Joanna Schaffhausen: No Mercy Friday, Jan 18 2019 

Schaffhausen brings back tenacious police officer Ellery Hathaway in No Mercy, the follow-up to The Vanishing Season with FBI profiler Reed Markham. Readers will pick up on the action from the last book with Ellery on forced leave.

After shooting a murderer, and refusing to apologize for it, political correctness has forced Ellery into group therapy. Not a people person to start with due to her childhood horrors, she has difficulty getting close to people and this is a kind of torture for her.

Two people there come to her attention: a wheelchair-bound woman, scarred from the fire that cost her young toddler’s life decades ago, and a young woman whose life has been changed forever after a brutal in-home rape.

Ellery turns to Markham on both counts, the man who freed her from a killer’s closet when she near death as a child. The event tied the two together in a way that neither has tried to investigate–until now, when the threat to Ellery is raised in a way she might not survive.

With Ellery determined to explore both of these cases, divorced father Markham finds himself involved at a level that may cost him the promotion that would let him spend more time with his beloved daughter, especially when his boss and mentor’s former actions are called into question.

The flawed Ellery allows affection only from her adorable basset hound, Bump. Along with Markham, both unusual characters do more than carry this suspenseful plot. With fast pacing as the two cases heat up, Ellery is never far from the memories of her own violent past.

Stefan Ahnhem: Eighteen Below Thursday, Jan 10 2019 


Stefan Ahnhem’s Fabian Risk novels have a growing audience for the international bestelling author. His third, Eighteen Below, brings the same twisted plot to the Swedish detective and his well-drawn team.

Risk has always been torn between his family and his job, and this dilemna takes center stage with a serial killer on the streets of Helsingborg. The opening is particularly strong, bringing a whiff of the monster they are dealing with, slotted alongside the head of the crime squad, Tuvesson, who can’t get over her divorce and is drinking too much.

There are more secrets within the team, but they often must take a back seat when dealing with the evil at work here, for most victims are found to have been frozen alive at eighteen below, and their identity taken over for financial gain.

How Risk and his team, with great personal jeopardy, must uncover who is behind this sophisticated scheme and stop it.

There’s a lot of darkness here, and the resolution, while it answers some questions, raises different ones for the next book. An intricate plot will have readers glued to the book.

Louisa Luna: Two Girls Down Wednesday, Jan 9 2019 

Louisa Luna’s knockout Two Girl’s Down introduces two highly original characters readers will want to follow.

California PI Alice Vega finds herself on a plane to a small town in Pennsylannia when two young girls disappear. Having built up a reputation for finding missing children, the girl’s aunt has contacted Vega to assist the local police.

Max Caplan is a disgraced cop trying to make a living as a PI while raising teenaged daughter, Nell, after a divorce. When Vega contacts him to be her local contact and work the case with her, an unlikely partnership develops.

The local police are less than helpful, and with Cap’s history, the two strike out on their own at first. With the FBI’s invovlement, an uneasy truce is struck on sharing information and the two go to town.

Vega is unlike any other investigator Cap has known. Tough and smart, strong and feisty, she has contacts he doesn’t. But Cap has the local knowledge she needs as the fast plot crackles with suspense.

All of the characters are well-drawn, from the distraught family to the witnesses the duo encounter. It’s a read that will keep you rooted to the page, cinematic in its detailed view. You can hear the screenwriters sharpening their pencils.

The twists keep coming with an ending that flips back on itself and brings even more surprises. Readers will be clamoring for more Vega and Cap. This is Auntie M’s first Highly Recommended of 2019.

Sarah Ward: The Shrouded Path Monday, Dec 31 2018 


Almost Happy New Year to Auntie M’s readers, and she leaves you for 2018 with one of her favorite reads of this year.

Sarah Ward’s newest DC Childs mystery, The Shrouded Path, has led the Guardian to note: “Like Ann Cleeves . . . Ward has a gift for the macabre.”

Auntie M hadn’t really thought of Ward’s series that way, but she supposed it fits, as that sort of creepyiness that infiltrates the best of Cleeves work is at play in this series, too.

The plot centers around events of 1957, with some details dropped in from that time period alerting the readers to a well, macabre incident that happened then but isn’t made clear until near the end of the book. All in good time . . .

For DC Connie Childs, getting used to DI Matthews covering for DI Sadler, having a staycation, news that an elderly woman has been found dead sitting upright in her own living room sounds like nothing more than a routine death, if death can ever be routine to the person whose died. Then why does Connie feel like she should pursue the matter? Is it simple boredom, or a wish to impress their new DC, Peter Dahl?

At the same time, Mina Kemp, a gardener known locally as the Land Girl, has been visiting her dying mother in hospital. When her mother becomes agitated over a girl known as Valerie, it soon becomes apparent that to ease her mother’s mind, she must find this Valerie, whom her mum keeps insisting has visited her. But then the oddest thing happens. Mina’s mum confesses Valerie is dead.

With Connie using her instincts to push on the investigation, a second death of an eldery woman comes to light, and when it seems the two women knew each other, Connie and Peter Dahl are alert to the connection. And then a third woman dies, and this time there can be no pretending this was a natural death, especially when she’s linked to the other two women.

With tales of old, secrets kept, and people who’ve learned to cope moving on, even Sadler will be surprised at the turn of events in this fully realized, compelling mystery. A strong entry in a fine series, this one just keeps getting better and better, and earns Auntie M’s ‘highly recommended rating’ for the last day of 2018.

Louise Penny: Kingdom of the Blind Tuesday, Dec 25 2018 


Merry Christmas to all of Auntie M’s readers, and Happy Holidays if you celebrate another.

And the merriest of holidays to readers everywhere for Louise Penny’s newest, Kingdom of the Blind, a holiday gift to her readers everywhere that many thought wouldn’t occur this year.

No one would have blamed Penny for not giving us an Inspector Gamache book this year after the death of her beloved husband, Michael, the model for Armand Gamache. And indeed while it is later than her usual August publication, it’s a wonder and a delight she found the courage and stamina to write at all. So thank you to Louise Penny for giving her readers another Gamache to savor and enjoy.

With Gamache on suspension and still being investigated after the events of last year’s Glass Houses, the detective is enjoying Three Pines and his lovely wife, Reine-Marie, but is intrigued when a letter arrives expecting him to be present at an old farmhouse outside of town. Derelict and looking ready to collapse, it is there he meets, to his surprise, his good friend, bookstore owner and former psychologist Myrna Landers, also summoned, plus a rather eccentric young builder named Benedict.

All three are puzzled to learn they have been named the liquidators, or executors we would say in the US, of the will of a local cleaning woman most knew by sight, who liked to be called “the Baroness.”

Why did Bertha Baumgartner entrust the liquidation of her estate to three people she barely knew? And what of the odd bequests in the will itself?

What starts out as an oddity soon turns into tragedy when a body is found, connected to the old woman, and under most unusual circumstances. While the case begins for some, and leads to surprising quarters, Gamache is still bound up in trying to find the opiods he allowed to be brought into Quebec in order to end the large US-Quebec cartel operating in the area.

It’s why he’s on suspension, and with the deadly drug ready to hit the streets, the reason he’s racing against time, using any means possible to find the location of the drug. And he will find help in a most unlikely quarter, but at what cost to himself, his career, and others he cares about?

In her books Penny always manages to bring tears to Auntie M’s eyes, and this one is no exception. As the climax approaches with tremendous suspense, readers will be flipping pages wildly to seek the result.

With her keen ability to use Gamache to illustrate her characters as he sees them, readers become entwined with even the most secondary character and their outcomes. And to those who are repeat characters, readers attach a deep affection and interest in their lives.

While able to pierce the darkest parts of a human soul, Penny has a unique gift that allows those holes to let in the light and grace deep within us all.

Highly Recommended~

Holiday Historicals: More great gifts Saturday, Dec 15 2018 

Post #2 of Auntie M’s holiday suggestions, today she offers several set in other eras for that person on your list who likes a change of time period.


Will Thomas’s Barker and Llewelyn series is a favorite of Auntie M’s and Blood is Blood a strong entry. In Victorian London, the private enquiry agents are readying themselves for the younger Llewelyn’s wedding when their offices near Parliament are bombed. The damage to the building is severe and Barker is lucky to be alive.

With Barker in hospital and not being charitable about it, it will be up to Llewelyn to take on the role his mentor would fill, directing the investigation. He’s not helped by the surprise turnup of Barker’s brother, Caleb, who turns up from the US and tries to help–or does he? Working his way through a list he’s compiled of Barker’s enemies who might be behind the bombing, it soon becomes obvious that these same enemies are being picked off.

Throw in a bride who’s suddenly unsure of her soon-to-be husband’s occupation, a lovely young woman who just might be deceitful, and that brother who might or might not be invovled, and you have all the ingredients for a first class mystery.


Karen Odden’s A Dangerous Duet takes readers to Victorian Soho where a young female pianist must face a mystery while she tries to overcome the mores of the day.

With a brother, Matthew, in Scotland Yard, and a family history that discourages her interest, Nell Hallam’s goal is to attend the Royal Academy of Music. To earn her tuition, she plays piano–brilliantly–at a music hall. Disguised as a man, sneaking out her house at night to her job, Nell soon finds the lively atmosphere and different performers suit her, as does the the owner’s son, Jack, until the night another young woman performer is found dead in an alley. When Nell becomes involved in London’s underworld, she also entangles herself in her brother’s investigation.

A tough choice follows when Matthew has Jack in his sights. Filled with realistic details of the Victorain music halls and crimes of the day, London’s seedier side of town illustrates the danger and vitality that made it so fascinating.

Dangerous to Know is Renee Patrick’s second mystery featuring Edith Head and social secretary to the stars, Lillian Frost. Readers enjoying old-world Hollywood will enjoy this story, set in 1938, with the shadow of WWII hanging over everyone.

There’s something for everyone here, with appearances by Marlene Dietrich, suspicious of the Third Reich, when Jack Benny and George Burns face smuggling charges, and a talented visiting composer goes missing. Billy Wilder, Dorothy Lamour and Greta Garbo, in addition to others at Paramount, show up in cameos. It’s a world of beautiful gowns and secrets behind old movies we still adore when Lillian tries to find the composer and instead finds herself embroiled in a murder.

Great fun and packed with old gossip and real details that are fascinating and show the depth of research the married authors bring to the series.

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.

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.

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