Aline Templeton: Human Face Thursday, Sep 20 2018 


Aline Templeton’s DI Marjory Fleming series is one of Auntie M’s favorites, so it was with great anticipation that she dove into the first of Templeton’s new series, Human Face.

Featuring DI Kelso Strang, dealing with the after effects of a life-changing accidnet, he’s sent to unravel the case of a missing woman on the Isle of Skye.

The isolated landscape in the shadow of the Black Cuillin range proves threatening to Strang and matches his bleak mood. He’s been sent to followup on the disappearance of a housekeeper, Eva, at Balnasheil, the isolated manor that houses the charity Human Face, which helps bring food and medical care to Third World children.

The charity’s founder and biggest donor, Beatrice Lacey, is a woman with her own secrets; enigmatic co-founder Adam Carnegie has charmed her with the promise of a life for them together. They live together but separately at Balnasheil, across the bay from the small town.

When Strang finds out Eva is actually the second housekeeper to disappear, the case becomes a probable murder investigation–until a confirmed murder happens on the premises, throwing Strang and his cobbled-together team into a whirlwind case.

Strang’s a believeable protagonist, needing the responsibility of the case and decisive position to blot out his memories. But he also becomes an unwilling mentor to a young PC determined to prove her chops as a budding detective.

A nicely twisted plot, weather that turns on a dime, landscape that functions as more than a setting, and complex characters hiding secrets all add up to grand mystery.

This debut promises the new series will bring all of these hallmarks that make Templeton’s books ones that have won a legion of faithful readers.

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Rea Frey: Not Her Daughter Wednesday, Sep 19 2018 


With a strong debut, Rea Frey’s Not Her Daughter forces readers to examine their feeling about mothering, and if everyone is cut out to be a good mother.

Five year-old Emma Townsend is missing. A lonely child whose father is emotionally absent, her mother could be called cruel. Amy Townsend is not a good mother and is aware of it. Does she want her child to return?

Sarah Walker is desperate to be a mother. Abandoned by her own mother, she find herself in the role of kidnapper. She takes Emma far away and the question that centers the book is: is it truly kidnapping if Sarah has rescued Emma from a mother who doesn’t want her?

While on the run together, Emma bonds with Sarah in a way she never has with her biological mother. It’s an emotional journey for the them as well as a harrowing physical one.

With flawed but believeable characters, Frey manages to keep the suspense up while challenging readers to examine their feelings about motherhood. A clever and compelling debut sure to resonate with readers long after the last page has been turned.

Wendy Corsi Staub: Little Girl Lost Sunday, Sep 16 2018 

Award-winning thriller author Wendy Corsi Staub debuts the first in a new Foundling series with Little Girl Lost.
Staub’s latest, Little Girl Lost, is the first book in her new Foundlings trilogy, where lives become intertwined and secrets are kept.

It’s the pre-dawn hours of May 12, 1968, a Mother’s Day Calvin Crenshaw won’t soon forget. As janitor at Harlem’s Park Baptist Church, his work is interrupted by a whimpering sound coming from the choir stall.

He finds a baby there, wrapped in a small bundle. Having been unable to conceive a child with his wife, he makes the fateful decision to claim the infant girl as their own.

Elsewhere in New York City, an elusive serial killer known as the Brooklyn Butcher has been slaughtering families in their beds, leaving one young female survivor at each scene.

These seemingly disparate events are anything but that, under Staub’s skilled thriller writing.

Flash-forward to March 7, 1987 when college student Amelia Crenshaw makes the shocking discovery that she is a “foundling”—somebody that was abandoned by his or her birth parents to be discovered and cared for by another—as her mother lays dying of cancer in a hospital bed.

Both shocked and griefstricken, she vows to unlock the secrets of a past she never suspected she had—despite her father’s refusal to discuss the details of her supposed adoption.

NYPD Detective Stockton Barnes is grieving, too. He’s shown up in earlier novels, but now as his mentor and surrogate father wastes away, he receives a legal notice that a one-night stand he had is now pregnant with his child.

Barnes uses a new case to distract him: the disappearance of millionaire Perry Archibald Wayland III, whose supposed suicide may have been staged.

How Amelia and Barnes search for individual answers intersect bring them to a killing spree that harkens back to the Brooklyn Butcher.

Staub’s characterizations are vivid, with Amelia and Barnes providing the counter views of a youn girl who’s the product of an unwanted pregnancy, contrasted with Barnes being the cause of one. This emotional weight resonates with the reader.

Staub uses the backdrop of 1980s New York City to life through her depiction of landmarks and locales, as well as references to pop culture and politics. It’s a subtle thing but one that hints at the depth of her research—and that elevates the story.

Filled with twists and turns, Little Girl Lost is a suspense story that will leave readers looking for the next installment.

Michael Robotham: The Other Wife Friday, Sep 14 2018 

Micahel Robotham’s Professor Joe O’Loughlin is one of Auntie M’s favorite characters, ever. The psychologist struggling with Parkinson’s and grief, trying to parent his two growing daughters, has his shaking hands full again in The Other Wife.

When the call comes that his well-known and respected surgeon father, retired but still admired, has suffered an horrific attack and had to have brain surgery, Joe rushes to the ICU to find a strange woman, covered in his father’s blood, at his bedside.

This is the woman who found William O’Loughlin lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of the home she claims they share when William is in London, away from the home he shares in Wales with his wife of sixty years and Joe’s mother.

Olivia Blackstone is William’s other wife, married in a Buddhist ceremony, and bringing her own baggage along.

If it’s a shock to readers, we can only imagine the shock Joe must feel as he absorbs this radical new view of his father–the distant, cool man who raised him contrasts sharply with photos Olivia shares to prove their relationship.

This other man is smiling, brighter, happier than Joe has ever seen him. But regardless of the painful reality of his father having led two lives for over twenty years, comes the stark realization that someone wanted him dead, and the suspects start to mount up. It doesn’t help that the lead detective on the case doesn’t like Joe, which adds to the complications.

Counting on his good friend, retired police detective Vincent Ruiz, Joe will try to keep his daughters safe even as the younger, Emma, has her own struggles with the loss the previous year of her mother. With older sister Charlie now studying psychology at Oxford, Joe will lean on her to help Emma as he turns to tracing his father’s movements and the behavior that led to this attack.

There are even more surprises as the plot twists and take unexpected turns, but one thing readers can count on is Robotham’s ability to make them care about Joe and his family. There is even a small sense of triumph with the resolution of his father’s situation, one readers will smile at as it reveals Joe’s own human side.

This writing is exceptional. There is a huge sense of the author understanding human emotions and frailties, and being able to translate that to the page in such a subtle way that readers will wish, somehow, that Joe O’Loughlin was their friend. It’s why Vince sticks around, and Charlie and Emma love him. You will, too.

Auntie M is always moved by Robotham’s last chapters. Always.

Highly recommended.

Sarah Pinborough: Cross Her Heart Monday, Sep 10 2018 

Sarah Pinborough’s psychological thriller Cross Her Heart takes domestic suspense to a new level in this tale of strong women and the secrets they hold.

Lisa loves her teenaged daughter, Ava, with a bit of although her helicoptering style chafes Ava as she’s sixteen now. Ava is closest to her friends from the swim team, while Lisa’s colleague and best friend, Marilyn, tries to convince Lisa to allow Ava a bit more freedom.

But with freedom comes issues Lisa is worried about, with good concern. Always skittery and shy, Lisa is finally starting to relax, just as the promise of a new relationship is dangled in front of her, when things start happening that button her up all over again.

Then Ava becomes something of a local hero when she rescues a young boy from a potential drowning, only Lisa’s past life surfaces and changes everything she’s fought so hard to contain these past years.

As her true identity emerges, anxiety and tension rises with each passing chapter. As if a dream, Lisa must confront the issues of her past–but this isn’t a dream, it’s her life and it’s happening to her, and to Ava, right now.

There are surprises, and just as readers think they know what’s happening, they will realize they really don’t. Promises made and promises broken is the thread here, with startling results. A powerful read that is at once highly visual, Cross Her Heart has already been opotioned for a television series, with good reason.

Ellison Cooper: Caged Sunday, Sep 9 2018 

Welcome to the world of FBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair, coming to grips iwth a personal tragedy even as she delves into her research into the minds of serial killers.

Then an horrific crime scene in Washington DC becomes Sayers newest investigation. A young girl had been slowly starved to death, held in a cage like an animal.

That the victim is the daughter of a US senator means Sayer is suddenly in everyone’s crosshairs.

Then a second girl is taken and Sayer must up her game to find the obsessed killer behind these kidnappings and deaths. Partnered with agent Vik Devereaux of Crimes Against Children, they find little evidence but a video that is as graphic as it is strange.

It’s a public relations nightmare once the senator gets involved, too, as the team races to find the second girl. The action heats up and the tension rises with each page. Readers who like their forensics and what lurks in the mind of a serial killer will keep flipping pages.

A strong debut.

Ann Cleeves: Wild Fire Friday, Sep 7 2018 


Ann Cleeves final book in her Shetland Island series is Wild Fire. Just having to write “final” makes Auntie M sad to see this fabulous series end, it goes out on a high note with Jimmy Perez’s team investigating their most interesting and complex case yet.

There are multiple personal storylines at play that add texture to what is a startling case, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Shetland Islands that Cleeves has brought to life for readers.

Helena and Daniel Fleming moved to remote Deltaness to escape the clog of London life and make a fresh start for their two young children, Ellie and her older brother Christopher, a high-functioning autistic lad. Renovating Hesti, the home they’d bought and enlarged, has kept architect Daniel busy, while Helena’s design business in knitted sweaters has taken off.

Shortly after moving in, the former owner of Hesti hanged himself in one of their outbuildings and was found by Daniel, whose depression has clouded the family’s new life.

Then Helena receives drawings of a hanged man, underlining the gossip and resentment some of the locals feel towards the incomers, and she informs Jimmy Perez. Helena knew his dead fiance, Fran, and this brings a connection between the two.

When a second body is found hanged at Hesti, Jimmy and his team must sort out just how many dysfunctional families there are in Deltaness.

While all families are dysfunctional, there are varied levels of degree. It will take Jimmy, his boss and sometime lover, Willow, as well as newer detective Sandy, to uncover the startling truth.

Intricately plotted, with Cleeves well-developed sense of character, this is a stunning end to the series, one Louise Penny calls: “Nothing short of riveting.” Highly recommended.

Stuart MacBride: The Blood Road Tuesday, Sep 4 2018 

Stuart MacBride’s Logan McRae series features some of the most creative and original characters written, mixed with twisted plots that keep readers flipping pages. He’s back with the 13th, The Blood Road, a wild ride that takes the Professional Standards detective back to investigation.

DI Bell is found stabbed and dead in the driver’s seat of car that’s crashed. Sad it might be, but shocking is more like it, as they buried the man two years ago after a suicidal fire. Or thought they did.

Reopening the investigation into the original incident brings with it so many secrets of the past, including just whose remains were buried in Bell’s casket, leading to an exhumation.

Given a few of his irregulars to help, Tufty and Steel, (it wouldn’t be the same without them), there’s also a raft of missing young children occupying the rest of the department. Rumors of a “livestock mart” where children are auctioned off are rampant.

And DI Fraser, running that investigation, has put in a complaint to Logan about DS Chalmers, supposedly working on the case but frequently off doing her own thing. Now what would this thing be?

It’s a twisted plot, as usual, because nothing is ever easy in Logan McRae’s life, even trying to advance his new relationship.

Reading a Logan McRae procedural is like coming home to old friends–some of whom you hope don’t drop in too often–but still, you’re fond of them . . . until things get out of control.

Readers won’t be able to stop flipping pages once they start htis newest addition. It’s like Christmas and Easter rolled into one, just missing the chocolate. Highly recommended.

Matthew Hall: A Life to Kill Sunday, Sep 2 2018 

Matthew Hall’s Coroner Jenny Cooper series returns with A Life to Kill, where Cooper finds herself in strange territory on and off the case.

The last British combat soldiers are leaving Helman province to return to their waiting families in Highcliffe after a 6-moth deployment.

But disaster strikes only a few hours before they leave, when a young private is abducted. The officers sent to locate him come are taken by surprise after trusting locals, an ambush that leaves one dead and two severely injured.

it’s a somber return, complicated by trying to figure out how this could have happened. Jenny Cooper’s inquest will stir up the army as much as the secrets the families hold.

Add in a grandstanding group of lawyers and she has her hands full with trying to get to the bottom of her toughest case yet.

With the military breathing down her neck and affecting her private life, Cooper must decide whether to follow her instincts or cave to an outcome where the truth will never be out.

A strong entry in a continued complex series.

Ann Cleeves: The Seagull Friday, Aug 31 2018 


It’s no secret Auntie M is a huge fan of anything Ann Cleeves writes, and reading THE SEAGULL was made even more special after meeting Brenda Blethyn, who plays Vera Stanhope, at Malice Domestic this year.

In interviews with Cleeves, it became clear that a deep affection exists between the award-winning actor and the award-winning author. Cleeves indicated that she trust Blethyn to interpret her Vera well, and indeed to readers who are fortunate to see the series, Vera does jump off the page.

The newest Vera novel takes the formidable detective to visit her old nemsis, Detective Superintendent John Brace, languishing in prisone after his conviction for high-level corruption and his involvement in the death of a gamekeeper.

Brace has information about the disappearance of one Robbie Marshall, information he will part with if Vera promises to keep his own daughter and grandchildren under her wing.

However, the promised site of the burial of Marshall’s body turns up not one corpse but two. Who is also buried in that sandy grave? And what ties does it have to Vera’s own father?

All were regular visitors to a tony nightclub of the time called The Seagull. Vera will travel back in time to her memories and dig deeply to solve the coldest case she’s come across yet.

Highly recommended.

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