Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Cozy Halloween Tale

Just in time for my favorite holiday -- Halloween! Daryl Wood Gerber recently released the Stirring the Plot, third in her Cookbook Nook series, and I'm really enjoying it as I get in the spooky holiday spirit.

Halloween in Crystal Cove, a charming California coastal community, is always spook-tacular. All the local businesses have haunting window displays, including Jenna Hart's Cookbook Nook. But the big celebration in town is the annual soiree put on by the Winsome Witches who raise funds for literacy.

When the Head Priestess of the Winsome Witches is found dead, and Jenna's Aunt Vera has lost her ability to foresee the future, Jenna begins to feel like her arrival in Crystal Cove has jinxed the place.

This is a really fun series (and I am a sucker for the lovely alliteration!). Daryl Wood Gerber also writes The Cheese Shop mysteries under her nom de plume, Avery Aames. Visit her websites at and Her books always include yummy recipes in the back and you can find more on her websites. If you like foody mysteries and enjoy cooking yourself, be sure to check out; Daryl is one of mystery writer/bloggers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Changes in the Air and Something New

Aunt Agatha has been somewhat remiss in posting in recent weeks, and for that I do apologize. It's hard to believe a whole month has passed since the last post! But my alter ego is preparing to retire from the Burbank Public Library after a lifetime (it seems!) of happy service. Consequently, there's been a lot of tying up of loose ends in preparation of the transition (as well as hiding "evidence" and disposing of "bodies"). 

The good news is that after December, Aunt Agatha will have more time to dig up clues to good books.

In the meantime, take a look at the new releases for October:

Last Writes [SS] by Catherine Aird

The Counterfeit Heiress [Lady Emily Ashton] by Tasha Alexander

The Nightingale Before Christmas [Meg Langslow] by Donna Andrews

Sidney Sheldon’s Chasing Tomorrow by Tilly Bagshawe

Death of a Blue Blood [Murder She Wrote] by Donald Bain & Jessica Fletcher

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas [Jane Austen] byStephanie Barron

Close to the Bone [Theresa MacLean] by Lisa Black

The Empire of Night [Christopher Marlowe Cobb] by Robert Olen Butler

Gossamer Ghost [Scrapbooking] by Laura Childs

The Wolf in Winter [Charlie Parker] by John Connolly

Havana Storm [Dirk Pitt] by Clive Cussler & Dirk Cussler

Death in Elysium [Jodie Welsh] by Judith Cutler

Dark Spies [Will Cochrane] by Matthew Dunn

Dick Francis’s Damage by Felix Francis

Stirring the Plot (Cookbook Nook) by Daryl Wood Gerber

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Riders on the Storm [Sam McCain] by Ed Gorman

Run by Andrew Grant

Gray Mountain  by John Grisham

Ghost Wanted [Bailey Ruth Raeburn] by Carolyn Hart

The Old Deep and Dark [Jane Lawless] by Ellen Hart

Older than Goodbye [Judd Wheeler] by Richard Helms

Malice [Kyochiro Kaga] by Keigo Higashino

Bless Her Dead Little Heart (Southern Ladies) by Miranda James

The White Sea [Alex Mavros] by Paul Johnston

Seventh Grave and No Body [Charley Davidson] by Darynda Jones

The Legend of Sleepy Harlow (League of Literary Ladies) by Kylie Logan

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett

The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Café [No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency] by Alexander McCall Smith

I See You by Patricia MacDonald

Demon Summer [Max Tudor] by G.M. Malliet

Every Breath [Rachel Watts / YA] by Ellie Marney

Cobra [Benny Griessel] by Deon Meyer

Last Winter We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura

The Madness of July  by James Naughtie

The Final Silence [Jack Lennon] by Stuart Neville

Fear and Loathing [Sam Becket] by Hilary Norman

Leaving Time  by Jodi Picoult

Burned [Vanessa Pierson] by Valerie Plame & Sarah Lovett

Sour Grapes [Shakespeare in the Vineyard] by Carole Price

Assault with a Deadly Lie [Nick Hoffman] by Lev Raphael

Truth Be Told [Jane Ryland & Jake Brogan] by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Swann’s Lake of Despair [Henry Swann] by Charles Salzberg

Deadline [Virgil Flowers] by John Sandford

Louise’s Blunder [Louise Pearlie] by Sarah R. Shaber

The Pierced Heart [Charles Maddox] by Lynn Shepherd

Sons of Sparta [Andreas Kaldis] by Jeffrey Siger

Stages of Grey [Dulcie Schwartz] by Clea Simon

Supping with the Devil [Monika Paniatowski] by Sally Spencer

Thief [Robin Monarch] by Mark T. Sullivan

The Scent of Death [Edward Savill] by Andrew Taylor

Spark  by John Twelve Hawks

Sometimes the Wolf  by Urban Waite

Desert Rage [Lena Jones] by Betty Webb

Paris Match [Stone Barrington] by Stuart Woods

The Best American Mystery Stories of the 19th Century [SS] edited by Otto Penzler

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September's Crop of Releases

What amazes me about mystery fiction is that death can't keep a good man down. Case in point, the demise of Robert B. Parker and Agatha Christie didn't slow down the exploits of their iconic characters. This month, Jesse Stone returns in Blind Spot by Reed Farrel Coleman and the ever-popular Hercule Poirot has an another adventure in Sophie Hannah's The Monogram Murders. Read on...we have a nice selection of murder and mystery to keep us all busy this month.

The Marco Effect [Department Q] by Jussi Adler-Olsen

The Darling Dahlias and the Silver Dollar Bush [Darling Dahlias] by Susan Wittig Albert

Hit and Run [Main Street] by Sandra Balzo

The Blood of an Englishman [Agatha Raisin] by M.C. Beaton

The Rest Is Silence [Billy Boyle] by James R. Benn

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Defender of the Innocent: The Casebook of Martin Ehrengraf [SS] by Lawrence Block

The Cinderella Killer [Charles Paris] by Simon Brett

Beware Beware [Juniper Song] by Steph Cha

Personal [Jack Reacher] by Lee Child

Night of the White Buffalo [Wind River] by Margaret Coel

Robert B. Parker’s Blind Spot [Jesse Stone continuation] by Reed Farrel Coleman

A Dancer in the Dust  by Thomas H. Cook

Countdown [Milt Kovak] by Susan Rogers Cooper

Day of Vengeance [Dorothy Martin] by Jeanne M. Dams

The Beast in the Red Forest [Inspector Pekkala] by Sam Eastland

The Lost Key [Brit in the FBI] by Catherine Coulter & J.T. Ellison

Perfidia [2nd L.A. Quartet] by James Ellroy

To Dwell in Darkness [Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James] by Deborah Crombie

The Eye of Heaven [Sam and Remi Fargo #6] by Clive Cussler & Russell Blake

Roseblood  by Paul Doherty

The Secret Place [Dublin Murder Squad] by TanaDog Beach  by John Fusco

The Corners of the Globe [James Maxted] by Robert Goddard

Those Who Feel Nothing [Brighton] by Peter Guttridge

Fighting Chance [Gregor Demarkian] by Jane Haddam

The Monogram Murders [The New Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot Mystery] by Sophie Hannah

Darkness, Darkness [Resnick] by John Harvey

Murder in Time [Ellie Quicke] by Veronica Heley

Skink: No Surrender  [YA] by Carl Hiaasen

Death Is a Word [Mrs. Malory] by Hazel Holt

Haunted [Bishop Special Crimes Unit] by Kay Hooper

The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen

Murder 101 [Peter Decker & Rina Lazarus] by Faye Kellerman

The Golem of Hollywood by Jonathan Kellerman & Jesse Kellerman

Strong Darkness [Caitlin Strong #6] by Jon Land

Life Deluxe [Stockholm Noir by Jens Lapidus

The Drop by Dennis LehDay of Atonemen by David Liss

The Stone Wife [Peter Diamond] by Peter Lovesey

Bright Hopes [St. Rose Quilting Bee] by Annette Mahon

The Lewis Man [Lewis] by Peter May

Proof Positive [Joe Gunther] by Archer Mayor

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

Silent Murders [Roaring Twenties] by Mary Miley

Rose Gold [Easy Rawlins] by Walter Mosley

Burn [Michael Bennett] by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Phantom Limb [Daniel Rinaldi] by Dennis Palumbo

Blood on the Water [William Monk] by Anne Perry

Bones Never Lie [Temperance Brennan] by Kathy Reichs

Festive in Death
[Eve Dallas] by J.D. Robb

Tomorrow’s Vengeance [Hannah Ives] by Marcia Talley

The Coniston Case [Simmy Brown] by Rebecca Tope

No Broken Hearts [Lauren Atwill] by Sheila York

Friday, August 22, 2014

Terminated -- What a Thrill Ride!

I got my copy of Ray Daniel's Terminated late in the day and thought that I'd read a couple of chapters before going to sleep. Big mistake! I was still reading at 2 AM and if it hadn't been a work night, I probably would have kept reading til dawn. The story hooks you at the first line and keeps reeling you in!

Terminated is Ray Daniel's debut novel and the start of a very promising new series. The protagonist, Tucker, is a brilliant computer programmer who lost both his great loves on the same day. Six months before the story opens, Tucker is fired for no obvious reason from his dream job, then he returns home to find his wife, Carol, murdered. Now, unemployed and unfocused, he's at a loss about what to do with his life.

Then Tucker's old college roommate, now in the FBI's cybercrimes division, claims to have a new lead in Carol's murder. That's when Tucker's life really goes to hell. In the course of five days, murder and mayhem dog his footsteps and we find that, for a really smart guy, he can certainly be obtuse at times. But if anything, Tucker is determined to find out why his wife was killed and who is trying to take him out as well.

Boston-based Daniel has created a savvy, smart character who, even when he's spouting geek-speak, doesn't let the technology interfere with the action. And there certainly is plenty of action!

Terminated is a great read and I look forward to discovering what trouble Tucker will get into next.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gothic Mysteries from Sharon Bolton

It's always a pleasure to introduce a new author to an avid reader. While I started out with Sharon (S.J.) Bolton's most recent Lacey Flint series, Melissa chose to start at the beginning. If you're looking for a riveting read during the waning days of summer, you can't go wrong with Bolton's novels. They're real grabbers!

Louise (Aunt Agatha, from the Death in the Stacks blog) recently turned me on to the books of mystery writer S. J. Bolton. But Louise started with the latest two of her books, whereas I decided (being a little OCD about my reading) to go back to the beginning and read Bolton's books from her debut, which is called Sacrifice. Now I have read three, and definitely plan to keep going.

Her protagonists in the first two are women in unusual professions and offbeat settings, and the books cross that line from mystery to thriller, almost to full-on gothic. They reminded me a bit of Elly Griffiths' books, with her strong, independent, loner (Ruth Galloway) taking things into her own hands because she's never become used to doing anything else.

Sacrifice is set on the Shetland islands. Its protagonist, Tora Hamilton, is an ob/gyn doctor, and the surrounding tale arises from the very nature of the islands, with their in-turned culture that excludes the outsider and keeps its secrets. There's one secret that's about to be found's murder. But not your garden variety murder (although the body is found in the garden)--it's weird, ritualistic, and the tip of a very big iceberg.

The second book, Awakening, stars a wildlife veterinarian with major personal issues who lives in a small town in Dorset, and who gets the chance to act as resident herpetologist when a plague of snakes starts taking down the villagers. There is a perverse tale from the past that eventually explains everything, and the twists and turns taken to get to that explanation are as mesmerizing as the snakes.
Number three is Blood Harvest, and wow! Very Children of the Corn. Super creepy, great characters, and I especially loved the children's participation in the story. This one has a couple of protagonists/points of view, one being the new (young, handsome) vicar in an old parish, the other a psychologist treating one of his parishioners. I did speculate about who the "bad guy" had to be rather early in the story, simply because of a suspicious lack of explanation about certain people, but Bolton did enough with red herrings to make me doubt myself later on, so it was still thoroughly enjoyable.

This one has a nice start on a romance as part of the plot, but the end of it is a little odd--I'm waiting to see if she takes up these characters again in a future book in another town.

And...all of the rest of her books were tragically checked out at Central when I went looking on Friday for another, so I'm interrupting this reading streak to go explore teen fiction for a while. But I'll be back to Bolton!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What's new on the Mystery Shelves?

There's a great selection of new books to choose from this month, whether you're in the mood for a nail-biting thriller, a cozy mystery, or a historical whodunit. Enjoy!
  • Visions [Cainsville] by Kelley Armstrong
  • Strange Shores [Erlendur Sveinsson] by Arnaldur Indridason
  • The Reckoning [John Madden] by Rennie Airth
  • No Safe House by Linwood Barclay
  • Death of a Dog Whisperer [Melanie Travis] by Laurien Berenson
  • Queen of Hearts [Royal Spyness] by Rhys Bowen
  • Mean Streak by Sandra Brown
  • Crime Always Pays [Karen & Ray] by Declan Burke
  • One Kick [Kick Lannigan] by Chelsea Cain
  • The Black Road [Brennan & Esposito] by Tania Carver
  • Payoff [Simon Fisk] by Douglas Corleone
  • Half in Love with Artful Death [Dan Rhodes] by Bill Crider
  • A Colder War [Thomas Kell] by Charles Cumming
  • Clam Wake [Bed-and-Breakfast] by Mary Daheim
  • Tabula Rasa [Roman Empire] by Ruth Downie
  • Dead Line by Chris Ewan
  • Unmanned  by Dan Fesperman
  • I Can See in the Dark by Karin Fossum
  • Top Secret [Clandestine Operations] by W.E.B. Griffin & William E. Butterworth IV
  • The Spirit in the Skull  by J.M. Hayes
  • Gun Metal Heart [Daria Gibron] by Dana Haynes
  • Don’t Look Back  by Gregg Hurwitz
  • Evil in Return  by Weyman Jones
  • Avoidable Contact [Kate Reilly] by Tammy Kaehler
  • Summer of the Dead [Bell Elkins] by Julia Keller
  • Really the Blues  by Joseph Koenig
  • The Minotaur’s Head [Eberhard Mock] by Marek Krajewski
  • Windigo Island [Cork O’Connor] by William Kent Krueger
  • The Good Know Nothing [California Century] by Ken Kuhlken
  • The Iron Sickle [Sueño & Bascom] by Martin Limón
  • Assassin’s Game [David Slaton] by Ward Larsen
  • The Second Deadly Sin [Rebecka Martinsson] by Åsa Larsson
  • The Drop by Dennis Lehane
  • Designated Daughters [Deborah Knott] by Margaret Maron
  • Inspector Colbeck’s Casebook: Thirteen Tales from the Railway Detective [Robert Colbeck] by Edward Marston
  • A Little Night Murder [Blackbird Sisters] by Nancy Martin
  • The Devil’s Chair [Martha Gunn] by Priscilla Masters
  • Mothers of the Disappeared [J. McNee] by Russel D. McLean
  • The Last Witness by Glenn Meade
  • A Distance to Death [Tink Elledge] by Holly Menino
  • High Stakes [Jack Doyle] by John McEvoy
  • Deadout [Doyle Carrick & Nola Watkins] by Jon McGoran
  • Hollow Mountain [Spike Sanguinetti] by Thomas Mogford
  • Getting Mama Out of Hell by Laurie Moore
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
  • Low Profile [Henry Christie] by Nick Oldham
  • Eden in Winter [Martha’s Vineyard] by Richard North Patterson
  • The Long Way Home [Armand Gamache] by Louise Penny
  • The Lost Island [Gideon Crew] by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  • Paw and Order [Chet & Bernie] by Spencer Quinn
  • Bones Never Lie [Temperance Brennan] by Kathy Reichs
  • Close Call [Liz Carlyle] by Stella Rimington
  • Her Last Whisper [Charlotte Stone] by Karen Robards
  • The Scent of Death [Sukey Reynolds] by Betty Rowlands
  • Shroud of Evil [Andy Horton] by Pauline Rowson
  • City of Ghosts [Miranda Corbie] by Kelli Stanley
  • An Unwilling Accomplice [Bess Crawford] by Charles Todd
  • Traitor’s Storm [Kit Marlowe] by M.J. Trow
  • Peter Pan Must Die [Dave Gurney] by John Verdon
  • Haunted [Hannah Smith] by Randy Wayne White
  • Guilty Parties [SS] edited by Martin Edwards

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Now You See Me

While I am a fan of Amazon and online buying for ease and accessibility, there is still nothing quite like the joy of browsing the brick and mortar book store. Not knowing what I wanted to read next, I set off for the bookstore last weekend. Checking out the mystery aisle in my local Barnes & Noble, I happened upon Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton, a British crime writer. I have to admit that I hadn't heard of Ms. Bolton before, but the cover of the book was quite intriguing (yes, I do sometimes judge a book by its cover!).

Lacey Flint, a young police officer, is returning from a call on a witness in a London apartment complex. When she reaches her car, she stumbles upon a woman brutally stabbed only moments before. The victim dies in Lacey's arms. Within twenty-four hours, a young reporter receives an anonymous letter pointing out similarities between the murder and Jack the Ripper's first kill. Most alarming of all, the letter calls out Lacey by name.

Ah-ha, you think. A modern retelling of the Ripper cases. That seems to be the direction the author is heading towards, but then the plot twists away unexpectedly. This multi-layered psychological thriller will keep you glued to the page.

Now You See Me is author Sharon Bolton's fourth book. Also known as S.J. Bolton, she writes gothic mysteries such as the stand-alones Sacrifice and Awakening. Now You See Me is the first in the Lacey Flint series, followed by Dead Scared and Lost. A Dark and Twisted Tide, the latest in the series was just released last month.

In A Dark and Twisted Tide, Lacey Flint, Sharon Bolton’s enigmatic protagonist, has been living in a houseboat on the River Thames, and she’s becoming a part of London’s weird and wonderful riverboat community. Against her friends’ better judgment, she’s taken up swimming in the Thames, and she feels closer than ever to Detective Mark Joesbury, despite his involvement in a complicated undercover case. For the first time in her life, as she recovers from the trauma of the last few months, Lacey begins to feel almost happy.

Then, at dawn one hot summer morning while swimming down the river, Lacey finds the body of a shrouded young woman in the water. She assumes it was chance—after all, she's recently joined the marine policing unit, and she knows how many dead bodies are pulled out of the river every year, most the result of tragic accidents. But further investigation leads her policing team to suspect the woman’s body was deliberately left for Lacey to find. Lacey’s no longer a homicide detective, but as she begins to notice someone keeping a strangely close eye on her, she’s inexorably drawn into the investigation.

If you enjoy the books of Tana French, Ellie Griffiths and Mo Hayder, be sure to check out award-winning author Sharon Bolton. Her tightly plotted and completely unpredictable thrillers revolve around one of the most interesting and compelling characters in crime fiction. I highly recommend the Lacey Flint series.