Alex Gray: The Silent Games Sunday, Mar 18 2018 

Alex Gray’s DCI Lorimer series are proven winners. She returns with The Silent Games, with its nicely twisted plot adding it to the list of ones to read.

A bomb explodes in the rural area near Lorimer, and it seems this may have been a rehearsal for terrorists planning a bigger event at The Commonwealth Games being held this summer in Glasgow.

The area is wrapped up the Games and all of the commerce this will bring, but Lorimer is sworn to secrecy as the hunt for extremists commences. Then a young black woman’s body is found near the site, strangled, and they have no idea of her identity.

He decides to attend what we in the US call a high school reunion, run by a former flame. He finds the beautiful red-head who once entranced him is still gorgeous, with nostalgic memories surfacing. In Glasgow with her wealthy husband for the Games and a theatre business enterprise he’s running, Vivien Gilmartin calls Lorimer in hysterics after returning to her rented flat as she’s found Charles dead in bed.

With no one else in the area to turn to, Lorimer takes Vivien into the home he shares with his lovely wife, Maggie. Despite her best efforts to be kind to the woman who has just lost her husband, Maggie gets a strange vibe from the woman and isn’t happy the longer her guest stays.

When its deemed Charles Gilmartin died from poison, suicide versus murder must be ruled out. Due to her personal connection, the case is turned over to Lorimer’s colleague, but he’s aware of events as they unfold.

The reader knows more than Lorimer through the eyes of a young African girl who has been kidnapped from her village and brought to Glasgow to be part of a human trafficking ring for sex. The harsh realities of her existence contrast with the outside environment with people gaily
preparing for the games.

And it’s tied in to the identification of the troupe preparing to make everyone’s worst nightmare come true at the Games.

Grey’s skillful plotting lets readers in on the mechanics and realities of police investigating while her characters are always realistic and well-drawn. Several continuing characters make their appearance, too, and while readers can handle this as a stand-alone, for those fans of the series, the familiar souls that populate the book have become old friends.

Another winning entry in a long-running series, not to be missed.


Frances Brody: Death in the Stars Friday, Mar 16 2018 

Frances Brody newest Kate Shackleton mystery bring Yorkshire in 1927 to life in Death in the Stars.

The great eclipse is on its way, and Kate has been contacted by the msyterious but beloved singing star Selina Fellini to arrange her transport and accompany her to a viewing party at Gigglewsick School.

Kate is certain there’s more to Selina’s fretfullness over not having flown before, but arranges the flight for herself, Selina and the singer’s good friend and co-star, comedian Billy Moffatt.

When Billy goes missing right after the eclipse, he’s ultimately found by the chapelon the grounds of the school. An alert senior student who plans to go into medicine helps Kate figure out that Billy’s cigar was tainted.

While Kate sits by the comatose Billy so Selina can keep her theatre committment that evening, she ponders the underlying nature of Selina’s anxiety: two other performers in their theatre troupe were killed in different but also mysterious ways.

Soon Kate has Bill Sykes and Mrs. Sugden on board as they investigate all three murders and find far too many suspects, which include Selina’s husband, a talented songwriter with a disfiguring war wound who’s mentally distraught. It’s a race to find the culprit to keep the next person close to Selina from being killed.

One of the things that remains consistently charming in the series is the depth of research Brody maintains. The feel of postwar England with authentic period details adds to this look inside the world of British music halls of the era.

This ninth in the series, with its well-plotted mystery and colorful characters, is a pure delight. Readers will wonder why this engaging series hasn’t been picked up yet by Masterpiece Mystery.

Jan McCanless: The Beryl’s Cove Mysteries Wednesday, Mar 7 2018 

Please welcome Jan McCanless, author of the Beryl’s Cove Mysteries, to share her trademark humor on her thoughts of space travel:

All Aboard for Mars and Beyond

I used to think that self cleaning ovens and automatic can openers were the end all be all, and nothing could be more fantastic than that.

Do you remember, as a kid, every time a plane flew over, we’d stop and watch it awhile, marveling at the science that brought it to fruition? I never dreamed, in a million years, I’d ever fly in one of the things.

It was exciting to think of soaring thousands of feet in the air, with nothing below you but earth. I still feel the excitement, but, not in the same way, my heart races, my palms sweat, and I have to pee. I pray the entire time that we land safely, and nobody falls out of it or it plummets thru the air like a great fireball from the sky. Hey, you get excited your way, I’ll do mine! I never said I liked to fly, only that it excited me.

We had a neighbor family when I was a kid–they lived behind our house, and their daughter, Ann Karen, was pal of mine. Her dad bought the first Thunderbird I ever saw in my life, and of course, the first one in the entire world, as far as I was concerned. It was back in the early 50’s, and her Dad wanted to take all us kids for a ride in it. It was a two-seater, so, we were literally hanging off it anywhere we could grab ahold. I was sitting up on the back of the convertible top as we cruised the streets(try doing that now without a jail sentence). It was fun though, and we thought we were really special.

Ann Karen and her family were what you might call “avant garde”, even back then, Her dad was an architect, and their house resembled an unfurled sheet, with a winding driveway, colored stones for a walkway, and Ann Karen was the first person I ever knew who had a telephone in her bedroom. Oh man, I lusted after that phone. Didn’t have anyone to call, but, still I wanted one, too. How could society advance any further than having a Thunderbird and private telephone?

When America shot Alan Shepherd up into space, I was working as a laboratory technician at Rowan Hospital (as it was called then), and as many employees as could fit in the place crowded the front waiting room, watching a small screen TV to catch it all. Mesmerized as we were, we had to go back to work, and each of us, in our own way, thought we had truly entered another realm of reality. Never, never, could we get any further than that.

Now, this, the Starman in his car, racing towards Mars and the android belt. Who’d a thunk it !!! I saw on the news this morning too, where China has developed a flying car, tooling along at treetop level, above all the traffic. It looks like a giant drone, with a driver. Now THAT I could probably go for. Treetop level is not high, how badly could I get mangled if I fell out of the thing?

I was a science major in college, and it still fascinates me, as I have always been interested in all branches of science. It excites me, in a good way, so the flying car is definitely on my bucket list.

I’ll let the dummy in the orbiting car have at it, though. I have no desire to go to Mars or any other planet–I haven’t completely conquered this one yet !!!

About Jan:
Jan McCanless has been a best selling author for 15 books. A mother of three, and grandmother to nine, she started as a high school teacher, sequed into freelance newspaper work, and from there, she moved into murder mysteries with a humorous twist. She compiled 2 volumes of humor columns, winning the 2013 Mother Vine award for best stories for her first compilation, titled Wyatt Earp, GAP Pickles and Thoughts of Home,. Her 2nd compilation, Tire Patch Cookies are Good for the Soul , is a continuation of the fun, with more award nominations for the year it was published.

Her mysteries have been called a combination of Murder, She Wrote, and Mayberry RFD, and have all been best sellers. The Beryl’s Cove mysteries have lovable, quirky characters that are positively addictive, and Jan’s humor shines through all of them.

Listed in Who’s Who as a noted Southern Humorist, she is a mix of lecturer, stand up comedienne,and teacher, giving talks and workshops around the country. Rowan County’s Woman of the Year in 1978, she was a nominee for International Woman of the Year in 2005. Jan’s interests are varied, and she takes pride in being an ordained Lutheran Lay minister.

Her books and access to them are listed on her website, http://www.janmacbooks,com,. and they may be found on, Barnes and Noble and in bookstores throughout the southeast.

Stuart MacBride: A Dark So Deadly & Now We Are Dead Wednesday, Feb 28 2018 

Stuart MacBride is a favorite of Auntie M’s. She recently had the good fortune to catch up on two new releases. First up is A Dark So Deadly, featuring DC Callum MacGregor, who complains he gets all the boring cases.

His team is made up of misfits, but when an ancient mummy turns up in a landfull site, his job is to find which museum it’s been stolen from.

But things heat up and a chance to redeem themselves occurs when Callum finds a link between the mummy and three missing men. The Misfit Mob is handed the assignment, and although the higher-ups doubt they will succeed–well, that would spoil all the fun if Auntie M told you it all, now, wouldn’t it?

Callum’s big brother Alastair, a washed-up celebrity, gets thrown into the mix and adds to the delightful read. A new character written with MacBride’s trademark humor, making this a strong read. We can hope we see more of Callum and his friends.

With Now We Are Dead, MacBride centers on one of the most imaginative characters he’s created, Logan MacRae’s thorn in his side, DCI Roberta Steel, that not-so-paragon of virtue who has been caught during In the Cold Dark Ground setting up a defendant, despite his badness and more than deserving prison actions.

You don’t have to read the previous book to get this one, although you should read the entire series, but in this one Roberta takes on center stage. With his trademark humor, MacBride gets down and dirty with Roberta.

Demoted and given DC Stewart Quirrel to keep her company, Roberta and Tufty, as he’s known, start off following a pack of shoplifters.

Jack Wallace, the creep Roberta was caught fitting up to get a solid conviction, is back on the streets. With women being attacked again, she’s certain it’s Wallace up to his old tricks.

But there are the solid alibis he’s manufactured for himself, complete with CCTV coverage, plus the similarity to his MO, leaving Roberta to think he’s schooled assistants to replicate his attacks.

But when Wallace and his cronies decide to go after Roberta’s wife and two daughters, it’s no-holds-barred in one of the most action-packed and fitting climaxes MacBride could have written.

Makes Auntie M’s heart sing just to think about it again. Don’t miss this one, either. Just get the whole darn series. Highly recommended.

James Oswald: The Gathering Dark Friday, Feb 23 2018 

The Gathering Dark is the eighth Inspector McLean novel in James Oswald’s series, one of Auntie M’s favorites, with another strong entry in the series that does not disappoint.

The UK’s The Guardian says about the author: “Oswald easily outstrips the formulaic work of bigger names,” with good reason. If Oswald isn’t on your reading list yet, he should be.

DI Tony McLean happens to be on scene at the junction of the Lothian Road and the Western Approach Road when a truck traveling far too fast jacknifes and overturns, the cab smashing into a crowded bus stop, bodies falling, people screaming and running as the trailer falls and splits open, spilling thousands of gallons of some kind of toxic chemical onto the street and over pedestrians.

The noxious chemicals give McLean a headache he’ll have for days, and his suit is ruined after he plunges in to help triage the victims. The carnage is profuse and the end result is 20 dead, including the driver, and another 50 injured.

Heading the investigation, McLean brings home the toxic fumes to Emma, the forensic specialist he lives with who is carrying their baby. A second suit will be ruined and in the garbage as the investigation continues, throwing up all sorts of questions and secrets as the dead need to be identified.

There are several businesses in the chain of the removal trailer to be investigated, which was supposed to be carrying nontoxic digestate, which is indeed found in several of the trailer’s compartments, but the rest had been filled with the toxic substance that clings to McLean’s senses.

The complex plot twists and turns around the investigation, with tangents running in several directions and McLean keeping his finger involved in all of them.

With a sparse team to help him, and discretion needed, he even will call in an old foe to assist him when the Chief Superintendent’s son goes missing and was last seen near the crash site. Could he be one of the unidentified bodies?

Able to twine McLean’s personal life into the fabric of his investigations, the detective will soon learn the not everything is as it seems, and that decades-old secrets are a small part of the big picture.

With his trademark curve of the supernatural making its appearance, this is pure Oswald at the height of his game. Highly recommended.

The Seven Sinister Sisters Tour with a GIANT Giveaway! Monday, Feb 19 2018 

Hello Auntie M, and thanks so much for hosting The Seven Sinister Sisters today. Let me first introduce us, we are: Becky Clark, Edith Maxwell, Leslie Karst, Cathy Perkins, Shawn McGuire, Sue Star and Patricia Hale. We all have new releases coming out between January and April. At each stop of our tour, we’re answering a different question about our own work or writing in general. Today’s question is:

What are the best and worst things about being a writer?

Becky Clark will start us off…

Best? Connecting with readers. Back when I wrote for kids I got a letter that said, “I didn’t like to read until I read your book.” I could have stopped writing right then and still come out ahead. There’s simply nothing better than having a reader tell you they like what you do.

The worst is probably struggling with a manuscript and falling into the abyss of self-doubt. “I can’t write a mystery! Nobody thinks I can do this. It’s hopeless. I’M hopeless. Wah.” But then I usually remember that I’ve done it before and can probably do it again.

And while Becky values connecting with readers, it’s fellow writers that give Leslie Karst a boost.

By far the best part of being an author has been the relationships I’ve established with other mystery writers, for they are the most generous, helpful, warm, and supportive people I’ve ever encountered.

As for the downside, I’ll quote my law professor father: “There are only two times I’m miserable—when I’m writing and when I’m not writing.” Because when you’re in the middle of a book, you’re nervous about getting it right and angsting that you should be working on it whenever you’re not. But when you’re not in the middle of a book, you feel as if there’s something deeply missing from your life.

Ahhh… the dreaded MIDDLE. Edith Maxwell gives us her insight on keeping things moving.

The best is when I’m typing away and a character does something I had not planned. I don’t know why she did it, and, like the reader, I have to keep going to see what happens next. Those are the magical moments of writing.

For me the worst part is the big sloppy middle of a book. It’s so hard to stretch my arms around the first thirty thousand words or so. It’s hard to keep all of it in my mind, even with my handy scene synopsis cards in Scrivener. But I have to, and I have to make the action move forward without boring either me or the reader, until we get to the exciting last ten thousand words of the story. But, as I now know having finished eighteen novels, if I keep pushing, I’ll get there! And ya can’t fix what ya haven’t written.

Eighteen novels? Pretty impressive, Edith. Which brings us to the thing we all agree on…

LACK OF TIME. But according to Sue Star, time is both the best and the worst.

Tough question, because the answer is the same for best and worst: time. Being a writer is all playtime. I get to spend my time making up stories to myself, stories that I want to read and maybe can’t find in bookstores. I get to build worlds and create people, playing god, and I get to vent my frustrations with the real world in a humorous way. The consequence of all this fun ultimately leads to the “worst” thing: sacrificing real time with the family while writing to deadline. It’s a tough balance!

The balancing act continues with Shawn McGuire’s inability to unplug.

The best is that I get to go to wonderful places in my head and hang out with people I wouldn’t otherwise encounter in daily life. I get to go on wonderful adventures and pretend to be someone I’m not.

The worst thing is that I sometimes feel like I’m always working. Even when I’m not at my computer, plot points are flowing through my head, the characters are talking to me, and new books are asking for attention. I guess I prefer that to writer’s block, but it’s good to unplug, as I’m always telling my husband to do!

Cathy Perkins battles time, but loves the process.

I love the entire writing process, but if I have to pick one element, it’s developing the characters. You often hear authors say they don’t like plotting, but I enjoy putting the puzzle pieces together, making sure the plot holds together and that all the characters (including the villains!) have a good motive for whatever they’re doing. I love twisty mysteries where so many people, I mean characters, have a motive for the crime. Adding layers of complexity to the characters really draws me into the story.

Worst part? Beyond promo (shudder): it’s time. There’s never enough! I try to write in the morning (at an obscenely early hour) before the day job kicks into high gear.

Shudder at promo? More like shake, rattle and roll for Patricia Hale.

The best? No question, spending long, quiet hours alone doing what I love. Finding my way into “the zone” and losing all track of time. When I’m writing, I’m most content with myself and nothing is as fulfilling as a successful day at the computer.

The worst? Promotion. I have a hard time “selling myself”. I could never make a living in sales. At my first signing a woman was going to buy one of my books for herself and one for her mother. I suggested they just share one. A friend reminded me that I was supposed to be “selling” my work. See what I mean? For me, promoting and selling myself is like traveling to a country where I don’t speak the language.

To celebrate our new releases, the Seven Sinister Sisters are having a giveaway!

Seven lucky winners will receive an ebook from one of us.

One GRAND PRIZE winner will receive a signed copy from each of us!

Enter to win by leaving a comment below. Our tour runs from January 6th to April 30th and we’re answering a different question at each blog. Leave a comment at each blog for more entries! We’ll draw the winner from all the combined comments at the end of our tour.

Watch our Facebook page for the next stop on the tour.

Ausma Zehanat Khan: A Dangerous Crossing Wednesday, Feb 14 2018 

A Valentine’s Day treat for readers~

Ausma Khan’s newest installment in her Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty series takes the two detectives to Greece and other environs in A Dangerous Crossing.

Turning a bold spotlight on the plight of Syrian refugees and the Greek camps where they await permanent homes, Esa and Rachel are tasked by none other than their own Prime Minister to find a missing person in Greece.

That person turns out to be Audrey Clare, sister of Esa’s friend Nathan, who has been working in Greece to fast-track refugees to Canadian homes. But the unthinkable has happened: An Interpol worker and a young male refugee are shot with Audrey’s gun inside her tent, and Audrey has disappeared.

The Greek police center their thoughts on Audrey being the culprit, but Rachel and Esa, who know the young woman, understand that not only would Audrey not be able to kill someone, but that her own life may be in danger.

Khan manages to bring home to readers the very sad and seriously depraved situation Syrian’s face. The torture, beatings, murders and chemical warfare against his own population that Assad has committed have provoked a humanitarian crises for those who manage to escape that has impacted many nations.

What Khan manages to do is to personalize this affront to humans by narrowing the focus to several people Esa and Rachel become involved with, all the while educating readers to what is happening in Syria. This allows readers to get close to the situation and become invested in it while elucidating the harsh realities of the situation beyond what we glean from news reports.

Khan manages to convey the lost history and civilization of a people, not just their cultural icons, but their humanity, as well as their respect and their faith in each other as families are torn apart. This hallmark depth of research is balanced by the unfolding relationships of Esa and Rachel as each find themselves deciding who to allow into their lives as they gain mutual respect for each other.

It’s a delicate balance, and one that Khan handles well as the thrilling story escalates and Esa and Rachel must decide whom they can trust in their race to find Audrey Clare. Highly recommended.

Emily Winslow: Look for Her Tuesday, Feb 13 2018 

Names are important in Emily Winslow’s newest, Look for Her. The author’s Cambridge mysteries are so much more than standard police procedurals, plumbing the depths of a complex psychological thriller.

With each chapter in first person point of view, suspects and detectives alike spring off the page as we enter their thoughts and see how they act and react. Detective Chloe Frohmann in particular has a wry humor that freshens up her scenes and keep readers hooked in seeing how she and her old boss, Morris, now on Cold Case reviews, will handle things when he asks her to for help on his first case, even though she’s technically still on maternity leave and trying to decide what to name her newborn daughter.

The small town of Lilling had never gotten over the disappearance and presumed death of a young teen in 1976, and when a decomposed body wearing her clothes is found in 1992, wearing the missing girl’s clothing, as least her end result is known. Or is it? New DNA evidence complicates more than it solves.

What’s still unknown is who took Annalise Wood and killed her. It’s a name that becomes important as the celebrity of the missing girl lingers. For one young woman, Annalise becomes the object of her jealous obsession, leading to catastrophic events as secrets long buried rise to the surface, just like the body found by a dog walker after the roots of a tree gave up their secret bounty.

An accomplished addition to the series, Winslow’s ability to shade people and show their many sides adds texture and believeability to the story, even as both obfuscate the complicated truth.

Cambridge and its environs are also meticulously woven into the fabric of the story, so that even if a reader hasn’t visited that storied city, they will come away feeling the presence of the ancient colleges residing alongside more modern buildings as yet another character, almost essential to the story.

A compelling and intricate plot makes this an evocative read. Highly recommended.

Alex Gray: The DCI Lorimer Series Sunday, Feb 11 2018 

Award-winning Scottish author Alex Gray’s DCI Lorimer series is one Auntie M has read in its early novels. The co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, the series secondarily highlights the friendship and entwined lives between Lorimer and Dr. Soloman Brightman, psychologist and profiler, and their wives. Lorimer’s Maggie is an English teacher; Rosie Solomon is the medical examiner who catches many of his cases. These four repeating characters appear in each novel and bring their own undercurrent to the crime stories in a very human way. With strong characterizations and plot lines that twist and turn, this is a highly recommended series with varied cases to keep you interested.

Here are reviews of three in this rewarding series, with more to come in the US this spring:

Sleep Like the Dead

Sleep Like the Dead opens with Lorimer and his new DC Fahey investigating the death of Kenneth Scott, a man who doesn’t seem to have enemies or a reason to be murdered.

Missing from questioning is his ex-wife, Marianne, and her brother, petty criminal Billy Brogan. Readers learn their whereabouts but they elude Lorimer at first.

There’s an angry hit man waiting for his pay check set loose on the streets of Glasgow. It doesn’t help that Lorimer’s profiler, Brightman, has been cut loose due to budget cuts on this case.

A personal subplot revolving around Maggie and her friend Rosie’s pregnancy adds a touching note to the story as it advances.

The seedier side of Glasgow is on diplay in A Pound of Flesh, with Lorimer temporariiy in charge of a new unit, out of his familiar setting, and charged with investigating a string of deaths of prostitutes. Men are being killed, too, with a certain Mercedes being involved.

Then a prominent deputy first minister is among the murdered men, and Lorimer is told to concentrate on finding his killer instead of finding the murderer of the women.

Being the man of compassion and instinct that he is, Lorimer continues with both investigations until he finds where they overlap and how the two threads are connected.

Interesting chapters from one of the killers point of view illuminate the reasons for the men’s murders. Different and interesting.

Five students rent rooms together in a flat owned by the father of one of them, The Swedish Girl. Eva Magnusson is the lovely young student whose father has carefully chosen the mix of young men and women who will room with his daughter.

Then Eva is found murdered, and the detective on the case, Jo Grant, arrests one of the male students for the killing. But flatmate Kirsty Wilson comes to Colin’s defense. The daughter of a colleague of Lorimer’s, she enlists his aid to prove her friend is not the murderer.

When a series of women who all look like Eva are found dead, Lorimer starts to agree with Kirsty that Jo Grant has arrested the wrong man.

Lorimer will travel to Stockholm to interview the dead girl’s father, and learn Eva’s background. There are plenty of twists and turns, with people keeping secrets, even the Swedish girl.

Look for the next in this series to be reviewed this spring. If you haven’t discovered Alex Gray yet, you’re in for a treat.

Gregg Hurwitz: Hell Bent, An Orphan X novel Thursday, Feb 8 2018 

Gregg Hurwitz’s popular Orphan X series continues with Hell Bent, featuring Evan Smoak, the man with many identities.

The vigilante this time responds to a call for help from Jack Johns, the only father Evan has known. While the government is trying to erase all traces of the Orphan program they used on Evan, they have found Jack, who needs Evan to protect Jack’s last recruit for the program, a young woman named Joey.

Of course Evan’s not alone in his search. Van Sciver is the new head of the Orphan program in its current incantation and has the power to take out Evan and the target he’s supposedly protecting.

It’s a wild ride to the finish in this latest installment. If you enjoy a fast-paced stylish thriller, this one’s for you.

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