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

James Ziskin: Turn to Stone Wednesday, Jan 22 2020 

Please welcome award-winning author James Ziskin, to talk about his newest Ellie Stone mystery, where he takes Ellie–and us!–to Florence:

Benvenuti a Firenze! Ellie Stone goes to Italy in TURN TO STONE

I write a series of traditional mysteries set in the early 1960s, featuring plucky young newspaper reporter Ellie Stone. Since the first book, Ellie has moved around quite a bit. That’s because she’s living and working in an upstate New York mill town and I wanted to avoid Cabot Cove syndrome. You know, that disorder characterized by too many murders in a small village? Ellie has solved crimes in her adopted upstate home of New Holland, New York City, the Adirondacks, Los Angeles, Saratoga Springs, and now—in the latest installment, TURN TO STONE—in Florence, Italy.

It’s September 1963. Ellie is in Florence to attend an academic symposium honoring her late father. Just as she arrives on the banks of the Arno, however, she learns that her host, Professor Alberto Bondinelli, has been fished out of the river, quite dead. Then a suspected rubella outbreak leaves ten of the symposium participants quarantined in a villa outside the city with little to do but tell stories to entertain themselves. Making the best of their confinement, the men and women spin tales and gorge themselves on fine Tuscan food and wine. And as they do, long-buried secrets about Bondinelli rise to the surface, and Ellie must figure out if one or more of her companions is capable of murder.

One of the perks of sending Ellie out on the road is that I get to write about the interesting places she visits. From Paramount Studios, Malibu, and the Hollywood Hills in CAST THE FIRST STONE, to the famed Saratoga Race Course in A STONE’S THROW, I get to accompany Ellie on her adventures. Next up is a late-summer visit to Florence. Let’s have a look at some of the sites she visits.

First, here’s a map, including a legend that identifies some of the places that appear in the book.

Number 1 is Albergo Bardi. This is a fictional hotel that I placed on the Oltrarno, the section of the city on the southern bank of the Arno river. Oltrarno, by the way, means “beyond the Arno.” You can see it identified on the map as well. The Palazzo Pitti museum and the Boboli Gardens can be found on the Oltrarno, as well as Piazzale Michelangelo, where you’ll find the best views of Florence. San Miniato al Monte is also located on the south side of the river, perched high above the city. Depending on the time of year, the basilica’s façade glows golden in the late afternoon sun. A magnificent sight to behold.

Number 2 is Ponte Vecchio. Ellie crosses this ancient bridge several times in the novel. Today, Ponte Vecchio is home to jewelers, art dealers, and souvenir shops. The famous Vassari Corridor, an enclosed passageway connecting Palazzo Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti, was built above the shops to provide a private thoroughfare for Cosimo I de’ Medici in 1565.

Number 3 is the Porcellino, a bronze statue of a boar in the Mercato Nuovo. This is a popular stop for tourists, who, for good luck, have rubbed the boar’s nose to a bright shine. Ellie remembers having seen the Porcellino in The Light in the Piazza with George Hamilton just a year before her visit to Florence.

Number 4 is the Palazzo Vecchio in the Piazza della Signoria. This is Florence’s town hall. Construction began in 1299. The opening ceremony of the symposium honoring Ellie’s father is held here. A large replica of Michelangelo’s David stands outside the entrance.

Number 5 is Trattoria Cammillo on Borgo San Jacopo on the Oltrarno. This is a real restaurant that has been a popular eating place since the 1940s. It’s still there today. Ellie has her first dinner in Florence there.

https://www.cntraveler.com/restaurants/florence/trattoria-cammillo

Number 6 is Ponte Santa Trinita. This is the next bridge downstream from Ponte Vecchio. It’s also the place where Professor Bondinelli’s body is first spotted in the river. Like so many other bridges and landmarks, Ponte Santa Trinita was destroyed by retreating German troops in World War II. It was rebuilt in the 1950s with many of its own stones that were retrieved from the river.

Number 7 is the Basilica of Santa Croce. Ellie recalls having visited Santa Croce in 1946 with her father when he took her to Italy for an academic tour. Dante’s empty cenotaph is located inside the church (he’s buried in Ravenna), as are the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Rossini. Ellie lights three candles here, one each for her brother, her mother, and father.

Number 8 is the Tempio Maggiore. This is the Great Synagogue of Florence. Completed in 1882, it is one of the largest synagogues in Southern Europe. Ellie meets a special witness at the temple in TURN TO STONE and gets a private tour.

Number 9 is the Church of Santa Maria Novella. The church was where the ten young people in Boccaccio’s Decameron met to begin their journey to Fiesole to escape the Black Death in 1348. This is also where Ellie and her nine companions meet to begin their trip to Fiesole.

Number 10 is the Santa Maria Novella train station, located opposite the church. Built in 1934 during the fascist Ventennio, the station is a example of Italian modernism.

Number 11 is San Domenico in Fiesole. This is near Villa Bel Soggiorno, where Ellie and her companions go for their weekend in the country.

Number 12 is Villa Bel Soggiorno itself. This is a fictional house on via Boccaccio in Fiesole, high above Florence. Ellie and her companions spend an eventful few days here, telling stories and enjoying fine Tuscan food and wine, just as the young people did in the Decameron.

Numbers 13, 14, and 15 are locations that play a role in the resolution of the story and, therefore, I will leave them to the reader to discover.

I hope you enjoy your sojourn in Florence! Buon viaggio!

TURN TO STONE launches January 21, 2020. Like all the Ellie Stone mysteries, TURN TO STONE can be read as a standalone. Readers needn’t start from the beginning of the series.

James W. Ziskin, Jim to his friends, is the author of the seven Ellie Stone mysteries. His books have been finalists for the Edgar, Anthony, Barry, Lefty, and Macavity awards. His fourth book, Heart of Stone, won the 2017 Anthony for Best Paperback Original and the 2017 Macavity (Sue Feder Memorial) award for Best Historical Mystery. He’s published short stories in various anthologies and in The Strand Magazine. Before he turned to writing, he worked in New York as a photo-news producer and writer, and then as director of NYU’s Casa Italiana. He spent fifteen years in the Hollywood postproduction industry, running large international operations in the subtitling and visual effects fields. His international experience includes two years working and studying in France, extensive time in Italy, and more than three years in India. He speaks Italian and French. Jim can be reached through his website http://www.jameswziskin.com or on Twitter @jameswziskin.

Peter Robinson: Many Rivers to Cross Tuesday, Jan 14 2020 

Peter Robinson’s 26th Alan Banks mystery, Many Rivers To Cross, brings today’s issues to the forefront in the long-running series. Robinson manages to remain timely while bringing a fresh perspective to Banks, his colleagues, and detecting.

A young Middle Eastern boy’s body is found stuffed into a garbage bin, and with no identifiers or missing persons report, it takes Banks and his team a while to find his identity.

Found on the East Side Estate, interviews with the few neighbors provide little information other than that of a car engine leaving the area of the old woman whose bin has been used as a dump site.

Then a heroin addict is found dead in his home in an estate scheduled to be torn down for redevelopment. Are the two deaths related and are drugs involved? Or are illegal immigrants and trafficking at the bottom of these deaths?

With information from other squads pointing Banks toward organized crime in his beloved Eastvale, Banks must separate the twisted threads to find out the truth.

A fascinating subplot follows a friend grappling with her past and dealing with the trauma. Add to that Banks’s musical choices, and readers will be treated to a police procedural that keeps on winning on all fronts.

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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