Steph Broadribb: Deep Dirty Truth Sunday, May 19 2019 

The third Lori Anderson thriller finds single mother and bounty hunter Anderson in a race for everyone she loves in Deep Dirty Truth which starts off with a bang when Lori is kidnapped after dropping her daughter off at school.

Written in the first person brings Lori’s voice to the forefront, and the realistic and snappy dialogue that accompanies the frenetic pace adds to the tension of this high-wired plot when Lori has only 48 hours to save herself and her family after being given an ultimatum by Miami mobsters.

A strong protagonist who carries the book well, Lori is usually on what she considers the right side of the law until her family is threatened. This time she has a deadline to deliver a man being held in FBI protective custody who is set to testify against the mob.

It’s a tough, breathless race across Florida, filled with grit and determination due to the high stakes. Readers not familiar with the series can read this as a standalone. Broadribb’s training as a bounty hunter in the US adds a high level of reality to Lori and the dark trail she’s on.

A fresh voice in action thrillers, one Mark Billingham calls “a real cracker.”

NFReads.com: Paying it Forward Saturday, May 18 2019 

This article by Auntie M appears today in NF Reads (nfreads.com). Just click on the link if you’re interested in reading how her relationship with PD James led to Auntie M starting the Writers Read program in Belhaven NC:

https://www.nfreads.com/paying-it-forward/.

Mandy Morton: Beyond the Gravy Thursday, May 16 2019 


You don’t have to be a cat person to take great delight in the world of cats created in Beyond the Gravy, Mandy Morton’s newest entry in the No. 2 Feline Detective series.

Hettie Bagshot and her partner Tilly have endured a long winter and are looking for a nice change in the weather and a new case to fill their coffers, when Tilly wins a contest that involves a cash prize and the promise of the duo traveling to Agatha Cripsy’s Devon home for tea.

But before that can happen, they are approached by psychic Irene Peggledrip, who has been having visits from a group of murdering spirits, intent on bringing chaos to her home. Hettie and Tilly are present for a round of, among other things, indoor snowstorms and a lovely Victoria sponge thrown against the bookshelves, to Tilly’s dismay, only a part of the hijinks these restless spirits produce.

Meanwhile, Molly Bloom’s new cafe’ becomes the town’s new gathering spot, with great food at hand, always a treat for hungry felines. But what message does congealed gravy hold for Irene’s complicated future? And will that Devon trip materialize? A seance held at the cafe only complicates things but makes one thing clear: Hettie and Tilly must find the culprit still roaming so that these spirits can rest.

With the return of familiar characters such as Poppa and Buster, this world of cats offers a respite from the ills of todays world, wrapped up in a darn good mystery as the duo’s investigation advances, while it seems at time that the mystifying puzzle won’t be solved, even if Tilly is wearing her best cardigan.

Morton treats her mystery seriously in a parellel universe filled with only felines who have the same worries, problems and issues as humans. Her research and history will surprise readers new to the series, so if this is your first experience, go back to the beginning and read the entire series.

Packed with charm, and with Morton’s trademark wit, these are characters who will warm your heart while the mystery is being solved——just what the world needs now. Highly recommended.

Anne Cleeland: Murder in Just Cause Sunday, May 12 2019 

Anne Cleelands’ popular Doyle and Action series returns with Murder in Just Cause. Back at Scotland Yard after her maternity leave, the Irish Doyle is seconded to DS Isabella Munoz, the colleague with whom she has a fractious relationship at the best of times.

Doyle expects a relatively quiet return but soon finds herself caught up in a supposed suicide at a housing estate, yet her special antenna are soon twitching as all is not as it looks at the surface and this is soon proved true on several levels. With her husband, the powerful Lord who happens to be Chief Inspector Action, only one of the few who have knowledge of Doyle’s highly developed sixth sense when it comes to truth-telling, Doyle finds herself in a tight place once again.

Action has his own methods of dealing out justice, a vigilante way that often has Doyle wringing her hands while trying to curb his ways and stick to what she sees as the right side of the law. Acton dealing with corruption within the force, has few people he trusts and his worries for his little family and young son increase.

The sexual tension between the couple adds a nice tension to a police procedural stood on its head. The title refers to the English law called “murder in just cause,” in which a murder can be committed with just cause due to the outcome. Doyle,a strict Roman Catholic, feels there is never just cause for any murder, in direct conflict with Acton’s methods.

The returning secondary characters are well-drawn, and even Munoz shows a bit of growth and development. There’s plenty here to make this an absorbing and entertaining read with its fast-paced plot that Cleeland cleverly winds around several threads to a satisfying conclusion.

Marybeth Mayhew Whalen: Only Ever Her Friday, May 10 2019 


Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, known her her suspense novels, bring the story to small town South Carolina in Only Ever Her.

Annie Taft is getting married. That’s the news that has the small rural town of Ludlow in an uproar. Their favorite daughter was only three years old when her mother was murdered and she became the town’s unofficial mascot. Raised by her aunt Faye alongside her cousin Clary, Annie’s good fortune is the town’s.

The book tracks the two weeks up to the wedding which increases the suspense after the man convicted of murdering Annie’s mother, Cordell Lewis, is released from prison after DNA evidence shows someone else was probably responsible. Understandably upset over the ruling, Annie turns to her old friend, Kenny, who has carried a torch for Annie for years. Their relationship is one they’ve both kept private.

On the day Lewis is released, Annie disappears. She’s been known to take off to be alone when stressed, and at first her aunt and cousin and even her bridesmaids cut her some slack. But as the wedding draws closer with no sighting or text or call from Annie, it becomes clear they are missing their bride.

People from Annie’s past, her fiancee, the local sheriff, all converge on Faye’s house, waiting for word as an extensive search takes place. With the story told from many viewpoints, it’s clear that everyone has their own theory about what’s happened to Annie.

A character-driven suspense novel where secrets must be revealed between people who all have one thing in common: their love for Annie.

Katherine Hall Page: The Body in the Wake Wednesday, May 8 2019 

Katherine Hall Page is having a silver anniversary! The publication of her 25th Faith Fairchild mystery this week brings a new release to the well-loved series with The Body in the Wake. Don’t miss this addition, set in Maine, where the catering sleuth is supposed to be on vacation and helping to plan the wedding of her friend’s daughter.

Relaxing goes out the window when Faith finds a body while swimming. Caught in the reeds in the Lily Pond, the strange tattoo on the victim her first clue that something shocking has invaded her little corner of the world at Sanpere Island.

Addressing a real issue in our country on a smaller level brings home the drama and distress of the nationwide opiod crisis, while Faith ends up digging into what’s behind it all. There will be time for cooking and recipes, too, in another delightful installment from the double Agatha Award winner and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Malice Domestic.

Auntie M recently had a chance to ask Page about her books and the long-running series:

Auntie M: Congratulations on THE BODY IN THE WAKE, number 25 in this popular series. How do you keep Faith Fairchild as a series character fresh?

Katherine Hall Page: One of the joys of writing this long ongoing series—something that continues to amaze me—is the opportunity to follow Faith and family across many years, a lifetime in effect. As in our own lives, what happens, both good and bad, creates a fresh dynamic in each book. When it became apparent that this was going to be a series, I alternated the locales every other book as a way to keep the series fresh as well. There are the Aleford books, as is the first, The Body in the Belfry, set in Faith’s hometown west of Boston and then the “Someplace Else” books, set in Maine, Vermont, Savannah, New York City, Norway, and France.

AM: You chose your Maine setting for this one, Sanpere Island where the Fairchild’s have their summer home. It’s obvious that you have a deep affection for the area. Can you explain to readers why this setting has such significance for you?

KHP: I grew up in northern New Jersey, but starting in 1958 my parents decided that it made sense to drive north for twelve + hours with three kids for Dad’s precious vacation to Deer Isle, Maine despite living a short drive from the very beautiful Jersey shore! Before the war they had been camp counselors near Camden, Maine and fell in love with Penobscot Bay. They bought a small piece of land on a cove in the early 1960s and built a cottage. I’ve been on the island for part of every summer, and since my parents are buried there in a lovely cemetery with room for the rest of us, plan to be there a long time. As native Mainers say, “Just because a cat has kittens in the oven, doesn’t make them biscuits”, I will never be a “native”, but it’s where my heart is and I’m now living in our cottage for 4 months of the year. As a setting, the island is not only stunning, but abounds with tales!

AM: You’re not afraid to tackle the deepening drug crisis in this book. What made you decide to have that theme when there’s also the anticipation of a summer wedding in the action?

KHP: First of all, I have a deep seated dislike for what I call “Soapbox Mysteries” in which the author has a point of view, social, political or otherwise, that gets rammed down the reader’s throat to the detriment of all else such as plot, setting characters etc. I wanted to write about the drug crisis on the island and by extension everywhere else, but did not want to preach or have it get in the way of the story.

But it is the story today and a grim one growing worse. We all have friends and family who have fallen victim to various addictions. By telling just one I wanted to put a face on the problem. In this book, a young woman, Arlene, becomes dependent as a result of prescription medicine she was legally given for pain after a car accident. I also did want to slip in information about medically assisted treatment and also the fact that there are no simple turnarounds. Addicts relapse. This doesn’t make them bad people or criminals. It makes them human and we need to cherish them. And weddings are times of great emotion, plus so much fun to write about!

AM: Your characters are your extended family by now, as you’ve carved lives for them and written of their growth. Do you plot this growth ahead or as you start each book? Do you have an over-arching story arc for any of them for their futures that you envision?

KHP: I think about the Fairchild family even when I am not looking at a computer screen. They have become very real to me. Now I wish I were one of those writers who say their characters take on lives of their own and write themselves, but I did not receive a draught of that potion. That said I ask myself that essential for all writers question, “What if?” and think about it in regard to this family.

What if Tom and Faith start to have problems in their marriage? What form would it take? What if son Ben is not the target of a bully, but joins the bullying group? What if daughter Amy fails to recognize the obvious signs that something more than an allergy is causing her employer’s stuffed up nose? Much of what I think about the Fairchilds never makes it into any of the books, but informs all of them. Not perfect people, thank goodness, but people I think we’d like to know. The story, the essential part of each book, grows from the characters and I have to make sure they don’t get in the way with too much detail—or not enough.

AM: Close friends are important to the Fairchilds and have become repeat characters. Yet you seamlessly weave in the ones we probably won’t see again, such as the Childs and the Cranes, with several surprises there. How much outlining do you do before plunging into the writing?

KHP: In the past I outlined extensively, but found I wasn’t using them so much as other methods. I think it’s Harlan Coben who answered one of his children with “Daddy’s working” when he was just sitting and staring out the window. Before I write a single word there’s much walking around, thinking in the shower, and especially during that time just before sleep. I know it doesn’t look like I am working, but I am.

I know where the book will take place since I alternate locales and always write a very lengthy synopsis that goes to my editor who may make a suggestion or two. Then I write the book. I use those notebooks from France with the small grids to keep my messy handwriting legible and start with a list of characters. I think of them as a kind of ensemble troupe with the leads, the Fairchilds, permanently cast and then others come and go. Some never cross the stage again, but the Millers, Ursula Rowe and Millicent Revere McKinley almost always make an appearance. That’s why the wedding was such a joy to include. Everyone was invited.

Last word: the villains in the story, the alive ones, never return for an encore!

AM: What forms the germ of a plot idea for a new story?

KHP: Back to process. The synopsis forms the skeleton of the book and it may, and does, change over the course of writing it (always the hard part). I keep lists of characters with a few words describing them on that first page of the notebook, followed by pages of a timeline and list of chapters with brief descriptions about what is happening in them as I go along. The timeline helps me keep the days straight, so if a week has passed, Faith doesn’t say, “Yesterday, I….”

I also keep a list of first and last lines by chapter so each does not start with “Faith woke up.” and end with “She heard a mysterious noise…” However, that last line has to make the reader keep turning to the next chapter and stay up all night. Plot ideas come from all sorts of sources, especially eavesdropping (I have no shame and my husband is used to being shushed in restaurants if there is something juicy being said at the next table. Also women say fascinating things in restrooms to each other when they think all the stalls are empty!).

My favorite description of the writing process comes from Madeleine L’Engle: “It’s like taking dictation from one’s imagination.”

AM: The recipes included at the back are a hallmark of your stories. Do you taste test them all? (I’m trying the Blueberry Buckle soon!)

KHP: The recipes are the most difficult parts of the books to write. I start them often a book ahead, knowing where the setting will be. They must all be original—can’t just open Julia and copy—and they need to be easy—not caterer types—require no expensive or exotic ingredients, and most all off taste delicious. The recipes in the Body in the Wake are summer ones, most Down East favorites with Faith’s spin on them. Fortunately I love to cook.

AM: Can you give readers a clue as to what lies ahead for Faith and her family?

KHP: Observant readers will have noted that Faith and Tom are aging much more slowly than their children (joy of fiction-I can do this, unlike one’s own march through the years). When the first book came out, a dear friend, the late William Deeck, who knew more about the genre than anyone I’ve ever known, advised keeping the children in the wings and avoid cuteness. I’ve stuck by this, but now that they are older, they are jumping in more, as in Amy in this book. So that’s a direction. And I do love Sophie Maxwell who was introduced in The Body in the Birches and now appears in a third book.

AM: -Whose books would we find on your nightstand? Which of your colleagues books you eagerly anticipate reading?

KHP: First my colleagues. I have always been a fan of Margaret Maron’s and was devastated when she stopped the Deborah Knott series. Also Dorothy Cannell—The Thin Woman is reread often to keep me from getting too depressed by world events. I also read Peter Robinson, Charles Todd, Harlan Coben, Ian Rankin, all the Scandinavians. Very different books from the kind I write. I also go back to vintage mysteries—Christie, Sayers, Mary Stewart, Rex Stout, Patricia Moyes, people like Joan Coggin, reprinted by Rue Morgue Press and all their other titles.

I read a great deal outside the genre as well. Right now, Maeve Brennan’s The Springs of Affection Dublin Stories. I enjoy Irish fiction, old and new, plus all the titles from Persephone Books, which reprints neglected fiction and nonfiction, mostly by women starting in the mid-twentieth century https://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/

Also YA- Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczko is an amazing new discovery. Love Lois Lowry, Cynthia Voigt, Angie Thomas. And always delve into a Neil Gaiman and Gregory Maguire. There is usually a thick biography in the stack, right now The Chief by David Nasaw (William Randolph Hearst). I read cookbooks with no intent on having to make the food, but just to read them for pleasure. Also food memoirs. Oh, and I totally need frequent doses of British chicklit—Sophie Kinsella, Katie Ffjorde and on our shores, the incomparable Mary Kay Andrews (great mysteries as Kathy Trocheck too). And cannot forget my most favorite— Nancy Mitford! Phew!

AM: Thank you, Katherine, for this enlightening look into your world. Readers will certainly enjoy The Body in the Wake

Elly Griffiths: The Stone Circle Tuesday, May 7 2019 


Elly Griffith’s returns with her eleventh Dr Ruth Galloway mystery, The Stone Circle. For readers waiting anxiously for plot threads from the two previous books, some questions will be answered, but many interesting things raised in this knockout addition to the series that Val McDermid calls “One of my favourite current series.”

Readers return to the Saltmarsh that started the series off, when Ruth uncovers the bones of a young girl in a henge, or stone circle, not far from the original one in The Crossing Places. At the same time, DCI Nelson, her daughter’s father, receives an anonymous letter that highly resembles those he received during that first case.

But the writer of those first letters is dead. So who is writing this new set, and how are they connected to a decades-old cold case of a missing girl presumed dead?

When a new death occurs, all possible suspects will be scrutinized, and as things heat up in the case for Nelson, he makes a difficult personal decision, while Ruth, for the first time, considers making changes in her daily life.

Griffith’s has always had Ruth’s engaging voice contain the wry humor of someone we wish we could be friends with–a pragmatist who eschews much of the romanticism others covet, yet she yearns for something else in her life. Kate, the daughter she shares with Nelson, provides a continuing link besides their cases, and gives a counterpoint to the cases they investigate.

This series is one many writers list among their favorites, with good reason. Readers anxiously await the next installment of each book for the tight plots as much as the network of characters they have come to love and follow. With her strong sense of setting as the backdrop, the riveting plot and original characters make this an easy one to call “highly recommended.”

Angie Kim: Miracle Creek Monday, May 6 2019 


It’s tough to believe Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is her first novel, as the legal thriller is so well done, but Kim’s trial attorney experience has been put to good use in making readers feel they are residing in the courtroom and heightens the suspense.

The premise revolved around the “miracle submarine” of early hyperbaric chambers. Miracle Creek, Virginia is a small rural town and the Yoos operate their miracle submarine in their backyard. There are different uses and different people using the device when an explosion occurs and the tragedy affects so many people.

The medical issues that drive people to use a hyperbaric chamber are thoroughly discussed but never boring, and bring hope to so many. So the question revolves around who would set this fire and why?

Told from multiple points of view, this is as much a haunting character study as it is a courtroom drama when one of the parents, Elizabeth, whose autistic son was using the chamber, is put on trial for murder when her child and another adult die in the fire, not to mention severe injuried to others.

There is the family drama here, plus the wonderful courtroom scenes, and also the underlying mystery of what really happened that day. There is the cultural situation of the Korean family, too, and the story is heightened by the way Kim chooses to have her characters tell it.

This is an accomplished debut by a writer who must have more stories to tell that we’ll be reading.

Nicola Upson: Stanley and Elsie Thursday, May 2 2019 


In a departure from her Josephine Tey crime series (London Rain, Nine Lessons), Nicola Upson beguiles readers with a stand-alone with her trademark historical realism in the compelling story of Stanley and Elsie.

Stanley Spencer is an artist, as is his wife, Hilda Carline. Elsie Munday is the housemaid they hire soon after the birth of their first daughter, Shirin. Living in rural Burghclere after the First World War for Stanley to work on the vast commission that will be Sandham Memorial Chapel, we see their marriage through the lens of Elsie’s eyes, as well as their artistic temperaments. The chapel’s many paintings represent the war through Stanley’s eyes, a series that recreates moments of redemptive camp life mixed with the trauma he experienced.

Elsie quickly learns Stanley is charming but stubborn, and as she and Hilda bond, so do Elsie and Stanley over his art as he explains it to her. His yearning to return to his hometown of Cookham, with Hilda missing her own home in Hampstead, is only one of the many hurdles the couple will face in the strong light of Stanley’s obsessions.

Elsie’s keen observations form an important part of the book; so does Stanley’s capacity for genius and torment. There are themes of unity and of what is sacred that run throughout the novel, while the harsh reality of what really happened between the couple cannot be denied. Yet their art is something that had control over them both at times, and after finishing the book, Auntie M was driven to research the images that haunted them both.

This look at two tortured souls, one trying to heal the wounds of war through his art, the other trying to prove her love over and over, is captivating reading as Upson beautifully renders the period after the war in her elegant prose. Highly recommended.

Death at the Dakota: Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries 2 Wednesday, May 1 2019 

Auntie M is happy to announce that her second Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery. DEATH AT THE DAKOTA, is out and availabLe on Amazon.com in trade paperback and soon to be in Kindle. Coming in Audible later this summer, too, read by the wonderful Lucinda Gainey, Dakota is already garnering 5-Star reviews.

Part procedural, part cozy, Death at the Dakota is a well-crafted and highly entertaining mystery.- Bruce Robert Coffin, #1 bestselling author of the Detective Byron mysteries.

Nurse Trudy Genova is making plans to take her relationship to NYPD detective Ned O’Malley to the next level, when she lands a gig as medical consultant on a film shoot at the famed Dakota apartment building in Manhattan, which John Lennon once called home. Then star Monica Kiley goes missing, a cast member turns up dead, and it appears Trudy might be next. Meanwhile Ned tackles a mysterious murder case in which the victim is burned beyond recognition. When his investigations lead him back to the Dakota, Trudy finds herself wondering: how can she fall in love if she can’t even survive?

Readers of Death Unscripted, the first book in the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery series, will find the same pleasures in this sequel: fast pacing, engaging characters, twists and turns on the way to a satisfying close. Once again M.K. Graff reveals her talents in crafting this delightful mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural.

I fell in love — not only with co-protagonists, Trudy and Ned, the richly detailed and historic setting of The Dakota, and the unique cast of characters, but with the unusual plot of Death at the Dakota. Sherry Harris, Agatha Award nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries.

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Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

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

Pamela J Castrucci

Navigating self-publishing without a net.

Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

Being Author

Book promotion & authors BLOG

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.

Emma kayne

interior design student - maker

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

The Wickeds

Wicked Good Mysteries

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.

Gaslight Crime

Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction

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