Alyssa Palombo: The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel Wednesday, Oct 31 2018 

Happy Hallowe’en! And what better book to present than Alyssa Palombo’s retelling of the classic legend of Sleepy Hollow in The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel.

Palombo’s previous historicals,The Violinist of Venice and The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, were both hailed for their accurate period details woven into an intriguing story. Spellbook continues in that vein, and as a New Yorker who grew up on Washington Irving’s story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, this retelling of that story combines aspects of a sweeping romance with a gothic thriller that are delight to read.

Katrina Van Tassel is heiress to her father’s extensive farms along the Hudson River Valley, and a suitable husband must soon be found for the attractive girl. When the new schoolmaster arrives and begins music lessons, Ichabod Crane and Katrina are immediately drawn to each other.

So begins their love story, one that is threatened by the courting of Brom Van Brunt, son of a neighboring farmer. Katrina’s father is convinced the melding of the two farms would be a boon and is in favor of this union, which Katrina is definitely not.

Growing up with her best friend, Charlotte, daughter of the local midwife and herbalist, Charlotte was called a witch by Brom when the three were young, and Katrina has never forgiven him. Indeed, the friendship between Charlotte Jansen, supposed ‘white witch’ and the heiress Katrina are at the heart of the novel.

As Ichabod and Katrina begin their love affair, the ghost of the local legends surround them, until Ichabod suddenly disappears on All Hallows Eve. While locals whisper the Headless Horseman has claimed Ichabod, Katrina fears a more human element. Than how to explain the visions she sees when staring into a candle’s flame?

At the heart of the bool is the story told through the eyes of Katrina. Readers see the time period spool out before them with its customs and mores, as well as the lovers secret life.

Set against the backdrop of the country as its first President is searching for a replacement, the novel gives a feminist version of the haunting legend and its consequences as they revolve around Katrina. An intriguing and new way to look at an old legend.

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Thomas Kies: Random Road & Darkness Lane Sunday, Oct 28 2018 

Please welcome Thomas Kies, who will explain writing his series from the point of view of a female reporter:

Writing From the POV of a Female Reporter

Both Random Road and Darkness Lane are written from the first-person viewpoint of Geneva Chase . . . a woman. I’m male, I have both an X and a Y chromosome.

“Really, you write as a woman?” I’m often asked. “What the hell were you thinking?”

First, a little about Ms. Chase. She’s blonde, tall (five-ten), athletic, blue eyes, attractive, forty years old, and a snarky smart ass. Geneva is a reporter for her hometown newspaper in Sheffield, Connecticut, a bedroom community outside of New York City. As the first book opens, she’s seeing a married man, has been recently arrested for hitting a cop, has been married three times, and she drinks too much.

Geneva Chase is a hot mess. Likable and smart as hell, but still a hot mess.

That doesn’t answer the question, “What the hell were you thinking?”

I started writing Random Road as an experiment. One chapter I’d write from the male protagonist’s POV and the next chapter I’d write as Geneva Chase. About ten chapters into the book, I discovered I was having much more fun writing as Genie. Through her eyes, I could view the world as a cynical journalist. Through her voice, I could make snarky, sarcastic observations. Simply put . . . she was fun!

A writer needs to be keenly observant of the world around him or her. Writing as a woman, I needed to study how someone like Genie would dress, what kind of jewelry she’d wear, how she would speak and move. I know more about women’s shoes than I ever wanted to.

Now, a word to the wise: it’s a fine line between being extremely observant and being creepy.

Honestly, I wasn’t thinking beyond Random Road when I wrote it. I certainly wasn’t planning on doing a series of Geneva Chase mysteries.

But it was blessed with good reviews, deemed debut of the month by the Library Journal, and sold out of its first hardcover printing before the launch date.

My publisher asked for two more over the next two years. Darkness Lane came out last June to excellent reviews, and I’ve just sent in the manuscript for the third Genie Chase novel, Graveyard Bay.

I’ve had some interesting comments from readers about Geneva. I’ve had women tell me how much they identify with her. I take that as a compliment.

I’ve had men tell me how much they like the character, and I actually had one guy tell me that he’d fallen in love with her. That made me kind of uncomfortable . . .

If you read either Random Road or Darkness Lane please let me know what you think at tbkies11@gmail.com. You can see upcoming events and more blogs at http://www.thomaskiesauthor.com.


Thomas Kies has wanted to be a mystery writer nearly all his life, cutting his teeth on every John D. MacDonald novel he could get his hands on. The first of his Geneva Chase Mysteries started with RANDOM ROAD and six naked bodies found hacked to death on an island. The second, DARKNESS LANE, opens with an abused woman torching her sleeping husband. When the police arrive, she’s drinking wine, saying, “I’m just toasting my husband.” Concurrently, a fifteen-year-old high school student vanishes. The two plots appear to have nothing in common but as Geneva chases down leads, she finds that they are dangerously related.

Thomas Kies has a long career working for newspapers and magazines, primarily in New England and New York. Thomas Kies is currently the President of the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce. He lives on a barrier island on the coast of North Carolina with his wife, Cindy, and their Shi-tzu, Lilly. He’s just submitted to his editor the finished manuscript of his the third book in the Geneva Chase series- GRAVEYARD BAY. http://www.thomaskiesauthor.com

Bruce Robert Coffin: Beyond the Truth Friday, Oct 26 2018 

Coffin’s third Detective Bryon crime mystery, Beyond the Truth, just may be his best yet.

The former Portland, Maine detective brings his knowledge of the town and his feel for the politics of crime management to the forefront in this newest addition to his series.

Both of the previous mysteries in the series, Among the Shadows, and Beneath the Depths, have a feel realistic feel because of Coffin’s background, and that truthfulness rings through here as well. The lousy food, long hours, mixed emotions and job culture are all exhibited.

Beyond the Truth has multiple layers that elevate it from the usual crime drama. There are issues haunting Byron that must be addressed and the status of his personal relationship, but at the center of it all is an officer-involved shooting, when a colleague and good cop shoots a teen fleeing from an armed robbery.

It doesn’t help that the gun the teen pointed at the officer isn’t found at the crime scene, and with echoes of so many recent officer-involved shootings, protests and riots soon break out.

Then there are the politics that revolved around that kind of crime, from the Mayor’s office to the police hierarchy. At the heart of it all is a dead boy and a good officer who feels he’s become undone by the circumstances and must face the fact he killed a young man.

This is topical on so many levels, yet has a very personal feel about it. Portland and its environs come alive under Coffin’s pen as he captures the many faces of that town. The investigation feels real, with families and friends of the dead youth investigated, his school and mates, and above all, the seedy underbelly of the town.

A tense and exciting read with a swiftly-paced storyline. Engrossing.

Michael J McCann: The March and Walker Crime Novels Wednesday, Oct 24 2018 

Please welcome Hammett Prize Finalist Michael McCann, to talk to readers about his March and Walker Crime Novel series:

Is setting important to readers when it comes to crime fiction?

For most of us, it can be more or less transparent, particularly in Scandinavian noir by Henning Mankell, for example, where our familiarity with rural and small-city Sweden is limited. For readers of William Kent Krueger or Anne Hillerman, on the other hand, a sense of place is more important for an appreciation of the story, even if we’ve never been to Minnesota or New Mexico.

As far as my novels are concerned, a Canadian setting might be equally unfamiliar to crime fiction fans, but it offers a different perspective to homicide investigation that will appeal to readers looking for an international flavour to their mysteries.

During 15 years with the Canada Border Services Agency, I had an opportunity to learn about law enforcement procedures common to all professionals, including interviewing and interrogation techniques, search procedures, firearms handling, and evidence processing.

I also worked alongside experienced officers from other agencies and was exposed to a wide range of Canadian legal requirements for policing in our country.

This time spent in public service provided an ideal training ground for writing crime fiction in a Canadian setting. As a result, my March and Walker novels reflect how the Ontario Provincial Police actually investigates homicides in their jurisdiction.

Given that the OPP is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in North America, a strong sense of verisimilitude is very important to my work.

It was a great honour when the first novel in the series, Sorrow Lake, was named a finalist for the prestigious Hammett Prize for excellence in crime fiction in North America. I hope that the next two in the series, Burn Country and Persistent Guilt, come close to matching that high standard.

I hope you’ll consider trying crime fiction set in Canada!

Find the March and Walker Crime Novel series on Amazon, in paperback or eBook, at my author page here: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-J.-McCann/e/B0031LPGCC/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1.

Electronic versions in epub format are also available from Kobo for any epub reader here: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/search?query=The%20March%20and%20Walker%20Crime%20Novel%20Series&fcsearchfield=Series&seriesId=8a03a5f5-a99d-537e-9aae-3f2f93609102.


Michael J. McCann

Michael J. McCann lives and writes in Oxford Station, Ontario, Canada. He was born and raised in Peterborough. A former production editor with Carswell Legal Publications (Western), he holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from Trent University with a major in English Literature and a Master of Arts in English from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

He worked for fifteen years with Canada Customs (Canada Border Services Agency) as a training specialist, project officer, and national program manager (duty free shop program, complaints investigation, commercial compliance management) before leaving the public service to write on a full-time basis.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Michael J. McCann also reviews mysteries and thrillers for the New York Journal of Books.

Elsa Hart: City of Ink Thursday, Oct 18 2018 

Elas Hart’s new Li Du novel, City of Ink, finds the 18th Century librarian’s return to Beijing to uncover the murderer of his mentor. With sidekick storyteller Hamza by his side, Li Du investigates when two bodies are found in a tile factory.

The period details add to the richness of the story as the idea of crime of passion doesn’t sit well with Li Du. For the second victim is the factory owner’s wife, and their supposed secret meeting led to their murders by her jealous husband.

Now a lowly secretary to the Chief Inspector, Li Du finds the husband refusing to confess to the murders. While admitting he was drunk that night, he has no memory of killing either victim.

It’s a twisted path he follows that will lead him to corruption of the highest order, with the future of thousands of Chinese in the balance.

Even his own past will come under scrutiny, which brings Li Du under the microscope and endangers his own well-being.

Hart’s research shows, in the way she brings this era to life, in the texture and colors and sights and sounds of a bygone time that seem just around the corner under her talented pen. Her characters are as well-woven as a Chinese silk tapestry.

There are enough twists and turns for any experienced mystery writer, but there is so much more here than that puzzle that keeps readers flipping pages. An accomplished addition to a satisfying historic series.

And if you enjoy historicals, Steve Berry’s The Lost Order is new in paperback. Gold from a secret Civil War society plays a role when it comes to light the secrets of the Knights of the Golden Circle, still operating, might be revealed. Cotton and his team find themselves racing around the US to piece together the plot that would cause disaster to the country.

Peter Blauner: Sunrise Highway Sunday, Oct 14 2018 

As a native Long Islander, Auntie M has long been intrigued with the string of unsolved murders from the place where she grew up and lived until her mid-40s. Now Peter Blauner delivers a possible solution with the story of one man who manages to hide his pyschopathy enough to cover his tracks for years in the very compelling Sunrise Highway.

Told in advancing years, readers figure out soon enough who the culprit is, watching Joey Tolliver rise from a teen on the cusp of a criminal career to becoming a decorated policeman.

Along the way he gathers supporters and people who owe him and look the other way, which allows his outrageous and horrific behavior to continue.

Then in 2017, when Tolliver is Chief of Police, a Latina NYPD detective, Lourdes Robles, finds that her investigation into the body of a young woman washed up on her patch leads her to similarities of a multitude of other female victims, a trail along Sunrise Highway in Long Island all the way to Brooklyn.

She’s tenacious and relentless, despite career and personal threats, in following the evidence, as she must fight against the political powerhouses in of the justice system itself. And just as it seems she’s making headway, she finds herself on the opposite site of the law.

The chapters alternate between Tolliver’s rise and Robles’ investigation, heightening the tension to a terrific pitch.

This read so plausibly it made Auntie M’s hair rise on her arms. It’s too believeable to see one person make a life’s work of extreme misogyny while supposedly upholding law and order.

The setting rings true with its familiarity, but the main attraction here are the strong characters, easily pictured and believed, along with the grunt police work and the thrill of escalating twists that will keep readers glued to the book. Highly recommended.

Gilly Macmillan: I Know You Know Friday, Oct 12 2018 

Gilly Macmillan’s psychological thriller, I Know You Know, contrasts newly-found bones under asphalt with the twenty year-old unsolved murder case of two young boys.

The connection between both cases is Detective John Fletcher, who’s life has been haunted by the boy’s death. Charlie Paige and Scott Ashby were only eleven when murdered outside a Bristol dog racing track. Charlie was barely alive wtih Fletcher and his partner found the boys, and he died in Fletcher’s arms.

While a mentally-deficit local man was arrested and spent years in prison for the murders, there have always been those who felt Sidney Noyce didn’t commit the crimes.

Enter Cody Swift, not a filmmaker who was the third friend in a trio with the dead boys. He’s spent time digging into the reports and loose threads that remain from the initial investigation, and starts a podcast to find out the truth. He aims to get those who might have kept silent at the time to speak up now.

Through Macmillan’s taut and addictive pages, readers meet the families of the dead boys and learn the history of that night. Jess, Charlie’s mother, is a pivotal figure. Now happily married with a teen daughter, her first child and his death affect her every waking moment.

The long-dead body found near the site of the boy’s bodies means the two cases might be linked and Fletcher will do all he can to find out what really happened all those years ago.

A close look at a complicated case and how the actions of one detective had a domino affect on the lives of so many others.

Jim Eldridge: Murder at the Fitzwilliam Monday, Oct 8 2018 


London-born author Jim Eldridge had a host of jobs before teaching led him to writing scripts for radio and television. He’s written SciFi, Children’s and YA fiction, including books for early readers and reluctant readers.

But Auntie M’s readers will be happy to hear Jim has turned his pen to crime fiction, with a new series that debuts with Murder at the Fitzwilliam. Set in 1894, it introduces private enquiry agent Daniel Wilson, retired from his Detective Inspector duties after investigating the Jack the Ripper case. Assisting him in this case at the Cambridge museum is archeologist Abigail Fenton.

Auntie M had the opportunity recently to ask Jim about his new series.

Auntie M: You started as a teacher before turning to writing full time. Was that always your intention?

Jim Eldridge: As well as teaching (which I loved doing), I had a variety of jobs before being able to afford to become a full-timer writer in 1978. I’d worked in offices, at a petrol station, done labouring jobs in an abattoir and even been a stoker on a blast furnace, but my ambition was always to be a full-time writer.

AM: Auntie M noticed your interest in history throughout your many series, from the early and reluctant readers books to your YA series. Is this a chance to teach readers or your natural interest?

JE: I have a deep love of history. I am a great believer in we are where we are now because of the historical events that have gone before, and that as a species we seem to keep repeating the same errors. So, yes, I do tend to stress the similarities between what’s happened in the past and what’s happening now – so readers say “we never learn.”

AM: The new Museum series starts out powerfully with Murder at the Fitzwilliam. How did you decide to choose 1894 for this series?

JE: The publishing director at Allison & Busby and I discussed various potential eras (modern, early 20th century), but we both felt that the late Victorian era heralded so many changes, both in society and technologically, that it would be a great backdrop for the series.

AM: Why the Fitzwilliam and Cambridge?

JE: Once we’d agreed for the series to use Museums for the settings of the series, we began by selecting the most famous of the oldest museums in Britain, and they were The British Museum, the Ashmolean in Oxford, and the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge. We felt that Cambridge had received less attention than Oxford out of the two oldest British University cities, so we decided to set the first adventure there.

AM: Nice to see a strong female character in archaeologist Abigail Fenton. Will she appear in the other books?

JE: Yes, she and Daniel become an investigating duo, as well as her continuing her own career as an archaeologist.

AM: Where does the series head next?

JE: Book 2 is MURDER AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM, which comes out early in 2019. Book 3, MURDER AT THE ASHMOLEAN, comes out in Autumn 2019.

AM: With three planned as of this writing, might that be extended?

JE: I hope so, if the series finds its readership, so my fingers are firmly crossed for that to happen.

AM: Mine,too, as I loved this first book. How does the radio and TV work inform your adult fiction? Do you see the books in scenes unfolding as you write?

JE: From 1971 until 2010 I was primarily a scriptwriter for TV and radio (with 250 TV scripts and 250 radio scripts broadcast). Scriptwriting is very different to novel-writing. In a script there is no place for the “interior monologue” from the characters – in a screenplay the emotions the character is feeling have to be shown by their expression and their movements. In a novel you have room to expand on what a character is feeling. However, I feel my long scriptwriting career has helped me when writing novels in developing plots (and sub-plots) and the vital importance of creating characters that readers want to know about. And you’re right, I also view a scene visually so I can write it.

AM: Who would we find on your nighttable, waiting to be read?

JE: At this moment, THE RAILWAY DETECTIVE by Edward Marston, but the one I’m really looking forward to arriving in my mailbox is DEATH UNSCRIPTED: A TRUDY GENOVA MANHATTAN MYSTERY by Marni Graff. As a former scriptwriter, this sounds my ideal mystery!

AM: You’re very kind, and I hope you will enjoy it, Jim. Thanks for giving readers insight into this new series. And now for a review of Murder at the Fitzwilliam.

Archeologist Abigail Fenton has enough hard work cataloguing recent Egyptian artificts sent to the famed Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, while she makes her way in a largely male profession, when she stumbles across a modern body inside an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus.

Daniel Wilson has been called in by the Museum’s director to protect the museum’s reputation by quickly bringing the case to a discreet close. The former London detective brings his intuition and his experience with him, and soon finds himself going head-to-head with the local Cambridge detective, who has decided the murder was an accident.

With Abigail and Daniel agreeing this could hardly be the case, Daniel calls on the archeologist to assist him in his investigation into the identity of the dead man and how his body came to be found in the Egyptian Collection room.

Then the local papers circulate a story about a murderous mummy, destined to shake up the populace, and a second body is soon found, raising the stakes and making Daniel’s investigation harder.

There will be several paths of enquiry for them to follow; red herrings abound with distractions for both sleuths as they find their way to the the answers they seek.

Abigail and Daniel are an engaging pair of sleuths, bound by the mores of the time, which include the women’s suffragete movement. They take each other’s measure and like what they see while moving the case forward.

With accurate period details, Eldridge perfectly recreates the Cambridge of the Victorian era. A highly successful start to a captivating new series.
Available in the US November 19th~

James Hayman: A Fatal Obsession Saturday, Oct 6 2018 

James Hayman’s McCabe and Savage thrillers bring the Maine detectives to a very personal New York City case in A Fatal Obsession.

When his brother Bobby calls to say their mother is in the hospital, dying after a bad fall at her care facility, he knows it’s time he headed down to make his farewells. Bobby can’t reach his daughter, Zoe, a talented young actress, but as it was the closing night of her playing Desdemona in Othello, he figures she’s out late at a cast party.

That couldn’t be further from the truth, for Zoe has been kidnapped and beaten up, and spirited away from the city, where she’s hidden by her captor.

Maggie Savage accompanies McCabe to meet the family she’ll be entering, as the couple as just become engaged the night before. But thoughts of happy times are pushed aside when it becomes obvious Zoe’s apartment is the scene of a struggle–and then a woman’s body is found.

This comes in a wave of abduction murders of young starlets, actresses and even a ballerina. With the stakes so high, McCabe and Savage ask to be seconded to the team searching for Zoe.

It’s a twisted and high-speed investigation as the clock ticks down the time Zoe can survive. Old wounds must be bandaged over for McCabe to join in but finally he and Maggie are legitimate members of the team.

With its look inside the teamwork needed to pull off a major investigation, Maggie’s interviewing skills will come to the forefront when a suspect is finally found, with unexpected results.

A compulsively readable and fast-paced thriller to this series.

Ragnar Jonasson: Blackout Tuesday, Oct 2 2018 

Jonasson’s Dark Iceland series has been a hit. Featuring policeman Ari Thor Arason, the series reflects the claustrophobic and dark landscape and weather of the region, no more so than in Blackout.

It’s the 24 hour cycle of a Nordic summer, but the darkness is there when a man is found beaten outside a home he’s renovating. Who is he and why did he have to die?

Adding darkness to the summer is the ash fallout from a recent volanic eruption. When reporter Isrun leaves her Reykajvik office, she drums up an excuse to investigate on her own, but her motives are rooted in her past.

It falls to Ari Thor, working in the tiny town of Siglufjordur, to take on the murder case, even as his one already-reclusive colleague is plagued with a change in his behavior, and his mentor and boss is depressed, contemplating his future, while Ari Thor rues the destruction of his own long-term relationship.

The landscape and weather add to the creepy factor of the personal issues each character faces as the investigation moves forward, and suddenly becomes far more tense as Ari Thor senses a race to prevent more deaths.

Past and present hurts and longings become magnfied in this mystery where despair is the overwhelming emotion.

Complex and skillfully plotted, Jonasson manages to captivate readers with a compelling puzzle that will see them through to the denouement. Picture Christie struggling in the northern hamlets of Iceland and you’ll be hooked.