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Tag: "mystery"

Review: Dying Wish by James Raven

[ 3 ] June 9, 2015

dying wish book coverReviewed by Nina Longfield 

A book signing seems an improbable location to spark an investigation that in turn ignites a firestorm of revelations, unearths serial murder, and uncovers heinous secrets, but that is how Dying Wish begins. Set in the south English countryside of the New Forest, James Raven’s latest novel is full of quaint destinations and quirky characters. Yet the forest holds the dark secrets of certain unknown individuals who frequent the supposedly tranquil location.

Nature author Grant Mason is signing books at a village bookshop when pain strikes. A heart attack. His dying wish leads Mason’s assistant to seek Detective Chief Inspector Jeff Temple’s advice. Temple agrees to look into Mason’s strange final request and visits Mason’s home in the New Forest. When Temple is attacked, an investigation begins bringing in Temple’s Hampshire Major Investigations Team. Further examination of Mason’s home explains the man’s desperate final request. If Temple hadn’t known it before, the case at the New Forest shows Temple that people are not always who they appear to be.

This is the second James Raven novel I have read featuring DCI Jeff Temple. Temple continues to intrigue me. He is a complex and well-rounded narrator. Temple has past pains and can be fallible at times, which makes him relatable, but he is also grounded and open to others around him making him likeable. The infrequent sidebar expositions tend to distract the reader momentarily from the main action of the ongoing story, but this also shows how DCI Temple’s mind is always working at many different angles. He is consciously aware of his digressions and pushes himself back to focusing on the task at hand.

I purposefully take my time reading. I want to savor the words and lose myself in the plot getting to know the characters. That went out the window with James Raven’s Dying Wish. I couldn’t put the novel down. I read it in a day. Yet I also savored the story and lost myself within it. I fell right into the rhythm of Dying Wish. The mystery was solid. The crimes were gruesome, yet I continued reading because I wanted to know the who, how, what, why, and when of the story. As I guessed ahead, I wanted to know if I was correct or why not. I wanted to get to the end of the novel to know the mystery yet I enjoyed the story and did not want it to end so quickly. All in all, I found Dying Wish an immersive story that captured and held my attention throughout.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

Review copy was provided by James Raven.

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Review: Twisted Innocence by Terri Blackstock

[ 2 ] June 3, 2015

twisted innocence book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

The scales of justice are weighed unfairly. Two men are dead. Another is in prison. A fourth is wanted for a murder he didn’t commit. The common thread of destruction binding their stories together is a drug dealer named Leonard Miller who controls the cocaine trade in Florida’s panhandle. Wherever he goes, he leaves a wake of destruction and grief.

In her novel, Twisted Innocence, Terri Blackstock weaves together a story of intrigue and redemption finding second chances in the ashes. A master storyteller, Blackstock builds intrigue and suspense with each twist and turn. What originally meets the eye is never what it seems.

Holly Cramer has made her share of mistakes. A one night stand with Creed Kershaw leaves her pregnant, unmarried and alone. With pink tipped bleach blond hair, she doesn’t look the part of a stable parent, but more like the party girl she was. Nevertheless, she rises to the challenge, chooses to raise her daughter, Lily, alone, and supports herself driving a taxi and working part time as a private investigator.

It seems that trouble is a family business for Holly and her siblings. Several of their family members have either been killed or imprisoned due to Leonard Miller who has managed to elude capture. When Holly attempts to find Creed Kershaw, she discovers that he too is mixed up with Leonard, is accused of murder and is being hunted by gang members. In his desperation to elude police, Creed kidnaps Holly and Lily. As Holly uses her investigative skills to determine who is guilty and who is innocent, she finds herself a marked target of Leonard and his gang. When she and Lily are finally safe, Leonard turns that connection into a trap for Creed.

With non-stop action, this novel was a real page turner. With just the right amount of mystery, this Christian thriller novel will be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys fast paced fiction. This was the third in the Moonlighter series, each one focusing on a different sister. However, it was the first book in the series that I had read. Normally that can cause some confusion, but that was not the case. Enough detail was given to understand the story completely without reading the earlier books in the series. I will be looking for more of Terri Blackstock’s books in the future as this one was two thumbs up!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

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

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Review: Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

[ 4 ] May 17, 2015

where they found her book coverReviewed by Sarah Lelonek

Every once in a while, it’s nice to read a standalone novel that can hold its ground among all the series out there. Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight not only held its ground, but it managed to hold my attention, despite the subject matter not being what I am used to. However, I think that the book, while a decent read, could have done more in the suspense and thriller department and cut out some of the endless exposition.

Where They Found Her takes place in the small college town of Ridgedale, New Jersey, where freelance journalist Molly Anderson tries to move past a miscarriage that rocked not only her marriage, but her inner core. When Molly is assigned a homicide with the body being that of a female infant, she is forced to dig up her own past and the dirty secrets of the small town surrounding her.

The story jumps between a lot of different viewpoints. I centered on Molly, because for me, she seemed the most interesting. Also, Molly’s portion of the story always moved the plot along, unlike some of the other women’s viewpoints. While the multiple viewpoints method can work, I felt that in this situation, it left the reader a little overwhelmed. All the stories tied together and it was a little hard to keep them straight.

I did enjoy how McCreight wove a solid plot between her characters; I just wish the story itself didn’t take so long to get going. It took  a good third of the book for me to get really interested in the novel. While the baby was found early on in the story, I didn’t feel a real connection to the characters and plot until much later in the book. While I liked the occasional twists the novel had to offer, I thought it was lacking in the suspense and thriller aspect that could really grab a reader.

All-in-all, Where They Found Her was a solid read. While the story took a while to rev up, I thought the ends justified the means. I would have liked to see less characters and exposition and more action. I think this would have sold the novel from the beginning for me. That being said, I can recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for a decent stand alone. Just be prepared for a longer read than usual.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is currently enrolled at Tiffin University in their Master’s of Education program. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.

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

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Review: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen

[ 4 ] May 4, 2015

death of dishonorable gentleman book coverReviewed by Charity Lyman

Every now and then you come across an author who clicks with you. And his/her books may be ones you don’t normally read or they could be ones in your favorite genre. Either way, that is exactly what happened to me when I started reading Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman by Tessa Arlen. About 1/3 of the way in I knew I would like it. By the time I was halfway through the book, I was in love! For a debut novel, I was thoroughly impressed with her writing style.

The book centers around the British Montfort family. Lady Clementine Talbot is hosting her annual summer ball at Iyntwood and wants everything in perfect order. That is all fine and dandy until a murder takes place, and her son is the prime suspect! Join Lady Montfort and her housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, as they try to solve the case and absolve her son Harry from the crime. But who killed young Teddy? And how did they do it with a house full or guests partying that night? Come along for the ride and watch two women at opposite ends of the social spectrum collaborate to find the killer.

I definitely enjoy mysteries and this was one of the best I have read in quite a while. There were twists and turns to keep you guessing all the way as well as suspects galore. I seriously did not know who actually murdered the young man until the very end. I had my guesses but the clues went down many different trails so I never knew for sure. The characters were quite interesting and Mrs. Jackson would probably win out as my favorite. A no nonsense, take charge kind of woman she does a lot of the legwork while Lady Montfort has quite the mind. Mr. Stafford was another favorite. He designs the gardens and is somewhat of an architect. Needless to say I loved the exchanges between him and Mrs. Jackson.The secondary characters make for some interesting reading as well.

Overall, I loved the book and was surprised to see minimal foul language. A plus in my book but getting harder to find as I delve into the mystery genre. Tessa Arlen writes a brilliant debut novel that has put her books on my watch list. Great for fans of Edwardian novels but just as good for the mystery lover!

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 Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey

[ 5 ] April 29, 2015

stranger you know book coverReviewed by Jenna Arthur

If there was a murder in your town, would you ever be able to fathom the possibility that someone you know was guilty? That’s precisely the dilemma police officer Maeve Kerrigan has to deal with.

This killer is organized, maniacal, hygienic, manipulative, and worst of all he is the man you would allow into your home if he were to ring your bell. London is under attack. The killer strangles his victims, cuts their hair, washes them clean, and then with a surgical precision cuts their eyes out, placing them onto the palms of their hands. The eeriest thing is a cold case of dejavu for Maeve with the facts undeniably the same. This case resembles a case forgotten long ago, of a young girl named Angela. A young girl, that at the time was Maeve’s partner’s girlfriend, and he the main suspect. This fact puts DI Josh Derwent as the main suspect in the eyes of Maeve’s bosses and for Derwent, these cases will haunt him, bringing up a past of love, loss, and murder that he has long tried to forget. Will Maeve be able to prove that Josh is not the killer – both to herself and others?

In The Stranger You Know, Jane Casey brings the characters to life making each one distinctive and relatable and giving you little clues that makes any one of them a suspect. Maeve, the main character, is stubborn, strong, and smart as a whip. She is determined, whether she likes Josh or not, to find this killer.

The book is well written and the plot extremely steady throughout, though readers should be prepared for the very obviously British dialect. There are no multiple climactic scenes throughout but the book’s plot does not need them; the story draws you in giving you a twist at the end that ends the book with a bang! Listen to the clues because they will make you the winning detective in the end. A great read for crime lovers.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Jenna lives in the bustling city of Pittsburgh with her wife and furry children. She loves to cook, watch movies, and looks for inspiration in every book she reads.

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

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Review: Parker Field by Howard Owen

[ 2 ] April 25, 2015

parker field book coverReviewed by Melanie Kline

Les, a former minor league baseball player in his seventies who does not seem to have any enemies, is shot with a high powered rifle and is lying in a hospital bed clinging to life. It is discovered that an addled former military man, now homeless, has broken into a vacant condo and shot him. Les’ sort of adopted son decides to investigate and figure out why anyone would want to harm such a quiet, harmless man.

Willie Black is a newspaper man, heavy drinker and three time loser in the marital game. Listening to Les’ buddy, Jimmy, talk about the old days and the team members and a team groupie, not so affectionately called Fannie Fling, Willie decides to do a piece on the old starting line up of Les’ old team, the Richmond Vees. He soon discovers that a number of the old guys are dead. Their deaths, in some instances, were rather premature and in others, somewhat suspicious.

Connecting with the younger sister of one of his boyhood friends, Cindy Peroni, Willie heads out to interview the kids, widows and ex-wives of some of the deceased as well as the one other remaining Vee. What he discovers brings him to death’s door and the solution to a puzzle he didn’t know existed.

There are too many characters in Parker Field and names being mentioned throughout. And because a lot of them are baseball players, they also have nicknames. About 25 or 30 pages into this, my head started to spin. I found it next to impossible to keep everyone straight and spent a lot of the story completely lost as to what was going on.

I wouldn’t recommend Parker Field to anyone as I did not enjoy anything about it and found the storyline entirely too difficult to follow. I believe that the book has great potential if it were rewritten minus many of the extra characters and events that are not relevant to the actual storyline. I was very disappointed as I was really looking forward to reading this book.

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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