Leonard Goldberg: The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Tuesday, Jun 13 2017 

Leonard Goldberg is a physician whose name readers might recognize from his many medical thrillers. In this newest outing, Goldberg ventures into the past of 1910 and Edwardian London, and brings a twist to the Sherlock Holmes canon with The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes.

It’s a winning combination of an elderly Dr. Watson, his physician son, also John, and a young woman who assists them in unraveling the supposed suicide of a young man after she and her young son witness the death.

The brilliant mind of Joanna Blalock soon leads Watson to confide in his son that she is none other than the daughter of the late Sherlock Holmes and the only woman who ever outwitted the great mind, Irene Adler. Watson is entrusted with that knowledge, and now John, Jr. is the second person who knows the truth of the young widow’s lineage.

It’s a fine setup as the book moves along, and fans of anything Sherlock will be captivated. This time it’s a female who has the brains to observe and deduce, which Joanna does in fine fashion in a compelling and readable storyline.

That she also happens to be beautiful and captivates John’s heart is an aside that adds to the texture and gladdens Watson’s heart.

The mystery surrounding the death ties into hidden treasure stolen during the Second Afghan War. As the body count rises, it will be up to this trio to figure out how the culprit is managing to kill the members of a special quartet, and how they can protect the remaining member.

It’s a fast-paced story, containing a cipher, a secret room, and enough Sherlockian ties to make readers flip pages fast. A quick, entertaining read, Auntie M hopes Mr. Goldberg plans to bring readers more of this new detecting team.

Sandra Brown: Sting Sunday, Jun 11 2017 

Sandra Brown’s latest thriller, Sting, has all the hallmarks that made Brown a NY Times bestselling author: fast pacing; a story that twists and turns; and a hint of chemistry between the two protagonists.

But in this case, that chemistry between Jordie Bennet and Shaw Kinnard has a huge mountain to cross: he’s been sent to the backwater bayou in Louisiana to kill her.

All is not what it seems when Kinnard kidnaps Jordie. She has the unfortunate luck to have a psychopath for a brother, and since he has stolen 30 million dollars, there are a lot of people who’d like to get their hands on the money–including the person it was stolen from.

With realistic characters and a plausible setup, readers will still be surprised at some of the turns the plot takes, especially when they can’t see how the ending can possibly turn out well.

Another terrific summer read from a master thriller writer~

Hallie Ephron: You’ll Never Know, Dear Tuesday, Jun 6 2017 

Hallie Ephron’s fifth suspense novel show how a talented writer can find an unusual premise and make it work. You’ll Never Know, Dear brings three generations of strong women in the Woodham family together to solve a decades-old mystery.

When Lissie and her sister Janey were outside their South Carolina low-country home when Lissie’s attention is diverted by a puppy. When she returns, Janey has disappeared, and remains so for forty years. Despite the length of time, their mother, Miss Sorrel, places an ad every year in the paper that shows the doll she made for Janey, and offers a cash reward for its return, hoping this will be the clue that finds Janey.

Miss Sorrel is Lisse and Janey’s mother. Aided now by her neighbor, nurse Evelyn Dumont, the duo repair dolls, after a career of making hand-painted one-of-a-kind dolls that bear the face of the child who becomes their owners. She’s hoping even after all these years that the doll will be returned and be the key to Janey. And then suddenly, a young woman shows up with what Miss Sorrel is convinced is Janey’s doll.

Then a horrid accident put Miss Sorrel and Lissie in the hospital, and Lissie’s daughter, Vanessa, leaves her research project on dreams to help out. The three women will bind together, despite their differences, to try to solve the cold case and find out if Janey could possibly be alive. The women will need all of their smarts when they face evil.

The setting is definitely a character here, with small-town secrets and lazy warm days leaping off the page and adding to the southern gothic feel. Along with a realistic portrait of differing personalties within one family, readers will be delighted to learn the ins and outs of doll making and restoration, too, an added bonus to the suspense.

Elly Griffiths: The Chalk Pit Tuesday, May 30 2017 

Elly Griffiths returns with her ninth Ruth Galloway mystery, The Chalk Pit, a strong addition to the popular series.

The series, set in Norwich, is such a favorite of Auntie M’s that her next Nora Tierney English Mystery, The Golden Hour, features a character is reading the latest mystery–and Elly appears briefly as a friend of Nora’s.

There are good reasons why the award-winning author is hugely popular. The anthropology details are accurate but never dry, and always couched in a really good mystery to be solved. Then there are the returning characters–Ruth, Detective Nelson, and several of their friends and colleagues–who reappear and catch readers in the tumble of their lives.

This keeps the reader involved in Ruth’s world, where she’s the single parent of young Kate, a precocious child who is offered a small role in an experimental version of Alice in Wonderland.

The play comes at the same time that Ruth is called to investigate bones found in an old chalk pit during excavation for an underground restaurant. When the bones turn out to be human, it involves Nelson, too, and the mystery takes off as the relationship between Ruth and Nelson becomes even more complicated.

Ruth notices the bones appear so translucent, they might have been boiled. A second body is found, and fear mounts. Is this the work of a cannibal killer? Could there be a secret society at work? Why are the homeless being targeted? When a homeless woman goes missing, Ruth and Nelson fear she’s the next victim.

As the tension mounts, someone close them will also go missing. The story twists in their efforts to find the killer in a tense climax that will have readers flipping pages to the conclusion.

Another rewarding read in this satisfying series from the author who also writes the The Magic Men Mysteries. Highly recommended.

James Oswald: Written in Bones Sunday, May 28 2017 

James Oswald’s Inspector McLean series is one of Auntie M’s personal favorites. Written in Bones continues the compelling Edinburgh-based mystery series with its strong protagonist. And yes, the award-winning and nominated author really does raise pedigree Highland cattle and New Zealand Romney sheep on his North East Fife farm. You can see amazing photos of his livestock on his website and Facebook pages.

This case seems to be one without an answer. A young boy walking his dog early in the morning talks of a dragon flying overhead; then a body drops into a tree in the Meadows, Edinburgh’s scenic park. It’s not a crime scene of the faint of heart.

The victim is an ex-cop who had a criminal past, and after serving his time, had reinvented himself as a philanthropist for addicts and other causes. Was his death an accident? Or a message to those left behind?

It will take McLean back to digging out past cases and history, while he comes into contact with someone he thought he’d left behind, just as he’s trying to sort out his personal life.

One of the highlights of the series is the way Oswald brings Edinburgh, and his band of characters, to life. This is gritty stuff with an edge or realism that sharpness the focus. And as always, McLean needs to avoid exacerbating his already-ugly relationship with most of his superiors, as he doesn’t always play by the book–perhaps never.

Another outstanding entry in the series. Highly recommended.

Richard Montanari: The Killing Room Sunday, May 21 2017 

This was the first of the long-running Byrne and Balzao novel’s that Auntie M has had the pleasure to read, but it certainly won’t the last. She loves when she finds a new series to dig into, and she will now go back and read what leads up to the action in Richard Montanari’s newest, The Killing Room.

Set in Philadelphia neighborhoods, from its highest to its lowest, an abandoned church becomes the setting for the team’s latest murder. Despite its brutality, neither detective is prepared when a second body and then a third is found, also in deconsecrated churches, all in different methods of horrific brutality causing the death of the victim.

For the seasoned detectives, the crimes are more than disturbing and hit them on a personal level in different ways. It only adds to Byrne’s stress that he’s taken on trying to be a kind of mentor to troubled young teen.

With an obvious killer seemingly ahead of them at each step, the two homicide detectives will need all of their smarts to outwit the chilling killer. The ties to the Church and theology are fascinating and an important clue will come to them from an unlikely source.

The interplay between senior partner Kevin Byrne, living alone with his daughter at college, and the younger Jessica Balzano, married to a detective and with a young family at home, is a highlight of the series where two professionals who have each other’s back can exist in well-practiced teamwork that allows them to mine each other’s strengths.

Readers who haven’t discovered this series, like Auntie M, will find themselves hunting for the previous novels on the strength of this absorbing story.

Julia Dahl: Conviction Wednesday, May 17 2017 

Megan Abbott calls Julia Dahl’s third Rebekah Roberts novel “. . . a thrilling, utterly absorbing crime novel” with good reason.

The young intrepid journalist becomes intrigued when a prisoner in jail for over two decades sends a letter: “I didn’t do it.”

With her job at the tabloid newspaper frustrating her, especially after she’s been passed over for a well-deserved promotion, Rebekah starts to investigate DeShawn Perkins’ claim that he did not kill the foster parents who had taken him in, nor his little foster sister.

What she finds will stand his conviction on its ear as an eyewitness changes her testimony–but will the woman have the courage to admit this in court? Her digging also brings her into conflict with her newly discovered mother and the cop who has been on her side in previous investigations in the Hasidic community.

While part of the history leading up to the Crown Heights riots and this particular murder are told from the viewpoint back in the early 90’s, the chapters in current time as Rebekah investigates will bring her face to face with a difficult decision of her own: who does she owe allegiance to–the people she loves, or the truth?

With a fine eye for reality, Dahl brings another story with layers and layers of humanity in it to light. Highly recommended.


Lisa Scottoline: One Perfect Lie Sunday, May 14 2017 

Lisa Scootline’s thrillers are classics of the genre, and she returns with One Perfect Lie, where things are not as they seem from the outset.

Chris Brennan is the perfect teacher to step into the role of teaching government in the high school, as well as coaching assistant for the small town of Central Valley, PA. It is to Scottoline’s credit that the real purpose of his application is hidden from readers at first, as everything he’s told his new principal is a lie.

And lying is what Chris is particularly good at.

Small town life springs alive as we meet three very different families and the secrets they hide. Chris has a hidden agenda, and his classes and his coaching are set up to allow him to find which young student he can bring on side–but to what purpose? What is the dark reason behind his actions that drives him, and how will that affect these three young men, and the entire town?

The baseball team is important to this community and to these three families in particular. There’s the surgeon’s wife whose spoiled son drives a BMW to school while she indulges in too many G&Ts; the new widow whose talented pitcher son needs the scholarship he’s after, just as he searches for a new father figure; and the single mom whose shy son, also talented, may allow him to be easily influenced by darker forces. Which one is most at risk? And from whom?

The pace keeps ratcheting up as the book progresses, until there’s an almost cinematic climax, worthy of the big screen and an action movie. But there’s also heart and emotion that allows readers inside the lives and minds of the characters, and that’s a winning combination, even as the anticipation escalates. A fast-paced, satisfying read.

Stephen Booth: Secrets of Death Sunday, Apr 23 2017 

It might be tough for some authors to keep coming up with an original story when they approach writing their 16th installment in a series. But Stephen Booth manages to keep reader’s attention with his creative plot in his newest Cooper and Fry mystery, Secrets of Death.

With Diane Fry in Nottingham, re-evaluating her relationship with her sister and working on a triple homicide, Ben Cooper as DI in Derbyshire’s E Division keeps trying to get back out on the streets he loves. In his new cottage, hoping to start afresh, he’s looking for a pattern in a spate of recent suicides in the Peak District, just in time for tourist season.

With no way to predict where the next body will be found, it’s an unlucky task before Ben and his team, who will find a surprising new member before the case is solved.

Then he finds a clue, a black business card from “Secrets of Death,” and realizes someone is encouraging depressed people to commit suicide right in his backyard. It gets personal when a body is found on his home farm, upping the urgency.

The landscape of the area is lovingly defined as the bodies continue to mount, and when it seems Fry’s case might be connected to Ben’s after all, and the two are forced to work together once again.

A highly satisfying entry in this series.

Sarah Hilary: Quieter Than Killing Sunday, Apr 16 2017 

Sarah Hilary’s fourth in her Marnie Rome series, Quieter than Killing, is one fellow author Jane Casey calls ” . . . a fine addition to a superb series.”

Severe winter cold is affecting everyone in London, making seemingly random attacks on victims unrelated, until a pattern starts to appear. Could they have a vigilante seeking justice on their hands?

With DS Noah Jake as her right-hand man, Marnie becomes intrinsically involved when the family home she’s rented is broken into and ransacked, her tenants beaten up, and the only thing taken was a childhood memory that Marnie had lost sight of.

Someone has decided to make this deeply personal, and for Marnie, that involves going to the prison the face the man who murdered her parents.

Who is pulling the strings here? What does Noah’s brother’s old gang have to do with it all? And when a child goes missing, why has no one reported his disappearance?

In a series of remarkable scenes, the compelling plot unfolds as Marne and Jake embark on their toughest investigation yet. Hilary’s characters are terribly human, and the story is filled with deep emotions on all sides of the equation.

An original story, with hard, gripping scenes, this one’s a real knockout. Highly recommended

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