Alexandra Burt: Shadow Garden Tuesday, Jul 21 2020 

Alexandra Burt brings a different kind of psychological thriller to the page with Shadow Garden.

She tells the story of the Pryor family and the glossy, extravagant life they live.

There’s plastic surgeon Edward, whose hands build the family’s wealth; mother Donna, whose obsessive love for their only child, Penelope, allows her oversee her dysfunction while she looks for new ways to spend Edward’s money; and Penelope, who has managed to get away with more than any young woman should by the time she’s grown.

It’s a study in family dynamics when Donna finds herself ensconced in a beautiful condo with a housekeeper after a fall that has broken her hip. She gets her therapy as her hip heals. But where is Edward, and most of all, why hasn’t Donna heard from Penelope recently?

Donna is befriended by a woman who keeps a journal, but soon becomes suspicious of everyone around here. Who is really on her side? Who can she trust?

A character study with a twist, Shadow Garden shows what can happen when a family will go to any lengths to keep their secrets from the outside world.

Margaret Murphy: Before He Kills Again Thursday, Jul 16 2020 


Margaret Murphy has a strong history in writing chilling psychological novels. Known for the Clara Pascal, and Rickman and Foster series, Murphy has also written as AD Garrett, and with a partner as Ashley Dyer. All of her books feature realistic characters and chilling plots that will have readers leaving the lights on long after they should have been asleep.

Now she brings DC Cassie Rowan to the page in a complex psychological novel that is tightly woven in Before He Kills Again.

Starting from its powerful opening, readers will be hooked immediately with the powerful image Murphy creates.

There’s a sadist on the loose named the Furman, who targets prostitutes and pretty young woman, terrorizing them then raping and beating them before leaving the victims to be found. DC Cassie Rowan spends her evenings undercover, trying to get picked up by this maniac.

And one night she almost succeeds in catching him, where it not for the incompetence of two of her team members. All the while, she juggles being the responsible adult for her teenaged brother after the death of their parents.

Then someone who’s become a friend is savaged by the Furman. Frustrated, Cassie becomes even more determined to bring this maniac to justice, despite at times feeling sabotaged by her own team.

Alan Palmer is a psychologist with his own fraught home situation. Separated from his wife, trying to mend fences to have access to his young daughter, he has private and NHS patients he’s trying to help, but one in particular has caught his attention. Could this young man be the Furman?

Then someone dies, and all bets are off for Rowan and Palmer, all the while bringing the danger closer to home than they would like to believe. The incidents ratchet up in intensity; someone is losing it, and Cassie and Alan are at the heart of it all.

How these two professionals lives intersect forms the basis for a quick-paced psychological thriller, part police-procedural, all parts skillfully written, that heralds the start of a complex new series from this accomplished author.

Highly Recommended.

Mary Torjussen: The Closer You Get Sunday, Apr 26 2020 


Mary Torjussen’s suspense thrillers have all been hailed as suspense-filled (Gone Without a Trace; The Girl I Used to Be) and her newest, The Closer You Get, continues to deliver a nicely twisted psychological suspense novel.

She introduces readers to Ruby, who had fallen in love with her boss, Harry. Her marriage with the controlling Tom has long been over and it’s taken her a while to understand that he’s made her miserable. After a secret affair with Harry, Ruby prepared to leave Tom and Harry to leave his wife, Emily.

Their plan is to meet up at a pre-arranged hotel on a certain Friday night after telling their spouses they are leaving. Ruby girds herself, packs her car with those belongings she can fit in it, and waits for Tom to return from work. She announces she’s leaving him, and while he lets her go, she can’t believe it was that easy.

She waits at the hotel for Harry…and waits…and waits. Harry never shows up. Devastated, she finds on Monday she’s been fired from her job. Now she has no home, no job, and no self-esteem.

While she will eventually find out why Harry never showed, it does little to soften the blow or her situation. Renting a tacky apartment, Ruby takes a temp job and tries to pull herself together. That’s when she gets the distinct feeling someone has been in her apartment, which is strengthened when someone starts following her.

Is Ruby losing her mind? Or is there someone really out there menacing her. Ruby and Emily are finely drawn, and while each woman has her own point of view, the twists Torjussen builds into her plot will take unlikely turns.

An intense look at a torn marriage, an affair gone wrong, and tension that ratchets up and up as readers flip the page.

Louise Beech: I Am Dust Thursday, Apr 16 2020 

At once a gothic mystery and a kind of ghost story, Louise Beech’s I Am Dust incorporates all of the elements of both, along with the kind of astute look into the human psyche that has become her hallmark.

Twenty years after the first mounting of a musical called Dust, it’s due to return to the same theatre that hosted its debut.

The musical is the stuff of lore, as its lead actress, Morgan Miller, was murdered a few performances in, and is said to haunt the Dean Wilson Theatre. Is there any truth to the curse surrounding this place and this play?

Working as a theatre usher is Chloe Dee, whose career choices have been affected by the original musical, and who is scarred by life in many ways. A teen who has her own relationship with theatre, Chloe is surprised to find the woman taking on Morgan Miller’s role is someone she knows, and knows well.

With the story told in alternating time periods of Chloe’s life, the mounting tension encapsulates all of the yearning undercurrent of a young woman’s heart. When Chloe starts to hear staticky messages on her work radio, coupled with seeing flashes of movement, is she hallucinating?

The tone of the backstage workers, the backstabbing theatre community, and the workers who make it all happen add perfect layers of verisimilitude of that life.

Beech’s lyrical prose, not a word out of place, creates just the right atmosphere to in this twisty plot to suck you in and make you stay up far too late to finish this emotional and surprising read.

Matthew Quirk: Hour of the Assassin Sunday, Apr 12 2020 

Matthew Quirk brings a former Secret Service agent on the run in the fast-paced thriller Hour of the Assassin.

Nick Averose has a most unusual job. He fiction as a ‘red teamer’, someone who tests the security used around high officials and those in the limelight at risk. Looking for holes in the security, he’s a mock killer, and part of his job is to try to slip past the elaborate defense already in place.

His newest assignment finds him trying to infiltrate security at the Washington DC home of the former CIA director. Suddenly Nick finds himself convincingly framed, and as he runs from the very people he is supposed to protect, he must figure out who is framing him to clear his name.

It’s a high-octane tale of power and corruption; of secrets held and exposed. And Nick is at the center of it all.

Inspired by real-life assassins Quirk knew in his former career as a DC reporter that insider knowledge lends tremendous credibility and reality to the novel.

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.

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.

Simone St. James: The Sun Down Motel Sunday, Mar 1 2020 

Simone St. James will have pulses racing with her supernatural thriller, The Sun Down Motel.

“Mystery with Ghosts” could be the subtitle, with the story alternating between Viv in 1982, and her nice Carly, in 2017.

Fell, NY, is the setting, where Carly Kirk has come to town to investigate her aunt’s disappearance years ago. The town has seen its share of murders to young women. To do so she’s left college after her mother’s death leaves her a small inheritence and the drive to do this.

Carly takes a job working the night shift at the same motel where Viv worked in 1982, searching for clues. The motel is a throwback to that era, still using a handwritten guest book and keys instead of cards to open doors.

But soon the same kind of weird things that Viv witnessed happen to Carly: the prank calls to the front desk with no one on the other end; doors that open; lights go out. Creepiest is the smell of cigarette smoke with no one there.

Carly soon finds she has more in common with Viv than she imagines as she finds out what’s been happening in Fell, NY. Deliciously creepy.

Sarah Pinborough: Dead to Her Wednesday, Feb 12 2020 

Sarah Pinborough captures the sleepy grandeur of Savannah, Georgia, and gives a lesson in greed and passion in her newest suspense thriller, Dead to Her.

Two women are the center of the story. Marcie hides her background when she becomes the second wife of Jason Maddox. His world of old money and friendships is one Marcie has always yearned to be a part of.

She strikes up an uneasy friendship with Keisha, the new second wife of Jason’s widowed boss. Definitely of the old money scheme in Savannah, William has returned from a London trip surprisingly remarried to the slender, gorgeous black hostess who hides her own secrets.

This is sly suspense builds on itself and the main characters, as the story advances with the two women at the center of the storied circle that men travel in. Other members of that elite circle have varied reactions to Keisha and her exotic looks. There’s a whirl of lust and greed that swirls around all of the characters until a tragedy strikes and suddenly new and old friendships are tested.

The hanging Spanish moss is not the only elusive thing in Savannah. There are the dark mysteries that lurk in the shadows, following both women, and in the secrets they hide. But they are not the only ones with secrets.

An intricate plot enhances the thrills, with a sinister surprise for almost everyone involved.

Nicci French: Losing You Wednesday, Jan 29 2020 

William Morrow is reissuing some of Nicci French’s backlist, which brought Auntie M Losing You, one she hadn’t read and is glad she did.

The dynamic duo bring readers the story of Nina Landry on her fortieth birthday, getting ready to head out later that day on a special trip from her home on Sandling Island off England’s coast for a holiday in the US with her new boyfriend.

With her son and daughter excited, this past year of divorce and upheaval should soon be behind her. As soon as 15 yr-old Charlie returns from a slumber party, they plan to head off with her younger brother in tow to the airport.

But first Nina needs to get that rattle looked into at a friend’s house, and when she arrives home, not only is Charlie not there yet, but a surprising number of people start to arrive bearing gifts, flowers, and booze.

It seems Charlie has set up a surprise party for her Mum’s birthday before they leave for their trip–but where is Charlie? She needs to finish packing, and besides, Nina is convinced her daughter would never plan a party and then not show up for it.

As her annoyance changes to real concern, Nina has difficulty getting the local police to believe there’s an issue. Teens run away all the time, and they are loathe to feel this is any different.

As the minutes turn into hours with no sign of Charlie, Nina retraces her daughter’s morning activities after the sleepover, including her last paper route before their trip. It’s only when Charlie’s bike is found that Nina is able to convince the police that something is terribly wrong.

Readers will ache for Nina, racing around the tiny island searching for her daughter. Charlie’s father becomes involved; the new boyfriend gets caught in a traffic nightmare on his way home from the airport.

Things keep going wrong as Nina finds more and more revelations about what’s happened to Charlie and her activities of the past few weeks and months. But one thing stands out: Nina’s determination to find and save the daughter she’s convinced is at risk.

With the action taking place over the course of one terrible day that leads to a stunning climax, this is one readers will gobble up as fast as Auntie M did.

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Lee Lofland

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Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

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