Dianne Freeman: An Art Lover’s Guide to Paris and Murder

Countess of Harleigh #7

An Art Lover’s Guide to Paris and Murder is the seventh entry in Dianne Freeman’s delightful Countess of Harleigh series.  Set at the turn of the twentieth century, the series features Frances, the American-born former Countess of Harleigh, and her second husband, George Hazelton, who carries out secret investigations for the British government.  This book is somewhat of a departure for the series, since it takes place in Paris instead of the usual setting of London, but you can hardly complain about that. read more

Molly MacRae: Come Shell or High Water

Series Debut – Haunted Shell Shop #1

Molly MacRae launches her new haunted shell shop mystery series with Come Shell or High Water. Newly widowed Maureen Nash heads to Ocracoke Island to follow up on some rather odd letters from the shell shop owner. Maureen is a Malacologist and teller of stories and legends. Malacologist is the term for someone who studies mollusks, an interesting factoid I enjoyed learning. One might think that Maureen of the mollusks could have picked a better time to visit the island than right in the middle of hurricane season. Apparently, though, that is a prime time to find some seaside treasures of the shelled variety. Maureen has quite the journey to the island, but the real adventure starts when she literally trips over a body, then stumbles through a series of unfortunate events that results in compromised memory, becoming a murder suspect, and meeting a ghost. read more

Anna Lee Huber: A Deceptive Composition

Lady Darby #12

This enjoyable series centers on unconventional artist Lady Darby, aka Kiera Gage, who still carries her first husband’s title, though she’s since remarried one Sebastian Gage. That first husband was cruel, forcing her to use her artistic skills as an anatomical illustrator to sketch as he dissected corpses, an extremely disreputable occupation for a woman in the 1830s.  Fortunately for her, his passing left her free to marry her dishy second husband and have a baby with him.  She now uses those skills as a society portraitist, but it’s her eye that makes this series original, detecting colors and relevant details others would miss. It’s her incredible powers of observation that makes her such a valuable assistant to her husband, an operative for the crown. read more

Connie Berry: A Collection of Lies

Kate Hamilton #5

Even though this is book five in an established series, I was able to comfortably settle in with Berry’s characters, setting, and story right away. The series features antiques expert Kate Hamilton, and in this instalment she’s on honeymoon in Devon with her police detective husband, Tom Mallory.  In true mystery tradition, it’s a busman’s honeymoon, as they’ve also taken on a private job to verify the provenance of a blood covered dress from the 1880s, which supposedly belonged to a murderess. read more

Classics book clubs: Akimitsu Takagi and Elizabeth Peters

August & September book clubs

Join us for our classic edition of our book club at the end of the summer.  In August, we’ll meet at 2 p.m. in person on Sunday the 18th and at 7 p.m. on zoom on Wednesday the 21st to discuss Akimitsu Takagi‘s 1950 masterpiece, The Noh Mask Murder.  Description: This ingeniously constructed masterpiece, written by one of Japan’s most celebrated crime writers and translated into English for the first time, is perfect for locked-room mystery fans who can’t resist a breathtaking conclusion. In the Chizurui family mansion, a haunting presence casts a shadow over its residents. By night, an eerie figure, clad in a sinister Hannya mask is seen roaming around the house. An amateur murder mystery writer, Akimitsu Takagi, is sent to investigate — but his investigation takes a harrowing turn as tragedy strikes the Chizurui family. Within the confines of a locked study, the head of the family is found dead, with only an ominous Hannya mask lying on the floor by his side and the lingering scent of jasmine in the air as clues to his mysterious murder. As Takagi delves deeper into the perplexing case, he discovers a tangled web of secrets and grudges. Can he discover the link between the family and the curse of the Hannya mask? Who was the person who called the undertaker and asked for three coffins on the night of the murder? And do those three coffins mean the curse of the Hannya mask is about to strike again? read more

July Book Club: The Canal Murders

Join us for our July book club in person on Sunday, July 21, at 2 p.m. or on zoom on Wednesday, July 24 at 7 p.m. to discuss The Canal Murders by J.R. Ellis.  All are welcome – message us on facebook or email us at store(at) auntagathas.com for either the address or the zoom link.

Here’s the publisher’s description: Life moves at a slower pace on the canals. But death always comes when you least expect it. The last thing DS Stephanie Johnson and DS Andy Carter expected during their much-needed canal holiday was a murder. When retired folk musician Annie Shipton is found stabbed through the neck at the helm of her barge, the couple can’t help investigating the seemingly impossible crime. Nobody else boarded Annie’s boat—so how was she killed from behind? With the method a perplexing mystery, DCI Oldroyd is summoned from Harrogate, and it’s not long before the detectives have a long list of potential suspects with a motive to want Annie dead. There’s the young cyclist she argued with over access to the towpath, an ambitious and arrogant local developer she clashed with repeatedly, an estranged husband…and more than a few lingering issues with her former bandmates, most of whom live along the canal. When a second shocking murder sends shockwaves through the community, the locals start talking about a curse on the waterway. It seems the killer will go to any lengths to avoid detection. But can Oldroyd hunt them down before someone else becomes the next target? read more

E.J. Copperman: Same Difference

Fran and Ken Stein #2

There are several things a reader can expect when they pick up an E.J. Copperman book, among them humor, a tight plot and great characters. Also to be expected in each of his series, written as either Jeff Cohen or Copperman, is a high concept premise, and this instalment is no exception.  The sibling protagonists, brother and sister Fran and Ken Stein (you get the word play), were not born, exactly, but created by their scientist parents who added a little extra something to the formula.  The two of them are remarkably tall and strong, the downside being that they have to plug the USB port under their arms into a charger every couple of days to keep going.  This part of the story was, to me, almost extraneous – the rest is so excellent that it needs no embellishment.  Fran and Ken could just simply have been tall and extra strong and the book wouldn’t have suffered any.  Being Copperman, however, there’s an extra emotional layer here as Fran and Ken haven’t seen their parents since they were children and are still hoping to find them.  All signs point to that search being the plot of the next book. Their sense of loss is only lightly touched on here but it’s present and beautifully handled. read more

M.E. Hilliard: Smoke and Mirrors

Greer Hogan #4

Since the first book in this series (The Unkindness of Ravens), librarian Greer Hogan has been working through the aftermath of her husband’s murder.  While she’s upright and functional, his death feels unresolved, and she’s not so sure the right person is in prison. While she has a job, she’s taken on a temporary one in New York City, archiving the collection of a magician.  The gig comes with an apartment across the street, and the archiving job gives her the flexibility she needs for sleuthing.  It also comes with an assistant: the aptly named “Grim” (short for Grimaldi), a former magician himself, is helping out by archiving the straight up magic tricks part of the collection, while Greer herself sticks to books.  She decides to trust him early on and he proves to be incredibly useful. read more

Frank Figliuzzi: Long Haul: Hunting the Highway Serial Killers

True Crime

Long Haul: Hunting the Highway Serial Killers is former FBI agent Frank Figliuzzi’s second non fiction work, and an in depth dive into the prevalence of serial killers in long haul trucking. Though not an examination of any one individual, or any one case, the  book covers the culture of trucking. That includes not only the drivers themselves, but the prostitution rampant at truck lots, and the kind of trafficking that leads to an unfortunately thriving industry.  Truckers are primarily men alone for weeks at a time, isolated and often unaccounted for, and combined with vulnerable and often intoxicated women, this doesn’t lead to good things. read more

Lynn Morrison and Anne Radcliffe: The Missing Diamond

Crown Jewels Regency #1

(Editor’s note: this is only available on Kindle Scribe & Audio).

The first in Lynn Morrison and Anne Radcliffe’s Crown Jewels series, The Missing Diamond is a regency delight. Starting at the beginning of the London season, the drama, at first, revolves around who will marry who. At first it seems obvious that the season’s most eligible bachelor, Roland, Lord Percy, will wed the season’s diamond, Lady Charity. Charity is determined to marry as well as she can and her best friend, Lady Grace, is happy to help her do so. read more