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Tag: "mystery"

Review: The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olson

[ 4 ] September 24, 2014

Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

I gave this book four stars, but it barely squeaked it out. The ending more than made up for what I didn’t like earlier in the book. I don’t know if reading one of the four earlier books in the series would have made a difference, but I found that in not knowing the background of the main character I was less disposed perhaps than other readers would be to like him.

Carl, a detective in the police department, is an unapologetic asshole. He is obnoxious, self-absorbed, opinionated, belittling, and condescending to others; he is supposed to be this great detective that solves cold cases. All I saw was a jerk who happened to have spotted and retained two very good assistants.

The Marco Effect is primarily about Marco Jameson, a teenager living a life of hell under his Uncle Zola, the head of the ‘family’ and de facto crime lord and dictator. The children steal and beg for Zola’s gain. Everyone is used in some capacity, and all obey Zola or pay a heavy price, usually in beatings. All of the family is illegally in Denmark, so Zola holds his position of legality over them. Controlling the children is easier if they are ignorant, so none of the children are taught—at least, not taught what they would learn in schools.

Marco is different: he is bright and inquisitive, he has taught himself how to read, and he spends all his spare time reading and learning. As he becomes more educated he also becomes unhappier with his predicament. Consequently, he is one of the few willing to try and stand up to Zola, which not even his father is willing to do. Marco overhears a plan for his future that scares him enough to run away. Marco thought he would be safe once out of the clutches of his uncle…but he discovers proof of a terrible crime that forever changes his future.

The piece Marco discovers is a small but important one dealing with a large international con scheme bilking the Danish government out of two-hundred-fifty million Kroner disguised as foreign aid to the Congo. Those stealing that amount of money can pay others to bury evidence and witnesses. All of a sudden, Marco is a very important asset to find and neutralize, not just capture and punish.

Marco’s story was excellent and kept me reading to the end. If I did not have such a terrible dislike for Carl from the beginning, The Marco Effect would likely have made it to four-and-a-half stars. There were a lot of story-lines going on in this book, and a couple very good twists kept things exciting. The writing was done well, so that sometimes you wanted some of the bad guys to survive, even when you knew they should be caught and punished.

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 Dutton Adult. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Doing It at the Dixie Dew by Ruth Moose

[ 2 ] September 8, 2014

Doing It at the Dixie DewReviewed by Charity Lyman

When I was given the opportunity to review Doing It at the Dixie Dew, I jumped at the chance. After all, a good mystery combined with a southern town and unique characters is something I always enjoy. I have not read anything else from Ruth Moose before but have heard great things about this new book and decided to jump right in!

The book opens with Lavinia Plum dying in a bed and breakfast. Yep, an eye opener on that one! The bed and breakfast is run by Beth McKenzie. The mansion originally belonged to her grandmother, Mama Alice and she grew up in it. But now she wants to turn it into a comfortable place for visitors or people passing through Littleboro, North Carolina. Of course, that all depends on if she can actually keep them alive. Because soon after Lavinia checks in, she checks out for real. As in cashes in her chips and moves on to the great beyond. Then not three days later Father Roderick is strangled in his own chapel. What has the town of Littleboro come to! As Beth unravels the mystery she realizes that her own life is in danger and she wonders if she will make it through.

The town of Littleboro is quaint and charming though there is evil lurking in the air. Beth is joined by some wonderful and amusing characters including Scott, her handyman who is helping restore the mansion, Reba, who is a bit crazy and often wanders into peoples homes in their absence and takes a bath, Verna, her friend and shocking neighbor, and Malinda, her best friend at the drug store. I thoroughly fell in love with all of them even though some are a bit strange. The only thing I didn’t like was the language. There were several swear words throughout the book–just a heads up for those who want to know. I am not talking just a few nor are they in every chapter but there were more than I expected. There was also one scene that was somewhat intimate–not explicit but still there. Overall, an interesting book with an ending I did not quite see coming. I enjoyed visiting the town of Littleboro, North Carolina for a while. Maybe I can return sometime!

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 Minotaur Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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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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