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Archive for April, 2017

Live by Night: A Novel by Dennis Lehane (Review #2)

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

LIve by NightLive by Night by Dennis Lehane is a 2012 William Morrow publication.

At the age of thirteen Joe Coughlin began his ascension of the organized crime ladder. He was born the third son of Thomas Coughlin, a well-respected Boston police captain. Joe’s life of crime began by knocking off paper stands with the Bartolo brothers.

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At the age of twenty, Joe met Emma Gould during the robbery of a speakeasy owned by Albert White. Joe’s boss Tom Hickey and White were heated rivals in the bootlegging business. This was the turning point to Joe’s intensification into the gangster world. A world that was fueled by prohibition and the underworld of bootlegging. Joe was an excellent business man with a compassion seldom seen in a gangster. During this time, criminal gangs were rampant and ethnic prejudices ran high. Rumrunning prospered from the streets of Boston, Massachusetts, crawling with Irish and Italians, to the backwaters of Ybor City and Tampa Florida, with Cubans and Latino’s. Joe’s bootlegging and cigar businesses of Ybor became his life. But the mob bosses make the decisions and give the orders of how you live and if you survive. Read the rest of this entry »

Most Dangerous Place: A Jack Swyteck Novel by James Grippando

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Most Dangerous PlaceFrom a fairly simple easy beginning this one grows into a tremendous legal battle and finger pointing plus repetitive denials.

Jack Swytek, the legal whiz, is picking up his friend Keith Ingraham at the Miami airport. Along with Keith making the flight from Hong Kong is Isa Bornelli (his wife) and their young daughter. The daughter is the reason for the return as she has some very difficult surgery to be performed which is to help her recapture some amount of hearing since she was born with none.

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However right from the get-go the story line switches from the daughter to the mother as two police officers stop the group as they are leaving the terminal. They place Isa under arrest for the murder of Gabriel Sosa. This murder had taken place many years ago when Isa was in college but even when it had first worked its way up into the Judicial system Isa was never in the States. She lived with Keith who worked as a high powered banker in Hong Kong but they traveled all over the world with his job. So Isa had never been back to the states for any period of time. This time however the Miami-Dade Police Department knew of her arrival (don’t you wonder how??) and they put her into custody. Read the rest of this entry »

Tightening the Threads (A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery) by Lea Wait

Reviewed by Teri Davis

A true friend is there when you need them.

Tightening the ThreadsSarah Byrne is in a situation where she needs the friendship of Angie Curtis. The two have discovered their mutual love of antiques and needlepoint.
Sarah recently found her real heritage. Since a single-mother in Australia raised her, she valued her short time with her. When her mother died, she moved in with her grandmother in England. It was wonderful for her to be in a loving relationship again. Fortunately, her grandmother also shared the information leading her to her silent father in Maine. This was the first time his identity was revealed to her. Her plan was to again move to another continent to meet her father. Unfortunately, he died just months earlier.

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Sarah discovered a love for her new home, Haven Harbor, Maine and decided to open her antique business in her new home, the home of her father.
How does anyone inform the surviving members that she is also part of the family?

Finding her uncle without revealing her true identity was difficult, but Ted Lawrence quickly figured out her true identity. Ted wisely insisted on a DNA test as proof for the rest of his family. This wasn’t for either Ted or Sarah but the expected disbelief and doubt from Ted’s children.

Ted has cancer and knows that he does not have long to live. He has called his children together. Ted plans a family reunion including each of his three children’s families. His hope is to mend fences, reveal then new relative and to discuss his intended changes to the will. His expectations quickly become an impossible task.

Ted’s father, Robert Lawrence had been an outstanding artist. Teaching many of the techniques to Ted as he grew. Ted is now a reputable artist but will never be the legend of his father.

Sarah is apprehensive about meeting Ted’s three grown children. She knows that the do not get along and their lives take them in varying directions. For support, her friend Angie agrees to go along and assist in any way she can. So how would you react to a new will that is now going to include a new cousin? Apparently, this means that each of them will now receive less inheritance.

Surprisingly Ted dies from possibly eating a bad clam. Did one of his children purposely give him a clam from a restricted area? Did Ted complete the new will? What will happen to the paintings he gave to Sarah?

Lea Wait writes from what she knows. She lives on the Maine coast and is a fourth generation antiques dealer, much like her characters. Her mystery series, Shadows Antique Print have been nominated for the Agatha awards.
Tightening the Threads is a fast-paced cozy mystery that is fun to read. The story is viewed through Angie’s eyes as she unweaves the complex lives of Ted and his children. As an outsider, she does not have the long history of their animosity towards each other.

Tightening the Threads is a fun, quick, and enchanting mystery woven into a marvelous tapestry.

Rain Gods: A Novel (A Holland Family Novel) by James Lee Burke

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Rain GodsI suppose Mr. Burke has left New Orleans to write about a happening in Texas. Usually he is in Louisiana but no matter because wherever he sits up a story it all works out! And Rain Gods is proof of that.

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Hackberry Holland, a Texas sheriff, responds to a 911 call and finds a mass grave. Upon digging into the spot he discovers nine women who have been shot to death by what appears to be a machine gun. Closer examination later by the coroner shows that they each were carrying a plastic bag of drugs in their stomach. The 911 call happened to come from a former GI who heard the shooting and went too late to the scene. He and his girlfriend then decided to head out because of what they feared would happen next. Read the rest of this entry »

Through a Yellow Wood (Catskill Mountains Mysteries Book 2) by Carolyn J. Rose

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Through a Yellow Wood‘She was a reminder that there are a hundred little forks in our roads every day and each choice can affect the next one. If we don’t think before we step, we might end up a long way from where we intended to be – from where we wanted to be.’

Sometimes you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Imagine a small New England town where it seems as if everyone is related to each other.

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Dan Stone is asked to check-in on Clarence Wolven, his mother’s second cousin. Since Clarence always came into town in the first, he is now two days overdue, and that was odd for him. Also, his phone line is dead.

Dan finds Clarence dead on his front steps. Also dead are the dogs Clarence was training, except for one small pup who is hiding in the back of his kennel.
Dan arranges the funeral since Clarence had no close relatives and took the dog to the vet, who amputates a leg. Read the rest of this entry »

The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Cold MoonMr. Deaver has put a full load into the works this time for Lincoln Rhyme. Rhyme is the paralyzed former New York Police officer now working as a homebound investigator for the NYPD. He works with his female aide, Amelia Sachs, who is still employed by the NYPD and several other aides. Most of their work is centered around Rhyme’s meticulous and very observant style. He uses those assets from his wheelchair while the others patrol the various crime scenes and feed him info as they probe.

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This time he is locked in with the Watchmaker, a very sharp bad guy, who is also deeply into clocks and watches. These he uses in his crimes and usually leaves one of some sort at the scene of the crime.

In the beginning the Watchmaker and his accomplice are targeting a group of people who have a strange sort of relationship. He appears to be killing them, and then after leaving various clues moves on to the next. With the help of Sachs, other investigators, and Kathryn Dance they are able to solve the first Watchmaker case or so they think. Read the rest of this entry »

Kale to the Queen: A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery by Nell Hampton

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Kale to the QueenThe basic plot of Kale to the Queen is this. The protagonist, Carrie Ann Cole, has an incredible bit of luck and meets the Duchess of Windsor in New York. Because of this meeting, Carrie Ann is offered the position of personal chef for the royal family in Kensington Palace. When Carrie Ann arrives jet lagged, late and soaking wet from a down pour, she finds that she is in charge of food for a children’s party that very day. So Carrie Ann is off and running in he new career without having time to catch a breath little lone settle in. Not the greatest of beginnings. Things get considerably worse when she finds one of her assistants dead in the kitchen green house and is questioned by the police. Because Carrie Ann is the protagonist, of course she starts nosing around the investigation and finds out some things that others would like to remain hidden. In the end, things work out for Carrie Ann and presumably we’ll see more of her each Spring for the foreseeable future. This is is a good thing. For while the book and Carrie Ann fall into some of the traps of cozy type mysteries, for the most part this is a solid first book leaving at least this reader wanting more.

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Kale to the Queen is the first mystery the author has written. This is an important point because there are a lot more things that can go wrong in writing mysteries versus other types of fiction. For the most part, Hampton was up to the task. In a mystery the characters, even the minor ones, need to be fairly well developed to make them believable as witnesses and potential suspects. This was done quite well. The plot needs clues for the readers to follow. The author needs to “play fair” with the readers. This was done well. Going right along with that, the plot needs some unexpected twists to keep the readers on their toes and again, this was done, though this could be improved on. Also there were red herrings, but not really enough to camouflage the solution. This left the reader with a good puzzle but maybe not a great one to solve. Hopefully, now that Carrie Ann and the supporting cast are established, there will be more details to the mystery in following books. The one truly troublesome aspect of this book is that Carrie Ann falls into the “cozy mystery trap” of telling too much to too many people. Not only could this have gotten her hurt or possibly killed, in the real world would probably have resulted in her being fired. As for the standard elements of cozies, yes there are recipes, but just three and at the end of the book not sprinkled throughout the story. I personally MUCH prefer the recipes at the end. No Carrie Ann does not have a pet. Yes, there is a potential love interest-both a boyfriend left behind in Chicago and some potentials in England.

I assume I will not not the only reader who from the first page of the book looks for comparisons to Julie Hyzy’s delightful White House Chef books with Ollie Paras as the protagonist. And indeed, there are some easy comparisons to make. Both chefs cook in very high profile positions and are surrounded by tight security measures. Both have some issues with fellow staff members feeling like the chef is not quite up to the position-in Ollie’s case because she is a woman, in Carrie Ann’s case because she is an American. Both protagonists have high demand jobs so much of the action takes place in and around their jobs unlike many cozies where the protagonists seem to be free to treat their jobs more like hobbies than a professions. Also, both protagonists tend to rush into things and share information that perhaps should be given only to the police. By the end of the book though, Carrie Ann has established herself and her series. I look forward to reading many more adventures of Carrie Ann Cole.

The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Forgotten ManCops are called to a crime scene in Temecula, California where they find a man, his wife, and teenage son all appeared to be beaten to death with something like a baseball bat. A very young girl appears to have hidden in a closet and was not touched in the horrific murders of her family.

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Years later Elvis Cole, one of Crais’ favorite private investigators is called by a Los Angeles police officer who had found a dead man in an alley. The police officer Detective Kelly Diaz called Cole to ask him to please come and identify the man as he was carrying paperwork that identified him as Cole’s father. At first Cole is completely against even going because he has not seen his father since he was a very young boy when his father took off leaving Cole pretty much alone since his mother was somewhat mentally unstable. As Cole tries to tell Diaz that he isn’t interested she also says that when she found the man he was still alive and he stated that Cole was his son. Read the rest of this entry »