Kate Rhodes: The Locked-Island Mysteries Sunday, Jan 22 2023 

Kate Rhodes has been a favorite author of Auntie M’s, starting with her compelling Alice Quentin series. Now that’s she’s branched out to her Locked-Island Mysteries, set in the Scilly Isles, Auntie M caught up with the series that features local detective DI Ben Kitto, with the 5th and 6th in this compelling series.

Devil’s Table centers on the island of St. Martin’s, where young Jade and her twin brother, Ethan, are attacked after leaving their shared bedroom at night. Ethan escapes but Jade is nowhere to be seen, and an island-wide search starts with residents and police battling the incessant fog that permeates the island.

Then a body is found in a dramatic, posed fashion, and Ben and his small team scramble to redouble their efforts to find the missing girl, while at the same time searching for a killer amidst the seemingly innocent narcissi harvest. The juxtaposition between the fields of fragrant bulbs, to be picked and flown to the mainland for Christmas and New Years clashes with the tiny community burdened by suspicion. 

Having grown up on nearby Bryher, Ben knows most of the people on St. Martin’s, who suddenly become suspects in this baffling murder of a man who is seen differently by people. Grudges held from long ago surface, and he must question everyone, regardless of his history with them.

A tense and gripping plot combine with an atmospheric mystery that make this an instant classic.

The Brutal Tide has Ben looking for clues to a set of old bones found during the excavation for a new outdoor activities center on Bryher, spearheaded by two locals who married and have returned home to complete this project.

Not everyone is a fan of the new center, and as Ben tries to find the identity of these bones, they suddenly disappear, and one of the  loudest critics of the project is found dead.

At the same time, a young woman whose father has been a crime kingpin sets up a plot to take out the officers whose information sent her father to prison. Now dying, Craig Travis has constructed this plan for his daughter Ruby with a devious way to take his revenge on those he hates, all from his prison hospital bed.

Ben Kitto, whose undercover past has returned to haunt him with a vengeance, must search for a killer on his home island while he avoids being Ruby’s last victim—all while his partner reaches the end of her difficult pregnancy.

A taut, clever mystery, with a very real protagonist at the heart of this series, makes this a tense and beautifully written mystery. 

Rhodes abilities as a poet surface in her lyrical prose and beautifully constructed descriptions and prose; her talents at creating tension have Elly Griffiths calling her “An absolute master of pace.”

Do yourself a favor if you haven’t already discovered the wildly talented Kate Rhodes, and immerse yourself in her wonderful sense of place and character, wrapped in stunningly good crime stories.

Mariah Fredericks’: The Lindbergh Nanny Tuesday, Nov 15 2022 

Mariah Fredericks’ THE LINDBERGH NANNY takes readers inside the homes of Anne Morrow and Charles Lindbergh, exploring their marriage, their travels, and the horrific kidnapping in 1932 of their first-born child, Charlie, all from the point of view of the young nanny they hire, Betty Gow.

A Scottish immigrant learning East Coast etiquette after a disastrous affair, Betty is often put off by the eccentricities of Colonel Lindbergh. She admires Anne Lindbergh for her attempts to live up to her husband’s expectations, despite her shy and nervous manner. Coming from a monied family, the young couple live with the Morrow’s as they renovate a house in New Jersey.

Charlie is a darling child, sweet-natured and adventurous, and well as he gets on with Betty, Anne Morrow often worries he’s growing more attached to his nanny when she’s away on world-wide jaunts with her famous husband. At times not understanding how the parents can be away from Charlie for such extended periods, she nevertheless spends her own money on his clothing when he outgrows what she’s been left with. Yet she carves out a life for herself and even has a new beau.

Then when Anne is heavily pregnant with the couple’s next child, tragedy strikes, becoming one of the most celebrated international cases when young Charlie is kidnapped and his body eventually found. 

Betty soon finds herself at the center of journalists and public scrutiny, when a suspect is arrested. She understands that to clear her name for the future, she must figure out what really happened that night when a loose shutter allowed the child she’d come to love to be abducted.

You may think they know this story, but Fredericks’ manages to bring readers into the closed off world of the Lindbergh’s and into Betty’s thoughts, as she adds a sense of tension and mystery to the story. The characters, real and fictional, are finely drawn. With its on-the-spot view, this is a book that speaks to the role of women in the 1930s and delves into what might have happened on that fateful night, and who was responsible. A gripping and suspenseful read.

 

Marcia Clark: The Fall Girl Thursday, Oct 13 2022 

Hear the name Marcia Clark, and some of us think back to her work for the LA DA’s office prosecuting such trials as that of Robert Bardo and OJ Simpson.

But there’s so much more to this talented author, with two series in print that feature strong female lawyers, one a prosecutor (the Rachel Knight series) and one on the defense side (the Samantha Brinkman series).

So when a chance came to read her new stand alone, FALL GIRL, I was excited to crack this one open but not prepared for the wild ride she would take me on.

Charlie Blair leaves Chicago and assumes a new identity for very good reasons, moving to the Santa Cruz DA’s office to start over and protect her family. Assigned to work a murder case with high profile prosecutor Erika Lorman, Charlie tries to keep away from the limelight, even as she feels she’s being sidelined and soon start poking her investigative nose into their most recent case with surprising results. She starts to question who she can trust.

At the same time, the man who she lives in fear of, after devastating her family, is making his presence known…

This is a fast-paced legal thriller, but even more so, a nuanced look at the question: What is justice and how do ethics figure in? How does morality reside alongside one’s conscience?

With deep characterizations and troubled pasts for both lawyers, the cat-and-mouse game these strong, intelligent women play with each other is as fascinating as their drive. At one point you can’t see any way there can be a a satisfying outcome, and yet, Clark managed to do just that.

A strong, quickly-paced read, with excellent legal scenes balanced by the action that takes place out of the courtroom.

The Evening’s Amethyst: Nora Tierney #5 Monday, Oct 4 2021 

Auntie M is very pleased to announce that the fifth Nora Tierney English Mystery, THE EVENING’S AMETHYST, has made it through the Covid delays and the paperback is now available. Kindle and Audible version will follows in the next few weeks, but she’s excited to have the book on offer.

This time the majority of the story takes place in Oxford, where Nora is settling into her new home with her fiancé, DI Declan Barnes, her young son, Sean, and their puppy, Typo.

Who is Verity? That soon becomes the central question for Nora and Declan, after his new case at Exeter College coincides with a frantic call from Nora’s stepsister, Claire Scott: a fellow graduate student has died in a fall, and Claire begs Nora to help her prove Bea Jones would never commit suicide.

The sisters start their own snooping, while Declan and his team juggle this death investigation with a cold case that will prove to have a startling resolution. Over twenty years ago, toddler Donnie Walsh was kidnapped from his dirty playpen outside a Cumbrian pub. His body was never found. Now in the midst of Declan’s new case, a young man walks into St. Aldate’s Police Station claiming to be Donnie Walsh.

A mix of amateur sleuth and police procedural, The Evening’s Amethyst has garnered wonderful early reviews, including this one from Nicola Upson, author of the Josephine Tey series: “A fine addition to a wonderful series, Graff delivers her trademark blend of compelling mystery, vivid setting, and engaging characters—and in Nora Tierney she has created a sleuth whose humanity and insight are the stars of the show. I loved it.”

Available now on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Evenings-Amethyst-Tierney-English-Mystery/dp/0990828735/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+evening%27s+amethyst+by+m+graff&qid=1633376773&sr=8-1 OR

for signed copies contact the author at: bluevirgin.graff@gmail.com.

A. D. Garrett: Truth Will Out Thursday, Nov 3 2016 

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Forensics expert Nick Fennimore and DI Kate Simms return in their third outing Truth Will Out/, a strong entry in the series that finds the two struggling against the professional boundaries that restrain them from working together.

While Fennimore is always on the hunt for his kidnapped daughter, Suzie, a possible sighting in Paris from Believe No One has the action switching back and forth between Scotland, England and France.

Simms is still feeling the sting from her family after being away for several months spent in the US. This undercurrent will play throughout the book when a mother and child are kidnapped driving away from what should have been a day out at the cinema. Police politics keep Simms at arms length in the investigation as she’s supposed to be home on leave.

Julia Meyers and her young daughter Lauren are leaving a movie, the little girl on a high as only a six year-old entranced with a princess movie can be. Yellow food coloring the child is sensitive to, eaten in sweets, set Lauren off on a temper tantrum that is only subdued when she has a near miss with a car leaving the car park.

A chastened Lauren is soon strapped into her car seat, and the harried mother joins the cars leaving the car park. Then the unthinkable happens: What appears to be a monster breaks through the trunk where he’s been hiding into the back seat, taking mother and child captive, and starting a nationwide search for them both.

The case has a eerie resemblance to an eight year-old kidnapping/murder Fennimore has just been using to illustrate his summer course. DNA evidence had arrested the wrong man, whom Fennimore had been able to have released–but the real killer was still at large.

Along with Fennimore’s search for Suzie, these cases form the compelling and distinctive plot of this book, which has several surprises near the end, with twist piled upon twist. Just when you think it’s over, there’s another plot point curve to keep you immersed.

Auntie M loves this series for what she learns about forensics, thanks to one of the co-authors, forensic scientist and Senior Policing Lecturer Helen Pepper. Award-winning psychological thriller author Margaret Murphy is the flip side of the duo, and the series illustrates her complex plotting and rapid-fire pacing.

The chemistry between the widowed Fennimore and the married Simms adds to the tension, and the dialogue is realistic. Highly recommended.

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.

Louise Penny: The Nature of the Beast Tuesday, Aug 25 2015 

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Readers of this blog know that Auntie M is a huge fan of Louise Penny’s series. She thinks if he were real she could marry Inspector Gamache, even in his retirement!

But is retirement really for Gamache or his wife, Reine-Marie? That’s the question the two are asking themselves as they enjoy their home in Three Pines. They spend their days involved in the rhythm of the village, enjoying Myrna’s bookstore, helping Clara with her grief, eating at the Bistro. There is a play being cast amongst the villagers, and the stories that 9 yr-old Laurent Lepage tells whomever who will listen, big whoppers of walking trees and alien invasions.

So it’s not a huge surprise that when the small boy with the big imagination he runs into the bistro with his story of a giant monster and an even bigger weapon hidden in the woods, that his story is passed off as one more day of the antics of the boy who cried wolf. Until Laurent disappears…

His body is found in the woods, a victim of an apparent biking accident. But something about the death appears off, and Inspt. Gamache finds himself asked to consult on the case after he insists the boy was murdered.

With his son-in-law Jean Guy Beauvoir on the case and a surprising new head of the Surete’, Gamache will assist them as they stumble deeply into the woods on the hunt of a murderer–and come upon a secret so surprising that it will turn the village on its head.

This secret will draw outsiders to the village as an old crime becomes the reason for the new one–and then there is a second murder, and Inspt. Gamache knows that the secrets of the past have come back to haunt those still living in Three Pines.

Penny consistently writes an absorbing book, and this entry is no exception. Her characters are always many-layered, complex individuals, and her writing style allows readers to see the story from many points of view.

Tackling an unusual subject, readers will be transported back to the village and its inhabitants as they do battle with secrets held and kept for far too many years. Highly recommended.

Duncan Simpson: The History of Things to Come Sunday, Aug 23 2015 

Author Duncan Simpson will tell readers of the interesting story behind his novel, the first in a planned DARK HORIZON trilogy:HOTTC-Book-Cover-(Web)

THE HISTORY OF THINGS TO COME

My novel THE HISTORY OF THINGS TO COME was inspired by a true but little-known fact about the celebrated scientist Isaac Newton.

More than any other person, Newton’s extraordinary contributions in the field of science have laid the foundations for the modern study of optics, mathematics, gravity and motion. However, far from being the ultimate rationalist, the scientist was obsessed with unlocking the secrets hidden within Holy Scripture.

It has been estimated that out of Newton’s surviving writings, 700,000 words are concerned with scientific research, 600,000 words relate to alchemy and 1,700,000 relate to his biblical research. Certain of its accuracy, Newton described biblical prophecy as a ‘history of things to come’.

According to John Maynard Keynes, Newton regarded “the universe as a cryptogram set by the Almighty”; through his intellect and incredible ability to focus on a problem, Newton’s mission was to decode it.

Convinced that encoded in the design of Solomon’s first temple was some divine hidden knowledge, Newton became consumed with recreating the floor plan of the Temple from descriptions contained within the Book of Ezekiel. He even learned Hebrew so that he could read the original Old Testament books.

In some ways, Newton perceived himself as the new Solomon and believed that it was his God-given purpose in life to unlock the secrets of Nature.

As a physics graduate with a keen interest in comparative faiths, I have always been fascinated by Newton and the myths surrounding the man. THE HISTORY OF THINGS TO COME interweaves a fast-paced, modern-day thriller with gripping extracts from a fictional Newton notebook. The story centers upon the search for a shocking biblical secret discovered by Newton and kept hidden for over 300 years.

THE HISTORY OF THINGS TO COME is the first book in the Dark Horizon trilogy. I am currently working hard on the second instalment. For more information and updates on new releases, please come and join my mailing list at: http://www.duncansimpsonauthor.com

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Read a synopsis of Duncan’s book: The mind of a genius can hold the darkest of secrets.

A Bosnian gangster is gunned down in a packed London restaurant. In his possession is a notebook once belonging to Isaac Newton. This is just the latest in a series of shocking crimes connected to objects once belonging to the famous scientist. The police are stumped and the pressure for an arrest is mounting.
Enter Vincent Blake, London’s leading stolen-art investigator. As Blake sets out to solve the case, a series of devastating events threaten to destroy everything he holds dear. Broken but undeterred, he comes upon a shocking discovery: within the coded pages of a mysterious crimson book, annotated in Newton’s own handwriting, is an explosive revelation. Possessing this secret knowledge turns Blake into a marked man.
Caught in the crosshairs of two sadistic hitmen, Blake is propelled into a breathtaking race through London and its dark historical secrets.
With time running out, will Blake solve Newton’s deadly puzzle before the world is plunged into a catastrophe of biblical proportions?

Set in the murky world of stolen and forged manuscripts, The History of Things to come combines threads of well-researched historical fact with undercurrents of the supernatural and ancient legend. The celebrated scientist Sir Isaac Newton himself once wrote, biblical prophecy is, indeed, ‘the history of things to come’.

‘Taut, razor-sharp, and clever crime fiction.’
‘An endlessly twisting, multi-layered supernatural thriller.’
‘Perfect for fans of Dan Brown’

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Thriller writer, Duncan Simpson spent his childhood in Cornwall, England. As a teenager he gained experience in a variety of jobs: from working in a mine, to doing shifts as a security guard in an American airport. After graduating from the University of Leeds with a physics degree, he spent a year backpacking around the world. On returning to the UK, he embarked on a successful career in business. Along the way, he became the finance director for a technology company and a partner in a leading management consultancy firm.

His debut novel, The History of Things to Come was born out of his lifelong fascination with the relationship between science and religion. A keen student of the history of London, he loves exploring the ancient stories and myths surrounding the city. When he’s not writing or consulting, you’ll find him: playing guitar in a rock band, running by the Thames, or drinking tea with his wife and three children in their home in Berkshire, England.

Website & Blog: http://www.duncansimpsonauthor.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsimpsonauthor
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/duncansimpsonauthor

Summer Thrillers X 4: Meltzer, Hamilton, Kovacs, Freedland Friday, Aug 7 2015 

Here are four great summer thrillers for readers out right now, whether you’re at the beach or reading before bed. And if you missed Steve Berry’s The Lincoln Myth when it first came out, that one is now in paperback and ebook formats.

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Brad Meltzer’s Culper Ring Triology has captivated readers, who are waiting for this third installment. The President’s Shadow shows his love of the National Archives and his relationship with former US President George H. W. Bush and First Ladies Barbara and Laura Bush, who helped to inform the book, adding to the sense of reality that pervades the read.

The book opens with a wallop and never lets up, with First Lady Shona Wallace keeping her secret: she’s stolen a small section of the White House Rose Garden for her own flower garden. As she digs in the dirt early one morning, a persistent root finally gives way–and proves to have fingers attached to it.

That severed arm is only the start of trouble for Beecher White, erstwhile employee of the Nation Archives, who’s been visiting his mentor, Tot Westman, every day. Tot lies in a coma after brain surgery on the bullet wound in his frontal lobe.

The discovery of the arm immediately raises questions about security, the victim and the culprit. Beecher is called to a secret meeting of the Culper Ring, where President Wallace tells him that an item discovered with the arm links back to Beecher’s dead father.

That mystery surrounding what happened to his father has consumed Beecher, and this discovery might finally bring some answers. His membership in the secret organization that dates back to before George Washington became President holds the key, especially since the clue left was meant for Beecher alone.

Meltzer blends history with his fascinating story, mixed with that insider knowledge that lends authenticity to the conspiracy that is unveiled. This is great storytelling in an interesting and absorbing trilogy that blends fact with fiction in a compelling manner.

Past Crimes
Switching to a debut, Glen Erik Hamilton and Past Crimes
introduces Army Ranger Van Shaw, who has returned to his Seattle home after receiving a terse message from his grandfather after a decade apart. With flashbacks showing readers Van’s unusual childhood, the reason he joined the Rangers, Van Shaw promises to be an entertaining protagonist in this accomplished book.

Van finds his grandfather, Dono Shaw, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head. With their complicated past and Dono Shaw’s shady life, Van knows he will be the prime suspect in the shooting and must clear his name. But the only way to do that is to plunge himself into the life he thought he’d left behind when he joined the Rangers.

There will be an enormous diamond theft to handle as Van hunts for the shooter, using the skills he’s learned in his Ranger training, combined with his sharp wit to find the assailant as he works with the team Dono put together for his big jobs and realizes he can trust no one.

Filled with action sequences, the book’s visuality and sharp dialogue will lend itself well to being filmed and Auntie M has no doubt this will be picked up by Hollywood if it hasn’t been already.

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Best known for his Cliff St. James crime novels, author Ed Kovacs is debuting a new series in The Russian Bride.

His protagonist is an elite agent in military intelligence, working undercover in Moscow to find moles in the US Embassy. Major Kit Bennings suddenly finds himself and his family the targets of a former KGB general-turned-Mafia don in a complicated coercion scheme when mobster Viktor Popov has Kit’s mother killed in California.

Popov threatens to do the same to Kit’s sister, Staci, whom he has already kidnapped. To free his sister, Kit must agree to marry a Russian woman, Popov’s niece, Yulana Petkova, and take her to the U.S.

Desperate to save his sister, Kit reluctantly agrees to the marriage but soon learns what Popov really wants: Kit’s help in stealing an electromagnetic-pulse device that could disable the economic and intelligence infrastructure of a large percentage of the U.S. and open the door to massive cyber-theft opportunities.

Now Kit finds himself hunted by killers on both sides of the ocean and saddled with a new wife,\ as he tries to rescue Staci and stop Popov’s plans from coming to fruition. He will call on all of his talented action-oriented friends for help and there’s plenty of specialists who rise to the occasion. There’s so much going on at times readers will feel breathless at the fast pace.

3rd Woman
Jonathan Freedland’s unusual premise makes The 3rd Woman an intriguing read.

Picture an alternate world where US has borrowed more money from China than it can repay–not too hard to imagine–and is forced to allow them a permanent military presence on American soil. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

But to journalist Madison Webb, it’s her reality to live in this America of crisis in every quarter: economic, political and social.

Then the unthinkable happens: her own sister is murdered, and Madison refuses to accept the official line that Abigail’s death was an isolated crime. There are local political elections in process, with Maddy’s ex-boyfriend working for a candidate, and Abi’s murder soon becomes a hot political issue.

After Maddy uncovers evidence that points to Abi as actually being the third victim in a series of killings, she realizes the deaths are being hushed up as part of a major conspiracy. In the new US climate, there are shades of truth and reality.

Maddy will be forced to use all of her connections to get to the truth. The use of social media adds a nice touch as her own life comes into the line of fire.

This is a clever, fast-paced political thriller. Maddy is a strong and capable female lead with a realistic edge who readers will want to see in action again.

What Doesn’t Kill her: Carla Norton Wednesday, Jul 8 2015 

What Doesn't Kill Her
Carla Norton caught readers’ attention with last year’s debut The Edge of Normal, which introduced her most unusual protagonist, Reeve LeClaire.

Norton’s back with its sequel, What Doesn’t Kill Her, and Auntie M is happy to report it’s every bit as well done as her first.

Reeve has put some semblance of normalcy back into her life after her years as Darryl Flint’s kidnap victim. She still has some locked memories of her time as his captive, but now she has roommates and is attending college, while Flint languishes in the psychiatric hospital where he’s been held since the car accident that freed Reeve and gave Flint his head injury.

He spends his days in apparently harmless rituals of his own making, until the day he puts his long-held plan into action: Flint manages to escape, killing on his first day out, and bringing Reeve to Washington State to aid in his capture.

Staying with former FBI agent Milo Bender and his family, Reeve and Bender will try their best to figure out Flint’s next move before he can kill again, but not before he manages to damage those close to Reeve.

With some chapters told from Flint’s point of view, the reader possess more information that Reeve or Bender, which ratchets up the suspense. And Norton has done her homework on psychopathic subcategories, educating readers on the scent of fear.

The pacing picks up as the manhunt does and Flint seems destined to elude authorities, with a blocked memory Reeve has holding the key to his capture.

Skillfully done, you’ll be rooting for Reeve and be as surprised as Auntie M at the final ending twist.

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