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=";.

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:

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:

You can also connect with me here:


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.

Louise Beech: Call Me Star Girl Sunday, Apr 21 2019 

Louise Beech is an author Auntie M had been wanting to read, so it was with great anticipation that she opened the pages of Call Me Star Girl–and she was not disappointed.

Stella McKeever is an unusual young woman. The book alternates between THEN and NOW, as her past story is spooled out in a chilling way that heightens the tension. Working in radio, Stella has decided to leave her show, and on her last night, she urges listeners to call in and share their secrets and she will share some of her own.

Stella’s secrets include her mother, Elizabeth, who walked out on Stella fourteen years ago, leaving the young girl in the care of a neighbor. Elizabeth is now back in her life, wanting to repair things. Stella’s never met her father; but she does know the scent of the perfume bottle her mother left with her that has become her talisman. Its star-shaped stopper brings good memories of Stella’s mother, memories Stella holds onto as her life takes an unexpected turn when she falls in love, hard, for Tom.

Then a young woman is found murdered in an alley. After, a man calls the station and tells Stella he knows who killed the pregant girl. Stella is determinined to get him to come forward to tell what he knows, despite the consequences. She dangles telling her own secrets to find out the truth. For Stella has been keeping a giant, horrific secret, one that will have a devastating effect.

A psychological thriller with a dark side to it, this complex story will have readers totally engrossed in Stella, her life and her secrets. Taut writing will keep readers flipping pages long after the lights should be out.

Bernard Minier: Night Thursday, Feb 7 2019 

The fourth Commander Servaz thriller, Night, brings the Toulouse detective under the scrutiny of all of those around him after a death-defying opening, with its resultant effects.

In a church in Norway, a woman’s body is found on the altar. A female detective, Kirsten Nigaard, is investigating that case due to her own name being discovered. Then she becomes coupled with Martin Servaz, when photos of the French detective are found on the offshore oil rig where the dead woman worked.

Both feel this is the work of serial killer Julian Hirtman, Servaz’s nemesis, the most dangerous man Servaz has encountered. Indeed, the Daily Mail has called Hirtman “…a villain possessing the intelligence of Thomas harris’ immortal Hannibal Lecter…”

It’s a chase throughout Europe, from France to Austria, in search of Hirtman and young boy in his custody who desperately needs to be saved. Along the way, they will encounter acolytes of Hirtman, and foes in the form of parents of his victims, until the ultimate surprise is coupled with a huge betrayal.

This has a complicated and complex plot, with fast action and yet Minier never stints of the emotions behind several of the main characters. It’s easy to see why this was a number one bestseller in France, where Servaz’s first case, which introduced Hirtman, was made into a six-part series now available on Netflix.

Fiona Barton: The Suspect Tuesday, Jan 22 2019 

Fiona Barton returns with her series featuring reporter Kate Waters, along with detective Bob Sparkes, in a startling third novel that kept Auntie M up all night to finish it. The Suspect is that good and that compelling. Once it’s started, readers won’t be able to stop.

When two girls go missing in Thailand, Bob reaches out to Kate to involve the press. This hits close to home, as Kate’s son Jake dropped out of university two years ago to travel in Thailand and has rarely been heard from since.

Kate soon finds herself on the way to Thailand to investigate a fire that involves the girls, but also finds to her surprise and dismay that Jake might have been on the premises at the time. Turning her usual position on its head, Kate soon finds she is the one being hounded by her reporter colleagues, not all well-meaning, as she tries to find her son while investigating what happened to the girls.

Things escalate, if that’s possible, from there. The parents of both girls have very different reactions to the situation. Social media posts from one of the girls tracks their trip, but is this the reality?

It’s a complicated situation, one that explores the complexities of families,husbands and wives, sons and mothers, and loss and grief, alongside one humdinger of a thriller. No character is left untouched by this story. The inner voices of each character ring true in a moving and realistic way that will bring a catch to your breath. It’s a complicated tour de force of emotions and situations, a beautifully written novel that delves into the psychology of us all.

By turning the tables on Kate and involving her own family, the reporter who usually tells other peoples stories must acknowledge that we can’t really know the people we love totally and completely. Highly recommended.

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