Tony Parsons: #taken Sunday, Mar 29 2020 

Tony Parson’s sixth DC Max Wolfe police procedural #taken starts out with a bang.

A beautiful woman has been kidnapped from a car in Hampstead, her young son left behind in his car seat in the back.

Max’s inquiry into Jessica Lyle’s disappearance isn’t helped by her father, retired Met detective. Could one of his enemies have been the culprit?

Then it comes to light that Jessica was driving her friend’s car, and the roommate comes under his microscope. Snezia Jones leant Jessica her car. So who was the real intended victim?

When it comes to light at Jessica was the girlfriend of drug kingpin Harry Flowers, things rapidly escalate. And when Harry shows up at the home Max shares with his young daughter, Scout, and their dog, Stan, he gets quickly up Max’s nose.

But Harry’s determined to help find Jessica, and soon Max has an unwanted partner. If only he can find a way to use Harry to help instead of hinder him, they just might get Jessica back before she’s killed.

One of the best parts for Auntie M is the way Parsons weaves a darn good thrilling case around the lives of Max, Scout and Stan. It rings of realism and the ugliness and beauty of life raising a loved child of divorce. This is another grand installment in a fantastic series that doesn’t get enough attention. Highly recommended.

Charles Finch: The Last Passenger Sunday, Mar 22 2020 

Charles Finch brings Charles Lenox in a third novel in a prequel trilogy to the series in The Last Passenger. Set in Victorian London in 1855 during the days leading up to the Civil War in America, this clueless murder case may be young detective’s most disturbing case.

It’s a way to discern the man Lenox will become and those who form part of his mature life when he’s called in to the case of murder. A has been found on a train to London without any way to identify it. What is first thought of as a case of theft may instead have ties to the anti-slavery movement hitting America.

Throughout the investigation is Finch’s deep respect for language and for historical accuracy. Readers will learn about the mores and customs of the era, the social prejudices, and the ways of the era.

The character’s are realistic and fit the time period, from the main to the smallest side parts. And the book fills a hole in Lenox’s own history, while at the same time pointing out the class differences all around, even extending to women and their roles. Of course, there are all the women thrust at the highly marriageable Lenox.

But that is additionally to the investigation he undertakes, and the obstacles he finds. An accomplished and realistic look at the differences between UK and US times, there is enough humor to keep the book afloat as Lenox figures it all out.

Phillip Margolin: A Reasonable Doubt Friday, Mar 20 2020 

Phillip Margolin brings a juicy legal thriller in his Robin Lockwood series to readers with A Reasonable Doubt.

Magic is the name of the game when one of her former boss’s earlier clients, Robert Chesterfield, shows up asking for her help with patent protection. A fan of magic, Robin doesn’t have the expertise he needs, but when she investigates the earlier cases, finds he was previously arrested for two murders, for which her boss, Regina Barrister, defended him easily.

When she’s invited to see this new illusion performed, it ends with Robin’s disappearance. Has he gone away to avoid another arrest, or is there more to his disappearance? Just how many enemies does the famed musician with his heavy British accent, actually have?

Plenty, as Robin soon discovers. With the story shifting through the years to show Chesterfield’s history and his accumulation of enemies, Robin will be forced to look deeper when a twist occurs that shocks everyone.

Margolin’s legal experience as a criminal defense lawyer is apparent in the courtroom scenes but as always, it’s Robin and her team who bring the cases to a close.

Tightly paced and well-plotted, it’s a satisfying read with suspenseful chills.

Matt Wesolowski: BEAST Friday, Mar 13 2020 

Matt Wesolowski returns with the fourth in his Six Stories series in BEAST, at once a mystery, a ghost story, and a critical look at social media and its effect on today’s youth.

The windswept, depressed area of the UK’s north-east brings the coastal town of Ergarth as the setting for the creative ideation of the series. True-crime podcaster Scott King is there to investigate the death of popular vlogger, Elizabeth Barton.

Found in a bizarre situation during the arctic freeze, naked and frozen to death, Elizabeth’s body is discovered inside Tankerville Tower, an ancient clifftop ruin that supports the local myth that calls it the Vampire Tower.

The three young men convicted of this grisly crime have all called it a “prank gone wrong” and seem willing to take their punishment. But graffiti on the Barton’s garden wall suggests that the youths may not indeed be guilty. Then who killed Elizabeth?

As King speaks to six witnesses, hence the title, he unearths the online craze that Elizabeth was party to that led her to the tower. He finds that in this desolate, hopeless area, the youth are tied to their internet crazes, and Elizabeth was local celebrity. While many looked up to her and wanted to be near her and be in her circle, there were others who seemed set on her ruin.

Elizabth is seen as a study in contrasts when King compares her presence online to the witness statements about what she was really like. With absent parents providing ‘things’ instead of attention to her and her brother, the need her to feel she was the center of attention and adoration grew.

The device alternates transcripts of “Lizzie” and her last vlogs with transcripts of the interviews that King conducts, with his voice-over narration and dialogue from those witnesses. It’s an intriguing concept that brings a brooding darkness to the story.

Stark in its reality of our attention-seeking society, BEAST manages to convey a striking and well-plotted thriller within the clever structure that takes the genre and bends it into something totally gripping and original. Highly recommended.

Steve Berry: The Warsaw Protocol Wednesday, Mar 11 2020 

Steve Berry’s adventures have taken Cotton Malone to many places in the world. In The Warsaw Protocol, the action starts in Bruges, a place Auntie M has visited and loved, where a cloth supposedly dabbed in Christ’s blood is stolen from a church there.

It’s not the first religious artifact revolving around the crucifixion to be stolen. Termed Arma Christi, these relics are usually sold to collectors.

But on the blackmarket comes news of an auction with information sold that will affect power between Russia and the US with Poland. And the price of admission to bid is an object from the Arma Christi collection.

Malone finds himself evading an unusual Polish agent while trying to steal the last relic to gain admission to the auction. It’s a race against time in this action-packed suspense thriller, with an emphasis on the strength of Poland.

The hallmark of this series is Berry’s ability to combine his exhaustive historical research with a novel plot that thrills readers. Perfect for fans of Dan Brown.

Steph Broadribb: Deep Dark Night Saturday, Mar 7 2020 

Steph Broadribb’s Lori Anderson series returns with the Florida bounty hunter showing her strength, mental and physical, in Deep Dark Night.

Working with an FBI agent she doesn’t trust but owes a case to, Lori and her partner both can kick ass but in this one, it’s all down to Lori to handle things for them both.

More is at stake than the daughter she’s left behind in Florida as Chicago is the site of a deal to entrap she must manage with the head of the Cabressa crime family.

The bait is a chess set that has a personal attachment for the crime boss, along with its financial value. In a high-stakes poker game, Lori must impress everyone with her ability to play while dangling the chess set as the high reward.

Only just as things heat up, a city wide blackout turns the glitzy hotel suite into a hostage situation. Not everyone is who they were purported to be at the table, including Lori herself.

Action-packed with rising tension that will add white knuckles to the flipping pages.

Vanda Symon: Containment Thursday, Mar 5 2020 

Vanda Symon’s Sam Shephard series is fast gaining international acknowledgement, and it’s no surprise readers will engage with her newest, Containment.

Young detective Sam finds herself called out on an early Sunday to Aramoana, where the New Zealand coast has snagged a ship that’s become marooned on an angle, strewing some of its containers in the water, while others have been beached. An elderly woman has found a skull in the sands, too. What else could go wrong?

It only takes one group of young men to breach the seal on the metal container nearest them, and soon masses descend on the area, scavenging for the containers’ contents. It’s while Sma’s trying to control a pair of looters fighting over a carton that one of them punches her lights out. As she goes down for the count, Sam sees the older of the two men go after the younger and tackle him.

Only the older man has dealt the younger enough blows to land him in the hospital, and after Sam safes his life in the ambulance where she’s accompanying him for stitches and to be checked for a concussion, things go further downhill and don’t add up. Now her would-be rescuer is in trouble for coming to Sam’s defense, as the younger man who beat Sam up hovers between life and death.

The trail for the recovery of contents takes time, and then the body of a diver is pulled from the sea, and there’s a connection between this dead young man with the pilferage.

The confusion mounts as much as Sam’s personal life. It’s a perfect storm of the setting, great character development and a gripping plot that makes Containment one readers won’t be able to put down.

Charles Todd: A Divided Loyalty Saturday, Feb 29 2020 

The duo team known as Charles Todd brings Inspector Ian Rutledge his most difficult cases in their 22nd outing, A Divided Loyalty.

Rutledge is giving evidence in a case while he walks a fine edge with his superiors. His colleague and war-time friend, Brian Leslie, is the one sent to Avebury where an unidentified woman’s body has been found near the prehistoric stone circle.

But Leslie recognizes the victim, but chooses to keep that information to himself, and then is unable to find the murderer; meanwhile Rutledge is instead sent to find the killer of a second murdered woman found in a recently dug grave.

After solving his case, Rutledge finds himself assigned to take a second look at the case his friend couldn’t solve. He must try to identify the victim and re-do the investigation of his friend, a thankless task to begin with, and his failure would give his superintendent the reason he needs to fire Rutledge.

Aware he’s in a tough situation, Rutledge struggles to find the clues he needs to solve the case, and when he does, it will bring with it the ammunition his superiors need to fire him. The ending puts twists to an unusual climax that puts everyone involved in jeopardy.

For fans of this post-WWI era, the historic details are atmospheric and add to the story in this popular long-running series.

Mandy Morton: The Ice Maid’s Tail Thursday, Feb 20 2020 

Many Morton returns with the eighth in The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency in The Ice Maid’s Tail. This time Hettie Bagshot and her partner, Tilly Jenkins, must brave the snow and ice to find out what’s happened to a trio of missing kittens.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of this creative and sparkling series set entirely in a world of cats and dedicated to animal rescue centers across the country, rest assured you will be delighted with Morton’s ability to bring sly humor and a sense of humanity to her feline characters, as well as a cracking good mystery.

It’s been a very harsh winter and February sees a blizzard that has roads cut off and ice ponds of the sidewalks. Most businesses are closed, and staying warm and getting enough to eat have become priorities. Even Lavender Stamp has closed the post office and the unkind feline may be in jeopardy.

Hettie and Tilly are trying to stay warm in their rooms behind the Butter sisters bakery, where their food is part of the rent and the warm ovens help to keep them toasty.

Then Fluff Wither-Fork calls from Wither-Fork Hall. She’s set up an orphanage in the Folly in Wither-Fork Woods, managed by Anthea and Preston Munch, where three young kittens in their care have gone missing after playing in the snow.

With their cadre of helpers, the detectives manage to arrive slipping and sliding at the Hall and set to work, augmented by the cooking of Blackberry Tibbs, Fluff’s maid and cook and companion, also a talented cat artist. Many of the Hall’s rooms are not used, and the warren of hallways, attics and hiding places lend themselves to three kittens trying to hide but stay warm.

What they find has them compelled to wonder whether the kittens are missing or have run away from the strict and uncompromising dictates of the Munches. It will take Hettie and Tilly’s smarts and hunches in equal to unravel the truth, with a bit of help from the witch in the woods.

Another highly recommended offering from the author who manages to create a world we simply believe and sometimes wish we could join, especially if the Butters sisters would bake for us.

Bruce Robert Coffin: Within Plain Sight Tuesday, Feb 4 2020 

Within Plain Sight, Bruce Robert Coffin’s newest Detective Bryon novel takes the best of police procedurals and adds an element of reality that others miss in his Portland-set series.

The opening scene is packs a wallop that is explained later but sets this up in a way that lets the reader know this is not your usual killing. The mutilated body of a young woman is found inside an abandoned lumber yard, and soon enough the suspect list is growing.

Det. Byron has his personal struggles but his dedication to his job is unquestionable. He’s acclimating to the first female police Chief Portland has had, stepping through the political hoops of the job he tries to avoid, when he catches a new murder case.

For Byron, this means interviews, footwork, relying on his team members to gather more information, and trying to see the pattern through the evidence. With his instincts for the job highly developed, Bryon often sees threads others miss, and this will lead him to figure out the subterfuge that’s at hand.

The city of Portland comes to life under Coffin’s talented pen. An accomplished realism painter, he applies that same technique to his writing, allowing readers will feel they’re in on the investigation. This is a series that keeps getting stronger and more satisfying. Highly recommended.
@BruceRobertCoffin

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Lee Lofland

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Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

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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...

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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

Being Author

An online writing community

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, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

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