L. C. Shaw: The Silent Conspiracy Wednesday, Oct 21 2020 

L.C. Shaw brings back the duo of investigative reporter Jack Logan and free-lance television producer Taylor Parks in a dark thriller, The Silent Conspiracy.

With their young son in tow, they hope their lives will settle down two years after their debut in The Network. But then a pattern of murder-suicides raises its ugly head and Jack starts to investigate.

Meanwhile, Taylor’s newest story is a Supreme Court case, a class-action suit against a national insurance company, and has an all-too realistic feel about it.

Things take a complicated turn when it seems there may be an overlap in their stories. And all the while a nemesis returns, and family secrets that have been kept far too long impact the couple. There are political and religious ramifications, with conspiracies that are pure evil.

As the puzzle pieces come together, the stakes are raised and the couple find their family in more jeopardy than they could imagine.

This is a high-action thriller, with international settings and a whopper of an ending. The cliffhanger promises that the third in the series will be just as thrilling.

Cara Hunter Day: DI Adam Fawley Sunday, Oct 18 2020 

Oxford. Crime. Auntie M is so there. Here’s another roundup of a great series you might want to look for:

Cara Hunter’s DI Adam Fawley introduces a detective with an unusual background. In the debut mystery, Close to Home, Fawley and his team are called in to investigate the disappearance of eight-year-old Daisy Mason, when the girl vanishes during a party held in her family’s backyard.

It’s a barbecue of sorts, and a costume party. Daisy’s family strikes Fawley are weird, from her mother who is height of perfection to her distanced, cold father. And her younger brother won’t speak, or make eye contact.

It’s obvious there is an undercurrent here, and as his team sorts out the lies from the truth, his own home situation comes into play. And then there’s that twisted ending that will have you reaching for the next one in the series straightaway.

In the Dark takes Fawley and his team into a disturbing nightmare of a case. A woman and her young child are found locked in a basement room, with nothing to identify them. Barely surviving, the woman refuses to speak. Is she mute or terrified?

The elderly man who owns the house is confused and it seems he doesn’t know these two people, nor why they were in his basement. Has he lost the plot totally? Or is someone toying with him?

The is masterful plotting, with secrets being kept in a quiet Oxford street, right under the gaze of neighbors. Another winner with a startling resolution.

In No Way Out, it’s a sad Christmas for one family when their home burns down and children are lost. It appears at first glance that they were in the house alone. Where are their parents?

Trying to give the distraught grandparents answers, Fawley and his team race to find answers to these questions, especially after it’s deemed that this fire was set on purpose.

Another gripped mystery with a twisted ending, readable and compelling.

All the Rage makes residents of the streets of Oxford sit up and take notice when a young teen is attacked, a plastic bag thrown over her head, and she’s dragged away. Taken to a remote area, she somehow escapes.

Fawley’s team is cohesive now and his DC Eric Somer, can’t help but feel this young woman knows exactly who attacked her, but some obscure reason isn’t willing to say.

The case echoes a similar early string of cases and causes more than a few sleepless nights for Fawley. And at home things are ramping up, too, with threads to an earlier case.

The series is a winning combination of great cases with stealthy police investigation, coupled with the instincts of the team. There’s the sense that nothing is formulaic about this series.

While the mysteries are solved in each individual book, the hallmark of a great series is that the reader can follow the personal life of the detective, and Fawley certainly has his share of his personal past he and his wife are dealing with, parsed out over the course of the series in a highly effective way that do not detract from the individual book.

It’s an absorbing series, with the next book due out in February 2021. And Auntie M will be reading.

Anne Cleeland: Murder in Revelation Friday, Oct 16 2020 

Anne Cleeland’s twelfth Doyle and Acton Mystery, Murder in Revelation, brings the married detective duo back into action.

Kathleen Doyle is the sergeant who receives a tip that leads her to a doctor being assaulted at a London free clinic. The witness she finds, who’s obviously been assaulted, spins Doyle a tale of evil doers eating the souls of children.

While Doyle realizes there is a cultural component to the woman’s interpretation, she tries to convince DCI Acton, her titled husband, to put surveillance on the clinic. It doesn’t help that another doctor who volunteered at the clinic was recently murdered. Something’s rotten at the clinic, and children are involved.

Doyle’s Irish fey countenance will come into play as she can tell if someone’s statements are true or false. Only a few people know of her gift, and she uses it wisely.

With a toddler son and a new baby on the way, Acton is hyper vigilant over his wife, doing his best to keep Doyle rested and fed with good food like fruit, instead of haring off on a case. The ghost who haunts Doyle’s dreams seems to agree with him.

But Doyle knows her husband and his peculiar ways of justice, just as she knows she must become the buffer for him and those who want to destroy him.

There are multiple murders and several old foes who return. This is not a cozy mystery but one where careful plotting excels as Doyle helps Acton in the only way she knows how–by being in the thick of things.

One of the highlights of this series is the charm of the main characters. Readers feel the chemistry between them, and accept their unusual relationship. While Doyle does her best to reign in her husband, Acton remains far ahead of her and everyone else, orchestrating things.

But Doyle has the last word in this one. There are several surprises along the way that add to the engrossing read, and the final chapter gives a glimpse to the future.

Jo Spain: After the Fire Wednesday, Oct 7 2020 

Jo Spain’s sixth Inspector Tom Reynolds Mystery, After the Fire, combines the best of police procedurals with a team of characters who grow more familiar with each book.

Tom’s job as chief superintendent of the National Bureau of Crime Investigation in Dublin takes him away from being in an on-the-ground investigation, tied up in administrative bureaucracy.

Forced to take two weeks off of holiday time, he and his wife Louise are helping their physician daughter, Maria, with caring for her six-year old daughter, Cait. He’s having lunch at the hospital with Maria during his time off when he overhears two porters discussing a new patient, and is all ears.

A young woman was found walking down the street, naked, exhibiting signs of smoke inhalation and burns on some surfaces of her body, mumbling about a not being about to save the baby.

That’s all it takes for Tom to check out the patient, and soon his friend and colleague, DCI Laura Lennon of the murder squad. Tom soon finds himself lending a Laura’s case a hand, when the house the young naked woman escaped from is found to contain more victims and was a case of arson.

Only slightly escaping Louise’s wrath at becoming involved, Tom manages to help Laura and her team investigate what might be a trafficking ring. Meanwhile, Laura’s husband, Ray, assigned to the new gun-related crimes unit, has his own sources that may contribute to the situation.

The people living in the burned out house were not the casual renters thought at first glance. Several others are missing. And where is this baby?

Spain’s newest elevated the police procedural in a fast-paced race to find those at risk, rescue an infant, and keep the burn patient from becoming the next victim.

All the while, she manages to give the effect of the Irish accent without resorting to overdone brogue dialect. Her dialogue sparkles with the relief of black humor most long-term police adopt, adding a realistic feel and depth to her characters.

A fast and engrossing read. Already looking for the next one.

Nicola Upson: The Secrets of Winter Tuesday, Oct 6 2020 

Nicola Upson’s ninth historical mystery novel featuring Josephine hey, The Secrets of Winter, takes readers to a Cornish Christmas in December 1938 with a devastating opening that will proved to be key to the resolution.

Hitler is on the rise, trying to gather friends, even celebrities, for support. But Josephine and Marta have been issued an invitation by their good friend, DCI Archie Penrose, to be part of a special Christmas celebration in aid of charity taking place in the castle high on St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall.

Accessed at low tide by a causeway and by ferry boat at others, the Mount has its own medieval church, and the castle, filled with history, seems barely changed from its origins with the exception of a few modern conveniences. The charity being bolstered by Miss Hilaria St. Aubyn of the current family in residence is in aid of bringing thousands of Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to be cared for in hostels and private homes.

When Archie and soon the assorted company, which includes a famous film star, are faced with a murder in the small town at the foot of the Mount and a second murder on the castle premises, it’s easy to feel the chill of the cold stone as a blizzard keeps the gathering cloistered at the castle during what should have been merry Christmas festivities.

Now Archie, aided by Josephine with her keen sense of human nature and her discerning eye, will need all of their attention turned to figuring out who amongst their company is a murderer, before death strikes again.

This is the UK cover for the same book, titled The Dead of Winter. Both covers and titles convey the story inside, based on real history and real people. Auntie M had the great good fortune to visit St. Michael’s Mount, off the coast of Marazion, when she stayed in Penzance on a setting research trip. It’s a must-stop for anyone traveling to Cornwall, despite the steep walk up to the castle. The dizzying height and glorious gardens on the island, plus its innate charm, will surely delight any traveler.

Upson perfectly captures the charm and essence of the community in this era who live and work on the island, and the families who keep the castle at its summit running. A better setting for murder and intrigue could not be imagined, and Auntie M is only sorry Upson got there first.

For this story is full of twists and compelling intrigue, perhaps not quite the Christmas holiday Josephine had envisioned, but one that will have readers enmeshed in the lives of those who have gathered to celebrate Christmas in a castle on top of a high hill. It’s to her credit that Upson manages to create a world where Tey and her friends survive and live on, one that is built on reality but imbued with the authors’ knack for the telling detail and her character’s inner lives.

Another solid entry from an award-winning writer whose work has been shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger, this one is definitely Highly Recommended.

Clare Chase Day: The Tara Thorpe Mysteries Monday, Sep 28 2020 

Auntie M has been reading several series in order, and today she’s talking about Clare Chase, whose Tara Thorpe series is set in Cambridge.

Murder on the Marshes introduces Tara, a Cambridge journalist who is investigating the death of a young woman found in the fountain of one of Cambridge’s college courtyards.

When Tara learns the woman had been receiving death threats, she can’t help but flash on the one that was left on her own doorstep the night this woman died.

Her personal interest in the case catches the attention of DI Garstin Blake, and he reluctantly comes to see that her journalistic nose has its advantages, as she interviews what they both feel are potential suspects. But Tara’s past experience with police has left her wary of police in general.

Refusing to acknowledge the pull she feels toward the married Blake, Tara doesn’t share the secret in her past that might have bearing on the case, even as they get closer and closer to the killer.

Death on the River opens a few years later, when Tara has left journalism and entered the police force. Only a few weeks into her position as a DC in Cambridge, she is shocked one night to find a woman on the doorstep of her isolated fens cottage. Dr. Monica Cairncross begs Tara to investigate the death of her brother, Ralph.

It’s been deemed an accident, but Tara’s immediate supervisor, DS Wilkins, has little time for Tara’s efforts to find out about the accident and if there was any possibility it could have been murder. But going behind Wilkin’s back, Tara finds out Ralph Cairncross had an earlier accident with the wiring on a faulty lamp that almost killed him.

Butting heads with her DS isn’t missed by their boss, DI Blake, who is determined to give Tara the chance she deserves in his team, despite the misgivings of Wilkins. Just how far will her DS go to scupper Tara? Then a second body is found, and it becomes clear someone has murder on their mind.

With Death Comes to Call, Tara’s newest case revolves around the disappearance of local painter Luke Cope. Inspecting his paintings, Tara is alarmed to see one of a pretty woman with a man’s hands around her throat.

She’s at a loss, until the body of a young woman is found on a nature preserve, left overnight. The dead woman is Freya Cross, an art gallery employee who modeled for Cope and is the woman from the painting. Is life imitating art?

Tara investigates, sometimes using unusual methods she’s fond of from her journalism days. There have been changes to Blake’s team, too, that effect their working. As Tara and the team investigate both Freya’s husband and stepson, there are other forces at work trying to destroy the new detective constable.

Murder in the Fens brings Tara and her team to the body of a young woman found on the edge of the fens, her pockets stuffed full of dead flowers. Was this an affair gone wrong, a crime of passion, or something more?

Searching the young student’s room, Tara finds what turns out to be a rare family heirloom hidden among her things. What was smart Julie Cooper doing with something valuable that belongs to the family of the master at her college?

Was this simple theft, or the hint of something much more? And how far back in time will Tara have to look to find the threads of what is at the heart of this death?

With team changes come a new detective who seems too good to be true, but at least Tara isn’t the lowest in the pecking order. Her tense relationship with DI Blake takes an unexpected turn in this one.

The mystery is solved in each one, so the books don’t strictly have to be read in order, but there was an undeniable pleasure in watching the progression of the relationships Tara has, first as a journalist, and then as a young detective with the various members of her team.

She has her own past, a complicated family situation, and support in odd corners, but it all works and makes her an interesting and strong young woman, whose sense of determination sometimes gets in the way of being a team player, something she must learn.

Chase does a good job, too, exploring Cambridge as a setting, bringing the ancient city and its many colleges to life, as well as the stark fens countryside.

All in all, it’s a satisfying series and Auntie M is looking forward to Tara Thorpe’s next case.

Sophie Hannah: The Killings at Kingfisher Hill Tuesday, Sep 15 2020 

Sophie Hannah’s Hercule Poirot mysteries capture the essence of Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective. She returns with her newest, The Killings at Kingfisher Hill, the fourth approved by the Christie estate.

Poirot and Inspector Catchpool are to take a coach to the private gated community at Kingfisher Hill. The Belgian detective has been begged by Richard Devonport to visit his family home with an eye to finding the real murderer of his estranged brother, Frank.

Frank Devonport had just reconciled with his family and a few hours later was dead after a fall from a high staircase. His fiancee, Helen, has confessed to pushing Frank over the banister, but Richard is convinced she is innocent, and hires Poirot to prove it while he’s convinced Helen to marry him.

After a startling and almost bizarre coach ride to journey to Kingfisher Hill, Poirot and Catchpool start their investigation and meet the unpleasant Devonport family and several close friends. With strong personalities dominating everyone’s actions, the red herrings abound. And then there is a second murder . . .

This is a mystery of the mind, with alibis crisscrossing each other and secrets being held. Hannah does a fine job of capturing Poirot’s voice, and has created her most twisted plot yet, one even Christie would find complex.

Catchpool is not Hastings, but he is coming into his own with his relationship with Poirot deepening as the detective mentors the young man to impart how the inspector can better use his little grey cells.

What could be better than an outing with Poirot under the skilled pen of Sophie Hannah. Now who will tackle Miss Marple?

Highly recommended.

Spencer Kobe: Shadows of the Dead Sunday, Sep 13 2020 

Spencer Kope returns readers to the Special Tracking Unit of the FBI in Shadows of the Dead.

Magnus Craig is known as “Steps” but only a few people know of his ability to see shine, a color stream of the essence created by people, varying in color and intensity depending on the length of time they’ve been in a certain place. The origin of this synesthesia is in itself interesting and creative. How he deals with it with special glasses adds to this touch and creates empathy for a man whose special sight is a daily bombardment of colors and senses without the glasses.

The strong opening in this third outing (Collecting the Dead, Whispers of the Dead)creates immediate interest: tracking a man after he’s fled in the woods after a police chase to a remote cabin in the woods brings them information about his partner in crime, a man he calls OK for Onion King.

Then a young woman is found in the trunk of his car, a woman he calls Eight. When she regains consciousness, her information is telling: she was abducted by someone different from the man who left her in the woods; and more critically, she was not the first but the eighth victim.

Steps and his partner, Jimmy, will trace the villain in real time and though the dark web, a race against time for the unknown abducted victims still being held. For is this young woman was Eight, where are the first seven?

Kope, a working crime analyst, brings a huge sense of reality to the plot through profiling and other detection methods from his own knowledge base. Yet he’s smart to weave characters who will capture the readers’ attention, especially Steps, even as he takes them on a wild ride.

The unpredictable plot, as well as the easy camaraderie and dialogue between Jimmy and Steps add to make this a wholly satisfying read.

Alexander McCall Smith: The Quiet Side of Passion and The Geometry of Holding Hands Sunday, Sep 6 2020 

Auntie M loves Alexander McCall Smith’s series set in Scotland. Today she’s caught up on two Isabel Dalhousie novels. The Quiet Side of Passion takes the philosopher to new territory. Working from home has its challenges, as does Isabel’s inability to say “no” to her niece whenever she asks for help.

The wife, mother of two, and editor of a philosophy magazine clearly needs help around the house. With her husband, Jamie, suggesting they go forward with help, Isabel soon finds her life turned upside down.

The new au pair from Italy has a very different idea of what an au pair should do or behave. And is she giving Jamie the wandering eye?

The young woman who seems the perfect fit as an assistant editor is intelligent, and seems dedicated to her work and her studies. But does she place too much emphasis on her work?

Alongside these distractions, Isabel meets the single mother of one of Charlie’s friends at nursery. Raising her son without help from his father, Isabel soon finds herself entangled in the kind of mess only she can get herself into. It’s her unfailing kindness, often in short supply at times in others, and her ability to question both sides of every question, that is Isabel’s undoing.

The Geometry of Holding Hands brings Isabel several of her most difficult decisions. A wealthy Edinburgh gentleman who has large land holdings and once knew Isabel’s father asks her to be the executor of his will.

After initially thinking she was not the person to do this, she soon learns he has little time left to live, and seeks her guidance on which of three cousins would be the best to leave his large Highland estate in care of.

Then, too, her niece, Cat, has increased her demands on Isabel’s time at the deli she runs. This seems tied in to her new man, the leonine Leo, who looks as lion-like as his name, with the same cunning attitude. Is Leo sincere in his affection for Cat, or for her part of the family trust?

These are the kinds of dilemmas Isabel most navigate with her usual intelligence and grace, and often a major jolt of good sense from Jamie. Set these inside a loving and realistic portrayal of Edinburgh, and you have books readers will enjoy and often think of long after the last page is turned.

One of the hallmarks of the series is Smith’s ability to illustrate the character’s and their personalities. His dialogue is astute and often hilarious. But it’s his warmth toward Isabel and her determined search for what she sees as the truth to complex situations where Smith shines and makes reader return again and again.

Jane Harper: The Dry, and Force of Nature Wednesday, Sep 2 2020 

Jane Harper’s debut The Dry, set in the outskirts of Melbourne, was such a hit that Auntie M had to see what all the fuss was about. After reading it, she immediately ordered the sequel, Force of Nature, and anxiously awaits a third.

The Dry introduces Federal Agent Aaron Falk, who left Kiewarra twenty years ago and hasn’t looked back. With his unusual looks, he’s always been a standout.

Then he find out his best friend from childhood, Luke, and his entire family have been found murdered. Hesitating, his visit home is clinched when he receives a note saying that the sending knows that Aaron and Luke lied about a childhood event, and tells him to come for the funeral.

The worst drought in decades has hit the rural area yet most of it is still recognizable to Aaron. Leaving with his father, now dead, had been a defining moment of his youth.

Returning will thrust him into the world of buried secrets, long-held grievances, and the question of who really killed Luke and his family.

Force of Nature bring Aaron back to a natural area, this time to a corporate retreat on a wilderness site. Five women have gone the trek, ostensibly to bond out of their office comfort zone in a weekend away that is to build trust——but only four return.

Aaron’s involvement rests on the missing hiker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his most recent case. She was supposed to be bringing him documentation that would topple her company and several people in it. And several of those people were in the woods with her.

As Aaron adds himself to the searchers and the investigation, the stories the four returning hikers give vary slightly, and just enough to raise his suspicions. Who betrayed the hiker?

Both books are tightly plotted, and illustrate a detail for characters that make them realistic and how that Harper is a great study of human nature. With their compelling story and the lead character perhaps the most intriguing of all, Harper’s books are both Highly Recommended.

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Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

Welcome to Leeward

Liz Loves Books

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JoHanna Massey

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The Wickeds

Wicked Good Mysteries

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Some Days You Do ...

Writers & writing: books, movies, art & music - the bits & pieces of a (retiring) writer's life

Gaslight Crime

Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews

Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

Welcome to Leeward

Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

dru's book musings

Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp the perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

The Wickeds

Wicked Good Mysteries

John Bainbridge Writer

Indie Writer and Publisher

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & writing: books, movies, art & music - the bits & pieces of a (retiring) writer's life

Gaslight Crime

Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews