Elizabeth George: Banquet of Consequences Sunday, Nov 15 2015 

Auntie M had the distinct pleasure of taking a Masters Class in Beginnings with Elizabeth George last week at New England Crimebake. One of her favorite authors, George’s class was succinct and helpful. The diminutive wordsmith, who claims she is introverted, nevertheless charmed the entire audience over the three days she was there teaching, on panels, doing interviews and just being herself. She is an animal lover, another hit with Auntie M, and the two compared notes on her adorable Wire-haired Dachshund, Lucy, and Auntie M’s Italian Spinone, Radar, two opposite ends of the dog spectrum in size but not in jolly goodness.

George was generous with describing her writing process, which starts with the germ of an idea and victim as she explores her setting. Then she peoples that person’s world with other characters, creating long histories that in Auntie M’s screenwriting days were called “bibles.” Her plot unfolds from this and she’s off and writing a book for the satisfaction of readers, ones that have won her a deservedly huge following. Her newest is destined to keep her readers flipping pages.

Elizabeth George’s 19th Lynley mystery, despite its size, lives up to the best of her work, with Lynley and Havers back on the case in Banquet of Consequences, a most apt title upon reflection.

George takes her time introducing the players: The Goldacre family consists of William and his girlfriend Lily; his brother Charlie and wife India, his mother Caroline, and her second husband, Alastair MacKerron. Their interaction is key to the events that take place some months leading up to William’s suicide, an event that precipitates extraordinary fallout, some of which overlaps into a case of poisoning in Cambridge that handed to Lynleys’ DS Barbara Havers manages to get herself assigned to investigate.

Still smarting from her hasty actions in the last book, Just One Evil Act, which took Havers and Lynley to Italy to the chagrin of Det. Superintendant Isabelle Ardery, Havers has a sword of Damocles hanging over her head: a signed transfer request Ardery has no intention of tearing up if it means Havers toes the line.

Chafing at the bit and hating the restrictions placed on her detecting, Havers begs Lynley to go to bat for her and have the poisoning case assigned to her. That he has to go around Ardery to do it doesn’t improve either of their positions with the Super. Havers is allowed to investigate with a reluctant DS Winston Nkata at her side, yet the duo end up working their investigative magic as the case comes together in a most unexpected way.

The plot is complex, as are the personalities of the characters involved. The dead boy’s mother in particular is a pushy drama queen who never fails to keep the attention on her. There are side affairs, past secrets held and revealed, marriages fractured. There will be time for Lynley to ponder and pursue his relationship with the veterinarian, Daidre, and even a little dog, Arlo, who captures everyone’s heart except that of the Superintendent. One interesting subplot has Ardery’s secretary, the well-put-togehter Dee Harriman, deciding to take Havers under her wing and give her something of a life outside her work.

The final twist falls to the reader, one that will leave them pondering what is true justice and if it has been well served. An intriguing mystery with more than its share of tension and revelations. Highly recommended.

James R. Callan: On sidekicks and Over My Dead Body, a Father Frank Mystery Sunday, May 10 2015 

Happy Mother’s Day! While Auntie M is visiting her Minnesota Grands, please welcome author James Callan, talking about sidekicks with a brief excerpt of his new release, OVER MY DEAD BODY:

OverMyDeadBody-julie final front cover 2S

The Sidekick Is Not an Afterthought

All writers know the importance of a good sidekick to the protagonist. The protagonist is the leading character, the one on a mission, the person charged with the task of changing the course of things. As such, the main character is somewhat limited.

The sidekick, on the other hand, is not encumbered by such. Oh, yes, she (or he) is going to help the protagonist. But she is not the main driving force. As a result, she has a much wider range of what she can do. She can be funnier, crazier, can engage in things far afield from the main quest the protagonist must follow. The sidekick has a great opportunity to be more interesting.

In Over My Dead Body, a Father Frank Mystery released the first week of May, the sidekick is Georgia Peitz. Here’s an example of her free spirit: (Mike is the detective delivering the information that Syd committed suicide.)

Georgia jerked her hand up and stabbed a finger toward the detective. “Right. Angry. Not depressed. Not suicidal. Angry. He was planning to fight it.” She tilted her head and gave Mike an angelic smile. “He did not commit suicide.”

“Maybe he finally saw he couldn’t win.”

“I suppose some people might end it all if they couldn’t win something that was important to them,” Georgia said. The frown lines on Mike’s forehead began to disappear. “But,” she continued, “that was not Syd. Did you know him, Mike?”


“Then, you’re not qualified to say what he would do in such a circumstance.” Again, the angelic smile. “I am.”

Don’t overlook the power of the sidekick to enliven your book and keep your reader engaged.

James R. Callan

After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—-writing. He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years. He has had four non-fiction books published. He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his sixth book releasing in 2015.

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1eeykvG
Click http://amzn.to/1BmYQ0Q to see Over My Dead Body.

Cleansed by Fire (paperback & e-pub) NOW in audio, narrated by five-time Emmy winner Jonathan Mumm.

Over My Dead Body at: http://amzn.to/1BmYQ0Q
Character: The Heartbeat of the Novel – Second Edition at: http://amzn.to/19l69jd
How to Write Great Dialog Second Edition at: http://amzn.to/1yHx0uK
Cleansed by Fire at: http://amzn.to/1fqgWee

Opposite Poles: Nele Neuhaus and Laura McHugh Sunday, Apr 13 2014 

German Nele Neuhaus and American Laura McHugh are two writers who couldn’t be more different in their writing or their settings, yet both of their works use setting to their advantage to add to the stories they want to tell.

Nele Neuhaus returns with Bad Wolf, the second in her series that started with last year’s Snow White Must Die. Set in Frankfurt and featuring Inspectors Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodonestein heading their team, the usual police procedural takes on a darker tone despite the nod to Grimm’s fairy tales in Neuhaus’ titles.

It’s hot in Frankfurt in June when a sixteen-year-old girl’s body turns up on a river bank outside of town. Despite the brutality of her injuries, her identity remains unknown and no one turns in a missing person report. Pia’s team is frustrated for weeks and then a new case takes precedence. A television reporter who’s become a known personality is attacked, raped, and locked in the trunk of her car, barely surviving.

Pia suspects the reporter’s investigations into a popular child welfare organization, run by an old, established family with an untarnished reputation, may provide the key to the woman’s attack.

Then a link is drawn with a child pornography ring, and overruns into both inspectors’ personal lives. This chilling tale has a huge emotional component as the different subplots connect. Well-crafted and engrossing, it’s an unpredictable and multi-dimensional book that will hook readers from the start.

Neuhaus started out selling her self-published books out of the trunk of her car before becoming Germany’s top crime writer. Don’t miss this powerful psychological thriller based on a police procedural.


Laura McHugh’s debut The Weight of Blood is a totally different kind of crime novel, yet every bit as disturbing. Told from the viewpoints of Lucy Dane and Lila, her mother who disappeared when Lucy was a child, the action revolves around the the murder of one of Lucy’s friends, the slow-witted Cheri.

The setting this time is the tiny village of Henbane, deep in the Ozark Mountains. Filled with strange ways and customs, and a fear of strangers, it’s an area the modern world has almost passed by. McHugh manages to make the landscape come alive, and the story is inspired by a true incident that took place in the Missouri town where the author went to school.

Small wonder then that its authenticity rings so true. Readers will be drawn in immediately by the voice of Lucy and then by that of her mother, Lila, a young woman whose destiny is not hers to decide. Lucy is haunted by the mystery surrounding Lila’s disappearance and by the murder of young Cheri. Here is McHugh in Lucy’s voice describing her emotions when Cheri’s body is found: “…Boys our age, the ones at school, were cruel. They called her a retard and make her cry. I told her to ignore them, but I never told them to stop, and that’s what I remembered when Cheri’s body turned up in the tree: the ways I had failed her.”

That sense of failure will drive Lucy to investigate Cheri’s death, while not forgetting her mother, and the result will call into question everything Lucy thinks she has come to learn about family and secrets.

This is beautifully written novel that will suck you in from its opening as the story gains momentum to its powerful conclusion. No spoilers here: read it yourself and you’ll find you’re flipping pages well past bedtime.

ALSO RECOMMENDED: Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman. This debut follows young widow Nora Hamilton, trying to make sense of the suicide of her police officer husband, a man who loved her, his job, and their Adirondack town–and died without leaving her a note of explanation? A taut and believable mystery.

Hard Going: Cynthia Harrod-Eagles newest Bill Slider crime novel brings back his family and partner in a complex mystery that interrupts his vacation week. A retired solicitor, known for his good deeds, has been bashed in the head with a statue in a frenzied attack that will have them searching into the man’s past for the culprit. Highly satisfying.

Hunting Shadows: Inspector Rutledge returns in Charles Todd’s sixteenth book in the post WWI series. The countryside of Cambridgeshire finds Rutledge to town to locate the murderer of a man at the doorstep to Ely Cathedral, on his way to a wedding. After a second murder, one witness’s description leaves the locals convinced a madman is on their doorstep. Great period details and a intricate plotting are the hallmark of this series.

AND NEW IN PAPERBACK: Jane Casey’s The Last Girl, the third DC Maeve Kerrigan novel. Compared to Tana French or Denis Mina, Casey’s series twists and turns through the investigation of the murder of a wealthy defense attorney. But was this a disgruntled client, or does the truth lie closer to home?

Frances Fyfield: Blood From Stone Sunday, Dec 1 2013 

images_049Auntie M had the pleasure of meeting Frances Fyfield at St Hilda’s this August, where her riveting talk proved what I’d already suspected: here was an intelligent criminal lawyer who had a terrific knowledge of human character and was able to translate that into the highly complex and readable novels I’d always enjoyed. Fyfield worked as a lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Services, where she learned first-hand about murder. Though writing is now her main vocation, the law and its ramifications continue to inspire many of her novels.

Auntie M thought she’d read every Fyfield novel available: the Helen West series, the Sara Fortune series, and several stand-alones, all carefully crafted and thoroughly enjoyable to read for crime enthusiasts.

Therefore, it was a delight to find a new release of one she’d missed through Witness Impulse as an ebook: Blood From Stone, which won the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award from the Crime Writers Association when it first appeared in 2008.

Marianne Shearer is at the height of her career, a dauntingly successful lawyer, respected by her peers and revered by her clients, even though those who know her well understand the ruthless nature that drives her.  Her latest case had again resulted in an acquittal, although the outcome was principally due to the death of the prime witness after Marianne’s forceful cross-examination.

Then why would she commit suicide in a dramatic and very public way?

Is it possible that this wholly professional and unemotional lawyer been struck by guilt or uncertainty, or is there some secret to be discovered in her rigid yet comfortable private life? Thomas Noble has been handled the job of executor of her estate. Her younger colleague Peter Friel is determined to find out of that last trial held the reason for her taking her own life. Together Noble and Friel will attempt to find out the reason Shearer felt she should end her successful and comfortable life.

The transcript of Shearer’s last trial holds intriguing clues, and excerpts from it give the reader a clear picture of Shearer’s scathing style in court and her ability to demean and demoralize the prosecutor’s witness. Then the sister of the last victim becomes involved and may be the one who holds the key to the truth. A most interesting woman in her own right, Henrietta Joyce’s sister had taken her own life after being subjected to Shearer’s style. Hen finds herself helping Friel and Noble unravel the secrets of Marianne Shearer’s life.

Fyfield has the ability to create fully-realized and very human characters who immediately capture the readers interest and Blood From Stone is a perfect example of Fyfield’s highly satisfying novels.

This January, Witness Impulse will be publishing two more classic Frances Fyfield titles, available to e-readers in the United States. Auntie M thoroughly enjoyed both of these and can highly recommend each book. The first is another stand-alone and the second is part of the Helen West series. Both illustrate Fyfield’s strengths in characterization, complex plots, and highly readable books that will have readers searching for others.

UNDERCURRENTS will be on sale January 7, 2014

For twenty years Henry Evans has been haunted by the memory of Francesca, the one who got away. When he travels to England to re-connect with his long lost love, what he finds is a horrific shock: Francesca is imprisoned for murdering her five-year-old son. But Henry refuses to believe Francesca is guilty, even if she did confess – in chilling detail – to drowning her own child.  In his search for the truth, Henry will find that the darkest of evils are hidden deep beneath the surface…

“Psychologically astute yet eminently readable, UNDERCURRENTS offers the tug of true suspense while probing the eerie confluence of love and loss.” – The Washington Post

DEEP SLEEP  goes on sale January 21, 2014 and was a CWA Silver Dagger Winner.

Pip Carlton is a devoted husband and a highly respected pharmacist, cherished by his loyal customers. When his wife dies in her sleep, with no apparent cause, he is distraught. Comforted by his caring assistant, Pip ignores the rumors about Margaret’s death, relieved that the police seem to have moved on. But Prosecutor Helen West refuses to believe that Margaret simply slipped into her final slumber. As she probes deeper into the affairs of the neighborhood, she uncovers a viper’s nest of twisted passion, jealous rage, and lethal addictions.  As a sudden act of violence erupts, shaking the community, one lone man, armed with strange love potions, prepares to murder again…

 Several of the Helen West series have been serialized for television and her novels have been translated into fourteen languages. If you haven’t discovered the treasure of of the work of Frances Fyfield yet, you’re in for a treat. Don’t forget her when you’re looking for holiday gifts for your reading fans, too.

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.

Mark Billingham: Good as Dead Sunday, Aug 12 2012 

A word first on television made from novels:

Mark Billingham’s novels include a stand-alone, In the Dark, and the DI Tom Thorne series, a character Lee Child has compared to Morse and Rebus. Thorne is now a television series in the UK and Auntie M has seen each of the three-parters that illustrate Billingham’s first two in the series, Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat. Actor David Morrissey, also executive producer, read a Thorne novel and enjoyed it; then was pleasantly surprised to read he was exactly the actor whom the author pictured playing his detective inspector one, who plays close to, and sometimes, over the line.

The teleplays follow the the original story-lines closely, with the exception of a few casting changes, as in making Thorne’s superior, Brigstocke, a woman. His best friend, pathologist Phil Hendricks is described in the books as a tall, bald, heavily pierced and tattooed Mancunian. In the series, he’s aptly played by shorter Irishman, Aidan Gillen, whose head full of bushy dark hair nonetheless conveys the spirit of the original character as drawn by Billingham. But these are small changes.

What’s in full force is the power of the stories Billingham originally told, and Morrissey’s ability to get Tom Thorne’s ambivalent character just right. Here’s Gillen on the left and Morrissey on the right.

More of the novels are planned for future filming by Sky1; check the local satellite listings in your area.

Now on to the newest Thorne novel, Good as Dead (The Demands in the US).

Change is on Tom Thorne’s mind after upheaval in his personal life. He’s sold his beloved but not fixable old BMW for an updated model he’s still getting used to; he’s put his flat on the market; and he’s even considering a job transfer.

Then he finds himself called for by name, requested by a shopkeeper who has barricaded himself and two hostages into his news shop.

Thorne remembers the man’s name from a prior case involving manslaughter and the man’s son, who received an unusually long sentence in prison for what seemed to be manslaughter in self-defense.

The hostages are a cowardly banker and a DI from the Child Protection Unit whom Thorne remembers from a former case.

Helen Weeks’ partner was killed when she was pregnant with her son, now eight months old. Both hostages are in Amin Akhtar’s shop when harassment by local thugs causes him to snap, a classic case of being in the wrong place at just the wrong time.

Yet Amin has a specific point to holding these two by gunpoint. They are the leverage he needs for Thorne to investigate the apparent suicide of the his son in prison.

Convinced the youth wouldn’t have taken his own life, Amin tasks Thorne with unraveling the secrets behind his son’s death.

The threads Thorne pulls will have unexpected and surprising twists, in the way that Billingham does so well, as Thorne puts his career on the line to find the truth. Time is against him as hours and then days pass as he tries to find the truth about what happened at the youth institution housing Amin’s son.

And in the end, not everyone will walk out of that shop alive.

Billingham’s novels are complex and compelling, filled with with the right amount of psychological insight into his very human character’s mental state. The tension is taut and Billingham manages to keep getting better with each novel. The can’t come fast enough.

Faye Kellerman: Gun Games Sunday, Jul 22 2012 

Fortunately for readers, Faye Kellerman’s Dentistry doctoral degree couldn’t keep her from writing the consistently winning  Peter Decker/Rina Lazurus series. Starting  in 1986 with the Anthony Award-nominated TheRitual Bath, that book won the Macavity for Best First Novel and launched the series Kellerman has kept writing, in addition to producing other novels and short stories, some with two of her four children.

From this auspicious start, which expertly detailed the rituals of Jewish Orthodoxy, Kellerman took the pair to LA where we’ve watched the Decker’s extended family grow and change. One of the delights of the series has been the way their family life and traditions have been incorporated into the stories. She’s managed to keep the series fresh by changing the focus of each story, even taking readers to Israel on one occasion.

In this 20th in the series, Gun Games, the Decker’s are grandparents via Decker’s daughter and empty-nesters with their youngest child together finally off to college. They should be starting to enjoy some well-deserved alone time, but on the heels of the prior novel, Hangman, they’ve become temporary guardians to the teenaged son of notorious psychopathic gangster Chris Donatti, welcoming Gabriel Whitman into their home and family. Gabe is a talented pianist interested in composing music, a quiet and often secretive youth who, despite his worldly attitude, isn’t immune to the high emotional turmoil and roiling hormones of his biological age.

Interspersed with Gabe’s life and his lovely, believable romance, the story follows Decker at work as lieutenant detective when he and his team become involved in investigating the apparent suicide of a boy Gabe’s age who attended a prestigious prep school.

Then the second suicide of another teen from the same school leads the detectives to discover a nasty clique of privileged, wealthy students who harbor a thirst for bullying, guns and violence.

Decker’s team of Marge Dunn and Scott Oliver help him as he unravels the reality behind the unbelievable actions of this group of spoiled teens whose dark side has triumphed over their better judgement.

Kellerman does a wonderful job of showing us Decker’s growing comprehension as he struggles to believe what is truly happening. This parent thought he had a handle on teens, including Gabe, but it soon becomes apparent that he is out of his realm of knowledge and experience. Kellerman also has a grand handle on the emotional roller coaster that all teenagers face and shows how differently they handle this challenge.

When the dark group overlaps Gabe’s path, the ramifications become terrifying and deadly. Don’t miss this compelling thriller from a writer who knows how to explore her character’s personalities and tell an all-too-realistic and frightening story at the same time.




Andrew Gross: Eyes Wide Open Sunday, Jul 1 2012 

Andrew Gross drew on a personal story for the main theme of this thriller which will hit home with any reader who knows anyone coping with the loss of a child. A sad author’s note explains the impetus for the story that inspired Eyes Wide Open.

Two brothers have taken divergent trails in life. Jay Erlich is a successful surgeon with two great kids and a wife he still loves after twenty years. Jay and Kathy are celebrating that milestone anniversary on the east coast when a call comes from California that will have Jay flying across country on a wild odyssey. His only nephew, Evan, has been found at the bottom of a cliff, an apparent suicide.

Evan Erlich had inherited his parents bipolar disease from Jay’s older brother, Charlie, and his wife, Gabby. Charlie had always been the the wayward child, a true sixties rebel, and at one time  associated with a group whose cult behavior led Charlie to flee.

When Jay arrives to comfort his brother and sister-in-law, he is outraged that this troubled youth was released from a mental health facility only a few days after a violent outburst. The  small halfway facility he was sent to seems inappropriate for the state with the boy was in, and Jay tries to bring justice for Evan by going to the press and interviewing the coroner’s detective who is ready to stamp the boy’s death a suicide.

But things quickly start to unravel and Jay finds himself increasingly convinced that Evan’s death might be a murder. He delays returning home in an effort to convince Detective Sherwood that there is more to Evan’s case than a trouble youth launching himself to his death, and he begins to suspect that Charlie’s involvement with the cult is at the bottom of it all.

Russell Houvnanian’s charisma had led to a nightmare of multiple murders decades before on the scale of Charles Manson; the man and several of his accomplices remain in jail. After Sherwood and Jay visit Houvnanian in a maximum security prison, evidence mounts that leads them to suspect cult disciples are operating in their leaders name. It soon becomes clear to Jay that the monster’s influence is still felt in the outside world as people associated with Charlie start to die, one by one.

This is a chilling page turner with a relentless pace, as Jay keeps postponing his return home, to the chagrin of his wife and his colleagues. There is a tough emotional component, too, as Jay makes the connection between his father’s life, Charlie’s, and Evan’s, and realizes it is just a trick of fate that he has not inherited the same bipolar illness. He also finds the overarching reach of a maniac will go years into the past and threaten his own future.

Gross gives us Jay’s point of view in first person and several of the other main characters, including Det. Sherwood, in third, an effective device that brings the action close to the reader as we experience the unraveling of the story through Jay’s frustration and increasing suspicions.

Nelson DeMille notes Eyes Wide Open “should be read with the lights on and the door closed. A rare and menacing psychological thriller that works on every level.”

This is a frightening study of the power of evil to affect generations.