HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: Great reads for your gift list Thursday, Dec 1 2016 

At this time of year, Auntie M likes to give readers a compendium, if you will, of stacks of books to choose from for gifts for the readers on your list. Don’t forget her axiom that it’s perfectly reasonable to buy a few for yourself!

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Let’s start off with a little goodie that should soon appear in stockings all over the world: Short stories from the Queen of British Mystery, P D James, gathered into a slim volume perfect for stockings. The Mistletoe Murder and other Stories contains four classic short stories, two featuring her detective, poet Adam Dalgliesh. For a brief moment in time, readers can hear James’ voice in their reader ear once again. A delightful foreword by Val McDermid and a preface by James herself frame the perfect holiday treat. These are delicious: a snapshot of a setting, a crime to be solved, and you’re off! That’s the US cover on the left and the UK cover on the right. Enjoy!

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Keeping with the holiday theme is Ann Myers’ third Santa Fe Cafe` Mystery, Feliz Navidead
. Chef Rita Lafitte of Tres Amigas Cafe has her mom visiting from Minnesota to entertain, while keeping track of her teenage daughter performing in the outdoor Christmas play. When Rita discovers a dead actor during the first performance, she swears off investigating, but soon finds herself involved in a very dangerous situation. The Knit and Snitchers, her elderly group of knitting ladies, are back, giving information and clues to Rita even as they sneak their knitting onto statues and stop signs. There are a host of other entertaining characters, and don’t forget Rita’s mom. Who can resist Santa Fe at Christmas? Watch Rita solve a murder and drool over Myers’ recipes, too.

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The Twelve Dogs of Christmas
is David Rosenfelt’s newest Andy Carpenter mystery in the long-running series. This time he and his trusty golden retriever are helping his friend “Pups” Boyer, accused of murder when said neighbor is found dead–by Pups. It doesn’t help that the neighbor had filed a complaint against Pups and the noise of her local dog rescue. While Andy doesn’t believe Pups is guilty, his digging will bring him closer than he’d like to the real murderer. Rosenfelt’s real Tara Foundation, which finds home for injured or sick dogs, is the basis for Andy’s foundation.


Maggie Patterson is helping out her sick sister, covering for her at The Wine and Bark, the dog-friendly bar Rachel runs in a usually-quiet seaside town in California in Trigger Yappy. It’s Maggie who hears the argument between her friend Yolanda and Bonnie, the gal who runs the Chic Chickie shop. When Bonnie is murdered, the Roundup Crew and the very cute Officer Brad Brooks are on hand to help Maggie investigate to clear Yolanda, even if means putting her purser job on hold to do so. Filled with good humor, charm and a bit of romance.

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We’ll stick with humor in Agatha Raisin’s latest adventure, Pushing Up Daisies. M. C. Beaton’s beloved character is the kind of sleuth Miss Marple wouldn’t recognize, with her hard-drinking man lust. A land developer is murdered and there are far too many suspects. Lord Bellington wanted to turn the community garden into a housing development, so there are few tears shed at his death. The villagers seem happy enough that his heir and son, Damian, doesn’t intend to follow his father’s plans, but he does want to find his father’s killer, and hires Agatha to investigate. This time a retired detective is on hand to assist Agatha, and it helps that he’s handsome. Agatha doesn’t let a second murder of a woman seen kissing the new detective deter her from her case–or him. Vintage Beaton.

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A switch to historicals, and we start of with the continuing Charles Lenox series by Charles Finch with The Inheritance. With fine attention to Victorian detail, Lenox is thrust into his most personal case yet. His friend from Harrow, Gerald Leigh, asks for help from Lenox, only to disappear. Knowing that in the past Leigh has been the recipient of a bequest from an anonymous benefactor, he finds Leigh has received a second bequest. Could they be from the same person? And what does either had to do with his friend’s disappearance? His investigation will take him from the highs of society to the lows of the gangs of the east end of London before it’s over. An intricate plot with realistic and finely-drawn period details.

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Ian Sansome’s new County Guides novel, Westmoreland Alone
, with Stephen Sefton as narrator, Professor Morley (the People’s Professor) and his daughter Miriam, newly engaged, set out to conquer the Lake District. Owing to the the rather unusual end to Sefton’s night at the pub and cards before leaving, he persuades Morley he should take the train, with disastrous effect. A horrid crash reminds Sefton of his time in Spain and there is a tragic death. It’s the juxtaposition of the three personalities that provides a lot of the humor in the strained setting. Stranded after the fatal train crash, the three become involved in a suspicious death when the body of a woman is found at an archeological dig. It’s 1930’s England with all of the mores of the time. We see more of Sefton’s PTSD as the trio investigate gypsies, wrestling habits, country fairs and more.

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Wilbur Smith has been called “the best historical novelist” by Stephen King, and he brings that talent to ancient Egypt in Pharaoh
. This action-packed epic follows the Pharaoh’s advisor, Taita, where Egypt is under a brutal attack and Pharaoh Tamose is gravely injured. Despite leading the army to victory, Taita is branded a traitor after Tamose dies by the new Pharaoh. With his first person narrative bringing Taita and Egypt to life, sometimes in a boastful way, history feels present under Smith’s skilled hands when a kidnaping leads to preparation for another war.
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1967 Florence and Italian culture come alive under Mario Vichi’s hands in the fifth Inspector Bordelli mystery, Death in the Tuscan Hills. Florence is getting over the tragic floods of the previous winter but Bordelli has resigned after failing to solve the investigation into a young boy’s murder at that time. He leaves the city, determined to find peace in his new home in the Tuscan hills, despite the nagging thorn in his side by leaving the boy’s killers free. While he learns a new way of life, tending to an olive grove, gardening, cooking, and worries about his confused love life, he still obsesses about the men at large. Retribution is at hand when he discovers all the cohorts’ identities. But now what will he do about it? An absorbing tale with Vichi’s usual footnotes for clarification in several places.

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Will Thomas’ latest Barker and Llewellyn novel put their detecting skills to the test in Hell Bay, an impossible crime set in 1889 Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall. Barker has been tasked with providing security for a secret meeting with the French government at the estate there of Lord Hargrave. The security team fails miserably, with two deaths on the island and no means of leaving or signaling for help. It’s a classic locked-area mystery, as Barker and Llewelyn race to uncover the killer among them before he strikes again and dashes all hope of negotiating a new treaty with France. Chock full of historical details and rising tension.

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Andrew Hunt’s Desolation Flats captures 1930s Salt Lake City in his Art Oveson series. The famed Bonneville Salt Flats are the site of international racers, there to break the land speed record. Then Nigel Underhill, a wealthy English participant, is murdered, and his brother disappears. It’s a case for Art in the Missing Person’s Bureau, and he’s been handed a helper: a former Scotland Yard detective the Underhill family has hired to assist Art. The trail will lead them between Utah and London and end in a most unlikely manner. A gritty and engrossing read.

For readers who enjoy books set in different countries, check out these:

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Adam LeBor’s Yael Azoulay series have been praised for the geopolitical thrillers’ realistic and intelligent plotting and savvy yet human protagonist. Yael has managed to stop the plans of the powerful Prometheus Group and its leader is out for revenge. This third installment, The Reykjavik Assignment, takes the covert UN negotiator to Iceland for a secret meeting she’s arranged during a UN conference between three key players: the US Secretary of State, The UN Secretary General, and the President of Iran. She soon discovers a plan to disrupt it as an act of revenge against Yael herself. As the tension rises, and with the US President on hand, Yael races to stop the murder of the UN Secretary by unmasking the killer, who has his own motives for wanting the man dead. A chilling climax with a surprising twist at the end will answer some of Yael’s long-held questions. A stunning end to the trilogy.

realtigers It’s off to England and London’s Slough House in Mick Herron’s Real Tigers, a Jackson Lamb spy thriller that’s been called some of the finest spy fiction of the last 20 years. Slough House is where a disgraced spy is sent to push paper. But when one is the victim of a revenge kidnapping, it leads to a group of private mercenaries within the Security Service. Enter Jackson Lamb to sort it all out in a manner that will convince readers the spy novel with sharp dialogue and filled with sly wit is still around.

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The Patriarch brings Bruno, Chief of Police, to the French countryside for the birthday celebration of the man who is Bruno’s childhood hero: Marco “the Patriarch” Desaix, a WWII flying ace. He knows many of the attendees, and is enjoying himself immensely, far away from his daily grind, when a longtime friend of the family is found dead. What started as a pleasant day turns into the kind of investigation he’d hoped to avoid, as what at first appears to be a tragedy may just be a murder. With his hero’s family all coming under suspicion, he must tread lightly in the Dordogne, from the river chateaus to the prehistoric cave paintings to find a killer.

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To North Korea and the enigmatic Inspector O, in James Church’s sixth in the series, The Gentleman from Japan
. Living with his nephew, Bing, the director of state security in northeast China near the border of North Korea, Inspt. O becomes involved when Bing needs his help after there are seven deaths in one night, apparent poisonings in noodle shops. Despite not wanting to investigate them, Bing needs O’s help more than ever. Their investigation will take them to Spain and Portugal before it’s straightened out as a world-wide plot develops. Satisfying and complex.

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Back to the US for some great mysteries. Douglas Schofield’s Storm Rising fits that bill, with cop’s widow Lucy Hendricks leading the charge. After leaving for Florida, Lucy decides its time to move home to New Jersey and lay her old ghosts to rest. Yet the mystery surrounding her husband’s death becomes even stronger when her young son, Kevin, experiences a change in his behavior. With Hurricane Sandy quickly approaching, the elements conspire to destroy more than Lucy’s home as she tries to unpick the mystery surrounding her husband’s death. A true mystery laden with supernatural elements.

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Not supernatural, but with a substance not known in earth: that’s the crux of the case before Kay Scarpitta in Patricia Cornwell’s new CHAOS
. A bicyclist has been killed with superhuman force and Kay and her investigating partner, Peter Marino, are on the case in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the body has been found near the Kennedy School of Government. What doesn’t add up are the calls Kay’s husband, FBI agent Benton Wesley, have received before the incident from Interpol. Or were they? And when her tech-savvy niece Lucy fails to be able to trace the sender, all bets are off with a cyberbully involved. High tension, detailed forensics, and a whopping good story.

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Ellen Crosby brings back her Virginia Wine Country Mysteries under the Minotaur umbrella in The Champagne Conspiracy. Vintner-sleuth Lucie Montgomery investigates an older mystery with her partner, Quinn Santori, when his uncle Gino enlists their help solving the 1920s death of Zara Tomasi, the first wife of his grandfather, who died under suspicious circumstances in 1923. Is there a connection to her death the day after President Warren Harding died at the same San Francisco hotel? With a blackmailer breathing down their necks, Gino and Lucie search for the truth before a family secret is revealed. Everything they hold dear will come under threat as a murderer tries to keep the truth about Zara’s death buried in time.

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Gritty crime fiction takes to the streets of the Bronx in John Clarkson’s
Bronx Requiem
. James Beck is back, and he takes it hard when an ex-con, determined to change his ways, is murdered just hours after his release before he can change his life. Enter James Beck, whose ring of ex-cons in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn try to find justice for the murdered man. But a deeper look into a street killing turns into something more complicated, and soon Beck and his ring need to watch their own backs to uncover the truth. Fast-paced and action filled.

And for those who want a paperback for stocking stuffers or maybe that grab bag gift, look no further than these:

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Her Last Breath is Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder entry new in paperback, and she’s a favorite of readers with good reason. Investigating the world of the Amish isn’t easy, but it’s a world Kate knows, and as Chief of Police, she’s called in to a hit-and-run that leaves an Amish deacon and of two of his children dead, with a third clinging to life. The Amish lifestyle is accurately portrayed, its simplicity a stark contrast to the rapid pace and high tension. The widow was Kate’s friend as youths, and while she’s determined to find the killer, she starts to suspect it’s much more than a simple case in Painters Mill.

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Sophie Hannah’s The Narrow Bed
is part of her Culver Valley crime series with the highly interesting married detective duo, Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer. A serial killer is murdering pairs of best friends after giving the victim a hand-made white book containing a line of poetry before their death. Their search centers around stand-up comedian Kim Tribbeck, who was a recipient of one of the white books, but is still alive a year later. How they solve this crime and it all comes together shows the hallmark of Hannah’s complex plotting for a read that’s filled with pathos and psychological ambiguity.

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Carla Norton’s What Doesn’t Kill Her is the second Reeve Le Clair thriller. Now a college student after surviving being the captive of killer Daryl Wayne Flint, she’s getting her life back on track. Then the unthinkable happens: Flint manages to escape from the psychiatric hospital where he’s been held, and starts killing people from his past, settling old scores. And that included Reeve, and she knows she’s on his list. Not only that: she realizes she’s the one who knows him best and is the only one who can stop him. Chilling and tautly plotted.

And one for your true crime aficionado: possessed
True crime writer Kathryn Casey earned Ann Rule’s two thumbs up as one of the best in the business. Now Casey explores the “Infamous Texas Stiletto Murder” in Possessed
, taking readers to Houston and what at first glance is a domestic murder. The details include the magnetic and erratic Ana Trujillo, who had a reputation in Houston for her supposed occult powers. Stefan Andersson is the gentle, Swedish man who falls for Ana and comes under her spell. A fascinating look at the forensic evidence and witness testimony comes under the microscope as Ana tries to claim she killed Stefan in self defense. Meticulously presented.

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End of Summer Beach Reads: Robertson, Korman, Ballard Friday, Sep 2 2016 

Auntie M has three lovelies coming your way, perfect for the Labor Day beach weekend:

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Michael Robertson’s Baker Street Mystery series have a devoted following of the two brothers who receive and answer the mail for 221B Baker Street addressed to Sherlock Holmes. The hijinks continue in The Baker Street Jurors.

With barrister Reggie Heath finally off on his honeymoon, solicitor Nigel Heath is keeping the office running smoothly. Well, maybe not that smoothly. He’s actually been living in the office after his American adventure and its accompanying romance ended badly. It’s up to Lois, their receptionist/legal secretary/admin. assistant/ barrister’s clerk to keep him topped off with coffee, working on the wills and other legal papers that cross his desk and having an occasional shower to get him out of his depression.

Then Nigel receives a jury summons–but in that day’s mail, so does Sherlock Holmes! Nigel promptly makes a paper plane of Sherlock’s summons and sails it out the open window. He does, however, turn up to do his duty, and is immediately drawn to one of the young female jurors. This might not be too bad at all, he thinks.

But it couldn’t be worse when he’s assigned as an alternate juror to the case of the century: National hero Rory McSweeny is on trial for the murder of his wife, the victim of a horrendous beating with McSweeny’s own cricket bat. On the verge of leading England’s team to another international championship, the papers have been full of outraged talk mostly pro and con about the accused man playing in the games.

It’s not a case for the faint-hearted as the jurors start having unfortunate accidents. One of the alternates seems to be more than closely acquainted with the sayings of Holmes, too. And then the judge is persuaded that the jury must travel to Devon to see the site of McSweeny’s alibi, and things take a decided turn for the worse. Before it’s over there will be accidents during a storm, rumors of secret tunnels, and a locked room murder. Bright and sparkling with that Robertson irony.

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The Killer Wasps Mysteries bring the four friends–antique dealer Kristin, tiny Sophie, Bootsie and Holly–back together for another outing. The annual Tomato Show is at the country club, and their goal is to outdo their nemesis Eula, just in the annual Tomato Show, but also in the tennis tournament.

But then a valuable painting of a pastoral scene disappears from the country club, and everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else. What are the four friends to do but investigate? They secretly hope Eula is to blame, but can only find evidence of another crime: buying her tomato plant entry from a New Jersey dealer.

And as if the gals haven’t enough on their plates, a new Mega Wine Mart plans to open in their little village, cutting a swath right through their forest. Everyone’s in favor of cheap wine, but to take out their forest for it takes the cake. It’s not bad enough that Sophie is going through a tough divorce, and the details of that one will bring a smile to your face, she’s also hoping for a proposal from her loving Joe.

It’s enough to drive a gal to drink! A charming cozy series~

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Mignon Ballard bring her two series heroines together in a charming cozy set in the small Georgia town of Elderberry in Slightly Bewildered Angel.

It’s 1944 and schoolteacher Dimple Kilpatrick and her town do their best to help with the war efforts, while worrying about the ones they care for serving in the armed forces and trying to cope with rationing. Things are made worse when the boardinghouse cook, Odessa Kirby, who helps Miss Dimple’s friend Phoebe Chadwick run the house on a shoestring, has to leave to care for a relative.

But all is not lost when on the doorstep they find Augusta Goodnight, whose wise ways with cooking and even cleaning soon save the day. Then the shy Dora arrives, hoping to stay on the library’s porch, toting her things in a paper bag. She brings out the town’s charitable spirit and soon she’s being fed and cared for.

Miss Dimple is suitably shocked when Dora is found dead in the church, and Augusta persuades her she must find the culprit. She enlists her friends to search for clues, even traveling to Dora’s hometown, where her horrible married life is exposed. It will be up to Augusta to convince Miss Dimple to follow the threads that will solve the mystery that will change Miss Dimple’s life.

A heartwarming cozy with exacting period details and the the meeting of Ballard’s two sleuthing heroines.

Elizabeth George: Banquet of Consequences Sunday, Nov 15 2015 

Auntie M had the distinct pleasure of taking a Masters Class in Beginnings with Elizabeth George last week at New England Crimebake. One of her favorite authors, George’s class was succinct and helpful. The diminutive wordsmith, who claims she is introverted, nevertheless charmed the entire audience over the three days she was there teaching, on panels, doing interviews and just being herself. She is an animal lover, another hit with Auntie M, and the two compared notes on her adorable Wire-haired Dachshund, Lucy, and Auntie M’s Italian Spinone, Radar, two opposite ends of the dog spectrum in size but not in jolly goodness.

George was generous with describing her writing process, which starts with the germ of an idea and victim as she explores her setting. Then she peoples that person’s world with other characters, creating long histories that in Auntie M’s screenwriting days were called “bibles.” Her plot unfolds from this and she’s off and writing a book for the satisfaction of readers, ones that have won her a deservedly huge following. Her newest is destined to keep her readers flipping pages.

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Elizabeth George’s 19th Lynley mystery, despite its size, lives up to the best of her work, with Lynley and Havers back on the case in Banquet of Consequences, a most apt title upon reflection.

George takes her time introducing the players: The Goldacre family consists of William and his girlfriend Lily; his brother Charlie and wife India, his mother Caroline, and her second husband, Alastair MacKerron. Their interaction is key to the events that take place some months leading up to William’s suicide, an event that precipitates extraordinary fallout, some of which overlaps into a case of poisoning in Cambridge that handed to Lynleys’ DS Barbara Havers manages to get herself assigned to investigate.

Still smarting from her hasty actions in the last book, Just One Evil Act, which took Havers and Lynley to Italy to the chagrin of Det. Superintendant Isabelle Ardery, Havers has a sword of Damocles hanging over her head: a signed transfer request Ardery has no intention of tearing up if it means Havers toes the line.

Chafing at the bit and hating the restrictions placed on her detecting, Havers begs Lynley to go to bat for her and have the poisoning case assigned to her. That he has to go around Ardery to do it doesn’t improve either of their positions with the Super. Havers is allowed to investigate with a reluctant DS Winston Nkata at her side, yet the duo end up working their investigative magic as the case comes together in a most unexpected way.

The plot is complex, as are the personalities of the characters involved. The dead boy’s mother in particular is a pushy drama queen who never fails to keep the attention on her. There are side affairs, past secrets held and revealed, marriages fractured. There will be time for Lynley to ponder and pursue his relationship with the veterinarian, Daidre, and even a little dog, Arlo, who captures everyone’s heart except that of the Superintendent. One interesting subplot has Ardery’s secretary, the well-put-togehter Dee Harriman, deciding to take Havers under her wing and give her something of a life outside her work.

The final twist falls to the reader, one that will leave them pondering what is true justice and if it has been well served. An intriguing mystery with more than its share of tension and revelations. Highly recommended.

Sisters in Crime: Four Mysteries Sunday, Nov 9 2014 

As a member of Sisters in Crime, Auntie M has found a community that sustains her when facing that blank white page that proscribes the daily writing life. A huge part of that organization is the support the members give each other on so many facets of writing, from craft to legal issues, from deadly poisons to process to marketing and blog tours.

So today she’s highlighting four Sisters (and a Mister!) who have books for your reading pleasure.

truthbetold Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Jane Ryland series echoes the author’s own history as an investigative reporter. In Truth Be Told, the award-winning author brings her insider’s knowledge to a different kind of case: middle-class families caught in the housing foreclosure debacle who are evicted from their homes.

At the same time, her relationship with Boston police detective Jake Brogan has hit a snag. The long-awaited vacation they’d planned has to be cancelled when someone suddenly confesses to the twenty-year old murder called the Lilac Sunday Killing, the unsolved case that haunted Jake’s grandfather. With evidence mounting that the confession might be phony, Jake delves into his grandfather’s basement files on the original case.

With the strain of keeping their personal lives separate from their jobs, and that line crossing more than either of them expect, things heat up when murders start to occur in the supposedly empty homes of evicted families. Enter the daughter of a bank president, a young woman with her own special accounting system, and the cases take off, each from their own perspective.

Ryan does a nice job of bringing these two story lines together while Jane and Jake struggle to hold onto their relationship in the midst of misunderstandings and the differences of their jobs as they each try to figure out who’s behind the murders, and why someone would confess to a murder they didn’t commit.

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G. M. Malliet’s Max Tudor series takes readers to the charming English village of Nether Monkslip, where the former MI5 agent has carved out a new life for himself. In A Demon Summer, the heat isn’t the only thing that has Max sweating: he’s soon to be a parent with his beloved Awena, and has yet to tell his Bishop of that development.

This is kind of mystery that isn’t built on action but on thoughtful investigation, as Max is sent by the Bishop to Monkbury Abbey after it seems their fruitcake was the vehicle used to try to poison the 15th Earl of Lislelivet. Tasked with discreet inquiries just at the time he’d rather be home and planning his marriage, Max nevertheless takes the job seriously and sets off to the remote abbey, home to nuns who are part of the order of the Handmaids of St. Lucy.

Amidst rumors of buried treasure regaling that of the Holy Grail, Max finds the cloistered order living their lives plainly, bound by rules and bells calling them to prayer. Along with the Lord back for a second visit are a philanthropic American family, an art gallery owner and a photographer, all sharing the guesthouse when Max arrives to begin his investigation.

There will be tales of funds going missing or misappropriated, of poison berries, or family tragedies–and then the Lord’s body is found down the well and Max must kick his investigation into overdrive. A device Malliet uses is chapter epigrams from The Rule of the Order of the Handmaids of St. Lucy. Great fun and with a Poirot-like ending where the little grey cells of Father Max have figured out what’s really happening behind the abbey’s walls.

murderhoneychurch Across the pond, Hannah Dennison, author of the Vicky Hill mysteries, debuts a new series with Murder at Honeychurch Hall.

The Devon setting, home to Agatha Christie’s Greenway and where she grew up, seems like a character in this humorous opener featuring Katherine Stanford, known to as Kat, a television celebrity leaving that life behind, who thinks she’s getting ready to launch the antique business she’s always wanted to run. Her partner and newly-widowed mother, Iris, has a huge surprise that throws a wrench in Kat’s plans: instead of going into business in London with Kat, Iris has bought a seriously dilapidated carriage house on the grounds of Honeychurch Hall, hundreds of miles from London.

With her partner David away for the weekend, Kat drives to Devon to see what kind of fix Iris has gotten herself into after breaking her hand, and discovers a host of characters that pale beside the ones Iris has been writing in her racy romances.

This is a modern-day Upstairs, Downstairs in some respects, with a lot of humor thrown into the mix as Kat at arrives at the Honeychurch Hall Estate on the River Dart and becomes involved in a family struggle to keep the estate intact as opposed to selling to developers. Iris’ part in all of this conflict is a puzzle to Kat, and its revelation will let Kat realize she doesn’t really know Iris at all.

The changes extend to Kat, with the vision she had for life after her television show needing to be rewritten. She begins to reconsider her fiancé, still married to Kat’s nemesis, and dragging his feet on the divorce. Devon proves to be anything but the boring out-of-the-way backwater Kat was expecting. There will be ghosts, an older countess and a young girl, the early death of the Lord’s first wife, as well as a Detective Inspector named Shawn who gets thrown into the mix when the manny goes missing– a DI whose phone ring tone is a steam engine. Things heat up with a murder as Iris’ past comes into play, and Kat decides she needs to rethink her future plans. This is the set up for a continued series in a delightful setting.
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The mother/son writing team of Charles Todd have written their sixth Bess Crawford mystery that marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. An Unwilling Accomplice finds the nurse and sleuth home on leave and assigned to accompany a wounded solder to Buckingham Palace for the King’s award.

Bess is smarting from the apparent loss of a patient, facing an inquiry by the army and her nursing service. But the fact that the hero was wheelchair-bound and shouldn’t have been able to leave his hotel on his own hasn’t seemed to clear her. She was assigned to care for the ailing Sergeant Wilkins when his orderly heads back to the battle lines. What she doesn’t expect is for her patient to go missing when she leaves him at his hotel room for the night. With the mores of the era, it isn’t proper for a woman, even a nurse, to stay in the man’s room overnight. But how and when did Wilkins go missing?

With Bess’ professional credentials being called into question, she faces scrutiny from her boss as well as having to answer to the local police as to why she simply let a man go missing.

Then her lost hero is found: Wilkins has been sighted in Shropshire, with a witness claiming he’s committed murder. Bess swings into action to find Wilkins and tries to get to the bottom of his actions. Constricted by the mores of women traveling alone and hampering her investigation, she enlists family friend Simon Brandon to help solve the mysterious disappearance, restore her reputation, and clear her name. It’s the only way to save her own reputation–before a possible deserter kills again.

The Todd’s bestselling series featuring Ian Rutledge also carries their accurate historical illustration of the era. This latest entry continues that atmospheric and realistic portrayal of this time period with vivid details and a complete grasp of setting.

Elizabeth Corley: Grave Doubts Wednesday, Sep 24 2014 

This fall Auntie M is departing from her usual weekly post routine. Instead, every few days there will be new review of a great book or books she’s read all summer long for your fall reading.

First up is a UK writer you should be reading if you haven’t yet: Elizabeth Corley.

Grave Doubts
Elizabeth Corley’s third DCI Andrew Fenwick mystery, Grave Doubts, is every bit as complex and thrilling as the first two.

Described as “part psychological thriller and part haunting crime novel” by Minotaur, the journey she takes her characters and readers on will leave you reading on the edge of your seat.

The story focuses on Fenwick’s recovering Sergeant, Louise Nightingale, who survived and ordeal from a serial rapist who would have murdered her. Trying not to dwell on the case, she finds herself a jumble of nerves, and after the car accident that takes both of her disapproving parents lives, seeks solace in a run-down and remote mill house that has been in the family.

At the same time, DCI Fenwick is coping with the continued coma of his wife while he parents his two young children and tries hard not to let his job interfere with his time with them. With the arrest of horrible serial murderer, he thinks the country is that little bit safer. Then the murders start again, but with the perpetrator behind bars, have they arrested the wrong man?

Despite many colleagues’ and superiors’ misgivings, it becomes clear to Fenwick that Nightingale is the killer’s ultimate revenge. If he can only figure out where she’s hidden herself away and get to her in time …

This has more twists and turns than usual and will keep you flipping pages, with its complicated plot and the feeling that evil people do exist. Chilling and disturbing with high suspense.

Janet Simpson: Lost Cause Sunday, Aug 10 2014 

Auntie M welcomes author Janet Simpson, living in Australia, who will discuss the origin of her series.
A quick note to fans of Nicola Upson’s Josephine Tey series: THE DEATH OF LUCY KYTE is now available in paperback from Bourbon Street Books.

Let’s travel to Oz and meet Janet Simpson. Welcome Janet!

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Where in the world is Daisy Dunlop?

Every author has their own methods for crafting a story. Some people turn a vivid dream into a creative reality. Others hear a snippet of conversation that sparks the imagination. A movie plot or a TV show might stir the creative juices. There are writers who plan every twist and turn, others have a brilliant idea and jump right in, riding it until they type, The End. Some books are plot heavy and character light. Some bounce along and weave their magic purely on the addictive charisma of the imaginary people who have been brought to life by the author. The possibilities when a person who chooses to craft stories for a living sits in front of a blank computer screen, fingers hovering over the keys, or turns their notebook to a crisp blank page with their favorite pen in hand, are endless.

When I start writing a new book it always begins with the characters. I am captivated by an idea of a person. If ignored they niggle at me, demanding that I listen to their voice and tell their unique story. Daisy Dunlop was the character who drove me to write Lost Cause. It is her mystery series, her adventures and her life. However, she didn’t come alone. She dragged her dark and mysterious and sometimes sullen sidekick, Solomon, along with her. The story of the unwilling Irish PI and the, would be, Heir Hunter was born.

The plot was all disaster prone Daisy’s, the point of view both Solomon’s and Daisy’s. The setting is not the country I have called home since I was in my mid twenties, but rather the south coast of England, where I grew up and wasted a great deal of my misspent youth. The towns where I met and fell in love with my husband, where I had my first son, and where I revisited and lived for 18 months when my boys were still children became the backdrop to Daisy’s adventure. This may seem a strange choice for an Aussie author, but as an English girl abroad I have learned one important thing about being English: our sense of humor is unique. Some people love it and some people hate it, but it is not found anywhere else in the world. When Daisy first popped into my head she arrived with a full blown English accent and a sense of humor that could exist in no other country on earth. So, where is Daisy Dunlop? Right now, as I close in on the end of writing book two in the series, Lost and Found, she is at a dog kennels, which is really odd, because dogs scare her to death. I can’t see this ending well.

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Diminutive English rose, JL Simpson, was stolen away by a giant nomad and replanted in a southern land filled with gum trees and kangaroos. She quickly grasped the meaning of G’day and mate whilst steadfastly refusing all attempts to convert her to Vegemite.
She loves sharing tales about unexpected twists of fate. Holding on to a steadfast belief every obstacle can be overcome, she spends her moments of solitude creating adventures where mystery and mayhem collide.

Links

Lost Cause – Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Cause-Daisy-Dunlop-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00LG83E4O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404617793&sr=8-1&keywords=Lost+cause

Lost Cause – Taliesin Publishing http://www.taliesinpublishing.com/lost-cause-p58.php

Lost Cause – Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lost-cause-jl-simpson/1119886279?ean=2940149757732

Website: http://jlsimpson.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/JL-Simpson/126748204182731?ref=hl

Twitter: @jlsimpsonauthor

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/JL-Simpson/e/B00LGB1T48/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22587545-lost-cause?from_search=true

World Blog Hop: The Nora Tierney Mysteries and Me Tuesday, Jul 15 2014 

My thanks to Susan Whitfield(www.susanwhitfield.blogspot.com) for inviting me to take part in this blog hop. Susan’s wonderful, wacky books can be found at http://www.susanwhitfield.com, where you’ll be able to choose from her Logan Hunter mysteries and her women’s humor in Slightly Cracked, and even a cookbook, Killer Recipes. This multi-genre writer is hard at work on a historical mystery based on a relative!

My Nora Tierney Mysteries grew out of a desire to write what I most enjoyed reading. I’ve always been drawn to the puzzle of a great mystery and spent many years reading Nancy Drew and the Golden Age writers. Despite a 30 year career in nursing, I always wrote on the side (poetry, essays, nonfiction) and within my profession, writing feature articles for a nursing journal and editing another. During the transition from nursing to writing, I snagged a job as a medical consultant at a NY studio because I knew screenplay format. This was my last nursing job and my favorite: correcting medical scenes to working onset for anything filmed in Manhattan, mostly soap operas and a few series like Law and Order. And as I did that job, I started writing interview articles for Mystery Review magazine.

I’m no a full time writer, a member of Sisters in Crime, and run the Writers Read program in Belhaven, NC. I still write poetry and essays on occasion, but my focus is the mysteries and that’s where I’ve always wanted it to be.

By the time the first Nora Tierney Mystery was published in 2010, I had worked out a story arc spanning six mysteries involving American Nora, a writer from Connecticut, who finds herself living in England and writing children’s books after a stint at a magazine not unlike People.
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In THE BLUE VIRGIN,Nora’s been living in Oxford and become friends with Val Rogan, a textile artist. When Val’s partner, Bryn Wallace, is found dead, Val becomes the prime suspect and Nora swings into action to clear her best friend, despite being in the early stages of an unplanned pregnancy. She frustrates the detective inspector on the case, Declan Barnes,too.

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THE GREEN REMAINS follows Nora’s move to the Lake District to work with illustrator Simon Ramsey and involves her staying at Ramsey Lodge, the inn he runs with his sister Kate. When the body of the heir to the Clarendon Estate washed up on the shore of Windermere right outside the lodge, Simon is implicated and Nora noses into the investigation, this time with almost disastrous results to her and her unborn child.

With her baby six months old, Nora is excited to have a theatre troupe arrive at Ramsey Lodge to stage Noel Coward’s farce, “Blithe Spirit.” Declan Barnes will be the only non-cast member staying at the lodge when a series of accidents and pranks escalate to murder. This time Nora’s baby is on the premises and she finagles her way into the investigation in the newly-published THE SCARLET WENCH
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So what’s up next for Nora? In the months after the April events of The Scarlet Wench, Nora’s taken Declan home to meet her mother and stepfather in Connecticut. The next book in the series follows their deepening relationship as Nora must decide where to make her permanent home. The book I’m writing now is titled THE GOLDEN HOUR, where Nora will be in Bath at the real bookstore Mr. B’s Reading Emporium for a reading and signing of her two children’s books when mayhem and murder follow her once again.

The series are contemporary but written in traditional English mystery style, with less stress on the violence and gore and more on the psychology of the characters. They have chapter epigrams (think: Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse) and sometimes room layout; they always have a Cast of Characters. A mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural, I’m moving Nora around England so the series won’t suffer from the “Jessica Fletcher” syndrome–how many murders can reasonably happen in one small town? I feel setting is important, too, as it’s the stage you place your characters on and affects the action, so I always start with that, as well as the victim, who is the murderer, and the all-important: WHY.

I’m not writing about serial murderers or psychopaths, although I do read those all the time for my crime fiction review blog, Auntie M Writes (www.auntiemwrites.com). I’m interested instead in seemingly average people who for one reason or another, become convinced it’s reasonable to cross that fine line and commit murder. The stories grow out of the setting, that initial murder, and the why of it all. It’s a fascinating process and as a fiction writer I’m allowed to play the WHAT IF …? game every time I sit down at the computer.

You can find my books at Bridle Path Press (www.bridlepathpress.com) and request a signed copy or autographed to a particular person. They are also on Amazon.com as trade paperback and in ebook format.

Please support the authors who will continue this blog hop on July 21st:

Melissa Westemeier: (www.melissawestemeier.blogspot.com). Green Girl in Wisconsin delights readers with her humorous and heartwarming novels. In print now are Kicks Like a Girl, and Whipped, Not Beaten.. See her site for ordering information.

Linda Lovely: (www.lindalovely.com) Linda’s books are a mix of suspense, romance, mystery and laughter. She writes the Marley Clark Mysteries, Dear Killer and No Wake Zone, and her newest title is Dead Line, Book One in her “Smart Women-Dumb Luck” series.

Malcolm Torres (www.malcolmtorres.tumblr.com

A Quartet of Wickedness Sunday, Jul 14 2013 

Auntie M is traveling this week to meet British author Peter James in New York City at a FanFest event that’s part of their Thrillerfest that weekend. Details from that meeting will post at a future date, as she also hopes to connect with him on her stop in Brighton in August when she’s doing setting research, as the city is home to James and to his detective Roy Grace.

This week she’s bringing you four fantastic reads with wickedness in common.  BlackhouseCover

Scottish author Peter May’s The Blackhouse  is from his Lewis series. May’s The Lewis Man is on the shortlist for Crime Novel of the Year to be awarded next week at Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Old Peculiar is a beer. This is the first of the Lewis series and readers may want to start with the first to follow the trajectory of the protagonist’s personal life.

The Blackhouse gives a fascinating look into the life and culture of the Outer Hebrides as it takes Edinburgh detective Fin McLeod back to his native isle of Lewis where a murder bears too many similarities to a serial killer on the Scottish mainland. Has the murderer moved to the remote island and taken his grisly methods with him?

MacLeod must face his own troubled past on the island while coping with his present life choices and the demise of his marriage. Reconnecting with childhood friends and the places he once called home is often painful, yet MacLeod is determined to find the answer to the killings, even as he battles the ancient customs and traditions and his own bitter past, one he thought he’d long left behind.

How past events collide with what is happening now form a brilliant literary thriller from this prolific author of the award-winning China Thrillers and the Enzo Files series.

May’s history as scriptwriter and editor on British television is evident in his vivid descriptions and haunting prose. The contrast of MacLeod’s past remembrances are skillfully balanced with the events driving the present investigation. Book Three in the series is Chessman and Auntie M has it on her TBR pile.

 

Florida author Steve Berry is back in fine form with his newest thriller, The King’s Deception, featuring the eighth adventure of Cotton Malone, a recently retired Justice Department operative who is hoping to leave his past behind.

The Kings DeceptionOn his way back to the Amsterdam bookstore he owns, his son, Gary, in tow for a planned Thanksgiving holiday, Malone is asked to escort teenage fugitive Ian Dunne to England.  Gary and Malone are both reeling from personal information Malone’s ex-wife recently admitted that casts a pall on the trip, and in a startling plot twist, effect actions and outcomes.

The planned quick handover at Heathrow of Ian to the authorities soon turns into much more when the trio are greeted at gunpoint and Ian disappears with Gary.

What follows is a complex plot and a highly compelling read that is a tour de force of mixing true historical events with a twist of fiction that will leave readers breathless.

Balancing Tudor secrets with a startling theory, Malone finds himself running against agents from several countries in an international scheme that goes as far up the chain as possible in MI6, and revolves around a political disaster fueled in part by the release of the Libyan terrorist convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

Operation King’s Deception has the power to change history as it intersects with the Tudor secret. Gary, Ian and Malone must get to the bottom of it all, aided by a few sympathetic women who cross their paths. There are far too many involved, and too many lives at stake, for Malone to fail.

Hats off to Berry for his meticulous research and the weaving of true facts into his plot. This will leave you yearning for a trip to England to see his settings, while turning pages to find out the resolution of his twisted plot. Highly recommended to those who enjoy a bit of history mixed in with a contemporary thriller.

 

Jane Casey introduced DC Maeve Kerrigan in The Missing to rave reviews. The second in her series The Reckoning, shows another well-plotted, suspense-filled novel. reckoning

Still recovering from wounds she received in the prior novel, Maeve is torn not just physically but emotionally, as she’s ended an intimate relationship, yet must face London’s darkest places in her new case.

On the hunt for a killer targeting sex offenders, Maeve and her team find ties to a mobster who may be trying to track down a missing girl. The wicked murders prey on Maeve’s mind as the killings start to mount up.

Complicating the already-intense case is the addition of two new members to her team.

She finds herself saddled with DI Josh Derwent, who has the confidence of her superintendent but a reputation for aggressiveness, and as she soon finds out, a decided lack of tact. He also finds great pleasure in deriding Maeve’s detecting skills.

Their abrasiveness in trying to work together is one aspect of the hard reality of police work, as the team follows up leads on the men being tortured in horrific ways before their deaths.

It doesn’t help that she’s just moved house and her flat is a mess, or that DC Rob Langton and her own extended Irish family add to the complications of her days.

Then a flash drive arrives for Maeve and the pictures make it clear she’s being followed. How does this tie in to the murders, or has she attracted her own kind of nutter?  And will she be forced to move home yet again, just as she’s finished unpacking?

Casey does a fine job of detailing human behavior as well as the politics and squabbles of Maeve’s workplace as she heats up the plot. Maeve is tough to resist as a character, so it’s a treat for readers to know Casey continues her storyline.

400000000000001012418_s4 The Last Girl is Maeve’s next case at The Met, as the police thriller series continues. Still sorting out her confused feelings for Rob Langton and dealing with that stalker from the last book, Maeve and the irascible DI Derwent are called to a crime scene at the house of wealthy defense attorney Philip Kennford.

Kennford’s reputation for getting convicted criminals released makes it difficult for Maeve to summon sympathy–until she views the ghastly scene of the murder of his wife and one of his twin daughters. Her investigation reveals this was a deeply unhappy family, and that the surviving sister was the least favored daughter.

Immediately falling under suspicion, Kennford has secrets he refused to divulge, despite the high stakes of the investigation. The remaining twin, Lydia, is in shock after finding the bodies of her sister and mother. Yet sending her to her mother’s sister only seems to make things worse.

Maeve knows there is far more beneath the surface and that all of her witnesses are holding back information. She worries over protecting Lydia, until Kennford’s daughter from his first marriage arrives and seems eager to help.

Then in the midst of this complicated case, Maeve’s beloved boss, Superintendent Godley, starts acting in what seems an underhanded way, and her entire world seems to collapse. Who is her enemy and who can be trusted?

With a decided theme of wickedness running through the novel’s subplots, Maeve will race against time to save a young girl–and herself.

This series will engage readers who enjoy Tana French’s novels, for the same level of thoroughness in describing the workings of a police investigation, and for Casey’s creation of a host of engaging characters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Red Herring Without Mustard Monday, Apr 11 2011 

All of the Flavia de Luce novels have the unusual aspect of being perfect mysteries for adults that would also intrigue young adult readers, and this third installment, A Red Herring Without Mustard, is in the same fine category.

Alan Bradley does his usual tip-top job of showing us Bishops Lacey, a quintessential English country town, bringing 1950 to life.

Flavia is the most unflappable and clever eleven-ear old to appear recently. With her two older sister still terrorizing her, Flavia often retreats to her chemistry lab and the concontions she makes there for revenge. But this is a small part of the action, as Flavia is determined to find out who bludgeoned an old Gypsy woman she stumbles across in the woman’s caravan, only hours after she has sent Flavia a message from her dead mother Harriet.

The addition of a missing baby, an unusual religious sect called The Hobblers, and a subterranean maze of tunnels underneath Flavia’s home at Buckshaw all make their appearance.  So does Inspector Hewitt, Dogger and Mrs. Mullet. There’s a young gypsy, too, as well as a possible ring of antique thieves. It all comes together, as it surely should, under Flavia’s investigative genius.

I was pleased to see Bradley gave Flavia a vision of her mother she hadn’t seen before, although the true nature of this seems at first to be lost to Flavia, although it is not to her Colonel (ret.) father, the quietly-suffering, pedantic stamp collector.For fans of this young sleuth, Bradley doesn’t disappoint. For new readers, start at the beginning with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie to get the full flavor of the lovely Flavia de Luce, chemist and crime investigator extraordinaire.