Elsa Hart: City of Ink Thursday, Oct 18 2018 

Elas Hart’s new Li Du novel, City of Ink, finds the 18th Century librarian’s return to Beijing to uncover the murderer of his mentor. With sidekick storyteller Hamza by his side, Li Du investigates when two bodies are found in a tile factory.

The period details add to the richness of the story as the idea of crime of passion doesn’t sit well with Li Du. For the second victim is the factory owner’s wife, and their supposed secret meeting led to their murders by her jealous husband.

Now a lowly secretary to the Chief Inspector, Li Du finds the husband refusing to confess to the murders. While admitting he was drunk that night, he has no memory of killing either victim.

It’s a twisted path he follows that will lead him to corruption of the highest order, with the future of thousands of Chinese in the balance.

Even his own past will come under scrutiny, which brings Li Du under the microscope and endangers his own well-being.

Hart’s research shows, in the way she brings this era to life, in the texture and colors and sights and sounds of a bygone time that seem just around the corner under her talented pen. Her characters are as well-woven as a Chinese silk tapestry.

There are enough twists and turns for any experienced mystery writer, but there is so much more here than that puzzle that keeps readers flipping pages. An accomplished addition to a satisfying historic series.

And if you enjoy historicals, Steve Berry’s The Lost Order is new in paperback. Gold from a secret Civil War society plays a role when it comes to light the secrets of the Knights of the Golden Circle, still operating, might be revealed. Cotton and his team find themselves racing around the US to piece together the plot that would cause disaster to the country.

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Jim Eldridge: Murder at the Fitzwilliam Monday, Oct 8 2018 


London-born author Jim Eldridge had a host of jobs before teaching led him to writing scripts for radio and television. He’s written SciFi, Children’s and YA fiction, including books for early readers and reluctant readers.

But Auntie M’s readers will be happy to hear Jim has turned his pen to crime fiction, with a new series that debuts with Murder at the Fitzwilliam. Set in 1894, it introduces private enquiry agent Daniel Wilson, retired from his Detective Inspector duties after investigating the Jack the Ripper case. Assisting him in this case at the Cambridge museum is archeologist Abigail Fenton.

Auntie M had the opportunity recently to ask Jim about his new series.

Auntie M: You started as a teacher before turning to writing full time. Was that always your intention?

Jim Eldridge: As well as teaching (which I loved doing), I had a variety of jobs before being able to afford to become a full-timer writer in 1978. I’d worked in offices, at a petrol station, done labouring jobs in an abattoir and even been a stoker on a blast furnace, but my ambition was always to be a full-time writer.

AM: Auntie M noticed your interest in history throughout your many series, from the early and reluctant readers books to your YA series. Is this a chance to teach readers or your natural interest?

JE: I have a deep love of history. I am a great believer in we are where we are now because of the historical events that have gone before, and that as a species we seem to keep repeating the same errors. So, yes, I do tend to stress the similarities between what’s happened in the past and what’s happening now – so readers say “we never learn.”

AM: The new Museum series starts out powerfully with Murder at the Fitzwilliam. How did you decide to choose 1894 for this series?

JE: The publishing director at Allison & Busby and I discussed various potential eras (modern, early 20th century), but we both felt that the late Victorian era heralded so many changes, both in society and technologically, that it would be a great backdrop for the series.

AM: Why the Fitzwilliam and Cambridge?

JE: Once we’d agreed for the series to use Museums for the settings of the series, we began by selecting the most famous of the oldest museums in Britain, and they were The British Museum, the Ashmolean in Oxford, and the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge. We felt that Cambridge had received less attention than Oxford out of the two oldest British University cities, so we decided to set the first adventure there.

AM: Nice to see a strong female character in archaeologist Abigail Fenton. Will she appear in the other books?

JE: Yes, she and Daniel become an investigating duo, as well as her continuing her own career as an archaeologist.

AM: Where does the series head next?

JE: Book 2 is MURDER AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM, which comes out early in 2019. Book 3, MURDER AT THE ASHMOLEAN, comes out in Autumn 2019.

AM: With three planned as of this writing, might that be extended?

JE: I hope so, if the series finds its readership, so my fingers are firmly crossed for that to happen.

AM: Mine,too, as I loved this first book. How does the radio and TV work inform your adult fiction? Do you see the books in scenes unfolding as you write?

JE: From 1971 until 2010 I was primarily a scriptwriter for TV and radio (with 250 TV scripts and 250 radio scripts broadcast). Scriptwriting is very different to novel-writing. In a script there is no place for the “interior monologue” from the characters – in a screenplay the emotions the character is feeling have to be shown by their expression and their movements. In a novel you have room to expand on what a character is feeling. However, I feel my long scriptwriting career has helped me when writing novels in developing plots (and sub-plots) and the vital importance of creating characters that readers want to know about. And you’re right, I also view a scene visually so I can write it.

AM: Who would we find on your nighttable, waiting to be read?

JE: At this moment, THE RAILWAY DETECTIVE by Edward Marston, but the one I’m really looking forward to arriving in my mailbox is DEATH UNSCRIPTED: A TRUDY GENOVA MANHATTAN MYSTERY by Marni Graff. As a former scriptwriter, this sounds my ideal mystery!

AM: You’re very kind, and I hope you will enjoy it, Jim. Thanks for giving readers insight into this new series. And now for a review of Murder at the Fitzwilliam.

Archeologist Abigail Fenton has enough hard work cataloguing recent Egyptian artificts sent to the famed Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, while she makes her way in a largely male profession, when she stumbles across a modern body inside an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus.

Daniel Wilson has been called in by the Museum’s director to protect the museum’s reputation by quickly bringing the case to a discreet close. The former London detective brings his intuition and his experience with him, and soon finds himself going head-to-head with the local Cambridge detective, who has decided the murder was an accident.

With Abigail and Daniel agreeing this could hardly be the case, Daniel calls on the archeologist to assist him in his investigation into the identity of the dead man and how his body came to be found in the Egyptian Collection room.

Then the local papers circulate a story about a murderous mummy, destined to shake up the populace, and a second body is soon found, raising the stakes and making Daniel’s investigation harder.

There will be several paths of enquiry for them to follow; red herrings abound with distractions for both sleuths as they find their way to the the answers they seek.

Abigail and Daniel are an engaging pair of sleuths, bound by the mores of the time, which include the women’s suffragete movement. They take each other’s measure and like what they see while moving the case forward.

With accurate period details, Eldridge perfectly recreates the Cambridge of the Victorian era. A highly successful start to a captivating new series.
Available in the US November 19th~

Rhys Bowen: Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding Wednesday, Aug 8 2018 


Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness mysteries are a continued delight, and fans will be especially happy to follow Lady Georgina on her way to her long-planned wedding in Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding.

The 12th addition contains all the charm of a royal wedding–yes, the King and Queen and those two little princesses will be there. But it seems Georgie’s amateur sleuth days are far from over.

Wedding details need to be honed down and the list keep growing, thanks to the Queen. The year is 1935, and King George V is at the end of his reign while Mrs. Wallis Simpson is annoyingly dating the Prince of Wales.

Assorted relatives are having their own nuptials, and the groom, charming fiance` Darcy O’Mara, is cagey on his profession, as usual. But Georgie’s househunting is what’s disappointing her.

From the lackluster houses available in the 1930s, Georgie is surpised by an invitation to live at Eynsleigh Manor, which she will one day inherit. But when she arrives to get the estate in order, she finds the run-down house matched by the shoddy attitudes of the staff.

Chaos ensures, along with murder, robbery, servants not doing their job–and Georgie’s mother and grandfather deciding to move in. Which is worse for the secondary royal who’s down at the heels? And those funerals will affect Georgie and those closest to her.

But despite the trials and tribulations, Georgie manages to pull off the wedding of the year. You’ll be charmed by the history and the descriptions of the manor, as well as the confidence Georgie finds.

A grand addition to the long-running series, sure to be a reader favorite.

Two Historicals: Marco Vichi and Tessa Arlen Friday, Jun 15 2018 

Auntie M has two from very different eras to recommend:


The lastest Bordelli mystery from Marco Vichi, Ghosts of the Past, take readers back to Florence of 1967, a year after the flood that devastated the area and claimed Bordelli’s conscience.

The Inspector’s new case revolves around the murder of Antonio Migliorini. The wealthy businessman was loved by all who knew him–so who could have wanted him dead?

That’s the question Brodelli must answer, and it will take him to unusual places. The victim was killed with the thrust of a fencing foil to his heart. Some jewelry was stolen,, perhsaps to muddy the waters, but no other forensic evidence is on hand to help the detective.

Revisiting the victim’s past days find Bordelli crossing paths with a war friend, Colonel Arceri, whom he invites into his home. That sets off a chain of events that will lead to Bordelli finding the murderer in a most unexpected way.

The series is filled with Bordelli’s dreams, his memories and recollections, and his yearning for the beautiful Eleanora. There is humor, too, and Florence and its environs come alive under Vichi’s talented pen, set within a complex mystery.

Tessa Arlen’s Lady Montfort series takes readers to WW1 England in Death of an Unsung Hero.

Lady Montfort has convinced her husband to offer their dower house for soldiers suffering from what is now called PTSD, with her no-nonsense, practical housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, serving as the hospital’s quartermaster.

Such a good deed comes under scrutiny when Sir Evelyn Bray is found dead in the garden from blunt force trauma to his head. Add in the local farming community’s disapproval of this easy way out for men they consider cowards, and the two women become afraid the War Office will close their hospital in an upcoming visit.

It doesn’t make sense to either woman that someone would want to murder a soldier suffering from amnesia, unless it’s to kill him before that memory fully returns. With his brother due to visit, his death is tough news to break.

When a local man is arrested, to the women’s chagrin, it adds impetus to their resolve to find the real killer. Readers also gain more knowledge of Lady Montfort’s family. With the war on, Edwardian values became more relaxed, especially for women, and this is illustrated well.

The historical details are well-researched, and eccentric characters add to the texture of the mystery. A high note is the relationship between the two women of different social stratas, and how well they work in concert, bringing their individual strengths to a murder investigation.

Laura Andersen: The Darkling Bride Thursday, May 31 2018 


Carragh Ryan could never imagine what awaits her when she agrees to inventory the historic library of the Gallagher family at Deeprath Castle in the Irish countryside.

With her own complicated background but a dgree in English lit and postgrad work in Irish Studies at Trinity, Carragh has been doing freelance editorial work in Dublin.

She’s interested in this temporary job to get closer to the Norman castle where Evan Chase, the Victorian novelist she has studied, lived for three years, before leaving a widower who never wrote again. Could there be a his missing manscript hidden there?

Then she meets the current Viscount of the Gallaghers, Aidan, and her job becomes even more unusual when she becomes caught up in the renewed investigation of the deaths of his parents two decades before.

Deciding to put the castle into a public trust, he agrees Carragh can work on the archive so he can keep family papers private.

That these deaths of the Gallagher parents are similar to those of Chase’s wife and infant adds to the myths Carragh learns about The Darkling Bridde, a legend that the deaths have kept fueled.

At once a gothic mystery, fans of Victoria Holt or Mary Stewart will recognize the conventions–and be sucked in by them. There’s something for everyone here, between the romance, the legend, and the mystery to be solved. There are multiple time lines to follow the stories and it all adds up to a ghostly atmospheric read, filled with suspense.

Christina Lynch: The Italian Party Tuesday, Mar 20 2018 

Accomplished writer and editor, in fiction and journalism, Christina Lynch’s debut novel under her own name is the delightful The Italian Party.

Filled with wry humor that runs alongside the romance of Italy, she tlle the story of newlyweds Scottie and Michael Messina, who arrive in Siena in the spring of 1956.

Scottie has been told Michael is to open a new Ford office selling tractors, but the reality of his job is just one of the secrets he’s keeping.

Scottie has her own secrets, too, and as their married life commences, they come to know each other as their lives become involved in local politics and the complex dance they both do to keep their secrets.

The Cold War comes alive just as Scottie does. The naivete of both of the young marrieds reflects their upbringing and the mores of the time. It’s a powerful read as we to watch them slowly begin to trust each other.

Twist together a spy story, a missing boy, and a romance of unexpected sorts, and you have a pastiche that rings true. The delicious food, the rugged landscape, and the historic buildings and squares are all lovingly described. Horses figure here, as do Communists, ex-pats, sex, and Italian culture.

A delicious romp that will have you expecting Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday to turn up as you turn the pages, with a startling ending that feels satisfying.

Frances Brody: Death in the Stars Friday, Mar 16 2018 


Frances Brody newest Kate Shackleton mystery bring Yorkshire in 1927 to life in Death in the Stars.

The great eclipse is on its way, and Kate has been contacted by the msyterious but beloved singing star Selina Fellini to arrange her transport and accompany her to a viewing party at Gigglewsick School.

Kate is certain there’s more to Selina’s fretfullness over not having flown before, but arranges the flight for herself, Selina and the singer’s good friend and co-star, comedian Billy Moffatt.

When Billy goes missing right after the eclipse, he’s ultimately found by the chapelon the grounds of the school. An alert senior student who plans to go into medicine helps Kate figure out that Billy’s cigar was tainted.

While Kate sits by the comatose Billy so Selina can keep her theatre committment that evening, she ponders the underlying nature of Selina’s anxiety: two other performers in their theatre troupe were killed in different but also mysterious ways.

Soon Kate has Bill Sykes and Mrs. Sugden on board as they investigate all three murders and find far too many suspects, which include Selina’s husband, a talented songwriter with a disfiguring war wound who’s mentally distraught. It’s a race to find the culprit to keep the next person close to Selina from being killed.

One of the things that remains consistently charming in the series is the depth of research Brody maintains. The feel of postwar England with authentic period details adds to this look inside the world of British music halls of the era.

This ninth in the series, with its well-plotted mystery and colorful characters, is a pure delight. Readers will wonder why this engaging series hasn’t been picked up yet by Masterpiece Mystery.

New in Paperback: Jonasson, Sigurdardottir, Berry Wednesday, Jan 31 2018 

Three great books are now out in paperback if you missed their original release dates.


Jagnar Jonasson’s Snowblind is the first Ari Thor Arason thriller. Ari abandoned his theology studies to become a police officer at the height of Iceland’s severe financial crisis in 2008. Sent to a remote fishing center in the north, a local prominent writer dies, sending Ari his first big case. Another death soon follows, and what Ari thought would be a quiet start to his career soon becomes anything but. Nice twists keep readers glued to the page.

A chilling standalone thriller from the talented Yrsa Sigurdardottir, The Undesired has a supernatural bent that will keep you awake long after you’ve put the book down. In the 1970s, a young woman takes a job she hates, working at a juvenile detention center in a rural area of Iceland. Two boys go missing under unusual circumstances. Many years later, Odinn is the person tasked with looking into alleged abuse at the same center. He comes to believe those events of years ago might be connected to the accident that killed his ex-wife and left him a single parent. Complex and chilling.


Steve Berry’s The Lost Order continues his Cotton Malone series with its hallmark research that weaves a fantastical story into real events in history. In this outing, Malone’s own great-great-grandfather, a Confederate spy, is part of a secret society that Malone discovers still operates in the present day. Their secrets and hidden wealth are tied to a plot that could change our government forever. Power and greed are at the forefront in this winning addition to the series that has Malone and his allies racing around the country to save it.

Kate Parker: Deadly Fashion Thursday, Jan 11 2018 


Please welcome Kate Parker, with her newest historical mystery, Deadly Fashion:

A Moment in Time – Deadly Fashion

Deadly Fashion, my newest mystery in the Deadly Series, takes place during a significant time in the lead up to World War II. September and October 1938 encompasses British Prime Minister Chamberlain’s declaration of “Peace in our time.”

This was a case of political wishful thinking seldom topped, since World War II broke out less than a year later.

How does this fit in with the murder mystery or the fashion in Deadly Fashion?

The French fashion designer Mimi Mareau was drawn loosely from the life of Coco Chanel. In the early 1930’s, she was the lover of a British duke who was pro-Nazi. She was a conservative and she designed costumes for Hollywood movies. I kept the duke, but I added the opening of a London fashion house and costuming for a West End play.

On September 22, 1938, four London fashion houses, including Norman Hartnell, presented their fall and winter designs. This must have felt like a relief to see something normal after days of Hitler demanding the German speaking areas of Czechoslovakia be turned over to Germany or face the threat of war. Their shows received little press coverage since shortly thereafter, Hitler gave his ultimatum. Part of Czechoslovakia would be his by October first, or there would be war.

Olivia Denis, my sleuth and society page reporter, writes up a story on the fashion shows, including Mimi Mareau’s, only to see it cut to the bone and replaced by political news. She also knows any hope of finding the murderer of the dead man discovered in Mimi Mareau’s basement shrinks as the country goes on wartime footing. All London seems to hold its breath for the next week, waiting for the madman in Berlin to act.

And then on September 30, 1938, Chamberlain returned from Munich and his meeting with Hitler, waving the document Hitler signed and declaring “Peace in our time.” Everyone around Olivia is relieved. It had only been twenty years since the end of the Great War where millions of Britain’s young men had been mowed down in France. The country wasn’t ready for another war, and the populace didn’t want to lose another generation of men.

Olivia is relieved for another reason, too. Now she can spend time in the fashion salon surrounded by beautiful clothes while she has freedom to hunt for a killer unimpeded by wartime restrictions.

Deadly Fashion, third in the Deadly Series, is available starting today in ebook and paperback at online retailers. Kate Parker is also the author of the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries.

Carol Western: Karma and the Singing Frogs AND Stranger and Angels Sunday, Dec 10 2017 


Publishing two new books in two months has been challenging to say the least. I had planned to bring out one book in August and the other in October, in an orderly and sensible fashion. Then my book designer and colleague suffered a bereavement and everything got pushed out of schedule. It may have been wiser to postpone publishing the second book, my first Victorian Murder Mystery, until next year but it is set in December and that would have meant putting it back eight months. Mentally and emotionally I was committed to publishing both of them this year, so I did. Sensible has never really been my major quality but determination – some call it stubborn – always has been.

Karma and the Singing Frogs is a contemporary crime novel featuring archaeologist turned CSI Mia Trent. Strangers and Angels is set in 1850 in the naval town of Gosport and features two determined young women, lady’s maid, Molly Bowman and her mistress, Lady Adelaide.

The two books have a lot in common. Both are set on the south coast of England in mid-December and both have female investigators as the viewpoint character. The major difference is the 157 years that separate them.

Mia is an independent career woman who lives alone. She has friends but also that touch of aloofness that is essential for people who have to separate their professional emotions from their personal life in order to deal with the death and suffering they witness every day.

Molly and Adelaide have no political or economic power and they and those around them would find it unthinkable that they should witness the sort of violence that Mia deals with every day.

I think the hardest task when writing Strangers and Angels was to get into the mind-set of strong, intelligent women who accepted that this limited subservience was their role in life. Adelaide, as the disgraced widow of a brutal man who lost everything through gambling and then committed suicide, is in a far worse position than Molly, the only child of a cooper (barrel-maker). Molly’s father wishes her to marry to ensure her safety if he dies but has promised not to force her into marriage. Adelaide accepts that her aristocratic father will arrange another marriage for her, whether she wishes it or not.

My contemporary crime novels are set in fictional settings, mainly because my son is a CSI and I didn’t wish to embarrass him, partly because cut-backs in UK policing mean that police stations and investigative facilities are disappearing quicker than I can write the books.

The Victorian novel is set in a real place and specific time, which involved a lot of research. The two training ships from the Ottoman Empire were really based in Gosport from late 1850 to early 1851 although there are few documents about this event and I have no evidence whether the majority of residents were hostile to the Turkish sailors or not. Some years after the action in this book, a Turkish graveyard was incorporated into the Clayhall graveyard, the only one in England. The memorial inscription reads, in Turkish and English: “They set sail for eternity met their creator and here they are laid to rest.”

In Karma and the Singing Frogs the victim is a young man who moved from Social Service Care to prostitution and the initial suspects are those who have also been in Care. In Strangers and Angels the immediate and convenient suspect is a young Turkish sailor, a stranger without friends in a foreign land.

For me, the main thing the two books have in common is the ageless theme of justice and how it is too often only for the powerful and privileged.

Carol Westron lives near the south coast of England and it is here that her fiction is set. She writes both contemporary and historical crime fiction, as well as non-fiction articles on the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. She also reviews books and interviews authors for Mystery People. A passionate believer in empowerment through creativity, she teaches creative writing to community classes and writes children’s picture books about a child who is different and ‘sees the secrets behind the darkness,’ which are illustrated by her severely autistic grandson.

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