The Chessmen/ The Lynchpin: Jeffery B. Burton Sunday, Mar 22 2015 


Auntie M is happy to have interviewed author Jeffery B. Burton, whose first thriller, The Chessman could be a game of chess, with strategy needed when ex-FBI agent, Drew Cady, finds himself on the trail of serial killer who left him physically and emotionally damaged, the reason for his early retirement.

When an SEC commissioner is murdered, a chess piece, this time a clear glass queen, is found inserted into the wound. This is the MO of the serial killer known as The Chessman, Cady’s nemesis.

But is the notorious killer back at work? Or is someone copycatting his methods, and how will the real killer react? And how does this all tie in to a host of investment CEO’s who can out Madox the real Bernie?

Cady will find himself mixed up in a far-reaching conspiracy as the chase to save lives heats up and takes him on a roller coaster investigation to bring down all of the players in this fast-paced thriller.

With its mix of high action and mental machinations, the unraveling of this political and economic thriller will keep readers flipping pages until the climax.

Burton follows this enthralling debut with The Lynchpin, out now, bringing back Cady and his fiancee’ Terri Ingram, just the right kind of love interest for the FBI agent who keeps trying to retire.

Recuperating from his injuries in the first book, Cady is helping Terri run her resort in northern Minnesota and works only part-time for the FBI’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force there. He should be low key now, he’s convinced, facing white collar criminals, and Cady is enjoying an easier lifestyle.

Then a young woman’s body is pulled from Lake Superior outside Duluth, and her manner of death bears the hallmark of a sadistic killer. Just as Cady is sucked back in to this investigation, he learns that his former boss, Assistant Director of CID Roland Jund, has killed a fellow agent and is accused of being a spy.

Cady knows nothing could be further from the truth, but even as he tries to clear Jund’s name, he must pursue this brutal murderer. Another fast-paced and compelling thriller.
Now let’s hear from Jeffrey Burton:

AUNTIE M: You Iive in the Minneapolis area as does some of my family. It seems such an innocuous, wholesome place for crime, yet John Sandford has made it seem downright obnoxiously filled with criminal activity in his Prey novels and you’re doing a grand job with Drew Cady in this second book. How much does writing about your own area feel comfortable and also spooky? Do you ever get hate fan mail from your neighbors?

JEFFREY BURTON: Nearly half of The Lynchpin takes place in northern Minnesota, predominantly in Duluth. I lived in Duluth for a couple of college years, absolutely loved the city, but noticed that on overcast, foggy or rainy days, if you spotted a mansion on a hillside with Lake Superior in the background, it had the look and feel of a castle from one of the old Hammer horror films (starring Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee) where Van Helsing and company would have to journey their way through in order to find the vampire’s lair. And though The Lynchpin doesn’t contain a supernatural element, it does contain a certain amount of creepiness, and I always thought it would be fun to weave that kind of imagery into a scene. Needless to say, the Duluth City Council will not be voting to have a parade in my honor anytime soon.

My favorite neighbor stopped by after reading one of my novels and said, “Jeff – you’re an awesome neighbor and I enjoyed reading your mystery, but, based on your writing, I think I’m going to get a restraining order.”

I like to think he was joking.

AM: Your publisher is from the Isle of Man; how did you connect?

JB: MP Publishing, based in the Isle of Man, is relatively new to the scene. They began acquiring and distributing e-books in 2008. They released their first original title, a touching collection of essays by the likes of John Grisham and Pat Conroy called Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Acclaimed Authors and the Day Jobs They Quit in 2010.

The first book in the Agent Drew Cady series, The Chessman, was published by MacAdam/Cage Publishing. MacAdam/Cage had some great success with novels like The Time Traveler’s Wife, but, sadly, David Poindexter, MacAdam/Cage’s President—nice guy and incredible mentor—passed away in 2013 and MacAdam/Cage spiraled into bankruptcy in 2014 (twists and turns not only exist in mystery novels). The Lynchpin then worked its way from MacAdam/Cage to MP Publishing through mutual editors and I signed with MP in the fall of 2013.

AM: An an author I tell people all that time that each writer must find the routine that works for him or her and that these vary widely. Tell readers what a typical writing day for Jeffrey Burton is like.

JB: I’ll jot ideas down on a piece of scratch paper and toss them in my idea drawer. Then I’ll let them ferment for a while in order to frame the rest of the story. A few years back I’d jotted down “serial killer in hot pursuit of his own copycat.” Originally it was going to be a short story, something like Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” where the killer has caught his copycat and, while slowly obtaining his vengeance, he explains exactly why the copycat should never have insulted him by stealing his M.O. But the story kept getting longer and longer, and eventually it grew into The Chessman.

I’m a bit of a binge writer where, if I get in the zone, twelve hours fly past and I have to remind myself to let the dogs out. Usually this occurs when I get it stuck in my noggin that it’s of paramount importance that I complete a series of related scenes or chapters before my ideas fly away or my brain leaks out of my ear. Sometimes this goes on for days, which is a good thing as I’m able to make huge strides. And the dogs have for the most part been good – only a few messes.

AM: As a mystery writer, I know the ending when I start: who is the murderer and why–but I leave what I call the ‘muddled middle’ to figure out as I write. Are you a writer who plots and outlines the entire novel or do you allow for happenstance?

JB: When I begin writing a mystery novel, I’ll come up with a concept that I feel would be interesting to pursue. I’ll put together an informal outline as everything is subject to change once I begin writing. Sometimes I’ll head off in a completely different direction – uncharted territory – and then I’m forced to go back and update my outline.

AM: What’s on your nightstand To Be Read pile?

JB: I’m all caught up on Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Sandford, Gillian Flynn, and Barry Eisler, but I’ve just begun reading novels by James Ellroy and William Kent Krueger. Plenty of page-turners to keep me up all hours of the night.

AM:Finally, what’s next for Drew Cady?

JB: I’ve begun work on the next Drew Cady mystery, tentatively titled The Eulogist.

JBurton Author Bio: Jeffrey B. Burton’s mystery/thriller, The Chessman (a serial killer is in hot pursuit of his own copycat), came out to excellent reviews in 2012. Jeff’s short stories have appeared in dozens of genre magazines (mystery, horror, sci-fi, literary). Jeff’s short story, “The Soul Fish,” received Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year in 2010. “High Score” and “In This the Era of the Great Wilting” were both published in Murky Depths in the time period that Murky Depths won the British Fantasy Award for Best Magazine. “The Mourning” and “Letters of Transit” were miniStory winners in the MNLit contest in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Jeff is an active member of the Mystery Writers of America (MWA), the Horror Writers Association (HWA), and International Thriller Writers (ITW).


A Quartet of Wickedness Sunday, Jul 14 2013 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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