Sophie Hannah: The Killings at Kingfisher Hill Tuesday, Sep 15 2020 

Sophie Hannah’s Hercule Poirot mysteries capture the essence of Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective. She returns with her newest, The Killings at Kingfisher Hill, the fourth approved by the Christie estate.

Poirot and Inspector Catchpool are to take a coach to the private gated community at Kingfisher Hill. The Belgian detective has been begged by Richard Devonport to visit his family home with an eye to finding the real murderer of his estranged brother, Frank.

Frank Devonport had just reconciled with his family and a few hours later was dead after a fall from a high staircase. His fiancee, Helen, has confessed to pushing Frank over the banister, but Richard is convinced she is innocent, and hires Poirot to prove it while he’s convinced Helen to marry him.

After a startling and almost bizarre coach ride to journey to Kingfisher Hill, Poirot and Catchpool start their investigation and meet the unpleasant Devonport family and several close friends. With strong personalities dominating everyone’s actions, the red herrings abound. And then there is a second murder . . .

This is a mystery of the mind, with alibis crisscrossing each other and secrets being held. Hannah does a fine job of capturing Poirot’s voice, and has created her most twisted plot yet, one even Christie would find complex.

Catchpool is not Hastings, but he is coming into his own with his relationship with Poirot deepening as the detective mentors the young man to impart how the inspector can better use his little grey cells.

What could be better than an outing with Poirot under the skilled pen of Sophie Hannah. Now who will tackle Miss Marple?

Highly recommended.

Spencer Kobe: Shadows of the Dead Sunday, Sep 13 2020 

Spencer Kope returns readers to the Special Tracking Unit of the FBI in Shadows of the Dead.

Magnus Craig is known as “Steps” but only a few people know of his ability to see shine, a color stream of the essence created by people, varying in color and intensity depending on the length of time they’ve been in a certain place. The origin of this synesthesia is in itself interesting and creative. How he deals with it with special glasses adds to this touch and creates empathy for a man whose special sight is a daily bombardment of colors and senses without the glasses.

The strong opening in this third outing (Collecting the Dead, Whispers of the Dead)creates immediate interest: tracking a man after he’s fled in the woods after a police chase to a remote cabin in the woods brings them information about his partner in crime, a man he calls OK for Onion King.

Then a young woman is found in the trunk of his car, a woman he calls Eight. When she regains consciousness, her information is telling: she was abducted by someone different from the man who left her in the woods; and more critically, she was not the first but the eighth victim.

Steps and his partner, Jimmy, will trace the villain in real time and though the dark web, a race against time for the unknown abducted victims still being held. For is this young woman was Eight, where are the first seven?

Kope, a working crime analyst, brings a huge sense of reality to the plot through profiling and other detection methods from his own knowledge base. Yet he’s smart to weave characters who will capture the readers’ attention, especially Steps, even as he takes them on a wild ride.

The unpredictable plot, as well as the easy camaraderie and dialogue between Jimmy and Steps add to make this a wholly satisfying read.

Tina Debellegarde: Winter Witness Wednesday, Sep 9 2020 

Please welcome author Tina Debellegarde, with an unusual twist on the first in her Batavia-on-Hudson series, Winter Witness:

Why I Killed My Husband

Winter Witness is the first in my Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series.

In many ways this book is autobiographical: it tells the story of a woman making her way in her new home in a Catskill Mountain village and trying to fit in. A former teacher and historian, she moves to the quiet Hudson Valley community with her husband so she can finally write her first novel.

They create a hobby farm and make a quiet cozy life for themselves. She has a close relationship with her only son who lives in Japan (the future setting for Book 3 of the series.)

This is where the similarities end. Among other things, my life does not include meddling in the local sheriff’s homicides. But the most significant divergence from my life is that I chose to kill off my wonderful husband for the sake of the story. (This couldn’t be what they mean when they say kill off your darlings, could it?)

When I conjured this lovely scenario to set up Bianca St. Denis as my amateur sleuth, I realized that the tension would be ramped up, and she would be a much more interesting character if Bianca needed to manage farm life on her own in this new town.

A small farm, even a hobby farm, is hard work for two, and even harder alone. Bianca, as a young widow, has to look outward to her new community for help and companionship. She needs to find a niche for herself.

Being recently widowed makes her more vulnerable in countless ways and gives her much more room for growth and change across the length of what I envision as a long series.

It also frees her up for possible love interests, and who doesn’t like a few love interests in their reading?

Look for Winter Witness coming September 29, 2020.

Tina deBellegarde lives in Catskill, New York with her husband Denis and their cat Shelby. Winter Witness is the first book in the Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series. Tina also writes short stories and flash fiction. When she isn’t writing, she is helping Denis tend their beehives, harvest shiitake mushrooms, and cultivate their vegetable garden. She travels to Japan regularly to visit her son Alessandro. Tina did her graduate studies in history. She is a former exporter, paralegal, teacher, and library clerk.

Visit her website at http://www.tinadebellegarde.com

Alexander McCall Smith: The Quiet Side of Passion and The Geometry of Holding Hands Sunday, Sep 6 2020 

Auntie M loves Alexander McCall Smith’s series set in Scotland. Today she’s caught up on two Isabel Dalhousie novels. The Quiet Side of Passion takes the philosopher to new territory. Working from home has its challenges, as does Isabel’s inability to say “no” to her niece whenever she asks for help.

The wife, mother of two, and editor of a philosophy magazine clearly needs help around the house. With her husband, Jamie, suggesting they go forward with help, Isabel soon finds her life turned upside down.

The new au pair from Italy has a very different idea of what an au pair should do or behave. And is she giving Jamie the wandering eye?

The young woman who seems the perfect fit as an assistant editor is intelligent, and seems dedicated to her work and her studies. But does she place too much emphasis on her work?

Alongside these distractions, Isabel meets the single mother of one of Charlie’s friends at nursery. Raising her son without help from his father, Isabel soon finds herself entangled in the kind of mess only she can get herself into. It’s her unfailing kindness, often in short supply at times in others, and her ability to question both sides of every question, that is Isabel’s undoing.

The Geometry of Holding Hands brings Isabel several of her most difficult decisions. A wealthy Edinburgh gentleman who has large land holdings and once knew Isabel’s father asks her to be the executor of his will.

After initially thinking she was not the person to do this, she soon learns he has little time left to live, and seeks her guidance on which of three cousins would be the best to leave his large Highland estate in care of.

Then, too, her niece, Cat, has increased her demands on Isabel’s time at the deli she runs. This seems tied in to her new man, the leonine Leo, who looks as lion-like as his name, with the same cunning attitude. Is Leo sincere in his affection for Cat, or for her part of the family trust?

These are the kinds of dilemmas Isabel most navigate with her usual intelligence and grace, and often a major jolt of good sense from Jamie. Set these inside a loving and realistic portrayal of Edinburgh, and you have books readers will enjoy and often think of long after the last page is turned.

One of the hallmarks of the series is Smith’s ability to illustrate the character’s and their personalities. His dialogue is astute and often hilarious. But it’s his warmth toward Isabel and her determined search for what she sees as the truth to complex situations where Smith shines and makes reader return again and again.

Jane Harper: The Dry, and Force of Nature Wednesday, Sep 2 2020 

Jane Harper’s debut The Dry, set in the outskirts of Melbourne, was such a hit that Auntie M had to see what all the fuss was about. After reading it, she immediately ordered the sequel, Force of Nature, and anxiously awaits a third.

The Dry introduces Federal Agent Aaron Falk, who left Kiewarra twenty years ago and hasn’t looked back. With his unusual looks, he’s always been a standout.

Then he find out his best friend from childhood, Luke, and his entire family have been found murdered. Hesitating, his visit home is clinched when he receives a note saying that the sending knows that Aaron and Luke lied about a childhood event, and tells him to come for the funeral.

The worst drought in decades has hit the rural area yet most of it is still recognizable to Aaron. Leaving with his father, now dead, had been a defining moment of his youth.

Returning will thrust him into the world of buried secrets, long-held grievances, and the question of who really killed Luke and his family.

Force of Nature bring Aaron back to a natural area, this time to a corporate retreat on a wilderness site. Five women have gone the trek, ostensibly to bond out of their office comfort zone in a weekend away that is to build trust——but only four return.

Aaron’s involvement rests on the missing hiker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his most recent case. She was supposed to be bringing him documentation that would topple her company and several people in it. And several of those people were in the woods with her.

As Aaron adds himself to the searchers and the investigation, the stories the four returning hikers give vary slightly, and just enough to raise his suspicions. Who betrayed the hiker?

Both books are tightly plotted, and illustrate a detail for characters that make them realistic and how that Harper is a great study of human nature. With their compelling story and the lead character perhaps the most intriguing of all, Harper’s books are both Highly Recommended.

Lucy Foley: The Hunting Party Monday, Aug 31 2020 


Lucy Foley’s The Hunting Party is one a friend recommended that was on the towering TBR pile for ages. The one thing Covid has done is allow Auntie M to time to read more than usual, and from the opening two pages, she knew this one would be a read she’d recommend, too.

A group of old friends gather every New Year’s for a reunion, taking turns on choosing and planning where they will gather. This time the choice has fallen to Emma, partner of one of the original group. She finds Loch Corrin in the Scottish Highland wildness, an exclusive retreat that only takes four groups a year.

There are several couples who were all at Oxford together, and include Kate, part of the group without a current partner; also the gamekeeper, Doug, and the woman who runs the retreat, Heather.

The one thing everyone has in common are the secrets they hold.

The book opens knowing one of these people is dead. Subsequent scenes from several points of view unfold the previous days leading up to the murder on early New Year’s Day. A snowstorm muddies the waters, as well as any help from outside, but doesn’t tamp down the high emotions running wild.

Foley carefully exposes each of the character’s using others’ points of view. The secrets being held are slowly revealed, as is the identity of the victim, an amazing feat in itself, especially as the reader knows someone has been killed but is not certain whom.

Yet as more and more of the days are described, the victim is ultimately the one person all of the suspects have a reason to loathe. With everyone in attendance a suspect, the tension keep rising and the pace gets tighter.

A fascinating study of characters that is an absorbing read, one Alex Michaelides, author of The Silent Patient, calls “Reminiscent of Agatha Christie at her best–with an extra dose of acid.”

Robert Pobi: Under Pressure Wednesday, Aug 26 2020 

Robert Pobi’s Under Pressure has the same strong opening as City of Windows, which introduced protagonist Lucas Page. A private event held at NY’s Guggenheim Museum ends catastrophically when an explosion literally vaporizes over 700 people attending or working that evening.

That Lucas is a vastly different hero is a major part of the story. His quick mind is only one of his many gifts. The talented astrophysicist can break down data at a glance, while his bionic parts help.

It’s no surprise when the FBI calls him in to help, despite his wife misgivings for his safety. Their unusual family is yet another aspect of this intriguing setup.

This blast was clearly planned with precision, and as Lucas delves into whether it was a terrorist attack, or whether someone attending that night was the target and all the hundreds of others collateral damage, he rubs up against difficult agents and experts all set out to prove Lucas wrong.

It’s an action-packed novel, with Lucas and his unusual talents surprising readers over and over. The political and sometimes even social comments embedded meld well with Lucas’s wry humor. Think a Lincoln Rhyme who’s able to get around more and you get an idea of the person leading the charge.

When a second bomb goes off, Lucas and his pattern sensing are twitched. Is there a misdirection or is his thinking wrong? Through the ensuing chaos, Lucas is somehow able to unravel this puzzle, and a deadly one it turns out to be.

Great thrills and one helluva read.

Mary Westmacott: Absent in the Spring Sunday, Aug 23 2020 

Agatha Christie wrote six non-crime books under the pen name of Mary Westmacott. Absent in the Spring is the one about which she is quoted as saying:
“The one book that has satisfied me completely–the book I always wanted to write.”

The story is a character study of Joan Scudamore, returning from a visit to her youngest daughter, son-in-law, and baby granddaughter in Iraq. Barbara’s husband works there and the young woman has been ill. Joan rushed out to tend to her daughter, despite the arduous journey to get there.

On the trip home, she finds herself stranded in an isolated rest house by rains that prevent her train from getting through flooded tracks. Forced to have only herself for company, Joan decides to treat the unexpected time alone as a retreat of sorts.

She’s not a person who often pauses to examine her life. Quickly running out of books to read, and soon after, paper to write letters to friends, she takes to wandering in the desert near the rest home and ends up taking a good hard look at herself and her life.

She finds that the person she’s believed herself to be is perhaps not the person she has been, in actuality, to others. With the words of her former headmistress from school running her head, Joan has what could be called an epiphany.

The question remains: what will she do about it?

A completely different kind of book, short and bittersweet, from the woman who is outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible.

Jacqueline Rohan: How to Marry Your Husband Sunday, Aug 23 2020 

From time to time, Auntie M veers away from crime fiction, and here’s one that’s just the ticket for the long hot days of August, when a smile or giggle will be most welcome.

Jacqueline Rohan’s debut, How to Marry Your Husband, is filled with charm and warmth, the perfect antidote for the ills of today.

Rachel and David have been married for fifteen years, after he swept her off her feet. Then on their anniversary she sees him kissing another woman. Is the marriage over? Should she confront him or try to win him back?

Rachel twists herself in knots trying to decide what to do, before she finally confides in a friend who has more experience with men. She visits a divorce lawyer, only to find out that her marriage may not even be legal.

Now she’s in the unusual position of trying to decide if she wants to marry him legally only to divorce him; to let him go; or to get her revenge. The hijinks she gets up to for revenge are hilarious.

All of this is couched in amongst the usual things readers can identify with: the relationships of those nearest and dearest to us. It doesn’t help that Rachel’s firm as event planners will be called in to plan David’s sister’s nuptials, just as she’s trying to decide if she wants to divorce him or win him back.

This is a very modern book, filled with wit and the kind of visuals that would light up the big screen, the book has been shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for Romantic Fiction.

Lindsey Davis: The Grove of the Caesars Wednesday, Aug 19 2020 

In her 28th outing over two series––Marcus Didius Falco is the other–Lindsey Davis brings Falco’s adopted daughter, Flavia Albia, to another case in The Grove of the Caesars.

Following her father’s footsteps, Flavia’s investigations have their become known. Inadvertently, it’s Flavia’s husband, away on business, who puts her in the position to become involved in the hunt for a serial killer who has used the public gardens as his dumping ground.

Exploiting women goes against Flavia’s nature, and once a wealthy man’s wife is claimed as the latest victim, she puts aside her loathing of the man she must work with whose been assigned the case, Julius Karas.

Think a classic police procedural for a serial killer, set in first century Rome. And this a Rome Davis knows inside out, with the historical fiction she’s plumbed coming alive. Her extensive knowledge of the people, its mores and customs, and the city itself reveals Rome to be a vibrant city throbbing with a deadly, sinister undercurrent.

Davis interjects Roman’s casualness toward slaves, addresses immigration, and of course, women’s issues, all in a time where readers will be surprised to see these things considered.

Fans of historical fiction will revel in Ancient Rome brought to life and set amidst crime fiction.

Next Page »

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