HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: Great reads for your gift list Thursday, Dec 1 2016 

At this time of year, Auntie M likes to give readers a compendium, if you will, of stacks of books to choose from for gifts for the readers on your list. Don’t forget her axiom that it’s perfectly reasonable to buy a few for yourself!

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Let’s start off with a little goodie that should soon appear in stockings all over the world: Short stories from the Queen of British Mystery, P D James, gathered into a slim volume perfect for stockings. The Mistletoe Murder and other Stories contains four classic short stories, two featuring her detective, poet Adam Dalgliesh. For a brief moment in time, readers can hear James’ voice in their reader ear once again. A delightful foreword by Val McDermid and a preface by James herself frame the perfect holiday treat. These are delicious: a snapshot of a setting, a crime to be solved, and you’re off! That’s the US cover on the left and the UK cover on the right. Enjoy!

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Keeping with the holiday theme is Ann Myers’ third Santa Fe Cafe` Mystery, Feliz Navidead
. Chef Rita Lafitte of Tres Amigas Cafe has her mom visiting from Minnesota to entertain, while keeping track of her teenage daughter performing in the outdoor Christmas play. When Rita discovers a dead actor during the first performance, she swears off investigating, but soon finds herself involved in a very dangerous situation. The Knit and Snitchers, her elderly group of knitting ladies, are back, giving information and clues to Rita even as they sneak their knitting onto statues and stop signs. There are a host of other entertaining characters, and don’t forget Rita’s mom. Who can resist Santa Fe at Christmas? Watch Rita solve a murder and drool over Myers’ recipes, too.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas
is David Rosenfelt’s newest Andy Carpenter mystery in the long-running series. This time he and his trusty golden retriever are helping his friend “Pups” Boyer, accused of murder when said neighbor is found dead–by Pups. It doesn’t help that the neighbor had filed a complaint against Pups and the noise of her local dog rescue. While Andy doesn’t believe Pups is guilty, his digging will bring him closer than he’d like to the real murderer. Rosenfelt’s real Tara Foundation, which finds home for injured or sick dogs, is the basis for Andy’s foundation.

Maggie Patterson is helping out her sick sister, covering for her at The Wine and Bark, the dog-friendly bar Rachel runs in a usually-quiet seaside town in California in Trigger Yappy. It’s Maggie who hears the argument between her friend Yolanda and Bonnie, the gal who runs the Chic Chickie shop. When Bonnie is murdered, the Roundup Crew and the very cute Officer Brad Brooks are on hand to help Maggie investigate to clear Yolanda, even if means putting her purser job on hold to do so. Filled with good humor, charm and a bit of romance.

We’ll stick with humor in Agatha Raisin’s latest adventure, Pushing Up Daisies. M. C. Beaton’s beloved character is the kind of sleuth Miss Marple wouldn’t recognize, with her hard-drinking man lust. A land developer is murdered and there are far too many suspects. Lord Bellington wanted to turn the community garden into a housing development, so there are few tears shed at his death. The villagers seem happy enough that his heir and son, Damian, doesn’t intend to follow his father’s plans, but he does want to find his father’s killer, and hires Agatha to investigate. This time a retired detective is on hand to assist Agatha, and it helps that he’s handsome. Agatha doesn’t let a second murder of a woman seen kissing the new detective deter her from her case–or him. Vintage Beaton.

A switch to historicals, and we start of with the continuing Charles Lenox series by Charles Finch with The Inheritance. With fine attention to Victorian detail, Lenox is thrust into his most personal case yet. His friend from Harrow, Gerald Leigh, asks for help from Lenox, only to disappear. Knowing that in the past Leigh has been the recipient of a bequest from an anonymous benefactor, he finds Leigh has received a second bequest. Could they be from the same person? And what does either had to do with his friend’s disappearance? His investigation will take him from the highs of society to the lows of the gangs of the east end of London before it’s over. An intricate plot with realistic and finely-drawn period details.

Ian Sansome’s new County Guides novel, Westmoreland Alone
, with Stephen Sefton as narrator, Professor Morley (the People’s Professor) and his daughter Miriam, newly engaged, set out to conquer the Lake District. Owing to the the rather unusual end to Sefton’s night at the pub and cards before leaving, he persuades Morley he should take the train, with disastrous effect. A horrid crash reminds Sefton of his time in Spain and there is a tragic death. It’s the juxtaposition of the three personalities that provides a lot of the humor in the strained setting. Stranded after the fatal train crash, the three become involved in a suspicious death when the body of a woman is found at an archeological dig. It’s 1930’s England with all of the mores of the time. We see more of Sefton’s PTSD as the trio investigate gypsies, wrestling habits, country fairs and more.

Wilbur Smith has been called “the best historical novelist” by Stephen King, and he brings that talent to ancient Egypt in Pharaoh
. This action-packed epic follows the Pharaoh’s advisor, Taita, where Egypt is under a brutal attack and Pharaoh Tamose is gravely injured. Despite leading the army to victory, Taita is branded a traitor after Tamose dies by the new Pharaoh. With his first person narrative bringing Taita and Egypt to life, sometimes in a boastful way, history feels present under Smith’s skilled hands when a kidnaping leads to preparation for another war.
1967 Florence and Italian culture come alive under Mario Vichi’s hands in the fifth Inspector Bordelli mystery, Death in the Tuscan Hills. Florence is getting over the tragic floods of the previous winter but Bordelli has resigned after failing to solve the investigation into a young boy’s murder at that time. He leaves the city, determined to find peace in his new home in the Tuscan hills, despite the nagging thorn in his side by leaving the boy’s killers free. While he learns a new way of life, tending to an olive grove, gardening, cooking, and worries about his confused love life, he still obsesses about the men at large. Retribution is at hand when he discovers all the cohorts’ identities. But now what will he do about it? An absorbing tale with Vichi’s usual footnotes for clarification in several places.


Will Thomas’ latest Barker and Llewellyn novel put their detecting skills to the test in Hell Bay, an impossible crime set in 1889 Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall. Barker has been tasked with providing security for a secret meeting with the French government at the estate there of Lord Hargrave. The security team fails miserably, with two deaths on the island and no means of leaving or signaling for help. It’s a classic locked-area mystery, as Barker and Llewelyn race to uncover the killer among them before he strikes again and dashes all hope of negotiating a new treaty with France. Chock full of historical details and rising tension.

Andrew Hunt’s Desolation Flats captures 1930s Salt Lake City in his Art Oveson series. The famed Bonneville Salt Flats are the site of international racers, there to break the land speed record. Then Nigel Underhill, a wealthy English participant, is murdered, and his brother disappears. It’s a case for Art in the Missing Person’s Bureau, and he’s been handed a helper: a former Scotland Yard detective the Underhill family has hired to assist Art. The trail will lead them between Utah and London and end in a most unlikely manner. A gritty and engrossing read.

For readers who enjoy books set in different countries, check out these:


Adam LeBor’s Yael Azoulay series have been praised for the geopolitical thrillers’ realistic and intelligent plotting and savvy yet human protagonist. Yael has managed to stop the plans of the powerful Prometheus Group and its leader is out for revenge. This third installment, The Reykjavik Assignment, takes the covert UN negotiator to Iceland for a secret meeting she’s arranged during a UN conference between three key players: the US Secretary of State, The UN Secretary General, and the President of Iran. She soon discovers a plan to disrupt it as an act of revenge against Yael herself. As the tension rises, and with the US President on hand, Yael races to stop the murder of the UN Secretary by unmasking the killer, who has his own motives for wanting the man dead. A chilling climax with a surprising twist at the end will answer some of Yael’s long-held questions. A stunning end to the trilogy.

realtigers It’s off to England and London’s Slough House in Mick Herron’s Real Tigers, a Jackson Lamb spy thriller that’s been called some of the finest spy fiction of the last 20 years. Slough House is where a disgraced spy is sent to push paper. But when one is the victim of a revenge kidnapping, it leads to a group of private mercenaries within the Security Service. Enter Jackson Lamb to sort it all out in a manner that will convince readers the spy novel with sharp dialogue and filled with sly wit is still around.

The Patriarch brings Bruno, Chief of Police, to the French countryside for the birthday celebration of the man who is Bruno’s childhood hero: Marco “the Patriarch” Desaix, a WWII flying ace. He knows many of the attendees, and is enjoying himself immensely, far away from his daily grind, when a longtime friend of the family is found dead. What started as a pleasant day turns into the kind of investigation he’d hoped to avoid, as what at first appears to be a tragedy may just be a murder. With his hero’s family all coming under suspicion, he must tread lightly in the Dordogne, from the river chateaus to the prehistoric cave paintings to find a killer.

To North Korea and the enigmatic Inspector O, in James Church’s sixth in the series, The Gentleman from Japan
. Living with his nephew, Bing, the director of state security in northeast China near the border of North Korea, Inspt. O becomes involved when Bing needs his help after there are seven deaths in one night, apparent poisonings in noodle shops. Despite not wanting to investigate them, Bing needs O’s help more than ever. Their investigation will take them to Spain and Portugal before it’s straightened out as a world-wide plot develops. Satisfying and complex.

Back to the US for some great mysteries. Douglas Schofield’s Storm Rising fits that bill, with cop’s widow Lucy Hendricks leading the charge. After leaving for Florida, Lucy decides its time to move home to New Jersey and lay her old ghosts to rest. Yet the mystery surrounding her husband’s death becomes even stronger when her young son, Kevin, experiences a change in his behavior. With Hurricane Sandy quickly approaching, the elements conspire to destroy more than Lucy’s home as she tries to unpick the mystery surrounding her husband’s death. A true mystery laden with supernatural elements.

Not supernatural, but with a substance not known in earth: that’s the crux of the case before Kay Scarpitta in Patricia Cornwell’s new CHAOS
. A bicyclist has been killed with superhuman force and Kay and her investigating partner, Peter Marino, are on the case in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the body has been found near the Kennedy School of Government. What doesn’t add up are the calls Kay’s husband, FBI agent Benton Wesley, have received before the incident from Interpol. Or were they? And when her tech-savvy niece Lucy fails to be able to trace the sender, all bets are off with a cyberbully involved. High tension, detailed forensics, and a whopping good story.

Ellen Crosby brings back her Virginia Wine Country Mysteries under the Minotaur umbrella in The Champagne Conspiracy. Vintner-sleuth Lucie Montgomery investigates an older mystery with her partner, Quinn Santori, when his uncle Gino enlists their help solving the 1920s death of Zara Tomasi, the first wife of his grandfather, who died under suspicious circumstances in 1923. Is there a connection to her death the day after President Warren Harding died at the same San Francisco hotel? With a blackmailer breathing down their necks, Gino and Lucie search for the truth before a family secret is revealed. Everything they hold dear will come under threat as a murderer tries to keep the truth about Zara’s death buried in time.

Gritty crime fiction takes to the streets of the Bronx in John Clarkson’s
Bronx Requiem
. James Beck is back, and he takes it hard when an ex-con, determined to change his ways, is murdered just hours after his release before he can change his life. Enter James Beck, whose ring of ex-cons in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn try to find justice for the murdered man. But a deeper look into a street killing turns into something more complicated, and soon Beck and his ring need to watch their own backs to uncover the truth. Fast-paced and action filled.

And for those who want a paperback for stocking stuffers or maybe that grab bag gift, look no further than these:

Her Last Breath is Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder entry new in paperback, and she’s a favorite of readers with good reason. Investigating the world of the Amish isn’t easy, but it’s a world Kate knows, and as Chief of Police, she’s called in to a hit-and-run that leaves an Amish deacon and of two of his children dead, with a third clinging to life. The Amish lifestyle is accurately portrayed, its simplicity a stark contrast to the rapid pace and high tension. The widow was Kate’s friend as youths, and while she’s determined to find the killer, she starts to suspect it’s much more than a simple case in Painters Mill.

Sophie Hannah’s The Narrow Bed
is part of her Culver Valley crime series with the highly interesting married detective duo, Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer. A serial killer is murdering pairs of best friends after giving the victim a hand-made white book containing a line of poetry before their death. Their search centers around stand-up comedian Kim Tribbeck, who was a recipient of one of the white books, but is still alive a year later. How they solve this crime and it all comes together shows the hallmark of Hannah’s complex plotting for a read that’s filled with pathos and psychological ambiguity.

Carla Norton’s What Doesn’t Kill Her is the second Reeve Le Clair thriller. Now a college student after surviving being the captive of killer Daryl Wayne Flint, she’s getting her life back on track. Then the unthinkable happens: Flint manages to escape from the psychiatric hospital where he’s been held, and starts killing people from his past, settling old scores. And that included Reeve, and she knows she’s on his list. Not only that: she realizes she’s the one who knows him best and is the only one who can stop him. Chilling and tautly plotted.

And one for your true crime aficionado: possessed
True crime writer Kathryn Casey earned Ann Rule’s two thumbs up as one of the best in the business. Now Casey explores the “Infamous Texas Stiletto Murder” in Possessed
, taking readers to Houston and what at first glance is a domestic murder. The details include the magnetic and erratic Ana Trujillo, who had a reputation in Houston for her supposed occult powers. Stefan Andersson is the gentle, Swedish man who falls for Ana and comes under her spell. A fascinating look at the forensic evidence and witness testimony comes under the microscope as Ana tries to claim she killed Stefan in self defense. Meticulously presented.

Kjell Eriksson: Stone Coffin, Ann Lindell Mysteries #7 Sunday, Nov 27 2016 


Kiel Ericsson’s brings Ann Lindell her toughest case yet in Stone Coffin, which was shortlisted for the Prize for Best Swedish Crime Novel.

Trying to figure out her personal life takes up Lindell’s thoughts when they’re not concentrated on her work, making her realize how small her circle of support really is. Her newest case is no exception: a mother and her young daughter are ruthlessly run down on the road on their way to put flowers on the grandmother’s Uppsala grave.

When the victim’s husband disappears the same day, the partner in a pharmaceutical company becomes the prime suspect in his wife and daughter’s murders. Yet they can’t seem to locate him.

What does his recent purchase of property in the Dominican Republic show? Was he planning to run away with his mistress?

As Lindell picks her way through lies and obfuscation, her personal life throws her a curve ball that upsets her emotions and her reasoning.
It doesn’t help that as she and her team investigate, they seem to be hitting brick walls–until slowly, through their dogged pursuits, a pathway clears to find a murderer.

With his usual psychological insights and detailed plot, Ericsson’s newest cements his tag line on the cover from Swedish great Henning Mankell: “Kjell Eriksson’s crime novels are among the very best.”

Bernard Minier: Don’t Turn Out the Lights Wednesday, Nov 23 2016 


Miner’s third crime novel featuring Inspector Martin Servaz, Don’t Turn Out the Lights, finds the detective on sick leave at a home for ill policeman, suffering from depression, with good reason. And it’s Christmas season, which adds to it.

Radio presenter Christine Steinmeier seems to have it all. The Toulouse personality has her great job, her own flat and dog, and a fiancé she’s bringing home to meet her parents.

Just as Servaz receives a hotel key in the mail at the nursing home, Christine received a horrible anonymous letter. The writer threatens suicide. It will change her life, when a caller to her show the next day berates her for not finding the writer. Quickly, her life begins to deteriorate as things she’s not responsible for leave devastating accusations that threaten her job, her dog, her fiancé and even her life.

As she tries to retain her sanity and fight her tormentor, Servaz find the hotel key is tied to a room where a different young woman committed suicide.

Finally finding a reason to begin his life again, Servaz starts a clandestine investigation, calling on favors and friends to find the twisted killer who may be the same individual stalking Christine. Or is it?

An absorbing thriller with several moves and twists Auntie M promises you won’t see coming in this dark and gritty tale of revenge and madness.

Keigo Higashino: Under the Midnight Sun Sunday, Nov 20 2016 

Higashino’s mysteries are intricate puzzles, and that proves true with his latest, Under the Midnight Sun, which spans decades as one dedicated detective just can’t let that unsolved case go.

A murdered pawnbroker’s body is found in an abandoned building. Despite several leads, Det. Sasagaki can’t pin down the murderer, and several clues at the site keep him wondering. The murdered man’s son, Ryo, is one of the main characters, and seen through a succession of other character’s eyes.

So, too, do we learn of the life of another teen, Yuhiko, whose mother may or may not have committed suicide. Taken in by her aunt, the young woman exudes a natural grace and turns heads. Her growth is also tracked by a succession of character’s throughout the years.

And then there is the detective, who finds himself finally at retirement age, yet he can’t let this one case go unsolved. The story is told by this succession of characters as the years pass, creating the effect of a Gordonian Knot that must be untied.

Higashino’s art is this type of complex psychological mystery, where the attitudes and actions of the people are not always what they seem. Yet there are no tricks, and all of the information is there for the reader. At over 550 pages, and spanning two decades, this is the kind of compelling and contemporary mystery that exudes twists and turns, and yet makes a perfect kind of haunting sense.

Emily Littlejohn: Inherit the Bones Friday, Nov 18 2016 

Fans of Julia Keller will look forward to Emily Littlejohn’s debut Inherit the Bones, an accomplished first in series that introduces detective Gemma Monroe, a pregnant investigator with a dicey partner who’s away in Alaska as the action unfolds.

There’s been a lot lately in the news about clowns scaring people in different communities, so it’s with an eerie sense that Gemma is called to the murder scene at Fellini’s Traveling Circus to examine the body of a dead clown, played by a young man named Reed Tolliver.

Cedar Vally, Colorado springs to life under Gemma’s gaze and brings the reader in as the detective begins her investigation when Tolliver’s prints come back as belonging to Nicky Bellington, the son of the mayor, presumed dead years ago after a fall off a cliff when camping.

It becomes a politically-charged investigation after that, with Gemma saddled with a partner she doesn’t completely trust. Why would the son of the one of the most influential men in town pretend to be dead? And when he returned to his hometown, who had murdered him and why?

These questions won’t be the only ones facing Gemma, as she can’t seem to lose the thread of a double murder from years ago when two young cousins were murdered.

Littlejohn’s realistic prose, coupled with characters who resemble actual humans with valid actions and emotions, lead the reader to appreciate this
appealing debut. And I admire the author for doing what Auntie M has done in her Nora Tierney series: saddling her protagonist with an infant, which she will find, severely impedes her detecting skills. We should compare notes.

Here’s a recent interview with Littlejohn on her book:

Susan Van Kirk: The Endurance Mysteries Thursday, Nov 17 2016 


Please welcome Susan Van Kirk, to introduce her Endurance Mysteries, and don’t miss her giveaway mentioned at the end for her newest in the series, Marry in Haste:

The Endurance Mystery Series

If you are looking for a new mystery series, please check out my Endurance Mysteries. Five Star Publishing/Cengage has published the first two books in the series, and I published a novella as an e-book only on Amazon.

Let me clue you in on some “insider information.” Each of the novels has a title that come from Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac. The last word in each of the novels is “Endurance.” Finally, my three children gave me a word to use in each of these books, hoping to stump me. Hasn’t happened yet. Even “helicopter” fits in.

Endurance is a small town with a history going back to the 1830s, when settlers came to downstate Illinois to found towns and colleges on the edge of the prairie. In our time, the town has a population of 15,000 and places with such names as Patsy’s Pub, the Coffee Bean, the Penny Saved Shoe Store, Shady Meadows Cemetery, and the Homestretch Funeral Home (my personal favorite.) It’s a nice town, you know what I mean … as long as you don’t mind a murder or two.

The main character is Grace Kimball, widow and mother of three adult children. She is 57 and has just retired from teaching at Endurance High School. This means she sees former students all the time, and the reader gets to hear the crazy antics she remembers about their high school years.

Grace has a circle of female friends, but her best friend is Detective TJ Sweeney. Some might say theirs is an improbable friendship, since Grace grew up in a white bread Indianapolis home, and TJ is an intelligent biracial woman who is the product of a broken home. Grace taught TJ and mentored her through high school and college. They are loyal to the end and have each other’s backs, which is a good thing. Grace gets herself into all kinds of trouble because of her curiosity.
Into this relationship comes a mystery man, the 62-year-old Jeff Maitlin, who was a big deal in the NYC journalism community. He has decided to end his career by working part-time with a small-town newspaper, the Endurance Register. Maitlin is a mystery man because no one knows why he came to such a small place or what his past has been.

In the first book, Three May Keep a Secret, we meet Grace and discover she is haunted by a tragedy in her past that she has never been able to put behind her. When shoddy journalist, Brenda Norris, is murdered in a suspicious fire, Grace is hired by the newspaper editor, Jeff Maitlin, to fill in for Brenda, researching the town’s history for a big centennial. Unfortunately, that past hides dark secrets.

When yet a second murder occurs, Grace’s friend, TJ Sweeney, homicide detective, races against time to find a killer. Even Grace’s life will be threatened by her worse nightmare. Against the backdrop of the town’s 175th founder’s celebration, Grace and Jeff find an undeniable attraction for each other. But can she trust this mystery man?

I was told by my publisher that it would be a loooong two-year break between the first and second books. So, I self-published a novella about my complicated police detective, TJ Sweeney, called The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney. It is an e-book and takes us back to the 1940s. A body is discovered when workers are digging the foundation for a new building. TJ Sweeney must identify the victim and figure out what happened to her.

Obviously, we had no DNA in the 1940s, so this will be difficult. We also learn about Sweeney’s past and her complicated feelings about her Caucasian father, who left when she was little. Her mother, a proud African American woman, tells TJ about what it was like to be in a mixed marriage in the 1940s. The victim was last seen at a big band venue called The Roof Garden, and TJ has an amazing conversation with an elderly woman who explains what it was like back then when she danced at The Roof Garden in the 30s. Dead ends, difficulties, and amazing finds … and then, for TJ Sweeney, this case becomes personal.

The second novel, Marry in Haste, is the story of two women, a century apart, living in the small town of Endurance, and both ignoring Ben Franklin’s “Marry in Haste, Repent at Leisure.” A huge Victorian house is the setting for much of this novel, and in the house Grace finds a hidden diary from 1893.

It reveals the bittersweet story of Olivia Havelock, who came to Endurance and married a powerful, but abusive, judge. In the present day, Grace’s former student, Emily Folger, is accused of murdering her philandering, abusive husband. Grace sets out to prove Emily’s innocence, working with TJ Sweeney. Can the lessons from the diary help her save Emily Folger? This second full-length novel just came out November 16.

The third book will be out next year, and it is called Death Takes No Bribes. Grace goes back to her old high school, where she taught for almost three decades, when the principal is murdered in a horrific way. It’s a sentimental journey for Grace, who retired a year ago, and now she walks among her old colleagues wondering if one of them could be capable of murder.

Each mystery has a universal theme, and at the heart of the series is the resilience of women and how they support each other. They celebrate family, loyalty, and, often, social issues. History and romance twine their way through each book. So, I hope you’ll consider trying my Endurance Mysteries. Right now, I have a giveaway going on GoodReads for Marry in Haste that lasts until midnight on November 21.

Susan Van Kirk grew up in Galesburg, Illinois, and received degrees from Knox College and the University of Illinois. She taught high school English for thirty-four years, then spent an additional ten years teaching at Monmouth College.

Her first Endurance mystery novel, Three May Keep a Secret, was published in 2014 by Five Star Publishing/Cengage. In April, 2016, she published an Endurance e-book novella titled The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney. Her third Endurance novel, Death Takes No Bribes, will follow Marry in Haste.

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Laura Salters: Perfect Prey Wednesday, Nov 16 2016 

Perfect Prey
is Laura Salters second crime novel, after her debut Run Away.

Carina Corbett and Erin Baxter, both interns for a magazine, find themselves in Belgrade for the wild JUMP festival of music and fashion, a magnet for celebrities. From similar struggling backgrounds, the two friends spend their days touring under the guidance of the organizer of the press trip, Tim Halsey and become inseparable.

One wild Danube river trip finds them stranded in a rain storm, and their group takes shelter at the home of Tim’s friends, Broko and the extremely handsome Andrijo. That night at the JUMP festival, music so loud they can barely hear themselves think and fueled up with alcohol, the unthinkable happens: Erin goes to use the restroom and doesn’t return.

It’s an anguishing 24 hours before Belgrade’s police is willing to list her as missing, a day in which Carina’s anxiety disorder reaches new heights as she imagines all the different awful things that could have happened to Erin. When she is finally forced to return to England after several rounds of interviews with the police, dredging up anything she can tell them of Erin’s last days in Croatia, she’s drained.

But Carina is tenacious. She can’t let thoughts of Erin go, and starts her own investigation. She also agrees to accompany Erin’s mother back to Croatia several weeks later–and that’s when the multiple pieces she’s collected start to fall together.

Erin will be forced to tamp down her anxiety and the waves of inaction it gives her if she’s to come out of this alive, when the interesting and twisted plot comes together at the end.

Larissa Reinhart: A Composition in Murder & 15 Minutes Tuesday, Nov 15 2016 

Auntie M and Doc watch a show regularly on HGTV called “House Hunters International.” It’s a neat way to see how people live in other parts of the world, what their housing costs are, what the US family moving to another culture faces.

A recent show piqued Auntie M’s interest because it centered on a mystery writer finding housing for her American family in Japan. Auntie M contacted Larissa Reinhart,and here’s her story of being on a reality sho–and trying to write at the same time~

Real Life on a Reality Show by Larissa Reinhart

How real is real life on a reality show? That depends . . .

Actually, my family was lucky to be chosen for HGTV’s House Hunters International. If you don’t know, this is a cable tv show depicting a family or individual moving to or within a non-US location. There’s a brief introduction to the setting and the people moving, but the majority of the show depicts the subjects choosing one home among three.

In our case, our real life depiction was real, although some of it had to be recreated. We moved to Nagoya, Japan, with our two school-aged daughters and “little dog, Biscuit” last year when we were filmed (it took about a year for the show to be edited and shown). It’s the fourth time my husband and I have lived in Japan. Because of his work, my husband has to live in a teeny apartment two hours from Nagoya, where my daughters and I live, where they can attend international school. Biscuit enjoys a jet set life, alternating between his country apartment and city house.

He’s one spoiled dog.
And I am a writer as depicted on television (how much fun is that to say!). As proof, my sixth Cherry Tucker mystery, A Composition in Murder, releases on November 15th. My first Maizie Albright Star Detective novel, 15 Minutes, launches on January 24th, 2017. And in September my Cherry Tucker novella, “The Vigilante Vignette,” was published in a Halloween anthology, Midnight Mysteries.

On House Hunters International, they showed me typing away next to a pile of my books. If only real life was that glamorous. I normally write in an old t-shirt and jeans with my hair up in a clip. My computer barely recognized me for that scene. Plus, I could never focus well enough to write anything for real on camera.

There’s your re-creation.

Ironically, 15 Minutes is about a reality star, Maizie Albright—once a child actress who starred in a famous mystery series, “Julia Pinkerton, Teen Detective.” After her star tarnished, Maizie returns home to Georgia, hoping to become a real life detective.

I had the idea and began fleshing out the characters and plot before moving to Japan was even a glimmer of reality. I had basically finished the first draft when my husband contacted House Hunters International to see if we could be on the show. We were HHI fans and he thought it’d be fun.

I said, “Why not, it’s not like moving to Japan is a new experience for us. It’d be great research for this book series.” But in my mind, I thought we didn’t have a chance in hell of making it.

Imagine our surprise when we kept getting callbacks after each step in the extensive application and interview process. The reality of reality tv didn’t really hit us until we began communicating with the producer. And then the director, sound, and cameraman arrived in Nagoya. It was thrilling and nerve-wracking.

My writing life is always a balancing act with children and all the stuff-that-happens-when-you’re-on-deadline. I was actually writing A Composition in Murder at the time, but I took notes for Maizie Albright during our five day shoot. Now I’m writing her second book, 16 Millimeters, with that experience in mind.

I’ve always felt the best part of writing has been the people. Meeting readers and connecting with other writers has enriched my life. That’s also been the best part of my very small, 15 minutes of reality star fame.

I have new friends in our British producer and American director. They’re lovely, interesting, smart women, who I genuinely enjoyed getting to know. I love having met our talented Japanese sound guy and British cameraman and enjoyed learning about their interesting work. Now I follow them virtually (on Facebook) around Asia to see their work on commercials, documentaries, and more HHI shoots.

During our filming, they all had an amazing rapport with my children (and our dog), giving my girls a positive experience, something I worried about before the shoot. My daughters received first hand experience in directing, sound, and filming. Also the hard work and long hours that goes into a show.

And after our episode aired, lost friends who saw the show searched us out on the internet to reconnect. New friends and readers, really lovely people, reached out just to tell me they enjoyed us on the show. It humbles me to realize our fun, family experience has made people smile. This is why I write for publication, to entertain readers, particularly for those wanting to escape from life’s difficulties. I didn’t think about the crossover into a twenty-five minute tv show.

It’s been an amazing real life experience.

P.S. If you have the HGTV app, you can see the episode, “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya.” The show also re-airs occasionally, check here for the listing:

A 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Best Mystery finalist, Larissa writes the Cherry Tucker Mystery and Maizie Albright Star Detective series. Her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, now live in Nagoya, Japan, but they still call Georgia home. Visit her website and join her newsletter for more book news at and feel free to friend her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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Dr. Barbara Ebel: Dead Still Sunday, Nov 13 2016 

Please welcome Dr. Barbara Ebel, who has taken Dr. Danny Tilson’s daughter and given her a series of her own!

Annabel Tilson is a medical student finally liberated from the two-year confinement of lecture halls and gross anatomy. The first clinical rotation of her junior year is surgery where she has high hopes of mastering the basis of patient care like her famous neurosurgeon father. However, she soon realizes that studying for exams and taking care of patients is only part of the complex burden of her role as a surgical team member.

Grappling with a third-year resident who hates her and a dreamy infatuation for her chief resident, she also discovers an inordinate outbreak of patient mortality. Annabel then meets a resident from another specialty who has noticed the same statistics and, with his help, takes a crash course in pharmacology.

The clock is ticking as patients are dying within twenty-four hours of their procedures without apparent surgical complications. But for Annabel to dig further puts her at risk for failing the rotation and ending her future career as a physician.
I hope you enjoy DEAD STILL! This is Book One in the medical adventures of Dr. Annabel Tilson and is also a standalone story.

Annabel’s novel is a spinoff from her father’s series, The Dr. Danny Tilson Novels, especially Book Four – Secondary Impact. Those books are:

Book One: Operation Neurosurgeon
Book Two: Silent Fear: a Medical Mystery (also an audiobook)
Book Three: Collateral Circulation: a Medical Mystery (also an audiobook)
Book Four: Secondary Impact

Amazon – US:
Amazon – UK:
B&N Nook:

Tony Parsons: The Hanging Club Friday, Nov 11 2016 


Detective Max Wolfe, his adorable daughter, Scout, and their equally adorable dog, Stan, return in the third in the series, The Hanging Club. This series is a favorite of Auntie M’s for its strong narrative, and the way the author examines the police system and its interaction with society in England.

The title reflects a band of vigilante executioners who are abducting men they have judged evil. and hanging them, then sharing the excruciating videos of the hanging.

Max is troubled. His team’s investigation shows the murdered men all touched off strong feelings by their past actions. The law has dealt with them, but have they been dealt with fairly in the eyes of society?

There are legally correct outcomes and morally correct ones, and Max is sworn to follow the law. Where, he wonders, does the anguish caused to the victims’ family come in?

The media makes these killers seem like heroes, making Max’s job dicey as he tries to investigate. And because the victims cross all stratas of society, so will his probing, with often surprising results.

Max is a man of conscience, perhaps one of his most attractive traits, and these cases will test everything he thought he knew about his beliefs. Highly recommended.

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