Peter Lovesey: Another One Goes Tonight Monday, Dec 26 2016 

Happy Boxing Day to all, and Auntie M hopes you enjoyed whatever holiday you’ve been celebrating. As we look to the New Year, here’s one last for 2016, and it’s a real winner~

The incomparable Peter Lovesey has been awarded just about every crime prize, including The Lifetime Achievement Award from Strand Magazine, CWA Silver and Gold Daggers, and the Cartier Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement–and he shows no signs of slowing down.

He’s back with his 16th Peter Diamond mystery, Another One Goes Tonight,, with the unflappable Bath detective up to his usual tricks.

Tasked with representing Professional Standards after an accident involving two police officers, one of whom dies at the scene, he discovers the body of an elderly victim of the crash, thrown into bushes at the side of the road. He saves the mans life with his quick CPR, and while investigating the incident, hoping the clear the police driver of fault, Diamond soon becomes convinced that the elderly engineer, still in hospital, is a serial killer.

It’s a fascinating premise as he tries to puzzle out what really happened that early morning between the police car and the elder out on his motorized bike. Most of what he uncovers is a by-product of his investigation and inadmissible. Soon he’s enlisted two of his team members to help him in this side investigation, with very interesting results as they uncover a trail of deaths of elderly people within the past two years who were known to the hospitalized engineer.

Readers will learn about the almost fanatical love some people had for steam engines, collecting memorabilia from their favorite branch and even assigning estates to the National Railway Museum.

But could this love of a bygone era also be the tie to a string of murders?
As well-plotted and crafty as always, with that hint of wry wit mixed into a police procedural. The most clever of puzzles with a highly satisfying ending.

Jane Cleland: The Glow of Death Saturday, Dec 24 2016 


Jane Cleland’s Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries have a devoted following with good reason. Her eleventh in the series, The Glow of Death, bring the same meticulous research and detail of the antiques world underlying the action when a rare Tiffany lamp goes missing and murder soon follows.

It’s almost the Fourth of July and warm along New Hampshire’s coast when Josie called to appraise the Tiffany lamp at tony Rocky Point home of the wealthy Towson’s. Met by Ava Towson, Josie is delighted to find the lamp bears all the hallmarks of a real Tiffany lamp, along with a high value. Josie takes the lamp into her care for safekeeping and authentication, and over the next three days, estimates the value at $1.5 million–gulp. She has the film crew she works with come up to NH and film her describing her authentication process for the television show that features her, then later that afternoon returns the lamp.

With her boyfriend, Ty, away on Homeland Security business, Josie is getting ready for her annual 4th barbecue when her best friend, Zoe, enlists her own boyfriend, Ellis Hunter, to help Josie with kitchen prep. Ellis just happens to be the Chief of Police, and is deep into potato salad fixing when he gets a call that Ava Towson has been murdered.

With her husband on his way home from a business trip, Ellis asks Josie to identify the body. They travel to the Towson home, only there’s a catch: the woman dead in the Towson’s kitchen isn’t Ava Towson.

But it sound is confirmed that the dead woman IS Ava Towson and the woman who gave the lamp to Josie to appraise was an imposter. Everything Josie has learned was based on information from this imposter, and the only thing accurate is the authenticity of the pricey lamp, and if the bit filmed for her television show is cancelled, that puts her show in jeopardy, too.

Josie can’t stand the thought of being duped by the imposter, and sets out to find out who had the temerity to trick her in such a horrible way. It will bring her into the line of fire literally.

One of the delights of this series is the information readers glean about the antiques world as they explore the business Josie has built, from the authentication process to the ways experts are used. A delightful addition to the series.

Catriona McPherson: The Reek of Red Herrings; Dandy Gilver #5 Tuesday, Dec 20 2016 

Catriona McPherson’s fifth Dandy Gilver master, The Reek of Red Herrings, finds the 1930 sleuth and her partner, Alec, headed to the Banffshire coast of Scotland to the tiny fishing village of Gamrie.

Posing as philologists out to garner information on local folklore and the Doric speech patterns, the colloquial language soon gets the better of them as they hide their real aim: to uncover for the local herring merchant how body parts have started showing up in several barrels sent from the area.

They arrive at the rainy and snowy coast the week before Christmas, a high time as the boats are due in, in strong contract to the menacing weather. It’s also the wedding season as the boats return with their unusual engagement customs followed, and soon the two are swept up in the five weddings to take place on the next weekend.

Adding to the bizarre feeling of the area are the two strange brothers who inhabit Lump House on the cliff, a menagerie of stuffed animals in tableau settings that creep out Dandy as much as the boarding house where they stay, with its meager food and drafty rooms.

The duo become adrift in a sea of nonsensical “teenames,” nicknames given to tell people apart when the local custom has so much naming after grandparents that there could be three in a family with the same name. McPherson has done significant research to get the tone and customs down right and it shows.

The wild winter adds to the discomfort Dandy and Alec encounter, and just when she thinks things can’t possibly fall into place, Dandy figures out what’s really happened. But just what should be done about it then becomes the issue.

A satisfying and enveloping mystery that will have Dandy and Alec consulting their own morals before it’s over.

Molly MacRae: Plaid and Plagiarism Sunday, Dec 18 2016 


What book-lover hasn’t had a least a fleeting dream of owning a bookstore? The idea for Plaid and Plagiarism and the Highland Bookshop Mystery series hatched and grew after I saw an article about a bookshop up for sale.

According to the article, the shop had a thriving business in lovely surroundings—on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. For me, that was two dreams in one. A bookshop! The Highlands!

I shared the article on Facebook and asked if anyone wanted to join me in a new venture. My question was, of course, tongue in cheek, but several friends and I had fun plotting and planning how we would make it work. The dreams ended up being so much fun, they were too good to waste, so I gave them to four new characters—four women—three Americans and a Scot who’d lived in the States for several decades and wanted to move home.

Years ago I did run a bookstore, and even more years ago I lived in Scotland. So I do have some background for writing this new series. My experiences lack dead bodies, and I’m not sure how I would handle discovering one in my garden shed. But, though felt just a bit bad planting a body where my four women would discover it, I think they acquit themselves reasonably well in their new business and in crime solving. For amateurs, anyway.

Where you can find Plaid and Plagiarism: Independent bookstores: Barnes & Noble: Amazon: Where you can find Molly: Website: Facebook: Pinterest: Twitter: @mysterymacrae


The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” In addition to writing the Highland Bookshop Mysteries, Molly is the author of the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries from NAL/Penguin and the stand-alone mystery novels Lawn Order and Wilder Rumors.

Molly’s short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990 and she’s a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. Molly and her family live in Champaign, Illinois, where she connects children and books at the public library.

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Nupur Tustin: A Minor Deception Thursday, Dec 15 2016 

Please welcome Nupur Tustin, who will describe the starting point for her historical mystery starring none other than Austrian composer Haydn:

How Haydn Captured My Heart

Nupur Tustin

Franz Joseph Haydn, the Austrian composer, was born in the tiny village of Rohrau, the son of a wheelwright and his wife. By the year 1766 when A Minor Deception, the first Haydn mystery, begins, he was being hailed as the “darling of the nation,” and was employed by the wealthiest and most powerful noble family in the Habsburg Empire, the Esterházys.

But this amazing rags-to-riches story, inspiring as it is, isn’t what compelled me to choose Haydn as the protagonist of my historical mystery series. The qualities that won me over are quite different.

In the year 1802, seven years before his death, Haydn received a letter from the music lovers of a small German town called Bergen. The musicians in this little town had performed his oratorio—a religious opera—The Creation. The work had been so well-received and enjoyed so much, the town and its inhabitants felt obliged to communicate their delight to the composer.

Now, Haydn by this time was “free of care,” as he put it. He owned a comfortable house in Gumpfendorf, at the time a suburb of Vienna, and was able to afford a good glass of wine and enjoy three or four courses at dinner. He had received medals and honors, and had consorted with “emperors, kings, and many great gentlemen.”

Yet a letter from this obscure town received an immediate response. “It was indeed a most pleasant surprise to receive such a flattering letter from a place where I could have no idea that the fruits of my poor talents were known,” he begins, going on to express his own delight that the work had been so well-received.

This is only one of countless tales of Haydn’s humility, his modesty, and his complete lack of ego even at the height of his success. It gave him genuine pleasure that anyone enjoyed performing and listening to his compositions. It mattered not who you were.

That modesty was accompanied by a strong sense of humor that took no umbrage when he was mistaken for a servant and treated brusquely.

Good fortune may have taken him from Rohrau to Vienna, the musical capital of the Habsburg Empire. But it was sheer diligence that resulted in Haydn’s fame and fortune.

“I was diligent,” Haydn was to say years later. “When my comrades went to play, I took my little Clavier under my arm and went up to the attic, where I could practice undisturbed.”

It took ten long years of grinding poverty before he received employment as Kapellmeister—Director of Music—first to Count Morzin and later the princely Esterházy family.

In those years of living in a dingy attic, without heat, with barely enough money to keep body and soul together, did the young Haydn sometimes feel discouraged, and wonder if his hard work would pay off? If so, what encouraged him to continue?

A passage from the letter of 1802 provides the answer:

Often, when contending with obstacles of every sort that interfered with my work, often when my powers both of body and mind were failing and I felt it a hard matter to persevere in the course I had entered on, a secret voice within me whispered, “There are but few contented, happy peoples here below; everywhere grief and care prevail; perhaps your labors may one day be the source from which the weary and worn, or the man burdened with affairs, may derive a few moments’ rest and refreshment.” What a powerful motive for pressing onward!

What a powerful motive, indeed! Haydn was speaking of the exhausting labor that went into the writing of the Creation. But I like to think that the same voice kept him on his course when as a young man poverty and hunger may have tempted him to look for some easier means of earning a living.

It’s hard work being a writer. The pursuit of any worthy endeavor, in fact, is hard. The road may not be long, but it is arduous. But Haydn’s own diligence, his ability to forge ahead despite obstacles, have taught me to persevere, even in the telling of his story.

He was never an amateur sleuth, although if someone had approached him for help, he would have given it quite willingly. His readiness to help, his humility, and his diligence serve as a moral compass for me. Quite simply, Haydn is my muse.

A Minor Deception is a fun, entertaining mystery. But much of Haydn’s character shines through in the fiction I weave. I hope as you read my novel, the Kapellmeister will capture your heart as he did mine.

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her musical works. A Minor Deception is the first in her Joseph Haydn mystery series. Print and e-copies are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.
Haydn Series:
Haydn Blog:

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Barnes & Noble:

D. J. Niko: The Sarah Weston Chronicles Wednesday, Dec 14 2016 

Please welcome guest author D J Niko of The Sarah Weston Chronicles:
In Search of Authenticity
A guest post by D.J. Niko

In writing believable fiction, research is imperative. Everyone knows that. But how far should an author go to delight her readers by making scenes plausible and characters authentic?

I’ve always believed that firsthand research is best, even if it comes with a high degree of adventure (or, as is often the case, misadventure), so I try to visit the places I write about (yes, even the remote ones), get to know people of the cultures represented in my pages, and maybe put myself in some unusual situations, just to see what happens. No risk, no reward—right?

As an example, I’d like to share a story about a personal experience that informed one of the scenes in the first novel of The Sarah Weston Chronicles, my series of archaeological thrillers: The Tenth Saint.
In Chapter 7, Gabriel warns the Bedouins about an imminent sandstorm. As a Western man and a scientist, Gabriel knows with mathematical accuracy the storm is coming. The Bedouins do not listen to him, instead pressing toward the oasis so they do not miss their turn in the fertile lands. Sure enough, the storm comes, wiping out the Bedouins’ caravan and brutally claiming lives.

Describing this sandstorm in an authentic, realistic manner came naturally to me, because I had experienced it firsthand. I was with four friends in the Moroccan Sahara, near the Mali border. We had been traveling on camelback for about a week, heading toward an oasis to replenish supplies.

Just before dusk, we saw the cloud approach from the south and knew we were in for a long night. Typical Westerners, we covered our backpacks and camera gear in blankets so that sand would not get in. We had no tents, and there was no cover anywhere in sight, so we built perimeter fences from bed linens, holding the contraption down with sand bags. We were industrious. We were resourceful.

We were scared.

Meanwhile, our Berber camel drivers were calm as could be. Without breaking a sweat, they built a fire and boiled murky water we’d collected earlier from a sand depression. They made tea and cooked some noodles. I shook my head. Who could think of food at a time like this?

The nomads were unruffled because they knew there was nothing they could do in the face of such fury. They couldn’t stop it; they couldn’t hide from it. So they went on with life. Whatever would come, would come, tea or no tea.
The sandstorm did come, and it battered our camp from sundown until four in the morning. It was the longest eight hours of my life. I still recall the constant grit of sand between my teeth and the violent stinging of my eyes as I lay there, in the fetal position in total darkness, waiting for the hissing to stop, hoping we would not be buried alive.

At dawn, as the shreds of our perimeter fence whipped in an errant breeze, we surveyed the damage. We shook pounds of sand off ourselves and searched for our belongings, which had been scattered by the wind. I recall inscribing “LIFE” with my fingernail on my sand-caked arm, in the same way you’d write “WASH ME” on a dirty car. But what I remember most vividly is Mohammed the Berber blowing into the belly of a meager fire, coaxing some flames, as if nothing had happened.

I learned something that day, and it is summed up this way in The Tenth Saint: “The way of the nomad is to accept everything as it comes: there is no anticipation of better days, no longing for the unrequited, no despair for loss.”
In the second novel of the series, The Riddle of Solomon, the antagonist, Trent Sacks, sits in a boat floating on the Ganges River in Varanasi, India. It’s late at night and all is dark, save for some strung-up lights illuminating the burning ghats. Then a platform on the edge of the river erupts with light and sound as Hindu priests announce the beginning of the puja ceremony by blowing into a conch shell. Here’s an excerpt from that scene:

The seven identically robed pujaris sat in lotus position on the platforms in front of Dasaswamedh Ghat, moving brass bells to and fro with slight movements of their wrists. The bells rang in practiced unison, their clear, melodic sounds like an entreaty imploring the heavens. They faced the Ganges, directing their worship to the goddess of the river rather than to the thousands of dark faces that crowded the stepped stone terraces behind the platforms or spilled out of the windows of the ornate Nagar buildings.
With movements as synchronized and fluid as the rhyme of a poem, the priests stood and took up brass diya lamps filled with burning incense coals. The tolling of the bells persisted, now joined by drumming, deliberate as a heartbeat, and a soft monotone chant. The pujaris mirrored one another as they waved the lamps like slowly swinging pendulums, raising great clouds of smoke that glowed copper under the golden lights. The faithful bowed their heads as the smoke wafted toward them, anointing them with the sweet fragrance of sandalwood.
Sacks shifted his gaze downriver. A cow, eyes wide open and bloated with death, floated past, and he regarded it with indifference. In the distance he could see a plume of smoke rising from Manikarnika Ghat and he felt the familiar pangs of arousal stir within him. Another cremation, another soul being released unto the ether. Funeral pyres were lit hundreds of times every day, from early morning until well into the night. In a country whose population exceeded a billion, there was no shortage of demand for the services of the burning ghats, nor for the delivery from suffering.

I still remember fondly my time in Varanasi: the pujaris performing exactly those movements, the woody scent of the incense, the marigold and candle offerings floating downriver, the smoke rising from the pyres of the burning ghats, the dead cows floating in the holy river. The dichotomy of Varanasi, which I’ve become well acquainted with over six visits, pits chaos with spirituality, life with death, filth with beauty. It’s not comfortable to travel there—both from a physical and emotional standpoint—but it does offer an education for those who go with eyes wide open. And that makes all the difference in crafting scenes, building authentic setting, and bringing characters to life.

For my next book, the fourth Sarah Weston adventure, I’ll be traveling to Morocco and the American Southwest, looking for the genuine soul of these places—and hoping to stay out of trouble!

Thank you, Marni, for the opportunity to contribute this post!

For more information:
D.J. Niko website
For more information on D.J. Niko’s books:
The Tenth Saint
The Riddle of Solomon
The Oracle
The Judgment
Find D.J. Niko on Twitter and Facebook.


Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO

Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO

Daphne Nikolopoulos in an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer. Under the pen name D.J. Niko, she has written two novels in an archaeological thriller series titled The Sarah Weston Chronicles. Her debut novel, The Tenth Saint (Medallion Press, 2012), won the Gold Medal (popular fiction) in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. Her follow-up release, The Riddle of Solomon, continues the story of British archaeologist Sarah Weston as she seeks the relics—and mystical secrets—left behind by the biblical King Solomon in remote Israel.
Daphne’s newest releases include The Oracle, book 3 in The Sarah Weston Chronicles (November 2015), and The Judgment, which is set in Israel and Egypt in the tenth century BCE (May 2016).

In addition to writing fiction, Daphne is editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine and editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group. Prior to that, she was a travel journalist who logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling across the globe, with emphasis on little-known and off-the-beaten-path locales—many of which have inspired her novels.

Daphne frequently lectures about her research on the ancient world. She is an instructor at Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society, teaching on the subject of archaeology. She has also spoken to audiences at the Jewish Community Center of the Palm Beaches’ Academy for Continuous Education, and several libraries and private groups throughout Florida.
Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Daphne now resides in West Palm Beach with her husband and twin son and daughter. You can find her on the Web at and connect with her on Facebook (AuthorDJNiko) and on Twitter: @djnikobooks.

Matt Marinovich: The Winter Girl Saturday, Dec 10 2016 


Just when you think you know what’s going on in Matt Marinovich’s thriller, The Winter Girl, you realize you really don’t–not by a long shot.

The isolation of the Hamptons in winter is the perfect backdrop for this tale of a young couple, Elise and Scott, staying in her father’s home as they wait for the old man to die of cancer.

Victor is not a nice person, Scott always thought, and readers will readily agree with him as more and more of his actions are revealed over the weeks and then months the couple spend catering to him. With his photography career stalled and Elise’s speech therapy clients all on hold, boredom sees them sneaking into the vacant house next door.

But is it really vacant? And what does all that blood signify? A twisted and twisting psychological tale that will have the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. And then some. Out in paperback on the 13th. Chill up someone’s stocking with this one!

James L’Etoile: At What Cost Wednesday, Dec 7 2016 


James L’toile calls on his vast experience in the criminal justice system to debut what Auntie M hopes is the start of a new series, At What Cost.

Set in Sacramento, he introduces Detective John Penley and his new partner, late of Internal Affairs and therefore proving her worth, Detective Paula Newberry. Facing a puzzling case will either cement or destroy their budding relationship, when trunks of headless and limbless bodies of gang members start appearing.

This is not your usual serial killer at work, and there soon becomes a personal component for Penley relating to his ill son that ties the investigation together and points squarely at the detective, for his son is on a kidney transplant waiting list, an organ he desperately needs.

Far from a simple manipulation of the supposedly-secure integrated donor system, there’s more at stake here as the two detectives dig deeper and the taunting of the killer rises. Can Penley use his son’s illness to flush out this maniac before he kills again? Or should he do a deal with the devil that might save his son’s life?

L’Etoile gets gang culture just right, along with the deranged personality of the demon his detectives seek. He knows the lie of the land in a police station, too. His work includes associate warden in a maximum security prison, director of adult parole, a primary hostage negotiator, and a national consultant on prison-based rehabilitation programs. This extensive experience runs the gamut of what humans are capable of doing to one another, and L’Etoile puts that knowledge to very good use in making this one of the most realistic and heartfelt crime thrillers she’s read in a good while.

The characters are complex and the pacing frenetic as the urgency to find the killer ramps up the action as a young boy’s life hangs in the balance. A powerful debut with a thriller of a police procedural at its heart. Readers will be waiting for Penley and Newberry’s next case.

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: Great reads for your gift list Thursday, Dec 1 2016 

At this time of year, Auntie M likes to give readers a compendium, if you will, of stacks of books to choose from for gifts for the readers on your list. Don’t forget her axiom that it’s perfectly reasonable to buy a few for yourself!

mistletoemuder mistletoe2

Let’s start off with a little goodie that should soon appear in stockings all over the world: Short stories from the Queen of British Mystery, P D James, gathered into a slim volume perfect for stockings. The Mistletoe Murder and other Stories contains four classic short stories, two featuring her detective, poet Adam Dalgliesh. For a brief moment in time, readers can hear James’ voice in their reader ear once again. A delightful foreword by Val McDermid and a preface by James herself frame the perfect holiday treat. These are delicious: a snapshot of a setting, a crime to be solved, and you’re off! That’s the US cover on the left and the UK cover on the right. Enjoy!

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Keeping with the holiday theme is Ann Myers’ third Santa Fe Cafe` Mystery, Feliz Navidead
. Chef Rita Lafitte of Tres Amigas Cafe has her mom visiting from Minnesota to entertain, while keeping track of her teenage daughter performing in the outdoor Christmas play. When Rita discovers a dead actor during the first performance, she swears off investigating, but soon finds herself involved in a very dangerous situation. The Knit and Snitchers, her elderly group of knitting ladies, are back, giving information and clues to Rita even as they sneak their knitting onto statues and stop signs. There are a host of other entertaining characters, and don’t forget Rita’s mom. Who can resist Santa Fe at Christmas? Watch Rita solve a murder and drool over Myers’ recipes, too.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas
is David Rosenfelt’s newest Andy Carpenter mystery in the long-running series. This time he and his trusty golden retriever are helping his friend “Pups” Boyer, accused of murder when said neighbor is found dead–by Pups. It doesn’t help that the neighbor had filed a complaint against Pups and the noise of her local dog rescue. While Andy doesn’t believe Pups is guilty, his digging will bring him closer than he’d like to the real murderer. Rosenfelt’s real Tara Foundation, which finds home for injured or sick dogs, is the basis for Andy’s foundation.

Maggie Patterson is helping out her sick sister, covering for her at The Wine and Bark, the dog-friendly bar Rachel runs in a usually-quiet seaside town in California in Trigger Yappy. It’s Maggie who hears the argument between her friend Yolanda and Bonnie, the gal who runs the Chic Chickie shop. When Bonnie is murdered, the Roundup Crew and the very cute Officer Brad Brooks are on hand to help Maggie investigate to clear Yolanda, even if means putting her purser job on hold to do so. Filled with good humor, charm and a bit of romance.

We’ll stick with humor in Agatha Raisin’s latest adventure, Pushing Up Daisies. M. C. Beaton’s beloved character is the kind of sleuth Miss Marple wouldn’t recognize, with her hard-drinking man lust. A land developer is murdered and there are far too many suspects. Lord Bellington wanted to turn the community garden into a housing development, so there are few tears shed at his death. The villagers seem happy enough that his heir and son, Damian, doesn’t intend to follow his father’s plans, but he does want to find his father’s killer, and hires Agatha to investigate. This time a retired detective is on hand to assist Agatha, and it helps that he’s handsome. Agatha doesn’t let a second murder of a woman seen kissing the new detective deter her from her case–or him. Vintage Beaton.

A switch to historicals, and we start of with the continuing Charles Lenox series by Charles Finch with The Inheritance. With fine attention to Victorian detail, Lenox is thrust into his most personal case yet. His friend from Harrow, Gerald Leigh, asks for help from Lenox, only to disappear. Knowing that in the past Leigh has been the recipient of a bequest from an anonymous benefactor, he finds Leigh has received a second bequest. Could they be from the same person? And what does either had to do with his friend’s disappearance? His investigation will take him from the highs of society to the lows of the gangs of the east end of London before it’s over. An intricate plot with realistic and finely-drawn period details.

Ian Sansome’s new County Guides novel, Westmoreland Alone
, with Stephen Sefton as narrator, Professor Morley (the People’s Professor) and his daughter Miriam, newly engaged, set out to conquer the Lake District. Owing to the the rather unusual end to Sefton’s night at the pub and cards before leaving, he persuades Morley he should take the train, with disastrous effect. A horrid crash reminds Sefton of his time in Spain and there is a tragic death. It’s the juxtaposition of the three personalities that provides a lot of the humor in the strained setting. Stranded after the fatal train crash, the three become involved in a suspicious death when the body of a woman is found at an archeological dig. It’s 1930’s England with all of the mores of the time. We see more of Sefton’s PTSD as the trio investigate gypsies, wrestling habits, country fairs and more.

Wilbur Smith has been called “the best historical novelist” by Stephen King, and he brings that talent to ancient Egypt in Pharaoh
. This action-packed epic follows the Pharaoh’s advisor, Taita, where Egypt is under a brutal attack and Pharaoh Tamose is gravely injured. Despite leading the army to victory, Taita is branded a traitor after Tamose dies by the new Pharaoh. With his first person narrative bringing Taita and Egypt to life, sometimes in a boastful way, history feels present under Smith’s skilled hands when a kidnaping leads to preparation for another war.
1967 Florence and Italian culture come alive under Mario Vichi’s hands in the fifth Inspector Bordelli mystery, Death in the Tuscan Hills. Florence is getting over the tragic floods of the previous winter but Bordelli has resigned after failing to solve the investigation into a young boy’s murder at that time. He leaves the city, determined to find peace in his new home in the Tuscan hills, despite the nagging thorn in his side by leaving the boy’s killers free. While he learns a new way of life, tending to an olive grove, gardening, cooking, and worries about his confused love life, he still obsesses about the men at large. Retribution is at hand when he discovers all the cohorts’ identities. But now what will he do about it? An absorbing tale with Vichi’s usual footnotes for clarification in several places.


Will Thomas’ latest Barker and Llewellyn novel put their detecting skills to the test in Hell Bay, an impossible crime set in 1889 Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall. Barker has been tasked with providing security for a secret meeting with the French government at the estate there of Lord Hargrave. The security team fails miserably, with two deaths on the island and no means of leaving or signaling for help. It’s a classic locked-area mystery, as Barker and Llewelyn race to uncover the killer among them before he strikes again and dashes all hope of negotiating a new treaty with France. Chock full of historical details and rising tension.

Andrew Hunt’s Desolation Flats captures 1930s Salt Lake City in his Art Oveson series. The famed Bonneville Salt Flats are the site of international racers, there to break the land speed record. Then Nigel Underhill, a wealthy English participant, is murdered, and his brother disappears. It’s a case for Art in the Missing Person’s Bureau, and he’s been handed a helper: a former Scotland Yard detective the Underhill family has hired to assist Art. The trail will lead them between Utah and London and end in a most unlikely manner. A gritty and engrossing read.

For readers who enjoy books set in different countries, check out these:


Adam LeBor’s Yael Azoulay series have been praised for the geopolitical thrillers’ realistic and intelligent plotting and savvy yet human protagonist. Yael has managed to stop the plans of the powerful Prometheus Group and its leader is out for revenge. This third installment, The Reykjavik Assignment, takes the covert UN negotiator to Iceland for a secret meeting she’s arranged during a UN conference between three key players: the US Secretary of State, The UN Secretary General, and the President of Iran. She soon discovers a plan to disrupt it as an act of revenge against Yael herself. As the tension rises, and with the US President on hand, Yael races to stop the murder of the UN Secretary by unmasking the killer, who has his own motives for wanting the man dead. A chilling climax with a surprising twist at the end will answer some of Yael’s long-held questions. A stunning end to the trilogy.

realtigers It’s off to England and London’s Slough House in Mick Herron’s Real Tigers, a Jackson Lamb spy thriller that’s been called some of the finest spy fiction of the last 20 years. Slough House is where a disgraced spy is sent to push paper. But when one is the victim of a revenge kidnapping, it leads to a group of private mercenaries within the Security Service. Enter Jackson Lamb to sort it all out in a manner that will convince readers the spy novel with sharp dialogue and filled with sly wit is still around.

The Patriarch brings Bruno, Chief of Police, to the French countryside for the birthday celebration of the man who is Bruno’s childhood hero: Marco “the Patriarch” Desaix, a WWII flying ace. He knows many of the attendees, and is enjoying himself immensely, far away from his daily grind, when a longtime friend of the family is found dead. What started as a pleasant day turns into the kind of investigation he’d hoped to avoid, as what at first appears to be a tragedy may just be a murder. With his hero’s family all coming under suspicion, he must tread lightly in the Dordogne, from the river chateaus to the prehistoric cave paintings to find a killer.

To North Korea and the enigmatic Inspector O, in James Church’s sixth in the series, The Gentleman from Japan
. Living with his nephew, Bing, the director of state security in northeast China near the border of North Korea, Inspt. O becomes involved when Bing needs his help after there are seven deaths in one night, apparent poisonings in noodle shops. Despite not wanting to investigate them, Bing needs O’s help more than ever. Their investigation will take them to Spain and Portugal before it’s straightened out as a world-wide plot develops. Satisfying and complex.

Back to the US for some great mysteries. Douglas Schofield’s Storm Rising fits that bill, with cop’s widow Lucy Hendricks leading the charge. After leaving for Florida, Lucy decides its time to move home to New Jersey and lay her old ghosts to rest. Yet the mystery surrounding her husband’s death becomes even stronger when her young son, Kevin, experiences a change in his behavior. With Hurricane Sandy quickly approaching, the elements conspire to destroy more than Lucy’s home as she tries to unpick the mystery surrounding her husband’s death. A true mystery laden with supernatural elements.

Not supernatural, but with a substance not known in earth: that’s the crux of the case before Kay Scarpitta in Patricia Cornwell’s new CHAOS
. A bicyclist has been killed with superhuman force and Kay and her investigating partner, Peter Marino, are on the case in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the body has been found near the Kennedy School of Government. What doesn’t add up are the calls Kay’s husband, FBI agent Benton Wesley, have received before the incident from Interpol. Or were they? And when her tech-savvy niece Lucy fails to be able to trace the sender, all bets are off with a cyberbully involved. High tension, detailed forensics, and a whopping good story.

Ellen Crosby brings back her Virginia Wine Country Mysteries under the Minotaur umbrella in The Champagne Conspiracy. Vintner-sleuth Lucie Montgomery investigates an older mystery with her partner, Quinn Santori, when his uncle Gino enlists their help solving the 1920s death of Zara Tomasi, the first wife of his grandfather, who died under suspicious circumstances in 1923. Is there a connection to her death the day after President Warren Harding died at the same San Francisco hotel? With a blackmailer breathing down their necks, Gino and Lucie search for the truth before a family secret is revealed. Everything they hold dear will come under threat as a murderer tries to keep the truth about Zara’s death buried in time.

Gritty crime fiction takes to the streets of the Bronx in John Clarkson’s
Bronx Requiem
. James Beck is back, and he takes it hard when an ex-con, determined to change his ways, is murdered just hours after his release before he can change his life. Enter James Beck, whose ring of ex-cons in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn try to find justice for the murdered man. But a deeper look into a street killing turns into something more complicated, and soon Beck and his ring need to watch their own backs to uncover the truth. Fast-paced and action filled.

And for those who want a paperback for stocking stuffers or maybe that grab bag gift, look no further than these:

Her Last Breath is Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder entry new in paperback, and she’s a favorite of readers with good reason. Investigating the world of the Amish isn’t easy, but it’s a world Kate knows, and as Chief of Police, she’s called in to a hit-and-run that leaves an Amish deacon and of two of his children dead, with a third clinging to life. The Amish lifestyle is accurately portrayed, its simplicity a stark contrast to the rapid pace and high tension. The widow was Kate’s friend as youths, and while she’s determined to find the killer, she starts to suspect it’s much more than a simple case in Painters Mill.

Sophie Hannah’s The Narrow Bed
is part of her Culver Valley crime series with the highly interesting married detective duo, Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer. A serial killer is murdering pairs of best friends after giving the victim a hand-made white book containing a line of poetry before their death. Their search centers around stand-up comedian Kim Tribbeck, who was a recipient of one of the white books, but is still alive a year later. How they solve this crime and it all comes together shows the hallmark of Hannah’s complex plotting for a read that’s filled with pathos and psychological ambiguity.

Carla Norton’s What Doesn’t Kill Her is the second Reeve Le Clair thriller. Now a college student after surviving being the captive of killer Daryl Wayne Flint, she’s getting her life back on track. Then the unthinkable happens: Flint manages to escape from the psychiatric hospital where he’s been held, and starts killing people from his past, settling old scores. And that included Reeve, and she knows she’s on his list. Not only that: she realizes she’s the one who knows him best and is the only one who can stop him. Chilling and tautly plotted.

And one for your true crime aficionado: possessed
True crime writer Kathryn Casey earned Ann Rule’s two thumbs up as one of the best in the business. Now Casey explores the “Infamous Texas Stiletto Murder” in Possessed
, taking readers to Houston and what at first glance is a domestic murder. The details include the magnetic and erratic Ana Trujillo, who had a reputation in Houston for her supposed occult powers. Stefan Andersson is the gentle, Swedish man who falls for Ana and comes under her spell. A fascinating look at the forensic evidence and witness testimony comes under the microscope as Ana tries to claim she killed Stefan in self defense. Meticulously presented.