Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sharon McCrumb and Catriona McPherson

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb is historical fiction giving a remarkably researched account of the Greenbrier Ghost.  I had read about the trial in which the testimony of a ghost helped convict the murderer some time back, so I was already invested in discovering more about the murder of Zona Shue back in 1897.  

The case is still on record and you can read some of the newspaper accounts here.

The book is listed as historical fiction, but as a result of McCrumb's intensive research, there is little fiction other than the imagined conversations the author gives the characters.  All of the characters are real, as are the important events.  

Fascinating account of a historical incident.  (Teresa, this is from your neck of the woods!  Are you familiar with the story?)

Read in April.  Blog post scheduled for Aug. 30.

NetGalley/Atria Books

Historical Fiction.  Sept. 12, 2017.  Print length:  368 pages.

I've enjoyed each of Catriona McPherson books, and this was no exception.  House. Tree. Person. is the story of Ali McPherson, whose dreams have recently crashed.  Both she and her husband have lost their businesses and have had to sell their dream home and move into a tiny cottage.  Their teenage son Marco is also having difficulty adjusting to the move from friends and to the reduced circumstances.

Then Ali gets a job at Howell Hall, a nearby private psychiatric facility.  (play on How Well or Howl?)  Ali gets the job with a false resume and is pretty certain that the psychiatrist who hires her knows it, and her salary is more than it should be.  Ali is a little suspicious, but in desperate need of income.

As she gets to know the others who work at Howell Hall, she realizes that they are all misfits in some way.  Ali isn't the only one whose qualifications might be in question, and she has her own secrets to hide.

A body is discovered, and although the corpse is at least a decade old, Ali's son is questioned by the police. Dealing with problems at home, Ali also has reservations about the treatments of some of the patients at Howell Hall.   Ali begins to question everything, including her own stability.  

Ali is sometimes annoying, but with the patients at the facility, she shows great warmth and empathy.  Her concerns about her own life and mental health make her behavior erratic at times.

Tension and uncertainty abound in this latest by McPherson, who is quickly building a reputation for psychological suspense.  

I thought the title quite unusual, but it is explained in the novel.  House Tree Person is a technique used by some mental health professionals.

Read in April.  Blog post scheduled for Aug. 30

NetGalley/Midnight Ink.

Psychological Suspense.  Sept. 8, 2017.  Print length:  360 pages.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors and A Season to Lie

:) It is always interesting to see what attracts a person to a book.  Author?  Topic?  Genre? Setting? Cover?  

I requested Smoke and Mirrors because the main character is the sister of P.T. Barnum (at least in fiction), and Evie Barnum works at her brother's museum.  Of course, I couldn't refuse even a fictional look at the workings of the museum with all of its exhibits and oddities. One of Evie's friends is the bearded lady, the most popular exhibit is the Fiji mermaid.  

A murder, a secret past, and an arrogant and annoying sister-in-law all woven in this first book in a new series.  Was it all that I hoped for?  Not quite.  Too much takes place outside of the museum.  Nevertheless, I look forward to more of Evie Barnum's adventures, and I expect that a character who was introduced and then dropped will make a return in the next book.

Light and entertaining.  
Read in August; blog review scheduled for 8/27/17.

NetGalley/Severn House

Historical Mystery.  Nov. 1, 2017.  Print length:  224 pages.

OK, I requested A Season to Lie because of the cover.  The splash of the red scarf on the white snow proved irresistible, especially in a hot and humid Louisiana summer.

As Colorado police officer Gemma Monroe complained about the freezing temperatures, I thought about giving her an earful about the kind of July weather that fogs your glasses when you open the door.  Not really, but the cold that hampered Gemma's investigation was a pleasant imaginative escape for me.

Just back from maternity leave, Gemma and her partner Finn are called out in blizzard conditions after an anonymous caller phones in a report of a prowler at an expensive private school.  Expecting a student graffiti prank, instead they discover a murdered man with a message stuffed in his mouth.

Worse yet, the man is a famous author who, under an assumed name, was functioning as a writing coach for the school as a favor to a childhood friend.  

There are other unpleasant undercurrents at the school, but how are they connected to the death of the author?  Or are they?  

I enjoyed the mystery and the setting of A Season to Lie.  I haven't read the first book in this new series, but I will be checking the library for Inherit the Bones.  

Read in July; blog review scheduled for 8/27/17

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Mystery/Police Procedural.  Nov. 13, 2017.  Print length:  336 pages.

Cormorant Strike Series and the Society of Women Geographers

I've enjoyed Robert Galbriath's (J.K. Rowling's pseudonym) Cormorant Strike series and have been waiting for the fourth book to appear.  Then I saw this article in The Guardian!  
"Strike, as the TV series is called, has been made by Brontë Film and TV, a production company set up by Rowling. Brontë turned The Casual Vacancy into a 2015 BBC mini-series that was efficient enough, but Strike is a superior effort."

Sounds good to me!  

Have you read any of the Cormorant Strike books?  What did you think?  
On a totally different subject, I love reading about adventurous women, especially those who challenged the norm that women were unsuited for exploration.  When excluded from the all-male Explorers Club, four women (Marguerite Harrison, Blair Niles, Gertrude Shelby, and Gertrude Emerson) formed the Society of Women Geographers in 1925.  

Roy Chapman Andrews, president of the Explorers Club, was invited to the Society of Women Geographer's first dinner in 1932.  Chapman had recently addressed the women of Barnard College:
 “Women are not adapted to exploration,” he told the students."
In response to the SWG's invitation, he sent a letter: 
" He had compliments for the women of the Society—“I have in mind many cases where women have done splendid work in the field and I have great admiration for the accomplishments”—but he made it clear why women explorers needed the support of the Society of Woman Geographers. “I think, however, that you will agree with me that one or two women would not fit to the advantage in a large [expedition] of men.”  (source)

Ha!  The women of the SWG wanted to take him to task for his remarks that "Women are not adapted to exploration," but the intrepid male explorer chose not to attend the dinner.  He may have admired the accomplishments of some of the women, but didn't believe women would be an asset to male expeditions (or suitable for membership to his Explorers Club?).  

But even before the early 20th c., there were women who defied society's expectations.  Jean Baret, dressed as a man, joined de Bougainville's  1766-1769 expedition and became the first woman to have circumnavigated the world.  Gertrude Bell, Isabelle Bird, Nelly Bly, Fanny Bullock Workman, Hester Stanhope, Annie Londonderry, and many other women from around the world dared adventures that would be daunting today--long before the formation of the WSG.  I'm sure those early courageous women would have loved to have had the support and camaraderie the SWG eventually provided women who preferred hardship, exploration, and adventure to housekeeping.

I think I need to add some biographies to my list! 

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Fourth Friend by Joy Ellis and A Shadowed Livery by Charlie Garratt

After surviving the air crash 18 months earlier that killed his four best friends, DS Carter McLean is finally certified to be back at work, but is currently being kept to his desk and away from the field.   The problem is that in addition to suffering the expected survivor guilt, Carter sees his best friends.  Talks to them.  

DS Marie Evans is deeply concerned about Carter, and his psychiatrist worries that perhaps she has missed something.  

Carter feels that all he has left is his job, but he is excluded from the case that involves the disappearance of the wife of one of his dead friends.  Each of his ghostly friends has disappeared after Carter has done something for them.  Only the last friend remains, and the only thing Carter has to go on is "Suzanne."

The Fourth Friend is another great procedural from Joy Ellis!

NetGalley/Joffre Books

Police Procedural.  Aug. 30, 2017.  Print length:   

Antisemitism in the 1930's was not confined to Germany. England had its share of fascists (Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists) and other far right prejudices.  The increasing number of refugees from Germany only exacerbated the feelings of resentment from certain elements of the population.

The book begins with Inspector James Givens witnessing the execution of a man who murdered a Jewish shopkeeper. 

Although Givens had been investigating the increasing number of attacks on Jews, his superior pulls him off that investigation when a murder and two suicides involving a wealthy and influential family takes precedence.  The notoriety of the case has the police scrambling, especially as the initial investigation was a bit precipitous.

Inspired by an actual case, A Shadowed Livery by Charlie Garratt appears to be a possible new series featuring Inspector Givens.

NetGalley/Holland House

Historical Mystery.  2015.  Print length:  262 pages.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Rituals by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong's Rituals sums up the Cainsville series.  I'm including a photo to show the difference between the huge floppy manuscript I received and a normal book.  I had to lug the big sucker around for a couple of days because I read inside and outside. Awkward, but worth it because I was able to finish this five book series!

The blue tint given to the final cover is better, I think, than the cover on my copy.  Like everyone else, I am glad to have a conclusion to this series and know for sure the final romantic pairing.  Readers will find a lot of answers to questions that have hovered over the books, and yet one story-line is not completely resolved--leaving a door open for the Cainsville characters  to reappear at some point in the future.  

Although it isn't my favorite Armstrong series (I have a thing about the Fae; I can get along with vampires, zombies, shape-shifters, and other supernaturals, but not the Fae--weird, huh?), I was glad to have several story-lines resolved.

A prolific writer, Armstrong will probably have another book out before long, and I'm looking forward to another Casey Duncan novel set in the spooky little town of Rockton in the Northern wilderness. I also love her  YA novels--especially the Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies.

Read in July.  Review scheduled for

Supernatural/Suspense.  Aug. 15, 2017.  Print version:  496 pages.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Seagull by Ann Cleeves

OK, I like Vera Stanhope, the overweight, middle-aged, opinionated, bossy, disheveled, irascible, and frequently insensitive protagonist in Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope series. There is also a softer side to Vera, however, that reveals her attachment to her team and that allows her to sit down with witnesses for a cuppa and persuade them to open up.  A softer side that Vera, herself, doesn't really acknowledge.  She isn't one for introspection.

Although I like Vera's character, Cleeves' treatment of secondary characters, meticulous plotting, and love of the Northumberland coast all combine to make this series one of my favorites.

The Seagull continues developing the characters, but also adds some backtracking as the plot involves characters and situations reaching into the past.  Vera finds herself enmeshed with memories of a younger Vera, her late father Hector, and three of his friends.  She isn't certain what the investigation will turn up regarding Hector, but it doesn't stop her from pursuing the truth and untangling the secrets that have had two decades to cloud the picture.  With so many shady characters, it isn't easy to determine the villain responsible for crimes that occurred twenty years ago.

Joe, Holly, and Charlie always take a backseat to the boss, but each one is intriguing in his or her own right and all three show further development in  The Seagull.  

Cleeves also writes the Shetland Island series featuring Jimmy Perez.  I've enjoyed several books from that series as well.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books

Mystery/Police Procedural.  Sept. 5, 2017.  Print length:  416 pages.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Looking Through Forgotten Drafts

I recently found this draft that I'd never posted, and I like it as much or more than I did originally:  

On Myth & Moor by Terri Windling, I found the following : 
Some time ago I stumbled across these words by children's book writer Cornelia Funke (author of The Thief Lord, Inkheart,  etc.), and they've been pinned to the wall above my desk ever since:
"I pledge to use books as doors to other minds, old and young, girl and boy, man and animal.
"I pledge to use books to open windows to a thousand different worlds and to the thousand different faces of my own world.
"I pledge to use books to make my universe spread much wider than the world I live in every day.
"I pledge to treat my books like friends, visiting them all from time to time and keeping them close."
Looking through other drafts that were never completed, I found this:

Found on Martine's blog 

The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you my darlings.
All I can tell you is what I know.
Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.
It's more than bones.
It's more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It's more than the beating of the single heart.
It's praising.
It's giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life - just imagine that!
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe still another.
- Mary Oliver

 I have 23 drafts that have been sitting there.  Books I never reviewed, things I liked, links to stuff, etc.  Looking over the the list was interesting, and maybe I'll look at some of the others more closely later, but I loved these two and wanted to share.

This article is recent, but interesting--Silent Book Clubs, reading in solidarity.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Lady Sherlock Series by Sherry Thomas

I love a good Sherlock Holmes pastiche, and I don't know how many I've read.  Some are very good, some are serious, some are amusing, (and some are pretty bad), but all present different views of Homes and Watson.  

I read the Lady Sherlock series out of order because I received the second in the series (A Conspiracy in Belgravia)  from NetGalley,  and read it first.  Initially, I was not sure I'd like it.  Some books in a series work great as stand-alones, but this one was one of those that left me confused at the beginning because there was obviously so much important background that I didn't know about.  In any case, as I continued to read, I became absorbed in the plot and developed a fondness for the characters.

When I finished A Conspiracy in Belgravia, I immediately ordered A Study in Scarlet Women, the first book.  I needed that background!  The reviews are in chronological order, not the order in which I read them.

Book 1
A Study in Scarlett Women.  Charlotte Holmes is brilliant.  She is also a fallen woman.  Deliberately so--although things did not turn out as she planned.  

When her father reneged on his promise to pay for her education, Charlotte decides that losing her reputation would put her out of the marriage market and carefully chooses a man to aid her in her quest.  Her plan to keep this quiet and use it to pressure her parents goes awry, the scandal is public knowledge immediately.  Oops.

Charlotte is intelligent, observant, and logical.  However, her life has been limited to the safe and secure strictures of society, and she is unprepared for the difficulties she is about to face as a social pariah with no practical skills.

There are a number of things that bothered me about both books, but for some reason the characters kept me absorbed.  Charlotte is never the typical heroine (she seems to fall somewhere on the Asperger's scale).  Mrs. Watson charmed me.  The two form the consulting detective business and solve some murders.  And I had fun.  :)


Historical Mystery/Sherlock Holmes.  2016.  Print version:  323 pages.

Book 2
Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective (or Charlotte Holmes and Mrs. Watson) is in demand for all manner of mysteries from  mundane household puzzles to murder.  

One of the main problems with A Conspiracy in Belgravia is that it begins as if you had just finished a previous chapter.   It took me a while to decide whether I wanted to keep reading because so much seemed missing.

Fortunately, I did and enjoyed the adventures of this female Holmes and Watson (and other assorted characters) so much that I ordered and read the first one the same day. Yea for Kindles and ebooks and immediate gratification.

Moriarty has been mentioned, but has not yet appeared. Nevertheless, the Criminal Mastermind's sinister influence lurks in the shadows.

Read in June; blog post scheduled for Aug. 17

NetGalley/Berkley Pub.

Historical Mystery/Sherlock Holmes.  Sept. 5, 2017.  Print length:  336 pages.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Girl Who Came Back by Kerry Wilkinson

After reading Kerry Wilkinson's Two Sisters, I knew I'd be reading more books by this author.  When NetGalley offered The Girl Who Came Back, I quickly made my request.  

If anything, I liked this one even better than Two Sisters.  

Thirteen years earlier, Olivia Adams disappeared from her back garden.  Now, Olivia sits in a coffee shop observing her mother and unsure of whether or not she will approach her.

Olivia does reach out to her mother who has never given up hope.  But whether the young woman is Olivia or an impostor, whoever she is--she is not universally welcomed.

This one hooked me at the beginning and held my interest until the end.  Even when some of the puzzle works itself out, there are a few surprises to come.

Oh, yes, I will be seeking more of this young author's books!

(I've had this draft ready for a couple of weeks, holding out to schedule it for closer to publication date, but just read Lark's review of Good as Gone by Amy Gentry which has a plot that sounds similar.  I've added Gentry's book to my list as I want to compare the two novels.)

Read in July.


Psychological/Suspense.  Sept. 8, 2017.  Print length:  303 pages.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Salt Line, Friend Request, The Essence of Malice

The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones is a dystopian novel in which the world has been severely altered by disease carrying ticks.  Cities and communities have retreated behind salt lines to protect themselves.  The borders that protect communities also separate them from the beauties of nature, confining them to strictly urban lives.  There are, however, always adrenaline junkies who are willing to pay outfits for a "safe" trip into the wilderness.

The ticks are terrifying enough, but they are not the only problem that an adventurous group will encounter.

Given the serious diseases ticks transmit, the idea of a deadly tick-borne plague isn't as far-fetched as it may originally seem.  The latest threat from these tiny, parasitic arachnids is not from the usual culprit, the black-legged tick, but from the Lone Star Tick which causes an allergy to mammalian meat--beef, pork, or lamb.  

Tick bites can be serious enough without having the horrors that occur in the novel, but it does make one remember the devastation caused by the plague epidemic that resulted from bites from fleas infected with Yersina pestis.  

NetGalley/Penguin Group

Dystopian.  Sept. 5, 2017.  Print length:  400 pages.

Friend Request by Laura Marshall.  

How would you react to a Facebook friend request from a person who died over two decades ago?  Especially if you still felt guilty over some callous behavior involving that person?

Suspenseful, but no truly likable characters.  Louise, a middle-aged mother who receives the request from the long-dead Maria Weston, is caught in a web largely of her own making.  The strands originate in the past, but continue in the present as Louise tries to determine who really sent the request and why.  

While understanding Louise's guilt over her role in the kind of meanness that often occurs in adolescence, she never comes across as admirable.  In fact, while her behavior may be understandable in the realm of peer pressure and the search for acceptance, there is no way to condone her actions which certainly contributed to tragic results.

Several twists and turns, and the conclusion surprised me.  

An interesting premise.

NetGalley/Grand Central Publishing

Mystery/Suspense.  Sept. 5, 2017; July 2017.  Print length:  384 pages.

I just realized that I never reviewed the third novel in this series, but it wasn't my favorite.  

So The Essence of Malice moves from Lake Como to Paris and involves perfumery (do you scent the hint in the title?), Milo's old Nanny, and murder.   

These novels are reminiscent of the Golden Age of the British Detective Novel and deliberately so.  Some of the rules involved during this period included complicated plots, a clever murder and a clever detective, little graphic violence, little emphasis on character development,  all clues should be available to the reader, multiple suspects, etc.  

Weaver's novels follow the general outlines with, perhaps, a slightly more modern approach, and if you enjoy Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, or Margery Allingham, these novels should fill the bill.

My suspicions about Milo have yet to be confirmed, but hints are included.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Historical Mystery.  Sept. 5, 2017.  Print length:  320 pages.  

All of these were read in July, but are scheduled for August 14.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Little Boy Lost by J.D. Trafford

Little Boy Lost by J.D. Trafford.  Sometimes a book comes along that feels like a microcosm of our world, and Trafford's novel about the turbulence in St. Louis when a series of murders are discovered contains many of the elements society currently struggles with.

Jason Glass is a down and out lawyer from a mixed background.  His mother is white and his father is black; his white grandfather is a retired Federal District Court Judge who continues to hold great political influence; his black father, a U.S. Congressman, has recently decided to retire. Money and influence abound in this family, but Jason, who has been in a severe depression since the death of his wife, has neither.  

Tanisha, a young black girl, brings a pickle jar full of coins into Jason's office hoping to hire him to find her missing sixteen-year-old brother.  Jason explains that he is a lawyer, not the police or a detective.  (Or a charity, he thinks privately as he swelters in his office because he can't afford to have his air conditioner fixed.)  But Jason does end up promising to give Tanisha limited help.  

When Tanisha's brother is found, his is only one of many bodies of young black males buried in a secluded area.  Jason is quickly besieged by parents of missing boys who do not know if their sons are among the dead and who do not trust the police.

There are so many themes in this novel and all of them are treated respectfully, not glorified or exploited mawkishly.  It is a murder mystery by genre, but much more than that, the novel explores problems that are neither new nor likely to diminish any time soon.  

Initially, I wasn't sure whether I would like this one, but it didn't take long for me to become engaged not only with the characters, but with the way Trafford included important issues as part and parcel of the narrative without ever seeming pedantic or preachy.

A few quotes about some of the larger issues that may sound preachy out of context, but were skillfully submerged in the story:

"That's why Congress is so dysfunctional.  It isn't politics that's the problem.  It's the people who get into politics."

"The anonymous person had put Jimmy Poles on trial and convicted him through the Internet.  It was inflammatory.  It wasn't fair, but it was effective. ...This was the new world."

"Saint Louis had always had an identity crisis.  It was the intersection of North, South, East and West."

"The news reports were caricatures--information and images manipulated to support the political priorities of either the left or the right."

"'Oh, Mr. Glass, they never get tired of violence.' Then she looked out the window at the sky, maybe thinking about all the violence that she'd seen in Bosnia, thinking that most Americans didn't know how fragile things really were."


NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer

Crime/Politics.  Aug. 1, 2017.  Print length:  318 pages.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Blood & Ink and When You Disappeared

Well, this one was a surprise!  I chose it because I liked Randall Silvis' writing style in Two Days Gone, but what a difference!

Blood and Ink is a dark comedy about a literary mobster who falls in love, decides to change his life, and then encounters one disaster after another.  Nick is extremely well-read (he would have made a wonderful literature professor), but his day job involves working for a mob boss.  Since this has been his way of life since he was an adolescent, he is surprised by a general sense of dissatisfaction with his situation, which leads to a mid-life crisis, and  eventually, to his desire to be a better man.

Most of his attempts at becoming that better man result in one hilarious mishap after another and kept me grinning even as I worried about whether Nick would be able to survive all of obstacles that kept falling into his path and overcome his past.  Retirement is not always an option for a wise guy. 

Is Silvis doing a little parody of Quentin Tarantino?  Satirical humor, a little violence, but no murder and no gore.  In fact, Nick's crisis seems to coalesce while watching a film of extreme, but unrealistic violence.  The simmering qualms and foreboding Nick has been subconsciously harboring erupt, and Nick's anger is directed at the young writer/producer of the film.

Both Two Days Gone and Blood & Ink have a love of literature and skillful prose in common, but content and style are remarkably different.  Two Days is a psychological mystery/crime novel and Blood & Ink is a dark comedy of errors that keeps you rooting for the erudite and hapless Nick.

Although I usually eschew books about mobs or wise guys, Blood & Ink proved to be a fascinating and (mostly) funny romp with several unexpected surprises!  Recommended.  

Read in July.

Kindle Unlimited

Dark Comedy/Crime.  2015.  Print length:  230 pages.

When You Disappeared by John Marrs is another recent read that held genuine surprises.  As committed (addicted?) readers, we come to expect certain general plots and to be surprised when a narrative veers from what we anticipate.

When You Disappeared took me off that beaten path, proving surprising in a number of ways....

Catherine assumes her husband has gone for a run when she awakes to find him absent; when he doesn't return and fails to show up at work, she becomes worried.

Twenty-five years later, Simon turns up at her door and wants to tell Catherine his story.  Although Catherine doesn't particularly want to hear the story,  she desperately wants to know why a loving husband and father would leave his wife and three children with no forewarning that anything was wrong.

Alternating between past and present and between Catherine's voice and Simon's voice,  the reader begins accumulating information that informs each personality.  From the beginning, Simon insists that he will only tell Catherine the reason he left after recounting his story.  He intends to put a sting at the end to make certain Catherine realizes everything that has happened is her responsibility.

At first you might feel some sympathy for Simon, but his tendency to rationalize his decisions is questionable early on.  His subsequent behavior as he continues to relate it to Catherine becomes inexcusable.  I'm not quite sure his problem is specifically listed in the DSM.

Catherine's narrative covers the hardships of suddenly finding herself a single mother without adequate income, her grief over the loss of the man she loved intensely, her struggles to keep her children housed, fed, and emotionally healthy.  She refuses for years to believe that Simon left voluntarily, assuming that he is dead.

Clearly the initiating event occurred some time before Simon left, and a couple of possibilities that could have prompted Simon's behavior occurred to me, but the truth, when it finally arrived was even more disturbing.   

When You Disappeared is a compelling and disquieting novel that held my (sometimes reluctant) attention as Simon's self-satisfied and self-justified story is revealed.  

Read in July.  

Kindle Unlimited

Psychological Suspense.  July 13, 2017.  Print length:  350 pages. 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Old Scores, Cold Harbor, The Tethered Mage, The Silent Shield

Old Scores by Will Thomas is a Barker & Llewelynn installment set in 1890 in London.  Shortly after the Japanese delegation visits Cyrus Barker's Japanese garden, the Japanese ambassador is murdered.  Barker is arrested and roughly interrogated by the Special Branch before being released.

Thomas Llewelynn, Barker's assistant, learns a little more about Barker's background in the search for the true murderer of the ambassador.  

This is the 9th book in the series, and I've only read one other, but I have enjoyed them.

Read in July; blog review scheduled for Aug. 3.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books

Historical Mystery.  Oct. 3, 2017.  Print length:  304 pages.

Cold Harbor by Matthew Fitzsimmons is the third book in the Gibson Vaughn series.   

Excerpt from book description:  After a period of brutal isolation in a CIA black-site prison, former Marine and gifted hacker Gibson Vaughn is free—but with no idea where he was or how much time he’s lost. Struggling to maintain his grip on reality, he races to return to the life he left behind. Angry and disoriented, his thoughts turn to vengeance and the man responsible for his rendition. 

 It isn't that I didn't enjoy this one, but The Short Drop, the first in the series is by far my favorite.  I was glad to see some of the characters from the first book.

Read in June; blog review scheduled for Aug. 3.

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer

Suspense.  Oct. 10, 2017.  Print length:  318 pages.  

The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso posits a world where mages are identified early and "drafted" into the Falcon Army, controlled by a Falconer.  Young Zaire has managed to hide her mage-mark and powerful talent for years, but is eventually caught in a situation that changes everything for both Zaire and Amalia Cordaro, who inadvertently becomes Zaire's Falconer.  A Falcon's magic is controlled by magical bracelets known as jesses, and only a Falconer unlock the bracelets to release the magic.

Political intrigue, mystery and magic, and two strong female characters.  An interesting premise.  Did I like it?  Yes, but I didn't love it.  I'll see what the next in the series holds before firming up my opinion.  

Read in June; blog review scheduled for ??

NetGalley/Orbit Books

Fantasy.  Oct. 24, 2017.  Print length:  480 pages.

The Silent Shield by Jeff Wheeler is the fifth entry in this series that I originally thought would be a trilogy.  

The threatened invasion by Gahalatine and his powerful Wizrs, the disappearance of Own Kiskaddon, the departure of King Andrew's own powerful Wizr has Kingfountain in turmoil.  

Trynne, who misses her father and must face the immediate departure of her mother, must put her concerns aside and focus on who might be willing to betray the kingdom.  Her two top suspects include Fallon, the man she has cared for since childhood, and her mother's apprentice, a friend she no longer trusts.

An excellent addition to this series that transforms both British history and the Arthurian legends into a fantasy that provides intriguing characters and suspenseful action.  My only quibble was the conclusion, but perhaps this is a result of a modern outlook.  And anyway, there is one more book to come that might resolve my personal issue!

Read in June; blog review scheduled for Aug. 3

NetGalley/47 North

Fantasy.  Aug. 22, 2017.  Print length:  304 pages.  

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Shattered by Allison Brennan

Shattered by Allison Brennan.  In spite of the fact that this book unites multiple characters from two different series (which made a lot to absorb, since I've not read either series before), I found myself engrossed with the plot.

Maxine Revere, an investigative reporter (with her own series), reluctantly becomes intrigued when an old friend requests her help.  His wife has been charged with the murder of their young son, and he wants Max to help prove her innocence.  He has information that connects three cold cases with remarkably similar elements.  If the same person is responsible for the cold cases that match the murder of his son, then his wife will be exonerated.

Max's attention with the first of the cold cases requires her to accept a partnership with Lucy Kincaid, a rookie FBI agent and the aunt of the first murdered child.  (Brennan's Lucy Kincaid also has a lengthy series.)  Both women are sincere in their search for answers, but trust between a reporter and an FBI agent is difficult.

While I didn't find the plot especially believable for a number of reasons and there were constant references to past adventures from the two separate series, I nevertheless was quickly immersed in the story.  

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Mystery.  Crime.  August 22, 2017.  Print length:  368 pages.