As a member of Sisters in Crime, Auntie M has found a community that sustains her when facing that blank white page that proscribes the daily writing life. A huge part of that organization is the support the members give each other on so many facets of writing, from craft to legal issues, from deadly poisons to process to marketing and blog tours.
So today she’s highlighting four Sisters (and a Mister!) who have books for your reading pleasure.
Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Jane Ryland series echoes the author’s own history as an investigative reporter. In Truth Be Told, the award-winning author brings her insider’s knowledge to a different kind of case: middle-class families caught in the housing foreclosure debacle who are evicted from their homes.
At the same time, her relationship with Boston police detective Jake Brogan has hit a snag. The long-awaited vacation they’d planned has to be cancelled when someone suddenly confesses to the twenty-year old murder called the Lilac Sunday Killing, the unsolved case that haunted Jake’s grandfather. With evidence mounting that the confession might be phony, Jake delves into his grandfather’s basement files on the original case.
With the strain of keeping their personal lives separate from their jobs, and that line crossing more than either of them expect, things heat up when murders start to occur in the supposedly empty homes of evicted families. Enter the daughter of a bank president, a young woman with her own special accounting system, and the cases take off, each from their own perspective.
Ryan does a nice job of bringing these two story lines together while Jane and Jake struggle to hold onto their relationship in the midst of misunderstandings and the differences of their jobs as they each try to figure out who’s behind the murders, and why someone would confess to a murder they didn’t commit.
G. M. Malliet’s Max Tudor series takes readers to the charming English village of Nether Monkslip, where the former MI5 agent has carved out a new life for himself. In A Demon Summer, the heat isn’t the only thing that has Max sweating: he’s soon to be a parent with his beloved Awena, and has yet to tell his Bishop of that development.
This is kind of mystery that isn’t built on action but on thoughtful investigation, as Max is sent by the Bishop to Monkbury Abbey after it seems their fruitcake was the vehicle used to try to poison the 15th Earl of Lislelivet. Tasked with discreet inquiries just at the time he’d rather be home and planning his marriage, Max nevertheless takes the job seriously and sets off to the remote abbey, home to nuns who are part of the order of the Handmaids of St. Lucy.
Amidst rumors of buried treasure regaling that of the Holy Grail, Max finds the cloistered order living their lives plainly, bound by rules and bells calling them to prayer. Along with the Lord back for a second visit are a philanthropic American family, an art gallery owner and a photographer, all sharing the guesthouse when Max arrives to begin his investigation.
There will be tales of funds going missing or misappropriated, of poison berries, or family tragedies–and then the Lord’s body is found down the well and Max must kick his investigation into overdrive. A device Malliet uses is chapter epigrams from The Rule of the Order of the Handmaids of St. Lucy. Great fun and with a Poirot-like ending where the little grey cells of Father Max have figured out what’s really happening behind the abbey’s walls.
The Devon setting, home to Agatha Christie’s Greenway and where she grew up, seems like a character in this humorous opener featuring Katherine Stanford, known to as Kat, a television celebrity leaving that life behind, who thinks she’s getting ready to launch the antique business she’s always wanted to run. Her partner and newly-widowed mother, Iris, has a huge surprise that throws a wrench in Kat’s plans: instead of going into business in London with Kat, Iris has bought a seriously dilapidated carriage house on the grounds of Honeychurch Hall, hundreds of miles from London.
With her partner David away for the weekend, Kat drives to Devon to see what kind of fix Iris has gotten herself into after breaking her hand, and discovers a host of characters that pale beside the ones Iris has been writing in her racy romances.
This is a modern-day Upstairs, Downstairs in some respects, with a lot of humor thrown into the mix as Kat at arrives at the Honeychurch Hall Estate on the River Dart and becomes involved in a family struggle to keep the estate intact as opposed to selling to developers. Iris’ part in all of this conflict is a puzzle to Kat, and its revelation will let Kat realize she doesn’t really know Iris at all.
The changes extend to Kat, with the vision she had for life after her television show needing to be rewritten. She begins to reconsider her fiancé, still married to Kat’s nemesis, and dragging his feet on the divorce. Devon proves to be anything but the boring out-of-the-way backwater Kat was expecting. There will be ghosts, an older countess and a young girl, the early death of the Lord’s first wife, as well as a Detective Inspector named Shawn who gets thrown into the mix when the manny goes missing– a DI whose phone ring tone is a steam engine. Things heat up with a murder as Iris’ past comes into play, and Kat decides she needs to rethink her future plans. This is the set up for a continued series in a delightful setting.
The mother/son writing team of Charles Todd have written their sixth Bess Crawford mystery that marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. An Unwilling Accomplice finds the nurse and sleuth home on leave and assigned to accompany a wounded solder to Buckingham Palace for the King’s award.
Bess is smarting from the apparent loss of a patient, facing an inquiry by the army and her nursing service. But the fact that the hero was wheelchair-bound and shouldn’t have been able to leave his hotel on his own hasn’t seemed to clear her. She was assigned to care for the ailing Sergeant Wilkins when his orderly heads back to the battle lines. What she doesn’t expect is for her patient to go missing when she leaves him at his hotel room for the night. With the mores of the era, it isn’t proper for a woman, even a nurse, to stay in the man’s room overnight. But how and when did Wilkins go missing?
With Bess’ professional credentials being called into question, she faces scrutiny from her boss as well as having to answer to the local police as to why she simply let a man go missing.
Then her lost hero is found: Wilkins has been sighted in Shropshire, with a witness claiming he’s committed murder. Bess swings into action to find Wilkins and tries to get to the bottom of his actions. Constricted by the mores of women traveling alone and hampering her investigation, she enlists family friend Simon Brandon to help solve the mysterious disappearance, restore her reputation, and clear her name. It’s the only way to save her own reputation–before a possible deserter kills again.
The Todd’s bestselling series featuring Ian Rutledge also carries their accurate historical illustration of the era. This latest entry continues that atmospheric and realistic portrayal of this time period with vivid details and a complete grasp of setting.