Laura Andersen: The Darkling Bride Thursday, May 31 2018 


Carragh Ryan could never imagine what awaits her when she agrees to inventory the historic library of the Gallagher family at Deeprath Castle in the Irish countryside.

With her own complicated background but a dgree in English lit and postgrad work in Irish Studies at Trinity, Carragh has been doing freelance editorial work in Dublin.

She’s interested in this temporary job to get closer to the Norman castle where Evan Chase, the Victorian novelist she has studied, lived for three years, before leaving a widower who never wrote again. Could there be a his missing manscript hidden there?

Then she meets the current Viscount of the Gallaghers, Aidan, and her job becomes even more unusual when she becomes caught up in the renewed investigation of the deaths of his parents two decades before.

Deciding to put the castle into a public trust, he agrees Carragh can work on the archive so he can keep family papers private.

That these deaths of the Gallagher parents are similar to those of Chase’s wife and infant adds to the myths Carragh learns about The Darkling Bridde, a legend that the deaths have kept fueled.

At once a gothic mystery, fans of Victoria Holt or Mary Stewart will recognize the conventions–and be sucked in by them. There’s something for everyone here, between the romance, the legend, and the mystery to be solved. There are multiple time lines to follow the stories and it all adds up to a ghostly atmospheric read, filled with suspense.

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Elly Griffiths: The Blood Card Sunday, May 27 2018 

Elly Griffiths, known for her Ruth Galloway series, has a wonderful second series, and if readers haven’t yet had the pleasure, now’s the time to read a Stephens and Mephisto Mystery.

The newest is The Blood Card, with DI Edgar Stephens and his old Army buddy, premiere magician Max Mephisto heading up the cast of characters. It’s the summer of 1953 and the country is gearing up for the big Coronation, all over but especially in Max’s London and Edgar’s Brighton, where the DI is supposed to be looking into the suicide of a gypsy fortune teller.

Then murder of their men’s former wartime commander sets the two friends right in the midst of the investigation, after the victim is found with the ace of hearts, known as the Blood Card, on his body. Added to this, there are rumors of a plot to have something dramatic happen to ruin the Coronation.

It’s a case that has both men working different points, with Max in London, and Edgar traveling from Brighton to New York State, of all places, to follow a clue.

The advent of television adds to the stress and to the plot, as well as to Max’s future, when he’s asked to perform for a new show that will bring him into the homes of millions of people.

It’s a race to the finish as the gypsy family overwhelms Edgar’s team and puts them in danger. The two men must solve the murder of two men in different countries to stop the threat to hundreds more.

One of the highlights of this series in the complicated relationship between Edgar and his fiancé, Ruby, who is Max’s daughter. Adding to this are the period details that Griffiths gets just right, as she brings to life this era when television took over from dance hall and variety shows as the public’s major form of entertainment.

Not to be missed~

David Mark: Dead Pretty Thursday, May 24 2018 

Dead Pretty was Auntie M’s first DS McAvoy novel but it won’t be her last.

The dark Hull crime novel is filled with realisism and an eye for the telling detail. It’s been called “gritty” and “atmospheric,” and those terms certainly apply when McAvy and his Superintendent friend, Trish Pharaoh, try to solve what turns out to be a string of horrific murders.

McAvoy’s devotion to his cases is unshakeable, the unsolved ones haunt him. It’s been 9 months since Hannah Kelly went missing, and he can’t pretend she’s still alive when a second young woman is found murdered with striking similarities.

He’s looking for a connection between the two young woman just as Reuben Hollow is released from a murder conviction on appeal. Hollow has taken a liking to Super Pharaoh and it’s a dicey relationship, especially when her home is broken into and her young family threatened.

The way the two story lines come together is twisted but realistic, as is the complex ending with twists that will leave readers breathless. Adding to the haunting feel is McAvoy’s own family, who become involved. With strong characters, especially McAvoy’s wife, and a supporting cast who add texture, the bleak city streets of Humberside come alive under Mark’s talented pen.

One to look for, with a totally unique main character who defies being put in a box.

Carolyn Haines: Charmed Bones Monday, May 21 2018 

Carolyn Haines series featuring Sarah Booth Delaney brings southern charm to mysteries featuring the private detective. Charmed Bones starts out with an intriguing premise, when Sarah is watching The Wizard of Oz, and her very own ghost, Jitty, materializes as the Wicked Witch of the West.

Still smarting over her abruptly interrupted session with boyfriend, Sheriff Coleman Peters, the two haven’t been able to consummate their relationship–yet.

But Jitty insists with Coleman working, Oz must wait because there’s a
school board meeting in the Mississippi county that Sarah must attend: a trio of witches want to open a Wiccan boarding school in their sweet little town of Zinnia. Faith, Hope and Charity are smart and sexy, too.

With her partner, Tinkie Bellcase, the duo try to figure out the Wiccan’s real reasons for choosing Zinnia, and for renting land from reclusive artist Trevor Musgrove.

Then a young boy goes missing and the Delaney Detective Agency is on the hunt for the cutup. Of course, the boys mother argues the witches have kidnapped him.

But then soemone is found dead, and the witchy sisters are in the crosshairs. Or they criminals, or just victims? It’s up to Sarah Booth and Tinkie to solve the case.

Another hilarious installment in the comic series.

Judith Flanders: A Howl of Wolves Thursday, May 17 2018 

Judith Flanders’ Sam Clair series has been called “Hilarious, bighearted, clever, whip-smart, and devious” by Louise Penny, with good reason. Flanders returns with the fourth installment, A Howl of Wolves, where she fuses Sam Clair’s irreverant humor and keeps readers entertained with a mystery that gives a backstage look at the theater.

One of the highlights is the publishing world that Sam inhabits, and that’s here, too, a nice constant to the series. Sam and her Scotland Yard boyfriend Jake are doing the good neighbor thing, supporting upstairs Kay and her son, Bim, who have parts in West End play. The play is filled with gory deaths that 6 yr- old Bim relishes.

The couple are good sports, until the second act curtain reveals a dummy hanging from the rafters, made up to look like the play’s director, Campbell Davison. Poor taste, Sam thinks, until she realizes along with everyone else that this is no dummy, but the director himself strung up grotesquely.

Seeing Kay upset is all Sam needs to ‘help’ Jake and his team try to find the murderer, a man not extremely well-liked. As the suspect list grows, so does Sam’s need to keep death at bay.

With a very likeable cast of characters and a nicely twisted plot,when you throw in the satire that makes Sam a hoot to read, and you have one clever mystery indeed.

Elly Griffiths: The Dark Angel Tuesday, May 15 2018 

Elly Griffiths is celebrating TEN years of Dr. Ruth Galloway mysteries, one of Auntie M’s favorite series. She takes Ruth from her Norwich salt marsh to Italy in her newest, The Dark Angel. And while she brings us complex mysteries to unravel at home and abroad, Griffiths keeps Ruth’s voice entertaining, with her own wry humor that brings her close to her readers.

When Ruth is contacted by a colleague she once spent the night with, the memory of Angelo Morelli comes back with a vengence. A fellow archeologist, his impeccable English overlaid with that sexy Italian accent, he invites Ruth to appear on his television program at a dig in the Liri Valley, not far from Rome.

He hints at anomalies in bones he recently found on a dig, and offers the use of a family apartment for a two-week holiday before Ruth’s classes start again. She can bring her friend, Shona, whose young son Louis could be a playmate for her Kate.

Once they are off to Italy, to the chagrin of DCI Nelson, whom Ruth has not told of the trip, she tries to relax and enjoy the mix of work and vacation, even as she wonders what Nelson will think. Nelson is Kate’s father, and his wife is in the midst of an unexpected pregnancy. With two grown daughters, the new baby has kept Nelson at home with Michelle, when he was on the verge of leaving for Ruth.

It’s a complicated life and readers who know the series look to the familiarity of these characters as much as they do the mysteries that envelop Ruth. For once in the little town of Castello degli Angeli, Ruth becomes aware that the secretive town does not look kindly on strangers.

The Liri Valley is connected to tales of a strong resistance movement during World War II, but Ruth can’t think why these stories would have an implication for her work on the newly discovered bones. She quickly becomes involved in the people and traditions she meets, to our delight, and befriends a young horse rider.

Then a murder occurs in the small town, rocking its foundations, and Ruth finds herself involved. When Nelson appears, bringing along Ruth’s druid friend Cathbad, things become even more complicated. And at home, things go seriously, badly wrong.

One of the pleasures of reading a strong series is the chance to follow the characters we’ve grown to love. Griffiths does a wonderful job of keeping the threads of all of these familiar souls alive, and makes a heartbreaking choice with one of them.

This is a clever and complex book, which resonates on so many levels with readers. Highly recommended.

Susan C. Shea: Dressed for Death in Burgundy Friday, May 11 2018 


Auntie M had the pleasure of meeting Susan Shea in person at Malice Domestic recently when we shared a panel about mystery series set in foreign countries.

Following her new series debut, Love & Death in Burgundy, she returns to the small French community of Reigny-sur-Canne for a sequel in Dressed for Death in Burgundy.

With Burgundy local finally seeming to become more accepting of American painter Katherine Goff and her musician husband, Michael, who is off in Memphis recording a new album.

Neighbor Sophie Bellegarde up at the Chateau has started a small tour company, and pressed Katherine to drive American tourists for the chilly month of December when her regular tour driver is unavailable. And she had the company of young Pippa, the English mystery writer she’s befriended.

But one tour takes a spectacular twist when Katherine finds a dead body smack in the local museum during her tour. It’s not bad enough she’d the talk of the neighborhood again, but Pippa comes under scrutiny as a suspect, and the two women naturally must find the real killer to clear Pippa’s name.

As they get closer and closer to the truth, threats start coming their way, and suddenly all bets are off in their race to find a killer before he finds them.

The delight of the area, the fish-out-of-water storyline, and the engaging cast of characters, including a young mother ready to have her own Christmas baby, all add to the delight.

Catriona McPerhson calls Dressed for Death in Burgundy ” . . . a real head-scratcher of a murder plot.”

Anne Cleeland: Murder in Misdirection Tuesday, May 8 2018 


Anne Cleeland’s Doyle and Acton series is known for its complicated plots, as well as the light and dark contrast of the morals of DS Doyle and her titled DCI husband, Acton. The newest, Murder in Misdirection, lives up to the promise of the others for its quirky characters combined with a stellar plot you won’t soon figure out.

Heavily pregnant, with her husband anticipating his confirmation into the Church so their child can be baptized in Doyle’s Roman Catholic faith, Doyle is uncomfortable and hates being sidelines on maternity leave.

So she’s more than interested when she finds out that while she knew Holy Trinity Church had burned down, her detective husband had neglected to tell her that the body of woman had been found in the rubble.

Was the dead woman an arsonist, or is there another reason for her to be there? With her senses on high alert and her scalp prickling away, Doyle will use her ability to divine truths to find out just what scheme her vigilante husband has cooked up this time.

She manages to investigate, using her wiles and friends, and soon Doyle thinks she’s managed to ferret out what’s going on–or has she?

The relationship between the married detectives with their different personalities is at the forefront when things take an unexpected turn, and the action heats up in direct correlation to the danger Doyle finds herself in.

An grand addition to an entertaining series.

Kristen Lepionka: What You Want To See Tuesday, May 1 2018 


A May Day treat for readers:
Kristen Lepionka burst on the scene last year with The Last Place You Look, which introduced PI Roxane Weary. She returns with What You Want To See, a sequel that has Lee Child noting: “That rare and precious thing–a sequel as good as–or even better than–the outstanding first in the series. It’s wise, knowing, propulsive, and perfectly pitched. Lepionka is a major new talent.”

High praise indeed, and most apt, for this sequel is every bit as complex and telling as the Lepionka’s first PI thriller.

Roxane has been hired by Arthur Ungless to trail his fiance`, Marin Strasser. He’s worried she’s having an affair instead of planning their upcoming wedding.

The reality is that Marin is not having an affair, but she’s not planning their wedding, either. What she is–is dead. Shot in an apparent mugging, Arthur is soon the prime suspect, but Roxie is convinced he was really in love with Marin and would never have killed her.

This theory is at odds with a detective on the case, Sanko, who shows up to question Roxie, accompanied by Roxie’s detective friend, Tom, her father’s detective protogee`. Roxie and Tom have a complicated relationship–but then there’s also her complicated relationship with the lovely Catherine.

None of this deters Roxie from investigation Marin, where she finds the pretty woman has more than a shady past, including her own criminal record and a son just out of prison. Roxie soon uncovers an accident to an elderly woman, and cases of real estate scams and fraud.

Then Arthur and a young woman are gunned down outside his office, and the complications rise as the secrets start to unravel. With Arthur struggling to survive and a young woman dead, everyone who knows any of the players is in jeopardy, even Roxie’s mother and Catherine.

One of the highlights of this series is the modern, bisexual Roxie, who tells the story from her point of view. This adds to the reality of the story as readers come to know Roxie, her insecurities and troubles, as well as her motivations. When you add in a nicely twisted plot, you have the recipe for a killer read.

It makes for a refreshing style of hardboiled PI fiction, a series that made Laura Lippman say ” . . . reminds me of everything that made my fall in love with PI fiction.”

Highly recommended.