Darn Good Reads: Con Lehane, Nancy Allen, Karin Salvalaggio Sunday, May 29 2016 

Auntie M is celebrating her son’s 40th birthday this Memorial Day Weekend (could she really have a child that age? Unlikely.) And she also is flying her flag and remembering those who served our country and their families. Happy Memorial Day to all~

For your reading pleasure, she’s recommending five terrific reads if you find yourself with time to sit on a porch or swing in a hammock. Great company, to be sure. Enjoy your weekend, whatever it brings–and enjoy a good book!

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Con Lehane takes the protagonist from three previous novels, bartender Brian McNulty, and moves him to the sidelines in his newest, Murder at the 42nd Street Library. The protagonist this time is Raymond Ambler, named in an homage to two of the author’s favorite crime writing masters, Raymond Chandler and Eric Ambler, and provides a clue to the author’s love and knowledge base of crime fiction.

Ray Ambler is the curator of the wonderful NYC library’s crime fiction collection. The wonderful library is a secondary star when the bodies start to pile up in the world renowned institution. Fans who have visited or live in the area, or who have walked past the two stately lions guarding the outside (Patience and Fortitude), will delight in this behind-the-scenes setting.

When a murder occurs on premises, Ambler knows the personalities involved and find himself drawn into the investigation of Mike Cosgrove, the NYPD homicide detective who’s a friend. The two will be plunged, along with a colleague Ray finds himself drawn to and a few other friends, into the twisted world of a celebrated mystery writers whose donation of all of his papers to the library seems to be the catalyst for the murders.
Ray will find himself trying to be protective of several who have entered his life, while being proactive in the investigation and trying to stay on the right side of the law.

There’s a lovely feel of noir in this as Ray untwists the secrets kept for decades that impact on the present.

Let’s hope this is just the first of more appearances by the shrewd and multi-layered Ray Ambler.

Nancy Allen brings back ADA Elsie Arnold in the next taut entry in her Ozark Mystery series, The Wages of Sin.

Elsie finds herself reluctantly chosen by her boss, DA Madeleine Thompson, to assist her in the trial that has captivated the community: a young pregnant woman is found beaten to death in a trailer park. The suspect is the father of the unborn child and Thompson decides this is a death penalty case.

The victim’s six-year-old daughter, Ivy, is the only reluctant and traumatized witness. To make matters worse, Thompson decided to draft in another lawyer from the State Attorney General’s office to help their team. Then Elsie and her team find out the public defender assigned to represent the boyfriend is a well-known merciless trial attorney, Claire O’Hara.

Elsie is determined to find justice for the unborn child and its mother, even as damning evidence about the victim is revealed. It will be up to Elsie and her boyfriend, Barton City detective Ashlock, to keep Ivy safe before and even after testifying.

A gritty and realistic legal thriller.

The Montana setting is a key element in Karin Salvalaggio’s series featuring Detective Macy Greeley in Walleye Junction.

The small community of Walleye Junction is rocked when outspoken radio journalist, Philip Long, is kidnapped and later murdered in a way that knocks Special Investigator Macy back on her heels and makes it personal, even as takes her away from her young son, Luke, to investigate the case.

It would seem Long’s own investigation of a local militia group is at the heart of the case, especially when two kidnappers are found dead and are known to have ties to the militia community. But there are also discrepancies that trouble Macy. Their son has absconded; the bodies were moved after death, indicating a third person was involved. Then police receive anonymous emails that point them in the direction of prescription drug abuse.

Long’s most recent investigation notes seem to have disappeared, and no one knows what he was working on. His daughter, Emma, has returned to the town for his funeral, which adds to the complications and brings up an old case that sets Macy on alert: Emma’s childhood friend Lucy died from a drug overdose. Emma feels her father may have uncovered something that’s not right about her death.

There will be family squabbles, the rumor mill of a small town in high gear, children in jeopardy, and an old love from Emma’s past that haunts her and annoys Macy. And then there’s Macy’s relationship with Aiden Marsh, and if the couple have any real future in the long-term alliance.

The relationships and characters feel real and readers will be surprised at the twists in the plot of this suspenseful and perceptive look at small towns and the people who live there.

Author Beth Gutcheon has written nine previous novels and several film scripts before turning her hand to mystery in this debut of a new series, Death at Breakfast.

Written with a strong sense of wry humor about the two main characters, readers are introduced to newly retired school headmistress Maggie Detweiler and her friend, socialist Hope Babbin.

The two have arrived for a weeklong cooking class at a picturesque mountain inn. Thinking about how to spend their retirements, this duo are hoping they find themselves compatible enough for traveling companions in the future. The Victorian-era inn seems the perfect spot to try out their time together, and has the added bonus of being the home town of Hope’s deputy sheriff son. Maggie has had Buster as a student; Hope is trying to repair the gulf between them.

They find the Oquossoc Mountain Inn everything they’d hoped for, until the arrival of a Hollywood contingent who threaten to disturb their peace and tranquility. The rude trio are Alexander and Lisa Antippas, and Lisa’s sister, Glory, and don’t forget the little yapping dog who accompanies them, because soon everyone in the inn will be aware of that dog.

When a deadly fire in one wing of the inn happens at night, Alexander’s charred body is found in his bed. Known for sneaking cigars into the No Smoking facility, it’s thought to be a tragic accident–until a second circumstance proves that it most likely was not. With Buster investigating, the two ladies swing into action to help him solve this big case as state’s attorneys and senior law enforcement descend, hoping for a quick arrest.

Maggie knows human nature after a lifetime of evaluating students, and quickly ascertains that the higher-ups will settle for the most obvious suspect, and indeed, a young woman just fired from the inn is soon arrested for arson and murder. Maggie and Hope prove to be a daunting duo as they use their common sense and cheerfulness to disarm witnesses and gather evidence that will help Buster find the real culprit.

A delightful debut that will have readers waiting for the next installment.


Susan Moody debuts a new British mystery series with Quick and the Dead, an original and highly literate mystery. The “Quick” in the title is former detective Alex Quick, who is coping with the loss of her marriage and unborn child by changing careers. With a knack for compiling art anthology books, Alex has formed a business partnership with Dr. Helena Drummond, a university professor and art historian, and a woman who keeps her own life close to the vest.

The book’s action packs a wallop when Alex finds a dead body in Helena’s flat in a disturbing scene that lets the reader know this is not a cozy. Although relieved it’s not Helena, the professor’s disappearance makes her the lead suspect in the murder. This scene simmers in the readers’ mind as it does in Alex’s and lets them know she’s been deeply affected by the murder.

Alex is also guilty because she’d ignored Helena’s complaints of a stalker. She involves herself in finding the murderer, both to clear Helena, p and keep her partner from the jeopardy she must find herself in from the real culprit. Alex is complex and multi-dimensional, a character who can curse like a trooper but has a fine mind for investigating as well as an eye for art. She’s a strong lead for a series, and the reader becomes fully engaged when Alex realizes just how little she knew Helena.

“She comes across as so open and let-it-all-hang-outish, but in fact she gives almost nothing away. So I don’t know anything about her background or her family situation. Nothing. Apart from the fact that she’s been married twice,” Quick says at one point, and is immediately stunned to learn that one of those husbands is a painter whose work Alex has long admired. She’d urged Helena to include his work in one of the compilations of pictures and text that they have published to much acclaim and some profit, and she’d omitted this tidbit of her background.

There are enough twists to keep readers interested, and it will be interesting to see just how Alex’s next adventure proceeds.

Polly Iyer: Indiscretion, a Kindle Scout Winner Sunday, Oct 18 2015 

Please welcome author Polly Iyer, who will describe for readers her experience with the Kindle Scout program.

Iyer Indiscretion

I just launched my Kindle Scout winner, Indiscretion. This isn’t my first book, but after my very first book, my debut written under a pen name, this is probably the biggest deal for me.

To win a Kindle Press contract, I first had to be accepted into the program. Then, for the next thirty days, my book had to remain “Hot and Trending,” as much as possible. I tweeted and Facebooked, and posted on the many loops I belong to, which really isn’t that many, to get people to nominate the book if they like the sample read.

Those thirty days were very stressful, especially when my book went off the H &T list. I’d give another push on social media and hope my fate improved. When the thirty days were over, I had some stats. I had 370 hours of Hot and Trending out of the 720 hours in the thirty days. That’s a little better than 50%. There were 2.195 page views. 51% came from the Kindle Scout site and 49% came from external links, mainly Facebook. Some came from my website, and others from the blog site, The Blood Red Pencil.

Surprisingly, very few came from Twitter. I always wonder how much of my tweets are actually read, or do they just turn into retweets. There’s always been a bit of the “preaching to the choir” element of Twitter, at least for writers. I know the couple of Facebook groups I belong to were very supportive, and most of them nominated the book. Nominations cost nothing, and if the book is finally selected, the nominators get a free copy two weeks before the book is released.

This is a good thing and a bad thing. Good because the nominations result in success for the book. Bad because so many people get it for free that when it goes on sale, many of my readers already have it. That means promoting it to readers who don’t know my work and hope they find me.

I don’t know what criteria the Kindle Press people use to make the final determination. I do know that people with more Hot and Trending hours than I had weren’t selected, and others with even less were chosen. I imagine part of their decision is based on a writer’s sales history and part on what the Kindle Press people feel has potential to be a good seller.

Then came the edits. Mine were fantastic. The editor found a big plot hole that all my previous readers and personal editors didn’t catch. Obviously, neither did I. It required a rewrite of nine pages and became a better book because of it. There were other edits, some a matter of style, others punctuation, some just nitpickers. I accepted those I agreed with and ignored the rest, which was my prerogative.

September 1st was release day. As I write this a few days before, I have already accumulated seven reviews from its pre-order status—all good, so I’m happy about that. Some say it’s my best book. I’m not a good judge of my work. I write them. It stands to reason I also like them, or I wouldn’t publish them.

I always create characters with a complicated past or present. Characterization is important to me. Besides the crime fiction part, Indiscretion goes deeper and more seriously into a deteriorating marriage, so it almost becomes women’s fiction in parts. That’s a little different for me, and it was also challenging to depict that part of the story and still interweave it into the mystery.

The following is the blurb:
Separated from her controlling husband, romance author Zoe Swan meets a charismatic art history professor on the beach and begins a torrid affair. But who is he really? By the time Zoe finds out, she’s on the run with her husband, his jewel thief brother, and a priceless painting stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. With the FBI and the murderer in pursuit, the trio heads to Boston. The only way to prove their innocence is to make a deal with the very people who want them dead.

If this sounds interesting to you, you can download it on Amazon. Happy reading.

Polly for Authors on the Air
Polly Iyer is the Kindle bestselling author of eight suspense/thriller novels: Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, the Kindle Scout winner, Indiscretion, and three books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series: Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, and Backlash. Her books contain adult language and situations with characters who sometimes tread ethical lines. Polly grew up on the Massachusetts coast and studied at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. She lives in South Carolina. Learn more about her at http://PollyIyer.com and feel free to email her at PollyIyer at gmail dot com. She loves to hear from her readers.

Scandanavian Summer: Indridason, Sigurdardottir, Brekke Wednesday, Jul 29 2015 

Here are some of the best Scandanavian thrillers for your summer reading pleasure:
Reykjavik Nights
After the surprising ending of last year’s Strange Shores, Arnaldur Indirdason is back with Reykjavik Nights, a prequel to the series that explains to readers how Insepctor Erlendur became interested in detecting.

Opening with the young policeman walking a beat on Reykjavik streets, he and his colleagues face the kind of crime you’d expect: drugs, domestic violence, traffic accidents, and a death Erlandur can’t seem to leave alone.

It should be a simple matter: a tramp he knew from his rounds has been found drowned in a ditch, yet the young cop find himself drawn to the case. Talks he’s had with the man in the past haunt him, and he soon finds himself connecting this death to that of a missing woman.

With dogged persistence, Erlandur will trace things to solving the case, and ignite his own future. An interesting way to see how this character became interested in detecting.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir has been called the Queen of Crime with good reason. In Someone to Watch Over Me, she brings lawyer Thora Gudmundsdottire her most interesting case yet.

Jakob has Down’s Syndrome and has been convicted of burning down his assisted living centre, killing five people in the process. He resides now in a secure psychiatric unit, where one of his fellow inmates has hired Thora to clear the boy of the charges and prove his innocence. Her reluctance to take the case is fueled by her distaste for Josteinn Karlsson, child abuser and sociopath, who has inherited funds from his mother to pay her.

Yet she’s strangely drawn to Jakob and as she starts a routine investigation, things don’t add up. It soon becomes clear to Thora that to prove Jakob’s innocence, she must track down the real murderer.

The case of a young hit-and-run victim will become tied to the case, as does the financial collapse of Iceland and it’s affect on Thora’s family life. Readers will become as caught up as Thora as she unravels what really happened on that fateful night.

Monsters Dwell
Jorgen Brekke’s first book introducing Norwegian police detective Odd Singsaker is now in paperback. Where Monsters Dwell connects a US case with one in Norway when there are similar murders in Trondheim and Richmond, Virgina.

US homicide investigator Felicia Stone is soon seconded to Singsaker once the connection is known. Recovering from a divorce and a brain tumor finds Singsaker trying hard to keep up with his team and the American detective. Along the way he becomes friends with an interesting character, a young library researcher, Siri, who will be a continuing character.

Soon the two detectives find they must delve deeply into history, to a sixteenth-century book called The Book of John which has been bound in human skin. The book is thought to be the work a Middle Ages serial killer who stalked Europe.

As they race to find the new killer replicating these centuries-old murders, Felicia and Odd find themselves drawn to each other, which helps to alleviate their grisly investigation. A stunning debut with interesting and creative characters. Read this one first to follow the relationships of the two detectives.

Brekke followed his debut up with this year’s Dreamless:Dreamless
Chief Inspector Odd Singsaker is on the case once again, married now to Felicia Stone. His newest case starts with the killing of a young singer found murdered with an antique music box resting on her body, playing a lullaby that has a familiar ring.

With ties to a letter and events of of late 18th century, the music and the lullaby with have far-reaching consequences for Singsaker and turn out to be the clues Singsaker needs as another young girl is found murdered under similar circumstances. With a third young woman kidnapped, time is running out.

And then his team will be affected just as Felicia disappears. This installment solves the mystery but will leave the reader yearning for more of Singsaker’s story.