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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

P M Terrell: Dylan’s Song Sunday, Mar 17 2013 

dylans-song With past clients ranging from the CIA, Secret Service and Department of Defense, it’s no wonder that author P. M. Terrell uses her computer expertise and technical knowledge to highlight the drama in the fourth book in her Black Swamp Mystery series. Dylan’s Song is a romantic suspense novel with just a hint of the paranormal.

The book is a rousing good read. Suspense Magazine calls Terrell’s books “powerfully written and masterfully suspenseful; you have to hang on for the ride of your life.”

Terrell brings the reader to the Irish homeland of Dylan Macquire, whose character was first introduced in Vicki’s Key, a finalist in the 2012 International Book Awards and 2012 Best Book Awards in mystery/suspense.The charming Irishman is running from secrets in his homeland, secrets which will be laid bare in this latest episode.

Vicki Boyd is a psychic who uses her abilities in conjunction with the CIA. Able to travel to remote locations in her mind, Vicki provides startlingly realistic information for her boss Sam. Rounding out the main characters is Brenda Carnegie, a brilliant computer hacker related to Vicki and the best traveling companion Vicki could have when Sam sends the trio to Ireland on a dangerous retrieval mission.

Vicki and Dylan are a couple, which tangles Dylan’s proposed mission on several levels. She’s withholding important information from him, and the stubborn Dylan doesn’t want to go anywhere near his home town. Then a call from Father Rowan, who had been like a brother to Dylan, draws him back reluctantly to the village. The grandmother who raised him is dying and wants to see him one more time.

Suddenly, retrieving operative Stephen Anders seems more urgent. But a tricky complication exists: Vicki’s images show Anders has been kept in the cells of a former castle, one that now exists under one of Ireland’s famous peat bogs.

Dylan is a charmer and his love for Vicki is a big as it can be exasperating. Brenda proves herself to be a necessary compatriot, and Father Rowan in Ireland comes to the trios aid in several important ways. The spy angle is tinged with the sadness of Dylan’s last visit with his Mam, while the local traditions and customs are winningly described.

There will be local intrigue, too, as Dylan returns to the village he escaped from years ago, after hoping his past and its secrets would never catch up with him. All this raises the tension and the hurdles Dylan and the women will have to conquer: to rescue Anders, and to save their own lives.

Terrell does a fine job of getting inside each character while she transports readers from the small southern town of Lumberton, NC, where Vicki and Dylan have been living, to the rolling, fertile countryside of Ireland and the small village where they stay. The tension mounts as the retrieval operation for Anders goes horribly wrong, and just when it seems there’s time for readers to catch their collective breath, terror and danger strike again.

NC author Terrell has written fifteen books, including the historical suspense novel River Passage, which won the 2012 Best Book Award. Her original manuscript is so accurate it is now housed in the Nashville Metropolitan Government Archives for future use by researchers and historians in Tennessee. She is also the co-founder of The Book’Em Foundation, committed to raising public awareness of the correlation between high crime and illiteracy rates. You can read more about the yearly NC wing of Book’Em North Carolina, held in the town of Lumberton that features in her series, by visiting www.bookemnc.org.

 

 

Two-fer Opposites: Andrew Kaplan and Linda Lovely Sunday, Aug 5 2012 

Auntie M has two books that are as far apart as you can get on the setting scale, but both satisfying reads of different kinds.

First up is Andrew Kaplan’s entry in his Scorpion series, Scorpion Winter, a thriller that  takes place largely in the Ukraine with stops in the Middle East and Europe, featuring a killer pacing that never lets up. Kirkus Reviews says: “Kaplan takes the thriller genre at its word, moving as fast as Ludlum but with ten times the eye for settings and crisp characterizations.”

Scorpion is a former CIA covert operative who operates on a freelance basis. This means he has friends–and enemies–in almost every country in the world.

His newest assignment is to prevent the assassination of a Ukraine politician on the eve of an election that has world-wide consequences and interests. Assisting him, despite his initial misgivings, is the very lovely Iryna Shevchenko, whose father founded the Independent movement in the country.

But everything goes horribly wrong, and Iryna and Scorpion soon find themselves on the run, hunted down as the assassins themselves as they become caught in the trap of an unknown enemy. With NATO, Russia and US forces ready to become involved in a war, they race against time to find the real murderers and clear their names. Along the way, there are plenty of deaths, sleight of hand maneuvers, impossible getaways, and enough violence told in a matter-of-fact disturbing way to keep you awake at night.

The pacing is relentless as the couple, whose attraction to each other becomes too strong to ignore, face the brutal realities of too many sub-culture political parties operating under the radar. Acronyms abound: The SVR, the SBU, the NSA and even Chinese mobsters are involved at different points.

Scorpion proves himself to be a master of deception, with false identities and useful fighting and burglary skills learned over the years that keep him just one small step ahead of his opponents–until a false step lands him in prison and in the hands of a sadistic madman. The torture he endures is horrific; with no salvation in sight, his death is imminent. How he gets himself out of that situation, and the eventual unraveling of this twisted plot, will leave readers stunned. When Scorpion says near the end: “Sometimes you need your enemies more than your friends,” you will understand the complicated life he’s chosen to lead.

Kaplan has done exhaustive research, and the cold winter of Siberia looms real enough to make your joints ache. The use of phrases in Russian and other languages are thoughtfully translated for the reader but add to the feel of being on the other side of the world. This is an action thriller that will leave you breathless at its end.

Doing a hard 180 degree turn, we travel to the Midwest and the Great Lakes area of Iowa. Linda Lovely first introduced retired military intelligence officer Marley Clark in the SC low country mystery Dear Killer, where Marley’s security job formed the basis for that mystery. In No Wake Zone, Marley travels to a family reunion for her feisty Aunt May’s birthday, expecting a totally different kind of vacation from the one she encounters.

Marley gets roped into helping her tourist-boat captain cousin aboard his boat on West Okoboji Lake for a wedding reception, but never dreams she’ll find herself diving into the cold depths of the lake in a vain attempt to save the life of a billionaire.

The founder of a biotech company is the unlucky groom, only he’s dead before he hits the water. When it turns out an old college friend is the bride, Marley finds herself deeply embroiled in the murder investigation.

Each member of the tycoon’s family try to top each other as Nastiest Relative of the Year in the greed department. Adding to the mix is the head of an international security company who has his own issues against Marley from their previous association.

Things heat up even more when Marley’s former Pentagon boss enlists her aid in the investigation and intrigue abounds.

Then a handsome attorney with his own secrets steps into the case and Marley finds herself attracted to him, despite her inner turmoil over trusting him, all under the inquisitive eye of Aunt May. When the deaths start to mount up, the killer soon targets Marley and her family and the suspense rises as the pace continues to pound along.

There’s plenty of action here and a gripping plot with as many turns as the amusement park rides that feature in an action-packed climax scene. The dialogue is snappy and you’ll be longing for another adventure with Marley Clark when you turn the last page.

The author spent summers in the Spirit Lake area with her family and her real-life captain cousin played a major role in the creation of the Maritime Museum, which also becomes a setting. Her familiarity with the area, including local landmarks and restaurants, brings it to life for those not familiar with this area of the Midwest.

It’s refreshing to have a well-written series with an engaging protagonist who is 52, smart and witty, and with a zest for life that is engaging.

Pamela J Castrucci

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The Graveyard Shift

Being Author

Book promotion & authors BLOG

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

MiddleSisterReviews.com

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

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

Emma kayne

interior design student - maker

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

The Wickeds

Wicked Good Mysteries

Some Days You Do ...

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

Gaslight Crime

Authors and reviewers of historical crime fiction

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