Jo Spain: Six Wicked Reasons Sunday, Jul 12 2020 

Jo Spain’s Six Wicked Reasons is a wonderful study in characters so vividly drawn, readers will feel they’ve come to know the Lattimer family.

Six siblings have varied stories, and all of their stories of this dysfunctional family will become known: sisters Ellen, Kate and Clio; brothers James, Adam, and Ryan.

The thing that unites them is the treatment each has endured from their father, Frazer Lattimer. While seeking his approval, wanting his love, each has experienced the depths he would sink to with his own children. Each has suffered at some point, been the butt of his humiliation, or worse. Each has reached a breaking point.

Ten years ago Adam disappeared and was presumed dead, which led to Kathleen Lattimer’s early death. Since then the other siblings have been absent from the family home, in Dublin, France, Italy. Youngest daughter, Clio, has spent the last four years in New York.

Then Adam suddenly returns. His sibling are called to the family home by their father for a reunion weekend in Spanish Cover that Frazer orchestrates with surprises for all of his children.

The weekend culminates with a party aboard a yacht with an ultimate surprise but a huge one for Frazer, too. Nine people are aboard, but only eight will return.

An excellent read, atmospheric and chilling, where every character has a strong motive for murder. Highly recommended.

Mark Billingham: The Killing Habit; Their Little Secrets Wednesday, Jul 8 2020 

For some reason, Mark Billingham’s last two Tom Thorne novels didn’t make it to Auntie M’s To Be Read shelf, but she’s bought them herself to catch up.

The Killing Habit bring Thorne at first into the world where pets are being killed. A classic sign of a psychopath in the making, his goal is to find the culprit before his crimes can escalate.

To that end, he enlists DI Nicola Tanner, a welcome addition to the series. With her own quirks and the secret that binds them together, she’s working her own murder, a shooting by a motorcyclist that has drugs at its heart.

When the two find a serial killer is using a dating agency to target his victims, the chase is literally on before more women can be killed.

The opposing natures of Thorne and Tanner make them a dynamic couple with their interplay and dialogue some of the best in the book. Both are struggling with their personal lives, too. A great installment in one of Auntie M’s favorite series.

In Their Little Secret, with the personal aspects still looming for Thorne and Tanner, they duo become involved in the tragic suicide of a woman who has been the victim of a swindler.

At the same time, readers follow Sarah as she drops her young son off at school. She’s a devoted mum, has a strict routine, and couldn’t appear nicer.

When a young man’s bloodied body is found, CCTV shows a woman he was with shortly before his death. The reader knows more about how these two cases overlap than Thorne and Tanner do, and only heightens the suspense.

Coroner Phil Hendricks is back, too, a great character who manages to stay friends with Thorne and now Tanner. It’s a race to the finish between a couple who bring new meaning to the term psychopath.

This one is the 16th in an a police procedural series that is as authentic as it is filled with humanity.

Both books are Highly Recommended.

Lesley Thomson: Death of a Mermaid Sunday, Jul 5 2020 

Lesley Thomson steps away from her wonderful Detective’s Daughter series to bring us a an equally compelling stand-alone mystery, Death of a Mermaid.

The mermaids in question are young women who all attended the same convent school in Newhaven. The women have varied relationships to Catholicism at the present time, but Thomson skillfully gives us chapters of their teen years so readers can see the entwined relationships between them.

Toni has become a police detective; Mags works in the local library. Karen runs a fish van that belongs to the Powers family, whose oldest child, daughter Freddy, left home decades years ago and has just returned when she learns of her mother’s terminal illness.

Freddy’s brothers, Andy and Ricky, run the Powers Fishery whose impact on the town is vast. It’s into this setting that Freddy returns and brings with her the impact of all the reasons why she left.

Then one of the mermaids is killed, another young person dies, and while Toni handles those cases, her investigation is hampered by the fact Ricky is her boyfriend.

Thomson imbues the setting, both past and present, with descriptions that utilize all the senses, bring the reader right into the church, the homes, and the fishery. There will be storms, secrets buried that resurface, and social issues that Thomson faces directly.

All of the characters are well-drawn, from their emotions to their quirks. Auntie M loves books where she learns something, and readers will learn about the fishing industry, too, in a way that’s built into the plot.

At the heart, this mystery is propelled by the short, tense chapters, by Thomson’s wonderful use of language and compelling characters, and by the sense of betrayal that haunts the entire story. Highly recommended.

Sara Paretsky: Love & Other Crimes Wednesday, Jul 1 2020 

Sara Paretsky brings out a collection of stories she’s written over the past twenty years in Love & Other Crimes. There are fourteen stories in the collection, which include eight featuring her creation, VI Warshawski.

It’s a mixed collection, all with that twisting plot that has been the hallmark of her books. They range from a very young VI’s first investigation, to the title story, where a modern VI uses her investigative experience from the years to clear a family friend of a murder charge, and end with a surprise twist.

In the introduction, Paretsky notes her early reading of the Golden Agers, and her love of late Victorian and early 20th-century crime fiction. Notes at the end of the stories describe their genesis and often give clues to bits within the stories.

Her story “Murder at the Century of Progress” pays homage to two greats: she brings back Race Williams, the first hardboiled detective originally created by Carroll John Daly (1923) and mixes his investigation with that of a woman who is the ultimate mix of Miss Marple and Amelia Butterworth, another favorite.

She uses the cover of the dithering spinster and gives her Charlotte Palmer a more adventurous back story we discover, as the two manage to foil the murder of none-other than fan dancer Sally Rand at the World’s Fair of 1933 called the Century of Progress.

PD James called Paretsky “the most remarkable” of modern crime writers. Readers who sift through this collection will surely agree.

Jeffrey B. Burton: The Finders Tuesday, Jun 30 2020 

Jeffrey B. Burton introduces a new series that will grab dog lovers and mystery hounds alike with The Finders.

Set in Chicago, trainer Mace Reid specializes in cadaver detection dogs. When he adopts a golden retriever he names Elvira he calls Vira, the star of the show, her unique talents go beyond his usual training.

Still recovering from the death of a beloved companion, and also a divorce, Mace’s head had been down for too long. After a horrid beginning, it will turn out that Vira’s instincts have been right all along.

Young women have been disappearing, and as Mace and the police start to connect the dots and widen the field of victims, Vira brings Mace to the culprit.

But it turns out this killer has been groomed by one even more despicable. Called Everyman, he’s become a master of hiding himself in plain sight. And now he has his sights set on Mace.

It will take all of Vira’s talents pushing Mace toward the right person in a chilling climax. It’s a high tension ride, but one that will leave readers anxious for the next installment featuring Mace, Vira and pals.

Sarah Stewart Taylor: The Mountains Wild Saturday, Jun 27 2020 


The author of the Sweeney St. George series bring the first in a new series to readers in The Mountains Wild.

Featuring an American police detective investigating in Ireland, with scenes on Long Island, Taylor captures the landscape and the people in both places.

Auntie M grew up on Long Island and the North Shore is well represented. She’s never been to Ireland, but after this book, it’s gone up a few notches on her bucket list.

When her cousin Erin disappeared twenty-three years ago, Maggie D’Arcy flew over to Ireland, spending weeks there trying to get to the bottom of what happened to Erin.

Small clues left didn’t help, and there was no trace of Erin when she left to come back home. Told with flashbacks to Long Island in 1993 and the cousins lives then, contrasted with Maggie’s first trip over, the current time frame is interspersed in a new investigation.

The case and its influence turned Maggie into the detective she’s become. Then the Gardai get in touch again: Erin’s scarf has been found; another young woman has gone missing.

Maggie is now is a divorced mom of a teen who works for the homicide squad. She takes time off when the cold case calls her back to Dublin and its outskirts. She’s also determined to face the ghosts she left behind, as she must find out what happened to Erin. Maggie will use all the skills she’s learned in the intervening years to do that, while hoping to save the lift of the most recently abducted young woman, despite the cost to herself.

It’s a compelling mix with a startling twist at the end that leaves the reader in no doubt Taylor has a hit new series on her hands. Highly recommended.

Ragnar Jonasson: The Mist Tuesday, Jun 23 2020 

Following the heels of the book that introduced us to her (The Darkness), Ragnar Jonasson brings Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir’s case that led to that action to the page in The Mist.

Hulda is obviously having a difficult time at work when she’s handed a case that will at least get her out of the office. Alternating where she finds herself now with what led up to her depression, readers see the events of the prior two months have led to this case, and to her situation at home.

They also see what has happened to an older couple who live in a very isolated farmhouse in eastern Iceland. While the couple are readying for Christmas, the become even more stranded when a huge snowstorm blankets the area.

Erla and Einar have lived in this remote location their entire marriage, after taking on Einar’s family farm. Erla has had a tougher time getting used to the loneliness, especially in the winter. When a stranger knocks on their door, lost in the weather, Einar invites him in. What was to be an overnight stay turns longer when the storm continues unabated.

Erla is suspicious of the stranger, and even more so when some aspects of his story don’t add up. Her fears ramp up as more and more things cause her to suspect their uninvited guest is not whom he says he is at all.

It’s a chilling turn of events and more so when Hulda fears she is searching for a serial killer.

Well-done, with complex plot and dark premise that builds to a stunning climax on many levels.

Elly Griffiths: The Lantern Men Tuesday, Jun 16 2020 

NOTE: This review was first published back in April. Auntie M is repeating it today, on its US publication date. If you aren’t already a fan of Elly Griffiths, get on board now! She’ll leave it up for a while so you can look for your copy, and while you’re at it, check out Griffith’s standalone, The Stranger Diaries, too, as well as her Stephens and Mephisto series set in 1950s Brighton.

It’s no secret Elly Griffiths long-running Dr. Ruth Galloway series is one of Auntie M’s favorites. She brings readers the newest, The Lantern Men, as accomplished as any of those preceding, one to read and savor, containing her wit and original and creative voice.

It’s been two years since Ruth left her marsh side cottage and her position at the North Norfolk University and as the police’s resident forensic archaeologist. She’s moved Cambridge to teach, and plan a future with historian Frank, and brought her daughter with DCI Nelson, Kate, and their cat, Flint. But where has she left her heart?

This is the subtext as the current story plays out. Having completed a week’s writing residency to finish what will be third book on forensic archaeology, Ruth is surprised when DCI Nelson appears for a visit.

Ivor March, in prison for life for murder, has offered to give up the site of more murdered bodies than he’s in prison for, but only if Ruth oversees the dig.

Reasonably wary, Ruth can hardly turn down a chance to bring closure to the families of the two missing young women, Nicola Ferris and Jenny McGuire. The Norfolk site where March insists the women are buried borders the fens in an area where local legend has it being haunted by figures holding lights and capturing travelers to bring them to their death. They are known as the Lantern Men.

The cast includes many of those readers will have met before and continues their stories but the case can be read as a stand alone. The setting continues its role as central to the case and to Ruth’s feelings as she becomes immersed in the case. But she’s chosen a new life in Cambridge; so why is she having panic attacks?

When a third body is found at the site, and another young woman is murdered, all bets are off. Nelson isn’t happy to entertain the thought that Ivor March is innocent? But if he isn’t the killer, then who is? While he keeps his feelings for Ruth buried as deeply as one of Ruth’s archaeological digs, he misses her, and that adds to his frustration over her new life with Frank in Cambridge.

It’s a finely wrought plot, with enough suspects to keep the reader at bay, while adding in terrific plot twists that will keep the reader on their toes with a building sense of urgency. Who is really at risk from a killer here?

All the balls Griffiths juggles stay afloat and lead to a stunning climax that finds this one Highly Recommended.

Ngaio Marsh: Black Beech and Honeydew Friday, Jun 12 2020 

Here’s one of Auntie M’s reviews for a book that’s both older and non-fiction: the autobiography Dame Ngaio Marsh wrote of her life, titled Black Beech and Honeydew.

Readers expecting to read a primer on how Marsh wrote her famous series, starring Detective Roderick Alleyn, might be disappointed to find that the books are almost an aside to Marsh.

Her real love was the theatre, acting early on and then directing and producing plays, often her beloved Shakespeare, in her native New Zealand and in the UK.

There are lots of references to her family and its friends who people her life, as well as her travels. There is a center section with a host of photos from various stages of her life.

She admits to feeling somewhat as a poser at times when at literary events, as to her mind the books were a means to an end. Her income allowed her to direct the next play. She was fond of Alleyn, and didn’t take him for granted, but nevertheless was astounded at how popular the books became, for which she grateful.

Her love of the arts also explains why she set so many of the book in theatre settings. It was one she knew well and loved. Her choice of his wife to be a portrait painter was deliberate, too.

It’s a fascinating look at one of the Golden Age authors whose mysteries still serve as a primer for crime writers interested in writing an endearing series. While styles change, and the emphasis on psychology is more modern, the books hold up well in terms of plot and story.

Ann Cleeves: Burial of Ghosts Sunday, Jun 7 2020 

Burial of Ghosts is Ann Cleeves’ stand-alone from 2003, an earlier book Auntie M wanted to read by the Vera Stanhope and Shetland series author.

Lizzie Bartholomew has been in and out of foster homes after being abandoned as an infant. After becoming a social worker, an incident in the care home where she works has left her traumatized and on leave.

A holiday in Morocco, a different landscape, almost alien, offers the respite she needs to put the awful incident and her reaction to it behind her. When she meets Philip on a bus, their one-night affair seems just that: a fling that will fade into a pleasant memory.

She’s barely settled in back Newbiggin, a small depressed town an hour from Newcastle, when a solicitor’s letter will change her life. Philip Samson has died and left her money in his will with a caveat of conditions that soon have Lizzie embroiled in the Samson family and Philip’s life, trying to ferret out his secrets.

With her own nightmares and sticky nature often her own worst enemy, Lizzie will need to pull on her knowledge of human characteristics as she sleuths out what’s really happened when not one but two young men are killed.

Cleeves relation to her setting are on show here, as are her skills at characterization and story. It’s a grand read, one to seek out, for fans of Vera or Shetland, or any reader looking for a darn good mystery.

Next Page »

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.

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

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.

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