Julia Keller: The Cold Way Home Thursday, Aug 22 2019 

Keller’s returns with Bell Elkins in The Cold Way Home, and proves that the stories of Bell and her compatriots are still compelling even though their individual situations have vastly changed over the arc of the series.

Family is at the heart of this one, pride in one, what makes up one, and what we will do for ours. One of the strengths of this series is the realistic characters of rural West Virginia and Acker’s Gap, Bell’s hometown.

The former prosecutor is now a private investigator, helped by two other friends and compatriots: Nick Fogelsong and Jake Oakes, former sheriff and deputy respectively. There’s a missing girl they need to find, but there’s also a murder, with the body found on the burned-out grounds of a former psychiatric hospital.

Wellwood had a notoriety even before it burned to the ground, which is where the body of Darla Gilley, sister of Nick’s best friend, Joe, is found. These woods are where Bell and her sister Shirley played as children, and she knows them well, down to the nickname for a twisted tree.

Trying to find the root of the murder of Darla means going through all of her connections in town. It also means looking into the death of her grandmother, a former employee of Wellwood when it was functioning. Is it too much to believe there’s no coincidence between both murdered bodies being found at Wellwood?

While just a burned out shell now, the ghosts or Wellwood hang over the story and inhabit the investigation. And help will come to Bell from an unlikely source.

One of the best in a strong series, this could easily be read as a stand-alone if you aren’t already a fan of Bell Elkins and her crew.

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.

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.

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.

Lesley Thomson: The Playground Murders Sunday, Jul 7 2019 

Please welcome UK author Lesley Thomson, to talk about the setting of her new Detective’s Daughter mystery, The Playground Murders.

Writing Nail-Biting Mystery Stories in a sleepy English Village

Each year our small, willful poodle Alfred and I visit Winchcombe in the Cotswolds, an idyllic part of the UK with honey colored cottages on winding lanes, the church spire’s cockerel glinting in the sun. Our modest dwelling has a woodstove and walls as thick as a castle (don’t picture a candle-lit hovel, we’ve got the internet and Alexa.) Winchcombe is perfect place to write a murder story!

Winchcombe’s nineteen-fifties pace suits me as my head buzzes with the drama of my detectives. Stella runs a cleaning company. Jack’s a train driver on the London Underground. She’s logical and sees dust, he’s fanciful and sees ghosts. Many of The Detective’s Daughter novels are set in London, my home town. Like me, Stella’s a city girl, fazed by cows, mud and pitch darkness at night.

There’s an eighteenth-century house in Winchcombe that’s pure Jane Austen with stone steps to the front door. In The Playground Murders, I put a body in the hall. The Death Chamber refers to a Neolithic burial mound outside Winchcombe. Some ask if it’s wise setting novels on my own doorstep. (Actually. one character dies in our sitting room.) ‘No problem’, I have replied,

Until… Alfred and I were splashed over The Gloucestershire Echo. The crime-writer and her dog. Now we’re recognized in shops. I discuss Stella and Jack with the lovely woman who froths my latte. No more flinging myself together with scant care, I linger over my wardrobe and apply make-up before buying a newspaper.

If you’re jittery as you turn the pages of The Playground Murders, doors and windows locked, imagine the tranquil village in which I write. And Alfred snoozing on the mat, paws in the air.

Lesley first novel A Kind of Vanishing won The People’s Book Prize. The Detective’s Daughter was Amazon UK’s longest running No. one in 2013, knocking JK Rowling (Robert Galbraith) down to No. two. Lesley’s protagonist Stella Darnell is ‘one of the most original characters in British Crime Fiction’ Sunday Times. The Detective’s Daughter series has sold over 750K copies. The Playground Murders, latest in the series, came out in 2019(‘As compelling as its predecessors … A white-knuckle read: The Tablet). Lesley is writing a standalone, Death of a Mermaid. She lives with her partner and small poodle called Alfred in Lewes, a little town in Sussex that boasts a castle and a forbidding Victorian Prison.

Alison Gaylin: Never Look Back Tuesday, Jul 2 2019 


Edgar-Award winner (for If I Die Tonight) Alison Gaylin returns with a powerful psychological suspense thriller, Never Look Back.

Using the timely idea of podcasts to examine true murder, Gaylin introduces podcast producer Quentin Garrison, determined to find closure of his own through the podcast aptly named Closure.

In 1976, teens April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy ran amok in Southern California, killing almost a dozen victims in a two-week period as they ran from polce before dying in a fire.

Decades later, Quentin has lived in the shadow of those killings after a troubled childhood. Things start to spin out of control when he’s given credible evidence that leads him to believe April Cooper survived that fire.

As Quentin leaves his husband to follow the trail across the country, NYC film columnist Robin Diamond, already doubting the strength of her marriage and her husband’s fidelity, has a tough day at work when her new column sparks a series of horrific internet trolls. Her week only worsens after a call from Quentin and a home invasion that turns everything she thought she knew on its head.

The main points of view belong to Quentin, Robin, and the young April Cooper, who finds herself in a situation she could never imagine, and describes events in a series of letters to her unborn child.

Looking at the distorted lens of parent and child relationships adds depth to this thriller, while asking the question: how much of our lives are down to our parents behavior, and how much to our own actions and choices.

Being haunted by the past, despite the efforts of some of the characters, is almost an impossible feat, and it wouldn’t be a spoiler to say that “closure” may not be what some of these interesting characters find.

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.

Dan Fesperman: Safe Houses Sunday, Jun 23 2019 

The dizzying cover of Dan Fesperman’s Safe Houses mirrors the exhilarating pace readers will find inside in this tale of how Cold War Berlin events reach into the present day.

The CIA’s Helen maintains a safe house in Berlin, despite yearning to be the agent she knows she can be. Male power abuse reins her in until a situation occurs that changes everything.

In the present, Anna is determined to find out who murdered her parents in their rural Maryland home, refusing to believe it could be her brother. Both are strong women; both storylines alternate in a seamless way that brings the dual mysteries to life.

There’s a spareness to Fesperman’s prose that adds to the twists and action of the book, whose themes underscore the ideas of loyalty and betrayal in mmany guises that adds to the timeliness of the storyline.

Fesperman’s background as a war correspondent adds to the thorough research he’s done to bring the Cold War to life. With realistic dialogue and believeable characters, this is one chilling novel where a Cold War mystery collides with a present day murder.

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