Tag Archives: Mystery

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

***A complimentary copy of this read was furnished by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review***

The only thing true about Chris Brennan was there was no limit to what he’d do to get what he wanted. Right now he needed to become a teacher at Central Valley high where he could be near the town’s scions and their less worthy counterparts deepest secrets. Teenagers and their secret was a virtual cornucopia of information.

Minimum suspense and a slower pace are allotted as the stage is set with introductions, bits of background and the excitement a new, single, handsome teacher that’s eager to coach the baseball team can bring. It picks up as Chris sifts until only Evan Kostis, Raz Sematov and Justin Larkin remain as perfect candidates for his nefarious scheme.

With Mindy Kostis abandoned for her husband’s work, Susan Sematov still reeling from her husband’s death and busy single mother Heather Larkin, Chris easily presents himself as a man willing and able to help their sons on the path to manhood. The outing hints as a study of lonely mothers and their sons and gains momentum as Chris’ perfection bumps against these own family secrets.

For this reader’s taste, the slow burn inherent of a cast this size, the mystery of the antagonist and how to much to share when as well as the amount of red herrings, plot twists, turns and background make it almost impossible for the reader to definitely choose a foe. The ebb and flow of the information means nothing can be discounted to stay ahead in a fairly good thriller with strong, personable characters.
Rating:4stars

Tough Customer by Sandra Brown

tough-customer

Goal oriented Dodge Henley doesn’t let rules, limits or other people’s concerns alter his plans. Unless that other person is Caroline King the one that got away. It’s been 30 years but Caroline knows if anyone can and will help her daughter, Berry, it’s her father, Dodge. Since the one and only time, Dodge saw Berry was the day she was born, he argued with himself about it and the guilt won.

Berry’s case is anything but simple, unwanted attention at work became stalking became attempted murder and a threat to her life. Meanwhile Berry’s not sure how Dodge fits in the picture and she can’t figure out Detective Ski Nyland and the circumstances of the assault are complicating her work life. Plus, it’s not that Ski doesn’t believe Berry, but…he doubted until Oren turned into a murderer.

With the murder, Ski began to realize his interest in the case was more than just catching Oren. As the villain of the piece, Oren Starks had a lot of ground to cover and plenty of people to terrify. For my taste he alternated levels of insane and psychotic, he was also intimidating but not necessarily frightening in his scenes. Oren’s essence was on the page even when he wasn’t.

This outing was very much an emotional soup. There was Caroline and Dodge with decades of baggage to work through, Berry with the secrets she kept and the secrets kept from her as she fell in love there was also Ski on a very fine line to getting involved with a principal on an open case and unable to disguise his feelings anymore. Quite the engrossing medium fast read.
Rating:4.5stars

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

dead-letters

After Ava Antipova got an email about her twin sister, Zelda’s accidental death, she rushed from Paris to Ithaca for the first time in two years. Her estranged father, Marlon waited at the airport so they could drive together to the failing family vineyard where Zelda lived and tended their alcoholic mother, Nadine, as she faded into increasing bouts of dementia. It was where they’d been a family and where Zelda died.

Helping her parents cope is trial enough but Ava realizes she doesn’t believe Zelda’s dead. She’s convinced it’s a clever ruse from Zelda’s very fertile imagination. Ava vividly recalled memories of their childhood, increasingly desperate letters Zelda had sent and how almost from the moment, they were switched at birth the sisters were competitive imitations of their parents striving for individuality.

Ava and Zelda seemed as opposite as their names but were more alike than they’d agree and they knew each other well. Zelda overflowed with Marlon’s flamboyancy and Ava leaned toward Nadine’s answer of drinking away the problem. The more she thought about it the more Zelda’s death felt like one of their staged childhood performances plus the delayed funeral kept Ava in place.

Nadine deteriorates while Marlon languishes in his visitor status leaving Ava to care for both of them as well as tend to Zelda and her affairs. When an old friend drops by Zelda’s trailer, Ava’s struck with guilt and thinks Zelda might be dead. Either confirmation Zelda’s alive or cruel jokes arrive in the form of messages from Zelda. Ava, her memories and recriminations of Zelda set out to find answers.

A personal bias prevented this reader from appreciating the flashback trope used. That being said, this flawed family has few redeeming qualities, they’re not likeable but they are compelling. This reader decided the characters obvious European voices were apropos, a layer of the pretentious masks of serene civility presented to the world. Overall, the Antipovas are more identifiable than many will ever admit.
Rating: 4.5stars

Memory in Death by J.D. Robb

memory-in-death

No sooner than the Icove case wraps and thanksgiving with family passes than Eve’s family of a sort arrive in time for Christmas. Regrettably her former foster mother’s convinced Eve’s capability and wealth are a result of their time together and recognition in coin to her would be proper but Roarke and Eve don’t buy it. This isn’t a fuzzy feeling reunion and there’s nothing wrong with Eve’s memory.

With the holiday festivities going full blast, Eve needs closure and she and Roarke plan to ensure their messages were received loudly and clearly. When they arrive at the hotel Eve’s first on scene to discover the unfortunate woman in a congealed pool of her own blood. Eve had a clear memory of a kindness the victim’s son extended as she approached the family left behind.

As Christmas descends, flimsy evidence and niggling suspicion both mount for our brilliant detective as she closes in on a suspect. Once intrepid Eve caught a whiff of motive and method this dangerous villain’s days of freedom were numbered despite being daring, provocative, elusive and quite clever as the elaborate plan unfolded. .

The team was in cameo mode doing what they do best with a nod to their own holiday plans but their bits were fitting for this personal story. While most of the character pieces showed Roarke and Eve’s intimate, multi-faceted relationship helping Peabody and MacNab personally and clearing the air personally and professionally with Charlotte further mellowed Eve’s curmudgeonly persona.

While this reader is not a fan of every case connecting to or flashbacking to Eve’s traumatic childhood, for this outing it was definitely apropos but markedly restrained. Flawed Eve is very good at being herself but this installment certainly left readers a new and somehow improved, socially awkward, whole yet very flawed Eve to go forward with.
Rating: 4.5stars

Hounded by Sadie Hart

hounded

STE (Shifter Town Enforcement) Hound, Lennox Donnelly is prepared to arrest Kanon Reyes for clawing a hound while her partner arrests Tegan Sharpe. But just as she gets close enough to Kanon to do the job Tegan enters. Maintaining Kanon’s innocence and swearing there have witnesses. Lennox believes the pair and gives them a chance to prove their claim.

At the shifter bar, Lennox does in fact find witnesses and she collects the written statements. The witnesses also mentioned they had already given statements causing Lennox to wonder who set the Bayside Rock male up and why. Unknown to the trio someone sinister is following them and is upset by the turn of events… they didn’t expect Lennox to check Kanon’s version of the incident.

The playful, sexy, flirty cats think now that Kanon’s statement has been validated there is no reason they shouldn’t follow through on the attraction that seems to pull the three of them together. There’s nothing Lennox would like more but she’s convinced she needs to find out who was behind the false charges before she gets too involved to be a credible witness for Kanon.

This erotic read is much more than sex. It’s also police procedural, romance and romantic suspense. It was surprising to find such a varied shifter world here with well drawn characters, good plotting and pacing fleshing out this smoldering read that can be easily completed in a couple of hours.
Rating:3.75stars

Purity In Death by J.D. Robb

purity in death

A conspiracy sweeps the city as terrorist vigilantes show their dissatisfaction in the justice system by meting out justice on those they feel the legal system fumbled. Trust the intrepid Lieutenant to catch the scent and jump on the case with unwavering dogged determination.

This favorite outing is of the locked room mystery variety though readers are very aware of the how and the why but the who is a bit cloudy. Eve didn’t lack for suspects. Her very full pool ran the gamut through cop central, the courts, government offices and agencies, and private homes. The only people innocent are in Eve’s expanding circle of family.

Eve’s social awkwardness never fails to amuse and the scenes here were no exception when her created family needs her strength as this outing strikes at her heart when they get banged around a bit instead of her. Once again Eve’s past rears its ugly head but for this read it was appropriately and gently mentioned.  Roarke’s role also satisfied this reader and was meatier than usual.
Rating:4,5stars

The Angel’s Share by J.R. Ward

the angel's share

 

Page one of this outing wastes no time transporting the reader back to Charlemont, Kentucky and a return to world of the privileged Baldwine Family, The Bourbon Kings. It is strongly recommended that this series be read in order. The events of book one begin to play immediately complete with established nuances.

Third son, Lane and gardener, Lizzie King, have gotten past their broken past and are moving forward. Lane’s impending divorce from the dreadful Chantal takes up few if any brain cells but Lane is puzzled by the $68M that disappeared from the family coffers, wonders how to get the family out of this mess unscathed and hoping his father suffered in his death.

Elder brother Edward isn’t immune from suspicion in his father’s death as he wallows in the horror of his father’s betrayal, lives in the bottom of a bottle on a horse farm and spins in the spotlight as a broken man. Broken doesn’t mean Edward’s not busy with the ladies. Former business rival Sutton and horse-trainer daughter Shelby seem to be distracting him pretty well.

Spoiled Princess Gin chafes under the strain of her engagement for convenience to the insufferably pompous Richard. There are at least eight POV’s here and though they weren’t overwhelming, they were distracting and leads his reader to believe this is planned as more than a trilogy. It’s actually a very good page turner and such the long wait between installments isn’t welcome.

This series is as far as possible from the heyday of Black Dagger Brotherhood and very much in the vein of night-time soap operas like Dynasty, Knot’s Landing and the original Dallas. There’s plenty of drama, an unscrupulous patriarch figure, a brother with an unfaithful wife, one with a wife from the other side of the tracks and one that didn’t fit the father’s ideal and lives apart. Whew! No shoulder pads!
Rating:4.5stars

Unclean Spirits by M.L.N. Hanover

unclean spirits

Outcast from her family, unable to afford school, without a job, freshly broken up with her last boyfriend and no other friends to call, Jayne Heller is at the end of everything! Then she finds out she’s inherited something from her recently murdered uncle. That something turns out to be quite a bit of wealth, property, his lucrative business and his helpful friends. And his deadly enemy. Oh and some power!

Still reeling from her windfall, Jayne’s introduced to a whole world of ‘other’ normals right in front of her. She learns her uncle fought against possession of unclean spirits. Shockingly Jayne’s smart and strong enough to keep herself alive in a battle to the death when four of them come to kill her. When she has to face more, she also has to admit there’s more than adrenaline coursing through her veins.

Jayne and the Musketeers’ want to stop the nefarious Randolph Coin from dispossessing more humans with demon spirits in his quest for power and dominion. And extract vengeance for Uncle Eric’s death. Coin knows Jayne is a threat to his plans as Eric’s heir and pulls out all the stops to keep her from thwarting his plans

Having never read this author, I didn’t have expectations and was surprised the read was better than middle of the scale. Although Jayne was a good guide bringing the reader in since the world was new to her as well, this reader wanted her to be more than the kick-ass, smart, funny, independent woman she was presented to be, I just don’t know how.

The secondary characters brought plenty of themselves to the party, Aubrey was romance and the forbidden. Midian was the nurturer and a cautionary tale. Chogyi Jake was the encyclopedic muscle that was seldom at a loss and Ex was the big brother bodyguard with extra. Nurturing their common goal for vengeance and protectiveness made them an interesting group with good chemistry.
Rating:4stars

A Great Kisser by Donna Kauffman

a great kisser

Flight school instructor/airplane mechanic/pilot Jack McKenna would rather do anything with a plane than go on a blind date with ex-political aide, Lauren Matthews, his sister’s boss’ stepdaughter. But what’s a big brother to do but help his baby sister cries when she asks for a favor?

The drama is all about family. Lauren has difficulty accepting her mother has remarried after oh so many years. Arlen ?, the unopposed mayor of this very small town, whose just what he appears to be to this reader. Jack’s sister Ruby Jean is a character that made this reader smile at her antics and look forward to reading more about her.

Though their relatives inadvertently had a hand in putting the pair together the motives couldn’t have been more different as they were involved with the leads and their own threads. Lauren and Jack were surprisingly drawn to each other and had great chemistry. Their ongoing flirt complemented the writing style and was so cute it made the read fun.
Rating: 4.25stars

Betrayal in Death by J.D. Robb

betrayal in death

During a glorious night out at a charity auction hosted at one of Roarke’s hotels, Eve’s called to attend a murder scene on an upper floor. Once there, Eve closes off to attend the victim, a young hotel maid that’s been beaten, raped and strangled to death. Beginning the investigation, Eve quickly discovers the suspect made no effort to elude even a token effort other than leave the scene of the crime.

Eve and her crack team soon begin to unravel some of the murderer’s mysteries. Finding he’s wanted by every major and several minor law enforcement agencies across the globe in connection with several unresolved crimes for hire. From his point of view the maid was the appetizer and his next victim ensures his ultimate target’s identity is clear.

A friend from Roarke’s Irish life pays a visit, stirring and making memories both good and bad part of Roarke’s emotional roller coaster of an entry. Eve leans into the softness creeping into her character evidenced by the protective support she gives Roarke while struggling to maintain the clinical objectivity that is her trademark.

As much as I enjoy this formulaic series, it’s tiresome to go over the same ground of Eve’s traumatic childhood for this reader’s taste. Imagine my excitement that this outing went but didn’t dwell there. That being said the pacing felt a tad slower with too much detail in the storylines but not affecting the book too much to enjoy the read.

Rating: 4stars

 

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