Vanessa Lilllie: Little Voices Thursday, Oct 3 2019 

Little Voices starts off with a scene that packs a wallop and glues readers to the pages of Vanessa Lillie’s debut thriller.

Told in the first person by Devon Burges, a former prosecutor out on maternity leave, her emergency delivery and tough recuperation are rocked by the murder of a young nanny who has become her friend.

Despite hearing mocking voices in her head, Devon grabs onto the investigation of the nanny’s death. Her intentions intensify when her college friend, the employer of the nanny, becomes the prime suspect in Belina’s murder.

As the voices increase, so does the tension, with the backstory to those voices a counterpoint to the murder investigation. Drawing on her “outside the box” skills, Devon is soon embroiled in the events that led up to this death.

The ramifications have fingers that reach to the businessmen and politicians of Providence, Rhode Island, as long-held secrets are revealed that affect far too many people in Devon’s circle.

A climax that has a surprise twist will leave readers stunned in this complex story, one that will have readers racing the get to the finish of a suspenseful tale Daniel Ford calls a ” . . . serpentine whodunit.”

Tara Laskowski: One Night Gone Tuesday, Oct 1 2019 

Please welcome award-winning author Tara Laskowski, to talk to readers about switching from short stories her writing her debut thriller. One Night Gone, told in two voices, is garnering stellar reviews. Don’t miss it!

I have always considered myself a short story writer. A very very short story writer, to be specific. I feel most comfortable at about 745 words, two pages max. I’ve been editing a journal of flash fiction for nearly 10 years, where we publish stories that are 1000 words or less, so I’ve been trained to think at that length. I like tiny moments, small epiphanies. I like seeing a story in its entirety.

So, I never really thought I’d be able to write a novel. I tried it several times. My MFA thesis was a doorstop 500+ page novel that spanned over several decades, that I worked on for 6 years. For the longest time, my longer projects never really seemed to work out.

But then after I published two short story collections, I felt like I needed a next step. A new challenge. And so I decided to try writing a novel one more time. Just to see what happened.

I took the plunge, immersed myself in my book, determined not to come up for air until I had a first draft. The alluring Siren calls of flash fiction ideas tried to beckon me away, but I ignored them as best I could. I dealt with the pain of not being able to see my plot in its entirety. If I had an idea for a short story, I wrote the idea down in my notebook and carried on with the novel.
It worked, for the most part. I was able to complete the draft of my book, One Night Gone, in a little over a year. I had done it. I’d written a novel, bird by bird, scene by scene, chapter by chapter. Somewhere along the way, I’d gotten into a rhythm with it. Dare I say it—I even liked it?

Then, once the editing was over and my book was on its way, I turned to all those notebook ideas. I thought—yay! Now I can go back to my short story babies and make them happen.

Except for one problem. I’d trained myself so well on writing a novel that I had forgotten how to write a short story.

That summer was painful. All these ideas! And none of them were working. I couldn’t write a succinct story to save my sanity. It all felt dull and tired.

There are writers who say they can switch back and forth between forms—writing poetry alongside their novels, flash fiction while working on a nonfiction book. I’ve realized I am not one of them. I have so little time to write in my packed, hectic schedule that I need to focus or I’ll be lost forever, shipwrecked on the beach endlessly searching for the seashell pieces of my fiction. Therefore, I realized that since it takes me a while to get in my groove, once I get in it, it’s very hard to pull out of it into another one.

That summer, I did end up getting a few decent short stories completed. But there is still an embarrassing amount of stories started and never finished, ones I may never be able to work out. Or maybe I will. Maybe, like wine, they just need to sit and age for a bit.

They have plenty of opportunity to do so, as I’m about to start writing my second book soon. And when I do take that deep breath and plunge under the surface, I probably won’t be emerging for a while!

Wish me luck! And while I’m out at sea, be sure to keep those Sirens entertained!

Tara Laskowski


TARA LASKOWSKI is the award-winning author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, which was named a Best Book of 2017 by The Guardian. Her debut novel One Night Gone was published in October 2019 by Graydon House Books. She is the editor of the online flash fiction journal SmokeLong Quarterly, an Agatha Award winner, and a member of Sisters in Crime. A graduate of Susquehanna University and George Mason University, Tara grew up in Pennsylvania and lives in Virginia.

LA Naylor: The Land of Trees Monday, Sep 30 2019 

Please welcome guest L A Naylor to talk about her debut novel, The Land of Trees:

ABOUT THE BOOK
The Land of Trees is my debut novel and the result of 20 years of rumination and rewriting.

Adoptee Lia has followed her Spanish teacher, Rafael, to Guatemala, for romance and adventure. She doesn’t know much about the country but she’s happy because she’s finally living life on her own terms. On their first night together, Lia decides to declare her feelings, but before she gets the chance, the unimaginable happens and Rafael is brutally killed.

Devastated, Lia travels to Rafael’s family home in the countryside, where she becomes determined to find out why. But not everyone is keen on her investigation. Lia has to decide what is more important: living without answers or taking the deadly consequences that come with the truth.

I’ve carried this story around in my mind, in various versions, ever since I went to Guatemala in 1996. I was young, but it was a hugely important time because it was the year a rebel group would sign a peace treaty with the government, formally ending over three decades of civil war.

At the centre of the story is the tragic death of Rafael, so to a certain extent the theme of loss defines itself and how we come to terms with death. The story is told through the point of view of three characters: feisty, morally principled Lia, who needs to find paid work; Richard, the affluent but ultimate non-traveller; and Macy, who is hiding serious mental health issues. Although it’s ultimately Lia’s story, I think my favourite character is Macy because she’s so strong and brave.

My motivation to write often stems from a sense of injustice. Today in Guatemala, rates of crime remain very high with an average of 101 murders reported per week in 2018, and 97% of homicides remaining unsolved. I wanted to write a book that would buck that trend, because rightly or wrongly, I’m still an optimist!

The book has been described as a gritty, intelligent and evocative coming of age thriller. You can buy the print and Ebook here from 28th September 2019 onwards: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Land-Trees-L-Naylor/dp/0954743717

You can also connect with me here: https://lanaylor.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

L.A. Naylor has been the CEO of a charity, a wreck diver and English teacher. She was awarded a grant from the Campaign for Learning to write a non-fiction book on miscarriages of justice in the UK. She interviewed people convicted of murder and learned a great deal about crime, the law and how elusive justice can be. That book, Judge for Yourself: How Many are Innocent was a best seller and was praised by The Guardian, Michael Mansfield QC and many more.

Bella Ellis: The Vanished Bride Sunday, Sep 22 2019 

Bella Ellis brings a new series set in the Yorkshire moors, and starring none other than the Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, in The Vanished Bride.

Becoming ‘detectors’ after their governess friend at a neighboring house two miles away asks for their help, they are tracking the disappearance of the second wife and young mother who’s missing from her home.

In her bedroom, there’s enough blood to leave little hope that the young woman survived, yet the two sisters try to help their friend, Mattie French, find out the circumstances of her disappearance.

It doesn’t help that her husband’s first wife committed suicide under shady circumstances, not that Elizabeth Chester has left behind not just her young stepson but her own infant boy, Archie.

With the sometimes help of their brother, Branwell, the sisters set out on various journeys to gather evidence and to follow clues left by Elizabeth. One of their first discoveries is that Robert Chester, the missing bride’s husband, is subject to cruel rages and horrible beatings of his wives, and becomes the likely suspect in Elizabeth’s disappearance.

The three women, as different in nature and personality as they are in appearance, must at times flaunt the conventions of the time as they travel to unmask the truth behind the evil at Chester Grange.

A grand start to a new series under a very Bronte-esque name by children’s author and novelist Rowan Coleman,

AB Jewell: The Man Who Wouldn’t Die Wednesday, Aug 21 2019 

Welcome to the not-too-distant future of Silicon Valley, in AB Jewell’s satirical mystery, The Man Who Wouldn’t Die.

Picture Silicon Noir, a world of SnipChat, Starbacks, and the Video Game Olympic Training Center. It’s a place where being fast is a virtue and greed is the name of the game.

William Fitzgerald, former ATF agent, prefers Fitch, and his PI agency takes on the usual cases. Until the day a wealthy woman asks him to take on his most unusual case yet: she claims her father, Captain Don Donogue, sent her a tweep saying he was murdered. But he’s already been dead for two weeks…

There’s a black box involved, a host of nasty characters, and someone keeps trying to kill Fitch, who appears to be the only sane person in the Valley. And what of this woman who claims her father is communicating from the beyond? Does she have any brain cells besides money?

There will be car chases, kidnapping, murders, and all kinds of the usual things you’d find in Raymond Chandler, but set in a future where couples get on waiting lists for kindergarten as soon as they freeze their eggs.

Filled with wry humor, this clever plot spins the hardboiled detective mystery into high tech with a huge aside on tech dependency. Creative and original.

Lauren North: The Perfect Son Saturday, Aug 17 2019 

Lauren North will startle readers with her new psychological suspense thriller, The Perfect Son. This debut packs a wallop, making North a writer to watch.

Tess Clarke wakes up in the hospital after being stabbed, yet her only concern is for her missing son. Readers learn what led up to this event, and why she mistrusts Shelley, the grief counselor who’d become her friend.

Tess has been moving through the sludge of grief after the shocking death of her husband. Caring for son Jamie alone, trying to find a new rhythm to her days, she comes to depend on the friendship of the grief counselor her mother recommended. Even Jaime likes Shelley, a good thing, surely. But does Shelley have an ulterior motive?

Missing Mark terribly, his brother Ian can’t stop harrassing Tess for money he insists Mark borrowed that he needs repaid immediately. Tess can’t find any record of this supposed loan. Was Mark keeping secrets from her? Or is Ian lying?

With Tess’s world coming apart at the seams, she can’t trust anyone. And who could blame her? Soon she’s convinced the very people she should be able to trust are the ones she should be afraid of. Is she being paranoid, or careful?

With the sense of isolation Tess feels apparent on every page, North’s story lurches from unknown to unknown, while all the time there is a searing truth hiding just out of sight.

A skillful debut that ends with a resounding twist, that then turns back on itself. Worth every moment of lost sleep.

Marlowe Benn: Relative Fortunes Sunday, Aug 4 2019 


Marlowe Benn’s debut, Relative Fortunes, is filled with issues and social mores, not to say fashion, too, of 1924. It’s a stylish mystery that evokes the blues of the Jazz Age in which it’s set.

Benn introduces American Julia Kydd, who returns to New York after living in England where she’s incubating the germ of an idea for a small, elite press. Loving all things type, font, and paper, she dreams of establishing her own imprint. With women just able to vote, this is a heady time for women.

Julia’s half-sibling, Philip, controls her allowance until her soon-to-occur 25th birthday, but brings a suit to attempt to claim her half of their father’s estate. While this battles out, Julia is forced to stay in Philip’s home, and learns more than she wanted to about the brother she’s been estranged from and never really knew growing up.

Then the sister of a friend dies and she’s pulled into what she comes to believe is a murder, not a covered-up suicide the family hopes to pass off as a brief illness. Naomi Rankin was a well-known suffragette, and her younger sister, Glennis, is Julia’s new friend. Present with Glennis at the family home for a closed memorial service for Naomi, Julia is shocked to see the lack of regard for Naomi and the miserly way this wealthy family has treated her because of her beliefs in woman’s rights.

When Glennis begs Julia to help her prove Naomi was murdered, Philip’s wager that if she can find out what happened she will keep her inheritence is too good to pass up.

Peopled with real figures from the era in the world of bibliophiles, Benn brings her own love of book arts to Julia, while exploring the few options open to women at this time. If one didn’t have money, those options shrunk even smaller.

Benn also shows Julia and Glennis, and even Naomi through her friends, who must consider their futures and how those differ for men and women. In the stunning climax, this disparity between genders is brought to the forefront in a tragic yet realistic way.

An accomplished debut.

Natalie Daniels: Too Close Wednesday, Jul 31 2019 

Natalie Daniels’ has written a psychological thrillerToo Close that is at once as cinematic as it is haunting.

Connie is in a mental institution, being evaluated to see if she can stand trial for a horrific crime involving children that she claims to have no memory of. Emma is the psychiatrist assigned to treat her dissociative amnesia, and try to coax out the story of what led to those events, in order to help Connie remember.

Connie is a writer, and Emma appeals to that instinct and brings in a laptop for Connie to use the word processor. In detailing the memories she does have, Emma is shown what led up to Connie’s emotional breakdown. Connie is a strong woman that everyone depends on, and she can see the truth through things. That can be a fortunate and unfortunate thing when she can no longer hide from her own truths.

The story alternates between the women’s points of view, with Emma learning from Connie about her own insecurities and marriage. Connie’s marriage is complicated; so is her friendship with her beautiful neighbor, Ness, who Emma comes to see is at the heart of what has led Connie to snap.

Making connections between the women, Emma must lead Connie to remember the events leading up to that horrific day and what caused Connie to go mad. Readers won’t be able to put this one down as the story spirals out in the same way Connie’s life seems to spiral out of control.

A terrific debut, filled with insights into women, their friendships, and their relationships with their families and the men in their lives. Highly recommended.

Vanessa Westerman: An Excuse for Murder Tuesday, Jul 30 2019 

Vanessa Westerman’s An Excuse for Murder introduces Kate Rowan, bookshop proprietor and soon to be unwilling amateur sleuth.

Kate lives in her Great-Aunt’s London suburban home, a turreted house large enough to take in boarders. With her gay best friend, Marcus, a local realtor, and two local boys who love crime, Kate is surrounded by murder in her books and the investigations the boys like to play.

When Kate finds one of boarders dead at the bottom of the basement stairs, she’s relieved to find the 40-something man died from natural causes of a simple heart attack. Or did he?

Known the neighborhood as “The Eternal Wife,” Great-Aunt Roselyn has begun behaving strangely. And soon Kate is certain someone is watching the house.

Then Gary, a security expert in the area, starts to watch out for Kate, too, and things escalate with a break-in at the house. What was the thief really looking for? Why is Gary present whenever Kate turns around?

And what really happened to the dead man in the basement and how does that tie in with the murder of a beautiful young woman two years ago?

Readers will enjoy the hint of sexual tension between Gary and Kate, and the twists of the plot. With interesting its characters, and Kate’s skills in many areas, this is an ambitious start to a clever series filled with promise.

Allison Montclair: The Right Sort of Man Sunday, Jun 16 2019 

Allison Montclair’s new series starts off with a delightful bang with the charming The Right Sort of Man.

The second World War has just ended in 1946 London, and two young women who couldn’t be more opposite are thrown together. Iris Sparks is the unmarried, savvy woman with an Oxford education and a shady past; Gwen Bainbridge is the war widow with a young son, still grieving the loss of her handsome husband, and subjected to living with her staid in-laws.

The two meet at a wedding and agree to start a new business to cement their independence, and do it in one of the Mayfair buildings that escaped bombing with The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. They approach it in an organized manner, trying to match suitables, and even have had a few marriages from their pairings.

New client Tillie La Salle sets off Iris’ warning bells as someone who might have her own checkered past, but the women set her up with her first date. Then Tillie is found murdered, and the man arrested for the crime is Dickie Trower, the man they matched to Tillie, who claims he never met with her at all.

Now the duo have a two-fold problem: try to rescue Dickie from the hangman’s noose, and try to reclaim the reputation of their new business. The two will ennlist their friend, Sally, a budding playwright who reminded Auntie M of Stephen Fry, to cover the office as they take turns sleuthing Tillie’s life.

The thing that struck Auntie M about these two well-developed characters (make it three if you include Sally) was their snappy dialogue, which hums and zings off the page. The period details are spot on, and the the light-hearted feel is contrasted with moments of the realities of a post-war nation.

An assured start to what promises to be a wonderful and interesting series for fans of historicals, this one will be snapped up and not put down until it’s done.

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Lee Lofland

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Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

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.

Gaslight Crime

Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction

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