Simon Lelic: The Liar’s Room Tuesday, Jan 15 2019 

Simon Lelic’s The Liar’s Room bring an original concept to a thriller, a high stakes cat-and-mouse game that is unsettling while entrapping the reader in this gripping read.

When therapist Susanna Fenton starts a session with a new patient, her instincts tell her something’s off. Adam Geraghty gives off vibes that have Susanna’s sense on high alert, but she gives him the benefit of the doubt.

Until she soon realizes from their exchanges that Adam is determined to break into the secrets of her past which include her new identity, started years ago to protect her teen daughter.

During the course of this single therapy session, as the light fades and her hopes start to dwindle, Susanna must face the tragedy of the earlier life she sought to overcome.

The story alternates between this session, diary entries, and Susannna’s own memories to tell the story. Who is the real liar here? An unsettling and yet deeply engrossing story, where neither the patient nor the therapist are whom they claim to be.

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Best Reads of 2019 Wednesday, Jan 2 2019 

In 2018 Auntie M reviewed 160 books! That’s a new record for her, and doesn’t include the several dozen extra books she’s read for her own pleasure. Phew!

There are so many BEST OF lists going around now and here are those that stood out to Auntie M and earned her HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating. That doesn’t mean the other books aren’t worth reading! But these had that something special that lingers after the read, or causes you to zip through them to the end of the story. All of the reviews of these books are archived, so if you missed any, you’ll be able to pull up the individual review.

They are listed on the order they were read. Many of these are now available in paperback or Kindle or Audible. Happy Hunting!


AJ Finn: The Woman in the Window


Anthony Horowitz: The Word is Murder


Tony Parsons: Die Last


Nikki French: Sunday Silence


Tracee de Hahn: A Well-Timed Murder


Alex Gray: The Swedish Girl


Emily Winslow: Look For Her


Ausma Zehant Kahn: A Dangerous Crossing


Stefan Ahnhem: The Ninth Grave


Stuart MacBride: A Dark So Deadly


Kate Rhodes: Hell Bay


Claire MacKintosh: Let Me Lie


Elizabeth George: The Punishment She Deserves


Elly Griffiths: Dark Angel


Sharon Bolton: The Craftsman


Ashley Dyer: Splinter in the Blood


Tony Parsons: Girl on Fire


CJ Tudor: The Chalk Man


Erik Rickstad: What Remains of Her


Hank Philiipi Ryan: Trust Me


Stuart MacBride: Blood Road


Peter Blauner: Sunrise Highway


Mandy Morton: Magical Mystery Paws


Michael Robotham: The Other Wife


Louise Penny: Kingdom of the Blind


Sarah Ward: The Shrouded Path

Magical Mysteries Sunday, Dec 23 2018 

Holiday post #4, whereby Auntie M tells of great mysteries this time for holiday gift giving. These are a varied lot!


For those who like their mysteries quirky, look for Meghan Scott Molin’s The Frame-Up. This debut in an inventive new series features comic book writer MG Martin, a geek who also designs costumes for drag queen pal.

The action starts with MG noticing a crime scene photo straight out of her favorite comic series, The Hooded Falcon, except for the Falcon’s signature, a golden arrow. The man in line at the coffee shop perusing the photo is the LAPD detective on the case, Matteo Kildaire, and it turns out there was a golden arrow found at the scene. And that this comic was put out by MG’s employer, Genius Comics.

With explanations out of the way, Kildaire allows MG to assist him as long as her invovlement is kept quiet. Gathering intel requires Matteo to assume the role of MG’s boyfriend so he can investigate her fellow employees. The negataive is that as MG’s theories prove right over and over again, she put herself in the crosshairs as the Golden Arrow.

A nicely twisted plot, creatively written with an eye into the world of comics and a hint of romance. Lots of humor here, too.


More or a romance, and an Amish one at that, Shelley Sheparad Gray’s His Promise
is a Christmas story in the country, one having a rash of suspicious fire.

Grace King is a pet sitter missing her family. Then firefighter John Michael Miller crosses her path, the same man who broke her sister’s heart years before, bringing both Grace’s anger and her feelings for the man to the forefront. But the reason behind that heartbreak just might herald a huge surprise for Grace.

With the fires escalating and the couple’s complicated feelings for each other surfacing, this is a charming holiday tale with a hint of mystery for readers enjoying Christian fiction.

We head across the pond to France for Cay Rademacher’s second Provence Mystery, Deadly Camargue. Detectives Roger Blanc (Capitaine) and Marius Tonon are called in the middle of a heat wave to the Camargue to investigate the suspicious death of reporter and television personality Albert Cohen.

Gored by a bull when out cycling, it was originally believed to be an accident, until it seems the gate was left open intentionally. Who would have wanted to kill him? Cohen’s been working on an article on van Gogh, but could that have a tie to a long ago burglary?

With a grand look at the history and area’s landscape, long-held secrets will be uncovered as the duo look deeper and deeper.There’s a nice touch of humor, too, as Blanc settles in with his new home and new colleagues at work. A deft sequel.

Keeping across the pond, we travel to the Italian Alps and Aosta for a return visit to chief Rocco Schiavone in Antonio Manzini’s Out of Season.

A real stand-out in fictional sleuths, Rocco is something of a rebel as well as non-traditional character, who’s drawn readers to him like flies.

A deadly crash after a young girl’s kidnapping raises more questions than answers. Who were the dead kidnappers and why this girl? And just how did the girl survive the crash?

As Rocco investigates, a Roman fish out of urban wate, sent to the icy area of the small northwestern town, the detective will use his wiles and canny means to investigate. He’s not afraid to step outside the box or step on a few toes to get to the bottom of this compelling mystery.

Along the way there will be a snow storm, a prison break, and even a chance for romance for Rocco, all contained within a witty and complex mystery that packs a visual wallop one can imagine on the big screen.

Carol Potenza won the 2017 Tony Hillerman prize with good reason readers will appreciate once they read Hearts of the Missing. Set in New Mexico, we are introduced to Pueblo Police Sergeant Nicky Matthews, who covers a nearby reservation.

She’s investigating the the suicide of a young woman linked to missing Fire-Sky tribe members. With the murders tied to a genetic link, Nicky must tred carefully among the indigenous people and their beliefs, as well as her own bosses and the reservation’s tribal elders. The mysticism mixes with science in this researched tale.

Native American culture, at the forefront, is handled in such a way that readers will learn about it even as Nicky finds herself in jeopardy. There’s a bundle of forensic evidence, too, as author Potenza is an Assistnat Professor of Chemistry and Biochem at New Mexico State University.

Thrillers for the Holidays Friday, Dec 21 2018 

Holiday post #3, great holiday thrillers for readers on your list!

Multiple award-winning journalist and documentarian Michael Harvey lends his talents for place and people for a second time with Pulse. 1970s Boston springs off the page with all the grit and suspense South Boston can hold.

The Fitzsimmons brothers have relied on each other when their mother drowned years ago. Older brother Harry, star of Harvard’s football team, has kept watch over younger brother, Daniel, now 16. When an opportunity arises for Daniel to move out of his cramped quarters on the floor of Harry’s room, his new landlord has a different perspective he shares.

The former Harvard physics professor, working with an early generation laptop, shares his theories of harnessing the energy of the human mind. Daniel masters this and soon calls it into action when Harry is murdered in an alley.

Bark Jones and Tommy Dillon are the detectives working Harry’s murder. They have their own history and working the case leads to surprising and heartbreaking secrets and decisions on both sides. Can’t talk about more of the plot of this twisted and compelling plot without giving a lot away. Just be assured that if your reader loves a twisted plot, this is the book to find.


Camiila Way’s The Lies We Told
brings a domestic suspense thriller to readers. While Beth knows her daughter, Hannah, has an issue with being unable to express emotion, she becomes wary of her child who seems capable of hurting others.

When perfect Luke disappears, it’s his girlfriend Clara’s digging into his past that will uncover his perfect family she thought he was from includes a long-lost sister. The secrets and lies she uncovers illustrate an elaborate almost maze-like twist in history of several of the characters and the cover lives that have been created for some.

A twisted and manipulative plot means even when you think it’s over, it’s not.


Thriller writer Brian Gruley brings a stand-alone with a terrific plot in Bleak Harbor.

Set during the Dragonfly Festival in Bleak Harbor, Michigan, a mother will do anything she can to save her kidnapped son. Heiress Carey Bleak Peters has just threatened her boss with extortion for money she would use to take her son, Danny, and herself away from Bleak Harbor and start a new life away from her family and her alcoholic husband, whose own business has turned to the illegal side.

With the kidnappers demanding $5 million in ransom, Carey and Pete go against their demand and involve the police. Enter the engaging Katya Malone, recovering from a tragic family loss, who will uncover family secrets that may have led to Danny’s kidnapping.

Set as a race against time counting down, the suspense couldn’t be higher in this thriller Gillina Flynn calls “An electric bolt of suspense.”

If you have a reader on your list who enjoys political thrillers, look no farther than Goldie Taylor’s Paper Gods. Bringing money and race to the forefront, a series of assassinations being investigated could jump off the pages of today’s news.

People attached to Atlanta Mayor Victora Overstreet are being killed, with paper gods being left at the scenes. Reporter Hampton Bridges, sidelined, lost, and wheelchair-bound, should be her nemesis with their shared history. But the two soon become involved in their own investigations into who is behind these killings. Each has their own demons to handle; each cares deeply about their city in their own way.

With a strong cast of secondary characters, not to mention Bridges faithful dog, Inman, the city of Atlanta becomes another character with its history and its present well described. Taut and fast-paced.

Lisa Gabriele retells du Maurier’s classic Rebecca by bringing it across the pond to the Hamptons of Long Island in The Winters.

The story follows the same thread of the naive bride, unnamed, quickly married to the wealthy Max Winter, in this outing a state senator. Left alone as he travels, adjusting to Asherley on Long Island after her Cayman Islands home, the reminders in her new home are filled with references to Max’s first wife, Rebekah.

This time instead of a jealous servant, we have Dani Winters, Max’s teen daughter, who is the disruptive influence. But Dani is successful in causing the new bride to question how well she really knows her new husband. And that’s when this new book deliciously diverts from the former and takes on a life of its own.

Four set in England: Bolton, Cleeland, Westron, French Wednesday, Nov 21 2018 

Auntie M loves her trips to England and enjoyed being there for two weeks this summer doing setting research. Cornwall and Cambridge figured highly in the trip, so you can expect Nora Tierney to be spending time in each place in future books.

It seems appropriate then to feature several books set in the UK for your reading pleasure.

Auntie M previously reviewed Sharon Bolton’s The Craftsman when it was published in the UK, but it’s just out here in the US, so let’s revisit a snipped of what she said then:
Sharon Bolton’s novels are always original and well-crafted. Elly Griffith’s notes that her newest, The Craftsman, is ” . . . an absolutely terrific crime novel that takes your darkest fear and makes it real” in this first of a planned trilogy.

It’s 1999 and Florence Lovelady has returned to Lancashire for the burial of Larry Glassbrook, who has died in prison for burying three teens alive, thirty years before. She travels with her teen son, Ben, to Larry’s funeral, and stays on when a new piece of evidence comes to light. The case made Florence’s career, and yet she wonders now if she put the right person behind bars all those years ago.

The book swtiches to 1969, when the third of three teens has gone missing. The town is scared, and it’s down to Florence to suggest a re-enactment of the day the third, Patsy Wood, went missing. It’s a novel approach, but one her Superintendent decides to try.

When Flossie decides she must investigate a freshly-dug grave, she’s the one who finds Patsy’s body, buried on top of another corpse. It’s evident at once the teen was alive when she was put into the casket.

The horror of such a death is the stuff of nightmares for most people, and the dark and disturbing images stay with readers as the book advances and the perpetrator is caught. Or is he?

With its history of Pendle Hill witches in the area adding to the terrifying atmosphere, this is the kind of gothic novel that grips you by the back of your neck and doesn’t let go even after the last page is turned. You’ll learn the difference between caskets and coffins and why that matters. You’ll learn how the moon affects witches. And you’ll learn to be terrifed and then in awe of Florence. Highly recommended.


Anne Cleeland’s Doyle and Action series returns with Murder in Spite, and this time the action takes place in Doyle’s Irish home. What starts as a supposed holiday takes on an entirely different tenor when a priest implicated in earlier London case is found dead on the steps of the Garda station Acton visits, a knife through one eye the implement of his death.

Doyle, with her special ability to see through people, quickly susses out that there’s more to Acton’s helping out in this case, just as there’s more to be seen with an African cab driver who seems to appear at the most needed times.

Having their young son along only cramps Doyle’s sleuthing abilities a small bit. Another entertaining entry in a well-drawn series known for its complicated plots and charming protagonists.


Carol Westron’s Strangers and Angels
is a Victorian Murder Mystery of the highest kind, filled with realistic period details, backed up by a complex plot that supports intriguing characters.

She takes readers to Gosport in 1850, along England’s the southern coast. Kemal is the Turkish midshipman on a training mission, accused of murder. With feelings running high against the Turkish sailors to begin with, it seems likely Kemal will face the gallows.

That is, until he finds help from two unlikely women: widow Adelaide and lady’s maid Molly. With little power or privilege between, the women have an almost insurmountable task to try to save the young Turk.

In a nice twist, Westron brings her sleuths into contact with real people from the era. A strong start to what should be a recurring series.


It’s always sad to see a beloved series come to an end, but Frieda Klein, Nicci French’s London-walking psychologist, perhaps deserves a rest more than most. Day of the Dead brings with it the resolution of the Dean Reeve case, the psychopathic killer who has eluded Frieda and the police for more than a decade, often with disastrous results to those Frieda cared about.

Charming and likeable, Reeves has been able to disappear and reappear at will, and become obsessed over the years with Frieda. After a decade of working with the police on cases, she now finds herself in hiding to protect those she loves.

But a showdown looms, and she must step out in public once again in order to bring Reeves to justice if she can. It will take a criminology student who tracks Frieda down to make the psychologist see that she herself holds the key to stopping Reeves, despite the cost to her personally.

As Frieda plays off against Reeve and his twisted games, she finds herself running up against her most formidable opponent. It’s a chilling climax that will stay with the reader long after the last page is read. A worthy conclusion to an addictive series.

Charlotte Bingham: MI5 and Me Sunday, Aug 26 2018 

Something a bit different from author Charlotte Bingham, in the form of a delightful memoir of her time working as a secretary in the 1950s for MI5.

When her father must admit his boring and aloof parent is a spy, and the subsequent model for John LeCarre’s George Smiley, her astonishment is real.

So is her perplexing father’s idea that the series of middling jobs she’s had need to go, and something worthwhile and patriotic take its place.

Welcome to the Mayfair headquarters and the typing pool under the formidable Dragon. Used to her false eyelashes and heavy makeup, Lottie soon finds those things will be left behind her, as will swearing and nice long lunches.

Bingham had a front row seat to a time when Russian agents were around every corner, actors were recruited as spies, and her fellow debutantes found a new code of behavior to follow.

Filled with humor, where readers can see the bones of her comedy writing with her husband, Terence Brady, Bingham also writes dramas, screenplays, and multiple novels, following in her father’s footsteps, as the 7th Baron Clanmorris wrote crime novels when he wasn’t dabbling in MI5 events.

Two Historicals: Marco Vichi and Tessa Arlen Friday, Jun 15 2018 

Auntie M has two from very different eras to recommend:


The lastest Bordelli mystery from Marco Vichi, Ghosts of the Past, take readers back to Florence of 1967, a year after the flood that devastated the area and claimed Bordelli’s conscience.

The Inspector’s new case revolves around the murder of Antonio Migliorini. The wealthy businessman was loved by all who knew him–so who could have wanted him dead?

That’s the question Brodelli must answer, and it will take him to unusual places. The victim was killed with the thrust of a fencing foil to his heart. Some jewelry was stolen,, perhsaps to muddy the waters, but no other forensic evidence is on hand to help the detective.

Revisiting the victim’s past days find Bordelli crossing paths with a war friend, Colonel Arceri, whom he invites into his home. That sets off a chain of events that will lead to Bordelli finding the murderer in a most unexpected way.

The series is filled with Bordelli’s dreams, his memories and recollections, and his yearning for the beautiful Eleanora. There is humor, too, and Florence and its environs come alive under Vichi’s talented pen, set within a complex mystery.

Tessa Arlen’s Lady Montfort series takes readers to WW1 England in Death of an Unsung Hero.

Lady Montfort has convinced her husband to offer their dower house for soldiers suffering from what is now called PTSD, with her no-nonsense, practical housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, serving as the hospital’s quartermaster.

Such a good deed comes under scrutiny when Sir Evelyn Bray is found dead in the garden from blunt force trauma to his head. Add in the local farming community’s disapproval of this easy way out for men they consider cowards, and the two women become afraid the War Office will close their hospital in an upcoming visit.

It doesn’t make sense to either woman that someone would want to murder a soldier suffering from amnesia, unless it’s to kill him before that memory fully returns. With his brother due to visit, his death is tough news to break.

When a local man is arrested, to the women’s chagrin, it adds impetus to their resolve to find the real killer. Readers also gain more knowledge of Lady Montfort’s family. With the war on, Edwardian values became more relaxed, especially for women, and this is illustrated well.

The historical details are well-researched, and eccentric characters add to the texture of the mystery. A high note is the relationship between the two women of different social stratas, and how well they work in concert, bringing their individual strengths to a murder investigation.

Kate Rhodes: Hell Bay Sunday, Mar 11 2018 

Kate Rhodes’ Alice Quentin series are a favorite, so it was with great interest that Auntie M turned to the debut of her new series, set on the Scilly Island of Bryher, Hell Bay.

Still grieving the death of his long-time undercover partner, saddled with her dog, Shadow, DI Ben Kitto returns to the remote island to rest and decide if he can continue to be a detective.

With his reclusive Uncle Ray, a boatbuilder, still on the island, and knowing the majority of the small population from his youth, Ben has a few months to decide if the resignation his boss refused goes into effect or not.

But he’s barely settled back into island life when the teenaged daughter of high school friends is found on the beach at Hell Bay, and soon he’s asked to become Senior Investigating Officer on the case.

Sixteen year-old Laura Trescothick was saving to attend drama school with her boyfriend, Danny Curnow. He soon finds out neither set of parents were happy with the youths plans or relationship.

With a two-day storm having cancelled all ferries to the island, Ben knows Laura’s killer must still be on the island. There are enough suspects to make it interesting, and enough secrets being held.

Rhodes skillfully draws the isolated locale for those who haven’t been to the area off Cornwall’s Lands End. And in Benesek Kitto, she’s drawn an interesting figure readers will want to follow. Highly Recommended.

Happy Holidays 2017 Wednesday, Dec 27 2017 

Auntie M hopes you’ll enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate!
Thanks to all the readers who enjoy the reveiws all year long.

Remember her own award-winning mysteries, The Nora Tierney English Mysteries, with the most recent, The Golden Hour, and the first Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery, Death Unscripted, are all available on Bridle Path Press and Amazon as trade paperback, in Kindle format, and in Audible books.

She looks foward to a week of down time with family and Doc, and her two Aussie Doodles, Seamus and his little sister, Fiona.

See you next year with some whopping good reads!

Pat Hale:The Church of the Holy Child Wednesday, Oct 4 2017 

From Fearful to Fearless: The Path of Self-Promotion

The Gesture of No Fear

Okay so in truth, I haven’t quite made it to the fearless end of the path. In fact, I’m just starting out, but I’ve already learned a few things and I’ll share what I know so far.

My new book, The Church of the Holy Child, was released on September 25th. Exciting, right? Yes, very. After all the writes and re-writes, there it was in print, in my hand. The only drawback . . . with release, comes promotion.

It’s both a blessing and a curse to publish with a small press. Because my publisher is small, communication is excellent. If I have questions, I get answers within hours. I have plenty of say when it comes to editing and the cover art and the process in general. Working with a small press is like being part of a family.

The downside? I’m responsible for much of the book’s promotion. For some people, getting out in the public eye and selling yourself as well as your book is a piece of cake. But I have a hunch I’m not alone when the mere thought of self-promotion puts my heart in overdrive and my stomach simulating the twists and turns of Space Mountain.

Fast forward to the C3 Conference I attended in Maryland a couple of weeks ago where I was scheduled to take part in four panels and moderate one. (Obviously, the scheduling was out of my control.) And since my publisher, Intrigue Publishing, put on the conference, I couldn’t very well back out. It was a great opportunity to get myself and my book noticed. The panels were only forty-five minutes long. I could do anything for forty-five minutes. At least that became my mantra for the weeks prior to the conference.

But what happened when I sat on my first ever panel surprised me. My fellow panel members were all a little nervous (even the bigger names). They joked about it, were kind and supportive and I felt like one of them instead of the new kid. The most surprising thing of all was that the panel and the audience were interested in what I had to say. And I answered the moderator’s questions with ease because I knew better than anyone about my writing process and why my characters did what they did. And somewhere in the midst of it all I realized I was having fun and that my heart had settled back to its normal beat.

On the last panel of the last day, Jeff Markowitz, a wonderful writer who I can now call my friend, said to the audience. “You just have to go out there every day and be fearless.”

That’s the mantra I’ve taken away from the C3 conference along with new friends and contacts and a little more confidence than I had when I got there. Most writers are quiet people, introverts. And the idea of self-promotion can bring on overwhelming anxiety. But what you tell yourself really does matter.

Remember, you are the expert on your work. You can do anything for forty-five minutes. As my grandmother always said, “Tell ‘em who you are.” And above all, be fearless.

http://www.patriciahale.org

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https://www.bookbub.com/authors/patricia-hale

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