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.
midwifes tale
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.

Once Upon A Lie.JPG
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.

october list
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.

Rick Reed: Jack Murphy Crime Series Sunday, Feb 2 2014 

Please take a moment from the Super Bowl to check out Rick Reed’s essay. Rick is the author of true crime plus the Jack Murphy series. Leave a comment to enter a drawing for a free copy of FINAL JUSTICE.

Final Justice Ebook Cover

Lump of Clay


I’ve been asked this question many times. “Do you write from an outline? How do you get your ideas and keep them straight while writing a full length novel?”


The answer I gave in the past is, “I don’t start with an outline. I start with a title (an idea) and then let the characters develop the story.”


But today I realized that’s only partially true. 


Imagine a book as a lump of clay. (And please don’t think I’m comparing myself to an artist.) The definition of sculpting is to create by removing material in order for the shape that is hidden inside to be revealed.


With that in mind, imagine a title such as “Murder in Mind.” What images does that create? What feelings does it bring out? For every one of you it’s different, but will have subtle similarities. For one of you the story would be about a serial killer that fantasizes his murders and tries to make them fit the fantasy. For another of you it might be a nightmare, or the unconscious world of a coma patient. 


Probably most of you work the other way around. You have an idea in mind, and then come up with a title. Either way, the title almost always changes to fit the story. 


My books, The Cruelest Cut, The Coldest Fear, and Final Justice, all started with a title that stuck in my mind. It was my lump of clay. And like any sculptor or potter will tell you, eventually, the clay begins to take over, and the artist is merely the hands and chisel (or laptop) that tells the story. Inside my lump, I saw a number of possible directions for the story, and each one would lead to the characters. Then the characters would take over.


Each character has a different idea how they talk, what they will or won’t do, how a scene turns out, who they interact with. I never know the end until the end because it “ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” There is no better feeling in the world for an author than writing those two words…THE END.


Like any writer or artist or athlete, etc., each book is a different experience and you learn from all of them. I’d like to think that I’ve grown as a writer and I can look back at my old books and see where I would have done them differently. But the difference is the beauty of a book. Not everyone will like what you’ve written. Not everyone appreciates a painting or sculpture or song or music, but that doesn’t make it bad. (Like I used to tell my college students, “Not everyone likes asparagus.”)


So I say, “Go forth. Find your lump of clay. Create. Believe.” 




Sergeant Rick Reed (Ret.) was a member of the Evansville Police Department and Vanderburgh County Sheriff Department in Indiana for 30 years. During that time he served in almost all areas of law enforcement, as a hostage negotiator, handwriting expert, Bunco-Fraud, juvenile, crimes against persons, and homicide.

 In his law enforcement career he was lead investigator on numerous homicides, rapes, home invasion and battery cases. But it was during his stint in Bunco-Fraud (white collar crime) that he tracked and captured serial killer Joseph Weldon Brown. Reed’s acclaimed book, Blood Trail, is the true account of that investigation, which subsequently unearthed a serial killer claiming the lives of fourteen victims. While serving a life-without-parole sentence for these murders, Brown strangled his cellmate, made coffee, and called for the guard to move the body.

 After the success of Blood Trail Rick signed a two-book contract with Kensington Books to write serial killer thrillers. His first book, The Cruelest Cut, released in 2010, introduces detective Jack Murphy and his partner, Liddell Blanchard, as they chase a pair of revenge-driven serial killers through the streets of Evansville. In The Coldest Fear the detectives attempt to follow the reasoning of an unfathomable serial killer who is wielding a bone axe. The Coldest Fear was released in September 2011. Both of these works have been translated into German and Polish.

 Rick’s third detective Jack Murphy thriller, Final Justice, addresses the corruption and failings within the criminal justice system. Final Justice was released September 2013 and re-released in January 2014.Rick is currently at work on his next Jack Murphy thriller, Murphy’s Law, to be released in mid 2014.

 Rick also belongs to BOOKCLUBREADING.COM, an innovative group that pairs authors with book clubs, libraries, universities, domestic violence groups, and writer’s groups. The Internet makes the author available to speak at your event via Skype or iChat, or in person.

To learn more, visit Rick at:


 Blog:      http://rickreed007.blogspot.comRickReed - Copy




 Twitter:  @JackMurphy1010

Or contact via email:




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.


Susan Sloate: Forward to Camelot Sunday, Nov 10 2013 

Camelot_Cover_11 (1)(2)

Guest Blog – Cutting Down to Size

By Susan Sloate

     You would think that cutting your manuscript was relatively easy. I mean, compared to getting the words down on paper in the first place, cutting what’s already there should be a snap. Didn’t Michelangelo say airily, “I just took a chisel and cut away everything that wasn’t David”?

     Well, that sounds simple enough. You drop an extraneous phrase here, a flabby sentence there—and suddenly your manuscript is ten pages shorter and you’re all ready for the next step.  Nothing to it, right?


     I hadn’t realized how much I needed to do it until I began a much-needed revision this summer on FORWARD TO CAMELOT, the 2003 time-travel thriller I co-authored with Kevin Finn. We had both loved the book as written, but with a 50th-anniversary edition about to be published (commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, which is the subject of our novel), we felt it was a good time to fix some of the usage and grammar errors that had slipped by us the first time, and especially to tweak a couple of small historical points that had bothered me for ten years.

     That was the intention. Make sure the quotation marks are facing the right way, check the history and turn in the book to our publisher.

     Then Kevin and I began to look at what we had, and we realized there were other issues we wanted to address. What started as a simple fix became a much more complex, line-by-line scrutiny, and what we were eventually looking for were the words, sentences and even paragraphs we could cut to bring down the length. Our publisher, Drake Valley Press, explained gently that a book as long as the original version (almost 500 printed pages) would cost so much that we might not see any profit on it at all in paperback, and it could affect eBook sales as well. But if we could significantly reduce the word count, we would do a lot better. And besides, the narrative really did have its flabby moments. Keep the story, by all means—just make it, you know, a lot shorter and simpler.

     I began to feel as though I had an “Everything Must Go!” sign on my computer screen.

     While I began the historical fixes, Kevin began streamlining the manuscript, pulling out sections he felt could safely be cut while maintaining the pace, the plot and the flavor of the original. While we both resisted cutting entire scenes—we cut only one full scene, and that one only reluctantly—there were certain scenes that we also knew we wanted to rewrite; we hadn’t got them right in 2003 and we had another chance now.

     But when I finally saw Kevin’s long, meticulous (did I mention long?) document listing all the changes—which ran about 30 pages—I almost cried. Then began the bargain-with-your-partner phone calls: “Look, we have to keep the hunt scene at the end.”

     “But it’s ten pages; that’s way too long.”

     “Okay, okay. I’ll cut it way down, as long as I can keep the gist of it.”

     “You can have the gist. Just get rid of the gristle!”

     Thus began the slash-and-burn portion of the rewrite, where I began incorporating Kevin’s notes. (“Did you realize you write everything twice?” he asked me. “If you could cut it down to one telling, we could really cut through this manuscript.” By this time the word ‘cut’ or ‘slash’ had a queasy effect on me.)

     We argued, and we both agreed to accept less than what we wanted. Kevin let me keep almost all the scenes intact, as far as intent; I swallowed a good deal of bile and pride and slashed away at anything that wasn’t strictly necessary.

     Within a couple of weeks we’d brought down the 488-page original manuscript to 382 pages, cutting 100 pages (25,000 words) in the process. It was still the longest book either of us had ever written, but it was no longer a project you had to schedule in order to read. The word count was in the ballpark.

     Did I enjoy the process? Most of it, no. But on some level I did like examining a paragraph and finding a way to cut straight to the heart of what we were trying to say. It’s a process writers need to go through all the time—understand what we want to say and say it as effectively—and as simply—as we can. We can never afford to forget that part of our process, especially writers who become very successful, and whose editors then seem to somehow mysteriously evaporate (or more likely, are intimidated or overpowered by the author at that point).

     I know I’ll do the same process from now on: I’ll look for stuff I’ve said twice and hack away at it, along with everything else the reader doesn’t absolutely need to know.

     And maybe that snob Michelangelo was right: when you finish slashing with your machete, what you end up with looks a lot less like a flabby ‘before’ picture and a lot more like that glistening David in marble.

     That alone makes it worthwhile.

     Good luck with your own machete …


On the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination comes a new edition of the extraordinary time-travel thriller first published in 2003, now extensively revised and re-edited, and with a new Afterword from the authors.
On November 22, 1963, just hours after President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President aboard Air Force One using JFK’s own Bible. Immediately afterward, the Bible disappeared. It has never been recovered. Today, its value would be beyond price
In the year 2000, actress Cady Cuyler is recruited to return to 1963 for this Bible—while also discovering why her father disappeared in the same city, on the same tragic day. Finding frightening links between them will lead Cady to a far more perilous mission: to somehow prevent the President’s murder, with one unlikely ally: an ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald.
Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition brings together an unlikely trio: a gallant president, the young patriot who risks his own life to save him, and the woman who knows their future, who is desperate to save them both.
History CAN be altered …
Camelot_Cover_11 (1)
SUSAN SLOATE is the author of 20 previous books, including the recent bestseller Stealing Fire and Realizing You (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre: the self-help novel. The original 2003 edition of Forward to Camelot became a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in three literary competitions and was optioned by a Hollywood company for film production.
Susan has also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including the children’s biography Ray Charles: Find Another Way!, which won the silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Awards. Mysteries Unwrapped: The Secrets of Alcatraz led to her 2009 appearance on the TV series MysteryQuest on The History Channel. Amelia Earhart: Challenging the Skies is a perennial young-adult Amazon bestseller. She has also been a sportswriter and a screenwriter, managed two recent political campaigns and founded an author’s festival in her hometown outside Charleston, SC.
After beginning his career as a television news and sports writer-producer, KEVIN FINN moved on to screenwriting and has authored more than a dozen screenplays. He is a freelance script analyst and has worked for the prestigious American Film Institute Writer’s Workshop Program. He now produces promotional trailers, independent film projects including the 2012 documentary SETTING THE STAGE: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and local content for Princeton Community Television.
His next novel, Banners Over Brooklyn, will be released in 2014.
For updates and more information about Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition, please visit

Hot summer reads: A multitude of goodness. Sunday, Jul 28 2013 

Auntie M has read so many good books lately, she wants you to look for a few of these to take on vacation. Or read at the beach. Or just to veg out with at home.

guilty Lisa Ballantyne’s debut, The Guilty One, is a sophisticated and disturbing novel that revolves around London solicitor Daniel Hunter, who’s been hired to defend an eleven-year-old boy, Sebastian, accused of murdering an eight-year-old friend.

Sebastian’s home life is troubled, a factor that comes into play as Daniel struggles to get at the truth of the case and explores just what forgiveness means.

For Daniel, whose own childhood was fraught with turbulence and upheaval, the case brings back his history in foster homes until he settled with the one woman who saved him and allowed him to flourish as an adult. But memories of Minnie Flynn bring their own ghosts and Daniel finds himself disturbed at trial and in his home time.

Told in alternating chapters between the present case with Sebastian, and Daniel’s life with Minnie on a remote Cumbrian farm, Ballantyne ties the subplots together in a resounding ending that manages to be suspenseful and unsettling, yet gives a whiff of hope.

This is an author whose next book Auntie M is anticipating.


Emily Winslow takes readers to the world of Cambridge in the complex plot of The Start of Everything.the_start_of_everything

When the decomposed body of a teenager washes up on the flooded fens, the case falls to DI Chloe Frohmann and her partner, Morris Keene. Establishing the victim’s identity is their first order of business and they investigate even tiny clues that might lead them from the hallowed squares of Cambridge to the name of the dead girl.

This search leads them to Deeping House, where several families reside and were snowed in together over Christmas. Three families include two nannies, and a young writer who were all housebound together.

Chloe becomes swept up in the long-buried secrets of old crimes and their more recent counterparts as she seeks the truth. There will be misaddressed letters and hints of affairs buried alongside murder.

Along this road, her loyalty to her partner is severely tested as the tales of the separate lives are examined through their eyes.

As Chloe looks deeply inside the minds of her involved suspects and the story hurtles toward its tangled conclusion, readers will be caught up  in this deft and unusual mystery.


More great summer reading:

Steve Hamilton: Die A Stranger and North of Nowhere: Lee Child calls award-winner Hamilton “a proven master of suspense.” North of Nowhere is fourth in his Alex McKnight series, and a superb entry to the series for readers who may have missed the ex-cop turned private detective and his solitary northern world of Paradise, Michigan. When a poker game turns into a robbery, Alex’s search for answers proves much more than a simple robbery. Die A Stranger gives readers a huge window into Alex’s reclusive world and his friendship with Ojibwa Vinnie Leblanc. When a plane is found with five dead bodies aboard, Vinnie’s subsequent disappearance sends Alex into a search across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for his friend, despite the danger to himself.

The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva: Art restorer and once-again spy Gabriel Allon returns in an international thriller that starts within the walls of the Vatican, when the body of beautiful antiquities curator is found beneath the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. He’ll face sabotage, looting, and vengeance as he travels Europe to find the culprits, all rendered with Silva’s trademark blend of history and strong settings.

Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French: The second Frieda Klein mystery continues the series with the psychotherapist once again working a case with DCI Karlsson when a mentally disturbed woman is found in her flat with an unknown decomposed body–and she can’t tell them the body’s identity.

The Reviver by Seth Patrick: Reviver Joan Miller works in the forensics department whose talented members revive corpses to find justice. When a terrifying presence enters his mind during a revival, Jonah becomes convinced there is a sinister force at work that may affect all of mankind. Edgy and different, with the addition of the paranormal into the police in a blurring of genre lines. First of a trilogy already optioned for the big screen, it reads big with a large cast and many subplots that intertwine.

Ready to Die by Lisa Jackson: Bringing back detectives Regan Pescoli and Selena Alvarez, Jackson’s thriller follows their search for a murderer who is killing law enforcement officers in Grizzly Falls, Montana. A twisted ending will involve Pescoli’s son and blow away what she thought was the resolution to a murder’s hit list.

True Colours by Stephen Leather: Spider Shephard returns with an unusual assignment from MI-5–track down the assassin of some of the world’s richest men, including Russian oligarchs. With international settings and Leather’s flare for action, Spider will deal with political and personal intrigue, as well as a Taliban sniper from his past, in this fast-paced thriller.

Heroes and Lovers by Wayne Zurl: This Sam Jenkins mystery with a hint of romance follows the ex-NY detective in his current job as Chief of Prospect, TN Police. When TV reporter Rachel Williamson’s exclusive story on Jenkin’s fraud investigation leads to her kidnapping. Feeling responsible and a whole lot more, Jenkins will need all of his friends, including those from the FBI, to help him track Rachel down.

My Name is Hardly by Martin Crosbie: Following the success of My Temporary Life, Crosbie returned with his second in a planned trilogy featuring his protagonist, the Scottish soldier Hardly whose Irish lost postings are taking their toll as much as the Provo’s he fights. Filled with action and insights into the realities of aa soldier’s life.







Edith Maxwell: A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die Sunday, May 26 2013 

A Tine to live a tine to die COVER

In A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die, the first book in my Local Foods Mysterie series, a central character is Ellie Kosolski, a plucky 14-year old Girl Scout just entering high school. In the first book, she’s working on her Locavore badge — one of the newest badges– and she’s volunteering on Cam Flaherty’s organic farm. She ends up being trapped in a near-fatal situation with Cam toward the end and the two work together to forge their escape. We see her mature as the series continues but she continues being a Scout.



I’ll admit that when I read about the new Locavore badge, I just had to add Ellie to my series. But it was a natural addition for me who, like many of my author peers, grew up on Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, strong girls who solved intriguing puzzles. When I informally surveyed a number of fellow crime fiction writers in Sisters in Crime, forty-one reported having been a Girl Scout with only two saying they hadn’t. Some who had didn’t stay in long, but many said it really formed their self-perception as a person who could do whatever she wanted.




Growing up in Southern California, I was a Brownie and then a Girl Scout from second grade all the way through senior year in high school.

It was an important part of my life. My older sisters were in scouting, too, and my mother was a leader for many of those years. She was Leader of the Year for our council in 1968 and also worked at a couple of summer camps.



My family’s summer vacation was always camping for two weeks among the giant Sequoias in Sequoia National Park, so I was accustomed to being able to live simply outdoors. But our troop did so much more than camp. EdieCamp




Of course, with the era I grew up in, scouting sometimes reinforced traditional roles for girls. I remember learning as a Brownie how to make a hospital corner with a bed sheet, a skill I found fascinating (and hadn’t learned at home), and we sewed our own skating skirts when we took roller skating as a group.



But we also learned about Juliette Gordon Low. We were taught to tie knots, brush and ride a horse at summer camp, sing in harmony, live with dirty knees and hiking boots, and, of course, how to become excellent little sales people when cookie and calendar time came around every year. I even studied judo with my older sister’s troop. Despite being decidedly non-militaristic as an adult, I must confess that I loved wearing a uniform and marching (wearing white gloves) in step in parades.BrowniesParade



Being competent and self-reliant was part of the Scouting package and that identity has carried through my life to this day. We learned to work well with others, to support other females on our team, and we were led by kind, strong women. I never experienced any of the cliquish in-fighting that went on among girls in my larger world.  



When I was a Senior Scout, our troop volunteered with a disabled girl who needed directed limb exercises. We put on a community pancake breakfast to raise money for some charity. We wore our camp uniforms to meetings: white blouse, green bermuda shorts, and knee socks in a time when girls couldn’t even wear pants to school. Over the blouse we had light-blue cotton jackets on which we sewed patches collected from every trip we took.



I was even a Scout during my exchange-student year in Brazil, which I left for halfway through my senior year in high school. I was completely welcomed into a local equipe de Guias Bandeirantes, a Girl Scout troop.




What about you? What childhood experiences shaped your best adult traits? Was scouting part of it?











The first book in Edith’s Local Foods Mystery series, A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die, featuring organic farmer Cam Flaherty and a colorful Locavore Club, is published by Kensington Publishing (May, 2013). Edith once owned and operated the smallest certified-organic farm in Essex County, Massachusetts, although she never encountered a body in the hoophouse.


Edith’s first completed murder mystery, Speaking of Murder, features Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau, murder on campus, and small-town Massachusetts. It was first runner up in the Linda Howard Award for Excellence contest, and is published under her pen name Tace Baker (Barking Rain Press, September 2012). Edith is a member of the Society of Friends and holds a doctorate in linguistics.


Her short stories have appeared in the Fish Nets anthology (Wildside Press, 2013), Thin Ice and Riptide by Level Best Books, the Burning Bridges anthology, the Larcom Review, and the North Shore Weekly. She is active in Sisters in Crime and MWA and is on the board of SINC New England.


Edith, a fourth-generation Californian and world traveler, has two grown sons and lives in an antique house north of Boston with her beau and their three cats. She recently left a career writing software documentation to devote herself to creating mysteries full time.


Minotaur Trifecta: Michael Robertson, Brad Parks, Joseph Olshan Sunday, Apr 28 2013 

This week Auntie M has three goodies courtesy of Minotaur Books for your reading pleasure.

Baker St51oY0Surz8L._SL500_AA300_

First up is the third installment in the delightful Heath Brothers series written by Michael Robertson, Baker Street Translation.

Reggie and Nigel didn’t realize the lease of their Baker Street law offices included the famous number 221B, but quickly learned that one of their responsibilities as tenants is to answer mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes.  This delights Nigel as much as it frustrates Reggie.

Previous escapades have taken the brothers to California, but this one takes place on London home turf, with ties to Sherlock Holmes the pivotal point.

When a wealthy American heiress decides to leave her impressive fortune to Sherlock Holmes, she unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that have Reggie summoning Nigel back from his Los Angeles stay.

It also connects in some way to the kidnapping of Robert Buxton, Reggie’s rival for the lovely actress Laura Rankin. Deciding to pop the question, ring in his pocket, Reggie’s attempts to become engaged fall by the wayside as the kidnappers insist Laura is the only one who can provide the ransom to save Buxton.

Reggie can’t allow Laura to put herself in jeopardy, but then Laura isn’t your average actress. Thwarting Buxton’s security team and Reggie’s attempts to protect her, Laura feels responsible for Buxton’s return and follows the kidnapper’s demands, wit unexpected results.

Along with his sleuthing, Reggie will lock horns with a feisty Texan, decipher the riddle presented by nursery rhymes gone wild in a talking duck, and learn more than he ever wanted to know about London’s sewer system, and all before a royal event goes haywire.

Fans of Sherlock Holmes will delight in references to the canon but you don’t have to be a Holmes fan to enjoy Robertson’s deadpan delivery or his improbable and whimsical plotting. A delight for mystery readers who enjoy a puzzle.


The puzzle in Brad Parks’ The Good Cop seems more clear cut but has the same comic elements as the Baker Street series. Parks uses the first-person narration of reporter Carter Ross to inform us of the mean streets of Newark, New Jersey, that he covers.

Rushing to be the first to interview a dead policeman’s widow, Ross succeeds and gathers great material for a killer article. Darius Kipps loved his job, had a lovely wife, and two young children he doted on who he was planning to take to Disney World.

But as Ross wonders why no other reporters have shown up, his boss informs him the article is off. The cop has committed suicide.

Yet something else seems off to Carter, and the widow agrees, making a public statement to that effect. Her husband had everything to live for and would never have taken his own life.

Added to the mix is a charismatic preacher who has the widow’s ear. Then calls Ross makes to the medical examiner are blocked, and his instincts kick in.

Using his contacts, and sufficiently sustained by his diet of two slice of pizza and a cold Coke Zero, Ross sets out to unearth the truth about what really happened to Good Cop Kipps.


Changing tones a bit but still with a sense of wry humor in his protagonist, Joseph Olshan gives us his debut thriller, Cloudland.


The rural Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire is an area with tough weather and even tougher people.

The wealthy, the artistic, and the working class have more than their love of the area in common. They have a sense of safety where residents rarely bother to lock their doors.

Things change radically when a serial killer targets young women in their region. Whether jogging on a back road or stopped at a rest stop, the victims share more than their youth: being alone at the times of their murder made them easy targets.

Into the mix comes Catherine Winslow, a former reporter who lives simply and earns a living writing a household hints column. Her reporter’s instincts, coupled with her own sense of survival, all contribute to the urge she feels to uncover the murderer when she finds the body of one of his victims. Suddenly the killer has invaded her turf and made his threat real.

Teaming up with her  forensic psychologist neighbor and the detective on the case, she investigates the murders and finds close friends and neighbors on the suspect list. Adding to her stress is her strained relationship with her only child, a daughter living in New Jersey, and her past relationship with a much-younger lover that still haunts her.

Olshan does a fine job describing the impact to this rural landscape that these killings leave. With echoes of the gothic literature Catherine loves, as well as a clue in an obscure Wilkie Collins novel, the reader will absorb Olshan’s elegant prose and evocative language as this compelling story explores not only the mystery but the psychology of its characters.

Jo Bannister: Deadly Virtues Sunday, Apr 14 2013 

images_049Northern Ireland is the home to Jo Bannister, author of the Brodie Farrell and four other series, but in her newest she takes us to the small British town of Norbold, in the highly satisfying read, Deadly Virtues.

Protagonist Hazel Best the newest recruit in Norbold’s force, a woman who chose to enter the force for her own reasons. She is determined to do a good job and gain the attention of her popular and effective Chief Superintendent,  John Fountain.

Gabriel Ash is a man haunted by an unexplained tragedy in his life. Known as Ash, his rescued dog, Patience, is the only reason he has to get out of bed in the morning most days.

These two unlikely people will join forces after law student Jerome Cardy is killed by a crazed maniac while on remand in police custody.

Sleeping off an assault and concussion with his dog in the safe haven of a Norbold cell, Ash crosses Cardy’s path when the two are temporarily housed together. Before leaving Ash’s cell, Cardy tells him: “I had a dog once. Othello. That was its name. Othello.”

After Cardy’s death, Ash enlists Hazel to uncover the truth behind the young man’s death. At first suspicious and later determined, Hazel knows her young career lies in the balance if she pursues the thread of a case Ash has handed her.

By showing Cardy’s knowledge of his impending death, even before he winds up a cell, Bannister dangles a provocative hook that will have readers turning pages as Hazel and Ash figure out why Cardy had to die.

The growing strength of friendship between Hazel and Ash leads to the novel’s unexpected ending, when it seems no one can be trusted, and their lives hang in the balance.

Bannister’s dry wit is on show here. Nicely nuanced characters and a fair amount of tension and tension will have readers hoping this is not the last appearance of this unlikely duo.

Sophie Hannah: The Carrier Sunday, Apr 7 2013 

images_031Prolific author Sophie Hannah’s newest thriller, The Carrier, won’t answer every question it raises but will provide a rollicking ride as she examines lie and obsession.

Featuring her detective team of Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse, in of themselves an unusual mix of characters, the book revolves around their investigation but features the first person narrative of the strong character of Gaby Struthers, genius and entrepreneur.

Delayed overnight on a flight from Germany back to England, Gaby finds herself sharing a tacky room with the terrified, outspoken Lauren Cookson.

Despite their initial antagonism, when Lauren’s blurts out that Gaby would never let a man go to jail for a murder he didn’t commit, Gaby does research and realizes Lauren’s presence on her flight was not a coincidence.

What follows is a duel of the minds of several highly intelligent people, one of them the confessed murderer, Tim Breary, the love of Gaby’s love. Tim insists he has  murdered his incapacitated wife, giving police the evidence they need to convict him in addition to his confession.

Supporting his version of events are the friends Tim and his wife, Francine, have lived with since her stroke, Kerry and Dan Jose.  Gaby soon becomes convinced they are lying, and Charlie agrees. But why would Tim’s best friends, who are vocal in their dislike of Francine, aid him in going to prison if he really didn’t murder his wife?

Several subplots surrounding Charlie’s sister and the duo’s colleague, as well as a work politics on Simon’s end, will satisfy readers of the series. But readers won’t have to have read the others for this psychological thriller to grip them and carry them along to the end.



The Death of Bees and Shadowkiller Thursday, Mar 21 2013 

Two new Harper imprints to tell readers about.

First up is the highly unusual debut novel of Lisa O’Donnell, The Death of Bees.images_011 O’Donnell’s screenwriting background gives the novel a visual immediacy of the dramatic action as it unfolds that will draw readers in to this story.

This novel is told in rotating narratives, starting with that of fifteen year-old Marnie and her younger sister, Nelly, with their distinctive voices describing their personalities and actions and reactions.

The book opens on Christmas Eve in Glasgow’s Maryhill housing estate, and the girls’ have just finished burying their parents. “Neither of them were beloved,” Marnie tells us.

In their narrative we learn that Izzy and Gene were far from the best parents, negligent and abusive. Marnie’s goal becomes to secretly take care of Nelly without them entering the foster system. Once she turns sixteen she will be legally be allowed to care for them both. There is a mystery surrounding the death of Gene, although their mother has committed suicide, that hangs over this year’s events.

Then their gay neighbor, Lennie, notices the parents’ absence. Grieving over the loss of his own partner, his voice is added to the mix, and the story of the unlikely trio unfolds. Lennie becomes the lynchpin in their little unit, cooking for the sisters, doing their wash, keeping them safe from the system by showing up at Parents Night pretending to be their grandfather.

An unlikely friend, Vlad, also coping with his own grief, is added to their mix, and adds to the affecting nature of the story.

Marnie’s story is that her parents have left them in Lennie’s care to travel to Turkey. But deals Gene has made before his death soon unravel that lie, and one lie leads to another, until the day the sisters’ real grandfather shows up on their doorstep, demanding to know where his daughter has gone.

The characters are gritty and real, with all the flaws humans possess, and with an added dark humor that will have you rooting for these girls.

This is a most unlikely family story that is oddly compelling, as it addresses just what family means and what lengths those who love us will go to in order to protect us.


images_005Next up is the third in Wendy Corsi Staub’s trilogy featuring Allison Taylor, Shadowkiller. 

Allison has had to live through the tragedy of 9/11 while fighting a serial killer in Nightwatcher; but that led to her meeting her future husband, Mac MacKenna. In Sleepwalker, set a decade later, terror entered Allison’s life once again, threatening her family, now expanded to include three young children, in their suburban home.

Just when Allison and Mac should be able to take a deep breath, a predator will again enter their life.

A stranger’s death in the Caribbean leads to the string of events that seem far unrelated to Allison, yet will prove threatening and connected.

Memories of Allison’s troubled childhood bring back that threat as the MacKenna’s travel to the Midwest for a family reunion with Allison’s half-brother and his family.

A madwoman from Allison’s past, with ties to Mac, has bided her time to seek revenge on Allison, at one point staying next door to their Westchester home and watching the family’s every move as they prepare to take off on what should be a relaxing vacation. Tapping into their wireless network, the killer knows every move Allison and Mac have planned, and will stop at nothing to bring off the plan she’s hatched to kidnap and eventually murder Allison.

Several key characters of the series return, and readers who have followed the books will be surprised at the twist that opens the novel when the identity of the killer is revealed.

Fast-paced and filled with suspense, readers have been anticipating this final installment in the trilogy.

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Auntiemwrites Crime Review-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

Welcome to Leeward

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!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp the perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

(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

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Wicked Good Mysteries

John Bainbridge Writer

Indie Writer and Publisher

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

Gaslight Crime

Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction


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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

Auntiemwrites Crime Review-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

Welcome to Leeward

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!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp the perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

(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