Elsa Hart: City of Ink Thursday, Oct 18 2018 

Elas Hart’s new Li Du novel, City of Ink, finds the 18th Century librarian’s return to Beijing to uncover the murderer of his mentor. With sidekick storyteller Hamza by his side, Li Du investigates when two bodies are found in a tile factory.

The period details add to the richness of the story as the idea of crime of passion doesn’t sit well with Li Du. For the second victim is the factory owner’s wife, and their supposed secret meeting led to their murders by her jealous husband.

Now a lowly secretary to the Chief Inspector, Li Du finds the husband refusing to confess to the murders. While admitting he was drunk that night, he has no memory of killing either victim.

It’s a twisted path he follows that will lead him to corruption of the highest order, with the future of thousands of Chinese in the balance.

Even his own past will come under scrutiny, which brings Li Du under the microscope and endangers his own well-being.

Hart’s research shows, in the way she brings this era to life, in the texture and colors and sights and sounds of a bygone time that seem just around the corner under her talented pen. Her characters are as well-woven as a Chinese silk tapestry.

There are enough twists and turns for any experienced mystery writer, but there is so much more here than that puzzle that keeps readers flipping pages. An accomplished addition to a satisfying historic series.

And if you enjoy historicals, Steve Berry’s The Lost Order is new in paperback. Gold from a secret Civil War society plays a role when it comes to light the secrets of the Knights of the Golden Circle, still operating, might be revealed. Cotton and his team find themselves racing around the US to piece together the plot that would cause disaster to the country.

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Peter Blauner: Sunrise Highway Sunday, Oct 14 2018 

As a native Long Islander, Auntie M has long been intrigued with the string of unsolved murders from the place where she grew up and lived until her mid-40s. Now Peter Blauner delivers a possible solution with the story of one man who manages to hide his pyschopathy enough to cover his tracks for years in the very compelling Sunrise Highway.

Told in advancing years, readers figure out soon enough who the culprit is, watching Joey Tolliver rise from a teen on the cusp of a criminal career to becoming a decorated policeman.

Along the way he gathers supporters and people who owe him and look the other way, which allows his outrageous and horrific behavior to continue.

Then in 2017, when Tolliver is Chief of Police, a Latina NYPD detective, Lourdes Robles, finds that her investigation into the body of a young woman washed up on her patch leads her to similarities of a multitude of other female victims, a trail along Sunrise Highway in Long Island all the way to Brooklyn.

She’s tenacious and relentless, despite career and personal threats, in following the evidence, as she must fight against the political powerhouses in of the justice system itself. And just as it seems she’s making headway, she finds herself on the opposite site of the law.

The chapters alternate between Tolliver’s rise and Robles’ investigation, heightening the tension to a terrific pitch.

This read so plausibly it made Auntie M’s hair rise on her arms. It’s too believeable to see one person make a life’s work of extreme misogyny while supposedly upholding law and order.

The setting rings true with its familiarity, but the main attraction here are the strong characters, easily pictured and believed, along with the grunt police work and the thrill of escalating twists that will keep readers glued to the book. Highly recommended.

Gilly Macmillan: I Know You Know Friday, Oct 12 2018 

Gilly Macmillan’s psychological thriller, I Know You Know, contrasts newly-found bones under asphalt with the twenty year-old unsolved murder case of two young boys.

The connection between both cases is Detective John Fletcher, who’s life has been haunted by the boy’s death. Charlie Paige and Scott Ashby were only eleven when murdered outside a Bristol dog racing track. Charlie was barely alive wtih Fletcher and his partner found the boys, and he died in Fletcher’s arms.

While a mentally-deficit local man was arrested and spent years in prison for the murders, there have always been those who felt Sidney Noyce didn’t commit the crimes.

Enter Cody Swift, not a filmmaker who was the third friend in a trio with the dead boys. He’s spent time digging into the reports and loose threads that remain from the initial investigation, and starts a podcast to find out the truth. He aims to get those who might have kept silent at the time to speak up now.

Through Macmillan’s taut and addictive pages, readers meet the families of the dead boys and learn the history of that night. Jess, Charlie’s mother, is a pivotal figure. Now happily married with a teen daughter, her first child and his death affect her every waking moment.

The long-dead body found near the site of the boy’s bodies means the two cases might be linked and Fletcher will do all he can to find out what really happened all those years ago.

A close look at a complicated case and how the actions of one detective had a domino affect on the lives of so many others.

Jim Eldridge: Murder at the Fitzwilliam Monday, Oct 8 2018 


London-born author Jim Eldridge had a host of jobs before teaching led him to writing scripts for radio and television. He’s written SciFi, Children’s and YA fiction, including books for early readers and reluctant readers.

But Auntie M’s readers will be happy to hear Jim has turned his pen to crime fiction, with a new series that debuts with Murder at the Fitzwilliam. Set in 1894, it introduces private enquiry agent Daniel Wilson, retired from his Detective Inspector duties after investigating the Jack the Ripper case. Assisting him in this case at the Cambridge museum is archeologist Abigail Fenton.

Auntie M had the opportunity recently to ask Jim about his new series.

Auntie M: You started as a teacher before turning to writing full time. Was that always your intention?

Jim Eldridge: As well as teaching (which I loved doing), I had a variety of jobs before being able to afford to become a full-timer writer in 1978. I’d worked in offices, at a petrol station, done labouring jobs in an abattoir and even been a stoker on a blast furnace, but my ambition was always to be a full-time writer.

AM: Auntie M noticed your interest in history throughout your many series, from the early and reluctant readers books to your YA series. Is this a chance to teach readers or your natural interest?

JE: I have a deep love of history. I am a great believer in we are where we are now because of the historical events that have gone before, and that as a species we seem to keep repeating the same errors. So, yes, I do tend to stress the similarities between what’s happened in the past and what’s happening now – so readers say “we never learn.”

AM: The new Museum series starts out powerfully with Murder at the Fitzwilliam. How did you decide to choose 1894 for this series?

JE: The publishing director at Allison & Busby and I discussed various potential eras (modern, early 20th century), but we both felt that the late Victorian era heralded so many changes, both in society and technologically, that it would be a great backdrop for the series.

AM: Why the Fitzwilliam and Cambridge?

JE: Once we’d agreed for the series to use Museums for the settings of the series, we began by selecting the most famous of the oldest museums in Britain, and they were The British Museum, the Ashmolean in Oxford, and the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge. We felt that Cambridge had received less attention than Oxford out of the two oldest British University cities, so we decided to set the first adventure there.

AM: Nice to see a strong female character in archaeologist Abigail Fenton. Will she appear in the other books?

JE: Yes, she and Daniel become an investigating duo, as well as her continuing her own career as an archaeologist.

AM: Where does the series head next?

JE: Book 2 is MURDER AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM, which comes out early in 2019. Book 3, MURDER AT THE ASHMOLEAN, comes out in Autumn 2019.

AM: With three planned as of this writing, might that be extended?

JE: I hope so, if the series finds its readership, so my fingers are firmly crossed for that to happen.

AM: Mine,too, as I loved this first book. How does the radio and TV work inform your adult fiction? Do you see the books in scenes unfolding as you write?

JE: From 1971 until 2010 I was primarily a scriptwriter for TV and radio (with 250 TV scripts and 250 radio scripts broadcast). Scriptwriting is very different to novel-writing. In a script there is no place for the “interior monologue” from the characters – in a screenplay the emotions the character is feeling have to be shown by their expression and their movements. In a novel you have room to expand on what a character is feeling. However, I feel my long scriptwriting career has helped me when writing novels in developing plots (and sub-plots) and the vital importance of creating characters that readers want to know about. And you’re right, I also view a scene visually so I can write it.

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

JE: At this moment, THE RAILWAY DETECTIVE by Edward Marston, but the one I’m really looking forward to arriving in my mailbox is DEATH UNSCRIPTED: A TRUDY GENOVA MANHATTAN MYSTERY by Marni Graff. As a former scriptwriter, this sounds my ideal mystery!

AM: You’re very kind, and I hope you will enjoy it, Jim. Thanks for giving readers insight into this new series. And now for a review of Murder at the Fitzwilliam.

Archeologist Abigail Fenton has enough hard work cataloguing recent Egyptian artificts sent to the famed Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, while she makes her way in a largely male profession, when she stumbles across a modern body inside an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus.

Daniel Wilson has been called in by the Museum’s director to protect the museum’s reputation by quickly bringing the case to a discreet close. The former London detective brings his intuition and his experience with him, and soon finds himself going head-to-head with the local Cambridge detective, who has decided the murder was an accident.

With Abigail and Daniel agreeing this could hardly be the case, Daniel calls on the archeologist to assist him in his investigation into the identity of the dead man and how his body came to be found in the Egyptian Collection room.

Then the local papers circulate a story about a murderous mummy, destined to shake up the populace, and a second body is soon found, raising the stakes and making Daniel’s investigation harder.

There will be several paths of enquiry for them to follow; red herrings abound with distractions for both sleuths as they find their way to the the answers they seek.

Abigail and Daniel are an engaging pair of sleuths, bound by the mores of the time, which include the women’s suffragete movement. They take each other’s measure and like what they see while moving the case forward.

With accurate period details, Eldridge perfectly recreates the Cambridge of the Victorian era. A highly successful start to a captivating new series.
Available in the US November 19th~

James Hayman: A Fatal Obsession Saturday, Oct 6 2018 

James Hayman’s McCabe and Savage thrillers bring the Maine detectives to a very personal New York City case in A Fatal Obsession.

When his brother Bobby calls to say their mother is in the hospital, dying after a bad fall at her care facility, he knows it’s time he headed down to make his farewells. Bobby can’t reach his daughter, Zoe, a talented young actress, but as it was the closing night of her playing Desdemona in Othello, he figures she’s out late at a cast party.

That couldn’t be further from the truth, for Zoe has been kidnapped and beaten up, and spirited away from the city, where she’s hidden by her captor.

Maggie Savage accompanies McCabe to meet the family she’ll be entering, as the couple as just become engaged the night before. But thoughts of happy times are pushed aside when it becomes obvious Zoe’s apartment is the scene of a struggle–and then a woman’s body is found.

This comes in a wave of abduction murders of young starlets, actresses and even a ballerina. With the stakes so high, McCabe and Savage ask to be seconded to the team searching for Zoe.

It’s a twisted and high-speed investigation as the clock ticks down the time Zoe can survive. Old wounds must be bandaged over for McCabe to join in but finally he and Maggie are legitimate members of the team.

With its look inside the teamwork needed to pull off a major investigation, Maggie’s interviewing skills will come to the forefront when a suspect is finally found, with unexpected results.

A compulsively readable and fast-paced thriller to this series.

Ragnar Jonasson: Blackout Tuesday, Oct 2 2018 

Jonasson’s Dark Iceland series has been a hit. Featuring policeman Ari Thor Arason, the series reflects the claustrophobic and dark landscape and weather of the region, no more so than in Blackout.

It’s the 24 hour cycle of a Nordic summer, but the darkness is there when a man is found beaten outside a home he’s renovating. Who is he and why did he have to die?

Adding darkness to the summer is the ash fallout from a recent volanic eruption. When reporter Isrun leaves her Reykajvik office, she drums up an excuse to investigate on her own, but her motives are rooted in her past.

It falls to Ari Thor, working in the tiny town of Siglufjordur, to take on the murder case, even as his one already-reclusive colleague is plagued with a change in his behavior, and his mentor and boss is depressed, contemplating his future, while Ari Thor rues the destruction of his own long-term relationship.

The landscape and weather add to the creepy factor of the personal issues each character faces as the investigation moves forward, and suddenly becomes far more tense as Ari Thor senses a race to prevent more deaths.

Past and present hurts and longings become magnfied in this mystery where despair is the overwhelming emotion.

Complex and skillfully plotted, Jonasson manages to captivate readers with a compelling puzzle that will see them through to the denouement. Picture Christie struggling in the northern hamlets of Iceland and you’ll be hooked.

Eric Rickstad: What Remains of Her Saturday, Sep 29 2018 


Eric Rickstad’s psychological thriller, What Remains of Her, is at once a tense, chilling mystery, as well as a probing look at secrets held for decades.

Jonah Baum is a mild man, a poetry professor with a difficult childhood he’s put behind him. Married to the lovely Rebecca, with a young daughter, Sally, his small Vermont town suits them all.

Sally’s best friend is the Sheriff’s daughter, Lucinda, who had sworn to keep Sally’s secret about what the two girls saw in woods where they shouldn’t have playing.

But does a promise made in friendship hold when that friend and her mother suddenly go missing?

As the search for the missing mother and daughter escalates, lives are torn apart with suspicions, especially Jonah’s.

Forward 25 years to the anniversary of the disappearance, and Jonah has become a hermit, living in seculsion, when a young girl who reminds him eerily of his daughter shows up in his woods.

Is she a real being, or borne out of his desperation and grief?

It will take Lucinda, now the small town’s deputy Sheriff, to figure out exactly what’s been happening, and what really happened all those years ago.

A taut thriller, filled with a creeping sadness, this is throughly unsettling and fantastic when it comes to revealing human nature.

Moving, and very atmospheric in the unsettled landscape, a character in itself, this one riveting read. Highly recommended.

Paul Doiron: Stay Hidden Thursday, Sep 27 2018 

Paul Doiron’s Mike Bowditch series reflects the beauty and hardiness of Maine. He returns in a new mode for Bowditch in Stay Hidden, when the newly promoted Warden Investigator receives his first case.

Maquoit Island is isolated, and at first Bowditch isn’t surprised that a flash of white clothing has caused a deer hunter to mistake that for a deer, fatally shooting a woman.

But the hunter in question denies the shooting, and when the ballistics don’t match his rifle, he’s cleared.

Suddenly the accidental death appears far much more, especially when Bowditch learns Ariel Evans was an investigative journalist. She was supposed to interview and research the islan’ds hermit with a view to writing about his past life.

Bowditch confronts his most secretive community yet, and his efforts are thwarted.

And then the dead woman alights from a ferry, unharmed. It’s a case of mistaken identity, but it soon becomes clear the murderer thought he was killing Ariel.

The two will team up to find who wanted her dead, and why.

With taut action against the backdrop of the rugged terrain and sometimes walls of fog, this is a strong entry in the Bowditch series.

Allison Brennan: Abandoned Monday, Sep 24 2018 

Allison Brennan’s newest thriller, Abandoned, revolves around her investigative reporter Max Revere, about to tackle her most important case yet: finding out who murdered her mother.

Martha Revere will never win awards for Mother of the Year, and indeed she leaves Max with her grandparents after dragging the young girl around the world without formal schooling.

Postcards sent from Martha’s travels erratically are the only clue the young woman has when she decides to put her cable show on hold to find out why those cards stopped coming seven years ago.

With her only clue her mother’s disappearance from a small Chesapeake Bay town sixteen years ago, Max heads there, renting a cottage and determined to find the truth.

She will find that Martha was with a true con man before her disappearance, and they lived off Martha’s trust fund income and what they swindled from others they’d duped.

And when the FBI indicates they have an active investigation into the con man, Max knows she’s on the right track.

Where her probing leads her is straight into the heart of long-held secrets, from her family and others, with surprsing twists in store. Along the way, Max learns about creating a family.

A strong entry in Brennan’s cannon, with interesting characters, an idyllic setting, and a twist of romance to sweeten the plot.

End of Summer Roundup: Sunday, Sep 23 2018 

Welcome to Auntie M’s summer roundup. Before the leaves start to turn in earnest, here are a stack of books for your reading pleasure to end the summer season:

Stephen Leather’s Spider Shepherd series have made the author one of the UK’s most successful thriller writers. In Tall Order, he’s putting his photographic memory to good use in the Met’s SuperRecognizer Unit but chomping for action.

Being able to spot faces better than a computer should be enough to keep him busy. But a suicide bombing occurs at a football stadium, and Spider soon finds himself caught up in what can only be termed a silent revenge mission.

Soon Spider is teamed up with the only person who can identify the man behind this attack, a ruthless terrorist who’s already been blamed for an American airliner crash. Teaming up with Navy SEAL Dean Martin, who can recognize the terrorist, Saladin, the two set off to track the terrorist and his cell on the Afghanistan/Pakistan line.

With his consistent action scenes, Leather creates a fast-forward tale. A gripping entry in this dependable series.

An avid dog lover, Auntie M has long been a fan of David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter Mysteries. He returns with Rescued, where the defense lawyer finds himself doing less and less lawyering in order to work more on his rescue, The Tara Foundation.

But it’s no surprise to readers when he finds himself involved in a murder case, but with a surprsing twist: the defendant, accused of the murder of the driver carrying dogs from the South to a rescue in the Northeast, hits too close to home.

The accused murderer is Andy’s wife’s old fiance`, Dave Kramer. And worse, he’s admitted he killed the victim, but claims it was in self-defense. One thing ex-cop Laurie is certain of is that Dave Kramer needs a good defense lawyer. Over to Andy . . .

With his trademark humor keeping things on track, Rosenfelt has created a nice duo with Andy and Nick and their extended family and friend–and don’t forget the dogs.

Carola Dunn’s 23rd Daisy Dalrymple Mystery, The Corpse at the Crystal Palace, finds the amateur sleuth trying to entertain her young cousins. It’s 1928, after all, and there’s plenty to take them to, including the Crystal Palace, once Daisy finds out her own nanny has never been there.

Things happen quickly when Nanny Gilpin visits the first ladies ‘convenience’ room and doesn’t return. When Daisy goes to see where she is, she instead finds the another woman dressed as a nanny–only this one is dead.

To make things worse, her own nanny is found unconscious, and has amnesia as to how she became that way, and why she would abandon Daisy’s 3 yr-old twins.

With DCI Alec Fletcher on board, and Daisy helping, the husband-and-wife duo are certain to get to the bottom of this mess.

The sixth Flavia Albia mystery, Pandora’s Boy, contains all of Lindsey Davis’ attention to historic detail, wrapped up in a mystery.

Ancient Rome comes alive, filled with betrayals. It’s a difficult situation when Flavia’s new case is brought to her attention by heer husband’s ex-wife, who is unhappy to be there in the first place.

After a young girl is poisoned, Flavia sets her investigative eyes on the most likely person to have poison, local witch Pandora. Supposedly plying her trade in beatuy products, the same herbals can often be used in more dangerous ways.

It’s a tale of brutality and betrayals that will have devastating effects close to home for Flavia.

For fans of the first century, that era comes alive.

David Bell’s Somebody’s Daughter offers a race against time when a young girl goes missing. That timed pressure ratchets up the suspense in this well-written tale.

When Michael Frazier’s ex-wife shows up unexpectedly, the last thing he expects is for her to tell him her young missing daughter is also his.

It’s a bittersweet moment because Michael and his wife, Angela, have been experiencing fertility issues. As the Frazier’s each become involved in searching for missing Felicity, the pressure rises.

It doesn’t help that Michael lost a sister when she was young, and he’s blamed himself for her death since.

As the hours pass, secrets held for years will be forced into the open, while a young girl’s life dangles in the balance.

With short chapters and alternating narrators to add to the tension, readers will find it difficult to know whom to trust as the story unravels.

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