Continued Series Winners: James, Mays, Cleeves, Toyne, Rhodes, Billingham & Haddam Sunday, Oct 27 2013 

Auntie M is reading a ton of great series and wants to suggest you check out these continued winners.

dead man's time by peter james Peter James’ Roy Grace novels have captivated readers in the millions and he continues his powerful series with Dead Man’s Time. Set in Brighton, these police thrillers follow the Detective Superintendent and his relationship. The newest has the unusual premise of a prologue from 1922, when five-year-old Gavin Daly and his sister board a ship for Dublin after the death of their parents.

At the dock in New York, a messenger carries two things that will haunt Gavin for the rest of his life: his father’s pocket watch, and a paper with four names and eleven numbers written on it. Gavin pledges to find out the meaning of these things and spends a lifetime searching.

Fast forward to current time, and Grace is getting used to being a new father and the lack of sleep that brings. A string of burglaries have captured the attention of Brighton’s residents.

When an old woman is murdered and a huge cache of antiques she kept stolen, he is surprised when her family are only interested in one item: a vintage pocket watch. The victim’s brother is none other than an aged Gavin Daly, still on the hunt having amassed incredible wealth as the years have passed.

What Grace will find as he probes is a mixed bag of old revenge and new hatreds. He will become mired in the machinations of several trails, leading to the antiques world of Brighton, to Marbella and its crime world, and back in time to the crime families of New York.

And all the time he seeks to unravel this twisted scheme, a madman plots against his beloved Cleo and their infant son. A wonderful addition to the series, meticulously researched and intricately plotted.

Auntie M had the pleasure of meeting with Peter James this summer and found him warm and likeable, with a wicked sense of humor not unlike his protagonist.

 

Peter Mays’ Lewis trilogy captures the remoteness of the Outer Hebrides area and its stark beauty in his award-winning series that serves up the complexity of human relationships.

After the success of The Blackhouse, Mays second offering, lewisman300The Lewis Man, finds his protagonist, former DI Fin Macleod, bound by his past to help the family of islanders he is linked to by history and familial ties.

The father of his lover, Marsaili, has always maintained he was an only child, and enters a care home suffering from dementia when Marsaili’s mother has her fill of taking care of him.

Then a corpse is found in a peat bog, and far from being the historic body it is first thought, it is quickly ascertained that this body is far more recent–and is a DNA match to Tormod Macdonald, Marsaili’s father.

This winning novel shows the plot through Fin’s eyes and through the remembrances and clouded memory of Tormod, an interesting device that allows the story of Tormod’s upbringing to unfold, while explaining why he felt it necessary to claim he had no family at all. The climax will keep you reading well past lights out time to seek the improbable resolution to this complicated novel.

43627_TheLewisMan_TPB-Red.indd The Chessmen completes the trilogy. With his divorce final, Fin Macleod has moved back to Lewis and is working as a private investigator.

He is putting his life in Edinburgh and his police skills behind him. Or so he thinks.

He takes an assignment as head of security to track down poachers working a huge island estate, and finds himself reunited with old friends including Whistler Macaskill. Their history and that of their friends form the basis for the action that follows when a body is found in a crashed plane at the bottom of a loch.

May’s uses the device again of showing the past in episodes, this time through Fin’s remembrances. The 1919 tragedy of the Iolaire is recounted and haunts the action.

That loch discovery will change the very foundation upon which Macleod’s memories are built, for a secret being kept for decades by people Macleod thought he knew. At stake will be lives, his and others, and a girl who needs to be saved.

This gritty series has given readers surprising plot twists and brilliant characterizations throughout.

Readers can only hope May will take a page from Ann Cleeves, whose Shetland trilogy so thoroughly engaged readers that she decided to bring out a fourth volume.

 

Dead Water continues the story of Shetland Island detective inspector Jimmy Perez. Blue Lightning Spoiler alert: In a shocking twist in the third volume, Perez’s fiancee was murdered, Dead_Water_HB_fc_and the detective is still struggling with that loss as he shares custody of her daughter with the girl’s biological father.

Jerry Markham is a journalist from Shetland whose family run a pricey hotel and restaurant in the area. The young man had left the island for London and work on a bigger and more important paper.

He left in his wake a scandal involving a young woman he made pregnant, who has gone on to make a life for herself on the island and whose impending marriage to an older seaman nears.

Then Markham’s body is found in a boat right outside the home of the Procurator Fiscal, Rhona Laing, a contained woman with a tidy, bleak house, who outlet in a crew team marks an otherwise lonely existence, one she prefers on her road to political advancement.

With Perez on leave, a young DI from the Hebrides is called in to conduct the investigation. Willow Reeves represents an unusual character and she’s able to bring Perez into the case by using his local knowledge. She also gets him to start to look past his grief, as his detecting skills are brought into play.

The case seems to revolve around Sullum Voe, where Shetland’s oil and gas industry are centered, and the big story Markham was following that brought him home.

Then a second death occurs, muddying the waters, and Perez and Reeves will team up to unmask a killer. Readers will hope Cleeves, who also writes the wonderful Vera Stanhope series, will keep Perez afloat.

 

a-killing-of-angels-by-kate-rhodesKate Rhodes knocked our socks off with her first Alice Quentin novel, Crossbones Yard, a complex mystery whose shocking ending resounded with readers.

In this second installment, A Killing of Angels, the behavioral psychologist is back with a new case that finds her assisting the police again, despite her reservations after the nightmare of the first book.

Fiercely independent Alice is training for a marathon, despite London’s hottest summer on record. Her specialty in personality disorders makes her an expert at character analysis and an enormous help to the police.

The body in question was a suspected suicide, until a picture of an angel and a few white feathers are found stuffed into the victim’s pocket.

The killings continue and it’s obvious that the Square Mile and the banking world is the locus for the crimes. As Alice tries to help detective Don Burns with the case, she finds herself dragged deeper into the intrigue and the lives of the people involved.

Complicating matters are the journalists who keep the murders high profile, suggesting the killings are retribution for the banking world and its self-absorption.

Readers can’t help but be engaged with Alice and her complicated history, with Rhodes’ intricate plotting, and with her facility for choosing prose that matters, echoing her poetry background. This is a thumping good read.

 

Simon Toyne’s Ruin trilogy has captivated readers with the world he created in his series of a haunting conspiracy thrillers. Tower-2 p0_v2_s260x420Nonstop action and breakneck twists continue in The Tower.

Santus introduced readers to Liv Adamson and the prophecy that caused her brother’s death and changed her life.

The Key left Liv trapped in the Syrian Desert, with her erstwhile savior, ex-special forces Gabriel Mann, suffering from the deadly virus that originated in the Citadel, an ancient monastery at the center of the conspiracy.

Enter new FBI agent Joe Shepherd, at first glance an unlikely choice to work the case after a cyber-attack at the Goddard Space Center that disables the Hubbard telescope and the subsequent disappearance of the prize-winning scientist in charge, who has left behind a cryptic and chilling message.

But Shepherd’s background with degrees in astrophysics and computer science make him the perfect choice. Despite the secrets he is hiding, Shepherd’s investigation leads him to connect these new incidents with the explosion months ago at the Citadel and the viral outbreak that ensued.

Readers will be engrossed in Shepherd’s journey with the added pressure of the device ofa  countdown clock dogging his heels. Then unusual things start to happen around the globe, and it remains to be seen if humanity can be saved.

Things will come full circle, but what is that meaning of that phrase? It it the ending of everything known before, or an entire new beginning?

For the woman at the heart of it all, Liv and her destiny will change the way the world survives–if it can. This third novel successfully answers all the questions raised in the other two, while providing a meaning and reason for the episodes of the others.

Auntie M met with Simon Toyne this summer and his outrageous good looks and charm belie the complicated mind needed to create this new world and the roller-coaster ride his readers will find.

 

Hearts Sandp0_v2_s114x166 Jane Haddam’s Gregor Demarkain novels continue to entertain. In this 28th installment, Hearts of Sand takes the investigator to the old-monied town of Alwych, Connecticut.

Although Chapin Waring disappeared thirty years ago, the quarter of a million dollars she had with her from a series of bank robberies was never recovered. There have been no sightings of the woman and she’s rumored to be dead.

Then new rumors fill the town: that Chapin has been seen on the beach or in a store, and these prove true when her body is found in the family’s vacant home, a knife sticking out of her back.

As a retired profiler, Demarkian excels at reading people and this kind of situation is right up his alley. With the local police stumped, he’s asked to help them narrow their field of suspects, and there are far too many of them.

Research into Chapin’s life shows her to have been a manipulative girl within an inner circle, whose attraction to danger led to the bank robberies and a car crash that killed her accomplice. The remaining people of her inner circle are just as delectable suspects as are the victim’s own sisters. Haddam gets small town snobbery just right.

 

We’re back across the pond with Mark Billingham’s wonderful DI Tom Thorne series. Number eleven doesn’t disappoint: it’s vintage Thorne  The Dying Hoursat his crankiest and most recalcitrant in The Dying Hours.

Busted back to uniform after the horrific events in Good as Dead  and losing the title ‘detective’ while remaining an inspector hasn’t changed the way Thorne’s analytical mind works. Despite his demotion, and putting his budding relationship in jeopardy, Thorne’s instincts run true when he’s called to the scene of a suicide that doesn’t feel right to him.

Unable at first to pinpoint his unease, it soon becomes apparent, at least to Thorne, that a series of suicides of elderly people don’t ring true. One thing they all have in common is a lack of depression or sadness other suicides exhibit.

Try convincing the Murder Squad of that, though. The new head of the very team he once ran refuses to accept these might be the killings of a sick mind.

But any Thorne reader knows he will not take dismissal well, and he plunges into his own parallel investigation, calling on his former colleagues and few remaining friends to help out, despite that they must put their own careers on the line, and jeopardizing any sliver of career he might have left of his own.

This is vintage Thorne, from his predilection for country music to his doggedness once he becomes convinced he’s right.

Adding to the texture is Billingham’s ability to get inside the mind of the creepy villain, bent on revenge and justifying his horrific actions. By adding in the point of the view of the perpetrator, Billingham creates a wily adversary and gives readers a chilling glimpse inside the mind of a murderer.

 

Elizabeth George: Just One Evil Act Sunday, Oct 20 2013 

Don’t let the length of over seven hundred pages deter you from plunging into Elizabeth George’s new novel, Just One Evil Act. The eighteenth Inspector Lynley novel will leave readers knowing much more than a few Italian phrases once they’ve finished this tome.    images_012

The action centers on the reaction of Lynley’s sergeant, Barbara Havers, to the news her handsome neighbor’s daughter has disappeared.

Havers’ friendship with the girl, Hadiyyah Upman, and her father, microbiolgist Taymullah Azhar, has grown over the two years the duo were the detective’s neighbors.  In the last installment, Believing the Lie, Hadiyyah’s mother had waltzed back into her daughter’s life, surprising the girl, her father, and Havers, all seduced by the woman’s easy manner and ability to fabricate a believable friendship. Angelina Upman is a complicated woman keeping multiple secrets, a beauty whose family has disowned her for having a child with the married Pakistani scientist.

Months pass with no word on the child’s whereabouts, despite Havers’ digging and helping Azhar hire a private detective.

Then Hadiyyah is kidnapped from a market in Lucca, Italy, where she’s been with her mother and Angelina’s fiance. Desperate to help Azhar, worried for the child, Havers makes the fatal mistake of enlisting a tabloid journalist to force the British police to become involved in the British citizen’s abduction. To her dismay, it is Lynley who is sent to Italy to liaise with the British family.

This splendidly plotted novel takes readers to Italy, introducing their very different policing system, and the wily detective Salvatore Lo Bianco. While Italian phrases liberally dot these scenes, George cleverly manages to convey their meaning without direct translations. The intriguing setting is well-described and adds another layer to this complex novel.

In London, Havers finds herself embroiled deeper and deeper into career-killing choices. On the personal front, Lynley is trying to convince himself he is starting to put his wife’s death behind him, and finds himself drawn to an unsuitable zoo veterinarian. His past fling with Superintendent Isabelle Ardery confuses everything, and will impact heavily on Havers’ future.

At one point readers will think the novel has reached its climax right in its middle, only to find that what would have been an ending for another writer is merely a step into the convoluted story that continues to branch off and have fingers reaching right into the lives of all these characters on different levels. At one point a resolution will appear completely out of sight, yet there is an ending that will satisfy readers, even as it does not satisfy every character.

This is a multi-layered story of love and betrayal, and what lengths we will choose when the heart is involved.

Elizabeth Haynes: Interview/ Human Remains: Review Sunday, Oct 13 2013 

One of the goals Auntie M has in writing this blog is introducing US writers to great UK authors they may be missing. Elizabeth Haynes (Into the Darkest Corner; Dark Tide) writes quality crime novels you’ll want to seek out. Auntie M had the privilege at Bouchercon of interviewing Haynes about her newest thriller Human Remains. The first photo is of Elizabeth charming the audience as she moderates a panel. She is warm and personable with a wicked sense of humor, and we shared a delightful time together. Here are her thoughts on her work; the review follows.

IMG_2517HaynesAuntie M: Your first two books drew on your experience as a police intelligence analyst, yet Human Remains is the first to give your protagonist that actual job, a real glimpse into a civilian working for the police. Tell us how your job sparked this book’s storyline.

Elizabeth Haynes: Every morning we received a bland document, the Chief Constable’s report of all reported incidents for the last 24 hours. “Human remains found” is often noted with no name or details or identifier.  It’s an incident but not necessarily a crime if these people appear to have died from natural causes, yet it happens more often than you’d think and I wondered about these forgotten people.

Then I saw a documentary called Dreams of a Life, about 38 yr-old Joyce Vincent, whose decayed body was found in her flat three years after her death.  She was sitting on her sofa surrounded by Christmas presents she was wrapping and the telly was still on! No one had missed her, no had checked on her–she had no “key layer” of people who would have raised the alarm. I started to think: what if someone out there was responsible for these seeming natural deaths, how would I search for this to find a pattern? I gave that job to my character, Annabel.

AM: You have created some really creepy bad guys. How do you get close to them?

EH: The first two books were concerned with relationships and it felt easier to write them. This one differs significantly. Both Annabel and Colin are unsocial people, but for vastly different reasons. I see my books as a snapshot of my characters, a window to them. I love them all, even the baddies. At first Colin didn’t want to talk to me, and I suspect he’s more intelligent than I am. He does hideous things but he sees the beauty in what he does and believes in it.

AM: Whether it’s OCD, pole dancing, or neuro-linguistic programming, you do extensive research. It’s one of the bits I enjoy most in my mystery series–do you?

EH: I do enjoy research but I’ve learned there’s a fine line for me between what’s productive and getting track-tracked on something else that catches my fancy. For this book, I was comfortable with the analyst side of it but less so with the NLP and hypnosis. The forensics of decomposition were the hardest. I was sitting in a coffee shop with this huge book on decomposing bodies and after the first picture, I slapped Post-It notes over them all. I could read the text and absorb the words but that photo was disturbing and still haunts me.

AM: With a husband and young son, how do you fit writing into your personal life?

EH: I have a very good husband who gives me space to write when I’m in the thrall of it, although I’m very good at procrastination. I’m not predictable in my writing habits; it seems to come to me in waves or with the pressure of a deadline. I write in my hut with my dog, Bea, a Portuguese rescued podenco, sleeping on a bed next to me.

AM: When you read for pleasure, whose books are on your nightstand? And what writer influence you?

Elizabeth Haynes, cr Ryan Cox                                                                                                                                      Photo courtesy of Ryan Cox

EH: I receive free books all the time and have found some gems, but the authors I look for and read consistently are Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, John Harvey and Mark Billingham, amongst others. I’m going to start Michael Robotham’s in order soon. I’d say Alison Lurie’s Love and Friendship was a big influence on my wanting to write.

AM: What’s up for fans of your writing after Human Remains?

EH: Next spring’s Under a Silent Moon will be a police procedural with a twist: the appendix contains actual flow charts that are used by the police analyst for the DCI, Louisa Smith. There are multiple narrators, and in the next few in this series, several characters from previous novels will appear.

AM: Thanks to Elizabeth for sharing her thoughts with readers. Now on to the review of her latest thriller, Human Remains.  

          HUMAN REMAINS00_Annabel is a police analyst who keeps herself busy with work, her cat and her aging mother, while trying  to persuade herself she’s not lonely. When her cat investigates the next door neighbor’s house with shocking results, its Annabel who discovers the woman’s decomposing body. The woman’s absence was not noted, least of all by Annabel, who is disturbed to the point of paying attention to the other cases of “human remains found” in her area. Her talents at investigation soon lead her to find a surge in such cases, but she’s unable to convince her police colleagues to pay attention.

Colin is also a loner, but more by choice. His one friend invites him to meet the woman he’s interested in, with disastrous results. Colin is fastidious and highly intelligent, stuck in a mind-numbing job that pays the bills, and he takes multiple courses at night in subjects all related to the human mind. He has his own study of the human psyche in progress with appalling results, yet he’s convinced he has embarked on a wondrous experiment.

How the paths of these characters intersect, and the devastating results, form the basis for Haynes’ most chilling thriller yet. Readers will find themselves compelled  to trace the trajectory of this story that weaves several threads expertly. One of the hallmarks of all of Haynes books is the level of research she does that adds multiple layers of plausibility to her stories.

The story is told in first person by both narrators, bringing the reader right into their minds and emotions. Sprinkled in between are newspaper articles of the discovery of these bodies, and in a specially insightful twist, chapters from the victims point of view. How these ordinary people living ordinary lives fall prey to Colin through circumstances that could happen to any of us adds to the book’s harrowing tone.

This is an all-too-believable story of what can happen to people who live alone. Highly recommended.

JL Greger: Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight Sunday, Oct 6 2013 

Please welcome medical mystery writer JL Greger has taken time off from writing her series to give Auntie M’s readers some great advice on how to lose weight while dieting~

cover Murder- A New Way to Lose Weight

WRITING IS LIKE DIETING

 

 

 

Doubt me? Let’s look at six pieces of advice for writers and dieters.

 

 

 

1. Set realistic priorities. You are more apt to attain small achievable goals (such as losing a pound a week or writing ten pages per week) than larger goals with artificial deadlines (for example losing fifty pounds before your class reunion or writing a three hundred page novel by Christmas).

 

 

 

2. Don’t procrastinate. Start working on your goals today, by skipping dessert at supper and writing at least one page for your next novel tonight.

 

 

 

3. Control problems and distractions. For writers, the distractions on the Internet are comparable to high fat, sugary foods to dieters. Perhaps this advice to Linda Almquist in the first chapter of Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight will help you sort through your clutter.

 

 

“There are three types of problems. A few problems are like wine; those situations improve if you delay decisions and let them age. Most problems are like waste paper. You can ignore them because they don’t matter. Unfortunately like waste paper, they tend to be messy when they pile up. And some problems are like manure. You must identify them quickly before they stink.”

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Coming Flu Front CV

 

4. Work at it every day. Most successful dieters have changed their lifestyle and eaten less and exercised more for months. If you want to write a novel a year, set aside time to “work on your book” every day.

 

 

 

5. Sweat the small stuff. Little bedtime snacks can undo our good behavior at meals or in the gym. Similarly grammar and spelling errors can ruin a novel with a great plot and characters.

 

 

 

6. Laugh at all those who give advice like this because you know it’s easier to give advice than follow it.

 

Bug&me5 

 

JL Greger traded in being a biology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to be a writer who puts tidbits of science into her medical mystery/suspense novels.

 

 

 

In Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight, the protagonist Linda Almquist struggles to lose weight, to fit into a new job where she’s not really wanted, and to help the police discover whether an ambitious young “diet doctor” or a couple of old-timers with buried secrets have the most to gain from the deaths of two women in a medical school. She has to work fast or she may be the next victim.

 

 

 

In Coming Flu, epidemiologist Sara Almquist, Linda’s sister, is trying to stop two killers:  the Philippine flu, which is rapidly wiping out everyone in a walled community in New Mexico, and a drug kingpin determined to break out of the quarantined enclave. Sara (in the third novel in the series, which is due out in November 2013) finds the wrong people from her past follow her to Bolivia when she accepts a public health assignment while Linda stays in Albuquerque and deals with more shenanigans in the medical school.   

 

 

 

The Kindle versions of both medical mysteries are on SALE on Amazon for $2.99 in September.

 

Coming Flu(http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Flu-ebook/dp/B008WDL84O/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372715303&sr=1-1&keywords=Coming+Flu ) and

 

Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight(http://www.amazon.com/Murder-New-Lose-Weight-ebook/dp/B00DFCC3IM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372715439&sr=1-1&keywords=Murder%3A+A+New+Way+to+Lose+Weight).

 

For more, visit http://www.jlgreger.comcast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

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Reading is a wonderful adventure!

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

MiddleSisterReviews.com

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