Tag: mystery

Book Review: Against the Currant, by Olivia Matthews   

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: Against the Currant     
Author:  Olivia Matthews   
Genre: Mystery    
Rating:  4 out of 5

Little Caribbean, Brooklyn, New York: Lyndsay Murray is opening Spice Isle Bakery with her family, and it’s everything she’s ever wanted. The West Indian bakery is her way to give back to the community she loves, stay connected to her Grenadian roots, and work side-by-side with her family. The only thing getting a rise out of Lyndsay is Claudio Fabrizi, a disgruntled fellow bakery owner who does not want any competition.

On opening day, he comes into the bakery threatening to shut them down. Fed up, Lyndsay takes him to task in front of what seems to be the whole neighborhood. So when Claudio turns up dead a day later—murdered—Lyndsay is unfortunately the prime suspect. To get the scent of suspicion off her and her bakery, Lyndsay has to prove she’s innocent—under the watchful eyes of her overprotective brother, anxious parents, and meddlesome extended family—what could go wrong?

I really liked the cultural aspects in this book! They absolutely fascinated me. I found myself looking up soca music and some of the foods—which sounded amazing—just to settle myself a little more deeply into the characters’ culture. I think Lyndsay is a great character:  she’s grown a lot from childhood, but she’s still fighting not to go back to old habits. And this isn’t a romance—unusual for a cozy mystery—although the potential is there for the future. The vibrant characters kept me engaged, and there was never a dull moment while reading this.

Olivia Matthews is a bestselling author. Against the Currant is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  Treachery on Tenth Street, by Kate Belli

Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

TitleTreachery on Tenth Street     
Author: Kate Belli   
Genre: historical fiction   
Rating:  4 out of 5

As a heat wave engulfs New York in the summer of 1888, the city’s top models begin turning up dead, one by one, suggesting the work of a single killer. Society girl turned investigative journalist Genevieve Stewart is drawn into the case when Beatrice Holler, one of her friend Callie’s fellow models, is found with her throat cut.

Genevieve and her compatriot, wealthy Daniel McCaffrey, are joined by Callie to seek out the suspects, which leads them to search for answers from the members of the elite, notorious gangsters, and the city’s most prominent painters.

In an era when London’s Jack the Ripper murders have everyone on edge, the police want to keep the killings quiet. But the bodies are piling up as fast as the suspects—and unless the killer is found, the simmering New York summer could boil over into madness.

I haven’t read any of the other Gilded Gotham mysteries, but that wasn’t a problem. This was a solid read. I enjoyed the characters and the setting. I liked Genevieve’s independence in a time when that wasn’t a common thing. Even Daniel had depths, with his street punk background and shady friends. This was a fun read, and I’d definitely read more of the series.

Kate Belli lives in Pennsylvania. Treachery on Tenth Street is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:  The Lost, by Jeffrey B. Burton

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

TitleThe Lost    
Author:  Jeffrey B. Burton
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Glencoe, Illinois: A home invasion turned kidnapping at the mansion of billionaire financier Kenneth J. Druckman brings Mason “Mace” Reid and his cadaver dog, Vira, to this wealthy northern suburb of Chicago. Druckman was assaulted, left behind while his wife and young daughter were taken for ransom.

Brought to the scene by the FBI, Reid specializes in human remains detection, and Vira is the star of his pack of cadaver dogs he’s dubbed The Finders. After Vira finds the dead body of the mother, former supermodel Calley Kurtz, everyone is on high alert to find Druckman’s missing daughter before the five-year-old disappears forever. But the trail Vira finds on the property’s dense woodlands leads right back to Druckman himself.

With the help of Detective Kippy Gimm, Reid and Vira must race against the clock. Nothing is as it appears to be . . . and the red herrings could be lethal.

I’m really enjoying this series! Mace and Kippy are both characters I like—especially Mace with his self-deprecating humor—and obviously, Vira is amazing. I liked how the two separate storylines intwined, adding more nuance to both and, as always, I’m fascinated by the talents of cadaver dogs. This is a good, solid mystery.

Jeffrey B. Burton was born in California but now lives in St. Paul. The Lost is his newest novel.

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

Book Review:  The Blue Diamond, by Leonard Goldberg

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

TitleThe Blue Diamond    
Author: Leonard Goldberg
Genre: Historical fiction  
Rating: 4 out of 5

During a critical stage in World War One, the Governor-General of South Africa journeys to London for a meeting of The Imperial War Conference. Days prior to the conference, the Governor-General is scheduled to have an audience at Buckingham Palace at which time a most precious blue diamond will be presented to King Edward as a symbolic gesture of the colonies’ resolute and never-ending allegiance to England.

The flawless blue diamond, with its magnificent luster, weighs nearly 3000 carats which renders it one of the world’s largest and most valuable gems. On the Governor-General’s arrival, he is ensconced at the fashionable Windsor Hotel under the tightest security, with his entire entourage and formidable security team occupying the entire penthouse floor. All entrances and exits are locked down and closely guarded, and no one is allowed entrance after 6 PM.

Despite the extreme precautions, the famous diamond is stolen from the Governor-General’s suite in the middle of the night, with no clues left behind. With Scotland Yard baffled, Joanna and the Watsons are called in to investigate the theft and it becomes clear that the crime is not simply the work of a master thief, but one that could greatly aid the Germans and turn the tide of war in their favor. Time is of the essence and the blue diamond must be recovered before it begins its travels which could cause irreparable damage to the allied war plans.

I enjoyed this read, although, as always, I feel a bit slow when reading (or watching, for that matter) a Sherlock adventure of any sort. I also enjoy locked room mysteries, and this more or less fits the bill. There was enough action to keep me interested, and enough time with all the characters that my brain didn’t go numb from all the introspection and deductions going on. This is the second book I’ve read in this series, and I do recommend it.

Leonard Goldberg is from Charleston. The Blue Diamond is his newest novel.

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

Book Review:   Fatal Flowers, by Jess Dylan

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Fatal Flowers
Author:    Jess Dylan
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  4.0 out of 5.0

As Aerieville, Tennessee’s Flower House finally gains in popularity, Sierra Ravenswood finds herself feeling ready for new challenges. Luckily, the shop has grabbed the attention of the mayor’s daughter, and bride-to-be, Marissa Lakely. Sierra is thrilled, and nervous, to land her most important job yet: providing flowers for the biggest wedding Aerieville has ever seen.

Fortunately, Marissa bucks all stereotypes and is far from a bridezilla—but her wedding planner, Taz Banyan, has apparently taken on the role for himself. He’s uptight, intense, and a little intimidating. But Taz aside, everything seems to be under control…until Sierra makes a startling discovery in the great room: the wedding planner, lying in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, in very bad shape. In fact, he survives only long enough to mutter: “It was the snake.” As Granny Mae would say, seeing a snake is rarely a good sign, and this was clearly no exception.

With the town on edge and the wedding up in the air, Sierra refuses to stop asking questions in her determination to put an end to this latest danger—so both Aerieville and the Flower House can flourish once more.

I haven’t read any of the other Flower House Mystery books, but that wasn’t a problem with this read. I like light, cozy mysteries, so this was a fun read. I wasn’t super invested in it, but interested enough in finding out who the murderer was to keep going, and I didn’t pick up on the side crimes until the big reveal at the end.

Jess Dylan lives in Chicago. Fatal Flowers is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:   It Could Be Anyone, by Jaime Lynn Hendricks

Image belongs to Penzler Publishers.

Title It Could Be Anyone  
AuthorJaime Lynn Hendricks  
Genre:    Thriller
Rating:  3.0

To anyone on their flight out of New York, they appear to be five best friends excited for a destination wedding in Miami. No one would guess that each of them has a reason to want the groom dead.

Trevor Vaughn, the groom in question, wooed his bride-to-be by first becoming close with her friends—which is to say that he learned all of the five’s darkest, most dangerous secrets and blackmailed them into convincing Fiona to say “I do.” The friends were forced to convince a doubting Fiona to go through with the wedding, no matter what, and now the charade is set to continue all the way to the altar.

Trevor has his own reasons for wanting to marry into Fiona’s family, and he’ll stop at nothing to make his plan a reality. But when he dies of an apparent allergic reaction at the wedding, surrounded by such close enemies, the possibility of murder isn’t far behind. And for the authorities investigating the case, anyone present could be a suspect…

To be honest, the only reason I finished reading this was because it was a quick read. None of this group of friends were likable people—they’d all done horrible, selfish things in the past—and present—and frankly, they made my skin crawl. Trevor is also a horrible person, so I didn’t feel too bad knowing he ended up dead. The writing was solid, but the blurb is a bit misleading, considering the “investigation” into Trevor’s murder was barely mentioned at all in the actual book.

Jaime Lynn Hendricks lives in New Jersey. It Could Be Anyone is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour:   The Wrong Victim, by Allison Brennan

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:    The Wrong Victim
AuthorAllison Brennan  
Genre:    Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

A bomb explodes on a sunset charter cruise out of Friday Harbor at the height of tourist season and kills everyone on board. Now this fishing and boating community is in shock and asking who would commit such a heinous crime—the largest act of mass murder in the history of the San Juan Islands.

Forensic profilers know there are two types of domestic terrorists: those who use violence to instill fear for political purposes but stop at murder because it detracts from the cause, and those who crave attention and are willing to maim and murder for their own agenda.

Accused of putting profits before people after leaking fuel that caused a massive fish kill, the West End Charter company may itself have been the target. But as special agent Matt Costa, detective Kara Quinn and the rest of the FBI team begin their investigation, they discover that plenty of people might have wanted someone dead on that yacht. Now they must track down who is responsible and stop them before they strike again.

I really enjoyed reading these characters again. I like Kara, although she’s a touch too brash and in-your-face for me. I loved the small town setting and even the supporting characters were well-done and vibrant. There’s a lot going on here, but the author handles it all so skillfully, I never got confused at all.

Allison Brennan is a bestselling author. The Wrong Victim is her newest novel.

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

Book Review:   The Echo Man, by Sam Holland

Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title: The Echo Man
AuthorSam Holland
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Detectives Cara Elliott and Noah Deakin are on the case of a series of seemingly unconnected murders, each different in method, but each shocking and brutal. As the body count increases, they can’t ignore the details that echo famous cases of the past—Manson, Kemper, Dahmer, and more. As Elliott and Deakin get closer to unmasking the killer, the murders are moving closer to home.

 Meanwhile, Jessica Ambrose is on the run. She’s been implicated as the arsonist who killed her neglectful husband and injured her young daughter. With the help of disgraced and suspended detective Nate Griffin, Jess discovers a shocking link between her case and that of the ultimate copycat killer working on his horrifying masterpiece.

In the name of transparency, I’ll tell you I almost put this down at 10%. I didn’t find Jessica very likable at all to start with, and that trait in an MC is an almost guaranteed DNF for me. But I’m glad I persevered. Jessica improved a lot, and it was fascinating trying to figure out who the killer was. This is a very bloody and dark novel, so if you have a weak stomach, you might want to pass, but it ended up being pretty riveting as things progressed.

Sam Holland loves the dark and macabre. The Echo Man is his debut novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour:  Crimson Summer, by Heather Graham

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title: Crimson Summer
Author:    Heather Graham
Genre:    Thriller
Rating:  4 out 5

They’re not going down without a fight.

 When FDLE special agent Amy Larson discovers a small horse figurine amid the bloody aftermath of a gang massacre in the Everglades, she recognizes it immediately. The toy is the calling card of the apocalypse cult that Amy and her partner, FBI special agent Hunter Forrest, have been investigating, and it can only mean one thing: this wasn’t an isolated skirmish—it was the beginning of a war.

 As tensions between rival gangs rise, so does the body count, and Amy and Hunter’s investigation leads them to a violent, far-right extremist group who are in no hurry to quell the civil unrest. With a deadly puppet master working to silence their every lead, it’s a race against the clock to figure out who’s been pulling the strings and put a stop to the escalating cartel turf war before the Everglades run red.

I’ve really enjoyed the Larson & Forrest books so far. Just creepy enough to keep my attention without being gory enough to gross me out. The characters—both the two main characters and the supporting characters—are solid and interesting, and I love how they work out exactly what’s going on with the crimes. I’d definitely recommend this!

Heather Graham is a bestselling author. Crimson Summer is her newest novel.

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

 

Book Review:  Hideout, by Louisa Luna

Image belongs to Doubleday.

Title Hideout
Author:   Louisa Luna
Genre:   Mystery/thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Alice Vega has made a career of finding the missing and vulnerable against a ticking clock, but she’s never had a case like Zeb Williams, missing for over thirty years. It was 1984, and the big Cal-Stanford football game was tied with seconds left on the clock. Zeb Williams grabbed the ball and ran the wrong way, through the marching band, off the field and out of the stadium. He disappeared into legend, replete with Elvis-like sightings and a cult following. 

Zeb’s cold trail leads Vega to southern Oregon, where she discovers an anxious community living under siege by a local hate group called the Liberty Boys. As Vega starts digging into the past, the mystery around Zeb’s disappearance grows deeper, and the reach of the Liberty Boys grows more disturbing. Everyone has something to hide, and no one can cut to the truth like Alice Vega. But this time, her partner Max Caplan has his own problems at home, and the trouble Vega finds might be too much for her to handle.

  I enjoyed this read. I liked that there were actually two mysteries here; what happened to Zeb and what the Liberty Boys were up to. Strong writing and vivid characterization hooked me in, but let’s be honest: Alice Vega is not the easiest character to relate to. She’s very prickly, standoffish, and analytical, which makes her come across as cold, but I like the effect Caplan has on her. This is a bit of a dark read, but it’s an engrossing one.

Louisa Luna lives in Brooklyn. Hideout is her newest novel.

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