Stephen Leather: Light Touch Sunday, Aug 13 2017 

The prolific Stephen Leather had two books out last week: the paperback version of Takedown, his stand-alone, and the newest Spider Shepherd thriller.

In Takedown, Charlotte Button, ex-MI-5, has been seen before in Leather’s series, and is now tasked with taking out a rogue Special Forces soldier. He’s already hatched one deadly plot. What she needs to do if figure out his next plan and stop him before he can act.

She has help in the form of Lex Harper, who assembles a team who are capable of stopping the rogue soldier before the massive attack they fear he’s planned. Readers of the Shepherd series will know Lex, and here they’ll see another side to him.

Having these two previously seen characters in their own book brings a fresh look to this kind of adventure-filled thriller.

While this is whirling, Charlotte finds that two of three flash drives, hidden in secret places, have been stolen. Containing information on dirty government operations from the past, their loss means her life is on the line if they can get to the third. Who is after her and why?

And while you’re investigating this one in case you missed it when it first came out, Light Touch brings Dan “Spider” Shepherd back with a tough case that is topical and swiftly paced.

MI5 send Spider in when one of their undercover operatives stops giving them information on a drug lord with international smuggling on his resume. Spider needs to find out if Lucy Kemp has shifted to the dark side in her dealings with Marcus Meyer.

It’s an intriguing and delicate situation, made all the more difficult when he finds an SAS assassin is planing revenge killings for his sister’s overdose. Only Spider can find and stop Matt STanding and conviince him there’s another way to deal with all of this–Spider’s way.

With a theme built around trust, this is a filled with action and twists, with little rest on the horizon.

Leather’s skills in action have been noted by the cinema world, too.

Two of Leather’s novels have been adapted for film: The Chinaman, one of Leather’s Mike Cramer series, has been made into the movie THE FOREIGNER which opens this fall starring Pierce Brosnan and Jackie Chan. TANGO ONE has been made with Vincent Regan and Sophie Colquhoun, directed by Ssacha Bennett, and is awaiting a release date.

THE GOLDEN HOUR: A Nora Tierney English Mystery #4 Monday, Jul 31 2017 


THE GOLDEN HOUR is Auntie M’s 4th Nora Tierney English Mystery. It’s always exciting bringing out a new book, akin to birthing a baby. After the initial first draft, that lump of clay goes through multiple revisions: workshopping with colleagues to find the story; more revisions after beta readers chime in and point out areas that don’t make sense or need fixing; more rewrites after the “Britspeak” is corrected by wonderful UK friends. P D James told Auntie M years ago that “the real writing gets done in revision,” something she repeats to herself as a mantra when the going gets tough.

While the book tour isn’t until October into November, you can order trade paperbacks now on Amazon or through Bridle Path Press, and she recommends that latter if you’d like a signed copy! http://www.bridlepathpress.com.

Thanks to the talented Giordana Segneri who did the layout and that lovely domestic cover design; to Becky Brown, copyeditor; to Eagle Eye Pam Desloges; and to Beth Cole who did the Kindle files.

The book will be on Kindle later this week and this fall, in conjunctin with the tour, on Audible, with the wonderful British narrator, Nano Nagle, who’s done a wonderful job on the others in the series.

This one’s a bit different from her usual and Auntie M hopes you will enjoy it as much as Ausma Khan, Elly Griffiths and Sarah Ward, who all gave her cover blurbs. Great crime writers all, and she’s chuffed to have their names on her cover~

On the Importance of Writing Groups Friday, Jul 21 2017 

On The Importance of Writing Groups

Auntie M belongs to a unique writing group. What author doesn’t want to improve his or her writing skills? Mine meets in person yearly, but we are in contact all year long on email. It’s an unusual concept, but one that works for us because we are all novelists, and when we meet, we workshop our entire novels. We rotate to each other’s homes each year across the country, so we’ve visited each other’s homes and explored different areas.

Our week together is thrilling beyond belief, but filled with hard work as we go through each other’s manuscripts page by page, after having received them the month before for our first reading. Picture four female writers sitting around a table, a tin of chocolate chip cookies in the center to sustain them, various beverages at hand, pens and pencils, and those stacks of manuscript pages. It’s daunting and exhilarating at once.

We learn what’s worked for the others in our first drafts—and what hasn’t. We learn what needs to be expanded and what needs to be trimmed. We learn what thoughts we’ve kept locked inside our brains that never made it to the page. Most of all, we gather ideas for filling out the plot and adding texture to create a fully realized book and a satisfying read. This is the goal of any writing group, and it can come to you if you join a local group.

Auntie M writes crime novels but some of the others don’t. We have not found this to be an obstacle. Good writing and a good story keep our interest. Our hallmark is that the author is owner of her work, and the critique process represents suggestions. If one other person finds fault with a passage, I take that under advisement. But if three other writers tell me my pacing is slow in the same spot, you’d better believe I’m going to revise that scene.

But this process we’ve derived is not for most writers. What’s far more reasonable is for writers in any genre to belong to a writing group that meets monthly or bi-monthly. One group I’m aware of that I can highly recommend is the Pamlico Writers Group. Meeting bi-monthly for general critique sessions in the historic Turnage Theatre in downtown Washington, NC, it’s one of the oldest writing groups in North Carolina.

The group sponsors workshops and meet-the-author luncheons, where writers have the opportunity to pick the brains of published authors in a casual setting. The workshops offer variations on different aspects writers need on craft, publishing, techniques and other skill sets.

For several years now Auntie M has been teaching writing workshops at the PWG’s yearly conference that draws writers and readers from all over the state and bordering areas. I’ve been on panel discussions and met budding authors, published big names, publishers, agents, and all manner of readers and fans. As part of this yearly conference, the PWG sponsors a writing competition, handing out prizes in several genres, with a category for high school writers. 2018’s conference will be held March 23rd and 24th, so do plan to keep those dates open and check their website for registration opening.

If you’re any level of writer who longs to be a part of an enthusiastic and diverse writing community, learn about the PWG and contact them through their website: http://www.pamlicowritersgroup.wildaprocot.org, or email Sherri Hollister (pwgcritique.group@gmail.com) or Louis Edwards (pwgwashingtonnc@gmail.com) with questions or for more information. And do check out their anthology contest, which opened July 15th~

John Bainbridge: Villain Monday, Jun 26 2017 

Please welcome John Bainbridge, to tell us about his newest historical in his series of The Chronicles of Robin Hood. Don’t miss the special rate if you order in the next few days! Welcome, John:

As some of you know, when I’m not writing mystery stories, I write historical tales and my new one is now out. Here’s my latest…

Villain – the third in The Chronicles of Robin Hood series – is now available for pre-order on Kindle. Publication date is 30th June. The paperback is already available. Order before the publication date and you get either version discounted – the price goes up on the 30th.

Here’s what it’s about:

“AD 1203. Plantagenet England. VILLAIN is a gripping historical novel and the third installment of The Chronicles of Robin Hood. Robin of Loxley is in exile in the dark forests of the north, when a killing and a betrayal drive him back to his old battleground of Sherwood Forest.

A good man is slain and the full terror of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Guy of Gisborne is unleashed. With the King in Normandy and a people’s champion dead, only warriors outside the law are there to fight for the poor and desperate.

Outnumbered and surrounded by his enemies, Robin Hood is forced into waging a murderous campaign against the forces of evil.

Fighting against overwhelming odds, the outlaws divided and with a vicious warlord attacking the people of Sherwood, can Robin Hood and just a few of his men hold back the forces of oppression?

An exciting new historical novel by the author of Loxley and Wolfshead.”

To order just click on the link to pre-order the Kindle version. Look under “Books” for the paperback.

Please do share and tell your friends. Small publishers taking on the mighty publishing empire of Rupert Murdoch need word of mouth advertising.

For more details about my historical writing do check out my other blog at http://www.johnbainbridgewriter.wordpress.com

Susan Kandel: Dream a Little Death Monday, Jun 19 2017 


With a sparkling protagonist, Susan Kandel introduces readers to Dreama Black, immortalized forever in a rock song, in Dream a Little Death.

To say Dream has experienced an unusual upbringing would be an understatement. Her free-spirit grandmother and still-hippie mother, both rock groupies, raised her to be independent and to explore her sexuality, and that she does.

But Dreama is also trying to get ahead in her business, providing custom tours to private groups of LA’s neighborhoods, specifically designed depending on the group’s forte, so it’s difficult for her to turn down a five figure offer to set up a tour for music producer Miles McCoy’s fiancee’.

Noir is Dreama’s forte, and readers will learn about many of Dreama’s favorite places and how they tie in to the story in a big way. But this is a mystery, and there will be murders before it’s over, with Dreama finding her own life in danger while she tries to figure out her own love life.

The characters are larger-than-life and spring off the page, accompanied by Dreama’s witty observations. When McCoy’s fiancee shoots herself during an onstage performance, it’s deemed a suicide attempt–or was it murder?

This is a fast read with more than a touch of humor, and an insider’s look of Los Angeles and its varied neighborhoods, alongside a cracking good plot.

Tom Walsh: Bless Me Father Sunday, Jun 18 2017 

Bless Me Father is a classic “who done it?”

It’s a story of love lost and love found amid contemporary social issues of homelessness, addiction, and bringing the untouchable to justice. Cloistered conversations in the confessional are sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous. It is a modern-day crime mystery with character depth, a forbidden love, and a resurrected cold case.

Early readers have described the debut novel of Tom Walsh as thrilling and entertaining. Parts of the story echoes themes such as: the forbidden love of “The Thorn Birds;” the scandal of “Spotlight;” and the mystery of crimes long past of “Mystic River.”

It’s a definite page-flipper and a worthwhile read.

Tom’s earliest education began in parochial schools in San Francisco. At 19 he took a summer job in the motor pool two floors underground at a large public utility. He finished his Management degree at night at St. Mary’s College of California and by the time he left the utility company 20 years later, he had ascended the management ranks, regularly meeting with company officers on the top floor. During that time, he honed his skills in writing business proposals while contributing articles to trade publications and company newsletters.

Outside of work and school he wrote and performed music with a rock band in clubs around Marin and Sonoma counties. Continually seeking new challenges, he took management positions in Bay Area startups that developed innovative consumer electronics. He saw the start-up environment wane and was asked to return to the utility now during bankruptcy. Then as a self-employed consultant he assisted utilities, consumer electronic start-ups, and companies in the food industry. Somewhere along the way he was also the owner-operator of a popular restaurant. All the while, Tom’s artistic endeavors continue to be freelance journalism and music.


Tom is married with two children and lives in Sonoma County.

Sharon Bolton: Daisy in Chains Wednesday, Jun 14 2017 

Sharon Bolton’s Daisy in Chains was previously reviewed by Auntie M. This is to let readers know that the intricate stand alone from the suspense writer known for her compelling, original plots is now available in paperback. If you missed it in hardcover, look for it now.

Just to refresh memories, here’s the original review, which received my “Highly Recommended” rating:

Daisy in Chains is Bolton at her finest, bringing an original plot to the mix in this twisty tale where each and every detail may have more than one meaning. It’s a masterful blend of sleight of hand and at the end, the reader will understand just how good a plotter and writer Bolton is–and clamor for her next outing.

We are introduced to Maggie Rose, the blue-haired writer and attorney whose specialty is reversing convictions for murderers. The books that come out of this have given her a nice house in the country, even while she shuns publicity and appears to be a loner.

Then she’s asked to investigate the case of a good-looking doctor, Hamish Wolfe, in jail for three or four murders, depending on who’s counting. What the victims all have in common is their body style, larger women whose heaviness has often caused them issues.

While an undergrad in Oxford, Hamish had a relationship with a heavy woman. There is the suggestion he filmed himself and his lover having sex, but the video has vanished, as did his girlfriend.

The police seemed to think this was reason enough for his suspicion when the newer murders occur and each woman was heavyset, with their bodies found in caves Wolfe is familiar with. They are his “type.” Forensic evidence places one of the dead women in his car. Game over.

Maggie agrees to see Wolfe but is cautioned by the detective who put him away, Pete Weston, that Wolfe is a dangerous, charismatic character. Stacks of letters from women who have fallen for his charms from afar arrive at his prison at the Isle of Wight daily. A group of misfits headed by his mother has formed a group to try to get his conviction overturned.

Maggie isn’t certain at all that she wants this particular case but finds herself drawn in. And then someone breaks into her house and leaves a strange message: He loves me.

Weston seems attracted to Maggie, a nice subplot as he’s going through a divorce and the man his own wife has left him for just happens to be his boss.

There’s a lot here and close readers will still be surprised at the twisted ending. Bolton successfully explores issues of body image as the tension heats up quickly and stays there. Life in prison, body image issues, and bullies, murder and mystery: it’s all here in letters and emails exchanged between various participants; and in the wonderful scenes between the well-drawn characters. Highly recommended.

Maine Crime Wave: Saturday, April 22nd Friday, Mar 17 2017 

Readers, here’s a note from Gayle Lynds on the NEW Maine Crime Wave conference. Auntie M hopes to attend next year, but this inaugural year looks outstanding:

Writers conferences are like tea and cookies for me, or maybe like an AK-47 and a cyanide pill embedded in a molar. They’re exciting and often memorable in unexpected ways. They can range widely in our mystery-suspense-thriller field. I love the big ones; I love the small ones. Some of my very best friends in the world I met when we sat next to or bumped into each other, or I heard speak. Plus, although I’ve been publishing for some thirty years, I still learn at every one.

If you, too, love books and write in the crime field. Please join us at this year’s Maine Crime Wave on Saturday, April 22, in Portland. It’s going to be outstanding. Here are some details:

Ever wonder about the process of developing from debut author to New York Times bestseller? Hear the inside scoop from TESS GERRITSEN—winner of our inaugural CrimeMaster Award—and her renowned New York literary agent MEG RULEY of the Jane Rotrosen Agency.

What’s the truth about crime at the state level? Join us for insider tales from MAINE ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET MILLS, who will give the day’s luncheon keynote talk.

PLUS The conference includes panel discussions, theme-specific craft sessions, manuscript workshops, one-on-one agent critiques, and more:

★ Experts discuss how to write winning query letters
★ Debut authors reveal how they got published
★ Attorneys and law enforcement officers unveil inside info about crime & punishment
★ Top authors describe how they develop ideas into selling manuscripts
★ Break-out craft sessions give you the inside scoop on Plot, Character, & Scenes
★ A special hands-on manuscript workshop for four attendees
★ And join us at 4:00 p.m. for Two Minutes in the Slammer, an opportunity to read your own prose

All the details are here: http://mainewriters.org/maine-crime-wave/

Looking forward to meeting you! Gayle Lynds

[Gayle Lynds is a New York Times bestseller and multiple award winner of international espionage novels. Please visit her at http://www.GayleLynds.com]

Ragnar Jonasson: Snow Blind Sunday, Jan 29 2017 

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Ragnar Jonasson’s Snow Blind introduces a new crime series set in Iceland. Jonasson hones his crime chops translating fourteen Agatha Christie mysteries into Icelandic, and is a founding member of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir.

Snow Blind introduces Ari Thor Arason, a new policeman who has just moved to the tiny northern fishing village of Siglufjordur. It’s a place where white is the predominant color many weeks of the year, and where avalanches can cut off the small mountain tunnel that allows access to the rest of the world.

Taking this position meant leaving his girlfriend behind, and Ari Thor is still smarting at the way their relationship is floundering. When a young woman, half-naked, is found bleeding and near death in her backyard, he becomes quickly involved in his new community. While he seeks the perpetrator, he suspects not everyone is telling the truth.

That new community involves a local theatre group, one of whom is giving Ari Thor piano lessons. Then someone at the theatre dies, and he must ascertain if this was a tragic accident, or a case of murder.

Is it possible these two instances are connected, as the woman’s partner is a member of the theatre troupe? With only two other members of his police team, and his Chief intent on smoothing troubled waters, it will be left to Ari Thor to investigate on his own.

With its complex plot to keep readers flipping pages, the stark coldness emphasizes Ari Thor’s alienation and sense of claustrophobia. Then his own house is broken into, and the young policeman must figure out if he’s been put on the killer’s list, and why.

A classic whodunit set in a stark place with a twisted ending.

Dorothy Hayes: Keys to Nowhere Friday, Jan 20 2017 

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Auntie M had the good fortune to interview Dorothy Hayes recently about her new release, Keys to Nowhere. Dottie has generously offered to giveaway a copy of the new book to one lucky person who leaves a comment~

Auntie M: –Keys to Nowhere is your third Carol Rossi novel. How did you decide to write about a Connecticut-based investigative journalist?

Dorothy Hayes: Marni, I do believe in the basic rule: write about what you know. I was a reporter for more than five years for local Connecticut newspapers, The Wilton Bulletin, a weekly, and then The Hour, a daily in Norwalk. The culture of the newsroom comes to life only because I lived it.

AM: -How much of Rossi’s personal life is based on Dorothy Hayes?

DH: Rossi is married to a much younger man, and so am I. But I, gratefully, have four grown children and a huge family. Rossi has one baby, and her parents have passed away. Rossi is a writer and a vegan, and so am I. She is my alter ego, however, for she lives a perfect life on Peaceable Kingdom. She and Jerry rescue animals and live in rare harmony with nature. Of course, Jerry is a police detective in Wilton, Connecticut, where they reside, so when their tranquility is rudely broken, a new mystery is born. Also, people in desperation turn to Rossi, who is a bit of a local hero, then she’s forced into being a reluctant amateur sleuth and in that role she faces potentially lethal violence.
In the end, Rossi is far braver and cleverer than I.

AM: -You’ve chosen 1985 as your time frame. What prompted that decision?

DH: I wrote full-time as a journalist in that time period. My mysteries focus around the crimes of the times and are based on facts and research going back to my newspaper beginnings as a writer. The Mafia and serial killers were just being uncovered in all their various forms in the seventies and early 80’s. The God Father, for instance, debuted in 1972. Also, crime was at an all time high in New York City, where Broken Window takes place, 2,000 homicides a year, and with gangs roaming the subway trains.

AM: -In Keys to Nowhere, Rossi decides to leave her infant with her husband to pursue the case. How does Rossi justify that decision?

DH: Well, Marni, being a new mother, Rossi understood her friend’s fears. When Vera Dearborn shows up at her door in hysteria, telling her that her two teenagers and her sister have vanished in Tucson, Arizona, Rossi puts herself in Vera’s shoes. If her baby disappeared she’d want help as well. She struggles with this decision and is subject to mother’s guilt big time, but it’s impossible for her to say no. Rossi is sure that she’ll persuade the Tucson Police to work on the case somehow. If they won’t, she’ll go beyond her investigative journalistic role and again venture forward as an amateur sleuth, as she’s done in the past. That in fact happens, leaving Rossi to pursue, against her better judgment, a serial killer before he strikes again.

AM: -What pitfalls will Rossi face having no official credentials once she arrives in Tucson? How do you get around that?

DH: Rossi usually works with her detective husband and it’s a two-way street. She attacks the case as an investigative journalist and he follows police procedure, which often misses major points. Both benefit from the dual investigations. But now, Rossi is on her own. She strikes a bit of good luck in the form of a young police officer, Brian Larson. Jerry also telephone’s Larson, leaning on him a little as a brother-in-blue. But nevertheless the police insist that the three women are “runaways,” and refuse to open a missing person’s case. But the compassionate Larson extends a helping hand to Rossi.

AM: -How does Keys to Nowhere compare to your two others, Murder at the P&Z, and Broken Window?

DH: Murder at the P&Z is a classic Whodunit. I don’t want to give it away by telling what the crime of the time was behind the murders.
Broken Window and Keys to Nowhere are missing person stories. Broken Window deals with human trafficking in the US, while Keys to Nowhere is about serial killers. I’m not giving anything away for this is fairly clear from the beginning of the two mysteries.

AM: -So many readers enjoy reading a series protagonist. How does that work for you as the author?

DH: I’ve fallen in love with my characters. I get a kick out of the trouble Rossi finds herself in and how she cleverly works her way out of it. I’m always surprised by my characters. Like my vegetables, I’m an organic writer. My stories grow as they go. I place my characters into situations and allow their instincts and emotions to take over. I, of course, put myself in that character’s role. I never know where the story is heading. Stephen King does the same and I often wondered if I should be more buttoned down about the plot, but King said a plot all mapped out is like a prefab house, and I get that. I’m excited when I begin a new mystery, Marni, for I don’t know where the heck it is going. It’s an adventure for my readers and for me.

AM: -What’s a typical writing day like for Dorothy Hayes?

DH: It’s up with the sun. Write to about two or three in the afternoon. I feel totally satisfied. Writing is my natural habitat. Marni, when I was a kid, I wanted to two things: to have four kids and to write novels. I’ve been blessed with both.

AM: -Where do you find your plot ideas for the cases that attract Rossi?

DH: Coming from newspapers, my stories are all based on crimes of the times. Through my research, I love research. I have great fun preparing for a book once I know what the underlying subject will be. In the Author’s Note of all my books, I reveal the real life crime mainly reported in newspapers, I also do a great deal of reading on the subject in books, which I list. At times I’ll list the names of people in real life who were models for my characters, and the dates of the crimes reported and the name and date of the newspaper article. Once I’ve got my topic, I research more, and before I know it, characters pop up like surprise, but welcomed, guests at my door.

AM: -Who do you like to read when you’re not writing?

DH: Henning Mankell was one of my favorite mystery writers, I’ve read all his Kurt Wallander books. Kurt is a flawed, but real human being and I love character driven books, as a rule. Now, I’m reading Chernow’s Hamilton like many other readers. I’ve just finished Dead Wake, The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, and The Guns of August. I’ll keep reading newspapers, novels and histories until an idea strikes my imagination and then we’re off again, me and my characters, to another adventure.

But, Marni, it was The Ballad of Reading Goal, a ballad I read by Oscar Wilde, that moved me as a writer; “Yet each man kills the things he loves, by each let this be heard…” In his writing, Wilde allowed me to feel the raw emotions of the last few minutes of a condemned man’s life. This was impossible for me to experience otherwise. It stunned and amazed me. Homer’s The Iliad was the first book that made me cry, I even know where I was when I read it–that was when Andromache sees Hector’s dead body, her wonderful husband, being dragged through the dirt by Achilles. Hamlet…I could go on.
Books such as these were an awakening for me.
My passion, as a writer, humbly and thanks to incredible writers, is to transport readers to places, times and feelings impossible to reach other than in books.

READERS: Don’t forget to leave a comment if you’d like to win a free copy of Keys to Nowhere~

hayes-dot-2-color-hi-res-1
Dorothy Hayes, a staff writer for local Connecticut newspapers for five years, received an honorary award for her in-depth series on Vietnam Veterans from the Society of Professional Journalists. Prior to that she was a Language Arts teacher. A staff writer for a national animal protection organization for six years, she wrote her first novel, Animal Instinct, in 2006. Dorothy lives in Stamford, Connecticut with her husband, Arthur. She also raised four children, and is the mother-in-law to three, grandmother to fourteen, and great-grandmother to Bella.

Her other books in the Carol Rossi Mystery Series are: Murder at the P&Z, 2013 and Broken Window, 2015. Her short story, , was published by Mysterical-E, December 2016.

She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime-Tri-State Chapter, and Mystery Writers of American. Visit her at dorothyhayes.com.

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