Steph Cha: Dead Soon Enough Friday, Aug 14 2015 

Dead Soon Enough

Steph Cha’s Juniper Song Mysteries feature the unusual Korean-American protagonist who is now a licensed private detective in Dead Soon Enough.

The series with a modern LA noir feel finds Song having her own cases at the newest PI for Lindley and Flores. When she’s hired by Dr. Rubina Gasparian, it’s for a most unique reason: Rubina wants Song to follow her cousin, Lusig, who is acting a surrogate for Rubina and her husband Van, a surgeon. Carrying their baby and remaining stress free and healthy should be Lusig’s primary job right now, as far a Rubina is concerned. For Lusig, that goal has been usurped by looking for her best friend, Nora, missing for a month now.

Lusig, Rubina and Nora are all linked by their Armenian roots. Rubina soon realizes that keeping Lusig safe means moving Song into her home for now and letting her look for Nora in the evenings when she is home to keep an eye on her cousin. Song’s investigative threads for the missing Nora revolve around Nora’s battle to allow a memorial honoring the Armenian genocide by the Turks to be installed.

A Turkish group has been fighting the installation, claiming that the genocide a hundred years ago that coined the term in the first place was a war. Heavily funded, Song suspects more and more that this group had something to do with Nora’s disappearance. Along the way she will visit a strip club, just one situation she finds herself in as she tries to find Nora.

This is a fast-paced mystery that allows Song to deliberate her own feelings about motherhood and where she sees her future heading. There is plenty of action but even more interesting to Auntie M is the way Song is constantly examining herself and her feelings–and just how far she’s prepared to compromise herself to catch a killer.

By the end, long-held secrets will be revealed and just when the reader thinks they know what’s happened, the story turns into itself and Song finds herself in jeopardy.

Cha has a nice way of getting into Song’s head and the series has a visual feel that would translate well to the big screen. Auntie M particularly liked the young lawyer Song comes across and hopes readers will see more of him in the next installment.

Three to Die For: Hutton, Cha and Haines Sunday, Jun 16 2013 

Ewart Hutton’s debut Good People features a most unusual detective: DS Glyn Capaldi, half-Welsh but also half-Italian, and it’s those dark good looks that set him as an outsider.

images_030A case with an less-than-happy ending has sent Capaldi on exile from Cardiff to the rolling Welsh countryside where he’s learning the back roads and mores of the locals.

A call for a minibus hijacking looks like a routine call, especially when the missing van is found the next morning, an apparent prank.

But all is not well: six young men and one young woman appear to be missing, and when not all of them are found, Capaldi smells a case with his detective’s instinct.

Despite the villager’s assurances of the men’s goodness, Capaldi investigates and runs into opposition from the townspeople, who staunchly defend the mens pranking. These rural landowners command a high influence in the area; their word is taken as gospel.

It will be left to Capaldi to unravel what really happened that night, with consequence reaching into the past he could never foresee. Betrayals leading to depravity only scratch the surface when the truth is known, and not before a suicide occurs–or is it murder?

Hutton brings the reader into Capaldi’s world of dark woodlands and small towns that survive by their own code of justice. This is a crime thriller with an edge, and readers will hope the cynical voice of Capaldi returns, and soon.

Steph Cha is a fresh new voice in the noir thriller Follow Her Home, one that will smack you over the head with its heroine, Juniper Song, a devotee of Philip Chandler and LA Noir. images_022

Juniper has a cadre of friends and a troubled past that her favorite noir fiction keeps at bay. Known as “Song” by her friends, she responds to her good friend Luke’s request to find out if the new paralegal at his father’s firm is also his newest mistress.

Song as no real idea how to proceed, but armed with her pack of Lucky Strikes, in best Chandler fashion she tails various suspects and the young woman herself–and finds herself up against more than she’d bargained for when she agreed to help Luke.

At one point she is knocked unconscious and wakes up as the body in the trunk of her own car. This is carrying things to far for Song, and she steels her determination to conquer her past and plunges into LA’s underground, determined to find out whose buttons her minor investigation have pushed.

Cha gives readers a fascinating and yet disturbing lesson as she examines young Asian woman as fetish objects, which will come as a surprise to many readers. This adds a depth to this already compelling story while keeping the twists and turns flwoing as the story plays out.

What starts out in an almost playful mood turns serious, yet Cha keeps Song’s voice smart and crisp in an almost heartbreaking worldy manner, in this striking debut with a modern twist on old town noir.


images_003Taking a leap across the nation and a huge change in tone, Carolyn Haines returns with the twelfth Sarah Booth Delany Mystery in Smarty Bones.

Enjoying time with her hunky fiance Graf before his next Hollywood shoot, Sarah Booth’s usual friends surround her: her partner in their PI firm, Tinkie; her long-time friend CeCe; and even Jitty, the Civil War ghost who inhabits Dahlia House and drives Sarah Booth to distraction when she appears in various guises.

This time around Jitty is hooked on cartoon characters, but her words of wisdom are destined to revive Sarah Booth’s spirits when she reluctantly agrees to look into the claims of a professor who has arrived in her hometown of Zinnia, Mississippi.

Prof. Olive Twist is indeed the product of Dickens scholar parents, but she resemble Olive Oyl more accurately, with her thin frame and huge feet. But those big feet hide an even bigger brain, and Twist has arrived to prove that the mysterious Lady in Red, found in an anonymous grave and lovingly preserved, was involved in the plot to kill Lincoln–and she plans to implicate the families of Sarah Booth’s best friends.

Then Twist’s  young assistant is murdered at a nearby Bed & Breakfast where they were staying and things take a dramatic turn despite the large amount of humor that fills the pages.

Complicating matters are the family secrets and devious plots of some of these very families, and Sarah Booth soon finds herself and Graf involved on a level that turns deadly and will have far-reaching consequences for several of those Sarah Booth has come to love.