Search
Archives

You are currently browsing the archives for the Book Reviews category.

Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

A Shimmer of Hummingbirds: A Birder Murder Mystery by Steve Burrows

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

A Shimmer of HummingbirdsDetective Chief JeJeune is one of the most unusual protagonists I have run across in my reading. Canadian by birth, he fled Canada amid a family scandal which continues to threaten his new life in Norfolk, England. Jejuene, besides being a Detective Chief is also an avid birder giving these books an interesting twist. Though filled with birds, birding terms and bird facts, these are not the cozies one might expect. Make no mistake, the Domenic Jejuene books are police procedurals.

There are three main threads interwoven in A Shimmer of Hummingbirds. Jejuene has planned a birding trip to Colombia to capture as many of the varieties of native hummingbirds as he can for his life list. He also has every intention of doing a little nosing around to see if he can find out more about the legal problems his brother is facing. His superior is well aware JeJuene’s real purpose in the trip, but realizes that nothing she says will change his mind. So off Jejeune goes on his South American adventure while back home Norfolk life continues. Marvin Laraby, JeJuene’s former boss has been named JeJeune’s temporary replacement. The two men did not part on friendly terms so those who worked under Jejuene are at a loss as to how much to share with JeJeune when he calls in. When JeJuene hears of an apparent accident which injures Lindy, JeJuene’s love interest, he asks one of his colleagues to on the sly look into a particular criminal that he and Laraby helped put away. Lastly, a woman is found murdered in her home. All of the evidence points to the motive as something to do with an offer on a project involving drones and reforestation.

Burrows seems to have some environmental twist in some part of the plots in each of his books. This one has two. The obvious one is the need for there to be reforestation in England and the second concerns the natives of Colombia being put at risk by tourists and specifically birders. He includes some notes at the end concerning the second. Read the rest of this entry »

The Girl on the Bridge: A McCabe and Savage Thriller (McCabe and Savage Thrillers) by James Hayman

Reviewed by Vickie Daley

The Girl on the BridgeThe Girl on the Bridge is the 5th offering in the McCabe and Savage thriller series. It is certainly a stand-alone and you can feel confident that you didn’t miss anything with the other four. I would certainly give them a try.

There is a prologue that gives you background on both The Girl on The Bridge and her boyfriend who attended a frat rush party where the girl is gang raped. Hannah is talked out of pursuing prosecution of the perpetrators as she only knew two and had waited too long to come forward. Sixteen years later she commits suicide by jumping off a bridge. The main rapist and a buddy, who shows up dead, are soon the victims of the current investigation as McCabe & Savage try to find out who killed the buddy and who kidnapped Josh Thorne. Read the rest of this entry »

Night Watch: A Novel (Kendra Michaels) by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Night WatchI have to believe this was written mostly by Roy Johansen, the son of Iris Johansen because of all of her books that I have read she has never gone into sex as part of the story.

Click Here for More Information on Night Watch

This one begins to at one point but then, thankfully, backs off of it and goes ahead telling the story without that element. Good job!

Like some of her other books though it does border a bit on the occult or at least on things that are not truly in our element yet. This one gets into the possibility of regenerating parts of the human body. Kendra Michaels was blind from birth but had her sight restored in a special maneuver by Doctor Charles Waldridge. In growing up without sight she with the help of her mother really built her other senses to where she has remarkable talents such as memory. She also has the uncanny ability to connect things about people and their habits, abilities, and their thinking potential. She can also place where people have been by seeing things on their shoes or clothes that they may have come into contact with such as sand or pieces of grass. Her use of all her mental facilities far exceeds anyone else in the world. Read the rest of this entry »

The Himalayan Codex: An R. J. MacCready Novel by Bill Schutt and J.R. Finch

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The himlayan CodexDo you believe in Big Foot? Even if you don’t, do you wish he existed? The search for the Yeti is the focus of The Himalayan Codex and might just be the Summer book for you.

R.J. MacCready is a zoologist and an adventurer who specializes in studying the oddities of nature, so it was a natural fit for him to be sent to Tibet to investigate the discovery of some Mammoth bones. But that wasn’t the true reason for his trip. There was an ancient document that led some to believe that there was a race of humans who were in reality the Yeti of lore.

MacCready’s job was to search for these people or at least evidence that they had in fact existed. This race supposedly held the secret to highly sought after information on human evolution. What he found was alarming. Read the rest of this entry »

Deadly Occupation (A Michael Stoddard American Revolution Mystery) (Volume 1) by Suzanne Adair

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Deadly OccupationImagine living in the year 1781 in North Carolina. Our country is just beginning but is still fighting for its independence. For many settlers, they are choosing whether their allegiances are with the British as Loyalists, the colonists as the rebels, or being neutral with no preferences. At the time, no country had ever successfully broken away from a mother country to be independent as a new nation.

Click Here for More Information on Deadly Occupation

A British officer, Lieutenant Michael Stoddard is part of the Eighty-Second Regiment, currently occupying the small town of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Many of those loyal to the colonists are associated with the Regulators who were protesting The Stamp Act. With the British Invasion of this area, they flee the area along with the horses, carts, and ammunition.

For those who remain must surrender to British officer, Major Craig after their articles of surrender had been rejected. Now all the residents are prisoners of war.

One of their scouts is a free Negro named Teal. He is questioning the safety of the homes in the area, especially the possibility of traps as the troops inspect and move into the town. He reports of a nearby home owned by a loyalist merchant whose home is being attacked by about twenty men on horseback who are setting the out buildings on fire.

Michael is given ten men to assist in saving the Farrell home. Fortunately, their training gives them the advantage even while being outnumbered.
As Major Craig takes over command of the area, he assigns Michael as his lead criminal investigator answering only to him. With this unstable occupation, the Major needs someone he can trust.

Michael is allowed to hire an assistant to help investigate his many new duties. Among the rebel leaders leaving the area, their families still remain. Will their spouses return? Where do the family loyalties lie?

His assignment also includes the creation of a church which does not seem Anglican. Women are allowed positions in this church going against the teachings of the Anglican Church. The Major needs to know what Vicar Spivey if really doing which he expects is taking advantage of the local residents.
Added to that is the disappearance of a gunsmith’s wife, Julia Garrett.
The Major expects these tasks to be completed within the next day or two.

How can an outsider possible accomplish all this within such a short length of time?

The Shattered Tree: A Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd (Review #2)

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

The Shattered TreeIn the heart of the battle, an exhausted, severely injured British soldier ends up at the same aid station where Bess Crawford is serving. He is treated and sent on to the rear battle line. When she reports the soldier to her superior, mentioning that the soldier was actually French but seemed to speak fluent German. She is told that most likely, the man is simply from an area that has gone back and forth between France and Germany throughout history. Bess considers that, until his sudden disappearance in Paris makes her question where his loyalties lie. After being injured by a sniper’s bullet, Bess herself ends up in Paris and is and begins to search for the missing soldier. She quickly discovers that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye and it may require paying the ultimate price in order to solve it.

The Shattered Tree by mother and son writing team Charles Todd, is the 8th entry in the well-received Bess Crawford series. Set in the early part of the 20th Century, Bess Crawford is an English, mystery-solving nurse. In contrast to Todd’s Ian Rutledge series or other British sleuths, the Crawford novels tend to be less graphic, more of a “cozy” variety. Don’t let that drive you away, though. Crawford is a determined character and certainly holds her own among the distinguished family tree that makes up British sleuths. If you are somewhat burned out on the more hard-core authors, I would encourage you to give Bess Crawford a try. This novel gets 4/5 stars.

Pekoe Most Poison (A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Pekoe Most PoisonOld cities have some pretty odd traditions and Charleston is no exception. However, even though the tradition was originally for a good cause, the idea of “Rat Teas” is perhaps one of the oddest. According to author Childs latest Tea Shop Mystery, the idea of holding fancy teas with servers dressed up in rat costumes comes from an effort to raise funds for rodent prevention early in the city’s history. In Pekoe Most Poison, the eighteenth book in the Tea Shop Mystery series, the tradition was revived by socialite and philanthropist Doreen Briggs. Although the costumed “rat Servers” are a little unnerving, the tea seems to be going quite well until a fluke accident causes a fire at one of the tables and hostess’s husband ends up dead. Worse yet for Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop, it initially appears as though it was the orange pekoe tea that caused the dead.

Click Here for More Information on Pekoe Most Poison

I have been a fan of both the Tea Shop books and Childs’ Scrap Booking series, because each puts readers right in an old American city like none other. In the Tea Shop books it is Charleston. Over the years the author has done an excellent job of setting each book’s plot around something unique to that area. Having visited Charleston fairly regularly over the years, it is fun to see how very accurate some of her descriptions are. But setting alone won’t carry a book. The main characters need to be well developed letting readers get to know them over the course of the series. And the characters need to be true to themselves. It is with the main characters in this book, and frankly the previous book in the series, that things have gone off track. Something is different. The characters just aren’t the same. Theodosia isn’t acting at all like herself nor is Drayton. I for one don’t like the change. Read the rest of this entry »

Kill Devil Falls: A Novel of Suspense by Brian Klingborg

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Kill Devil FallsImagine if you will, a country house mystery but instead of in a beautiful old house filled with interesting things the setting is a nearly deserted old mining town high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and instead of mostly unaquainted invited guests the characters are a few “hanger-oner” town residents, a prisoner and a U.S. Marshal sent to transport the prisoner. That in a nutshell is what Kill Devil Falls is. Does it work? For the most part I’d say it does. But for fans of the country house mysteries, be aware, this is no cozy, the action is on stage and at times brutal. The language is just what you would expect from a band of low life scumbags-rough and filled with cursing.

Click Here for More Information on Kill Devil Falls

The basic premise of the book is U.S. Marshal Helen Morrissey is sent to pick up a prisoner who is wanted for a string of robberies. Rita, the prisoner is one tough sounding woman who is on the run from her partner in crime. She took the money and her partner is not the only one looking for the loot. Morrissey is unhappy because she is forced to travel up a winding mountain road to a place so small it is not even in her GPS system to pick up the prisoner she was supposed to fetch from the county seat. She gets to Kill Devil Falls to find the remainders of a rundown nearly deserted community that has been condemned, a hand full of ragtag residents who for some reason have stayed. The sheriff is not in town, his son the deputy cannot assist with the transport and darkness is quickly approaching. And then Helen’s car breaks down and her prisoner is murdered. She is stuck in this Godforsaken place with at least one murderer on the loose, a target on her back and people dropping like flies. <!–more–>

This book is a bit of a surprise for a few reasons. First, it is published by Midnight Ink whose offerings tent to run more to the softer side of the mystery genre. The author does put an interesting and fresh spin on the “country house” theme. And, in spite of the fact that none of the characters are particularly likable, the overall book is. This is due in part to the vividly described setting.

This book appears to be the first in a series. Helen could certainly support a series, but I think if that is to happen, the reader is going to need to have her flushed out more. We really learn very little about Helen in Kill Devil Falls, but hopefully we will the next time out.

Matrimony in Miniature: A Miniature Mystery (Miniature Mysteries) by Margaret Grace

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Matrimony in MiniatureMatrimony in Miniature, the ninth book in the Miniatures series, finds protagonist Gerry Porter hustling to wrap up plans for her wedding to Henry Baker. Or, more to the point, her friends are hustling while Gerry pretty much goes about business as usual. The couple agreed to a small, low key wedding, but Gerry is beginning to suspect that with her friends involved, there will be all sorts of added frills. She is okay with that as long as the wedding happens and everyone involved has a good time. However, Gerry’s hopes for that diminish considerably when she receives a phone call from the wedding’s venue alerting her that there has been an accident on the premises. Of coarse the accident turns out to be a murder and Gerry being Gerry, she is soon nosing around to see what she can find out. This leads to her granddaughter Maddie also becoming involved.

Click Here for More Information on Matrimony in Miniature

It’s always good to visit Lincoln Point, California and the cast of characters who range from police officers to small town business owners to the crafting group who meet regularly at Gerry’s craft store. While I am not into miniatures, I am fascinated with the ongoing project in each of the books. In Matrimony in Miniature, Maddie and Henry’s granddaughter Taylor are working on Maddie’s science fair entry, a miniature water treatment plant, while Gerry is working on a new Victorian home. I am forever impressed by the creative use of everyday things in making props for miniature models and houses. Read the rest of this entry »

Brooklyn Graves: An Erica Donato Mystery by Triss Stein

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Brooklyn GravesWho would steal a window from a family mausoleum? Even more perplexing, why would the management attempt to cover it up and not report the problem to law enforcement?

Click Here for More Information on Brooklyn Graves

Erica Donato has a busy life. She is completing her doctoral project, a single parent of a teenaged daughter, and working part time at the Brooklyn Historical Museum at a job that is one-step above an intern. Erica is to complete any task assigned to her at the museum. Her newest project is to assist in an assessment of old letters and sketches long-ago forgotten in an attic. These appear to be related to the company, Tiffany.

Dr. Thomas Flint is a Tiffany expert. She is to assist on escorting him to a mausoleum. As the rainstorm is subsiding, the two enter the cemetery only to be told of its closure. Through the sloppiness of recent rain, the two arrive at the neglected Konick Mausoleum. Although the damage seems to be more damaged by humans than nature, Erica is in awe at the inside of the museum in viewing a window made by Tiffany. Even knowing of the Tiffany reputation, actually seeing the beauty of the glass reaches beyond her wildest expectation.
Now Erica has another challenge, her daughter’s long-time friend, Dima is shot with his body left in front of his home. The family has been close to Erica for years. Why was he killed? Read the rest of this entry »