Margaret Maron: Take Out Friday, Apr 20 2018 

Named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 2013, North Carolina author Margaret Maron has decided to retire. She’s completed her judge Deborah Knott series, set in NC, and brings back her Detective Sigrid Harald series, set in NYC, to tie up loose ends in her final book, Take Out.

Maron was one of Auntie M’s first interviews when she moved to NC, and she somehow missed Take Out when it came out last year, but it deserves to be brought to readers’ attention, especially if, like Auntie M, you were a fan of Sigrid.

It’s the mid-1990s and two homeless men are found dead on park bench. Sigrid soon finds that while one of the men may have died from a drug overdose, the other shows no signs of drug use.

When it turns out they were poisoned, and that poison traced to take out containers found near the victims, her investigation centers of the residents of the street near where the men were found.

At the same time, Sigrid is still grappling with waves of grief over the accidental death of her artist lover, and the huge responsibility she’s inherited as executor of his art estate. It’s a nice subplot that brings readers into the world of art Maron knows well, as her husband is an artist.

As Sigrid and her team meet the various residents of the street, the complications rise. A retired opera star lives near the a mafia widow, sworn enemies. Then there’s the woman who runs an SRO, but what is she really renting time for?

And the burning question remains: which of the two men was the intended victim?

It’s a classic Maron mystery, and readers will enjoy this last book from the writer who in 2016 was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.

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Elizabeth George: The Punishment She Deserves Wednesday, Apr 11 2018 

Elizabeth George clocks in with her newest Lynley-Havers, The Punishment She Deserves, at a meaty 595 pages. But don’t let the long length deter you from reading the continuing story of so many characters readers have come to know and love, especially Barbara Havers.

It’s a fine line Barbara has danced since her crossing the line in Italy two books ago. “Dancing” has a secondary meaning here, as the redoubtable Dorothea Harriman has had the sergeant accompanying her to tap dancing class. Yes, you read that correctly. Barbara Havers is tap dancing.

It’s a tap dance around Det. Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery, too, when she’s told she must accompany Ardery to be a second set of eyes on an investigation into the apparent suicide of the son of a wealthy brewer while in police custody.

It’s a twisted tale, and Lynley cautions Barbara to watch herself with Ardery, knowing that she and the Assistant Commissioner would love to see Barbara transferred to some small outpost and out of their hair.

And Barbara is up to the task, even as she tries to keep herself from going off kilter into her own threads of investigation. She manages to do enough to convince herself there is something seriously off in the medieval town of Ludlow. But Arder wants to rush back to London to do legal battle with her ex over her twin sons,and is willing to overlook important points Barbara’s uncovered.

Which is when DI Lynley becomes involved.

George’s class distinctions form the bit of wry humor Havers exhibits and as usual, we learn about the extended characters and their lives to the point that they become real. Several absorbing subplots play out against the background of Barbara’s investigation.

And there’s that tap recital to look forward to…

Another winner from the master of psychological depth. Highly recommended.

David Rosenfelt: Fade to Black Wednesday, Mar 28 2018 

David Rosenfelt is perhaps best known for his Andy Carpenter series, with the dog rescuing lawyer echoing his own dog rescue efforts in real life.

With a new series and a new character introduced in Blackout, Rosenfelt brings a sequel in Fade to Black, continuing the story of New Jersey policeman Doug Brock. Shot in the line of duty, Brock’s ammesia produces intersting conversations that pepper his life and his work as people refer to cases and things he has no memory of in the past decade.

It’s not all bad news, for Doug is reunited with his almost-fiance` and is attending an amensa support group at her insistence. It’s after one of these meetings that a new member approaches him and asks Doug to investigate a cold case.

Sean Conner has found a scrapbook in his attic containg clippings of an unsolved murder case, but he has memory of the victim or why he would have kept the story. After Doug convinces his captain to let him look into the case, he finds he has a connection to the murder, one he doesn’t remember.

Soon there are more things that don’t add up, and as the threads come together, there will be more murders tied to this case. But what’s really going on? It will be up to Doug and his partner to find out in this well-plotted procedural that has Rosenfelt’s trademark touch of wry humor.

Phillip Margolin: The Third Victim Saturday, Mar 24 2018 

Phillip Margolin’s newest legal thriller, The Third Victim, debuts a new series featuring young lawyer Robin Lockwood. Just landing her dream job working with Regina Barrister, the legend of criminal defense attorney, after a clerkship at the Oregon Supreme Court.

The strong opening gives readers a dark rural Oregon road and a lone driver, who slams on the brakes when a young woman–dehydrated, starved and beaten–runs across his path asking for help.

She’s escaped from a cabin where she’s been held prisoner, and soon the cabin’s owner, a prominent attorny in his own right, is arrested for the beating and kidnapping, as well as the deaths of two other women in similar circumstances.

With evidence against him mounting, Robin’s firm take on the defense of Alex Mason, who insists he’s innocent. Second chair on this very public trial is Robin, but she’s seeing things with her renowned boss that lead her to worry about Barrister’s behavior.

Then several details in their case seem at odds, and it will take Robin and Barrister’s team to figure out what is really going on. The complicated plot hangs together well, with enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing as the story unfolds, inside the courtroom and out.

An interesting lead character, Robin Lockwood’s past as an MMA fighter just might find her in good stead when things turn ulgy. Margolin’s own experience as a criminal defense attorney shines through, turning the legalese and court proceedings into interesting scenes.

This crafty story with its tight plot will leave readers looking for the next installment featuring Robin Lockwood and the legal team.

Clare Mackintosh: Let Me Lie Tuesday, Mar 13 2018 

Clare Mackintosh’s newest psychological thriller, Let Me Lie, has a double meaning in its title that becomes apparent after readers have finished the complex story. There are enough twists in this story to keep you flipping pages long after the light should have been out.

Anna Johnson is a new mum to little Ella, living with her partner, therapist Mark, in the family home she loves, Oak View. She should be happy, but Anna is still grieving her parents’ suicides.

Her father, Tom, threw himself off Beachy Head, with her mother followin seven months later, killing herself in the exact same way in her grief. It’s a concept Anna has found difficult to reconcile with her parents, who she insists were never suicidal. She can’t conceive of a reason why her father would kill himself to being with and set off this tragic chain of events. It’s natural that she’s angry with both of them for leaving her alone with questions unanswered.

Then on the anniversary of her mother’s death, a note is pushed through her letter box. In a touch of cruelty, it’s an anniversary card, but inside it says: Suicide? Think again.

Anna takes the card to her local police station, where retired detective Murray Mackenzie, working the desk as a civilian, is on duty. Despite there being little that would tempt a detective to re-open two cases cleared as suicides, Murray has a inkling something is not as it should be and decides to do a bit of background checking to see if Anna’s parents really did commit suicide, or if, as Anna believes, they were murdered.

Both Anna and Murray search in their own ways, until the incidents escalate and Anna realizes someone wants the investigation to end.

With a shocking turn in the second part of the book, Anna will have to put aside all of her preconceived notions about her family. But she soon realizes she has no idea who can she really trust.

The plot has so many surprises readers will be out of breath as it races on. With Murray working his own investigation, he involves his wife, Sarah, a subplot that nicely rounds out the story and the reader’s involvement in these characters.

The ending will startle even the savvy reader, and just when you think it’s over, two extra twists at the end show you just how talented Macintosh can be. Highly recommended.

Jan McCanless: The Beryl’s Cove Mysteries Wednesday, Mar 7 2018 

Please welcome Jan McCanless, author of the Beryl’s Cove Mysteries, to share her trademark humor on her thoughts of space travel:

All Aboard for Mars and Beyond

I used to think that self cleaning ovens and automatic can openers were the end all be all, and nothing could be more fantastic than that.

Do you remember, as a kid, every time a plane flew over, we’d stop and watch it awhile, marveling at the science that brought it to fruition? I never dreamed, in a million years, I’d ever fly in one of the things.

It was exciting to think of soaring thousands of feet in the air, with nothing below you but earth. I still feel the excitement, but, not in the same way, my heart races, my palms sweat, and I have to pee. I pray the entire time that we land safely, and nobody falls out of it or it plummets thru the air like a great fireball from the sky. Hey, you get excited your way, I’ll do mine! I never said I liked to fly, only that it excited me.

We had a neighbor family when I was a kid–they lived behind our house, and their daughter, Ann Karen, was pal of mine. Her dad bought the first Thunderbird I ever saw in my life, and of course, the first one in the entire world, as far as I was concerned. It was back in the early 50’s, and her Dad wanted to take all us kids for a ride in it. It was a two-seater, so, we were literally hanging off it anywhere we could grab ahold. I was sitting up on the back of the convertible top as we cruised the streets(try doing that now without a jail sentence). It was fun though, and we thought we were really special.

Ann Karen and her family were what you might call “avant garde”, even back then, Her dad was an architect, and their house resembled an unfurled sheet, with a winding driveway, colored stones for a walkway, and Ann Karen was the first person I ever knew who had a telephone in her bedroom. Oh man, I lusted after that phone. Didn’t have anyone to call, but, still I wanted one, too. How could society advance any further than having a Thunderbird and private telephone?

When America shot Alan Shepherd up into space, I was working as a laboratory technician at Rowan Hospital (as it was called then), and as many employees as could fit in the place crowded the front waiting room, watching a small screen TV to catch it all. Mesmerized as we were, we had to go back to work, and each of us, in our own way, thought we had truly entered another realm of reality. Never, never, could we get any further than that.

Now, this, the Starman in his car, racing towards Mars and the android belt. Who’d a thunk it !!! I saw on the news this morning too, where China has developed a flying car, tooling along at treetop level, above all the traffic. It looks like a giant drone, with a driver. Now THAT I could probably go for. Treetop level is not high, how badly could I get mangled if I fell out of the thing?

I was a science major in college, and it still fascinates me, as I have always been interested in all branches of science. It excites me, in a good way, so the flying car is definitely on my bucket list.

I’ll let the dummy in the orbiting car have at it, though. I have no desire to go to Mars or any other planet–I haven’t completely conquered this one yet !!!


About Jan:
Jan McCanless has been a best selling author for 15 books. A mother of three, and grandmother to nine, she started as a high school teacher, sequed into freelance newspaper work, and from there, she moved into murder mysteries with a humorous twist. She compiled 2 volumes of humor columns, winning the 2013 Mother Vine award for best stories for her first compilation, titled Wyatt Earp, GAP Pickles and Thoughts of Home,. Her 2nd compilation, Tire Patch Cookies are Good for the Soul , is a continuation of the fun, with more award nominations for the year it was published.

Her mysteries have been called a combination of Murder, She Wrote, and Mayberry RFD, and have all been best sellers. The Beryl’s Cove mysteries have lovable, quirky characters that are positively addictive, and Jan’s humor shines through all of them.

Listed in Who’s Who as a noted Southern Humorist, she is a mix of lecturer, stand up comedienne,and teacher, giving talks and workshops around the country. Rowan County’s Woman of the Year in 1978, she was a nominee for International Woman of the Year in 2005. Jan’s interests are varied, and she takes pride in being an ordained Lutheran Lay minister.

Her books and access to them are listed on her website, http://www.janmacbooks,com,. and they may be found on amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and in bookstores throughout the southeast.

Laura Lippman: Sunburn Sunday, Mar 4 2018 

Laura Lippman’s new stand-alone, Sunburn, carries the patina of noir in its character-driven story where she shows her strength at observing humans in all their tawdry glory.

At once realistic, this is book set in the mid-90s is about the lies we tell each other as much as the lies we tell ourselves. A fan of Anne Tyler, Lippman pays homage to her with a reference to her book Ladder of Years, which the central figure, Polly, has heard everyone talking about in her Baltimore neighborhood. Polly develops her own plan, and you will think you know what it is, but the plan changes according to her needs.

She decides to simply walk away from her second husband and young daughter on a beach day, getting a ride to the small town of Bellevue, Delaware, where she finds work as a waitress in a bar-cafe that’s seen better days, as has most of the small town.

It’s here that Polly meets the central characters who will form the plot of the book: Adam, a handsome stranger who is keeping his own secrets, and Cath, the long-time waitress at the cafe who becomes jealous of the slender red-head who beguiles women.

Having learned how to be quiet, Polly is an enigma to Adam, and their relationship will rise and fall on her ability to be different from other woman as she keeps her own counsel. One thing Polly has learned is that she’s lousy at picking husbands–until she meets Adam.

When a possible murder rears its ugly head, there will be heartbreaking plot twists for all of the characters, as Polly keeps trying to leave her past behind her.

Another idol of Lippman’s is James M. Cain, and with its fear of betrayal at its heart, this is as stylish as his Double Indemnity. Exploring the idea of a woman walking out on her child is a thread here, too, and how reactions to this once its learned about are different because Polly is the mother. Readers will find themselves asking if the ends justify the means, but they will come to see that Polly has realized that to save her child, she first needs to save herself.

An accomplished and literate psychological suspense novel from a master of the genre who certainly knows people inside and out. Highly recommended.

James Oswald: The Gathering Dark Friday, Feb 23 2018 


The Gathering Dark is the eighth Inspector McLean novel in James Oswald’s series, one of Auntie M’s favorites, with another strong entry in the series that does not disappoint.

The UK’s The Guardian says about the author: “Oswald easily outstrips the formulaic work of bigger names,” with good reason. If Oswald isn’t on your reading list yet, he should be.

DI Tony McLean happens to be on scene at the junction of the Lothian Road and the Western Approach Road when a truck traveling far too fast jacknifes and overturns, the cab smashing into a crowded bus stop, bodies falling, people screaming and running as the trailer falls and splits open, spilling thousands of gallons of some kind of toxic chemical onto the street and over pedestrians.

The noxious chemicals give McLean a headache he’ll have for days, and his suit is ruined after he plunges in to help triage the victims. The carnage is profuse and the end result is 20 dead, including the driver, and another 50 injured.

Heading the investigation, McLean brings home the toxic fumes to Emma, the forensic specialist he lives with who is carrying their baby. A second suit will be ruined and in the garbage as the investigation continues, throwing up all sorts of questions and secrets as the dead need to be identified.

There are several businesses in the chain of the removal trailer to be investigated, which was supposed to be carrying nontoxic digestate, which is indeed found in several of the trailer’s compartments, but the rest had been filled with the toxic substance that clings to McLean’s senses.

The complex plot twists and turns around the investigation, with tangents running in several directions and McLean keeping his finger involved in all of them.

With a sparse team to help him, and discretion needed, he even will call in an old foe to assist him when the Chief Superintendent’s son goes missing and was last seen near the crash site. Could he be one of the unidentified bodies?

Able to twine McLean’s personal life into the fabric of his investigations, the detective will soon learn the not everything is as it seems, and that decades-old secrets are a small part of the big picture.

With his trademark curve of the supernatural making its appearance, this is pure Oswald at the height of his game. Highly recommended.

The Seven Sinister Sisters Tour with a GIANT Giveaway! Monday, Feb 19 2018 

Hello Auntie M, and thanks so much for hosting The Seven Sinister Sisters today. Let me first introduce us, we are: Becky Clark, Edith Maxwell, Leslie Karst, Cathy Perkins, Shawn McGuire, Sue Star and Patricia Hale. We all have new releases coming out between January and April. At each stop of our tour, we’re answering a different question about our own work or writing in general. Today’s question is:

What are the best and worst things about being a writer?

Becky Clark will start us off…

Best? Connecting with readers. Back when I wrote for kids I got a letter that said, “I didn’t like to read until I read your book.” I could have stopped writing right then and still come out ahead. There’s simply nothing better than having a reader tell you they like what you do.

The worst is probably struggling with a manuscript and falling into the abyss of self-doubt. “I can’t write a mystery! Nobody thinks I can do this. It’s hopeless. I’M hopeless. Wah.” But then I usually remember that I’ve done it before and can probably do it again.

And while Becky values connecting with readers, it’s fellow writers that give Leslie Karst a boost.

By far the best part of being an author has been the relationships I’ve established with other mystery writers, for they are the most generous, helpful, warm, and supportive people I’ve ever encountered.

As for the downside, I’ll quote my law professor father: “There are only two times I’m miserable—when I’m writing and when I’m not writing.” Because when you’re in the middle of a book, you’re nervous about getting it right and angsting that you should be working on it whenever you’re not. But when you’re not in the middle of a book, you feel as if there’s something deeply missing from your life.

Ahhh… the dreaded MIDDLE. Edith Maxwell gives us her insight on keeping things moving.

The best is when I’m typing away and a character does something I had not planned. I don’t know why she did it, and, like the reader, I have to keep going to see what happens next. Those are the magical moments of writing.

For me the worst part is the big sloppy middle of a book. It’s so hard to stretch my arms around the first thirty thousand words or so. It’s hard to keep all of it in my mind, even with my handy scene synopsis cards in Scrivener. But I have to, and I have to make the action move forward without boring either me or the reader, until we get to the exciting last ten thousand words of the story. But, as I now know having finished eighteen novels, if I keep pushing, I’ll get there! And ya can’t fix what ya haven’t written.

Eighteen novels? Pretty impressive, Edith. Which brings us to the thing we all agree on…

LACK OF TIME. But according to Sue Star, time is both the best and the worst.

Tough question, because the answer is the same for best and worst: time. Being a writer is all playtime. I get to spend my time making up stories to myself, stories that I want to read and maybe can’t find in bookstores. I get to build worlds and create people, playing god, and I get to vent my frustrations with the real world in a humorous way. The consequence of all this fun ultimately leads to the “worst” thing: sacrificing real time with the family while writing to deadline. It’s a tough balance!

The balancing act continues with Shawn McGuire’s inability to unplug.

The best is that I get to go to wonderful places in my head and hang out with people I wouldn’t otherwise encounter in daily life. I get to go on wonderful adventures and pretend to be someone I’m not.

The worst thing is that I sometimes feel like I’m always working. Even when I’m not at my computer, plot points are flowing through my head, the characters are talking to me, and new books are asking for attention. I guess I prefer that to writer’s block, but it’s good to unplug, as I’m always telling my husband to do!

Cathy Perkins battles time, but loves the process.

I love the entire writing process, but if I have to pick one element, it’s developing the characters. You often hear authors say they don’t like plotting, but I enjoy putting the puzzle pieces together, making sure the plot holds together and that all the characters (including the villains!) have a good motive for whatever they’re doing. I love twisty mysteries where so many people, I mean characters, have a motive for the crime. Adding layers of complexity to the characters really draws me into the story.

Worst part? Beyond promo (shudder): it’s time. There’s never enough! I try to write in the morning (at an obscenely early hour) before the day job kicks into high gear.

Shudder at promo? More like shake, rattle and roll for Patricia Hale.

The best? No question, spending long, quiet hours alone doing what I love. Finding my way into “the zone” and losing all track of time. When I’m writing, I’m most content with myself and nothing is as fulfilling as a successful day at the computer.

The worst? Promotion. I have a hard time “selling myself”. I could never make a living in sales. At my first signing a woman was going to buy one of my books for herself and one for her mother. I suggested they just share one. A friend reminded me that I was supposed to be “selling” my work. See what I mean? For me, promoting and selling myself is like traveling to a country where I don’t speak the language.

To celebrate our new releases, the Seven Sinister Sisters are having a giveaway!

Seven lucky winners will receive an ebook from one of us.

One GRAND PRIZE winner will receive a signed copy from each of us!

Enter to win by leaving a comment below. Our tour runs from January 6th to April 30th and we’re answering a different question at each blog. Leave a comment at each blog for more entries! We’ll draw the winner from all the combined comments at the end of our tour.

Watch our Facebook page for the next stop on the tour.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir: The Legacy Thursday, Feb 15 2018 


The Queen of Icelandic Noir debuts a thrilling new series with The Legacy, introducing detective Huldar and psychologist Freyja.

The two share an uncomfortable event before being assigned to a case that’s fraught with misery: A woman is horrifically murdered in her own home, and the only witness is her seven-year-old daughter, who hid under her mother’s bed during the killing.

Using Freyja’s talents with the child, Huldar must test his new promotion to its limits as he tries to make sense of the unusual murder method.

Pushing young Margaret has produced little effect, but once it’s known she was a witness, her life becomes in danger and Freyja ends up taking her into her home for safety when the killings continue.

But is that really a safe environment? And how can Hildar figure out why the seemingly unrelated victims are related to the killer, who seems aware of forensic concerns?

A complicated thread of evidence with short-wave radios and a series of numbers that impact the investigation provide an unusual subplot that adds to the horrid murder methods the killer uses.

It will take all of Huldar’s smarts and savviness to figure out what Margaret has obliquely told him. Named Best Crime Novel of the Year in Iceland, this is one Auntie M dares you to figure out until the end. Highly recommended.

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