M.E. Browning: Shadow Ridge Thursday, Oct 8 2020 

M.E. Browning’s new series starring Detective Jo Wyatt is off to a strong start with Shadow Ridge, featuring a nicely twisted plot and brisk pace.

The author of the Agatha-nominated Mer Cavallo Mysteries brings her former police captain experience to the book, set in the town of Echo Valley, a nature-filled area of Colorado.

When Jo is called out to what appears to be a suicide case, she still takes all the precautions she should if it turns out that video game designer Tye Horton didn’t kill himself. Something feels off to her.

The young woman who found Horton, Quinn Kirkwood, seems to be keeping secrets, even as she asks Jo for help with an internet stalker. Quinn was a beta tester for one of Horton’s lucrative games, as were several others in the area. An eccentric and unreliable character, Quinn has her own baggage.

Then a tragic car accident takes a second life, and as Jo investigates, she realizes there are ties to Horton, and that Quinn’s life is in danger. Suddenly, Horton’s suicide seems unlikely. As she tries to pair Quinn’s stalker with a deadly killer, her small community will face a bigger tragedy than it has even seen.

Browning does a great job of exploring Jo’s personal life and its disappointments, along with the rigors of being a woman in a police force where men are promoted. The setting is engaging, and the characters well-drawn.

Jo is a smart woman with the skill set needed to be a great detective, and can more than handle the lead in what promises to be an entertaining and suspenseful series.

Claire Gradidge: The Unexpected Return of Josephine Fox Sunday, Oct 4 2020 

It’s 1941 in Romsey, England, in Claire Gradidge’s fine mystery, The Unexpected Return of Josephine Fox. This is another of Auntie M’s TBR personal file from other crime writers’ recommendations.

Jo hasn’t been to her hometown for two decades, after her grandfather unceremoniously threw her out. Born out of wedlock, her mother had already been banished from the family home.

But the young woman, who’s husband is missing in action, returns to uncover who her father was, after her mother dies without telling her.

Needing a job, she arrives the day after the local pub has been bombed, and soon finds herself the coroner’s assistant. But the waters soon muddy when the bodies found in the pub are increased by one unexpected body that doesn’t seem to have suffered bomb damage, that of a teenaged girl, unknown in the area.

The coroner is her childhood friend, Bram Nash, who has suffered his own war injuries, and works at a local law firm as he carries out his coroner duties. The two will set out to discover who the unknown girl was, with Jo bearing the brunt of the investigation. And as she searches for this young girl’s identity, she also finds herself coming closer and closer to the truth of her own parentage.

Atmospheric, with an authentic voice, and with a determined protagonist in Jo, this was the winner of the 2019 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition. Readers will root for Jo and hope to see her return.

Matthew Cost: Mainely Power Wednesday, Sep 23 2020 

Please welcome guest Matthew Cost, to discuss his new mystery MAINELY POWER:

Power. Mainely Power. By Matt Cost

Not all technology advances society. This was the thought that first sparked my mystery novel, Mainely Power.

I began to ponder some inventions that proved this point, and of course, the thought of weapons came to mind. From the musket, to the Gatling gun, to tear gas, to bazookas, and to bombs, weapons have been used for destruction.

Eventually, my thoughts led me to the most lethal weapon ever devised. The nuclear bomb. The utter devastation and destruction that it wrought upon humanity and the earth. I pondered how these armaments are loaded upon missiles and rockets that are housed in silos pointed at our perceived enemies.

And then some genius decided to create power to be used for good out of this murderous science and the nuclear power plant was born. Built within the borders of the USA. With little to no security. I remembered a conversation with a fisherman who said one of his favorite spots to fish was just in front of Maine Yankee, a nuclear power plant in Wiscasset, Maine.

He said he could’ve waded ashore and wandered around. That there was nothing to stop him from entering a facility that housed the same technology that blew entire cities off the map in Japan.

This was the premise of Mainely Power. But who would want to sabotage a nuclear power plant? The obvious answer would be terrorists, perhaps working for some foreign government even. But, could it also be done in the name of the environment? Or for money? Or for political power?

It was this that made me realize that so much of the history of humankind has been for power. Wars, governments, businesses, and relationships are based upon power.

This then, is what my mystery novel is about. It is the place where rich landowners, wealthy businessmen, politicians, and environmentalists intersect. This area is the venue know as influence.

Who swings the biggest stick? Mainely Power. A melting pot of eminence.

Laura Gail Black: For Whom the Book Tolls Sunday, Sep 20 2020 

Please welcome guest Laura Gail Black, to talk about her debut release, For Whom the Book Tolls:

How to get away with murder
Laura Gail Black

It’s the quandary which every mystery writer must face: how to plot a believable murder the killer would feel was air-tight and the sleuth can figure out without author interference.

Thanks to police procedural TV shows such as CSI or NCIS and their spinoffs, as well as their softer counterparts such as Elementary, or Death in Paradise, today’s reader has a deeper understanding of how police policies and procedures work with regard to scene processing, victim and suspect rights, and how the legal system works. Gone are the days when a writer can simply make it up and assume the typical reader won’t know the difference.

Today’s mystery author often has books about causes of death, body trauma, poisons, weapons, crime scene investigation, deadly drug interactions, and forensics. In addition, we often have internet search histories which may have us on FBI watch lists for our research into poisons, bomb making, bank robbing, how long a body takes to decompose in varying settings, and which countries have no extradition treaties with the U.S.

Some of us also have stories of the raised eyebrows at our doctors’ offices when we take an opportunity during a routine exam to strike up a conversation on how rapidly a certain body trauma would cause unconsciousness or death. On top of these subjects, we must learn how to hide a body, dispose of weapons, and ensure we don’t leave physical evidence behind—fingerprints, hair, and fibers.

The next difficulty comes when we need our sleuth to figure it all out, putting aside our own knowledge of the crime and looking at it from a not-in-the-know point of view. We can’t cheat and conveniently have everything drop in our sleuth’s lap. He or she needs to work for it, finding tidbits of information through conversations, searching, and snooping. They must stumble across all information and come to the solution without our help.

Police or attorney best-friends or significant others are allowable if not overused, but the sleuth can only learn a few tiny tidbits from these sources. Often this significant other or friend is used as a sounding board for ideas and theories, although they cannot, must not, be the ones to come up with the solution. Our sleuths have to push through the process, sometimes moving into danger to prove their theories and suss out a killer.

Authors walk a tightrope of ensuring we dole out just enough information without giving away too much. We don’t want the reader to figure things out too quickly. However, a reader should be able to look back and see the clues and what they meant after the fact.

We are taught, as authors, to write what we know. Yet I feel confident in stating most, if not all, mystery authors have never once committed murder. Instead we have researched, imagined, daydreamed, and queried our local police officers, fire fighters, and coroners and have taught ourselves, in essence, how to get away with—and solve—murder.

Laura Gail Black writes cozy mysteries on the beautiful shores of Lake Marion in South Carolina, where she lives with her husband and four rescue dogs. She began collecting antique books when she worked in a used and antique bookstore in college. Today, Laura’s bookshelves contain many antique books, some of which are close to two hundred years old. When not writing or playing with her dogs, Laura creates her own jewelry, crochets, cross-stitches, spends time on the water with her husband, and enjoys all things tea.

Tina Debellegarde: Winter Witness Wednesday, Sep 9 2020 

Please welcome author Tina Debellegarde, with an unusual twist on the first in her Batavia-on-Hudson series, Winter Witness:

Why I Killed My Husband

Winter Witness is the first in my Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series.

In many ways this book is autobiographical: it tells the story of a woman making her way in her new home in a Catskill Mountain village and trying to fit in. A former teacher and historian, she moves to the quiet Hudson Valley community with her husband so she can finally write her first novel.

They create a hobby farm and make a quiet cozy life for themselves. She has a close relationship with her only son who lives in Japan (the future setting for Book 3 of the series.)

This is where the similarities end. Among other things, my life does not include meddling in the local sheriff’s homicides. But the most significant divergence from my life is that I chose to kill off my wonderful husband for the sake of the story. (This couldn’t be what they mean when they say kill off your darlings, could it?)

When I conjured this lovely scenario to set up Bianca St. Denis as my amateur sleuth, I realized that the tension would be ramped up, and she would be a much more interesting character if Bianca needed to manage farm life on her own in this new town.

A small farm, even a hobby farm, is hard work for two, and even harder alone. Bianca, as a young widow, has to look outward to her new community for help and companionship. She needs to find a niche for herself.

Being recently widowed makes her more vulnerable in countless ways and gives her much more room for growth and change across the length of what I envision as a long series.

It also frees her up for possible love interests, and who doesn’t like a few love interests in their reading?

Look for Winter Witness coming September 29, 2020.

Tina deBellegarde lives in Catskill, New York with her husband Denis and their cat Shelby. Winter Witness is the first book in the Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series. Tina also writes short stories and flash fiction. When she isn’t writing, she is helping Denis tend their beehives, harvest shiitake mushrooms, and cultivate their vegetable garden. She travels to Japan regularly to visit her son Alessandro. Tina did her graduate studies in history. She is a former exporter, paralegal, teacher, and library clerk.

Visit her website at http://www.tinadebellegarde.com

Jacqueline Rohan: How to Marry Your Husband Sunday, Aug 23 2020 

From time to time, Auntie M veers away from crime fiction, and here’s one that’s just the ticket for the long hot days of August, when a smile or giggle will be most welcome.

Jacqueline Rohan’s debut, How to Marry Your Husband, is filled with charm and warmth, the perfect antidote for the ills of today.

Rachel and David have been married for fifteen years, after he swept her off her feet. Then on their anniversary she sees him kissing another woman. Is the marriage over? Should she confront him or try to win him back?

Rachel twists herself in knots trying to decide what to do, before she finally confides in a friend who has more experience with men. She visits a divorce lawyer, only to find out that her marriage may not even be legal.

Now she’s in the unusual position of trying to decide if she wants to marry him legally only to divorce him; to let him go; or to get her revenge. The hijinks she gets up to for revenge are hilarious.

All of this is couched in amongst the usual things readers can identify with: the relationships of those nearest and dearest to us. It doesn’t help that Rachel’s firm as event planners will be called in to plan David’s sister’s nuptials, just as she’s trying to decide if she wants to divorce him or win him back.

This is a very modern book, filled with wit and the kind of visuals that would light up the big screen, the book has been shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award for Romantic Fiction.

Jeffrey B. Burton: The Finders Tuesday, Jun 30 2020 

Jeffrey B. Burton introduces a new series that will grab dog lovers and mystery hounds alike with The Finders.

Set in Chicago, trainer Mace Reid specializes in cadaver detection dogs. When he adopts a golden retriever he names Elvira he calls Vira, the star of the show, her unique talents go beyond his usual training.

Still recovering from the death of a beloved companion, and also a divorce, Mace’s head had been down for too long. After a horrid beginning, it will turn out that Vira’s instincts have been right all along.

Young women have been disappearing, and as Mace and the police start to connect the dots and widen the field of victims, Vira brings Mace to the culprit.

But it turns out this killer has been groomed by one even more despicable. Called Everyman, he’s become a master of hiding himself in plain sight. And now he has his sights set on Mace.

It will take all of Vira’s talents pushing Mace toward the right person in a chilling climax. It’s a high tension ride, but one that will leave readers anxious for the next installment featuring Mace, Vira and pals.

Sarah Stewart Taylor: The Mountains Wild Saturday, Jun 27 2020 


The author of the Sweeney St. George series bring the first in a new series to readers in The Mountains Wild.

Featuring an American police detective investigating in Ireland, with scenes on Long Island, Taylor captures the landscape and the people in both places.

Auntie M grew up on Long Island and the North Shore is well represented. She’s never been to Ireland, but after this book, it’s gone up a few notches on her bucket list.

When her cousin Erin disappeared twenty-three years ago, Maggie D’Arcy flew over to Ireland, spending weeks there trying to get to the bottom of what happened to Erin.

Small clues left didn’t help, and there was no trace of Erin when she left to come back home. Told with flashbacks to Long Island in 1993 and the cousins lives then, contrasted with Maggie’s first trip over, the current time frame is interspersed in a new investigation.

The case and its influence turned Maggie into the detective she’s become. Then the Gardai get in touch again: Erin’s scarf has been found; another young woman has gone missing.

Maggie is now is a divorced mom of a teen who works for the homicide squad. She takes time off when the cold case calls her back to Dublin and its outskirts. She’s also determined to face the ghosts she left behind, as she must find out what happened to Erin. Maggie will use all the skills she’s learned in the intervening years to do that, while hoping to save the lift of the most recently abducted young woman, despite the cost to herself.

It’s a compelling mix with a startling twist at the end that leaves the reader in no doubt Taylor has a hit new series on her hands. Highly recommended.

Kate Weinberg: The Truants Wednesday, Jun 3 2020 

Kate Weinbeg’s The Truants is another of those books that came recommended to me. A woven tale of strong personalities, this one is a smashing read that moves in lazy circles to its conclusion while exploring the actions of the characters.

She focuses on Jess Walker, the middle child of five siblings who has felt lost in her family, and has decided to attend a Norfolk university to follow the author of a book that had impressed her.

The book, The Truants, was written by Lorna Clay, Agatha Christie expert, and Jess soon finds herself immersed in the unconventional teacher’s world on many levels. Lorna ferrets out Christie’s life and history for her students while challenging them to dig deeper. With her fiery red hair, unconscious way of dressing, and erratic lifestyle, Clay is the darling of the literature group.

Jess soon finds herself swept up in group of four friends, with the usual sense of pairings. Georgie is her friend and classmate, the other woman in the foursome. Nick is ostensibly Jess’s lover. But Jess finds herself drawn to Georgie’s partner, Alec Van Zanten, a South African journalist on a fellowship. Enigmatic, prone to storytelling, Alec has some very good ones to tell that rival Lorna’s and soon casts a forbidden spell on Jess.

The foursome become inseparable until actions spiral out of control. As Jess moves closer to Lorna and her influence, inconsistencies in the history of everyone arouond her have Jess floundering. She reaches out to the one person she feels can save her when she has her own crisis, only to be brought up short by shocking news.

Trying to separate the reality from the fiction, Jess soon realizes half the stories she’s been fed are fabrications.

With more than a nod to Christie, Weinberg’s very modern story grips the reader in the same insidious way that the Alec and Lorna grip Jess Walker. A terrific read.

Jennifer Ryan: The Chilbury Ladies Choir Wednesday, May 27 2020 

In this time of a forced stay-home with more reading time, Auntie M is catching up on several books she missed when they first came out that friends recommended.

The Chilbury Ladies Choir is Jennifer Ryan’s debut, set in the first days of World War II. The vicar has put up a notice that as the men of the town are mostly gone to war, the village choir is to close.

But he hasn’t reckoned on the strong women of the town, led by the colorful Prim, who knows music inside and out, and is giving Kitty singing lessons. The women continue the choir without male voices, a newfangled idea that soon catches on and leads to adventures even as they become the voice of solace for the village.

Ryan introduces us to the wonderful ladies of the village and tells their stories with devices such as “Excerpt from Mrs. Tilling’s Journal” and “Letter from Miss Edwina Paltry to her sister, Clara.” There’s the young Kitty Winthrop’s diary, too, and letters from Kitty’s sister, Venetia, to her friend from the village now living in London.

Introducing the characters in this way allows the different women to speak of their fellow villagers from their own points of view, and that vary from insightful to naive.

A clever map on the interior allows readers to plot the course of the action in a time when walking was how most people got around.

After Dunkirk there will be losses from the village, and more closer to home. There are intrigues, affairs, crushes, and even the hush of homosexuality. And could there be spies in their little town?

It all adds up to a book that’s full of hope, absorbing to read, and a perfect way to wile away a few hours with a good cuppa and a few biscuits for company.

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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: books, movies, art & music - the bits & pieces of a (retiring) writer's 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