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.

Matt Wesolowski: BEAST Friday, Mar 13 2020 

Matt Wesolowski returns with the fourth in his Six Stories series in BEAST, at once a mystery, a ghost story, and a critical look at social media and its effect on today’s youth.

The windswept, depressed area of the UK’s north-east brings the coastal town of Ergarth as the setting for the creative ideation of the series. True-crime podcaster Scott King is there to investigate the death of popular vlogger, Elizabeth Barton.

Found in a bizarre situation during the arctic freeze, naked and frozen to death, Elizabeth’s body is discovered inside Tankerville Tower, an ancient clifftop ruin that supports the local myth that calls it the Vampire Tower.

The three young men convicted of this grisly crime have all called it a “prank gone wrong” and seem willing to take their punishment. But graffiti on the Barton’s garden wall suggests that the youths may not indeed be guilty. Then who killed Elizabeth?

As King speaks to six witnesses, hence the title, he unearths the online craze that Elizabeth was party to that led her to the tower. He finds that in this desolate, hopeless area, the youth are tied to their internet crazes, and Elizabeth was local celebrity. While many looked up to her and wanted to be near her and be in her circle, there were others who seemed set on her ruin.

Elizabth is seen as a study in contrasts when King compares her presence online to the witness statements about what she was really like. With absent parents providing ‘things’ instead of attention to her and her brother, the need her to feel she was the center of attention and adoration grew.

The device alternates transcripts of “Lizzie” and her last vlogs with transcripts of the interviews that King conducts, with his voice-over narration and dialogue from those witnesses. It’s an intriguing concept that brings a brooding darkness to the story.

Stark in its reality of our attention-seeking society, BEAST manages to convey a striking and well-plotted thriller within the clever structure that takes the genre and bends it into something totally gripping and original. Highly recommended.

Steve Berry: The Warsaw Protocol Wednesday, Mar 11 2020 

Steve Berry’s adventures have taken Cotton Malone to many places in the world. In The Warsaw Protocol, the action starts in Bruges, a place Auntie M has visited and loved, where a cloth supposedly dabbed in Christ’s blood is stolen from a church there.

It’s not the first religious artifact revolving around the crucifixion to be stolen. Termed Arma Christi, these relics are usually sold to collectors.

But on the blackmarket comes news of an auction with information sold that will affect power between Russia and the US with Poland. And the price of admission to bid is an object from the Arma Christi collection.

Malone finds himself evading an unusual Polish agent while trying to steal the last relic to gain admission to the auction. It’s a race against time in this action-packed suspense thriller, with an emphasis on the strength of Poland.

The hallmark of this series is Berry’s ability to combine his exhaustive historical research with a novel plot that thrills readers. Perfect for fans of Dan Brown.

Sarah Stovell: The Home Thursday, Feb 6 2020 

Sarah Stovell brings an unflinching look inside children brought into care in The Home.

There are the underpaid staff, the head trying to do her best for the charges in her care while her own family waits for her attention, and then there are the girls themselves.

In this case, the remote Cumbrian home in question houses three young girls: Lara, who doesn’t speak; and Annie and Hope, who form an attachment that will affect their lives, and one of their deaths.

The connecting thread is a harrowing examination of the violent pasts of all three girls and the circumstances that brought them to the home.

There are secrets between the girls in different permutations, but one secret that must be held is the name of the murderer.

As the investigation examines each member of the home, budget cuts, staff attitudes, and the prior lives of each girl will be torn apart, looking for justification or a reason why one of these young women had to die.

A harrowing and compulsive read readers won’t be able to look away from.

Stephen Leather: The Runner Sunday, Jan 26 2020 

Stephen Leather steps away from his previous two series to bring a young MI5 agent to the forefront in The Runner.

Sally Page is a London junior agent who maintains a fake legend. She travels on the Tube, shops, acts as a normal Londoner under an assumed identity called a legend.

When Sally returns from a coffee run to a Wimbledon safe house, she finds her colleagues dead, and the computers completely destroyed but the hard drives holding all of the information they’ve collected is gone.

Worse of all, the killers are still in the house and can identify her.

Sally is on the run, and must leave her phone to avoid them being able to track her. But it soon becomes apparent they are still able to find her, leading Sally to suspect a colleague is feeding the killers information on her whereabouts.

She will have encounters with Mexican drug cartels, other agents, and need to call on all of the subterfuges she’s designed for other agents to keep herself safe.

It’s literally a run for her life as she figures out if there’s anyone left she can trust.

An action-packed thriller from a master of the genre who has already had two of his previous thrillers made into feature films.

Michael J. Malone: In the Absence of Miracles Saturday, Jan 4 2020 

Michael J. Malone’s haunting thriller, In the Absence of Miracles, has the distinction of garnering Auntie M’s first “Highly Recommended” rating of the New Year, thanks to @orendabooks.

The novel brings John Doherty to the page, a teacher whose mother is recovering from a massive stroke that will leave her in a facility. With his job and relationships in turmoil, John’s younger brother arrives to help with the selling of the family home.

It’s while John roots through stored items in the attic that he comes across a photo of himself as a toddler being held by an older brother he never knew existed. Setting out to find the truth behind that photo, along with other scarce evidence he uncovers, John plays detective-of-sorts, investigating the knowledge both of his parents hid from their other two sons, even while he discounts memories he might have buried.

John’s younger brother finally comes on board to help in the search once it becomes clear there was indeed an older brother neither boy knew about. But things continue to twist as the plot becomes as complicated as John himself.

Are there other secrets to uncover? What about the memories John can’t recall? Whose truth and memories are the right ones? How did growing up in this particular home affect these three young men and their choices?

Ian Rankin calls this novel “Vivid, visceral and compulsive” with good reason. Readers may be shocked by one particular twist, but Malone manages to capably illustrate what happens in a family where secrets are kept and hidden, and the long-term repercussions of growing up in such a home.

There’s heartbreak here, but also redemption for some characters. Malone has a gift for perceiving facets of human nature as he combines the inexplicable with a degree of sensitivity that brings a simple beauty out of tragedy. Not to be missed.

Alex North: The Whisper Man Wednesday, Nov 27 2019 

The Whisper Man is Alex North’s well-plotted thriller that is disturbing yet manages to be heartfelt. If you think that is a dichotomy, read this story that manages to be deeply touching without maudlin, while it scares the hell out of you.

Tom Kennedy and his young son, Jake, are both still grieving after the sudden death of Rebecca, wife and mother. In a bid to give them both a fresh start, they move to a house that Jake likes in the small town of Featherbank.

Right on the heels of their move, Tom finds out a local boy has vanished. His disappearance has too many things in common with a string of murders of young boys from two decades ago that DI Pete Willis remembers all too well.

While Pete captured that murderer, still in prison for life, he and his younger colleague, DI Amanda Beck, try to unravel this new crime, believing the perpetrator to be an accomplice of the man Pete captured, The Whisper Man.

It’s a diabolical battle of wills between the detective and the prisoner, as the two detectives work every angle. And then Jake, a sensitive child, hears someone whispering to him.

This manages to pack a powerhouse of creepiness into its pages as the terrifying plot advances. Yet there’s an underlying thread of the way fathers and sons relate and impact each other in all of their guises that elevates the story from a simple thriller.

Not to be missed, this unnerving novel leaves its haunting presence long after the last page has been turned. Highly recommended.

Chad Zunker: An Equal Justice Friday, Nov 1 2019 

Chad Zunker’s An Equal Justice introduces lawyer David Adams in a legal thriller that addresses the homeless population while whipping up a dense plot of corporate greed, power, and violence.

Adams had a tough childhood, including living in the family car for a while with his mother and older sister. Through hard work he’s triumphed to become a Stanford graduate who’s just taken his first job with a prestigious law firm in Austin. His dream is in reach.

Leaving poverty quickly behind, in a matter of days he owns a high-rise condo and a pricey car, as well as a glossy girlfriend to match his new unbelievable salary. He also has the pressure of billable hours, working almost around the clock to prove himself to the partner who’s taken a shine to him.

Then the unexpected suicide of a colleague, coupled with a brush with Austin’s homeless community, leads him to feel a connection to the lost souls who have formed a camp where they support each other.

As some of Adams’ assumptions are proven false, a trail of blackmail leads to murder, and an innocent young man is arrested. Adams knows he must choose between these two disparate worlds while he decides if wealth is more important than justice.

As the danger rises, so does Adams determination, with the pace quickening to a pounding resolution. Adams knows Austin and brings its many sides to life. He also knows how to add plot twists so that just as the reader thinks they know what’s going on, they’re proved wrong. A page-turning read with a protagonist Auntie M will gladly follow on his next adventure.

Zunker writes the Sam Callahan thriller series (The Tracker, Shadow Shepherd, Hunt the Lion) but the inspiration for the David Admams series comes from his own work with Austin’s homeless community. You can check his website to learn more about his volunteer work at Community First! Village, a 51-acre planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and support to the chronically homeless: <a href="http://www.chadzunker.com/bennys-village/&quot;.

LA Naylor: The Land of Trees Monday, Sep 30 2019 

Please welcome guest L A Naylor to talk about her debut novel, The Land of Trees:

ABOUT THE BOOK
The Land of Trees is my debut novel and the result of 20 years of rumination and rewriting.

Adoptee Lia has followed her Spanish teacher, Rafael, to Guatemala, for romance and adventure. She doesn’t know much about the country but she’s happy because she’s finally living life on her own terms. On their first night together, Lia decides to declare her feelings, but before she gets the chance, the unimaginable happens and Rafael is brutally killed.

Devastated, Lia travels to Rafael’s family home in the countryside, where she becomes determined to find out why. But not everyone is keen on her investigation. Lia has to decide what is more important: living without answers or taking the deadly consequences that come with the truth.

I’ve carried this story around in my mind, in various versions, ever since I went to Guatemala in 1996. I was young, but it was a hugely important time because it was the year a rebel group would sign a peace treaty with the government, formally ending over three decades of civil war.

At the centre of the story is the tragic death of Rafael, so to a certain extent the theme of loss defines itself and how we come to terms with death. The story is told through the point of view of three characters: feisty, morally principled Lia, who needs to find paid work; Richard, the affluent but ultimate non-traveller; and Macy, who is hiding serious mental health issues. Although it’s ultimately Lia’s story, I think my favourite character is Macy because she’s so strong and brave.

My motivation to write often stems from a sense of injustice. Today in Guatemala, rates of crime remain very high with an average of 101 murders reported per week in 2018, and 97% of homicides remaining unsolved. I wanted to write a book that would buck that trend, because rightly or wrongly, I’m still an optimist!

The book has been described as a gritty, intelligent and evocative coming of age thriller. You can buy the print and Ebook here from 28th September 2019 onwards: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Land-Trees-L-Naylor/dp/0954743717

You can also connect with me here: https://lanaylor.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

L.A. Naylor has been the CEO of a charity, a wreck diver and English teacher. She was awarded a grant from the Campaign for Learning to write a non-fiction book on miscarriages of justice in the UK. She interviewed people convicted of murder and learned a great deal about crime, the law and how elusive justice can be. That book, Judge for Yourself: How Many are Innocent was a best seller and was praised by The Guardian, Michael Mansfield QC and many more.

Ellison Cooper: Buried Friday, Jul 26 2019 


Ellison Cooper introduced FBI Senior Special Agent Sayer Altair in Caged, and returns with an equally compelling and twisted tale of serial killers in Buried.

Off-duty FBI agent Max Cho and his human-cadaver dog, Kona, start to enjoy a day off in the Shenandoah National Park when his dog alerts. Knowing her skills, he notifies the local park ranger and sets Kona to find her quarry. A sinkhole brings him in close contact with what appear to be the bones of several skeletons.

Figuring out who was the serial killer working inside the FBI saw Sayer take a bullet to her shoulder in the first book. After physical therapy, she’s healed and ready to head back to work shortly. But a call from her Assistant Director soon finds her meeting with Cho and a rag-tag team assembled to figure out who the bones belong to.

During the bones recovery, with a patholgist Sayer knows and respects, two more recent bodies are found near the bones. Now the hunt for the killer of the older bones and the killer of the new ones takes off. With limited resources, the group still puts everything they have into figuring out who the fresh corpses belong to.

One ghastly clue on a body proves a tie to a newly kidnapped woman and her young child. The hunt intensifies as Sayer’s boss, one of the few she trusts, comes under the scrutiny and political microscope of Congressional hearings looking for a scapegoat for the serial killer who had been in their midst in Caged.

And then the killer starts to try to pick off members of Sayers small team. In a race against time with the lives of two young children and their mothers at risk, the strident pace ratchets up even higher. Working without sleep, the team cracks on, each member bringing his or her expertise to the forefront.

There will be politicking, a highly placed psychopath in DCs elite who wants Sayers’ work to continue, and the bizarre ideas of a psychopath who wants to prove that any person can become a murderer.

Cooper mixes neuroscience with mythology to create a fascinating tale of how inhumane humans can be to each other. Nonstop action, a strong but compassionate protagonist with tons of smarts, and a fascinating team make this a step above the typical serial killer thriller.

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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