year’s award-nominated debut, A Borrowing of Bones, Paula Munier returns with the duo of veteran Mercy Carr and her bomb-sniffing dog, Elvis, in Blind Search.

With a strong setting in the Green Mountains of Vermont, the fall season is rife with hunters when a nine-year old autistic boy is lost in the woods. Henry Jenkins likes to wander in the woods, but when he’s a witness to the murder of a young woman, his small confidence is shaken to the core, and he runs and hides.

Knowing a murderer mingles with the hunters and may be present at the home of Mercy’s friend, billionaire Daniel Feinberg, makes the investigation Mercy soon undertakes even more difficult, despite the presence and help of game warden Troy Warner and his search-and-rescue dog, Susie Bear. For there are more things going on in the woods than murder, including gun running and drugs.

There are also the inescapable feelings that run like an electric shock between Mercy and Troy, feelings she’s done her best to ignore.

When a blizzard strands everyone, Mercy and Troy need to protect Henry from the murderer while they track down the person responsible. And then a second death occurs.

Munier knows about dogs and the woods. Auntie M never stopped to think a bear’s front paw print would be roughly the same in length and width, while a hind print would be longer than it was wide. In the same way, she draws on an old Vermont folk song to calm Henry. These things add a multi-dimensional feel that makes the setting leap off the page.

But one of Auntie M’s favorite hallmarks are the asides Mercy makes that reveal her character: “As a matter of course, Mercy never trusted anyone who flipped their hair. There was no hair flipping in the army.” Another character has “…the resourcefulness of a Kardashian.” Mercy comes across as someone who’s capable, and while she’s seen what is evil in the world, she hasn’t lost her compassion and her caring spirit.

With its tight plot, realistic characters, definitive setting, and those wonderful dogs, there’s no wonder this one is Highly Recommended.

Thomas Burns: Stripper! in Audio Sunday, Nov 3 2019 

Please welcome Thomas Burns, to describe his experience using audio books:

An Indie Author Tackles Audiobooks

I am Thomas Burns, author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries, and I’m an indie author. Natalie McMasters is a detective for the new millennium. As the series opens in Stripper!, Nattie is twenty, short and blonde (OK, it’s bleached!), way cute, and a pre-law student at State. She’s also straight, or at least she thinks so.

To put herself through school, she’s moonlighting as a private detective trainee at her uncle Amos Murdoch’s 3M Detective Agency, where the most exciting thing she does is sit in a car, staking out people who’ve claimed workers’ compensation to be sure they’re hurt as badly as they say. After she directly confronts a subject on a stakeout, Amos fires her for taking too many chances. Then she meets another student who bears an uncanny resemblance to her, and everything in her life changes. When her new best friend is brutally murdered and Amos is critically injured, Nattie immerses herself in the seamy world of web cams and strip clubs to hunt the killer.

Her investigation forces her to reassess many of the ideas that she’s lived by her whole life and do things she’s never considered before – strip on a stage, question her sexuality, and rediscover the meaning of love itself. Nattie eventually exposes a drug ring, police corruption, and an assassin-for-hire online. Then she stumbles upon the true face of evil, and her encounter does not leave her unscathed…

I’m 67, so after a year of querying potential agents for Stripper! with no results, I decided to take the leap of faith and publish it myself. In April 2018, the first Natalie McMasters novel, Stripper! was published on Amazon. As of this writing, two more novels, Revenge! and Trafficked!, have been released, and I’ve just finished writing the first draft of the fourth book, Venom! I’m sure there’s no way I could have had such a rapid production schedule if I had to deal with an agent and a publisher. The books have done well, with about 11,000 copies in circulation world-wide.

It’s been a bumpy ride. I started by publishing e-books and paperbacks on KDP, then took the series wide on Draft 2 Digital in various e-book formats. I’ve made some mistakes along the way, but I’ve learned a lot. A few months ago, I decided it was time to enter the audiobook market. Audiobooks are currently the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry. They’re available as downloads and some as CDs (sold separately), and the e-books can be played on multiple devices without losing your place. Some Audible books (Amazon) also have the whispersync feature, that lets you listen and read your book on Kindle, and updates either device as you switch back and forth.

When I decided to issue the McMasters Mysteries on audio, starting with Stripper!, I chose Audible Books to do it, because I had such good results from KDP on Amazon. ACX (https://www.acx.com/) is Audible’s publishing platform, allowing you to sell your book on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. After you register on the site, you open your title for auditions. Narrators, also known as producers, can review available titles and contact the author. However, I found it much more effective to survey potential producers myself and invite the ones I liked to submit an audition. You can narrow the list of over 100,000 producers by gender, voice style, accent and other parameters.

There are three ways to pay your producer: straight royalty share, royalty share plus a one-time payment, or straight payment. Payment is determined according to the finished length of the audiobook (not how long the producer takes to produce it), which ACX estimates for you according to the word count. A royalty share agreement lasts for seven years, during which time the author and the producer split a 40% royalty. Many of the more established producers, some of whom who are also professional voice actors, prefer either royalty share plus or straight payment. If you do a royalty share, you also must commit to sell the audiobook on ACX only. The royalty percentage is 25% if you elect a straight payment deal, and the author keeps all of it. For a royalty share deal, I contacted over a hundred potential producers and got about ten replies.

The audio version of Stripper! is scheduled for release on Nov. 4, 2019. The narrator is Lisa Ware, of Voices from lsware. Lisa is a very talented narrator—she captures Nattie’s voice perfectly, as well as those of the other diverse characters in Stripper! I’m sure you’ll her work enjoyable. Look for it on the Amazon page for Stripper! (https://www.amazon.com/Stripper-Natalie-McMasters-Thomas-Burns-ebook-dp-B07C87Y2FH/dp/B07C87Y2FH/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid= )

Author bio
Thomas A. Burns, Jr. is the author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries. He was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, earned B.S degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State University. He currently resides in Wendell, North Carolina. As a kid, Tom started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant, and graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to name a few. Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life, starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in grade school. He built a career as a technical, science and medical writer and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government. Now that he’s truly on his own as a novelist, he’s excited to publish his own mystery series, as well as to contribute stories about his second most favorite detective to the MX Books of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.

Chad Zunker: An Equal Justice Friday, Nov 1 2019 

Chad Zunker’s An Equal Justice introduces lawyer David Adams in a legal thriller that addresses the homeless population while whipping up a dense plot of corporate greed, power, and violence.

Adams had a tough childhood, including living in the family car for a while with his mother and older sister. Through hard work he’s triumphed to become a Stanford graduate who’s just taken his first job with a prestigious law firm in Austin. His dream is in reach.

Leaving poverty quickly behind, in a matter of days he owns a high-rise condo and a pricey car, as well as a glossy girlfriend to match his new unbelievable salary. He also has the pressure of billable hours, working almost around the clock to prove himself to the partner who’s taken a shine to him.

Then the unexpected suicide of a colleague, coupled with a brush with Austin’s homeless community, leads him to feel a connection to the lost souls who have formed a camp where they support each other.

As some of Adams’ assumptions are proven false, a trail of blackmail leads to murder, and an innocent young man is arrested. Adams knows he must choose between these two disparate worlds while he decides if wealth is more important than justice.

As the danger rises, so does Adams determination, with the pace quickening to a pounding resolution. Adams knows Austin and brings its many sides to life. He also knows how to add plot twists so that just as the reader thinks they know what’s going on, they’re proved wrong. A page-turning read with a protagonist Auntie M will gladly follow on his next adventure.

Zunker writes the Sam Callahan thriller series (The Tracker, Shadow Shepherd, Hunt the Lion) but the inspiration for the David Admams series comes from his own work with Austin’s homeless community. You can check his website to learn more about his volunteer work at Community First! Village, a 51-acre planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and support to the chronically homeless: <a href="http://www.chadzunker.com/bennys-village/&quot;.

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Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

Welcome to Leeward

Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp the perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

The Wickeds

Wicked Good Mysteries

John Bainbridge Writer

Indie Writer and Publisher

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Gaslight Crime

Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews