M. C. Beaton: Dishing the Dirt Sunday, Sep 13 2015 

dishing dirt
Agatha Raisin is back and this may be her most unusual case yet–and this time she’s dishing the dirt in more ways than one, including giving out sage dating advice:
Iyer Indiscretion

It’s spring time in the Cotswolds and Agatha should be in a great mood, but the book opens with a grumpy Raisin after one elderly woman, Victoria Bannister, manages to goad Agatha by reminding her of her humble beginnings. Aware of her encroaching middle age, this is a touchy subject for Agatha.

Agatha's Dating Tip 2

With her ex-husband, travel writer James, living next door, and her good friend, Sir Charles Fraith the only ones who know of her Birmingham slum days, Agatha is convinced it must be the therapist, Jill Davent, whom James has been seen with lately. She’s even taken it so far as to visit the therapist, but when Agatha poured out a sanitized version of her background, the therapist had the temerity to accuse her of lying! Even though she was . . .

Agatha's Dating Tip 3

Things are rarely simple for Agatha. Jill also sees Gwen Simple as a patient, and Agatha is convinced the woman assisted her son in grisly murders in the past, although she hasn’t been able to provide proof. That doesn’t stop Agatha from telling anyone and everyone that Jill the therapist is incompetent, a charlatan better off dead. Then Jill moves her office and Agatha breathes a short-loved sigh of relief.

Agatha's Dating Tip 6

Unfortunately, Agatha meets a PI Jill hired to investigate her roots, and goes off as only Agatha can do, yelling into the Randolph bar “I’ll kill her!”, overheard by scores of witnesses. And she drives to Jill’s office, with it’s open windows, and repeats her threat.

Agatha's Dating Tip 7

And we’re off and running, when two days later Jill is found strangled in her office–and this time it’s Agatha who’s in the hot seat. She must use her wits and her team to prove her own innocence while bringing the real murderer to justice on a wild ride that takes her all the way to Venice. Vintage Agatha~

Agatha's Dating Tip 10

Mark Billingham: From the Dead Sunday, Apr 8 2012 

DI Tom Thorne’s life is about to become more complicated. On the personal front, he and his partner Louise, also in The Job, are splitting their time between their two flats, their plans to buy a large one together on hold after Louise’s miscarriage months before. The strain of grief is taking its toll on both of them, their relationship strained and worsening. At work, he’s on edge, waiting for the verdict in a case that has become personal and difficult to prove: that high-powered Adam Chambers murdered the missing Andrea Keane, without her body being found. Worse is that Chambers has become a media darling.

Into this tension steps Anna Carpenter, a new private investigator looking for a life different from the bank job she held before.

Recent photos have surfaced that seem to be of Alan Langford, a wealthy career criminal who supposedly died ten years ago, handcuffed to the steering wheel of his car which was set afire in the midst of Epping Forest. Langford’s wife had been subsequently arrested for paying for her abusive husband’s death and has just been released from prison.

Donna Langford is trying to reconnect with her teenaged daughter and start a new life with a female partner she’s met in prison. When these photos are anonymously delivered to her, Donna hires Anna to find the truth. Anna’s research finds Thorne sent Donna Langford to prison and she enlists his aid. When she shows up with the photos from Donna, she becomes attached to Thorne’s investigation by his publicity-seeking DSI, to his chagrin.

Thorne loses the Chambers case, which contributes to his moody, anti-social behavior. The Langford case takes Thorne to Spain, with the tension building as the investigation heats up. His patience with Anna at times wears thin, but her honesty and outlook wear him down, and he finds himself drawn to the young woman’s joy of life. By the end of the novel, Thorne is surprisingly vulnerable, even as the twists and turns of the plot take their toll. This one has a climax you won’t see coming.

By giving us Anna Carpenter’s point of view, Billingham ties readers to the amateur sleuth and how she views Thorne. His knack for describing small details in the life of his characters add texture and complexity that allow the reader to view them in reality, making him one of Auntie M’s favorite reads. This is compelling read, completely engrossing, and will keep you flipping pages to the unexpected ending.

UK’s Sky TV has filmed some of the Thorne series and it’s to Auntie M’s regret that the series isn’t available here yet. But the books are so well written that Thorne leaps off the page satisfyingly and without the need of film.

Billingham’s next in the Thorne series, Good as Dead, make number one in the UK and you can be certain Auntie M will be reading it soon.

Sue Grafton: V is for Vengeance Sunday, Jan 29 2012 

FOLKS: Auntie M will be attending the Cape Fear Crime Festival and will return to this spot on Feb. 12th with a great new review for you!

Reading Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series is like working your way through a box of Godiva chocolates: you get more and more excited tasting the different flavors and don’t want the box to end. That sums up Auntie M’s feelings after reading her newest, V is for Vengeance.

The talented Grafton just keeps getting better and better. The Wall Street Journal notes: “Millhone’s complexity is mirrored by the novels that document her cases: books that nestle comfortably within the mystery genre even as they prod and push its contours.”

This time the licensed private detective is shopping for underwear when she’s a witness to a woman shoplifting in Nordstrom’s lingerie department. Discreetly enlisting the nearest clerk, the woman is caught by security but not before Kinsey witnesses her companion changing clothes in the ladies room. Said accomplice manages to get away after trying to run Kinsey down in the parking lot. But no, this still doesn’t explain why Kinsey is nursing a broken nose and two black eyes on her thirty-eighth birthday, one hell of a way to remember the day.

The lead up to that broken nose takes us through the details of Kinsey’s latest case, starting with the shoplifter, who has apparently jumped off a bridge in remorse–for shoplifting a lace teddy and two pairs of silk pajamas? When the woman’s fiance’ shows up at Kinsey’s office and begs her to look into the jumper’s death, Kinsey becomes involved in a web of dangerous and toxic relationships that will affect her and those around her in surprising and sometimes deathly ways.

As her investigation grows, so does this web in which Kinsey finds herself entangled, leading her to a ruthless and unfaithful businessman, a woman on the verge of leaving her husband, a young man with a bad gambling habit, and a brutal gangster. Throw in a mob-related professional shoplifting ring, and a dirty, ruthless cop, and you have an idea of what Kinsey’s week has just become. If you thought shoplifting was a minor, irritating crime, you’re in for an eye-opener. This is big business on a world-wide level; and at the heart of this ring is a charming, powerful businessman whose work might be outside the law but whose moral code is above that of the cop who becomes a thorn in Kinsey’s side.

Here’s Kinsey’s telling us about herself in a way that affects the fulfilling ending of the novel: “For the record, I’d like to say I’m a big fan of forgiveness as long as I’m given the opportunity to get even.”

Grafton fans will admire this latest installment, as she’s managed to take her novel a notch higher. Not only do we have Kinsey’s voice and first-person point of view, but we have the added viewpoints of several of the other major players in the story, which adds multiple layers to this very satisfying novel. Then there is the matter of what must be exhaustive research on Grafton’s end into the areas she’s dealing with. The ending couldn’t have been handled better, and that black eye turns out to be a saving grace.

This is a writer at the height of her talent, with a comfortable relationship with her main character that forms the solid foundation of her books. By “V,” Grafton is widening her reach, and we are the fortunate recipients. Auntie M’s only hope is that with only four more letters in the alphabet, Sue Grafton will consider starting all over from A.

Started Early, Took My Dog Monday, Apr 18 2011 

Jackson Brodie is a most reluctant private investigator. His personal life is as perplexing to him as is his recent case. He is one of my favorite characters in literature these days, a man who’s professional life is in direct contrast to his complicated personal life.

Tracy Waterhouse is supplementing her pension from the police force by working as the head of mall security when she makes an impulsive purchase, setting into motion one helluva ride for Tracy, one that will have you rooting for this most unlikely heroine.

Jackson Brodie is trying to find the biological parents of an adopted woman raised in Australia. Her text messages to Brodie alone are the work of great invention by Atkinson, as we come to know this character we never see. Women confuse and perplex Brodie, including his new client.

How these two disparate stories overlap shows Atkinson at her best, in this fourth offering featuring Brodie. Dogs figure here: pursuers by, accompanied, neglected and adopted. Then throw in an elderly actress, slowly sinking into dementia. And the children: there are children here, too, some at risk, others waiting to be loved. There is also a tragedy from the past the needs to be unraveled, involving a police cover-up.

In the hands of a less skilled writer, these threads might have become confusing, but Atkinson keeps you turning pages long after you should have put the light out. She gets the varied voices and mental streams just right, as the past haunts all three of these people.  Even the changes in voice are revealed to be a deliberate device, affecting the plot.

It all works out in the end, with the important questions answered. This is a highly original novel from a writer at the top of her game.

Pamela J Castrucci

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Liz Loves Books

The Wonderful World of Reading

The Life of Guppy

the care and feeding of our little fish

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Reading is a wonderful adventure!

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp the perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

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

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Smile! Don't look back in anger.

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, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

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Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction

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