mystery

Review of ‘Death by Honeymoon’

Posted on Updated on

While on their honeymoon in Barbados, Cindy and Clint’s idyllic interlude is interrupted by tragedy when Clint is found drowned in the surf. The local police quickly call it an accident, but Cindy’s not so sure. Back in New York, facing off with Clint’s family, who had objected to the marriage, and some of his friends who don’t seem to care much for her, she discovers that there were things about her new husband she didn’t know—dark secrets that could have caused someone to kill him—and she’s determined to discover the truth. She soon finds herself targeted, so she goes back to Barbados to do her own investigation, not just to honor Clint, but to save her own life.

Death By Honeymoon by Jaden Skye is a romantic mystery that, though it is a bit heavier on the romance than some mystery fans will prefer, will still, I believe, please. Some of the mystery elements are too obvious but given that the main character is a total amateur, it somehow works.

A nice read during the turbulent, indecisive summer weather currently plaguing both coasts.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘The Orange Curtain’

Posted on Updated on

People are being killed in an affluent high-rise known as the Orange Curtain. Homicide Detective Max Cusini finds a perplexing situation—his main suspects don’t match the description of the killer or killers, and when a murder takes place that doesn’t match the M.O. of the first killings, he finds himself looking down a rabbit hole, and his life—and sanity—at risk.

The Orange Curtain by Chris D. Dodson is an interesting mystery, marred only by an overabundance of typos and generally choppy pacing.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I made my way through it, despite the typos, and sadly can only give it three and a half stars.

Review of ‘Just Different Devils’

Posted on Updated on

A sassy, irreverent Texan, Hetta Coffey lives on the edge of legality on a boat in Mexico. When she’s offered a mysterious charter, she talks her best friend Jan into coming along for the ride. The two soon find themselves face to face with Hetta’s bete noir, Nacho, a man for whom she has conflicting feelings. He’s up to something, but they can’t figure out what. Oh, and there are missing mariners, oysters full of pearls, a murderous giant squid, an amorous dolphin, and a sexy kilt-wearing Scot making Hetta’s life even more complicated than it normally is.

Just Different Devils by Jinx Schwartz is funny, provided you can laugh when dismembered corpses are being described in gruesome detail. Well, maybe not so much detail, but what is described is gruesome. And, did I mention that while you fight to keep from spewing your lunch, you’ll be laughing your hind end off? You will, I promise. Hetta is my kind of hero, heroine, or whatever the proper term is. She lives life to the fullest, takes no prisoners, and makes no apologies. Yay, Hetta!

Loved this book, and I’m willing to bet that, unless you’re brain dead and totally without a funny bone, you will too.

I give it four and a half stars.

Review of ‘The Donut Shop Murder’

Posted on Updated on

Detroit Homicide Detective Jill Zanos and her partner, Detective Albert Wong, are called to the scene where a young woman is found dead, shot in the head at close ring. As they investigate, the suspects keep piling up, each shown to be at the scene around the time of the murder, and each with a motive, but how do they separate the wheat from the chaff, and nab the true murderer? One way, a rather unorthodox one at that, is Jill’s ‘gift’ bestowed upon her by her mystic Greek grandmother, and as they work methodically through the case, her ‘gift’ keeps pulling her in different directions.

 

The Donut Shop Murder by Suzanne Jenkins is a short read, but, man oh man, is it riveting. False trail after false trail, clues sprinkled like Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs lead them up one false trail and down another, until, BINGO, Jill figures it out. Even she is unsure just how her gift works, and believe me, you’ll be surprised at the conclusion.

 

This one is one of the best one-hour reads I’ve encountered so far this year, and I recommend it highly for all mystery fans. An easy one to give five stars to.

Review of ‘Sourdough Wars’

Posted on Updated on

Bread, aka, money, is one of the reasons people kill. But, in Sourdough Wars by Julie Smith, it’s the actual come-from-an-oven type of bread that is the motive for murder. The heir to a sourdough empire is murdered on the eve of auctioning off his cryo-frozen sourdough starter. Lawyer Rebecca Schwartz and her partner decide to represent the estate of the deceased and, oh by the way, try to find out who killed him.

Sourdough Wars by Julie Smith is a tongue-in-cheek cozy mystery that rises up from page one and envelopes you in the aroma of good food and even better story-telling. An eclectic cast of characters, and the author knows how to put them through their paces to keep you entertained page after delightful page.

Three cheers and five stars for this book.

Review of ‘Murder in Hyde Park’

Posted on Updated on

DCI Isaac Cook is at a critical point in his relationship with his fiancée, Jenny, when an unidentified corpse is found in a local park. Personal plans have to be put on hold when there’s a murder to be solved. Isaac and his team pull out all the stops to ID the John Doe, but when they do, the mystery only deepens. They discover that the dead man had been working as an escort under one name, but was actually someone else entirely, and was involved with a married woman whose previous lover died under questionable circumstances, and who is married to a shady defense contractor who is very possessive.

 

Intrigued? Well you should be. Murder in Hyde Park by Phillip Strang is yet another fantastic offering in the DCI Cook series, about the British-Jamaican police inspector who has to fight internal police bureaucracy and politics as much as he has to fight crime. Despite all obstacles, false trails, and red herrings, though, Isaac and his crew persistently unravel the tangled threads of the crime until they end up at the door of the killer.

 

If you are, like me, a fan of this series, you’ll be taking action right now to get this one. If you’ve not read them before, as soon as you finish this one, go back to book one and start educating yourself.

 

Mystery at its best. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I’m a great fan of the character, so I can’t say in all honesty that my review is totally unbiased. It is honest, though. I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Murder of a Silent Man’

Posted on Updated on

Octogenarian property tycoon Gilbert Lawrence has been a recluse for thirty years since the disappearance of his wife, with his only contacts with the outside world through his solicitor, Leonard Dundas and his housekeeper. When he’s found stabbed to death in his front garden, DCI Isaac Cook and his team are left with a crime that has murky motives and no shortage of suspects, but no way to point a conclusive finger at any of them.

Murder of a Silent Man by Phillip Strang continues the riveting saga of DCI Cook and his ability to balance the demands of the police bureaucracy while maintaining his professional integrity. A story that moves with a sometimes measured, sometimes erratic pace as more bodies start cropping up and the hand of organized crime reveals itself. The trail to the killer moves in a serpentine way, uncovering other evils along the way until it ends at the most unlikely destination.

If this is the first DCI Cook mystery you’ve read, you’ll be motivated to go back and read earlier books in the series, but if, like me, you’re a fan of this character, you’ll just be satisfied that all is right with the world.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book. I loved it, and I can guarantee that you will as well. Another five stars for Strang and his amazing cast of characters.

Review of ‘The Coven Murders’

Posted on Updated on

The skeleton of a young woman, stabbed to death by a single blow to the abdomen some twenty-plus years earlier, is found in a shallow grave near an old abandoned church in Northern Ireland. Then, assistant pathologist Andrew Jones meets a mysterious young woman in a café, and later her wealthy industrialist father and his wife are found dead in their home, single stab wounds to the abdomen. Can murders more than twenty years apart be related or is it just a coincidence. Chief Inspector Jim Sheehan doesn’t believe in coincidences. He also doesn’t believe in the actual existence of evil spirits, but as the case unfolds, his beliefs are shaken to the core.

The Coven Murders by Brian O’Hare is a chilling mystery/thriller, featuring good solid police work, exciting confrontations, and a bit of the supernatural that will keep you flipping pages until the stunning surprise ending. I’ve read other Inspector Sheehan mysteries, and enjoyed them, but this one leaves its predecessors in the dust.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. Loved it. I give it four and a half stars.

Review of ‘Murder Has No Guilt’

Posted on Updated on

A gunman walks into a high-end London hair salon and opens fire, killing the owner, two staff members, and five customers. For DCI Isaac Cook and his team, the race is on to find the killer, but they must start with a relatively blank slate. At first, there’s no motive, but as they begin to look under the rug, they find much trash: a ruthless Romanian gangster and his henchmen, a Russian oligarch with an impeccable reputation in England, but who heads one of Russia’s top mobs, and assorted other bits of flotsam and jetsam of England’s criminal underworld, all come together in a maze that foreshadows a possible gang war, and more blood on the streets.

Cook and his crew not only have to deal with the criminal bad guys, but with the bureaucratic and sneaky weasels in their own organization, who are more interested in making points than solving crimes.

Murder Has No Guilt by Phillip Strang is another outstanding chapter in the adventures and misadventures of the indomitable DCI and his band of merry men and women, as they face danger and duplicity with their usual dogged persistence until the guilty—or most of the guilty—are brought to justice.

I’m a fan of this series, which never disappoints, nor does it become boring, with each story building on the last and keeping you reading until the end.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I give it five stars without hesitation.

Review of ‘Driven to Death’

Posted on Updated on

After her husband is killed in an auto accident, Bex Wynter leaves her job as a homicide detective at NYPD and heads to London where she’s been hired to head a new division within the London Metropolitan Police. Even before she can unpack her bags, the day she arrives in fact, she’s assigned the task of determining whether or not an auto fatality involving a young girl and the errant son of an English VIP was an accident or murder. Her life is complicated by the high-profile nature of the case, the mess that is her own life, and a co-worker who resents an American being brought in over him to head a unit which he feels should be his to lead.

Driven to Death by Elleby Harper is a fascinating short novel, novella, that moves with the precision of a Swiss watch and the inexorable force of a hurricane, following the actions of a diverse and interesting cast of characters as they tackle a situation in which the main perpetrator is dead, and thus beyond the law, but in the interests of justice, the case must be resolved. The author sets up the twist ending very well, but it still came as a shocker.

A received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review. A very well done book.  I give it four stars.

Review of ‘The Plant Lady Grows a Pear’

Posted on Updated on

Eden Tywyn, plant lady at Packard Falls’ Cambridge Mall, hopes she can finally get some rest. Her back-from-the-dead husband, Calib, after assaulting her, is finally behind bars, facing a long prison sentence on federal fraud counts, and she and her friend, Veronique, have survived being kidnapped and nearly killed. But, along with a hangover, she is depressed, because her vindictive mother-in-law, Camille Thorne, continues to be a thorn in her side. Camille is determined to develop the mall for profit and blames Eden and Veronique for blocking her. In addition, she seems to be engaged in a personal vendetta against Eden.

The Plant Lady Grows a Pear by Gwen Pankhurst is the third book in the Plant Lady series, following the misadventures of Eden and her eclectic set of friends as they face off against unbridled greed backed by great wealth. Action, introspection, and evil deeds are woven in a tapestry of entertaining reading—and, for dog lovers, a valiant dog who saves Eden’s life in more way than one.

This series just keeps getting better. I particularly like how the author wraps up most of the loose ends of the story; yet leaves an opening for further adventure. I received and advance reader copy of this book.

Another five-star presentation by Pankhurst.

Review of ‘Suitcase Girl’

Posted on Updated on

When a young girl is left in a suitcase outside the FBI building in San Francisco, FBI agent Abby Kane is intrigued—not just at the unusual way the girl was delivered, but because she is a carbon copy of Abby at that age, almost a clone. Even though there’s no clear FBI interest in the case, Abby arranges to get custody of the girl in order to find out what’s going on, and what she finds has chilling implications, for national security, and for Abby’s own survival.

Suitcase Girl by Ty Hutchinson is a continuation of the Abby Kane mystery series, and also book one of a trilogy that promises even more exciting adventures. Follow Abby as she turns over rock after rock, finding slimy, frightening things under each one.

This one will cause you sleepless nights, and not just from the fact that it’s hard to put down once you start reading. The cliffhanger ending is a bit of a turn-off, but as disappointing as it is, I’m still curious to find out what happens next.

I give it four stars. It would have been five if not for the cliffhanger ending.

Review of ‘Death by a Dead Man’s Hand’

Posted on Updated on

Released after serving 17 years for the murder of his brother after a gold heist gone awry—from which half the loot was never recovered—Ethan Mitchel is killed in a church, and the evidence initially indicates that his murderer is his dead brother. DCI Keith Tremayne is not fooled. He knows that dead men don’t kill. The problem, though, is that he has too many possible suspects, and no real evidence against any of them.

Death by a Dead Man’s Hand by Phillip Strang is another offering in the DCI Tremayne series, and it continues the tradition of good British mysteries. Good descriptions of police procedure without burdening the reader with excessive detail, and well-developed characters with whom we can relate. Oh, and a well-plotted, tightly paced story that holds your interest for page after page.

I received a free copy of this book. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Courage Lost’

Posted on Updated on

Retired college professor turned PI Ray Courage is hired by an attorney to find the son of a billionaire couple who’s been missing for twenty years. As he begins to dig, and eventually discovers that the missing heir is dead, Ray unearths an even murkier mystery, one that, if he’s not careful could end up with him being dead.

Courage Lost by R. Scott Mackey is yet another offering in the Ray Courage mystery series, and it’s just as good, if not better than the previous stories. Follow Ray as he burrows into a devious plot that twists and turns from central California to Honduras and back, and he has to deal with skeptical cops, murderous street gangs, and greedy grifters—all the while trying to make sense of his arid love life. This one’s a page-turner that you won’t want to miss.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. It’s a five-star one for sure.

Review of ‘Death at Coombe Farm’

Posted on Updated on

The view was idyllic, but with a body that’s been trampled by horses, DI Keith Tremayne is not appreciating it. There’s more in the village of Coombe than meets the eye, and he’s determined to get to the bottom of it. Death at Coombe Farm by Phillip Strang is another offering in the DI Tremayne series that will keep you thrilled from the very first page. The author has an amazing ability to pack tons of procedural details and background information into the story in a way that’s interesting rather than boring, and keeps the reader guessing until Tremayne eventually stumbles—plods—into the truth.

I received a complimentary copy of this book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Three Strikes, You’re Dead’

Posted on Updated on

At a rustic resort outside Leavenworth, Washington, PI Eddie Shoes is looking forward to enjoying a weekend getaway with her mother, Chava. Out for jog, she runs across an injured man. Then a forest fire starts, and the man dies before she can get him to safety, and she comes very close to being consumed by the fire herself. Before he died, though, he asked her to find his ‘abducted’ daughter. What is Eddie to do? In order to honor the dying man’s request, she has to defy local law enforcement, and work with her father, a mob ‘clean-up’ man. But, that’s Eddie, she always keeps a promise, even if it kills her.

Three Strikes, You’re Dead by Elena Hartwell is an exciting read. Eddie’s race against the all-consuming flames was so deftly written I could feel the heat, and boy, does this author know how to throw curve balls in the clue department. There was no cheating, though, because the real culprits were introduced early. It’s just that she planted enough false, but credible, clues to keep you looking in the wrong direction.

As I said, it’s an exciting and fun read (well, I didn’t say fun, at first, but it was). Don’t miss this one. I received a complimentary copy of this book. I give it four and a half stars.

Strangely, for the second time, Amazon.com is rejecting reviews of a book, with the notice that there was strange reviewing behavior. I wonder if this has to do with the publisher or the author. I’d appreciate hearing from any readers who’ve had similar experiences.

Review of ‘One Shot’

Posted on Updated on

Jack Shot is a young man without a care in the world. He has a job as a bartender, lives in one room above the bar, and his biggest challenge is whether or not to let his beautiful co-worker know that he has the hots for her. Then, his life takes a left turn and is never the same. A poem he wrote for his co-worker has changed into an enigmatic riddle. When the riddle later is shown to correspond to real life events, Jack finds that he’s somehow been tapped to be made privy to future events, which he must stop, or people will die. As the mystery deepens, he finds that he must confront demons of his past to stop the most horrific event, and he only gets one shot at it.

One Shot by Brian Gates is, in a word, entertaining and amusing—no, wait, that’s three words, or two if you ignore the ‘and.’ Confused? This story will do that to you. Funny and frightening in turn, it’ll keep your interest right up to the last word of the last page (actually, the period, which is the last thing in the book). Gates knows how to pique your interest and keep you guessing—and reading.

Received a free copy of this book. Loved it.

For some strange reason, I was unable to post a review on Amazon.com–something about possible strange review behavior. Not sure what’s happening, but hope it won’t affect availability of what I found to be a thoroughly entertaining read.

I give it five stars.

Review of ‘Puzzle of Death’

Posted on Updated on

On the eve of the untimely demise of an unpleasant, puzzle-loving scientist, envelopes containing puzzle pieces, and a challenge to locate a missing chemical formula and ten million dollars he’s taken from his bank and hidden somewhere are sent to a number of people. But, then, the letter recipients begin to turn up dead, killed by an unknown assailant, or assailants. One of the recipients is Jake Wade, a PI with a checkered record and a propensity to hit back at anyone threatening him.

The action starts with a bang, literally, as a bullying football player is dispatched, and just keeps getting louder and bloodier with each turn of the page, and throughout, Wade is right in the thick of things, trying to find the missing loot, stay one step ahead of whoever is trying to kill him, and investigating the killings, including the one he’s responsible for.

Sound confusing? It is, but in a nice way. Puzzle of Death by Donahue B. Silvis is an action story with so many twists, turns, red herrings, and counterplots, you almost need to keep a chart to keep from losing your place. An anti-hero main character with almost as many flaws as the bad guys—and gals—he’s chasing, that you’ll nonetheless cheer for. A tantalizing story, marred only by the author’s tendency in places to mix past and present tense in the same sentence—I can forgive him for that, I suppose, but hope he’ll take it to heart and not do it in future offerings.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book. I found it a bit choppy in places; not unusual for a first novel, and not a fatal flaw. I give it three and a half stars for effort.

Readers of this blog who would like to enter a raffle for a chance at winning a free copy of the book are invited to go to:

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e23ee71d1130/

Review of ‘Murder in Notting Hill’

Posted on Updated on

Two women are murdered, in the same manner, within an hour of each other. One, a wealthy white socialite in upscale Holland Park, the other, a black cleaning woman in the crime-riddled, working class neighborhood of Notting Hill. DCI Isaac Cook knows the two crimes are connected, but is pressed to determine how. He and his team have to deal with the area’s street gangs, the bizarre secrets of the upper crust, and the byzantine maneuvering of London’s police hierarchy, as bodies begin to accumulate.

Murder in Notting Hill by Phillip Strang brings DCI Cook and his team back with a vengeance, as the erstwhile homicide investigator navigates the murky waters of gang warfare, class conflict, and the intrigues within the police bureaucracy. The action moves at a frenetic pace, as Cook and his crew engage in a multi-front struggle to bring the guilty to justice—regardless of their station or class.

This book is, like the first five in this series, a real page-turner, mixing police procedure with insightful looks into the personal lives of the protagonists. I received a free copy of this book, and I give it a solid four stars.

Review of ‘Death and the Lucky Man’

Posted on Updated on

Alan Winters came from a not-so-lucky family, with a neglectful mother, and brothers in prison. His luck seemed to turn, though, when he won 68 million pounds in the lottery—but, not for long. Alan ended up naked, with his throat slashed, on the Altar Stone at Stonehenge. DCI Keith Tremayne and his partner, DS Clare Yarwood investigate the strange death, each having also to face pasts that in some ways were best forgotten.

Death and the Lucky Man by Phillip Strang is another fascinating adventure with Tremayne and Yarwood and the denizens of their working-class English environment. The author takes you effectively behind the curtain in a story that will delight.

I received a free copy of this book. I give it five stars.