Tag: mystery

Book Review and Blog Tour: Tell No Lies, by Allison Brennan

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

TitleTell No Lies
AuthorAllison Brennan
Genre:  Thriller, mystery
Rating:  4 out of 5

Something mysterious is killing the wildlife in the desert hills just south of Tucson, Arizona. When Emma Perez, a college-intern-turned activist, sets out to collect her own evidence, she too ends up dead. Local law enforcement seems slow to get involved. That’s when the mobile FBI unit goes undercover to infiltrate the town and the copper refinery located there in search of possible leads. Costa and Quinn find themselves scouring the desolate landscape that keeps on giving up clues to something much darker—greed, child trafficking, other killings. As the body count continues to add up, it’s clear they have stumbled on more than they bargained for. Now they must figure out who is at the heart of this mayhem and stop them before more innocent lives are lost.

I don’t think I’ve read the first book in this series—yet—but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The desert setting is vividly drawn and almost becomes a character in the story, both its beauty and the darkness hidden within it. I liked the whole undercover team, but the two MC and their interactions were the best. I can’t imagine pretending to be someone you’re not like that, but their viewpoints made it make sense, and I was totally invested in their investigation.

Allison Brennan is a bestselling author. Tell No Lies is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: Danger in Numbers, by Heather Graham

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

TitleDanger in Numbers
AuthorHeather Graham
Genre:  Mystery/thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

On the edge of the Everglades, a brutal murder and an eerie crime scene set off an investigation that sends two agents deep into a world of corrupted faith, greed and deadly secrets.

A ritualistic murder on the side of a remote road brings in the Florida state police. Special Agent Amy Larson has never seen worse, and there are indications that this killing could be just the beginning. The crime draws the attention of the FBI in the form of Special Agent Hunter Forrest, a man with insider knowledge of how violent cults operate, and a man who might never be able to escape his own past.

The rural community is devastated by the death in their midst, but people know more than they are saying. As Amy and Hunter join forces, every lead takes them further into the twisted beliefs of a dangerous group that will stop at nothing to see their will done.

This was a solid thriller read, as Graham’s novels usually are. The setting was vivid enough to give me the creeps—no thank you to living in a small town on the edge of the Everglades—with or without the creepy cult nearby. I like both of the main characters, and I’d definitely read the next book in the series.

Heather Graham is a bestselling author. Danger in Numbers is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Every Last Fear, by Alex Finlay

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

TitleEvery Last Fear
AuthorAlex Finlay
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain—and they won’t tell Matt why.

The tragedy makes headlines everywhere because this isn’t the first time the Pine family has been thrust into the media spotlight. Matt’s older brother, Danny—currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend Charlotte—was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: the night Charlotte was killed Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime.

When Matt returns to his small hometown to bury his parents and siblings, he’s faced with a hostile community that was villainized by the documentary, a frenzied media, and memories he’d hoped to leave behind forever. Now, as the deaths in Mexico appear increasingly suspicious and connected to Danny’s case, Matt must unearth the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison—putting his own life in peril—and forcing him to confront his every last fear.

I enjoyed this read! Solid writing and not too heavy-handed with the trail of clues. I liked Matt and the Misfit Toys a lot. They gave this a fun edge, despite the intrigue and danger. I did figure out whodunit, but it wasn’t because the foreshadowing was too much or anything, just a lucky guess. There’s a lot going on in this novel, but it was a good and engrossing read.

Alex Finlay lives in Washington, D.D. Every Last Fear is Alex’s debut novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: Aftershock, by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

Image belongs to Harlequin/Hanover Square Press.

Title:  Aftershock
Author:  Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  4 out of 5

There’s a body crushed under a load of pipes on a San Francisco construction site, and medical examiner Dr. Jessie Teska is on call. So it’s her job to figure out who it is—and her headache when the autopsy reveals that the death is a homicide staged as an accident.

Jessie is hot on the murderer’s trail, then an earthquake sends her and her whole city reeling. When the dust clears, her case has fallen apart and an innocent man is being framed. Jessie knows she’s the only one who can prove it, and she races to piece together the truth—before it gets buried and brings her down in the rubble.

I enjoyed this second entry into the Dr. Jessie Teska Mystery series, although I have to say, for a smart person, Jessie does some really stupid stuff. Although I don’t understand some of her choices, she’s a vivid character and one I enjoy reading. There are a lot of quirky things that make this series unique and enjoyable, from where Jessie lives to her background and family. This is a solid mystery read.

Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell are New York Times bestselling authors. Aftershock is their newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Hanover Square Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Deep into the Dark, by P. J. Tracy

Image belongs to Minotaur Books.

Title:  Deep into the Dark
Author:  P. J. Tracy
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  4 out of 5

Sam Easton—a true survivor—is home from Afghanistan, trying to rebuild a life in his hometown of LA. Separated from his wife, bartending and therapy sessions are what occupy his days and nights. When friend and colleague Melody Traeger is beaten by her boyfriend, she turns to Sam for help. When the boyfriend turns up dead the next day, a hard case like Sam is the perfect suspect.

But LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan, whose brother recently died serving overseas, is sympathetic to Sam’s troubles, and can’t quite see him as a killer. She’s more interested in the secrets Melody might be keeping and the developments in another murder case on the other side of town.

I haven’t read anything from this author, but I enjoyed this read. Excellent writing, fascinating characters, and a realistic setting all made this an engrossing book. Sam proves to be an unreliable narrator, which is hard to pull-off, but it’s well-done here. I didn’t figure out who the killer was until just before the characters did, and it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I’d definitely read more of this series.

P.J. Tracy is an award-winning author. Deep into the Dark is her newest novel, the start of a new series.

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

Book Review: Murder is a Must, by Marty Wingate

Image belongs to Berkley.

Title: Murder is a Must       
Author: Marty Wingate
Genre: Cozy mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5

Hayley Burke, curator of Lady Fowling’s collection of first edition mysteries, is settling into her position at the First Edition Library in Middlebank House. She’s even made progress with Lady Fowling’s former secretary, the ornery Miss Woolgar. The women are busily preparing for an exhibition that will showcase Lady Fowling’s life and letters. Hayley knows the exhibition is a huge undertaking and decides, against her better judgement, to hire Oona Atherton, her former boss from the Jane Austen Centre to help with the planning.

Oona is known for being difficult, but all seems to be going swimmingly until she and Hayley uncover a one-page letter that alludes to a priceless edition of MURDER MUST ADVERTISE signed by several Golden Age of Mystery authors. Oona feels this book could be the focal point of the exhibition and becomes obsessed with finding it.

When they find clues that appear to point to the book being somewhere in the First Edition Library, Oona is certain she’s unraveled the mystery and texts Hayley the good news, but upon arriving back at Middlebank, Hayley finds her old boss dead at the bottom of the stairs. Did her discovery of the rare book get her killed or was it some angry shadow from her past? Hayley must read between the lines to catch a malicious murderer.

I hadn’t read the first book in this series, but that wasn’t a problem. This was a solid cozy mystery read, but not a surprising one. I’ll admit the over-the-top character in the teal suit was a bit eccentric, but there really had to be one colorful character in this novel, didn’t there? This was an entertaining and fun read.

Marty Wingate is a bestselling author. Murder is a Must is her newest novel.

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

Blog Tour and Book Review: The Forgotten Sister, by Nicola Cornick

Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

Title: The Forgotten Sister
Author: Nicola Cornick
Genre: Historical Fiction/fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape—one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.

I initially didn’t like Lizzie at all, but she slowly grew on me a bit—as she showed great character growth and change through the course of the novel. She actually held it together way better than I would have, considering everything she was dealing with and experiencing.

I really enjoyed the Amy timeline. She also grew and changed as a character, and I enjoyed that, although I cannot imagine putting up with all the nonsense she put up with. Excellent writing and clearly the author did a lot of research to bring the historical details—though fictionalized—to life.

Nicola Cornick is a bestselling author. The Forgotten Sister is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Broken, by John Rector

Image belongs to Thomas & Mercer.

Title: Broken
Author:  John Rector   
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Welcome to Beaumont Cove, a slowly decaying tourist town at the edge of the world, and the place where Maggie James’s worst fears for her estranged twin sister, Lilly, have come true.

Lilly is dead, and Maggie has arrived to identify her body.

Lilly’s husband, Mike, is in custody for her murder. With his long history of abuse, no one in town is surprised at the inevitable end to their stormy marriage, least of all Maggie. All she wants is to clean up her sister’s affairs, see Mike punished, and get out of Beaumont Cove.

With the help of the local sheriff, a retired private investigator, and a strange but friendly carnival psychic, Maggie begins to uncover the truth about what really happened to her sister. But the truth comes at a price, and soon Maggie finds herself walking a dark path toward the same deadly trap that killed Lilly.

The more Maggie discovers about her sister’s final days, the more she realizes that nothing is as it appears in this strange boardwalk town.

This novel is technically sound:  solid writing, unique characters, an interesting setting. But there was nothing unexpected here. I found it basically predictable—yes, even the carnival psychic—with just a tiny bit of creepy due to the setting (empty tourist town).

Maggie was not a likable character to me at all. Hateful, judgmental, and a liar, to boot. (Yes, I know what Mike was a horrible person to her sister, but still, what she did to him was Wrong.) I ended up feeling little to no sympathy for her, and that made the whole book just “meh.”

John Rector lives in Nebraska. Broken is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Before She Was Helen, by Caroline B. Cooney

befor she was helen
Image belongs to Poisoned Pen Press.

Title: Before She Was Helen
Author: Caroline B. Cooney  
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

When Clemmie goes next door to check on her difficult and unlikeable neighbor Dom, he isn’t there. But something else is. Something stunning, beautiful and inexplicable. Clemmie photographs the wondrous object on her cell phone and makes the irrevocable error of forwarding it. As the picture swirls over the internet, Clemmie tries desperately to keep a grip on her own personal network of secrets. Can fifty years of careful hiding under names not her own be ruined by one careless picture? 

And although what Clemmie finds is a work of art, what the police find is a body. . . in a place where Clemmie wasn’t supposed to be, and where she left her fingerprints. Suddenly, the bland, quiet life Clemmie has built for herself in her sleepy South Carolina retirement community comes crashing down as her dark past surges into the present.

The description of this novel didn’t give me a clue of the confusion that came along with it. Because Clemmie is only Clemmie in her own thoughts and in her memories. She goes by Helen in her life and that’s what everyone knows her as. And her niece and nephew are clueless and selfish and get her into heaps of trouble with their thoughtlessness—but who would ever have suspected “Helen” was hiding secrets like this?

I liked the idea of this “helpless” little old lady being a disguise for someone who went through a terrible ordeal fifty years ago, but it just wasn’t very realistic to me. And the busybodies at the retirement community…no, thank you. I’d have moved just to escape from them.

Caroline B. Cooney started writing stories when she was in the sixth grade. Before She Was Helen is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Poisoned Penn Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Case of the Killer Divorce, by Barbara Venkataraman

the case of the killer divorce
Image belongs to the author.

Title: The Case of the Killer Divorce
Author: Barbara Venkataraman
Genre: Fiction, humor
Rating: 4 out of 5

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, has returned to her family law practice after a hiatus due to the death of her mother. It’s business as usual until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation, and Jamie’s client becomes the prime suspect. When she can’t untangle truth from lies, Jamie enlists the help of Duke Broussard, her favorite private investigator, to try to clear her client’s name. And she’s hoping that, in his spare time, he can help her find her long-lost father.

This is another solid, quick read in this series, with bits of humor and some mystery to keep it interesting. Duke is again over-the-top but lovable, and Jamie is dealing with a mystery of her own:  finding her father, as well as a new love interest. If you’re looking for just a fun read without a big time commitment, this is a good pick.

Barbara Venkataraman is a lawyer and mediator.  The Case of the Killer Divorce is the second book in the Jamie Quinn Mystery series.

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