Brian McGilloway: Bad Blood: A Lucy Black Thriller Friday, Jun 23 2017 

Brian McGilloway’s Lucy Black series, set in Northern Ireland, returns with the compelling Bad Blood.

Not one to shy from controversial topics, McGilloway tackles Lucy’s latest case head on, when a community becomes overwhelmed with tragedy.

A young man is found in a park, dead from head wounds, and with a stamp from a gay club on his hand. Concurrently, a hate-speech pastor was heard spouting the advocacy of stoning gay people. Could the death be connected to his talks?

At the same time as Lucy and her boss, DI Tom Fleming, try to cool things off, a Gay Rights group become involved, showing up and demonstrating at the pastor’s talks, while a far-right group target new immigrants who’ve moved into the area.

There will be vandalism that escalates to assault, arson, and more deaths before Lucy and her team, who are undergoing their own stresses, can figure out who is behind the various issues. There are turf wars within the community, and an escalating drug problem that adds to the tension.

Set against the days leading up to the Brexit vote, this highly current and compelling thriller will have readers flipping pages as Lucy and her team try to figure out who is responsible for what, when she finds herself on the receiving end of some of the ugliness.

The complex plot all makes sense in this end in this enjoyable read that will have readers searching for others in the Lucy Black series.

Elly Griffiths: The Chalk Pit Tuesday, May 30 2017 

Elly Griffiths returns with her ninth Ruth Galloway mystery, The Chalk Pit, a strong addition to the popular series.

The series, set in Norwich, is such a favorite of Auntie M’s that her next Nora Tierney English Mystery, The Golden Hour, features a character is reading the latest mystery–and Elly appears briefly as a friend of Nora’s.

There are good reasons why the award-winning author is hugely popular. The anthropology details are accurate but never dry, and always couched in a really good mystery to be solved. Then there are the returning characters–Ruth, Detective Nelson, and several of their friends and colleagues–who reappear and catch readers in the tumble of their lives.

This keeps the reader involved in Ruth’s world, where she’s the single parent of young Kate, a precocious child who is offered a small role in an experimental version of Alice in Wonderland.

The play comes at the same time that Ruth is called to investigate bones found in an old chalk pit during excavation for an underground restaurant. When the bones turn out to be human, it involves Nelson, too, and the mystery takes off as the relationship between Ruth and Nelson becomes even more complicated.

Ruth notices the bones appear so translucent, they might have been boiled. A second body is found, and fear mounts. Is this the work of a cannibal killer? Could there be a secret society at work? Why are the homeless being targeted? When a homeless woman goes missing, Ruth and Nelson fear she’s the next victim.

As the tension mounts, someone close them will also go missing. The story twists in their efforts to find the killer in a tense climax that will have readers flipping pages to the conclusion.

Another rewarding read in this satisfying series from the author who also writes the The Magic Men Mysteries. Highly recommended.

James Oswald: Written in Bones Sunday, May 28 2017 

James Oswald’s Inspector McLean series is one of Auntie M’s personal favorites. Written in Bones continues the compelling Edinburgh-based mystery series with its strong protagonist. And yes, the award-winning and nominated author really does raise pedigree Highland cattle and New Zealand Romney sheep on his North East Fife farm. You can see amazing photos of his livestock on his website and Facebook pages.

This case seems to be one without an answer. A young boy walking his dog early in the morning talks of a dragon flying overhead; then a body drops into a tree in the Meadows, Edinburgh’s scenic park. It’s not a crime scene of the faint of heart.

The victim is an ex-cop who had a criminal past, and after serving his time, had reinvented himself as a philanthropist for addicts and other causes. Was his death an accident? Or a message to those left behind?

It will take McLean back to digging out past cases and history, while he comes into contact with someone he thought he’d left behind, just as he’s trying to sort out his personal life.

One of the highlights of the series is the way Oswald brings Edinburgh, and his band of characters, to life. This is gritty stuff with an edge or realism that sharpness the focus. And as always, McLean needs to avoid exacerbating his already-ugly relationship with most of his superiors, as he doesn’t always play by the book–perhaps never.

Another outstanding entry in the series. Highly recommended.

Pamela Wechsler: The Graves Wednesday, May 24 2017 

The Boston setting comes alive in former prosecutor Pamela Wechler’s second Abby Endicott novel, The Graves, where the young assistant district attorney known for crime convictions is still recovering from the attempts on her life in the debut, Mission Hill.

The strong protagonist has a passion for putting murderers away, but that same dedication has cut her off from her wealthy family’s backing. Her parents hope that putting her in financial straits will prompt Abby to turn to a career more in line with their thinking, along with ditching her musician boyfriend, even while ignoring the faults in their marriage.

But when a string of young women start turning up murdered around Boston, the case only makes Abby more determined to find the killer. Then another young woman goes missing, and Abby, working with Detective Kevin Farnsworth, investigates to find the man who’s been at the heart of the matter, with surprising and troubling complications.

The prosecutor will have to bring all of her smarts and wiles to bear to bring a killer to justice, and the outcome is not a foregone conclusion once a senator and his son become implicated in the crimes.

There’s enough here to keep any reader happy. Abby’s interior narrative is a strong voice, as the young, pampered woman who took personal shoppers and trendy shops for granted suddenly has to learn to economize. Wechsler also paints a realistic picture of a woman whose drive for her job makes others unhappy, while at the same time, it confuses Abby about what–or who–she really wants.

Auntie M likes Abby. She’s not a cardboard figure, but a realistic heroine with strong opinions who can sometimes see her own weaknesses and frailties, and so can we.

And in other news: Nele Neuhaus, one of Germany’s foremost crime authors, has her latest now out in paperback. I Am Your Judge brings the team of Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver Van Bodenstein facing a complex killer whose victims appear to have no enemies. The fourth installment in the bestseller series.

Richard Montanari: The Killing Room Sunday, May 21 2017 

This was the first of the long-running Byrne and Balzao novel’s that Auntie M has had the pleasure to read, but it certainly won’t the last. She loves when she finds a new series to dig into, and she will now go back and read what leads up to the action in Richard Montanari’s newest, The Killing Room.

Set in Philadelphia neighborhoods, from its highest to its lowest, an abandoned church becomes the setting for the team’s latest murder. Despite its brutality, neither detective is prepared when a second body and then a third is found, also in deconsecrated churches, all in different methods of horrific brutality causing the death of the victim.

For the seasoned detectives, the crimes are more than disturbing and hit them on a personal level in different ways. It only adds to Byrne’s stress that he’s taken on trying to be a kind of mentor to troubled young teen.

With an obvious killer seemingly ahead of them at each step, the two homicide detectives will need all of their smarts to outwit the chilling killer. The ties to the Church and theology are fascinating and an important clue will come to them from an unlikely source.

The interplay between senior partner Kevin Byrne, living alone with his daughter at college, and the younger Jessica Balzano, married to a detective and with a young family at home, is a highlight of the series where two professionals who have each other’s back can exist in well-practiced teamwork that allows them to mine each other’s strengths.

Readers who haven’t discovered this series, like Auntie M, will find themselves hunting for the previous novels on the strength of this absorbing story.

Julia Dahl: Conviction Wednesday, May 17 2017 

Megan Abbott calls Julia Dahl’s third Rebekah Roberts novel “. . . a thrilling, utterly absorbing crime novel” with good reason.

The young intrepid journalist becomes intrigued when a prisoner in jail for over two decades sends a letter: “I didn’t do it.”

With her job at the tabloid newspaper frustrating her, especially after she’s been passed over for a well-deserved promotion, Rebekah starts to investigate DeShawn Perkins’ claim that he did not kill the foster parents who had taken him in, nor his little foster sister.

What she finds will stand his conviction on its ear as an eyewitness changes her testimony–but will the woman have the courage to admit this in court? Her digging also brings her into conflict with her newly discovered mother and the cop who has been on her side in previous investigations in the Hasidic community.

While part of the history leading up to the Crown Heights riots and this particular murder are told from the viewpoint back in the early 90’s, the chapters in current time as Rebekah investigates will bring her face to face with a difficult decision of her own: who does she owe allegiance to–the people she loves, or the truth?

With a fine eye for reality, Dahl brings another story with layers and layers of humanity in it to light. Highly recommended.

She

Spring Cozies: Chapman, Cooper, Shea and Harris Sunday, Apr 30 2017 

Julia Chapman debuts a new cozy series with tons of charm, sure to please readers, set amongst the Yorkshire Dales. Date with Death introduces Delilah Metcalfe and her seeming nemesis, Samson O’Brien.

It’s been a rough two years for Delilah, dealing with two deaths: one of her brothers was killed in the service, and there’s the disappointment of her marriage ending in divorce. Determined to keep her IT and Dating Agency businesses afloat, she’s teetering on the edge of financial ruin.

So she has little choice but to allow a new renter to use the ground floor of her Dales Dating Agency building–until she finds out her tenant is none other than Samson, returned to his hometown in disgrace after leaving suddenly fourteen years before. He didn’t make it home for her brother’s funeral, despite being Best Man at his wedding and godfather to his now-teenaged son. Locals aren’t happy Samson has returned, either, especially one of Delilah’s brothers, Will.

There’s a whole cast of characters to fill the dales, and while the names may take some getting used to, soon they all make sense and readers will be able to follow when the mother of a young man who committed suicide hires Samson, on leave from the police and working as a private detective, to find out the real reason behind his death. She’s convinced her son wouldn’t have committed suicide.

Delilah wants nothing to do with Samson, but finds herself working in concert with him when it becomes apparent someone is killing men who sign up for her Speed Dating nights. She will use her computer skills to find the pattern, and then enlists Samson to help her investigate to find the perpetrator.

There are family squabbles, fell running, Samson’s alcoholic father, now sober and living in a retirement home, and twists and turns to keep both Samson and Delilah in danger. And don’t forget Delilah’s pup, Tolpuddle, her companion who just may have his own role to play.

Samson carries his own secrets from his past undercover work, and to Chapman’s credit, these are not all revealed in this volume, giving her an ample storyline for the next installment. A winning debut.


The second in Marla Cooper’s series gives readers an eye into the job of a wedding planner. This time Kelsey McKenna has a destination wedding in wine country on tap in Dying on the Vine.

The Napa Valley setting on the Higgins Estate is lovely, but this event has already been planned by Babs Norton, who would have people believe is the Queen of Wine Country Weddings–until the bride’s father fired her.

Enter Kelsey, newly hired, who feels the need to clear the air between her and Babs. Sounds like the right thing to do, but unfortunately Kelsey finds Babs dead in her office and the finger of suspicion pointing right at her.

It doesn’t help when Babs’ assistant cancels the contracts for the vendors, sending Kelsey and bride Haley Bennet into a tailspin. She’ll rely on her photographer friend Brody and assistant Laural to salvage the day, while she tracks down a murderer to clear her name–and keep the wedding on track.

There’s humor, murder and even a bit of romance in this charming sequel.


Susan Shea leaves her Dani O’Rourke mystery series to inaugurate a second series set in the French countryside in Love and Death in Burgundy
.

American ex-pat Katherine Goff wanted to be accepted by her Burgundy neighbors, but after three years it’s still dicey going in the small village of Reigny-sur-Canne.

Then an elderly inhabitant is found dead at the bottom of a staircase. Was this a tragic accident or a case of murder? Tongues start wagging in the town, and Katherine soon finds herself caught up in their secrets.

Filled with French food and wine, Katherine lives amongst a cast of eccentrics, trying to solve a murder. Think of a young Miss Marple sent to the French countryside, and you’ll delight in this new series.


Sherry Harris has a winning series with her Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries. Her first, Tagged for Death, was nominated for an Agatha for Best First Novel.

Sarah, with her fluffernutter sandwiches, is an engaging protagonist.
She returns in the fourth in the series, A Good Day to Buy, with Sarah’s estranged brother showing up unexpectedly after years apart.

Sworn to silence on his appearance, Luke especially means that to include Sarah’s ex, the chief of police. To his chagrin, CJ and Sarah are having something of a reconciliation, which means the chief is often at her apartment in a lovely old house.

It puts Sarah in an awkward position, to say the least, coming on the heels of her most recent garage sale, where the bodies of her clients, the Spencers, were discovered during the sale, hidden behind sheets Sarah hung to keep their private area off limits. The Vietnam vet is dead, and his wife critically injured.

But what’s the connection to Luke? Before Sarah can pin him down, he’s disappeared again. Is he really doing investigative journalism work?

The tenor of small town New England, coupled with the life of veterans and the work Sarah does in their thrift shop bring an added dimension to the compelling plot. Just when readers will think they have it figured out, think again.

Paige Shelton’s Scottish Bookshop Mysteries debuted with The Cracked Spine last year and introduced Kansas native Delaney Nichols, who’s moved to Edinburgh to find adventure, working in a bookshop filled with characters who keep secrets as rare as the manuscripts they sell.

The sequel is Of Books and Bagpipes, and it continues Delaney’s efforts to get to know her coworkers and her job. With her landlord, taxi drive Elias and his wife Aggie adopting her and keeping an eye out for her safety, it’s Elias who drives Delaney to Castle Doune on an errand for her boss. Edwin has sent her to retrieve and annual of the Scottish comic, “Oor Wullie.”

Only the castle appears deserted, and when Elias and Delaney have a look around the ramparts up top, they find the body of the young man they were sent to meet, a William Wallace re-enactor.

Calling the police, Delaney discovers the book she was sent to find fluttering around a side wall, and she impulsively hides it under her jacket. Edwin’s secrets revolve around a long-dead friend, and the complications that ensure from a long-ago buried secret.

But there will be more deaths, and it will take all of Delaney’s investigative skills, and a bit of help from the voices of books that reach out to her, to find the killer.

A sequel rich in Scottish dialect and customs, with a hint of romance and a decades-old mystery to unravel.

Stephen Booth: Secrets of Death Sunday, Apr 23 2017 

It might be tough for some authors to keep coming up with an original story when they approach writing their 16th installment in a series. But Stephen Booth manages to keep reader’s attention with his creative plot in his newest Cooper and Fry mystery, Secrets of Death.

With Diane Fry in Nottingham, re-evaluating her relationship with her sister and working on a triple homicide, Ben Cooper as DI in Derbyshire’s E Division keeps trying to get back out on the streets he loves. In his new cottage, hoping to start afresh, he’s looking for a pattern in a spate of recent suicides in the Peak District, just in time for tourist season.

With no way to predict where the next body will be found, it’s an unlucky task before Ben and his team, who will find a surprising new member before the case is solved.

Then he finds a clue, a black business card from “Secrets of Death,” and realizes someone is encouraging depressed people to commit suicide right in his backyard. It gets personal when a body is found on his home farm, upping the urgency.

The landscape of the area is lovingly defined as the bodies continue to mount, and when it seems Fry’s case might be connected to Ben’s after all, and the two are forced to work together once again.

A highly satisfying entry in this series.

Donna Fletcher Crow: The Monastery Murders Wednesday, Apr 19 2017 

Please welcome Donna Fletcher Crow, to explain the path her historical Monastery Murders series has taken. One lucky reader who leaves a comment will win a copy of one of Donna’s books, print or e-book, your preference! So all you lurkers out there who read but don’t comment, today’s your day!

The Monastery Murders: A Year of Life-changing Adventures

Felicity Howard is a young American woman studying in a theological college in a monastery in rural Yorkshire. And no one finds that more surprising than Felicity herself.

But teaching school was so boring (even in London) and what else can she do with a classics major? Besides, she makes all her decisions on impulse.

When she finds her favorite monk brutally murdered and Father Antony, her church history lecturer, covered in his blood, however, she begins to question the wisdom of this decision. An enigmatic book of poetry Father Dominic gave Felicity just before his death catapults Felicity and Antony into an adventure chasing and being chased by murderers across northern England.

Thus A Very Private Grave begins the Monastery Murders, a series that follows Felicity and Antony through the most tumultuous and transformative year of their lives.

In book 2, A Darkly Hidden Truth, Felicity is off to become a nun, in spite of the fact that Antony begs her to help him find a stolen valuable icon. Then her difficult mother arrives unexpectedly and a good friend turns up murdered. The ensuing chase takes them from London to the water-soaked Norfolk Broads.

In An Unholy Communion, Antony is leading a youth pilgrimage across Wales, and Felicity joins him for some much-needed relaxation—until their idyllic ramble turns into a life-and-death struggle between good and evil.

Book 4, A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary, finds Felicity off to translate a manuscript in a convent in Oxford. “What could be safer?” she asks Antony when he warns her to be careful. When severed body parts start showing up in ancient reliquaries, Felicity learns that murder can stalk even Oxford’s hallowed shrines.

An All-Consuming Fire brings the year full circle as Felicity plans their Christmastide wedding while Antony narrates a mini-series for the BBC. It will all be perfect. If only Felicity can keep her mother from turning the event into a royal production and escape the murderer stalking the Yorkshire Moors.


Donna Fletcher Crow is a lifelong Anglophile, former English teacher, and a Companion of the Community of the Resurrection, the monastery that serves as a model for this series. She conceived the series when her daughter Elizabeth found teaching classics in London to be boring, went off to study in a monastery in Yorkshire and married…

You can see information about all her books and pictures from her research trips at http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/ and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Donna-Fletcher-Crow-Novelist-of-British-History-355123098656/

Sarah Hilary: Quieter Than Killing Sunday, Apr 16 2017 

Sarah Hilary’s fourth in her Marnie Rome series, Quieter than Killing, is one fellow author Jane Casey calls ” . . . a fine addition to a superb series.”

Severe winter cold is affecting everyone in London, making seemingly random attacks on victims unrelated, until a pattern starts to appear. Could they have a vigilante seeking justice on their hands?

With DS Noah Jake as her right-hand man, Marnie becomes intrinsically involved when the family home she’s rented is broken into and ransacked, her tenants beaten up, and the only thing taken was a childhood memory that Marnie had lost sight of.

Someone has decided to make this deeply personal, and for Marnie, that involves going to the prison the face the man who murdered her parents.

Who is pulling the strings here? What does Noah’s brother’s old gang have to do with it all? And when a child goes missing, why has no one reported his disappearance?

In a series of remarkable scenes, the compelling plot unfolds as Marne and Jake embark on their toughest investigation yet. Hilary’s characters are terribly human, and the story is filled with deep emotions on all sides of the equation.

An original story, with hard, gripping scenes, this one’s a real knockout. Highly recommended

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