Shawn Reilly Simmons: Murder with all the Trimmings Tuesday, Dec 18 2018 


Please welcome Shawn Reilly Simmons, with her new release Murder With All the Trimmings, a grand gift for the holidays, who will graciously share her writing methods.

Thanks for having me on the blog, Auntie M!

Whenever I’m speaking at an author event at a bookstore or library and the audience is prompted to ask questions, I generally get at least one about my writing process. The questions typically revolve around how I got started writing or how I’ve managed to write so many books so quickly (six in about seven years, and close to a dozen published short stories).

Every writer has their own routine and method of getting their work done, and my way may not work for everyone. But in the event it might be helpful to some, here is how I approach my writing.

I wrote my first book early in the mornings from five to around seven or eight, or whenever my infant son woke up for the day. When he was born, I left my day job to stay home with him, and that’s also when I got serious about my writing.

I’d always wanted to write for a living, but as it often does, life (and luxuries like paying rent and buying groceries) got in the way, and I ended up pursuing a marketing career in New York City after graduating college.

Those early days as a new parent are exhausting, and your time really isn’t your own until they’re through those first crucial years. And forget about sleep, at least in my situation. Those early morning hours, however, are unique in their serenity, and they were always when I could get the most work done. The habit has stuck and to this day I still get 90% of my writing done at that time of the day.
I prefer to write while it’s quiet, no music or TV background noise, with just a laptop and a cup of coffee on my desk. Besides the early mornings being quiet in my house, they’re also quiet out in the rest of the world, generally speaking. At that time of the day, I typically haven’t gotten any emails or texts or Facebook messages that have to be dealt with right away, or that provide a distraction from the task at hand.

Another skill that I cultivated in those early years of motherhood was contemplating the next morning’s work during those quiet moments at the end of the day. While listening to my infant son fall asleep, I’d think about the next scene in the book I’d write. I’d work out how the plot would progress, and what my characters would be up to. It worked so well, that I still practice this quiet meditation seven years later. My last thought as I’m falling asleep is my work in progress and the next scenes to be written.

I think because of this habit, I’ve never experienced writers’ block. I’m ready to go every morning, having worked out the way ahead in the plot before I’ve sat down.

The last tip I’d suggest to writers who are working on being more productive is to find that magic hour or hours that works for them, and write every day during that time. Magic time is when you feel the most creative and relaxed, and when you can tune out the world for a while, and focus on your story. This timeframe will be different for everyone. I have author friends who are early risers like me, and others that swear those late hours after everyone else has fallen asleep are their most creative. Once you find the time of day that works best for you, commit to writing during that time, be consistent, and really write (no Facebook or research!) You can research outside your magic time.

Before you know it, you’ll have a finished story or book. And the added benefit of holding yourself to a routine is that self-discipline brings confidence with it, and as writers we’re always grateful for more of that!

Hopefully one or more of these pointers can help a writer or two out there. Keep writing, everyone, and Happy Holidays!
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Murder With All the Trimmings, the sixth book in The Red Carpet Catering Mysteries, was released on November 13, 2018. Shawn’s books are available online and in book stores and libraries everywhere. For a listing of events, to join Shawn’s monthly email newsletter (recipes included!), and for a complete list of published books and stories, please visit http://www.shawnreillysimmons.com/
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Shawn Reilly Simmons

Shawn Reilly Simmons is the author of The Red Carpet Catering Mysteries featuring Penelope Sutherland, an on-set movie caterer, and of several short stories appearing in various anthologies including “Burnt Orange” in Passport to Murder: the 2017 Bouchercon Anthology (Down & Out Books), and “The Prodigy” in Mystery Tour, the Crime Writers’ Association Anthology (Orenda Books).

Shawn was born in Indiana, grew up in Florida, and began her professional career in New York City as a sales executive after graduating from the University of Maryland with a BA in English. Since then Shawn has worked as a book store manager, fiction editor, convention organizer, wine rep, and movie set caterer. She serves on the Board of Malice Domestic, and is an editor at Level Best Books.

Shawn is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers, and the Crime Writers’ Association in the U.K.

Cooking behind the scenes on movie sets perfectly combined two of her great loves, movies and food, and provides the inspiration for The Red Carpet Catering series, published by Henery Press.

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Holiday Historicals: More great gifts Saturday, Dec 15 2018 

Post #2 of Auntie M’s holiday suggestions, today she offers several set in other eras for that person on your list who likes a change of time period.


Will Thomas’s Barker and Llewelyn series is a favorite of Auntie M’s and Blood is Blood a strong entry. In Victorian London, the private enquiry agents are readying themselves for the younger Llewelyn’s wedding when their offices near Parliament are bombed. The damage to the building is severe and Barker is lucky to be alive.

With Barker in hospital and not being charitable about it, it will be up to Llewelyn to take on the role his mentor would fill, directing the investigation. He’s not helped by the surprise turnup of Barker’s brother, Caleb, who turns up from the US and tries to help–or does he? Working his way through a list he’s compiled of Barker’s enemies who might be behind the bombing, it soon becomes obvious that these same enemies are being picked off.

Throw in a bride who’s suddenly unsure of her soon-to-be husband’s occupation, a lovely young woman who just might be deceitful, and that brother who might or might not be invovled, and you have all the ingredients for a first class mystery.


Karen Odden’s A Dangerous Duet takes readers to Victorian Soho where a young female pianist must face a mystery while she tries to overcome the mores of the day.

With a brother, Matthew, in Scotland Yard, and a family history that discourages her interest, Nell Hallam’s goal is to attend the Royal Academy of Music. To earn her tuition, she plays piano–brilliantly–at a music hall. Disguised as a man, sneaking out her house at night to her job, Nell soon finds the lively atmosphere and different performers suit her, as does the the owner’s son, Jack, until the night another young woman performer is found dead in an alley. When Nell becomes involved in London’s underworld, she also entangles herself in her brother’s investigation.

A tough choice follows when Matthew has Jack in his sights. Filled with realistic details of the Victorain music halls and crimes of the day, London’s seedier side of town illustrates the danger and vitality that made it so fascinating.

Dangerous to Know is Renee Patrick’s second mystery featuring Edith Head and social secretary to the stars, Lillian Frost. Readers enjoying old-world Hollywood will enjoy this story, set in 1938, with the shadow of WWII hanging over everyone.

There’s something for everyone here, with appearances by Marlene Dietrich, suspicious of the Third Reich, when Jack Benny and George Burns face smuggling charges, and a talented visiting composer goes missing. Billy Wilder, Dorothy Lamour and Greta Garbo, in addition to others at Paramount, show up in cameos. It’s a world of beautiful gowns and secrets behind old movies we still adore when Lillian tries to find the composer and instead finds herself embroiled in a murder.

Great fun and packed with old gossip and real details that are fascinating and show the depth of research the married authors bring to the series.

Cozy Christmas: Cozies for Holiday gift-giving Wednesday, Dec 12 2018 

Around the holidays, Auntie M likes to give her readers choices for great gift books for those on their list. No matter what holiday you celebrate, a new book holds the promise of a story yet to be told. Today we’re talking cozies:


MB Shaw’s new series debuts with Murder at the Mill
, where artist Iris Grey, coping with a disintergrating marriage, rents a house to give herself mental breathing space. Enjoying the nature-filled area and sketching soon give way to a commission to paint the portrait of her cottage’s owner, celebrated crime writer Dominic Wetherby. Iris meets the extended family and more at the Christmas Eve party the Wetherby’s hold.

Becoming entangled with the entire Wetherby family, the idyllis Hampshire village soon turns nightmarish after the youngest son finds a body in the water on Christmas Day. Was this an accident or a murder? Attracted to the family attorney, Iris finds herself sleuthing when she becomes frustrated with the local police, just as she soon feels herself being stalked.

A terrific puzzle and an engaging start to a new series.


Ellen Crosby’s newest in her Wine Country series, Harvest of Secrets, takes readers to Virginia and the Montgomery Estate Vineyards during their busy season. Mixing an unearthed skull on Lucie Montgomery’s family property with a modern mystery, Lucie also has a new murder to contend with when shortly after arriving in the area at a neighboring vineyard, head winemaker Jean-Claude de Marignac is found dead.

The prime suspect is an immigrant worker, Miguel Otero, who had quarreled with the new winemaker. But with Lucie’s own immigrant helped ready to revolt during the harvest, she plunges into figuring out the real culprit. It doesn’t help that the dead man was one of Lucie’s first crushes decades ago.

A nice mix of old and new mysteries, with Lucie facing buried secrets.


The 27th Agatha Raisin mystery, Dead Ringer
, features all of MC Beaton’s usual wit and eccentric characters. The Bishop’s visit means the bellringers are practicing up a storm when Agatha manages to convince the lawyer Julian Brody of their team to hire her to investigate the Bishop’s missing fiancee`. Local heiress Jennifer Toynby disappearance years ago, with no body found, remains unsolved.

But that’s not the only thing occupying Agatha. There’s the body of the local policeman discovered in the crypt; one of the bellringers twins is murdered near the church; and a journalist who was once briefly Agatha’s lover is found dead in her very own sitting room. Just how is the Bishop connected to these deaths?

Now a British TV show, the Agatha Raisin series remains a favorite and a classic cozy series.

From its charming cover to the the cast of cats in the characters, Melissa Daley’s Christmas at the Cat Cafe` glows with all that is merry and bright. Set in the town of Stourton-on-the-Hill, owner Debbie allows her sister to move in after a heartbreak. But that doesn’t sit well with the cat side of the home, Molly and her three kittens, who are soon at the mercy of Linda’s dog, Beau. Things go from bad to worse when another cat threatens Molly’s home ground.

With Molly’s point of view at the forefront, this tale is a holiday delight for cat and animal lovers.

Olga Wojtas: Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar/The Bunburry Mysteries Wednesday, Dec 5 2018 

Please welcome Olga Wojtas, author of the new Bunburry series, which has been described as a mix between Miss Marple and Midsomer Murders. She’s here to talk about Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar, a time-travel mystery with an inept sleuth, written as an homage to writer Muriel Spark.

Greetings from Edinburgh, Scotland, where I went to high school, and where I still live and work. The writer Muriel Spark was a fellow alumna of James Gillespie’s High School, which she immortalised as Marcia Blaine School for Girls in her iconic novel, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.”

That’s what inspired my novel, Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar. It’s a wacky romp featuring 50-something librarian Shona McMonagle, a former pupil sent on a time-travelling mission to 19th century Russia by Miss Blaine herself.

Shona has a generally sunny disposition, apart from her deep loathing of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which she thinks gives her alma mater a bad name. Impeccably educated, and an accomplished martial artist, linguist and musician, she is thrilled to be chosen for the one- week mission, which she deduces is to pair up the beautiful, shy, orphaned heiress Lidia Ivanovna with Sasha, a gorgeous young man of unexplained origins.

But despite having had the finest education in the world, Shona might well have got the wrong end of the stick about her mission. In fact, she arguably qualifies for the grand Scottish word “numpty” (according to The Urban Dictionary, “A person who is incapable of performing the simplest of tasks correctly”). As the body count rises, will she discover in time who the villain is?

It’s unusual to have a crime novel in which the protagonist is completely inept. But my aim is to have that as part of the comedy. Astute readers like yourself will pick up on the clues long before Shona does, and I hope you’ll have fun watching her get into deeper and deeper water (literally, at one point, when she’s the victim of an attempted drowning). If you’re a fan of Jeeves and Wooster, one of the loveliest reviews I’ve had described my book as “Anna Karenina written by P G Wodehouse”. Shona is something of a female Bertie Wooster, touchingly unaware of her own limitations and, I hope, endearing with it.

She’s surrounded by a host of extraordinary Russian characters, from the serf Old Vatrushkin (a young man who’s terrified of being emancipated) and an elderly nanny who knits (though never produces anything recognisable) to a snobbish countess with a dangerous cleavage, and her ill-trained lapdog which Shona describes as an animated floormop. Will it all work out in the end?

I hope it’s not a spoiler to tell you that it does – but whether Miss Blaine thinks Shona deserves to be sent on another mission is another matter. I’m thrilled that the novel is one of the Christian Science Monitor’s top ten books for November 2018, and one of the Kirkus best books of 2018.

I also write the Bunburry e-book series of novellas under the name Helena Marchmont. These are short cosy crime mysteries which can be read in a couple of hours, set in the rolling hills of the English Cotswolds. I’m half-Scottish and half-Polish, and figured that my real name didn’t fit very well with the quintessential Englishness of the subject matter. So I took my middle name, Helena, and the street I grew up on, Marchmont Road, to create a new persona who I think sounds suitably Anglicised.

The main character is Alfie McAlister, a self-made millionaire who has relocated from London to the idyllic village of Bunburry following a personal tragedy, but finds himself playing amateur detective alongside his late aunt’s best friends, Liz and Marge.

He’s touchingly unaware of how attractive he is (less to do with his money than his good looks), and it never crosses his mind that local policewoman Emma and American environmental activist Betty might be interested in him. Each novella contains an individual mystery. But there’s also a mystery in his family background which gradually unfolds as the series continues: the first e-book came out in September 2018, and the others are being published at two-monthly intervals.

Alfie doesn’t remember his Aunt Augusta who left him a cottage in the village, although he has fond memories of his grandparents who were killed in a car crash when he was twelve. Through Liz and Marge, he begins to discover more about the crash and about his family.

These are more mainstream stories than the quirkiness of Shona, but I’ve still introduced some humour. Alfie’s best friend is the aristocratic Oscar de Linnet, who refuses to leave Bunburry to visit the country, which he dismisses as “pub grub, mud and cows”. He sees himself as a reincarnation of Oscar Wilde, and is always prepared with a Wildean quip.

News Flash: The Bunburry Mysteries will soon be available in Audio in GERMANY, performed by none other than Nathaniel Parker of Inspector Lynley fame.

If you read either Shona or Bunburry (or even both), I do hope you enjoy them! And thank you, Marni, for this opportunity to introduce myself! https://www.csmonitor.com/Books/2018/1114/10-best-books-of-November-the-Monitor-s- selections https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/olga-wojtas/miss-blaines-prefect-and-the- golden-samovar/

EJ Copperman: Bird, Bath & Beyond Sunday, Dec 2 2018 


EJ Copperman’s second Kay Powell mystery, Bird, Bath & Beyond, is as hilarious as the first.

His wry humor and pun-filled prose makes this an enjoyable sequel as the agent who represents animals finds herself once again embroiled in a murder investigation.

This time Kay is repping a canny parrot, who can utter lines on cue. Barney is the right-hand bird of the medical examiner in a television show Dead City, where zombies are involved, making it an apt title for what’s about to happen.

Of course it will be Barney who is the only witness when the show’s star is shot in his trailer during a shoot. Despite Kay explaining that Barney recites learned lines and can’t actually carry on a conversation, much less be interviewed, detectives keep trying to interrogate the feathered lad.

It will be up to Kay to track down a killer to keep her client safe when it seems the killer believes Barney can finger–um, feather him.

A fun romp with a sharp protagonist in Kay, for animal lovers and mystery fans alike.

Graham Smith: The Silent Dead Friday, Nov 30 2018 


Graham Smith’s The silent Dead introduces Detective Beth Young, working in the Lake District, one of Auntie M’s favorite settings. This one’s on her radar and here’s what the buzz is about the book:

He’d found one angel for his collection. One angel at a time was never enough…

Detective Beth Young has just joined the Lake District major crimes team when a body is found posed in a ritualistic manner – arms spread and graceful wings attached – at a crumbling castle in the hills of the Lake District.

The entire police force are on red alert. But Beth begins to feel she’s the only one who can follow the disturbing clues left by the twisted killer. Because she doesn’t think like everyone else. To Beth, crimes are puzzles she can solve. Even if real life is a little harder.

As more bodies are discovered in derelict stately homes across the Lake District, she knows she’s in a race against time.

But the killer is looking for another victim to add to his collection… Will Beth be able to save her? Or will he get there first?

A tenacious young detective with scars both physical and emotional, Beth Young will stop at nothing in her fight for justice for the innocent. The Silent Dead is the first book in the series. Set in the Lake District, it is perfect for fans of Joy Ellis, LJ Ross, and Peter James.

Readers love Graham Smith:
‘A talented storyteller.’ No.1 bestseller Peter James

‘Wowzer… this book is that fantastic I don’t know where to start. It literally blew me away!… If you’re looking for a fast-paced, gritty read that will have you on tenterhooks I highly recommend this.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘A brilliant thriller. This fast-paced crime thriller is packed with suspense. From the beginning I was hooked.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘Graham Smith is the name to watch in fast-paced, high-octane crime fiction. Smith writes with an assured energy that pulls the reader deeper and deeper into a plot that twists and turns… This is great, fully-leaded crime fiction.’ Craig Russell

‘The plot is dark and disturbing with tension that grows throughout the story.’ The Suspense is Thrilling Me

‘A dark and suspenseful read that just drew me in and placed me slap bang in the thick of things.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘One of the best serial killer thrillers I have read in a LONG time. I couldn’t stop turning the pages and devoured the book in two short days.’ Damppebbles.com

‘Couldn’t put it down. Full of twists and plots… Highly recommended.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘Hard-hitting, tightly paced and with lots of great twists and turns.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘I love, love, LOVED this book! I’ve always been a fan of serial killer novels and this one absolutely nailed it.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘A hell of a read, fast paced with bucketfuls of suspense… nail-biting with fascinating characters… If you are a lover of a highly original crime thrillers I would suggest you add this book to… the top of the pile, you won’t be disappointed I promise.’ The Book Review Café
Silent Dead Purchase Links
‘This is the type of novel that will keep you up all night reading… Graham Smith knows how to keep the crime moving, keeping all of his readers glued to every page.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘He will literally have you on the edge of your seat praying for the bad guys to get their comeuppance. Brilliant!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘It’s a really, really, really brilliant, superb, awesome book that you absolutely, unequivocally, must, without a doubt, have to read.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

You can find The Silent Dead at: BUY LINKS:
Amazon: mybook.to/TDDCover
iBookstore: https://tinyurl.com/ydhftyxx
Kobo: https://tinyurl.com/y75k5vng
Googleplay: https://tinyurl.com/ybchbhzl


Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has six books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder. His latest series features DC Beth Young and is highly anticipated before its November release.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, ten attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Graham can be found at

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor
Twitter

Website
http://www.grahamsmithauthor.com

Robert Scragg: What Falls Between the Cracks Wednesday, Nov 28 2018 

Robert Scragg has a cracking good debut of a new series with What Falls Between the Cracks.

Introducing the London detective duo Jake Porter and Nick Styles, their latest case is a mix of old and new, when a severed hand is found in a freezer.

It’s strange enough to find a hand, in this case one missing a finger. Yet once DNA matches the hand to the apartment’s owner, Nina Barclay, its even stranger that her family agrees Nina hasn’t been since since 1983.

Why no one has been looking for Nina is just one of the many questions Porter and Styles must answer as they investigate Nina’s extended family and acquaintances, and find far too many unsavory characters.

As their search extends itself, everywhere they turn the team come up against walls thwarting their progress, from interior police structure politics and a drug squad case that has been slowly gathering evidence against one of their main suspects.

One of the highlights is the nice banter between the two detectives, balanced by Porter’s struggle to restart his life after a tragic personal loss.

This is the kind of police procedural Auntie M eats up. An accomplished debut, one that will have readers seeking the second Porter and Styles outing. Highly recommended.

Jo Spain: The Confession. Sunday, Nov 25 2018 


Jo Spain is the Irish international number one bestseller of the DCI Tom Reyolds series and the standalone psychological thriller The Confession. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, former parliamentary assistant and vice-chair of the business body InterTrade Ireland, Jo now writes full-time.

In 2018 she co-wrote her first original television show, TAKEN DOWN, currently airing in Ireland, bought by ARTE Europe and also picked up for international distribution by industry giant Fremantle. Jo has now been headhunted to work on several European dramas.

Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four small children. Auntie M recently had the opportunity to speak with Jo about her writing and her books.


Auntie M: What drew you to writing crime fiction in the first place?

Jo Spain: Crime fiction is my favourite genre to read and to watch. I love the thrill of the mystery, the adrenaline of the whodunnit, and the satisfaction of the resolution. I think crime fiction storytellers are the hardest working writers.

AM: Your new release, The Confession, is your first stand-alone thriller after writing the popular Tom Reynolds series. Why the switch?

JS: The story had arrived fully formed in my mind and I knew it didn’t fit with the DCI Reynolds series. Tom is police procedural – each is a whodunnit. In The Confession, we know who did it, we just don’t know why.
I also wanted to stretch myself. I write really quickly and am currently averaging two books a year and two TV series. To keep on top of it all, I like variety, because each time I pick up a project it’s like a holiday from the other writing. If that makes sense!

AM: Did you find the experience of writing a stand-alone differed from writing for the series?

JS: Very much so. Over the course of a series you can develop much-loved characters so your readers have the satisfaction of the soap of their lives on top of the plots. But it’s hard, because you have to keep them going, with new developments for the same people in each book.
In a standalone, you have to create characters that readers will instantly love/hate. There’s no second chance, it’s all within the four-hundred-odd pages. Then you have to mentally wrap them up in your own head, and move on, so it’s a bit like mourning a set of characters each time.


AM: Will you go back to Tom now? Any other books percolating?

JS: The fourth Tom came out in Europe this year, The Darkest Place. I’ve a new standalone out in February, Dirty Little Secrets, and a new Tom, The Boy Who Fell next summer. And I just completed my latest standalone, due in 2020.

AM: You’re a busy woman! With four youngsters and jobs aplenty, how do you find time to write?

JS: I write full-time and my husband is here full-time, too. He works for me now, editing and proofing (he’s a former editor) and does the heavy lifting with the children. But we’ve managed to establish a lovely family/work routine and we’re both at home pretty much all the time. And I am a fast writer, which really helps.


AM: And publicity, how do you reconcile accomplishing that with family, job and writing demands?

JS: That’s harder, especially now I’m writing for TV. I try to condense all my publicity outings to short periods in and around book releases (but I make exceptions for very lovely bloggers). When my new TV show Taken Down, (which is based on an original idea) came out this month there was more publicity than I’ve ever had to handle. It was fun but exhausting.

AM: What piece of advice would you give to a new writer starting out in crime fiction?

JS: We all say it – read, read, read. Know your genre, hone your craft. I always advise the masters; Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle etc. And I personally plan out all my books because I feel excellent plots take a lot of organisation. At least, I hope that’s what my readers feel about my plots…!

AM: Who would we find on your nightstand waiting to be read?

JS: When I find an author I love I buy everything they’ve ever written and wait eagerly for the next. Some of my favourites include Fred Vargas, Louise Penny, Pierre LeMaitre, Chris Whitaker, Donato Carrisi, J.P. Delaney and Liane Moriarty. I’m a huge fan of well-written crime, I don’t tend to read formulaic-type thrillers, though I respect their skill.

Four set in England: Bolton, Cleeland, Westron, French Wednesday, Nov 21 2018 

Auntie M loves her trips to England and enjoyed being there for two weeks this summer doing setting research. Cornwall and Cambridge figured highly in the trip, so you can expect Nora Tierney to be spending time in each place in future books.

It seems appropriate then to feature several books set in the UK for your reading pleasure.

Auntie M previously reviewed Sharon Bolton’s The Craftsman when it was published in the UK, but it’s just out here in the US, so let’s revisit a snipped of what she said then:
Sharon Bolton’s novels are always original and well-crafted. Elly Griffith’s notes that her newest, The Craftsman, is ” . . . an absolutely terrific crime novel that takes your darkest fear and makes it real” in this first of a planned trilogy.

It’s 1999 and Florence Lovelady has returned to Lancashire for the burial of Larry Glassbrook, who has died in prison for burying three teens alive, thirty years before. She travels with her teen son, Ben, to Larry’s funeral, and stays on when a new piece of evidence comes to light. The case made Florence’s career, and yet she wonders now if she put the right person behind bars all those years ago.

The book swtiches to 1969, when the third of three teens has gone missing. The town is scared, and it’s down to Florence to suggest a re-enactment of the day the third, Patsy Wood, went missing. It’s a novel approach, but one her Superintendent decides to try.

When Flossie decides she must investigate a freshly-dug grave, she’s the one who finds Patsy’s body, buried on top of another corpse. It’s evident at once the teen was alive when she was put into the casket.

The horror of such a death is the stuff of nightmares for most people, and the dark and disturbing images stay with readers as the book advances and the perpetrator is caught. Or is he?

With its history of Pendle Hill witches in the area adding to the terrifying atmosphere, this is the kind of gothic novel that grips you by the back of your neck and doesn’t let go even after the last page is turned. You’ll learn the difference between caskets and coffins and why that matters. You’ll learn how the moon affects witches. And you’ll learn to be terrifed and then in awe of Florence. Highly recommended.


Anne Cleeland’s Doyle and Action series returns with Murder in Spite, and this time the action takes place in Doyle’s Irish home. What starts as a supposed holiday takes on an entirely different tenor when a priest implicated in earlier London case is found dead on the steps of the Garda station Acton visits, a knife through one eye the implement of his death.

Doyle, with her special ability to see through people, quickly susses out that there’s more to Acton’s helping out in this case, just as there’s more to be seen with an African cab driver who seems to appear at the most needed times.

Having their young son along only cramps Doyle’s sleuthing abilities a small bit. Another entertaining entry in a well-drawn series known for its complicated plots and charming protagonists.


Carol Westron’s Strangers and Angels
is a Victorian Murder Mystery of the highest kind, filled with realistic period details, backed up by a complex plot that supports intriguing characters.

She takes readers to Gosport in 1850, along England’s the southern coast. Kemal is the Turkish midshipman on a training mission, accused of murder. With feelings running high against the Turkish sailors to begin with, it seems likely Kemal will face the gallows.

That is, until he finds help from two unlikely women: widow Adelaide and lady’s maid Molly. With little power or privilege between, the women have an almost insurmountable task to try to save the young Turk.

In a nice twist, Westron brings her sleuths into contact with real people from the era. A strong start to what should be a recurring series.


It’s always sad to see a beloved series come to an end, but Frieda Klein, Nicci French’s London-walking psychologist, perhaps deserves a rest more than most. Day of the Dead brings with it the resolution of the Dean Reeve case, the psychopathic killer who has eluded Frieda and the police for more than a decade, often with disastrous results to those Frieda cared about.

Charming and likeable, Reeves has been able to disappear and reappear at will, and become obsessed over the years with Frieda. After a decade of working with the police on cases, she now finds herself in hiding to protect those she loves.

But a showdown looms, and she must step out in public once again in order to bring Reeves to justice if she can. It will take a criminology student who tracks Frieda down to make the psychologist see that she herself holds the key to stopping Reeves, despite the cost to her personally.

As Frieda plays off against Reeve and his twisted games, she finds herself running up against her most formidable opponent. It’s a chilling climax that will stay with the reader long after the last page is read. A worthy conclusion to an addictive series.

Emily Littlejohn: Lost Lake Sunday, Nov 18 2018 


Emily Littlejohn’s third Colorado Detective Gemma Monroe mystery, Lost Lake, finds the new mother investigating a missing persons case that soon become so much more.

Four friends are camping at Lost Lake, despite the chilly weather, when they wake in the morning to find Sari Chesney has gone missing in the night. There’s no trace of the young woman, and the timing is most suspect.

Sari has been working on the special gala at the local museum and that night is its gala. As assistant curator, she would never miss this special evening, of great importance to gathering donors.

Gemma is slated to attend and does so, espcially when she’s summoned by the current director who claims a valuable diary, the gem of the museum for attracting donors, is missing.

Then a murder occurs, and Gemma realizes the history of the town and these people are wrapped together in more of a complex way than she’s imagined. Could the secrets of the past we impacting on the present in a deadly way?

Littlejohn’s prose elevates the detective investigation: “…Who was ultimately more authentic: the man who lived in meekness and possibly had a darker side, or the man who walked in darkness and struggled to find the light within?”

With the setting its own intriguing character, this is a strong entry in a compelling series.

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