CJ Tudor: The Hiding Place Tuesday, Feb 5 2019 

CJ Tudor had a huge hit out of the box with last year’s The Chalk Man, and follows that up with another terrific stand-alone, The Hiding Place (in the UK, The Taking of Annie Thorne).

Joe Thorne has returned to the place he grew up, ostensibly to fill the place left open by a teacher who had killed her young son and then herself. Arnhill, an old mining town, hasn’t changed all that much, and Joe finds to his suprise that some of his old gang are still around, but none seem too happy to see him.

Renting an old cottage, the same one where the gruesome murder/suicide took place, Joe comes across the woman he yearned for all those years ago, now married to his worse enemy.

But Joe has hidden the real reason for his return, and while it seems fitting that he should, his appearance sets off a chain of events from which there will be no going back.

Joe’s young sister, Annie, disappeared when she was young, but returned, apparently unharmed a few days later. That was truly when things changed forever for Joe and his family.

Now as he struggles to keep an open mind and figure out what really happened to Annie all those years ago, he must face the ghosts of his past who are ever present.

To say this is a compelling, suspense-filled plot with multiple twists doesn’t do justice to Tudor’s knack for keeping readers glued to the page. Highly recommended.

Louisa Luna: Two Girls Down Wednesday, Jan 9 2019 

Louisa Luna’s knockout Two Girl’s Down introduces two highly original characters readers will want to follow.

California PI Alice Vega finds herself on a plane to a small town in Pennsylannia when two young girls disappear. Having built up a reputation for finding missing children, the girl’s aunt has contacted Vega to assist the local police.

Max Caplan is a disgraced cop trying to make a living as a PI while raising teenaged daughter, Nell, after a divorce. When Vega contacts him to be her local contact and work the case with her, an unlikely partnership develops.

The local police are less than helpful, and with Cap’s history, the two strike out on their own at first. With the FBI’s invovlement, an uneasy truce is struck on sharing information and the two go to town.

Vega is unlike any other investigator Cap has known. Tough and smart, strong and feisty, she has contacts he doesn’t. But Cap has the local knowledge she needs as the fast plot crackles with suspense.

All of the characters are well-drawn, from the distraught family to the witnesses the duo encounter. It’s a read that will keep you rooted to the page, cinematic in its detailed view. You can hear the screenwriters sharpening their pencils.

The twists keep coming with an ending that flips back on itself and brings even more surprises. Readers will be clamoring for more Vega and Cap. This is Auntie M’s first Highly Recommended of 2019.

Gilly Macmillan: I Know You Know Friday, Oct 12 2018 

Gilly Macmillan’s psychological thriller, I Know You Know, contrasts newly-found bones under asphalt with the twenty year-old unsolved murder case of two young boys.

The connection between both cases is Detective John Fletcher, who’s life has been haunted by the boy’s death. Charlie Paige and Scott Ashby were only eleven when murdered outside a Bristol dog racing track. Charlie was barely alive wtih Fletcher and his partner found the boys, and he died in Fletcher’s arms.

While a mentally-deficit local man was arrested and spent years in prison for the murders, there have always been those who felt Sidney Noyce didn’t commit the crimes.

Enter Cody Swift, not a filmmaker who was the third friend in a trio with the dead boys. He’s spent time digging into the reports and loose threads that remain from the initial investigation, and starts a podcast to find out the truth. He aims to get those who might have kept silent at the time to speak up now.

Through Macmillan’s taut and addictive pages, readers meet the families of the dead boys and learn the history of that night. Jess, Charlie’s mother, is a pivotal figure. Now happily married with a teen daughter, her first child and his death affect her every waking moment.

The long-dead body found near the site of the boy’s bodies means the two cases might be linked and Fletcher will do all he can to find out what really happened all those years ago.

A close look at a complicated case and how the actions of one detective had a domino affect on the lives of so many others.

James Hayman: A Fatal Obsession Saturday, Oct 6 2018 

James Hayman’s McCabe and Savage thrillers bring the Maine detectives to a very personal New York City case in A Fatal Obsession.

When his brother Bobby calls to say their mother is in the hospital, dying after a bad fall at her care facility, he knows it’s time he headed down to make his farewells. Bobby can’t reach his daughter, Zoe, a talented young actress, but as it was the closing night of her playing Desdemona in Othello, he figures she’s out late at a cast party.

That couldn’t be further from the truth, for Zoe has been kidnapped and beaten up, and spirited away from the city, where she’s hidden by her captor.

Maggie Savage accompanies McCabe to meet the family she’ll be entering, as the couple as just become engaged the night before. But thoughts of happy times are pushed aside when it becomes obvious Zoe’s apartment is the scene of a struggle–and then a woman’s body is found.

This comes in a wave of abduction murders of young starlets, actresses and even a ballerina. With the stakes so high, McCabe and Savage ask to be seconded to the team searching for Zoe.

It’s a twisted and high-speed investigation as the clock ticks down the time Zoe can survive. Old wounds must be bandaged over for McCabe to join in but finally he and Maggie are legitimate members of the team.

With its look inside the teamwork needed to pull off a major investigation, Maggie’s interviewing skills will come to the forefront when a suspect is finally found, with unexpected results.

A compulsively readable and fast-paced thriller to this series.

Eric Rickstad: What Remains of Her Saturday, Sep 29 2018 


Eric Rickstad’s psychological thriller, What Remains of Her, is at once a tense, chilling mystery, as well as a probing look at secrets held for decades.

Jonah Baum is a mild man, a poetry professor with a difficult childhood he’s put behind him. Married to the lovely Rebecca, with a young daughter, Sally, his small Vermont town suits them all.

Sally’s best friend is the Sheriff’s daughter, Lucinda, who had sworn to keep Sally’s secret about what the two girls saw in woods where they shouldn’t have playing.

But does a promise made in friendship hold when that friend and her mother suddenly go missing?

As the search for the missing mother and daughter escalates, lives are torn apart with suspicions, especially Jonah’s.

Forward 25 years to the anniversary of the disappearance, and Jonah has become a hermit, living in seculsion, when a young girl who reminds him eerily of his daughter shows up in his woods.

Is she a real being, or borne out of his desperation and grief?

It will take Lucinda, now the small town’s deputy Sheriff, to figure out exactly what’s been happening, and what really happened all those years ago.

A taut thriller, filled with a creeping sadness, this is throughly unsettling and fantastic when it comes to revealing human nature.

Moving, and very atmospheric in the unsettled landscape, a character in itself, this one riveting read. Highly recommended.

C J Tudor: The Chalk Man Sunday, Aug 19 2018 

One of Auntie M’s favorite authors, James Oswald, recommended CJ Tudor’s debut The Chalk Man, so she had to read it and could see why he was so enthusiastic.

It’s a strong debut with distinct characters, and a cleverly twisted plot. A whopper of an ending will have you re-reading the last page in disbelief.

Fat Gav, Hoppo and Metal Mickey are all friends of Eddie, the narrator whose story alternates between 1986, when he was 12, and 2016 when he is an English teacher and comes up against the secrets of his youth.

1086: The chalk men are the secret code Eddie and his friends use to summon each other. But it becomes corrupted when a chalk man message sends Eddie into the woods where he finds the dismembered body of a teenaged girl, changing everything.

Fast forward to 2016, where Eddie is living in his childhood home, teaching at his old school, and probably drinking far too much. He’s taken in a boarder, a young woman, and muddles along until he receives a letter with the figure of a chalk man.

His friends soon admit they have all received the same letter, but after the death of one of their group, Eddie knows he must find out who was responsible for that awful murder.

The bouncing back and forth between time periods allows the reader to see the earlier events as they unfolded while keeping pace with the current time and what is happening to Eddie.

It also works to heighten the suspense of this thoroughly chilling novel that marks the debut of a write to be taken seriously. Highly recommended.

Elizabeth Haynes: Never Alone Wednesday, Jul 25 2018 

Elizabeth Haynes has a gift for psychological suspense that holds the reader in its plausible grip and never lets go until the last page.

In Never Alone, alternating points of view tell the story of Sarah Carpenter, a widow getting used to her empty nest; Aiden Beck, her college flame and friend of her husband, who needs a place to stay and rent Sarah’s vacant cottage; and an unnamed narrator who’s watching them both.

Sarah has her close friend, Sophie, nearby, and her two dogs. Daughter Kitty is at university; son Louis is estranged from Sarah and she doesn’t understand the reasons. But she’s hardly alone. And yet … the menace she comes to feel at times is very real.

Then married Sophie starts an affair with a much younger man, a friend of Louis, and people start disappearing. Shorter chapters up the ante as the suspense piles on. What exactly does Aiden do for a living, and can he be trusted?

The alternating point of view adds to the suspense and builds a dark thriller, while the elusive narrator tells his/her part of the story from an outsider’s view.

With the setting in North Yorkshire, the brooding landscape provides the perfect noir-ish backdrop to a story steeped in sexual imagery. Add in Hayne’s creation of fascinating characters, a creepy house cut off in heavy snow, and a clever plot, and you have all the ingredients for heightened danger and a whopping good thriller.