Cozy Christmas: Cozies for Holiday gift-giving Wednesday, Dec 12 2018 

Around the holidays, Auntie M likes to give her readers choices for great gift books for those on their list. No matter what holiday you celebrate, a new book holds the promise of a story yet to be told. Today we’re talking cozies:


MB Shaw’s new series debuts with Murder at the Mill, where artist Iris Grey, coping with a disintergrating marriage, rents a house to give herself mental breathing space. Enjoying the nature-filled area and sketching soon give way to a commission to paint the portrait of her cottage’s owner, celebrated crime writer Dominic Wetherby. Iris meets the extended family and more at the Christmas Eve party the Wetherby’s hold.

Becoming entangled with the entire Wetherby family, the idyllis Hampshire village soon turns nightmarish after the youngest son finds a body in the water on Christmas Day. Was this an accident or a murder? Attracted to the family attorney, Iris finds herself sleuthing when she becomes frustrated with the local police, just as she soon feels herself being stalked.

A terrific puzzle and an engaging start to a new series.


Ellen Crosby’s newest in her Wine Country series, Harvest of Secrets, takes readers to Virginia and the Montgomery Estate Vineyards during their busy season. Mixing an unearthed skull on Lucie Montgomery’s family property with a modern mystery, Lucie also has a new murder to contend with when shortly after arriving in the area at a neighboring vineyard, head winemaker Jean-Claude de Marignac is found dead.

The prime suspect is an immigrant worker, Miguel Otero, who had quarreled with the new winemaker. But with Lucie’s own immigrant helped ready to revolt during the harvest, she plunges into figuring out the real culprit. It doesn’t help that the dead man was one of Lucie’s first crushes decades ago.

A nice mix of old and new mysteries, with Lucie facing buried secrets.


The 27th Agatha Raisin mystery, Dead Ringer
, features all of MC Beaton’s usual wit and eccentric characters. The Bishop’s visit means the bellringers are practicing up a storm when Agatha manages to convince the lawyer Julian Brody of their team to hire her to investigate the Bishop’s missing fiancee`. Local heiress Jennifer Toynby disappearance years ago, with no body found, remains unsolved.

But that’s not the only thing occupying Agatha. There’s the body of the local policeman discovered in the crypt; one of the bellringers twins is murdered near the church; and a journalist who was once briefly Agatha’s lover is found dead in her very own sitting room. Just how is the Bishop connected to these deaths?

Now a British TV show, the Agatha Raisin series remains a favorite and a classic cozy series.

From its charming cover to the the cast of cats in the characters, Melissa Daley’s Christmas at the Cat Cafe` glows with all that is merry and bright. Set in the town of Stourton-on-the-Hill, owner Debbie allows her sister to move in after a heartbreak. But that doesn’t sit well with the cat side of the home, Molly and her three kittens, who are soon at the mercy of Linda’s dog, Beau. Things go from bad to worse when another cat threatens Molly’s home ground.

With Molly’s point of view at the forefront, this tale is a holiday delight for cat and animal lovers.

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Graham Smith: The Silent Dead Friday, Nov 30 2018 


Graham Smith’s The silent Dead introduces Detective Beth Young, working in the Lake District, one of Auntie M’s favorite settings. This one’s on her radar and here’s what the buzz is about the book:

He’d found one angel for his collection. One angel at a time was never enough…

Detective Beth Young has just joined the Lake District major crimes team when a body is found posed in a ritualistic manner – arms spread and graceful wings attached – at a crumbling castle in the hills of the Lake District.

The entire police force are on red alert. But Beth begins to feel she’s the only one who can follow the disturbing clues left by the twisted killer. Because she doesn’t think like everyone else. To Beth, crimes are puzzles she can solve. Even if real life is a little harder.

As more bodies are discovered in derelict stately homes across the Lake District, she knows she’s in a race against time.

But the killer is looking for another victim to add to his collection… Will Beth be able to save her? Or will he get there first?

A tenacious young detective with scars both physical and emotional, Beth Young will stop at nothing in her fight for justice for the innocent. The Silent Dead is the first book in the series. Set in the Lake District, it is perfect for fans of Joy Ellis, LJ Ross, and Peter James.

Readers love Graham Smith:
‘A talented storyteller.’ No.1 bestseller Peter James

‘Wowzer… this book is that fantastic I don’t know where to start. It literally blew me away!… If you’re looking for a fast-paced, gritty read that will have you on tenterhooks I highly recommend this.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘A brilliant thriller. This fast-paced crime thriller is packed with suspense. From the beginning I was hooked.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘Graham Smith is the name to watch in fast-paced, high-octane crime fiction. Smith writes with an assured energy that pulls the reader deeper and deeper into a plot that twists and turns… This is great, fully-leaded crime fiction.’ Craig Russell

‘The plot is dark and disturbing with tension that grows throughout the story.’ The Suspense is Thrilling Me

‘A dark and suspenseful read that just drew me in and placed me slap bang in the thick of things.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘One of the best serial killer thrillers I have read in a LONG time. I couldn’t stop turning the pages and devoured the book in two short days.’ Damppebbles.com

‘Couldn’t put it down. Full of twists and plots… Highly recommended.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘Hard-hitting, tightly paced and with lots of great twists and turns.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘I love, love, LOVED this book! I’ve always been a fan of serial killer novels and this one absolutely nailed it.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘A hell of a read, fast paced with bucketfuls of suspense… nail-biting with fascinating characters… If you are a lover of a highly original crime thrillers I would suggest you add this book to… the top of the pile, you won’t be disappointed I promise.’ The Book Review Café
Silent Dead Purchase Links
‘This is the type of novel that will keep you up all night reading… Graham Smith knows how to keep the crime moving, keeping all of his readers glued to every page.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘He will literally have you on the edge of your seat praying for the bad guys to get their comeuppance. Brilliant!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘It’s a really, really, really brilliant, superb, awesome book that you absolutely, unequivocally, must, without a doubt, have to read.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

You can find The Silent Dead at: BUY LINKS:
Amazon: mybook.to/TDDCover
iBookstore: https://tinyurl.com/ydhftyxx
Kobo: https://tinyurl.com/y75k5vng
Googleplay: https://tinyurl.com/ybchbhzl


Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has six books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and three novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder. His latest series features DC Beth Young and is highly anticipated before its November release.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, ten attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Graham can be found at

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor
Twitter

Website
http://www.grahamsmithauthor.com

Robert Scragg: What Falls Between the Cracks Wednesday, Nov 28 2018 

Robert Scragg has a cracking good debut of a new series with What Falls Between the Cracks.

Introducing the London detective duo Jake Porter and Nick Styles, their latest case is a mix of old and new, when a severed hand is found in a freezer.

It’s strange enough to find a hand, in this case one missing a finger. Yet once DNA matches the hand to the apartment’s owner, Nina Barclay, its even stranger that her family agrees Nina hasn’t been since since 1983.

Why no one has been looking for Nina is just one of the many questions Porter and Styles must answer as they investigate Nina’s extended family and acquaintances, and find far too many unsavory characters.

As their search extends itself, everywhere they turn the team come up against walls thwarting their progress, from interior police structure politics and a drug squad case that has been slowly gathering evidence against one of their main suspects.

One of the highlights is the nice banter between the two detectives, balanced by Porter’s struggle to restart his life after a tragic personal loss.

This is the kind of police procedural Auntie M eats up. An accomplished debut, one that will have readers seeking the second Porter and Styles outing. Highly recommended.

Jo Spain: The Confession. Sunday, Nov 25 2018 


Jo Spain is the Irish international number one bestseller of the DCI Tom Reyolds series and the standalone psychological thriller The Confession. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, former parliamentary assistant and vice-chair of the business body InterTrade Ireland, Jo now writes full-time.

In 2018 she co-wrote her first original television show, TAKEN DOWN, currently airing in Ireland, bought by ARTE Europe and also picked up for international distribution by industry giant Fremantle. Jo has now been headhunted to work on several European dramas.

Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four small children. Auntie M recently had the opportunity to speak with Jo about her writing and her books.


Auntie M: What drew you to writing crime fiction in the first place?

Jo Spain: Crime fiction is my favourite genre to read and to watch. I love the thrill of the mystery, the adrenaline of the whodunnit, and the satisfaction of the resolution. I think crime fiction storytellers are the hardest working writers.

AM: Your new release, The Confession, is your first stand-alone thriller after writing the popular Tom Reynolds series. Why the switch?

JS: The story had arrived fully formed in my mind and I knew it didn’t fit with the DCI Reynolds series. Tom is police procedural – each is a whodunnit. In The Confession, we know who did it, we just don’t know why.
I also wanted to stretch myself. I write really quickly and am currently averaging two books a year and two TV series. To keep on top of it all, I like variety, because each time I pick up a project it’s like a holiday from the other writing. If that makes sense!

AM: Did you find the experience of writing a stand-alone differed from writing for the series?

JS: Very much so. Over the course of a series you can develop much-loved characters so your readers have the satisfaction of the soap of their lives on top of the plots. But it’s hard, because you have to keep them going, with new developments for the same people in each book.
In a standalone, you have to create characters that readers will instantly love/hate. There’s no second chance, it’s all within the four-hundred-odd pages. Then you have to mentally wrap them up in your own head, and move on, so it’s a bit like mourning a set of characters each time.


AM: Will you go back to Tom now? Any other books percolating?

JS: The fourth Tom came out in Europe this year, The Darkest Place. I’ve a new standalone out in February, Dirty Little Secrets, and a new Tom, The Boy Who Fell next summer. And I just completed my latest standalone, due in 2020.

AM: You’re a busy woman! With four youngsters and jobs aplenty, how do you find time to write?

JS: I write full-time and my husband is here full-time, too. He works for me now, editing and proofing (he’s a former editor) and does the heavy lifting with the children. But we’ve managed to establish a lovely family/work routine and we’re both at home pretty much all the time. And I am a fast writer, which really helps.


AM: And publicity, how do you reconcile accomplishing that with family, job and writing demands?

JS: That’s harder, especially now I’m writing for TV. I try to condense all my publicity outings to short periods in and around book releases (but I make exceptions for very lovely bloggers). When my new TV show Taken Down, (which is based on an original idea) came out this month there was more publicity than I’ve ever had to handle. It was fun but exhausting.

AM: What piece of advice would you give to a new writer starting out in crime fiction?

JS: We all say it – read, read, read. Know your genre, hone your craft. I always advise the masters; Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle etc. And I personally plan out all my books because I feel excellent plots take a lot of organisation. At least, I hope that’s what my readers feel about my plots…!

AM: Who would we find on your nightstand waiting to be read?

JS: When I find an author I love I buy everything they’ve ever written and wait eagerly for the next. Some of my favourites include Fred Vargas, Louise Penny, Pierre LeMaitre, Chris Whitaker, Donato Carrisi, J.P. Delaney and Liane Moriarty. I’m a huge fan of well-written crime, I don’t tend to read formulaic-type thrillers, though I respect their skill.

Four set in England: Bolton, Cleeland, Westron, French Wednesday, Nov 21 2018 

Auntie M loves her trips to England and enjoyed being there for two weeks this summer doing setting research. Cornwall and Cambridge figured highly in the trip, so you can expect Nora Tierney to be spending time in each place in future books.

It seems appropriate then to feature several books set in the UK for your reading pleasure.

Auntie M previously reviewed Sharon Bolton’s The Craftsman when it was published in the UK, but it’s just out here in the US, so let’s revisit a snipped of what she said then:
Sharon Bolton’s novels are always original and well-crafted. Elly Griffith’s notes that her newest, The Craftsman, is ” . . . an absolutely terrific crime novel that takes your darkest fear and makes it real” in this first of a planned trilogy.

It’s 1999 and Florence Lovelady has returned to Lancashire for the burial of Larry Glassbrook, who has died in prison for burying three teens alive, thirty years before. She travels with her teen son, Ben, to Larry’s funeral, and stays on when a new piece of evidence comes to light. The case made Florence’s career, and yet she wonders now if she put the right person behind bars all those years ago.

The book swtiches to 1969, when the third of three teens has gone missing. The town is scared, and it’s down to Florence to suggest a re-enactment of the day the third, Patsy Wood, went missing. It’s a novel approach, but one her Superintendent decides to try.

When Flossie decides she must investigate a freshly-dug grave, she’s the one who finds Patsy’s body, buried on top of another corpse. It’s evident at once the teen was alive when she was put into the casket.

The horror of such a death is the stuff of nightmares for most people, and the dark and disturbing images stay with readers as the book advances and the perpetrator is caught. Or is he?

With its history of Pendle Hill witches in the area adding to the terrifying atmosphere, this is the kind of gothic novel that grips you by the back of your neck and doesn’t let go even after the last page is turned. You’ll learn the difference between caskets and coffins and why that matters. You’ll learn how the moon affects witches. And you’ll learn to be terrifed and then in awe of Florence. Highly recommended.


Anne Cleeland’s Doyle and Action series returns with Murder in Spite, and this time the action takes place in Doyle’s Irish home. What starts as a supposed holiday takes on an entirely different tenor when a priest implicated in earlier London case is found dead on the steps of the Garda station Acton visits, a knife through one eye the implement of his death.

Doyle, with her special ability to see through people, quickly susses out that there’s more to Acton’s helping out in this case, just as there’s more to be seen with an African cab driver who seems to appear at the most needed times.

Having their young son along only cramps Doyle’s sleuthing abilities a small bit. Another entertaining entry in a well-drawn series known for its complicated plots and charming protagonists.


Carol Westron’s Strangers and Angels
is a Victorian Murder Mystery of the highest kind, filled with realistic period details, backed up by a complex plot that supports intriguing characters.

She takes readers to Gosport in 1850, along England’s the southern coast. Kemal is the Turkish midshipman on a training mission, accused of murder. With feelings running high against the Turkish sailors to begin with, it seems likely Kemal will face the gallows.

That is, until he finds help from two unlikely women: widow Adelaide and lady’s maid Molly. With little power or privilege between, the women have an almost insurmountable task to try to save the young Turk.

In a nice twist, Westron brings her sleuths into contact with real people from the era. A strong start to what should be a recurring series.


It’s always sad to see a beloved series come to an end, but Frieda Klein, Nicci French’s London-walking psychologist, perhaps deserves a rest more than most. Day of the Dead brings with it the resolution of the Dean Reeve case, the psychopathic killer who has eluded Frieda and the police for more than a decade, often with disastrous results to those Frieda cared about.

Charming and likeable, Reeves has been able to disappear and reappear at will, and become obsessed over the years with Frieda. After a decade of working with the police on cases, she now finds herself in hiding to protect those she loves.

But a showdown looms, and she must step out in public once again in order to bring Reeves to justice if she can. It will take a criminology student who tracks Frieda down to make the psychologist see that she herself holds the key to stopping Reeves, despite the cost to her personally.

As Frieda plays off against Reeve and his twisted games, she finds herself running up against her most formidable opponent. It’s a chilling climax that will stay with the reader long after the last page is read. A worthy conclusion to an addictive series.

Emily Littlejohn: Lost Lake Sunday, Nov 18 2018 


Emily Littlejohn’s third Colorado Detective Gemma Monroe mystery, Lost Lake, finds the new mother investigating a missing persons case that soon become so much more.

Four friends are camping at Lost Lake, despite the chilly weather, when they wake in the morning to find Sari Chesney has gone missing in the night. There’s no trace of the young woman, and the timing is most suspect.

Sari has been working on the special gala at the local museum and that night is its gala. As assistant curator, she would never miss this special evening, of great importance to gathering donors.

Gemma is slated to attend and does so, espcially when she’s summoned by the current director who claims a valuable diary, the gem of the museum for attracting donors, is missing.

Then a murder occurs, and Gemma realizes the history of the town and these people are wrapped together in more of a complex way than she’s imagined. Could the secrets of the past we impacting on the present in a deadly way?

Littlejohn’s prose elevates the detective investigation: “…Who was ultimately more authentic: the man who lived in meekness and possibly had a darker side, or the man who walked in darkness and struggled to find the light within?”

With the setting its own intriguing character, this is a strong entry in a compelling series.

Elly Griffiths: The Vanishing Box Tuesday, Nov 13 2018 

Elly Grifftiths delightful period series, The Magic Men Mysteries, returns with The Vanishing Box, and it’s Auntie M’s favorite yet in a compelling series.

It’s almost Christmas in Brighton, and magician Max Mephisto is headlining a special act at the Hippodrome with his daughter, Ruby. With a television show in the offing, the Vanshing Box trick wows the audience. Things are changing for the magician duo in more ways than one.

An act gaining a lot of interest and controversy in the same show is the “living statues” act, where near-naked women freeze in a strange tableau of historic moments. While some appreciate the stillness of the women and others their strategic feathers and leaves, there are cries of obscenity in the town that pale in comparison when one of the young women is murdered.

Max’s good friend, DI Edgar Stephens, who happens to be Ruby’s fiance, leads the investigation into the death of the lovely young woman. He also must deal with his conflicted feelings for a colleague, with surprising results.

There will be secrets from the past woven into the fabric of the mystery Edgar must solve as the deaths mount up. And when the danger hits close to home, Edgar will realize this is his most important case yet.

A fine entry in the series, with the period details spot on. And don’t miss Griffiths’ new stand-alone Gothic thriller, The Stranger Diaries.

Catriona McPherson: Go To My Grave Sunday, Nov 11 2018 

Catriona McPherson’s newest standalone, Go To My Grave,
with a gothic thriller that’s eerie even as it’s a study in characterization.

For Donna Weaver and her mother, restoring Galloway beach house The Breakers and turning it into a posh inn has been the stuff of their dreams. Redecorated, filled with fresh flowers, Donna awaits the arrival of their first guests for a long weekend where she will cook and wait on them.

She’s juggling this alone as her Mum is at a wedding venue getting new clients when the gang of relations arrive for one couple’s tenth anniversary. It’s not long before most of them realize they’ve been at this very house decades before, for a sixteenth birthday party that didn’t end well.

Things soon start to happen that catch them off balance, playing games with their memories and the events of that party. Until the unthinkable happens and a body is found.

At once atmospheric, the tangle of people at this party confound Donna with their interwoven histories that are slowly revealed to her, as are the details of exactly what happpened at the party, when the participants swore to keep the details secret in a vow of silence they would take to their graves.

For some of them, this might just come true.

Disturbing and twisted, this is a deliberately devious mystery with a shocking and unexpected ending.

Ragnar Jonasson: The Darkness Wednesday, Nov 7 2018 

Iceland’s Ragnar Jonasson steps away from his Detective Ari Thor series to bring a stand-alone that will have the hair standing up on the back of your neck in The Darkness.

DI Hulda Hermanndottir is approaching retirement age at the Reykjavik Police when her superior calls her into his office to inform her he’s already hired her replacement. She’s free to leave instead of working her last year.

Stunned, unwilling to let go of the place and job that have been her home and sustained her lonely existence, Hulda pushes to be allowed a few weeks to solve one last cold case. While the widow has developed a new friendship with a fellow hiker, she has secrets of her own she’s hiding.

A Russian asylum seeker had been found murdered in a rocky cove, and the case speaks to her, especially when she starts to investigate and finds the original detective’s sloppy work led to a hasty conclusion of suicide.

Instead, Hulda finds threads of information that point to something else entirely, and don’t add up. The more she searches, the more convinced she becomes the young woman was murdered.

There is a startling conclusion to this grim story as Hulda nears the real story of what really happened to young Elena, one that will shock and surprise readers. Publishers Weekly notes: “Fans of uncompromising plotting will be satisfied.”

Bruce Robert Coffin: Beyond the Truth Friday, Oct 26 2018 

Coffin’s third Detective Bryon crime mystery, Beyond the Truth, just may be his best yet.

The former Portland, Maine detective brings his knowledge of the town and his feel for the politics of crime management to the forefront in this newest addition to his series.

Both of the previous mysteries in the series, Among the Shadows, and Beneath the Depths, have a feel realistic feel because of Coffin’s background, and that truthfulness rings through here as well. The lousy food, long hours, mixed emotions and job culture are all exhibited.

Beyond the Truth has multiple layers that elevate it from the usual crime drama. There are issues haunting Byron that must be addressed and the status of his personal relationship, but at the center of it all is an officer-involved shooting, when a colleague and good cop shoots a teen fleeing from an armed robbery.

It doesn’t help that the gun the teen pointed at the officer isn’t found at the crime scene, and with echoes of so many recent officer-involved shootings, protests and riots soon break out.

Then there are the politics that revolved around that kind of crime, from the Mayor’s office to the police hierarchy. At the heart of it all is a dead boy and a good officer who feels he’s become undone by the circumstances and must face the fact he killed a young man.

This is topical on so many levels, yet has a very personal feel about it. Portland and its environs come alive under Coffin’s pen as he captures the many faces of that town. The investigation feels real, with families and friends of the dead youth investigated, his school and mates, and above all, the seedy underbelly of the town.

A tense and exciting read with a swiftly-paced storyline. Engrossing.

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