Elly Griffiths: The Chalk Pit Tuesday, May 30 2017 

Elly Griffiths returns with her ninth Ruth Galloway mystery, The Chalk Pit, a strong addition to the popular series.

The series, set in Norwich, is such a favorite of Auntie M’s that her next Nora Tierney English Mystery, The Golden Hour, features a character is reading the latest mystery–and Elly appears briefly as a friend of Nora’s.

There are good reasons why the award-winning author is hugely popular. The anthropology details are accurate but never dry, and always couched in a really good mystery to be solved. Then there are the returning characters–Ruth, Detective Nelson, and several of their friends and colleagues–who reappear and catch readers in the tumble of their lives.

This keeps the reader involved in Ruth’s world, where she’s the single parent of young Kate, a precocious child who is offered a small role in an experimental version of Alice in Wonderland.

The play comes at the same time that Ruth is called to investigate bones found in an old chalk pit during excavation for an underground restaurant. When the bones turn out to be human, it involves Nelson, too, and the mystery takes off as the relationship between Ruth and Nelson becomes even more complicated.

Ruth notices the bones appear so translucent, they might have been boiled. A second body is found, and fear mounts. Is this the work of a cannibal killer? Could there be a secret society at work? Why are the homeless being targeted? When a homeless woman goes missing, Ruth and Nelson fear she’s the next victim.

As the tension mounts, someone close them will also go missing. The story twists in their efforts to find the killer in a tense climax that will have readers flipping pages to the conclusion.

Another rewarding read in this satisfying series from the author who also writes the The Magic Men Mysteries. Highly recommended.

James Oswald: Written in Bones Sunday, May 28 2017 

James Oswald’s Inspector McLean series is one of Auntie M’s personal favorites. Written in Bones continues the compelling Edinburgh-based mystery series with its strong protagonist. And yes, the award-winning and nominated author really does raise pedigree Highland cattle and New Zealand Romney sheep on his North East Fife farm. You can see amazing photos of his livestock on his website and Facebook pages.

This case seems to be one without an answer. A young boy walking his dog early in the morning talks of a dragon flying overhead; then a body drops into a tree in the Meadows, Edinburgh’s scenic park. It’s not a crime scene of the faint of heart.

The victim is an ex-cop who had a criminal past, and after serving his time, had reinvented himself as a philanthropist for addicts and other causes. Was his death an accident? Or a message to those left behind?

It will take McLean back to digging out past cases and history, while he comes into contact with someone he thought he’d left behind, just as he’s trying to sort out his personal life.

One of the highlights of the series is the way Oswald brings Edinburgh, and his band of characters, to life. This is gritty stuff with an edge or realism that sharpness the focus. And as always, McLean needs to avoid exacerbating his already-ugly relationship with most of his superiors, as he doesn’t always play by the book–perhaps never.

Another outstanding entry in the series. Highly recommended.

Pamela Wechsler: The Graves Wednesday, May 24 2017 

The Boston setting comes alive in former prosecutor Pamela Wechler’s second Abby Endicott novel, The Graves, where the young assistant district attorney known for crime convictions is still recovering from the attempts on her life in the debut, Mission Hill.

The strong protagonist has a passion for putting murderers away, but that same dedication has cut her off from her wealthy family’s backing. Her parents hope that putting her in financial straits will prompt Abby to turn to a career more in line with their thinking, along with ditching her musician boyfriend, even while ignoring the faults in their marriage.

But when a string of young women start turning up murdered around Boston, the case only makes Abby more determined to find the killer. Then another young woman goes missing, and Abby, working with Detective Kevin Farnsworth, investigates to find the man who’s been at the heart of the matter, with surprising and troubling complications.

The prosecutor will have to bring all of her smarts and wiles to bear to bring a killer to justice, and the outcome is not a foregone conclusion once a senator and his son become implicated in the crimes.

There’s enough here to keep any reader happy. Abby’s interior narrative is a strong voice, as the young, pampered woman who took personal shoppers and trendy shops for granted suddenly has to learn to economize. Wechsler also paints a realistic picture of a woman whose drive for her job makes others unhappy, while at the same time, it confuses Abby about what–or who–she really wants.

Auntie M likes Abby. She’s not a cardboard figure, but a realistic heroine with strong opinions who can sometimes see her own weaknesses and frailties, and so can we.

And in other news: Nele Neuhaus, one of Germany’s foremost crime authors, has her latest now out in paperback. I Am Your Judge brings the team of Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver Van Bodenstein facing a complex killer whose victims appear to have no enemies. The fourth installment in the bestseller series.

Matt Ferraz: The Convenient Cadaver Monday, May 22 2017 

Matt Ferraz was an ocean away from home when he wrote The Convenient Cadaver, the first volume of Grandma Bertha Solving Murders.

Having lived in the same house in Brazil his entire life, Matt had to spend a year in a college accommodation in Buckingham, UK, where he took his masters. Writing a novel that took place entirely within the walls of a family house was literary a way to feel cozy again.

Having always been close to both his grandmothers, Matt decided to create a book that would treat old age in a light and positive way. His best friend was also an old lady named Silvia, who used to call him “my little Stephen King”, as a homage to their favorite author. The book is dedicated to these three ladies, with a sad note that Silvia passed away before she had the chance to read it.

Grandma Bertha is a wacky old lady who loves her dogs, her beer and her horror movies.

One day, a corpse appears near her house, and she decides she’s going to find out who did it. Her family obviously doesn’t like it, but Grandma Bertha won’t give up, as she want to prove that being old does not mean being useless.

And she’s going to continue proving that in future instalments of the series, that will continue later this year with a second volume.


Author of all trades, Matt Ferraz has written thrillers, sci-fi, cozy mysteries and a lot of witty e-mails that sadly can’t be published. With a degree in journalism and a masters in biography, Matt has works published in English, Italian and Portuguese, and loves trying out new genres.

Richard Montanari: The Killing Room Sunday, May 21 2017 

This was the first of the long-running Byrne and Balzao novel’s that Auntie M has had the pleasure to read, but it certainly won’t the last. She loves when she finds a new series to dig into, and she will now go back and read what leads up to the action in Richard Montanari’s newest, The Killing Room.

Set in Philadelphia neighborhoods, from its highest to its lowest, an abandoned church becomes the setting for the team’s latest murder. Despite its brutality, neither detective is prepared when a second body and then a third is found, also in deconsecrated churches, all in different methods of horrific brutality causing the death of the victim.

For the seasoned detectives, the crimes are more than disturbing and hit them on a personal level in different ways. It only adds to Byrne’s stress that he’s taken on trying to be a kind of mentor to troubled young teen.

With an obvious killer seemingly ahead of them at each step, the two homicide detectives will need all of their smarts to outwit the chilling killer. The ties to the Church and theology are fascinating and an important clue will come to them from an unlikely source.

The interplay between senior partner Kevin Byrne, living alone with his daughter at college, and the younger Jessica Balzano, married to a detective and with a young family at home, is a highlight of the series where two professionals who have each other’s back can exist in well-practiced teamwork that allows them to mine each other’s strengths.

Readers who haven’t discovered this series, like Auntie M, will find themselves hunting for the previous novels on the strength of this absorbing story.

Julia Dahl: Conviction Wednesday, May 17 2017 

Megan Abbott calls Julia Dahl’s third Rebekah Roberts novel “. . . a thrilling, utterly absorbing crime novel” with good reason.

The young intrepid journalist becomes intrigued when a prisoner in jail for over two decades sends a letter: “I didn’t do it.”

With her job at the tabloid newspaper frustrating her, especially after she’s been passed over for a well-deserved promotion, Rebekah starts to investigate DeShawn Perkins’ claim that he did not kill the foster parents who had taken him in, nor his little foster sister.

What she finds will stand his conviction on its ear as an eyewitness changes her testimony–but will the woman have the courage to admit this in court? Her digging also brings her into conflict with her newly discovered mother and the cop who has been on her side in previous investigations in the Hasidic community.

While part of the history leading up to the Crown Heights riots and this particular murder are told from the viewpoint back in the early 90’s, the chapters in current time as Rebekah investigates will bring her face to face with a difficult decision of her own: who does she owe allegiance to–the people she loves, or the truth?

With a fine eye for reality, Dahl brings another story with layers and layers of humanity in it to light. Highly recommended.


Lisa Scottoline: One Perfect Lie Sunday, May 14 2017 

Lisa Scootline’s thrillers are classics of the genre, and she returns with One Perfect Lie, where things are not as they seem from the outset.

Chris Brennan is the perfect teacher to step into the role of teaching government in the high school, as well as coaching assistant for the small town of Central Valley, PA. It is to Scottoline’s credit that the real purpose of his application is hidden from readers at first, as everything he’s told his new principal is a lie.

And lying is what Chris is particularly good at.

Small town life springs alive as we meet three very different families and the secrets they hide. Chris has a hidden agenda, and his classes and his coaching are set up to allow him to find which young student he can bring on side–but to what purpose? What is the dark reason behind his actions that drives him, and how will that affect these three young men, and the entire town?

The baseball team is important to this community and to these three families in particular. There’s the surgeon’s wife whose spoiled son drives a BMW to school while she indulges in too many G&Ts; the new widow whose talented pitcher son needs the scholarship he’s after, just as he searches for a new father figure; and the single mom whose shy son, also talented, may allow him to be easily influenced by darker forces. Which one is most at risk? And from whom?

The pace keeps ratcheting up as the book progresses, until there’s an almost cinematic climax, worthy of the big screen and an action movie. But there’s also heart and emotion that allows readers inside the lives and minds of the characters, and that’s a winning combination, even as the anticipation escalates. A fast-paced, satisfying read.

Peggy O’Neal Peden: Your Killin’ Heart Wednesday, May 10 2017 

Peggy O’Neal Peden won the Malice Domestic Competition for Best First Traditional Mystery Novel with Your Killin’ Heart.

The debut of this new series is set in Nashville where Peden has lived for most of her life, and she captures the feel of the place from the point of view of Campbell Hale, a travel agent with her place in the Hillsboro Village area near Music Row and Vanderbilt U.

She’s become friends with Doug Elliot, and pushes her way into joining him to visit the home of dead country icon Jake Miller, one of her father’s favorite musicians.

It’s only later when she hears of the death of Hazel Miller that Campbell realizes the widow she saw taking a nap in an upstairs bedroom she just had to check out might already have been dead. It seems Campbell is just a wee bit nosy at the best of times, and she doesn’t hesitate to start to ask questions.

As the bodies start to pile up, and a painting becomes a focal point,a lanky detective seems to take more than a casual interest in Campbell. She will fine her tendency to sleuth is perhaps not always in her own best interests.

A refreshing setting for a new cozy series.

William Christie: A Single Spy Sunday, May 7 2017 

William Christie’s newest thriller will be a hit with readers who enjoy spy novels, espionage plots, or are World War II aficionados. A Single Spy brings to life a young thief who catches the eye of the Soviet secret police, and is given a no-choice ultimatum: he can choose to be trained as a spy and infiltrate Nazi Germany under the identity of his best friend, no less, or he can be consigned to be lost forever.

What makes it even tougher is that Alexsi’s new identity is also the lost nephew of a Nazi leader, making it even harder as he assumes the mantel of this young man and pretends to be enamored of the Nazi ethos.

When Alexsi is promoted to an intelligence agent for a German spymaster, he lives to avoid the Gestapo finding out he’s sending reports back to the Soviets. Talk about being trapped between two bad choices. Yet Alexsi knows he must remain loyal to neither Stalin nor Hitler, but to one person: himself–if he is to survive.

Filled to the brim with accurate history, the Tehran conference between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin becomes the focal point for Alexsi in this fascinating novel that takes readers behind the scenes of what really happened during this period.

In Alexsi, Christie has the smarts to create a man readers can’t help but admire as he fights to survive on his wits. There’s something here for everyone, from action scenes to the history to the charming Aleksi, as Christie brings this period in our history to life.