Ashley Weaver: The Essence of Malice Saturday, Sep 30 2017 

Ashley Weaver’s series set in the time of Nick and Nora Charles returns with the 4th entry, The Essence of Malice, that starts with Amory receiving the gift of a new perfume, Shazadi, a heady gardenia and sensual scent, and scents will overlay the entire story.

Readers have become engaged with Amory Ames and her somewhat rakish husband Milo. The upper classes shine brightly, filled with glamour, as Amory finds out more than she ever wanted to know about the world of perfumers. Of course, her maid, Winnelda, and Milo’s valet, Parks, are on hand to smooth their travels.

After Milo receives a letter from his childhood nanny, he convinces Amory to travel from the lovely Lake Como in Italy with him to Paris to see Madame Nanette. Her wealthy employer, a premiere parfumier, has died just as his newest perfume is to be released, and the nanny feels that Helio Belanger’s death, after a plane accident the day before that he walked away from, apparently unhurt, was not natural. Belanger was a beau of Nanette 30 years before and she had consented to be a nanny to his young child with his second wife.

Amory and Milo become wrapped up in the unhappy family and the perfume industry as they investigate what really happened to Belanger, which has a heavy share of rivals, as well as family members who want to control the empire he built. Amory learns about creating new perfumes, layering scents, and that Belanger has three grown children as well as that new wife, all of whom live together, all suspsects vying for control of his business.

This is chock-full of snappy dialgue, romantic tension, lies and secret, all wrapped up in a darn good mystery. Add in the world of perfumers and you’ll learn while you deduct.

My favorite in the series to date, with a surprising ending.

Archer Mayor: Trace Thursday, Sep 28 2017 

Archer Mayor’s long-running series with Vermont Bureau of Investigator Joe Gunther continues with the 28th installment in Trace.

This one has Gunther off scene for much of the action. He’s invovled in taking his mother to a special Missouri clinic for a scary case of Lyme Disease. So it’s left to the members of his team to sort out the latest cases.

Willy Kunkel’s case starts when a child finds three teeth–just those bloodstained teeth–on a railroad track. The team member most likely to work outside the box finds Homeland Security involved in that one, after a device destined for a military installation is discovered. This is where his rule-bending will prove necessary.

Lester Spinney, the by-the-book investigator is asked to take on a cold case of a hero state trooper, a supposed traffic stop gone bad, which may not be all it seems when new evidence skews the original investigation. He will need all of his patience and determination to figure this one out.

And Sammie Martens, the reasonable one, will need all of her usual resourcefulness to solve the case of a dead woman, by all acounts an lovely young woman, who happens to be the roommate of the daughter of the medical examiner, said ME being Gunther’s girlfriend. What was she running from?

Gunther’s absence, while being felt, allows readers to get closer to the team while the suspense rises for each detective.

This Vermont countryside comes alive under Mayor’s talented pen, as do his team and even the moments of Gunther in his mother’s rehab. The whole book glistens with reality: of the setting, of the characters and their private lives, and of the way they interact together. There are forensic details, too, of interest, but the details that hold the story together involve Gunther’s team and how they are changed by the end of the book.

A great addition to a fine series.

Linda Hubers: Death Wish Tuesday, Sep 26 2017 

Please welcome Linda Hubers, all the way from her Switzerland home, to tell readers about her newest mystery:

Death Wish is a tale of two neighbouring families in Glasgow, Scotland. In one house we have Martine and Stu, and their eight-year-old daughter Joya. Martine’s mother is coming to live with them, and while Joya is delighted that Grandma Vee will soon be here, Martine is facing the most difficult time of her life, because Vee has Huntington’s Disease. Which is incurable, and fatal. And hereditary.

The only way for Martine to be sure that she and Joya don’t carry the gene is to take a test. The chances are fifty-fifty, and Martine knows she wouldn’t cope with a positive result. Not only this, but Vee has asked Martine for help to die. . .

Next door, Ashley and Leo have their own problems. Leo has gone into business with Ashley’s mother, Eleanor, and Eleanor is now blackmailing him into allowing her to live in their annexe. Meanwhile, Ashley has her own reasons for hating her mother, and insists that Eleanor should leave. But if she does, her investment in the business might go with her . . .

Joya is the link between the two troubled families, and flits from one house to the other, not understanding all that’s going on, and unwittingly multiplying the problems the adults are facing.

As a young physiotherapist, I worked for a couple of years in a hospital specialising in neurology and neurosurgery. Huntington’s disease has always fascinated me – it’s a condition that most people have heard of, vaguely, but few appreciate the life-changing effect this illness has on families.

What would you do, faced with a fifty-fifty chance of having inherited a fatal illness newly-diagnosed in a parent? Would you want to know? The cruel thing about Huntington’s is that it doesn’t break out until well into adulthood, by which time sufferers often have children and grandchildren, who then inherit their own fifty-fifty chance of having the disease. I don’t know what I’d do, in Martine’s situation.

I enjoyed writing Death Wish, partly because of exploring the Huntington’s aspects, partly because the setting is in my old home town, and partly because of Joya. My books all contain child characters, but this was the first time I’ve given a child a ‘voice’ in the story. It was fascinating, writing Joya’s parts, thinking how a child might think, finding out what she would do.

Another interesting issue is – I live in Switzerland. Here, unlike in the UK, where the book is set, assisted suicide for medical reasons is legal. It’s a difficult moral area, and people have their own ideas about what’s right and what’s wrong, but it’s certainly worth a lot of thought. What would we do, in Martine’s situation, and faced with Vee’s death wish? I still don’t know.

Linda grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years spent as a full-time mum to two boys, a rescue dog, and a large collection of guinea pigs.
Her writing career began in the nineties, when she had over fifty short stories published in women’s magazines. Several years later, she discovered the love of her writing life – psychological suspense fiction. Her seventh novel, Death Wish, was published by Bloodhound Books in August 2017.
Amazon Author Page:
Death Wish universal link:

New Fall Thrillers: Bleeker, Chapman, Johns, Rickstad, Keller Sunday, Sep 24 2017 

Auntie M has gathered new thrillers to add delight to your fall reading. What these have in common is fast pacing and twisted plots. Enjoy!

Emily Bleeker’s Working Fire takes readers to the Midwest, where Ellie Brown has returned from her ticket out of Illinois–med school–to care for her father after he suffers a stroke. Her job as a paramedic is not as interesting as she’s thought it would be, but at least she sees her sister, Amelia, and enjoys dinner with her sister’s husband, Steve, and their two girls.

The book opens with a punch, with Ellie and her partner, Chet, getting an unbelieveable call: it’s Amelia’s address and there are reported gunshots. That’s just the beginning of a story is told from Ellie’s point of view in the present, with action from six weeks ago in Amelia’s point of view.

This alternating style allows readers to see both sisters, who have a tight relationship, as individuals. There are secrets here being kept, which adds to the emotional tension. What really happened inside Amelia’s house that led to the shooting?

As Amelia’s life hangs in the balance, Ellie will try to find whom she can really trust, which turns out to be a very complicated situation. One final ending twist is totally unexpected.

Tim Chapman’s background as a forensic scientist gives him the gravitas he needs for his protagonist, Sean McKinney in The Blue Silence. The Chicago scientist with an interest in Tai Chi has a huge hole in his heart at the moment.

Sean’s a widower with a large dog, Hendrix, whose daughter is newly away at college. A recent breakup from his girlfriend leads Sean to accept when Angelina begs him to look into the disappearance of her roomate’s twin sister.

Sean soon finds himself at Tulane in New Orleans, getting more than he bargained for when he and his dog, Hendrix, reach Angelina, and her friend, Madeleine. Sean meets the twins parents, too, but it soon becomes more than complicated on the hunt for Sylvie.

There will be a hint of romance for Sean, intrigue in the art world, a hidden diary, and Hendrix and Angelina in jeopardy before it’s all over. A satisfying thriller and hopefully the first of a series featuring the forensic expert.

Readers can go from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in Roger Johns’ Dark River Rising.

Wallace Hartman is a police detective who heads this new series. Saddled with her partner on medical leave and missing his advice, Wallace is nevertheless quickly immersed in the scene of a grisly murder. It’s evident the drug dealer victim was tortured before being killed and left in a most horrific manner that captures attention immediately.

Wallace grudgingly accepts DEA agent Mason Cunningham’s help as they agree he needs her local knowledge and she needs his resources, especially after a scientist tied to the first victim disappears. She will meet the Staples family, whose have a personal motive for wanting revenge on the drug dealer, but that’s just the start of the investigation.

This is a compelling police procedural with enough action and twists, plus a hint of romance to keep the pages flipping. A good hard look at the dark underbelly of Baton Rouge with a compelling new protagonist.

The sequel to Eeric Rickstad’s The Silent Girls heats up quickly. The Names of Dead Girls takes readers to rural Vermont in the expert company of detectives Sonja Test and Frank Rath and their team.

It starts out with the cliffhanger of the first book, when Rath’s nemesis, Ned Preacher is paroled early and is watching Rath’s niece, Rachel, whom Rath has raised after Preacher murdered his sister and her husband.

After protecting Rachel for years, she’s just found out the truth of her parentage. Then several local girls go missing and when their bodies are found, it’s too much of a coincidence for Rath to feel that anyone but Preacher is to blame.

Preacher’s style is to terrorize Rachel while he taunts Rath, and the detective’s investigation will take him into Montreal. This is dark and terrific suspense with great imagery that makes the setting a secondary character. Keep the lights on for this one.

Julia Keller’s series featuring prosecutor Bell Elkins and the rural area of Acker’s Gap, WV, continues with Fast Falls the Night.

It starts out with a death from an overdose and the suspense ratchets up quickly as they spread like wildifire. Bell finds herself and her team working at top speed to stop the wave as it escalates.

They race to find the heroin batch that’s been laced with a lethal tranquilizer, searching for the source as the overdoses mount and the bodies pile up. Bell will be fighting more than just the drug lords though, as some within the law enforcement community believe the addicts should be left to die.

Bell sees how the addicts actions affect more than themselves, but readers also have other perspectives from different points of view. There will be a hostage at one point, and also dark fammily secrets for Bell to be revealed before it’s all over.

All of the action takes place in a compressed 24-hr period, adding to the urgency and the swift pacing. Definitely a cliffhanger of an ending.

Sophie Hannah: Keep Her Safe Thursday, Sep 21 2017 

Sophie Hannah’s newest stand-alone shows readers why she’s the author Agatha Christie’s estate chose to write two new Hercule Poirot mysteries. Keep Her Safe brings readers to a stateside setting when Brit Cara Burrows escapes her family to spend time alone in a world-class resort in Arizona. She’s immediately acutely aware that she’s an Englishwoman in an American country, for many reasons.

Cara needs time to just think about a surprise and very unplanned pregnancy, but she hardly gets there before she’s thrust into a nightmare. Exhausted from her long flight, already questioning her desperate need to flee her family, she enters what should be her welcome hotel room, only to find it already occupied by a man and teen girl.

It’s a simple front desk mistake and Cara is immediately upgraded to a lovely casita, but the resort comes with too many options to choose from–which pool, massage, therapy, class should she take? And it seems filled with eccentric characters. Cara soon comes across a hint of menace directed toward herself. Events spiral and she finds herself convinced that the teen she saw is a young murder victim whose body was never found.

The missing girl, Melody Chapa, has been gone from age 7, would be 14 now, and fits the description Cara finds online of the teen she came across on her first night, right down to the stuffed animal buddy the girl carries. At the moment, Melody’s parents languish in prison, serving sentences for her murder. But if Melody is alive and well, they should be freed and an awful miscarriage of justice has occurred. Or has it?

Cara will meet a mother/daughter duo vacationing who at first seem unlikely friends and an elder woman who swears on each visit she’s seen Melody and agrees with Cara that Melody is at the resort.

When Cara disappears along with a resort employee, it will be up to two seemingly disinvolved detectives to investigate her disappearance, along with the arrival of a former prosecutor-turned-TV host whose specialty is people unjustly convicted of crimes.

Cara will meet the man who she must outwit to bargain for her life and that of her child. The unlikely center of the storm, Meloday Chapa, has her story told through a book writtten about her life at home with her parents which is excerpted as the chapters unfold.

Hannah examines both our justice system, especially in our media-driven culture where many defendants are convicted in the press before any trial occurs, and America’s obsessional interest in true crime stories. The question that’s raised is: Is there any such thing as a personal responsibility to protect a victim? And what lengths would be reasonable to accomplish this?

An ending twist that’s pure Hannah will leave heads spinning in this complex book, the germ of its plot planted on a book tour visit by Hannah to the US during the Casey/Caylee Anthony case.

Ronald H Balson: The Trust Tuesday, Sep 19 2017 

Balson’s compelling fourth novel featuring former-CIA-turned PI Liam Taggarat and his lawyer wife Catherine Lockhart is called The Trust with good reason.

Estranged from his Irish family for 16 years, Liam receives a call that his uncle has died and he reluctantly agrees to return to Antrim, leaving Catherine and their infant son, Ben, at home.

What he finds confounds him as much as the rest of his family: his uncle has left his considerable farm and investment estate to a secret trust, with Liam as its Trustee.

The kicker is that Liam’s Uncle Fergus feared he would be murdered, and has directed that the trust not distribute any assets nor announce beneficiaries until his killer is found–and he felt Liam would be the only one who could unravel who that would be.

It puts Liam into a tenuous situation with the cousins and uncles he grew up around. His own history with them had him leaving in tense and bitter circumstances, and while he feels welcomed back by some family members, others make it clear he should return to the US, and go to great lengths to enforce this idea.

Then the danger to his family becomes clearer as more murders and accidnets occur, and soon no one is safe from a deranged killer out for revenge. But is the culprit tied to Ireland’s Troubles and the Taggart family from long ago? Or a member of the Taggart’s inner circle, out to reduce the number inheriting from Fergus.

The mystery deepens as the characters reveal themselves, and Liam does his best to protect his Irish family and his own family back home, and often feels he is faiing at both. Having to face his demons of the past, including the Irish woman he almost married, come at a personal price, too.

As the killings mount, so does the pace, to a breathtaking climax. Antrim and its environs come alive under Balson’s pen, with the history of The Troubles elucidated for those who might not have lived through them in history. And just when the story is done and dusted, there’s one more twist at the end. A satifying read where the suspect pool keeps getting smaller and smaller.

Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express Friday, Sep 15 2017 

“All my life I had wanted to go on the Orient Express. When I had travelled to France or Spain or Italy, the Orient Express had often been standing at Calais, and I had longed to climb up into it.” Agatha Christie: An Autobiography.

Today is the 127th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie, the author whose works are outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible. She’s also the most translated author, with more than 2 billion books published in over 100 languages.

In honor of Twentieth Century Fox’s new version of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, premiering this fall, HarperColliins/William Morrow is offering the book in every form from hardcover and paperback to E-book and Digital Audio. There’s even a large print version. In the movie, Poirot will be played by a dashing Kenneth Branagh, with Judi Dench, Derek Jacopi, Olivia Coleman, Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Leslie Odom, Jr. among the talented cast.

Auntie M thought her readers might be interested in some background on this long-time favorite, starring Christie’s beloved Hercule Poirot. If you haven’t read this classic, she hopes this will whet your appetite to read the original before the movie premieres. Here’s Branagh as Poirot, different from David Suchet, who to Auntie M was always the embodiment of Poirot, but dashing in his own way. Branagh directs the film:

Agatha’s wish to travel on the famed train came true a year after the end of her first marriage, the same year her mother died. She visited Iraq on what would be the first trip of many with second husband, Max Mallowan, an archeologist with yearly digs in Iraq and Syria. A snippet from Mallowan’s Memoirs describes how Agatha almost didn’t get to write the book:

It was luck that she lived to write the book, for not long before penning it while standing on the railway station at Calais, she slipped on the icy platform and fell underneath the train. Luckily, a porter was at hand to fish her up before the Orient Express started moving.

This is Agatha with Max:

The book had its genesis when Agatha was travelling alone on the OE and it was stopped after being stuck due to heavy rains. As the passengers talked, she heard stories of snow storms that had stranded the train for days at a time. Her story was also greatly influenced by the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby during this period. Agatha is thought to have written the book during 1931, and it was first published in September of 1933 as a series in the American magazine The Saturday Evening Post under the title Murder in the Calais Coach. It was published at the same time in the UK as Murder on the Orient Express and is dedicated to M.E.L.M: Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan.

In a letter to Max, Agatha describes the rain and several other travellers on that train trip which clearly influenced her future mystery. She noted details such as cabin layouts, and the placement of door handles and light switches, which would all serve her in good stead when she decided to have Poirot solve the case she develops.

Agatha wrote her first mystery on a bet with her sister at the age of 26 (1916), and The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring Hercule Poirot, was published four year later. Many readers know that her play, The Mousetrap, is the longest running play in the world after its debut in 1952, and visitors to London can see it at The St Martin’s Theatre.

If you haven’t read Murder on the Orient Express, now’s the time to pick up a copy of the story, which revolves around Poirot on the Orient Express when it gets stuck in a snowbank. There will be a murder, concealed identities, and the incomparable Belgian sleuth figuring it all out, with a twist at the end.

Happy Birthday, Dame Agatha!

Frances Brody: Death at the Seaside Thursday, Sep 14 2017 

In Death at the Seaside, the 8th Kate Shackleton Mystery, the private eye is taking a little vacation at the seaside–or so she plans, in 1920s England. Driving to the Northumbriann coast of Whitby, she plans to visit her old school friend, Alma, and Kate’s god-daughter Felicity.

But nothing goes as planned when Kate arrives to find Alma is now working as a fortune teller, and shortly after, she stumbles over the body of the local jeweler, Jack Phillips.

It turns out that Alma thought that she and Jack were something of an item. And Felicity, instead of stickng around to see her godmother has disappeared with her boyfriend on her own important journey.

It’s a rocky investigation for Kate, as the local police seem to think she might be responsible for killing Jack, a man she’s never met, or a the very least, be involved in smuggling! It will take an old Scotland Yard friend to set them straight on that score.

But Kate will have to call on Mrs. Sugden and her capable sidekick, Jim Sykes, both vacationing nearby, to temporaily join her. Even Jim’s wife gets pressed into service to find a killer.

One of the hallmarks of Brody’s series is the historical detail and settings she details just right. Readers will feel they’ve been to Whitby. If you adore Golden Age mysteries, look no further than this entertaining and always compelling series.

Melissa Pimentel: The One that Got Away Tuesday, Sep 12 2017 

From time to time Auntie M veers away from crime just to broaden reader’s horizons. The One that Got Away is Meliisa Pimentel’s retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion in a modern setting. Being a huge Austen fan, Auntie M decided to read this one and it’s a well-paced romance where the real mystery turns out to be why Ruby ended their seemingly fairy tale romance a decade before.

Alternating in past chapters, showing the meeting and attraction of Ruby and Ethan and their growing committment to each other, ten years later the scenes in the present find them meeting up in England where Ruby’s sister, Piper, is marrying Ethan’s best friend Charlie at a castle.

It’s a setting for instant disaster. While Ruby has prospered and risen in the marketing world, Ethan has had a meteoric rise in the tech world and is the media’s darling, a wealthy and kind philanthropist whose photo is on the cover of any magazine Ruby finds. Ruby’s satirical voice adds to the relatable feel of the tale as it evolves.

The lead up to the wedding is fraught with the usual tensions and mishaps, which include Ruby and Piper’s blowsy stepmother; a wedding planner who gets it all wrong; and a medical crisis at the rehearsal dinner that changes everything.

The ultimate question is: if timing in life is everything, will Ruby and Ethan’s time come again or has that ship sailed? The highs and lows of the action and the appearance of a handsome doctor to the scene add elements that will keep readers guessing if there isn’t a sunny future to be had after all.

Tetsuya Honda: Soul Cage Sunday, Sep 10 2017 

Tetsuya Honda’s popular Japanese police procedural, headed by Tokyo Metropolitan Police homicide detective Teiko Himekawa, debuted in translation in the US with last year’s The Silent Dead. The sequel, Soul Cage, bring another complex plot with clever twists and a cast of interesting characters that include the detectives who work alongsdie Reiko.

Don’t let the unfamiliar names throw you–a few chapters in their personalities become distinctive and easy to follow. There is a sly humor underpinning some of Reiko’s thoughts as her scenes are from her point of view and add to the complexities of the characters. There are also scenes from several of the others involved in this twisted case when a severed hand leads to a garage full of blood and no body in what is deemed an obvious murder.

The missing man is Kenichi Takaoka, a building contractor, and his severed hand was found in his work garage by his only employeed, a young orphan Takaoka has taken under his wing and raised to take over his business. Where is the rest of the man’s body? And who would murder him and yet leave behind his hand?

The case becomes more and more twisted, as Reiko navigates not only the personalities of the teams she must work with, but the history behind the dead man. Too many of her leads end without resolution, but one thread connects to the yakuza, the Japanese Mafia, and a scheme of forcing suicides to repay debts.

Then a friend of the missing Takaoka declares that a recent photo he’s shown is that of Takaoka. So whose hand do they have?

The fact of Reiko’s sex and her quick rise within the Met are also factors, as is the ‘crush’ of one of her colleagues and the competition she feels from the head of another team. More of these characters are revealed, making the working environment and its struggles another factor Reiko faces. A whodunit for mystery fans within the workings of a police procedural makes this a solid read.

Next Page »