Alex North: The Whisper Man Wednesday, Nov 27 2019 

The Whisper Man is Alex North’s well-plotted thriller that is disturbing yet manages to be heartfelt. If you think that is a dichotomy, read this story that manages to be deeply touching without maudlin, while it scares the hell out of you.

Tom Kennedy and his young son, Jake, are both still grieving after the sudden death of Rebecca, wife and mother. In a bid to give them both a fresh start, they move to a house that Jake likes in the small town of Featherbank.

Right on the heels of their move, Tom finds out a local boy has vanished. His disappearance has too many things in common with a string of murders of young boys from two decades ago that DI Pete Willis remembers all too well.

While Pete captured that murderer, still in prison for life, he and his younger colleague, DI Amanda Beck, try to unravel this new crime, believing the perpetrator to be an accomplice of the man Pete captured, The Whisper Man.

It’s a diabolical battle of wills between the detective and the prisoner, as the two detectives work every angle. And then Jake, a sensitive child, hears someone whispering to him.

This manages to pack a powerhouse of creepiness into its pages as the terrifying plot advances. Yet there’s an underlying thread of the way fathers and sons relate and impact each other in all of their guises that elevates the story from a simple thriller.

Not to be missed, this unnerving novel leaves its haunting presence long after the last page has been turned. Highly recommended.

Anne Cleeland: Murder in the Blood Sunday, Nov 24 2019 

Anne Cleeland’s Doyle & Acton series returns with another grand installment in the series Publisher’s Weekly praises with: “Distinctive characters compliment the finely wrought highly charged plot.”

The time the fey police sergeant Doyle and her Chief Inspector and multi-titled husband run into a nest of Spanish aristocrats with murder on their minds. As the bodies have mounted up, the person behind the murders has been difficult to pin down.

And it isn’t Doyle’s imagination that her husband, prickly and evasive at the best of times, has something on his mind. With threads of several cases adding up, Doyle fears her husband has something up his titled sleeve.

Add to that the dreams Doyle has at time, with portentous visits of spirits and even the ghost of a knight at her husband’s family home, and you have enough ingredients for a fast-paced mystery that takes the usual procedural and twists it on its head.

Doyle’s Irish accent adds a charm to her character as the new mother juggles her young son with work, overlapping cases, and the designs of her husband behind the scenes. She’s also the voice of reason to Acton, and she despises the trappings of his aristocratic heritage as much as she loves the man.

There will be a wedding and christening before Doyle has to assume yet another title at her husband’s familial estate. Being Lady Acton there is bad enough. It’s a cracking good mystery with a most unusual married pair at the helm.

Will Carver: Nothing Important Happened Today Wednesday, Nov 20 2019 

Will Carver’s Nothing Important Happened Today brings a dark and highly original thriller to the pages when nine people jump off Chelsea Bridge, leaping to their deaths at the exact same time in a mass hanging.

Thirty-two people on a train witness the incident, and two of them will soon die.

The book follows the victims and their individual stories, all very different, yet all have received a suicide note and another page with only four words typed: Nothing important happened today.

That’s the key phrase that sets off this suicide cult, notifying people they have been chosen to be part of The People of Choice, whose leader remains mysteriously silent. As the movement spreads, it suddenly has thousands of followers on social media, and the suicides start to spread across the world, too.

Detective Sergeant Pace is a man haunted by dark demons, currently seeing a police therapist to be cleared of PTSD, while determined to ignore the black flames he sees over his shoulder. He needs to find the leader as people keep dying–or before he becomes one of the cult.

It’s a race to the death as the events pile on. Auntie M found her hand gripping the edge of the book as she flipped the pages furiously near the climax.

Chilling and shocking, this is unlike any book you’ll read this year.

Con Lehane: Murder Off the Page Tuesday, Nov 19 2019 

Lehane’s 42nd Street Library series feature the curator of the crime fiction archive-turned-sleuth Ray Ambler. Along with his colleague, Adele, whom he shares a cloudy relationship, his favorite bartender, McNulty, and detective friend, Mike Cosgrove, also return.

An attractive researcher has been using the archives of author Jane Galloway. Ray decides Shannon Darling not the usual scholar, a theory firmed up when he sees her with McNulty as he and Adele share a drink at the popular Library Tavern.

His curiosity blows up when a security man is murdered in Shannon’s room and she disappears, along with McNulty. With the spotlight falling on McNulty, the woman’s real identity is soon confirmed. She’s a married Connecticut physician who has a young daughter.

So why is she with McNulty? And why are they on the run from the law?

Believing his friend hasn’t murdered anyone thrusts Ray and even Adele into the investigation. Soon Shannon’s lifestyle choices turn up a slew of suspects that Cosgrove must whittle down, while Ray follows his own threads.

There will be more deaths, a missing professor, and even a parrot as the story unfolds and Ray tests the bounds of friendship to solve the mystery surrounding the deaths.

The personal life of Ray and his grandson Johnny fills out the complicated life of this archivist. Ray’s emotional reticence grinds his relationships into a layer of frustration he carries around, as he does the guilt he feels at not being a better father to Johnny’s dad, his own son. These counterpoints, plus a domineering grandmother Ray shares Johnny’s custody with, add a nice texture to the life illustrated on the streets of New York.

Stephen Booth: Drowned Lives Sunday, Nov 17 2019 

Stephen Booth’s long-running Cooper and Fry series is a consistent winner, so Auntie M was interested when she heard the news that he had written a standalone, Drowned Lives.

One of the hallmarks of his Peak District series is the strength of his familiarity with his Derbyshire setting and the descriptions and history of the area that imbue the novels. She’s happy to note that he brings this same strong sense of setting and its history to Drowned Lives in the canals surrounding Lichfield.

Chris Buckley is an odd duck with few friends and no remaining family, depressed after the deaths of both parents close to each other, with his council job hanging in the balance and a new business venture bringing him to the brink of financial chaos.

He’s moved into the family home he inherited and is trying to break back into his freelance journalism career, writing articles and taking his own photographs of the project underway to recreate part of the canal waterway in the Staffordshire countryside that has been buried for decades.

He’s working on one of these articles when a member of the work party brings him to meet an old gentleman who’s come to see him. Samuel Longden hints at knowing Chris’s family, claims to be an old family friend of his grandfather particularly, and is disappointed that Chris has no knowledge of him.

But Samuel challenges Chris with tidbits of family history he parses out, trying to enlist Chris to tell a story he’s begun, and urges him to help heal a rift in the Buckley family. Frustrated by the man’s guile, Chris is on the point of refusing and fails to meet Longden for an appointment, when tragedy strikes.

Samuel is murdered and his only daughter refuses to talk to Chris, but Samuel had one more trick up his sleeve from the grave: he’s left Chris his beginning manuscript of the Buckley family of canal engineers and workers, with notes and letters.

This will reluctantly thrust Chris into an investigation not only of Samuel’s murder but of the history that reaches back into the 1800s. He enlists his neighbor, Rachel, a librarian with research, and a mysterious woman who suddenly appears and offers to help.

It’s a twisted tale as more and more facts emerge but one thing is certain: Chris has put himself in jeopardy and he can’t figure out why.

A tale of secrets that transcend years and affect family histories, Booth’s language has a gothic feel that adds to the dark atmosphere in this novel from a writer The Guardian calls “A modern master.”

SJI Holliday: Violet Thursday, Nov 14 2019 

SJI Holliday’s Violet is psychological thriller that revolves around two English women who meet in a foreign country and decide to travel together.

Violet has broken up with her boyfriend in Thailand and needs a ticket to leave to travel to Russia. Carrie has come on her around-the-world trip alone, after her best friend’s accident means she’s back home in a cast.

Traveling alone has lost its glamour for Carrie, and when the two women meet at a hotel in Beijing, Carrie invites Violet to use her friend’s ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express.

The women travel through Mongolia to find their way into Russia, having adventures fueled by alcohol and drugs and something more as they become closer to each other and the intensity of their relationship changes.

But which one is the master of manipulation when things spiral out of control?
And spiral out they do, until the reader can’t see how either of the women can survive.

Holliday brings the various exotic places the women visit to life in a way that drops the reader into the midst of their journey. You’ll feel you’ve been to these exotic places, but maybe not traveling the way you personally would choose to.

A cautionary tale about trusting strangers, and perhaps not even trusting the people you love.

Will Thomas: Lethal Pursuit Tuesday, Nov 12 2019 

Will Thomas returns with his Barker and Llewelyn series in Lethal Pursuit. The enquiry agents, whose chambers are in the shadow of Whitehall, have risen to annoy most of the higher-ups in government and Scotland Yard, yet continue to solve the most recalcitrant cases.

A Foreign Office agent has fled home to England carrying an important satchel from Eastern Europe, but murdered soon after arriving. With tensions rising between Germany and England, it’s imperative that the contents are kept out of German hands.

When no less than the Prime Minister gives them a simple assignment, newlywed Llewelyn, now a partner, can’t understand why Barker is taking his time to carry out the easy charge: deliver the satchel to Calais into the hands of a waiting monsignor from the Vatican.

Just what the satchel holds is unclear, but it’s rare and ancient, from the first century. Soon there are personal agents, secret societies, and political groups all vying to retrieve the satchel and its contents, and all putting Barker and Llewelyn at serious risk. And this time, Llewelyn has a bride waiting for him at home.

With his research nailing the details of the Victorian era, from the clothing and social manners to crimes and politics, Thomas delivers a satisfying read that advances both the characters and the times.

Louise Candlish: Those People Monday, Nov 11 2019 

Auntie M was blown away by last year’s Our House, which won Louise Candlish the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the Briish Book Awards and was long listed for 2019 Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year. She hurriedly ordered Candlish’s new Those People, just as strong a read in the domestic thriller genre.

Readers are introduced to the residents of Lowland Way, a London suburb of burgeoning worth where cars are moved off the street on Sundays for the children to play. It’s kind of the neighborhood where the adults look out for each other, and we are introduced to many of them when a new couple buy one half of the house on the corner.

Darren and Jodie are vastly different from the other residents. He quickly sets up a used car business on the corner property and begins dramatic renovations on the house, doing the work himself and using whining electric tools from early in the morning throughout the day. When he’s not using power tools, he’s playing music so loudly that the couple in the attached house next door are forced to buy hearing protection for their infant son. And the cars become a huge issue as “Play Out Sunday,” which once won an urban spaces award, becomes a tug of war on the street with serious consequences.

Things soon spiral out of control as the neighborhood rules are not only NOT followed, they’re distinctly flaunted. The local council has a long-winded process for complaints, which seem mostly ineffective, and Darren continues his marauding, while the other residents form a tighter and tighter group of us vs them.

It’s a situation destined to spiral out of control and it soon does with devastating effects.

Candlish tells the story from the viewpoint of the neighbors living closest to Darren and Jodie, and all vary in circumstance and personality, but one thing unites them: their love for their street and their animus against the new couple who won’t conform.

Interspersed with police interviews, the once-united neighbors soon delve to their dark sides, revealed to the reader as things deteriorate and the already fraught pace ramps up.

The observations of the varied temperaments of the residents contrast as the tension escalates; Candlish adds several surprising twists as the darkness grows and spirals down until there’s nothing funny at all about Lowland Way.

Catriona McPherson: Strangers at the Gate Sunday, Nov 10 2019 

Catriona McPherson’s complicated plot for Strangers at the Gate will make perfect sense as readers near the end of the book, but in such a surprising way that readers will have as much confusion at times as the protagonist, Finn.

When she and her husband, Paddy, move to the small town of Simmerton, it seems to be the perfect chance for the young couple to move their professions forward. Paddy has been offered a partnership in a law firm; Finn’s slot as a deacon at a local church is full time.

The move comes with the rental of the gate house of the wealthy landowner, an almost perfect situation. Lovatt Dudgeon and his wife seem like the perfect neighbors, and as it’s his law firm Paddy will work in, Finn is relieved that she finds she quite likes his wife, Tuft. The older woman’s wit and affability impress Finn and start to dash away the odd feelings she experienced, until a bloody murder changes everything, and Finn and Paddy make choices they soon regret.
Soon the couple find they’ve each kept back information the other should have had; and as their secrets become compounded, things spiral out of control.
Events of the past run together with the present in a stunning climax that stands everything on its head.

McPherson draws fine characters, down to Finn and Paddy’s families and the local neighbors. The dark and gloomy setting only adds to the gothic feel of the novel.
Mix in the plot that twists back on itself, and readers will have no choice but to stay up late to find the resolution. With a strong atmosphere, this rather creepy yet clever mystery is perfect for Rebecca fans, or those who loved Elly Griffiths’ The Stranger Diaries.

Peter Lovesey: Killing with Confetti Friday, Nov 8 2019 

Peter Lovesey’s Peter Diamond series, set in Bath, brings the detective with his out challenging case yet in Killing with Confetti. Louise Penny calls Lovesey “a masterful plotter” with all good reason.

The son of Bath’s Deputy Chief Constable, George Brace, presents Diamond with an unusual problem. His son, Ben, is marrying a lovely girl, Caroline Irving, but there’s a major hitch: Caroline’s father is the notorious and wealthy criminal Joe Irving, a gang leader who will be released from his latest prison term just in time to walk the bride up the aisle to her groom.

What this means for Diamond is that Brace puts him in charge of Irving’s security. It’s no secret Irving has enemies and many rival gangs who would be happy for a chance to take him out. With the elaborate wedding set at Bath’s Abbey and a reception at the Roman baths that evening, Diamond must see that the father of the bride remains alive throughout the day.

His role as secret agent not a comfortable one, Diamond is uncomfortably armed, and draws on his team to help him watch Irvings’ back, while he tries all day and evening to keep Irving in his sights, despite the parents, photographers, and bridesmaids he encounters.

This is vintage Lovesey, a case Diamond takes on sufferance and executes flawlessly, although at times it won’t seem that there’s a good end in sight. Another from the master of mystery who’s received Lifetime Achievement Awards in both the US and the UK.

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Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

Being Author

An online writing community

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.

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