Jan McCanless:The Opera House Murders Wednesday, Mar 27 2019 

Please welcome Jan McCanless, whose two series are filled with humor, to describe her newest book, The Opera House Murders:

The Opera House Murders is the 15th book by award-winning author Jan McCanless. Her Beryl’s Cove Mystery series has been hugely popular, as has her Brother Jerome books. This is the third in her Brother Jerome series, and all those endearing characters are back, along with some visitors from Beryl’s Cove, including Dawg and Elvis.

This time around Abbot Jerome, everybodys favorite misfit monk, is called to England by his feisty, favorite relative, his Aunt Jessie. She has a family secret she wants to impart to “Chip”, the Abbot, but, somehow she can’t seem to get around to it. Someone has killed the Lord of the manner, Lord Julian Spencer, and everyone is a suspect. Her Ladyship proves to be a formidable character herself.

Things that go bump in the night, and hidden rooms are in the offering, as Chip tries to remain the one ‘adult in the room.” Once back at the Monastery of the Blue Ridge, in North Carolina, things don’t improve any, as the Abbot is called to Charlotte by his Bishop, due to things being amiss in the diocese. Chip is just the one to solve the mystery, the Bishop thinks.

With hardly a moment to himself and his misfit monks, Chip’s life is complicated further by a fire that destroys the monk’s barn, and the appearance on the scene of a comely female Episcopal priest, in the mountains on retreat.

How Abbot Jerome balances all this turmoil and solves his crises of faith makes for another interesting, fun read by Author Jan McCanless.

The book is available in area gift shops ( Statesville and mid western gift shops expecially), the public library, Amazon.com, and can be purchased at Jans website : http://www.janmacbooks.com

ALSO AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

Kjell Ola Dahl: The Courier Sunday, Mar 24 2019 

Kjell Ola Dahl’s The Courier starts out in Oslo, where in 1942 a young Jewish courier, Ester, escapes the Gestapo and the horrors of Auschwitz.

Turid is the young daughter of Ester’s best friend, Ase, murdered after Ase helped Ester flee to Sweden. And then there is Falkum, Ase’s husband, baby Turid’s father, and years later, Ester’s lover?

With the action alternating between events of the time, and now with Turid almost grown, the plot resonates with emotion in each period. The complex story never loses the reader yet brings the horrors of WWII to the forefront and it reverberations to so many.

It is an accomplished writer who can combine the tragedies of historical fiction with what is essenntially a murder mystery. The thriller aspects of each time period, the 1940s, the 1960s and the close present, are highly articulated and create a visual and cinematic timeline.

Dahl does a great job keeping the tension up as the narrative threads become increasingly intertwined and the truths of each era become apparent. The jumps in this timeline, far from disturbing, feel natural as the characters are well developed both in physical appearance and the way they change over the years.

The pace continues to pick up, from the opening when Ester sees her father being arrested, to the climax as the story becomes increasingly gripping.

A solid, dark mystery with elegant prose, Dahl won two award for The Courier when it was first published before being translated into English.

Marianne Kavanagh: Disturbance Thursday, Mar 21 2019 

Marianne Kavangh’s Disturbance is well done with such a subtle hand that its creepy factor sneaks up on you–and becomes all the more terrifying for it.

Sara and Mike live in the beautiful Old Rectory, renovated and gorgeous, with a huge back garden and plenty of bedrooms to spare. Their oldest son, James, is finishing school and soon to be off at university if he scores the marks he’s been studying for, while younger son, Edward, is on the autism spectrum and needs constant reassurance and a routine.

So when Mike’s back goes out and he’s in excruciating pain, hE must work from home and their happy household routine goes out the door. Not the best patient, Mike takes his pain and anger at being disabled out on Sara, who takes leave from her part-time lawyering job to help out at home. It’s a situation that quickly deteriorates for all four, relieved only when Sara finally hires a local gal, Katie, to walk their energetic Springer Spaniel twice a day.

Despite Katie’s lack of self-confidence, shy Sara finds herself drawn to the young girl, and understands Katie has only Sara’s best interests at hand when she encourages Sara to make friends in the village and get out of the house, away from Mike’s thunder a bit. Sara finds herself becoming Katie’s confidante, as she learns of her heartsick broken relationship to the unsuitable Danny.

Then an unspeakable tragedy occurs, followed on its heels by the appearance from Australia by Mike’s sister, Ursula, and the tension ratchets up. Soon, far too many questions are being asked, and Sara fears for her future and that of her sons. You will hold your breath as Sara holds hers, unsure what is the truth at work here.

This is a clever and complex novel, and as the readers’ suspicions rise, the mood of unease grows and expands. The title is apt, as there is a lingering sense of disturbance throughout the entire novel that advances to a smoldering climax that will leave readers reeling.

James Oswald: No Time to Cry Sunday, Mar 17 2019 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! But we’re going to England and Scotland today with a debut that will knock your shellelagh to the floor.

It’s no secret James Oswald’s Inspt. McLean series is a favorite of Auntie M’s. So it was with great interest that she looked forward to reading the first of his new series, featuring DC Constance (Con) Fairchild, No Time to Cry.

It’s an ambitious start in a London setting when Con, working undercover, finds the body of her boss, executed after being tortured. DI Peter Copperthwaite has her mentor and friend, and his influence is seen throughout the book, a device Auntie M quite liked and hopes will continue.

It seems the higher-ups want the blame for Pete’s death to fall to Con, unfair as it is, and she’s on suspension while it’s sorted out, but it seems clear there’s more here than her being named a scapegoat for the ruined operation. Who she can trust soon becomes Con’s primary question.

At a loose end, Con decides to help her brother’s girlfriend and agrees to search for the woman’s younger sister, a run away from the same school Con attended as a child. This secondary plot line adds to the trickiness when the two lines of her invesstigation overlap.It soon becomes clear that this is yet another situation where there is more going on than meets the eye.

At one point Con finds herself at her aunt’s Scottish home, a lovely setting. A secondary character, Madame Rose, is introduced during this visit. She’s one Auntie M fervently hopes will return in the next book, along with her lovely vintage car. A highly original character, she will be one to watch out for.

Con Fairchild is a unique and steadfast gal who can easily carry a new series. It will be interesting to see what kind of path Oswald takes her down in book two. Highly recommended.

Two thrillers: Ryan and Margolin Friday, Mar 15 2019 

Auntie M’s been down with strep throat but starting to rally. Here are the other two thrillers for your reading pleasure:

Chris Ryan’s action-packed Red Strike brings readers his fourth installment with Porter and Bald, the wise-cracking unlikely duo.

With Ryan’s own SAS time bringing terrific realism to the page, this timely plot swims along with his insider knowledge as the two try to comlete thier mission, bringing down a suspected russian agent before a secret meeting.

How their mission runs connects with that of a Russian agent who defected to the UK is only part of the tense action. Nilolai Volkov has been poisoned but the assassination was botched and he’s on the run after being kdnapped from a safe house by the Russians.

Personal motives sometimes interfere but help spur the two heroes on as the pace rises higher and higher. This is the kind of action perfect for the cinema, especially with the ending that will leave readers gaping.

Phillip Margolin’s legal thrillers return with The Perfect Alibi, a nicely twisted plot that will captivate readers.

This is a twisted tale of a rapist, possibly wrongly convicted, and a murder conviction that young lawyer Robin Lockwood is convinced should be dismissed as self defense.

This is the second book featuring Lockwood, a former MMA fighter who’s a good investigator, too. Burdened with the heaviness of both of these cases, she manages to somehow navigate a sea of lawyers, rapes, threats, lies, and murder–– and then some. There will be legal dilemnas, twists and turns, and one feisty gal at the heart of it all.

This is an intricate plot with lots of characters, but it all comes together to a satisfying conclusion with Lockwood at its core.

Thomas Enger: Inborn Tuesday, Mar 12 2019 

Thomas Enger’s Inborn is a subtley-wrought thriller that centers on one young man and his first taste of love.

Seventeen-year-old Even is in love with Mari Lindgren. When her body is found at their school’s music room, along that of another teen, Johannes Eklund, in the stairwell, he’s a natural suspect.

Mari had just broken off their budding relationship without giving Even a reason. Johannes’s death, despite being killed with a different method, is tied to hers. Gossip is rampant and far-reaching; soon social media is ablaze with accusations against Even.

With the action alternating between Even giving testimony and his thoughts going back over his actions leading up to this time, he soon realizes there is more at simmering beneath the surface.

A decade ago Even’s father was killed in a car accident that injured his mother, who survived. Even and his brother live with their mother in the house inherited from his grandmother. With his mother frequently absent at her lover’s home, Even keeps an eye on his reclusive, gamer brother, Tobias. An uncle, Imo, is helpful to the boys and involved in their lives.

So where did it all go wrong and who is keeping secrets in this small town? Was it Mari or is it Even or someone else? And then a third death occurs and the tension, already high, escalates.

With surprising twists and an ending readers won’t see coming, this is a chilling thriller from the Norwegian author that Auntie M read in one day.

Deanna Raybourn: A Dangerous Collaboration Tuesday, Mar 12 2019 

Deanna Raybourn continues her Veronice Speedwell series with the compelling entry A Dangerous Collaboration.

The fourth in the Victorian-era mysteries to follow the intrepid lepidopterist, Veronica and her colleague Stoker, the adventurous brother of a titled Lord. When said brother, Tiberius, asks Veronica to accompany him to a house party thrown by his oldest friend in Cornwall, Veronica readily accepts with the promise of a rare species of butterfly to add to her vivarium. She’s turned her attention to preserving the species instead of pinning them.

That she must pretend to be Tiberius’s fiancee` for the Catholic Lord Malcolm Romilly doesn’t bother the broad-minded and modern Veronica, until Stoker shows up and she finds her self juggling the brothers and their egos.

It soon becomes clear that under the guise of a house party, Lord Romilly has assembled several of his extended family who were present on his wedding day when his bride disappeared, wedding dress and all. Locals on the remote Cornwall island are only too happy to invoke the piskies and other spirits that might have taken the lovely Rosamund away, but Veronica knows the woman’s disappearance has a more human culprit.

It’s not quite the party Veronica had imagined, but the island is ruggedly beautiful and the locals gossip easily, twigging her sleuthing antenna. Soon she enlists Stoker’s help. Before it’s over, there will be deeply-held secrets revealed that affect them all, as well as seances destined to bring out the spirit of the presumed-dead Rosamund.

With a nicely twisted plot and more than a touch of romance, the era’s details are accurate and pleasing, as is Veronica’s independence. She’s an intelligent woman to admire, as well as a daunting sleuth.

Three Thrillers: Berry, Margolin,Ryan Sunday, Mar 10 2019 

For your reading pleasure this March, as the rains come and the winds blow: three thrillers certain to keep your mind off the weather! Watch this spot for Margolin and Ryan later this week!

Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone thriller, The Malta Exchange, has been compared to Brown’s The Da Vinci Code with its ties to the Vatican, but it has a more complex plot that will capture your attention.

Malone sure does get around, and readers have to hope Berry and his wife, who are co-founders of History Matters, a non-profit that preserves historic sites, manage to get in some travel to the places Malone does when Berry is doing research for a new novel.

In Italy on Lake Como, Malone is trying to track letters between Churchill and Mussolini. Having disappeared in 1945, these could literally change our experience of the history of that time. But as if that alone is not enough of a storyline, of course Malone is not the only one who’s on their trail.

This is all happening at the same time a conclave is in progress to elect a new pope. Kastor Cardinal Gallo, however, is off looking for a document in Malta that stretches back to the 4th Century, but are his motives pure?

The two trails will soon merge. Readers will learn the older history of the Catholic Church as well as the more recent the role of the popes during the rise of Fascism and Mussolini in Italy. The Knights of Malta play an important role and readers learn their history (they exist to this day), as one of the smallest sovereign nations in the world. All the settings are well described, readers will feel they have been there, without it ever coming across as a travelogue.

Because the story starts a day before the Conclave is about to begin, that time constraint adds to the fast pacing. There are older characters readers know, like Stephanie and Luke, but also new ones, including twin brothers. Sure to delight readers new to the series and repeaters.

Elly Griffiths: The Stranger Diaries Tuesday, Mar 5 2019 


Fans of Elly Griffiths will be delighted to read The Stranger Diaries, the stand-alone that’s an homage to gothic literature of the highest quality.

At once atmospheric and stylish, this is a mystery chock full of literary gems, a very modern mystery with echoes of the past. Clare Cassidy is a literature teacher that her daughter attends, where she teaches a class on Gothic writer RM Holland, whose papers and library are at the school, a gothic marvel of its own.

When one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from relating to an RM Holland story by her body, detectives feel Holland’s works somehow hold the key to the case. Fearful the killer is someone she knows, Clare writes about her terror and suspicions in her journal, as is her routine, until the day she sees new writing in the diary in a different hand from hers. A second point of view is that of Clare’s daughter, Georgia, at once the quintessential teen, embarassed by her mother, but hiding her own secrets.

Both of these are engaging points of view, especially as Clare has the propensity to be rather snarky at times in a delightful way, as when directed toward her ex-husband, whom we loathe and pity at the same time. It keeps her very real.

And the there’s the third point of view. The investigating detective, DS Harbinder Kaur, is one early readers have been clamoring to see more of, and we can only hope that Griffiths will allows us that hope and bring her back in another book. At once highly original, Harbinder and her unlikely background make her an instant character who could support a series of her own, if Griffiths, already writing two popular series (The Ruth Galloway and the Magic Men mysteries) has that inclination.

Holland, the subject of a book Clare keeps intending to write, and his gothic story, “The Stranger,” become part of the plot and bring Clare into the sights of Harbinder. Notice Auntie M keeps calling these characters by their first names, as that is the level of identification readers will have for them.

As the bodies start to pile up, any preconceived notions we have about all of the characters seem to slip away and the suspense becomes tighter and tighter. This is an accomplished storyteller, a lover of literature, at the top of her game. Not to be missed. Highly recommended.

Charles Cumming: The Moroccan Girl Saturday, Mar 2 2019 

What happens when an author is asked by MI6 to carry out a mission while at a Morocco literary conference?

That’s the premise behind Charles Cumming’s The Moroccan Girl, a neat twist on the spy genre.

Getting funds to someone and keeping and eye open for Lara Bartok sounds like a fairly simple mission to Kit, who likes the cloak-and-dagger aspect of it all. He’s written thrillers for years, and here’s a chance to actually participate in what until now have been fictional adventures.

In Morocco, Kit finds Bartok, only to discover that she’s the former lover of Ivan Simakov, the leader of Resurrection, a terrorist group targeting right-wing journalists and politicians. After starting as a peaceful organization designed to fight opposing political views, Resurrection quickly turned violent, brutally killing when necessary to further their cause.The Russian and American governments are only two of the signficant parties after Ivan and his group.

Kit suddenly finds himself at the center of this international mess, perhaps with more heavy espionage and danger than he first thought. And the enigmatic Lara finds Kit whipping out his best spy cloak and dagger bits as the novice soon becomes determined to save her while he saves himself.

With locales as widespread as Gibraltar and England, the easy pacing early on in this novel takes off at warp speed once it heats up.

A departure from Cumming’s Alec Milius and Thomas Kell books, this one has the amateur spy giving the feel of Cary Grant in a romantic North by Northwest.

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Reading is a wonderful adventure!

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"I tramp the perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

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Smile! Don't look back in anger.

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