Michael Robotham: The Other Wife Friday, Sep 14 2018 

Micahel Robotham’s Professor Joe O’Loughlin is one of Auntie M’s favorite characters, ever. The psychologist struggling with Parkinson’s and grief, trying to parent his two growing daughters, has his shaking hands full again in The Other Wife.

When the call comes that his well-known and respected surgeon father, retired but still admired, has suffered an horrific attack and had to have brain surgery, Joe rushes to the ICU to find a strange woman, covered in his father’s blood, at his bedside.

This is the woman who found William O’Loughlin lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of the home she claims they share when William is in London, away from the home he shares in Wales with his wife of sixty years and Joe’s mother.

Olivia Blackstone is William’s other wife, married in a Buddhist ceremony, and bringing her own baggage along.

If it’s a shock to readers, we can only imagine the shock Joe must feel as he absorbs this radical new view of his father–the distant, cool man who raised him contrasts sharply with photos Olivia shares to prove their relationship.

This other man is smiling, brighter, happier than Joe has ever seen him. But regardless of the painful reality of his father having led two lives for over twenty years, comes the stark realization that someone wanted him dead, and the suspects start to mount up. It doesn’t help that the lead detective on the case doesn’t like Joe, which adds to the complications.

Counting on his good friend, retired police detective Vincent Ruiz, Joe will try to keep his daughters safe even as the younger, Emma, has her own struggles with the loss the previous year of her mother. With older sister Charlie now studying psychology at Oxford, Joe will lean on her to help Emma as he turns to tracing his father’s movements and the behavior that led to this attack.

There are even more surprises as the plot twists and take unexpected turns, but one thing readers can count on is Robotham’s ability to make them care about Joe and his family. There is even a small sense of triumph with the resolution of his father’s situation, one readers will smile at as it reveals Joe’s own human side.

This writing is exceptional. There is a huge sense of the author understanding human emotions and frailties, and being able to translate that to the page in such a subtle way that readers will wish, somehow, that Joe O’Loughlin was their friend. It’s why Vince sticks around, and Charlie and Emma love him. You will, too.

Auntie M is always moved by Robotham’s last chapters. Always.

Highly recommended.

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Sarah Pinborough: Cross Her Heart Monday, Sep 10 2018 

Sarah Pinborough’s psychological thriller Cross Her Heart takes domestic suspense to a new level in this tale of strong women and the secrets they hold.

Lisa loves her teenaged daughter, Ava, with a bit of although her helicoptering style chafes Ava as she’s sixteen now. Ava is closest to her friends from the swim team, while Lisa’s colleague and best friend, Marilyn, tries to convince Lisa to allow Ava a bit more freedom.

But with freedom comes issues Lisa is worried about, with good concern. Always skittery and shy, Lisa is finally starting to relax, just as the promise of a new relationship is dangled in front of her, when things start happening that button her up all over again.

Then Ava becomes something of a local hero when she rescues a young boy from a potential drowning, only Lisa’s past life surfaces and changes everything she’s fought so hard to contain these past years.

As her true identity emerges, anxiety and tension rises with each passing chapter. As if a dream, Lisa must confront the issues of her past–but this isn’t a dream, it’s her life and it’s happening to her, and to Ava, right now.

There are surprises, and just as readers think they know what’s happening, they will realize they really don’t. Promises made and promises broken is the thread here, with startling results. A powerful read that is at once highly visual, Cross Her Heart has already been opotioned for a television series, with good reason.

Ann Cleeves: Wild Fire Friday, Sep 7 2018 


Ann Cleeves final book in her Shetland Island series is Wild Fire. Just having to write “final” makes Auntie M sad to see this fabulous series end, it goes out on a high note with Jimmy Perez’s team investigating their most interesting and complex case yet.

There are multiple personal storylines at play that add texture to what is a startling case, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Shetland Islands that Cleeves has brought to life for readers.

Helena and Daniel Fleming moved to remote Deltaness to escape the clog of London life and make a fresh start for their two young children, Ellie and her older brother Christopher, a high-functioning autistic lad. Renovating Hesti, the home they’d bought and enlarged, has kept architect Daniel busy, while Helena’s design business in knitted sweaters has taken off.

Shortly after moving in, the former owner of Hesti hanged himself in one of their outbuildings and was found by Daniel, whose depression has clouded the family’s new life.

Then Helena receives drawings of a hanged man, underlining the gossip and resentment some of the locals feel towards the incomers, and she informs Jimmy Perez. Helena knew his dead fiance, Fran, and this brings a connection between the two.

When a second body is found hanged at Hesti, Jimmy and his team must sort out just how many dysfunctional families there are in Deltaness.

While all families are dysfunctional, there are varied levels of degree. It will take Jimmy, his boss and sometime lover, Willow, as well as newer detective Sandy, to uncover the startling truth.

Intricately plotted, with Cleeves well-developed sense of character, this is a stunning end to the series, one Louise Penny calls: “Nothing short of riveting.” Highly recommended.

Stuart MacBride: The Blood Road Tuesday, Sep 4 2018 

Stuart MacBride’s Logan McRae series features some of the most creative and original characters written, mixed with twisted plots that keep readers flipping pages. He’s back with the 13th, The Blood Road, a wild ride that takes the Professional Standards detective back to investigation.

DI Bell is found stabbed and dead in the driver’s seat of car that’s crashed. Sad it might be, but shocking is more like it, as they buried the man two years ago after a suicidal fire. Or thought they did.

Reopening the investigation into the original incident brings with it so many secrets of the past, including just whose remains were buried in Bell’s casket, leading to an exhumation.

Given a few of his irregulars to help, Tufty and Steel, (it wouldn’t be the same without them), there’s also a raft of missing young children occupying the rest of the department. Rumors of a “livestock mart” where children are auctioned off are rampant.

And DI Fraser, running that investigation, has put in a complaint to Logan about DS Chalmers, supposedly working on the case but frequently off doing her own thing. Now what would this thing be?

It’s a twisted plot, as usual, because nothing is ever easy in Logan McRae’s life, even trying to advance his new relationship.

Reading a Logan McRae procedural is like coming home to old friends–some of whom you hope don’t drop in too often–but still, you’re fond of them . . . until things get out of control.

Readers won’t be able to stop flipping pages once they start htis newest addition. It’s like Christmas and Easter rolled into one, just missing the chocolate. Highly recommended.

Matthew Hall: A Life to Kill Sunday, Sep 2 2018 

Matthew Hall’s Coroner Jenny Cooper series returns with A Life to Kill, where Cooper finds herself in strange territory on and off the case.

The last British combat soldiers are leaving Helman province to return to their waiting families in Highcliffe after a 6-moth deployment.

But disaster strikes only a few hours before they leave, when a young private is abducted. The officers sent to locate him come are taken by surprise after trusting locals, an ambush that leaves one dead and two severely injured.

it’s a somber return, complicated by trying to figure out how this could have happened. Jenny Cooper’s inquest will stir up the army as much as the secrets the families hold.

Add in a grandstanding group of lawyers and she has her hands full with trying to get to the bottom of her toughest case yet.

With the military breathing down her neck and affecting her private life, Cooper must decide whether to follow her instincts or cave to an outcome where the truth will never be out.

A strong entry in a continued complex series.

Ann Cleeves: The Seagull Friday, Aug 31 2018 


It’s no secret Auntie M is a huge fan of anything Ann Cleeves writes, and reading THE SEAGULL was made even more special after meeting Brenda Blethyn, who plays Vera Stanhope, at Malice Domestic this year.

In interviews with Cleeves, it became clear that a deep affection exists between the award-winning actor and the award-winning author. Cleeves indicated that she trust Blethyn to interpret her Vera well, and indeed to readers who are fortunate to see the series, Vera does jump off the page.

The newest Vera novel takes the formidable detective to visit her old nemsis, Detective Superintendent John Brace, languishing in prisone after his conviction for high-level corruption and his involvement in the death of a gamekeeper.

Brace has information about the disappearance of one Robbie Marshall, information he will part with if Vera promises to keep his own daughter and grandchildren under her wing.

However, the promised site of the burial of Marshall’s body turns up not one corpse but two. Who is also buried in that sandy grave? And what ties does it have to Vera’s own father?

All were regular visitors to a tony nightclub of the time called The Seagull. Vera will travel back in time to her memories and dig deeply to solve the coldest case she’s come across yet.

Highly recommended.

Roger Johns: River of Secrets Tuesday, Aug 28 2018 


Roger Johns’ returns with a sequel to last year’s stunning debut, Dark River Rising, which introduced intriguing Baton Rouge homicide detective Wallace Hartman. River of Secrets is a compelling read that will have readers placing Johns on their favorites list and waiting anxiously for the next installment.

The case Wallace is handed hits close to home when the half brother of her best friend from childhood is the main suspect in a murder investigation.

Controversial state senator Herbert Marioneaux has been murdered in a disturbing way, and his past and present behavior leads to a long list of suspects. But Eddie Pitkin heads that list when his DNA is found on Marioneaux’s body.

As Wallace investigates, she learns the chameleon-like senator changed his views as often as some people change their clothes, leading to factions on many sides of hot-button issues who had reason to distrust the man. Is Eddie being set up?

Protests from many factions clog Wallace’s investigation, and she receives political pushback from higher ups, while dealing with a snarky new partner. Then it becomes obvious there’s a leak, and suddenly she doesn’t know whom she can trust. A touch of romance hits just the right note as Wallace tries to cram a personal life into a detective’s hours.

This is a well-plotted and crafted procedural readers will gobble up with its quick pacing and engaging characters. Johns balances literate prose with a strong sense of his setting and natural dialogue. A series to follow. Highly recommended.

Daniel Cole: Hangman Sunday, Aug 12 2018 


After the success of his debut Ragdoll, Daniel Cole returns with Detective Emily Baxter in Hangman.

The acerbic British Baxter travels to New York City as part of an investigation into copycat murders that echo the Ragdoll killings.

The serial killer case left Baxter reeling and this time she doesn’t have the help of missing colleague Wolf Fawkes. She’s trying to move on at work and in her personal life until she’s seconded to assist the FBI and CIA in these new cases.

With “BAIT” carved into the chest of victims, and soon, “PUPPET” in the chest of others, the killings escalate to both shores of the Atlantic, adding a fierce depravity to the killings.

Tense and conflicting personalities within the task force don’t make Baxter’s job any easier, not does her tendency to piss people off.

This is a dark, distrubng read of increasing suspense as Baxter realizes she doesn’t know whom she can trust. And that bottom of it all is a twisted killer who knows no bounds.

Rhys Bowen: Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding Wednesday, Aug 8 2018 


Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness mysteries are a continued delight, and fans will be especially happy to follow Lady Georgina on her way to her long-planned wedding in Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding.

The 12th addition contains all the charm of a royal wedding–yes, the King and Queen and those two little princesses will be there. But it seems Georgie’s amateur sleuth days are far from over.

Wedding details need to be honed down and the list keep growing, thanks to the Queen. The year is 1935, and King George V is at the end of his reign while Mrs. Wallis Simpson is annoyingly dating the Prince of Wales.

Assorted relatives are having their own nuptials, and the groom, charming fiance` Darcy O’Mara, is cagey on his profession, as usual. But Georgie’s househunting is what’s disappointing her.

From the lackluster houses available in the 1930s, Georgie is surpised by an invitation to live at Eynsleigh Manor, which she will one day inherit. But when she arrives to get the estate in order, she finds the run-down house matched by the shoddy attitudes of the staff.

Chaos ensures, along with murder, robbery, servants not doing their job–and Georgie’s mother and grandfather deciding to move in. Which is worse for the secondary royal who’s down at the heels? And those funerals will affect Georgie and those closest to her.

But despite the trials and tribulations, Georgie manages to pull off the wedding of the year. You’ll be charmed by the history and the descriptions of the manor, as well as the confidence Georgie finds.

A grand addition to the long-running series, sure to be a reader favorite.

Mandy Morton: Magical Mystery Paws Sunday, Aug 5 2018 


Drawing on her own singer-songwriter folk rock days from the 70s, Mandy Morton brings an authentic feel to her 6th No. 2 Feline Detective Agency series with Magical Mystery Paws.

This time her pair of sleuths are between cases when Hettie Bagshot, whose own folk rock career bears more than a passing resemblence to Morton’s, and her sidekick, Tilly Jenkins, enlist their friend Bruiser when they become convinced to travel the “Summer of Fluff” tour bus to aid the comeback of blind punk rock cat, Patty Sniff, on her new tour.

Crammed together on Psycho Derek’s bus along with Patty are her backups, the Cheese Triangles, Kitty O’Shea’s Irish dance troupe with their wheelchair-bound Russian choreographer, and very bad magician Derek and assistant Belisha Beacon.

It’s a real hodgepodge of chararacters who take off in the psychedelic bus, if the wheezing crate makes it to the first stop.
When the drummer is found dead after the first performance, Hettie and Tilley must solve the murder as well as assist on the tour.

And what a tour it is, from mini-skirts and guitars, lighting and sound, to the sweet smell of memories for Hettie, as well as from something most of the cats are smoking. The puns galore add a light touch, from the mysteries of Agatha Crispy Tilly loves to the Tabby Road Recording Studios. There’s M. Balm, the town’s undertaker, and a jab to Morton’s partner, Nicolette Upstart, the famous writer. Auntie M may have to ask Morton about that sobriquet!

But don’t let the puns and mild humor distract you from what is a really well done mystery. If you look beyond the anthropomorphic business, all of the vagaries of humans are there, as well as telling details about human nature and emotions like jealousy and greed.

Morton’s extensive knowledge of cats lets her incorporates their mannerisms, likes and dislikes into these crime-solving realistic cat detectives. Readers will be entranced with this humanless world of cats Morton has designed.

Jolly good fun wrapped up in a darn good mystery.

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