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Friday, March 18, 2022

Love You More by Lisa Gardner, One Bad Turn David J. Gatward

Love You More (D.D. Warren #5, Tessa Leoni #1).  State Trooper Tessa Leoni claims she shot her husband in self-defense.  She has been seriously beaten and no one questions her injuries, but D.D. Warren doesn't quite believe Tessa, something is off--and Tessa's six-year-old daughter is missing.  

Tessa is hospitalized for her injuries, then arrested for the murder of her husband.  Six-year-old Sophie is still missing, and D.D. and Bobby Dodge believe they are looking for her body, the kind of thing that disturbs even veteran cops.

Like in the Flora Dane books, D.D. plays a big role in the procedural portions of the book, but the alternating chapters in Tessa's voice propel the plot.  

Gardner ratchets up the tension and slowly reveals all the complications involved in this engrossing thriller.

Suspense/Thriller.  2011.  Print length:  368 pages.

I've caught up on the Grimm Up North series, which I really enjoy.  The characters and the setting work well together, and it is obvious how much the author himself loves the Yorkshire Dales.  

There are some chilling scenes as the body of a young woman is discovered and the terrible and unanticipated aftermath of the discovery.

This has become a favorite series, and I'm so glad stumbled on the first book and already looking forward to the next.

Kindle Unlimited.
Police Procedural.  March 3, 2022.  Print length:  343 pages.

Currently reading Churchill's Band of Brothers.  Excellent so far.

Something I've never thought of before,
 but the last two comments make it clear.  :)


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Three DI Zoe Finch books by Rachel McLean and Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner

Assistant Chief Constable Bryn Jackson is murdered shortly after returning home on the  night of his retirement. Recently promoted  DI Zoe Finch, fresh off a case involving corruption, fraud, and abuse against children, finds herself on the scene.  

Is Jackson's wife Margaret responsible?  Even with what little is revealed early on, it seems Margaret might have motive.  Zoe is surprised and confused by the way her DCI is handling the case and relegating Zoe to more tedious tasks.  Is he protecting Margaret?  And what changes his mind?

Deadly Wishes is the first in McLean's Zoe Finch series, and I liked it even better than McLean's Dorset Crime series.  Zoe's commitment and perseverance made this police procedural an enjoyable experience.  Zoe's team helps add to the interest:  DS Mo Uddin, DC Connie Williams, and DC Rhodri Hughes.

If the murder of an ACC who spent his life on the force isn't bad enough, Zoe senses a sinister underside to the murder and is determined to dig until all the pieces fit.

Kindle Unlimited
Police Procedural.  2020.  Print length:  402 pages.

Allison Osman takes her children to Cadbury World in a planned excursion her husband Ian was supposed to join.  Ian doesn't show.  Allison  leaves twelve-year-old Maddy to watch her little brother while she stands in line to get their food.

A matter of minutes and both children are gone.  

Another good police procedural with interesting characterization and plenty of suspense.  DI Zoe Finch and her team have to examine several unsavory possibilities in their attempt to determine who and why the children have been abducted.

Kindle Unlimited.
Police Procedural.  2020.  Print length:  400 pages.  

Someone has been making horrific assaults on gay men, creating anger and fear in the gay community.  Amid the pressure to solve the case, Zoe also fears for her eighteen-year-old son who doesn't seem to think he is danger.

There is a connection to police corruption that has been running through from the first book in this series, but as in the previous book, there is a plot that is resolved.  While I'd recommend beginning with the first book, each book can be read as a standalone.  

Two things I like about this series:  the characters on Zoe's team and the fast-paced plots!

Kindle Unlimited
Police Procedural.  2020.  Print length:  430 pages.

(I'm not sure whether all these books were released at once, but each one has a 2020 publication date.)

Lisa Gardner has rarely failed to keep my interest, and certainly the abduction of the Denbe family was a compelling example.  

In 2014, I read and loved Crash & Burn as an ARC.  It started me looking for any Lisa  Gardner book available from NetGalley or the library, regardless of publication date or series.

Anyway, I listened to Touch & Go the second book as an audio book, and was quickly immersed in the story. A common approach in many of Gardner's books is to give the victim as much or more time than the lead detective.  The secondary characters often turn up again in different books.  

Tessa Leoni, former state trooper, current investigator for a security firm, is called in by the Denbe Construction company.  D.D. Warren makes a cameo appearance in her role with the Boston Police Department, but the FBI takes over and Tessa must work with them.  In this case, the story moves back and forth between Tessa and Libby Denbe.  

Libby's voice describes the abduction and the imprisonment of the family.  Justin, Libby, and their fifteen-year-old daughter Ashlyn are stashed in a newly built but unoccupied prison facility in the wilds of New Hampshire.  Through Libby we learn of the mechanics of the family's abduction and the circumstances of their imprisonment.  We also learn a lot of the dynamics of the "perfect" family.  

In the investigation, Tessa interviews employees of the construction company, piecing together an outside version of the Denbes.  Detective Sergeant Wyatt Foster is also involved in the investigation and provides a nice balance to Tessa.  Getting the gradual information about the company, Justin, Libby, and Ashlyn was intriguing.  

Suspense and secrets.  Twists and turns.  When you think it is over.  It isn't.

There is a backstory to Tessa, that D.D. Warren first alludes to, but which relates to the reason that Tessa is no longer a state trooper.  This was a little frustrating, as I had not read that book.

The narration was OK, but Elizabeth Rodgers' attempts to distinguish different characters was not always successful and her occasional attempts at Boston and New Hampshire accents were often annoying.  I'm not sure any single narrator could have done a good job on so many characters, but that was a distraction.  

 It took a little while to find the first Tessa Leoni book because the first book that includes Tessa Leoni is actually the 5th book in the D.D. Warren series--Love You More.  I  couldn't wait and started it last night.

I recommend reading these three books in order. One of those "do as I say, not as I do" situations.

Love You More  (2011)
Touch and Go  (2013)
Crash and Burn  (2015)

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

The Hidden One by Linda Castillo and The Verifiers by Jane Pek


An Amish Bishop's remains are discovered 18 years after his disappearance, and an old friend from Kate Burkholder's  childhood and adolescence has been arrested for the Bishop's murder.

Three Dieners, church elders, come to Kate and ask her to investigate as they are positive that Jonas is innocent.

As always, I enjoy the way Castillo reveals Amish customs and culture and I enjoy the way Amish beliefs influence the plots.  When I finished The Hidden One, I felt like this was one of my favorite books in the series.  

The next morning, however, I had some questions... something that was not resolved.  Doesn't change my overall opinion about the book because I was completely engaged throughout, but I am really curious about a couple of things that were not explained.  Spoiler:  Who called Kate and said, "They were all there!"?  Were the Dieners  there?  Did I miss something? 

I checked the reviews on Goodreads, and no one mentions the thing that is bugging me.  

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Mystery.  July 5, 2022.  Print length:  320 pages.

An interesting concept that involves internet dating sites, algorithms, and a company that verifies information of members.

Claudia Linn works for Veracity, a company that verifies profile information if a client finds something that doesn't ring true or that worries them.  When a client ends up dead, Claudia gets involved.

There were several elements that evoked my interest about online dating profiles.  I mean, we've become accustomed to the jokes about "I enjoy sunsets and walks on the beach" kind of thing.  I was curious about the kinds of questions matchmaking sites actually asked to try for a match.  Do these sites try to match only similar interests (if people are even honest in their interests)? Do they ever match "opposites," I wonder.  What algorithms?

On a more serious level, how do companies go about checking for out-and-out dishonesty about professions, locations, financial situations, etc. in a client's profile?  The match-making sites are part of our lives since the advent of the internet, but I have never really thought about them in a way that doesn't include the use of online-dating in a mystery novel or thriller.  

Unfortunately, this book was not a match for me--the characters felt artificial, the promised humor was hit or miss, I didn't learn much about what I was curious about, and the plot itself didn't really engage me.  Note:  I'm in the minority about this according to GR reviews.   


LGBQT Mystery.  February, 2022.  Print length:  368 pages


Note about earlier review of The Silence.  In America:  An 1893 court ruling increased pressure to keep Indian children in Boarding schools. It was not until 1978 with the passing of the Indian Child Welfare Act that Native American parents gained the legal right to deny their children's placement in off-reservation schools.

Also, Cathy mentioned the film The Rabbit-Proof Fence in her comment , and I want to see it.  I may just read the book, but Kenneth Branagh is in the film, and he is always worth watching.

Love this!

Monday, March 07, 2022

Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens by Andrea Penrose, The Silence by Susan Allott, and The Summer We Forgot by Caroline George

The first book in the Wrexford & Sloane series was so much fun!  The last couple of books have been less so.  

The spark has gone out somehow.  The Weasels are still fun, but Wrexford and Charlotte have become less vibrant.  I hope the next one gives the MCs a bit more of their previous √©lan.

Read in Feb.

Kindle Unlimited
Regency Mystery.  2021. print length:  353 pages

The Silence is a layered story told in alternating timelines that unfold gradually.  Slow paced and character driven, the 1967 backstory reveals the human flaws in two families, flaws that are exacerbated by the situations in which they find themselves.  

 Steve, a policeman, hates the frequent requirement of removing aboriginal children from their homes and placing them in institutions, and he doesn't believe that the institutions will actually provide a better life regardless of what the government says. The strain builds until he can no longer cope; he is unraveling, coming undone.  Mandy, his wife, never grasps the effect the job has on her husband or on their marriage.  Steve wants children, but Mandy doesn't tell him that she is still taking her birth control pills.

Next door, Joe, an alcoholic, and Louisa, homesick for England, have marital problems that are only partially revealed until later, but Louisa hates Australia and wants to return to England.  All of this is divulged in the chapters that give the backstory.   
(Think: "The past is not dead.  It is not even past."--Faulkner; "What's past is prologue."--Shakespeare)

In the 1997 timeline, Isla Green, an alcoholic working for sobriety, receives a call from her father.  Joe tells her that he is under suspicion for Mandy's disappearance thirty years ago, and Isla returns to Australia for the first time in ten years--to her dysfunctional family and some vague memories of her early childhood.

The characters are not always likable, but they are very human and three-dimensional.  The scenes are visual and atmospheric--drawing the reader into the story in a palpable way.  

Theoretically, the removal of indigenous children from their parents was colonial Britain’s attempt to improve their living conditions. But in practice, kids were stolen from loving homes and brought to institutions that trained them to work for white people. Abuse, cruelty, and inhumanity filled their new lives. (via Washington Independent Review of Books)

Being silent about past mistakes doesn't remove the influence of those mistakes.  Not in families, not in social norms, not in government actions.   The problems these two families deal with are both personal and general.  The practices of Australian government are not unique, they have been pretty universal, and we have our own situations to atone for.


Audiobook read by Nelle Stewart.  

from description:  "Darby and Morgan haven’t spoken for two years, and their friend group has splintered. But when the body of their former science teacher is found in the marsh where they attended camp that summer, they realize they have more questions than answers . . . and even fewer memories."

A group of friends who attended a summer camp, can't remember the experience.  The two voices, Darby and Morgan's are indistinguishable.  I had to stop and think about who was actually speaking numerous times.  Difficult to have much character development when the voices don't indicate individuality.

Plot is...less than believable, and the style is disrupted in a number of ways, disjointed and ponderous, and too long.

NetGalley/Thomas Nelson
Mystery.  March 8, 2022.  Print length:  413 pages.  


Friday, March 04, 2022

Dorset Crime Series by Rachel McLean

 International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo) is over, but I still have some letters to respond to.  It was difficult to get a letter in the mail each day in February and there were days when I had to catch up with three or more letters at a time.  A challenge, but fun--especially getting so much mail!

I've received letters from new people, in addition to the folks I usually write, and this has been especially enjoyable.  The incoming mail will continue into March--because letters written later in the month take awhile to arrive and some folks are from the UK, Canada, France, and Australia.  The main requirement is to write back to everyone who writes you, and I already do that.  Maybe not promptly, but persistently.  

The last batch of February letters went out on Saturday and on Monday (2.28.22).

Of course, I've been reading, too. A new-to-me series by Rachel McLean; the Dorset Crime books are fast-paced, and I couldn't go through them fast enough!  There is an overarching plot that links the books, but each is fine as a standalone.