Elly Griffiths: The Stone Circle Tuesday, May 7 2019 


Elly Griffith’s returns with her eleventh Dr Ruth Galloway mystery, The Stone Circle. For readers waiting anxiously for plot threads from the two previous books, some questions will be answered, but many interesting things raised in this knockout addition to the series that Val McDermid calls “One of my favourite current series.”

Readers return to the Saltmarsh that started the series off, when Ruth uncovers the bones of a young girl in a henge, or stone circle, not far from the original one in The Crossing Places. At the same time, DCI Nelson, her daughter’s father, receives an anonymous letter that highly resembles those he received during that first case.

But the writer of those first letters is dead. So who is writing this new set, and how are they connected to a decades-old cold case of a missing girl presumed dead?

When a new death occurs, all possible suspects will be scrutinized, and as things heat up in the case for Nelson, he makes a difficult personal decision, while Ruth, for the first time, considers making changes in her daily life.

Griffith’s has always had Ruth’s engaging voice contain the wry humor of someone we wish we could be friends with–a pragmatist who eschews much of the romanticism others covet, yet she yearns for something else in her life. Kate, the daughter she shares with Nelson, provides a continuing link besides their cases, and gives a counterpoint to the cases they investigate.

This series is one many writers list among their favorites, with good reason. Readers anxiously await the next installment of each book for the tight plots as much as the network of characters they have come to love and follow. With her strong sense of setting as the backdrop, the riveting plot and original characters make this an easy one to call “highly recommended.”

Angie Kim: Miracle Creek Monday, May 6 2019 


It’s tough to believe Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is her first novel, as the legal thriller is so well done, but Kim’s trial attorney experience has been put to good use in making readers feel they are residing in the courtroom and heightens the suspense.

The premise revolved around the “miracle submarine” of early hyperbaric chambers. Miracle Creek, Virginia is a small rural town and the Yoos operate their miracle submarine in their backyard. There are different uses and different people using the device when an explosion occurs and the tragedy affects so many people.

The medical issues that drive people to use a hyperbaric chamber are thoroughly discussed but never boring, and bring hope to so many. So the question revolves around who would set this fire and why?

Told from multiple points of view, this is as much a haunting character study as it is a courtroom drama when one of the parents, Elizabeth, whose autistic son was using the chamber, is put on trial for murder when her child and another adult die in the fire, not to mention severe injuried to others.

There is the family drama here, plus the wonderful courtroom scenes, and also the underlying mystery of what really happened that day. There is the cultural situation of the Korean family, too, and the story is heightened by the way Kim chooses to have her characters tell it.

This is an accomplished debut by a writer who must have more stories to tell that we’ll be reading.

Nicola Upson: Stanley and Elsie Thursday, May 2 2019 


In a departure from her Josephine Tey crime series (London Rain, Nine Lessons), Nicola Upson beguiles readers with a stand-alone with her trademark historical realism in the compelling story of Stanley and Elsie.

Stanley Spencer is an artist, as is his wife, Hilda Carline. Elsie Munday is the housemaid they hire soon after the birth of their first daughter, Shirin. Living in rural Burghclere after the First World War for Stanley to work on the vast commission that will be Sandham Memorial Chapel, we see their marriage through the lens of Elsie’s eyes, as well as their artistic temperaments. The chapel’s many paintings represent the war through Stanley’s eyes, a series that recreates moments of redemptive camp life mixed with the trauma he experienced.

Elsie quickly learns Stanley is charming but stubborn, and as she and Hilda bond, so do Elsie and Stanley over his art as he explains it to her. His yearning to return to his hometown of Cookham, with Hilda missing her own home in Hampstead, is only one of the many hurdles the couple will face in the strong light of Stanley’s obsessions.

Elsie’s keen observations form an important part of the book; so does Stanley’s capacity for genius and torment. There are themes of unity and of what is sacred that run throughout the novel, while the harsh reality of what really happened between the couple cannot be denied. Yet their art is something that had control over them both at times, and after finishing the book, Auntie M was driven to research the images that haunted them both.

This look at two tortured souls, one trying to heal the wounds of war through his art, the other trying to prove her love over and over, is captivating reading as Upson beautifully renders the period after the war in her elegant prose. Highly recommended.

Death at the Dakota: Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries 2 Wednesday, May 1 2019 

Auntie M is happy to announce that her second Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery. DEATH AT THE DAKOTA, is out and availabLe on Amazon.com in trade paperback and soon to be in Kindle. Coming in Audible later this summer, too, read by the wonderful Lucinda Gainey, Dakota is already garnering 5-Star reviews.

Part procedural, part cozy, Death at the Dakota is a well-crafted and highly entertaining mystery.- Bruce Robert Coffin, #1 bestselling author of the Detective Byron mysteries.

Nurse Trudy Genova is making plans to take her relationship to NYPD detective Ned O’Malley to the next level, when she lands a gig as medical consultant on a film shoot at the famed Dakota apartment building in Manhattan, which John Lennon once called home. Then star Monica Kiley goes missing, a cast member turns up dead, and it appears Trudy might be next. Meanwhile Ned tackles a mysterious murder case in which the victim is burned beyond recognition. When his investigations lead him back to the Dakota, Trudy finds herself wondering: how can she fall in love if she can’t even survive?

Readers of Death Unscripted, the first book in the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery series, will find the same pleasures in this sequel: fast pacing, engaging characters, twists and turns on the way to a satisfying close. Once again M.K. Graff reveals her talents in crafting this delightful mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural.

I fell in love — not only with co-protagonists, Trudy and Ned, the richly detailed and historic setting of The Dakota, and the unique cast of characters, but with the unusual plot of Death at the Dakota. Sherry Harris, Agatha Award nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries.

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Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction

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