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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Rapture in Death - J. D. Robb

Rapture in Death by J. D. Robb


First Paragraph:

The alley was dark and stank of piss and vomit.  It was home for quick-footed rats and the bony, hungry-eyed felines who hunted them.  Red eyes glinted in the dark, some of them human, all of them feral.
     Eve's heart tripped lightly as she slipped into the fetid, damp-edged shadows.  He'd gone in, she was sure of it.  It was her job to follow, to find him, to bring him in.  Her weapon was in her hand, and her hand was steady.


My Thoughts:

Rapture in Death is the 4th book by J. D. Robb.  Eve and Roarke are now married and the first death that occurs is at an off-planet resort that Roarke owns.  They are sharing the 'honeymoon suite' and Eve is on vacation, but she has to pull on her 'cop' persona (which never really leaves her) and dig in.  This book was published in 1996 and it is 21 years old now.  The series is set in the mid-21st century - 2058 or so.  There are futuristic elements for sure, but I find it interesting how many things mentioned are now, in 2017, at least possible or maybe even available.  Sort of like the old 'Star Trek' show and the Engineer Scottie saying 'Computer...' or noticing those 'tricorders' in their hands.  Doesn't it remind you of all of us gazing at our phones in our hands or saying 'Siri' or 'Alexa'.  Curious, right?  And the re-reading binge continues...


Blurb:

They died with smiles on their faces. Three apparent suicides: a brilliant engineer, an infamous lawyer, and a controversial politician. Three strangers with nothing in common—and no obvious reasons for killing themselves. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas finds the deaths suspicious. And her instincts pay off when autopsies reveal small burns on the brains of the victims.

Was it a genetic abnormality or a high-tech method of murder? Eve’s investigation turns to the provocative world of virtual reality games—where the same techniques used to create joy and desire can also prompt the mind to become the weapon of its own destruction...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Immortal in Death - J. D. Robb

Immortal in Death by J. D. Robb


First Paragraph:

Getting married was murder.  Eve wasn't sure how it had happened in the first place.  She was a cop, for God's sake.  Throughout her ten years on the force, she'd firmly believed cops should stay single, unencumbered, and focused utterly on the job.  It was insane to believe one person could split time, energy, and emotion between the law, with all its rights and wrongs, and family, with all its demands and personalities.


My Thoughts:

Immortal in Death is the 3rd book in J. D. Robb's series featuring Eve Dallas and Roarke.  As always, aptly narrated by Susan Ericksen.  And, in case you were wondering, Nora Roberts (the author behind the name of J. D. Robb) wanted to reach a different set of readers with these books.  Apparently, it wasn't until about #9 that the 'secret' came out.  In this tale, Eve and Roarke are planning their wedding.  Well, Roarke is planning it - Eve is busy with murder, as usual.  Mavis, one of Eve's closest friends, has been arrested for second degree murder.  The dead woman - Pandora - mega-famous model.  Eve is determined to find the real killer because she knows that it's not Mavis.  We get to know more about several of the secondary characters, and this is the book that Officer Delia Peabody makes her debut as Eve's assistant.  I'm happily doing listen/read combos on these books.


Blurb:

She was one of the most sought after women in the world. A top model who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted—even another woman’s man. And now she was dead, the victim of a brutal murder. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas put her life on the line to take the case when suspicion fell on her best friend, the other woman in the fatal love triangle. Beneath the facade of glamour, Eve found that the world of high fashion thrived on an all-consuming obsession for youth and fame. One that led from the runway to the dark underworld of New York City where drugs could be found to fulfill any desire—for a price…

Monday, July 31, 2017

Glory in Death - J. D. Robb

Glory in Death by J. D. Robb


First Paragraph:

The dead were her business.  She lived with them, worked with them, studied them.  She dreamed of them.  And because that didn't seem to be enough, in some deep, secret chamber of her heart, she mourned for them.
     A decade as a cop had toughened her, given her a cold, clinical, and often cynical eye toward death and its many causes.  It made scenes such as the one she viewed now, on a rainy night on a dark street nasty with litter, almost too usual.  But still, she felt.
     Murder no longer shocked, but it continued to repel.


My Thoughts:

Glory in Death is the second book in J. D. Robb's series featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Roarke.  It begins with a murder of a noted prosecutor, someone that Eve had worked with and thought well of.  I listened to this one on audio with Susan Ericksen narrating.  She's done all the books in this series and, in my head, she's the voice of Eve.  The reader gets to meet additional characters that will appear in later books and also get to know others better.  The relationship between our two main characters progresses and I like how they are with each other.  For me, this is a favorite series and I'm having fun rereading the early books.  If you like a great series that seems to go on and on, this one is recommended by me.


Blurb:

The first victim was found lying on a sidewalk in the rain. The second was murdered in her own apartment building. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas had no problem finding connections between the two crimes. Both victims were beautiful and highly successful women. Their glamorous lives and loves were the talk of the city. And their intimate relations with men of great power and wealth provided Eve with a long list of suspects—including her own lover, Roarke. As a woman, Eve was compelled to trust the man who shared her bed. But as a cop, it was her job to follow every lead...to investigate every scandalous rumor...to explore every secret passion, no matter how dark. Or how dangerous.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Lying Game - Ruth Ware

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware


First Paragraph:

The Reach is wide and quiet this morning, the pale blue sky streaked with pink mackerel-belly clouds, the shallow sea barely rippling in the slight breeze, and so the sound of the dog barking breaks into the calm like gunshots, setting flocks of gulls crying and wheeling in the air.


My Thoughts:

The Lying Game is Ruth Ware's third thriller and I listened to it read by Imogen Church, who also narrated this author's other books.  I like her narration.  I had actually read an advance copy of this book early this year, but decided to try it again on audio and see if my opinion had changed.  First, I'll say that I really liked Ware's first two books, especially her debut.  This one...well, I'll share that it likely won't be my favorite and I'm hoping her next is a little more to my taste.  The story is fine enough and does have some twists and turns.  I also like books that include 'old school ties'.  What I wasn't as happy about was the amount of lying and deception among the characters - especially between Isa and her significant other.  I also got very, very weary of hearing about her baby and caring for the baby.  How many times does the reader need to hear a detailed description of breastfeeding and a child crying?  I wonder if this author has recently had a baby.  Seriously.  Anyway, I don't want to discourage others from trying it.  Not every book by a favorite author is going to be a 'winner' for every reader, right?  I'll look forward to Ruth Ware's next.  And maybe go back and reread her first two.


Blurb:

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister...

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Golden Hour - T. Greenwood

The Golden Hour by T. Greenwood


First Paragraph:

If this day were a painting, if I were asked to fill my palette with all the colors of that afternoon, you might be surprised by the ones I'd choose: grasshopper greens and cerulean blue.  It was June, I might argue, the last day of school.  Of course, the grass was green, the sky blue.
     But what color is thirteen?  Is it the cinder brown of wide eyes, the crimson flush of hot cheeks?  Maybe a dollop of peach for the chipped nail polish on ragged fingernails, that same fleshy pink for thin legs as they run across that endless green.  A cadmium shirt, and the washed-out cobalt of denim cutoff jeans.  Add blue to black for the hair, tied back, a horse's tail swooshing side to side like a pendulum with each stride.


My Thoughts:

T. Greenwood is another author that I've meant to read for a long time.  I'm glad I selected The Golden Hour to start my journey through her writings.  This is the tale of a damaged woman, Wyn, an artist, who tries to live her life and forget a terrible attack when she was a young teen.  She told part of the truth about that day, but not all of it.  Really not all of it.  And this has stunted her growth as an artist, as a wife, as a friend, as a mother.  When Wyn learns that evidence has been found that might set the man free who was convicted of her attack, she runs away to an island in Maine, to a house that her best friend owns.  There she finds many things, not the least of which is herself.  I liked this book very much and loved the descriptive quality of the writing - the colors, the setting.  I'll be trying other books by T. Greenwood soon.


Blurb:

On a spring afternoon long ago, thirteen-year-old Wyn Davies took a shortcut through the woods in her New Hampshire hometown and became a cautionary tale. Now, twenty years later, she lives in New York, on the opposite side of a duplex from her ex, with their four-year-old daughter shuttling between them. Wyn makes her living painting commissioned canvases of birch trees to match her clients’ furnishings. But the nagging sense that she has sold her artistic soul is soon eclipsed by a greater fear. Robby Rousseau, who has spent the past two decades in prison for a terrible crime against her, may be released based on new DNA evidence—unless Wyn breaks her silence about that afternoon.

To clear her head, refocus her painting, and escape an even more present threat, Wyn agrees to be temporary caretaker for a friend’s new property on a remote Maine island. The house has been empty for years, and in the basement Wyn discovers a box of film canisters labeled “Epitaphs and Prophecies.” Like time capsules, the photographs help her piece together the life of the house’s former owner, an artistic young mother, much like Wyn. But there is a mystery behind the images too, and unraveling it will force Wyn to finally confront what happened in those woods—and perhaps escape them at last.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

He Said, She Said - Erin Kelly

He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly


First Paragraph:

We stand side by side in front of the speckled mirror.  Our reflections avoid eye contact.  Like me, she's wearing black and like mine, her clothes have clearly been chosen with care and respect.  Neither of us is on trial, or not officially, but we both know that in cases like this, it's always the woman who is judged.


My Thoughts:

Erin Kelly is an author that I've meant to try for a long time.  Since this is a 'big' year for a solar eclipse (less than 4 weeks away), He Said, She Said seemed an appropriate place to begin.  And, yes, solar eclipses play a big part in the story.  I listened to this book on audio and it was perfectly narrated by Helen Johns and Jonathan Broadbent.  This is quite the twisty tale.  Not particularly fast moving and also lots of pretty unlikable characters, but I was caught up in the drama.  Told from both Kit and Laura's points of view and taking us backwards and forwards in time, we eventually get the entire picture of what happened in 1999 and then, what happened in the later years.  I liked this one a lot and will be checking out other books by Erin Kelly.  Recommended.


Blurb:

In the summer of 1999, Kit and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun. Kit is an eclipse chaser; Laura has never seen one before. Young and in love, they are certain this will be the first of many they’ll share.

But in the hushed moments after the shadow passes, Laura interrupts a man and a woman. She knows that she saw something terrible. The man denies it. It is her word against his.

The victim seems grateful. Months later, she turns up on their doorstep like a lonely stray. But as her gratitude takes a twisted turn, Laura begins to wonder—did she trust the wrong person?

15 years later, Kit and Laura married are living under new names and completely off the digital grid: no Facebook, only rudimentary cell phones, not in any directories. But as the truth catches up to them, they realize they can no longer keep the past in the past.
 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Color of Water in July - Nora Carroll

The Color of Water in July by Nora Carroll


First Paragraph:

There must be a precise moment when wet cement turns dry, when it no longer accepts footprints or scratched-in declarations of love; an ordinary moment, unnoticed, just like any.  But in that moment, the facts of a life can change.


My Thoughts:

The Color of Water in July was a nice read for summer.  Set in Michigan on a lake, it tells the tale of Jess and her family, of the secrets that have been carried forward year after year, and of Jess' discovery of them.  She returns to her family's 'summer cottage' in order to arrange a sale.  Her grandmother, Mamie, has left her the property and she's anxious to get the job done and return to her life in New York.  Told from several viewpoints and from various points in time, this was not a thriller, but it was a story that I wanted to finish.  There were definitely secrets and hidden things.  Jess herself was a bit clueless and tame, but she finds herself in the end.  I was satisfied.


Blurb:

It’s been a long seventeen years since Jess last saw her grandmother or visited the family cottage set on an idyllic lake in Northern Michigan. For all that time, she’s been haunted by loss—of her innocence and her ability to trust and, most of all, of a profound summer romance that might have been something more. So when her grandmother leaves the house to her, Jess summons her courage and returns to a place full of memories—and secrets.

There, she stumbles upon old letters and photographs of a time not so much forgotten as buried. As she begins to unravel the hidden histories of her mother and her grandmother, she makes a startling discovery about a tragic death that prompted her family’s slow undoing. With every uneven and painful step into the past, Jess comes closer to a truth that could alter her own path—and open a door to a different future.

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.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Home - Harlan Coben

Home by Harlan Coben


First Paragraph:

The boy who has been missing for ten years steps into the light.
     I am not one for hysterics or even feeling much of what might be labeled astonishment.  I have seen much in my forty-plus years.  I have nearly been killed--and I have killed.  I have seen depravity that most would find difficult, if not downright inconceivable, to comprehend--and some would argue that I have administered the same.  I have learned over the years to control my emotions and, more important, my reactions during stressful, volatile situations.  I may strike quickly and violently, but I do nothing without a certain level of deliberation and purpose.


My Thoughts:

I really, really liked this book.  Having been a big fan of this author's Myron and Win series, I was delighted to find a new book featuring these characters - after 5 years.  All the usual gang is around.  Two boys went missing, presumed kidnapped, 10 years ago.  One of them is related to Win, Myron's best friend.  Win has never given up looking.  Finally, one of the boys is located - or is he?  This was a listen/read combo for me.  Steven Weber does an excellent job with the narration.  The tension is high and the thrills non-stop.  Fans of the Bolitar family will be pleased to revisit New Jersey and New York with them.  I'm thinking this may be the last of this series, but I'm satisfied with it.  Highly recommended.


Blurb:

A decade ago, kidnappers grabbed two boys from wealthy families and demanded ransom, then went silent. No trace of the boys ever surfaced. For ten years their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived: Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe they have located one of the boys, now a teenager. Where has he been for ten years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken? And most critically: What can he tell Myron and Win about the fate of his missing friend?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The To-Hell-And-Back Club - Jill Hannah Anderson

The To-Hell-And-Back-Club by Jill Hannah Anderson


First Paragraph:

I took a step back after knocking on my husband's bedroom door.
  'What?' Jerry opened his door, golf cap in hand, at 6:20 a.m.
  'When's your tee time?'
  'Soon.'
  'Josh called.  He left his spikes here.  Can you take them to him?'  The round trip to our son's campus would take over an hour--one I didn't have.  I was meeting my friends for the day.


My Thoughts:

What a great book! Really enjoyed this! Isn't it true that all of us have had hard times - difficult times - traumatic times? It might be illness or death or money problems or marital difficulties. It might even be a situation that seems unendurable. Peyton Brooks loses her 3 best friends in a car accident. After a time, she is referred to a club for women - the To-Hell-And-Back Club. The club exists to support women who need a little help. It's for fun and for tears and for sharing and for caring and the women are there for each other for as long as it takes. The club encourages the women to eventually begin to reach out and 'pay it forward', supporting others in whatever way they can. An inspiring story. I'm not sure if the author based this on a real 'club', but the idea has a lot of merit. I look forward to Jill Hannah Anderson's next book, which I understand will feature another character from this one. This one is recommended for some hope and encouragement and good feelings!


Blurb:

In this inspiring debut from Jill Hannah Anderson~ Peyton Brooks, a newly-empty nester with a comatose marriage, loses her three best friends in a car crash, and reaches out to women in the To-Hell-And-Back Club, hoping they’ll help resuscitate her life.

Through the “Hell Club”, Peyton learns that it’s never too late to begin again. These been-there-felt-that women use their sense of humor, strength, and support to help pull her off the couch and back to living her life.

She puts an end to her troubled marriage and rebuilds the life she’d put aside two decades ago. But when Peyton digs up time capsules she and her friends buried years ago and uncovers secrets about those she loved, she struggles to keep her own life-changing secret buried.

The “Hell Club” women help remind Peyton of the strength within her. She finds a renewed hope in life and love when she faces the mistakes and guilt that have troubled her for years. When Peyton’s secret is discovered, she’s going to need the “Hell Club” women more than ever.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - Fast Falls the Night



Waiting on Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Although Jill is no longer hosting this event, I'll continuing to post one soon to be released title on occasional Wednesdays.

This week's book is Fast Falls the Night, the 6th book in the Bell Elkins mystery series, set in West Virginia.  I love this series!  Love the characters and the setting and get really caught up in everything about Bell, her family, her colleagues, the crimes she investigates.  Julia Keller writes a great series, and I'd love to encourage people to try it.




Publication Date:  August 22nd

The first drug overdose comes just after midnight, when a young woman dies on the dirty floor of a gas station bathroom. To the people of the small town of Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, it is just another tragedy. It is sad—but these days, depressingly familiar.

But then there is another overdose. And another. And another.

Prosecutor Bell Elkins soon realizes that her Appalachian hometown is facing its starkest challenge yet: a day of constant heroin overdoses from a batch tainted with a lethal tranquilizer. While the clock ticks and the bodies fall, Bell and her colleagues desperately track the source of the deadly drug—and engage in fierce debates over the wisdom of expending precious resources to save the lives of self-destructive addicts.

Based on a real-life event, Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Keller’s latest Bell Elkins novel “Fast Falls the Night” takes place in a single 24-hour period, unfurling against the backdrop of a shattering personal revelation that will change Bell’s life forever.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

One Perfect Lie - Lisa Scottoline

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline


First Paragraph:

Chris Brennan was applying for a teaching job at Central Valley High School, but he was a fraud.  His resume was fake, and his identity completely phony.  So far he'd fooled the personnel director, the assistant principal, and the Chairperson of the Social Studies Department.  This morning was his final interview, with the principal, Dr. Wendy McElroy.  It was make-or-break.


My Thoughts:

I've read many of Lisa Scottoline's books over the years, mostly her legal series. ONE PERFECT LIE was a standalone book and it was quite suspenseful. I can't say much about the story without spoilers, but let me assure any reader that there are surprises and twists. Some of them were a little convenient, as were some of the characterizations. As the tension ramped up though, I was forgiving and caught up in the tale. Though I don't think this will be a favorite for me, I still think it's worth a read. It has a timely story line. I listened to the book on audio and George Newbern was a good narrator. I'll continue to watch for the latest Lisa Scottoline book.


Blurb:

On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He's applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he's ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he's being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Jordan's baseball games. But Jordan is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon's wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Little Black Lies - Sharon Bolton

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton


First Paragraph:

I believe just about anyone can kill in the right circumstances, given enough motivation.  The question is, am I there yet?  I think I must be.  Because lately, it seems, I've been thinking of little else.
     It is a minute after midnight.  In two days' time it will be the third of November.  Two more days.  Am I there yet?


My Thoughts:

Sharon Bolton is one of my favorite authors. I have read each of her Lacey Flint books and loved them. LITTLE BLACK LIES is a standalone and quite different from the Flint series. Set in the Falkland Islands, this is the tale of missing children, friends who are no longer friends, sorrow, secrets - so many secrets. Told from the viewpoints of three main characters, Catrin, Callum, and Rachel, I was completely caught up in the story. While I tried to put together the puzzle in my mind and had some success, I was also captivated by the descriptions of the Falklands - the people, the land and sea, the creatures that live there - and the history. Such a sad story, but completely fascinating to me. I have not yet read this author's other standalone books. I'm planning on reading them soon. Highly recommended.


Blurb:

In such a small community as the Falkland Islands, a missing child is unheard of. In such a dangerous landscape it can only be a terrible tragedy, surely...

When another child goes missing, and then a third, it's no longer possible to believe that their deaths were accidental, and the villagers must admit that there is a murderer among them. Even Catrin Quinn, a damaged woman living a reclusive life after the accidental deaths of her own two sons a few years ago, gets involved in the searches and the speculation.

And suddenly, in this wild and beautiful place that generations have called home, no one feels safe and the hysteria begins to rise.

But three islanders—Catrin, her childhood best friend, Rachel, and her ex-lover Callum—are hiding terrible secrets. And they have two things in common: all three of them are grieving, and none of them trust anyone, not even themselves.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

In the Land of Milk and Honey - Jane Jensen

In the Land of Milk and Honey by Jane Jensen


First Paragraph:

'Mama!  Mama!'
     The strained cry pulled Leah from a fevered dream in which she'd been sewing and sewing.  The stitches fell apart, disintegrating as she frantically worked.  It was something important and she had to finish it...a bridal dress.
     No. A shroud.


My Thoughts:

This second book in Jane Jensen's series starring Detective Elizabeth Harris was quite enjoyable. Set in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the story starts with a very sick Amish family. Elizabeth is assigned to the case when the illness becomes fatal and it's suspected that more people will die soon. The CDC is brought in and the press and protesters descend upon the area. Tainted raw milk is the source of the sickness, but how are the cows acquiring the toxin? Detective Harris was successful in solving the crimes in the first book and she has made good friends among the Amish. Now, she and the other investigators are working against time and a clever opponent to save lives. I was glad to visit Lancaster County again and learn what new crimes Elizabeth Harris would be called upon to solve. Though the mystery was not terribly hard to figure out, the characters are interesting and the changes in Elizabeth's life since the first book were fun to read about. I look forward to #3!


Blurb:

By solving the murders of two local girls, Elizabeth has gained some trust in the Amish community. So, she’s the first person its members turn to when a fast and fatal illness takes hold, though many believe that the sickness stems from a hexerei—a curse placed by a practitioner of old-world folk magic. Elizabeth doesn’t believe in curses, and when an entire Amish family is found dead, she begins to suspect something far more sinister...

As the CDC is called in to investigate, customers of a Philadelphia farmers market selling Amish raw milk start dying. Amid rapidly escalating panic, Elizabeth must peel away layers of superstition and fear to save the livelihood—and lives—of an entire community. Because what has happened isn’t an accident of nature or an act of God, it’s the handiwork of someone who has only just begun to kill...

Friday, June 16, 2017

One Of Us Is Lying - Karen M. McManus

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus


First Paragraph:

A sex tape.  A pregnancy scare.  Two cheating scandals.  And that's just this week's update.  If all you knew of Bayview High was Simon Kelleher's gossip app, you'd wonder how anyone found time to go to class.


My Thoughts:

What a fun book! Karen M. McManus's debut YA novel is quite addictive to read or rather, listen to. The audio was narrated by four different voices and all of them were well done. If you're a fan of The Breakfast Club and you like your stories to include some murder accusations and secrets, you'll probably enjoy this 'darker' version of...The Brain, The Athlete, The Criminal, The Outcast, and The Beauty. All of the characters are in detention for having a cell phone in class. All of them claim that the phones don't belong to them and were planted in their backpacks. After just a few minutes, one of them is dead and the other four are drawn into a police investigation. Everyone has secrets - lots of secrets. Yes, the characters are bit trite, but it's all good. Can't wait to see what this author writes next!


Blurb:

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
    Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
    Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
    Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
    Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
    And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Graves - Pamela Wechsler

The Graves by Pamela Wechsler


First Paragraph:

Ten years in the district attorney's office has taught me to never let down my guard, even here on Beacon Hill.  Walking on West Cedar Street, I detect the first signs of danger--footsteps and cigarette smoke.  No one from this neighborhood smokes anymore, at least not in public.  It could be a stray tourist checking out the gas lanterns and cobblestone streets, but I reach in my tote and search for my canister of pepper spray--just in case.  A gloved hand covers my mouth.  I start to pivot around but someone yanks my shoulder and pulls me in.
     'Give it up,' he says.
     I'm relieved.  It's just a mugging.


My Thoughts:

I very much enjoyed this second book in Pamela Wechsler's series featuring Abby Endicott, Chief of the Boston DA's Homicide Division. It read very, very quickly and I was totally engrossed in the story. Abby is up against a number of issues in THE GRAVES. There is a serial killer on the loose, targeting young women at various universities in the area, her boss, the DA, is running for Mayor and Abby is mentioned as his possible successor, and her family is still making her life difficult by disapproving of her job and her significant other, Ty. Abby is a very good prosecutor - not such a good organizer of her own life. Once again, she ignores most everything but getting justice for the victims' families. I hope that this series continues because I'd like to visit Abby's Boston life once again. Recommended.


Blurb:

Abby Endicott, the chief of the District Attorney’s homicide unit in Boston, returns in the heart-racing follow-up to Mission Hill. Things are looking good for Abby: she’s top pick to be the next District Attorney, and her musician boyfriend Ty has moved in, despite her upper crust family’s objections. But a serial killer is on the loose, and with two college-aged girls dead and another missing, time is running out. When the sons of a prominent government official are linked to the murders, Abby pushes back, stopping at nothing to find justice for the girls. This time, the killer could be right under her nose, and she may be the next victim.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mission Hill - Pamela Wechsler

Mission Hill by Pamela Wechsler


First Paragraph:

I'm in bed, silently reciting their names.  Number one, Lester Beale, stabbed his girlfriend twenty-six times.  Number two, Jeffrey Younts, shot a fifteen-year-old boy as he stepped off the school bus.  Number three, Omar Monteiro, gunned down twin brothers on their thirtieth birthday.  This is my nighttime ritual.  I count killers, the people I've prosecuted for murder.


My Thoughts:

Mission Hill is a debut novel by Pamela Wechsler, a former prosecutor who has also worked on TV shows like Law & Order. The main protagonist, Abby Endicott, is a homicide prosecutor with the Boston District Attorney's office. Abby is tough and hard driven, choosing to go up against the most ruthless killers, despite having come from a privileged background. I'm a fan of shows like Law & Order and the reader can see the influence in the story line, so this tale worked well for me. I was caught up in who did what and when. There were a few minor quibbles, especially when Abby made decisions that put herself or others in major jeopardy or turned down offers of help. I'll grant her a pass this time, but will be less forgiving in the next book. And, yes, there is already a next book in the series. I look forward to reading it very soon. All in all, a worthy legal thriller.


Blurb:

Abby Endicott is chief of the District Attorney’s homicide unit in Boston, where she investigates and prosecutes the city’s most dangerous killers. A member of Mission Hill’s elite, and a graduate of the Winsor school and then Harvard Law, the prosecutor’s office is not the prestigious job that would have been expected of her. She has been known to change into an evening gown amidst bodies in the morgue. She loves her job, and is committed to it, refusing all pressure to quit from her upper-crust parents or threats from the city’s most ruthless killers. But among Abby’s many secrets is her longtime affair with fellow prosecutor Tim Mooney, a married father of one.

One night, Abby is awakened very late by a phone call from her favorite detective, who reports that there has been a horrific murder but is vague about the specifics. When she arrives at the crime scene and discovers the identity of the victim, Abby knows the terror and tragedy are only beginning.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Collecting the Dead - Spencer Kope

Collecting the Dead by Spencer Kope


First Paragraph:

She had small feet.
     I say she had small feet because to say she has small feet would imply that she's still alive.  She isn't.  I know.  I always know.  It's my special ability, my burden, my curse.  The others think we're searching for a missing jogger, perhaps hurt or lost but certainly alive.  I can't tell them we're too late; how would I explain such knowledge?


My Thoughts:

I really, really liked this debut crime novel by Spencer Kope. And, happily, it seems that this is the beginning of a series. Magnus 'Steps' Craig is part of the FBI's Special Tracking Unit. He and his best buddy, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan, work tirelessly to track and find criminals and their victims. What Steps and Jimmy don't share with other law enforcement agencies is the ability that Steps possesses - a type of synesthesia that allows him to see the 'shine' or the 'essence' of other people. Steps can track anyone over any surface. But, this ability has come at a price. I loved the characters in this book - Steps, Jimmy, and other team members. There was humor and sorrow and an intriguing story. Can't wait for the next book! This one is highly recommended.


Blurb:

Magnus "Steps" Craig is part of the elite three-man Special Tracking Unit of the FBI. Called in on special cases where his skills are particularly needed, he works as a tracker. The media dubs him "The Human Bloodhound," since Steps is renowned for his incredible ability to find and follow trails over any surface better than anyone else. But there's a secret to his success. Steps has a special ability---a kind of synesthesia---where he can see the 'essence' of a person, something he calls 'shine,' on everything they've touched. His ability is known to only a few people---his father, the director of the FBI, and his partner, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan.

When the remains of a murdered woman are found, Steps recognizes the shine left by the murderer from another crime scene with a physically similar victim. And he uncovers the signature at both scenes---the mark of a sad face. At the same time, another killer, one Steps has dubbed Leonardo and has been trying to track for over ten years, appears again, taunting Steps. But while Steps tries to find a clue that will lead him to Leonardo, the case of the Sad Face Killer heats up. The team uncovers eleven possible victims: missing women who fit the same pattern. Using his skill and the resources of the Bureau, it is a race against time to find the killer before it's too late.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Strange Things Done - Elle Wild

Strange Things Done by Elle Wild


First Paragraph:

The pattern of her demise became suddenly clear, as though a dark kaleidoscope had just been turned.  Everything snapped into focus then: the sharpness of the stars, the bowed outlines of the trees, the expression on his face.


My Thoughts:

Strange Things Done is the debut novel for Elle Wild and it has recently been awarded the 2017 Arthur Ellis Award for 'Best First Crime Novel'. I liked this book, but it's probably more a 3.75 than 4.0 read for me. Set in the far northwest of Canada, the town of Dawson, Yukon Territory, it was a cold, cold story. Winter is close and Jo Silver, the new editor for the local newspaper, is in the midst of some trouble. She came to get away from and forget a bad situation and seems to have stepped into a worse one. There are interesting characters in the town, scandals, and secrets galore. A few times, Jo's decisions were quite annoying and irrational, but in the end, I was caught up in the tale. It reminded me a bit of Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series. I'll be watching for Elle Wild's next book and will be curious to hear if there might be a sequel.


Blurb:

As winter closes in and the roads snow over in Dawson City, Yukon, newly arrived journalist Jo Silver investigates the dubious suicide of a local politician and quickly discovers that not everything in the sleepy tourist town is what it seems. Before long, law enforcement begins treating the death as a possible murder and Jo is the prime suspect.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Kingdom Come - Jane Jensen

Kingdom Come by Jane Jensen


First Paragraph:

'It's...sensitive,' Grady had said on the phone, his voice tight.
     Now I understood why.  My car crawled down a rural road thick with new snow.  It was still dark and way too damn early on a Wednesday morning.  The address he'd given me was on Grimlace Lane.  Turned out the place was an Amish farm in the middle of a whole lot of other Amish farms in the borough of Paradise, Pennsylvania.


My Thoughts:

I liked this first book in a new series set in Lancaster, PA, by Jane Jensen. It reminded me a bit of Linda Castillo's series, also featuring a woman policeman, dealing with crimes in Amish country. This was a read/listen combo for me and I thought that Rachel Fulginiti was a good narrator. Detective Elizabeth Harris is directed to a crime scene by her boss at the Lancaster Police. A young woman has been found dead in an Amish family's barn. Her supervisor tells her that it's 'sensitive' and so it proves to be. Elizabeth has returned to Pennsylvania from New York City after the death of her husband. A seasoned homicide detective, she finds out all kinds of things that many people, both Amish and 'English' would prefer to hide. There's already a second book in the series and I look forward to reading it soon.


Blurb:

After her husband is murdered, Detective Elizabeth Harris turns in her NYPD badge and moves back home, hoping that a quiet life in remote Pennsylvania Dutch country will help her overcome the dark memories of her ten years in New York. But when a beautiful, scantily clad “English” girl is found dead in the barn of a prominent Amish family, Elizabeth knows that she’s uncovered an evil that could shake the community to its core.

Elizabeth’s boss is convinced this was the work of an “English,” as outsiders are called in Lancaster County. But Elizabeth isn’t so sure. All she’s missing is an actual lead—until another body is found: this time, a missing Amish girl. Now Elizabeth must track down a killer with deep ties to a community that always protects its own—no matter how deadly the cost…

Friday, June 9, 2017

Under the Harrow - Flynn Berry

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry


First Paragraph:

A woman is missing in East Riding.  She vanished from Hedon, near where we grew up.  When Rachel learns of the disappearance, she will think it's him.


My Thoughts:

Under the Harrow is a debut crime novel by Flynn Berry. It won the Edgar Award recently for 'Best First Novel by an American Author'. I liked it, though I will say that I was tempted early on to abandon it. The thought processes of Nora, the protagonist, are scattered and a bit frustrating in the early stages. Hard to follow and kind of annoying. Nora arrives at her sister Rachel's home late on a Friday afternoon. Excited about their weekend together, she is horrified to find Rachel has been brutally murdered. Everything in Nora's life comes to a standstill and she remains in the area, unable to return to her job and flat in London. Rachel had been assaulted as a teenager and the person was never caught. Nora and Rachel had spent a lot of time trying to find the perpetrator when it seemed the police were unable or unwilling to do so. Because of this, Nora is suspicious of the current investigation and asks a lot of questions on her own. She has strange ideas and does peculiar things. I can see why this book won the Edgar - the story is told in an unusual way. And, yes, I'll be watching for Flynn Berry's next book.


Blurb:

When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.

Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Summer Break...



Like last year, I'm going to take a summer break.  We're planning on several trips and blogging and commenting are more difficult using my iPad.  I may reappear now and then.  Who knows?

I'll consider the blog in the fall and decide whether or not to continue the break.  I'll attempt to keep my '2017 Reads' mostly up to date in my sidebar.

Have a good summer and here's hoping that all get to read a lot of great books!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Malice Domestic 29 - Summing it up...and who won the Agatha Awards?



Welcome to my last post about my trip to Malice Domestic 29!  Today, we will talk about the Agatha's Banquet, tell who won awards for their books and work, and sum up my experience.  I've enjoyed telling about my trip and hope that if you have any questions, you'll feel free to ask in the comments.  First, the banquet:


Lori Rader-Day (R in black/white) - host of my banquet table

Each Malice attendee who also decided to take part in the Agatha Award Banquet received an email giving them the authors who had chosen to 'Host' a table.  We were instructed to select our top 3 and then were notified of the table where we would be seated.  I selected Lori Rader-Day as my #1 choice.  I had met Lori in the coffee shop at Left Coast Crime and had a nice and funny visit with her.  Plus, I had recently read her latest book - The Day I Died - and enjoyed it very much.  The attendees at Lori's table were friendly and nice to talk with.  Lori told us she was a bit tired.  She had been to the Edgar Awards and also had been touring for her new book.  However, she's the kind of person that has a dry sense of humor and I loved listening to her.


Special Malice Domestic dessert

The banquet itself was pretty good - I had chicken, by the way.  The dessert is apparently always something special.  I couldn't believe the Malice 'logo' was part of it.  Chocolate mousse, sponge cake, whipped cream - yum!


Charlaine Harris - Lifetime Achievement Award

Charlaine Harris, author of so many books, many of which have been turned into TV adaptations, was the recipient of the 'Lifetime Achievement Award'.  She is the creator of Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood TV series), Aurora Teagarden (Hallmark Movie Channel), Lily Bard (my favorite character of hers), and the Midnight, Texas series, which is to be on NBC this July.  Whew!  I have read the Lily Bard books and a few of the Aurora series.


Elaine Viets - Guest of Honor

Elaine Viets was the 'Guest of Honor' this year.  Elaine has written several series as well - The Dead End Job series (Helen Hawthorne, main character) and the Mystery Shopper series (Josie Marcus, main character),  I've not read any of Elaine's books, but have certainly heard of them.


Martin Edwards - Poirot Award

Martin Edwards was presented the 'Poirot Award', which is given to those who have made 'outstanding contributions to the Malice Domestic genre'.  Edwards writes a blog called 'Do You Write Under Your Own Name?'.  He currently writes a series set in the Lake District of England - retired Oxford historian Daniel Kind and DCI Hannah Scarlett, Cold Case Squad are the main characters.  I've read a couple of those.  He also wrote The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story, which won several awards.  As an expert on the Golden Age of crime fiction, Martin is the series consultant to the British Library's Crime Classics, which are being printed in the US by The Poisoned Pen Press.  I know many mystery readers have enjoyed those books.

Below, I've listed the nominees and the winners for the various categories of Agatha Awards.  I did not do all the links - sorry.  However, you can find these books very easily.

THE AGATHA AWARD NOMINEES AND WINNERS FOR 2017 

Best Contemporary Novel
  * A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
  ° Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron
  ° Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson
  ° Fogged Inn by Barbara Ross
  ° Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best Historical Novel
  * The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson
  ° Whispers Beyond the Veil by Jessica Estevao
  ° Get Me to the Grave on Time by D.E. Ireland
  ° Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell
  ° Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson

Best First Novel
  * The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn
  ° Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper
  ° Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
  ° Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann
  ° Design for Dying by Renee Patrick

Best Short Story
  * “Parallel Play” by Art Taylor
  Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning
  ° “Double Jinx: A Bellissimo Casino Crime Caper Short Story” by Gretchen Archer
  ° “The Best-Laid Plans” by Barb Goffman
  Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional
  ° “The Mayor and the Midwife” by Edith Maxwell
  Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016
  ° “The Last Blue Glass” by B.K. Stevens
  Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

Best Non-fiction
  * Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot: How to Write Gripping Stories that Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats by Jane K. Cleland
  ° A Good Man with a Dog: A Game Warden’s 25 Years in the Maine Woods by Roger Guay with Kate Clark Flora
  ° Sara Paretsky: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Margaret Kinsman

Best Children’s/Young Adult
  * The Code Busters Club, Case #6: The Secret of the Puzzle Box by Penny Warner
  ° Trapped: A Mei-hua Adventure by P.A. DeVoe
  ° Spy Ski School by Stuart Gibbs
  ° Tag, You’re Dead by J C Lane
  ° The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos

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I think that's all I have to tell.  Know it's been a lot, but I hope that you guys have enjoyed hearing about my adventures.  Will I attend this convention again?  Who knows?  Perhaps.  Here's the link for next year's Malice Domestic 30.  I would like to attend Bouchercon, 2017 is in Toronto, 2018 is in St. Petersburg, FL, and, wait for it - 2019 is in DALLAS, TX - can you guess which one I'll most likely sign up for?  It's called Denim, Diamonds and Death, which fits Dallas pretty well.  Ha!  Left Coast Crime will be in Reno, NV in 2018 and Vancouver, Canada in 2019.  If this has sounded like a good time, you should think about signing up for one of these conventions.