David Rosenfelt: Muzzled Thursday, Jul 30 2020 

David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter Mysteries returns with his newest, Muzzled.

Andy is the consummate dog lover, which mirrors Rosenfelt, and like his creator, the funds and brains behind a rescue organization, the Tara Foundation. He’s also a retired lawyer but is not retired enough, often taking on cases that fall into his lap for one reason or another.

In this case, it’s his friend Beth Morris who gets him involved with a new request: she’s caring for a lab named Lucy, whose owner was a murder victim, a man who perished on his boat along with two others when it was blown up.
Only thing is, said victim contacted Beth to say he wants to come and pick up his dog.

After confirming Alex Vogel is indeed the dog’s owner, and more importantly, still alive, Andy finds himself listening to Vogel’s explanation that his life was in danger, and he disappeared to figure out what was going on.

Soon Andy, with the encouragement of his wife, Laurie, his chief investigator, finds himself involved against his will in defending Vogel of the murder of the two men who were on his boat when it exploded.

He reasons a man who loves his dog enough to come out of hiding to find her couldn’t be a murderer. Right? Unfortunately, the police don’t see it that way when evidence mounts up against Vogel.

As they prepare for trial, it soon becomes clear to Andy and his team that the only way to clear Vogel is to track down the real killer.

A treat for dog lovers, courtroom thrillers, or mystery fans, Muzzled is another treat for those who enjoy a dose of humor with their crime.

Anne Cleeland: The Spanish Mask Monday, Jul 27 2020 

Anne Cleeland turns from her modern Doyle and Acton series, set in London, to the seventh in her Regency series, The Spanish Mask, set in the Spanish countryside.

The time period is during the aftermath of the Napoleanic War, and beautiful Elena is a postulant at an Andalusian convent. She takes care of her ward, Eduardo, a young lad trusted to her care. When Frenchmen come to the convent, she hides Eduardo in the orchard she loves, only to be found by a band of others led by a British commander.

There is Spanish treasure, relics from the royal family, and Elena knows where it is hidden. Money and other valuable items abound, as does a Spanish mask, encrusted with precious jewels. This information must be withheld from everyone, even those she begins to trust.

Elena soon find herself traveling with Lord Raike, who mistakenly believe her to be a survivor of the royal family. But the chemistry between Elena and the British leader crackles, and adds to the delicious tension. Avoiding those who would kill them takes skill and the help of others along their route.

As they traipse the countryside, with Elena all the while explaining she is not the missing royal but knows where she is, the attraction between the English lord and the young postulant grows, as does the danger.

There will be switches in allegiance, battles, stolen identities, and intrigue galore before the truth is revealed.

An action-with-romance delight, with a mystery at its heart.

Ellison Cooper: Cut to the Bone Thursday, Jul 23 2020 

Ellison Cooper’s Sayer Altair series calls on her own experience with neuroscience, as a murder investigator, and as a certified K9 Searach and Rescue Federal Disaster worker to inform the series with a high degree of authenticity.

She returns with the third in the series, Cut to the Bone, an original story with the kind of didn’t-see-it-coming twists that will startle readers.

Sayer is still grieving for her dead fiance’and building her reputation with her work into the minds of serial killers for the FBI, as she builds her little untraditional family in Washington DC and its environs.

When she’s called to the scene of young girl’s body, left inside a circle of baboons by the Einstein Memorial outside the National Academy of Sciences.

It isn’t long before Sayer and her team, with several returning and interesting characters, learn that just hours before, the victim was one student on a bus filled with twenty-four high school STEM students.

Within the first hour that bus left DC, the bus, driver, chaperone and all of the students have completely disappeared. And then a grisly discovery leads to an all-out manhunt for the sick person who had engineered this tragedy.

But hope survives for some of the students, and Sayer finds herself thwarted at every turn as she tries to find the psychotic person with a fixation on Egyptology who is behind this.

But when she finds out who it is and how that has happened, her world will be turned upside down once again.

Cooper has created realistic characters who gain our attention and empathy. The setting brings DC and its neighborhoods to life. All of this is wrapped within a chilling tale of false leads, laced with real science, to create a story with fast pacing and a race against time.

Alexandra Burt: Shadow Garden Tuesday, Jul 21 2020 

Alexandra Burt brings a different kind of psychological thriller to the page with Shadow Garden.

She tells the story of the Pryor family and the glossy, extravagant life they live.

There’s plastic surgeon Edward, whose hands build the family’s wealth; mother Donna, whose obsessive love for their only child, Penelope, allows her oversee her dysfunction while she looks for new ways to spend Edward’s money; and Penelope, who has managed to get away with more than any young woman should by the time she’s grown.

It’s a study in family dynamics when Donna finds herself ensconced in a beautiful condo with a housekeeper after a fall that has broken her hip. She gets her therapy as her hip heals. But where is Edward, and most of all, why hasn’t Donna heard from Penelope recently?

Donna is befriended by a woman who keeps a journal, but soon becomes suspicious of everyone around here. Who is really on her side? Who can she trust?

A character study with a twist, Shadow Garden shows what can happen when a family will go to any lengths to keep their secrets from the outside world.

Margaret Murphy: Before He Kills Again Thursday, Jul 16 2020 


Margaret Murphy has a strong history in writing chilling psychological novels. Known for the Clara Pascal, and Rickman and Foster series, Murphy has also written as AD Garrett, and with a partner as Ashley Dyer. All of her books feature realistic characters and chilling plots that will have readers leaving the lights on long after they should have been asleep.

Now she brings DC Cassie Rowan to the page in a complex psychological novel that is tightly woven in Before He Kills Again.

Starting from its powerful opening, readers will be hooked immediately with the powerful image Murphy creates.

There’s a sadist on the loose named the Furman, who targets prostitutes and pretty young woman, terrorizing them then raping and beating them before leaving the victims to be found. DC Cassie Rowan spends her evenings undercover, trying to get picked up by this maniac.

And one night she almost succeeds in catching him, where it not for the incompetence of two of her team members. All the while, she juggles being the responsible adult for her teenaged brother after the death of their parents.

Then someone who’s become a friend is savaged by the Furman. Frustrated, Cassie becomes even more determined to bring this maniac to justice, despite at times feeling sabotaged by her own team.

Alan Palmer is a psychologist with his own fraught home situation. Separated from his wife, trying to mend fences to have access to his young daughter, he has private and NHS patients he’s trying to help, but one in particular has caught his attention. Could this young man be the Furman?

Then someone dies, and all bets are off for Rowan and Palmer, all the while bringing the danger closer to home than they would like to believe. The incidents ratchet up in intensity; someone is losing it, and Cassie and Alan are at the heart of it all.

How these two professionals lives intersect forms the basis for a quick-paced psychological thriller, part police-procedural, all parts skillfully written, that heralds the start of a complex new series from this accomplished author.

Highly Recommended.

Jo Spain: Six Wicked Reasons Sunday, Jul 12 2020 

Jo Spain’s Six Wicked Reasons is a wonderful study in characters so vividly drawn, readers will feel they’ve come to know the Lattimer family.

Six siblings have varied stories, and all of their stories of this dysfunctional family will become known: sisters Ellen, Kate and Clio; brothers James, Adam, and Ryan.

The thing that unites them is the treatment each has endured from their father, Frazer Lattimer. While seeking his approval, wanting his love, each has experienced the depths he would sink to with his own children. Each has suffered at some point, been the butt of his humiliation, or worse. Each has reached a breaking point.

Ten years ago Adam disappeared and was presumed dead, which led to Kathleen Lattimer’s early death. Since then the other siblings have been absent from the family home, in Dublin, France, Italy. Youngest daughter, Clio, has spent the last four years in New York.

Then Adam suddenly returns. His sibling are called to the family home by their father for a reunion weekend in Spanish Cover that Frazer orchestrates with surprises for all of his children.

The weekend culminates with a party aboard a yacht with an ultimate surprise but a huge one for Frazer, too. Nine people are aboard, but only eight will return.

An excellent read, atmospheric and chilling, where every character has a strong motive for murder. Highly recommended.

Mark Billingham: The Killing Habit; Their Little Secrets Wednesday, Jul 8 2020 

For some reason, Mark Billingham’s last two Tom Thorne novels didn’t make it to Auntie M’s To Be Read shelf, but she’s bought them herself to catch up.

The Killing Habit bring Thorne at first into the world where pets are being killed. A classic sign of a psychopath in the making, his goal is to find the culprit before his crimes can escalate.

To that end, he enlists DI Nicola Tanner, a welcome addition to the series. With her own quirks and the secret that binds them together, she’s working her own murder, a shooting by a motorcyclist that has drugs at its heart.

When the two find a serial killer is using a dating agency to target his victims, the chase is literally on before more women can be killed.

The opposing natures of Thorne and Tanner make them a dynamic couple with their interplay and dialogue some of the best in the book. Both are struggling with their personal lives, too. A great installment in one of Auntie M’s favorite series.

In Their Little Secret, with the personal aspects still looming for Thorne and Tanner, they duo become involved in the tragic suicide of a woman who has been the victim of a swindler.

At the same time, readers follow Sarah as she drops her young son off at school. She’s a devoted mum, has a strict routine, and couldn’t appear nicer.

When a young man’s bloodied body is found, CCTV shows a woman he was with shortly before his death. The reader knows more about how these two cases overlap than Thorne and Tanner do, and only heightens the suspense.

Coroner Phil Hendricks is back, too, a great character who manages to stay friends with Thorne and now Tanner. It’s a race to the finish between a couple who bring new meaning to the term psychopath.

This one is the 16th in an a police procedural series that is as authentic as it is filled with humanity.

Both books are Highly Recommended.

Lesley Thomson: Death of a Mermaid Sunday, Jul 5 2020 

Lesley Thomson steps away from her wonderful Detective’s Daughter series to bring us a an equally compelling stand-alone mystery, Death of a Mermaid.

The mermaids in question are young women who all attended the same convent school in Newhaven. The women have varied relationships to Catholicism at the present time, but Thomson skillfully gives us chapters of their teen years so readers can see the entwined relationships between them.

Toni has become a police detective; Mags works in the local library. Karen runs a fish van that belongs to the Powers family, whose oldest child, daughter Freddy, left home decades years ago and has just returned when she learns of her mother’s terminal illness.

Freddy’s brothers, Andy and Ricky, run the Powers Fishery whose impact on the town is vast. It’s into this setting that Freddy returns and brings with her the impact of all the reasons why she left.

Then one of the mermaids is killed, another young person dies, and while Toni handles those cases, her investigation is hampered by the fact Ricky is her boyfriend.

Thomson imbues the setting, both past and present, with descriptions that utilize all the senses, bring the reader right into the church, the homes, and the fishery. There will be storms, secrets buried that resurface, and social issues that Thomson faces directly.

All of the characters are well-drawn, from their emotions to their quirks. Auntie M loves books where she learns something, and readers will learn about the fishing industry, too, in a way that’s built into the plot.

At the heart, this mystery is propelled by the short, tense chapters, by Thomson’s wonderful use of language and compelling characters, and by the sense of betrayal that haunts the entire story. Highly recommended.

Sara Paretsky: Love & Other Crimes Wednesday, Jul 1 2020 

Sara Paretsky brings out a collection of stories she’s written over the past twenty years in Love & Other Crimes. There are fourteen stories in the collection, which include eight featuring her creation, VI Warshawski.

It’s a mixed collection, all with that twisting plot that has been the hallmark of her books. They range from a very young VI’s first investigation, to the title story, where a modern VI uses her investigative experience from the years to clear a family friend of a murder charge, and end with a surprise twist.

In the introduction, Paretsky notes her early reading of the Golden Agers, and her love of late Victorian and early 20th-century crime fiction. Notes at the end of the stories describe their genesis and often give clues to bits within the stories.

Her story “Murder at the Century of Progress” pays homage to two greats: she brings back Race Williams, the first hardboiled detective originally created by Carroll John Daly (1923) and mixes his investigation with that of a woman who is the ultimate mix of Miss Marple and Amelia Butterworth, another favorite.

She uses the cover of the dithering spinster and gives her Charlotte Palmer a more adventurous back story we discover, as the two manage to foil the murder of none-other than fan dancer Sally Rand at the World’s Fair of 1933 called the Century of Progress.

PD James called Paretsky “the most remarkable” of modern crime writers. Readers who sift through this collection will surely agree.

Lee Lofland

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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.

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