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Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles Presents LAst Resort by Matt Coyle, Mary Marks, Patricia Smiley and Michael Connelly (Introduction)

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Last ResortSince 1997, Sisters in Crime has published anthologies of members’ crime fiction works. Each collection was well received with their newest addition, The LAst Resort as no exception. A stunningly extraordinary collection of fiction shorts, the book overall, combines elements that make for a deliciously wicked elixir of potently intriguing portrayals of lives at their last resort, near drowning, immersed in the murky waters of the underbelly of morality that thrives in Los Angeles. Read the rest of this entry »

Death at an English Wedding (Murder on Location) (Volume 7) by Sara Rosett

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Death at an English WeddingDeath at an English Wedding finds Americans Kate and Alex, the location scouts scouting for a venue for their own wedding. Well, not really, as when the book opens they have all of the details for their wedding secured, which is good since their wedding is a mere three weeks away. For people “in the business,” it would seem logical that all would run smoothly, but family has a way of complicating things and both Alex and Kate have some doozies for family members.

The first complication surfaces when Kate picks up her mother at the airport. Always a bit flighty and unpredictable, her mother is sketchy on details as to whom the younger man is that Kate saw her with in the coffee shop. Her mom brushes the incident off as nothing but fellow passengers chatting after their flight, but Kate knowing her mother well, knows there is more to the conversation than that. It is a few chapters later before the details start to come out and, as one might expect, none if of those details are good. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

She Rides Shotgun: A Novel by Jordan Harper (Review #2)

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

She Rides ShotgunFrom the first sentence in Jordan Harper’s thrilling fiction debut, She Rides Shotgun, you find yourself a willing captive held fast by his audaciously gritty narrative which centers on the corrupted coming of age of young Polly McClusky, an innocent, thrust into the seamy side of life where criminal elements heartily dwell.

The day estranged dad and convict, Nate McClusky reappeared in eleven-year-old daughter Polly’s life, and it was effectively forever changed. Fresh out of jail, Nate didn’t bring candy and gifts like other fathers might do to make up for lost time; instead, he brought trouble, danger and visceral violence hot on his heels.

As a criminal for most of his life, Nate was no stranger to difficult predicaments, especially when he finds himself just before his release out of jail, faced with an irrefusable demand to work for a violent and widely powerful white supremacist organization, Aryan Steel. But, when Nate refuses with a shiv to the neck of the brother of the leader of Aryan Steel, he consequently finds himself, his ex and young daughter on a hit list. Compelled into an intense race against time and the treacherous, as well as forced to use any means necessary to ensure his and daughter Polly’s survival, he instructs his daughter in life lessons that no young girl should ever have to experience. Additionally, to further complicate matters, father and daughter are basically strangers and polar opposites causing personality clashes and breathtaking moments as the two have to learn to accept each other for the sake of their own survival. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 »