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Suspense Magazine Book Reviews New, as seen in the October Issue part 2

     Posted on Mon ,21/12/2015 by Administrator

A JUNE OF ORDINARY MURDERS

By Conor Brady

Taking place in Dublin, Ireland, readers meet up with an interesting police force entangled in a mystery.

It is the year 1887, marking Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, but Ireland is up in arms. The usually beautiful Irish countryside is literally on fire as the Royal Irish Constabulary and British Military fight with poor folks whose lives are threatened by very high rents. The British are responding with new crime legislation; more power for the police and more jail cells for the reformers.

When two dead bodies are found in a wooded area of Phoenix Park (one man and one boy), Detective Sergeant Joe Swallow of G Division, Dublin Metropolitan Police, sees no evidence to suggest that politics was involved. The bodies have been through horror, though, considering their faces are mutilated and they have no identification left on them. But when the Dublin Medical Examiner finds that the male victim is actually a female, a murder that was called ordinary, turns into what may be a crime of revenge. Swallow is pulled off the case of the murder of a house maid in Dublin to concentrate on this new mystery, yet he continues to look into the killing anyway.

Unfortunately, Swallow has another thing to keep him on his toes. Harriet, a student teacher and Swallow’s younger sister, is keeping company with a member of a violent Nationalist group. Adding to the worries is the fact that Ces Downes, who is the cream of the crop in the underworld of Dublin, is dying. Pretty soon her two lieutenants, Vanucchi and Cussen, will be fighting for control of the criminal empire—a battle that will come right before a visit by Prince Albert Victor, Queen Victoria’s grandson.

This is a debut novel by Conor Brady, and a true picture of 19th century political unrest in Dublin. Detective Sergeant Joe Swallow is a character so good and so intelligent, readers will scream for a sequel.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

DEADLY MESSENGERS

By Susan May

Three mass murders in one city within weeks. What are the odds? There appears to be no connection between them except the people responsible for the crimes all led perfectly normal lives right up until they “snapped.”

Kendall Jennings, a freelance journalist, writes fluff pieces for women’s magazines, but when her work hits a low point and the rent is due, she’ll accept any assignment. The day after the first mass murder takes place, she’s asked to write a piece from a survivor’s point of view: “What’s it like to survive such a horrific ordeal?”

In the midst of riding the publicity, two more mass murders take place just days apart. These events cause her to remember another such case from twenty odd years ago. While interviewing the father of a teenager killed back then, he asks for help. He’s amassed hundreds of pages of research that link antidepressants as the linchpin to that and possibly the recent killings, but nobody will listen.

Kendall tries to interview the detectives assigned to the cases, but the lead investigator sees her as nothing but a blood-sucking leech who would hurt innocent people and mow down anyone in her path in order to write half-truths. After reading the report on the drugs, Kendall is convinced there is some validity to it. What if a drug’s side effects could alter the mind to a point where people would kill? She refuses to give up and hounds the detectives trying to convince them to listen, only alienating herself even more with the lead detective.

What if someone wanted the murders to happen? What if he or she was convinced it was the right thing to do?

Susan May has written a riveting thriller that will have you rethink everything you thought you knew about Big Pharma. Sometimes the truth is hidden in the small print . . . and sometimes, you need to dig even further. I highly recommend “Deadly Messengers” to every mystery/thriller fan.

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine ■

 

GHOST TO THE RESCUE

By Carolyn Hart

The ghost in the Carolyn Hart series is called Bailey Ruth, and she is one of the best characters going. Bailey Ruth and her husband, Bobby Mac, drowned a few years ago when their boat overturned in the Gulf, and now Bailey is called upon when needed by Wiggins, the Chief of the Department of Good Intentions. This is one of those times…

Deirdre Davenport’s daughter has just looked up at the sky and recited the words to the poem: “Star light, star bright,” ending with a request for someone to come help her mom. It seems that Wiggins is on the job when Deirdre’s daughter gets through to him with her wish, and he calls on Bailey Ruth to go to her former hometown of Adelaide, Oklahoma, to help this single mom, who is also a struggling writer, find a way to either get a job or succeed in writing a new book.

Bailey finds that Deirdre is broke and trying to support her children, while hoping to get a job on the faculty in Goddard College’s English Department. Professor Jay Knox is in charge of the conference that she is taking part in but is more interested in dating her than giving her an actual job. When Jay turns up dead as a doornail, and Deirdre’s fingerprints are found on the murder weapon, she, of course, becomes suspect number one.

Bailey Ruth knows that she’s innocent and starts her investigation of Jay’s death by finding others that he has compromised over time to prove Deirdre’s innocence.

Hart has done it again by bringing her character, Bailey Ruth, to the forefront in a really great cozy. She is a bestselling author of the Death on Demand series, as well as Bailey Ruth Ghost Novels, and readers will continue to look forward to every book she creates.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

BLOOD RED: MUNDY’S LANDING

By Wendy Corsi Staub

Elation will be felt knowing Staub is at it again, offering up a new and terrifying series that will have readers wanting more.

Rowan has come back to her hometown of Mundy’s Landing in upstate New York to settle down with her family. Rowan lives a good life now, but at one time she was a bit of a troublemaker. Completely changed, she now has a job as a teacher at the elementary school that she used to go to. She lives with her husband, Jake, and her youngest son, Mick, who will soon be on his way to college, following the path of his older brother and sister.

The little town of Mundy’s Landing seems a bit old-fashioned and charming to the naked eye. Of course, even the most charming hamlet holds its secrets. Mundy’s just happens to have a history of blood-soaked crime. The locals, and the town, have never come back from a killing spree called the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ murders; the brutal killing of three still unidentified girls that happened over a century ago.

As Rowan settles into small town life, a new killer who is prone to straight razors is taking out redheaded women up and down the east coast, working his way slowly to his next target. When a package arrives at Rowan’s home that makes her think of the mistakes she would like to forget from her younger days—a secret that she’s kept from Jake for fourteen years—her life starts to come undone…just as the killer arrives on the charming streets of Mundy’s Landing.

This book has a terrific plotline that keeps readers guessing up until the last page…and beyond. It takes some time to figure out who the killer is, with the tale being more than a bit frightening throughout. The biggest upside to this excellent story is that it’s the first that will be written about this odd town that holds a whopper of a secret.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

GIRL WAITS WITH GUN

By Amy Stewart

In her debut novel, Stewart has taken headlines from the New York Times of 1915 and created a plausible storyline, filling in the missing portions of a true-life crime story to create a period thriller that rivals any other historical suspense novel.

When three spinster sisters, Constance, Fleurette, and Norma Kopp, have their horse and buggy totaled by a drunk driver, in an accident with one of those new-fangled driving machines, their pursuit of recovering the cost to replace their wagon is hampered by the position of the car’s driver, Henry Kaufman, a silk mill owner with ties to the Black Hand Gang. Constance, the elder of the trio, a robust woman of over six-feet ends up in a physical confrontation with the slighter Kaufman, causing more embarrassment than injury, but causing enough damage for him to wage a personal war on the girls.

The sisters live out of town, in a farmhouse, and soon find themselves under barrage from Kaufman and his men, from threats thrown through a window, attached to a brick, to home invasions and an attempt to burn them out of their homestead. With the aid of Sheriff Robert Heath, the sisters, mainly Constance, engage in an investigation of their own, even being used to help draw out the attackers until the sheriff teaches them how to shoot a handgun to protect themselves when one of his deputies could not be at their home.

With a successful outcome under their belt Constance is offered a position as the first female sheriff in New York, thrusting her into the limelight at the head of the suffragette movement when women were entering the job market. Stewart weaves an amazingly delightful tale, one I was hard pressed to put down. This novel should be listed for debut novel awards.

Reviewed by Mark P. Sadler, author of “Blood on His Hands” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

DRAGON DAY

By Lisa Brackmann

Unfortunately, this is the final novel featuring Ellie McEnroe, the extremely aggressive Iraqi war vet, and readers will be missing her as soon as they read the last page.

For those who are unaware, Ellie suffers from PTSD and became addicted to Percocet when she used the drug to treat a leg wound. Ellie makes her home in Beijing and becomes caught up with a group of young adults living a corrupt and excessive lifestyle (just because they can) using their parents’ filthy rich bank accounts.

A waitress, who served at one of the group’s social gatherings, soon turns up dead. Ellie’s business card, oddly enough, is on the corpse, and Ellie finds herself becoming suspect number one. In the meantime, Sidney Cao, a Shanghai billionaire and father of three of the group’s raucous members, asks Ellie to help him uncover the real culprit. In Ellie’s search for answers as to who did it and why the waitress met her untimely death, Ellie ends up working in the midst of corrupt politicians and businessmen, a few political activists, of course, the Beijing police force, and the Domestic Service Department that has the sole responsibility of ‘controlling’ anyone who disagrees with the system in place.

By sticking her nose into affairs that the very powerful want forgotten about, she lands in big trouble, and her journey places Ellie in a thrilling world that makes for one of the best ever suspense plots. Advice: Don’t hurry with the read, but savor it all. As readers and fans we don’t want to say goodbye to Ellie, but this is a fantastic swan song that will leave this character in imaginations long after she says goodbye.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

NEVERWHERE

By Neil Gaiman

Some may remember this particular title; it made a splash back in 1997, in the urban fantasy genre. Different versions of the story were published after that in the U.S. as well as the U.K., but this particular copy takes various scenes that were cut from original versions and puts them back in, so that all readers can feel and experience everything that author Neil Gaiman strived to create.

The story is this: Richard Mayhew is the main character, and is a man who loves his very normal life in London. He is a businessman who appreciates his days, yet his world changes completely when one act of aid turns him on a different path.

Mayhew goes from “regular” London to “Neverwhere.” Still located in London, this is a place that lies on a subterranean level; a maze, if you will, that includes the darkest and scariest of mankind, mixed together with the kindest of beings who fight frantically for “good” to overtake “bad.” The person Mayhew helps is named Door. Door is a girl who lost her entire family at the hands of an agent. She will not rest until she finds and stops this particular murderer, and Mayhew will have to stay by her side and help her if he ever wants to see his “normal” life again.

There is the fantastical, the mysterious, suspend-your-disbelief moments; there is blood, death, and downright frightening things that this book brings to light. All of this is done in such a vibrant fashion that it makes Dr. Who look substandard. For those who have never been to Neverwhere, it’s time to go. For those who may have traveled once before, this new edition is calling out to you. There is more to see, hear and learn. Just remember, the greatest of dreams come hand-in-hand with the most terrifying nightmares where this book is concerned. So…be wary.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine  ■

 

SATURN RUN

By John Sandford and Ctein

This book is a little off-the-beaten-track for John Sandford but, as he is a terrific writer, it is certainly a must-read. There is a co-writer on this project, as well; a photographer and lover of science fiction prose, Ctein. And there is no sign of Lucas Davenport on the pages, as the plot takes the reader on a trip to leave the Earth behind and head to the rings of Saturn.

Sanders Darlington is an intern who takes a position at Caltech to keep himself busy until he can collect his inheritance. However, when he is assigned to the Sky Survey Observatory and accidently sees evidence that there is something definitely ‘out there,’ his world changes dramatically. Not only can he see this object coming very close to Saturn, but even more strange, is that whatever the object is just happens to be slowing down.

As always, heavenly bodies do not slow down but spaceships do, and soon the President decides that an investigative mission to Saturn is called for. The goal of the US is to try to keep the Chinese from sending out their own mission. Following the course of history, that doesn’t happen; some slip-ups occur and the space race is on.

Unlike their Chinese foes who seem to get all the good and none of the bad as they sail through the solar system with ease, the Americans experience problem after problem. There is an accident in space that takes the life of a crewmember, and one of their power reactors keeps shutting down. But there is a great deal to learn in the heavens, and both countries will try their absolute best to solve a riddle and claim any riches that can be found.

Scenes of beauty collide with catastrophes, as technology takes over in this incredible tale. There are also a few inside jokes for science fiction lovers, and a fabulous ending for all Sandford fans to thoroughly enjoy.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

KNOCK ON WOOD

By Linda O. Johnston

This is the second Superstition mystery, and Johnston continues to offer fans awesome tales that provide complete entertainment.

Rory Chasen moved into the town of Destiny, CA, when she was first introduced to readers. Destiny is known to be obsessed with superstitions. Rory thought that she would begin to lead a charmed life once she arrived but, while still a new resident, she found herself involved in a murder. Now, however, that’s all in the past. She loves her job, working as manager of the Lucky Dog Boutique and selling pet food and incidentals to dog people. She’s also the mistress of a great black and white dog named, Pluckie.

Rory’s very good friend, Gemma, is trying to get over a break-up with her boyfriend, Frank. Rory isn’t sure that she can help in the romance department but is hoping to lift Gemma’s spirits anyway. Soon Gemma seems not to need help, as she has found multiple suitors in town. But just as her happiness grows, Frank turns up uninvited and unwanted, much to Gemma’s dismay.

Misfortune abounds as Rory and Pluckie come upon the body of one of Gemma’s beaus, and Gemma and Rory find themselves both in trouble as they become suspects in the murder. Rory is already trying to redeem herself in the eyes of Police Chief Justin Halbertson, telling him she is just an innocent bystander and trying to get him to look at her as a romantic interest. But this is now the second death Rory finds herself in the middle of and the so-called ‘luck’ in Destiny continues to run bad.

Although everyone should know by now that any book with a dog in it is always good, this tale is a definite standout. So while the citizens of Destiny continue to throw pennies heads-up on the sidewalks for people to find, fans like me will fade into the sunset and wait impatiently for the next Linda O. Johnston tale: 5-Stars.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

A STITCH TO DIE FOR

By Lois Winston

Jersey girl Anastasia Pollack is still deep in debt, thanks to the untimely death of her louse of a spouse. To add much-needed cash to the family coffers, she’s rented out the space over her garage to the hunky and mysterious Zack Barnes, who’s really handy to have around when the chips are down. Soon she’ll have one less mouth to feed, because her much-married and much-widowed mother, Flora, is marrying for the sixth time and finally moving out of the house. But the wedding festivities are interrupted by the arrival of two detectives, who inform the groom that the body of his daughter has been fished out of the Delaware and Raritan Canal.

As if that isn’t bad enough, even when Flora moves out, she and her new groom live close enough to Anastasia that they’re able to pop in for dinner every night, whether they’re invited or not. And poor Anastasia is still stuck providing room and board for her Communist mother-in-law, Lucille, and her pooch, the aptly named Manifesto.

Anastasia has one more problem: she keeps finding dead bodies. This time, she discovers the body of the most unpopular woman in the neighborhood, Betty Bentworth. This grisly find is immediately followed by her discovery of still another murdered neighbor. Is there a killer targeting elderly women on Anastasia’s street? Or is the killer actually targeting Anastasia and her family, and the other deaths are merely warnings?

“A Stitch to Die For” is the fifth in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries by Lois Winston. If you’re a reader who enjoys a well-plotted mystery and loves to laugh, don’t miss this one!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

A MIDWINTER’S TAIL

By Sofie Kelly

This is the newest installment in A Magical Cats mystery series; a new cozy about old friends, Kathleen Paulson and her adorable, mystery-loving, magical cats, Owen and Hercules.

This time out, it is winter in Mayville Heights and Kathleen is planning a fundraiser to get money together for the ‘Reading Buddies Program,’ which is where older children help the younger ones learn to read; a program that is working very well. It’s been smooth sailing in Kathleen’s life until Dayna Chapman, ex-wife of Burtis Chapman, shows up after a long absence and mysteriously dies during the fundraiser.

It’s not so mysterious after all when Burtis informs Kathleen that Dayna is allergic to pistachio nuts that were in a chocolate she ate, which is why she died before reaching the hospital. Marcus, Kathleen’s detective boyfriend, is suspicious that this may be a murder and not so accidental. Kathleen agrees, and during the investigation following the death, the police also declare that foul play was involved.

It seems no one in town really knows much about Dayna, other than she has been gone quite a while since leaving Mayville Heights and her husband and two children behind. Before she collapsed she was seen having an argument with her ex and, of course, because of this incident and her sudden re-appearance, Burtis becomes suspect number one.

But something doesn’t feel right: Kathleen doesn’t believe that he’s the killer. So she and her cats go on the hunt for the real culprit, helping her policeman boyfriend as Marcus comes along with the odd trio in order to find the killer in a group of people that both he and Kathleen once thought they knew very well.

For readers who already know about Kathleen and her fun, magical cats, this series just gets better and better with each book.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

GUARANTEED TO BLEED

By Julie Mulhern

There’s no way a lover of suspense could turn this book down because it’s that much fun.

Ellison Russell is a widow with a teenage daughter. Her daughter is coming into the Age of Reason and is being a tad bit rebellious, leaving her mother unamused. Not to mention, Ellison and daughter, Grace, are finding themselves in situations where moral issues arise that cause Ellison to try her best to calm down her daughter as well as her own mother, who isn’t too happy either.

One day, when Ellison is watching a high-school football game, she drops her lipstick down through the cracks in the bleachers. She really doesn’t want to bother with it but being that it was expensive and a gift, she decides to go under the bleachers to retrieve it. When she finds the lipstick, unfortunately, she also finds a student, Bobby Lowell, who was once a boyfriend of her daughter, slipping away. Ellison tries to help him but is too late. Pulling her close to him, Bobby whispers the words: “Tell her I love her.”

Ellison, as her personality dictates, is off to locate the girl he was talking about so she can deliver his last message. But as the story moves along, some very funny scenes are included in this odd investigation. Not only is Ellison pulled into a strange situation, but Grace is actually on the prowl to find a new boyfriend for her mother so she can marry her off.

Ellison also finds herself in another dilemma, trying to decide whether she likes Detective Anarchy Jones who she admires a great deal, or an attorney that her mother is pushing on her. A killer is amiss, teenagers are missing, and a message needs to be delivered…Ellison is having one difficult time to say the least.

As this is the second in a series, readers should know that maybe, hopefully, there will be more to come.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

THE ENGLISH SPY

By Daniel Silva

In the newest entry in Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series, the master Israeli spy is about at the end of his run in the field. He’s been selected to take over the Office, which suits Gabriel’s wife, Chiara, now that she’s pregnant with twins. He’d planned to spend his last few months before taking up his new position restoring a painting he recently recovered in Italy, but then the head of MI6, Graham Seymour, asks Gabriel to take on one final assignment.

The former wife of a British royal, a woman admired as much for her charitable work as for her beauty, was cruising the Caribbean with friends when her yacht disappeared in a massive explosion. An intelligence source whispers that the bombing was the work of Eamon Quinn, a master bomb-maker who got his start with the IRA during the Troubles but now has become a mercenary, working for the highest bidder. MI6 wants Quinn taken out, and to find out who paid for the Caribbean attack.

Gabriel recruits his former adversary and now close friend, Christopher Keller, to help with tracking down Quinn. Before he walked away from the British commandos and became an assassin, Keller had operated in Northern Ireland, and had almost been killed by Quinn. Keller agrees to help, to finally settle the score.

They follow a crumb trail left by Quinn through multiple countries in Europe until, once again back in England, the tables are turned and the hunters become the hunted. There’s much more at stake than what’s visible on the surface, but Gabriel learns that when it comes to vengeance, death has its advantages.

Silva’s writing always crackles with energy. He takes the reader on a ride along the serpentine intricacies of the plot, outdoing Ludlum at his best, while balancing the story with the realism of LeCarre. This has been one of the best thriller series for years now, and “The English Spy” maintains that level of quality along with its level of intensity.

Reviewed by David Ingram

Suspense Magazine Book Reviews New, as seen in October Issue

     Posted on Mon ,21/12/2015 by Administrator

HER FINAL BREATH

By Robert Dugoni

Before you begin “Her Final Breath” by Robert Dugoni prepare for a long night. This second book in the Tracy Crosswhite series starts off running and it doesn’t slow down until you’ve turned the last page. Dugoni has written a phenomenal “Police Procedural.” Wait, let me change that; he has written a phenomenal thriller regardless of the sub-genre you want to stick it in.

Tracy Crosswhite, a police detective with the Seattle Police Department, has once again found herself in the middle of an investigation with enough twists and turns to spin her head around. Someone is targeting and killing strippers in Seattle and his MO is hauntingly familiar. Nicknamed, The Cowboy, the killer is hog-tying his victims and killing them by asphyxiation. Tracy can’t help but remember a similar murder nine years prior. A case solved by her captain, Jonny Nolasco—someone she has never seen eye-to-eye with.

As the case progresses, Tracy realizes there is a leak in the department and Captain Nolasco is looking for her to fail. But why? Well . . . I’m not giving the entire book away. For that information and for a reading experience you won’t soon forget, you’ll have to read “Her Final Breath.”

Robert Dugoni breathes life into the police procedural like never before. Put the Tracy Crosswhite series and “Her Final Breath” on your “must read” list!

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine ■

 

LAST RAGGED BREATH

By Julia Keller

If you’re looking for a gripping tale, this is it.

Located in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, a development company has put up an offer to purchase properties in the small town, and the property owners in Acker’s Gap are thrilled by the prospect. The company wants to build a fancy resort and the business brought into the community by said resort will be a huge plus for the local economy.

However, as with all great deals, there is one holdout. Royce Dillard will not sell his property, where he lives the quiet life with just his dogs for companionship. Dillard’s parents died on this land, along with 120+ others, when a sludge damn rupture sent thousands of gallons of water through the coal mine wiping out people as well as small communities. Royce survived, but the ordeal he went through caused him to withdraw from life and leave society far behind.

When a murder takes place in Acker’s Gap, Royce ends up on the top of the suspect list. County Prosecutor Bell Elkins has to be extremely sure that Royce is guilty, and to find out all the facts, she will have to look into what really happened when the dam broke in Acker’s Gap a very long time ago.

This book is the latest in a series by Julia Keller, as Bell Elkins tries to get into the life of Royce Dillard who is now on trial for murder. Readers will see what happens to this small town, that at one time owed their lives to the coal industry, as a new industry strives to come in and take over, letting the career of mining die a natural death. This is a very cool book, as are the others in the series.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

STRONG LIGHT OF DAY

By Jon Land

Jon Land, the master of nuance, has outdone himself with his latest Caitlin Strong thriller. The seventh in the series, “Strong Light of Day” reads as a stand-alone, although I bet once you read it, you will rush to grab them all.

Jon weaves a story involving Jim Strong and Boone Masters, Caitlin and Cort Wesley’s perspective fathers, as a backdrop to an epic novel of geopolitical warfare. Once again, Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong finds herself in the middle of a storm. This one so big, you could say it’s a hurricane. What begins as a cut and dry case of cattle rustling soon develops into the potential beginning of WWIII.

The story and characters of “Strong Light of Day” are more than enough for any reader to be enthralled with this book, but where the story takes you and the social injustices it alludes to are what makes this and all of Jon Land’s books stand out. Paz, the gentle yet violent giant and the ranger’s protector, reminds us that the past is never far from our sight, and our future is what we make it and is not left to fate. Without being preachy, Land shows us the cruelty of sexism, heterosexism, bullying and greed, and he also shows us how to fight such brutality and ignorance . . . One injustice at a time.

Caitlin Strong proves that justice is not about being politically correct; it’s about caring for the underdog and doing what’s right, no matter the cost.

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine ■

 

CRIME RIB

By Leslie Budewitz

Erin Murphy, the creative force behind her family gourmet food market, Murphy’s Mercantile (a.k.a. The Merc), is always coming up with new ways to promote her store as well as her hometown of Jewel Bay, Montana. Not only is Jewel Bay’s location idyllic, it’s a town known for promoting homegrown and homemade Montana fare in every way possible.

Determined to get her town national attention, Erin is thrilled when Food Preneurs, one of the hottest (no pun intended) cooking shows on television, decides to showcase Jewel Bay in an upcoming episode. In addition to filming interviews with local food entrepreneurs, Erin suggests that a steak-cooking competition among three of the area’s most creative chefs be included on the program.

The contest is troubled before it even happens, as two of the three chefs present identical recipes for the Grill-off just two and a half days before the filming. And the so-called “star” of Food Preneurs, the pompous Gib Knox, threatens to cancel the contest (and maybe the show) if Erin doesn’t solve the problem immediately. As if that’s not bad enough, the producer of the show, Stacia Duval, is killed in a freak hit and run accident late at night, and one of the three competing chefs is found dead. Jewel Bay is getting national attention, all right. But definitely not the kind Erin was hoping for.

“Crime Rib” is the second in Leslie Budewitz’s Food Lovers Village mystery series, and it’s yummy fun. Five forks!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

QUICKSAND

By Carolyn Baugh

Get ready for a terrific new series by Carolyn Baugh featuring Philadelphia Police Officer Nora Khalil. Officer Khalil has been assigned to the FBI’s Safe Streets Violent Gang Task Force. (Is that not a handful to say?) There is currently a battle going on between two rival gangs on Philadelphia’s streets that are perhaps linked to two murders.

Nora, who comes from Egyptian parents, visits local religious mosques and uses her Arabic background and knowledge of Islam traditions to find the truth and, hopefully, bring the criminals to justice. Nora is also the only female member of the team and has to put up with sexism and racism on a daily basis. But as she holds her own with her colleagues, the danger rises. And when a dead body turns up in a bad section of town, she has to use her police training and her background in order to decide if this is yet another gang killing or something far worse.

This author offers up a highly interesting main character who will captivate readers. Fortunately, the author knows her subject and takes us through the streets of Philadelphia and focuses on the Muslim culture. New supporting characters are also introduced, including Nora’s protective father, and Ben Calder, a colleague that has a flirtation with Nora that may turn into something more.

It is truthful that the first book in a series is sometimes a little draggy, because of having to introduce the scene and the characters to the reader…but not this one. Knowing there will be more books with Nora to come is exciting, and soon readers are sure to become accustomed to the female Philly cop who, as the story says, has never eaten a cheesesteak. Something in Philadelphia that just isn’t done.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

DEATH ON THE PRAIRIE

By Kathleen Ernst

This is the sixth installment of this incredible series focusing on Chloe Ellefson, a curator at a history museum set in the state of Wisconsin. This museum tells of the cultures of immigrants (Norwegian/German) that settled in this area from Northern Europe. Chloe has a boyfriend, Roelke, a small town cop who was formerly a big city policeman. They are both a little high maintenance, with Chloe being the emotional one and Roelke liking things extremely neat and, of course, law abiding.

The main theme of the tale is based on the famous Laura Ingalls Wilder and the series of books called, “Little House on the Prairie.” In this new tale, Chloe and her sister are off to explore the various museum sites associated with Wilder history, and there are many. Chloe is taking along a quilt supposedly made by Laura Ingalls Wilder, herself, looking for evidence that will prove whether or not Laura’s hands were the ones that created this lovely and historical item. They run into some real characters along their journey, even one lady who doesn’t think that Laura even wrote the “Little House” books at all.

Unfortunately, there is also a killer amidst the travelers they run up against, and there are a slew of suspects that run from art collectors drooling to make as much money as they can to fans that are truly obsessed with the Wilder background.

Not only is the story exciting and interesting, the author has also included cool photos of Wilder homes and museums honoring Laura and her family, making the journey through the “Prairie” even more intriguing. This, as well as the rest in the series, is a super read that sparks the imagination and offers a genuine history of one of the most beloved women of all time; a woman who put Walnut Grove on the map.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

BLACK CAT CROSSING

By Kay Finch

First in a new series titled, Bad Luck Cat Mysteries, Finch delivers a tale that is definitely for cat fanciers. And here we have a very special cat. He has been called many things by many people, but the name most used is: Devil Cat.

Sabrina Tate is a would-be mystery writer who has come to Lavender, Texas, to write her first bestseller while helping her Aunt Rowena manage her summer/vacation rental business. Sabrina has been told about a local black cat who is a jinx. This cat is said, by locals, to have been around the town for at least thirty years. The cat has the reputation of being a bad luck feline, yet Sabrina knows that there is no way possible a cat can live for thirty years.

Sabrina learns that her Aunt’s brother, Bobby Joe, is on his way to Lavender for a visit, and no one is happy about this. Seems Bobby is always looking for a handout and usually borrows or steals money when he appears. So Sabrina is off to pick up some new locks that will stop Bobby from helping himself to her aunt’s cash. As she goes to her car to pick up said security, she sees a huge black cat sitting on the hood. Sure that this is the ‘Devil Cat’ everyone is yapping about, she approaches it carefully but the cat takes off running. When she gets back, she spots the feline once again and follows it…as he leads her to a dead body who turns out to be Bobby.

Since Rowena and Bobby were heard quarreling right before Bobby died, her aunt becomes suspect number one. Luckily, Sabrina makes a new friend in the bad luck cat who is willing to help her solve the crime.

This is a memorable cozy set in a small town, and the characters, especially Hitchcock (the cat), will keep you engaged. Readers will definitely look forward to more Sabrina/Hitchcock stories in the future.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

ENTRY ISLAND

By Peter May

Canada seems much more like a foreign country than usual in this polyglot setting. Amid the French-speaking Magdalen Islands (Madeleine in French), lies English-speaking Entry Island, settled in part by Scots who came during the potato famine years in the 1800s.

The story starts slowly, but builds gradually—two stories actually. The modern day narrative sends English speaker, Sime Mackenzie, whose Scottish/Gaelic family refused to leave Quebec when it went all French, to investigate a murder on Entry Island. The rest of the team are French speakers. He is ill at ease with them, but Thomas Blanc, with whom he works most closely, is friendly. One member of the team is his ex, Marie-Ange, a vitriolic, bitter woman who makes everything harder.

As soon as Sime sees the woman who is accused of murdering her husband, he feels he knows her. In spite of overwhelming opinion against her, he fights to find a shred of evidence that she didn’t kill her husband. Sime is suffering from chronic insomnia, but has waking dreams that put him into the tales from his ancestor’s diaries that were read to him by his grandmother when he was a child. The insomnia gets so bad that it threatens to impair his judgement and to get him ousted from his job as he retreats deeper and deeper into the past, imagining that he actually is his ancestor, and that the accused woman is his ancestor’s long-lost love as this story runs alternating with the other.

This is a tale of two islands, two mysteries, and two places and times. A tale of misfits isolated within their own cultures, and a tale of cultures battling each other, both in the 1800s and today.

Reviewed by Kaye George, author of “Death in the Time of Ice”

 

DEADLY OCCUPATION

By Suzanne Adair

It is January, 1781. Young English Lieutenant Michael Stoddard has arrived in Wilmington, South Carolina, under the command of Major James Craig. The rebels have fled the city in haste. Major Craig, in hot pursuit, leaves young Lieutenant Michael Stoddard behind as his lead criminal investigator, is tasked with discovering the whereabouts of a local woman. Gabriel Garrity, a gunsmith with possible ties to the rebels, reported that his wife, Julia, disappeared three days prior and by assisting, Craig hopes to demonstrate good will by the occupying army toward the residents of Wilmington. Michael is also charged with investigating Vicar Elijah Spivey. This self-styled man of the cloth has set up a church outside town where he ministers mainly to the ladies of Wilmington, especially those young, attractive, and with money, or any combination thereof—a description that certainly fits Julia Garrity.

Stoddard selects army private, Nick Spry, to assist him after discovering Spry’s remarkable talent for observation, and together they begin the parallel investigations. But, are the two cases really separate? It seems that Julia Garrity had caught the attention of the perhaps, not-so-good Vicar. Her husband, too, is not above suspicion in her disappearance. That theirs was a stormy marriage is common knowledge, while local gossip has that both husband and wife had recently taken lovers.

And what of Esmé Delacroix, the comely Caribbean-born widow of a sea captain, who still practices the Old Ways of her island home. Is she a witch, as some would have it? Or perhaps they are reflecting their own prejudices against an independent woman.

This is Ms. Adair’s sixth historical crime novel set in and around Wilmington and the southern colonies during the American Revolution, or as Lt. Stoddard would refer to it, The War of Rebellion. Thanks to her deep knowledge of life in the south in the late eighteenth century, she has, over the course of these stories, brought the era to life and peopled it with a large cast of recurring characters.

Reviewed by Andrew MacRae

 

A JUDGMENT OF WHISPERS

By Sallie Bissell

 

The murder of a young girl in Hartsville, a town with a rich Cherokee history, has haunted its residents for many years. A retired cop, who couldn’t close the case, still obsesses over it and it nearly cost him his sanity and marriage. Now, a key piece of evidence has been unearthed with possible DNA attached, which could close this case once and for all. That has made some folks just a little bit nervous.

Zack, an adult with autism, was once a primary suspect in the case, and over the years, he and his mother, Grace, have been subjected to malicious gossip and are treated with utter disdain by some residents, even the cops, who believe he got away with murder.

Enter Mary Crow, a woman running for D.A. She agrees to help Grace when it looks like Zack will be scrutinized by the authorities. But Mary may be putting her political career in jeopardy if she defends Zack.

This is a solid cold case mystery with the Cherokee lore and beliefs as a backdrop, creating a unique atmosphere and highlighting ever so lightly the prejudice and corruption which could easily send an innocent person to prison.

Grace and Mary are both aware they face opposition from outside forces, but one will do whatever it takes to keep her son safe, and the other will do whatever is necessary to see justice served, making both of them a real inspiration.

It is always satisfying when a cold case is finally put to rest, giving everyone closure and allowing people who were living life in a kind of limbo to move on and start really living again with some peace of mind. I enjoyed the unique quality of the story; the pace was just right, the characters well drawn, and the story was intriguing and interesting. I, for one, am looking forward to adding the other titles in the Mary Crow series to my library.

Reviewed by Julie Whiteley  ■

New Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine part 2

     Posted on Thu ,22/10/2015 by Administrator

PREMONITIONS

By Jamie Schultz

A mysterious and a bit quirky read, this book is a whole lot of interesting.

Karyn Ames can see the future, sometimes so many futuristic things at once that they end up to be jumbled and confused. The only thing that helps her is a drug called, Blind, but it is very pricey. Karen and her friends run a theft business, a not-so-good theft business, but in this story, they get pushed into a job that promises too-good-to-be-true results. They’re hoping that their various talents combined can make it work.

Karyn brings to the table her ability to see the future, while Nail is a self-taught magician. Anna can pick locks and is an all-around sneak, and the rest of the crew are simply odd ducks. Their newest client, Enoch Sobell, is a crime lord who just loves dark magic. The man is a businessman and magician who plays the game perfectly, but even his type can be beaten.

This case will be the huge haul of a lifetime that will give Karyn the money she needs to get some more medication to help her mind, and the rest of the guys would be able to get out of the holes they are most definitely buried in. All they have to do is deal with a regenerating god, a few demons, a religious cult and just plain, ordinary, human stupidity.

Karyn and her friends are used to using the supernatural, but this time what they’re after is something disastrous and very powerful, and this small band of professional thieves may end up over their heads. Most of the settings are in a criminal underworld that is filled with magic, as Karyn and her crew, and even Sobell, find out just how powerful their prey is. A great read that will resonate with the lover of the supernatural/paranormal realm.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

BEACH BAGS AND BURGLARIES

By Dorothy Howell

This is the seventh installment of Dorothy Howell’s Haley Randolph Mysteries; it’s a whole lot of mystery, warmth, and humor wrapped into one.

Haley Randolph previously won a cruise, but now the cruise has been changed to a swank vacation at an island hotel called Rowan Resort. Haley invites her three best gal pals to accompany her on the trip they call a “no-men-allowed” vacation. Haley has recently broken up with her boyfriend and has become very obsessed with something called the Sea Vixen beach bag. She’s always been clothing obsessed, but now the beach bag has taken over and she’s on a quest to own the latest model.

The four girls start their vacation and make a great many plans, including; working on their tans, watching for celebrity guests, and hunting for the season’s most wonderful beach bag…the polka-dot Sea Vixen. But strange occurrences begin. The Rowan Resort private beaches are not known for catering to the ‘poorer’ classes. Without winning the vacation, even Haley wouldn’t have been able to afford the place. Yet she keeps running into old flames from the past.

Soon a maid at the resort, Jaslyn Gordon, is killed, and Haley is the one who discovers the crime. The posh location is adamant about keeping the death out of the media, and Haley seems to be the only person interested in solving the murder. She’s determined to find out whodunit even if she has to give up some valuable beach time.

This is a calm, enjoyable read and highly recommended for those sitting in snow-covered locales. Sitting in your living room looking out at the snow, Haley and her friends will allow you to head to a warm beach under the sun for a brief respite. This author has had Haley Randolph on bookshelves for a while now, and readers will be pleased to enjoy the next adventure.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

THE SEA GRAPE TREE

By Gillian Royes

This is the third book in an incredible series that first began with, “The Goat Woman of Largo Bay,” and continued with, “The Man Who Turned Both Cheeks.” These tales are all about a small Jamaican fishing village, with the featured character being Shadrack (Shad) Myers—a bartender and observer of human nature who just happens to sometimes solve crimes.

This time out, it seems that the only thing that will help Largo Bay, and keep innkeeper, Eric Keller, from the poor house, is constructing a new, bigger Inn on the acreage owned by Meredith MacKenzie. Miss Mac, as she is known, is willing to sell to Eric, and developer, Danny Caines, offers to put up the money. But nothing goes smoothly as the island doesn’t have electricity or running water. They will both have to be supplied, which brings the costs up.

There is a girl, Janet, who is after Danny. She needs a green card and hopes she can get one through her little scheme that she’s concocted. But Sarah Davenport arrives from England; she comes to Largo Bay to paint the native way of life, and happens to catch Danny’s eye. Janet, seeing her hopes slipping away, threatens Sarah. And, of course, Sarah disappears. It is Shad Myers who figures out that Sarah has been kidnapped, and with his skills, Shad must solve the puzzle and find Sarah before it’s too late.

This is a very good story, set in a sleepy island paradise where a lot more goes on than meets the eye. From the green card plot to the British innocent (who may not be) to the investor who wants to redo the whole place, this is one suspense that proves life on an island is not always lazy days in the sunshine. In fact, this series will make sure you get no sleep until all peace has been restored to the small Jamaican world of Largo Bay.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

FUZZY MUD

By Louis Sachar

In Heath Cliff, Pennsylvania, sits an expensive private school: Woodbridge Academy. Woodbridge is the type of school that attracts two types of students: the gifted, who attend on scholarship, and those with wealthy parents who attend for other reasons. It is here at Woodbridge that we will meet, like, dislike, and ultimately come to understand both. Sachar takes us inside this small community and even smaller school, and opens our minds to the possibility that one person and one seemingly benign event could have catastrophic implications.

We meet three students: Tamaya, Chad, and Marshall, all of whom are trying to keep their positions in the confusing dichotomy of middle school. Through a misunderstanding, they are thrust into a volatile relationship. Marshall, not wanting to lose his popularity by being beat up by Chad chooses to walk home through the woods. Tamaya, who walks home with Marshall, is forced to go with him. Chad finds them both and threatens to beat them up. Trying to protect her friend, Tamaya picks up a handful of fuzzy mud and throws it in Chad’s face. By the time she gets home, a rash has developed on her hand.

The next morning her rash has worsened and Chad has disappeared.

Here lies the genius of Louis Sachar. Through this benign event, he takes us to a whole new level. A level where science trying to better our lives has possibly caused our demise—not only of these three students, but of the entire human race. Through his impeccable storytelling, he shows us that for every advancement, there is a consequence, for every consequence, there is a penalty, and for every penalty, hopefully there is a solution.

By the time you finish reading “Fuzzy Mud,” your skin will tingle, your mind will be opened, and your imagination will be sparked. Sachar has written a must-read novel for children and adults alike that will be talked about for generations to come!

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine ■

 

EVERGREEN FALLS

By Kimberley Freeman

This is a tale that will stay with the reader for many, many years to come. This deep, intricate mystery about two women in different eras is sheer perfection.

In 1926, a beautiful woman named Violet Armstrong is a waitress at Evergreen Spa Hotel—a luxurious spot that caters to the rich and famous. Violet is offered work at Evergreen when it’s brand new. She jumps at the chance to help her mother out, having no idea that living at the resort will change her life, and the lives of everyone she meets that season, with tragic results.

In 2014, Lauren Beck is a woman who has broken away from her family and moved to the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney, Australia, to try and become a little more independent. Holding down a job, much to her surprise, she attracts the attention of Tomas, an architect from Denmark who is heading up a project at the nearby resort hotel: Evergreen Spa. As the Spa is being renovated, Tomas and Lauren are exploring parts of the building and come upon a small collection of old love letters from someone with the initials SHB to his lady love. Lauren decides to investigate the people to see if she can find out who they were. What happens is beyond her imagination when she stumbles across a long-forgotten secret.

In both eras that this novel presents, differences are explored, bigotry, and assumptions about others based on ignorance run rampant, and the setting—the Blue Mountains of Australia—is so gorgeously written that readers will feel like they are in the midst of it all.

The connections are so strong between these women that readers will be up all night to finish the story. Bouts of crying and laughing may interrupt your day, as you get caught up in the emotions. It is hard for a person to fall in love with a mystery, but Kimberley Freeman has written one that allows every reader to do just that.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

NAME OF THE DEVIL

By Andrew Mayne

This is the second mystery-thriller featuring Jessica Blackwood, born into a household of magicians, but an FBI agent by way of rebellion against a family who expects her to take up the trade.

There’s magic involved, the kind from magicians, and a bit bordering on the supernatural in the form of the mysterious Damien. He’s a character who always knows where Jessica is and what she’s doing. She isn’t always sure if he bears her ill will or not, but he swoops in and saves her life when needed.

When an Appalachian church seems to spontaneously combust after the worshippers are attacked by the sheriff, who seems to have turned into a demon and tried to eat them, Jessica figures there are magic tricks involved. Although she’s not officially allowed to work on the case due to a jealous fellow agent, she manages to worm her way in with the help of some FBI friends and higher-ups.

The secrets behind this initial puzzling and horrific event take Jessica to a gang-infested town in Mexico, an orphanage there, and a strange cave. The events are more complicated and more bizarre than Jessica has first imagined and she ends up having a deadly gang on her trail, trying very hard to kill her. More impossible things happen, but Jessica sees through the subterfuges in the end.

I liked the behind-the-scenes magic tricks that were revealed by Mayne, a talented practicing magician for many years. The way they are woven into the plot is ingenious.

Warning: If you are a devout Catholic, this book may not be for you. A very high figure in the church is not portrayed kindly. But it is fiction.

Reviewed by Kaye George, author of “Eine Kleine Murder”

 

AFTER THE STORM

By Linda Castillo

This book starts out with a prologue that will send readers running…to read the rest of the novel as fast as possible.

There don’t seem to be any problems with either Police Chief Kate Burkholder or the town of Painters Mill, Ohio. All is quiet, and yet, this author has the writing ability to keep readers glued to the pages, as Kate and her team embark on the trail of a criminal who may certainly be long-gone after discovering a thirty-year-old attack in a falling down barn located in an Amish community.

Kate has a good life with John Tomasetti, an agent for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, that is horribly interrupted when the area is struck by a giant tornado. Kate rescues a child and mother from a smashed trailer and is subsequently sued for causing the child’s death, and threatened by the child’s meth-brained father. Another storm surprise, however, are the parts of a corpse found in the old barn by a troop of Boy Scouts who were helping to clean up in the aftermath of the tornado. The body parts are identified as Mennonite Leroy Nolt who vanished three decades ago.

Although Kate was born Amish, she now lives “among the English.” Fortunately, when talking with the Amish people, she can speak to them in any language they choose and in time finds out that the thirty-year-old incident was not an accident. Soon, Kate learns that somewhere among these gentle people there is a killer or killers waiting to strike. Kate is fired at by a stalker and a chain of violence begins that doesn’t let up. Personal family secrets and unlikely deaths begin to turn this Amish community both upside down and sideways. Kate will have to search for answers while dealing with a close-knit community who have closed their doors to everyone.

An excellent story by Linda Castillo, fans will be swept away by the tornado and captivated by the Amish world.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

CANDY CORN MURDER

By Leslie Meier

Tinker’s Cove, Maine, is about to be shaken up by a pumpkin-hurling contest. What is that, you ask? Well…

Lucy Stone, local reporter, is covering the town’s annual Giant Pumpkin Fest for the Pennysaver. The Fest includes the pumpkin boat regatta, the children’s Halloween party, the pumpkin weigh-in and, for the first time, a contest using a home-built catapult to throw pumpkins at a target: an old Dodge. This should certainly bring in the crowds.

Lucy’s husband Bill is, at the moment, lavishing his affection on Priscilla. Priscilla is a 500-pound pumpkin he hopes to enter in the contest. Evan Wickes, a local man, is helping Bill build a catapult designed to hold one so enormous. But when the day of the contest arrives, no one can find Evan, until…a pumpkin flies by and breaks open the trunk of the old Dodge. The surprise is scary enough, but when they find the dead body of Evan inside the massive pumpkin that has been catapulted by those unknown, scary turns to shock.

As Bill was the last one to see and speak to Evan, he becomes the main suspect. Lucy knows she has to start her own investigation into the pumpkin fiasco, but all her ideas and leads don’t work for her. She finds that there is another story from long past regarding the town that she will have to investigate in order to solve Evan’s murder.

This book is definitely a cozy. No gore, just a fun read/mystery that offers up a family secret that someone in the family doesn’t want revealed. Readers will love Lucy for all the work she does for her family and hometown. A great character, readers will liken her to their very best friend.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

DANTE’S DILEMMA

By Lynne Raimondo

This extremely good read offers fans another look at Dr. Mark Angelotti, a psychologist who is nearly blind and is now looking forward, for lack of a better phrase, to a new apartment, a new boss, a new office, and hitting a brand new case.

His newly elected boss, the state’s attorney, asks him to review a previous evaluation written by Bradley Stephens, another psychologist who was killed in an accident before he could testify in court. Mark is able to listen, due to modern technology, while he forms his own opinion about what seems to be a very difficult case.

Rachel Lazarus, the defendant, has confessed to killing her husband in a very brutal manner. Her justification seems to be that she suffered years of her husband’s abuse and Battered Woman Syndrome is the best reason in the world to let her go. Mark senses that there is something deeper in Stephens’s evaluation that doesn’t quite add up. Lo and behold, the defense attorney turns out to be Mark’s old girlfriend and the prosecutor treats Mark as a hostile witness because Mark believes that the whole thing, the whole trial, is a set up. However, when another case becomes connected, it soon turns out that Rachel may not be guilty after all. Perhaps there is a person who wants Rachel to take the fall; yet, if he’s not careful, everything may just topple directly down on Mark’s own head.

This book is a must read as it will keep you on your toes during the entire narrative. The author wrote two previous Mark Angelotti books: “Dante’s Wood” and “Dante’s Poison.” Her writing is first class and readers will love having to guess the finale right up until the reveal on the very last page.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

MALICE AT THE PALACE

By Rhys Bowen

It looks like more hard times are coming for Lady Georgianna Rannoch in the ninth Royal Spyness Mystery penned by Rhys Bowen, “Malice at the Palace.” Just because Georgie happens to be thirty-fifth in line for the British throne, doesn’t guarantee she has a place to live or any money in her purse. But being close to the royal family does have its advantages, especially when Queen Mary asks Georgie to be the official companion to Princess Marina of Greece. The princess is arriving in London to wed the youngest royal prince, George, who is known for his many love affairs with people of both sexes, including famed songwriter Noel Coward.

Georgie, and her completely hopeless maid, Queenie, move into Kensington Palace, affectionately known as the “Aunt Heap,” as several elderly members of the royal family live there. Also reputed to be in residence at the palace are other family members of the ghostly variety, including a mysterious woman in white and a young boy.

When Georgie, keen to meet a ghost of one of her ancestors, investigates a mysterious light in the palace, she discovers an all-too-real dead body instead. As if that isn’t bad enough, the dead woman is a well-known society beauty and reputed drug supplier who is said to be one of Prince George’s many mistresses.

Queen Mary is horrified by the supposed connection to her son and wants the entire matter resolved as quickly and quietly as possible, before word reaches Princess Marina and she calls off the wedding. Georgie has helped the queen resolve other wrongdoings in the past, but none that has reached into the sanctity of the royal family itself.

“Malice at the Palace” is delightful from start to finish. And what makes it even more intriguing is that Bowen’s tale is mostly based on historical facts. Truth really is stranger than fiction!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

New Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine August part 1

     Posted on Thu ,22/10/2015 by Administrator

BUM RAP

By Paul Levine

This is a terrific new Jake Lassiter mystery—the ex-NFL linebacker turned lawyer.

At one time, Jake was on the opposite side of the courtroom, standing trial for a murder he did not commit. So he certainly has an in-depth view of the justice system. Now, being a lawyer, Jake has had it with clients that are actually very guilty and the shifty lawyers that somehow get them off. He is so annoyed that he’s just about ready to throw in the towel and run away from it all; leave Miami behind and move on to greener pastures.

But, as fate would have it, Jake is not free to leave. He receives a call from Victoria Lord, partner in the legal team of Solomon & Lord. It seems her partner, Steve Solomon, has been arrested for murder, and the only person who can clear him is nowhere to be found. Steve’s alibi is a bar girl (AKA: Lady of the Evening), that Jake and Victoria have to find before the FBI catches up with her or she’s killed by the Russian Mob. Jake is very sure that if he doesn’t find her first, Steve’s case will be lost. Remembering his days on the gridiron and the good advice he got from his college football coach: “Buckle your chin strap and hit somebody,” Jake decides that is exactly what he intends to do.

Solomon is not the most fun of clients, and Jake is the only one who seems to be able to tell the man to shut up and actually get away with it. With the prosecution getting in the way, the FBI lurking around every corner, and the Russian Mob bringing up the rear, this tale is about as action-packed as you can get. Covering the rainbow of emotions from funny to fear, author Paul Levine has definitely done it again with this extremely likable character.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

BRADSTREET GATE

By Robin Kirman

Three main characters, Charlie, Georgia and Alice, offer up three very different personalities in this extremely interesting tale. Enrolled in Harvard University, they each have a different background and a very different reason for being at the prestigious school.

During their time at Harvard, each of these students meets up with Rufus Storrow, a professor who has a relationship of sorts with each one of them. Rufus is a somewhat odd individual whose personality can go from sticky sweet to rage in an instant. He is surely the perfect example of a sociopathic case. But is he?

During their college times the three students also knew a victim, a senior girl who was brutally murdered. Each of them were spoken to by the authorities concerning the crime, but the main suspect turned out to be Professor Storrow. After graduation, the three students go their separate ways but are unable to forget the murdered girl and how they saw the teacher that they all liked lose his job and have his reputation completely wiped away. Over the next ten years, their lives are unveiled as this odd trio from Harvard wrestle with their own choices in life.

The author does a great job telling of the murder and the effect it had on Georgia, Charlie and Alice. Readers will have a tough time putting this book aside for even a minute as the story has everything that the mystery lover looks forward to. There is most definitely a crime to solve, and by telling the tale from the viewpoint of the students who had to go on and live with the end results of the crime, and the privileged world of Harvard where friendships come and go, keeps the reader riveted.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

THREADS OF EVIDENCE

By Lea Wait

Angie Curtis has returned to Haven Harbor, on the picturesque seacoast of Maine, to take over running the family business, Mainely Needlepoint, which does commissioned needlework for decorators and other high-end clients. Angie’s happy to give up her old job as an assistant to a private investigator in Arizona for a quiet life in Haven Harbor.

Like many New England towns, Haven Harbor has its share of beautiful antique houses. One such house, which has fallen into disrepair and is reputed to be haunted, is Aurora, a crumbling Victorian mansion which has been sitting vacant for more than twenty-five years. Aurora was once the summer home of the wealthy Gardener family, and was the scene of the mysterious death of Jasmine Gardener when she was only seventeen.

Hollywood actress, Skye West, decides to buy Aurora and restore it to its former glory, setting the whole town abuzz with speculation. Skye approaches Mainely Needlepoint and asks Angie to appraise the estate’s collection of needlepoint pictures, each one done after Jasmine’s death by her grieving mother, who always maintained that her daughter was murdered. The more Angie examines the needlepoint, the more convinced she becomes that each one contains a clue to solving the crime.

“Threads of Evidence” is the second in Maine author Lea Wait’s Mainely Needlepoint Mystery series. Like all of Wait’s previous mysteries (she also writes the Antique Print Mystery series), it offers a wonderful sense of place and characters right from the very beginning. Highly recommended!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

RUTHLESS

By John Rector

Wrong place, wrong time or right place, right time? That’s the big question that haunts Nick White in “Ruthless.” While sitting in a lonely bar, a beautiful woman takes a seat next to him and asks, “Are you him?” Thinking he’s part of a flirty pick up, he plays along, answering, “Are you her?” Before the mysterious beauty departs, she leaves an envelope and tells him that he will get the other half when the job is completed. If Nick was smart, he would have told her she had the wrong person, given the envelope back and walked out of the bar and her life forever—but Nick has never been admired for his decision making skills.

Inside the envelope, he finds a lot of money and a girl’s name and address. What transpires next will change his life in ways he could never imagine. Deciding against the desires and advice of his father, a retired police officer, Nick doesn’t let it go. For once in his life, he is going to do the right thing.

The right thing becomes much more complicated than he imagines. Every time he thinks he knows who the bad guys are, he gains information that has his mind doing flips and his imagination spinning in every direction.

John Rector has written a riveting thriller that will keep you guessing until the last page and changing your mind on who the bad guys are. Maybe there is no such thing as innocent people. Maybe everyone is ruthless!

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine ■

 

CITY OF ECHOES

By Robert Ellis

Detective Matthew Trevor Jones is just beginning a new job, receiving a pretty good promotion that has placed him in Hollywood Homicide. Matt is celebrating and waiting for a friend to show up so they can paint the town when he receives a call from his Lieutenant offering apologies, telling Matt that there is a new homicide call and everyone else on the job is busy, so he must cancel dinner and get to work. Matt, of course, says he will, sending a text to his friend saying the evening is off.

Matt heads for the scene and the first one there lets Matt know that the killing is a real mess, the victim unrecognizable. The car the victim is found in checks out as being a loaner from a dealership. Inside, the victim’s phone is ringing, and when Matt picks it up to see if he can identify the body that way, his very own text flashes back at him: The victim with no face is Matt’s friend—another policeman by the name of Kevin Hughes.

Matt’s new partner, Denny Cabrera, is not sure that Matt should even be on the case but the Lieutenant disagrees. Soon a person is arrested for the crime: a teacher having an affair with one of his students who just happened to be killed. But creepiness commences as the arresting officers begin to die off one by one. A murderer is continuing what looks to be a very personal killing spree, showing the cops that an arrested man may just be completely innocent of the crime.

Extremely intelligent, highly thrilling and, at times, graphic. This is an incredible story written well by a writer who knows just how to keep the reader in the loop, even at the most confusing times, while delivering a remarkable story.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

A DECEPTIVE HOMECOMING

By Anna Loan-Wilsey

For lovers of mystery with a historical flare, this is a true treat. Her fans already know that author Anna Loan-Wilsey is a terrific wordsmith, and her featured character, Hattie Davish, is one that many people have already fallen in love with.

Hattie is a traveling secretary who works for a gentleman named Sir Arthur. But this time around, Hattie is traveling back to her hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri. Her friend, Virginia Hayward, has just lost her father and Hattie wants to help.

Hattie is also someone who very seldom misses anything, and while at the funeral home, she sees the plant ‘Agrimony’ tucked into the middle of a wreath. Hattie immediately wonders why the plant is there, seeing as it stands for gratitude. When she gets up to the body, she realizes something else; the dead man is not her friend’s father. Yes, the man has been in a bad accident and his face is disfigured, but Hattie knows the scar she sees is not the same. A switch has been made, and soon Hattie senses more than foul play, she senses that her hometown is not nearly the same one she left.

Knowing the body is not her friend’s father, Hattie wants to find out what on earth is going on. Her search leads her from her old school to the cemetery in town, and on to the home of the notorious outlaw, Jesse James. More doors open and Hattie finds herself following clues that lead her to tunnels buried under a lunatic asylum. And with each turn she takes, Hattie will get closer and closer to a true killer.

Although a standalone read, all of the Hattie Davish mysteries are fantastic. The writing and characterizations are true to the time period, and once you pick up one Davish mystery, you’ll be running to the library to get another.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

EARTHFALL: RETRIBUTION

By Mark Walden

Having thoroughly enjoyed Mark Walden’s first in the Earthfall series, it was a long two year wait for the follow up. I shouldn’t have enjoyed this series—it’s aimed at middle school boys—but a good book is a good book.

So when “Retribution” (Earthfall 2) arrived, I was chomping at the bit to discover if our young heroes would manage to free the Londoners from their trance-like entrapment which occurred in the first book after the alien Voidborns arrived on Earth.

This book takes place several months since the events of “Earthfall,” and Sam and his crew have discovered things are worse than they first believed. Not only have the Voidborn set up some kind of drilling apparatus, but they haven’t just invaded London; they have landed all around the world and are in the throes of setting up more of the device.

Sam’s group happens upon another resistance group who think they have discovered a way to destroy the enemy by implanting viral commands into the network that controls the Voidborn drones. Along the way Sam makes unlikely allies and enemies, and a new and very dangerous creature is unleashed upon the planet.

Walden has taken the classic “War of the Worlds” tale and developed it further, with new twists and a great reveal. Readers of young adult adventure and apocalyptic tales will enjoy this series. And if you have a reluctant young male reader, this series would be a great introduction to the adventure that can lie between the covers of a book.

Reviewed by Susan May www.susanmaywriter.com

 

A GRAVE MATTER

By Anna Lee Huber

For readers who first fell in love with Lady Kiera Darby in “The Anatomist’s Wife” and “Mortal Arts,” this is book three. And the author has once again delivered an awesome mystery.

For those not up to date, Lady Darby has been through many things in her life; from losing her husband to being frowned upon by London Society because it was believed that her deceased love was an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own purposes. The Lady has continued to be judged in the eyes of others. Intrigue and murder mysteries ensued, as well as a romance with the enticing, Sebastian Gage, who quickly became the apple of readers’ eyes.

It is the year 1830, and Lady Kiera Darby and her brother are enjoying the Hogmanay Ball on New Year’s Eve when, just moments after midnight, a worker comes in and claims that the caretaker has been shot in an old abbey. The worker is correct. Not only is the man dead, there has also been a grave robbery of bones. Oddly enough, days later a ransom note is sent to the family so they can retrieve the bones…at a cost.

Kiera, with the help of Sebastian Gage, finds that this is not the first case of someone digging up old bones and ransoming them back to their families. But discovering who would choose which graves to rob and why the families targeted would be so frightened, will take a great deal of detection. As Kiera and Gage team up to look for clues and hunt down the baddies in this new caper, readers will hang on every word.

This is a team that is indeed well-matched, and their romance plays easily with the ever-expanding world of Scottish intrigue. Although each book is a stand-alone read, the Lady is best understood if you are aware of the incredible backstory that this author provided for her character; a character who is truly unforgettable.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

AFTER THE RED RAIN

By Barry Lyga with Peter Facinelli and Robert DeFranco

Can you imagine a world that is in total ruin: no clean water, no natural food, no trees, birds, or flowers? Worse yet, there is no history. The citizens believe this is the way it has always been. Ever since the Red Rain: a time so long ago, that no one knows when it happened, or why it was called the red rain. Well, Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, and Robert DeFranco have imagined such a world and have painted it in every color along the gray spectrum. They have etched a world of gloom in such a fashion that you will be riveted to the page.

Now imagine that there is one person in this world that’s different . . . colorful, imaginative, and full of life. Can you imagine the trouble that one individual could cause?

Deedra is a teenage girl who lives in this world. An orphan who spends her days working in a factory and her nights scavenging for anything salvageable. During one of her excursions, she meets a boy named Rose. Rose is different from any other. He looks different, smells different, and acts different.

She soon learns that he is different in many other ways, especially in the way he thinks. Maybe he is different in ways that can change the world. “After the Red Rain” is a microcosm of society. What happens when those in charge are threatened by something new and different? They become afraid, and their fear makes them go on the offensive. An offensive that could destroy all that is possible and all that once was, with only one person who can stop them . . . a boy named Rose.

Lyga, Facinelli, and DeFranco have delivered a post-apocalyptic, dystopian young adult novel that begs to be read.

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine ■

 

HOUNDED

By David Rosenfelt

This is the twelfth Andy Carpenter Mystery, and with each one David Rosenfelt writes, the more readers want to hear that Andy Carpenter will go on for at least twenty or thirty more novels. Each and every one of the Andy Carpenter books is a delight to read and this new one is no exception.

Andy’s friend, Police Captain Pete Stanton, finds himself arrested for the murder of a man named Danny Riaz. Danny just happened to have been an ex-convict and police informant, and Pete has the bad luck of being the first police presence at the scene of the crime. That, and more, ends up making Pete Suspect #1.

It seems that Danny had reported Pete for drug dealing, and as the case is checked up on, investigators find $100,000 worth of heroin in Pete’s house. Pete is sure that several recent deaths are contract murders, and Andy agrees. Andy is sure that Pete is being framed for Danny’s death and will not stop until he proves it.

In the meantime, however, Andy’s partner, Laurie Collins, asks him to foster an eight-year-old boy, Ricky Diaz, who is the murder victim’s son. And along with Ricky comes his dog, Sebastian—a Basset Hound. (One that graces the fabulous cover of this book).

Moving through this interesting adventure, the ‘Carpenter’ charm is at full-force. Humorous, as always, the conspiracy in this one intermingles with plot lines that keep the story fast-paced and a whole lot of fun. Both new and longtime fans will love everything from the New Jersey gangsters to the courtroom action to the author’s ever-present love of canines. (Rosenfelt rescues dogs and owns at least twenty-five Golden Retrievers, himself). All of it combines to make a perfect mystery. …Yet again.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine ■

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WHEN THE DEAD AWAKEN

By Steffen Jacobsen

If there was ever a ‘model’ for an edge-of-your-seat thriller, this is it. Author Steffen Jacobsen is a Danish surgeon, and this is the first of his three novels to be translated into English.

To begin, City of Naples Assistant Public Prosecutor Sabrina D’Avalos, is a strong woman, who years before resolved to avenge the death of her father who she believes was murdered by the criminal Mafia/Camorra.

At the Port of Naples, a crane drops a container that’s about to be placed onto a ship. The crane operator is so scared of the consequences of the accident that he jumps to his death, landing on top of the container. When the container breaks open, the dockworkers see the bags of human remains concealed inside…an accident that takes place in front of Camorra assassin, Urs Savelli.

As fate would have it, the prosecutor assigned to the case is Sabrina D’Avalos. Her job will be to identify the corpses from the letters F to L. She reports to her boss that she’s linked two of the victims—a pregnant woman, Lucia Forlani, and her son, Salvatore—to a rash of violence back in 2007 that took the life of her father, Gen. Baron Agostino D’Avalos. He had put the mother and son into witness protection. Lucia’s husband, Giulio, was murdered the same week that she disappeared, along with all the top scientists working with him at Nanometric, a techno company that could prevent forgeries from being thought of as real.

As the Mafia/Camorra’s income mostly comes from designer knockoffs and fakes, the murders are believed to have been done by Savelli, the Camorra’s number one hit man, and a woman called L’Artista, who is also a hitter. Sabrina is gung ho as she is sure that her father’s death was orchestrated by these two people, and she will not rest until she proves it.

A psychological, suspenseful thrill-ride that will appeal to anyone who is interested in fast-paced action.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

THE THICKET

By Joe R. Lansdale

This book opens with bank robbery and murder, as Jack Parker, sixteen years old, his sister, Lula, fourteen years old, and their grandfather, are attacked on a Sabine River Ferryboat. Grandfather is murdered and Jack is swept overboard as the robbers ride off with Lula.

Jack’s thoughts are focused on rescuing his sister, and while searching for a sheriff to help him, Jack meets Eustace, a gravedigger and tracker who is the owner of a pet 600-pound hog. Hog is around so he can act like a very large watchdog as Eustace leads Jack to Shorty, a bounty hunter, and the quartet set off to track the robbers and save Jack’s sister. It seems that the criminals have taken Lula into ‘The Big Thicket,’ a wild stretch of forest that is home to outlaws. And as Eustace says, it is a place where “if you ain’t scared, it’s because you’re too stupid.”

Along the trail, the gang of four collect more folks to help them on their quest. Winton, a bounty hunter turned Sheriff; Spot, a janitor; and Jimmie Sue, a hooker with a heart of gold who will keep readers intrigued. This is definitely a true walk through early twentieth-century East Texas, because by the time the little band reaches the Big Thicket a lot of it has been reduced from those scary deep, dark woods to miles of cleared, desolate land. Will it help them find Lula? You’ll have to wait and see.

Violent in parts, this is an area full of familiar heroes and antiheroes that are highly entertaining. As for being civilized, during this time in history East Texas was still a wild ride. So for those who love suspense, mysteries, westerns, and those fans out there who were thrilled by the Coen Brothers’ flick No Country for Old Men, this is most definitely the read for you!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion   ■

 

AUNT DIMITY AND THE SUMMER KING

By Nancy Atherton

Another hit in the long line of Aunt Dimity books. Plenty of mystery in this cozy, but no murders.

Lori Shepherd and her husband Bill are Americans, but they’ve settled into the small English village of Finch so comfortably that they truly care about the town and its future. Bill’s father, William Willis Sr., has even moved up the lane from them, and lives at the rather grand Fairworth House. Amelia Thistle, accomplished watercolorist, has agreed to marry Willis, Sr. This would be a joyous occasion, except that Bill’s Boston aunts, better known as The Harpies, are coming to the wedding. If you have relatives you dislike, I dare you to put them up against Honoria and Charlotte—very nasty women. Lori lives in dread of their arrival.

With Amelia moving out of her cottage, Lori is worried about the future of Finch. It will now have four empty cottages. Many people are looking, but no one is moving in. Lori sets out to determine why. But first, Lori’s friend, Emma, has been mapping the village and its surrounds, so Lori decides to take her baby, Bess, on a walk along a path Emma has discovered. Distracted by the sight of kites flying above the neighbor’s wall, she steers the pram into a pothole. She’s startled to see an odd man perched on the wall. His clothes are casual and rumpled, but he wears a crown of dried grapevines and buttercups on his gray hair. He’s the Summer King, he tells her.

Aunt Dimity, if you haven’t met her, is an unusual ghost. She communicates with Lori by writing in a special book. She lives in the house with Lori, Bill, the twin boys, Will and Rob, and baby Bess. Mysteries abound, piled on top of each other and interwoven as Lori seeks help from her to figure out what’s happening to the village and who is responsible. And also seeks help getting through the nuptials with The Harpies.

Reviewed by Kaye George, author of “Eine Kleine Murder”   ■

 

THE WASHINGTON LAWYER

By Allan Topol

This book is a classic tale of scandal in the nation’s capital. It’s all about the fast track, and all the right plots figure into the story.

A public figure is enjoying a small vacation with his young model mistress on the island of Anguilla, when said mistress makes sure to give her boy a lesson. Either marry me, or face up to the consequences that scandal will bring. Lose your career and everything along with it, because she’s ready and willing to go to the newspapers with a CD that she recorded of his meeting with a Chinese agent. But, as luck or lust would have it, the mistress in this case, Vanessa Boyd, has a mysterious accident, drowning in the ocean before she has a chance to do anything.

Andrew Martin, a prominent Washington attorney, just happens to own the house on Anguilla. Mr. Martin is on the short list to earn a seat on the Supreme Court, so he certainly doesn’t want anyone to know that he lent his property to someone who may or may not have had a hand in murder. Martin calls the island and gets some of his cohorts to turn the death of Vanessa into an accidental death,  while he backpedals to make sure the President doesn’t hear about the problem before he picks the next Supreme Court Judge.

Meanwhile, Vanessa’s twin sister, archeologist Allison Boyd, is on the hunt for clues that will prove Vanessa was murdered. She knows that her sister was a good swimmer and wasn’t likely to drown. Although usually digging up mummies, Allison is pure detective and will never give up until the high-powered folks get the punishment they deserve, and crumble accordingly.

This is a real page-turner that comes together at the end perfectly. What people want versus what they deserve is the statement behind this political thriller, and all readers will be more than satisfied.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

STRANGERS

By Bill Pronzini

This author has, for many years, written about the very cool Nameless Detective, whose first name just happens to be Bill. These books have been favorites of many and just keep getting better and better.

In this new tale, Bill leaves California and drives to Mineral Springs, Nevada, to help out an old flame, Cheryl Rosmond. Cheryl’s son, Cody, has been arrested for three assaults made on women in the small town. And the evidence against Cody has been given to police by Max Stendreyer, who just happens to be the local drug salesman that has identified Cody as the person who was running from the scene of the third woman’s assault.

Cheryl is sure her son is innocent and asks Bill to help find out who the real culprit is so she can save her family. Cody’s girlfriend, Alana, also thinks he’s innocent, but no one else in town is on their side, especially not County Sheriff Joe Felix, who is so sure of Cody’s guilt that he’s not even looking for anyone else to take the blame. He also stands in the way of Bill, not allowing him to even speak to the prisoner. The three victims are also adamant about Cody’s guilt, and Alana’s ex-boyfriend backs them up, although he has a definite reason for wanting Cody to stay locked up.

Bill digs around for clues and finally makes enough progress that a bullet is sent his way by an unknown shooter. He has made enemies in town, including the local District Attorney. What’s worse is the fact that Bill may just have uncovered a different crime that Cody is linked to, which makes him think that he made the wrong decision by coming to Mineral Springs in the first place.

You cannot get enough of this character. A really good story which, of course, offers the biggest surprise on the final pages. Here’s hoping that Mr. Pronzini is already hard at work on the next Nameless mystery.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

THE FIGARO MURDERS

By Laura Lebow

Lorenzo Da Ponte is a librettist (a musical theater poet) in 1700’s Vienna. Well liked, he is not well paid, scraping by on commissions as he strives to be a collaborator with Mozart on The Marriage of Figaro.

Lorenzo is asked by his barber, Johann Vogel, to investigate the Baron Gabler—Vogel’s former employer. He needs to find out anything he can about his own birth mother. Vogel is sure that she was a noblewoman and that family connections will help the barber pay off his outstanding debts to Gabler’s housekeeper. That way, the man can be let out of prison to marry Baroness Gabler’s maid.

During the investigation, the Baron’s page is killed. Said page, Florian, is the only son of a prince and being set up for a very important job with the Baron when he meets his death. A very deep, dark mystery ensues, as Emperor Joseph soon calls on Da Ponte to pose as Baroness Gabler’s poetry teacher in order to uncover the killer. The Emperor promises Lorenzo that he will be tried for Florian’s murder if he does not comply.

During this time, Da Ponte is trying to finish the work he’s doing on the Figaro opera, while trying to link a strange medallion to the mystery of Vogel’s birth mother and make sense of a notebook he’s found. Secrets begin to be uncovered that include Da Ponte’s own, as he finds that looking for a killer is bringing him closer to ultimate disaster.

This book is not your usual mystery. Complicated, yes, but a thrilling tale that for a true mystery buff makes for a very interesting afternoon of reading. Whether an opera fan or not, doesn’t matter. The style is different, the plot intriguing, and the main character is perfect since he is a very reluctant detective. The author has definitely done her research about eighteenth century Vienna, and Vienna’s love for the opera comes across in the passion of this writer’s words.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion   ■

 

WHISKERS OF THE LION

By P.L. Gaus

Gaus puts forward another in his acclaimed Amish-Country mysteries. In this story, the author continues the tale of Fannie Helmuth that started in the previous book, “The Names of Our Tears.”

Fannie and her friend, Ruth Zook, became drug mules (carrying drugs for criminals). They tried to right the wrongs that they knew they had committed but Ruth, unfortunately, was killed.

Fannie is on her own now and also on the run, hiding from the drug ring that took away her precious friend. An old pal, Howie Dent, has come to her. He aids Fannie by hiding with her among the various communities of Amish people. Yet another tragedy happens when Howie loses his life, as well. The law in this particular Amish community in Holmes County, Ohio, Sheriff Bruce Robertson, has been searching for Fannie so he can put her in protective custody. He needs her to testify against the drug ring she’s running from in order to get these people off the streets before they do even more harm.

He believes that Ruth’s murder was committed by Teresa Molina, and that Fannie is surely on the run from the Molina Drug Ring. When Howie’s body is found, the sheriff knows that it’s only a matter of time before the gang goes after Fannie and finally brings her down. Tracking Fannie through some letters sent by Amish scribes to the local paper, the sheriff sends a couple of local citizens to get Fannie and bring her back. But as Fannie wonders if she can stay alive long enough to make things right, the sheriff receives an answer to it all in a dream that he has had since childhood…bringing a ‘lion’ into the mix to find a way to fight and win against some truly bad guys.

After reading this, fans will look at the world of ‘horses and buggies’ in a brand new light. The book is a true mystery that does not give up its secrets easily.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

THE UNQUIET DEAD

By Ausma Zehanat Khan

This is the first novel by a new author on the scene, with Khan introducing readers to Canada’s Community Policing Section.

This section of law enforcement handles Canada’s minority/sensitive crimes. One such crime they are looking at was first considered to be nothing more than an accident; a man fell off a cliff. It becomes a sensitive crime when a war-crimes historian suspects that the victim, Christopher Drayton, was really a wanted war crimes culprit who was behind the Srebrenica massacre of 1995—an event said to be Europe’s largest atrocity since WWII.

Introducing Inspector Esa Khattak, who is soft-spoken, respectful, and one of those “good men” on the job. He is the boss of Sgt. Rachel Getty, a young woman who is nothing like her higher-up partner, except when it comes to her stringent work ethic. Ten years younger, she is a very capable officer. And as the tale expands, this is one set of detectives that will find out they do have more in common than they first thought.

The clues concerning the possible murder come out slowly, as the two detectives have to determine whether Drayton is really war crimes felon, Krstic. If, in fact, he is the criminal, there will be many witnesses to the massacre and many suspects. A slew of survivors apparently have made homes in Canada and live close to where Drayton met his fate. As the partners uncover information proving more and more that the victim is actually the hated man, including a type of gun known only to be used by the Bosnian Serb army, anger and doubt heat up.

Khattak and Getty’s investigation is solid. The book is written with a great deal of humanity, trust and self-expression, which allows readers to see it as a definite series in the works with more tales to come. Highly emotional, in this debut the author has told it like it is, or was, and makes no bones about it.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion   ■

 

WINTER AT THE DOOR

By Sarah Graves

Lizzie Snow is a police officer from Boston who has just accepted a job in Bearkill, Maine. There is a method to her madness, for there is far more in Bearkill than just a job; she’s hoping to find her niece who’s been missing for many years, and Lizzie has just received an anonymous tip that the child is in or near Bearkill.

She still has misgivings about moving but the possibility that her niece, Nicki, could be found is enough for her to accept the position with the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department. The town of Bearkill is barely a town, however, made up of a small market, laundromat, luncheonette, and corner bar called, Area 51. When she enters this “grim little town miles from nowhere,” she immediately begins her hunt for clues that may take her right up and/or over the Canadian border.

Lizzie finds herself surrounded by some mysterious crimes and a killer who seems to be sneaking around very close by, but able to remain just out of reach. Her new boss, Sheriff Cody Chevrier, is counting on her fresh new eyes to separate accidents from true murders when local ex-cops are suddenly being found dead as doornails. These are truly ‘freak’ accidents, if that’s what they are at all, and this is one backwoods locale that houses the truly desperate, the morally corrupt, and one person who is set to destroy anything the innocent have to offer…if Lizzie doesn’t find the culprit first.

When you speak about a new ‘cop series’ you want to speak very well. With this title, that’s not hard to do. Lizzie Snow is interesting, and might be remembered from Graves’s last book where she was first introduced to readers. And let’s face it, the ‘Master of Horror’ uses Maine for one reason and one reason only…and this incredible writer agrees: this icy town is part of the perfect world where creepfests are truly cool.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

THRESHOLD

By G.M. Ford

This is an extremely interesting story featuring Detective Sgt. Mickey Dolan. Let’s just say that Mickey is not a person who is in the best of moods most of the time, which is quite sad because his time may just be running out faster than he assumed it would.

Mickey is assigned to the case of a powerful councilman who has reported that his wife and daughters have disappeared, and the detective knows that this one case could be his swan song if he makes even one mistake.

While on the case, Mickey meets Eve Pressman and her daughter, Grace. Grace seems to have the impossible ability to bring patients out of comas. In addition, this mother-daughter team might actually know where the councilman’s family is and why they were taken in the first place. Many mysteries ensue. First of all, how does Grace wake people up from a coma? Is this a supernatural gift of some sort, or is there a scheme being played? And can Mickey find the missing family, or is there something a little bit fishy about the powerful councilman that makes him a suspect instead of a heartbroken husband and father?

Readers will have to keep on reading in order to deduce everything that the author has set up in this plot. Although many questions need to be answered, not all were. The characters were outstanding, with their own interesting and distinct personalities. And the pace of the novel was fast, which means extra care needs to go into not missing a word.

Finally, as the reader approaches the end, the feeling becomes that something, perhaps a small piece for the future, will be left in limbo. A good tale that will definitely leave everyone thinking of the early stories written by Chandler and Christie, as one and all await the next G.M. Ford creation.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

Book Reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine (New)

     Posted on Thu ,20/08/2015 by Administrator

MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD

By Jeffrey Archer

This is Volume #5 in this author’s Clifton Chronicles series, and is just as fabulous as the four before. Although first intended to be the grand finale of the series, this is not the blockbuster event readers will expect. Why is that? Although this book ties up some loose ends and offers some needed explanations, it’s not going to be the end after all. (YAY!)

Beginning where “Be Careful What You Wish For” left off, this story consists of the IRA, the Cold War, and developments of the Communist Party in East Germany and the USSR.

At the beginning of the tale, the Barrington and Clifton families are continuing into the twentieth century featuring a whole new generation. The Barrington Shipping Company is launching a new ocean liner, the MV Buckingham that is on its way to New York, and is about to be blown up by a bomb planted by enemies of the Barrington/Clifton families. A bomb that very nearly works. Set to detonate at three o’clock in the morning when all passengers should be snug in their beds not knowing they will soon be headed for Davy Jones’ Locker, the bomb is suddenly discovered eight minutes before three. Thrown overboard, the disaster that would have killed many people is averted.

With two dramatic courtroom dramas, one in England and one in Russia, main characters that readers have become attached to bring about serious issues that occurred in the twentieth century, while a new character, Sebastian Clifton, son of Harry and Emma Barrington Clifton, comes of age and joins the family businesses.

This book begins with a possible ‘bang’ and ends with a courtroom battle that readers will love so much, they will head back to Volume #1 and read it all over again. The smile will be planted on their faces knowing that there will be a Volume #6 coming soon. Archer, as always, never lets the reader down!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion 

 

ONCE UPON A LIE

By Maggie Barbieri

Sean Donovan is an upstanding member of the Farringville, New York community who has been brutally killed. Maeve Conlon, his cousin, finds herself pulled into the investigation when the police think that her father, Jack, might just be the killer. And it doesn’t help that lead detective, Rodney Pool, refuses to say why he believes the well-liked ex-cop suffering from severe Alzheimer’s is a murderer.

Maeve is desperately trying to protect her father and makes up an alibi for him. Her troubles go from bad to worse when she finds out that a patron of her bakery, Michael Lorenzo, is beating his wife and child. Maeve wants to help there, too, but soon finds herself buried by crimes and lies.

Maeve has been a victim in her life, but now she’s finally seeing the light and getting back on track after her husband left her for her best friend. Maeve is a graduate of the Culinary Institute and she has finally been successful in running The Comfort Zone, a gourmet shop she owns. Just getting used to being a single parent, Maeve is also, with the help of a friend, getting into the speed-dating fad.

More bad luck strikes when the most promising date of the evening turns out to be Rodney—the police detective that cannot be swayed when it comes to believing that her own father is a definite killer. Worried, and wanting to do anything to save her father, Maeve begins dating the detective to keep an eye on him. With her new choices, she finds her life going to heck once again as the many allegiances she makes weigh heavily on her ever diminishing patience.

The author has created a great plot that holds the attention. Maeve is a wonderful character that readers will root for, warning her throughout the story that the light at the end of the tunnel is undeniably an oncoming train.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

TRAUMA

By Michael Palmer and Daniel Palmer

“Trauma” is a riveting medical thriller that will grab you by the throat and won’t let you go until long after you have read the intense climax.

Dr. Carrie Bryant is a talented neurosurgical resident who works long hours and is asked to do procedures that are complex for even the most-seasoned of neurosurgeons. While performing brain surgery to remove a tumor, the surgery ends up lasting hours longer than it was originally slated for. If not for Carrie’s brilliance, the patient would not have made it out of the OR. With no sleep, she must help her mentor, Dr. Metcalf, a brilliant yet ego-driven neurosurgeon, with his next surgery. Due to her lack of sleep and the tardiness of Dr. Metcalf, a small, yet debilitating medical error occurs, an error that Carrie takes the blame for, and ultimately causes her to resign her residency.

With no prospects for future employment, she accepts a job at the VA in an experimental program that deals with Deep Brain Stimulation—DBS—for the cure of PTSD. In DBS, a series of electrodes are implanted in the part of the brain that controls emotion, thus erasing the emotion that accompanied soldiers’ traumatic episodes.

Carrie finds flaws in the patients who have undergone the procedure and soon finds them to be among the missing. She goes on a terrifying, twisting ride of self-discovery as she searches for answers that no one is supposed to find.

“Trauma” reminds us that what seems too good to be true, usually is, and that playing God comes with repercussions.

Though Michael is no longer with us, Daniel Palmer has taken the reins, bringing out his finest work and a must read for all!

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

ROCK WITH WINGS

By Anne Hillerman

Readers will be overjoyed to know that Hillerman, daughter of the late bestselling author, Tony Hillerman, is going forward with his famous Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series about life and times in a Navaho reservation in the southwest. Anne Hillerman is able to keep up with these fabulous characters brilliantly, while making her own main character Jim Chee’s wife, Officer Bernadette Manuelito.

Bernadette brings a woman’s point of view to these tales, as she has to deal with family issues that include Mom and a difficult younger sister, while also bringing law and justice to the area. This tale also gives time to Officer Jim Chee, when he assists his cousin in the Monument Valley region of the reservation that’s having problems with some movie people. Seems a person has gone missing, and a newly dug grave has been found.

Officer Bernadette Manuelito makes a routine traffic stop on a car in New Mexico that turns into something of a mystery when the driver tries to bribe her. Odd, seeing as that the only cargo he’s carrying is two boxes of dirt. Bernadette already has a lot on her plate, with an uncovered drug ring and an investigation into a fire that was started in the middle of nowhere.

In the case of Lt. Joe Leaphorn, he is recovering from an injury but is still able to help solve any problems the others might stumble over. As always, under the guiding hand of their Lieutenant, Chee and the others will get around all the obstacles in their way and do their jobs like the very cool pro’s they are.

Readers will be thrilled to once again join the Navajo Tribal police with their two very interesting cases, and Hillerman has offered up a true gift by providing action, suspense, and great characters, all wrapped up in Southwestern mysteries that are fresh and exciting. Anne is a ‘chip off the old block’ to say the least!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE SILENCE THAT SPEAKS

By Andrea Kane

In the heart of Tribeca there is a quiet business nestled in a Brownstone called, Forensic Instincts (FI). This is an investigating team that is second to none, providing clients with the ultimate protection by making sure they stay among the living no matter what.

In this new case for FI, Madeline Westfield has had an attempt made on her life. Apparently, Madeline was walking home on a quiet street when she suddenly heard the screech of tires, and vaguely saw the form of a black SUV speeding straight at her. Fortunately, the car only grazed her, and a couple of pedestrians helped her out and took her to the hospital. FI is the team she now needs.

The leader of the company is Casey Woods. Her associates include; Marc, a former Navy SEAL, Ryan, a technical whiz, Claire, a brilliant clairvoyant with the body of a supermodel, and Patrick, a retired FBI agent. And we must not forget, Hero, the FBI trained bloodhound who may just be the smartest member of the team.

Madeline, their new client, used to be very close to team member, Marc, so personal feelings do come into play. As a nurse at Manhattan Memorial, she doesn’t really understand why she would be anyone’s target. However, the hospital is on the edge of a merger with another Manhattan hospital, and the staff is still upset that their hospital administrator, Ronald Lexington, passed away on the operating table during heart surgery that was being done by Madeline’s ex-husband. Suspects begin to pile up in odd ways, but the FI team has faced far worse before this and are not about to lose a client now.

As always, these Forensic Instincts novels are fascinating, memorable, and highly thrilling reads. Fans will love it!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

SEVEN FOR A SECRET

By Lyndsay Faye

It is 1845; the time period of the founding, building, and early days of the New York City Police Department. The star of the police department, at the moment, is Timothy Wilde. He is excellent at crime solving, at finding lost or missing items, and does not have to walk a beat. Instead, he is a special detective who works on ‘particular’ cases assigned to him by the Chief of Police. Tim shows off his special skills in this story, but this novel’s major case is about the crime of kidnapping free blacks in the North and selling them back to the South as escaped slaves.

A great cast of characters include members of the New York Committee of Vigilance that was founded in 1835, a committee that prevented the kidnapping of men, women, and children to be sold into slavery. In this narrative, a lovely and very terrified woman, Lucy Adams, practically falls into Tim’s office reporting a robbery. Tim asks her what was stolen, and she replies, “my family.”

When Tim is following up on this search for her sister and son, who are of mixed race, Tim will run into very tough times, including the police who look the other way, and politicians that are cruel to say the least. Tim must deal with the side of the law that doesn’t seem to care about this travesty, choosing instead to turn their focus on other things far more substantial that will bring more wealth to them and to New York.

Great action scenes, an excellent plot, and truly fascinating characters, readers are literally brought back in time in order to stand by the side of the compelling Timothy Wilde, as he fights for justice and against the laws that bring harm to others. As great as the first book in this series, Wilde is a character that should stick around for a long time to come.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

SPELL BOOKED

By Joyce and Jim Lavene

This great cozy is the first in a new series called, Retired Witches Mysteries, and offers up characters that readers will love getting to know.

It seems that the magical powers of Molly, Elsie, and Olivia are beginning to wane. Because of this, they have to find a few witches to replace them so they can retire to Boca Raton and join the AARP. So, with spell book in hand, they set their eyes on Dorothy, a young librarian who doesn’t yet know that she is a witch. Sadly, a great tragedy happens to the trio when Olivia is murdered and their spell book vanishes.

These three women had been close friends for years and didn’t really use their witchy gifts, besides helping out with household work, and do not fully know what can be accomplished when a witch’s mind is truly set to a task. Molly and Elsie now have to put up with a powerful witch; a witch that is stronger and better at the game than their trio had ever been. With Olivia gone, the two friends are forced to keep family members in the dark.  Making matters even worse, Molly’s husband is the homicide detective assigned to investigate Olivia’s death.

It’s not easy for these two to take on this far more powerful witch while keeping their talents under wraps. Will Molly and Elsie be able to stop this new, very difficult problem, so their dream of retiring and moving to Boca can come true? We shall see…

This is a well-written cozy with absolutely terrific characters. The author team has made sure not to simply ‘reveal’ answers; it takes a while to find out who is good, who can be trusted and, of course, who is the bad witch after all. This book assures readers that this will be a very readable series, and they will definitely be looking forward to the next tale.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion   ■

 

THE COUNTERFEIT LADY

By Kate Parker

This next Victorian Bookshop mystery is a wonderful cozy set in Victorian England featuring Georgia Fenchurch, a bookshop owner who specializes in rare and antique books. But that’s not all she does with her time. Georgia is also an investigator for the Archivist Society in London, a secret group that assists with some very special cases.

Speaking of special cases… The Duke of Blackford comes to the bookshop to speak to Georgia about the murder of a cousin, a relation to Lady Phyllida Monthalf, who is a friend of Georgia’s. The victim’s name is Clara Gattenger. She was killed during a robbery at her home involving the theft of blueprints of a new battleship designed by her husband. Oddly enough, her husband is being held for her murder.

Georgia is asked to go undercover as a widowed “Lady” (Lady Georgina) and a friend to the Duke. Georgia’s friend, Emma, will play Lady’s maid to both her and Phyllida. As the Lady Georgina, she will be brought forward to the social side of London and given a new home, new wardrobe, and a friend of the upper-class in order to help find the real killer, as well as discover where the missing blueprints ended up.

Georgia is not exactly gung ho about the job, especially since she hates the idea of turning her bookshop over to anyone. But this very intelligent lady is needed by the Archivist Society, and Georgia soon finds her life turned into a dream of high fashion, high-society, and escorted by a truly handsome man through it all. It would be thrilling…if not for the job. This is all a sham to catch a killer, and Georgia is ready for it.

This cozy, as is always the case with this author, is very well researched and an extremely fun and interesting read.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion   ■

 

PAW AND ORDER

By Spencer Quinn

This is another great read about Private Eye Bernie Little and his canine partner—that just happened to have flunked out of the police academy—named Chet.

On the way home after finishing up a case, Chet and Bernie stop at a barbecue shack in Louisiana and mix it up with some bikers. During the ensuing fight, which Bernie and Chet win, they take possession of a pink-handled gun which Bernie takes off one of the bikers. When they get back on the road, instead of heading home they take a vote (all paws in the air), and come to the decision that they will go to Washington D.C. where Bernie’s longtime girlfriend, Suzie Sanchez, has gotten her dream job as a reporter for the Washington Post.

When they arrive at Suzie’s home, one of her sources, Eben St. John, is just leaving, and Bernie, being the jealous type, thinks he is there to romance Suzie and jumps to the wrong conclusion. With a battle avoided, Bernie catches up on his beauty sleep while Suzie and Chet go to see Eben at his office; seems he was helping Suzie with a story that could change some people’s lives dramatically in our nation’s capital. Unfortunately, at the office, they find him very, very dead. Irony at its finest, the murder weapon just happens to be the pink-handled gun.

Bernie is arrested for the crime, then released. But taking the arrest personally, Bernie decides he wants on the case. The police and a man from a government agency warn him away from the investigation but Bernie keeps right on hunting for the killer. Spied on by a drone that Chet believes is a bird that must be caught, this is one mystery that is both entertaining and exciting to solve.

Chet’s narration of these stories are always worth reading, letting dog lovers know exactly what a canine could say if only he could talk. A fun read!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion   ■

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EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES

By Lisa Scottoline

The queen of justice, Lisa Scottoline, has yet again written a tale that will hold readers’ attention while leading them to an ultimate ‘shock’ at the end.

As the story begins, the skin crawls when the reader is told that a sociopath is someone they simply will never see coming. Why is that? “Because I am already there.”

A sociopath targets a Pennsylvania psychiatrist, Dr. Eric Parrish. Parrish is not exactly at a good point in his life right now; his wife, Caitlin, has filed for divorce and is giving him a hard time concerning the joint custody of their seven-year-old daughter, Hannah. Added to that, his latest private patient, Max, a seventeen-year-old kid who meets Dr. Parrish in the hospital at Max’s grandmother’s bedside asking if the Doc can help her deal with her illness, is about to go more than a little nuts.

Things are not all bad, however; his hospital colleagues like and support him. There is even one young medical student, Kristine, who has him on her radar. And the magazine, ‘U.S. News and World Report’ is just about to announce that the psych unit Eric is in charge of ranks second in the nation; a great honor.

Ala Scottoline, things are about to change… Kristine files harassment charges when the Doc rejects her advances. Max calls and tells him that his grandmother has died. And then Max disappears right before Renee, a girl Max lusted after, is found murdered. Because of timing, the police take an interest in Eric’s whereabouts and search his home and office. And Eric’s world begins to crumble around his ears.

Colleagues who loved him can’t stand the sight of him now. Max reappears in a shocking situation that puts himself and others in grave danger. As issues progress…a sociopath appears from the myriad of candidates that you will never see coming. Scottoline rocks it yet again!

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion 

 

THE MISSING PIECE

By Kevin Egan

Kevin Egan’s latest novel is a legal thriller that opens with a daring courtroom heist of an ancient Roman urn, just as the trial that will determine the ownership of the piece is about to begin. It is one of fourteen pieces of a hoard discovered in a field in Hungary, or was it Croatia?

Three years later, Linda Conover, a law clerk at the time of the heist who was present in the courtroom at the time, is now a judge in New York City. Conover has been chosen to preside over the new trial to determine ownership. Author Egan does a masterful job depicting the court system, from the judge down to the custodians, and how each plays a crucial part in the story. As the new trial looms closer, several people who were present in the courthouse at the time the “missing piece” was stolen, are now searching for the treasure.

At the same time, Judge Conover has her own personal problems to deal with, including a marriage to a high-powered lawyer that is less than what it should be. Even as she deals with this stress, she finds out that she is pregnant. As she gears up for the new trial, she privately decides that this will be her last.

Author Egan’s knowledge of the New York State court system makes this novel jam-packed with absorbing details, not only of the system but also the New York County Courthouse building in Lower Manhattan. The characters all come alive as they move through their days, professionally and personally, for better or worse or somewhere in between. “The Missing Piece” is a tense thriller that may keep you up until the wee hours.

Reviewed by Kathleen Heady, author of “Hotel Saint Clare”

 

A FINE SUMMER’S DAY

By Charles Todd

As the title states, it is “A Fine Summer’s Day” at Scotland Yard, where Detective Inspector Ian Rutledge works. This prequel begins in the year 1914, on the day that Ian, as a young man, is about to propose marriage. It also happens to be the day that the Archduke of Austria and his wife are assassinated, which was the opening salvo that began WWI.

Ian is very much in love with Jean but his friends and relatives are not sure that she is the right mate for him. Doesn’t matter how they feel, however, because Ian’s proposal is accepted and his thoughts focus on taking good care of his fiancée and attending all the parties preceding their engagement.

Unfortunately, it seems that as soon as the engagement is about to be announced, he is sent away by his superiors to solve various crimes. There are many committed during this time, and Rutledge has to travel over much of England leaving Jean to stay home and make excuses for his absence. During these times the Dogs of War are pushing to start “The War to End All Wars,” so everything seems to get more chaotic as the hours tick by.

As Ian is trying to care for everyone, a series of murders occur that he will be racing to solve in the few weeks before the declaration of war comes. Jean is adamant that Ian enlist in the service, yet he thinks that he might do his country a greater service by staying with the police. So now, with everything else on his plate, Ian finds himself in a quandary between joining up with the men in arms or risk the warmongers who are all but standing on the borders of his country just waiting for the first shot to be fired.

An excellent tale. As always when it comes to Charles Todd, this mother/son team of authors are in-depth, refined, and offer up a true thriller of a story.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT

By Neal Griffin

It’s going to be very difficult for readers to believe that this book is a debut effort. Yes, there are many debuts that thrill the world, but author Neal Griffin brings even more to his first story. He is a man who worked in law enforcement for many years and, apparently, never forgot anything.

At the onset of the story, Ben Sawyer, a former big city cop, made a big mistake where it could be seen (and recorded) by many cell phone cameras, causing him to leave his job behind. Ben and his wife, Alex, return to Newburg, Wisconsin, where they grew up to begin a new life. Ben becomes a detective in Newburg where his boss just happens to be his father-in-law. The other cops are upset about this family bond and don’t think that Ben earned the position. And when Ben’s father-in-law suffers a stroke, the Acting Chief proceeds to make his life miserable.

It seems that even though the town is small they still have considerable corruption, including drugs, prostitution, and other big city issues that have slowly made their way into the heartland of America. Ben soon suspects that someone in the Newburg department is hip deep in all of it, and is taking payoffs from the drug lords. What Ben doesn’t know is just how far the corruption has reached. But when his wife is suddenly accused of a crime, Ben is kicked off the force and his ally, his only ally, comes in to help. A rookie officer that is treated as an outcast the same as Ben, together they must ferret out who is to blame for the crimes and why this person is looking for revenge on Ben.

This book is a great suspense/thriller with a smart plot and pages that offer up a great deal of in-depth police work and knowledge that the author obviously absorbed over his many years in law enforcement. Griffin will most definitely earn avid fans.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

BITTERSWEET

By Susan Wittig Albert

This is the 23rd novel in Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles Mysteries, and they continue to be some of the best reads in the business.

China is the owner of the Thyme and Seasons Herb Shop in Pecan Springs, TX. She is delivering plants for a friend’s garden while looking forward to her upcoming Thanksgiving weekend and having a reunion with Mackenzie (AKA: Mack) Chambers, a local game warden.

China and her family head for Uvalde County to the home of China’s mother and stepfather. China’s stepfather, Sam, is currently in the hospital after suffering a heart attack. He and her mom, Leatha, are planning to open a guesthouse for birders, but now with Sam ill, Leatha has hired some extra help in the form of Sue Ellen Krause, a cowgirl who is in the process of leaving her husband. Said husband works at Three Gates Game Ranch, a place in Texas where hunters can hunt tame animals in order to get antlers to hang on their walls. It seems that there is a fortune in this type of business, but Sue Ellen thinks that her husband and his friends are actually up to something illegal.

Meanwhile, Mack meets up with the local veterinarian who says that he has seen tattooed fawns on a ranch where they are not supposed to be, but won’t tell Mack where the property is. It seems that big money is on everyone’s mind, with some locals even turning their ranches into resorts where wealthy guests can shoot bucks who have been bred specifically to have enormous antlers. But when the vet gets shot in a so-called “attempted burglary,” a case that is both political and frightening ends up at the feet of Mack and China.

This book is full of suspense,  and the team of China and Mack is a great deal of fun to read. Ms. Albert continues to churn out super-enjoyable mysteries.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

A GOOD KILLING

By Allison Leotta

Anna Curtis is headed home to Michigan for a very important reason; she’s going to defend her sister, Jody, in the murder of a very popular coach in the girls’ hometown of Holly Grove. Anna has just called off her wedding, and even though she’s frightened for her sister, she’s also glad to be on her way to anywhere where she doesn’t have to face her former fiancé.

The victim is Coach Owen Fowler, a real hero/golden boy who died in an automobile accident. However, it was not an accident; the car he was driving did blow up into a fireball when he hit the actual stadium, but his death came from a blow to the head delivered before the crash.

When Anna arrives, she looks into the police investigation only to discover that the law went no further than her sister to find their number one suspect. Seems Jody was having an affair with the coach and the cops believe jealousy was definitely the reason behind the murder. As Anna delves into the web of a supposedly angry female, she discovers that no one will tell the truth about the coach. And among the web of lies sits many townspeople who just happen to be against both sisters.

As Anna begins to defend her sister she also notices that, strangely, Jody doesn’t really seem to want Anna’s advice, and even places a great many restrictions on Anna as to how she can handle the case and who she can talk to. Add in a judge who has some old connections to Owen Fowler, yet will not recuse himself from the case, and Anna must work overtime to find the solution of what really happened in Holly Grove.

A very suspenseful novel, this is one tale that will remind many small town people out there just how strong and mean the bond of neighbors can become when they place a ‘scarlet letter’ on the person they most want to destroy.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion 

 

WHAT YOU LEFT BEHIND

By Samantha Hayes

A spate of teenage suicides in the English village of Radcote over the last few years has left everyone on edge, especially when three more deaths occur with all indications that they, too, are suicides. Detective Inspector Lorraine Fisher is on her way with her daughter, Stella, to her hometown to visit her sister, Jo, and her eighteen-year-old nephew, Freddie. Unbeknownst to Lorraine, Jo has just split up with her husband, Malcolm, Freddie’s stepfather to whom he was very close. As the sisters talk, Jo reveals that she had an affair with a neighbor whose son was one of the recent young men who took his own life.

Usually an outgoing and friendly boy, Freddie has become reclusive, refusing to go out with the family and spending all his time in his room on his laptop. He finally admits to his aunt that he has been a victim of bullying by other boys in the town, both in person and over the Internet.

When Lorraine learns about the suicides, including that of teenage neighbor, Simon, she begins to believe that at least the most recent deaths were not suicides, but murder. Even when a former associate turns up in the local police detective unit, Lorraine is persistent. He has been known in the past to take the easy way and overlook important evidence in order to close a case. After all, it is much easier to chalk up a death as a suicide than to try to find a murderer.

The book appears to move slowly at the beginning, but the twists in the plot pull you in with foreshadowing and tension that won’t let you go. And as the secrets hidden in small town life begin to come to light, the novel becomes one that cannot be put aside. Samantha Hayes has used her talent to write an irresistible thriller.

Reviewed by Kathleen Heady, author of “Hotel Saint Clare”

 

Book reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine

     Posted on Tue ,30/06/2015 by Administrator

ASK THE DARK

By Henry Turner

If you grew up in a small town, you knew someone like Billy. He was the kid who always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Remember him? He was the one who came from the broken family. The one who kids his own age picked on and adults ignored. They even avoided eye contact with him, if possible. If his name came up in conversation, the word trouble was soon to follow, and everyone would nod. Remember him now?

Well, Henry Turner remembers that kid, and he has written a stunning portrayal of him. The local police are always watching him, mistrusting him, and giving him accusatory glances, just because he’s “that kid.” Billy is always in trouble, but never really does anything wrong. Well, he does borrow another boy’s bike for late night joy rides, but he returns it. He does break into abandoned homes and people’s garages, but he’s just curious and wants to look around.

So what is he to do when he sees something off? When he sees a strange man in a dark, abandoned house. What is he to do when a boy his age is reported missing and he finds the body? He can’t go to the police; they don’t like him and will think he killed the boy. When other boys are reported missing, he knows he has to figure out what’s going on. He needs to try and find the killer.

Henry Turner weaves this plot with other subplots into a tapestry that shows the true meaning of family and friendship. “Ask the Dark” will keep you up late at night and make you rethink that kid you thought you knew.

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine ■

 

SOLITUDE CREEK

By Jeffery Deaver

“Solitude Creek” is the latest and long awaited next book in the Kathryn Dance series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver. “Solitude Creek” takes readers on a ride of extreme intensity.

The book starts out on the Monterey Peninsula of California, within a small concert venue. When screams of “fire” are heard, the crowd instantly begins to panic. In the aftermath a half dozen people are killed and several others are seriously injured only to find out that there was no fire. This was a plot masterminded by a man obsessed with preying on people’s fears. Now, Kathryn Dance is called upon to find him before he is able to attack again, this time with far greater casualties.

Deaver is a master at setting a scene and exploring the psychological effects with his characters and readers. Fans of Lincoln Rhyme will devour this book in one sitting. Deaver is already considered one of the best thriller storytellers of our time, and “Solitude Creek” could cement his status at the top of that list. This book is a must-have for all thriller/suspense readers.

Reviewed by John Raab 

 

YOUR NEXT BREATH

By Iris Johansen

This is an intriguing new book, the third in a trilogy from the fantastic author, Johansen, featuring CIA Operative Catherine Ling.

There are three victims right off the bat in this tale, offered up on the first few pages. These folks just happen to be from Catherine’s past; Olena Petrov in Russia, Robert Jantzen in Chile, and Slantkey, a man who helped Catherine find her child. These three people were murdered, and all were found with gold dog tags with Catherine’s name imprinted on them.

When her old friend and teacher, Hu Chang, comes to her, Catherine realizes that only two people could be behind this hunt to kill all her friends, and finds that one of them is already dead. The suspect still alive is Santos, a homicidal killer from Venezuela that was released from prison just recently. It is not implausible that he would come after Catherine once he disposed of all the people she cared about, seeing as that Catherine was responsible for the death of his wife.

Hurrying as fast as possible, Catherine gets in touch with her best buddies and warns them that their lives are in serious danger. But instead of worrying, they all want to come and take care of her. There is Erin, a prize-winning journalist that Catherine saved from a warlord in Tibet; Kelly, a teenage genius that Catherine saved in Colombia, and others. With their support, Catherine is now on the warpath and won’t stop until she has Santos’s hide.

Many back stories are presented in this book so that readers will be able to learn of the operative’s famous saves, and the suspense builds to a conclusion that is shocking, to say the least. What began with “What Doesn’t Kill You” in 2012, and moved on to “Live to See Tomorrow” in 2014, Johansen has proved that Catherine is one deadly CIA agent who may just ‘appear’ in the future at some point if an interesting crime occurs.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion 

 

KILLER IN THE KITCHEN

By Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought us Sherlock Holmes and then Agatha Christie introduced the world to Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple; now, since the TV show first aired in 1984 we have Jessica Fletcher, the bestselling mystery writer turned detective. Author Donald Bain releases the next book in the series, “Killer in the Kitchen,” and it’s a perfect fit.

A young married couple, Brad and Marcie, with the help of Brad’s mother, are finally able to live their dream by opening a restaurant called the Leg & Claw. However, trouble starts right away when award-winning and famous Chef Gerard “Pepe” LeBeouf decides to open a restaurant next door. Tensions build as Brad and Gerard face off with the openings of both their restaurants happening at the same time. When Gerard is then found killed in his own kitchen, the suspects are many, but Brad heads the list.

Jessica thinks that there is far more to the mystery than jumping to the conclusion that Brad is the killer. But Brad and Marcie don’t make things easy by holding a secret that could destroy them both. Once Jessica starts to dive into the life of Chef LeBeouf, she realizes that the killer could have an entirely different motive.

“Killer in the Kitchen” is an exciting mystery that leaves the reader changing their mind with each page as to who the killer is. Bain does an excellent job of staying true to the characters that we have grown to love. All mystery fans need to make sure that the adventures of Jessica Fletcher are listed as a top read with each release.

Reviewed by John Raab 

 

COME TO HARM

By Catriona McPherson

Keiko Nishisato has traveled from Tokyo to Edinburgh, Scotland, in order to further her education at the University. She is looking forward to a busy life in Edinburgh, attaining some friends and being granted a wise adviser that will help her through the difficult time of obtaining a Ph.D.

Instead of these lovely dreams coming true, her adviser turns out to be completely uninterested in her path in life and has no desire to help her get there. Her fellow students are cold as can be, and she has oddly received funding from a mysterious company called the Painchton Traders, who have arranged for free accommodations for Keiko above a butcher shop located in the tiny town of Painchton. Although the latter seems like good news, it is a really, really long bus ride in order to reach the University.

Enter the Poole family, a widow and her two sons who own the butcher shop. One son, Malcolm, is obsessed with the shop, while Murray, the other son, is a classic motorcycle fan who returned to the shop only after his father died. Keiko makes friends with a young mother, Fancy Clark, who recently returned to the village, and Murray, who helps her exercise in his thrown-together gym. Keiko soon learns the story of three young women who vanished from the village. And believing that she has fallen over a mystery that may help her gain that precious Ph.D., she works with the villagers who gather some thoughts, clues, and answer questions for Keiko, who is slowly unveiling a horrible secret that should have been left alone.

Although a bit slow in places, the mystery opens up eventually and the suspense grows as Keiko forges ahead in a world that may send her home in a body bag.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion ■

 

A SCOURGE OF VIPERS

By Bruce DeSilva

From Rhode Island’s budget crisis to a Governor that is truly a character one will never forget, (AKA: Attila the Nun), every word in this great plot is more than entertaining.

The Governor’s plan to legalize gambling had unexpected results, coming in the form of Organized Crime, and many others who might have a lot to lose if sports gambling became legal, including the sports professionals, themselves. On the other side of the proverbial coin are the ones who have something to gain if the law goes through; people who could bring lots and lots of money to the state and be able to perhaps turn that cash into power that would allow professional gamblers to buy votes in the state’s legislative body.

Liam Mulligan is an investigative reporter for The Providence Dispatch, a paper that has been taken over by a large group whose goal is profits, profits, and more profits. These folks just want to produce a newspaper where the only investigative reporting by Liam will be used to fill up empty spaces between pages and pages of ads. Mulligan is a former Pulitzer winner and doesn’t go along with this type of deal. He wants to dig deeper into this new piece of legislation, so he begins to work off the clock. Soon a state legislator turns up dead, an out of state crook gets shot, and the crook’s cash-filled briefcase goes missing, which leaves a target on Mulligan’s own back.

The character of Liam is going into his fourth book in this series, but this is most definitely a stand-alone novel that can be read by suspense lovers out there who may have somehow missed the first brilliant books by this author. A quick and compelling story of murder, ethics, and very tough decisions for local law and government to make, this is a powerful crime story with fantastic plotting.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

DEATH OF RILEY

By Rhys Bowen

Just in time for basketball’s March Madness season and St. Patrick’s Day, St. Martin’s Publishing has released the second in Rhys Bowen’s wonderful Molly Murphy mystery series, “Death of Riley,” in paperback format.

The book (and the series) is set at the end of the nineteenth century, and Molly has recently escaped her personal troubles in Ireland and fled to New York City. There she’s met and fallen in love with handsome police captain, Daniel Sullivan. Needing to earn a living, and not cut out to be a servant or a lady’s companion because of her often tart tongue, the resourceful Molly decides to become a private investigator, offering her services to Paddy Riley, a tough old Cockney (despite his Irish last name) who specializes in divorce work. With a little persuasion, he agrees to take Molly on as his apprentice. Although Paddy’s idea of “apprentice” seems to consist of Molly’s cleaning the office and keeping it tidy, she decides to make the best of it.

All is going well until Molly arrives at work one morning and finds Paddy dying from a bullet wound in his abdomen. The police officer in charge of the case seems unmotivated to find Paddy’s murderer. So Molly decides to tackle the job herself, a journey which leads her through the back alleys of Manhattan, into the bars and lounges of the city’s literary scene, and to a surprise meeting with anarchist Emma Goldman.

“Death of Riley” weaves authentic historical events into a well-plotted and suspenseful mystery with a delightful protagonist whom readers will love. And speaking of love—what about Molly’s on-again, off-again romance with the dashing Captain Sullivan? Ah, for that information, check out the whole series!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine ■

 

AFTERSHOCK

By Philip Donlay

In the new thriller from Philip Donlay, his hero, Donovan Nash, must race to save one of his closest friends from both Central American kidnappers and a volcano that’s ready to explode. At the same time, he’s forced to re-examine the event that made him leave his previous life behind and take on the Nash identity.

Stephanie VanGelder and her father, William, had become a surrogate family for Nash when he lost his own mother and father in a shipwreck. Now Stephanie, a world-class photographer who was documenting the impending eruption of a Guatemalan volcano, has been kidnapped in the forest outside Guatemala City. But was she the target or just in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Nash has been in seclusion in Montana following his most recent adventure, but when his ex-wife, Dr. Lauren McKenna, sends a message about Stephanie’s kidnapping, he leaves immediately. For Nash, the case echoes the kidnapping and murder years earlier of his first love, Meredith Barnes. In the fallout of her murder, Nash faked his death to put an end to his former life as Robert Huntington, the rich and brash CEO of his family’s oil company, and reinvented himself as Donovan Nash, head of Eco-Watch, a non-profit scientific research group championing the ecological work to which Meredith had dedicated her life.

In Guatemala, Nash discovers Stephanie’s kidnapping is part of a spider web of deceit that may involve people he’s trusted. Complicating everything is a mysterious woman who may also be the target of the kidnappers. At the same time, Lauren turns to a former adversary for help to investigate threads that lead from Guatemala back to powerful people in the United States.

More March 2015 edition book reviews by Suspense Magazine

     Posted on Fri ,08/05/2015 by Administrator

THE WINTER FOUNDLINGS

By Kate Rhodes

This eerie psychological thriller has shades of “The Silence of the Lambs” as an institutionalized child killer has apparently inspired another killer and a new string of murders has begun; all girls, and all found wearing old fashioned white dresses, just like the ones foundlings wore years ago and which are on display at a local museum.

Alice has been assigned to study and interview Louis Kinsella in hopes of determining who the current killer is. But, at every stage she is stymied by bureaucracy, a manipulative true crime author, and her own demons.

The story flips back and forth between the perspectives of a young victim and Alice. Alice’s personality is hard to figure sometimes. She internalizes a lot, has trouble with deeper emotions, and at times left me feeling cold. On the other hand, she is capable of real sadness, fear, anger, and is also suffering from unrequited love.

Creepy asylums, serial killers, and odd characters abound in the cold winter backdrop. The killer is a mystery all the way to the bitter end and the atmosphere is thick with tension and an ever-increasing feeling of foreboding. I do enjoy these types of stories, the good old-fashioned bump in the dark thriller! 3.5 stars

Reviewed by Julie Whiteley ■

 

KNOT GUILTY

By Betty Hechtman

Believe it or not, there is a huge competition between the people who are into knitting and the folks who like to crochet. And in this new cozy by Betty Hechtman, the knitters versus the crocheters are preparing to attend the annual Southern California Knit Style Show, and Molly Pink, who is employed at Shedd & Royal Books as its community relation’s person, is in the middle of the knit/crochet controversy as to deciding which hobby is the most popular.

The event is under the direction of K.D. Kirby, a knitting magazine publisher and owner of a popular yarn store. K.D. is a knitting maven who is a real snob when it comes to having anything to do with those ‘low-down’ crocheting people. She runs her business with an iron fist even though she has many capable people working for her. Now, it seems that the ‘Tarzana Hookers’ (gotta love that name), who are a crocheting group, are bound and determined to introduce knitters to the crocheting arts, and that’s where the problems begin.

First of all, on the day of the show there are some mix-ups with the assigned placements. A knitter who has always been seated up front is now sent to the rear, with her place being taken by Shedd & Royal. There is also a little fuss between K.D.’s partner and her daughter who clash about publicity.

Now…the mystery ensues. Soon the high-falootin maven, K.D., is found dead in the hotel and Molly’s ex, Homicide Detective Barry Greenburg, is investigating. He has let the show’s organizers keep the event open to the public while he works. However, not only must the culprit be caught, but the final smackdown between the worlds of ‘crochet’ and ‘knit’ must be waged once and for all.

An excellent, fun story with interesting characters, the author also offers up recipes to the readers along with some sly crocheting hints.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

MURDER, SHE WROTE: CLOSE-UP ON MURDER

By Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

“Close-Up on Murder” is the latest book in the Murder, She Wrote series by authors Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain. The series is based off the very successful TV show that ran for twelve seasons and won numerous awards. Jessica Fletcher is a very successful author of mystery books, and she is put in situations where she must use her wit and investigative skills to solve a murder.

In “Close-Up on Murder,” one of Jessica’s older books is being adapted into a major motion picture, which is based on a murder that took place in Cabot Cove. When Hollywood invades the small town in Maine to start filming, Sheriff Metzger begins losing his patience with all the chaos. Then the leading actress is found shot, with a piece of film wrapped around her neck. In typical who-dun-it fashion, Jessica has several suspects, all with a motive to kill and all with the opportunity to commit the crime. However this time Jessica is being stalked by someone. Could this be the killer keeping tabs on her, or someone else with an entirely different agenda? Jessica is put in the crosshairs and better solve the crime soon or she could become a victim herself.

Fans of Murder, She Wrote will feel right at home with the favorites from the show being involved in the story. Dr. Seth Hazlitt, of course, uses his medical expertise to help Jessica. Eve Simpson, the local real-estate mogul and Lorraine, the beauty shop owner, have some very funny scenes. You will find yourself hearing the voices of the actors from the show as you are reading.

Reviewed by John Raab ■

 

NIGHT IS THE HUNTER

By Steven Gore

This is the third tale starring former SFPD detective Harlan Donnally—a man who’s no longer carrying a badge but still holds that belief of what’s right and what’s wrong, strength he will definitely need in order to see this one through.

Waiting on Death Row is Israel Dominguez, a man who has spent the last twenty years waiting for his turn to die after being convicted of murdering a gang rival. The judge who presided over the trial and handed down his death sentence is Judge Ray McMullin, who just happens to be a friend of Harlan Donnally. Time is running out for Israel, and McMullin finds himself admitting to Harlan that after all these years he’s having serious doubts that Israel was guilty of the crime he’s about to die for.

It seems that the passing of time and the old “gang wars” that went on back then, have not uncovered any new data regarding the killing, nor cleared up any of what happened in the past. Judge McMullin is so torn over the sentence he issued that he can’t seem to let sleeping dogs lie, so he asks Harlan to go on a fishing expedition of sorts and see what he can find.

A side story of pure emotion comes along with this suspense, as both Donnally’s father, a Hollywood producer, as well as the judge, begin to show signs of dementia. And as the older men deal with that fate, Donnally finds himself sinking in his own emotional turmoil.

A tale that is many tales in one, there are times that the action will yank you into the story, but will also keep you there with heart-wrenching character emotion. A long ago crime must be solved; a dead man must die only if guilty, and Harlan must watch the ones he cares for fight a disease that he can’t stop. This is an incredible story.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

PROJECT 731

By Jeremy Robinson

I should know by now that if I pick up a Robinson book at night, I won’t be getting much sleep. Between turning the pages and thinking about the possible what ifs, sleep will be lost.

Robinson amps up the adrenaline. The Kaiju thriller is a sequel of the amalgam of “Island 731,” “Project Nemesis,” and “Project Maigo,” three of Robinson’s earlier books. In “Project 731,” we are reintroduced to the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center—Paranormal (FC-P), the agency that did battle with the creature Nemesis—think Godzilla with a conscience and on steroids. We are also reintroduced to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and its black-ops team: Genetic Offense Directive (GOD). DARPA is the agency that ran and funded Island 731, and who was ultimately responsible for the creation of Nemesis.

FC-P gets word of a chimera, known as Tsuchi—which is sort of a giant tarantula with a protective shell, much like a turtle—which is ravaging the west coast of the U.S. What they don’t know when they go on the hunt for Tsuchi is that GOD is the agency responsible for its existence.

What begins as a story about man-made monsters that were created as weapons and the hunt to destroy them, ends up as a reflection of Man himself. We find in Nemesis many of Man’s faults and some of his greatest assets. We see a reflection of family, vengeance against those who would try to hurt our family, and finally we see that even in Man’s creations, the good tends to come from within whereas the evil tends to be induced by Man himself.

If you are a fan of traditional suspense-thrillers, step out of your comfort zone and read “Project 731.” You will be glad you did. If you are a reader of graphic comics and Kaiju-type thrillers (think Godzilla), “Project 731” is a must.

Robinson just keeps getting better with every new adventure and monster he creates!

Reviewed by J.M. LeDuc, author of “Sin,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

CANE AND ABE

By James Grippando

Author James Grippando has earned a new fan—me. When I care more about finding out what happens next than I do about getting a good night’s sleep, I know I’m in for a long night of suspense-filled reading. “Cane and Abe,” which held my attention from beginning to end, was my first Grippando novel, but it won’t be my last.

The author pulled me into the South Florida world of slavery, Big Sugar, a serial killer, and the senior trial counsel at the Office of the State Attorney for Miami-Dade County, Abe Beckham, who handles the capital murder cases. Abe’s late wife’s father is a painful reminder of Big Sugar’s shameful past and the slavery that ended in 1941.

Abe is assigned to a joint task force hunting a violent serial killer targeting beautiful white females who sleep with black men. He hacks them with a cane-cutting machete and leaves their mutilated bodies in the fields owned by Big Sugar. The case takes a surprising turn when a black female attorney for a sugar company is found murdered the same way as the white victims.

A past romantic fling with the murder victim plus a jealous wife complicate Abe’s life and cause him to be pulled from the task force. When Abe’s wife goes missing, FBI Agent Victoria Santos focuses her attention on Abe like a pit bull on the scent of raw meat. Abe worries that while law enforcement personnel are wasting time investigating him, the serial killer might make his wife the next victim. Circumstantial evidence against Abe builds as he rushes to catch the real killer before it’s too late.

Grippando weaves an intricate tapestry of truth mixed with lies, adultery, jealousy, betrayals, and murders. Just when I thought the story had come to an end and everything was resolved, the final two sentences left me reeling. “Cane and Abe” is a novel that must be read.

Reviewed by S.L. Menear, author of “Deadstick Dawn” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

COLD BETRAYAL

By J.A. Jance

Get ready for another incredible Ali Reynolds book. This is a gem by a winning author who deals with two separate but alike subjects affecting the world in this day and age: the abuse of the elderly and domestic abuse.

To begin, Ali’s friend, Sister Anselm, a nun who carries a taser gun, is on her way to the hospital to be at the side of a pregnant young woman who has sustained severe injuries after being hit by a car on a deserted road in Arizona. She’d been on the run from a group called ‘The Family;’ a cult who does not appreciate their people trying to leave. Sister Anselm likens this so-called accident to a long ago case involving a Jane Doe that the nun still can’t get out of her mind.

Ali is trying to help this new Jane Doe, while also being called out to assist with a more personal situation. The grandmother of Ali’s new daughter-in-law is on the brink of being judged incompetent and sent to a home. Along with help from Ali’s husband who runs a technical team of law and government agencies, the two cases are simultaneously being checked into.

The compound of ‘The Family’ is knee-deep in child abuse, and the case of the older woman who someone no longer wants around is difficult to say the least, seeing as how Betsy, the grandmother in question, is in danger. She’s received threats in the mail and a break-in at her home; not to mention, someone has hacked into her bank account.

As Ali and Sister Anselm join forces to prove that the hit and run accident is connected to a former case from years back, while helping the grandmother with her dire problems, the two battle a plot with many branches, trying their best to help people—which is what they are certainly best at. Yet another terrific book by Jance that fans and readers will absolutely cheer about.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD

By David Morrell

Master thriller writer, David Morrell, is back with his latest book “Inspector of the Dead.” In this amazing sequel to “Murder as a Fine Art,” Morrell takes the reader back to 1850’s London where a killer has plans in place to assassinate Queen Victoria. Main character Thomas De Quincey finds himself stuck in the middle with his daughter, Emily, and two Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker.

Morrell weaves a true web of lies, secrets, and cunning schemes that gives readers the sense that they are actually living and breathing the air of historical England, as they walk through the streets viewing the mystery that’s taking place. Morrell yet again shows that his character creation is second to none, and the pace will have readers losing sleep by telling themselves, “Just one more chapter.”

With over two dozen novels from Morrell, “Inspector of the Dead” and “Murder as a Fine Art” are two titles that could be considered his finest work.

Reviewed by John Raab ■

Book reviews as seen in Suspense Magazine March 2015 Edition

     Posted on Fri ,08/05/2015 by Administrator

ASSAULT AND PEPPER

By Leslie Budewitz

New cozy mystery series seem to be coming out of the woodwork for 2015, and this is yet another going by the name of The Spice Shop mysteries, that will have readers truly enjoying this new expansion of the genre.

Pepper Reece, owner of the Seattle Spice Shop, has come up against some trying times in her not too distant past. Pepper has left her marriage and lost a job that she loved due to a corporate crash, and is now the owner of this spice and tea shop located in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. She has a yen for preparing creations of spice and tea combinations that bring the customers in for a cup of her refreshing tea one right after the other; not to mention, visits from other shopkeepers and a group of regulars that frequent the Market.

Somehow, you knew the peace couldn’t last… A panhandler by the name of Doc, turns up on her store’s doorstep holding a Seattle Spice Shop cup in his hand, leading to the unveiling of a crime where the police arrest one of Pepper’s employees, Tory Finch, for murder. Tory seems to know why she’s a suspect, but is not giving any clue as to why she feels that way. Pepper is sure that Tory is innocent and decides to investigate, but with that choice comes her own name being added to the killer’s ‘to do’ list.

Now a little something for the gourmet, as there is a new amateur detective in the area named Pepper with a recipe box filled with spices and other scrumptious foods. Set in Seattle, this is the perfect read for a few hours of pure enjoyment, because along with a first rate story comes ‘Recipes and Spice Notes’ that the Spice Shop recommends. As you enjoy the read, look forward to creating dipping sauces, Frittata’s, and other mouth-watering dishes in your very own kitchen.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

THE STRANGER

By Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben’s latest thriller, “The Stranger,” starts off with a simple sentence, “You didn’t have to stay with her.” That’s what Adam Price was told by the middle-aged man wearing a baseball hat. Adam had no idea that from that single statement the life that he had grown to love would be burnt down to the ground. Forced to confront his wife, Corrine, Adam was now caught in something much bigger and much more dangerous than even he could ever imagine. After his wife suddenly disappears sending only a text message, Adam searches for answers.

Coben puts the reader on an emotional rollercoaster from the first page. He begins to peel back the layers of the story, so when the reader thinks they have it figured out; Coben pulls back the curtain to reveal yet another twist. Very few authors have the ability to deliver powerful characters with a plot that forces the reader to keep turning the pages until the end, as Coben keeps the suspense at such a high pace the reader not only wants to keep reading, they have to.

“The Stranger” could already be placed on the short list of the best books of 2015.

Reviewed by John Raab ■

 

A FIRST DATE WITH DEATH

By Diana Orgain

Georgia Thornton is a former member of the police department who is now starting a job in the industry of Reality TV.

Coming from the ‘protecting and serving’ realm, Georgia is now the not-so-proud star of a show called “Love or Money,” in which she is trying to locate her dream man from a group of men who are looking for either, of course, love or money. It seems that her former fiancé, Paul Sanders, also a policeman, left Georgia at the altar which leaves her to think that she has nothing to lose, except maybe her self-respect. Gearing up to have ten first dates with these guys so she can make up her mind which one will be the winner, Georgia pretty much figures, “What can possibly go wrong?”

Well…her first date is to go bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. And when her date takes the dive, the cord is messed up and he ends up being lost in a tragic fall that ends her date in a massively horrible way. The first victim is replaced by Paul Sanders…surprise, surprise, but he is definitely not looking for a career in TV. He arrives because he suspects the accident was no accident, and is working undercover to find out who, exactly, is trying to upset the show and take peoples’ lives in the process.

Not long after Paul’s appearance another bachelor is killed, and the show’s bosses don’t want to cancel the program because it’s beginning to earn far better ratings. After all, bloodshed seems to pull viewers in. The bachelors, oddly, are willing to stay, but Georgia only agrees to go on in order to put her ex-police talents to work to help find out who’s unhappy with the cast.

A fantastically fun read; first in a brand new series that not only offers humor and suspense, but also makes sure to not solve the puzzle until the last pages.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

PUZZLED INDEMNITY

By Parnell Hall

Cora Felton, the chief protagonist in Parnell Hall’s hilarious Puzzle Lady mystery series, is the sweetest, most soft-spoken, honest, ladylike character I’ve ever read.

That is a complete lie.

Cora Felton, beloved by thousands of adoring fans as The Puzzle Lady, is a total fraud. She couldn’t construct, much less solve, a crossword puzzle to save her life. She also smokes like a chimney (look out, in this book she’s trying to quit), lies like a rug, and swears like a trooper. And, in case you think I’m in danger of running out of clichés, she drinks like a fish, too. She’s also a sometime detective with a very active love life. In other words, a true role model for the over-fifty crowd.

In “Puzzled Indemnity,” number fifteen in Hall’s series, Cora is bored. Her love affair with a NYC detective has fizzled, and the only case the local police ask her to investigate is a liquor store robbery. So when attorney Becky Baldwin asks Cora to check out whether her client, Brittney Wells, is about to be killed by her philandering husband to collect on a million-dollar double-indemnity insurance policy, Cora jumps at the chance.

In a blink of an eye, Cora tracks the husband to a NYC love nest. Then a car explodes in front of the local police station, and it looks like the victim inside is the husband. Brittney is in big trouble when it turns out that the insurance policy was on her husband’s life, not hers.

“Puzzled Indemnity” is a delight. I can’t wait for Cora’s next adventure!

Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Funerals Can Be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine

 

BLOOD INFERNAL

By James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

As readers open the final installment of The Order of the Sanguines series, the well-known heroes are not at their best. As usual, this team of authors are on the move, taking the heroes from Italy to Egypt to the Czech Republic, on to France and Nepal—offering up an itinerary that will make any reader’s head spin.

In this highly anticipated finale, the Devil is ready to break free and get out of Hell, due to a Sanguines’ betrayer who actually believed what Lucifer told him. Unfortunately, evil is about to take over good in the world and things are looking bad for the good (or any good that happens to be left).

The Sanguinists are monsters that have converted to the Blood of Christ, and archaeologist, Dr. Erin Granger, is hot on their trail. Granger is still trying to crack the code of the prophecy held within the Blood Gospel, the sacred book written in the blood of Christ. Helping her is Sergeant Jordan Stone, Warrior of God; and Father Rhun Korza, a Sanguinist Priest. The odd trio must come up against Legion, a new enemy that can change identities at will.

The trio go on the hunt and visit all the aforementioned places until they come face-to-face with the Devil himself. The lead up has been long and bloody, and this final showdown between good and evil will call forth the big bosses at war (Lucifer and the Knights of Christ) to see who will finally come out on top.

From the first book on, this has been an extremely well-written tale, offering intellectual ingenuity that these bestselling authors are known for. The recipe for this series has been a cast of vampires, demons, supernatural creatures never before seen, and a betrayal that will make the blood run cold. If you have not read the first two, get them now in order to really succumb to this incredible adventure.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion  ■

 

BY BOOK OR BY CROOK

By Eva Gates

Lucy wants out of her job at the Harvard Library and is looking for a new place at a very historical library located at the Bodie Island Lighthouse on Bodie Island. Here, on the outer banks of North Carolina, is where she spent all of her summers as a child with her Aunt Ellen, Uncle Amos, and their daughter, Josie. Lucy has decided she wants to escape Boston. Let’s just say that she and the Harvard Library are in a relationship that has not been going well. So Aunt Ellen lands her the job at the Lighthouse Library, which includes the extra-added benefit of an apartment located on an upper floor of the lighthouse.

This wasn’t an easy job to get. In fact, when the Board Chairman spoke to the librarian named Bertie about spending library money to hire Lucy, the woman had been strongly against it. But Lucy soon arrives and a private party commences given by the library for staff, board members, and local dignitaries in order to view a new collection they have on loan for three months. The collection is being talked about everywhere. It should be, considering it’s a complete set of Jane Austen’s first editions.

But before the party is over the Board Chairman has been killed and Bertie becomes suspect number one. Lucy does her best to help Bertie clear her name while checking out everyone who even knew the dead man but, unfortunately, there were many, and Lucy soon discovers that they all had a motive for murder. And as the Austen collection begins to ‘disappear’ book by book, Lucy faces not only a killer but also an extremely intelligent thief.

This great book is the first in a series. The setting is lovely, seeing as how the Bodie Island Lighthouse is not only a real historic landmark but is also still a working lighthouse. Therefore, the plot, characters, and locale make for an extremely creative story.

Reviewed by Mary Lignor, Professional Librarian and Co-Owner of The Write Companion

 

NIGHT NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT

By Hallie Ephron

In 1985, a young woman named Deirdre Unger gets a call from her father to come help him get his house ready to sell. A screenwriter, he and Deirdre’s mother had a career in Hollywood, with movies being made from their collaboration of words and characters. They were never the ‘top dogs,’ but they were certainly ‘pups’ that other stars loved. Unfortunately for Deirdre, when she arrives at her father’s home she finds him dead in the pool; a victim of an extremely odd murder.

Deirdre and her brother, who is a nice guy but definitely the money-grubbing type, must face detectives in order to clear themselves and figure out what the heck happened. Their mom, who divorced Dad a while ago, is one of those free spirits living on a retreat, and is eliminated as a suspect almost immediately. As Deirdre goes through her father’s belongings, secrets that include a yellow dress stained with blood and sexy photos of young women are discovered.

One of the photos is of Deirdre’s old friend, Joelen Nichol, who is the realtor her father had hired to sell the house. She is also a girl who long ago confessed to killing her own movie star mother’s boyfriend. This is the exact same night that Deirdre was hurt in an accident and has to walk with a cane. As the story unfolds and clues are uncovered from the 1963 murder, Deirdre must face a slew of issues as she tries to figure out who her friends really are, and what enemy may be out there lurking, just waiting to shut her up for good.

The Hollywood lifestyle—from the glitz and glam to the grit and deceit—are all wrapped up in a perfect package by this award-winning author. And taking a drive through Old Hollywood, fearing and admiring that coveted 90210 area code, will be something readers will not forget.

Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “The Charlatan’s Crown,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine