NEW in Paperback: Casey, Bolton, Haynes, Dahl, Margolin Wednesday, Apr 29 2015 

Auntie M reads so many books but that you’d think they’d all run together after a while …

But in the case of the following, these are new in paperback, already been reviewed in hardcover, but were some of my favorites. So in case you missed them then, for your consideration:

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Jane Casey’s THE STRANGER YOU KNOW was chosen by the UK Times as one fothe top 10 crime novels of 2014. This is a terrific series with a strong female protagonist who has a frustrating relationship with her partner DCI Josh Derwent. The series delves into the interoffice relationships all detectives must face in a realistic manner. Here they face unraveling a series of three stranglings that point to a sadistic killer and right now, all of the evidence points right to Jane’s partner.

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Sharon Bolton’s Lacey Flint series have the young detective with the secret past working on London’s marine unit in A DARK AND TWISTED TIDE. When Lacy finds the shrouded body in the river, it will lead her to investigate other murders that have their origins in Afghanistan and may include Lacey’s newest friend on the river.

Elizabeth Hayne’s stand-alones (Into the Darkest Corner, Dark Tide, Human Remains) all earned Auntie M’s ‘highly recommended’ listing with good reason. Her first of a series, introducing DCI Louisa Smith and her team, was UNDER A SILENT MOON, a gripping police procedural that finally lets a female investigator have a private life while it doesn’t take a whit away from the strong and compelling plot. In this debut, Louisa is tasked with two murders of two woman in a horse and farm suburb outside London. Haynes’ use of graphs and charts as well as investigative reports, witness statements and call logs that are in use in real investigations give the books a sense of being plunged into the life of a working detective.


Julia Dahl’s debut, INVISIBLE CITY, was an instant hit and has been nominated for all kinds of awards. She brings the world of Brooklyn’s Hasidic Jews to life as a young reporter, Rebekah Roberts, tries to solve the mystery behind the death of a woman from the community whose life may have ties to Rebekah’s own mother. A strong mystery with a compelling narrator, it also gives readers a look into the world of tabloid journalism.

Phillip Margolin’s pioneer saga, WORTHY BROWN”S DAUGHTER, is a mix of Old West, legal drama, and racism in a portrait of small town justice. It’s 1860 in the new state of Oregon, and judges often held court in fields or taverns, and were often put up by families as they traveled their territory. The story was inspired by a real case from that era, when freed slaves tried to find and have their children returned to them. Raw in authenticity, Margolin’s years of research will bring you back to a forgotten era.

Hot Summer Reads and Rory Flynn Interview Tuesday, Jul 22 2014 

Auntie M has a huge stack of crime fiction waiting to be read and she likes to take the middle of the summer, when guest blogs build up, to remind you of those books that are in print that you will enjoy. Seek out the ones that appeal to you for some fun summer readings.

First up is an interview with author Rory Flynn, whose first crime novel, THIRD RAIL: An Eddy Harkness Novel, is in print. Auntie M had the distinct pleasure of meeting Mr. Flynn when she was in Concord, MA, recently with her writing group visiting the literary sites. Not far from the homes of Emerson and Alcott, we talked about Mr. Flynn’s character Eddy, his hometown of Nagog, not unlike Concord, and Flynn’s writing process.


Auntie M: When a former principal remarks that what happened to Eddy’s family is Shakespearian, Eddy answers:” And you don’t mean the comedies do you?” How much of that comes from your own history and from living in a small town? You have a line: “Cities churn, suburbs strive, but small towns stay the same.”

Rory Flynn: My real mother disappeared from my life over twenty years ago so that’s a part of it. I choose when to go in and out of focus on that kind of stuff and end up taking out more after the first draft. The idea of small town’s never gets lost, but people know where they are they are in small town living. It’s a microcosm of the whole world, and when Eddy turns over a stone it’s familiar to readers. The monument crash in the book and its subsequent controversy over fixing it or not actually occurred here, and like us, there are elements that convey a bigger story about behavior and life.

AM: We see the action unfold from Eddy’s shoulder which gives the book a tremendous sense of immediacy. Despite his fall from grace that paints him as a tragic figure, he handles it all gracefully.

RF: Eddy’s a walking-around kinda guy, especially when he’s collecting meter change. When he loses his gun, it’s a metaphor for him losing face on the job that got him demoted in the first place. I like to throw everything into a chapter and then take out what’s not needed but something’s always got to be happening. There’s darkness and there should be dimensions in each chapter where something happens. I have fun writing him.

AM: “Morning is about flaws.” These lines of realism smack the reader in the face with a universal truth. Do you create them out of the writing or have them in mind first?

RF: I liked lines that resonate and have that universal truth. It’s like a filter of Life. I fit them in with when I can work them into the lines around what’s happening; it can’t be forced. But sometimes that kind of line resonates.

AM: Some of your characters are way out there, eccentric to say the least. Where does that come from?

RF: I played in a grotty urban punk band and we’d do these gigs, often in college towns, I’d meet and see so many different kinds of people, always with a nightlife I was supporting. And I like being wild, throwing in characters who are out there.

AM: You write and work but you’re very community-mnded. You work with Gaining Ground, a community farm group.

RF: My wife and I both do. It’s a 100-acre farm run by volunteers who grow and give produce to the people who need it. There’s a real give and take with the surrounding community and it’s a program that’s spread to fifteen countries.

AM: Yet you find time to write, time to volunteer, time to work at a copyediting job, and time to run the Concord Free Press.

RF: I need that job to put two daughters through college! Very few writers, unless you’re Stephen King or JK Rowling, can make a living off their writing. I have other novels (under his real name, Stona Fitch) and one was made into a movie and another optioned by Harry Connick, Jr, but only a very small percentage of writers support their families just on their writing. The Press came about from an idea, again, of giving back to the community. Fitch-Give and takeBWCHoU3kL._AA160_
Generosity is infectious and I find the whole concept fascinating. It’s an odd publishing model, Concord Free Press, with underwriting from Kodak that covers printing costs. We reach out to people and the books choose us. We ask them to let us give 3,000 copies of a book away for free and then ask the recipient to make a donation to any charity of their liking and then pass the book on. Once you take money out of the equation all things are possible. To date we’ve raised over $400,000 dollars to various charities and given the author exposure. People are reading their books who might never have seen them and readers are making donations they wouldn’t have thought about. We’d like to expand next to books out of print.

AM: What’s on your nightstand waiting to be read and who do you like in crime? And more importantly, what’s up next for Eddy Harkness?

RF: In crime, Megan Abbott’s The Fever–she’s on CFP’s editorial board. I like Alan Guthrie and Robert Parker, too. I like Jess Walter, Stephen Zweig, Martin Walser; that night stand has Bohumil Hrabel’s I Served the King of Englandand Herman Koch’s The Dinner. Eddy? In Third Rail, the fictional drug loosens people and their problems up, until they have a monumental crash. I liked that and its effects. The sequel, Dark Horse, is a tale of personal responsibility on many levels.

AM: Thanks for your time, Mr. Flynn. Now for THIRD RAIL, the first Eddy Harness novel.ThirdRail_cover_277x419
Eddy Harkness is a young detective with a sixth sense for finding hidden things: cash, drugs, guns, bodies. But Eddy’s place in an elite narcotics unit is derailed by the death of a Red Sox fan in the chaos of a World Series win, a death some feel he could have prevented. The incident is not told in great detail; just enough to interest readers and explain Eddy’s fall from grace. Eddy finds himself exiled to his hometown just outside Boston, where he empties parking meters and struggles to redeem his disgraced family name with its own history.

After a night of crazed drinking with a wild new companion, Eddy’s police-issue Glock disappears. Unable to report the theft, Eddy starts a secret search for it, using a plastic model for cover, just as a string of fatal accidents lead him to uncover a new, dangerous smart drug, Third Rail. There is a cast of characters filled with eccentricities who rival Monty Python, too. With only that plastic gun to protect him, Eddy’s investigation leads him into the darkest corners of his hometown, where it soon becomes tough to tell the politicians from the criminals. There will be death and revealed secrets as Eddy turns over stones in the town he thought he knew. With a highly developed setting, a very human protagonist, and a story that takes off from page one and never lets up until its startling finale, Third Rail readers will be looking for the next Eddy Harkness novel.

On to other recommended reads.

Martha Grimes has been off writing other novels, so her return to a Richard Jury novel after four long years is anxiously awaited in Vertigo 42. Jury as a Superintendent has more flexibility, although he still has Carole-anne Palutski as his comely upstairs neighbor. The whole eccentric crew revolving around Melrose Plant is back for a few scenes, too, although their presence has more to do with comic relief and less do with Jury’s investigation when he’s asked by an old friend to look to the death of the friend’s wife seventeen years ago.

Tess Williiamson died in a fall down stone steps at her Devon home, several years after coming under suspicion for the death of a child, there for a day’s outing with a group of other children at the home, in a similar way. Her husband, Tom, can’t believe it was accidental, or that Tess committed suicide. Tom asks Jury to look into the case, and as it falls on the turf of his friend, Brian Macalvie, only too eager to establish the real cause of death. Jury soon finds himself at the house, called Laburnum.

The scene seems staged to Jury, but then so does the death near Ardy’s house in Sidbury of a young woman who has fallen from a high tower. The Hitchcock movie “Vertigo” comes into play here. Dressed impeccably in designer clothes and shoes, the woman’s death investigation runs parallel to Jury’s old one, until a man dead from gunshots is found in an alley and things really get complicated after that.

Auntie M was happy to be with the familiar cast but the ending seemed to be almost anti-climatic, or perhaps the pace was off a tad. Whatever, it’s still a pleasure to be back with Richard Jury and his unlikely crew of friends.


Witness Impulse has brought out Frances Fyfield’s Gold Digger, in ebook and trade paperback, and its a tour de force from this talented writer who gets inside the psyche of her characters. Readers will also learn about the art world as that world is the pivot point of the entire plot. But it’s so much more, in the talented way Fyfield has of creating engaging and very real characters who leap off the page, all damaged by life.

Thomas Porteous sees something in the urchin Diana Quigley, who enters his house as a thief only to steal his heart and become his wife, despite a huge age difference.

Thomas is an art collector, with an eye that rivals Di’s own, and he sets about teaching her to see art and nature with new eyes. Theirs is a happy if brief marriage, and one of the highlights of the novel are Di’s descriptive cards of the paintings they share in the huge old house by the sea that was once a school.

Thomas’ first wife turned their two daughters against him in a most horrendous way, but that doesn’t stop either of the daughter’s from plotting to get their hands on what they feel is their wealth by right, instead of going to Di. Despite his best try at reconciliation before his death, his daughters abandon him until Thomas is gone. The only family member who adores him, along with Di, is one young grandson, Patrick.

Now the family has planned to rob Di and gain back what they feel is theirs, and she enlists a motley group of compatriots to help her foil their plan. Suspenseful and compelling.
Sharon Bolton made a name for herself with engaging stand-alone suspense novels before launching her Lacey Flint series. The newest, A Dark and Twisted Tide
, shows once again why this unusual protagonist is the perfect foil for the gritty settings Bolton chooses and the unusual stories she tells.

Lacey is living on a houseboat on the Thames and starts to feel she’s becoming part of the river’s community until the shrouded body of a young woman is found in the river. She’s recently joined the marine police unit and is fast becoming used to the ins and outs of the river and its byways.

When she realizes this body has been deliberately left for her to find, Lacey knows she’s being watched. But by who and why? And with her fragile relationship with Joesbury on hold while he does undercover work, she’s feeling exposed and vulnerable.

Then someone starts leaving creepy gifts on the deck of Flint’s houseboat just as the bodies being to pile up of more young woman, garbed in the same kind of unusual shroud. That’s when her former boss Dana Tulloch gets involved and Lacey’s investigation takes on a new angle: are young women being kidnapped and kept prisoner after being lured her from places like Afghanistan? And what of the brother and sister team Lacey comes to know and befriend who live on a tributary? How are they involved? This is a first-rate mystery with all the twists and plot turns any reader could want,and a solid nail-biter ending. But it’s the characters that infuse A Dark and Twisted Tide with such heart and reality— not just the damaged Flint but her friends and colleagues as well. Highly recommended.

Winter Clearance: The Best of the Rest Sunday, Mar 9 2014 

Auntie M receives many more books during the year than she could possible review Reading 2-3 a week, she usually picks out her favorites to give a full review, and throws in guests here and there, so you can imagine the piles of books at her house. With the spring/summer catalogues starting to arrive, it seemed prudent to do a bit of book cleaning and sorting. Here are the fall/winter releases that didn’t make it to a full review, mostly because of timing issues, not because they weren’t good reads. Lurkers new to this blog should be aware that Auntie M does not waste space on a book she didn’t like, whatever the reason. The thrust of this blog is to bring great new authors or continued series winners books to your attention.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker is not the usual kind of crime book Auntie M reviews, but there is a mystery at the heart of this involved immigrant tale that focuses on elements of Arab and Jewish mythology. It’s an interesting mix of these two world and revolves around two supernatural creatures who arrive in New York in 1899 and adjust to a human city. There is adventure as they face adversity, and their once-hostile relationship changes through the strong bond they form. Surrounded by a colorful cast of secondary characters, this is a mix of fable and historical fiction in this tale of folklore and fantasy.

seance societyStaying with books written in another time, we head to 1956 and Michael Nehtercott’s The Seance Society. PI Lee Plunkett and Mr. O’Nelligan, his partner, pair up to solve a murder involved the “Spectricator,” a machine designed to communicate with the afterlife. The fresh cast of characters they meet, combined with witty dialogue, make for a great mystery.

It’s back to the post-Revolutionary War era when veteran Will Rees, a traveling weaver, finds his fragile happiness shattered by news of the murder of his old friend, Nate Bowditch, in Eleanor Kuhn’s Death of a Dyer.Kuhns’ won the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award for A Simple Murder, which intruded Rees. She brings this tale of hidden motives and evil secrets alive with capturing the Shaker lifestyle of the period.
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Sam Thomas’ The Midwife’s Tale takes readers to 1644, when Parliament’s armies laid siege to York in a rebellion against the King. A different sort of rebellion faces midwife Bridget Hodgson, who resolutely sets out of clear her friend of murdering her husband. But will she find the real culprit before Estehr Cooper is burned alive? Enlisting savvy servant Martha Hawkins, the two will travel to unknown neighborhoods and delve into Puritan ethics run amok. Filled with historical details and breathing with realism of the era.

Julia Keller’s A Killing in the Hills brings her skills as a Pulitzer Prize-wining journalist to her first crime novel with powerful results. Bell Elkins returns to the depressed area of West Virginia that carries enough terrible childhood memories to keep her away. But returning to Acker’s Gap as the county’s prosecuting attorney will bring Bell’s daughter Carly into the fray after the girl is a witness to a fatal shooting. A wonderful sense of place with quick pacing finely-darwn characters.

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Maggie Barbieri’s Once Upon a Lie is a departure from her Murder 101 series. This time a suburban mystery takes a dark turn in this debut featuring baker Maeve Conlon, a most unlikely protagonist. Trying to juggle her kids, an ex with a new family and a father with Alzheimer’s while running a successful business isn’t easy for Maeve but she manages–just. Then her cousin Sean Donovan is found dead and suddenly things get a lot more complicated. Unusual and surprising.

Helen Smith’s Emily Castle series are pure fun, what Auntie M calls brain candy. This time poor Emily, temp job queen, is convinced to travel for the weekend to beachside of Torquay for a weekend convention of paranormal research. Her neighbor, Perspicacious Peg, has had a premonition someone will drown at the convention, and Emily is hired as a “future-crimes” investigator, which translates to an all-expense paid vacation whilst keeping her eyes open. Magician Edmund Zenon’s bounty of 50,000 British Sterling pounds, offered to anyone who can prove the existence of the paranormal, dangles like a carrot on a stick in front of the resort and its inhabitants. Filled with quirky characters and tongue-in-cheek asides.

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Jeffrey Deaver’s October List
flips his usual crime novels on hits head by starting with the ending and working his way backwards to show how and why Gabriela is sitting in an apartment, watching the clock tick down after the kidnapping of her daughter. The story builds and rebuilds with device as reader’s work back, trying to spot clues. Deaver says he was inspired by Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along.

the good boy
Edgar Award-winning author Theresa Schwegel brings a noir look to Chicago with The Good Boy
, her look into 11 yr-old Joel Murphy’s journey with his father’s police dog, Butchie, who set out to protect Joel’s sister and end up running for their lives. With his father, Pete, facing a wrongful arrest suit, justice seems to be out of reach for this family. Schwegel’s authentic dialogue adds to the tension.

The Widows of Braxton County is Jess McConkey’s haunting family story with a mystery at its heart. When Kate Krauss marries into an Iowa farming family and only finds out after her wedding that her new mother-in-law will be living with the newlyweds, that’s not the only secret this family holds.

Cut to the Bone is the newest entry in the Jefferson Bass series set at the Body Farm in 1992. This one delves into Dr. Bill Brockton’s past and the Body Farm’s early beginnings. The launch of this macabre research facility are threatened to derail when he’s called to investigate a crime scene with chilling similarities to Brockton’s past.

Memphis is the setting for Jeff Crook’s The Sleeping and the Dead. featuring Jackie Lyons, a former vice detective on the edge of too many life changes to take hold of at once. There’s a mystical element here, as Jackie’s camera starts to capture images of ghosts and she must decipher the real world from the spirit world.

Carol Miller’s debut Murder and Moonshine features waitress Daisy McGovern, working at a Virginia diner, and overhearing far too many secrets to keep her safe. First in a new series.

Hoomy Menino debuts a gripping mystery surrounding horsewoman Tink Elledge in Murder, She Rode. Set outside Philadelphia in the Brandywine region, Tink becomes involved in unraveling the truth behind several supposedly freak accidents affecting the riders she knows.

It’s easy to figure out the setting for DE Johnson’s Detroit Shuffle. Will Anderson seems to have a knack for getting involved in sleuthing. This is the third entry in the times of suffrage rallies, conspiracies and murder against the backdrop of the infancy of the auto industry.

Steve Hamilton prolific Alex McKnight series had two entries last year: Let It Burn took the ex-cop back to his Detroit roots to revisit a case he thought he’d solved decided ago. Blood is the Sky came out in paperback and follows McKnight’s journey deep into Canada on a search for the missing brother of his good friend and was previously reviewed. Hamilton gets the balance of tension, action and atmosphere just right in this series from the two-time Edgar Award winner.

Shoot the Women First is Wallace Stroby’s third Crissa Stone caper, featuring the professional thief, an unlikely but engaging protagonist Kirkus calls “crime fiction’s best bad girl.” This time she’s in Detroit and finds herself on the run with a stolen cache of drug money, being pursued by the drug kingpin’s lethal lieutenant and a former cop with his own agenda. Action-packed and hard-boiled as you can get.

Dana Hayes fast-paced action thriller Ice Cold Kill will have readers leaving the light on long after bedtime. Working as an interpreter and living in exile in the US and under FBI protection is a very different way of life for former Shin-Bet agent Daria Gibron, who can’t resist taking on the occasional job as an operative. Alerted to an ambush but not knowing who’s at its heart, she finds herself on the run from a setup and pursued by the very people who are supposed to protect her.

Thriller writer James Rollins takes an apocalyptic turn with the comet set on a collision course with Earth in The Eye of God . Throw in behind-the-scenes government plots, add in a huge dose of action and startling secrets and you have a view of the future where Sigma Force, an elite and covert arm of the Department of Defense’s DARPA Unit exists. Combining high concept scientific theories with true historical and religious facts gives this thriller the ring of plausibility.

Stephen Leather has garnered an audience with his Spider Shepherd series and True Colors is out in paperback. His newest release is Lastnight, a Jack Nightingale thriller which finds Jack asked to track down a killer murdering Goths in a most horrific manner: skinning and butchering them. When Jack finds the common link to the victims, he sets himself and his family squarely in the firing line of a secretive Satanic cult.

Archer Mayor’s Paradise City came out in paperback and was quickly followed by Joe Gunther’s newest tale in Three Can Keep a Secret. Recovering after the devastation of Hurricane Irene is a full time job for Gunther and the Vermont Bureau of Investigation until they are handed three seemingly unrelated cases. How they are related provides the key as Gunther plows through the disaster trying to learn what is really at the base of these cases.

Tim O’Mara’s Crooked Numbers second novel brings back Sacrifice Fly‘s protagonist, NYC teacher Raymond Donne. This time Donne takes a break from middle-school teaching to solve the apparently gang-related killing of a former student on scholarship to a private Manhattan school–only the boy’s mother insists her son was never part of gang. Then another victim from the same school dies and a third is hospitalized.

The Other Woman is Hank Phillippi Ryan’s riveting entry featuring reporter Jane Ryland that won the Mary Higgins Clark Award. A Boston investigative reporter, Ryan brings her extensive history and knowledge to crime, wining the Agatha, Anthony and Macavity awards in the process. Jane will encounter Detective Jake Brogan in this mystery with tones of election connections and a serial killer at large. The Wrong Girl follows the duo into the investigation of a respected adoption agency. Are they reuniting birth parents with the wrong children? A strong series with compelling characters and nonstop action.

Leigh Russell: DI Geraldine Steel Sunday, Jan 26 2014 

Leigh Russell’s Geraldine Steel series is finally available in the US, in paper back on and now through the Witness Impulse series as ebooks. Jeffrey Deaver calls the debut of the series: “A stylish top-of-the-line crime tale” and readers on both sides of the pond are quick to agree.

These are intricately plotted crime novels that  find readers quickly flipping pages as the stories race along, and all in the psychological style of Ruth Rendell or Frances Fyfield. Steel is likeable and human, with her own ghosts that haunt her, and her insecurities and errors in relationships feel realistically drawn.

First in the series is Cut Short, which introduces Geraldine and her complicated background as she starts a new job in Kent.  cut-short

Relocating near the small village of Woolmarsh, Steel fully expects her life to take a quiet turn. Still smarting from the end of a six-year relationship to a man who couldn’t handle her commitment to her work, Steel moves into a new flat and prepares to turn a page and start a new chapter. Her flat on a pretty tree-lined street promises to become a haven at the end of her work day for the mobile Murder Investigation Team based in southeast England.

Steel is still unpacking boxes when the call comes to attend the Incident Room being set up in Woolmarsh, a lucky break for Steel for it means she can stay at home instead of traveling to a different site. She’s introduced to her new colleagues, and the DCI she’ll be working with, Kathryn Gordon, a tough but fair detective.

The body of 22 yr-old Angela Waters has been found by children with their nanny, partially hidden in the leaves and shrubs of a nearby park. The crime scene has been compromised by the children, the nanny, and a variety of small animals that have been at the corpse in the day and night she’s lain there.

This is the first of a series of murders by a sick mind preying on young woman. In an interesting twist, several chapters are from the killer’s point of view, so the reader has a very different feel for the motives behind what Steel and her team think is a typical serial murderer.

A great start to an interesting series, with Steel finding her footing in a new environment amongst a new team who may or may not be watching out for her. And of course, one very sick killer who may just get away with murder unless Steel can figure out the culprit.

road-closed-coverRoad Closed finds Steel and her team called in after a gas explosion takes the life of a man in his home. Was this a case of arson or that of a desperate woman trapped in a hasty marriage finding a way to end it?

In the midst of the new case, Steel’s affair with a young man seems to waffle. Is that on her end or his? And what of the grieving widow Sophie? Was her husband’s death the result of a pair of bumbling burglars or did he die at her own hand?

An old woman falls down the stairs during a burglary. Or was she pushed? And are these incidents in any way related?

These are some of the questions facing Steel and her team as they try to pick apart what is real and what is not in this second outing that starts with the death of Steel’s mother.

At the funeral, she is forced to face the ambivalence she felt toward her mother as her older sister’s mourning takes its toll. With her small family reduced to just her sister Celia and her husband and their daughter, Steel ponders what it means to have felt throughout her life as an outsider in her own family. the answer will shock her and rock her very core.

But that answer opens up even more for Steel, and will be almost as difficult as Steel’s investigation. With her team not solidly behind her, Steel has to decide if a witness to the previous crimes who dies in a hit-and-run accident is part of the larger picture or just an untimely coincidence.

Book Three continues with Dead End, the most disturbing case Steel will have to date. The trail will lead to York and back as her team struggles to find a killer9781DeadEnd just as Steel seems to heat things up with the handsome pathologist, Paul Hilliard.

Abigail Kirby is a determined woman, pushing her way to a new position as headmistress at a private school, uprooting her two teenagers from their schools and homes, despite the crumbling state of her marriage. Young Ben seems to have settled in well to his new school, but 14 yr-old Lucy is socially awkward and on the verge of an eating disorder. Plus, she’s furious with her father for having a relationship outside his broken marriage.

Then Abigail’s corpse is found and as horrible as the fact of murder seems, it takes a decided turn for the worse at the postmortem when it’s discovered her tongue had been cut out while she dying. Could her husband have decided to take the easy way out to have the relationship he wants?

As Steel’s team gets their investigation underway, a second corpse is found, that of a potential witness, who has been blinded. Then Lucy runs away from home to find her new internet friend, the only person who seems to understand her.

Meanwhile, Steel’s DS, Ian Peterson, is having his own troubles at home. He’s gained Steel’s trust, but then goes off on his own to follow a tangent in the investigation.

Steel soon finds herself on the receiving end of a surprising twist as the climax builds to a swift conclusion that will jeopardize her own life.

These complex procedurals are tightly written and the new change in store for Steel at the end of this novel promises to keep the series from becoming formulaic or stale.

Death BedBook Four follows Steel’s relocation to London in Death Bed. After a surprise discovery about her personal life, which has affected her deeply, she’s forced to tell her sister that she’s received a transfer she’s hoped for: to the Met to work as Detective Inspector on their Murder Squad in London.

Another move for Steel, this time to Islington, with more boxes and new people to meet and fit in with, and this time she’s also fighting what she perceives as their idea that she’s a country bumpkin who won’t be able to handle the hectic pace of the Hendon Squad.

Her new DS is a woman, an adjustment for both of them, but that becomes the least of the two women’s problems when a young black woman is found murdered in North London. Showing signs of severe abuse, dehydration and marks of being held with chains, the discovery is quickly followed by a second body in similar circumstances.

Worried about calls of racism against black women, the team realizes the two murders are connected, especially when it’s found that two teeth are missing from both women. But their individual circumstances are clearly different. So what is the reason this killer has taken them? Is this his idea of a trophy?

In the midst of their investigation, chapters show the victims chained in the attic of their captor, and the chilling account of his rationale for doing what he believes to be a spiritual purpose, adding to the highly unusual “collection” that readers will find a haunting premise.

This is the darkest of the series, and probes the mind of a sociopath who only sees what he needs for his own purposes. It will be up to Steel to put the pieces together to unmask a canny and highly unusual murderer.

This gritty addition to the series delivers a powerful wallop. There are two more in the series with Steel in London that will be reviewed this spring when they are released by Witness Impulse here, along with an interview with the charming Russell. Stay tuned for more with DI Geraldine Steel from Leigh Russell.

Holiday Goodies #2 Wednesday, Dec 18 2013 

Auntie M gave you a great listing last time of good books for gifts for readers. Now she’s going to give you a huge compendium of wonderful reads in different categories for those last minute gifts. And then take off between Christmas and New Year’s 🙂 To all a good night and a wonderful holiday season. Here are some great ideas for gifting and don’t forget to gift yourself in the process!

For fans of the Tried and True Series:

crossVal McDermid is one of Auntie M’s favorite authors. Every stand alone, each series, all of the books shine with the craft of a wordsmith who understands people and manages to add complex plots that keep your interest and your mind reeling.

Cross and Burn is the latest in the Tony Hill-Carol Jordan series and you will be shocked and surprised at how she handles the complicated rift in their relationship.

The effects of the last case (The Retribution) has left the two estranged and both blame Tony for the havoc a sick killer brought into Carol’s life. She’s been on extended leave, with no one seeing her for the past three months.

He’s been cut from his service to the police and is working full time at a nearby psych hospital and living on a long boat.

What neither expects is a killer with a penchant for murdering women, and how that case will bring a connection neither Hill or Jordan can ignore. As Paula McIntyre works to adapt to her new position and investigates what soon becomes a series of murders, one thing soon become clear: all the women bear a disturbing resemblance to Carol Jordan.

And then the unthinkable happens when the evidence points to Tony Hill and he finds himself behind bars.

This one will keep you turning pages as all of McDermid’s do and you won’t want it to end but will race to find the conclusion anyway. Somehow McDermid always manages to keep her stories fresh and her ideas intriguing. Highly recommended.

Julia Spencer-Fleming kept fans waiting for the next in her series featuring the Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson and her police chief, Russ Van Alstyne. evil-days-new-lg

Through the Evil Days finds the newly married couple finally stealing away for a honeymoon. With Clare’s pregnancy evidently preceding their marriage, she faces trouble with her diocese for conduct unbecoming a priest.

Although there is an arson case on board, Russ leaves the case to his deputies to take Clare for a week of ice fishing in a lakeside cabin in the Adirondack’s he’s hoping she will agree they should buy.

Running between the couple is the difficulty Russ is having with the idea of Clare’s pregnancy, unplanned and unanticipated after agreeing they would not have children; but now a fact she is willing to accept and which threatens to drive a wedge between the couple.

Trouble comes early in the form of a suspected kidnapping in their vacation neighborhood whose tendrils reach into the arson case.

A snowstorm blankets the area and makes travel impossible, with frigid weather an added element to fight besides the meth heads whose hideout they stumble across.

With officers Hadley Knox and Kevin Flynn struggling to work out the case in the midst of their own relationship issues, there’s plenty of trouble to go around.

Soon the trouble comes too close to their cabin and Russ and Clare will be fighting for not only their own lives, but for that of their unborn child.

The-Ravens-EyeBarry Maitland’s Brock and Kolla series returns with his twelfth entry, The Raven’s Eye.

While Brock as DCI must wrestle with budget cuts and a new Commander at work, DI Kathy Kolla’s instincts kick in when she’s called to investigate what appears to be an accidental death on a narrow boat.

Vicky Hawks lived on the houseboat and is found by one of her neighbors, the apparent victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. The poor ventilation system on the boat supports that and nothing at the crime scene seems out of sort.

Kathy’s patience will be tested as she teases out information about the dead woman from those around her.

There will be doctors and scientists and a case of wrong identity as Kathy follows a trail that keeps doubling back on her. Who was Vicky Hawks and why would anyone have wanted her dead?

This one is well-plotted with dead ends that keep frustrating Kathy as much as the budget cutbacks that ruin Brock’s day. And when it appears Vicky’s death may be related to a previous murder, they know they are facing a shrewd killer who will stop at nothing to keep the status quo.

What adds a deep layer to this one is the world if surveillance and how it can be used to help and to hinder. A fine and shrewd mystery.

Other series winners: M. R. Hall’s Coroner Jenny Cooper returns in The Chosen Dead. Finished with therapy for the debilitating panic attacks she’s had for years, Jenny is trying to salvage her relationship with her son, Ross, and her lover, Michael. Somehow the death of an Arizona research scientist and his Russian counterpart seeking asylum become part of Jenny’s case when a young man leaves his toddler son and leaps to his death off a traffic bridge onto the highway. The dead man’s wife insists her husband would never commit suicide–and Jenny finds herself agreeing.

Inger Ash Wolfe’s A Door in the River brings back the unusual detective Hazel Micallef in the Canadian town of Port Dundas. Struggling with a new commanding officer as the policing is being rearranged, disturbed by her mother Emily’s apparent depression, the death of friend Henry Wiest of a heart attack after a bee sting hits her hard. But what was Henry doing near Queesik Bay outside a smoke shop, because Henry didn’t smoke? What follows is a disturbing tale of human trafficking and a traitor in a most unlikely place.

Alison Bruce brings DC Gary Goodhew and Cambridge to life in The Silence, when a series of  suicides appear to Gary to be much more than they seem on the surface. To make matters worse, one of the deaths is related to an earlier case of his, a gruesome death he’s never forgotten. And then there’s the subject of is inheritance and how he is or is not handling that.

Aline Templeton’s DI Marjory Fleming is a great character, a Scottish detective inspector married to a sheep farmer. She’s back in rare form in Evil for Evil, when murder strikes the little village of Innellan, perched on the Fleet Ba towards a series of small islands. Old scores to settle, soldiers with past secrets and even dead babies all come into play in this satisfying addition to the series.

And don’t forget Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) in her book-within-a-book, The Child’s Child, a complex story of siblings, friendship and cultural history from the master of psychological suspense.

For something New and Different:

Carla Norton takes her experience working on a real 1977 kidnapping case, where the victim was held for seven years, and uses it to bring a most unusual 1728neggers6850new protagonist to the page with a high degree of authenticity in The Edge of Normal.

Twenty-two year-old Reeve LeClaire is making a life for herself in San Francisco, working part-time, and seeing psychiatrist Ezra Lerner. Dr. Lerner is an expert on captivity syndromes and has slowly gained Reeve’s trust after her own harrowing experience, which is parsed out in an intriguing manner.

Working as a waitress, she is living in her own apartment and trying to feel normal while repairing her relationship with her family.

Then kidnapped teenager Tilly Cavanaugh is rescued after being locked in a basement for over a year. Tilly asks to speak with Reeve about her own experience and survival, and Lerner feels it may help Reeve to be of help to another teen and asks her consider it.

With the confessed kidnapper in custody, there should be little threat to Reeve. But Tilly is hiding a secret, one she will only share with Reeve. And soon it appears there are at least two other teens who have gone missing in similar circumstances in the past two years. Could either of them still be alive?

Soon Reeve is doing a bit of investigating on her own, assisted by the liaison assigned to Tilly, Deputy Nick Hudson, who works with both the district attorney’s office and the county sheriff’s department.

What they can’t know is that someone with the perfect cover is monitoring her every move, and Reeve is in more danger than she could ever anticipate.

This is a chilling thriller which becomes quickly engrossing as much as it gives insight into kidnap victims. The best aspect is Reeve’s refusal to see herself as a victim, and one can only hope she will reappear in a sequel.

TheRedQueenDies_CoverIn the not-too-distant future of 2019, The Red Queen Dies is the newest novel by author and criminal justice professor Frankie Y. Bailey.

In an all-too believable scenario. she takes a hard look at criminal law and what police work will become, set during a time when there is a drug available that will allow victims of brutal crimes to erase the memory of their attacks. “Lullaby” also takes away evidence as witnesses lose these important points of recall.

This happens to Detective Hannah McCabe, working in Albany, and hits home when a witness is given by the drug. With a killer on the loose, she needs all the witnesses she can find.

Then the killer’s third victim becomes actress Vivian Jessup, nicknamed the Red Queen for her hair color and for her dedication to Alice in Wonderland. Her extensive collection of Lewis Carroll and Wonderland memorabilia is legendary.

Is The Red Queen’s death connected to the first two? Or is there a savvy killer out there trying to tag his murder onto the other two.

Written with a wry sense of humor from Hannah, Bailey succeeds in showing the heat of an Albany September just out of reach of today.

Readers who appreciate a highly original approach will appreciate this fast-paced mystery featuring a biracial detective from a literary family who decides crime is her game.

For Historical Fans:

Award-winner Catriona McPerson brings back aristocratic-turned-detective Dandy Gilver with Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses. 9Dandy781250030009.340x340-75

For fans of , this series set in 1920’s Scotland continues to charm with the cases of Gilver and Osborne.

This time Dandy responds to the frantic call from an old friend, one of three sisters she has fond memories of, and soon finds herself traveling to a girls school where one of the sisters, Fleur, has been teaching.  It seems teachers are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Soon Dandy finds herself at St. Columba’s in the seaside town of Portpatrick, where Fleur is less than pleased to see her old friend.

It seems Fleur is convinced she’s responsible for four or even five  deaths and it’s up to Dandy and Osborne to get to the bottom of such nonsense.

There are murders and kidnappings and enough secrets to keep the coziest person happy.

This pleasing series has been optioned for television by the BBC, where it will no doubt find a popular home.

dunnCarola Dunn follows  A Colourful Death in her Cornish mystery series with the third installment The Valley of the Shadow.

It’s sometime in the 1960’s or 70’s, before the advent of computer or mobile phones, and Port Mabyn may be a fictional village but the rest of Cornwall as Dunn describes it is real and lovely.

Series regular Eleanor Trewynn has retired in her widowhood after being a world traveler to be near her niece Megan Pencarrow, a detective sergeant with the local police.

But Eleanor is by no means a shy or retiring widow and in the past has helped do more than her fair share of investigating, aided by her dog, Teazle. In this volume, out along the seaside cliffs for a walk with Teazle and her neighbor, artist Nick Gresham, they spot a half-drowned Indian man afloat in the water.

With no identification, saved from the brink of death, the young man is taken to the hospital while Eleanor and Megan try to find out who he is and how he came to in the water in their remote area of Cornwall.

There will be talk of Immigration, of smugglers and caves, of family needing to be rescued, and Eleanor and Megan will be in the thick of it.

The duo Charles Todd became known for the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, but they’ve had equal success with the Bess Crawford mysteries and return with 978Todd0062237170_p0_v2_s260x420A Question of Honor. English nurse Bess manages to find herself in the middle of a criminal investigation in the series which vividly describes the horrors of war.

The time is near the end of WWI and Bess is brought back to memories her childhood in India, where her colonel father was stationed. Despite her happy memories, the dark cloud of that time was the murder of five people by an officer from her father’s regiment who was never brought to trial.

It has remained an issue for Bess and her family because her father had trained this man.

Now tending to the wounded in France, Bess learned from a dying Indian sergeant that this murderer, Lieutenant Wade is alive and indeed, serving at the front.

She’s shocked and determined to find out how he had escaped–and what had driven him in the first place to commit murder when her beloved father had placed such faith in the man.

The bulk of the book concerns Bess taking leave to investigate Wade, and she’s surprised by what she learns from different witnesses.

It will take all of her wiles and intelligence to piece together the reality of the murders from years ago, and she will end up enlisting her mother and father in a fascinating twisted ending that will involve Rudyard Kipling.

97803tremayne12658625Going back to Ireland AD 670, Peter Tremayne has a huge following with his series featuring Fidelmma of Cashel.

This time Fidelma’s brother enlists her aid investigating the murder of a nobleman in The Seventh Trumpet.

For those unfamiliar with the series, the protagonist is not only the sister of a king, but a dailaigh, an advocate of the Brehon Law Courts.

With the help of her companion Eadulf, they try to find out if the murder could be tied to a violent wave running through the western lands.

In those parts a fanatical figure claims to have been summoned by the seventh angel with the express desire to remove those impure of faith.

Despite the number of bodies that begin to pile up, it remains to be seen how they are connected, and why in the midst of this turmoil, an abbot would turn his monastery into a fortress.

When Fidelma becomes abducated, it will be up to Eadult to rescue her while finishing their work and solving the mystery surrounding the deaths.

Tremayne does a fine job of describing a time period so remote to today’s reader, with authenticity and ties to the history of the time.

For Cozy Fans:

Mary Daheim’s newest Bed and Breakfast mystery, Gone with the Win, turns a different spin when Judith McMonigle Flynn actually gets her husband Joe to help in her investigation.This is the 28th in the long-running series and this time when Judith books a reservation for a Mary Smith from New York City, mayhem is sure to follow. And it does, in the form of a cold case “Mary” is determined Judith can help her solve.

The first in a new series, Rosemary and Crime debuts Gail Oust’s charming southern cozy, featuring amateur sleuth Piper Prescott, who owns a spice shop in Georgia’s small town of Brandywine Creek. Divorced and determined to bloom where she’s planted herself, Piper is a Yankee who’s pursuing her dream of owning her own business. But the grand opening takes a dramatic turn when the chef doing a cooking demo is stabbed and Piper finds herself the chief suspect. Filled with humor and a lot of sass, readers will get a kick out of Piper and her outspoken friend Reba Mae Johnson.

For Young Adult Readers:

John Grisham’s Theodore Boone: The Activist stars a 13 year-old whose history includes kidnapping and murder.   This is the fourth in the series starring the young

lawyer whose books can be read by the entire family.

Theo is a loyal friend to Hardie Quinn and gets justifiably upset when he learns the Quinn family home is about to be bulldozed for a bypass. This will affect other homes and businesses and even a school that lie in the path of the proposed bypass.

It’s tough for Theo to explain to Hardie that the law is not on his friend’s side and there’s not much that can be done.

Despite this, Theo joins in the campaign organized to stop the bypass and that’s when things gets really interesting. Theo finds corruption, but he’s learned it in an illegal way. How can he keep the developers from going ahead with his plan while exposing the corruption without breaking the law himself.

Any in this series provide thoughtful, engaging stories for young readers in the tween category.


Libby Fischer Hellmann: Havana Lost Sunday, Sep 8 2013 

FINALHL ebookWhilst Auntie M recovers from jet lag from her England odyssey, please welcome author Libby Fischer Hellmann, talking about her newest thriller HAVANA LOST:

Where Did HAVANA LOST Come From Anyway?



So…I was talking to my sister on the phone after I finished A BITTER VEIL. I was already about 60 pages into my next Georgia Davis thriller, but something was keeping me from diving back in. I started thinking about writing a World War Two thriller—I’m continually drawn back to that period of time, where some people were heroes, others cowards, and you never knew whom to trust. Unfortunately, I realized right away there was probably nothing I could write about that time period that hasn’t been done better by someone else.


Our phone conversation turned to other time periods and settings, and my sister brought up Cuba. As soon as she mentioned it, I started to get that itch—the kind of itch that can only be scratched by delving more deeply into a subject. We both remembered my parents flying down to gamble in Havana. This was when Batista was still in power. I must have only been about 6 or 7, but I remember being jealous that they were going to a foreign country and culture. I wanted to go. Of course, they didn’t take me.


A few years later Fidel took over and Cuba was suddenly off limits to Americans. Soon afterwards it turned Communist, and Communism was our enemy! Because of that, Cuba seemed even more mysterious and exotic than ever, and I wanted to know more about it. Then, of course, came the Bay of Pigs, followed fifteen months later by the Cuban Missile Crisis, which made Cuba even more impenetrable and threatening. So close and yet so far. Fidal Castro with Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow, 1963


Finally, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, I recalled one of the Godfather films where Al Pacino (Michael Corleone) and Lee Strasberg (Meyer Lansky) are on a rooftop supposedly in Havana discussing how they’re going to own the island. Shortly after that, Michael sees a rebel willing to die in order to overthrow Batista. Michael changes his mind about doing business with Lansky. 4godfather65989754_8200a37e1a_z


That clinched it. I realized I had most of the elements for a terrific thriller: revolution, crime, conflict, an exotic setting. And while I knew it would be a stand-alone story, rather than a series, there is a thematic link between HAVANA LOST, and the two previous stand-alone thrillers I’d written: A BITTER VEIL and SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE. That theme is revolution and what it does to an individual, a family, a community, a country, a culture.


There was only one other element I needed.  I enjoy—actually it’s more than that… it’s probably an obsession at this point—writing about women and the choices they make. I needed a female character who would have been thrown into the middle of the volatile situation. It would be fascinating to see what she did and how she coped. Once I came up with Frankie Pacelli, the daughter of a Mafia boss who owns a Havana resort, the rest was, as they say, history.


 299260_1015lfhellman1404827983406_767050619_nYou can learn more about Libby and her books at:






Auntiemwrites Crime-Mystery Author M K Graff

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Auntiemwrites Crime-Mystery Author M K Graff

Award-winning Mystery Author on books, reading and life: If proofreading is wrong, I don't wanna be right!

Lee Lofland

The Graveyard Shift

S L Hollister, author

Romantic Suspense she writes...

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!

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

Emma Kayne

The Department of Designs

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: books, movies, art & music - the bits & pieces of a (retiring) writer's life

Gaslight Crime

Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction


#1 for Crime


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... 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