Marlowe Benn: Relative Fortunes Sunday, Aug 4 2019 


Marlowe Benn’s debut, Relative Fortunes, is filled with issues and social mores, not to say fashion, too, of 1924. It’s a stylish mystery that evokes the blues of the Jazz Age in which it’s set.

Benn introduces American Julia Kydd, who returns to New York after living in England where she’s incubating the germ of an idea for a small, elite press. Loving all things type, font, and paper, she dreams of establishing her own imprint. With women just able to vote, this is a heady time for women.

Julia’s half-sibling, Philip, controls her allowance until her soon-to-occur 25th birthday, but brings a suit to attempt to claim her half of their father’s estate. While this battles out, Julia is forced to stay in Philip’s home, and learns more than she wanted to about the brother she’s been estranged from and never really knew growing up.

Then the sister of a friend dies and she’s pulled into what she comes to believe is a murder, not a covered-up suicide the family hopes to pass off as a brief illness. Naomi Rankin was a well-known suffragette, and her younger sister, Glennis, is Julia’s new friend. Present with Glennis at the family home for a closed memorial service for Naomi, Julia is shocked to see the lack of regard for Naomi and the miserly way this wealthy family has treated her because of her beliefs in woman’s rights.

When Glennis begs Julia to help her prove Naomi was murdered, Philip’s wager that if she can find out what happened she will keep her inheritence is too good to pass up.

Peopled with real figures from the era in the world of bibliophiles, Benn brings her own love of book arts to Julia, while exploring the few options open to women at this time. If one didn’t have money, those options shrunk even smaller.

Benn also shows Julia and Glennis, and even Naomi through her friends, who must consider their futures and how those differ for men and women. In the stunning climax, this disparity between genders is brought to the forefront in a tragic yet realistic way.

An accomplished debut.

Summer Selections from Those I Bought Myself: Horowitz, Robinson, Michaelides, Casey, Green Friday, Aug 2 2019 

A few times a year Auntie M lets readers know about books she’s bought herself that she’d enjoyed. With review copies of books coming almost daily, her house a towering To Be Read pile, but that doesn’t stop her from buying book from some of her favorite authors.

The multi-talented Anthony Horowitz (just read his bio to see what he’s written that you have read or watched) returns with the second book in his series featuring private investigator Daniel Hawthorne and a writer fellow named … Anthony Horowitz in The Sentence is Death.

The two men are not exactly fans of each other, but Horowitz has signed on to document Hawthorne’s escapes for a series of books about his exploits. He soon finds himself enmeshed in Hawthorne’s new case, when wealthy barrister Richard Pryce is found battered to death inside his modern home on Hampstead Heath.

With an eye for detail, killer instincts on plot, and the relationship between the two men a focal point, Horowitz has created his alter ego’s narrative that neatly explores Hawthorne’s secrets while at the same time thinking he’s helping to solve the case. Highly readable, filled with sly asides, mocking humor, and a complex plot.

Peter Robinson’s DS Alan Banks series is one other crime writers mention when asked how they read. The award-wininng author brings Banks a pair of crimes what confuse his entire team, when the body of an lovely woman dressed for an evening out is found in the countryside in an abandoned car in Careless Love. It quickly becomes clear the car not only wasn’t the victim’s, it had been in an accident the week before and left where she is found.

Compounding things a second death, a well-dressed man found on the moors with injuries sustained in a fatal fall. But was this an accident, or was he pushed? His tony clothes indicate he wasn’t a hiker and there are no signs of how he could have arrived at this spot.

Neither victim carried identification; both died around the same time. With his DI Annie Cabot running the man’s case, Banks concentrates on the dead woman. Until the cases become connected and all bets are off. A strong entry in a compelling series Auntie M won’t miss.

Screenwritere Alex Michaelides turns to a debut crime novel with a wholly original and creative premise in The Silent Patient. Forensic psychotherapst Theo Faber is determined to treat his new patient where others have failed. Artist Alicia Berenson is a devoted wife to Gabriel——until the night she shoots him, not once or twice but five times, and then never speaks again.

What happened to lead to that fateful night? Only Alicia’s diary can give the clues that will help Theo get to the bottom of this inexplicable murder. This one packs a wallop with such a twist at the end you will lose your breath. Trust me.

Another of Auntie M’s favorites series is Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan, and Cruel Acts brings the detective sergeant and her DI, Josh Derwent, a complex crime, amdist their own complicated relationship.

Leo Stone had been convicted of murdering two women and was to spend his life in prison. But suddenly that conviction is deemed a miscarriage of justice and he’s out, free to kill again. Unless he wasn’t guilty the first time.

Meticulous police investigation coupled with a copper’s instinct soon has Maeve questioning what she believed. Then another woman disappears, and soon Maeve is desperate to find what’s happened to her.

This is one that will have you flippng pages way after the light should be out. With chilling creepiness, Casey manages to find the humanity in her character’s story while having Kerrigan be the smartest gal around.

A UK friend recommended Cass Green’s In a Cottage in a Wood. Neve is a young gal who needs income and more than that, a future. She’s on her way across Waterloo Bridge after a one-night stand when she meets a woman called Isabelle, who thrusts an envelope in her hands before jumping to her death in the Thames.

Neve soon finds out Isabelle has left her a little cottage in Cornwall. Suddenly she can see a future, a way out, but when she arrives to stay, the cottage is isolated in dark woods. What could be a charming cottage has bars across the windows. Why did Isabelle have to have bars on her windows? And most of all, why did she leave this nightmare of a place to Neve?

A gripping psychological mystery readers will gobble up.

Tana French’s Wych Elm is everything one wants in a thriller: an original premise, a strong cast of interesting characters, and a way to tell a story that will leave the reader paying rapt attention.

When Toby is attacked, it leaves him mentally frail and traumatized, having memory issues and having to relearn things. He recuperates at his family’s home, he Ivy House, where his memories of teenaged parties and years growing up alongside cousins reverberate.

But soon after his arrival, a skill is found neatly tucked inside the elderly wych elm in the house’s garden. And then the rest of the body is unearthed.

Who does the body belong to? Could one of Toby’s own family be responsible, and if not, what do they know? Could Toby himself be the culprit and he can’t remember? With a suspenseful plot, French knows how to construct a story that manages to be unstinting in its view of families. Tragic yet clever.

Hank Phillippi Ryan: The Murder List Thursday, Aug 1 2019 

Hank Phillippi Ryan knocks it out of the park again with her compelling legal thriller, The Murder List, showing that her writing skills cover more than one subgenre of crime after last year’s wonderful Agatha award-nominated Trust Me, which was named a Best Thriller by the New York Posst, CrimeReads, and Real Simple Magazine, among others.

Rachel North is a law student married to well-known defense lawyer, Jack Kirkland. She’s gone to law school as an older student and brings a wealth of knowledge with her from her days working for a State Senator. Excited to only have one year left, she’s doing her summer internship to learn the ropes.

The county’s top prosecutor, Martha Gardiner, is known as a fierce competitor, someone who hates to lose, especially against Jack North. So when Rachel is assigned a summer internship to Gardiner’s office, it’s the first wrinkle in their otherwise perfect marriage. Jack is less than thrilled that Rachel’s internship will be with his nemesis.

Ryan competently shows how events from Rachel’s past jury duty six years earlier led to Rachel meeting Jack. Readers also see her at her job for the Senator at that time, and how that ties in to what’s happening in the present.

And some present it is, with Rachel getting a first-hand look at the machinations and lengths Gardiner will go to for a conviction. With her long-term goal to be Jack’s defense partner, Rachel’s goal is to learn Gardiner’s methods. That will only help them when they go up against the formidable prosecutor in court as Kirkland and North.

But things are not as they seem on several levels. Ryan plays fair while challenging the reader to see the climax as the twists keep coming. Auntie M went back after the surprising end to re-read places where the clues were all laid out.

This is a complex and compelling story, set within a realistic world, with duplicity the stakes of the game. And this one’s highly recommended.

Vivian Barz: Forgotten Bones Thursday, Aug 1 2019 

Vivian Barz brings the most unusual and highly original protagonist Auntie M has read about in a long time to be one half of an investigating team in her thriller Forgotten Bones. With a strong storyline and two equally strong characters leading, this promises to be a the start of thrillers readers will be clamoring for.

A car accident leads to the discovery of a young boy’s buried body in small town California. But despite this body being decades old, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Soon FBI are soon swarming the town, unearthing multiple bodies in various stages of decomposition, and closing out the local police, including Susan Marlan, one of their officers. Dedicated, smart, and tenacious, Susan can’t let the thought of that little boy go, or the others as the numbers mount to double digits. Someone has been killing people for a very long time, most of them children. Frustrated by her own boss and the FBI, Susan takes it upon herself to do a bit of off the record investigating.

Meanwhile, Eric Evans is new to the area, starting work as a geology professor at the local community college. He knows no one in the area, has no friends or relatives near by, and right now he likes it that way. He’s running from his former life and marriage in Philadelphia, in the throes of a divorce from the wife who he discovered having an affair with his older brother.

As if that’s not enough to be dealing with, Eric is a schizophrenic who’s learned to take his medication and manage its side effects, until the day he starts to see a young boy in denim overalls.

The overall suspect for the killings is a pedophile recently released from prison. Not only are the bodies on his property, he disappeared the day the first boy’s body was found. What could be clearer?

As more and more bodies are found, what Eric thinks are hallucinations starat to increase, until there are physical things happening inside his house that lead him to suspect that little boy is trying to send him a message. But how can he get anyone to believe him?

When Susan’s path ovelaps Eric’s, an unlikely duo are formed as the two try to figure out the clues they are being given amid secrets held for decades. And can they do it in time to save themselves?

This is the first in a planned trilogy, and Auntie M won’t be surprised if Barz finds herself giving these two a series of their own beyond that. The contemporary romance writer (writing as Sloan Archer) has found an exhilarating way to combine a police procedural with a modern ghost story while illustrating how some people suffering from mental illness can lead almost-normal lives.

Natalie Daniels: Too Close Wednesday, Jul 31 2019 

Natalie Daniels’ has written a psychological thrillerToo Close that is at once as cinematic as it is haunting.

Connie is in a mental institution, being evaluated to see if she can stand trial for a horrific crime involving children that she claims to have no memory of. Emma is the psychiatrist assigned to treat her dissociative amnesia, and try to coax out the story of what led to those events, in order to help Connie remember.

Connie is a writer, and Emma appeals to that instinct and brings in a laptop for Connie to use the word processor. In detailing the memories she does have, Emma is shown what led up to Connie’s emotional breakdown. Connie is a strong woman that everyone depends on, and she can see the truth through things. That can be a fortunate and unfortunate thing when she can no longer hide from her own truths.

The story alternates between the women’s points of view, with Emma learning from Connie about her own insecurities and marriage. Connie’s marriage is complicated; so is her friendship with her beautiful neighbor, Ness, who Emma comes to see is at the heart of what has led Connie to snap.

Making connections between the women, Emma must lead Connie to remember the events leading up to that horrific day and what caused Connie to go mad. Readers won’t be able to put this one down as the story spirals out in the same way Connie’s life seems to spiral out of control.

A terrific debut, filled with insights into women, their friendships, and their relationships with their families and the men in their lives. Highly recommended.

Vanessa Westerman: An Excuse for Murder Tuesday, Jul 30 2019 

Vanessa Westerman’s An Excuse for Murder introduces Kate Rowan, bookshop proprietor and soon to be unwilling amateur sleuth.

Kate lives in her Great-Aunt’s London suburban home, a turreted house large enough to take in boarders. With her gay best friend, Marcus, a local realtor, and two local boys who love crime, Kate is surrounded by murder in her books and the investigations the boys like to play.

When Kate finds one of boarders dead at the bottom of the basement stairs, she’s relieved to find the 40-something man died from natural causes of a simple heart attack. Or did he?

Known the neighborhood as “The Eternal Wife,” Great-Aunt Roselyn has begun behaving strangely. And soon Kate is certain someone is watching the house.

Then Gary, a security expert in the area, starts to watch out for Kate, too, and things escalate with a break-in at the house. What was the thief really looking for? Why is Gary present whenever Kate turns around?

And what really happened to the dead man in the basement and how does that tie in with the murder of a beautiful young woman two years ago?

Readers will enjoy the hint of sexual tension between Gary and Kate, and the twists of the plot. With interesting its characters, and Kate’s skills in many areas, this is an ambitious start to a clever series filled with promise.

Ellison Cooper: Buried Friday, Jul 26 2019 


Ellison Cooper introduced FBI Senior Special Agent Sayer Altair in Caged, and returns with an equally compelling and twisted tale of serial killers in Buried.

Off-duty FBI agent Max Cho and his human-cadaver dog, Kona, start to enjoy a day off in the Shenandoah National Park when his dog alerts. Knowing her skills, he notifies the local park ranger and sets Kona to find her quarry. A sinkhole brings him in close contact with what appear to be the bones of several skeletons.

Figuring out who was the serial killer working inside the FBI saw Sayer take a bullet to her shoulder in the first book. After physical therapy, she’s healed and ready to head back to work shortly. But a call from her Assistant Director soon finds her meeting with Cho and a rag-tag team assembled to figure out who the bones belong to.

During the bones recovery, with a patholgist Sayer knows and respects, two more recent bodies are found near the bones. Now the hunt for the killer of the older bones and the killer of the new ones takes off. With limited resources, the group still puts everything they have into figuring out who the fresh corpses belong to.

One ghastly clue on a body proves a tie to a newly kidnapped woman and her young child. The hunt intensifies as Sayer’s boss, one of the few she trusts, comes under the scrutiny and political microscope of Congressional hearings looking for a scapegoat for the serial killer who had been in their midst in Caged.

And then the killer starts to try to pick off members of Sayers small team. In a race against time with the lives of two young children and their mothers at risk, the strident pace ratchets up even higher. Working without sleep, the team cracks on, each member bringing his or her expertise to the forefront.

There will be politicking, a highly placed psychopath in DCs elite who wants Sayers’ work to continue, and the bizarre ideas of a psychopath who wants to prove that any person can become a murderer.

Cooper mixes neuroscience with mythology to create a fascinating tale of how inhumane humans can be to each other. Nonstop action, a strong but compassionate protagonist with tons of smarts, and a fascinating team make this a step above the typical serial killer thriller.

Graham Jones documentary: Rainy in Glenageary Wednesday, Jul 24 2019 

Auntie M is doing something different this week: she’s in Quebec with her writing group for a week of novel critiques and sightseeing treats to celebrate their 15th year working together. So it seems only fitting to treat readers to something different, too, and instead of a crime book review, she’s sharing her thoughts on a spectacular true crime documentary, Rainy in Glenageary.

Documentary filmmaker Graham Jones has never shied away from tough topics, and he brings his artistic eye to the story of the still-unsolved murder in 1999 of pretty blonde schoolgirl, Rainoaid Murry, known as Rainy.

The film is unlike most true crime movies with their clinical dissection of a case. This film is packed with visceral images, while it’s an homage to a young woman, who despite her teen antics, certainly didn’t deserve to die.Beautifully shot and edited, you won’t be able to look away, with lasting impact.

The police in the South Dublin area, known as Gardai, appear to have severely impeded their investigation by their own actions of intimidation, threats, and in at least one case, physical violence against Rainy’s friends. Not the best way to create an environment that lends itself to confidences. This accusatory attitude caused the teens to cower in fear and effectively shut them down. Any important information they held was lost.

Until Jones revisits the scene, and Rainy’s friends, who have had time and distance as well as maturity to step back from their fears, finally open up. Yet those who spoke with Jones’s crew soon found themselves outcast by others, a suspicious turn of events that reinforces the long-held belief that Rainy was murdered by someone who knew her.

The pretty area, filled with Victorian red-brick homes residing alongside newer, comfortable modern homes hardly feels like the setting to encourage murder. Yet the fact remains that 17 yr-old Rainy left her local pub and never made it home.

This is Jones’s 9th film, so he’s no stranger to controversy or to way to document them. At once compelling, told in the soothing voice of the narrator and the artful scenes shots, the film is also poignant in its sadness.

While a brilliant tribute to a young life tragically cut short, and told in a captivating way, there’s no escaping the impression that the viewer receives:
Someone out there is shielding a murderer.

Kristin Lepionka: The Stories You Tell Monday, Jul 22 2019 

PI Roxane Weary returns in Kristin Lepionka’s The Stories You Tell. Having a strong protagonist means allowing her to change and grow, and Lepionka does this successfully with her flawed and likeabbe Roxane, who’s surname fits as she navigates life.

While Roxane is learning about herself, she’s trying to help her brother, Andrew, who has come under suspicion when a young woman goes missing. It seems he was the last person to see her. Or was he?

Andrew had an unexpected late-night visit from DJ and former fling, Addison, scared and frightened, who begs to use his phone. She leaves as quickly as she arrived and isn’t seen again, worrying her roommates and her family, which is when police become involved and Andrew falls under suspicion.

Rxoane steps in to help look for Addison and soon finds herself probing the depths of Addison’s social media and computer history with startling results, just as her personal life starts to fall apart.

Then a detective out on medical leave is found dead, and his last sighting was at the same nightclub where Addison worked. Only the club is suddenly closed and its workers in hiding.

Roxane’s investigation will lead her to the stories people make up for their digital personnas. How is she to distinguish truth from reality? How will this lead her to find Addison and clear Andrew’s name is the thrust of a story that will have you flipping pages .

It’s a timely storyline, with cutting-edge technology bringing a believeable thread to events. This unconventional investigator nevertheless has gut instincts and a determined streak that will carry the reader through the twists and turns of a plot with a climax that won’t be seen at the outset.

This is a series favorite of Auntie M’s, so if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading this award-winning author yet, start out with The Last Place You Look and keep going.

Candy Denman: The Jocasta Hughes Series Sunday, Jul 21 2019 

Please welcome UK author Candy Denman, who has written for such shows as The Bill
and Heartbeat, and is now the author of three Jocasta Hughes novels.

Killing women

There has been much in the press in recent times about crime writers who are apparently killing a disproportionate number of women in their serial killer fictions, and often in sadistic ways.

The writers have been accused of pandering to those that get off on reading about it, and even that they are helping to produce the environment that encourages violence against women. This has led to many crime writers, both male and female, entering the debate and they can be found huddled in corners at crime festivals and blogging about the issue at every opportunity——so here I am adding to the mix!

My first two books in the Dr Jo Hughes series, Dead Pretty and Body Heat, both feature female victims, but in #YouToo the bodies are all male.

The next planned books in the series also feature a variety of victims, although I won’t venture into killing children or animals!

Statistics show that the majority of readers, and writers, of serial killer fiction are women, and that if you take gang killings out of the mix, the majority of victims in real life are also women, although, increasingly, other vulnerable groups such as gay men and the sick and elderly are featuring.

However, fiction about serial killers isn’t as scary as real life (unsurprisingly) and some say (including myself) that it can even be comforting because the killer gets caught. Far from glamorising killers, the stories also make the point that murder is wrong.

I also like that the person stopping the serial killer is often a feisty and intelligent woman, and this is the case in my Dr Jo Hughes series. She has a female best friend who also helps her solve the mysteries, and Detective Inspector Miller who sometimes has to come to the rescue (although in #YouToo, it is Jo who has to rescue him!)

So, I intend to carry on reading and writing serial killer chillers because I enjoy them, but rest assured, the bad guy always gets caught in my books, and usually by the strong female protagonist, often with a little bit of help from her knight in shining armour, riding in to the rescue. Like I say, it’s comforting.


Candy Denman:

Dead Pretty (published 2017)
Body Heat (published May 2018)
# You Too (to be published May 2019)

Candy Denman spent most of her life as an NHS nurse but now concentrates on writing full time. She has written extensively for television programmes such as The Bill and Heartbeat\. Having enjoyed writing both crime and medical stories, she decided to combine the two in her series featuring Dr Jocasta Hughes set in Hastings. The medical stories might come from Candy’s previous work, but the serial killer elements come strictly from her imagination.

http://www.candydenman.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/CrimeCandy
http://www.twitter.com/@CrimeCandy
http://www.instagram.com/candydenman

Links to each book are:

Dead Pretty: https://www.amazon.com/Dead-Pretty-Jocasta-Hughes-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B0743BZ89B/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2DDOCNQNHYFTK&keywords=candy+denman&qid=1562407633&s=gateway&sprefix=candy+denman%2Cstripbooks-intl-ship%2C653&sr=8-2

Body heat: https://www.amazon.com/Body-Heat-Jocasta-Hughes-mysteries-ebook/dp/B07CWG5S4Z/ref=sr_1_3?crid=2DDOCNQNHYFTK&keywords=candy+denman&qid=1562407529&s=gateway&sprefix=candy+denman%2Cstripbooks-intl-ship%2C653&sr=8-3

#YouToo: https://www.amazon.com/YouToo-Jocasta-Hughes-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07QP8QH43/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2DDOCNQNHYFTK&keywords=candy+denman&qid=1562407633&s=gateway&sprefix=candy+denman%2Cstripbooks-intl-ship%2C653&sr=8-1

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