New in Paperback: Jonasson, Sigurdardottir, Berry Wednesday, Jan 31 2018 

Three great books are now out in paperback if you missed their original release dates.

Jagnar Jonasson’s Snowblind is the first Ari Thor Arason thriller. Ari abandoned his theology studies to become a police officer at the height of Iceland’s severe financial crisis in 2008. Sent to a remote fishing center in the north, a local prominent writer dies, sending Ari his first big case. Another death soon follows, and what Ari thought would be a quiet start to his career soon becomes anything but. Nice twists keep readers glued to the page.

A chilling standalone thriller from the talented Yrsa Sigurdardottir, The Undesired has a supernatural bent that will keep you awake long after you’ve put the book down. In the 1970s, a young woman takes a job she hates, working at a juvenile detention center in a rural area of Iceland. Two boys go missing under unusual circumstances. Many years later, Odinn is the person tasked with looking into alleged abuse at the same center. He comes to believe those events of years ago might be connected to the accident that killed his ex-wife and left him a single parent. Complex and chilling.

Steve Berry’s The Lost Order continues his Cotton Malone series with its hallmark research that weaves a fantastical story into real events in history. In this outing, Malone’s own great-great-grandfather, a Confederate spy, is part of a secret society that Malone discovers still operates in the present day. Their secrets and hidden wealth are tied to a plot that could change our government forever. Power and greed are at the forefront in this winning addition to the series that has Malone and his allies racing around the country to save it.

Phyllis M. Newman: The Vanished Bride of Northfield House Monday, Jan 29 2018 

Please welcome Phyllis A Newman to describe the impetus behind her new gothic novel, The Vanished Bride of Northfield Hall:

There’s nothing like a good haunting!

Case in point, several years ago I re-read my favorite gothic novel from my youth (I will refrain from revealing the title.) As a teenager, I was entranced with the mystery, the romance, and the shocking climax. What a delicious read.

When someone commenting on a blog mentioned that it was her favorite book as well, I decided to read it again. I went on Amazon and found a copy available at a Catholic church library in California for $1.67. What a deal! It cost more to mail it across the country. I waited with great anticipation until it arrived.

That night, I propped myself up in bed with a cup of cocoa, a scented candle, and began reading. What a disappointment. It was over-written, pedestrian, and totally boring. (I guess my tastes had changed.)

Then I went on a great hunt for an honest to goodness creepy ghost story that recreated the suspense and wonder that the book from my youth had elicited. When I was unable to locate one that really grabbed me (so to speak), I decided to write one. (I didn’t just ‘lick this off the ground’, as the English say. I had written 3 books by that time.)

Enter The Vanished Bride of Northfield House. It is a creepy supernatural gothic tale with a spirited heroine, intriguing mystery, engaging romance, and a ghost to make it lively.

The story is a mix of mystery and romance with touches of otherworldly spookiness and gothic horror. I poured every ounce of imagination into realizing characters that are haunted, either by disappointment, the unresolved past, unmet desire, or guilt. I am pleased to have written a thriller that unfolds bit by bit, death by death.

Phyllis M. Newman is a native southerner. Born in New Orleans, she spent formative years in Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, and a dairy farm in Ross Country, Ohio. After a career at The Ohio State University, she turned her attention to writing fiction. Phyllis published a noir mystery, Kat’s Eye, in 2015. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three perpetually unimpressed cats, ghostwatchers all.

You can find her at, or

Stephen Leather: The Shout Thursday, Jan 25 2018 

Thriller writer Stephen Leather surprises readers by leaving his multiple series behind and writing a stand-alone that enters the world of London’s Fire Brigade in The Shout.

Filled with realistic details and insider knowledge that makes that dangerous profession spring to life, Leather introduces Vicky Lewis, a strong member of the brigade and already a crew manager, despite not having reached her thirtieth birthday.

Then tragedy strikes during a fire as Vicky is saving a man’s life. She receives catastrophic injuries that change her appearance and her life, and threaten her livelihood.

After months of painful recovery and therapy, Vicky returns to work at the Fire Investigation Unit, under the veteran firefighter known as The Grouch, Des Farmer.

Forced to work together, the two form an uneasy alliance until Vicky learns of Farmer’s investigation into a series of fire-related deaths of young women and decides to help him find their murderer.

Chapters from the killer’s point of view show his meticulous care in setting up the scenes, adding to the ghoulish tension. Soon Vicky and Farmer find themselves racing against a killer who knows how to set a scene so he can’t be found–and then it gets personal.

Tense and with Leather’s tradmemark storytelling.

Ursula Archer and Arno Strobel: Strangers Sunday, Jan 21 2018 

Auntie M enjoyed Ursula Archer’s Five with it’s solid plotting and great characters. So she was anxious to read her new book, written with Arno Strobel, and Strangers is their dual result.

The book hooks readers from the outset, when Australian Joanna, looking forward to an evening alone e, finds a strange man in the house she’s renting in Germany as she works on her photography. After a heart-pounding few moments–and after ascertaining he’s not a rapist–he claims to be her fiance.

Erik can’t understand why Joanna not only doesn’t recognize him or remember their last months together, what’s happened to all of his clothes and other belongings while he’s been at work.

For all traces of Erik have been wiped out of the house, reinforcing Joanna’s feeling that the man standing before her is one she’s never met before. Being the daughter of am Australian millionaire, she’s always been wary of people taking advantage of her. What game is Erik playing?

The more this couple try to unravel what’s happened, the more confusing their situation becomes until it becomes obvious that they are in jeopardy and must learn to trust each other to overcome the forces that have put them in this weird and uncomfortable situation.

It’s a wild ride they find themselves on, with people they thought they could trust making them question which one of them is crazy–or perhaps they are both going insane.

A complex plot has increased tension by alternating the points of view of Joanna and Erik. We see each one’s confusion as it mounts that drives the action as the suspense builds. A clever read.

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.

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.

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