Peter James: Riveting Two-fer Sunday, Oct 30 2011 

Peter James two latest Roy Grace novels reveal why Lee Child calls him “. . .  one of the best in the world.” James has produced numerous films (The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes) and his novels have a cinematic appeal, visual and complex. Indeed, three of the novels have been filmed and the books have sold over five million copies and been translated into thirty-three languages, a track record any author would envy.

James  blames being burgled for the realistic bent he brings to Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and his Brighton team. A detective James met at the time offered to help him with his series research, and later became the model for Grace. James says becoming friendly with the policeman and his cohorts led him to see that they live in an inclusive world of their own compatriots, looking differently at their surroundings from the average citizen: they have a healthy dose of suspicion most of us lack. James credits another detective friend who reads and comments on his novels-in-progress for being an invaluable resource. Auntie M agrees: her own Cumbrian source for The Green Remains (due out early in 2012) helps with details of everything, from the colors of the lights on top of Lake District panda cars, to the distance to the police station from the major crime scene.

Dead Like You opens in Brighton at the Metropole Hotel on New Year’s Eve. A woman is brutally raped; a week later, a second woman is attacked. Both victims have their shoes taken by the offender.

 

 

The cases jog Grace’s memory back to a series of remarkably similar crimes which remain unsolved from 1997. Are these crimes the work of a copycat perpetrator, or has the “Shoe Man” resurfaced?

By shifting between the past and present, James presents us with the fullest picture yet of Grace’s personal life, taking readers into the time before his beloved wife went missing and changed his world irrevocably. He also offers a fascinating story of sexual obsession. As the crimes mount, Grace’s team race to save the latest victim.

The novel is inventive and engrossing, blending aspects of the police procedural with the psychological suspense that has become the hallmark of James’ novels, which Jeffery Deavers say echo ” . . . the heart and voices of such authors as P. D. James and Ian Rankin at their best.”

 

 

James’ newest addition to the series will be on sale here at the end of November. Auntie M scored an Advance Readers’ Edition of Dead Man’s Grip and feels this is the strongest entry yet in the Roy Grace series.

This one sizzles off the page, building from chapter to chapter, as the action ranges through several countries and surges with emotional charges on several levels.                                                                                                                                                  

The action starts in a seemingly innocuous way, with widow Carly Chase hurrying to the office after dropping her son at school. A terrible motor vehicle accident occurs, with the resultant death of a Brighton University student. Too much wine the evening before is still in Carly’s system, but when she’s eventually cleared of any wrongdoing in the accident, she has no idea that the repercussions will extend far beyond the loss of her driving license.

When Grace’s Sussex team become involved, it becomes clear that the dead student had connections to organized crime in America, and several scenes are set in New York on Long Island’s tony Hamptons. Since this is Auntie M’s homeground, she was particularly keen to read these bits, but the routes used to get there from Manhattan are correct and descriptions of the area hold up well.

Then revenge killings of the others involved in the accident begin, accompanied by some of the most horrific torture imaginable. It becomes obvious to Grace that Carly is next on the killer’s list.

Besides James’ terrific plotting, this novel is notable for two other aspects. The first is the hit man involved, and here Grace does a sensational job of getting inside the mind of the kind of freakish sociopath who would be able to carry out these detailed killings. This may be one of the most evil characters to come out of James’ imagination yet.

The second is the weaving in of Grace’s personal life, which takes an surprising and unforeseen turn. Readers of the series will be chomping at the bit for the next book to see how this newest twist plays out. Don’t miss this latest entry from Peter James for a satisfying read and a wild ride.

 

S J Watson: Before I Go To Sleep Sunday, Oct 23 2011 

Before this novel hit, ninety percent of its readers thought S J Watson must be a woman.

Instead, the author is a 40 yr-old audiologist with the British National Health System. Before I Go To Sleep is one of the finest psychological thrillers I’ve read in years.

The jacket blurb reads: Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? This is the rich premise that Watson mined when he was accepted in 200 into the first Faber Academy Writing a Novel course. The result is nothing short of spectacular, leaving Dennis Lehane to comment: “Exceptional . . . It left my nerves jangling for hours after I finished the last page.”

Watson’s protagonist wakes up in the morning in a strange bed, lying next to a man she doesn’t recognize. When she went to sleep she was in her twenties; the face that looks back at her in the mirror is middle-aged and unfamiliar. So begins the Christine’s journey, over and over, as each day her husband has to explain that she has suffered a terrible accident twenty years ago that has left her without the ability to form new memories. Her husband, Ben, is the soul of patience as he explains that Christine is now forty-seven, has been in and out of hospitals and institutions, and that he has to go through this with her each morning when she wakes up.

Christine is stunned, and the reader feels her struggle every day to comprehend what has happened to her. Then one day she is at home when Ben is working and she answers a call from a Dr. Nash, who claims he is a neurologist she’s been working with without Ben’s knowledge. He explains she has a hidden journal and tells her where to find it in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, she has been recording her thoughts and actions. Christine turns the pages, reading past entries about her mornings with Ben’s patient explanation, her secret sessions with Dr. Nash, and even small flashes of memories of scenes from her former life.

The reader cannot help but be drawn into Christine’s plight. Even as the awfulness of her situation becomes apparent, it raises unsettling questions. Is it possible to love or trust without memory?

As she reads more and more of her journal, and documents the memories she is having, her questions to Ben also become unsettling. What was their life like before her accident? What happened to her plans to be a novelist?

Christine reads more and more of her journal each day and keeps documenting the memories she is having, while her  questions to Ben become unsettling. What was their life like before her accident? What happened to her plans to be a novelist? Why has her former best friend deserted her? And perhaps most disturbing: why didn’t they have a child? For inside, deep down in an irrevocable place, Christine is convinced that she’s a mother.

As Christine’s makes journal entries build, she begins to pick up inconsistencies in Ben’s story. A huge one concerns the details of the accident that robbed her of her memory. She tries to reconstruct her past as her memory flashes start to build. The tensions rises as the pieces of Christine’s past life don’t seem to hang together, and the story builds to a stunning climax.

It would be a shame to tell you any more of this intriguing plot; you’ll simply have to read it for yourself, and I promise you’ll stay up at night to have the resolution revealed.

Watson says this past year has been “the weirdest year of my life.” His debut novel has quickly risen in the charts, and been translated into several languages and published in foreign countries. Ridley Scott has optioned the movie and signed Rowan Jaffe to write the screenplay and direct. It will be interesting to see how this novel translates to the screen, and who is cast as Christine, as the entire novel is told from her point of view. Don’t miss the chance to read this original story before the movie hits the screen.

 

Aline Templeton X 3 Sunday, Oct 16 2011 

Auntie M had been enjoying Aline Templeton’s DI Marjory Fleming series and earlier this summer brought her to readers attention. (See blog of 7/31) She is also the author of six previous stand-alones.

Now she’s successfully tracked down a copy of Templeton’s first novel in the Fleming series, Cold in the Earth, which introduces Marjory, her family, and recurring members of her team. From this beginning, it’s easy to see how the series launch attracted so much attention.

Played out against the real-life tragedy of hoof-and-mouth disease that devastated sheep and cattle farms and destroyed lives, Templeton gives us the people of the Scottish countryside near Galloway who must endure this unspeakable loss. Enter psychologist Laura Harvey, newly returned to the UK from New York, leaving behind a failed marriage and facing her mother’s funeral. The loss of her last family member gives her the impetus to renew a search for her sister Diana, “Dizzy,” who argued with her parents at the age of twenty and left home, never to be heard of again. Fifteen years later, a chance encounter brings Laura on the trail to the place her sister was last seen, the small town of Kirkluce.

The catastrophic disease comes too close to home for Marjory and her sheep farmer husband, and just as she feels she should take a leave of absence to be home with her husband, teams digging a pit for dead cattle at the Chapelton estate turn up the bones of a dead woman. Is this the missing Dizzy, or the mother of the Mason’s , who deserted the obnoxious family before Dizzy came to work there? Marjory’s investigation will turn up a family’s sinister obsession with bull running, providing an background to her first murder investigation. We see how she relies on DS Tam MacNee, the Burns-quoting sergeant, and how her family relationships affect her work and her work affects her family. With its strong atmosphere and taut narration, Cold in the Earth will leave you reaching for the next Marjory Fleming novel in a compelling new addiction.

2009’s Dead in the Water takes us to the other end of the spectrum in terms of Marjory’s growth as the head of an investigative team. The fifth novel in the series, Marjory’s family has faced growth and change, as has her team. Now a new challenge faces the detective. For political reasons she’s asked  to reopen a cold case that her late father, also a policeman, was unable to solve: the real reason behind the death twenty years ago of a young, pregnant woman, who washed up on the rocks.

Templeton shows  a woman in a high-powered, responsible position who often has to make tough choices between her job and her family. When a television crew arrives in town to film an episode of a popular detective show, the complications rise. The show’s star, Marcus Lindsay, is a local-born hero and scenes are to be filmed in his family home. He is also a former boyfriend of the dead girl, and the man the victim’s mother insists was responsible for her murder.

He brings with him an aging film star who is to have several cameo scenes in the episode, an homage to the woman he considers a step-mother, his father’s mistress. Although confined to a wheelchair, Sylvia Lascalles manages to charm the town and even Marjory’s sergeant and right-hand man, Tam MacNee.

Complicating the matter are the Polish workers whose presence antagonizes the less desirable town hooligans, adding a barrage of assaults to Marjory’s already-hectic schedule, and interfering with the immigrant Polish family who reside in the cottage at Marjory’s farm and help with the sheep and the housework, which have lightened Marjory’s home load.

Templeton manages to combine all of these subplots into a satisfying chain of events that escalate, even as charges from the Procurator Fiscal threaten to destroy Marjory’s career. The ending will provide resolution, but at a high cost to Marjory and her career, and to the memory of her father.

One thing Auntie M enjoys about this series is that Templeton’s storylines are always fresh and individual.

She continues the threads of Marjory’s home life and those of her team we’ve come to know and care about in the next novel in the series, 2010’s Cradle to Grave.

Hellish summer downpours have created flooding and may cancel plans for a three-day pop music festival planned on the grounds of Rosscarron, owned now by local lad Gillis Crozier, who has done well in the music business and bought the former shooting lodge on the Rosscarron headland as a second home.

With multiple business interests, he is also responsible for a spate of new homes  built at the mouth of the Carron, which the overflow have devastated. Questions of planning permission have led to demonstrations in the area, and there is vandalism at Rosscarron before the festival even gets started.

Then a landslide changes everything. Several small cottages on the coast are destroyed, some buried under the landfall from the overhanging cliff. A few people staying there are rescued, but a body is found in one cottage, and when it turns out the man was murdered before the landslide, the hunt is on for a killer. When the only approach bridge washes out, it sets the stage for an escalation of harm and tension, as Marjory and McNee are trapped for days at Rosscarron house.

Complicating matters is the appearance of Lisa Stewart, a young woman whose past includes being accused of allowing an infant in her care to die. Not convicted, nevertheless her past has followed her, and when she returns to the area, the bodies start to pile up. Once Marjory’s team uncovers Lisa’s ties to Gillis Crozier and his dysfunctional family, they must decide if Lisa is a victim or a ruthless murderess, settling old scores.

Fighting her own recent past actions, plus a part of her history she hadn’t faced in decades, Marjory’s investigation is also hampered by the tension between her and McNee, her most valued team member and her go-to sounding board. Something is going on in Tam McNee’s life, but the events from the last book have meant he hasn’t felt able to confide in Marjory. Will she be able to uncover the truth? As she unravels the history of those involved, the stories overlap and interconnect in unseen ways. What first started out as appearing to be a simple revenge scheme, turns out to be so much more.

This one is slickly plotted, with a high tension level thoughout the entire book. Templeton has vivid characters and uses the landscape to ratchet up her scenes. Templeton never goes for the easy fixes, and things are resolved in messy and often surprising ways.

Thanks once again to the wonderful Louise Penny for recommending this series. Auntie M hopes new readers will discover Aline Templeton’s  satisfying Marjory Fleming series.

Guest Blogger Suzanne Adair: Regulated for Murder Sunday, Oct 9 2011 

Please welcome  award-winning novelist Suzanne Adair, a Florida native who lives in a two hundred-year-old city at the edge of the North Carolina Piedmont, named for an English explorer who was beheaded. Her suspense and thrillers transport readers to the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War, where she brings historic towns, battles, and people to life. She fuels her creativity with Revolutionary War reenacting and visits to historic sites. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, dancing, hiking, and spending time with her family. Welcome Suzanne!

  Recipe for a Historical Thriller: Unexpected Hero + Hungry Readers + Neglected History

Regulated for Murder, a thriller set during the Southern theater of the American Revolutionary War, will be released 14 October. Reviewer Grace Krispy  says the plot is “…a tightly woven storyline that rang true and felt complete.” Of the protagonist, Michael Stoddard, she says, “Driven by a desire to see justice done, no matter what guise it must take, he is both sympathetic and interesting.”


Michael Stoddard appears as a criminal investigator and a minor character in my earlier mysteries Paper Woman, The Blacksmith’s Daughter, and Camp Follower. Michael is a redcoat. More than a year ago, I queried my readers about how much of a challenge the concept of redcoat as hero would present to their belief systems and comfort zones. Turns out I needn’t have been concerned. As an archetypal hero, Michael proves himself a more-than-worthy opponent for villains, particularly the archetypal shadow of the series, Dunstan Fairfax. Reviewer Debbi Mack says,” Hey! I’m cheering for the redcoat. Whose side am I on here? LOL”

All this redcoat business started back in the late 90s, when I went hunting for exciting fiction to read about the Southern theater of the Revolution—and found none. Other readers bemoaned the dearth of such fiction, so I took it upon myself to plug the gap. The result was a trilogy that showcased wartime experiences of women during the Revolution through three female protagonists. Paper Woman won the Patrick D. Smith Literature Award. Camp Follower was nominated for the Daphne du Maurier Award and the Sir Walter Raleigh Award.

I enjoy treating readers to the little-known history of the South’s role in the war. Readers enjoy exploring and learning this history. And not only does my fiction educate and entertain, it helps readers escape the “slings and arrows” of life in the 21st century. Huzzah!

What readers learn is a piece of the past skipped over in American History class. From January through November 1781, North Carolina was a strategic military focal point because the Eighty-Second Regiment, commanded by Major James Henry Craig, occupied Wilmington. We don’t often hear about a successful British campaign in American History class, so I’ve made this occupation the baseline event for Michael’s series. If you never learned that Major Craig’s activities dramatically reduced the efficacy of the Continental Army in the South and prolonged the war almost a year, you probably also don’t know about the strategic importance of Cross Creek (now called Fayetteville, North Carolina) to both the British and Continental Armies early in 1781. Or Major Craig’s desperate attempts to run dispatches to Lord Cornwallis concerning Cross Creek in January and February 1781. Or Cornwallis’s occupation of Hillsborough, North Carolina in February 1781. And history about the Regulator Rebellion, which left its scar on Hillsborough in June 1771 with Governor Tryon’s execution of six men there, is completely overshadowed by the activities of the Revolutionary War a decade later.

I folded all this neglected history into Regulated for Murder. I set Michael up as Major Craig’s dispatch runner to a loyalist contact for Cornwallis in Hillsborough in early February 1781. Then I asked, “What if?” What if Michael found the loyalist contact freshly murdered upon his arrival in Hillsborough? What if Michael had no way to continue his mission except by solving the murder? What if the executions of six Regulators ten years earlier figured into Michael’s February 1781 woes? And what if Michael had a secret that, if exposed, could earn him courts martial and execution? The result was a historical thriller titled Regulated for Murder.

And there’s much more to the Revolutionary War history of North Carolina in 1781. A full, exciting series worth. Welcome to Michael Stoddard’s series. It’s my honor and pleasure to let the rollout of real historical events dictate Michael’s external conflicts while I develop his internal growth across the year 1781 and persuade you to cheer for the redcoat.

For ten years, an execution hid murder. Then Michael Stoddard came to town.

Bearing a dispatch from his commander in coastal Wilmington, North Carolina, redcoat Lieutenant Michael Stoddard arrives in Hillsborough in February 1781 in civilian garb. He expects to hand a letter to a courier working for Lord Cornwallis, then ride back to Wilmington the next day. Instead, Michael is greeted by the courier’s freshly murdered corpse, a chilling trail of clues leading back to an execution ten years earlier, and a sheriff with a fondness for framing innocents—and plans to deliver Michael up to his nemesis, a psychopathic British officer.

Thanks, Suzanne! Readers can look for Regulated for Murder at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

Visit her blog (http://www.suzanneadair.typepad.com/) and web site (http://www.suzanneadair.com/) for more information.

Follow her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Suzanne.Adair.Author/), Twitter (http://twitter.com/Suzanne_Adair/), and Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1188958.Suzanne_Adair/).

Did you like what you read? Learn about downloads, discounts, and special offers from Suzanne Adair and her author friends. Subscribe to Suzanne’s free newsletter (http://tinyletter.com/Suzanne-Adair-News/).

Guest Blogger Lisa Black: Defensive Wounds Sunday, Oct 2 2011 

 

Today’s guest blogger is Lisa Black.

Lisa Black spent the happiest five years of her life in a morgue. Strange, perhaps, but true. After ten years as a secretary, she went back to school to get a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Cleveland State University. In her job as a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office, she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes.

She had her life sorted out just the way she liked it, until her husband got fed up with Cleveland snow and moved them to Florida, 1400 miles away from her family and her career. Not that she’s bitter or anything. Now she is a certified latent print examiner for the Cape Coral police department and works mostly with fingerprints and crime scenes.

Defensive Wounds begins with a murder at a defense attorney convention in the beautiful Ritz-Carlton hotel, located in Cleveland’s most recognizable landmark—the Terminal Tower, with its 700 foot high observation deck.

Theresa’s daughter Rachael is out of college for the summer and working there at the front desk; in fact she’s the first to alert Theresa to the homicide.

This little coincidence begins to complicate Theresa’s life as she realizes that her daughter is falling for a handsome coworker—and then finds out how this boy once stood trial for a brutal crime. In fact, the first victim had been his attorney. But the attorney also had a host of enemies, many of whom are also attending this convention.

Theresa has the walls closing in from every direction—she is trying to work under the scrutiny of people who will use everything she says or does against her in the court of law, if possible. Her crime scene is a hotel, littered with the microscopic debris of past guests that may or may not be relevant to the murder. Her daughter might be falling under the sway of a very dangerous man.

And the killer is not yet finished.

 Lisa’s books, which include Trail of Blood, have been published in Germany, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Japan. Evidence of Murder reached the NYT mass market bestseller’s list. They can be found on Amazon.com; at Barnes & Noble; and at independent bookstores.

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The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” ― Carl Sagan

MiddleSisterReviews.com

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Smile! Don't look back in anger.

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Gaslight Crime

Author and reviewer of period crime fiction

Crimezine

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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

BOOK SHELF

"Tell me and I forget-Show me and I remember-Involve me and I learn"

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

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