Ashley Dyer: Splinter in the Blood Tuesday, Jun 12 2018 

Ashley Dyer is the pen name of the UK writing team of Margaret Murphy and Helen Pepper. Their debut, Splinter in the Blood, introduces DS Ruth Lake and her boss, Greg Carver.

In an explosive opening, Ruth stands over Greg, shot in his own home, and cleans up the crime scene, wiping fingerprints and hiding evidence.

Then she realizes he’s not dead.

Carver is lucky to be alive, and has only a hazy memory of what happened the night he was shot. Worried about threats to his wife, his frustration is palpable as he tries to heal his mind and his body quickly.

Ruth and Carver decide he was shot because he was close to uncovering the killer’s identity. It falls to Ruth to figure out what’s happened by taking Carver’s private files home and working the case in addition to her normal work. The Thorn Killer case that obsessed Carnver took his attention over the last year and cost him his marriage.

The Thorn Killer uses a most unusual method to tattoo his female victims and keeps them alive for weeks, undergoing horrific torture before the release of death. While Ruth investigates, she knows more than she’s telling, putting her at odds with her superiors. It’s a engrossing game Ruth’s playing, hiding her own secrets, enlisting the aid of a new co-worker.

Dyer manages to balance detailed forensic information with realistic characters. Ruth is especially intriguing, and readers will be looking forward to the next in the series.

This is a fascinating story, highly original and filled with complex twists you won’t see coming until they are upon you. Ann Cleeves calls Splinter: A taut and compelling thriller, as sharp as the thorns that feature in the plot.” Highly recommended.


Pamela J. Castrucci: Down the Staircase Sunday, Apr 8 2018 

Pamela J. Castrucci’s first novel, Down the Staircase, is a work of Magical Realism enriched with elements of crime, suspense and mystery.

Inspired by true events in her own life, Castrucci currently anticipates releasing the next installment of The Staircase Series by the end of 2018. Castrucci, a successful attorney and single mom, shares what moved her to write her novel. *****

When I was young, I was fairly certain that my parents feared that I would run off and join the circus someday. A good student, I was keenly focused on the arts, particularly literature and theater. I indulged my passions by obtaining a degree in literature, but life events occurred, as they so often do, which caused me to choose another path.

My love of the arts, particularly writing, were eclipsed by my need to pursue justice. I obtained my law degree and entered the Navy. My time in the Navy’s Judge Advocate General (“JAG”) Corps, while brief, was intense, challenging and fulfilling.

Once I got over the initial shock and dismay when I learned that my cases largely involved domestic violence and crimes against children, I felt a fire ignite within me. I needed to do whatever I could to deliver justice for those victims, especially the youngest, who had no voice.

Like Cara Stone, the protagonist in Down the Staircase, those cases both haunted me and spurred me onward. Even after leaving the service, the lessons I had learned in prosecuting those cases formed a foundation for the rest of my legal career, while thoughts of pursuing my writing becoming more remote with each year.

I have had Cara’s story rattling around in my brain for more than twenty years. Like so many, I promised myself I would one day bring her story to life. Other priorities allowed me to keep her story safely tucked away on a quiet, dusty shelf in my mental filing cabinet, enabling me to procrastinate and avoid being vulnerable.

But then life has a way of getting one’s attention, drawing our deeply held needs to the surface and into the light. And so it was for me this past October, when various coincidences converged. Every year, I ask my young twins, my Raptors, the same series of questions, delighting in how their interests and priorities change and evolve.

I’d had a very challenging day at a job I truly enjoy last October. I chose to ask my children their annual questions as an antidote to that difficult day. Their answers were as fun and as satisfying as ever, but this year, there was a twist. When I had finished by asking them what they wanted to be when they grew up, they then asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. We discussed my dream of becoming a novelist and with the clear- eyed pragmatism of young children, they could not see any reason why I couldn’t fulfill that dream.

Their wisdom gave me pause. Earlier that day, I’d received an email from a business coach I’d met earlier in my career, promoting a self-publishing school for new authors. These coincidences – the difficult day, the confidence of my children, and the seemingly-random receipt of an email with the promise of tools to make my dream come true – were just what I needed to take Cara’s story “off the shelf.”

I signed up for the course that very night. I hope readers will enjoy Cara’s story and will look forward to the next installment in the series. I also hope that my story will encourage other writers to take the leap and bring their stories into the world.

You can find Down the Staircase on Amazon~

Christi Daugherty: The Echo Killing Monday, Mar 26 2018 

Christi Daughterty’s accomplished debut, The Echo Killing, will have readers looking for a sequel (it’s in the works for next spring), after meeting crime reporter Harper McClain.

The lushness of antebellum Savannah, Georgia, lends its setting to the story of the determined reporter, and Daugterty’s own experience in that job shines through, as does her love for the city which echoes Harper’s own.

Harper enjoys her job, despite her sad family history. At the age of twelve, she walking home from school to find her artist mother’s brutally murdered body. With the unsolved murder never far from Harper’s thoughts,she works evenings on the crime beat, spending time following the police radio to crimes that will bring headlines and please her editor.

Then a new murder takes her to the house of a murder, where she watches the victim’s young daughter being led away from the scene, just as she was years ago. Harper is determined to glimpse the actual murder scene, and soon is sorry she did. It’s eerily familiar to her mother’s murder, from the naked victim,being found in the kitchen to the multiple stab wounds.

Only someone who had seen her mother’s killing could replicate it in so much detail. Does this mean her mother’s killer is on the loose again? The killer is forensically aware, too, leaving no clues for detectives.

The new case becomes an obsession with Harper, despite being warned by the cops she’s close to, her photographer friend, and her editor to leave it alone. This victim turns out to have a very different background from Harper’s mother, and as she investigates her life, Harper soon finds a disturbing tie to several prominent people, including someone on the police force.

Her probing could cost Harper more than just her job–it cost her life as she unravels the complicated case.

This atmospheric, engrossing tale is filled with realistic characters and dialogue, and a romantic subplot only adds to the layers of the book, which aptly illustrates what it means when murder is so personal.

A suspenseful mystery that will have readers lined up for its next installment. Highly recommended.

Christina Lynch: The Italian Party Tuesday, Mar 20 2018 

Accomplished writer and editor, in fiction and journalism, Christina Lynch’s debut novel under her own name is the delightful The Italian Party.

Filled with wry humor that runs alongside the romance of Italy, she tlle the story of newlyweds Scottie and Michael Messina, who arrive in Siena in the spring of 1956.

Scottie has been told Michael is to open a new Ford office selling tractors, but the reality of his job is just one of the secrets he’s keeping.

Scottie has her own secrets, too, and as their married life commences, they come to know each other as their lives become involved in local politics and the complex dance they both do to keep their secrets.

The Cold War comes alive just as Scottie does. The naivete of both of the young marrieds reflects their upbringing and the mores of the time. It’s a powerful read as we to watch them slowly begin to trust each other.

Twist together a spy story, a missing boy, and a romance of unexpected sorts, and you have a pastiche that rings true. The delicious food, the rugged landscape, and the historic buildings and squares are all lovingly described. Horses figure here, as do Communists, ex-pats, sex, and Italian culture.

A delicious romp that will have you expecting Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday to turn up as you turn the pages, with a startling ending that feels satisfying.

Lexie Elliott: The French Girl Tuesday, Feb 20 2018 

Lexie Elliott’s debut, The French Girl, is a strong entry in the psychological suspense category.

A decade after six Oxford friends spend time in a farmhouse in the French countryside, the week comes back to haunt them in a way that no vacation should.

Kate Channing narrates the story of the week she and her boyfriend, Seb, and four others left London for a carefree summer escape. Tensions between several of the friends escalate by the end of the week, added to by girl living next door, who uses the pool at their house with the owner’s permission.

Severine is mysterious, lithe and beautiful and knows her power over men. When she disappears just as the group is leaving, it’s a horrid ending to a week that’s been ruined by revelations inside the group that broke up Kate and Seb.

Now years later Severine’s body has been found in a well at the farmhouse next door, and the primary suspects are Kate and her band of friends.

As a persistent French detective interrogates the friends, alliances shift and reform, exposing old secrets and complications. Misunderstandings surface; old opportunities are exposed and rued.

When it’s recommended that Kate hire her own lawyer, the tension rapidly escalates and as Kate’s memories of that last evening start to coalesce, she fancies that she sees Severine watching her try to figure out what really happened to the French Girl.

A captivating read that will leave readers asking how well they really know people they call their friends.

Douglas Light: Where Night Stops Sunday, Feb 4 2018 

Douglas Light’s references to noir stories will have fans of that genre enjoying this literate thriller from the outset in Where Night Stops.

With strong, observant diaglogue that often shows a dry wit, Light’s unnamed protagonist is living in a homeless shelter when he’s befriended by a man who gives him an assignment that allows him to survive financially.

The naive narrator sinks deeper and deeper into a money-laundering scheme, looking over his shoulder, as his own complicated backstory spools out. He’s clearly out of his depths as he makes poor choices and convinces himself he’s really doing just fine, even as he feels he’s on the run from his shadowy employer.

The literary tone sets this one apart from a standard thriller and will provide readers with a gripping and interesting read.

Fiona Barton: The Widow Tuesday, Jan 9 2018 

Fiona Barton’s debut thriller came highly recommended to Auntie M, so despite being out last year, she bought it herself and agrees: don’t miss The Widow.

Told through the lens of journalist Kate Waters, a realistic person you’ll want to spend time with again, Kate manages to get an interview with a new widow. Jean Taylor’s husband was tragically hit by a bus and died instantly.

But that’s the new story. The history surrounding Glen Taylor is very different. Four years ago he was found not guilty of kidnapping and murdering a two-year old girl.

Jean has spent those years in his shadow trying to eke out a life and putting on one face to the public. Now that Glen’s dead, that can end.

The story is told in alternating chapters from Kate and Jean’s perspective, as well as that of the detective on the unsolved case, who’s almost compulsive about finding the truth.

But what is the truth? And when exactly did Jean know it? A compelling tale from a voice in crime fiction that will be sought out again. Highly Recommended.

AJ Finn: The Woman in the Window Tuesday, Jan 2 2018 

AJ Finn has hit it out of the park with his debut psychological thriller The Woman in the Window, the first book of 2018 Auntie M is reviewing and giving her “Highly Recommended” status.

This one’s a winner, whether you’re a fan of Hitchcock movies or not. Finn is, and that influence is seen in the highly cinematic feel of the book, which has been optioned by Fox 2000 Studios.

Dr. Anna Fox is the narrator, a child psychologist who has been inside her home for the past eleven months suffering from severe agoraphobia and depression. Her reclusive life includes visits from a physical therapist, Bina, and her psychiatrist. She speaks to her husband, Ed, and daughter, Olivia, who are not living with her. She has her groceries delivered, doesn’t shower often enough, and has a basement tenant to do chores if she needs them. And she watches her neighbors.

She also plays online chess, but tries to feel useful by running a chat room for other agoraphobics, using her skills as a therapist to help them, even as she can’t help herself. It’s the one place she feels a modicum of positive output, even as her drinking gets out of control.

When a new family move in nearby, the Russells seem unremarkable; father, mother, awkward teenaged son who seems emotional. Then the mother, Jane, comes to visit Anna, and in their brief time together, they laugh and drink and play chess. Anna jokes about the actress, Jane Russell, and feels that she might just have a new friend.

It’s a hollow victory when she subsequently sees Jane stumbling through the house with a blade sticking out of her chest. But no one in the NYPD, her therapist, Bina, Ed–no one believes she saw what she knows she saw: Jane being murdered.

Or did she? Has her preoccupation with old movies, especially those of the Hitchcock thriller variety, combined with too much wine and the multiple psychotropic meds she’s on, caused Anna to hallucinate the events? What is real and what has she imagined?

There are references to classic movies, but Finn manages to make this story his own, with a riveting tale that crackles with tension as the story advances. The whoosh sound you’ll be hearing is you turning the pages as you devour this gripping, dark novel. As Auntie M started out, it’s highly recommended.

Sherri Hollister: Chrome Pink Wednesday, Dec 20 2017 

Please welcome guest Sherri Hollister, to talk about her debut romantic suspense novel, Chrome Pink, the first of the Leeward Trilogy.

The evolution of Chrome Pink

The idea for Chrome Pink started with an online class I took a few years ago. The instructor told us to list ten things about a person or character. I used my husband. He is a tow truck driver, motorcycle rider, mechanic, he does woodworking and construction, he is kind to people and animals but if he doesn’t like you, you know it. He likes fast cars, bourbon and me.

After we sent in our lists, we were instructed to change the sex, ethnicity, religion or politics of the person. From that class came the idea of Rae Lynne Grimes, who I tell people is my husband in drag.
Rae is a tough girl with a bad attitude. She is an alcoholic, anti-social and hell-bent on her own destruction but she is also kind, generous and beautiful.

After I started working on the story, I met my son’s friend. She had taken him in and was letting him stay with her and her partner. She brought him to visit us and she was trying to help him get on his feet. She was a beautiful Hispanic girl, with dark hair and eyes, with tattoos and piercings and a streak of pink in her hair. My son told me she’d had a rough life but even through her own adversities, she’d offered kindness to my son.

Combining these two ideas created the frame work for my character. From there I started asking questions and Rae Lynne Grimes evolved into a person whose story I had to tell.

I was supposed to be a romance writer. At least that is what I believed when I first started writing. I thought I wanted to write historical romances as they were my first love. When I fell in love with contemporary romance it was after reading Jayne Ann Krentz who also writes historicals as Amanda Quick.

Contemporary romance, especially the subgenres of romantic mysteries, thrillers and suspense intrigued me. I started marketing Chrome Pink as a romantic suspense novel. It wasn’t until after several very kind rejections and a couple of years of working with an agent that I learned my story doesn’t fall into the typical romance framework. My couple doesn’t meet on the first page and fall in love by page fifty.

Chrome Pink is about Rae Lynne Grimes, a rape survivor, and her journey from self-destruction to finding her strength. It is a suspense thriller, with some women’s fiction and, oh yeah, a bit of romance.

Sherri Hollister is a member of the Pamlico Writers Group and former news reporter who had had stories published in several anthologies. Chrome Pink is her first novel.

Someone doesn’t want Rae to stay in Leeward. When warning her doesn’t work, they try to scare her away. Logan Birdsong has fallen for Rae Lynne, but she won’t be with him if he’s working for her nemesis. Afraid of losing the company his step-father has entrusted into his care, Logan is torn between his growing attraction to Rae and his need to succeed. When her dates start turning up dead, Rae and Logan both become suspects. They can’t prove their innocence while on the run but returning to Leeward could cost them everything.

More Holiday Gifting Sunday, Dec 17 2017 

More great reads for holiday gifting~ there are goodies to be had for the reader on your list!

Con Lehane introduced NY City Public Library crime curator Ray Ambler in last year’s Murder at the 42nd Street Library. He brings Ray, his colleague Adele, grandson Johnny and detective friend Mike Cosgrove back in the equally engaging sequel, Murder in the Manscript Room.

In an interview Lehane once said someone told him the most interesting person at a library was its archivist, the keeper of everyone’s secrets, and that holds true here when Mike introduces him to Paul Higgins, a former NYPD intelligence detective who has written a few crime thrillers and wants to donate his police files to the library.

With the file boxes stowed in Ray’s office as he mounts a new exhibit, so a few days later is the body of a newly-hired library staffer. Ray has a personal interest in solving the crime, not the least that he’s a suspect, but there are complications in the form of a Syrian researcher who’s arrested and a tie-in to Ray’s son, John, serving time in prison.

The personal angle of little Johnny plus Ray’s relationship with Adele provide added interest as Ray tries to figure out how the secrets of the past and the murder of a union boss have contributed to this recent murder.

An intricate sequel sure to please book lovers and mystery afficionados, with well-drawn characters to boot.

<img src="" alt="" width="500" height="760" class="size-full wp-image-3680"
Arnaldur Indridason's returns to Iceland with the start of a new series in The Shadow District

It’s an interesting mix of present day, with retired detective Konrad is asked to help with the death of a 90-yr old man smothered in his bed and end up investigating the WWII murder of a young woman in the shadow district, the rough neighborhood near where he grew up bordered by the National Theatre.

Alternating between the original detective’s investigation into the girl’s murder and his own follow-up, he soon realizes he must solve the old murder to find the killer for the recent one. Who would bother to kill an old man on the verge of death and for what reason?

Intricate and skillfully woven.

And speaking of the Scandanavian Noir, Kjell Ericksson’s 7th Ann Lindell mystery, Stone Coffin, is now out in paperback if you missed it last year. This one surrounds the hit-and-run deaths of a young woman and her six-year old daughter and becomes a complex mystery.

Peter S. Rush’s debut introduced Steve Logan, Brown graduate whose been affected in 1970 by the Kent State killings to the point where he joins the police force.

But his idealism takes an immediate hit as the rookie gets used to what it means to police Providence. Local mafia, agressive colleagues who heat up situations instead of knowing how to defuse them, detectives who are sadistic–all add up to quickly disillusioning Steve’s idealism.

Mixed in with the mores of the time is his continuing and complicated relationship with pre-med student Roxy, his true love. Both young people have growing to do and learning about life through each other’s actions.

When Steve decides he’s had enough, that change has to come from within, he starts keeping notes about the way things really are going down and finds more than he’s bargained for as he looks into the corruption. But will he have the courage–and the time–do see real change happen before he loses his own life?

A complex and assured debut with a compelling storyline.

Killing Pace is Douglas Schofield’s newest thriller that packs a wallop with its premise.

After a horrific car accident months before, Lisa Green is being nursed back to health by her boyfriend. Roland. The only thing is that Lisa has amnesia and can’t remember the accident or what led to it.

Roland’s close watch on Lisa leads her to believe he’s not her boyfriend and is keeping her prisoner. When she escapes him she enlists a sheriffs deputy to help her find a missing person: herself.

It’s a creative way to tell capture readers as Lisa, who is really Laura Pace, figures out who she really is and why people want her to die. With international repercussions to her case, invovlement from the mafia and US Border Control, it’s no surprise when infant traffiking is at the core.

It’s a wild ride Schofield takes Laura on as she cuts a wide swath in her wake to find the truth. Believeable and all too timely.

Katherine Bolger Hyde’s second “Crime with the Classics Mystery,” Bloodstains with Bronte comes complete with chapter epigrams from Bronte novels, a nice conceit Auntie M enjoyed, as well as plenty of literary references.

Widowed literature prof Emily Cavanaugh has inherited her murdered aunt’s fortune and lovely Oregon home, and her guilt at both has prompted her to turn the large home into a writer’s retreat.

With her housekeeper Katie and her infant daughter, Lizzie, for company, Emily braces for renovations. What she’s not counted on was the two workers, Jake and Roman, openly attracted to Katie. Their boss, on the other hand, is his own kind of enigma.

When Katie and Emily host a murder mystery fundraiser for the local clinic at their house, fiction turns horribly wrong when the supposed victim is actually killed, and Katie is the prime suspect.

It will take all of Emily’s smarts to clear Katie, as she “helps” Windy Corner’s detective Luke Richards in his investigation, despite his misgivings. It doesn’t help that Emily and Luke are romantically involved. And then the deaths multiply and suddenly all bets are off.

A mystery for those who like their literature with a hint of romance.

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