Nicki French: Sunday Silence Wednesday, Jan 17 2018 


This compelling psychological thriller series returns with Sunday Silence, featuring therapist Frieda Klein.

At once strong and resilient, the Frieda who walks London to examine her thoughts is shaken to the core when the body of dead policeman is found under the floorboards of her own living room. At once a person of interest in the case, Frieda is more concerned that appears killer Dan Reeve is making his existence known, to the chagrin of the police commissioner who has refused to take Frieda seriously when she tried to explain that contrary to his own supposed death he’d orchestrated, Reeve was alive and well, and circling Frieda.

She’s already lost a former lover to this maniac who is obsessed with Frieda and vows it won’t happen again to any one close to her.

Then Frieda’s niece is abducted and other horrible events occur to those in her circle. Is this the work of Reeve, confirming he’s alive? Or is there a copycat out there, trying to impress either Reeve? Or even far, far worse: could it be down to both killers at work?

It’s a difficult time for anyone close to Frieda, and soon her friends are staying together as Frieda and the few police who believe her try to flush out the killers. She will use her instinct and keen awareness of body language to figure out who the copycat is, and when and where he will strike again.

The married duo forming Nikki French bring another fascinating installment to readers as Frieda will cross a line even she never thought she would professionally in a bid to save those she loves. Louise Penny calls this series “fabulous, unsettling, and riveting,” with good cause. Highly recommended.

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Tony Parsons: Die Last Sunday, Jan 14 2018 


Tony Parsons bring readers the fourth DC Max Wolfe thriller with Die Last. More than a standard police procedural, Max is raising his young daughter, Scout, accompanied by their little dog, Stan.

His newest case brings him a dozen dead young women when a refrigerated lorry breaks down in the snow in London’s Chinatown. The illegal immigrants inside all die of hypthermia, but not before one touches Max.

In the cab of the deserted truck, Max finds 13 passports, and realizes one young woman has escaped. His search for that one survivor takes him into the dark world of human smuggling and the desperate acts people will take to convince themselves they are angling for a better life.

With an eye for the telling detail, Parsons brings readers inside the story with his compelling characters and great plotting. The twists add to the understanding he exhibits of human nature with all of the foibles we exhibit.

And there’s Stan and Scout, two who shall not be ignored and who keep Wolfe grounded.

One of Auntie M’s favrorite series, this is a continued series winner. Highly recommended.

Kate Parker: Deadly Fashion Thursday, Jan 11 2018 


Please welcome Kate Parker, with her newest historical mystery, Deadly Fashion:

A Moment in Time – Deadly Fashion

Deadly Fashion, my newest mystery in the Deadly Series, takes place during a significant time in the lead up to World War II. September and October 1938 encompasses British Prime Minister Chamberlain’s declaration of “Peace in our time.”

This was a case of political wishful thinking seldom topped, since World War II broke out less than a year later.

How does this fit in with the murder mystery or the fashion in Deadly Fashion?

The French fashion designer Mimi Mareau was drawn loosely from the life of Coco Chanel. In the early 1930’s, she was the lover of a British duke who was pro-Nazi. She was a conservative and she designed costumes for Hollywood movies. I kept the duke, but I added the opening of a London fashion house and costuming for a West End play.

On September 22, 1938, four London fashion houses, including Norman Hartnell, presented their fall and winter designs. This must have felt like a relief to see something normal after days of Hitler demanding the German speaking areas of Czechoslovakia be turned over to Germany or face the threat of war. Their shows received little press coverage since shortly thereafter, Hitler gave his ultimatum. Part of Czechoslovakia would be his by October first, or there would be war.

Olivia Denis, my sleuth and society page reporter, writes up a story on the fashion shows, including Mimi Mareau’s, only to see it cut to the bone and replaced by political news. She also knows any hope of finding the murderer of the dead man discovered in Mimi Mareau’s basement shrinks as the country goes on wartime footing. All London seems to hold its breath for the next week, waiting for the madman in Berlin to act.

And then on September 30, 1938, Chamberlain returned from Munich and his meeting with Hitler, waving the document Hitler signed and declaring “Peace in our time.” Everyone around Olivia is relieved. It had only been twenty years since the end of the Great War where millions of Britain’s young men had been mowed down in France. The country wasn’t ready for another war, and the populace didn’t want to lose another generation of men.

Olivia is relieved for another reason, too. Now she can spend time in the fashion salon surrounded by beautiful clothes while she has freedom to hunt for a killer unimpeded by wartime restrictions.

Deadly Fashion, third in the Deadly Series, is available starting today in ebook and paperback at online retailers. Kate Parker is also the author of the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries.

Fiona Barton: The Widow Tuesday, Jan 9 2018 

Fiona Barton’s debut thriller came highly recommended to Auntie M, so despite being out last year, she bought it herself and agrees: don’t miss The Widow.

Told through the lens of journalist Kate Waters, a realistic person you’ll want to spend time with again, Kate manages to get an interview with a new widow. Jean Taylor’s husband was tragically hit by a bus and died instantly.

But that’s the new story. The history surrounding Glen Taylor is very different. Four years ago he was found not guilty of kidnapping and murdering a two-year old girl.

Jean has spent those years in his shadow trying to eke out a life and putting on one face to the public. Now that Glen’s dead, that can end.

The story is told in alternating chapters from Kate and Jean’s perspective, as well as that of the detective on the unsolved case, who’s almost compulsive about finding the truth.

But what is the truth? And when exactly did Jean know it? A compelling tale from a voice in crime fiction that will be sought out again. Highly Recommended.

Best Reads of 2017: Horowitz, Upson, Khan, Griffiths, McDermid, Crombie, MacBride, Oswald, Bolton, Penny, Billingham, Ward, Flanders and more… Sunday, Jan 7 2018 

The Best Reads of 2017

Last year was a banner year for wonderful books. Of the 174 books Auntie M reviewed, 25 of them received her coveted “Highly Recommended” rating. All of these have longer reviews archived on the site, but just to refresh your memory, here they are listed simply in the order I read them:

Everything You Want Me To Be/Mindy Meja: The story of a small-town high school senior’s murder, told from three voices including the dead girl. Well-crafted and surprising.

Garden of Lamentations/Deborah Crombie: the 17th Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James police procedural finds James’s newest case revolving around the murder of a young nanny in Notting Hill while Kincaid is involved in high espionage.

Among the Ruins/Ausma Zehanat Khan: the third Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty mystery takes the duo from their Canadian home to Iran, where intrigue swirls around them both as they investigate the murder of a Canadian-Iranian documentary filmmaker.

Swiss Vendetta/Tracee de Hahn: this debut introduces Swiss-American detective Agnes Luthi, trapped during an ice storm at the castle-like chateau of a wealthy family to investigate a murder, just as she’s recovering from her husband’s suicide.

A Death in the Dales/Frances Brody: Kate Shackleton, supposedly on vacation, finds herself investigating an old murder and becomes convinced the wrong man was hung as the killer in this entertaining historical series.

A Cast of Vultures/Judith Flanders: Editor Sam Clair finds herself wrapped up in a murder when a body is found after a neighborhood fire, to the chagrin of her detective partner. Entertaining and well-plotted with a self-deprecating protagonist.

The Satanic Mechanic/Sally Andrews: Visit South Africa’s Karoo where Tannie Maria, baker extraordinaire, must investigate when a man is poisoned in her presence. Creative and unique and complete with recipes.

Quieter Than Killing/Sarah Hilary: the fourth detective Marnie Rome series brings the detective facing her own ghosts when she and partner Noah Jake tackle a series of what might be vigilante crimes. Deeply emotional and highly original.

Conviction/Julia Dahl: the third Rebekah Roberts novel takes the investigative journalist’s newest story too close for comfort when she tries to free an innocent man convicted of a murder he didn’t commit.

Written in Bones/James Oswald gives Insp. Tony McLean a strange case when a body is dropped from the sky and lands in a tree.

The Chalk Pit/Elly Griffiths: the series featuring forensic anthropologist Ruth Galloway takes on a personal threat when she’s called to investigate old bones found during a chalk pit excavation for a new restaurant. Highly absorbing.

Magpie Murders/Anthony Horowitz: the mystery-within-a-mystery by the author of Foyle’s War and many Midsomer Murders scripts creates a prickly homage to the Golden Age authors, as an editor searches for the final chapter of the last book of her publishing house’s most lucrative series.

Die of Shame and Love Like Blood intertwines two of Mark Billingham’s grand novels, bringing DI Nicola Tanner and Tom Thorne together in a most creative way. Complex and compelling reads.

Perish the Day/ John Farrow: highlights the Canadian author’s series featuring retired detective Emile Cinq-Mars with weather always an issue, as he and his wife travel to her NH roots and become involved with the killing of her niece’s friend.

The Marsh King’s Daughter/ Karen Dionne: a sophisticated tale of revenge and heartache, told compellingly from the POV of a young woman whose mother was held in captivity since before she was born. A distinct sense of place adds to the atmosphere.

The Child/Fiona Barton: Book 2 Auntie M read out of order in the series featuring reporter Kate Waters –see Jan 8th for the review of The Widow, Book 1, also HR. Here an infant’s bones are found from a decades-old burial, sparking a new investigation.

Glass Houses /Louise Penny: an Inspt. Gamache tour de force, when murder hits Three Pines and Gamache is forced to make one of the hardest decisions of his career. Unsettling, creative and very Gamache.

Let the Dead Speak /Jane Casey: Detective Maeve Kerrigan is saddled with a rookie and a strange case where the victim is missing from the murder scene. Inventive, with twists and turns that keep the series fresh.

Dead Woman Walking/Sharon Bolton: a stand-alone with two sisters who take a fated balloon ride and only one survives. A fascinating story that will surprise readers from a master plotter.

A Patient Fury/Sarah Ward: Third DC Childs mystery, where the young detective is faced with a possible murder-suicide of a entire family, but suspects it’s what she’s meant to believe. Compelling, with a super-surprise ending.

Insidious Intent/Val McDermid: the Queen of Scottish Noir at the top of her game, as Tony Hill and Carol Jordan investigate when a series of burned out cars containing bodies lead them to an elusive killer. Has an ending readers can’t possibly predict that has left everyone shocked and more than one in tears.

Nine Lessons/Nicola Upson: continues her series set between the World Wars with Josephine Tey as the main character, this time in Cambridge when a rapist is on the loose just as her friend, Detective Archie Penrose, has a strange case to investigate, and their private lives become entangled. Literary prose, compelling plotting and great characters.

Sweet Little Lies /Caz Frear: introduces DC Cat Kinsella, whose must ask her father if he has an alibi for the night a woman is murdered near his pub. An accomplished debut.

Sleep No More/P D James: a slim collection of short stories by the master of crime fiction, with stories that will have readers thinking long and hard with their atypical murders and often surprising twists. Engrossing and readable.

Anthony Horowitz: The Word is Murder Friday, Jan 5 2018 

Continuing a January run of HIGHLY RECOMMENDED reads for readers:

Anthony Horowitz is a man Auntie M would like to interview. The author of the Alex Rider teen spy series, he’s responsbile for some of the UK’s best television series, including Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War, and wrote what was one of Auntie M’s favorite reads last year, Magpie Murders. He’s also written two Sherlock Holmes and one James Bond novels, is on the board othe Old Vic Theatre, and oh yes, don’t forget his OBE from the Queen for servies to Literature.

Now he’s turned to the start of a new series that promises to be just as successful and entertaining. The Word is Murder brings his creative bent to the forefront in the debut, which features Detective Daniel Hawthorne and . . . author Anthony Horowitz.

That’s right. Horowitz appears as a character in his own series, when Hawthorne approaches him to write a book about the detective’s newest case, and it’s a humdinger Howorwitz can’t ignore: victim Diana Cowper arranged her own funeral service and is murdered later that same day. Did she anticipate her murder, or was she just doing as many older people do and putting her affairs in order?

Hawthorne is known for solving tough cases and Horowitz soon finds that he is also very good at holding clues and secrets to himself until they need to be shared. This leads Horowitz as assistant detective into some hot water at times, even as he struggles to like the detective he’s shadowing. It’s an interesting mix of personalities and Horowitz-Author parses out information on Hawthorne to Horowitz-Character.

With the writer reluctantly gaining respect for Hawthorne’s talents, it’s still a dark and dangerous path they follow with surprising twists and turns in a pleasing mystery with a surprise ending.

A masterful and complex mystery that has Auntie M waiting in anticipation for the next in the series. Highly recommended.

AJ Finn: The Woman in the Window Tuesday, Jan 2 2018 

AJ Finn has hit it out of the park with his debut psychological thriller The Woman in the Window, the first book of 2018 Auntie M is reviewing and giving her “Highly Recommended” status.

This one’s a winner, whether you’re a fan of Hitchcock movies or not. Finn is, and that influence is seen in the highly cinematic feel of the book, which has been optioned by Fox 2000 Studios.

Dr. Anna Fox is the narrator, a child psychologist who has been inside her home for the past eleven months suffering from severe agoraphobia and depression. Her reclusive life includes visits from a physical therapist, Bina, and her psychiatrist. She speaks to her husband, Ed, and daughter, Olivia, who are not living with her. She has her groceries delivered, doesn’t shower often enough, and has a basement tenant to do chores if she needs them. And she watches her neighbors.

She also plays online chess, but tries to feel useful by running a chat room for other agoraphobics, using her skills as a therapist to help them, even as she can’t help herself. It’s the one place she feels a modicum of positive output, even as her drinking gets out of control.

When a new family move in nearby, the Russells seem unremarkable; father, mother, awkward teenaged son who seems emotional. Then the mother, Jane, comes to visit Anna, and in their brief time together, they laugh and drink and play chess. Anna jokes about the actress, Jane Russell, and feels that she might just have a new friend.

It’s a hollow victory when she subsequently sees Jane stumbling through the house with a blade sticking out of her chest. But no one in the NYPD, her therapist, Bina, Ed–no one believes she saw what she knows she saw: Jane being murdered.

Or did she? Has her preoccupation with old movies, especially those of the Hitchcock thriller variety, combined with too much wine and the multiple psychotropic meds she’s on, caused Anna to hallucinate the events? What is real and what has she imagined?

There are references to classic movies, but Finn manages to make this story his own, with a riveting tale that crackles with tension as the story advances. The whoosh sound you’ll be hearing is you turning the pages as you devour this gripping, dark novel. As Auntie M started out, it’s highly recommended.