Kylie Logan: A Trail of Lies

This is the third novel in Kylie Logan’s Jazz Ramsey series, and a contribution to the growing number of mystery novels featuring cadaver dogs or rescue dogs.  Books by Paula Munier, Margaret Mizushima, Diane Kelly, Spencer Quinn, Robert Crais and David Rosenfelt all celebrate dogs in differing degrees.  Logan’s is perhaps the least “doggy” series, though Jazz’s cadaver dog in training, Wally, not only deepens Jazz’s character, he advances the plot.

Jazz is an administrative assistant at a Catholic girl’s school in her hometown of Cleveland, and as a hobby, she’s training Wally to be a cadaver dog.  While he’s still learning, he’s come in handy in the first two books, and this one is no different.  Jazz is dating undercover officer Nick, who has asked her to keep an eye on his alcoholic mom, Kim.  When Jazz gets a call from Kim in the middle of the night insisting Nick is dead in her back yard – and that she killed him – Jazz rushes over. read more

Interview: Brian Klingborg

Brian Klingborg’s new series features Inspector Lu Fei, and is set in northern China.  Lu is a great new character and Klingborg’s book is a fast paced, intelligent police procedural with an interesting setting.  It’s a terrific start to a new series.  You can read my review of Thief of Souls here.

Brian Klingborg

Q: First of all, I kept flipping to your author info as I couldn’t believe you weren’t Chinese.  How do you come by your extensive knowledge of China?

A: I majored in East Asian Studies as an undergraduate, spent a year abroad in Taiwan, then attended grad school where I studied cultural anthropology with a China focus. After school I returned to Taiwan where I lived and worked for several more years.  Since then, I have continued my sporadic exploration of Chinese culture, history and language.  And in the process of writing Thief of Souls, I did lots and lots of additional research. read more

Brian Klingborg: Thief of Souls

This is a really solid start to a new series, one that reminded me of Stuart Kaminsky’s classic Inspector Rostnikov series.  This new series is set in China, rather than Russia, but many of the societal and economic restrictions are similar.  Klingborg’s Inspector Lu Fei is as bemused and practical a thinker as Rostnikov.  Lu Fei lives near Harbin, in northern China, but not in Harbin itself – he basically lives out in the sticks.  He prefers the steadiness of country policing and doesn’t have a huge desire to move up the ranks. read more

Mariah Fredericks: Death of a Showman

I love this vibrant, lively, insanely readable series, a series that takes unexpected turns with its characters but still hews to the traditional norms of historical mystery fiction.  The first book in the series, A Death of No Importance, was a fabulous origin story, where ladies’ maid Jane Prescott takes on the nouveau riche Benchley family in the first decade of the twentieth century.  The books are set in New York City and the Benchley girls are viewed as rich upstarts, and Jane’s special charge, Louise, is shy and gauche and seems to fit in nowhere. read more

Paula Munier: The Hiding Place

This is a favorite new series.  The books feature Mercy Carr and her military dog, Elvis, who have come home to Vermont to nurse their wounds (and their PTSD) after losing the love of both their lives, Martinez, in Afghanistan.  Both have reacclimated to a degree, though Mercy has a hard time with trust and tends to hold herself back when it comes to relationships.  While Mercy is slightly on the outs with her perhaps boyfriend, game warden Troy, her life is a full one.  She’s taken in a teenage mother, her baby, and her boyfriend; she has a tight relationship with her grandmother, Patience, a vet; and she and Elvis are now working as a complete team. read more

Jess Montgomery: The Stills

This is the third book in the “kinship” series, set on the outer edges of 1920’s Ohio (Chillicothe is the big city), and each book centers itself on a different woman, though the central character is always Sherriff Lily Ross.  Lily became Sherriff after the murder of her sheriff husband and the first book was her story, as well as the story of labor organizer Marvena, now one of Lily’s best friends.  The second novel was about her friend, schoolteacher Hildy, and this book follows the story of Fiona, who is married to the series bad guy, George Vogel. read more

Book Club: Thin Ice

Paige Shelton will join our book club via zoom on Sunday, May 16, at 2 p.m.  Message us on facebook or contact us at store (at) auntagathas.com for a zoom invitation.  We’ll be reading the first book in her Alaska Wild series, Thin Ice.   The second novel, Cold Wind, is nominated for a Mary Higgins Clark Award this year!

Here’s a precis of Thin Ice, and you can read my review of Cold Wind here.

Beth Rivers is on the run – she’s doing the only thing she could think of to keep herself safe. Known to the world as thriller author Elizabeth Fairchild, she had become the subject of a fanatic’s obsession. After being held in a van for three days by her kidnapper, Levi Brooks, Beth managed to escape, and until he is captured, she’s got to get away. Cold and remote, Alaska seems tailor-made for her to hideout. read more

Tasha Alexander: The Dark Heart of Florence

Tasha Alexander writes one of the most reliably entertaining series in mystery fiction – every book has a complex plot, often a dual timeline, a bit of romance, plus the reader gets to go on some armchair travel and learn a bit of history to boot.  In this latest Lady Emily outing, her dishy husband, Colin, takes her to Florence, along with her friend Cecile, for cover, as he works on something so secret for the Crown that he can’t even tell Emily.

It’s 1903 and they’re staying at Colin’s newly discovered daughter, Kat’s, home in Florence, and merely reading the descriptions of Florence will make you long not just for armchair travel but for the real thing.  Emily and Cecile are folded into Colin’s work by a circumstance beyond his control – when they arrive at the villa, one of the workers plunges to his death from the top of the villa and is discovered by one of the maids.  Emily and Cecile think they can do better winkling out what really happened to him, and of course, they are correct. read more

Elle Cosimano: Finlay Donovan is Killing It

This book, which opens amidst the morning chaos of a mother with two children, one of whom has just cut off part of her hair right before school, breezily catches the feel of young motherhood.  It’s exasperating, exhausting, and nerve wracking. Finlay drops the kids off at school as she heads to meet her book agent and deliver the bad news that the book she’s supposed to turn in is nowhere near finished.

On top of all this, Finlay’s husband has left her for the cute realtor, his sod business is going full blast, and she has a mountain of bills to pay with no means to do so.  Also, to spite her, her ex has let the baby sitter go.  Things go poorly with her agent where they’ve met for coffee, but a woman nearby, over hearing – and misinterpreting – their conversation (Finlay writes thrillers) leaves a mystery note on Finlay’s table.  The sum of $50,000 is mentioned and there’s a phone number. read more

Paige Shelton: Cold Wind

This is the second book in Paige Shelton’s series about thriller writer Elizabeth Fairchild, now in hiding in tiny Benedict, Alaska as Beth Rivers, after being kidnapped by a crazed fan.  Elizabeth/Beth lives in a halfway house and appreciates the privacy she finds in the Alaskan wild, a place that truly seems to be its own country, existing without a real nod to the rules and regulations more common in the lower 48.  Shelton, the author of four other cozier series than this one, is a real pro at narrative, pacing, and character.  These skills easily transfer to this series which is a bit darker in tone, and fits in more with work by writers like Ellen Hart, Dana Stabenow and Julia Spencer-Fleming. read more