HAPPY HOLIDAYS Sunday, Dec 23 2012 

Auntie M will be off the two weeks and she wishes you and yours every happiness over whatever holiday you celebrate, and in the New Year.

But don’t worry.

She’s busy reading up a storm to bring you the best in new crime fiction for your reading pleasure in 2013!

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MORE Holiday Gifts for Readers Sunday, Dec 16 2012 

Auntie M is back with more holiday gift suggestions for those readers on your list, or for suggestions to print out and leave lying around for others to buy for YOU!

James Lee Burke’s Edgar-winning Black Cherry Blues has been reissued by HarperCollins. 197772741This is the third entry in the long-running and popular series.

In what could be called Cajun Noir, Louisiana ex-cop Dave Robicheaux is running from too many painful memories, among them the murder of his wife and his battles with the bottle. He’s struggling to raise his adopted daughter, Alafair, while running a fish-and-tackle shop.

Into the mix comes his old college roommate, and before he knows it, Dave is implicated as a murder suspect and is off to Montana to clear his name.

There will be sociopaths, the mob, and even Native American activism all piled on Dave’s plate before he’s through.

Despite the violence, Burke’s first person style let readers view events from Dave’s point of view and his interior monologue is part of the attraction to this series. The sense of place is detailed with graceful descriptive passages that contrast to the high action scenes and sharp dialogue.

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Dale Brown and Jim DeFelice feature the thriller revolving around Dreamland’s Whiplash unit in Collateral Damage.

Years after the fall of Gaddafi, all is not well and Libya requires the attention of NATo forces, intervening in a  war that could have devastating consequences for the volatile region.

Dreamland’s latest invention are flown entirely by computer, removing human error. But something has gone terribly wrong with this supposedly foolproof super-weapon, and a tragic accident results in the deaths of innocents.

The entire Whiplash program is under fire. Was the accident the result of the scientist’s human errors? Or is a more sinister force at work and this is the result of sabotage.

But there’s an enemy waiting for him, determined to unleash more chaos, increased terror and even more deaths—which sends pilot Turk Mako to the skies. Flying the older technology of A-10E Warthogs, flying without computers, Mako tries to prove that, in the heat of battle, a skilled ace can do what no computer can.

For those readers looking for a female protagonist, or a book that’s loaded with humor, there’s JB Lynn’s Further Confessions Of A Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman.16133981

Start off with characters that include a snarky lizard lovable and a grammatically-challenged Doberman. Toss in a bit of Doctor Doolittle in the form
In this story, Maggie has to raise money for a lawyer to defend the custody of her niece Katie. Her “boss” gives her the target who happens to be a former uncle (and drug dealer) and the person who Maggie believes is responsible for killing her sister, brother-in-law and putting her niece in the hospital. She also has to perform her duties as maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding, reunite with a friend from the past that she had such a crush on, shake off advances of a police officer she went out with a couple of times in the past, stop the emotions and feelings she has for her hitwoman mentor, experience threats that have to do with her incarcerated father, and deal with her crazy aunts. A lot goes on in this story!

Overall what I liked about this one was that there was a little more romance for Maggie. I think Maggie needs someone to love her and be there for her every day. She deals with so much on her own and while Godzilla and DeeDee are great for her, they are still pets and not people. I really liked Zeke in this story and went back and forth about whether or not I wanted he and Maggie to start a relationship. I still like Patrick the best and hope he and Maggie can find a way to be together when all is said and done. Maggie’s aunts remind us all that we everyone has wacky family members and even if they do some crazy things, at the end of the day, they all love each other.

JB Lynn has written another fantastic story full of humor, emotion, family, friendship, and love. I really hope there will be more books in this series. I highly recomme

HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR READERS Sunday, Dec 9 2012 

Auntie M has decided to give readers a holiday gift: here are selections for you to consider that would make great gift-giving for the readers on your list. And don’t forget to include yourself!

First up is Robin Burcell’s third Sydney Fitzgerald thriller, The Dark Hour, a series featuring the FBI-trained forensic artist whose skills go far beyond her artistic ability.images

Right on the heels on the murder of a prominent Senator, Sydney finds herself, against her better judgment, on the way to Amsterdam to do a forensic drawing of a suspect seen by the victim’s niece near the site of her uncle’s murder. When the niece is murdered just as Sydney makes a harrowing escape, her drawing sets off a train of events that have heads turning everywhere from Washington to Europe and back. There’s every acronym in the book showing up, too,  as the CIA, FBI, ATLAS and others all vie for answers when threats of biological warfare become apparent.

Making Sydney’s job more difficult is the realization that her drawing is the exact likeness of the supposed-dead wife of the agent she’s been attracted in previous books. Griffin’s wife died in an explosion–or has she become a double agent and faked her down death?

There’s plenty of action here as Burcell jumps between cities, including trips to France and the Amazon, and enough fast-paced suspense to keep those pages turning.

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Following in the thriller genre is Laurence O’Bryan’s first in a series, The Istanbul Puzzle.

Sean Ryan is living in London, still grieving over the death of his beloved wife, Irene, when he receives a call that finds him traveling to Istanbul to identify the body of his colleague and friend, Alek Zegliwski.

He is shocked to find Alek has been beheaded, his body found near the sacred archeological site of Hagia Sophia where Alek had been monitoring and photographing ancient tesserae, tiny cubes that make up the beautiful mosaic that decorate the site.

The hunt begins with Sean and British diplomat Isabel Sharp, Alek’s liason officer from the British consulate, searching for Alek’s assassin. Aided by Peter Fitzgerald from the Consulate, the two are soon running from danger. But is Peter the friend he appears to be? A missing mosaic, which may provide the link between pagan gods and Christianity becomes a clue; then a lethal virus is unleashed on the city and the stakes are raised as the pace races along and Sean and Isabel face death and betrayal.

Watch for O’Bryan’s sequel, The Jerusalem Puzzle, which follows Sean and Isabel’s adventures,  due early next year.

If Wall Street and finance get your pulse racing as much as espionage does, you’ll want to look for James Grippando’s Need You Now. 183349165

Set against the backdrop of investment banking, Grippando’s story could be ripped from the headlines of Ponzi schemes, SEC fraud, and interconnected groups who have no business being in business together.

When the craft-master of a $60 billion dollar Ponzi scheme commits suicide, his death means secrets remain. Into this mess steps Patrick Lloyd, the advisor for Wall Street of the world’s largest Swiss bank.

Abe Cushman’s leap out of a window starts a chain of events with repercussions felt especially keenly by Patrick, whose girlfriend, Lilly, had been fired from the Singapore branch of the bank. Despite claiming she knew nothing about the Cushman scheme, the FBI comes into the mix with the discovery of a Treasury memo identifying her involvement.

After escalating incidents, FBI agent Andie Henning is tasked with insuring Patrick’s safety as he follows where the money trail takes him. And then Lilly disappears, and Patrick’s silent identity becomes an issue.

Grippando brings the reader inside the minds of those who try to defraud the government in a realistic way. There will be kidnappings, murder, ties to gun runners and more in this complex thriller that will have you wondering who in the financial world is beyond reproach and if you should really trust that mild-mannered financial advisor with your assets.

Changing gears to more light-hearted fare, look for the delightful, long-running cozy series featuring feline P. I. Joe Grey from Shirley Rousseau Murphy, with Cat Telling Tales.

The bright seaside village of Molena Point has been hit hard by the economic downturn, bringing a spate of foreclosures, causing many residents to abandon their family pets.

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While feline P. I. Joe Grey’s humans, Ryan and Clyde Damen, try to care for the starving cats, a fire leaves a twelve-year-old boy homeless. The body of his alcoholic guardian is discovered in the smoldering ruins, causing Joe to wonder if escape was really as impossible as it seems for the elderly woman, or if this is a case of murder.

Then Debbie Kraft descends uninvited on the Damens’ home with her two children. Her ex-husband has left her without funds and nowhere else to go.

But when Joe learns that the victim of the fire was Debbie’s estranged mother, and that Debbie is not broke at all but carrying plenty of cash, his fur is on end with suspicion.

As Debbie’s abandoned tomcat follows her all the way down the coast from Oregon with his own clues to add to the mix, Joe learns that Debbie’s ex-husband may be involved in a number of intricate real estate scams, and hisi sales partner may be missing.

Then while Joe and his pals prowl through the dead woman’s house, they discover that her reclusive neighbor has disappeared as well.

But it’s not until Debbie’s tomcat arrives that Joe and his feline detective pals find the biggest clue of all: a grave that the cops have missed.

The pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, with help from Joe’s feline friends, who are exceptionally precocious.  And there’s a hint of romance for Joe’s tortoiseshell friend, Kit.

Perfect for the holidays is the newest installment in this feline series, Cat Bearing Gifts, the 18th in the series.       186148889

Attractive divorcee Kate Osborne returns to California with a fairy-tale story to explain her sudden wealth. Joe Grey’s good friend, Kit, and her humans, Lucinda and Pedric Greenlaw have spent a wonderful shopping trip with Kate, piling up the backseat of their car with treasures Kit has helped them glean to redecorate their Molena Point home.

Then the unthinkable happens: a truck and pickup jockey for position on a narrow mountain road and end up causing a horrific accident that involves the Greenlaw’s Lincoln. Pedric and Lucinda have injuries, but Pedric is able to call for help.

But the situation dramatically worsens when two men from the pickup assault Kit’s humans and drive away in the Greenlaw’s battered but still drive-able Lincoln, carrying with them their own stash of money that had been hidden in the pickup.

What the men don’t know is that hidden inside the Lincoln’s door panels are a treasure trove Kate has given the couple. The Greenlaws are rescued by paramedics but Kit hides in the hills and waits to be rescued by her Molena Point friends–that’s if she doesn’t get eaten by hungry coyotes first.

Back at home, Joe Grey finds two men hiding in an abandoned stone cottage, along with the smell of mildewed money and blood.  His friend, the yellow tomcat Misto, unearths an old photograph of a child who lived fifty years ago.

What can the connection be? And what ties in these incidents with the injuries to the Greenlaws and the theft of their car and money? Misto’s memories will help as Joe works hard to unearth a murderer. Delightful and filled with humor, the reader sees the world from the cat’s point of view. These are highly readable for mystery lovers, whether you are a cat lover or not.

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For fans of historical mysteries, the holiday tale by the mother and son writing team known as Charles Todd offers The Walnut Tree, set in 1914 France and England at the start of WWI.

Lady Elspeth Douglas is the daughter of a Highland aristocrat who is visiting her best friend from school, the very pregnant Madeleine. Elspeth is helping her friend await the birth of her first child while she fights her growing boredom. Attracted for many years to Madeleine’s brother, Alain,  their time together results in her promise to marry him–just as the war breaks out and she tries to return to England.

Finding herself stranded in Calais, Elspeth makes herself useful by carrying water to the soldiers near the Front, which nearly results in her getting herself killed when the enemy starts to bomb her position.

Captain Peter Gilchrist saves her, and she finds herself oddly drawn to the leader. Before she can learn more about him and thank him for saving her, they are separated and she returns to London, but remains haunted by the horrors of war she saw firsthand in France.

Always a headstrong girl, bristling against the firm and class conscious restraints of her guardian, her cousin Kenneth, she enrolls in a nursing course, making friends and sharing a flat with fellow nurse Bess Crawford. But her cousin has not given his consent for her to become a nurse, a profession he feels is beneath her class and his notions of what is appropriate for a woman.

Determined to return to the battlefields to do her part, and to find Peter, Elspeth is torn about her promise to Alain, recognizing her heart belongs to Peter. Then Alain goes missing before she can set things right with him, and Peter is seriously wounded.

Charles Todd’s twelve books in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series have shown the duo to be experts with this time period. With its romantic side fully developed, the realism of war is well represented in this heartwarming holiday tale. A must for Downton Abbey fans.

Advancing a bit into the period between the wars, Jacqueline Winspear returns with her newest in the ninth Maisie Dobbs series, Elegy For Eddie.                                    elegyforeddie

Maisie arrives at her Lambeth office one day to find a group of costermongers she knows from her fathers, there to ask for her help. The newest in the series follows private investigators Maisie’s quest to discover whether or not a childhood acquaintance, Eddie, a gentle horse trainer, was murdered.

Police have written off Eddie’s death at a paper factory as an unfortunate accident. These protective friends of Eddie’s don’t accept that verdict, and once Maisie starts to investigate, it becomes obvious that there are more powerful people involved in Eddie’s death. The gentle man, who had a gift for “calming ” horses, surely couldn’t have enemies–or could he?
Maisie’s own sense of right and wrong will be questioned, even as she struggles with her private life and her class-breaking romance with her former employer’s son, James Compton.

She will turn up people from Eddie’s past and seek out his interest in flying machines. And she soon must accept that there are others with a greater understanding of national security that must be protected and that reach up to Churchill himself, even as James and places like America and Canada enter their conversations.

Maisie’s employees are other eyes for the struggles of the era: her trusted assistant, family man Billy Beale, and her part-time secretary, Sandra, a recent widow, both beset with the financial difficulties of the time.

Compelling and haunting, Winspear expertly captures the emotion of the period and the people still healing from the first war and yet balanced on the brink of the next.

Last, but certainly not least, readers should check out the new line of paperback mysteries by HarperCollins called Bourbon Street.

They are starting with the reissue of the four Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries featuring Harriet Vane by Dorothy L. Sayers, one of Britain’s foremost mystery novelists, first published in the 1930’s and set in that tine period.

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Strong Poison opens the set and introduces mystery novelist Harriet Van to Lord Peter. When her fiance’ dies in the same manner of poisoning as described in one of her novels, it looks like Harriet is off to the gallows. But Lord Peter is determined to find the real murderer and clear this intelligent woman who intrigues him.

Have His Carcase starts off with Harriet seeking peace and solace on a deserted beach, until her idyll is cut short when she stumbles on the body of a man whose throat has been cut. Still stinging from her past, Harriet tries to shrug off Lord Peter’s growing infatuation for her, but doesn’t resist his aid in pursing the murderer.

Gaudy Night takes Harriet to her Oxford reunion. Mulling over her growing attraction to Lord Peter with great dismay, a series of bizarre pranks make her time there less fond than she’d hoped. Burnt effigies lead to poison-pen letters, including one to Harriet remarking on her past brush with poison. Now firmly a detecting couple, Harriet and Lord Peter are challenged to get to the bottom of the malice with scant clues to help them.

Busman’s Honeymoon ends the series, a delightful way for this most-intelligent couple to appear. Finally succumbing to his love, Harriet marries Lord Peter and becomes Lady Peter in a wedding uniquely her own. Navigating the demands and challenges of her new title and status, their honeymoon begins with a wallop when the former owner of their new country home is found dead in their cellar. Their romantic country stay becomes their most baffling case yet.

These new editions have smart covers featuring period photography and are accompanied by an introduction by mystery giant Elizabeth George. The entire set for the holidays would make any mystery lover glow.

G. M. Malliet: Wicked Autumn & A Fatal Winter Sunday, Dec 2 2012 

Tis the season for murder and Agatha Award winning author (for Death of a Cozy Writer) G. M. Malliet brings a new series to life with vicar Max Tudor, a former MI5 agent seeking a different kind of life. The tragic killing of his partner had left him guilty and resulted in a depression, a leave of absence,  and finally resignation and the search for something more meaningful. He entered the Anglican Church after schooling at Oxford and seminary training. This backstory fuels Max’s ability to get involved in murder.

In the first installment, Wicked Autumn,  Max thinks he’s found the peace and quiet he desires at his post at St. Edwold’s in Nether Monkslip, until murder erupts and spoils any sense of the idyllic village Max thought he’s found.

Wanda Batton-Smythe has led the Nether Monkslip’s Women’s Institute with an iron hand and a shrill voice that shuts out any contenders for her role. Browbeating the residents into performing as she wishes for the annual Harvest Fayre has only increased their general dislike of the formidable woman. When her body is found on the day of the Fayre, any sense of leaving his past behind vanishes for Max, thrust into the middle of distraught parishioners and suspecting what looks like an accident is actually a case of well-planned murder.

DCI Cotton, whom Max knows from the past, quickly ropes Max into helping with the investigation. Although familiar with the petty grievances and animosities of small-town life, Max is thrown by the idea that one of the residents of his lovely English village is capable of murder; yet he is realistic enough to see that there are many villagers who might have wished for Wanda’s demise. The suspects include Lily Iverson, a timid woman who nonetheless owns a local knitting business but often bore the brunt of Wanda’s assaults. There’s the owner of the Cavalier Team Room, Elka Garth, who often felt Wanda’s pressure, especially when it came to donating her services to the Harvest Fayre; and the chef and restaurateur Guy Nicholls, who felt the same pressures. Then there’s Frank Cuthbert, the local historian an author who often clashed with Wanda over his books. And that’s just the start of the list.

As the investigation heats up, readers will meet more villagers, several who will reappear in Malliet’s second book in the series, A Fatal Winter. But not before Max and Cotton team up to unmask a murderer.

In Book Two, winter has come to Nether Monkslip, and finds Max struggling with his Christmas sermon, but even more with the feelings he’s developed for Awena Owen, the New Age goddess who runs a shop in town. What would his bishop have to say about such an alliance? And should he care?

These are Max’s thoughts as he returns to the village after a brief London stay. A chance meeting on an early train between Max and Letitia, Lady Baynard, of nearby Chedrow Castle is soon put out of Max’s thoughts until Cotton calls him late that same night. The DCI has been at Chedrow Castle since earlier in the day, called just after the body of Lord Footrustle, Letitia’s brother Oscar, has been found murdered in his bed.

Only minutes after that call on his way to the castle, a second call had notified Cotton of the finding of a second body in the garden, that of Letitia herself, at first glance of natural causes. But with assorted relatives ensconced for the holidays in an extremely poor excuse for a family a reunion as orchestrated by the fated Oscar, Cotton knows his handful of CID officers, good as they are, won’t be enough to find this wiley killer.

His ace up his sleeve is his good friend Max Tudor, who will be his feet on the ground and his ears to the family.  Max is called to the castle by Lamorna, Lady Baynard’s religious grand-daughter, as special advisor to the family on the double funeral to be held.  Pastoral duties farmed out, Max leaves for a few days at the castle, and for an experience he’s not soon to forget.

The assorted Footrustle family  includes Letitcia’s Baynard side: two sons and the grand-daughter Lamorna, who had been adopted by Letitia’s dead daughter and son-in-law and left for her to raise. But Oscar’s side is well-represented, as he’d been married twice; three assorted children and one ex-wife are in attendance. This eccentric group includes the washed up actress, Lady Jocasta, Oscar’s daughter, and her American husband Simon Jones. Oscar’s ex-wife, Gwynyth Lavener, brings her teenaged children: Alec, Viscount Edenstarted, and his sister, Lady Amanda, two indulged but intelligent youths.

If this sounds like too much Debrett’s for you, Malliet thoughtfully includes a family tree, which you will find yourself consulting until the character’s become firmly rooted in your mind.

Basically a locked room puzzle, Max will eventually figure out who’s behind the deaths, but not before a third murder is committed, in a great twist that readers won’t see coming.

Readers of the Golden Age mysteries will be entertained by this series, which has all the hallmarks of village mysteries: that lovely English setting, a handsome protagonist, and just a hint of romance to round things out. Booklist says: “Malliet has mastered the delights of the cozy mystery so completely that she seems to be channeling Agatha Christie.”

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dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp a 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.

Make

make Your House a home

K.R. Morrison, Author

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

Wicked Cozy Authors

Mysteries with a New England Accent

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.

Gaslight Crime

Author and reviewer of period crime fiction

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

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

forensics4fiction

Forensics demystified for the fiction writer

milliewonka

Just another WordPress.com site

Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet!

Saving the planet one day at a time.