Julia Spencer-Fleming: Hid From Our Eyes Tuesday, Apr 7 2020 

Julia Spencer-Fleming brings readers the ninth installment in her popular series featuring NY police chief Russ Van Alstyne and his wife, Episcopalian priest Clare Fergusson in Hid From Our Eyes.

With two busy careers, the newlyweds are managing their infant son’s needs. Russ is fielding the possible defunding of his department and an impending vote, while Clare looks for help at her church to ease her workload and fights for her sobriety when a young woman’s body is found on a lonely road outside of town.

The body is found in a situation that bears an uncanny resemblance to a similar case from 1952, when the police chief at the time was Harry McNeil.

When he retired and the new chief was Jack Liddle, another woman was found in similar circumstances. In that case, the suspect was a local boy, a Vietnam vet who’d just returned and found the body while passing on his motorcycle: Russ Van Alstyne.

The book shows threads of all three time periods as the case heats up and shows that the first two cases were never solved. Of course, the last thing Russ needs is the decades-old suspicions coming up when he’s fighting to save his department.

And it may be the last thing harried Clare needs, too.

They will set out to find the murderer who has managed to evade authorities for decades. As the action switches between
the time periods and the victims, suspects will rear be on the radar, but the stretched time period skews things, making the denouement all the more complex and interesting.

Spencer-Fleming has developed the personalities of Russ and Clare thoroughly in previous books, yet readers new to the series will be able to discern why they are such a popular couple, as she illustrates the frustrations they share underpinned by their love.

She doesn’t ignore secondary characters, either, bringing attention to single mom Hadley Knox, whose past she keeps running from, and her strained relationship with another officer no longer in their department.

It all adds up to a highly anticipated mystery that will make readers of the series realize just how much they’d been missing Russ and Clare. Highly recommended.

Janet Roger: Shamus Dust Thursday, Apr 2 2020 

Shamus Dust is Janet Roger’s entry into 1947-48 London, feeling its way after WWII.

It’s noir of the highest order, with a darn good mystery linking the story of an American PI, Newman, who is called out Christmas morning on an unlikely errand.

A nurse has found the body of a young man in the church’s porch where she’s gone to light candles before her shift starts.

With Newman’s instincts on alert, he finds an unlikely helpmate in the form of the temporary medical examiner over the holidays. Before he can blink, the murders have escalated, and Newman has an uncanny knack for being either the body’s finder or uncomfortably close to them at the time of their demise.

What follows is a cat and mouse game of the highest order. Big financiers trying to capitalize on the war rebuilding efforts vie with historical archeologists. Woman who marry for all the wrong reasons are contrasted with men who like other men and even others who take advantage of that.

And then there are the Councilors, the police Superintendent, and the detectives who may or may not be on the right side of the law. Because which is the right side in these times?

The element that is immediately apparent and elevates this from any other noir PI mystery is Roger’s use of language. Supple and as elegant as a silk gown worn without undies, her descriptions and prose flows and puts the reader squarely in the era.

If you like the era, or PI novels, or noir, or just damn good writing, this one’s for you.

CJ Tudor: The Other People Wednesday, Apr 1 2020 

Perfect for April Fool’s Day!

Auntie M reads about three crime novels a week. So when an author who writes great books keeps getting consistently better, she takes notice. Without repeating herself, CJ Tudor has done just that, bringing out her fourth, The Other People. And as much as the first three were loved and exalted, this one just may be her best.

It’s the stuff of nightmares. Driving home one night, stuck in traffic, the face of a young girl appears in the back window of the car in front of Gabe. It’s his daughter’s face.

He races home only to find police there with unthinkable news: his wife and daughter, Izzy, have been killed by an apparent intruder. How could this happen?
And how could he have seen his daughter in a car in front of him when she’s already dead?

In the intervening three years, Gabe has become a ghost of his former self. Living in a van, he drives up and down the highway, looking for the rusted old car that took his daughter away. For he’s convinced he saw her that night, and that she can’t be dead.

What’s going on here is not a ghost story, not really. But there are spooky and unbelievable things happening, and they center around The Other People, a group who have taken the awfulness that’s happened to them as individuals and dealt with it not by forgetting but by exacting revenge in a way that can’t lead back to them.

It’s a total and complete new world Gabe finds himself in. Forced to confront his own secrets, too, he must figure out what’s really happening, and finds an accomplice in an unlikely place.

Lee Child says: “Some writers have it, and CJ Tudor has it big time.” Creepy and atmospheric, yet a satisfying read, this one completely earns the tag Highly Recommended.

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.

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Lee Lofland

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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