Peter Blauner: Sunrise Highway Sunday, Oct 14 2018 

As a native Long Islander, Auntie M has long been intrigued with the string of unsolved murders from the place where she grew up and lived until her mid-40s. Now Peter Blauner delivers a possible solution with the story of one man who manages to hide his pyschopathy enough to cover his tracks for years in the very compelling Sunrise Highway.

Told in advancing years, readers figure out soon enough who the culprit is, watching Joey Tolliver rise from a teen on the cusp of a criminal career to becoming a decorated policeman.

Along the way he gathers supporters and people who owe him and look the other way, which allows his outrageous and horrific behavior to continue.

Then in 2017, when Tolliver is Chief of Police, a Latina NYPD detective, Lourdes Robles, finds that her investigation into the body of a young woman washed up on her patch leads her to similarities of a multitude of other female victims, a trail along Sunrise Highway in Long Island all the way to Brooklyn.

She’s tenacious and relentless, despite career and personal threats, in following the evidence, as she must fight against the political powerhouses in of the justice system itself. And just as it seems she’s making headway, she finds herself on the opposite site of the law.

The chapters alternate between Tolliver’s rise and Robles’ investigation, heightening the tension to a terrific pitch.

This read so plausibly it made Auntie M’s hair rise on her arms. It’s too believeable to see one person make a life’s work of extreme misogyny while supposedly upholding law and order.

The setting rings true with its familiarity, but the main attraction here are the strong characters, easily pictured and believed, along with the grunt police work and the thrill of escalating twists that will keep readers glued to the book. Highly recommended.

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Paul Doiron: Stay Hidden Thursday, Sep 27 2018 

Paul Doiron’s Mike Bowditch series reflects the beauty and hardiness of Maine. He returns in a new mode for Bowditch in Stay Hidden, when the newly promoted Warden Investigator receives his first case.

Maquoit Island is isolated, and at first Bowditch isn’t surprised that a flash of white clothing has caused a deer hunter to mistake that for a deer, fatally shooting a woman.

But the hunter in question denies the shooting, and when the ballistics don’t match his rifle, he’s cleared.

Suddenly the accidental death appears far much more, especially when Bowditch learns Ariel Evans was an investigative journalist. She was supposed to interview and research the islan’ds hermit with a view to writing about his past life.

Bowditch confronts his most secretive community yet, and his efforts are thwarted.

And then the dead woman alights from a ferry, unharmed. It’s a case of mistaken identity, but it soon becomes clear the murderer thought he was killing Ariel.

The two will team up to find who wanted her dead, and why.

With taut action against the backdrop of the rugged terrain and sometimes walls of fog, this is a strong entry in the Bowditch series.

Allison Brennan: Abandoned Monday, Sep 24 2018 

Allison Brennan’s newest thriller, Abandoned, revolves around her investigative reporter Max Revere, about to tackle her most important case yet: finding out who murdered her mother.

Martha Revere will never win awards for Mother of the Year, and indeed she leaves Max with her grandparents after dragging the young girl around the world without formal schooling.

Postcards sent from Martha’s travels erratically are the only clue the young woman has when she decides to put her cable show on hold to find out why those cards stopped coming seven years ago.

With her only clue her mother’s disappearance from a small Chesapeake Bay town sixteen years ago, Max heads there, renting a cottage and determined to find the truth.

She will find that Martha was with a true con man before her disappearance, and they lived off Martha’s trust fund income and what they swindled from others they’d duped.

And when the FBI indicates they have an active investigation into the con man, Max knows she’s on the right track.

Where her probing leads her is straight into the heart of long-held secrets, from her family and others, with surprsing twists in store. Along the way, Max learns about creating a family.

A strong entry in Brennan’s cannon, with interesting characters, an idyllic setting, and a twist of romance to sweeten the plot.

Aline Templeton: Human Face Thursday, Sep 20 2018 


Aline Templeton’s DI Marjory Fleming series is one of Auntie M’s favorites, so it was with great anticipation that she dove into the first of Templeton’s new series, Human Face.

Featuring DI Kelso Strang, dealing with the after effects of a life-changing accidnet, he’s sent to unravel the case of a missing woman on the Isle of Skye.

The isolated landscape in the shadow of the Black Cuillin range proves threatening to Strang and matches his bleak mood. He’s been sent to followup on the disappearance of a housekeeper, Eva, at Balnasheil, the isolated manor that houses the charity Human Face, which helps bring food and medical care to Third World children.

The charity’s founder and biggest donor, Beatrice Lacey, is a woman with her own secrets; enigmatic co-founder Adam Carnegie has charmed her with the promise of a life for them together. They live together but separately at Balnasheil, across the bay from the small town.

When Strang finds out Eva is actually the second housekeeper to disappear, the case becomes a probable murder investigation–until a confirmed murder happens on the premises, throwing Strang and his cobbled-together team into a whirlwind case.

Strang’s a believeable protagonist, needing the responsibility of the case and decisive position to blot out his memories. But he also becomes an unwilling mentor to a young PC determined to prove her chops as a budding detective.

A nicely twisted plot, weather that turns on a dime, landscape that functions as more than a setting, and complex characters hiding secrets all add up to grand mystery.

This debut promises the new series will bring all of these hallmarks that make Templeton’s books ones that have won a legion of faithful readers.

Wendy Corsi Staub: Little Girl Lost Sunday, Sep 16 2018 

Award-winning thriller author Wendy Corsi Staub debuts the first in a new Foundling series with Little Girl Lost.
Staub’s latest, Little Girl Lost, is the first book in her new Foundlings trilogy, where lives become intertwined and secrets are kept.

It’s the pre-dawn hours of May 12, 1968, a Mother’s Day Calvin Crenshaw won’t soon forget. As janitor at Harlem’s Park Baptist Church, his work is interrupted by a whimpering sound coming from the choir stall.

He finds a baby there, wrapped in a small bundle. Having been unable to conceive a child with his wife, he makes the fateful decision to claim the infant girl as their own.

Elsewhere in New York City, an elusive serial killer known as the Brooklyn Butcher has been slaughtering families in their beds, leaving one young female survivor at each scene.

These seemingly disparate events are anything but that, under Staub’s skilled thriller writing.

Flash-forward to March 7, 1987 when college student Amelia Crenshaw makes the shocking discovery that she is a “foundling”—somebody that was abandoned by his or her birth parents to be discovered and cared for by another—as her mother lays dying of cancer in a hospital bed.

Both shocked and griefstricken, she vows to unlock the secrets of a past she never suspected she had—despite her father’s refusal to discuss the details of her supposed adoption.

NYPD Detective Stockton Barnes is grieving, too. He’s shown up in earlier novels, but now as his mentor and surrogate father wastes away, he receives a legal notice that a one-night stand he had is now pregnant with his child.

Barnes uses a new case to distract him: the disappearance of millionaire Perry Archibald Wayland III, whose supposed suicide may have been staged.

How Amelia and Barnes search for individual answers intersect bring them to a killing spree that harkens back to the Brooklyn Butcher.

Staub’s characterizations are vivid, with Amelia and Barnes providing the counter views of a youn girl who’s the product of an unwanted pregnancy, contrasted with Barnes being the cause of one. This emotional weight resonates with the reader.

Staub uses the backdrop of 1980s New York City to life through her depiction of landmarks and locales, as well as references to pop culture and politics. It’s a subtle thing but one that hints at the depth of her research—and that elevates the story.

Filled with twists and turns, Little Girl Lost is a suspense story that will leave readers looking for the next installment.

Michael Robotham: The Other Wife Friday, Sep 14 2018 

Micahel Robotham’s Professor Joe O’Loughlin is one of Auntie M’s favorite characters, ever. The psychologist struggling with Parkinson’s and grief, trying to parent his two growing daughters, has his shaking hands full again in The Other Wife.

When the call comes that his well-known and respected surgeon father, retired but still admired, has suffered an horrific attack and had to have brain surgery, Joe rushes to the ICU to find a strange woman, covered in his father’s blood, at his bedside.

This is the woman who found William O’Loughlin lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of the home she claims they share when William is in London, away from the home he shares in Wales with his wife of sixty years and Joe’s mother.

Olivia Blackstone is William’s other wife, married in a Buddhist ceremony, and bringing her own baggage along.

If it’s a shock to readers, we can only imagine the shock Joe must feel as he absorbs this radical new view of his father–the distant, cool man who raised him contrasts sharply with photos Olivia shares to prove their relationship.

This other man is smiling, brighter, happier than Joe has ever seen him. But regardless of the painful reality of his father having led two lives for over twenty years, comes the stark realization that someone wanted him dead, and the suspects start to mount up. It doesn’t help that the lead detective on the case doesn’t like Joe, which adds to the complications.

Counting on his good friend, retired police detective Vincent Ruiz, Joe will try to keep his daughters safe even as the younger, Emma, has her own struggles with the loss the previous year of her mother. With older sister Charlie now studying psychology at Oxford, Joe will lean on her to help Emma as he turns to tracing his father’s movements and the behavior that led to this attack.

There are even more surprises as the plot twists and take unexpected turns, but one thing readers can count on is Robotham’s ability to make them care about Joe and his family. There is even a small sense of triumph with the resolution of his father’s situation, one readers will smile at as it reveals Joe’s own human side.

This writing is exceptional. There is a huge sense of the author understanding human emotions and frailties, and being able to translate that to the page in such a subtle way that readers will wish, somehow, that Joe O’Loughlin was their friend. It’s why Vince sticks around, and Charlie and Emma love him. You will, too.

Auntie M is always moved by Robotham’s last chapters. Always.

Highly recommended.

Ann Cleeves: Wild Fire Friday, Sep 7 2018 


Ann Cleeves final book in her Shetland Island series is Wild Fire. Just having to write “final” makes Auntie M sad to see this fabulous series end, it goes out on a high note with Jimmy Perez’s team investigating their most interesting and complex case yet.

There are multiple personal storylines at play that add texture to what is a startling case, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Shetland Islands that Cleeves has brought to life for readers.

Helena and Daniel Fleming moved to remote Deltaness to escape the clog of London life and make a fresh start for their two young children, Ellie and her older brother Christopher, a high-functioning autistic lad. Renovating Hesti, the home they’d bought and enlarged, has kept architect Daniel busy, while Helena’s design business in knitted sweaters has taken off.

Shortly after moving in, the former owner of Hesti hanged himself in one of their outbuildings and was found by Daniel, whose depression has clouded the family’s new life.

Then Helena receives drawings of a hanged man, underlining the gossip and resentment some of the locals feel towards the incomers, and she informs Jimmy Perez. Helena knew his dead fiance, Fran, and this brings a connection between the two.

When a second body is found hanged at Hesti, Jimmy and his team must sort out just how many dysfunctional families there are in Deltaness.

While all families are dysfunctional, there are varied levels of degree. It will take Jimmy, his boss and sometime lover, Willow, as well as newer detective Sandy, to uncover the startling truth.

Intricately plotted, with Cleeves well-developed sense of character, this is a stunning end to the series, one Louise Penny calls: “Nothing short of riveting.” Highly recommended.

Stuart MacBride: The Blood Road Tuesday, Sep 4 2018 

Stuart MacBride’s Logan McRae series features some of the most creative and original characters written, mixed with twisted plots that keep readers flipping pages. He’s back with the 13th, The Blood Road, a wild ride that takes the Professional Standards detective back to investigation.

DI Bell is found stabbed and dead in the driver’s seat of car that’s crashed. Sad it might be, but shocking is more like it, as they buried the man two years ago after a suicidal fire. Or thought they did.

Reopening the investigation into the original incident brings with it so many secrets of the past, including just whose remains were buried in Bell’s casket, leading to an exhumation.

Given a few of his irregulars to help, Tufty and Steel, (it wouldn’t be the same without them), there’s also a raft of missing young children occupying the rest of the department. Rumors of a “livestock mart” where children are auctioned off are rampant.

And DI Fraser, running that investigation, has put in a complaint to Logan about DS Chalmers, supposedly working on the case but frequently off doing her own thing. Now what would this thing be?

It’s a twisted plot, as usual, because nothing is ever easy in Logan McRae’s life, even trying to advance his new relationship.

Reading a Logan McRae procedural is like coming home to old friends–some of whom you hope don’t drop in too often–but still, you’re fond of them . . . until things get out of control.

Readers won’t be able to stop flipping pages once they start htis newest addition. It’s like Christmas and Easter rolled into one, just missing the chocolate. Highly recommended.

Ann Cleeves: The Seagull Friday, Aug 31 2018 


It’s no secret Auntie M is a huge fan of anything Ann Cleeves writes, and reading THE SEAGULL was made even more special after meeting Brenda Blethyn, who plays Vera Stanhope, at Malice Domestic this year.

In interviews with Cleeves, it became clear that a deep affection exists between the award-winning actor and the award-winning author. Cleeves indicated that she trust Blethyn to interpret her Vera well, and indeed to readers who are fortunate to see the series, Vera does jump off the page.

The newest Vera novel takes the formidable detective to visit her old nemsis, Detective Superintendent John Brace, languishing in prisone after his conviction for high-level corruption and his involvement in the death of a gamekeeper.

Brace has information about the disappearance of one Robbie Marshall, information he will part with if Vera promises to keep his own daughter and grandchildren under her wing.

However, the promised site of the burial of Marshall’s body turns up not one corpse but two. Who is also buried in that sandy grave? And what ties does it have to Vera’s own father?

All were regular visitors to a tony nightclub of the time called The Seagull. Vera will travel back in time to her memories and dig deeply to solve the coldest case she’s come across yet.

Highly recommended.

Hank Phillippi Ryan: Trust Me Saturday, Aug 25 2018 

Hank Phillippi Ryan’s brilliant stand-alone, Trust Me, will keep readers riveted to their copy, flipping pages well after the light should be off.

Trust me: how often do people say that phrase in everyday conversation? It takes on new menace when uttered by Ashlyn Bryant, the young mother accused of murdering her three year-old daughter.

Mercer Hennessey is the writer dealing with unspeakable grief after a tragic accident. “People learn to live with grief. Their lives go on after a loss, even after a devastating loss. They have to keep living. I suppose.”

Katherine Craft is her editor and friend, and the one urging Mercer to take on the job of watching Ashlyn’s trial in real time to write an “instant book” about the Baby Boston murder trial. Katherine knows Mercer needs the money, but she needs a goal more.

Baby Boston has been identified as Tasha Nicole Bryant. And now Mercer has a reason to get out of bed every morning. Maybe there’s nothing she can do for her beloved Sophie, or her husband, Dex, but there is something she can do for Tasha. Tell her story.

So begins a most well-crafted tale, one of the struggle to deal with grief, and how that drives one writer to seek justice for a little dead girl. Mercer is convinced Ashlyn is guilty and sets about writing the book that will reveal that.

But wait! What if the mother on trial is really innocent? What if Ashlyn’s party lifestyle, reminiscent of a Casey Anthony, hides a good mother grieving for her child? How will Mercer distinguish between what is real and what is fiction?

With little forensic evidence linking Ashlyn to her daughter’s body, there’s plenty of room for speculation. Was Ashlyn a savvy murderer or was there another conspiracy at work?

As Mercer is forced to examine the roles we play, the script of our lives, weird things start to happen to her: a near-miss car accident; a toaster burning up and setting off the fire alarm in the middle of the night when no one was making toast.

What is the truth of the situation? Mercer comes to learn there are three possibilities concerning truth: “What we think it is. How someone presents it to us. And what it really is. The deep and inscrutable singular truth.”

With chapter endings that hold a punch, and told from Mercer’s point of view as the story evolves, this is Ryan’s most complex story yet, and one readers won’t be able to put down. Highly recommended.

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