Nicola Upson: Nine Lessons Saturday, Nov 25 2017 


The seventh entry in Upson’s remarkable series featuring Josephing Tey as a character is Nine Lessons, and if you haven’t found this series yet, now’s the time to pick up this one and then find your way to the previous six. All are intricately plotted, have researched settings of the period between the World Wars that brings that era to life, and perhaps most importantly, honest depictions of the characters who live within the pages, with all the foibles of humanity we recognize.

The focus this time revovles around Tey’s goood friend, DCI Archie Penrose and a case that seems almost unsolvable. He’s called to a churchyard where the corpse of the organist is found in an opened cryp. The man has died a horrific death; a photo of a manor house and a brief note as found with his body.

At the same time, Josephine is in Cambridge, helping to sort out a new house, when a series of attacks against women set the ancient city on edge.

When Archie’s next body is found near King’s College Chapel, it brings him to Josephine to help with old research on this case, as he’s discovered a connection between the two murders that has its genesis in the storied town when both victims were students. What could have happened twenty-five years ago that is making a murderer take his revenge now?

As if solving a complicated murder and finding a serial rapist were not enough, Upson continues the thread of Archie’s personal life and its own secrets in such a way that the final horrific twist in that story will have ramifications for years to come.

This is a complex and compelling story, encompassing what historical crime fiction should, blending true history with the fictional lives of these stunning characters into a whole book that moves the reader as it solves the crimes. Highly recommended.

Advertisements

Brenda Novak: Hello Again Sunday, Nov 19 2017 

Please welcome author Brenda Novak, whose Evelyn Talbot series has a new entry, Hello Again. Brenda will tell us ways to tell if we have psychopathic tendencies! You have our attention, Brenda!

Are YOU a Psychopath?

Dr. Evelyn Talbot, the psychiatrist heroine of my suspense series, which began with HANOVER HOUSE and HER DARKEST NIGHTMARE and now continues with HELLO AGAIN, studies psychopaths at a remote facility in Alaska.

Creating this unusual prison, where so many inmates are serial killers, has been a fascinating project for me, probably because Evelyn’s desire to know why these people do what they do—and why they are so difficult to detect and treat—mirrors my own. Although I don’t have Evelyn’s education in psychology, I have done a great deal of research in order to help me create believable characters with this personality disorder. Psychopaths are almost always portrayed as sadistic monsters, so you might be surprised to learn that some are “subclinical,” meaning they don’t kill people or get in trouble with the law. They are prone to wrecking lives in more subtle ways, however (i.e. using people, sabotaging people, manipulating people, blaming people, etc.), and there are a lot of them out there. Statistics indicate that psychopaths comprise about 4% of the population. That means, if you live in the United States, you have a greater chance of being a psychopath than of getting colon cancer! Here are six criteria that might indicate whether you have at least some antisocial traits.

1. Do you take your coffee black? A study from the University of Innsbruck in Austria found that people who like their coffee black are more likely to have psychopathic tendencies. Actually, the study tested “bitter foods” like coffee, but out of the 1000 people tested, there was a strong correlation between those who exhibit antisocial personality traits and those who prefer strong bitter flavors (such as coffee, beer, tonic water and radishes). Earlier studies seem to back this up. A dislike of bitter tastes is linked to greater emotional sensitivity in humans and rats.

2. Do you show lower levels of activity in the pre-frontal regions of your brain? Josh Buckholtz, associate professor of psychology at Harvard University, mapped the connections between the ventral striatum and other regions of the brain in 49 psychopaths. He found the connections between the striatum and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex were much weaker in people with psychopathy. “We need the prefrontal cortex to make prospective judgments on how an action will affect us in the future—if I do this, then this bad thing will happen… If you break that connection in anyone, they’re going to start making bad choices because they won’t have the information that would otherwise guide their decision-making to more adaptive ends.” He claims this is why psychopaths commit an astonishing amount of crime—they lack the ability to make good decisions.

3. To what extent, on a scale of 1 – 7 do you agree with this statement? “I am a narcissist.” (1 being that you aren’t very narcissistic and 7 being that you are very narcissistic.) If you answered that you are very narcissistic, you’re probably right. According to Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, and the author of a study that claims to be able to determine whether you are a psychopath from this one question, “People who are narcissists are almost proud of the fact. You can ask them directly because they don’t see narcissism as a negative quality—they believe they are superior to other people and are fine with saying that publicly.” Extreme narcissism is definitely one of the defining traits of a psychopath!

4. Are you a CEO, lawyer, salesman or surgeon? According to an article published in Forbes Magazine, psychopaths “display a fearless dominance over other people,” so they are perfect for these careers. The ones I’ve already named might not surprise you, but journalist, chef and even clergyman made the list of top ten careers that attract the most psychopaths!

5. Were you a callous and unemotional child? Dr. Eva Kimonis, a psychologist from the University of New South Wales, led an international research team who evaluated more than 200 children between three and six-years-old for these traits. The results, published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, revealed that 10 percent of the children tested showed signs of CU traits, including lack of empathy, affection and remorse. According to Dr. Kimonis, “We essentially found that preschoolers that show impaired development of conscience are deficient in how they process emotions, similar to what we find in older adolescent and adult populations with the same problems. These children are poorer at recognizing other people’s emotional expressions, and images depicting others in distress don’t capture their attention like it does for typically developing children as young as age three.”

6. Can you turn your empathy on and off? For quite some time, it was believed that psychopaths felt no empathy. This was proven to be the case through brain imaging. In one study, 24 convicted psychopaths were transferred to a Dutch forensic clinic, where activity in the part of the brain that registers empathy was measured while they were shown movies of people hurting each other. Their scans revealed much less empathy than that of the normal control group. But when the psychopaths were asked to identify with the people who were being hurt, the activity level in this part of their brains rose to the point that it became difficult to tell their scans apart from that of the controls. In other words, psychopaths can feel empathy if they choose to engage in that way. It just isn’t their default.

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you might be a little worried, but if that’s the case, you’re probably not a psychopath. Psychopaths don’t feel the same worry, anxiety and fear as normal people, which is why it’s so easy for them to do such terrible things. Also, many of these studies have their critics. Just because you like your coffee black might not indicate anything. Not only do tastes change over time, “bitterness” is subjective. And if you have lower levels of activity in the pre-frontal regions of your brain? Brain activity can vary widely within normal people. We certainly aren’t at the point where we can look at someone’s brain scan and claim, on that evidence alone, that they are or will become dangerous.

Still, the research in this field is fascinating, and I hope you’ll find Evelyn Talbot’s work with the serial killers in Hanover House just as intriguing. In HELLO AGAIN, she must match wits not only with a new inmate aptly nicknamed the Zombie Maker, but she might have to contend with the serial killer who nearly took her life when she was only sixteen (hence the title ).

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is the author of sixty books. A five-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Silver Bullet. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.6 million. For more about Brenda, please visit http://www.brendanovak.com.

Val McDermid: Insidious Intent Wednesday, Nov 15 2017 

Val McDermid’s Carol Jordan/Tony Hill series is one of Auntie M’s all-time continuing favorites. It seemed a while since there was a new one and reader’s wait will be rewarded with the unbelieveable Insidious Intent.

As the readers turns the last haunting page, there is a message from McDermid, asking readers not to spoil the ending for others. So there will be no spoiler alerts here, but suffice it to say that this one will leave readers speechless.

It starts with a burned body found in a car on a lonely country road and turns suspicious when it’s deemed the person was already dead when the fire was started. No suicide or mechanical issues here.

DCI Carol Jordan is tasked with the case as her first as the head of the newly-formed regional major incident team–reMIT, a way to forge policing ahead by taking on the most violent cases from all of the forces.

Jordan is still reeling from a screwup in the last book, Splinter the Silence, where what turned into an act of corruption, although noble, is dogging her heels.

There’s no choice but for her and her team to make a success of this case, but as the bodies start to mount up, one thing becomes clear: this killer has studied forensics in a way that stymies their every move and continues to elude justice.

Tony Hill has been staying with Carol at the barn that her brother and sister owned. After renovating it till there is no memory of their murders left, he’s concerned for Carol and hopes his presence will keep her from drinking. His profile on the case is skewed by this killer, until he figures out that the man is killing woman in a prelude to the one woman he really wants to kill.

Scenes from the killer’s point of view illustrate his cunning, and his invincible attitude. He feels he’s untouchable, and he may just be right.

Woven into this is the compelling story of Carol’s DS, Paula McIntyre, her partner, Dr. Elinor Blessing, and the teen they have staying with them after the death of his mother. Torin turns out to have more than his own issue to deal with, a timely one that could affect any youngster in today’s age.

But there’s a long road ahead as the team investigates and Carol relies on their varying areas of expertise, all the while she’s stalked by the investigative reporter intent on bringing her down, all leading to the ending that will leave you gobsmacked. I promise.

Jay Kristoff: Godsgrave Sunday, Nov 5 2017 

Jay Kristoff returns with assassin Mia Corvere in her quest for revenge in Godsgrave in a series that has made his name among teen readers.

This fantasy series uses a mix of ancient and horrific to mesmerize readers, often brutal, sometimes sensual.

Mia is with the Red Church ministry, going about her brutal business, but she still yearns to avenge her family and murder her enemies.

One of the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, she finds her nemeses, Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo will be at the conclusion of the games in Godsgrave. She will sell herself to a for the chance to end them.

But she will find amongst new friends and rival that there are conspiracies she never expected. As the body’s mount, Mia will discover a secret that changes everything.

This is Book Two of Kristoff’s Nevernight Chronicle, a spine-chilling series with touches of magic interwoven with the fantastic elements that make it an epic tale.

New in Paperback: Grippando and Chance Sunday, Oct 22 2017 

Two NEW in Paperback:

James Grippando brings his Miami criminal defense lawyer his toughest case yet in Most Dangerous Place, when a woman stands trial for murdering the man who sexually assaulted her a decade ago. It’s a sad truth that one in four female college students will be sexually assaulted during her college years.

The master of legal thrillers blends a wild story with legal issues, when Jack’s high school friend, Keith Ingraham begs him to help Keeth’s wife Isabelle, arrested for conspiracy to murder her college rapist.

Jack readily agrees to represent his friend’s wife, known as Isa, but the tension rises when he starts to doubt his own client. Is Isa who she seems to be? With surprises hitting Jack as he tries to craft his case, readers will be shocked at the ending.

Inspired by a true case, Grippando wrote the book to bring awareness to the difficult road rape victims still travel.

Set during Prohibition New York, the investigating duo of former socialite Lola Woodby and her Swedish cook, Berta, have set up shop in Lola’s dead husband’s bolthole–or would secret love nest be more accurate?

But setting up a new business in these dicey times isn’t easy, and they take what cases they can. The Discreet Retrieval Agency promises no job is too trivial, so when Sophronia Whiddle appears at their door, requesting what seems an easy job, one look at their bank account has the two heading to the health farm where Grace Whiddle is staying.

Their goal is to retrieve Grace’s dairy so any compromising information would not come to light as she is to be married shortly to a senator’s son. The promise of their $500 fee once the diary is delivered is a healthy inducement, despite Lola’s misgivings.

There are several catches: this health farm is run by Lola’s brother-in-law, for a start; Lola doesn’t want her mother to know of her work. Things quickly go from bad to worse when Grace leaves, along with her diary, after her future mother-in-law is found murdered on the grounds. Soon the ladies have a new client and new case: to find the murderer. There will be more death, a tie in with history, and the breakup of the agency before it’s all sorted.

Chance’s love of all things vintage shines through, with a nice dollop of humor.

M. C. Beaton: The Witches’ Tree Saturday, Oct 14 2017 

Beaton celebrates the 25th anniversary of her popular Agatha Raisin series with The Witches’ Tree, where Agatha gets to sink her teeth into a new case.

This one smacks of more than lost cats when the new vicar and his wife, driving home from a dinner party in Sumpton Harcourt when their headlights pick out the dangling body of a murdered woman, hanging from a tree.

Who murdered Margaret Darby, and what could the elderly spinster possibly have done to warrant such an action?

Readers will be treated to the delightful banter between Agatha and Sir Charles, hints of romances, and more dark offerings to follow as a witches’ coven is involved–and don’t forget the pair of trust-fund siblings Agatha comes across.

The absurb lives alongside the rational as usual. Fans will eat it up. The series has been made for British Television and some PBS channels as well as Acors TV will carry it here.

Will Thomas: Old Scores Sunday, Oct 8 2017 

Will Thomas’ historical series featuring private enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his right-hand assistant, Thomas Llewelyn returns with an intricately-plotted mystery, Old Scores.

It’s 1890 and things are becoming modernized when a Japanese delegation, in England to form a new embassy, arrive to visit Barker’s own Japanese garden along with the new ambassador. The team he arrives with are varied, and Llewelyn fancies that Barker recognizes one of the men.

When the ambassador is shot that same evening, Barker is found across the street and immediately arrested, although that doesn’t last long. Despite the Foreign Branch subjecting him to a more than necessary interrogation, his lawyer manages to procure his release. At the behest of the new ambassador, Barker and Llewelyn undertake an investigation to find the real murderer.

This time readers learn more of Barker’s past and his time in Japan, as well as the cultural overtones of the political situation of the era. There are personal details that come with personal revelations. Authentic period details spring off the page and speak to Thomas’ research. Llewelyn’s own situation comes into play, as does the ward Barker keeps an eye on, now married.

It’s a complex unraveling they must undertake, chock full of sly humor and a bit of suspense in a most atmospheric London.

Lois Winston: Scrapbook of Murder Thursday, Oct 5 2017 

Please welcome Lois Winston, a very busy woman who has more irons in the fire than Auntie M can count! She’s here today to talk to us about her new release, Scrapbook of Murder:


Authors are often advised to write what we know, but that advice can become problematic for those of us who write about murder and mayhem. Unless our day jobs involve working in criminal justice, we don’t usually have firsthand experience with the seamier side of humanity. Have you ever met a killer? Most people haven’t.

Without exception, every plot and subplot I’ve included in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries springs from actual events I’ve read about in the news. I keep a binder of news clippings that grows bigger by the day. Sometimes the plot or subplot will closely follow an actual crime. Other times a story—whether criminal or human interest—becomes the spark that lights my “what if” fuse.

Usually the news stories are ones that take place throughout the country. I read about them in one of the two daily newspapers or the weekly news magazine I subscribe to, or I’ll see a story on the evening news.

However, in Scrapbook of Murder, the latest book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, the main subplot in the book is taken directly from a mystery that’s been unfolding in my own town for several years. It’s such a weird mystery that it’s made national headlines. Lifetime has even aired a made-for-television movie about it already. I’m talking about The Watcher house. Ever hear of it? If not, you can read about it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/24/the-watcher-house-home-letters-westfield_n_7656620.html

In Scrapbook of Murder, The Watcher becomes The Sentinel, and he’s stalking the couple that bought the home Anastasia’s friend and her husband recently sold. As in real life, the new homeowners have filed a lawsuit against the former owners, claiming they knew about The Sentinel prior to the sale. Since the police have yet to solve this nonfiction mystery, I’ve been able to solve it—or rather, Anastasia has solved it—in Scrapbook of Murder.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if my fictitious solution turns out to be what really happened? Cue the Twilight Zone music…

Scrapbook of Murder
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 6

Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but normal deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

Buy Links:
Kindle http://amzn.to/2ffIMgy
Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/scrapbook-of-murder
iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/scrapbook-of-murder/id1286758416?mt=11
Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/scrapbook-of-murder-lois-winston/1127145157?ean=2940158851896
Paperback http://amzn.to/2y2Omhl

Bio:
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Website: http://www.loiswinston.com
Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/anasleuth
Twitter at https://twitter.com/Anasleuth
Newsletter sign-up: https://app.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/z1z1u5

Sophie Hannah: Keep Her Safe Thursday, Sep 21 2017 

Sophie Hannah’s newest stand-alone shows readers why she’s the author Agatha Christie’s estate chose to write two new Hercule Poirot mysteries. Keep Her Safe brings readers to a stateside setting when Brit Cara Burrows escapes her family to spend time alone in a world-class resort in Arizona. She’s immediately acutely aware that she’s an Englishwoman in an American country, for many reasons.

Cara needs time to just think about a surprise and very unplanned pregnancy, but she hardly gets there before she’s thrust into a nightmare. Exhausted from her long flight, already questioning her desperate need to flee her family, she enters what should be her welcome hotel room, only to find it already occupied by a man and teen girl.

It’s a simple front desk mistake and Cara is immediately upgraded to a lovely casita, but the resort comes with too many options to choose from–which pool, massage, therapy, class should she take? And it seems filled with eccentric characters. Cara soon comes across a hint of menace directed toward herself. Events spiral and she finds herself convinced that the teen she saw is a young murder victim whose body was never found.

The missing girl, Melody Chapa, has been gone from age 7, would be 14 now, and fits the description Cara finds online of the teen she came across on her first night, right down to the stuffed animal buddy the girl carries. At the moment, Melody’s parents languish in prison, serving sentences for her murder. But if Melody is alive and well, they should be freed and an awful miscarriage of justice has occurred. Or has it?

Cara will meet a mother/daughter duo vacationing who at first seem unlikely friends and an elder woman who swears on each visit she’s seen Melody and agrees with Cara that Melody is at the resort.

When Cara disappears along with a resort employee, it will be up to two seemingly disinvolved detectives to investigate her disappearance, along with the arrival of a former prosecutor-turned-TV host whose specialty is people unjustly convicted of crimes.

Cara will meet the man who she must outwit to bargain for her life and that of her child. The unlikely center of the storm, Meloday Chapa, has her story told through a book writtten about her life at home with her parents which is excerpted as the chapters unfold.

Hannah examines both our justice system, especially in our media-driven culture where many defendants are convicted in the press before any trial occurs, and America’s obsessional interest in true crime stories. The question that’s raised is: Is there any such thing as a personal responsibility to protect a victim? And what lengths would be reasonable to accomplish this?

An ending twist that’s pure Hannah will leave heads spinning in this complex book, the germ of its plot planted on a book tour visit by Hannah to the US during the Casey/Caylee Anthony case.

Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express Friday, Sep 15 2017 

“All my life I had wanted to go on the Orient Express. When I had travelled to France or Spain or Italy, the Orient Express had often been standing at Calais, and I had longed to climb up into it.” Agatha Christie: An Autobiography.

Today is the 127th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie, the author whose works are outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible. She’s also the most translated author, with more than 2 billion books published in over 100 languages.

In honor of Twentieth Century Fox’s new version of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, premiering this fall, HarperColliins/William Morrow is offering the book in every form from hardcover and paperback to E-book and Digital Audio. There’s even a large print version. In the movie, Poirot will be played by a dashing Kenneth Branagh, with Judi Dench, Derek Jacopi, Olivia Coleman, Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Leslie Odom, Jr. among the talented cast.

Auntie M thought her readers might be interested in some background on this long-time favorite, starring Christie’s beloved Hercule Poirot. If you haven’t read this classic, she hopes this will whet your appetite to read the original before the movie premieres. Here’s Branagh as Poirot, different from David Suchet, who to Auntie M was always the embodiment of Poirot, but dashing in his own way. Branagh directs the film:

Agatha’s wish to travel on the famed train came true a year after the end of her first marriage, the same year her mother died. She visited Iraq on what would be the first trip of many with second husband, Max Mallowan, an archeologist with yearly digs in Iraq and Syria. A snippet from Mallowan’s Memoirs describes how Agatha almost didn’t get to write the book:

It was luck that she lived to write the book, for not long before penning it while standing on the railway station at Calais, she slipped on the icy platform and fell underneath the train. Luckily, a porter was at hand to fish her up before the Orient Express started moving.

This is Agatha with Max:

The book had its genesis when Agatha was travelling alone on the OE and it was stopped after being stuck due to heavy rains. As the passengers talked, she heard stories of snow storms that had stranded the train for days at a time. Her story was also greatly influenced by the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby during this period. Agatha is thought to have written the book during 1931, and it was first published in September of 1933 as a series in the American magazine The Saturday Evening Post under the title Murder in the Calais Coach. It was published at the same time in the UK as Murder on the Orient Express and is dedicated to M.E.L.M: Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan.

In a letter to Max, Agatha describes the rain and several other travellers on that train trip which clearly influenced her future mystery. She noted details such as cabin layouts, and the placement of door handles and light switches, which would all serve her in good stead when she decided to have Poirot solve the case she develops.

Agatha wrote her first mystery on a bet with her sister at the age of 26 (1916), and The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring Hercule Poirot, was published four year later. Many readers know that her play, The Mousetrap, is the longest running play in the world after its debut in 1952, and visitors to London can see it at The St Martin’s Theatre.

If you haven’t read Murder on the Orient Express, now’s the time to pick up a copy of the story, which revolves around Poirot on the Orient Express when it gets stuck in a snowbank. There will be a murder, concealed identities, and the incomparable Belgian sleuth figuring it all out, with a twist at the end.

Happy Birthday, Dame Agatha!

Next Page »