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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Last Reviews of the Year

We celebrate Christmas at the camp.  The kids came on Tuesday, Christmas Eve.  Erin and her crew left on Friday.  Amelia and her crew were back on Saturday.  It was a long and merry week, and after the final clean-up detail some good memories remain.  And a few extra pounds.

Guess who the Boomers are!
And I don't consider it a criticism, Mila.  :)
There is no WiFi at the camp and spotty cell reception, and I get home to find more iffy computer problems.  I'm still a little tired from the post-Christmas stuff (cleaning, clearing, etc.), but that is part of the process.  High energy, too much good food, fun and games with the kids--followed by the slow settling back into a normal routine.  The whole celebration takes about five days before everyone heads home, and I'm slowly becoming ready for the final chore here at our house--packing up the Christmas decorations.  

2019 Books read and scheduled (or not even reviewed yet):

Westering Women by Sandra Dallas
The Janes by Louisa Luna
Into the Fire by Greg Hurwitz
Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
The Museum of Desire by Jonathan Kellerman
The Perfect Kill by Helen Fields
Sword of Shadows by Jeri Westerson
The Age of Witches by Louisa Morgan
 Who Speaks for the Damned  by C.S. Harris
The New Husband by D. J. Palmer
 The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason

I wasn't especially taken with the first book in the Stillhouse Lake series and didn't follow up with the next two books.  However, after reading Bitter Falls, I kind of regret that... because I did enjoy this one.

Gwen Proctor attempts to lead a normal-as-possible life despite her horrific background as the wife of a serial killer-- stalked by those who hated her husband and by those who admired him.  Her kids, Lanny and Connor, are her priority, but she knows she can't fully protect them from even the every day problems of life, much less from the bullies and trolls concerning her husband.  

Although Gwen, her partner Sam, and the kids have found some security in Stillhouse Lake, things have changed and  are at best uncomfortable and at worst dangerous.  

When Gwen gets a new missing persons cold case--that of a young man missing for three years--she focuses on it, turning up new and disturbing information that will result in a terrifying situation for Gwen, her partner Sam, and the kids.

Characters from previous novels play their roles in this one.  Some characters I recognized from the first book, others were new to me.  It didn't matter that I skipped books 2 and 3 in the series; Bitter Falls didn't cause any confusion.  Rachel Caine's skillful recap fills in all you need to know to enjoy the plot.

I may go back and pick up the books I missed--or not--but I will be looking for the next one.

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer
Mystery/Thriller.  Jan. 21, 2020.  Print length: 336 pages.

Journaled to Death by Heather Redmond is entertaining enough for a couple of hours.  

from description:  
Journaling vlogger Mandy Meadows strives to preserve her hyper-organised life while searching for her cousin's killer in this twisty mystery: first in a brand-new series.

A light cozy mystery.

Read in October.  Review scheduled for  

NetGalley/Severn House
Cozy Mystery.  Feb. 4, 2020.  Print length:  224 pages.

The Crossing is the first in a new series featuring Detective Louise Blackwell by Matt Brolly.   The Crossing begins with the brutal murder of a pensioner, an older, retired woman with no known enemies.  Among other injuries are two puncture wounds in her wrists.  Then an elderly Catholic priest is also found murdered in a grisly manner.  Are the murders random or selected for a personal reason?

Shocked at the murder of two elderly and seemingly good people, Louise struggles to find the connection.  Louise is also being harassed by a former partner who seems determined to see her fail.  (I despised him!)

Since it is the first in a new series, some of the characters are being introduced and will probably be developed further in successive books.

 NetGalley/Amazon Publishing
British Detectives.  Feb. 15, 2020.   

 And one of my favorites of the year:

Erik Larson's The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz is sharply focused on the man, his family, and friends from May 10, 1940 when Churchill took office until America finally enters the war.

The book is meticulously researched and still personal and relatable.  Churchill is presented in all his glory and all of his eccentricities.  Letters and diaries from friends and family fill in life during the period from Hitler's invasion of the Low Countries and the rapid fall of France, the crucial evacuation  at Dunkirk, the fear of occupation, and the devastation of the Blitz.

One thing I was not aware of was that in 1937 the Mass Observation Diary Project was formed.  The Archives provide primary source material of the everyday lives of the 500 volunteers.  An excellent source at any time, but during those years preceding and during the war--an amazing resource.  
A pioneering social research organisation, Mass Observation was founded in 1937 by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, film-maker Humphrey Jennings and poet Charles Madge. Their aim was to create an 'anthropology of ourselves', and by recruiting a team of observers and a panel of volunteer writers they studied the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain. This landmark digital project opens up revolutionary access to the archive. (Source:  the above link)
 The Splendid and the Vile ranks among my favorite nonfiction books this year (or ever), an absolutely engrossing account of disasters, courage, and defiance; of great leaders, elegant language, and of ordinary people.

Read in November.

NetGalley/Crown Publishing
History/Nonfiction.  Feb. 25, 2020.  Print length:  464 pages.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays!  And now we await the New Year and hope for peace, compassion, courtesy, and kindness in 2020.

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

I suppose everyone comes up against a novel that utterly frustrates attempts at writing a review.  One which leaves you with a sense of ambiguity and no way to explain what you think about it because you still aren't sure.

World building:  A
Character Depth: A
Prose: A
Theme:  wonders/horrors of science?  colonialism?  friendship and family? betrayal?  the never changing flaws of society?  Such a mixture of thematic elements and development.

A fresh and unusual science fiction novel that defies classification and for me, explanation.

from description:  A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever in this captivating debut of connection across space and time.

"This is when your life begins."

Absorbing, haunting, and difficult to pin down.

Read in September; blog review scheduled for Dec. 30.

NetGalley/Random House
Science Fiction.  Jan. 14, 2020.  Print length:  400 pages.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Last Passenger, Origami Man, A Conspiracy of Bones, and the Demon Door series

The Last Passenger is the third in the prequels for Finch's Charles Lenox series.  It has been interesting to read these books about the young Lennox, who wants to establish himself as a detective since I've liked the plots and characters in the original books with the mature Lenox.  

The series is one of my favorite historical mystery/detective series, and I enjoyed the latest book as well.  Young Charles Lenox is encouraged by his mother to marry, and Charles is a desirable husband--except for the fact that he continues to pursue a career as a detective, which is not highly thought of in his social class.  

Inspector Hemstock seeks Charles' help when the unidentified body of a young man is discovered at Paddington Station, and Charles is eager to be involved with the Scotland Yard investigation.

As usual, there are many historical details that add to the plot, the characters are well-developed, the writing is excellent, and the mystery intriguing.  

Read in Oct.  

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Historical Mystery.  Feb. 18, 2020.  Print length:  304 pages.

Gibson Vaugh, legendary hacker and former marine, returns in a fifth installment of this series by Matthew Fitzsimmons.  He is also a wanted fugitive living in the Caymans when Tinsley, assassin and the man who killed Vaughn's father, draws him into a dangerous new situation.

The threat is ominous, and Tinsley needs Vaughn's help, but as important as the terrorist threat is--can Tinsley be trusted in a truce to prevent the disaster?  

Dan, Jenn, and George join Gibson in the hunt for the details that would help them prevent the deaths of millions.

The first book (The Short Drop) is my favorite, but I've enjoyed all of the books and the team of characters involved.  

Read in Oct.

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer
Thriller.  Feb. 18, 2020.  Print length:  316 pages.

A Conspiracy of Bones in the latest Kathy Reichs book featuring Tempe Brennan.  Although I've been reading this series for years, this isn't the best, which doesn't mean that it won't hold your attention.  

Temperance is recovering from neurosurgery for an aneurysm, her new boss holds a grudge, someone may be stalking her, and in general, life had been difficult for Tempe.

She gets mysterious pictures of a body with most of  his face and his hands missing and no identification.  Who sent it?  
Her new boss is determined to push her out, but Tempe gets into the morgue and views the body.  She disagrees with the new coroner about several things and begins investigating on her own.  (The savaging of the body is the result of feral hogs, and just recently a woman in Texas was killed by hogs.  They truly are fearsome creatures.)    

Teaming up with the cantankerous and acerbic Slidell,  Tempe sets out to identify the body, and then to look into the Dark Web at conspiracy theories spouted by the repulsive Nick Body, and into a possible connection to missing children.

There is an interesting afterword about how Reichs came up with elements of her plot, but I had no trouble believing in the feral hogs detail as they are prevalent everywhere in the South and have been moving north as well.

Mystery.  March 17, 2020.  Print length:  352 pages.

The Sand Prince was nothing to write home about, spite of being unsatisfied with much of it,  I continued with the second book, The Heron Prince, and I liked it much better.  So--moving on to books 3 and 4, The Glass Girl and The River King was easy.  After making my way through the first half or so of The Sand Prince,  I enjoyed the rest of entire series.  

I've been busy with so many things lately--Christmas stuff (such a long list of Christmas stuff--from gifts and wrapping, to recipes and grocery shopping), stitching, reading, everyday chores, feeding the birds, making tentative friendship with a raccoon who has been visiting at night. 

Even in our subdivision, we have occasional night visits from raccoons and possums.  I think our visitor is young, more curious than frightened, he approaches me with such a quizzical look on his face.  Much better than the wild creatures like bears and mountain lions that visit other areas!   And at least we have had no feral hogs in our neighborhood, although there are plenty down at the camp in the country.   They make a mess of fields and crops, which is bad, but they are dangerous as well.  And ugly!  

Sunday, December 08, 2019

A Cry in the Night by Kerry Wilkinson and When You See Me by Lisa Gardner

I've enjoyed this series for quite a while, but admit this one isn't my favorite.  A Cry in the Night lets you know pretty early that something is wrong on Jessica Daniel's team.  You know how when a character you like does something untoward, it can be either easily accepted or cause uneasiness?  Jessica offers 10 pounds to a snitch to let her know when her suspect turns up, and 10 more when he does.  Why did that make me so uneasy?  Because Wilkinson intends exactly that--to create a sense of disquietude.

From description:  "Samuel is fourteen years old. He lives with his mother in a Manchester flat, goes to school, plays on his computer, reads books and likes the same things that most other teenagers do.

He’s also blind.

And he’s the only witness when his mother is attacked in their own home late one night."

The plot was interesting.  A while back I read a couple of books by Andreas Pfluger in which his main character is blind and uses echolocation.  Fourteen-year-old Samuel also uses echolocation and is able to tell the police that there were two assailants, one taller than theother,  and that one moved with a limp.  He also is able to "recognize" people by the same method, which startles Jessica.  She is both impressed and disbelieving and investigates this phenomenon to see how much trust to put into Samuel's abilities.

A second plot thread is both connected and separate.  The underlying awkward tension, however, has to do with a threat to Jessica, not a physical one, but a threat nonetheless.

The conclusion leads to a continuing arc for the next book.  The cases are solved, but the apprehension about Jessica's situation will most likely be the main narrative structure for the next novel.  I really don't like worrying about my favorite characters.  :/

Police Procedural.  Jan. 15, 2020.  Print length:  347 pages.

Lisa Gardner's When You See Me brings together three capable women.  

from description:  FBI Special Agent Kimberly Quincy and Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren have built a task force to follow the digital bread crumbs left behind by deceased serial kidnapper Jacob Ness. When a disturbing piece of evidence is discovered in the hills of Georgia, they bring Flora Dane and true-crime savant Keith Edgar to a small town where something seems to be deeply wrong. What at first looks like a Gothic eeriness soon hardens into something much more sinister...and they discover that for all the evil Jacob committed while alive, his worst secret is still to be revealed. Quincy and DD must summon their considerable skills and experience to crack the most disturbing case of their careers—and Flora must face her own past directly in the hope of saving others.

Although I enjoyed the D.D. Warren series before Flora Dane was added, Flora Dane has added an edge to the plots.  D.D. and Flora provide a study in contrast: D.D. a dedicated law enforcement officer provides a balance to Flora's vigilante approach.  The two women have gradually come to work well together despite their differences.  I'm also glad to see Keith Edgar, the true crime and computer expert introduced in the previous book, join this investigation.  By creating new intriguing characters and including them in new books, Gardner keeps fresh possibilities for plot lines.  

Read in Oct.; blog review scheduled for Dec. 8.

NetGalley/Penguin Group
Police Procedural.  Jan. 28, 2020.  Print length:  400 pages.  

I've been busy with stitching on my panels for 25 Million Stitches.  I finished the first one and mailed it, and I'm making progress on the second panel.   

first panel (15 x 17"), which I've finished and mailed

I've binge watched the Father Brown series (based on G.K. Chesterton's short stories) while stitching.  I've especially enjoyed the clothing and cars from the 1950's--the hats are a treasure.  If you enjoy cozy mysteries, try this series set in the picturesque village of Kembleford, where an unprecedented number of murders occur!   

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

The Murder House by Michael Wood and Archangel Rising by Evan Currie

The Murder House is the 5th in a new series for me.  I'll be going back and picking up earlier books.  
from description:  The morning after a wedding reception at a beautiful suburban home in Sheffield, the bride’s entire family are stabbed to death – in a frenzied attack more violent than anything DCI Matilda Darke could have imagined.
Although this is the 5th in the series, it works well as a stand alone, and the characters are well-fleshed out, complex, and satisfyingly believable.  The plot is used to  develop the characters, reveal their personalities and temperaments and the complications in their lives.

DCI Matilda Darke quickly sums up problems with the crime scene.  She doesn't assume the evidence is genuine.
Even so, her team is somewhat reluctant to disregard the evidence.  

This is an ARC and I noticed a couple of errors that should be easily corrected by publication, but I thoroughly enjoyed Matilda, her team, and the investigation.  I've already ordered the first in the series.  I love finding a series with characters I want to know more about.

Read in November. 

NetGalley/One More Chapter
Police Procedural.  Jan. 31, 2020.   

Evan Currie's two connected military science fiction series continue to keep me reading.  I've read every book in the Odyssey series and the (sort of) spin-off Archangel now has two books.   (Some of my reviews that give background on the Odyssey series.)

In Archangel One "An elite squadron must go undercover behind enemy lines in this thrilling new space adventure from the author of the Odyssey One series."

Archangel Rising, #2 in the series, continues with Captain Steph Michaels and his Archangel team functioning as privateers in the undercover operation to gain information about the Empire.

Action packed, likable ensemble characters.  For militatry science fiction/space opera fans, I would recommend beginning with Odyssey One: Into the Black.

Read in November.

NetGalley/47 North
Space Opera/Military Science Fiction.  Jan. 14, 2020.

Friday, November 22, 2019

A Fatal Assignation, Dark Truths, and No Mercy (and snail mail)

I love getting mail, and I enjoy making my own stationery, postcards, and envelopes.  When I don't make my own envelopes (like the black ones), I have fun decorating them.  Lacking genuine artistic ability doesn't prevent me from creating cartoon characters and collages and using stamps to make fun mail.  

Some are letters, some are postcards.
Some to friends, many to grand kids.
(pics are from my other blog)

I receive some wonderful mail as well, but whether they are decorated or not, the most fun is finding handwritten letters in my mailbox! 

So...I am concerned about the frequent re-occurrence of plans to privatize the USPS.  I'm a frequent snail mailer because I love handwritten letters and postcards.  Privatization of various entities has been hit or miss for the American consumer.  (Prisons for profit are a good example of a bad privatization.)  
"Recommendations like shuttering post offices, reducing delivery days, and relinquishing the sanctity of the mail that mailers and household have come to trust and rely upon are unlikely to be the commercial panacea the task force suggests they may be." Source:  Common Dreams
On to books

Alice Chetwynd Ley (1913-2004) wrote Regency Romance and Mystery novels. A Fatal Assignation is a little old-fashioned but entertaining.

from description:
London, 1816

When Lord Jermyn goes missing, his wife asks scholar-turned-sleuth Justin Rutherford to find him without raising a scandal.

It seems that Justin’s niece, Anthea, was the last person to see the rakish lord — waiting in a secret room in a fashionable dress shop.

But days later, Jermyn is found shot and buried in a pauper’s grave.

While not a favorite in this genre, A Fatal Assignation entertained me for a few hours.

NetGalley/Sapere Books
Historical Mystery.  Nov. 3, 2019.  Print length:  221 pages.

When the body of a jogger is discovered minus her head, criminologist Will Traynor is brought in to aid the investigation.  DI Bernard Watts has enough on his plate having just been returned to an active crime case after working cold cases and still has to deal with new recruit Chloe Judd and with Will Traynor, who is obsessed with finding out what happened to his wife a decade previously.

Although Dark Truths is billed as the first in a series about criminologist Will Traynor; the plot actually has more to do with Watts and Chloe Judd with a sideline of Traynor's distractions on his own investigation into his wife's murder.

I would read the next in the series to see if the focus is on Will Traynor and his abilities as a criminologist.  At this point, I'm not invested, but often the second entry in a series is the one that truly engages my interest.

Read in Sept.; blog review scheduled for Nov. 22.

NetGalley/Severn House
Police Procedural.  Jan. 7, 2020.  Print length:  240 pages.

No Mercy by Joanna Schaffhausen follows The Vanishing Season in which she introduced Ellery Hathaway and Reed Markham.  

Suspended from her job for shooting a murderer, Ellery must attend therapy sessions for victims of violent crimes where she meets Wendy, victim of a rape in which her assailant has not been caught.  Wendy can't resume her normal life as she remains in fear that her assailant will return.  Ellery's suspension means she has limited resources, but she does have FBI agent Reed Markham.

She is also interested in an older woman whose young son died in an arson fire decades ago.  But was the right person convicted of setting the fire?  Ellery has questions.

No Mercy works fine as a stand-alone, so it isn't necessary to have read The Vanishing Season to understand or appreciate the plot.  

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Suspense/Thriller.  2019.  Print length:  320 pages.  

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Wrong Girl by Donis Casey

I read a review of this on Kittling Books and was pleased to find it still offered on NetGalley.  Since I've recently had a run of books that ended up in the DNF pile, it was nice to find a book that caught and held my interest.  I haven't read any of the Alafair Tucker mysteries by Casey, but The Wrong Girl was an enjoyable historical mystery.

What is it about? 

A young girl is fascinated by Hollywood and the film industry which is still in its infancy in 1926.  Blanche is fifteen when a predator pretending to be a producer finds her in a small Oklahoma town.  Charming and skilled at the seduction of young women, Graham Peyton persuades Blanche that he loves her and that he can get her into the movies.  Blanche doesn't take a great deal of convincing and agrees to run off with him, but it doesn't take long before Blanche must confront her mistake.

Luckily, Blanche is more than a silly, star-struck adolescent; she has skills from growing up on a farm with brothers and is able to escape a "fate worse than death" and find friends that support and encourage her.  

Withing six years, Blanche becomes Bianca LaBelle whose character Bianca Dangereuse is the adventurous heroine of several silent films.  Blanche has been inordinately lucky in her friendships.  In fact, Mrs. Gilbert and Alma Bolding are a rich part of the story.

Private investigator Ted Oliver has been hired to investigate the death of a man who disappeared five years ago and whose skeletal remains have recently been discovered.  What does this have to do with Bianca and her friends? 

An interesting beginning to a new series.

NetGalley/Poisoned Pen Press
Historical Mystery.  Nov. 11, 2019.  Print length: 256 pages.


16 Women Scientists You Should Know

I'm interested in The Library of Ice.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

In the Dark and A Shadow Falls by Andreas Pfluger

Jenny Aaron, part of an elite government group, is shot in the head on an assignment and left blind.  After five years, she returns to the elite group.  OK--first, before losing her sight, Jenny Aaron was legendary for her skills and on returning, she is so good that most don't even recognize she is blind.  So...a little over the top.  

Although Pfluger has researched therapy and rehabilitation for the blind, for Jenny Aaron to be so physically skilled (better than sighted individuals) in the martial arts, etc.--requires suspension of disbelief.  (We really owe Coleridge for that term, which we apply so readily in reviewing.)

Nevertheless, I did accept Jenny's skills for the sake of the story.  The secondary characters are also a bit over-the-top but interesting and well-drawn, especially Jenny's friend Pavlik, a sniper of tremendous skill and patience.

Flashbacks, memories, and dream sequences are interspersed throughout the novel, and the writing is excellent.  


Thriller.  2016.  Print length:  464 pages.

I read this one first because it was an ARC from NetGalley, but strongly recommend beginning with In the Dark since the incidents in In the Dark make understanding the plot in A Shadow Falls much easier to comprehend.  

The man responsible for Jenny's blindness, Ludger Holme, has given her a dubious gift.  Jenny knows that it is a trap, but nevertheless plans to see it through because there is a puzzle she is compelled to unravel.

Accompanied by Pavlik, Jenny goes to Marrakesh to set the ball rolling, realizing the danger, but willing to find out more about her father's death.

Lots of action, more flashbacks, memories, and dream sequences.  Twisting, complex, and ultimately engrossing.

NetGalley/Dover Publications
Thriller.  Oct. 16, 2019.  Print version:  448 pages.

Monday, November 11, 2019

How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid

Val McDermid is one of the best in the business.  Her novels are not the skim-the-surface style of many more recent crime writers, but character driven plots with depth and multiple intertwining threads and themes.

How the Dead Speak is the 11th in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series and an uncomfortable one in some ways, because after their last outing Tony Hill, psychiatrist and forensic profiler, is in jail for manslaughter and Carol has resigned from active police duty.  

How is Tony managing life in prison?  He is writing a book and we get to see snippets as epigraphs to chapters.  Surviving in a prison population is crucial, and Tony does what he can to aid fellow prisoners and to protect himself at the same time.

Carol, who has been trying to keep busy, suddenly finds herself involved with a couple of situations that require her expertise.  Tony's vile mother has asked for Carol's help and a request to investigate a possible miscarriage of justice for the Innocence Project give Carol an outlet for her skills.

The former ReMIT team has a case in which hundreds of bones have turned up when a new development on the grounds of a former convent/girls school.  The bodies date from the time the nuns were running the school some 20-40 years ago,  and if that isn't enough, more recent bodies of young men turn up as well.  Paula McIntire and other familiar characters take the lead in this plot thread.  I'm wondering if they will be mostly on their own in future books.  

A lot going on in McDermid's latest Tony Hill/Carol Jordan installment!

Read in July; blog review scheduled for Nov. 11.

NetGalley/Grove Atlantic
Police Procedura/Crime.  Dec. 3, 2019.  Print length:  480 pages.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Trying to Catch Up on Reviews

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher was a provocative and slightly uncomfortable book for me.  Three women, one "husband."   How can I sympathize with a woman (Thursday) who chooses to marry a man who continues to live part of the time with his ex-wife and then adds a third woman (with her apparent approval)?  The women live in separate homes and don't know each other, but they know of each other. Each loves "her" husband and each would prefer to have him to herself, but have agreed to the polygamous relationship.

The implicit rules are that you never meet the other wives.  But what if circumstances arise that make your curiosity too powerful to resist?  Interesting premise.

A coincidence provides Thursday the name of one of the other wives.  Now she must seriously examine her commitment to the arrangement she agreed to.  

But not all is as it seems and how reliable a narrator is Thursday?

In the end, I didn't care much for The Wives.  The first half was intriguing, but for some reason, my interest dimmed in the latter half, especially since I could never quite believe in the situation and behaviors.  Note:  I am certainly outvoted on Goodreads.  Most folks loved it.  

Psychological Thriller?  Dec. 30, 2019.  Print length:  336 pages.  

In 2018, I read two books by Gretta Mulrooney and enjoyed them, so when NetGalley offered the first in a new series by Mulrooney, I was pleased.

DI Siv Drummond, still grieving over the loss of her husband, finally decides to get back to work.   Her new job thrusts her immediately into a double murder, and she hopes she is ready.

A photo of a child left on one of the bodies provides the only clue.  The killer left no other evidence for Siv and her team to work with.  The interviews with the husband of the murdered woman and and her coworkers leave questions and quite a few interviews are interspersed with lies or omissions.  

In much the same way as the previous books I've read in Mulrooney's other series, These Little Lies focuses on the investigation, the interviews, the lies and deceptions.  Mulrooney also begins developing the characters that will carry into the next Siv Drummond book--a nice beginning to a new series.  

NetGalley/Joffe Books
Police Procedural.  Nov. 5, 2019.  Print length:  284 pages.  

Dark Crimes (DI Sophie Allen #1).  I read Silent Crimes by Michael Hambling and liked it, so I went back and picked up the first book in the series.

A young woman is murdered on her way home from work, and the autopsy reveals evidence of past abuse.  Initially, the case seems straight-forward, but when the victim's mother is discovered murdered in her home, the investigation becomes more complicated.

Sophie Allen is an unusual main character because she is happily married, supportive of her team, clever and insightful, lacking in the flaws that often accompany the protagonist in this genre.  How good she is may be a tad overdone in this first book in the series, but otherwise, the plot and characters were well done.

Police Procedural.  2013.  Print length:  281 pages.

Silent Crimes is the eighth book in Michael Hambling's  series, but the first book I read--after reading it, I picked up Dark Crimes, the first book.  And yes, I'll be catching up on the other books when I can.

Silent Crimes works well as a stand-alone.   Jade Allen, DCI Sophie Allen's daughter, has been keeping an eye on a homeless man and his dog.  When the man doesn't show up for several days, she seeks him out in a wooded area where he sometimes camped--and finds his body.

Other than his first name, Jade knows little about the man.  There is no identification on him, and the police have a difficult time even finding his surname much less a motive for his murder.  However, someone had been around asking about a tramp fitting his description before he disappeared.  Who was he trying to avoid and why?

Piecing together the man's identity and background and why he left a profitable job to live off the grid is a slow process for Sophie Allen's team, but eventually a connection is made to a former commune and a missing woman.  

 My favorite kind of mystery is the gradual unraveling of information, and Michael Hambling does this well.  While waiting for the next book, I can catch up on previous entries in the series.

NetGalley/Joffe Books
Police Procedural.  Oct. 30, 2019.  Print length:  229 pages.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Boundary Haunted by Melissa F. Olson

The Boundary Magic series is so much fun.  The series is a spin-off from the Scarlett Bernard series, but I began reading this series first, and then went back and picked up the Scarlett Bernard series.

Allison "Lex" Luther is an army veteran who doesn't realize she is a witch until vampires attempt to abduct her niece in the first book Boundary Crossed.   She has a lot to learn.

I reviewed the first four books here.

In Boundary Haunted, Lex is still recovering from her last adventure in Wyoming when Maven, Lex's boss and cardinal vampire of Boulder, CO, asks her to head to Atlanta and help out that city's cardinal vampire.  

Beau Calhoun is a Civil War veteran and a vampire with some boundary witch blood.  Unlike other vampires, he can see ghosts, the Unsettled, and someone has been making them disappear.  Beau wants Lex to find out what is happening to the Unsettled and to protect his great-great-grandniece Odessa.  

Of course, things go wrong and get complicated because, you know, mixing up witches and vampires and werewolves can result in havoc.  

Start at the beginning of this series with Boundary Crossed, and if you are a fan of Urban Fantasy, I think you'll be hooked.   

Read in Oct.; blog review scheduled for November 4.

NetGalley/47 North
Urban Fantasy.  Dec. 3, 2019.  Print length:  317 pages.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

In Her Eyes by Sarah Alderson and The Old Success by Martha Grimes

A home invasion is a terrifying thought and many novels have made the most of the idea.  

Sarah Alsderson's In Her Eyes takes the event of armed men breaking into a home and the serious injury of Ava's daughter June and turns it into something else.  It moves from the invasion to the aftermath as Ava discovers information that stuns her. 

Devastated, Ava finds herself doubting almost everyone around her as she learns about things she never suspected.  Then someone targets June in the hospital.
Who to trust?

I suspected one person after another.  Each new circumstance introduced a possible reason for the violent invasion and raised new questions.

Alderson skillfully guides the reader through Ava's discoveries, keeping both the reader and Ava off-balance.  Well-plotted, red herrings and twists, and suspenseful.

Read in July.  Blog review scheduled for Oct. 29, 2019.

NetGalley/Mulholland Books
Suspense/Thriller.  Nov. 14, 2019.  Print length:  352 pages.

Martha Grimes' Richard Jury novels all have the title of a pub (one exception, Vertigo 42 is a wine bar) and a unique and eccentric group of returning characters.  The mysteries focus on puzzles rather than violence, almost always have a child and an animal, humorous episodes, and witty conversations.  

They are more fun if you have some familiarity with some of the secondary characters because looking forward to the brief appearances of the Long Piddleton crowd is always fun.  

The main characters are Richard Jury of Scotland Yard and Melrose Plant his friend and foil.  The books are usually considered cozy mysteries, but they are more literary, character-driven, and complex than most cozies.

The Old Success is not my favorite, but I wouldn't miss joining Jury and friends on any new adventure--it is always a pleasure.

In 2012, Martha Grimes was awarded the title of Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, joining such notables as Agatha Christie, John le Carre,  Elmore Leonard, Barbara Mertz, Tony Hillerman, and P.D. James (and many other great mystery writers).

Read in July.  Blog review scheduled for Oct. 29.

NetGalley/Grove Atlantic
Mystery/Police Procedural.  Nov. 5, 2019.