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.

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.

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.

Kaitlyn Dunnett: Clause and Effect Tuesday, Jun 25 2019 

Please welcome Kaitlyn Dunnett, to talk about her new release, Clause and Effect.

Suspect Everyone
by
Kaitlyn Dunnett

Amateur detectives need an active imagination to put clues together, but that also means they come up with some pretty wild scenarios on the way to figuring out what really happened. In the second “Deadly Edits” mystery, Clause & Effect, retired schoolteacher turned freelance editor Mikki Lincoln is present at the Lenape Hollow Historical Society when a wall comes down during renovations to reveal a mummified murder victim hidden in an old chimney.

What seemed like a simple task—update the script for the historical pageant presented at the town’s bicentennial so it can be reused twenty-five years later—is suddenly much more complicated, especially after the victim is identified as Grace Yarrow, the author of that script. Mikki has taken over where Grace left off with the pageant, but is she also following in her footsteps when it comes to threatening someone’s secrets?

Although she never intended to get involved in solving another murder, Mikki can’t help but speculate about the people she’s met since starting work on the project. Some of them were around a quarter of a century ago and knew the victim, perhaps better than they’re letting on. Before long, Mikki has a full roster of suspects.

Is the killer Roberta “Sunny” Feldman, last owner of the world-famous Feldman’s Catskill Resort Hotel? She sold out years ago, just before the heyday of the Borsht Belt came to an end. She may be in her eighties now, but she’s still a force to be reckoned with. Twenty-five years ago, jealousy might have led her to kill Grace Yarrow.

Jealousy could also have motivated Veronica “Ronnie” North, the classmate who tried her best to make Mikki miserable in high school. She hasn’t mellowed much in the fifty-plus years since they graduated, and she’s been married and widowed three times in the interim. Did Grace try to steal husband number two?

Then there’s Gilbert Baxter, current director of the historical society. He knew Grace back in the day, perhaps better than anyone suspected at the time. Mikki finds a clue in the bicentennial pageant that suggests Grace was willing to fudge on the town’s history to give his family a more prominent role.

And what about Judy, the older sister of Mikki’s best friend Darlene? She knew Grace, too, and the evidence suggests there was a lot of hanky-panky going on at the historical society back in the day. Judy’s not been completely honest about what she remembers, but is she guilty of murder?

With all those suspects to choose from, you’d think Mikki could stop adding names to her list, but the question of whether or not Grace Yarrow might have had a child has her adding one more. She can’t help but wonder about the coincidence of her own distant cousin, Luke Darbee, showing up in town when he does. She knows nothing about him but what he’s told her . . . and that they share that unfortunate physical characteristic, the Greenleigh nose. He’s obviously too young to have killed Grace, but when a second murder occurs, she has to consider the possibility that he might have come to Lenape Hollow looking to avenge Grace’s death.

Past and present collide as Mikki gathers more clues. By the time she figures out whodunnit, she’s attracted the attention of the killer and is in danger of becoming the next victim. Is the murderer one of those people she’s been suspicious of all along . . . or someone else entirely?

The good news is that you don’t have to wait to find out. Clause & Effect is available in hardcover and e-book today.

With the June 2019 publication of Clause & Effect, Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett will have had sixty books traditionally published. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries, and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series as Kaitlyn. As Kathy, her most recent book is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are http://www.KaitlynDunnett.com and http://www.KathyLynnEmerson.com and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women.

Allison Montclair: The Right Sort of Man Sunday, Jun 16 2019 

Allison Montclair’s new series starts off with a delightful bang with the charming The Right Sort of Man.

The second World War has just ended in 1946 London, and two young women who couldn’t be more opposite are thrown together. Iris Sparks is the unmarried, savvy woman with an Oxford education and a shady past; Gwen Bainbridge is the war widow with a young son, still grieving the loss of her handsome husband, and subjected to living with her staid in-laws.

The two meet at a wedding and agree to start a new business to cement their independence, and do it in one of the Mayfair buildings that escaped bombing with The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. They approach it in an organized manner, trying to match suitables, and even have had a few marriages from their pairings.

New client Tillie La Salle sets off Iris’ warning bells as someone who might have her own checkered past, but the women set her up with her first date. Then Tillie is found murdered, and the man arrested for the crime is Dickie Trower, the man they matched to Tillie, who claims he never met with her at all.

Now the duo have a two-fold problem: try to rescue Dickie from the hangman’s noose, and try to reclaim the reputation of their new business. The two will ennlist their friend, Sally, a budding playwright who reminded Auntie M of Stephen Fry, to cover the office as they take turns sleuthing Tillie’s life.

The thing that struck Auntie M about these two well-developed characters (make it three if you include Sally) was their snappy dialogue, which hums and zings off the page. The period details are spot on, and the the light-hearted feel is contrasted with moments of the realities of a post-war nation.

An assured start to what promises to be a wonderful and interesting series for fans of historicals, this one will be snapped up and not put down until it’s done.

Mandy Morton: Beyond the Gravy Thursday, May 16 2019 


You don’t have to be a cat person to take great delight in the world of cats created in Beyond the Gravy, Mandy Morton’s newest entry in the No. 2 Feline Detective series.

Hettie Bagshot and her partner Tilly have endured a long winter and are looking for a nice change in the weather and a new case to fill their coffers, when Tilly wins a contest that involves a cash prize and the promise of the duo traveling to Agatha Cripsy’s Devon home for tea.

But before that can happen, they are approached by psychic Irene Peggledrip, who has been having visits from a group of murdering spirits, intent on bringing chaos to her home. Hettie and Tilly are present for a round of, among other things, indoor snowstorms and a lovely Victoria sponge thrown against the bookshelves, to Tilly’s dismay, only a part of the hijinks these restless spirits produce.

Meanwhile, Molly Bloom’s new cafe’ becomes the town’s new gathering spot, with great food at hand, always a treat for hungry felines. But what message does congealed gravy hold for Irene’s complicated future? And will that Devon trip materialize? A seance held at the cafe only complicates things but makes one thing clear: Hettie and Tilly must find the culprit still roaming so that these spirits can rest.

With the return of familiar characters such as Poppa and Buster, this world of cats offers a respite from the ills of todays world, wrapped up in a darn good mystery as the duo’s investigation advances, while it seems at time that the mystifying puzzle won’t be solved, even if Tilly is wearing her best cardigan.

Morton treats her mystery seriously in a parellel universe filled with only felines who have the same worries, problems and issues as humans. Her research and history will surprise readers new to the series, so if this is your first experience, go back to the beginning and read the entire series.

Packed with charm, and with Morton’s trademark wit, these are characters who will warm your heart while the mystery is being solved——just what the world needs now. Highly recommended.

Katherine Hall Page: The Body in the Wake Wednesday, May 8 2019 

Katherine Hall Page is having a silver anniversary! The publication of her 25th Faith Fairchild mystery this week brings a new release to the well-loved series with The Body in the Wake. Don’t miss this addition, set in Maine, where the catering sleuth is supposed to be on vacation and helping to plan the wedding of her friend’s daughter.

Relaxing goes out the window when Faith finds a body while swimming. Caught in the reeds in the Lily Pond, the strange tattoo on the victim her first clue that something shocking has invaded her little corner of the world at Sanpere Island.

Addressing a real issue in our country on a smaller level brings home the drama and distress of the nationwide opiod crisis, while Faith ends up digging into what’s behind it all. There will be time for cooking and recipes, too, in another delightful installment from the double Agatha Award winner and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Malice Domestic.

Auntie M recently had a chance to ask Page about her books and the long-running series:

Auntie M: Congratulations on THE BODY IN THE WAKE, number 25 in this popular series. How do you keep Faith Fairchild as a series character fresh?

Katherine Hall Page: One of the joys of writing this long ongoing series—something that continues to amaze me—is the opportunity to follow Faith and family across many years, a lifetime in effect. As in our own lives, what happens, both good and bad, creates a fresh dynamic in each book. When it became apparent that this was going to be a series, I alternated the locales every other book as a way to keep the series fresh as well. There are the Aleford books, as is the first, The Body in the Belfry, set in Faith’s hometown west of Boston and then the “Someplace Else” books, set in Maine, Vermont, Savannah, New York City, Norway, and France.

AM: You chose your Maine setting for this one, Sanpere Island where the Fairchild’s have their summer home. It’s obvious that you have a deep affection for the area. Can you explain to readers why this setting has such significance for you?

KHP: I grew up in northern New Jersey, but starting in 1958 my parents decided that it made sense to drive north for twelve + hours with three kids for Dad’s precious vacation to Deer Isle, Maine despite living a short drive from the very beautiful Jersey shore! Before the war they had been camp counselors near Camden, Maine and fell in love with Penobscot Bay. They bought a small piece of land on a cove in the early 1960s and built a cottage. I’ve been on the island for part of every summer, and since my parents are buried there in a lovely cemetery with room for the rest of us, plan to be there a long time. As native Mainers say, “Just because a cat has kittens in the oven, doesn’t make them biscuits”, I will never be a “native”, but it’s where my heart is and I’m now living in our cottage for 4 months of the year. As a setting, the island is not only stunning, but abounds with tales!

AM: You’re not afraid to tackle the deepening drug crisis in this book. What made you decide to have that theme when there’s also the anticipation of a summer wedding in the action?

KHP: First of all, I have a deep seated dislike for what I call “Soapbox Mysteries” in which the author has a point of view, social, political or otherwise, that gets rammed down the reader’s throat to the detriment of all else such as plot, setting characters etc. I wanted to write about the drug crisis on the island and by extension everywhere else, but did not want to preach or have it get in the way of the story.

But it is the story today and a grim one growing worse. We all have friends and family who have fallen victim to various addictions. By telling just one I wanted to put a face on the problem. In this book, a young woman, Arlene, becomes dependent as a result of prescription medicine she was legally given for pain after a car accident. I also did want to slip in information about medically assisted treatment and also the fact that there are no simple turnarounds. Addicts relapse. This doesn’t make them bad people or criminals. It makes them human and we need to cherish them. And weddings are times of great emotion, plus so much fun to write about!

AM: Your characters are your extended family by now, as you’ve carved lives for them and written of their growth. Do you plot this growth ahead or as you start each book? Do you have an over-arching story arc for any of them for their futures that you envision?

KHP: I think about the Fairchild family even when I am not looking at a computer screen. They have become very real to me. Now I wish I were one of those writers who say their characters take on lives of their own and write themselves, but I did not receive a draught of that potion. That said I ask myself that essential for all writers question, “What if?” and think about it in regard to this family.

What if Tom and Faith start to have problems in their marriage? What form would it take? What if son Ben is not the target of a bully, but joins the bullying group? What if daughter Amy fails to recognize the obvious signs that something more than an allergy is causing her employer’s stuffed up nose? Much of what I think about the Fairchilds never makes it into any of the books, but informs all of them. Not perfect people, thank goodness, but people I think we’d like to know. The story, the essential part of each book, grows from the characters and I have to make sure they don’t get in the way with too much detail—or not enough.

AM: Close friends are important to the Fairchilds and have become repeat characters. Yet you seamlessly weave in the ones we probably won’t see again, such as the Childs and the Cranes, with several surprises there. How much outlining do you do before plunging into the writing?

KHP: In the past I outlined extensively, but found I wasn’t using them so much as other methods. I think it’s Harlan Coben who answered one of his children with “Daddy’s working” when he was just sitting and staring out the window. Before I write a single word there’s much walking around, thinking in the shower, and especially during that time just before sleep. I know it doesn’t look like I am working, but I am.

I know where the book will take place since I alternate locales and always write a very lengthy synopsis that goes to my editor who may make a suggestion or two. Then I write the book. I use those notebooks from France with the small grids to keep my messy handwriting legible and start with a list of characters. I think of them as a kind of ensemble troupe with the leads, the Fairchilds, permanently cast and then others come and go. Some never cross the stage again, but the Millers, Ursula Rowe and Millicent Revere McKinley almost always make an appearance. That’s why the wedding was such a joy to include. Everyone was invited.

Last word: the villains in the story, the alive ones, never return for an encore!

AM: What forms the germ of a plot idea for a new story?

KHP: Back to process. The synopsis forms the skeleton of the book and it may, and does, change over the course of writing it (always the hard part). I keep lists of characters with a few words describing them on that first page of the notebook, followed by pages of a timeline and list of chapters with brief descriptions about what is happening in them as I go along. The timeline helps me keep the days straight, so if a week has passed, Faith doesn’t say, “Yesterday, I….”

I also keep a list of first and last lines by chapter so each does not start with “Faith woke up.” and end with “She heard a mysterious noise…” However, that last line has to make the reader keep turning to the next chapter and stay up all night. Plot ideas come from all sorts of sources, especially eavesdropping (I have no shame and my husband is used to being shushed in restaurants if there is something juicy being said at the next table. Also women say fascinating things in restrooms to each other when they think all the stalls are empty!).

My favorite description of the writing process comes from Madeleine L’Engle: “It’s like taking dictation from one’s imagination.”

AM: The recipes included at the back are a hallmark of your stories. Do you taste test them all? (I’m trying the Blueberry Buckle soon!)

KHP: The recipes are the most difficult parts of the books to write. I start them often a book ahead, knowing where the setting will be. They must all be original—can’t just open Julia and copy—and they need to be easy—not caterer types—require no expensive or exotic ingredients, and most all off taste delicious. The recipes in the Body in the Wake are summer ones, most Down East favorites with Faith’s spin on them. Fortunately I love to cook.

AM: Can you give readers a clue as to what lies ahead for Faith and her family?

KHP: Observant readers will have noted that Faith and Tom are aging much more slowly than their children (joy of fiction-I can do this, unlike one’s own march through the years). When the first book came out, a dear friend, the late William Deeck, who knew more about the genre than anyone I’ve ever known, advised keeping the children in the wings and avoid cuteness. I’ve stuck by this, but now that they are older, they are jumping in more, as in Amy in this book. So that’s a direction. And I do love Sophie Maxwell who was introduced in The Body in the Birches and now appears in a third book.

AM: -Whose books would we find on your nightstand? Which of your colleagues books you eagerly anticipate reading?

KHP: First my colleagues. I have always been a fan of Margaret Maron’s and was devastated when she stopped the Deborah Knott series. Also Dorothy Cannell—The Thin Woman is reread often to keep me from getting too depressed by world events. I also read Peter Robinson, Charles Todd, Harlan Coben, Ian Rankin, all the Scandinavians. Very different books from the kind I write. I also go back to vintage mysteries—Christie, Sayers, Mary Stewart, Rex Stout, Patricia Moyes, people like Joan Coggin, reprinted by Rue Morgue Press and all their other titles.

I read a great deal outside the genre as well. Right now, Maeve Brennan’s The Springs of Affection Dublin Stories. I enjoy Irish fiction, old and new, plus all the titles from Persephone Books, which reprints neglected fiction and nonfiction, mostly by women starting in the mid-twentieth century https://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/

Also YA- Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczko is an amazing new discovery. Love Lois Lowry, Cynthia Voigt, Angie Thomas. And always delve into a Neil Gaiman and Gregory Maguire. There is usually a thick biography in the stack, right now The Chief by David Nasaw (William Randolph Hearst). I read cookbooks with no intent on having to make the food, but just to read them for pleasure. Also food memoirs. Oh, and I totally need frequent doses of British chicklit—Sophie Kinsella, Katie Ffjorde and on our shores, the incomparable Mary Kay Andrews (great mysteries as Kathy Trocheck too). And cannot forget my most favorite— Nancy Mitford! Phew!

AM: Thank you, Katherine, for this enlightening look into your world. Readers will certainly enjoy The Body in the Wake

Death at the Dakota: Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries 2 Wednesday, May 1 2019 

Auntie M is happy to announce that her second Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery. DEATH AT THE DAKOTA, is out and availabLe on Amazon.com in trade paperback and soon to be in Kindle. Coming in Audible later this summer, too, read by the wonderful Lucinda Gainey, Dakota is already garnering 5-Star reviews.

Part procedural, part cozy, Death at the Dakota is a well-crafted and highly entertaining mystery.- Bruce Robert Coffin, #1 bestselling author of the Detective Byron mysteries.

Nurse Trudy Genova is making plans to take her relationship to NYPD detective Ned O’Malley to the next level, when she lands a gig as medical consultant on a film shoot at the famed Dakota apartment building in Manhattan, which John Lennon once called home. Then star Monica Kiley goes missing, a cast member turns up dead, and it appears Trudy might be next. Meanwhile Ned tackles a mysterious murder case in which the victim is burned beyond recognition. When his investigations lead him back to the Dakota, Trudy finds herself wondering: how can she fall in love if she can’t even survive?

Readers of Death Unscripted, the first book in the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery series, will find the same pleasures in this sequel: fast pacing, engaging characters, twists and turns on the way to a satisfying close. Once again M.K. Graff reveals her talents in crafting this delightful mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural.

I fell in love — not only with co-protagonists, Trudy and Ned, the richly detailed and historic setting of The Dakota, and the unique cast of characters, but with the unusual plot of Death at the Dakota. Sherry Harris, Agatha Award nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries.

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Jan McCanless:The Opera House Murders Wednesday, Mar 27 2019 

Please welcome Jan McCanless, whose two series are filled with humor, to describe her newest book, The Opera House Murders:

The Opera House Murders is the 15th book by award-winning author Jan McCanless. Her Beryl’s Cove Mystery series has been hugely popular, as has her Brother Jerome books. This is the third in her Brother Jerome series, and all those endearing characters are back, along with some visitors from Beryl’s Cove, including Dawg and Elvis.

This time around Abbot Jerome, everybodys favorite misfit monk, is called to England by his feisty, favorite relative, his Aunt Jessie. She has a family secret she wants to impart to “Chip”, the Abbot, but, somehow she can’t seem to get around to it. Someone has killed the Lord of the manner, Lord Julian Spencer, and everyone is a suspect. Her Ladyship proves to be a formidable character herself.

Things that go bump in the night, and hidden rooms are in the offering, as Chip tries to remain the one ‘adult in the room.” Once back at the Monastery of the Blue Ridge, in North Carolina, things don’t improve any, as the Abbot is called to Charlotte by his Bishop, due to things being amiss in the diocese. Chip is just the one to solve the mystery, the Bishop thinks.

With hardly a moment to himself and his misfit monks, Chip’s life is complicated further by a fire that destroys the monk’s barn, and the appearance on the scene of a comely female Episcopal priest, in the mountains on retreat.

How Abbot Jerome balances all this turmoil and solves his crises of faith makes for another interesting, fun read by Author Jan McCanless.

The book is available in area gift shops ( Statesville and mid western gift shops expecially), the public library, Amazon.com, and can be purchased at Jans website : http://www.janmacbooks.com

ALSO AVAILABLE ON KINDLE

Mary Daheim: A Case of Bier Sunday, Feb 24 2019 

Mary Daheim’s Bed-and-Breakfast Mysterys now number an astounding thirty-one with the publication of A Case of Bier!

The bed-and-breakfast Judith McMonigle Flynn runs with her husband, Joe has been turned over for the week to her neighbor so she and Joe can travel with her cousin Renie to the Canadian Rockies. Renie’s Bill and Joe have booked a nice fly-fishing jaunt their first weekend. It’s a trip they are all looking forward to, if they can get Renie awake and in the car.

Off they go, only to find their expected lovely stay has been booked in not quite the place they imagined. No matter. While the men rest, the ladies take a walk along the river.

They find members of the Stokes family camping out, waiting for the patriarch’s demise so he can have the sendoff he’d requested, at just this spot on the Bow River on a bier, borrowed from a local funeral home.

At their motel, the gals meet the Odells, other members of the Stokes family. It’s a weird gathering when on their walk the next morning, the campsite is filled with crying family members. Codger has died, it would seem.

But wait! He’s actually been murdered! Stabbed twice in the back while he slept. Who would have bothered to kill an old man waiting to die?

It’s too much for Judith to leave alone. And then it appears the dead man might not be Codger at all.

Another fun entry in this long-running cozy series, the quirky case is filled with wry humor and wit.

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