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Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Breakdown - B. A. Paris

The Breakdown by B. A. Paris


First Paragraph:

The thunder starts as we're saying goodbye, leaving each other for the summer holidays ahead.  A loud crack echoes off the ground, making Connie jump.  John laughs, the hot air dense around us.
     'You need to hurry!' he shouts.
     With a quick wave I run to my car.  As I reach it, my mobile starts ringing, its sound muffled in my bag.  From the ringtone I know that it's Matthew.


My Thoughts:

I have not yet read B.A. Paris' first book, Behind Closed Doors, though I've heard a lot about it.  I do own a print copy of it.  However, I decided to go ahead and read, or rather listen, to her second book, The Breakdown.  I have really been on a listening binge - also I've been walking a lot at the gym, so it's all been a good thing.  Narrated by Georgia Maguire, who does a really excellent job, The Breakdown is quite the page turner.  First of all, I'll say that I guessed a lot of the solution to the story very early on - doesn't bother me though.  I know that some are disappointed when they figure out 'whodunit'.  Not me.  That being said, I did have a few surprises along the way.  Cass' worry that she is experiencing 'early onset dementia', like her mother, was very, very sad.  I do understand about caring for parents with dementia.  It's a tragic thing and hard to recover from.  Her fear and anxiety amped up the storyline, but it did get a little repetitive over time.  I'll share that I listened to this book - all 9hrs-20min of it - in just under 2 days.  If that tells you anything.  So, my final answer regarding The Breakdown - a good psychological thriller.  And I'll be reading this author's first book soon and looking forward to her third.    


Blurb:

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not a Sound - Heather Gudenkauf

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf


First Paragraph:

I find her sitting all by herself in the emergency waiting room, her lovely features distorted from the swelling and bruising.  Only a few patients remain, unusual for a Friday night and a full moon.  Sitting across from her, an elderly woman coughs wetly into a handkerchief while her husband, arms folded across his chest and head tilted back, snores gently.  Another man with no discernible ailment stares blankly up at the television mounted on the wall.  Canned laughter fills the room.


My Thoughts:

Not a Sound was a good read for me, or rather, a good listen.  Narrated by Julia Whelan, the story kept me quite absorbed and not minding my walking regimen at the local rec center.  Amelia Winn is an experienced ER nurse who is also trained in collection of forensic evidence.  As the result of an accident while she's walking a victim to her car, Amelia's injuries include the loss of her hearing.  This is, of course, quite an adjustment and Amelia doesn't do well for quite some time.  Finally, however, she's ready to resume more normal life, look for a job, and see how she can manage with her service dog, Stitch.  The mystery was not particularly hard for me to guess, but I know that I tend to be skeptical of everyone in books such as these and often figure out the 'villain'.  I loved reading about Stitch and how he assisted Amelia in her daily life.  This was a book that is 'dear to the heart' of the author, Heather, also a person with a profound hearing loss.  And the story included an oncologist and cancer treatments - the author's son had a rare form of bone cancer and is now an 8-year survivor - wonderful!  I read another book by this author a while back that I didn't like as well, but I need to try her other books.  This one got a thumbs-up from me!


Blurb:

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Down a Dark Road - Linda Castillo

Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo


First Paragraph:

Two Years Earlier
He waited until the children slept.  It was his final kindness.  Give them a few more hours of peace before he took from them the thing they loved most.  Before he shattered their innocence forever.  Took something from himself he would never get back.


My Thoughts:

Linda Castillo's series featuring Police Chief Kate Burkholder is one of my favorites.  I look forward to a new book each summer.  Down a Dark Road is #9 and it's a good one.  As these books continue, we learn more and more about Kate's life as a child and young adult - her Amish life.  She left in her late teens and became a police officer, but she eventually returned to her home area as the Chief of Police.  She understands the issues that the Amish people face, but she also is shunned by many of them because of her current life.  This book is quite gripping and involves a hostage situation and some questionable police decisions.  Kate is also called on the carpet by the town council of Painter's Mill, mostly a political decision, but one that could have consequences in later books.  I listened to Kathleen McInerney's narration of the story and it was as good as ever.  This is a series that I love and I'll be watching for the next book, hopefully in a year or so.


Blurb:

Two years ago, Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a “fallen” Amish man and a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped, and he’s headed for Painters Mill.

News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire, putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. But this is personal for Kate. She grew up with Joseph King. As a thirteen year old Amish girl, she’d worshipped the ground he walked on. She never could have imagined the nightmare scenario that becomes reality when King shows up with a gun and takes his five children hostage at their Amish uncle’s farm. Armed and desperate, he has nothing left to lose.

Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate makes contact with King only to find herself trapped with a killer. Or is he? All King asks of her is to help him prove his innocence—and he releases her unharmed. Kate is skeptical, but when the facts and the evidence don’t align, she begins to wonder who she should trust. Spurned by some of her fellow cops, she embarks on her own investigation only to unearth an unspeakable secret—and someone who is willing to commit murder to keep it buried.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Death at Wentwater Court - Carola Dunn

Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn


First Paragraph:

Midnight at Ciro's.  The strains of the Charleston died away amid applause for the...band.  As a babble of talk and laughter arose, the young man led his partner from the dance floor.  The older man watching him noted that his well-cut evening togs were slightly rumpled, his face too red even for the aftermath of the vigorous dance.  The youthful tart hanging on his arm didn't seem to care, though an excess of face-paint made it difficult to be sure.


My Thoughts:

This is first book in a favorite historical mystery series, featuring Daisy Dalrymple, who is an 'Honorable'.  Bernadette Dunne narrates and does a good job.  It's the 1920's and Daisy has decided to earn her own living by writing articles for a magazine.  Her social position allows her access to some historical homes still owned and lived in by the nobility.  She begins at Wentwater Court and all goes well until there is a death, presumably an accident.  However, Scotland Yard is called in and it turns out to be not so simple.  Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher and his team arrive and Daisy is drawn to the detective, even though policemen are not quite respectable or so society says.  Times are changing though and Daisy is very helpful - mostly.  A fun series, with a hint of romance, perhaps...


Blurb:

It's the early 1920s in England--the country is still recovering from the Great War and undergoing rapid social changes that many are not quite ready to accept. During this heady and tumultuous time, the Honorable Daisy Dalrymple, the daughter of a Viscount, makes a decision shocking to her class: rather than be supported by her relations, she will earn her own living as a writer. Landing an assignment for Town & Country magazine for a series of articles on country manor houses, she travels to Wentwater Court in early January 1923 to begin research on her first piece. But all is not well there when she arrives. Lord Wentwater's young wife has become the center of a storm of jealousy, animosity, and, possibly, some not-unwanted amorous attention, which has disrupted the peace of the bucolic country household.

Still, this is as nothing compared to the trouble that ensues when one of the holiday guests drowns in a tragic early-morning skating accident. Especially when Daisy discovers that his death was no accident....

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Heaven and Earth - Nora Roberts

Heaven and Earth by Nora Roberts


First Paragraph:

THREE SISTERS ISLAND
September 1699

She called the storm.
     The gales of wind, the bolts of lightning, the rage of the sea that was both prison and protection.  She called the forces, those that lived within her, those that dwelled without.  The bright and the dark.
     Slender, with her cloak streaming back like bird-wings, she stood alone on the wind-whipped beach.  Alone but for her rage and her grief.  And her power.  It was that power that filled her now, rushed inside her in wild, pounding strokes like a lover gone mad.
     And so, perhaps it was.


My Thoughts:

The second book in Nora Roberts' trilogy set on Three Sisters Island - this is Ripley's story.  The Todds take care of the 'Sisters' - Zack Todd is the local sheriff and Ripley, his sister, is the deputy.  Their father had been the sheriff before Zack.  Ripley is strong and no-nonsense and a seeker of justice.  She is also one of the three women descended from the original 'Three Sisters'.  Her element is Earth and her power is strong - so strong that it scares her - and so she tucks it away in her late teens and refuses to acknowledge it or use it in any way.  That's about to change.  MacAllister Booke, a sort of 'Indiana Jones' for the paranormal comes to the island and runs straight into Ripley.  Well, he actually beats her in a swimming race.  And so it begins.  Another reread for me and also narrated by Sandra Burr.  Have I said how much I like this trilogy?  The third will be coming up soon in my audio list.  Can't wait!


Blurb:

Ripley Todd's job as a sheriff’s deputy keeps her busy and happy, and she has no trouble finding men when she wants them—which, lately, isn’t all that often. She’s perfectly content, except for one thing: she has special powers that both frighten and confuse her.

Distraction soon arrives in the handsome form of MacAllister Booke—a researcher who’s come to investigate the rumors of witchcraft that haunt Three Sisters Island. Right from the start, he knows there’s something extraordinary about Ripley Todd. Fascinated by her struggle with her amazing abilities, he becomes determined to help her accept who she is—and find the courage to open her heart.

But before Ripley and Mac can dream of what lies in the future, they must confront the pain of the past. For Three Sisters shelters centuries of secrets—and a legacy of danger that plagues them still…

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cast Into Doubt - Patricia MacDonald

Cast Into Doubt by Patricia MacDonald


First Paragraph:

Prajit Singh didn't want any drama on his shift.  He needed time to concentrate.  So far, it had been a quiet night, and that was the way he preferred it.  Drivers came and went, coming in to use the restrooms, and pay for their gas.  Kids hung around drinking slurpees from the machine at the back of the store, and harried moms came in to pick up a quart of milk for breakfast, or some small bags of chips to toss into the kids' lunches.  Old people bought newspapers and poor people bought lottery tickets.  Prajit used the in-between time to work on his studies.  He was in medical school, and the work was grueling.  He always had a textbook open under the counter.  The venous systems, or the lobes of the brain, or grimace-inducing photos of virulent skin conditions were always peeking out from the shelf under the cash register.  Prajit was a juggler of time and responsibilities and other people's needs.  He was so used to being exhausted and overburdened that it almost seemed normal to him now.

My Thoughts:

Cast Into Doubt was my first book by suspense author Patricia MacDonald.  It was an interesting story with lots of twists and turns.  Shelby Sloan's daughter and son-in-law are on a cruise, a trip that Shelby had given them as a treat.  She receives a call saying that her daughter, Chloe, is missing and thought to have fallen overboard.  After the investigation is quickly closed and assumptions made about Chloe and her life, Shelby refuses to accept the convenient conclusion.  She investigates on her own and discovers a lot about her daughter that she didn't know.  This tale kept my interest, though it wasn't unique in any way.  I will be trying other books by this author.  Her publisher is Severn House and I've decided to check out a few of other authors that they publish.
 

Blurb:

A gripping novel of domestic suspense - Shelby Sloan, a successful Philadelphia businesswoman in her early forties, has one child, a daughter whom she raised on her own.  She gives her daughter, Chloe, and son-in-law, Rob, a Caribbean cruise as a gift, while she takes the opportunity to mind her four-year-old grandson. But life becomes a nightmare when Rob calls to tell her that Chloe has disappeared overboard. The police decide it was an accident, but Shelby refuses to accept the official verdict . . .

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Naked in Death - J. D. Robb

Naked in Death by J. D. Robb


First Paragraph:

She woke in the dark.  Through the slats on the window shades, the first murky hint of dawn slipped, slanting shadowy bars over the bed.  It was like waking in a cell.
     For a moment, she simply lay there, shuddering, imprisoned, while the dream faded.  After ten years on the force, Eve still had dreams.
     Six hours before, she'd killed a man, had watched death creep into his eyes.  It wasn't the first time she'd exercised maximum force, or dreamed.  She'd learned to accept the action and the consequences.


My Thoughts:

Naked in Death is the first book in J.D. Robb's long-running series featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Irish billionaire Roarke.  This series now runs to 44 books.  I've read almost all of them, but have a few to catch up on.  What is it about Eve and Roake that keeps me coming back?  Well, Eve herself is a gifted cop - fierce, strong, a survivor.  Actually, Roarke is the same.  Both come from very grim backgrounds and they have overcome a lot.  I like the supporting characters too and enjoy meeting new ones.  These books take place in the future - though it's a future that is not as distant as it was when Naked in Death was published in 1995.  My summer of rereading is turning out to be very satisfying.  It will continue, but I'll try to slip in a few new-to-me books as well.  Probably.  Ha!  This series is recommended.


Blurb:

Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all—and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire—and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about—except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer of the Dragon - Elizabeth Peters

Summer of the Dragon by Elizabeth Peters


First Paragraph:

I went to Arizona that summer for my health  Talk about irony...
     No, I don't have asthma, or anything like that.  What I had--and still have, for that matter--was a bad case of parents.  Two of them.
     Mind you, they are marvelous.  I love them.  Separately they are unnerving but endurable.  Together...disaster, sheer disaster.  Ulcermaking.  Productive of high blood pressure, nervous tension, hives, indigestion, and other psychosomatic disorders.


My Thoughts:

Summer of the Dragon is another book that I've read many times.  It was published in the late '70's and Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels/Barbara Mertz is the author.  I am very fond of this author's female protagonists.  They are always strong and capable and funny - if you've read any of her Amelia Peabody books, you know what I mean.  This book takes place in northern Arizona and concerns treasure hunting, anthropology, and wacky people.  D.J. Abbott is the female lead, a graduate student who comes to the area for a summer job.  Chaos ensues in many ways.  Barbara Mertz was herself an archaeologist and the stories and lore that she shares are great.  Grace Conlin narrates and does a competent job.  Very dry voice, which suits the humor.  And who wouldn't like a male protagonist who looks like he should star in 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'?  I'm enjoying my summer of 'rereading' - more to come!


Blurb:

A good salary and an all-expenses-paid summer spent at a sprawling Arizona ranch is too good a deal for fledgling anthropologist D.J. Abbott to turn down. What does it matter that her rich new employer/benefactor, Hank Hunnicutt, is a certified oddball who is presently funding all manner of off-beat projects, from alien conspiracy studies to a hunt for dragon bones? There's even talk of treasure buried in the nearby mountains, but D.J. isn't going to allow loose speculation -- or the considerable charms of handsome professional treasure hunter Jesse Franklin -- to sidetrack her. Until Hunnicutt suffers a mysterious accident and then vanishes, leaving the weirdos gathered at his spread to eye each other with frightened suspicion. But on a high desert search for the missing millionaire, D.J. is learning things that may not be healthy for her to know. For the game someone is playing here goes far beyond the rational universe -- and it could leave D.J. legitimately dead.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Dance Upon the Air - Nora Roberts

Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts


First Paragraph:

Salem Village, Massachusetts
June 22, 1692

In the dark green shadows of the deep woods, an hour before moonrise, they met in secret.  Soon the longest day would become the shortest night of the solstice.
     There would be no celebration, no rite of thanksgiving for the light, the warmth, on the Sabbat of Litha.  This midsummer was a time of ignorance, and of death.
     The three who met, met in fear.


My Thoughts:

I've mentioned before that I enjoy rereading certain books.  Dance Upon the Air is one of my favorites - the first book in Nora Roberts' trilogy set on Three Sisters Island.  As this was an audiobook, the narrator is important - Sandra Burr - she's excellent.  This is Nell's story.  She comes to Three Sisters, running away from an abusive husband, and she finds her destiny.  I like books about witches and Nell is a descendent of one of the witches that created Three Sisters Island, though she didn't know that.  The other two books tell the stories of Ripley and Mia.  This trilogy is fun and easygoing.  It's full of love and lore and magic.  I revisit it every year or two and I really wish that the author would let us know about the next generation of witches on Three Sisters.  Maybe one day.


Blurb:

When Nell Channing arrives on charming Three Sisters Island, she believes that she’s finally found refuge from her abusive husband—and from the terrifying life she fled so desperately eight months ago…

Careful to conceal her true identity, she takes a job as a cook at the local bookstore café—and begins to explore her feelings for the island sheriff, Zack Todd. But there is a part of herself she can never reveal to him. One careless word, one misplaced confidence, and the new life she’s so carefully created could shatter completely.

Just as Nell starts to wonder if she’ll ever be able to break free of her fear, she realizes that the island suffers under a terrible curse—one that can only be broken by the descendants of the Three Sisters, the witches who settled the island back in 1692. And now, with the help of two other strong, gifted women—and the nightmares of the past haunting her every step—she must find the power to save her home, her love…and herself.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Magpie Murders - Anthony Horowitz

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz


First Paragraph:

A bottle of wine.  A family-sized packet of Nacho Cheese Flavoured Tortilla Chips and a jar of hot salsa dip.  A packet of cigarettes on the side (I know, I know).  The rain hammering against the windows.  And a book.
     What could have been lovelier?


My Thoughts:

Loved this book.  Truly.  Of course, the author, Anthony Horowitz, is one I've admired for quite a while.  The creator of  not only Alex Rider, YA detective/spy, but also Foyle's War, as well as other TV and mystery tales.  What's not to love?  I listened to this book, which was narrated by Allan Corduner and Samantha Bond.  Both did an excellent job.  It was a little long on audio, almost 16 hours, but I was in the mood for a nice long listen.  If you're a fan of Agatha Christie or of traditional mysteries in general, I think you'd like this one.  So very clever.  Lots of references to other authors and books.  It had the feel of Christie's books set in small villages in the past, but it was told in the present day.  I thought the author's 'book within a book' and 'mystery within a mystery' was great fun.  Definitely recommended!


Blurb:

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

Masterful, clever, and relentlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction in which the reader becomes the detective.