Tag: mystery

Book Review and Blog Tour: No One Saw, by Beverly Long

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NoOneSawCover
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:   No One Saw
Author:   Beverly Long
Genre:   Suspense
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. There are no witnesses, no trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena must untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma… before it’s too late.

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Ten Days Gone, and this one was right up there with it for suspense, keeping me guessing, and having me racing through it to figure out who had taken Emma. There’s a lot of red herrings and false trails that kept the detectives—and me—guessing.

I love reading series and getting to see how characters grow and change throughout, and although this is only the second book of the series, there has already been change and events to keep up with. The writing here never pulled me out of the story at all—a sure sign this is a winner!

Beverly Long wrote her first book when she was in the fourth grade. No One Saw is her newest novel.

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

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: Death of a Wandering Wolf, by Julia Buckley

death of a wandering wolf
Image belongs to Berkley.

Title:   Death of a Wandering Wolf
Author Julia Buckley
Genre:   Mystery
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Hana Keller is enjoying a day off from serving up tea and delicious pastries at her family’s Hungarian Tea House when her downtime turns deadly….

The only thing Hana loves more than a good cuppa is finding a delicate porcelain treasure to add to her collection. She’s usually on the hunt for teacups but when she spots a rare wolf figurine at a local yard sale, she knows it’s her lucky day. Hana also knows the wolf is valuable and tells the seller that he’s charging too little for it. His reaction is peculiar–he says he received the wolf from someone he doesn’t trust and he just wants it out of his life.

Hana is inspecting her new prize when she finds a tiny microchip attached to the bottom of the porcelain wolf. When she shows the figure to her police detective boyfriend, Erik, Hana is shocked to learn that the chip is actually a tracking device. They decide to confront the seller about the sneaky sale but when they arrive at his house, they find him dead. Erik and Hana now must hunt a calculating killer who has no intentions of crying wolf when it comes to murder…

I haven’t read the first book in this series—but I will! I thoroughly enjoyed this from the very first page. I relished the look at Hungarian culture here, as I haven’t read much within that context. Hana’s family is fantastic, and Eric’s is a bit scary, but I loved the whole three-ring circus.

I loved the feel of this novel so much. The voice is casual and friendly and draws you right into the action, and Hana’s personality was so much fun to read. This is a perfect read to take your mind of a bad day—or a bad year.

Julia Buckley is a writer and a teacher. Death of a Wandering Wolf is her newest novel, the second in the A Hungarian Tea House Mystery series.

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

Book Review: The Last Curtain Call, by Juliet Blackwell

the last curtain call
Image belongs to Berkley.

Title:   The Last Curtain Call
Author Juliet Blackwell
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Rating:   4 out of 5

Mel Turner can’t resist the chance to bring the Crockett Theatre, a decrepit San Francisco art nouveau movie palace, back to life. But there’s a catch for Turner Construction: Several artists are currently squatting in the building, and they aren’t the only ones haunting the once-grand halls of the historic theater….

When one of the squatters is found dead, the police department has a long list of suspects to investigate. Meanwhile, Mel and her fiancé, Landon, are remodeling an old house for themselves, and Mel finds it more challenging than she expected to be on the other side of a home renovation project.

When Mel discovers that the original owner of the Crockett Theatre died under mysterious circumstances, and that there just might be a connection to the ghost haunting her own attic, the case takes a new turn–one that could bring down the curtain for the last time.

This was my first foray into the Haunted Home Renovations Mystery series, but I had no problems feeling caught up on things. The novel’s voice is breezy and fun, and this was a quick, light read with some funny moments and a bit of a chill at times. Nothing deep or complex here, just a fun read.

Juliet Blackwell is a bestselling author. The Last Curtain Call is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Dark August, by Katie Tallo

dark august
Image belongs to HarperCollins.

Title:   Dark August
Author:   Katie Tallo
Genre: Thriller
Rating:   4 out of 5

Augusta (Gus) Monet is living an aimless existence with her grifter boyfriend when she learns that her great grandmother—her last living relative—has just died. Ditching her boyfriend, Gus returns to the home she left as a young girl. Her inheritance turns out to be a dilapidated house and an old dog named Levi. While combing through her great grandmother’s possessions, Gus stumbles across an old trunk filled with long-lost childhood belongings. But that’s not all the trunk contains. She also discovers cold case files that belonged to her mother, a disgraced police detective who died in a car accident when Gus was eight. Gus remembers her mother obsessing over these very same documents and photographs, especially a Polaroid of a young ballerina.

When Gus spots a front-page news story about the unearthing of a body linked to one of the cold case files from her childhood trunk, she can’t resist following her mother’s clues. As she digs deeper, determined to finish her mother’s investigation, her search leads her to a deserted ghost town, which was left abandoned when the residents fled after a horrific fire. As Gus’ obsession with the case grows, she inadvertently stirs up the evils of the past, putting her life in danger. But Gus is undeterred and is committed to uncovering long-buried secrets, including the secrets surrounding a missing geology student, the young ballerina in the Polaroid, a prominent family’s devastating legacy, and a toxic blast that blew an entire town off the map.

But is Gus ready to learn the truths that culminated on one terrible August night, more than a decade earlier, when lives were taken, and secrets were presumed buried forever…?

I’m not sure how I feel about this novel. For me, Gus was kind of an unlikable character at times. Actually, I didn’t really like any of the characters, and that made the novel hard to read. Excellent writing and the setting was vivid—and creepy. I loved how Gus picked up her mother’s legacy and I enjoyed all the convoluted connections between the past and the present, but the overall feel of the novel unsettled me. Which is maybe the point in a thriller?

Katie Tallo was born in Toronto. Dark August is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of HarperCollins 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: The Grim Reader, by Kate Carlisle

the grim reader
Image belongs to Berkley.

Title:   The Grim Reader
Author:   Kate Carlisle
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Rating:   4 out of 5

Brooklyn and her new hunky husband, Derek, are excited to be guests at Dharma’s first annual Book Festival. The entire town is involved and Brooklyn’s mom Rebecca is taking charge. In addition to all of her other event related duties, she’s got Brooklyn doing rare book appraisals and is also staging Little Women, the musical to delight the festival goers. If that wasn’t enough, she and Meg—Derek’s mom—will have a booth where they read palms and tarot cards.

Brooklyn couldn’t be prouder of her mom’s do-it-all attitude so when a greedy local businessman who seems intent on destroying Dharma starts harassing Rebecca, Brooklyn is ready to take him down. Rebecca is able to hold her own with the nasty jerk until one of her fellow festival committee members is brutally murdered and the money for the festival seems to have vanished into thin air.

Things get even more personal when one of Brooklyn’s nearest and dearest is nearly run down in cold blood. Brooklyn and Derek go into attack mode and the pressure is on to catch a spineless killer before they find themselves skipping the festival for a funeral.

This was a fun cozy mystery read. I haven’t read a single one of the Bibliophile Mystery series, which might have given this a little more depth for me, but this was a light, quick read. I never figured out who the murderer was, and I enjoyed the discovery process. And the books.

I did find everything a little too fluffy bunny/sweetness and light for my taste, though. I mean, no one thinks to report the town bully—or his cohorts—to the cops, even though he makes all sorts of explicit threats, including murder. This wasn’t believable to me, so it proved to be a bit of a stumbling block, but this was an enjoyable read.

Kate Carlisle is a bestselling author. The Grim Reader is her newest novel, #14 in the Bibliophile Mystery series.

(Galley courtesy of Berkley 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: Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey, by Abigail Wilson

madquerade at middlecrest abbey
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey
AuthorAbigail Wilson
Genre:  Regency, mystery, romance
Rating:  5 out of 5

When the widowed Lord Torrington agreed to spy for the crown, he never planned to impersonate a highwayman, let alone rob the wrong carriage. Stranded on the road with an unconscious young woman, he is forced to propose marriage to protect his identity, as well as his dangerous mission.

Trapped by not only the duty to her country but her limited options, Miss Elizabeth Cantrell and her illegitimate son are whisked away to Middlecrest Abbey by none other than the elder brother of her son’s absent father. She is met by Torrington’s beautiful grown daughters, a vicious murderer, and an urgent hunt for the missing intelligence that could turn the war with France. Afraid of what Lord Torrington might do if he learns of her son’s true identity, Elizabeth must remain one step ahead of her fragile heart, her uncertain future, and the relentless mystery person bent on her new family’s ruin.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! Sometimes, Regency novels are hard for me to read, with all the rules and constrictions that women were subjected to, but Elizabeth is independent-thinking enough to have a mind of her own and enough courage to make her own choices.

Adrian Torrington was also not your typical Regency hero. He’s a bit older with a past he’s not proud of and a determination to change things for the better. I like that he allows Elizabeth to be herself—without compromising either of their values. This is the first thing I’ve read by this author, but I will definitely be reading more!

Abigail Wilson lives in Texas. Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson 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.)