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.

Luanne Rice: Last Day Monday, Feb 17 2020 

Luanne Rice’s newest thriller is a family drama that encompasses the art world in New England in Last Day.

It’s been twenty-three years since sisters Kate and Beth were tied up with their mother in the basement of the family’s art gallery while thieves stole a valuable painting.

Their mother died during the incident, and when it came to light that their father was involved in the theft, the girls handled their trauma very differently. Beth fell in love and married and had a daughter and is pregnant again; Kate closed her heart and took her wounded self to the skies, becoming a pilot without entanglements.

But everything changes when Kate discovers Beth has been strangled, killing her unborn son. Grief-stricken, Kate is determined to find who’s responsible.

One of the first responder’s the initial incident has risen to become a detective, always watching and tracking the two young women he rescued. Conor Reid is on Beth’s murder case, and his suspicion focuses on Beth’s husband, Peter, and arrogant womanizer.

But is he missing the real murderer? Kate and Conor will each try to solve Beth’s murder in different ways, ferreting out the secrets Beth’s circle carry.

The perfect New England homes where Beth, Kate and their close friends live all hide betrayal at its deepest level.

Matt Brolly: The Crossing Saturday, Feb 15 2020 

Matt Brolly used his law degree and an MFA in Creative Writing to bring readers the DCI Lambert series and several stand-alones. He debuts a new thriller series featuring DI Louise Blackwell in The Crossing.

Working in a new CID department in Weston-super-Mare, getting used to her bungalow in Worle, Louise is still haunted by her last case two years ago in Bristol, as part of the MIT team that saw her and DI Finch on a case that would change her career trajectory.

With Finch promoted to DCI and still sneering over his shoulder at her, Louise has been sent to the seaside town and its environs and finally lands her first murder case as Senior Investigating Officer. A woman’s body has been found on the beach near the pier. Her injuries are horrific, yet it’s apparent from the lack of blood that her body was moved.

Miles away in Cornwall, a cleaning woman in St. Ives arrives at the home of an older gentleman who’s become her friend, only to find him out. As she makes her rounds of the clean rooms, it appears that Mr. Lanegan hasn’t been home for several days at least. With great misgivings, she will report him as a missing person.

While Louise sets up an incident room and gathers her team, the murderer is planning his next kill. With insight into his mind and actions, as the killings continue, it’s the connecting thread that must be unraveled.

Louise Finch has a lot on her plate: dealing with a widowed brother with an alcohol issue and his young daughter; receiving anonymous texts that taunt her on her case; having the Bristol team try to take over her case. And then the killings continue.

The plot is fascinating and creative, constructed so well in that even through the reader is aware of the identity of the killer, Louise and her team’s investigation and the hunt for him as they bring the clues together increase the tension as a man’s life hangs in the balance.

A strong start to a compelling new series. This is one to watch for its sequel.

Alan S Orloff: I Know Where You Sleep Monday, Feb 10 2020 

Alan Orloff’s newest PI thriller features investigator Anderson West and his sister Carrie, who helps, mostly, in I Know Where You Sleep.

Wen Jessica Smith turns up, complaining of a stalker who leaves her increasing calls and is now leaving notes on her car, Carrie is the one who reassures the restaurant hostess that they will take her case pro bono.

A widower with two kids, whose mother lives with them to help out, Anderson does his best to juggle his kids, his job and his impulsive sister.

He starts out investigating Jessica’s former flames and co-workers, as well as the church where she spends a fair portion of her off time. As far as Anderson is concerned, everyone is a suspect, including the church’s minister.

Jessica is seriously scared, to the point of carrying a gun with her, especially after she finds a note on her car at the church. But will she have the courage to use it?

And what secrets is Jessica covering up from her past? It’s a past that may come to haunt her as things escalate and she puts herself, Anderson and Carrie in the stalker’s crosshairs.

Anderson will soon find out that Jessica is not the only one hiding secrets. A fast-paced ride that begs for another installment with the PI and his over-the-top sister.

Lisa Gabriele: The Winters Sunday, Feb 9 2020 

NOW IN PAPERBACK! If you missed this when it debuted, here’s your chance to get it in softcover.

Lisa Gabriele retells du Maurier’s classic Rebecca by bringing it across the pond to the Hamptons of Long Island in The Winters.

The story follows the same thread of the naive bride, unnamed, quickly married to the wealthy Max Winter, in this outing a state senator. Left alone as he travels, adjusting to Asherley on Long Island after her Cayman Islands home, there are reminders in her new home filled with references to Max’s first wife, Rebekah.

This time instead of a jealous servant, we have Dani Winters, Max’s teen daughter, who is the disruptive influence. But Dani is successful in causing the new bride to question how well she really knows her new husband.

And that’s when this new book deliciously diverts from the former and takes on a life of its own.

For fans of REBECCA, this contemporary twist satisfies~

Sarah Stovell: The Home Thursday, Feb 6 2020 

Sarah Stovell brings an unflinching look inside children brought into care in The Home.

There are the underpaid staff, the head trying to do her best for the charges in her care while her own family waits for her attention, and then there are the girls themselves.

In this case, the remote Cumbrian home in question houses three young girls: Lara, who doesn’t speak; and Annie and Hope, who form an attachment that will affect their lives, and one of their deaths.

The connecting thread is a harrowing examination of the violent pasts of all three girls and the circumstances that brought them to the home.

There are secrets between the girls in different permutations, but one secret that must be held is the name of the murderer.

As the investigation examines each member of the home, budget cuts, staff attitudes, and the prior lives of each girl will be torn apart, looking for justification or a reason why one of these young women had to die.

A harrowing and compulsive read readers won’t be able to look away from.

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.

Nicci French: Losing You Wednesday, Jan 29 2020 

William Morrow is reissuing some of Nicci French’s backlist, which brought Auntie M Losing You, one she hadn’t read and is glad she did.

The dynamic duo bring readers the story of Nina Landry on her fortieth birthday, getting ready to head out later that day on a special trip from her home on Sandling Island off England’s coast for a holiday in the US with her new boyfriend.

With her son and daughter excited, this past year of divorce and upheaval should soon be behind her. As soon as 15 yr-old Charlie returns from a slumber party, they plan to head off with her younger brother in tow to the airport.

But first Nina needs to get that rattle looked into at a friend’s house, and when she arrives home, not only is Charlie not there yet, but a surprising number of people start to arrive bearing gifts, flowers, and booze.

It seems Charlie has set up a surprise party for her Mum’s birthday before they leave for their trip–but where is Charlie? She needs to finish packing, and besides, Nina is convinced her daughter would never plan a party and then not show up for it.

As her annoyance changes to real concern, Nina has difficulty getting the local police to believe there’s an issue. Teens run away all the time, and they are loathe to feel this is any different.

As the minutes turn into hours with no sign of Charlie, Nina retraces her daughter’s morning activities after the sleepover, including her last paper route before their trip. It’s only when Charlie’s bike is found that Nina is able to convince the police that something is terribly wrong.

Readers will ache for Nina, racing around the tiny island searching for her daughter. Charlie’s father becomes involved; the new boyfriend gets caught in a traffic nightmare on his way home from the airport.

Things keep going wrong as Nina finds more and more revelations about what’s happened to Charlie and her activities of the past few weeks and months. But one thing stands out: Nina’s determination to find and save the daughter she’s convinced is at risk.

With the action taking place over the course of one terrible day that leads to a stunning climax, this is one readers will gobble up as fast as Auntie M did.

Stephen Leather: The Runner Sunday, Jan 26 2020 

Stephen Leather steps away from his previous two series to bring a young MI5 agent to the forefront in The Runner.

Sally Page is a London junior agent who maintains a fake legend. She travels on the Tube, shops, acts as a normal Londoner under an assumed identity called a legend.

When Sally returns from a coffee run to a Wimbledon safe house, she finds her colleagues dead, and the computers completely destroyed but the hard drives holding all of the information they’ve collected is gone.

Worse of all, the killers are still in the house and can identify her.

Sally is on the run, and must leave her phone to avoid them being able to track her. But it soon becomes apparent they are still able to find her, leading Sally to suspect a colleague is feeding the killers information on her whereabouts.

She will have encounters with Mexican drug cartels, other agents, and need to call on all of the subterfuges she’s designed for other agents to keep herself safe.

It’s literally a run for her life as she figures out if there’s anyone left she can trust.

An action-packed thriller from a master of the genre who has already had two of his previous thrillers made into feature films.

Doug Johnstone: A Dark Matter Thursday, Jan 23 2020 

Meet the Skelf’s, an Edinburgh family of three strong women who will engage readers in Doug Johnstone’s winning A Dark Matter.

Matriarch Dorothy is struggling with her grief after her husband Jim dies suddenly. Running a funeral home and a private investigation business is a strange dichotomy.

Jim’s unusual assistant helps with the mortuary side of things, while divorced daughter Jenny moves home and steps in to help by taking on several of the PI cases her father started.

Granddaughter Hannah, a university student, has her own grief, dealing with the loss of her grandfather while she grapples with the disappearance of one of her roommates, Mel.

When Dorothy discovers that Jim was making monthly payments to an unknown woman, and needs to find out the secrets he kept. Was he not the upright husband and man she’d known and loved?

Meanwhile, Jenny’s adultery case takes on the several twists as she investigates and doesn’t find what she expects. And Hannah leans on her father when it comes to light at the friend she thought she knew had her own cadre of secrets.

There will be a murder, twists that stand everything on their head, and a wry humor that brings out Johnstone’s deft touch.
Auntie M loved this book and hopes it will be the start of a series featuring the Skelfs. Don’t miss this entertaining, completely absorbing read–highly recommended.

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