Tony Parsons: #taken Sunday, Mar 29 2020 

Tony Parson’s sixth DC Max Wolfe police procedural #taken starts out with a bang.

A beautiful woman has been kidnapped from a car in Hampstead, her young son left behind in his car seat in the back.

Max’s inquiry into Jessica Lyle’s disappearance isn’t helped by her father, retired Met detective. Could one of his enemies have been the culprit?

Then it comes to light that Jessica was driving her friend’s car, and the roommate comes under his microscope. Snezia Jones leant Jessica her car. So who was the real intended victim?

When it comes to light at Jessica was the girlfriend of drug kingpin Harry Flowers, things rapidly escalate. And when Harry shows up at the home Max shares with his young daughter, Scout, and their dog, Stan, he gets quickly up Max’s nose.

But Harry’s determined to help find Jessica, and soon Max has an unwanted partner. If only he can find a way to use Harry to help instead of hinder him, they just might get Jessica back before she’s killed.

One of the best parts for Auntie M is the way Parsons weaves a darn good thrilling case around the lives of Max, Scout and Stan. It rings of realism and the ugliness and beauty of life raising a loved child of divorce. This is another grand installment in a fantastic series that doesn’t get enough attention. Highly recommended.

Jane Healey: The Animals at Lockwood Manor Wednesday, Mar 25 2020 

Jane Healey’s debut, The Animals at Lockwood Manor, illustrates how a grand atmospheric story with exhaustive research, backed by a great story, can bring a resounding mystery to life.

It’s 1939 and with London on the brink of World War II, a young museum director is tasked with moving the majority of the animals from the Natural History Museum out of harm’s way to Lockwood Manor.

The enormous country mansion owned by Major Lockwood is as overbearing as its owner. It’s a difficult adjustment for Hetty Cartwright, a young woman working in a man’s world with no friends nearby and the only ally the Major’s nervy daughter, Lucy, still reeling from the deaths a few months previously of her mother and grandmother in a car accident.

It doesn’t help that the villagers whisper about Lucy’s dead mother, mad by all accounts, haunted since her marriage by a woman in white. Lucy’s own nightmares center on a room she can’t find anywhere in the monstrosity she lives in of over ninety rooms, now stuffed with mammals and birds in some rooms in reality, but she soon makes her peace with the stuffed varieties.

With a friendship blooming between the two young women, countered by the Major’s abrasive manner and a haughty housekeeper, the huge house labors with a dearth of animals and a disappearing staff. Things don’t just go bump in the night, but move around or disappear. Lucy’s nightmares increase, her fragile emotions escalating, and soon Hetty’s own nightmares match Lucy’s in strength and foreboding.

Soon it’s apparent that not all of the ogres are stuffed. Just who is going mad?

After air raids start, things culminate when a party the Major holds runs amok with tragic consequences.

The gothic feel of the novel resounds with a haunting feel that matches the emotions of the two young women, who soon become entwined. With mirrors, sightings, and ghosts making their appearance, it is grounded with the research Healey has completed and absorbed at several natural history museums.

For fans of Rebecca, even Jane Eyre, and anything with a period or gothic feel, coupled with a darn good mystery. An impressive debut.

Charles Finch: The Last Passenger Sunday, Mar 22 2020 

Charles Finch brings Charles Lenox in a third novel in a prequel trilogy to the series in The Last Passenger. Set in Victorian London in 1855 during the days leading up to the Civil War in America, this clueless murder case may be young detective’s most disturbing case.

It’s a way to discern the man Lenox will become and those who form part of his mature life when he’s called in to the case of murder. A has been found on a train to London without any way to identify it. What is first thought of as a case of theft may instead have ties to the anti-slavery movement hitting America.

Throughout the investigation is Finch’s deep respect for language and for historical accuracy. Readers will learn about the mores and customs of the era, the social prejudices, and the ways of the era.

The character’s are realistic and fit the time period, from the main to the smallest side parts. And the book fills a hole in Lenox’s own history, while at the same time pointing out the class differences all around, even extending to women and their roles. Of course, there are all the women thrust at the highly marriageable Lenox.

But that is additionally to the investigation he undertakes, and the obstacles he finds. An accomplished and realistic look at the differences between UK and US times, there is enough humor to keep the book afloat as Lenox figures it all out.

Stephanie Wrobel: Darling Rose Gold Sunday, Mar 22 2020 

Stephanie WRobel’s debut, Darling Rose Gold, brings a complicated mother-daughter relationship to the forefront.

Convicted of Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy, Patty Watts is finally getting out of prison. Her daughter, Rose Gold, has been her victim for eighteen years without doctor’s being able to figure out what ailed her. Then it seemed it was her mother who ailed her, on purpose.

Rose Gold also testified against her mother at Patty’s trial. So it leads to many heads scratching when upon Patty’s release, Rose Gold allows her mother to come and live with her.

With Patty in her thrall, all Rose Gold wants is for Patty to finally admit that she poisoned her own daughter. But revenge is a powerful emotion, and one that drives Rose Gold on.

With the story told from both points of view, readers will have a good feel for just how devastating MSBP can be. It’s no wonder that dear little Rose Gold has finally found some strength. It’s what she does with it that will shock and surprise readers.

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.

Peter Swanson: Eight Perfect Murders Wednesday, Mar 18 2020 

Award-winner Peter Swanson brings readers the captivating Eight Perfect Murders, with a protagonist readers will follow in a heartbeat.

It’s an imaginative premise worthy of Anthony Horowitz which opens the story. An old blog entry for his mystery bookshop, penned by owner Malcolm Kershaw, listed eight books that represented murders that were considered unsolvable at first.

Showing his familiarity with Christie, Highsmith, Levin and even A. A. Milne’s Red House Mystery (yes, of the Pooh world), the crime stories Malcolm lists have one thing in common: the murderer gets away with it.

When an FBI agent shows up and asks for his help with a series of killings that highly resemble those of the methods used in the books, Mal can’t help but become involved. But Mal is hiding his own secrets, that are parsed out to the reader in such a way that as the twists grow, so does Mal’s certainty he must know the killer.

Swanson does a tremendous job of piling on the turns and guessing as more and more information is revealed to the reader and the tension and suspense rise. Showing his expertise in the plots of these eight novels, and with asides to many others, it’s a crime readers delight.

Imaginative, twisted, and with a hint of pathos that intensifies everything, this is one not to miss. Highly recommended.

Maryla Szymiczkowa: Mrs. Mohr Goes Missing Tuesday, Mar 17 2020 

Two writing partners form the pseudonym author for the engaging Mrs. Mohr Goes Missing. Auntie M loves when a book also teaches her new information, and this one will take readers to a fresh look at turn-of-the century Poland.

It’s 1893 in Cracow and Zofia Turbotynska fills her days as an anatomy professor’s wife with the usual parts of being a socialite who is not expected to do more than govern the maids, take in the local gossip, read the crime novels she enjoys, and participate in Good Works.

But Zofia yearns for more, composing poetry, and striving to be noticed. She decides a charity auction sponsored by a countess living at a local nursing home would be a good idea. After all, she is friendly with one of the nuns who run the place.

But when one of the residents, Mrs. Mohr, disappears and is later found dead, Zofia has found her new vocation. She soon enlists Sister Alojza as her sidekick and entree to the home to various residents she visits to elicit information in her investigation.

After bringing her ideas to the local police, who scoff at her inquisitiveness, Zofia has no choice but to take matters into her own hands, especially when another resident is murdered.

Fully researched and true to the time period, the mores and social niceties, as well as the politics of the era are illustrated. There is a sly wit about the writing as Zofia’s decisions are made and justified. And all the time her dear husband continues in his routine as usual, unaware the he lives with a surprising amateur sleuth.

A delightful and surprising read, and first in a new series.

Carol Goodman: The Sea of Lost Girls Sunday, Mar 15 2020 

Carol Goodman returns with a suspenseful mystery with a dark gothic feel in The Sea of Lost Girls.

Along the craggy Maine coast, the prestigious Haywood School has been standing for decades. Protagonist Tess and her husband both teach there; Tess’s son Rudy attends. The school has held secrets for years and some of them are about to be revealed.

Troubled teen Rudy has always been someone Tess has protected, and that instinct kicks in when Rudy calls her early one morning to pick him up at school after a class play party. Only later that morning does she find out that the girl Rudy has been seeing has been found dead on the beach at the bottom of a high precipice–and Rudy was one of the last to see Lila Zeller alive.

Tess will find her small family the object of derision as the community makes up its own mind about what might have been a tragic accident. Until it isn’t an accident at all.

Tess needs to make certain Rudy couldn’t be involved and will go to extraordinary lengths, including uncovering secrets she’s held for decades, to protect her only child.

The woody Maine coast creates a nicely brooding atmosphere for Goodman’s thriller and adds to the darkness in this finely drawn psychological suspense novel where nature often takes its own revenge.

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.

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.

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Lee Lofland

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A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

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Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews

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