Yrsa Sigurdardottir: The Legacy Thursday, Feb 15 2018 


The Queen of Icelandic Noir debuts a thrilling new series with The Legacy, introducing detective Huldar and psychologist Freyja.

The two share an uncomfortable event before being assigned to a case that’s fraught with misery: A woman is horrifically murdered in her own home, and the only witness is her seven-year-old daughter, who hid under her mother’s bed during the killing.

Using Freyja’s talents with the child, Huldar must test his new promotion to its limits as he tries to make sense of the unusual murder method.

Pushing young Margaret has produced little effect, but once it’s known she was a witness, her life becomes in danger and Freyja ends up taking her into her home for safety when the killings continue.

But is that really a safe environment? And how can Hildar figure out why the seemingly unrelated victims are related to the killer, who seems aware of forensic concerns?

A complicated thread of evidence with short-wave radios and a series of numbers that impact the investigation provide an unusual subplot that adds to the horrid murder methods the killer uses.

It will take all of Huldar’s smarts and savviness to figure out what Margaret has obliquely told him. Named Best Crime Novel of the Year in Iceland, this is one Auntie M dares you to figure out until the end. Highly recommended.

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Ausma Zehanat Khan: A Dangerous Crossing Wednesday, Feb 14 2018 

A Valentine’s Day treat for readers~

Ausma Khan’s newest installment in her Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty series takes the two detectives to Greece and other environs in A Dangerous Crossing.

Turning a bold spotlight on the plight of Syrian refugees and the Greek camps where they await permanent homes, Esa and Rachel are tasked by none other than their own Prime Minister to find a missing person in Greece.

That person turns out to be Audrey Clare, sister of Esa’s friend Nathan, who has been working in Greece to fast-track refugees to Canadian homes. But the unthinkable has happened: An Interpol worker and a young male refugee are shot with Audrey’s gun inside her tent, and Audrey has disappeared.

The Greek police center their thoughts on Audrey being the culprit, but Rachel and Esa, who know the young woman, understand that not only would Audrey not be able to kill someone, but that her own life may be in danger.

Khan manages to bring home to readers the very sad and seriously depraved situation Syrian’s face. The torture, beatings, murders and chemical warfare against his own population that Assad has committed have provoked a humanitarian crises for those who manage to escape that has impacted many nations.

What Khan manages to do is to personalize this affront to humans by narrowing the focus to several people Esa and Rachel become involved with, all the while educating readers to what is happening in Syria. This allows readers to get close to the situation and become invested in it while elucidating the harsh realities of the situation beyond what we glean from news reports.

Khan manages to convey the lost history and civilization of a people, not just their cultural icons, but their humanity, as well as their respect and their faith in each other as families are torn apart. This hallmark depth of research is balanced by the unfolding relationships of Esa and Rachel as each find themselves deciding who to allow into their lives as they gain mutual respect for each other.

It’s a delicate balance, and one that Khan handles well as the thrilling story escalates and Esa and Rachel must decide whom they can trust in their race to find Audrey Clare. Highly recommended.

Emily Winslow: Look for Her Tuesday, Feb 13 2018 

Names are important in Emily Winslow’s newest, Look for Her. The author’s Cambridge mysteries are so much more than standard police procedurals, plumbing the depths of a complex psychological thriller.

With each chapter in first person point of view, suspects and detectives alike spring off the page as we enter their thoughts and see how they act and react. Detective Chloe Frohmann in particular has a wry humor that freshens up her scenes and keep readers hooked in seeing how she and her old boss, Morris, now on Cold Case reviews, will handle things when he asks her to for help on his first case, even though she’s technically still on maternity leave and trying to decide what to name her newborn daughter.

The small town of Lilling had never gotten over the disappearance and presumed death of a young teen in 1976, and when a decomposed body wearing her clothes is found in 1992, wearing the missing girl’s clothing, as least her end result is known. Or is it? New DNA evidence complicates more than it solves.

What’s still unknown is who took Annalise Wood and killed her. It’s a name that becomes important as the celebrity of the missing girl lingers. For one young woman, Annalise becomes the object of her jealous obsession, leading to catastrophic events as secrets long buried rise to the surface, just like the body found by a dog walker after the roots of a tree gave up their secret bounty.

An accomplished addition to the series, Winslow’s ability to shade people and show their many sides adds texture and believeability to the story, even as both obfuscate the complicated truth.

Cambridge and its environs are also meticulously woven into the fabric of the story, so that even if a reader hasn’t visited that storied city, they will come away feeling the presence of the ancient colleges residing alongside more modern buildings as yet another character, almost essential to the story.

A compelling and intricate plot makes this an evocative read. Highly recommended.

Alex Gray: The DCI Lorimer Series Sunday, Feb 11 2018 

Award-winning Scottish author Alex Gray’s DCI Lorimer series is one Auntie M has read in its early novels. The co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, the series secondarily highlights the friendship and entwined lives between Lorimer and Dr. Soloman Brightman, psychologist and profiler, and their wives. Lorimer’s Maggie is an English teacher; Rosie Solomon is the medical examiner who catches many of his cases. These four repeating characters appear in each novel and bring their own undercurrent to the crime stories in a very human way. With strong characterizations and plot lines that twist and turn, this is a highly recommended series with varied cases to keep you interested.

Here are reviews of three in this rewarding series, with more to come in the US this spring:


Sleep Like the Dead

Sleep Like the Dead opens with Lorimer and his new DC Fahey investigating the death of Kenneth Scott, a man who doesn’t seem to have enemies or a reason to be murdered.

Missing from questioning is his ex-wife, Marianne, and her brother, petty criminal Billy Brogan. Readers learn their whereabouts but they elude Lorimer at first.

There’s an angry hit man waiting for his pay check set loose on the streets of Glasgow. It doesn’t help that Lorimer’s profiler, Brightman, has been cut loose due to budget cuts on this case.

A personal subplot revolving around Maggie and her friend Rosie’s pregnancy adds a touching note to the story as it advances.

The seedier side of Glasgow is on diplay in A Pound of Flesh, with Lorimer temporariiy in charge of a new unit, out of his familiar setting, and charged with investigating a string of deaths of prostitutes. Men are being killed, too, with a certain Mercedes being involved.

Then a prominent deputy first minister is among the murdered men, and Lorimer is told to concentrate on finding his killer instead of finding the murderer of the women.

Being the man of compassion and instinct that he is, Lorimer continues with both investigations until he finds where they overlap and how the two threads are connected.

Interesting chapters from one of the killers point of view illuminate the reasons for the men’s murders. Different and interesting.

Five students rent rooms together in a flat owned by the father of one of them, The Swedish Girl. Eva Magnusson is the lovely young student whose father has carefully chosen the mix of young men and women who will room with his daughter.

Then Eva is found murdered, and the detective on the case, Jo Grant, arrests one of the male students for the killing. But flatmate Kirsty Wilson comes to Colin’s defense. The daughter of a colleague of Lorimer’s, she enlists his aid to prove her friend is not the murderer.

When a series of women who all look like Eva are found dead, Lorimer starts to agree with Kirsty that Jo Grant has arrested the wrong man.

Lorimer will travel to Stockholm to interview the dead girl’s father, and learn Eva’s background. There are plenty of twists and turns, with people keeping secrets, even the Swedish girl.

Look for the next in this series to be reviewed this spring. If you haven’t discovered Alex Gray yet, you’re in for a treat.

Gregg Hurwitz: Hell Bent, An Orphan X novel Thursday, Feb 8 2018 

Gregg Hurwitz’s popular Orphan X series continues with Hell Bent, featuring Evan Smoak, the man with many identities.

The vigilante this time responds to a call for help from Jack Johns, the only father Evan has known. While the government is trying to erase all traces of the Orphan program they used on Evan, they have found Jack, who needs Evan to protect Jack’s last recruit for the program, a young woman named Joey.

Of course Evan’s not alone in his search. Van Sciver is the new head of the Orphan program in its current incantation and has the power to take out Evan and the target he’s supposedly protecting.

It’s a wild ride to the finish in this latest installment. If you enjoy a fast-paced stylish thriller, this one’s for you.

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.

Julia Dahl: Conviction Wednesday, May 17 2017 

Megan Abbott calls Julia Dahl’s third Rebekah Roberts novel “. . . a thrilling, utterly absorbing crime novel” with good reason.

The young intrepid journalist becomes intrigued when a prisoner in jail for over two decades sends a letter: “I didn’t do it.”

With her job at the tabloid newspaper frustrating her, especially after she’s been passed over for a well-deserved promotion, Rebekah starts to investigate DeShawn Perkins’ claim that he did not kill the foster parents who had taken him in, nor his little foster sister.

What she finds will stand his conviction on its ear as an eyewitness changes her testimony–but will the woman have the courage to admit this in court? Her digging also brings her into conflict with her newly discovered mother and the cop who has been on her side in previous investigations in the Hasidic community.

While part of the history leading up to the Crown Heights riots and this particular murder are told from the viewpoint back in the early 90’s, the chapters in current time as Rebekah investigates will bring her face to face with a difficult decision of her own: who does she owe allegiance to–the people she loves, or the truth?

With a fine eye for reality, Dahl brings another story with layers and layers of humanity in it to light. Highly recommended.

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Judith Flanders: A Cast of Vultures Sunday, Mar 12 2017 

castofvultures

Judith Flanders’ series featuring editor Samantha Clair is one Auntie M looks forward to reading, with good reason. The series has grown stronger, and with this third outing, A Cast of Vultures, demonstrates everything that’s good about Sam, mixing the smart and witty amateur sleuth-by-default with her Scotland Yard partner, Jake. There’s something to be said for a strong heroine who doesn’t really need anyone, but who chooses to be human enough to let people into her world.

An elderly friend traps Sam into helping her check on a missing neighbor while a series of minor arson fires range in the area. Then one fire turns deadly, with a body whose identity changes everything, and Sam unwittingly finds herself in the midst of being chased by thugs, forced to take drastic measures to defend herself.

The highlights of this series are many: Sam’s self-deprecating humor gives readers a clear-eyed, wry view of herself and those around her. Her mother and the neighbors who pepper the stories range from eccentric to phobic, but all are realistically drawn multi-faceted people. Auntie M is especially fond of Sam’s reclusive, brilliant, and understated upstair neighbor, Mr. Rudiger. We all wish we had a neighbor like Mr. Rudiger at times.

Then there’s the mystery itself, with a many-pronged approach that makes it complex and satisfying, overlapping at times with Jake’s work. And don’t forget Sam’s work world, which in this story provides a nice subplot as her publishing house undergoes what might be a restructuring.

From her Goth assistant, Miranda, who keeps an eye on Sam, to navigating the nature of her relationship with Jake, Sam Clair is someone you will want to spend time with as she finds herself embroiled in what turns out to be a humorous yet fast-paced mystery. Highly recommended.

Frances Brody: A Death in the Dales Wednesday, Mar 8 2017 

deathdales

Frances Brody’s newest Kate Shackleton mystery is one of her finest, an intricately plotted tale of crimes old and new, in A Death in the Dales.

Kate has taken her niece, Harriet, recovering from diphtheria, to stay for two weeks holiday at the Langcliffe home of Freda Simonson, now deceased, whose nephew, Dr. Lucien Simonsson has been courting Kate.

It’s to be a time to build up Harriet’s health, but the shadow of an old crime hangs over the town. Freda Simonsson was the only witness to the murder of the landlord of the tavern across the road, and believed till her dying day that the wrong man had been convicted of that murder.

Kate will soon find herself reading Freda’s notes on the crime, her voice reaching out to Kate from the grave, while Harriet befriends a young girl whose brother is missing. Her quiet vacation time suddenly seems very full indeed, with sleuthing around the various farms.

For if Freda was correct and the wrong man has been put to death, that means a murderer is still on the loose in the Yorkshire town.

This was one of Auntie M’s favorite Brody novels to date. The several plot lines come together in a way that’s extremely satisfying, as does the personal part of Kate’s life. Of course, her partner Jim Sykes and housekeeper Mrs. Sugden make an appearance, but it’s Kate who rules the day.

A satisfying entry in the series; Highly Recommended.

And don’t miss these two, new in paperback:

Redemption Road is John Hart’s thriller featuring cop Elizabeth Black, who rescued a young girl from a locked cellar and shot her kidnappers dead. But she’s also hiding a secret, and so are those around here. Filled with twists and turns.

A Banquet of Consequences is Elizabeth George’s newest Lynley/Havers mystery, a mix of complex plotting and psychological suspense, when a troubled young man’s suicide sets off a string of events that culminate in another death. This one was Highly Recommended when it debuted and readers who missed it at first can find it now in paperback.

Marilyn Meredith: A Crushing Death, #12 in the Rocky Bluff P. D. series Sunday, May 1 2016 

Please welcome author Marilyn Meredith, bringing out #12 in her Rocky Bluff P D series, A Crushing Death. She’ll describe how she’s managed to keep her long-running series fresh. Be certain to read to the bottom and learn how you can enter a contest to be a character in her next book!

KEEPING A SERIES FRESH

In order to keep people wanting to read the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, these are the things that I try to do:

This is a mystery series first, so of course, there must be an intriguing mystery and usually that means someone is murdered, though not always. As with any mystery, there will be several possible suspects and it’s up to my detectives to figure out who is the guilty person.

Because Rocky Bluff is a beach community, there always is something new, as well as reminders, about the setting.

However, what is most important is what happens to the characters. I’ve always said that this series is as much about what happens to the men and women on the Rocky Bluff P.D. and their families as the mystery. Of course, the mystery itself is going to have some affect, but as with all of us, the characters have had life problems, such as: having to care for and make decisions for a parent with Alzheimers’; the birth of a child with Down Syndrome; dealing with a teen’s problems; having had a loved one risk his or her life, disappear, make a decision about the job itself; and so much more.

At times, something unexpected will happen, like when the Milligans moved into a haunted house in Violent Departures.

I’m probably more anxious to know what’s going to happen in the next book than anyone, because I’ve come to know and care about the people who inhabit Rocky Bluff and work for the police department there. Hopefully, my curiosity will keep the series fresh enough that my readers will want to continue on with me.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

A Crushing Death

http://www.amazon.com/Crushing-Death-Rocky-Bluff-P-D/dp/1610092260/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457618775&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Crushing+Death+by+F.M.+Meredith

A pile of rocks is found on a dead body beneath the condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for violent attacks on women, and Detective Milligan’s teenage daughter has problem.

Me at Coalesce2

F. M. Meredith, who is also known as Marilyn Meredith, is nearing the number of 40 published books. Besides being an author she is a wife, mother, grandma and great-grandmother. Though the Rocky Bluff she writes about is fictional, she lived for over twenty years in a similar small beach town. Besides having many law enforcement officers in her family, she counts many as friends. She teaches writing, loves to give presentations to writing and other groups, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, three chapters of Sisters in Crime and on the board of Public Safety Writers Association.

Website: http://fictionforyou.com
Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com
Facebook: Marilyn Meredith
Twitter: MarilynMeredith

Contest: Once again, the person who comments on the most blogs during this tour, can have a character named after them in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. Tomorrow you can find me here:
http://www.gumbojustice.blogspot.com/

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