This week Auntie M has three goodies courtesy of Minotaur Books for your reading pleasure.

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First up is the third installment in the delightful Heath Brothers series written by Michael Robertson, Baker Street Translation.

Reggie and Nigel didn’t realize the lease of their Baker Street law offices included the famous number 221B, but quickly learned that one of their responsibilities as tenants is to answer mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes.  This delights Nigel as much as it frustrates Reggie.

Previous escapades have taken the brothers to California, but this one takes place on London home turf, with ties to Sherlock Holmes the pivotal point.

When a wealthy American heiress decides to leave her impressive fortune to Sherlock Holmes, she unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that have Reggie summoning Nigel back from his Los Angeles stay.

It also connects in some way to the kidnapping of Robert Buxton, Reggie’s rival for the lovely actress Laura Rankin. Deciding to pop the question, ring in his pocket, Reggie’s attempts to become engaged fall by the wayside as the kidnappers insist Laura is the only one who can provide the ransom to save Buxton.

Reggie can’t allow Laura to put herself in jeopardy, but then Laura isn’t your average actress. Thwarting Buxton’s security team and Reggie’s attempts to protect her, Laura feels responsible for Buxton’s return and follows the kidnapper’s demands, wit unexpected results.

Along with his sleuthing, Reggie will lock horns with a feisty Texan, decipher the riddle presented by nursery rhymes gone wild in a talking duck, and learn more than he ever wanted to know about London’s sewer system, and all before a royal event goes haywire.

Fans of Sherlock Holmes will delight in references to the canon but you don’t have to be a Holmes fan to enjoy Robertson’s deadpan delivery or his improbable and whimsical plotting. A delight for mystery readers who enjoy a puzzle.

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The puzzle in Brad Parks’ The Good Cop seems more clear cut but has the same comic elements as the Baker Street series. Parks uses the first-person narration of reporter Carter Ross to inform us of the mean streets of Newark, New Jersey, that he covers.

Rushing to be the first to interview a dead policeman’s widow, Ross succeeds and gathers great material for a killer article. Darius Kipps loved his job, had a lovely wife, and two young children he doted on who he was planning to take to Disney World.

But as Ross wonders why no other reporters have shown up, his boss informs him the article is off. The cop has committed suicide.

Yet something else seems off to Carter, and the widow agrees, making a public statement to that effect. Her husband had everything to live for and would never have taken his own life.

Added to the mix is a charismatic preacher who has the widow’s ear. Then calls Ross makes to the medical examiner are blocked, and his instincts kick in.

Using his contacts, and sufficiently sustained by his diet of two slice of pizza and a cold Coke Zero, Ross sets out to unearth the truth about what really happened to Good Cop Kipps.

 

Changing tones a bit but still with a sense of wry humor in his protagonist, Joseph Olshan gives us his debut thriller, Cloudland.

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The rural Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire is an area with tough weather and even tougher people.

The wealthy, the artistic, and the working class have more than their love of the area in common. They have a sense of safety where residents rarely bother to lock their doors.

Things change radically when a serial killer targets young women in their region. Whether jogging on a back road or stopped at a rest stop, the victims share more than their youth: being alone at the times of their murder made them easy targets.

Into the mix comes Catherine Winslow, a former reporter who lives simply and earns a living writing a household hints column. Her reporter’s instincts, coupled with her own sense of survival, all contribute to the urge she feels to uncover the murderer when she finds the body of one of his victims. Suddenly the killer has invaded her turf and made his threat real.

Teaming up with her  forensic psychologist neighbor and the detective on the case, she investigates the murders and finds close friends and neighbors on the suspect list. Adding to her stress is her strained relationship with her only child, a daughter living in New Jersey, and her past relationship with a much-younger lover that still haunts her.

Olshan does a fine job describing the impact to this rural landscape that these killings leave. With echoes of the gothic literature Catherine loves, as well as a clue in an obscure Wilkie Collins novel, the reader will absorb Olshan’s elegant prose and evocative language as this compelling story explores not only the mystery but the psychology of its characters.

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