June Book Club: A Peculiar Combination

Our June book club will meet on Sunday, June 26, 2 p.m. at my home to discuss Ashley Weaver’s charming A Peculiar Combination.   The zoom group will meet on Wednesday, June 29, at 7 p.m.  Please message us at store (at) auntagathas.com for a zoom link or directions.

This first in a series for Ms. Weaver follow safecracker Electra McDonnell, who works with her Uncle Mick cracking safes during WWII.  Caught red handed, they are recruited by the government and the following story is a well written adventure story with a great twist on the WWII novel.  There are a lot of them out there, but this is a great one, and Electra is a wonderful character to build a series around. read more

May Book Club Read: Slow Horses

Join us in May for our book club read of Mick Herron’s Slow Horses, the first in his series about MI5 agents who have made some epic fails.  We’ll meet in person on Sunday, May 22 at 2 p.m. or via zoom on Wednesday. May 25, at 7 p.m.   Email us at store@auntagathas.com or message us on facebook for details.

Here’s the publisher’s description of Slow Horses (now an excellent TV series): London, England: Slough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses,” as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here. Maybe they messed up an op badly and can’t be trusted anymore. Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them. Maybe they just got too dependent on the bottle—not unusual in this line of work. One thing they all have in common, though, is they all want to be back in the action. And most of them would do anything to get there─even if it means having to collaborate with one another. read more

April Book Club: The Bone Track

Our April book club will meet only on zoom on Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m. because of Easter Sunday on the 17th.  For more information, message us on facebook or email us at store (at) auntagathas.com.  The publisher’s description of this book:

A nature trek turns dangerous when the wilderness gives up its bones…

New Zealand’s remote Milford Track seems the perfect place for forensic investigator Alexa Glock to reconnect with her brother Charlie, with whom she hasn’t spent much time since they were kids. Their backpacking trip seems ill-fated from the start, though, when she must stop on the way to examine nine skeletons—most likely Maori tribespeople—whose graves have been unearthed by highway construction. Before she opens the first casket, a Maori elder gives her a dire warning: “The viewing of bones can unleash misfortune to the living. Or worse.” read more

Reading for Black History Month

When we opened Aunt Agatha’s in 1992, we celebrated Black History Month every February by putting the work of black authors in our front window.  In 1992, that group of authors was small, and if we were to still be an open store, out window display would be much larger.  In 1992 it included Eleanor Taylor Bland, Hugh Holton, Iceberg Slim, Chester Himes, Donald Goines and of course, Walter Mosley, whose first novel, Devil in a Blue Dress, was published in 1990.  Bill Clinton, a famous mystery fan, had helped his career by mentioning him as a favorite writer. read more

Denise Swanson: Body Over Troubled Waters

Denise Swanson remains one of my favorite cozy writers.  Now twenty-three books into her Scumble River series (now billed as “Return to Scumble River”), she’s still cooking with gas.  The books are packed with humor as well as real world details of main character Skye Dennison’s work as a school psychologist, a job Swanson herself held for many years.

Cozy writers have to strike a tricky balance between addressing an issue but not being too harsh with it.  In a bravura first sequence, Skye is attending a meeting with Superintendent of schools Shamus Wraige, who has unceremoniously fired the school security officer because Scumble River is a small town and “It’s not as if anyone here is going to pull a Columbine or a Sandy Hook.” read more

Anne Hillerman: Stargazer

This seems almost unbelievable, but it’s been 51 years since Tony Hillerman published his first Joe Leaphorn novel, The Blessing Way.  The books are now such revered classics I was hesitant when I picked up Anne Hillerman’s first book, thinking there was no way she could continue the work of her father.  But Ms. Hillerman has made the series her own.  The central character is neither Joe Leaphorn or Jim Chee, but Bernadette (Bernie) Manuelito, giving the series an entirely new flavor. read more

Cover Reveal: Jennifer Hawkins, Murder Always Barks Twice

I’m delighted to reveal the cover of Jennifer Hawkins’ Murder Always Barks Twice, the second installment in her chatty corgi series, coming out August 3rd.  Jennifer lives and writes in Michigan, and as Delia James, writes the Magical Cat mysteries.  Find her on twitter @JenHawkinsAuth1.   She has a newsletter for events, updates, releases and all kind of book recommendations from very cool people here.

Jennifer says:  Thanks to Aunt Agatha’s for helping me share my new cover!  I love this one so much – it’s got everything.  The house in the background is exactly how I pictured Truscott Grange where the mystery takes place, and we’ve got an adorable rendition of Oliver the Chatty Corgi himself.  Plus, all the cake! read more

Top 10 List 2020 – plus extras!

2020 has been – challenging – but the upside for me was even more reading time, and I read so many books this year it was difficult to winnow my list to 10, so I added a couple extra categories.  There should be something for most readers on this list – maybe not the lover of hard boiled fiction – but I’m pretty sure that’s not why you are visiting this website.  I’m sure there were some wonderful noir and hard boiled reads this year – they just aren’t my cup of tea.  However, if you are a lover of the traditional detective novel, or of the historical detective novel, this was a fantastic year. read more

Darcie Wilde: A Lady Compromised

This novel is reviewed by our occasional and gifted reviewer, Vicki Kondelik.  It will be available November 24.

A Lady Compromised is the fourth book in the Regency mystery series by Darcie Wilde (a pseudonym for Sarah Zettel) featuring Rosalind Thorne, a gentlewoman living in reduced circumstances after a family scandal.  To make a living for herself, Rosalind helps society ladies solve their problems, which, in this book and the others in the series, include murder investigation.  At the beginning of this book, Rosalind travels to Cassell House, the country estate of Devon Winterbourne, who has recently, and unexpectedly, inherited the title of Duke of Casselmaine following the untimely deaths of his father and older brother.  Rosalind and Devon had been close to becoming engaged before Rosalind’s father’s disgrace, at a time when Devon was a second son, with no prospects of inheriting the dukedom.  Now his cousin, Rosalind’s friend Louisa, is getting married, and Rosalind is looking forward to attending the wedding and possibly rekindling her romance with Devon. read more

If you liked Knives Out….

If you enjoyed the new film Knives Out, and are craving a bit more fun, check out some of these great titles that have a similar dysfunctional family stuck in a big house vibe, often with a sidebar of humor or satire (or both).

A Fatal Winter, G.M. Malliet.  In Malliet’s second novel, the delicious sleuthing vicar, Max Tudor, is dispatched to the home of Lord Footrustle to assist with funeral arrangements, but by virtue of a snowstorm, gets stuck in the middle of a dysfunctional family, all of whom seem to have had a reason for desiring the death of their patriarch.  And it’s all the dead man’s fault, really, as the lonely Lord had invited his far flung family members to join him for Christmas.  While this novel was written in 2012, it hews closely to the golden age parameters established so long ago, and so enjoyably, by Agatha Christie. While definitely tongue in cheek, Malliet breaths true life into her characters and her stories are wickedly clever. read more