Mary Daheim: All the Pretty Hearses Sunday, Jun 24 2012 

Seattle-native Mary Richardson Daheim writes the Alpine mystery series, but this new-to-paperback offering is in her Bed-And-Breakfast Mysteries, featuring Judith McGonigle Flynn.

Judith’s assorted friends and relatives feature in the series, and with the huge roster of players in this installment,newcomers to the series may feel overwhelmed and wish for a Cast of Characters to keep them straight. But long time readers of the series will figure out who’s who in this quick and snappy summer cozy.

January is a slow time for Judith at the B&B, so she’s grateful her former-detective-turned-PI husband, Joe, has a new assignment. Unfortunately, his surveillance job ends almost as quickly as it started, with the death of an insurance fraud suspect he was supposed to be shadowing. The negatives pile up when it turns out the victim has been shot with Joe’s gun–or has he?

With Joe sequestered away at the police station, Judith faces the prospect of a houseful of laborious guests, the winners of an overnight stay she donated to her parish school auction earlier in the year. It’s pay-up time, and while Judith copes with the Paine family’s various allergies and special diets, other guests come and go in seemingly unrelated one night stays.

Adding to the tension is Judith’s mother, Gertrude, a persnickety gal who lives behind the B&B in a converted tool shed and manages to show up in her motorized wheelchair just in time to stamp on Judith’s last nerve.

Judith’s cousin Renie is also on hand to be a hot-wire foil to Judith’s more laid back personality, and Renie’s calmer husband Bill manages to get involved as the plot thickens with overlapping and numerous threads. There are sick parish schoolkids, a horse lodging in her garage, and a missing house guest. In the middle of the chaos, Judith is conned into housing two villagers without heat in their own home who turn up to stay the night with their Irish Wolfhound in tow.

The plot is convoluted with tons of mayhem causing distractions that may or may not be involved with the main plot. It is to Daheim’s credit that she manages to pull these threads together and keep Judith whole, although she does allow her  protaginist the occasional sorely needed medicinal drink.

New this month in hardcover is the next in the series, The Wurst is Yet to Come; readers of the paperback of All the Pretty Hearses will be treated to an excerpt of the new hardcover at the books’ end.

 

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Simon Toyne: Sanctus Sunday, Jun 17 2012 

Simon Toyne’s first novel in a new trilogy has been compared to The Da Vinci Code with good reason, but this reader was reminded more of Umberto Eco’s wonderful The Name of the Rose. In any case, Sanctus will leave readers looking forward to the next book in the Ruin series. The Daily Mirror (UK) says: “Hard to think of it as a debut, better to think of it as the beginning of a massive new adventure.”

This bold thriller has an almost relentless quality as Toyne builds a remarkable, twisted world, complete with futuristic details housed within the very epitome of antiquity. Nothing is as it seems on the surface, and this soon becomes apparent to the reader in this stylish and entertaining novel that is built upon a foundation of its character’s lies and deceit.

Sanctus opens with a monk climbing a high cliff to top the mountain called the Citadel, a closed off Vatican-like city towering above the lower city of Ruin in what we know of as Turkey. His bold gesture, seen and documented worldwide by the media, sends a message to several groups with far-reaching circumstances. The Citadel is the oldest inhabited place on earth, and the monk’s climb brings attention to this group living within, the Sancti, who hold a terrible secret, built upon thousands of years of protection and tradition.

Liv Adamsen is an American reporter seeking answers to a tragic personal loss. She finds herself suddenly traveling to Turkey to unravel a message left to her from beyond the grave.  The monk’s gesture also has particular meaning to a foundation worker, Kathryn Mann, and her family. What Liv finds with Kathryn’s help, and how she solves this mystery will change the very foundations of what the world has known from the beginning of Man.

This is highly ambitious thriller, with an imaginative plot. It’s high concept will immediately draw fans of grand conspiracies, with its plots and subplots, relentless action and superb writing. It is to Toyne’s credit that his mix of action, history and suspense seem almost credible as the reader is plunged into a cinematic ride that reveals Toyne’s background in television as a writer, director and producer.

The second book in the trilogy, The Key, will be released June 19th, and Auntie M has no doubt readers will be lined up to buy it.

Elizabeth Haynes: Into the Darkest Corner Sunday, Jun 10 2012 

Elizabeth Haynes is a police intelligence officer who started her first novel during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and the result is this highly compelling suspense novel which gives readers a look into the psychology of romantic obsession. Haynes say her work analyzing crime and intelligence to determine patterns in offending and criminal behavior led her to learn things she used in this debut novel, which was named Amazon UK’s Best Book of the Year for 2011, with rights sold in twelve other countries and film rights snatched up by Revolution Films.

“I ‘d always thought that women who stayed in abusive relationships must be foolish … Why would you stay? … It wasn’t about walking away anymore. It was about running … It was about escape.”

This becomes the thought process of Catherine Bailey, a free-spirited young woman who enjoys partying with her circle of friends in Lancaster, England. Meeting Lee Brightman at a club one night seems to change her life; their connection is immediate, their chemistry explosive. Soon they are almost inseparable, and Catherine is the envy of her friends.

Things change as Lee exerts his dominant nature and Catherine has nagging doubts about him. He refuses to discuss his background or his work; his intensity soon becomes overwhelming. When items start being shifted around in her house, she suspects Lee has been there without her; she start to feel followed and watched. Lee admits to all of this, confessing that his job as an undercover police officer demands his secrecy and blames these for his rapid mood swings, even as he starts to isolate her from her friends, and eventually become physically violent.

Haynes device here is to run two alternate time lines, so that even in the midst of Catherine’s growing relationship and subsequent realization of Lee’s dark and abusive personality, we see her four years hence. Living in London as Cathy, with a new job and a new appearance, she is trying to piece together a new life, as she experiences painful flashbacks and panic attacks from Lee’s eventual savage attack that left her near death. Suffering from severe OCD and PTSD has allowed her fragile life to continue, albeit as the same routines she sought to keep her safe have become debilitating compulsive actions.

Her salvation comes in the form of the upstairs lodger, a doctor who sees through her defences and encourages her to seek treatment and face her demons. Stuart Richardson holds the promise of a future out to the very-damaged Cathy, one she never thought she’d have–until the day she receives a call that Lee is being released from jail, and she knows without a doubt that he will come after her.

The reader follows Lee’s blooming relationship with Catherine, yet we are already seeing the damage it’s done in the passages from Cathy. When these two storylines converge, the tracks merge into one horrifying present. As Cathy’s painful efforts to heal herself keep readers tightly bound to her, they will still wonder if she can match the devious nature of her former lover. A twist with a surprise betrayal affects the reader as much as Cathy, and adds to the rising suspense near the horrific climax of a novel readers won’t be able to put down.

This is a harrowing psychological thriller, with a chilling, suspenseful pace that keeps ratcheting up the tension. Hayne’s unflinching portrayal of Lee’s abuse is countered with her compassionate treatment of OCD and the cycles of that disorder.  Library Journal states: “… Fans of S. J. Watson, Lisa Gardner and Susan Hill will welcome this new entrant to the genre.”

Blue Monday by Nicci French Sunday, Jun 3 2012 

Nicci French is the pen name of the married team of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, known for their psychological suspense novels. Starting with The Memory Game in 1996 through their twelfth, Complicit, in 2009, the team now brings forth a new character to start what promises to be a thoroughly intriguing series in Blue Monday.Image

Psychotherapist Frieda Klein is a solitary woman who suffers from insomnia that pushes her to walk nights following the course of the ancient London rivers that now run underground. Order matters to Frieda, as she believes the world to be an uncontrollable place, and her personal integrity sets her apart as she gets involved with her patients and helps them to see that what is controllable are their thoughts. Her entire world is interesting, and Auntie M can see this as the start of a compelling series.

Matthew Farraday is a five-year-old who has been abducted. Along with a strong police response, his photograph is splashed regularly across UK papers. When one of Frieda’s patient’s starts having dreams of a child who closely matches Matthew’s description, Frieda cannot ignore the coincidence and turns to Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson for help.

Karlsson is the perfect foil for Frieda; equally intelligent, and just as prickly, his first response is to dismiss her fears–until a connection with an eerily similar unsolved abduction of twenty years ago emerges and Frieda and Karlsson race as the tension builds to find a kidnapper and rescue the child.

The plotting here is meticulous, with extravagant details given to the characters and their lives so that they jump off the page in gritty detail. There is a wealth of raw emotion, too, as people are misunderstood, and the suspense piles on. The twists and turns will keep you turning pages to the stunning ending.

Don’t miss this new start of what promises to be a wonderful series. The second Frieda Klein novel, Tuesday’s Gone, will be published this July, and this reader can hardly wait.

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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

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

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My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

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K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

Wicked Cozy Authors

Mysteries with a New England Accent

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Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Gaslight Crime

Author and reviewer of period crime fiction

Crimezine

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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

BOOK SHELF

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

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

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

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