Murder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins

Murder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins

Published: March 2019 – Minotaur Books

Review copy courtesy of Minotaur Books

Description:  S.C. Perkins’ Murder Once Removed is the captivating first mystery in the Ancestry Detective series, in which Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster uses her skills to solve murders in both the past and present.

Except for a good taco, genealogist Lucy Lancaster loves nothing more than tracking down her clients’ long-dead ancestors, and her job has never been so exciting as when she discovers a daguerreotype photograph and a journal proving Austin, Texas, billionaire Gus Halloran’s great-great-grandfather was murdered back in 1849. What’s more, Lucy is able to tell Gus who was responsible for his ancestor’s death.

Partly, at least. Using clues from the journal, Lucy narrows the suspects down to two nineteenth-century Texans, one of whom is the ancestor of present-day U.S. senator Daniel Applewhite. But when Gus publicly outs the senator as the descendant of a murderer—with the accidental help of Lucy herself—and her former co-worker is murdered protecting the daguerreotype, Lucy will find that shaking the branches of some family trees proves them to be more twisted and dangerous than she ever thought possible.  (publisher)

My take:  Genealogy is a popular pastime for many people these days. My father researched the family trees of both his and my mother’s family – both back to Ireland. But he didn’t find a murder in either background. That’s just what Lucy Lancaster discovers when tasked to find out about Gus Halloran’s ancestor. After a three martini lunch with her client she unwittingly finds herself in the middle of a dangerous situation filled with political intrigue and shenanigans. Who knew genealogy could be so dangerous! Along the way Lucy meets a certain FBI agent and, of course, he’s handsome and single. The question is will they help or hinder each other in their investigation. I believe that relationship will continue to develop as the series progresses. Murder Once Removed should appeal to fans of Murder, She Wrote and other light mysteries. It will be interesting to see what predicament Lucy finds herself in next.


About the author:

S.C. Perkins is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up hearing fascinating stories of her ancestry and eating lots of great Tex-Mex, both of which inspired the plot of her debut mystery novel. Murder Once Removed was the winner of the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition. She resides in Houston and, when she’s not writing or working at her day job, she’s likely outside in the sun, on the beach, or riding horses.

Visit her website at scperkins.com or follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook  @SCPerkinsWriter


 

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

Published January 2019 – Berkley Hardcover

Book provided by the publisher

Description:  The New York Times bestselling author of The Widow returns with a brand new novel of twisting psychological suspense about every parent’s worst nightmare…

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft, and frantic with worry. What were the girls up to before they disappeared?

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth—and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, whom she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. 

As the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think…  (publisher)

My take:  Thank you Berkley Publishing for sending me a free copy of The Suspect. The first of Fiona Barton’s novels I’ve had the chance to read, it is about two girls on a gap year trip to Thailand. What could go wrong? Well, since I’m a parent whose children are grown and out of the nest I can think of plenty that could go wrong. And it does in this book. I think reading from a parent’s perspective – or maybe any adult’s perspective – will color the way one reacts to the events. What it all distilled to for me is this question: What would I do to protect my child? And what about children who don’t have a strong, supportive parent to step in to protect them? Morals, ethics, and human decency might go out the window. I was rather appalled by the actions of all involved at one time or another – and maybe that’s the point. Again, what would I do?

I don’t read a ton of mysteries like The Suspect but I think many readers of the genre will like it. I think younger readers (teens, young adults) will most likely relate on some level to a few of the characters. The pacing is good and helped by short chapters – an aspect in suspenseful books that I’ve come to appreciate. Lastly, I must say I really enjoyed the character of DI Sparkes and would love to read more about him going forward from this novel. I appreciated how Barton handled what was going on in his personal life while he was on the job trying to solve the crime.

Will I read another book by Fiona Barton? I think I’ll eventually circle back and read The Widow. I’ll also read any books that follow The Suspect that include DI Sparkes.


About the author:

Fiona Barton is an award-winning journalist in the UK who has worked for the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, among other publications. She drew on her thirty-five year career to craft Kate Waters into the dogged, resourceful reporter that readers have come to love in the previous two books. Barton says writing Kate feels “like coming home.”


 

Murder at the Mill by MB Shaw: Excerpt and US Giveaway

Description:

Iris Grey rents a quaint cottage in a picture-perfect Hampshire village, looking to escape from her crumbling marriage. She is drawn to the neighboring Wetherby family, and is commissioned to paint a portrait of Dominic Wetherby, a celebrated crime writer.

At the Wetherby’s Christmas Eve party, the mulled wine is in full flow – but so are tensions and rivalries among the guests. On Christmas Day, the youngest member of the Wetherby family, Lorcan, finds a body in the water. A tragic accident? Or a deadly crime?


Prologue

Christmas Day 2017

The sound of the water was deafening. This stretch of the River Itchen was narrow, little more than a stream in places, but it was deep, and the current was fast, causing the ancient waterwheel to churn and splash and creak with unexpected ferocity, like a battlefield’s roar. Somewhere in the distance, church bells were pealing, fighting theirway through the din. Five o’clock. As good a time to die as any.

Tying on the stone was easy, despite the darkness and the noise and the cold that numbed one’s fingers. Everything had been easy, in fact. All that fear, the stomach-souring anticipation of the act, had been for nothing in the end. Everything had gone exactly according to plan. So far, anyway. There was a symmetry to that, at least, the satisfaction of a job well done. One could even call it a pleasure of sorts.

Across the bitterly cold water, the lights of Mill House glowed warm and inviting. Through the sash windows of the Wetherbys’ grand draw- ing room, a Christmas tree twinkled. Gaudy and colourful, rising out of a shiny sea of discarded wrapping paper, torn from joyously opened gifts, it had clearly been decorated by children, as all Christmas trees should be.Few things in life were sadder than an ‘adult’ Christmas tree, tastefully decked out in themed colours. Where was the magic in that?

Not that it mattered anymore. Nothing mattered anymore.

The water was as cold as stone, cold enough to make one flinch. But only momentarily. It was time to let go. The river opened up eagerly to receive its Christmas gift, pulling it down into the familiar black depths with the cloying, greedy embrace of a lover.

Feet first. Then legs. Torso. Head.

Gone.

On the opposite bank of the river, a torchlight danced.
Lorcan Wetherby, youngest son of the celebrated author Dom Wetherby and his wife, Ariadne, had ventured outside to play with his Christmas presents: a Scooby-Doo flashlight and a motorised toy boat, his pride and joy. Lorcan could still feel the excitement of the afternoon, when his oldest brother Marcus had pulled the big parcel wrapped in holly-sprigged paper out from under the tree. Handing out Christmas presents one by one under the tree after lunch was a family tradition, prolonging both the agony and the ecstasy for generations of Wetherby children.

‘ “To Lorcan”,’ Marcus read aloud. ‘ “Merry Christmas and all our love, Mummy and Daddy.’”

Lorcan had torn at the paper like a puppy, emitting a squeal of pure delight when he saw it. Exactly like the one on TV.

‘Remoke control!’ He beamed at his mother. ‘It’s remoke control!’ Ariadne beamed back. She adored her son. ‘That’s right, darling.’ Waiting for his father to put the batteries in and set the boat up had been torture. But after inhaling two slices of Ariadne’s homemade Christmas cake so quickly Marcus could have sworn he saw marzipan chunks coming out of his little brother’s nose, the boat was finally ready and Lorcan had raced down the sloping lawn to the banks of the Itchen to play with it.

Dark had long since fallen. Recently Lorcan had felt afraid of the dark, and particularly of ‘ghosts’, which he saw constantly, hovering around every tree or lichen-covered wall. His father, Dom, blamed it on Scooby-Doo, a new obsession. His mother wasn’t so sure.

‘I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss it. Maybe he’s really seeing something.’

‘Like what?’ Dom Wetherby frowned. ‘Things that go “bump” in the night?’

Ariadne smiled patiently. For a writer, Dominic could be terribly unimaginative at times. ‘This house is over four hundred years old, darling,’ she reminded him. ‘There may well be ghosts here. Children like Lorcan often see things other people don’t, or can’t. Maybe he’s just more attuned to the supernatural than we are.’

Attuned or not, Lorcan wasn’t afraid tonight. He had seen a ghost as it happened, less than an hour ago, moving through the woods, white and tall and looming. But the ghost hadn’t seen him. He was too busy with whatever he had in his hands. Besides, Lorcan had his Scooby-Doo torch, it was Christmas, and he was at home at the Mill with Mummy and Daddy. He was safe. Cocooned. It was like Mummy said: ‘Ghosts are only people, Lorcan. Ordinary people. It’s just that you’re seeing them in an extraordinary way.’ Lorcan wasn’t sure what that meant exactly, but it made him feel better.

Ghosts were people.
People, in Lorcan’s experience, were nice.
He played with his boat till his hands were so cold they hurt. The church bells rang. He counted them. One, two, three, four, five . . . six. Time to go in.

Crossing at the bridge safely, where his father had shown him, he reached down gingerly to pull his boat out of the reeds. Behind him, he could hear the waterwheel turning, the familiar sound of rushing water that was the soundtrack to his life. Lorcan Wetherby loved the river. He loved it like a person. He loved the waterwheel and the Mill. He loved his home. His family.

The boat was stuck. The spiky part at the bottom – the ‘keel’, Marcus had called it – had become entangled in something, some part of the cold, watery underworld of the Itchen. Lorcan tugged harder, but still it wouldn’t budge. Carefully setting down the remote-control handset next to him on the bridge to get a better grip, he tried again, with both hands this time, plunging his arms into the frigid water right up to the elbows. Leaning back, he pulled as hard as he could, his muscles burning with exertion as he yanked and twisted the precious boat, willing it to break free.

Beneath the surface, something snapped.

A small movement at first, then a bigger one, then in one great rush up came the boat, rising out of the water like the kraken. It was still heavy, still caught up in something, but Lorcan had hold of it now, the whole, beautiful vessel safe in his two strong hands. He sat back tri- umphant and exhausted. After a few deep breaths, he began to try to unwind the slimy strands still coiled round the boat’s bottom.

And then he saw it.
It wasn’t reeds that had wrapped themselves, vise-like, round the keel. It was hair.
Human hair.
Lorcan stared down in horror into the face of the corpse, its skin stretched tight and ghoulish from being pulled by the scalp. White, sightless eyes stared back at him.

Not even the sound of the river could drown out Lorcan’s screams.


About the author:

M.B Shaw is the pen-name of New York Times bestselling writer Tilly Bagshawe. A teenage single mother at 17, Tilly won a place at Cambridge University and took her baby daughter with her. She went on to enjoy a successful career before becoming a writer. As a journalist, Tilly contributed regularly to the Sunday Times, Daily Mail, and Evening Standard, before turning her hand to novels.

Tilly’s first book, ADORED, was a smash hit on both sides of the Atlantic, becoming an instant New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller. She now divides her time between the UK and America, writing her own books and the new series of Sidney Sheldon novels.



Advanced Praise for MURDER AT THE MILL and M.B. Shaw

“A rich, mystery debut… Tilly Bagshawe… makes a smooth transition to the world of puzzlers.”

—Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

“The principled, smart, and courageous Iris is bound to garner enthusiastic fans.”

—Publishers Weekly

“A most enjoyable and energetic cozy.”

—Booklist

“Complicated relationships create a strong backdrop for a complex mystery, and one hopes, the foundation for more books to come.”

—Library Journal

“Murder at the Mill by M. B. Shaw is a great sweeping adventure.

Ideal for holiday reading.”

—M. C. Beaton, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“M.B. Shaw has penned a wonderfully layered mystery with a multifaceted amateur sleuth, artist Iris Grey. Ms. Shaw’s English village setting made me feel like I was right there, and kept me reading until late into the night. I can’t wait to see where Iris Grey’s next artistic commission takes us.”

—Paige Shelton, New York Times bestselling author

“Be sure to start reading M.B. Shaw’s evocatively written mystery early in the day, or else you’ll be up late into the night—it’s that unputdownable.”

—Ellen Crosby, author of The Vineyard Victims

“A festering box of secrets, providing a Christmas cocktail of family lies and deliciously conceived murder.”

—Mandy Morton, author of The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency series

“A snowy Christmas in a country village, intriguing characters and a twisty-turny plot…I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. Fabulous!”

—Jill Mansell, International Bestselling Author

“A contemporary-set cosy crime novel that harks back to The Golden Age of detective fiction. Author Tilly Bagshawe writing under a pseudonym, introduces us to society portraitist Iris Grey whose Christmas country retreat is anything but when a body is found floating by the mill on Christmas Day, instead of tucking into turkey and all the trimmings, Iris finds herself caught up in all manner of sleuthing and intrigue.”

—Red Magazine

“A nice little slice of festive who dunnit – just right for cosy winter afternoons”

—Katherine Woodfine, author of The Sinclair’s Mysteries


US Giveaway

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Please click here and fill out the form


Go To My Grave by Catriona McPherson

Go To My Grave by Catriona McPherson

October 2018 – Minotaur Books

Review copy courtesy of Minotaur and NetGalley

Description:

Donna Weaver has put everything she has into restoring The Breakers, an old bed and breakfast on a remote stretch of beach in Galloway. Now it sits waiting—freshly painted, richly furnished, filled with flowers—for the first guests to arrive.

But Donna’s guests, a contentious group of estranged cousins, soon realize that they’ve been here before, years ago. Decades have passed, but that night still haunts them: a sixteenth birthday party that started with peach schnapps and ended with a girl walking into the sea.

Each of them had made a vow of silence: “lock it in a box, stitch my lips, and go to my grave.”

But now someone has broken the pact. Amid the home-baked scones and lavish rooms, someone is playing games, locking boxes, stitching lips. And before the weekend is over, at least one of them will go to their grave. (publisher)

My take:  When her B&B is rented for a weekend Donna is very excited. She’s worked so hard to get the old place in shape. Now its ready for the first guests. The guests who arrive are related by marriage or blood and don’t seem overly fond of each other or the guests of honor – a sibling and his wife celebrating a special anniversary. As soon as the house is full odd things begin to happen. The reactions of everyone involved could be deemed telling – to someone who knows what’s going on. At times I was reminded of an Agatha Christie mystery. There’s the beautiful Inn, loosely related guests, and things that disappear or appear at unexpected times. But then something big happens and the smaller incidents don’t seem that minor anymore. I found the reveal interesting but, honestly, I almost gave up on this book a couple of times. Most of the characters were self-involved boors who acted horribly at one time or another, if not most of the time. The novel is mostly set in the present time but occasionally moves to the early 90s – one night in particular when unspeakable things happened. This group thought they’d go to their graves with the secrets from that night. But will they?


Praise for Go To My Grave:

“GO TO MY GRAVE is both a classic ‘country house mystery’ and a thriller. Atmospheric, with mind-bending twists, a narrator who may or may not be reliable, and an ending that will take your breath away and leave you astonished.” – Louise Penny

“A Gothic feast of a novel, this is a country house book with a difference: contemporary, punchy and disturbing, but using the tricks and twists of the best of Christie.” – Ann Cleeves

“GO TO MY GRAVE is a terrific mystery—sharp, devious, and suspenseful. Catriona McPherson has written another winner.” – Meg Gardiner


 

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

October 2018 -Berkley Trade Paperback Original

Review book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Beth has always known there was something strange about her daughter, Hannah. The lack of emotion, the disturbing behavior, including the apparent delight in hurting others; sometimes Beth is scared of Hannah and what she could be capable of doing.

Luke comes from the perfect family, with the perfect parents. But one day, he disappears without a trace, and his girlfriend, Clara, is desperate to discover what has happened to him. As Clara digs into the past, she realizes that no family is truly perfect, and uncovers a link between Luke’s long-lost sister and a strange girl named Hannah. Now Luke’s life is in danger because of the lies once told and the secrets once kept. (from the publisher)

My take:  How much do we really know about the people in our circle – the really important people? The Lies We Told will have readers wondering! Well-paced and tightly edited (always a good thing) Camilla Way’s mystery/thriller kept me on edge and turning the pages. Just when I was sure I’d figured it out she threw another possibility into the mix. I loved that! And I loved how the answers to my questions were revealed little by little. I’m excited to read what she dreams up next.


About the author:

Camilla Way has been an editor and writer for magazines in the UK and is the author of Watching Edie. Follow her on Twitter @CamillaLWay.

THE LIES WE TOLD has already been drawing comparisons to We Need to Talk about Kevin, it’s been been called “deftly plotted” (Emerald Street), “compelling” (Prima), a “top class psychological thriller” (The Sunday Mirror), and been called readers’ “insomnia buddy” (Stylist).


 

Spotlight: The Girl From Berlin by Ronald H. Balson

The Girl From Berlin by Ronald H. Balson

Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart Series, #5

October 9, 2018 – St. Martin’s Press

Book Summary:

In the newest novel from internationally-bestselling author Ronald. H. Balson, Liam and Catherine come to the aid of an old friend and are drawn into a property dispute in Tuscany that unearths long-buried secrets

An old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds to her land. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound handwritten manuscript, entirely in German, and hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten…

Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the war. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, and herself a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.

What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

RONALD H. BALSON is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator and writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues. He is also the author of The Trust, Karolina’s Twins, Saving Sophie, and the international bestseller Once We Were Brothers.

PRAISE FOR RONALD H. BALSON:

“Weaving together history with mystery, Ronald H. Balson crafts a compelling tale.”Us Weekly on The Trust

“Secrets, friendships, survival, and the Holocaust are woven together in Ronald H. Balson’s haunting Karolina’s Twins.”Family Circle on Karolina’s Twins

Once We Were Brothers tells a great story . . . gripping…”The Chicago Tribune on Once We Were Brothers