Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Splintered" by Kelly Miller

28580982"Finally gathering some courage, Maddy tried to memorize his face. She concentrated on the the type of questions the cop who'd created the sketch at the police station had asked her. The eyes were close together. He had freckles on a short stub nose, ears that jutted out a bit. He looked like a goofy kid, but older."......

This thriller begins on a late September day with a teenage girl named Maddy. As a 15 year old girl might do, she sets out to get her absentee fathers attention with a made up story. Her plan doesn't go well and she ends up being the talk of the school. She relishes the attention. The problem is devastating though when Maddy is caught in her lie and the media publishes her story.

Out there a man is watching. Hank Fry and his brother, Daniel, have had a rather hard life, sons of a murderer. Hank thinks Maddy needs to be taught a lesson only he can give her. A chilling part in the chapter where Hank decides Maddy is the girl for him.

When Maddy first set out with her plan, Detective Terrance Wallace was investigating. Now she's missing and Wallace is reluctant to look for her. Not everyone believes she's really missing, maybe another stunt on her part. This time it's real. Can anyone save her? Even if she lives, the horror of what's happening is something everyone who loves her will have to deal with.

Interestingly told from five different characters points of views: Maddy and her mom, Detective Wallace, a family friend that is also a detective, Emma Parker,and Hank, her abductor. I loved and disliked some of the characters, well written and realistic. Told in a carefully weaved tale, sometimes graphic and chilling, from the lie to the ugly truth. Page turner to the very end!

Thank you Kelly Miller.

"Deep Dark" by Laura Griffin


"The words hit her like a slap. And regrets flooded her mind again. April was dead. And Laney should have followed up. She'd warned April about the security breach, but then she'd basically checked it off her list and forgotten about it. She should have done more. If she'd pressed the issue, April might have taken more steps to protect herself and she might be alive right now.".......

Buy "Deep Dark" on Amazon May 24th: pre-order here!

Detective Reed Novak and partner Jay Wallace are investigating a young woman's death. Someone sends Reed mysterious texts that leads him to a dating site April was using before she was murdered.

Working as a hacker for a cyber investigation unit, Delphi Center, Laney Knox searches the dark side of the Internet for the evil that lurks there. This new case that the Austin PD is investigating is similar to her own horrible attack that was never solved. She was also friends with April.

In this romantic thriller Laney sends Reed in the right direction, but will she assist him or resist him? She'll either be helping him or alerting the killer that she's still around. Can Reed protect her? Laney is so much younger than Reed, it's a deterrent for him. Secrets kept may ruin things before they can get started.

The story gets exciting when ties are discovered to other murders. Laney's inability to follow orders will endanger her life. Can she save herself? Can Reed? Others will also be in danger unless this killer is captured.

This is the 10th book in the "Tracers" series. Definitely a stand alone story line. A nice mix of mystery with a little romance. I prefer a crime over romance story. I'm glad I read this in spite of my preferences. Having an open mind often leads to things possibly overlooked. Great story with plenty of action, contemporary ideas involving online dating and the dark side of the Internet.

Thank you Laura Griffin, Netgalley, and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books

"The Exiled" by Christopher Charles

"Since he'd left New York, Raney's professional life consisted largely of cases that solved themselves: meth lab explosions, domestics so routine he couldn't remember which spouse went with which murderer. The past eighteen years were not the future he'd once imagined. He'd been exiled from the lives and the work he valued most, though exile wasn't the right word: he'd long stopped pretending he had no choice.".....

Detective Wes Raney has a new life. One far from the streets of New York where he lost his police career along with everything else. Now working in the middle of nowhere New Mexico, he's got a murder to solve of a rancher and two young people. They're found dead in a bunker on the ranchers land along with some drugs.

The story goes back and forth between Raney's life years ago in New York and the present. Working undercover led to his ultimate downfall. He did what he needed to do to keep his cover but at an awful cost. The things he did back then will tempt him again in his new life. Can he resist?

Raney dives into the lives of the dead rancher, Jack, and his wife Mavis. It's a small town and people know things. The dead teenagers have scary cartel connections. Their deaths aren't likely to be unnoticed. At times the story was shocking. Things turned up you don't see coming.

Is it a drug cartel connection or someone closer to home for Jack and the subsequent murders? Definitely a page turner. The kind of story that you have to know what happens next. This was a great book. Well written, interesting characters. Raney is forever haunted by his past. I'd like to know what happens to Raney in the future. I could see a whole series of this detective.

Thank you Christopher Charles, Netgalley, and Mulholland Books. 

"Before The Fall" by Noah Hawley


"I should have gotten the aunt's number, Scott thinks. But as he does, he wonders what he would do with it. Scott has no right to force his way into their lives. And even if he did, what does he have to offer? The boy is only four, and Scott is a single man approaching fifty, a notorious womanizer, and recovered alcoholic, a struggling artist who's never been able to keep a single lasting relationship. He is nobody's role model. Nobody's hero."............ 

On a foggy summer night 11 people board a plane on Martha's Vineyard. Heading to New York the plane crashes into the ocean. What follows is the tale of 2 survivors. One is just four years old while the other is a man whose life hasn't been so easy. Gripping from the very beginning when Scott saves JJ, and then both of them from certain death in the ocean. 

Two families, a friend, a pilot, co-pilot and the stewardess. David and Maggie Bateman and children Rachel and JJ. Gil, the Batemans's personal security guard. Ben and Sarah Kipling. Scott the painter. These are the people aboard this plane this night. 

The story weaves back and forth with the back stories to those who perished and those that did not. This mystery leads us to how these people came to be together on that fateful night. Was it fate? Was someone behind this or was it truly an accident?

We see what this has done to the two survivors and the way they must deal with life now. Scott Burroughs wasn't wealthy like the other passengers. Four year old, JJ Bateman, came from a family that had money and had been vacationing at Martha's Vineyard with his family. 

Bittersweet as you learn about the families, the lives they lead, and know they will not survive. The stories of who they were and where they were heading in life. There are things in the life of David and Ben that could have caused someone to want either of them dead. Family, friends and crew being collateral damage. Could it have been something else?

I like how the author took us through the things that happened to these people. What lead up to that foggy night, before and after to the survivors. First the crash and then the story. What a descriptive and captivating story line: all the things "Before The Fall."

Thank you Noah Hawley, Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"That Darkness" (A Gardiner and Renner Novel) by Lisa Black

                        Buy "That Darkness" available April 26th on Amazon:click here

"Of course Riley might be completely down with Jack's activities, once he knew of them. But he might not. Too many guys talked a good game but didnt have the stones for follow-through which made it too big a risk to take. Jack had been around outlaws long enough to know the countless ways to get caught, and having a partner hovered near the top of the list.".........

Maggie Gardiner works in the police lab, in Cleveland, Ohio, as a civilian criminalist. Ex wife of a cop, she's working crime scenes and fingerprints. She lives an even keeled kind of life.  A dead body of a young girl turns up in a cemetery. Savagely beaten and abused, but not reported missing. Even though Patty Wildwood is the detective on the case, Maggie finds ways to use her skills to help the investigation.

Jack Renner is a killer, or a vigilante if you believe that he's only killing those that deserve it. Exactly who is Jack, and why has he chosen to be a murderer? I got a surprise when I realized exactly who Jack is. Clever twist to this mystery thriller.

While trailing his criminal prey, Jack discovers 18 girls locked in an apartment. Was the girl in the cemetery from that apartment? Who are they, and is Jack going to be able to save them? Jack and Magie are about to cross paths. Jack has another agenda, that is if he doesn't get caught.

I enjoyed this story line. Steady pace with surprising twists and turns right until the end.

Thank you Lisa Black, Netgalley and Kensington Books.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

"Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle" by Heera Datta

"Yet, twenty-one years after they wed, Charles Dickens very publicly separated from her, denouncing her as an unfit mother and wife. He removed her from his home, his life, and the lives of his children. He never saw her again, not even when their son, Walter, died at the age of twenty three in faraway India."..........

Charles Dickens held the world on his word. His wife, Catherine, and their ten children were his world. That is until he decided to take up with another woman. So Charles set up a way to let his family go, force people to take sides and leave Catherine as if he never cared for her.

The story written covers both fact and fiction. Fact- from letters that Charles had written to Catherine at one time. Her "proof" that he did love her once. Fiction- as to what Catherine did, and how she actually handled the betrayal behind closed doors.  The letters give her comfort to what once was. She lives for the hope that he'll change his mind and come for her, after sending her away from the family home.

It was an interesting tale, both sad and bittersweet. The ultimate betrayal by a husband and father, yet the world loved him, and most likely believed every printed word. Catherine had little on her side. A time in history, the mid 1800's, that would have found little sympathy for a woman said to be incompetent as a wife and mother.  Sad to think she worried that her children would turn on her also and hate her. Her own family chose sides. One son, Charley, chose to remain with her.

I can't imagine a more miserable existence. To be a devoted wife and mother, and then to suddenly have none of the things you did daily for your family in your life. The grief must have been unbearable for this woman. Written in a way that truly pulls at your emotions, especially as a wife and mother.  What a sad way this woman's life played out.

I enjoyed this unique story. I learned something about a subject I previously had no knowledge of. I did look up some information on Catherine Dickens to see how closely this story line followed her life. While there is no way to know exactly how she acted or the things she said, I have little doubt that her story played out closely along these lines.

Thank you Herra Datta

Friday, April 15, 2016

"In Gallup, Greed" A Cinnamon/Burro New Mexico Mystery Book 6 by Tower Lowe

"Lonnie's death shocked Alice, but she saw an opportunity to bring her newfound "family" and her old friend Mirage together. Alice persuaded Burro and Cinnamon to get involved in the Gallup murder so they could meet Mirage and find out more about Momma. In the younger Cinnamon, Alice saw a chance to find a piece of her past by finding the woman who knew her father best.".........

This mystery story takes place in Gallup, New Mexico. Mirage wakes in an alley from a black out to find her brother, Lonnie, has been stabbed to death. Could she have done it? If it wasn't her, who would do such a thing? Does the native art gallery they worked in play a part in his death?

Jerry had opened Redemption Gallery as a way to help his native friends gain recognition and money with their artwork. We're there ulterior motives? Does Jerry perhaps hold the real truth as to what happened to Lonnie?

Cinnamon and Burro, private investigators, are on the hunt for the murderer. The suspect list is long and spirits are communicating. Burro has visions. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, still he is accurate in what he sees, although he may not know the exact meaning at first. 

Cinnamon is searching for her mother, also named Cinnamon. All leads have taken her to New Mexico. So while working other cases, they continue the hunt for Cinnamon's mother. Turns out Mirage has a past connection to Cinnamon senior. It's also an incentive to Cinnamon that perhaps Mirage can fill in missing information on her mother. 

Steady paced with interesting places and people. Will Lonnie's murder be solved? Will Cinnamon find "momma?" There are other books in this series, but it is a stand alone. I think with each book you develop an understanding and connection to these characters. It's what makes me love series reading. A great characters life doesn't have to end when the story does. I haven't read the others yet but it does make me curious as to the details and development of Cinnamon and her mother, and friends. 

Thank you Tower Lowe

Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Quirky Essays for Quirky People" by Barbara Venkataraman

"Like Charlie Brown, my dad kept trying to kick that football only to have the house yank it away at the last minute, just like Lucy. The most perplexing thing was my dad's crazy optimism that this time would be different. Failure was not an option in his mind, but it had become an expectation in ours. We braced ourselves for the worst and, sure enough, one day it arrived..."  from "A Trip To The Hardware Store"

This collection of essays were so entertaining! Amusing and funny, very unique and a nice read from the author of the "Jamie Quinn Mysteries" I recently reviewed. I knew that reading more by this author would be a win all around.

From the "A Trip To The Hardware Store" to "Nightmare In A Sleep Clinic," I guarantee you'll find something to smile about.  Clever and witty,  well worth reading this collection.  Even a bittersweet one that covers what it's like when you turn your day over to caring for an elderly parent. ("Where Did The Time Go.") Subjects ranging from family to careers, cooking and kitchen gadgets and a few everyday life things in-between.

My favorite essay here was " I'm Not Talking About You Of Course." If you own a pet, know a pet, or your neighbor has a pet, you might want to read this.  The stories flow easily from one to the next, and I read this in one afternoon. So if you have a little free time, sit in your favorite reading spot and grab your favorite drink, and enjoy this quirky  essay collection. Surely you'll relate to something in this book, if not many of the stories. It will make you think, reminisce, or just remind you of something in your life. Pleasant memories to be awakened. 

Thank you Barbara Venkataraman

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"The Window Washer" by Eric Rill

"Look, you had some bad luck-I mean what with your wife and kid dying, " Rosa said. "I'm sorry for that." "I'm doing fine," Nick said quickly. " You ain't doin fine washing frigging windows when you was running a hotel like the Crown." " Let's leave my personal life out of this, Detective." ......

Nick Grant's life has taken a horrible turn. While their home was being renovated, Nick and his wife, Marcy and 8 year old Billy were staying with Nicks dad. Two days later a house fire claims the lives of Nicks family and there is an unidentified body in the basement. Arson is suspected. Who would do such a thing and why? Or was it a tragic accident that Nick will have to live with? Nick leaves the life he knew to take up a life of drugs and alcohol. Staying in a rental house he owns in a bad neighborhood over run with crime. 

Maggie Parks is an FBI agent working on a case of corruption, money laundering and other illegal activities involving the Pascale mob family and Lawrence Grant, Nicks' dad. She's found her a credible source, but at what cost? Is this behind the fire that took Nicks family?

Large cast of characters, woven into a tale of greed and murder. The innocent pay the price though. Can Nick pull it all together or will the grief overtake his life once and for all? He takes a job as a window washer to try to give himself something to do, besides using crack cocaine and alcohol.  Nick meets Angela while washing windows at an apartment building. In turn it drags Nick into the middle of a dangerous mess between the mob and law enforcement. It's hard to tell who the good guys are. 

As the story unfolds though it is carefully unraveled and the truth revealed. It will lead some to places they'd rather not be going, like witness protection or early retirement. Can Nick start over? Steady pace and a interesting story line. I think it was more about the criminal element than a story straight about Nick and his grief. I still I enjoyed this story of the workings of organized crime and the victims they left as collateral damage.

Thank you Netgalley and Avante Press

Monday, April 11, 2016

"Engaged in Danger" A Jamie Quinn Mystery by Barbara Venkataraman

"I'd suddenly lost my appetite. I knew I was being selfish, but I had my reasons. What if Kip loved Australia so much he never came back? Or what if he came back hating his job more than ever? It  was a no-win situation, but I could see I'd lost this battle before it began. I resigned myself to the inevitable."....

This story starts out where the last one left off. Jamie is finally getting her life together after the loss of her mom. She's found her dad and is hoping for the best in bringing him back to the United States. She's got a great boyfriend, Kip,  and the love of close friends and family. The downside is Kip is heading to Australia for 3 months. What if he doesn't come back, or worse doesn't want to?

Jamie is taking on a tough divorce case. Someone is trying to kill Nan's husband, but she just wants to divorce him. The surprise comes when Jamie finds out exactly who Nan's husband is. It will bring her the chance to work with her best friend, Grace. Will the stress of this case cause a rift in the relationship? Suddenly everything isn't as good as it was.

The adventure and danger begins! Read the tangled web and watch it unravel itself as the lies and corruption is revealed. Will Grace and Jamie still be friends when it's all said and done? Will Nan get her divorce? Their lives will be in danger before it's all over, but who will come to the rescue?

I really like these characters. Well written, with depth that make you like them, love them and want to know more about them. This is the 4th book in this series. I really enjoyed all four of these books so far and look forward to reading more from this author. It's a fun read. Not too overwhelming, or dark as some crime/legal fiction can sometimes be. This is the kind of book you get curled up in a comfortable spot and most likely read in one sitting. Maybe that's why they call them "cozy mysteries!" They are stand alone stories. You could just read any one of them and know what is going on, but why would you only read one when there are 4 great books waiting for you?  There is also a preview of the 5th in the series "Jeopardy in July."

Thank you Barbara Venkataraman

Friday, April 8, 2016

"Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection" Box Set Books 1-3 by Barbara Venkataraman

Book 1: Death by Didgeridoo:

"Moving on to cause of death, the victim, Spike, who doesn't seem to have a last name, was killed by a blow to the head. The murder weapon was a didgeridoo, which was found at the scene." What the hell is a did-ger-i-doo?" "I had to look it up. According to Wikipedia, it's an Australian Aboriginal wind instrument."........

Jamie Quinn is a lawyer in Hollywood Florida. The kind of person everyone wants advice from, but one that doesn't have a whole lot of experience, except with family law. Family turns to her when her autistic cousin, Adam, is accused of murdering a rock star. Even if he didn't do it, he admitted to it. Can Jamie help him? Mom just passed away and things are hard on Jamie.

Adam was taking music lessons from Spike. He's found standing over his body. Is it as open and shut as it appears? Spike has a long list of those who won't miss him, but Adam will. They had a special connection. Maybe Adam can help figure out what happened to his friend, that's if he's not charged with his friends murder. 

We meet Jamie's friends and family in this first book. Helping Adam and her aunt may be what Jamie needs to pull her out of her grief and back into life. This is the first book in the three book box series of "Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection."
Book 2: The Case of the Killer Divorce:

In this book Jamie is back on her feet and practicing family law again. Becca and Joe are in the middle of a divorce. Becca and Joe can't seem to agree on much of anything. Jamie seeing the struggle over the children,  reminds her of her own father that she never met. With the help of her friend, Duke, perhaps she can have the private investigator track him down for her. 

Her friends Grace and Susan, along with her aunt are always there for her and ready to help with both personal and business things.

Tragedy strikes and Becca finds herself in a bad position. Was it murder or an accident? Can Jamie help Becca now? Can Jamie find her long lost dad? He was last seen being deported to another country. You'll have to read these stories and find out! What a great ending! I loved this story. My favorite of the three in this collection.
Book 3: Peril in the Park:

Jamie returns this time with a new love in her life. Kip is the director of the local parks, and an old high school flame rekindled. Kip is having some work issues with some disgruntled employees and vandalism. Kip disappears at the same time a body is discovered in the park. Is it Kip? Duke, her private investigator and friend is on the case to help her. Can they find him or is it already too late?

What is the current status on Jamie's dad? Has contact been made?

This was a fun read, and it was nice to have all 3 books to read at once. I like a good series. The characters were fun and entertaining. The story lines were equally interesting and quirky. Some days its good to read something with enough substance to interest you but not so dark that it drags you down. This is the kind of read you can get comfortable and enjoy. 

There is also a preview of the next Jamie Quinn Mystery, "Engaged in Danger." I'm looking forward to continuing this series. 

Thank you Barbara Venkataraman

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"Need To Find You" by Joseph Souza

                                       Buy "Need To Find You" now on Amazon: click here

"Excitement swelled within her as she turned over the last sheet. She marveled that she nearly had it all saved on her phone. Once she returned home, she planned on transferring the files to her computer and being done with that train wreck of a security guard, No more foot-long sandwiches, greasy chips, and begging for eight balls of crack from her mother's crazy ex-boyfriend. Then the real work could begin...

This crime novel opens in Portland, Maine with a bold girl, Mikiela, bribing her way into a place to photo copy a dead authors book.  Once she's done, she is confronted by someone who wants her phone, and what she's copied onto it. She manages to pass it off to her new friend Yaz before she's violently attacked.

Yaz discovers what Mikiela has on her phone. Why does it seem everyone is looking for this hidden book? Yaz has a past and scars of her own to deal with. This new opportunity gives her a chance to seek some revenge. It seems the hidden book has information that will ruin some influential lives, including the original author's, Robert Cornish. Yaz finds herself on the run, trying to protect herself and what she has in her possession. Perhaps she can use it to her advantage,  and exact the revenge her soul is searching for.

On the other end of this is an ex-cop, Whip Billings. Information in that book could hurt a lot of things should it come to light,  and Whip becomes involved in the search.  Whip is asked to search for Mikiela. As far as Yaz goes, there are others who are now on the hunt for the drum playing punk rocker, including someone called "The Viking".  Not only is Yaz familiar with him, but Whip is also having nightmares about this guy. Whip has a lot of his own things going on that he's trying to cope with, including the reasons that brought him back to his childhood home, and the things that drove him away.

I was hooked into the story almost immediately. Gritty, street like, with secrets and truths to be revealed. A tale of revenge and retribution. Characters written with a depth that makes you want to know more, and will keep you turning those pages.  All roads seem to lead to "The Viking." Corruption is weaved throughout. Who can you trust? Can Mikiela be found before it's too late? Will Yaz get her revenge or even survive? What will become of Whip? What does Robert Cornish lost book have in it that is causing everyone to be on a dark road headed to hell?

Thank you Joseph Souza

Saturday, April 2, 2016

"The Deepest Wound" by Rick Reed

"Jack searched for the right words and then said, " This one matches some particulars from Harrisburg and some from ours. So far none of ours had been left out in the open." He kept spinning the idea out. "Nina is the center of this. I'm sure of it. She's the only one the killer tried to hide. We haven't found any of the kill locations, but at Nina's house we found a lot of blood. That's the only time he screwed up. I've been asking myself why, and the answer I keep getting is that the killer knew Nina. She was special."......

Jack Murphy, my favorite cop, is back in this installment of this thrilling series. Body parts have shown up in the local landfill and Detective Murphy is on the case, along with partner Liddell Blanchard. When the head and arm of a woman are identified it hits close to home for Jack and his ex wife Katy. She's about to be married, but is it going to happen? Who killed Nina Parsons, and how is she involved with Katy and Jack's life? There are more heads, and then bodies, turning up in other places. Can Jack find out how it's all connected?

Katy's announced her engagement to chief deputy prosecutor, Eric Manson,  but Jack is less than thrilled. Even though the story line is gruesome there is a sense of humor the detectives use to deal with the situations at hand. Particularly amusing is Jack's thoughts about Eric. Eric is somehow involved with Nina, even if it's the fact they were working together out of the prosecutor's office. Or is it something more he had going on?  Powerful political types seem to be interested when they discover the identity of Nina.  Jack is going to find out one way or the other what Eric's part is. Maybe Jack can keep Katy from marrying this guy after all. 

Of course all the problems in Jack's life are not caused by the killers he deals with. Often his issues are much closer to home and among those who run the department. Jack has a way of ruffling co-workers and going against the grain on a regular basis. It's one of the charming qualities I love about this character that keeps me coming back for these books.  Jack isn't like everyone else. His hard edges are what gets the job done when others can't figure it out.

In the end Jack puts everything together, but not without consequences for those he loves.  I like how it ended! Definitely a set up for the next book in the series. This is the third in the "Jack Murphy" series. I was lucky enough to read and review the first two. See my reviews for "The Cruelest Cut" and "The Coldest Fear." I was immediately in love with this series! A fast action; cop/serial killer/suspense/ thriller. This book was previously released as "Final Justice." Written by an ex-cop with all the knowledge to make this series extremely realistic and thrilling.

Thank you Netgalley and Kensington Publishing