Tag: mystery

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 Still recovering from tragedy, she’s withdrawn from everyone and everything to nurse her wounds in silence.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.)

Book Review: Big Lies in a Small Town, by Diane Chamberlain

big lies in a small town
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Big Lies in a Small Town
AuthorDiane Chamberlain
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

In 2018, Morgan Christopher’s life has been put on hold. Serving three years for a crime she didn’t commit, she’s given up all hope of a career in art and just wants her prison stay to be over—until a stranger offers her a deal that will mean her immediate release:  restore an old mural in a small southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, and the deadline is something not even an experienced restoration artist could meet, but as Morgan starts work on the painting, she realizes it hides evidence of madness, murder, and lies in a small town.

In 1940, Anna Dale wins a contest to paint a post office mural in North Carolina. She’s thrilled for the opportunity—but Edenton isn’t what she expected at all. Her life in New York gives her no frame of reference for understanding this small southern town—full of prejudice, secrets, and expectations she refuses to meet—which just might end in murder.

I didn’t immediately connect with the characters, but I ended up loving this book! I connected with both Morgan and Anna, and I admired them both. They are such strong women. They don’t always make the best choices, but they do stay true to themselves and grow from their experiences.

Diane Chamberlain is a bestselling author. Big Lies in a Small Town is her newest novel.

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

Book Review and Blog Tour: Good Girls Lie, by J.T. Ellison

good girls lie
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:  Good Girls Lie
AuthorJ.T. Ellison
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

The Goode School, known as a Silent Ivy, is a prestigious boarding school that accepts only the brightest young women—especially daughters of the rich and powerful. The Good School is known for its traditions, like the secret societies and the honor code—lying will get you expelled. But a new girl has come to The Goode School. And she has a secret.

No one at the school bats an eye when the hazing begins—it’s tradition, after all—it’s just girls being girls and the girls would never do things they aren’t supposed to. No matter how cruel or vicious the reality is, the teachers and the head of the school turn a blind eye—until a girl ends up dead and all the secrets of the school are on the verge of being revealed. Secrets have a way of coming to the light.

I finished reading Good Girls Lie…and I’m still not sure who the bad guy is. The author does an excellent job of getting the reader into the characters’ heads—while casting suspicion on basically everyone, which kept me completely off-balance. The creepy boarding school setting is so well-detected I could practically smell the old buildings. If you need a tidy resolution to make you a happy reader, this might be the best choice for you, but it was absolutely a compelling, engrossing read.

J.T. Ellison is a New York Times- and USA Today-bestselling author. Good Girls Lie is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Smoke Screen, by Terri Blackstock

smoke screen
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Smoke Screen
AuthorTerri Blackstock
Genre:  Suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

Nate Beckett is a smoke jumper. He’s always busy fighting wildfires, and he certainly doesn’t have time to come home to the town that believed the worst of him. Fourteen years before, Nate’s father and the preacher got in a very loud, very public argument, and when the preacher was murdered that night, everyone believed Nate’s dad killed him. When the church burned to the ground, everyone believed Nate did it—and rather than stay and fight, he just left.

Fourteen years ago, Nate and the preacher’s daughter, Brenna Strickland were in love—until the night his father was accused of killing her father. After that night, Brenna thought things couldn’t get worse, but now she’s fighting an ugly custody battle with her ex-husband and his younger trophy wife—and his daddy’s money and influence. Brenna turns to alcohol to cope, but when the custody battle grows heated and new information about the murder years before comes to light, Brenna and Nate must work together to find out the truth.

I thoroughly enjoyed Smoke Screen. The things Brenna struggles with are enough to drive anyone to drink—even the preacher’s daughter. Her ex-husband and his daddy were enough to make me want a drink sometimes. The growth of her character through this novel was inspiring. Nate, too, grows a lot in this book. Being the son of a convicted murderer cannot be easy, but he handles himself with class and strength through it all.

Terri Blackstock is a USA Today– and New York Times-bestselling author. Smoke Screen is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Shamus Dust, by Janet Roger

 

shamus dust
Image belongs to author and publisher.

Title:  Shamus Dust
AuthorJanet Roger
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  4 out of 5

Newman is an American PI living in London just after World War II. The city is still a bombed-out wreck—and the people are worse. Early on Christmas morning, Newman receives a call from City Councilor Drake, who tells him to meet an investigator at the murder scene of Raymond Jarrett. The investigator isn’t there, so Newman stars asking questions. Jarrett was a blackmailer and a pimp, so there are a lot of people who might have wanted him dead—but who went through with it?

With the bodies piling up and his own life in danger, Newman is determined to find the killer. But as the suspects keep turning up dead and more questions keep stacking up, Newman realizes the truth has links all over the financial district—and the wealthy have more money and less scruples than he thought.

I’ll say straight away that detective noir stories are not my usual fair. They don’t normally hold my interest. This one did. The setting is incredibly well-realized and realistic—not to mention depressing—and the characters are…quite the character(s). I prefer more connection with the main characters I read, so the distance from Newman was a problem for me, but I realize that’s personal preference. This was well-written and very gritty, and I didn’t figure out who the killer was.

Janet Roger is an award-winning author. Shamus Dust is her debut novel.

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

Book Review: Trace of Evil, by Alice Blanchard

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

Title:  Trace of Evil
AuthorAlice Blanchard
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Natalie Lockhart is a rookie detective in the town she grew up in. Burning Lake, New York has a dark past, full of covens, mysteries, and murder. Now Natalie’s been tasked with finding a link between the Missing Nine—nine homeless people who have gone missing over the years. And Natalie sees a connection she doesn’t like—a connection to a decades’ old death.

Then Daisy Buckner, a local schoolteacher turns ups dead, and the one suspect collapses into a coma only hours later. Everyone loved Daisy—or so Natalie thinks—but Daisy was hiding secrets, secrets that just might have gotten her killed. But the darkness in Burning Lake hides secrets that Natalie cannot even fathom.

Trace of Evil is well-written, compelling, and I didn’t have a clue who the killer was. (Either of them, actually.) But, two things caught my attention:  1) I never felt like I was truly experiencing Natalie’s thoughts and feelings. The point-of-view felt quite distant to me. And 2)…No one in this town—adult, teenager, police officer, no one—gave a second thought to the prevalence of covens. They were everywhere, as if it were a normal, expected part of the teenage experience. Which seemed weird to me, honestly. I have zero experience with a place where teenage covens are the norm, so this seemed just past far-fetched to me. But that’s just my own experience.

Alice Blanchard is an award-winning author. Trace of Evil is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Southern Harm, by Caroline Fardig

southern harm
Image belongs to Alibi.

Title:  Southern Harm
AuthorCaroline Fardig
Genre:  Mystery/thriller, women’s fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Quinn Bellandini just wants to enjoy her quiet life with her new boyfriend, Tucker, running her family’s B&B—and staying away from murder investigations. But when Quinn finds bones in Tucker’s Aunt Lela’s yard and Lela is accused of the 33-year-old murder of a homecoming queen, she and her sister Delilah end up on the case again.

Tucker is devastated by his aunt’s arrest, so Quinn wants to help. Soon she and Delilah are asking questions, talking to everyone from busybody neighbors to old high school teachers to society matrons. The case is cold, and people don’t want to talk, but Quinn keeps asking questions, and turns up answers that seem to lead to the least likely of suspects—including her own parents!

I enjoyed the second novel in the Southern B&B Mystery series. Fardig’s novels are always so enjoyable:  light, funny, and charming, with quirky, likable characters. There’s a lot of family drama in this one—we are talking about the South, after all—and even the secondary characters are excellent. Lela is especially memorable, but so are the rest of this delightful cast.

Caroline Fardig is a bestselling author. Southern Harm is her newest novel, the second book in the Southern B&B Mystery series.

(Galley courtesy of Alibi via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Tracking Game, by Margaret Mizushima

tracking game
Image belongs to Crooked Lane Books.

Title:  Tracking Game
Author: Margaret Mizushima
Genre:  Mystery/thriller
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Mattie Cobb is a K-9 officer in Timber Creek, Cole Walker is the town veterinarian. Their romance may be blossoming, but secrets still threaten to keep them apart. When an explosion outside a community dance send them racing outside, they find a burning van and the dead body of Nate Fletcher, a local outfitter. But it wasn’t the explosion that killed Nate, it was two gunshots to the head.

When their only suspect winds up dead and Mattie searches for his body, she hears the growl of a predator—but not one of the cougars native to the area. Soon she realizes that they know nothing of what Nate Fletcher was truly up to—and what they’re up against.

Tracking Game wasn’t a bad read. I was interested enough to keep reading, but some of the details of Robo (Mattie’s K-9), instead of being worked seamlessly into the story, were highlighted to the reader, as if the author were pointing out her knowledge. I’m not really a fan of author intrusion, so that was a detractor for me. This is the first book I’ve read in this series, and Mattie’s reactions to things felt a little…unrealistic to me as well.

Margaret Mizushima  is an award-winning author. Tracking Game is her newest novel, Number five in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series.

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