Stephen Leather: Light Touch Sunday, Aug 13 2017 

The prolific Stephen Leather had two books out last week: the paperback version of Takedown, his stand-alone, and the newest Spider Shepherd thriller.

In Takedown, Charlotte Button, ex-MI-5, has been seen before in Leather’s series, and is now tasked with taking out a rogue Special Forces soldier. He’s already hatched one deadly plot. What she needs to do if figure out his next plan and stop him before he can act.

She has help in the form of Lex Harper, who assembles a team who are capable of stopping the rogue soldier before the massive attack they fear he’s planned. Readers of the Shepherd series will know Lex, and here they’ll see another side to him.

Having these two previously seen characters in their own book brings a fresh look to this kind of adventure-filled thriller.

While this is whirling, Charlotte finds that two of three flash drives, hidden in secret places, have been stolen. Containing information on dirty government operations from the past, their loss means her life is on the line if they can get to the third. Who is after her and why?

And while you’re investigating this one in case you missed it when it first came out, Light Touch brings Dan “Spider” Shepherd back with a tough case that is topical and swiftly paced.

MI5 send Spider in when one of their undercover operatives stops giving them information on a drug lord with international smuggling on his resume. Spider needs to find out if Lucy Kemp has shifted to the dark side in her dealings with Marcus Meyer.

It’s an intriguing and delicate situation, made all the more difficult when he finds an SAS assassin is planing revenge killings for his sister’s overdose. Only Spider can find and stop Matt STanding and conviince him there’s another way to deal with all of this–Spider’s way.

With a theme built around trust, this is a filled with action and twists, with little rest on the horizon.

Leather’s skills in action have been noted by the cinema world, too.

Two of Leather’s novels have been adapted for film: The Chinaman, one of Leather’s Mike Cramer series, has been made into the movie THE FOREIGNER which opens this fall starring Pierce Brosnan and Jackie Chan. TANGO ONE has been made with Vincent Regan and Sophie Colquhoun, directed by Ssacha Bennett, and is awaiting a release date.

Susan Sloate: On Historical Research Sunday, Aug 6 2017 

Please welcome Susan Slaote, to explain about the historical research she loves!

It’s Not Laziness—It’s Research!!

I love, love, LOVE American history, and have been reading and studying it all my life. I’ve also written a fair number of books based on history: 5 biographies (Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Clara Barton, two books about Ray Charles), a book about baseball (BASEBALL’S HOTSHOTS: Greats of the Game When They Were Young), a history of Alcatraz Island (MYSTERIES UNWRAPPED: The Secrets of Alcatraz), and in later years, a time-travel thriller about the JFK assassination (FORWARD TO CAMELOT).
When I’m looking into a subject that fascinates me, like the Earhart disappearance, days and weeks can go by before I come out of the fog. I dive into old books, magazines, photographs, films, and everything that comes up on YouTube. I’ve traveled to Oklahoma City (home of the 99’s, the women’s aviation group) to read rare documents about Amelia Earhart. I’ve flown to Chicago and Dallas to attend forums about the Kennedy assassination. I even married a guy I met at a JFK assassination symposium, even though I guess that’s a little extreme.
As I said, I can easily get lost in mountains of facts and not surface until I’ve had my fill of information. (The latest one is about a conspiracy surrounding the Titanic, which will be my next book.) I keep digging for facts, until I usually have enough to write at least two books on the subject.
All this research, I hope, results in some very good books. Sometimes, I even manage to find an obscure fact so interesting that I build an entire book around it.
A case in point is my research for FORWARD TO CAMELOT, when in my reading I came across a paragraph in William Manchester’s DEATH OF A PRESIDENT, about LBJ taking the presidential oath of office on Air Force One in Dallas on November 22, 1963, with his hand on a Bible belonging to President Kennedy. According to Manchester, the Bible disappeared completely right after the ceremony, and no one had seen it since.

That was all I needed. I’d found the ultimate McGuffin, lost in history, and wasted no time deciding that my heroine, a time traveler, would travel back in time SPECIFICALLY to recover JFK’s lost Bible at the very moment when it was lost. (It took about two years to figure this out, but once we knew we were sending her back in time for the Bible, we got a lot more clarity on the storyline.) I checked, just to be sure, with the JFK Presidential Library in Boston, who said no, they didn’t have it, and no, they didn’t know where it was.
The book was published, in its original edition, in 2003, and a few years later, my co-author, Kevin Finn, called me in great agitation. “We have to pull the book,” he told me.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I know where the Bible is,” he said. “It was the answer to a question on Jeopardy!”
Turns out the Bible had been given to Mrs. Johnson after the swearing-in, and she in turn gave it to Liz Carpenter, her press secretary, so she could show it to reporters who asked about the ceremony.
Except nobody asked. Nobody ever cared. The story was the dead president, not the new president (which must have been a real kick in LBJ’s massive ego). And when the LBJ Presidential Library was being built in Austin, Texas, the Johnsons offered the Bible (actually a Catholic missal, or prayer book) to the Kennedys, who said they felt it belonged in the Johnson presidency, not with Kennedy, who didn’t even own it for very long.
It’s on display, as it has been for years, in the LBJ Presidential Library, complete with JFK’s initials on the stamped leather. And it was never a McGuffin at all.
But we kept the book in print, until we re-edited and re-published it in a new edition in 2013. We kept the same storyline, and even kept the Bible as the McGuffin. No one has been the wiser.
Among the other fantastic tidbits of info we came up with, through diligent research, were that Joe Kennedy kept medicines for JFK stashed in multiple safe-deposit boxes in banks around the country, so no one would learn of his Addison’s disease. And Lee Oswald’s being a terrific dancer. All those endless hours of reading and research have paid off big-time, with most readers unable to determine what is fact and what is fiction in FORWARD TO CAMELOT.
And after all, isn’t that the whole point??

SUSAN SLOATE is the award-winning, best-selling author of 20 published books, both fiction and nonfiction. STEALING FIRE, her 2013 autobiographical love story, went to #2 in its category on Amazon, was a Hot New Release for its first 90 days and was honored in the 2014 Readers’ Favorite Book Award competition. FORWARD TO CAMELOT (co-authored with Kevin Finn), which was first published in 2003 and re-published in 2013, took honors in 3 literary competitions, went to #6 on Amazon and was optioned for film production by a Hollywood company. For REALIZING YOU (co-authored with Ron Doades), she invented a new genre: Self-Help FICTION.

“Susan lives in South Carolina, coaches aspiring authors and speaks frequently at writers conventions. Visit her online at

Simon Toyne: The Boy Who Saw Friday, Aug 4 2017 

Simon Toyne introduced Solomon Credd in The Searcher, the man whose identity is unknown except for a label stitched into his jacket: “This suit was made to treasure for Mr. Solomon Creed.”

It was a startling device for the new thriller series and in the sequel, Solomon decides he must track down the tailor who made the suit, believing he holds the key to his identity. With roots in the Holocaust, he’s traveled to France to find Josef Engel.

It’s a fool’s errand, when Solomon finds the man’s murdered body, a Star of David crudely carved into his chest, his body torn apart. The man’s granddaughter and her son remember the grandfather’s stories from the past, as well as tales of the man who saved them from the concentration camps.

The police suspect Solomon, that strange-looking pigment-free pale man in the murder. He must escape and find refuge with Marie-Claude, who is seeking her own refuge from an abusive husband, and her son, the adorable Leo.

If it wasn’t an interesting enough premise, Toyne ups the interest by having Leo and Solomon have something in common: a synesthesia, which in Solomon takes the form of smelling danger, while in Leo, allows him to see emotions as colors. It’s an intriguing and often useful element for Solomon, who’s been described as a genius high-functioning paranoid schizophrenic, one whose toxic memories have been removed by use of an implanted device in his shoulder.

The unlikely trio flees across France, avoiding Engel’s killer while still trying to solve his murder. Elements of the paranormal will keep you guessing if they are imagined or can be explained away. A rocking good ride.

THE GOLDEN HOUR: A Nora Tierney English Mystery #4 Monday, Jul 31 2017 

THE GOLDEN HOUR is Auntie M’s 4th Nora Tierney English Mystery. It’s always exciting bringing out a new book, akin to birthing a baby. After the initial first draft, that lump of clay goes through multiple revisions: workshopping with colleagues to find the story; more revisions after beta readers chime in and point out areas that don’t make sense or need fixing; more rewrites after the “Britspeak” is corrected by wonderful UK friends. P D James told Auntie M years ago that “the real writing gets done in revision,” something she repeats to herself as a mantra when the going gets tough.

While the book tour isn’t until October into November, you can order trade paperbacks now on Amazon or through Bridle Path Press, and she recommends that latter if you’d like a signed copy!

Thanks to the talented Giordana Segneri who did the layout and that lovely domestic cover design; to Becky Brown, copyeditor; to Eagle Eye Pam Desloges; and to Beth Cole who did the Kindle files.

The book will be on Kindle later this week and this fall, in conjunctin with the tour, on Audible, with the wonderful British narrator, Nano Nagle, who’s done a wonderful job on the others in the series.

This one’s a bit different from her usual and Auntie M hopes you will enjoy it as much as Ausma Khan, Elly Griffiths and Sarah Ward, who all gave her cover blurbs. Great crime writers all, and she’s chuffed to have their names on her cover~

John Farrow: Perish the Day Sunday, Jul 23 2017 

Author and playwright Trevor Ferguson writes the Emile Cinq-Mars series under the pen name John Farrow. He brings us Perish the Day, with Emile and his wife, Sandra, staying at her mother’s New Hampshire horse farm as the woman lies in a coma after a life well lived.

It’s raining hard in the small town of Holyoake, just down the road from Ivy League Dartmouth. Sandra’s niece is graduating from the big college’s stepchild, the Dowboggin School of International Relations, and along with Sandra’s sister, they plan to also attend Caroline’s graduation. The rain obscures roads, overflows rivers, and creates havoc that only intensifies when the body of one of Caro’s friends is found at the bottom of a locked clock tower.

Emile soon finds himself immersed in trying to find out what happened to Caro’s friend, Addie. Hers will be the first of three murders in short order, and as the case heats up, territorial disputes threaten to overwhelm the investigation, even as the weather interferes with everything.

He finds a way to insinuate himself, even as Sandra’s mother dies and they plan her funeral. Enlisting Caro and two of her friends, the retired Canadian detective will use his wits and his experience to find out who would kill a young student, an older professor, and a custodian at the college.

Only Emile could bring the disparate forces of troopers, local sheriff, and FBI together to solve a complicated case that is unlike any he’s seen before. It’s a tour de force of his thinking abilities.

One of the hallmarks of the series is Emile’s ruminations on the case, spirituality, life, and his marriage. It makes for involved and heady reading, a literary feel to what is essentially a crime novel. His feel for his setting, and how he uses it, deepen our understanding of where he finds himself at this moment in time. Despite his appearance, Emile Cinq-Mars is highly attractive and thoroughly engaging.

Another winner in a series that keep getting better. Highly recommended.

Mark Billingham: Die of Shame & Love Like Blood Wednesday, Jul 19 2017 

Readers of Auntie M Writes know that Mark Billingham is one of her favorites. So it was frustrating that she’d missed reading Die of Shame, which starts out as a stand-alone featuring Detective Inspector Nicola Tanner and has a tie-in to Tom Thorn at its end.

It starts with six people, all addicts of some kind, in a group therapy session held by their therapist in his home. With his wife and teen daughter on the periphery, the six speak of their secrets and tell their stories of the life they’ve tried to leave. The object is to reveal their deepest shame.

It’s an intriguing setup, as each of these characters has something to hide. When one of them is murdered, it will fall to DI Tanner to ferret out the murderer. Readers will learn of the addict’s ability to obfuscate and explain away any situation. As Tanner’s investigation advances, it soon becomes clear that one of the six is responsible for the victim’s death.
That’s where Tom Thorne comes in at the end, working undercover as the newest member of the group.

While this one can definitely be read as a stand-alone, and it’s new in paperback for those like Auntie M who missed it last year, Billingham’s newest, Love Like Blood, follows the thread. Not with the group, which is tied up easily, but with DI Nicola Tanner as Thorne’s off-the-books newest partner.

It opens with a grissly home invasion that becomes a ghastly murder. At first, readers assume it Tanner who’s the victim, but although she was probably the proposed victim, Tanner’s partner Susan has borrowed her car that day and is brutally murdered in her stead.

Due to her closeness to the victim, policy dictates Tanner must be off the case. She enlists Thorne to take the case on, with her aiding him unofficially. When a young couple from different cultures go missing, they soon realize their targets are a pair of contracted killers, performing so-called ‘honor’ killings for families.

It’s a set-up that has nothing good about it. Thorne worming his way into a community where he’s despised just for being a cop; Tanner continuing to investigate when she shouldn’t. There’s Tom’s home with Helen and her son, Alfie, to consider, too, with Helen dealing with her own bad case.

A sobering Author’s note describes the statistics of increasing honor killings in the UK, and details one particular heartbreaking case. Leave it to Mark Billingham to sensitively explore this issue. Highly recommended, both of them. Do yourself a favor and read them both.

David Bell: Bring Her Home Sunday, Jul 16 2017 

At the opening of David Bell’s newest suspenseful novel, Bring Her Home, readers may think they know where this is headed.

Eighteen months after the accidental death of his wife, Julie, Bill Price’s teenaged daughter and her best friend disappear. Summer Price and her friend Haley have been almost inseparable for years. It’s a father’s worst nightmare and intensifies when the two girls are found, badly beaten, in a Kentucky city park. Haley is dead and Summer is so badly beaten, her face is unrecognizable. She might have brain or vision damage. She might not remember who did this to her.

As Bill’s sister drives in from her Ohio home, she brings a voice of reason and support to Bill, whose legendary temper often gets the best of him. As the pair keep vigil over Summer in Intensive Care, the investigation heats up and unwelcome stories about the girls and their behavior and company surface. Bill starts asking questions of his own to uncover the truth.

But the surprises keep coming, in twists and plot turns that elevate this to a gripping crime novel. Bill Price will have to adjust his thinking about his dead wife, his friends and neighbors, and his own daughter.

A layered mystery, filled with emotions that strike as realistic and keep pace with the surprises, this is one of those thrillers that will have readers flipping pages long after the light should have been turned out.

Anthony Horowitz: Magpie Murders Wednesday, Jul 12 2017 

If the name Anthony Horowitz sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve seen it in the credits for Midsomer Murders or Foyle’s War, amongst other television works. Or because you’ve read his Holmes novels, Moriarty and The House of Silk; or Trigger Mortis, which contained original material from Ian Fleming; or perhaps his YA Alex Rider series.

Yes, quite the prolific and successful author in multiple genres. Yet Horowitz manages to pull off a coup quite unlike any other with his newest mystery, Magpie Murders.

This is a clever and compelling romp, paying homage to the writers of the Golden Age with a mystery novel-within-a-novel. Readers are introduced to editor Susan Ryeland, whose client Alan Conway’s Atticus Pund series has kept her publishing house afloat. There should be an umlaut over that “u” in Pund, but Auntie M’s keyboard doesn’t have that diacritical mark. It’s another way that Conway plays with his readers. And play he does, with increasing contempt, for Conway could be snarky, and as Susan soon discovers, not just to her.

Susan is delivered Conway’s newest and last manuscript, where he’s decided to kill his detective off. Over the weekend as she reads it, so do we, becoming submerged into 1950s England outside Bath, and we and she are presented with a period-perfect murder mystery, complete with many references to classic works. But as Susan reaches the end of the manuscript, she finds to her dismay–and ours–that the denouement chapter is missing. When Susan returns to work Monday, searching for that last chapter, she finds that Conway has committed suicide.

The novel turns into a contemporary mystery, as Susan takes on the detecting of issues surrounding Conway’s death, trying to find the missing chapter, and soon becomes convinced his death could be murder. As she travels to his home and his funeral, meeting those in Conway’s circle, she connects many of the devices Conway used in the book with his real life. It’s not a pretty picture that emerges, and there are far too many candidates for the role of murderer. And where is that missing chapter?

This is a hugely satisfying read, containing puzzles, anagrams, literary motifs and more, including a gentle send-up of today’s publishing world. It’s garnered wonderful enthusiastic reviews and this is one more. Highly recommended.

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~

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