Steph Broadribb: Deep Dark Night Saturday, Mar 7 2020 

Steph Broadribb’s Lori Anderson series returns with the Florida bounty hunter showing her strength, mental and physical, in Deep Dark Night.

Working with an FBI agent she doesn’t trust but owes a case to, Lori and her partner both can kick ass but in this one, it’s all down to Lori to handle things for them both.

More is at stake than the daughter she’s left behind in Florida as Chicago is the site of a deal to entrap she must manage with the head of the Cabressa crime family.

The bait is a chess set that has a personal attachment for the crime boss, along with its financial value. In a high-stakes poker game, Lori must impress everyone with her ability to play while dangling the chess set as the high reward.

Only just as things heat up, a city wide blackout turns the glitzy hotel suite into a hostage situation. Not everyone is who they were purported to be at the table, including Lori herself.

Action-packed with rising tension that will add white knuckles to the flipping pages.

Vanda Symon: Containment Thursday, Mar 5 2020 

Vanda Symon’s Sam Shephard series is fast gaining international acknowledgement, and it’s no surprise readers will engage with her newest, Containment.

Young detective Sam finds herself called out on an early Sunday to Aramoana, where the New Zealand coast has snagged a ship that’s become marooned on an angle, strewing some of its containers in the water, while others have been beached. An elderly woman has found a skull in the sands, too. What else could go wrong?

It only takes one group of young men to breach the seal on the metal container nearest them, and soon masses descend on the area, scavenging for the containers’ contents. It’s while Sma’s trying to control a pair of looters fighting over a carton that one of them punches her lights out. As she goes down for the count, Sam sees the older of the two men go after the younger and tackle him.

Only the older man has dealt the younger enough blows to land him in the hospital, and after Sam safes his life in the ambulance where she’s accompanying him for stitches and to be checked for a concussion, things go further downhill and don’t add up. Now her would-be rescuer is in trouble for coming to Sam’s defense, as the younger man who beat Sam up hovers between life and death.

The trail for the recovery of contents takes time, and then the body of a diver is pulled from the sea, and there’s a connection between this dead young man with the pilferage.

The confusion mounts as much as Sam’s personal life. It’s a perfect storm of the setting, great character development and a gripping plot that makes Containment one readers won’t be able to put down.

Simone St. James: The Sun Down Motel Sunday, Mar 1 2020 

Simone St. James will have pulses racing with her supernatural thriller, The Sun Down Motel.

“Mystery with Ghosts” could be the subtitle, with the story alternating between Viv in 1982, and her nice Carly, in 2017.

Fell, NY, is the setting, where Carly Kirk has come to town to investigate her aunt’s disappearance years ago. The town has seen its share of murders to young women. To do so she’s left college after her mother’s death leaves her a small inheritence and the drive to do this.

Carly takes a job working the night shift at the same motel where Viv worked in 1982, searching for clues. The motel is a throwback to that era, still using a handwritten guest book and keys instead of cards to open doors.

But soon the same kind of weird things that Viv witnessed happen to Carly: the prank calls to the front desk with no one on the other end; doors that open; lights go out. Creepiest is the smell of cigarette smoke with no one there.

Carly soon finds she has more in common with Viv than she imagines as she finds out what’s been happening in Fell, NY. Deliciously creepy.

Charles Todd: A Divided Loyalty Saturday, Feb 29 2020 

The duo team known as Charles Todd brings Inspector Ian Rutledge his most difficult cases in their 22nd outing, A Divided Loyalty.

Rutledge is giving evidence in a case while he walks a fine edge with his superiors. His colleague and war-time friend, Brian Leslie, is the one sent to Avebury where an unidentified woman’s body has been found near the prehistoric stone circle.

But Leslie recognizes the victim, but chooses to keep that information to himself, and then is unable to find the murderer; meanwhile Rutledge is instead sent to find the killer of a second murdered woman found in a recently dug grave.

After solving his case, Rutledge finds himself assigned to take a second look at the case his friend couldn’t solve. He must try to identify the victim and re-do the investigation of his friend, a thankless task to begin with, and his failure would give his superintendent the reason he needs to fire Rutledge.

Aware he’s in a tough situation, Rutledge struggles to find the clues he needs to solve the case, and when he does, it will bring with it the ammunition his superiors need to fire him. The ending puts twists to an unusual climax that puts everyone involved in jeopardy.

For fans of this post-WWI era, the historic details are atmospheric and add to the story in this popular long-running series.

Lori Rader-Day: The Lucky One Wednesday, Feb 26 2020 

Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Winner Lori Radar-Day brings her newest psychological thriller to the page with The Lucky One.

Two strong women, Alice and Merrily, tell their stories that will eventually converge.

Alice Fine works in the Chicago office of the construction business her father and Uncle have run together for her entire life. With a recently broken engagement behind her, Alice spends her down time searching the pages of the true-crime volunteer site The Does Pages, searching for clues that would bring closure to unknown victims.

With her mother dead a few years, she’s close to her father, who often despairs of her volunteering. Once a policeman, he rescued her from a kidnapping in Indiana when she was a young child, which prompted the family’s move to Chicago. Part of Alice’s quest is to find her kidnapper, and one day she sees his photo on The Doe Pages website.

After that she must search for the truth of who this man was, even though the post with his photo is quickly deleted. That search brings her and two local amateurs from the Doe Pages to Merrily Cruz, a young woman who knew the man Alice seeks, and has her own history with him.

The dark truth they seek will surprise readers as the women research the pasts of this man and the people whose lives he touched. A stunning climax turns everything Alice and Merrily thought they knew on its head.

Rarer-Day uses a clever device of excerpts from the Doe chat page that enhances the story. This terrific story has a chilling effect as it’s all-too believable, as are the characters. It will leave readers wondering just who really was the lucky one. Highly recommended.

Art Taylor: The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74 Sunday, Feb 23 2020 

Please welcome award-winning author Art Taylor, to talk about choosing the order of the stories in his new suspense collection The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense:

Plans are afoot for me to teach a course on short story collections at George Mason University in Spring 2021—not reading collections but creating them. This would be a creative writing course, not a literature course.

What choices should student authors (or any author) make in selecting their stories or writing new ones with an eye toward a cohesive book? Should the stories adhere to some specific genre? have some thematic focus? And once they’ve chosen/written their stories, how should they arrange them to choreograph an experience for the reader? Would the strongest story be first or last, for example, or somewhere in between?

These won’t be simply academic questions for those creative writing students. They’ll sift through drafts from their college workshops and craft new stories within our own class. And those questions weren’t academic for me either, when I pulled together my own collection into a full manuscript more than a year ago.

That collection—The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense—was released this month by Crippen & Landru, and while I’ll leave it to readers to determine whether the book ultimately coheres as a satisfactory read, I’m glad to share my thoughts on organizing it.

The stories here cover 25 years in my writing career (has it been that long?) from “Murder on the Orient Express” in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’s Department of First Stories in December 1995, to the collection’s title story, which first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine’s January/February 2020 issue. Rereading the stories, I was intrigued myself to see how certain themes persisted over that quarter-century—this writer’s own interests and obsessions revealing themselves. A focus on relationships predominated, for example—family ties, romances, core friendships—and on the responsibilities of being in those relationships, the costs of betraying them.

While that focus helped provide a core thread here, the stories also loosely follow some chronological progression: The title story, about childhood and coming-of-age, appears early in the collection, while “When Duty Calls,” the second-to-last story, features an aging character, a retired serviceman now in his dotage. Midway through the book, “Parallel Play” explores parenthood and its many perils.

I also tried to situate stories next to others that resonated with them or offered some counterpoint. “Ithaca 37,” for example, begins with the line “Family takes care of family”—but it’s sandwiched between two stories that directly challenge the idea of family being a place of safety and support: “The Care & Feeding of Houseplants” and “Parallel Play,” mentioned above. (And truth be told, “Ithaca 37” challenges that notion too.)

For the stories that open and close the collection, I chose two experimental stories—also among the shortest. An amuse-bouche and a taste of dessert perhaps? As an added bonus they respectively feature small welcomes and farewells. The first story, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” includes the line “Take that first bite”—a welcome of sorts to the collection ahead. And the final story, “English 398: Fiction Workshop,” actually ends with the phrase “the last word.” Can’t get more final than that.

Maybe these organizing principles and small flourishes won’t stand out explicitly to readers, but they gave me a sense of direction in assembling the manuscript—and I hope they’ll add some sense of subtle cohesion to the collection as a whole.

Art Taylor

You can find Art’s new book here:
http://www.crippenlandru.com/shop/oscommerce-2.3.4/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=161&osCsid=2bf6b7a4c5d74e749daa01b07f4c64a3

In addition to the new collection, Art Taylor is the author of On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. He won last year’s Edgar Award for Best Short Story for “English 398: Fiction Workshop,” and his story “Better Days” has recently been named a finalist for this year’s Agatha Award. Find out more at http://www.arttaylorwriter.com.

Mandy Morton: The Ice Maid’s Tail Thursday, Feb 20 2020 

Many Morton returns with the eighth in The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency in The Ice Maid’s Tail. This time Hettie Bagshot and her partner, Tilly Jenkins, must brave the snow and ice to find out what’s happened to a trio of missing kittens.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of this creative and sparkling series set entirely in a world of cats and dedicated to animal rescue centers across the country, rest assured you will be delighted with Morton’s ability to bring sly humor and a sense of humanity to her feline characters, as well as a cracking good mystery.

It’s been a very harsh winter and February sees a blizzard that has roads cut off and ice ponds of the sidewalks. Most businesses are closed, and staying warm and getting enough to eat have become priorities. Even Lavender Stamp has closed the post office and the unkind feline may be in jeopardy.

Hettie and Tilly are trying to stay warm in their rooms behind the Butter sisters bakery, where their food is part of the rent and the warm ovens help to keep them toasty.

Then Fluff Wither-Fork calls from Wither-Fork Hall. She’s set up an orphanage in the Folly in Wither-Fork Woods, managed by Anthea and Preston Munch, where three young kittens in their care have gone missing after playing in the snow.

With their cadre of helpers, the detectives manage to arrive slipping and sliding at the Hall and set to work, augmented by the cooking of Blackberry Tibbs, Fluff’s maid and cook and companion, also a talented cat artist. Many of the Hall’s rooms are not used, and the warren of hallways, attics and hiding places lend themselves to three kittens trying to hide but stay warm.

What they find has them compelled to wonder whether the kittens are missing or have run away from the strict and uncompromising dictates of the Munches. It will take Hettie and Tilly’s smarts and hunches in equal to unravel the truth, with a bit of help from the witch in the woods.

Another highly recommended offering from the author who manages to create a world we simply believe and sometimes wish we could join, especially if the Butters sisters would bake for us.

Luanne Rice: Last Day Monday, Feb 17 2020 

Luanne Rice’s newest thriller is a family drama that encompasses the art world in New England in Last Day.

It’s been twenty-three years since sisters Kate and Beth were tied up with their mother in the basement of the family’s art gallery while thieves stole a valuable painting.

Their mother died during the incident, and when it came to light that their father was involved in the theft, the girls handled their trauma very differently. Beth fell in love and married and had a daughter and is pregnant again; Kate closed her heart and took her wounded self to the skies, becoming a pilot without entanglements.

But everything changes when Kate discovers Beth has been strangled, killing her unborn son. Grief-stricken, Kate is determined to find who’s responsible.

One of the first responder’s the initial incident has risen to become a detective, always watching and tracking the two young women he rescued. Conor Reid is on Beth’s murder case, and his suspicion focuses on Beth’s husband, Peter, and arrogant womanizer.

But is he missing the real murderer? Kate and Conor will each try to solve Beth’s murder in different ways, ferreting out the secrets Beth’s circle carry.

The perfect New England homes where Beth, Kate and their close friends live all hide betrayal at its deepest level.

Matt Brolly: The Crossing Saturday, Feb 15 2020 


Matt Brolly used his law degree and an MFA in Creative Writing to bring readers the DCI Lambert series and several stand-alones. He debuts a new thriller series featuring DI Louise Blackwell in The Crossing.

Working in a new CID department in Weston-super-Mare, getting used to her bungalow in Worle, Louise is still haunted by her last case two years ago in Bristol, as part of the MIT team that saw her and DI Finch on a case that would change her career trajectory.

With Finch promoted to DCI and still sneering over his shoulder at her, Louise has been sent to the seaside town and its environs and finally lands her first murder case as Senior Investigating Officer. A woman’s body has been found on the beach near the pier. Her injuries are horrific, yet it’s apparent from the lack of blood that her body was moved.

Miles away in Cornwall, a cleaning woman in St. Ives arrives at the home of an older gentleman who’s become her friend, only to find him out. As she makes her rounds of the clean rooms, it appears that Mr. Lanegan hasn’t been home for several days at least. With great misgivings, she will report him as a missing person.

While Louise sets up an incident room and gathers her team, the murderer is planning his next kill. With insight into his mind and actions, as the killings continue, it’s the connecting thread that must be unraveled.

Louise Finch has a lot on her plate: dealing with a widowed brother with an alcohol issue and his young daughter; receiving anonymous texts that taunt her on her case; having the Bristol team try to take over her case. And then the killings continue.

The plot is fascinating and creative, constructed so well in that even through the reader is aware of the identity of the killer, Louise and her team’s investigation and the hunt for him as they bring the clues together increase the tension as a man’s life hangs in the balance.

A strong start to a compelling new series. This is one to watch for its sequel.

Sarah Pinborough: Dead to Her Wednesday, Feb 12 2020 

Sarah Pinborough captures the sleepy grandeur of Savannah, Georgia, and gives a lesson in greed and passion in her newest suspense thriller, Dead to Her.

Two women are the center of the story. Marcie hides her background when she becomes the second wife of Jason Maddox. His world of old money and friendships is one Marcie has always yearned to be a part of.

She strikes up an uneasy friendship with Keisha, the new second wife of Jason’s widowed boss. Definitely of the old money scheme in Savannah, William has returned from a London trip surprisingly remarried to the slender, gorgeous black hostess who hides her own secrets.

This is sly suspense builds on itself and the main characters, as the story advances with the two women at the center of the storied circle that men travel in. Other members of that elite circle have varied reactions to Keisha and her exotic looks. There’s a whirl of lust and greed that swirls around all of the characters until a tragedy strikes and suddenly new and old friendships are tested.

The hanging Spanish moss is not the only elusive thing in Savannah. There are the dark mysteries that lurk in the shadows, following both women, and in the secrets they hide. But they are not the only ones with secrets.

An intricate plot enhances the thrills, with a sinister surprise for almost everyone involved.

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Lee Lofland

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The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews

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