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Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

Strong to the Bone (A Caitlin Strong Novel) by Jon Land

Reviewed by Russell Ilg

Strong to the Bone“You may be able to walk on water, Ranger, but quicksand’s a whole other thing,” a character advised Caitlin Strong early on in Strong to the Bone.

And quicksand is pretty much what Caitlin finds herself mired in here in the superb ninth book to feature the stalwart Texas Ranger who’s as close to a female Jack Reacher as it gets. No, she doesn’t use her fists with the aplomb of Lee Child’s seminal series hero, but she more than makes up for that with her prowess as a gunman (or, more accurately, gunwoman), a skill she gets to use with typical frequency in her latest adventure.

But Strong to the Bone serves up a new kind of target in the form of the man who sexually assaulted Caitlin eighteen years before while she was a collegiate undergraduate. We’ve barely started flipping the pages before she rescues a woman from a bar basement who’s been similarly assaulted and barely taken a breath before learning that it was the same man who raped Caitlin all those years ago. And I haven’t even mentioned the book’s primary villain in the form of a neo-Nazi gang that’s appropriated a Texas ghost town as headquarters for the massive drug dealing operation their leader, Armand Fisker, has taken international.

Fisker, a man so prone to violent impulses that one scene finds himself dousing his own son with gasoline and flicking on a lighter before the terrified boy’s eyes, is somehow connected to a killer Caitlin’s grandfather Earl Strong hunted in the waning days of World War II. Did you know that Texas was home to over 100,000 Nazi prisoners of war in camps scattered throughout the state? Neither did I. In the flashback thread that’s become a staple of this sterling series, though, Earl Strong finds himself on the trail of one of them who escaped his camp after killing his three bunkmates. Why? What did they know? And what’s none other than J. Edgar Hoover himself doing on the scene?

Strong to the Bone, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, unfolds frantically and frenetically, serving up a smorgasbord of emotionally wrought angst garnished with characters of both misplaced and misconstrued morality. Fisker, for example, isn’t planning to unleash a catastrophic weapon upon the world when the book opens; that intention unfolds organically, lending Strong to the Bone a stunning spontaneity featuring characters who are truly in charge of the action.

Heading up that roster as always is Caitlin herself, whose own personal quest to at long last find her dragon lends the book a visceral quality to go with the visuals Land has always excelled at framing. But what’s truly special is her doubts about whether she really wants to kill that dragon, lest she lose the edge that has long defined her, as Land deftly stirs a pot that features the perfect blend of emotion and action.

The Caitlin Strong series is much deserved of the praise it has attained and many awards it’s won. But Strong to the Bone takes what’s always worked to a whole new level. A terrific, tumultuous tale of rare depth and prowess certain to solidify Caitlin’s place as the most polished and proficient female hero in thriller fiction today. Maybe that’s why none of Jack Reacher’s travels have taken him to Texas. Even he doesn’t want to risk messing with Caitlin Strong.

Dead Wrong (Jason Justice Mystery Book 2) by Ralph Zeta

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Dead WrongJason Justice is a “simple” divorce attorney in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is content with his position and his status. However, he seems to have a predilection toward getting involved in some more mysterious intrigue than would be thought for a divorce lawyer.

He goes to meet a potential client who happens to be a celebrity of note in the area. He doesn’t know what it is about, but assumes Milton Lowry wanted to discuss a divorce as that was his specialty. When he arrives at the designated location, he finds a BMW in front of an old mansion in the middle of the Okeechobee Lake region. There is music playing but nothing else to indicate other people are present.

Naturally, Jason investigates. He comes upon the apparent murder of Mr. Lowry but is knocked unconscious before he can aid.

Thus, begins a great mystery. It is neither obvious nor easy to determine who did what to whom and for what reason.

Jason is an unlikely investigator, but with the help of his private investigator, Sammy Raj, and a few other unlikely participants he seeks justice for Mr. Lowry.

Mr. Lowry comes from money, lots of money, from land investments all over southern Florida. His father was “Bull” Lowry. Apparently, the nickname was more than just a convenient shortening of a name. “Bull” spent a lot of time spreading his genes among many women in the area. The speculation is that there are upwards of 20 offspring that do not fall under the legitimate inheritance laws. Then the story gets more convoluted with the illegitimate children and their mothers getting involved. Read the rest of this entry »

Hidden Sea by Miles Arceneaux

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Hidden SeaProffering a literate jolt to the senses, miles Arceneaux’s Hidden Sea gives readers food for thought with its rich and captivating narrative of human trafficking in the Gulf of Mexico. Albeit this is a work of fiction, the story is based on the reality of sea-faring enslavement, which occurs within the South Sea of China. Readers will find this entertaining story stocked with a bevy of colorful characters artfully immersed in a briny mix of adventure, humor, political corruption and pirates, set in the Gulf of Mexico. Written by a trio of well-honed authors, known as Miles Arceneaux, writing as one voice, this makes the fifth addition in their series of Gulf Coast thrillers. Read the rest of this entry »

The Missing Factor: A Jim Factor Novel by Daniel C. Lorti

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

The Missing FactorArms dealer Jim Factor has a great life, a thriving business, a loving wife, and an affluent lifestyle. The one time engineer has always run a legitimate arms business, until he is approached at a convention in Europe with a steal of a deal. Carlos Sengretti would like him to act as a moderator in negotiations with a client and will make him a large sum of money. After some discussion, Jim agrees to assist Sengretti with his deal and they decide on a payment amount. Jim believes he will just be a consultant and once the deal is finished, his services will no longer be needed.

Unfortunately, he is mistaken. Soon after the business is completed, Jim receives a phone call warning him of potential danger. The illegal deal has gone sour, and now he is suspected of leaking the deal to the United States Customs Service. His life is at risk and Jim must immediately leave the country without a trace. He cannot even tell his wife anything about the deal gone wrong, nor can he tell her where he is going. He quickly gathers cash and some clothing and leaves his housen eventually ending up at the bus terminal where he makes his escape to another city. Read the rest of this entry »

When They Come for You (Harper McDaniel) by James W. Hall

Reviewed by Mark Moderson

When They Come for YouThis novel really has it all. It starts quickly with the main character’s husband and newborn being brutally murdered by a mysterious villain watching the family from afar. Instead of folding and succumbing to her grief the heroine, Harper McDaniel decides to get even.

She quickly unlocks the potential mystery of why her husband was murdered and chases his story across the world. Harper quickly gets involved researching in the high stakes world of chocolate and child labor, and enlists the help of her brother and mafia boss grandfather. Read the rest of this entry »

Massacre Pond: A Novel (Mike Bowditch Mysteries) by Paul Doiron

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Massacre PondPretty interesting story about a young game warden in Maine who gets involved in some things that seem to be a distance away from the normal game warden’s job. Mike Bowditch, the warden, is called to the scene of a really weird crime. There have been six moose shot dead on the estate of Elizabeth Morse. The moose appeared to have been shot and though, not dead immediately, died fairly close to where each was found. And the remains were not together but within a considerable walking range of each other.

Elizabeth Morse is a very wealthy animal rights activist who has settled into this area of Maine and is buying property with the plan to create a National Pak which she plans to give to the government. The residents are vehemently against the park idea. They feel it will definitely hurt their opportunities to make money in lumber and other areas. They also believe it will hinder their recreational habits which mainly consist of hunting wild game. Read the rest of this entry »

This is a Bust by Ed Lin

Reviewed by Mark Moderson

This is a BustA mystery wrapped around a character’s internal struggle to do better for himself.

Robert Chow is the main character in the Ed Lin novel titled This Is a Bust. Chow is a tormented soul similar to Connelly’s Harry Bosch. He is a beat cop who because of his ethnicity is pigeon holed into a role as a glorified public relations officer.

The novel does a good job introducing us to the character who is battling the internal demons of alcoholism and Vietnam. While the novel falls into the mystery genre it is more about Chow’s relationships and his battle with his demons, and the author does a good job highlighting those. Read the rest of this entry »

Paradise Valley: A Novel (Highway Quartet) by C.J. Box

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Paradise ValleyVery interesting story of an investigator, Cassie Dewell, of the Sheriff’s Department in Bakken County, North Dakota, who is chasing down a real killer. The killer ,known as the Lizard King, is an independent truck driver, and Cassie first came across him earlier when he had somehow beaten a possible conviction on a technicality. She receives word that he is back out and moving.

Cassie decides the only way to catch him is to set a trap and have him somehow get scheduled to make a pickup in her local area. She feels certain that if and when she does he will have a prostitute stashed away in his truck. This is what he has always done. He frequents truck stops and picks up the lizards (prostitutes) who work the stops. The prostitute is later found dead.

With the help of the Sheriff they get everything arranged and when his truck pulls in to make the pickup they are there and ready to get him. However they quickly discover he has another talent which is working with explosives! As they get closer to the truck it blows apart in a monstrous devastating explosion. The cab and most of the truck is demolished. Because of the damages the FBI and a local County Attorney became involved and immediately began to question Cassie’s maneuver. Read the rest of this entry »

That Which Remains: A Novel of Ghosts and Murder (Hometown Ghosts and Legends Book 1) by Terry Daly Karl

Reviewed by Ray Palen

That Which RemainsSet in the upper Western New York State town of Akron, located outside of Buffalo, is the Akron Hotel. This is the location for this outstanding, atmospheric story. To refer to THAT WHICH REMAINS a horror, supernatural or mystery tale would not be enough of a description. This novel contains all of those elements and more.

Author Terry Daly Karl is a resident of Akron and clearly knows the territory. She imbues her story with rich detail while at the same time using a modern-day time-frame to tell a tale that contains the rich elements that have made up classic ghost stories for centuries. THAT WHICH REMAINS includes ghost hunting, séances and a murder mystery which includes an other-worldly character as a potential suspect.

The novel opens with an employee of the Akron Hotel, Jenny Shenandoah, cursing as she has to travel to the upper floors of the Hotel which she firmly believes to be haunted. She believes she sees a ghost and runs to the Hotel Manager Steve and bartender Joe for protection. When the small team investigates things further on the 3rd floor they do not find a ghost. Instead they find the corpse of one of their missing employees, Wendy Kulbrick. Read the rest of this entry »

The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag (Review #2)

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Bitter Season
Tami Hoag writes great murder mysteries but believe that she almost outperformed herself on this one! Not quite sure what the title means but the story line is enough to make one’s mind turn to a slightly Bitter Season!

It really is a great read but it is also very twisted and re-twisted. It all begins with Nikki Laska, a Minneapolis detective, who is working on her first cold case which she has requested believing that it will give her more free time at night to be with her two sons.

At the same time Sam Kovac, her longtime detective partner, has just been assigned a murder case where an older couple were attacked and killed by someone using ceremonial Japanese weapons including a Samurai sword which was very valuable. The man who was killed had been a college professor who was in the midst of a possible promotion in East Asian studies at the university where he taught. Strangely enough he was battling another professor for that promotion and also strangely enough that other professor was very much involved it seems with the murdered professor’s daughter. And that mix-up is just one of the many weird coincidents that begin occurring in this story. Read the rest of this entry »