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Tag: "mystery"

Review: Unnatural Murder by Connie Dial

[ 1 ] September 5, 2014

18619651Reviewed by Jessa Larsen

There’s a high profile homicide on the streets of Hollywood with dozens of witnesses, but nobody seems to have seen anything of importance. At least nothing they’re admitting to seeing. Honestly, Captain Jose Corsino isn’t surprised. This is the slums of Santa Monica Boulevard, not the high end glitz of Hollywood. You’re more likely to see prostitutes, drug addicts, gang members, and runaway teens than glamorous celebrities or politicians. Unless, of course, those penthouse tenants turn out to have secret lives as transvestites. But that causes it’s own set of problems for the Captain, because the very people that rubbed shoulders with the victim seem determined to leave the case unsolved.

Mere hours after the discovery of the first dead transvestite, another homicide in the same neighborhood turns this sticky case into an absolute disaster. No matter where they look, they can’t seem to get any closer to solving either case. As they delve deeper and deeper into this bizarre world of cross dressing secrets, the mystery just gets stranger and stranger.

Captain Josie Corsino is back and she has the responsibility of handling the case, her subordinates, and her own messy personal life. Her husband has left her, her son has moved out, and she still can’t seem to figure anything out. Things get even more interesting, and potentially complicated, when an old friend comes back to town to help with the current case. Will she rise above it? Or will it trap her and drag her completely under?

I love just about anything by Connie Dial and Unnatural Murder was no exception. I wouldn’t say that cop dramas or mysteries are typically my genre of choice, but something about how Dial puts it all together just works and works very well. I like to think I’m pretty clever and I usually smell the rat from a mile away (or in this case, before I get halfway through the book), but Dial’s clever twists and turns kept me guessing until the final reveal at the end. I love that she took a potentially hot topic and kept it appropriately intriguing. I feel like Dial just knows reality and weaves a little bit of it into her fiction, making it exciting and giving me characters to fall in love with. I will continue to follow Captain Josie Corsino wherever she ends up going next.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 dogs and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She is a full time mom and enjoys writing short stories in her spare time. She also likes watching anime, reading books, and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

[ 4 ] August 29, 2014

Queen of HeartsReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Queen of Hearts is the 8th book in the Royal Spyness Mysteries. While you really don’t need to read these in order, I would recommend reading at least one of the previous books before diving in here. In my opinion, Queen of Hearts is where prior stories are becoming more important.

This time Georgie’s mom is doing something nice for her, though like everything else Claire Daniels does, it’s still mostly for herself. Whatever the reason, Georgie is more than happy to accept an all expenses paid trip, first class to America. More specifically to Reno, Nevada where Mummy is planning to get a quiet divorce from her millionaire Texan husband so she can marry Max, her German millionaire boyfriend.

Like everywhere else Georgie goes, excitement follows. While on-board the ship to America, she witnesses what appears to be a body tossed over the side, and a famous ruby is stolen from an Indian princess. And to her good fortune, Darcy happens to be on the ship, though she wasn’t supposed to know. Turns out he’s sent to chase down a jewel thief that seems to always show up wherever the actress Stella Brightwell is attending social gatherings. So he’s been trailing her, hoping to find some clues to who and how.

While on the ship, Cy Goldman and Stella convinced Georgie’s mum to be Queen Mary in a Hollywood film. It was going to be a love story, where Mary and Elizabeth are fighting over King Philip of Spain. Elizabeth as the younger sister was going to be played by Stella. A lot more drama was going on behind the scenes for the movie than was being captured on the film. Georgie was mostly enjoying herself and going along for the ride. Eventually someone is murdered and Georgie steps in to help find the killer.

This series is moving high on my list of favorites. They are fun reads and definitely fall into the cozy English murder mysteries. Georgie gets into more trouble because of her naivety which just increases the humor of it all. I do highly recommend this series and I continue to look forward to the next book–it’s still going strong after eight!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Berkley. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Voodoo Ridge by David Freed

[ 2 ] August 16, 2014

51o7qC6GXXL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Reviewed by Holly Madison

I did not realize that Voodoo Ridge was part of a series when I first began it. I think that probably should have been a little bit more obvious by the title and description of the book, but it surprisingly was not a deal breaker. Having only read this one book in the series, I would still give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

I do not generally read thriller/action books, but this was one exception that I’m glad I made… it would make a fantastic movie!

The story follows Cordell Logan (who is also the main character in the series) , a former government assassin and current flight instructor. In the beginning of the book he spots some wreckage from an airplane, and he sets out to try to find out what happened. The plane crash ends up being very old, but there is a fresh body at the scene, which causes a chain of exciting events.

Logan ends up having to be the hero and try to rescue his damsel in distress, making a choice to work for “the bad guys” in order to save the woman he loves. It was a true page turner and I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next!

David Freed did an amazing job writing this book. I know very little about the military, police investigations, or flying an airplane, but he went into so much detail that I felt like the information was refreshingly authentic. He is either an expert on these matters in real life, or he did an amazing job researching them. This book also has a great amount of insight into Logan’s mind that I thought was very valuable in establishing a connection to the main character. This level of detail is not what I would have expected from an action book and it was fantastic.

I was very happy with the ending of this book and am now officially intrigued… I will be getting my hands on more of David Freed’s books in this series for sure.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: An Air of Treason by P.F. Chisholm

[ 1 ] August 8, 2014

Air-of-Treason-Med-Res-Front-Cover-179x276Reviewed by Charity Lyman

An Air of Treason is the first book in the Sir Robert Carey Mysteries that I have read. I love mysteries and this one looked quite interesting. We delve into the world of Tudor court and plunged into intrigue and murder! In spite of a few problems, I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to possibly reading another in the future.

Since I haven’t read any other books by Chisholm, I was somewhat lost at first over who was who and what exactly was going on. We meet a man who is trailing another person to kill him, and then it jumps to another person and I wasn’t quite sure what had happened…or who the good guy was. Within 15 pages or so I had figured out that Sir Robert Carey was the main character and the good detective, hence the name of the series. He needs to find out what happened to Amy Dudley and whether her death was in fact accidental or if there was foul play afoot. What Sir Carey really wants is his warrant and fee from the Queen. But alas, he must do her bidding and follow the clues.

One thing I personally liked was all the history. I didn’t really know much about this time period before starting the book and while some of it was confusing I got along fairly well. There were some are terms and words thrown around that I did not recognize but thankfully there was also a glossary in the back of the book that provided meanings for many of the words. If that wasn’t in there, I would have been going to Google a lot! The characters were interesting and some even a bit scary. I was pleased to see that Sir Robert Carey turned out to be a pretty good guy.

The main problems I had with the book were due to errors in spelling and grammar, along with the use of swear language that sometimes seemed unnecessary. Some of the language was a bit crude, such as detailed descriptions of people going to the bathroom in the woods, etc. Granted, these issues were very minor and I do realize that the author was likely just trying to stay true to the times. Overall, I had a fun time reading An Air of Treason and enjoyed trying to figure out the mystery at hand.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Charity lives in Illinois and is the oldest of 6 children. The family also has 3 dogs and a cat. Reading is a hobby when not cooking, baking, sewing or enjoying music. She reads many different genres but Christian fiction is a favorite. Charity can be found often at her blog, Giveaway Lady

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Poisoned Pen Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Ice Shear by M. P. Cooley

[ 2 ] July 29, 2014

18769649Reviewed by Meghan Hyden

Officer June Lyons works the night shift at her station in Hopewell Falls, New York–a quiet little town where nothing really happens and everyone knows each other. The most she has to deal with is the occasional drunk driver or disorderly conduct. No one in this town was ready for what would happen when, one night, June finds the body of Danielle Brouillette impaled on an ice shear at the local river. This is no accident. The murder stuns everyone, especially Danielle’s parents, Congresswoman Amanda Brouillette and her husband, Phil, a local businessman.

The police have lots of suspects – Danielle’s husband, Marty; Marty’s brother, Ray; Danielle’s ex-boyfriend from high school, Jason; the Brouillette’s pilot, Craig – but no real evidence.

As the investigation goes on, things go from bad to worse–Ray is murdered, his body found on the Brouillette’s property, where June also finds a meth lab. Everyone is convinced that it was Marty who killed his wife and then killed his brother, but the evidence leaves them with more questions than answers.

And when Marty and Ray’s parents, the Jelicksons, arrive on scene …

Ice Shear was a little slow starting out, but then it got really good–local cops, FBI, the government, a big biker gang, meth, murder … and a lot of secrets. And talk about two messed up families–the Brouillettes and the Jelicksons, neither of which could see what they had done to their children.

The author did a great job with most of the characters. I really cared about what was happening to them, was hoping the murderer wasn’t this person or that person, felt sorry for some, got angry at others. My only problem is that I really didn’t feel for Danielle. She was murdered before we ever met her (which does happen, especially in police procedurals), and the way that she was described by others didn’t really make me care that she had died. I mean, I did because I’m human, but I didn’t feel heartbroken over it, not like I did when I found out that Ray had died. Danielle, the more I got to know her, the more I just didn’t like her, but the way her character was, I think I was supposed to, at least on some levels.

The last several chapters were one big thrill ride. I’m talking edge-of-your-seat-what’s-going-to-happen-next moments. And the murderer? All I will say is that I love a mystery where I am completely shocked at the end by who it was.

I would like to see more with June Lyons – and Hale, the FBI agent – and Ice Shear has a nice little opening at the end that could make this possible. I liked June and Dan, her partner–the chemistry they had was great.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

You can find Meghan (that’s Meghan spelled the right way) over on her book-ish blog The Gal in the Blue Mask. She’s an avid reader, a book editor, a story teller, a purveyor of delectable fare and pulchritudinous confections, and the best aunt in the world. She loves gardening, hiking, cooking and spending time at the zoo, library and museums. She may not be able to find her wallet, car keys or sunglasses, but she always knows where her Kindle is.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Forgotten Roses by Deborah Doucette

[ 4 ] July 28, 2014

032914-N Forgotten RosesReviewed by Marisa Deshaies

Deborah Doucette’s The Forgotten Roses blends mystery and suspense with lessons about marriage, child-rearing, and self-identity in a unique novel that captivates readers with its many plotlines. Set in the fictional town of Havenwood, New Hampshire, Doucette’s characters wind their ways through the sleepy New England town that offers its inhabitants much more variety to their days than any post-card depicting a standard lighthouse set along the Atlantic coast could ever represent. In fact, the hypocritical nature of setting and characterization exemplifies Doucette’s most important lesson: the face of a person or place often is only a shadow of what lies inside.

In a blend questioning, parenting, rebellion, and mystery, Doucette’s novel brings abnormality to what would normally come across as a common experience. Her characters seem ordinary: a working mother, a busy father, and two daughters weaving daily lives around jobs, school, and family obligations. Doucette layers her novel with complications, however, that make The Forgotten Roses stand out amongst competitor novels of straight romance or friendships plots. The teenager daughter, for example, is not merely of rebellious nature—instead, she actively pursues avenues of danger and uses language that cuts down adults; the female lead, a mother as well as a real estate broker, often chooses actions that many people probably consider taking but would never follow through with in real life. Throw in glimpses of the female lead’s extended Italian family and Doucette has created a world of the senses readers can only dream about.

The Forgotten Roses is a novel of many facets; readers need to prepare themselves for a litany of plots that at times do not seem to coincide. Like Doucette’s lesson about identity (mentioned above), her symbolism for the novel’s themes is two-fold: Havenwood, roses, houses, and a prison—amongst other places and objects—not only serve to move along the story but also to bring readers a fuller meaning of the author’s lessons. Nevertheless, remembering the various plotlines and their purpose holistically when, for a majority of the story, they seem to have no relevance to one another can be cumbersome to the reader. Chapters are short, and each one focuses on a different subplot and character’s point of view. Have a pen and paper by your side to jot down notes since the rapid switching is anything but smooth.

Pick up Doucette’s novel for a reading experience that combines love and mystery in a manner different than common boy-meets-and-saves-girl. The author’s plot is creative and her style unique in that suspense truly holds out until the end of the novel. While enjoyable for its differences from standard romance or mystery novels, The Forgotten Roses still is only for the most adventurous of readers because stylistically the book lacks in plot comprehension and its end is inconclusive.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

An alumna of the University of Delaware’s English department, Marisa holds a Master’s degree in professional writing from New England College. Her dream job is to work as an editor for a publishing company. A voracious reader of all types of literature, her favorite genres include the classics, contemporary and historical fiction, Christian fiction, and women’s “chick-lit”.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Deborah Doucette. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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