Beth Gutcheon: The Affliction Friday, Mar 30 2018 

If you like your mystery with a dose of humor, you’ll enjoy Beth Gutcheon’s second book featuring retired headmistress Maggie Detweiler and her good friend and cohort, Hope Babbin, The Affliction.

Currently heading a team evaluating a girls’ boarding school on the Hudson River, Maggie soon finds the high and low points. She also finds Florence Meagher, the art history teacher, working on a book on Velasquez. She also had “the affliction” of not being able to stop talking once she gets started–and not knowing when to stop.

Until suddenly Florence is silenced forever when her body is found floating in the school’s pool. Asked to stay on as the crime is investigated, students and faculty alike come under the microscope of the local detectives, and of Maggie and Hope, running their own parellel investigation.

The women’s society contacts and friends in high places give them information the police detectives won’t uncover. Picture Rosemary and Thyme let loose in New York’s Hudson Valley and you’ll enjoy the adventures of this mature sleuthing duo who provide humor and suspense in equal measure.

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David Rosenfelt: Fade to Black Wednesday, Mar 28 2018 

David Rosenfelt is perhaps best known for his Andy Carpenter series, with the dog rescuing lawyer echoing his own dog rescue efforts in real life.

With a new series and a new character introduced in Blackout, Rosenfelt brings a sequel in Fade to Black, continuing the story of New Jersey policeman Doug Brock. Shot in the line of duty, Brock’s ammesia produces intersting conversations that pepper his life and his work as people refer to cases and things he has no memory of in the past decade.

It’s not all bad news, for Doug is reunited with his almost-fiance` and is attending an amensa support group at her insistence. It’s after one of these meetings that a new member approaches him and asks Doug to investigate a cold case.

Sean Conner has found a scrapbook in his attic containg clippings of an unsolved murder case, but he has memory of the victim or why he would have kept the story. After Doug convinces his captain to let him look into the case, he finds he has a connection to the murder, one he doesn’t remember.

Soon there are more things that don’t add up, and as the threads come together, there will be more murders tied to this case. But what’s really going on? It will be up to Doug and his partner to find out in this well-plotted procedural that has Rosenfelt’s trademark touch of wry humor.

Christi Daugherty: The Echo Killing Monday, Mar 26 2018 

Christi Daughterty’s accomplished debut, The Echo Killing, will have readers looking for a sequel (it’s in the works for next spring), after meeting crime reporter Harper McClain.

The lushness of antebellum Savannah, Georgia, lends its setting to the story of the determined reporter, and Daugterty’s own experience in that job shines through, as does her love for the city which echoes Harper’s own.

Harper enjoys her job, despite her sad family history. At the age of twelve, she walking home from school to find her artist mother’s brutally murdered body. With the unsolved murder never far from Harper’s thoughts,she works evenings on the crime beat, spending time following the police radio to crimes that will bring headlines and please her editor.

Then a new murder takes her to the house of a murder, where she watches the victim’s young daughter being led away from the scene, just as she was years ago. Harper is determined to glimpse the actual murder scene, and soon is sorry she did. It’s eerily familiar to her mother’s murder, from the naked victim,being found in the kitchen to the multiple stab wounds.

Only someone who had seen her mother’s killing could replicate it in so much detail. Does this mean her mother’s killer is on the loose again? The killer is forensically aware, too, leaving no clues for detectives.

The new case becomes an obsession with Harper, despite being warned by the cops she’s close to, her photographer friend, and her editor to leave it alone. This victim turns out to have a very different background from Harper’s mother, and as she investigates her life, Harper soon finds a disturbing tie to several prominent people, including someone on the police force.

Her probing could cost Harper more than just her job–it cost her life as she unravels the complicated case.

This atmospheric, engrossing tale is filled with realistic characters and dialogue, and a romantic subplot only adds to the layers of the book, which aptly illustrates what it means when murder is so personal.

A suspenseful mystery that will have readers lined up for its next installment. Highly recommended.

Phillip Margolin: The Third Victim Saturday, Mar 24 2018 

Phillip Margolin’s newest legal thriller, The Third Victim, debuts a new series featuring young lawyer Robin Lockwood. Just landing her dream job working with Regina Barrister, the legend of criminal defense attorney, after a clerkship at the Oregon Supreme Court.

The strong opening gives readers a dark rural Oregon road and a lone driver, who slams on the brakes when a young woman–dehydrated, starved and beaten–runs across his path asking for help.

She’s escaped from a cabin where she’s been held prisoner, and soon the cabin’s owner, a prominent attorny in his own right, is arrested for the beating and kidnapping, as well as the deaths of two other women in similar circumstances.

With evidence against him mounting, Robin’s firm take on the defense of Alex Mason, who insists he’s innocent. Second chair on this very public trial is Robin, but she’s seeing things with her renowned boss that lead her to worry about Barrister’s behavior.

Then several details in their case seem at odds, and it will take Robin and Barrister’s team to figure out what is really going on. The complicated plot hangs together well, with enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing as the story unfolds, inside the courtroom and out.

An interesting lead character, Robin Lockwood’s past as an MMA fighter just might find her in good stead when things turn ulgy. Margolin’s own experience as a criminal defense attorney shines through, turning the legalese and court proceedings into interesting scenes.

This crafty story with its tight plot will leave readers looking for the next installment featuring Robin Lockwood and the legal team.

Eva Dolan: This is How it Ends Thursday, Mar 22 2018 

Eva Dolan’s newest psychological thriller, This Is How It Ends, has all the hallmarks of her previous crime novels: complex characters find themselves in a realistic and an often awful situation.

This stand-alone takes full advantage of those talents as Dolan tells the story of a washed-out policewoman-turned-political activist, whose horrific beating at the hands of a police officer at a rally have made Ella Riordan famous.

Her crusade this time centers around an old building waiting to be demolished. Castle Rise is waiting destruction and despite death threats, Ella and several fellow activists defend the building’s place in the community. She’s become close to photographer, Molly, and the chapters alternate in their voices.

Then a dead body is found in the building, and things rapidly spiral out of hand. Who can be trusted? Who is telling the truth? And who is the man who has a hold over Ella that’s inexplicable?

The fast-pacing and mixed time periods add to the tension and the sense that things are out of control. Careful reading at the surprising end will show Dolan’s played fair and all of the clues are there, if you know how to recognize them.

Creative and with a whopper of an ending you won’t soon forget.

Christina Lynch: The Italian Party Tuesday, Mar 20 2018 

Accomplished writer and editor, in fiction and journalism, Christina Lynch’s debut novel under her own name is the delightful The Italian Party.

Filled with wry humor that runs alongside the romance of Italy, she tlle the story of newlyweds Scottie and Michael Messina, who arrive in Siena in the spring of 1956.

Scottie has been told Michael is to open a new Ford office selling tractors, but the reality of his job is just one of the secrets he’s keeping.

Scottie has her own secrets, too, and as their married life commences, they come to know each other as their lives become involved in local politics and the complex dance they both do to keep their secrets.

The Cold War comes alive just as Scottie does. The naivete of both of the young marrieds reflects their upbringing and the mores of the time. It’s a powerful read as we to watch them slowly begin to trust each other.

Twist together a spy story, a missing boy, and a romance of unexpected sorts, and you have a pastiche that rings true. The delicious food, the rugged landscape, and the historic buildings and squares are all lovingly described. Horses figure here, as do Communists, ex-pats, sex, and Italian culture.

A delicious romp that will have you expecting Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday to turn up as you turn the pages, with a startling ending that feels satisfying.

Alex Gray: The Silent Games Sunday, Mar 18 2018 

Alex Gray’s DCI Lorimer series are proven winners. She returns with The Silent Games, with its nicely twisted plot adding it to the list of ones to read.

A bomb explodes in the rural area near Lorimer, and it seems this may have been a rehearsal for terrorists planning a bigger event at The Commonwealth Games being held this summer in Glasgow.

The area is wrapped up the Games and all of the commerce this will bring, but Lorimer is sworn to secrecy as the hunt for extremists commences. Then a young black woman’s body is found near the site, strangled, and they have no idea of her identity.

He decides to attend what we in the US call a high school reunion, run by a former flame. He finds the beautiful red-head who once entranced him is still gorgeous, with nostalgic memories surfacing. In Glasgow with her wealthy husband for the Games and a theatre business enterprise he’s running, Vivien Gilmartin calls Lorimer in hysterics after returning to her rented flat as she’s found Charles dead in bed.

With no one else in the area to turn to, Lorimer takes Vivien into the home he shares with his lovely wife, Maggie. Despite her best efforts to be kind to the woman who has just lost her husband, Maggie gets a strange vibe from the woman and isn’t happy the longer her guest stays.

When its deemed Charles Gilmartin died from poison, suicide versus murder must be ruled out. Due to her personal connection, the case is turned over to Lorimer’s colleague, but he’s aware of events as they unfold.

The reader knows more than Lorimer through the eyes of a young African girl who has been kidnapped from her village and brought to Glasgow to be part of a human trafficking ring for sex. The harsh realities of her existence contrast with the outside environment with people gaily
preparing for the games.

And it’s tied in to the identification of the troupe preparing to make everyone’s worst nightmare come true at the Games.

Grey’s skillful plotting lets readers in on the mechanics and realities of police investigating while her characters are always realistic and well-drawn. Several continuing characters make their appearance, too, and while readers can handle this as a stand-alone, for those fans of the series, the familiar souls that populate the book have become old friends.

Another winning entry in a long-running series, not to be missed.

Frances Brody: Death in the Stars Friday, Mar 16 2018 


Frances Brody newest Kate Shackleton mystery bring Yorkshire in 1927 to life in Death in the Stars.

The great eclipse is on its way, and Kate has been contacted by the msyterious but beloved singing star Selina Fellini to arrange her transport and accompany her to a viewing party at Gigglewsick School.

Kate is certain there’s more to Selina’s fretfullness over not having flown before, but arranges the flight for herself, Selina and the singer’s good friend and co-star, comedian Billy Moffatt.

When Billy goes missing right after the eclipse, he’s ultimately found by the chapelon the grounds of the school. An alert senior student who plans to go into medicine helps Kate figure out that Billy’s cigar was tainted.

While Kate sits by the comatose Billy so Selina can keep her theatre committment that evening, she ponders the underlying nature of Selina’s anxiety: two other performers in their theatre troupe were killed in different but also mysterious ways.

Soon Kate has Bill Sykes and Mrs. Sugden on board as they investigate all three murders and find far too many suspects, which include Selina’s husband, a talented songwriter with a disfiguring war wound who’s mentally distraught. It’s a race to find the culprit to keep the next person close to Selina from being killed.

One of the things that remains consistently charming in the series is the depth of research Brody maintains. The feel of postwar England with authentic period details adds to this look inside the world of British music halls of the era.

This ninth in the series, with its well-plotted mystery and colorful characters, is a pure delight. Readers will wonder why this engaging series hasn’t been picked up yet by Masterpiece Mystery.

Clare Mackintosh: Let Me Lie Tuesday, Mar 13 2018 

Clare Mackintosh’s newest psychological thriller, Let Me Lie, has a double meaning in its title that becomes apparent after readers have finished the complex story. There are enough twists in this story to keep you flipping pages long after the light should have been out.

Anna Johnson is a new mum to little Ella, living with her partner, therapist Mark, in the family home she loves, Oak View. She should be happy, but Anna is still grieving her parents’ suicides.

Her father, Tom, threw himself off Beachy Head, with her mother followin seven months later, killing herself in the exact same way in her grief. It’s a concept Anna has found difficult to reconcile with her parents, who she insists were never suicidal. She can’t conceive of a reason why her father would kill himself to being with and set off this tragic chain of events. It’s natural that she’s angry with both of them for leaving her alone with questions unanswered.

Then on the anniversary of her mother’s death, a note is pushed through her letter box. In a touch of cruelty, it’s an anniversary card, but inside it says: Suicide? Think again.

Anna takes the card to her local police station, where retired detective Murray Mackenzie, working the desk as a civilian, is on duty. Despite there being little that would tempt a detective to re-open two cases cleared as suicides, Murray has a inkling something is not as it should be and decides to do a bit of background checking to see if Anna’s parents really did commit suicide, or if, as Anna believes, they were murdered.

Both Anna and Murray search in their own ways, until the incidents escalate and Anna realizes someone wants the investigation to end.

With a shocking turn in the second part of the book, Anna will have to put aside all of her preconceived notions about her family. But she soon realizes she has no idea who can she really trust.

The plot has so many surprises readers will be out of breath as it races on. With Murray working his own investigation, he involves his wife, Sarah, a subplot that nicely rounds out the story and the reader’s involvement in these characters.

The ending will startle even the savvy reader, and just when you think it’s over, two extra twists at the end show you just how talented Macintosh can be. Highly recommended.

Kate Rhodes: Hell Bay Sunday, Mar 11 2018 

Kate Rhodes’ Alice Quentin series are a favorite, so it was with great interest that Auntie M turned to the debut of her new series, set on the Scilly Island of Bryher, Hell Bay.

Still grieving the death of his long-time undercover partner, saddled with her dog, Shadow, DI Ben Kitto returns to the remote island to rest and decide if he can continue to be a detective.

With his reclusive Uncle Ray, a boatbuilder, still on the island, and knowing the majority of the small population from his youth, Ben has a few months to decide if the resignation his boss refused goes into effect or not.

But he’s barely settled back into island life when the teenaged daughter of high school friends is found on the beach at Hell Bay, and soon he’s asked to become Senior Investigating Officer on the case.

Sixteen year-old Laura Trescothick was saving to attend drama school with her boyfriend, Danny Curnow. He soon finds out neither set of parents were happy with the youths plans or relationship.

With a two-day storm having cancelled all ferries to the island, Ben knows Laura’s killer must still be on the island. There are enough suspects to make it interesting, and enough secrets being held.

Rhodes skillfully draws the isolated locale for those who haven’t been to the area off Cornwall’s Lands End. And in Benesek Kitto, she’s drawn an interesting figure readers will want to follow. Highly Recommended.

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