Kate Rhodes Day: Fatal Harmony and Ruin Beach Thursday, Aug 29 2019 

Auntie M is a huge fan of UK author Kate Rhodes, with her longer-running Alice Quentin series and now her second, set on the Isles of Scilly. Here are one in each for your reading pleasure to seek out, with great reading ahead of you~each of these is rated Highly Recommended.


The sixth suspense thriller featuring forensic psychologist Alice Quentin, Fatal Harmony has a premise that strikes too close to home for Alice.

Adrian Stone is a psychotic narcissist who’s been in Rampton’s high security unit for nine years. A child prodigy in music, piano his specialty, Adrian’s goal was to be the world’s most famous and adulated pianist that London’s Royal College of Music had seen. But the rearing of his tendencies coupled with misgivings of several of the faculty found his parents sending him to school. His response was to murder both parents and his older sister, resulting in his incarcertion.

But Adrian has escaped, and the ruthless killer has two concrete goals. He must follow his musical path, but he also wants to kill those who took part in taking him out of the music college. A master of changing his appearance, when the bodies begin to pile up, Alice is brought in to consult on the case.

But Alice knows Adrian from early on, and soon realizes her name is on his list. Now the case not only becomes one of stopping Adrian from killing more, but of protecting her own life. And as he’s on the run but compelled to perform, Adrian has picked up a young, naive girl to aid him in his cover.

Alice’s boyfriend, DI Don Burns, is on the case, and with their relationship running alongside the tense investigation, there will be a twist there readers won’t see coming.

This is filled with the history of music that London contains, from Mozart and Handel to the Royal College for Music, from Queen Victoria to the Albert Hall, only one of the many edifices the grieving queen created in her husband’s memory. Rhodes takes readers inside them all while hunting a mad genius.

Ruin Beach is the second mystery featuring the Scilly Isles’ Deputy Police Chief, Ben Kitto, a native from the area who’s returned home. Introduced in Hell Bay, Kitto’s youth spent on the isolated islands make them a vastly different area to police from his days in London’s murder squad.

Rhodes thoughtfully provides a map of each island featured in the stories, more helpful than she might realize, that helps readers follow Ben’s investigation when an experienced diver, Jude Trellon, is found on the rocks of a cave on the island of Tresco.

Once it’s established this wasn’t an accident, Ben has the difficult task of questioning her family. Her partner has isolated himself with their little girl, but whether out of grief or because he’s hiding something remains to be seen. Jude’s brother and parents are also struggling with her loss, yet each has secrets they are keeping.

Small, enclosed communities like those on these islands often close off when questioned, as Ben finds to his chagrin. Stories are half told; details are kept from him. It’s frustrating as he means to find out the truth about who would have wanted Jude dead, and why.

But his knowledge of the islands also gives him an edge that he will use to figure out why Jude Trellon needed to die.

A compelling series that’s very different from the Alice Quentin’s, yet just as intriguing. What the two have in common is a strong sense of setting, though each of those is vastly different, coupled with compelling and vivid characters. Toss in great storylines and you have a recipe for great reading.

Louise Penny: A Better Man Tuesday, Aug 27 2019 

It’s no secret Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series is a favorite of Auntie M’s with good reason: she manages to write a different complex mystery with every novel while entertwining the strengths and weaknesses of the human spirit.

With A Better Man, she brings Gamache back to where he began, as head of the homicide department. For a short time, until he moves to start his new job, he will share this job with his son-in-law Jean-Guy Beauvoir, his daughter Annie’s husband.

It could be an awkward time, with the boss taking orders from his former right-hand man, but Gamache is determined to make it work, even as flood waters rise in the province of Quebec and threaten dams, bridges, lives.

Adding to the tension are social media slights that thrust Gamache into the limelight and gossip he loathes, and threaten his ability to do his job, any job.

Then a father begs Gamache to find his daughter. Married to an abusive husband, Vivienne Godin was to meet with her father and never showed up. Knowing he should leave her search until after the flood waters recede, Gamache understands and feels the need of this father to find his daughter.

But at what cost? And how will Gamache handle the cruel things being said about him?

With her usual strong plotting, the characters we’ve grown to love of Three Pines buttress this fine addition to the series. Penny is a master of balancing the dark and the light, and always manages to move this reader–multiple times. Highly recommended.

Julia Keller: The Cold Way Home Thursday, Aug 22 2019 

Keller’s returns with Bell Elkins in The Cold Way Home, and proves that the stories of Bell and her compatriots are still compelling even though their individual situations have vastly changed over the arc of the series.

Family is at the heart of this one, pride in one, what makes up one, and what we will do for ours. One of the strengths of this series is the realistic characters of rural West Virginia and Acker’s Gap, Bell’s hometown.

The former prosecutor is now a private investigator, helped by two other friends and compatriots: Nick Fogelsong and Jake Oakes, former sheriff and deputy respectively. There’s a missing girl they need to find, but there’s also a murder, with the body found on the burned-out grounds of a former psychiatric hospital.

Wellwood had a notoriety even before it burned to the ground, which is where the body of Darla Gilley, sister of Nick’s best friend, Joe, is found. These woods are where Bell and her sister Shirley played as children, and she knows them well, down to the nickname for a twisted tree.

Trying to find the root of the murder of Darla means going through all of her connections in town. It also means looking into the death of her grandmother, a former employee of Wellwood when it was functioning. Is it too much to believe there’s no coincidence between both murdered bodies being found at Wellwood?

While just a burned out shell now, the ghosts or Wellwood hang over the story and inhabit the investigation. And help will come to Bell from an unlikely source.

One of the best in a strong series, this could easily be read as a stand-alone if you aren’t already a fan of Bell Elkins and her crew.

AB Jewell: The Man Who Wouldn’t Die Wednesday, Aug 21 2019 

Welcome to the not-too-distant future of Silicon Valley, in AB Jewell’s satirical mystery, The Man Who Wouldn’t Die.

Picture Silicon Noir, a world of SnipChat, Starbacks, and the Video Game Olympic Training Center. It’s a place where being fast is a virtue and greed is the name of the game.

William Fitzgerald, former ATF agent, prefers Fitch, and his PI agency takes on the usual cases. Until the day a wealthy woman asks him to take on his most unusual case yet: she claims her father, Captain Don Donogue, sent her a tweep saying he was murdered. But he’s already been dead for two weeks…

There’s a black box involved, a host of nasty characters, and someone keeps trying to kill Fitch, who appears to be the only sane person in the Valley. And what of this woman who claims her father is communicating from the beyond? Does she have any brain cells besides money?

There will be car chases, kidnapping, murders, and all kinds of the usual things you’d find in Raymond Chandler, but set in a future where couples get on waiting lists for kindergarten as soon as they freeze their eggs.

Filled with wry humor, this clever plot spins the hardboiled detective mystery into high tech with a huge aside on tech dependency. Creative and original.

Donna Andrews: Terns of Endearment Sunday, Aug 18 2019 


Donna Andrews bring Meg Langlsow back in the 25th of the popular series with Terns of Endearment.

Filled with charming characters and brisk wit, Meg’s grandfather has a new gig: the naturalist been booked to give lectures on a cruise to Bermuda, and he’s grandly invited his family to join him. Only anything that could go wrong does, in short order.

When the cruise ship breaks down of course it’s in the Bermuda Triangle, but Meg and her fammily rise bravely to provide entertainment and keep the passengers occupied. That’s where the tern comes in, being cared for on the boat.

But when a woman jumps overboard, the note she leaves behind raises more questions than it answers. A former member of a writing group there on retreat after one of their members was driven to suicide, Desiree St. Christophe was not a favored person. She jumped leaving not only the note and her shawl, but a pair of pricey Christian Louboutin shoes.

Soon there’s dissention in the ranks of those who knew Desiree, divided on whether she would commit suicide. And when Grandfather’s assistant, Trevor, also goes missing, answers need to be found before the ship is repaired and they return to shore, losing all of their prime suspects.

Meg is the family’s glue and sometimes the voice of reason, too. The boat’s staff are unfazed and underwhelmed. And then a body is found.

A nicely twisted plot to herald the new setting on this 25th in a strong series.

Lauren North: The Perfect Son Saturday, Aug 17 2019 

Lauren North will startle readers with her new psychological suspense thriller, The Perfect Son. This debut packs a wallop, making North a writer to watch.

Tess Clarke wakes up in the hospital after being stabbed, yet her only concern is for her missing son. Readers learn what led up to this event, and why she mistrusts Shelley, the grief counselor who’d become her friend.

Tess has been moving through the sludge of grief after the shocking death of her husband. Caring for son Jamie alone, trying to find a new rhythm to her days, she comes to depend on the friendship of the grief counselor her mother recommended. Even Jaime likes Shelley, a good thing, surely. But does Shelley have an ulterior motive?

Missing Mark terribly, his brother Ian can’t stop harrassing Tess for money he insists Mark borrowed that he needs repaid immediately. Tess can’t find any record of this supposed loan. Was Mark keeping secrets from her? Or is Ian lying?

With Tess’s world coming apart at the seams, she can’t trust anyone. And who could blame her? Soon she’s convinced the very people she should be able to trust are the ones she should be afraid of. Is she being paranoid, or careful?

With the sense of isolation Tess feels apparent on every page, North’s story lurches from unknown to unknown, while all the time there is a searing truth hiding just out of sight.

A skillful debut that ends with a resounding twist, that then turns back on itself. Worth every moment of lost sleep.

Theodore Carter: Stealing the Scream Wednesday, Aug 14 2019 

Theodore Carter takes art theft to new heights with a creative plot an a host of highly original characters in Stealing the Scream.

Inspired by the 2004 theft from an Oslo museum of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” Carter offers a fictional version of what led to that theft by introducing a most unusual character to lead.

Percival Davenport has decided to retire. He has more money than he can spend, and tired of the whole corporate world, he moves house to London to explore art and study painting, which he does with a vengence while mastering different schools of art.

He brings his house manager, Lucinda, an attractive woman who keeps him sane, and his personal cook and sets off on an adventure that will have readers smiling at the same time they admire Percival’s schemes.

For scheming is what Percival comes up with, and he carries his idea off with panache and with the help of someone he pays well to carry out his ideas. Only Leonard, a security guard at the Smithsonian’s National Gallery, figures out what Percival is up to.

With a startling climax, readers will be amused by Percival’s antics, the museum bureaucrats who pepper the plot, and the way Carter wraps it all up.

Joshilyn Jackson: Never Have I Ever Tuesday, Aug 13 2019 

Never Have I Ever, the old party game, takes on a sinister meaning in Joshilyn Jackson’s new thriller.

Hiding an old secret, Amy Whey has a husband, baby and step-daughter she adores. Giving diving lessons soothes her and keeps her past compartmentalized. She has a circle of local friends who participate in a book club, run by best friend Charlotte, held at Amy’s larger home as the group has expanded.

When a renting neighbor shows up unexpectedly, everything changes in that evening. Roux is charming but has an unsettling quality that both beguiles Amy yet puts her on high alert. It’s her idea to pour the drinks more liberally and entice the women into playing “The Game.”

Roux’s ulterior motive is to blackmail Amy over the secret she knows. It will take all of Amy’s wits to challenge Roux and beat her at the game she’s playing that will ruin Amy’s life, one she’s yearned for, one she’s finally built.
And in order to do that, she must find out just what secrets Roux is keeping——because we all have secrets.

Visual and with building suspense, Jackson keeps this cat-and-mouse game between the two women on high tension as the secrets of both women’s pasts come back to haunt them. Who will be the victor? Because betrayal is rife on both sides, yet love is, too.

A complex character dissection with startling results.

Elizabeth J. Duncan: The Marmalade Murders Sunday, Aug 11 2019 


Elizabeth Duncan’s Penny Brannigan series, set in Wales, brings the amateur sleuth and spa owner a new mystery in The Marmalade Murders.

It’s time for the annual agricultures how in Llanelen, and while there are plenty of animals, there are also the goodies on display to be judged, from veggies, fruits and flowers, to the talents of baked good, jame and jellies, and even chutneys.

Falling under the “domestic arts” banner, the homemade goodies need to be logged in and assigned a number for judging, which is where Penny comes in. Asked to help sign in the entries the night before the big event, she’s also a judge for the children’s pet competition the next day.

But when the family of the president of the local woman’s group isn’t there to cheer her granddaughter on, her body turns up under the cake table. And Penny soon finds herself involved in finding the killer.

Penny follows the clues she’s given and digs out more herself as she figures things out, leaping from idea to idea. She refuses to believe a transgender woman new to town is the culprit, even when a second body turns up. Several secondary subplots add to the complexity and confuse the murder issue for Penny and readers alike.

Duncan mixes twists and intrigue with small town people, recognizable the world over, and throws in interest with her character-driven plot. There are plenty of local details in the idyllic setting, which makes Auntie M want to get to Wales soon, too. This award-winning author keeps her readers satisfied with a clever mystery and its solution in a delightful setting.

Hallie Ephron: Careful What You Wish For Friday, Aug 9 2019 


Five-time Mary Higgins Clark finalist Hallie Ephron returns with a new mystery that’s as timely as it is realistic in Careful What You Wish For.

With the influence of Marie Kondo and her little organization book and show, it’s no small surprise that people everywhere are putting more tidying in their lives. Emily Harlow has a natural bent for that, just short of OCD, and with a partner, Becca Jain, has started a business the two women call Freeze-Frame Clutter Kickers.

One caveat they use is: the client is only allowed to declutter his or her own crap. She’s learned that the hard way, keeping her marriage to a hoarder-collector lawyer by following this rule of thumb.

Emily uses videos of her own decluttering to attract new clients, and she’s in the middle of her closet reorganization when she needs to meet Becca to see a new client, an elderly woman who’s husband has died and left her a storage unit to sort through. The contents have Emily on instantly on alert.

And then her husband’s partner brings them a new client: a much-younger wife whose new husband, a pack rat, hasn’t allowed her to bring her own things from the garage into his house. Quinn Newell has decided to dump the lot and be done with it, but brings out the prosecco on her way to show Emily the garage, and soon both women has had a bit too much bubbly and are giggling about losing their hoarding husbands——for good.

It’s a line Emily never crosses, blurring professional and personal relationships, but she figures it couldn’t really hurt——until it does, in ways unexpected and dangerous.

Soon Emily is trying to figure out who to believe, and who’s exactly whose mess she needs to be clearing out. With several surprising turns, this has a nicely twisted plot and a likeable main character. Ephron adds a touch of sly humor that makes this a refreshing and enjoyable read.

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Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

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Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

Welcome to Leeward

Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp the perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

The Wickeds

Wicked Good Mysteries

John Bainbridge Writer

Indie Writer and Publisher

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Gaslight Crime

Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews