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Brooklyn Wars (Erica Donato Mysteries) by Triss Stein

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair
Brooklyn Wars
Erica Donato is student a mother and has a full time job working as a historian. Often it is her job which leads her to research interesting places or things in her Brooklyn neighborhood, but in Brooklyn Wars, it is writing her thesis which has Erica prowling around the old Naval Yards. And once again, her research lands her smack in the middle of a crime.

After attending a public hearing on a redevelopment plan for the former shipbuilding site, Erica decides to walk over to the part in question and look around. It is dark, deserted and frankly a bit spooky. Readers may quibble with whether it was a smart move on her part to walk down that path, but she did and that is where the story begins. While she stands looking at one of the old row houses, she hears a noise, catches a glimpse of someone running and finds a man critically injured. Erica immediately recognizes the man from the meeting she just left. The man dies and the police understandably want to talk with Erica, but they are not the only ones. Before long, what started as research for a chapter in her dissertation has morphed into a murder investigation and Erica immersed in the past life of the victim. Read the rest of this entry »

Without Fear or Favor: A Novel (A Butch Karp-Marlene Ciampi Thriller Book 29) by Robert K. Tanenbaum

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Without Fear or FavorThe black community vs. the police is not a new idea in today’s social environment.

Tony Cippio is an ideal New York Police Officer who attempts to create positive relationships between the community and law enforcement. This white policeman enjoys playing basketball with neighborhood teens.

Tyrone Greene is a thirteen-year-old with basketball skills that surpass the officer’s successful high school and community college recognition. Tony sees the possibilities for this talented youngster with dreams of playing professional ball. Considering how well Tyrone could play with an old over-inflated ball, the teen was thrilled with the gift of a new ball. Read the rest of this entry »

The Quiet Child: A Novel by John Burley

Reviewed by Vickie Dailey

The Quiet ChildThis is most likely the hardest review I’ve ever done. The story has elements of mystery yet a thriller like atmosphere to what appears to be a quiet town. The story starts out normal enough – a 1950’s family with Dad Michael, Mom Kate and their two sons Sean and Danny. You soon learn that Kate is ill and son Danny has never spoken a word. On a seemingly innocent trip to the store for ice cream (no spoilers) their happy (or not) family is torn apart. Read the rest of this entry »

Without Mercy: A Body Farm Novel by Jefferson Bass

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Without MercyDr. Brockton is called to a murder scene that shocks him like no other one ever has: a body found in a rural Tennessee county, chained to a tree and badly mutilated. There are clues that would lead one to believe this murder to be a hate crime but the anthropological evidence says otherwise. As Brockton works with the local and state authorities to try and solve the case, he receives some unsettling news: Nick Satterfield, a savage serial killer with a grudge against Brockton, has escaped from federal prison and appears to be on a quest for revenge against him. As the investigation progresses, Brockton begins to wonder if the murder case he’s working on is the work of Satterfield and realizes he must find a way to both solve the case and protect his family. Read the rest of this entry »

Golden Prey (Lucas Davenport Mysteries) by John Sandford

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Golden PreyLucas Davenport, the former officer of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is now a U.S. Marshal. This all came about because of his great work helping the former governor of Minnesota who is now a presidential candidate. For Lucas it is a great career move because he is not only a loner but thanks to a few breaks early on he is also quite wealthy and really doesn’t need to work. But he loves law enforcement and lives for catching the really bad guys. Read the rest of this entry »

The Falcon at the Portal: An Amelia Peabody Mystery by Elizabeth Peters

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Falcon at the PortalBecause Joan Hess was contracted to finish a manuscript left upon Elizabeth Peters’ death, some of the earlier books are being released. The Falcon at the Portal is the eleventh book in the series and just past the midpoint of the books completed by Peters. For faithful readers, it is a good book to reread to sort of jump back in with the extended Peabody clan. That said, of all the books in the series, it happens to be the one I enjoyed the least. Read the rest of this entry »

The Force: A Novel by Don Winslow

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The ForceDenny Malone is a hero in many people’s eyes. He and his crew tagged “the force” have made one of the biggest heroin busts in the history of the NYPD. Malone and his crew’s rise to stardom was fast in coming. His elite unit was given pretty much free reign to do whatever it took to keep Manhattan North safe for the good people living and working in the area. But time and again, history has shown unchecked power leads to abuse. So while many herald Malone as invincible and untouchable, rumors start to surface, because not only does unlimited power lead to corruption, it also leads to jealousy and bad blood. Winslow’s The Force is the story of Malone and his crew’s fall from grace. Read the rest of this entry »

Fallen: A Novel (Will Trent) by Karin Slaughter

Reviewed by Allen Hott

FallenThis is a slightly older book (2011) but somehow I missed it. And now that I have read it I would like others to take the opportunity. Karin Slaughter can write and she really does in Fallen. It is quite a story about Faith Mitchell and her partner Will Trent. Slaughter has written several books about these two Georgia Bureau of Investigation police officers but this one really gets deep into their private lives. In doing so the reader gets to see how being a cop can often get a person’s private life mixed in with their daily jobs. Very interesting tale that keeps a reader’s interest all the way to the end even though there many, many, characters and many, many happenings. Read the rest of this entry »

You’ll Never Know Dear: A Novel of Suspense by Hallie Ephron

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

You'll Never Know DearLissie and Janey Woodham were playing house with their dolls in their yard when a puppy showed up. Lissie who desperately wanted a puppy followed the dog into the woods trying to catch it hoping she would be allowed to keep it. When she gave up the chase and returned to the yard, she assumed Janey had tired of waiting for her and gone inside. By the time the family realized Janey was missing, valuable time had been lost and Janey was gone. Because the girls were playing with their custom made portrait dolls and Janey’s doll went missing with her, her mom, known to all as Miss Sorrel placed an ad in the paper each year for a reward leading to the return of the doll.

Fast forward forty years when Maggie Richards answers the ad with a doll that although in very bad condition might be Janey’s. From there the plot moves in a predictable direction. The woman panics and runs off leaving the doll behind, Lessie and her daughter Vanessa track down the woman and discover her mother, Jenny, could possibly be the long lost Janey. Not wanting Miss Sorrel to get her hopes up Vanessa tries to nail down Jenny’s past. There are the expected family secrets that eventually come out as well.

There are some twists along the way. An explosion damages the Sorrel house, causing both Lessie and Miss Sorrel to be hospitalized. A break in leads to the loss of the most valuable of Miss Sorrel’s doll collection including all of the remaining portrait dolls she and her neighbor Evelyn had made. Vannessa’s research on nightmares figures into the plot as well.

The characters were well developed and for the most part likable. The pace of the book is just right giving readers enough to keep them turning the pages to see what the next revelation would be and how it would fit into the puzzle. The subplot on Vanessa’s research on nightmares was quite interesting. I just wish that Ephron would have spent a little more time working on hiding the solution to the long ago crime. For me at least the “who did it” was pretty obvious fairly early in the book.

In spite of its not too well concealed solution, readers who enjoy a suspense filled book with a few interesting side plots should enjoy You’ll Never Know, Dear.

Before the Poison: A Novel by Peter Robinson

Reviewed by Jud Hanson

Before the PoisonWhen soundtrack composer Chris Lowndes buys an old house in Yorkshire Dales, he has no idea of the history of the house. He soon learns it is the former home of a prominent doctor and his wife and child during and after WW II. Grace Fox was hanged for poisoning her husband in the 1950s. The story intrigues Lowndes and he strives to learn more from local citizens who lived in Yorkshire Dales during the trial and visits to the local library. A surprise encounter with the former owner of the house who happens the be the granddaughter of Grace Fox reveals even more evidence leading Chris to conclude that perhaps Grace was innocent after all. All while trying to determine the truth about Grace, the death of Lowndes’ wife haunts him and forces him to examine his real motives for wanting to know once and for all if Grace deserved what she got. Read the rest of this entry »