Tag: murder mystery

Book Review: The Finders, by Jeffrey B. Burton

the finders
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   The Finders
Author Jeffrey B. Burton
Genre:   Mystery
Rating:   4.2 out of 5

Mason “Mace” Reid lives on the outskirts of Chicago and specializes in human remains detection. He trains dogs to hunt for the dead. Reid’s coming off a taxing year—mourning the death of a beloved springer spaniel as well as the dissolution of his marriage. He adopts a rescue dog with a mysterious past—a golden retriever named Vira. And when Reid begins training Vira as a cadaver dog, he comes to realize just how special the newest addition to his family truly is…

Suddenly, Reid and his prize pupil find themselves hurled into a taxing murder case, which will push them to their very limits. Paired with determined Chicago Police Officer Kippy Gimm, Mace must put all his trust in Vira’s abilities to thwart a serial killer who has now set his sights on Mace himself.

I definitely enjoyed reading this! Mace is kind of bumbling through his personal interactions, but I found it very endearing. I enjoy reading mysteries and trying to figure out who the culprit is, but the author did a great job of playing things close to his vest and not giving anything away here.

Vira is her own special character, and I loved her from the beginning, when she was a depressed and scared puppy. Seeing how she developed was fascinating, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her adventures.

Jeffrey B. Burton lives in Minnesota. The Finders is his newest novel, the first in the Mace Reid K-9 Mystery series.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Mountains Wild, by Sarah Stewart Taylor

the mountains wild
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books.

Title:   The Mountains Wild
Author:   Sarah Stewart Taylor
Genre:   Thriller
Rating:   4 out of 5

Twenty-three years ago, Maggie D’arcy’s family received a call from the Dublin police. Her cousin Erin has been missing for several days. Maggie herself spent weeks in Ireland, trying to track Erin’s movements, working beside the police. But it was to no avail: no trace of her was ever found. 

The experience inspired Maggie to become a cop. Now, back on Long Island, more than 20 years have passed. Maggie is a detective and a divorced mother of a teenager. When the Gardaí call to say that Erin’s scarf has been found and another young woman has gone missing, Maggie returns to Ireland, awakening all the complicated feelings from the first trip. The despair and frustration of not knowing what happened to Erin. Her attraction to Erin’s coworker, now a professor, who never fully explained their relationship. And her determination to solve the case, once and for all.

I was engrossed in this novel from the very beginning. I loved that most of it was set in Ireland, and the author managed to capture the unique beauty and charm of the country. The parts set in Maggie’s past were a bit frustrating, as she kept poking her nose into all sorts of things when she shouldn’t, but her determination to find her cousin was strong.

Excellent and evocative writing, with Ireland itself coming to life on the page, as well as the characters. I never did figure out who was behind it all, so I was just as surprised as Maggie with how it played out. Definitely a solid and thrilling read.

Sarah Stewart Taylor grew up on Long Island. The Mountains Wild is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Study in Murder, by Callie Hutton

a study in murder
Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title:   A Study in Murder
Author:   Callie Hutton
Genre:   Mystery
Rating:   4.2 out of 5

Bath, England, 1890. Mystery author Lady Amy Lovell receives an anonymous letter containing shocking news: her fiancé, Mr. Ronald St. Vincent, has been dabbling in something illegal, which causes her to promptly break their engagement.

Two evenings later, as Lady Amy awaits a visit from Lord William Wethington, fellow member of the Bath Mystery Book Club, her former fiancé makes an unexpected and most unwelcome appearance at her house. She promptly sends him to the library to cool his heels but later discovers the room seemingly empty–until she stumbles upon a dead Mr. St. Vincent with a knife in his chest.

Lord Wethington arrives to find Lady Amy screaming and sends for the police, but the Bobbies immediately assume that she is the killer. Desperate to clear her name, Lady Amy and Lord Wethington launch their own investigation–and stir up a hornet’s nest of suspects, from the gardener who served time in prison for murder to a vengeful woman who was spurned by St. Vincent before he proposed to Lady Amy.

Can they close the book on the case before the real killer gets away with murder?

I don’t think I’ve ever read any of Callie Hutton’s novels, but I found this one charming and engrossing. Amy—and her aunt, too—is a fascinating, quirky character, independent and strong-willed, but smart enough to know sometimes she has to fulfill conventions.

I was just as invested in their unofficial murder investigation as Amy and William were, and I disliked the police just as much, too. I’ve always enjoyed characters who flout convention and society’s rules, so Amy was a great, fun character, and I recommend this delightful read.

Callie Hutton is a bestselling author. A Study in Murder is her newest novel, the first in the A Victorian Book Club Mystery series.

(Galley courtesy of Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Girls Weekend, by Jody Gehrman

the girls weekend
Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title:   The Girls Weekend
Author: Jody Gehrman
Genre:  Suspense/thriller
Rating:   4.0 out of 5

Their reunion just became a crime scene . . .

June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.

The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.

I feel like this is the sort of situation I would get myself into: it starts with an invitation I really have no desire to accept—but I do because I get guilt-tripped into it—I’m miserable at the event because I really don’t even like these people, and, just my luck, someone winds up dead. And we’re all suspects. Yep. Just my luck.

I was just as much in the dark as the characters were about what had actually happened. Except…I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have cleaned up the crime scene or not told the cops we thought we’d all been drugged. So that bit was a touch hard to believe. Other than that, I really had no idea who did it, as everyone had a motive for wanting Sadie dead—she was that unlikable.

Jody Gehrman is a professor of English and Communications. The Girls Weekend is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: This is How I Lied, by Heather Gudenkauf

this is how i lied
Image belongs to Harlequin/Park Row.

Title:  This is How I Lied
AuthorHeather Gudenkauf
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Tough as nails and seven months pregnant, Detective Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe of Grotto PD, is dreading going on desk duty before having the baby her and her husband so badly want. But when new evidence is found in the 25-year-old cold case of her best friend’s murder that requires the work of a desk jockey, Maggie jumps at the opportunity to be the one who finally puts Eve Knox’s case to rest.

Maggie has her work cut out for her. Everyone close to Eve is a suspect. There’s Nola, Eve’s little sister who’s always been a little… off; Nick, Eve’s ex-boyfriend with a vicious temper; a Schwinn riding drifter who blew in and out of Grotto; even Maggie’s husband Sean, who may have known more about Eve’s last day than he’s letting on. As Maggie continues to investigate, the case comes closer and closer to home, forcing her to confront her own demons before she can find justice for Eve. 

I didn’t really feel a connection with any of these characters. Not even pregnant and struggling Maggie. Especially not Nora, who was vicious and crazy. And, it seems, everyone in the book was a liar, so there’s that. Unreliable narrator, anyone?

I actually didn’t figure out what had happened 25 years ago—how is 1995 twenty years ago!—and the action and tensions kept increasing, making this quick to read, but my dislike of the characters killed a lot of my enjoyment of the read.

Heather Gudenkauf is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. This is how I Lied is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Park Row in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Secrets They Left Behind, by Lissa Marie Redmond

the secrets they left behind
Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title: The Secrets They Left Behind
AuthorLissa Marie Redmond
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

Three college freshmen go missing from their rural hometown of Kelly’s Falls while on Christmas break. Their cell phones, coats, and purses are left behind, but the girls have disappeared without a trace. As the days turn into weeks and the investigation grows cold, twenty-three year old Buffalo police officer Shea O’Connor is called on to dig up leads undercover.

Still bearing the emotional and physical scars of a previous case, O’Connor infiltrates as eighteen-year-old Shea Anderson, a college freshman and the “niece” of the town’s police chief. As she begins to immerse herself in the missing girls’ world, befriending their friends and family, and doing whatever it takes to maintain her cover, O’Connor realizes the track is far colder than she initially thought. But whoever was behind the girls’ disappearance was only warming up, and they have set their crosshairs directly on her.

The heat is on for O’Connor as she closes in on the shocking truth about what really happened the night the girls vanished.

I enjoyed this thriller/murder mystery. I like reading police procedurals, and with Shea going undercover as a teenager, that just made this even more interesting. I might have figured out who did it, but that’s mainly because I usually pick the least likely suspect and go with that while reading mysteries or watching stuff like NCIS. But there were a lot of red herrings in this one.

Shea herself was an interesting character. I can’t imagine doing undercover work and how hard that would be, and Shae experiences the struggles as she comes to care about people who think she’s someone she’s not. And excellent pick to distract yourself from everything going on around you!

Lissa Marie Redmond is a retired detective. The Secrets They Left Behind is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Darkness We Hide, by Debra Webb

the darkness we hid
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  The Darkness We Hide
AuthorDebra Webb
Genre:  Suspense, thriller
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

For months, Doctor Rowan Dupont has been staring death in the face. It followed her back to her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, ten months ago, cloaking the walls of her family’s Victorian funeral home like a shroud. In investigating the mysterious deaths of her loved ones, Rowan has unearthed enough family secrets to bury everything she’d previously thought true. But each shocking discovery has only led to more bodies and more questions; the rabbit hole is deeper than she ever imagined.

Despite settling into a comfortable life with Police Chief Billy Brannigan, Rowan knows dangerous serial killer Julian Addington is still out there. She can’t let her guard down now. Not when she’s this close to ending it once and for all. But with a storm brewing on the horizon, she’ll get only one shot before the impending darkness takes hold, threatening to wipe away every truth she’s uncovered—and everything she holds dear.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading the story of Rowan and the secrets she’s discovered about her life—and her family. In this novel, some of those secrets are finally revealed giving faithful readers a resolution. Rowan’s sometimes-blind loyalty drives her to take risks, but it’s for the right reasons, making her motivations understandable.

As always, I was drawn into the story from the very first page, and the action kept me reading straight through the entire novel, eager to find out how thing would play out. This book did not disappoint!

Debra Webb is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 130 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Ten Days Gone, by Beverly Long

ten days gone
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  Ten Days Gone
AuthorBeverly Long
Genre:  Suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

Detectives A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan have their fourth dead body in forty days:  four women, each killed ten days apart, with no sign of a struggle, and nothing connecting them. The clock is already ticking down to the next victim’s death, and they have nothing to go on. When a hail-Mary interview leads them to a list with all the victims’ names on it—exactly 10 spaces apart—they know they’ve found the connection. But they still don’t have any idea who the killer is.

Trying to track down the next name on the list—Tess Lyons—is almost as difficult as finding the killer. Still recovering from tragedy, she’s withdrawn from everyone and everything to nurse her wounds in silence. But when the detectives track her down, she agrees to help them find the killer—even if it puts her own life at stake.

Ten Days Gone is the start of a new series for Beverly Long. I don’t think I’ve read any of her work before, but I enjoyed this suspense tale. The dynamics between the two detectives were entertaining and realistic, without falling into clichés or tropes. Tess was the most enjoyable character, though. Wounded and recovering from something horrifying and unexpected, she’s shut out the entire world to nurse her grief and bitterness, but the connections she makes open the door to getting her life back.

Beverly Long grew up in Illinois and co-authored her first book in the fourth grade. Ten Days Gone is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Southern Double Cross, by Caroline Fardig

southern double cross
Image belongs to Random House/Alibi.

Title:  Southern Double Cross
AuthorCaroline Fardig
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  4 out of 5

Quinn Bellandini is minding her own business, living life and wishing she were back at the B & B she runs with her sister, Delilah, and her grandfather, instead of trying to pull off a fundraising gala—and keep the high society guests from sniping at each other and causing a ruckus. Then Quinn gets a call from her friend Pepper, working for the event’s caterer. Pepper tells her the hostess—and owner of the mansion hosting the gala—has been found dead.

Soon enough, Pepper’s brother has been charged with murder and Pepper insists the Bellandini sisters clear his name. Quinn’s questions only lead to more questions. The victim had more frenemies than you can shake a stick at. The catering company’s employees are shady at best. And then there are the rumors about the victim and her ex-husband’s rekindled relationship. Quinn isn’t sure where to start, but with her boyfriend Tucker’s help and the irrepressible Delilah on the case, she gives it her best shot.

I enjoyed this entry into the Southern B & B Mystery series (it looks to be the last, too). The writing is solid. Savannah, Georgia comes to life—as does the high society crowd that populates the pages. I’ve enjoyed watching Quinn and Tucker’s relationship grow, and the sisters are fun to read as well.

Caroline Fardig is a bestselling author. Southern Double Cross is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Alibi in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Janes, by Louisa Luna

the janes
Image belongs to Doubleday.

Title:  The Janes
AuthorLouisa Luna
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

There are two bodies, two young girls dead. They have no names, no IDs—and no one is looking for them. The only possibility is a human trafficking ring, so San Diego police and the FBI call in Alice Vega, a private investigator who has a way of getting things done. She’s their only hope of finding out who the Janes are and finding out if more girls are missing.

Even more than her determination, Vega relies on her intellect, which is formidable. She and her partner, Cap, start asking questions—and the answers they find lead them into a situation filled with danger, murder, and enemies they never suspected.

I haven’t read the first book in the Alice Vega series, but that didn’t hamper me at all. There are a lot of layers in the book and figuring out just what was going on was an exciting and intriguing process. Vega is an interesting character—her mind works differently than anyone else—and Cap is both funny and intelligent, a perfect foil for Vega. This was a solid thriller read!

Louisa Luna was born and raised in San Francisco and now lives in Brooklyn. The Janes is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Doubleday in exchange for an honest review.)