John Burley: The Quiet Child Sunday, Aug 20 2017 

Readers will think they know what’s happening in John Burley’s thriller, The Quiet Child–but they are most likely to be wrong.

It’s a distubing story of the McCray family in small-town California of 1954. Already hanging on by a thread, teacher Michael McCray is struggling to handle his wife’s illness. The vibrant woman he loves has been struck by ALS, a ‘new’ disease with not a lot known about it at this time.

Danny, who doens’t speak, and his older brother, Sean, are both affected by the changes in their lives.Their situation is worsened by town gossip that Danny’s inability to speak is somehow responsible for illnesses in the town, even his own mother’s.

The two accompany their dad to pick up ice cream at the local grocery. Michael leaves Danny in the back seat of the car when the unthinkable happens: a man comes out of nowhere and tries to enter the car. Sean sees what’s happening and tries to stop the man and ends up being kidnapped, too, as the car roars off.

Sheriff Jim Kent has seen the situation before the kidnapping and worried someone in town would take drastic measures against Danny. Now he’s invovled with the two lead detectives in tryiing to find the boys.

It’s a horrendous situation all around with both boys missing. Everyone is suspicious of the parents, who are devastated. It will be difficult to discuss more of the plot without giving too much away. Suffice it to say that the ending is not what anyone is expecting on many levels.

With attention to little details that bring the setting into sharp relief, Burley’s latest is a haunting tale.

Patricia Hale: The Church of the Holy Child Tuesday, Aug 15 2017 

Please welcome author Patricia Hale, to introduce her newest release, The Church of the Holy Child:

Vicarious Vacations

Get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to sleep, repeat. Our days become mundane, repetitive, Groundhog Day. We all feel this sense of stagnancy at one time or another. So what do we do? We take a vacation. Nothing a sandy beach can’t fix. But if a trip isn’t in the budget, we might pick up a book because another person’s life is always more interesting than our own.

So . . .the job of a writer, besides a great plot, is to create a character that one can go on vacation with or follow anywhere. When a reader relates to a character’s fears, morals (or lack of), flaws or secrets, a connection is established. The pages turn because the reader is invested in the character and has to stay with them as they step into the darkened basement, the foreboding forest or the doomed space mission, because they can’t not go. It is our duty as writers to give the reader a vacation, to provide change, challenge and bitten finger nails, all within the comfort of a recliner. If we don’t, there’s no turquoise water, no sandy beach.

And so, when each day runs into the next and life feels stagnant, pick up a book and find a character you relate to. Take a vacation and get the bad guy, pull off a heist or fall in love. Be a detective, a PI, or even the villain–wherever your connection lies.

In my new release, The Church of the Holy Child, rookie, PI Britt Callahan chases down a serial killer who is targeting women’s shelters. Despite her fear, insecurity and guilt, Britt’s determined to protect these women and prove her self.

Sound like a vacation you want to take?

Patricia Hale received her MFA degree from Goddard College. Her essays have appeared in literary magazines and the anthology, My Heart’s First Steps. Her debut novel, In the Shadow of Revenge, was published in 2013. The Church of the Holy Child is the first book in her PI series featuring the team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan. Patricia is a member of Sister’s in Crime, Mystery Writer’s of America, NH Writer’s Project and Maine Writer’s and Publisher’s Alliance. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two dogs.

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.

Wendy Walker: Emma in the Night Friday, Aug 11 2017 

Wendy Walker had a real hit with last year’s All is Not Forgotten. She returns with her newest psychological thriller, Emma in the Night, proving once again she has taken her time to explore the depths of a psychological situation that makes her work eerily real.

The story revolves around the Tanner sisters, who disappeared three years ago. Cass was 15 and her older sister, Emma, 17 on the night they didn’t come home.

Now Cass has reappeared without Emma, and with a story about where the girls have been that includes kidnapping and being held on a remote island in Maine.

Helping the FBI investigation is the forensic psychologist who was on the case originally when the girls disappeared, Dr. Abby Winter. Told in alternating viewpoints from Abby and Cass, the story unfolds in a dynamic that will grip readers.

Exploring their mother’s narcissistic personality feel familiar to Abby, whose own mother was a narcissist. The impact on Abby and her sister is one she is still feeling; indeed, her doctoral thesis was written on the disorder. She’s acutely aware of the dynamics within a family with a narcissistic parent and will use this to her advantage.

As Cass’s story is told and points are checked out and verified, it certainly seems that she’s telling the truth. Then why does her mother want to paint her as crazy? And why is Abby certain that there is more to that night than Cass is revealing?

This is one of those stories that readers will gobble up as the pages fly by. At the surprising end, there is still another twist in this terrific thriller that teaches you more than you ever wanted to know about narcissism. Be prepared to start evaluating your friends . . .

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~

Claire Douglas: Local Girl Missing Sunday, Jul 30 2017 

Claire Douglas, author of The Sisters, returns with an equally dark and creepy psychological thriller in Local Girl Missing.

Readers will rapidly become immersed in the story of two childhood friends, Frankie Howe and Sophie Collier. Sophie’s story is told in chapters that are diary excerpts from a time before she went missing.

Sophie disappeared and has been presumed dead for twenty years. Then Frankie, now managing her parents hotels in London, gets a call from Sophie’s brother, Daniel. Remains have been found near the old pier in their homemtown where Sophie disappeared. Daniel is awaiting DNA results and asks Frankie to travel back home to help him discover what really happened to Sophie.

How can she not go? Despite her father ailing with a severe stsroke, Frankie risks her mother’s disapproval to travel home to the seaside town where the three of them were raised. Daniel finds her a flat to stay in for the days she’s there, and the two start by talking to those who knew Sophie when she died, and still live or have returned to the area.

This includes Leon, that young man Sophie loved, and while Frankie soon becomes afraid of him, she can’t disappoint Daniel by leaving him to face things alone. It’s a complicated time, made worse by threatening letters Frankie starts receiving and glimpes of Sophie. Is it her ghost, coming back to warn Frankie?

Drinking heavily, upset by the memories, and afraid of the future, Frankie breaks off her relationship in London and thinks she just might be falling in love with Daniel.

This is a twisted tour de force of plotting and complexities, where no one is who or how they seem at first glance. A page-turner.

Fiona Barton: The Child Thursday, Jul 27 2017 

Fiona Barton’s debut, The Widow, thrust her into the minds of readers everywhere and introduced reporter Kate Waters. She returns with The Child, and it’s every bit as suspensful and well written, sure to please readers with its compelling story.

Journalist Kate is a seasoned print reporter trying to stay afloat in a 24 hr/online news world. She’s saddled with a trainee, Joe Jackson, just as a small article catches her eye when construction workers in Woolrich discover the remains of baby, long-buried and reduced to bones.

Besides Kate, the discovery affects two women: Angela, whose baby Alice was stolen from her hospital cot the night after being born; and Emma, a young woman whose secret has affected her entire life. Emma’s mother, Jude, raised Emma as a single mother and has a complicated relationship with her daughter.

Angela is convinced the bones are of her baby, Alice. Emma is convinced of something entirely different. Kate just wants to find the truth of the matter and the answer to her question: “Who would bury a baby?”Each woman, with Kate’s help, will find the answers they need to know.

Kate can’t let this story go, to the detriment at times of her own family life. She sets out to investigate the old neighbors who lived in that neighborhood, and uncovers tales of drugs, parties, illicit sex and more. She encourages Angela and is with the woman when her DNA is tested. And through a circuitous route, she eventually meet Emma and Jude.

Complicating matters is the way Kate must tread carefully between her job as a reporter to get the lead on the news, and the police investigation. Her detective contact is one she holds dear, and she must keep his confidence and that of the lead detective looking into the identity of the remains, while holding her editor at bay.

Each woman’s story is precisely told in this character-driven mystery, a taut thriller that explores the complex relationships we all hold with our families, our jobs, and our perceived identities. The suspense as the story unfolds will keep readers flipping pages to the satisfying denouement. Highly recommended.

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.

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