Category: Mystery & Thrillers
Enter this book giveaway to grab a paperback copy of Only by Death by Kathy Herman. Only by Death is a Christian family mystery set in the Ozark mountains. It has 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Giveaway begins November 15, 2018 at 12:01 A.M. PDT and ends November 23, 2018, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
How To Enter
Complete the entry form below.
Enter once per person.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.
Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.
Winners will be selected at random on or about November 24, 2018.
Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Posted in Christian, Giveaways, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Nov 23 2018
When there is a Murder at Harbor Village, everyone is a suspect in this new cozy mystery series.
Cleo Mack is offered a golden parachute to retire early from her Social Work professorship at an Atlanta university. She decides to move to Fairhope Alabama, recognized as one of the best retirement towns. Cleo quickly gets a job and apartment in Harbor Village, a retirement community.
The weekend before starting her new job the little seen corporate bigwig, Lee, is found dead of apparent drowning in the resident’s indoor pool. Cleo is surprised to learn that her long ago ex-husband, Travis, married Lee a month earlier. When Lee’s sister, Jamie, leaves her Director job the day after the murder, Cleo is made acting Director.
Police Chief Boozer soon discovers that Lee was bludgened to death. As the one to benefit the most by inheriting his wife’s considerably wealth, Travis is suspect number one. Cleo decides to investigate to clear Travis’ name.
The characters in Murder at Harbor Village were genuine. Cleo would make a good friend—helpful and intelligent. However, I found it difficult to get over the many unbelievably coincidences in the novel. Cleo kept meeting random strangers in Fairhope that all had a connection to Harbor Village. Her new boss married her ex only a month earlier? Still I liked the characters enough to read the next in the series, Murder at Royale Court, coming out in June 2019. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Lyrical Underground, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: cozy mystery, Nov 13 2018, retirement
Death and Daisies is the perfect blend of mystery, romance and paranormal with believable characters you wish you could befriend in real life.
Fiona has lived in Scotland for two months after inheriting her godfather’s house and magic garden. Why didn’t her godfather explain how to help people using the century old menhir and climbing rose in her garden that is the source of the magic? The rules are vague:
- Visit the garden as much as possible to cement your connection to it.
- Care for the garden like any other garden.
- Touch the stone menhir to learn what the garden wants you to know. However, you may see things you don’t want to know.
Fiona’s sister, Isla, visits to help open Fiona’s flower shop. The day before the grand opening, the local minister threatens Fiona in person. The next morning Fiona finds a hostile note from the minister stuck in her door. During the grand opening, the handsome Chief Inspector Neil finds the note. When the minister is found murdered, suspicion falls on Fiona so she decides to find the killer to clear her name. Good thing her best friend in town, Cally, is also a lawyer.
It is hard to explain why I like the characters so much in this book. Perhaps it is the fact that one has a red squirrel as a pet who sits on his shoulder. Or the old seaman who Fiona calls Popeye in her mind because she has forgotten his name. Everyone in the village has strange quirks that make them memorable. Realistically, it may be the difficult but enviable choice that Fiona has between two burly Scotsmen as potential beaus. As Isla tells Fiona, “You will have your own Scottish love story a la Outlander without the hassle of time travel.”
Though Death and Daisies is the second entry in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone. It is highly recommended for cozy readers looking for authentic characters, an unusual setting and a good mystery. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: cozy mystery, Nov 13 2018
Think Yourself Lucky is not this famed author’s best work.
Co-workers, Emily, Helen, Bill, Andrea and David work in a travel agency. David is a grouch who complains about everything—his job, his girlfriend and his life. Meanwhile, an unnamed narrator is committing horrendous murders. When David discovers a blog using his fantasy blog name talking about the murders, he is concerned. The victims are people at which he was recently angry. Is someone stalking him or is he committing the murders in some sort of fugue state?
The plot of Think Yourself Lucky sounds great but the execution is flawed. I had to force myself to read it because it was so mean-spirited. I loved reading Ramsey Campbell in the 1980s. He was in a close race for perfect horror writer with Stephen King and Dean Koontz. However, please don’t judge his abilities by Think Yourself Lucky. This reads like one of the “drawer books”—books that didn’t quite make the cut for publication in the writer’s heyday but are worth a few bucks on the author’s name alone at the end of his career. Please read Cold Print or Dark Companions or any of the author’s 80s book rather than this one. 1 star.
Thanks to Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Nov 13 2018, serial killer
A very British parody of post-WWII police procedurals. A Shot in the Dark will either tickle your funny bone or it won’t. It helps if you are a fan of slapstick.
It’s 1951 in Brighton. Inspector Steine is famous for stopping all organized crime in the area by allowing the two mobs to kill each other four years earlier. Therefore, he thinks the current rash of home burglaries are done by young independent thieves. He sends the newly arrived Constable Twitten to investigate. At the same time, the bumbling Steine and Twitten are trying to solve the murder of a theater critic shot in the head while seating next to said Constable.
The author is famous for her grammar book Eat, Shoots and Leaves. It shows in the meticulous word choices made within A Shot in the Dark. In addition, she introduced the characters in a BBC Radio program. That format would seem a better setting for this wacky farce showcasing the incompetence of the police and the shortcomings of post-Golden Age police procedurals.
A Shot in the Dark is a parody of my favorite type of mysteries. It’s rather a vicious parody too. I just didn’t find it funny. However, if you lived in England in the mid-20th century, perhaps you will. 2 stars from me.
Thanks to the publisher, Bloomsbury USA, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Humor, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Nov 6 2018, Police procedural
Solace Island is where Maggie and Luke go to get over their broken hearts in this cute romance.
Maggie is unceremoniously dumped by her fiance of five years the night of her bachelorette party. She gives him two weeks to buy her out of their business and leaves town. Maggie goes to Solace Island, off the Washington Coast, with her older sister, Eve. There she meets the enigmatic Luke, who also has his a broken romance in his past.
Solace Island is a good romance with a bit of a mystery. I recommend it to romance fans. However, the mystery seemed like an afterthought so I can’t recommend it to mystery fans. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Berkley, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Romance Tagged with: Nov 6 2018
Thrilling and challenging mystery about what happened to four college co-eds almost twenty years earlier. The past rears its ugly head when a mysterious person realizes that revenge is the only answer in the compelling Who I Am.
Down-on-her-luck Camille insinuates her way into the life and house of college friends rich Andi, suspicious Clara and quiet Jo. A boat disaster breaks up the friends in the worst way possible. Now one of the friends is stalking Andi looking for revenge.
Split into three first person narratives at three different time periods, Who I Am is a twisty rollercoaster of a read. First, there is the slow clanking of the build-up to the first pause at the top of the ride. At this point, we learn the story of what happened to the four roommates on the night of a boating accident. There were only two survivors so why are there three narrators? And whoosh we are plunging downhill on the ride. There are many twists and turns in the plot—some foreseen and some not. The psychological suspense sets up an atmosphere of dread. The reader feels a twist coming but isn’t sure where it will lead.
Who I Am is a perfect Fall read. It is creepy, convoluted and has a challenging mystery to solve. So put on some sweats, get a cup of hot cocoa and settle in for an engrossing evening. 4 stars!
Thanks to Aria Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Nov 6 2018
Another engrossing Gemma Monroe mystery begins at Lost Lake in Colorado.
Sari is reported missing during a camping trip with her boyfriend Mac, her best friend Ally, and Mac’s cousin, Jake. Detective Gemma Monroe is called to investigate. After questioning the three she concludes, “one of them is lying. Which one, and about what, I don’t know…but I was sure of it.”
Sari is an assistant curator at a local museum, where a recent theft has occurred. When another museum staff member is murdered, Gemma must decide if the three incidents are related.
Gemma is also facing some personal issues. Recently back to work, she is missing her six-month-old daughter Grace. With a troubling relationship with baby daddy Brody, Gemma still isn’t sure about marriage to him. Her partner, Finn, is grandstanding while presenting her ideas as his own. The police chief asks her to find a leaker within the police force, which makes Gemma feel like a rat.
In most police procedurals, there are few clues and fewer suspects. Lost Lake has a plethora of both. However, the clues are right in front of the reader making this tale great for armchair detectives.
Lost Lake is the third book in the series but can easily be read as a standalone. It is an enthralling police procedural with compelling characters and a challenging mystery. 4 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Nov 6 2018, Police procedural
Skeleton Makes a Friend is another fun romp with Georgia and her animated skeleton Sid.
Adjunct Professor Georgia gets a summer job teaching writing to high school students in a prestigious, but rundown, New England college. The job comes with a three bedroom cabin perfect for Georgia, her teenage daughter, Madison, and her best friend, Sid.
A teenage girl named Jen comes to the cabin looking for her online gaming friend who is a detective IRL. It doesn’t take long for Georgia to figure out she means Sid. Jen states that one of their online group has been missing for over a week. Unfortunately, she only knows him as Erik Bloodaxe, his gaming name.
Sid eventually convinces Georgia to help him find the real Erik in the college halls. When mysterious events start occurring, only the amateur detective team of Sid and Georgia can ferret out the truth.
I missed Sid, Georgia and Madison. After reading and enjoying the first two books in the series, I must have missed the next two. I snapped this one up when I saw it on NetGalley. It is amazing how useful an animated skeleton is when investigating crime. With no fingerprints, no need for sleep, and more than a lifetime of knowledge, Sid is an extremely good detective.
It is surprising how much a skeleton can feel like a genuine member of the family. The antics of Sid make for an amusing afternoon of reading. Skeleton Makes a Friend, as well as the other books in this series, are recommended to any cozy readers willing to suspend disbelief in animated skeletons for a few hours. 4 stars!
Thanks to Diversion Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: cozy mystery, Nov 6 2018
Jack Reacher is idly looking for his father’s past in small Laconia, New Hampshire in Past Tense.
There are two tales in this book: Jack’s search for his family and a young Canadian couple’s stay in a creepy motel. Both occur in Laconia so it is obvious the two tales will converge in time for the conclusion. The couple, Shorty and Patty, are taking a strange object to NYC when they have car trouble. They are forced to stay a night at a deserted motel. The reader can feel the dread on the first night when their room door is stuck closed.
The Reacher story moves slowly but the couple’s story keeps the reader’s interest until the slam bang conclusion where both plots come together. Past Tense is one of the best entries in the Jack Reacher series. It is highly recommended to readers looking for smart plots and authentic characters especially the laconic, but deadly, Jack Reacher. 4 stars!
Thanks to Delacorte Press and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Jack Reacher, Nov 5 2018
Charming characters in a unique setting enliven A Wrench in the Works, the sixth Fixer-Upper Mystery.
Sisters Shannon and Chloe grew up working in their dad’s construction company. Shannon took over her dad’s company when he retired. Chloe moved to Hollywood and stars in a fixer-upper show.
Chloe decides to go back to her hometown to film a season of her show with the help of her sister’s construction team. When someone on the production is killed and Chloe is threatened, Shannon investigates.
Despite being part of a series, A Wrench in the Works works well as a stand-alone. The characters and their relationships are genuine. Setting the mystery behind the scenes on an HGTV-type show is innovative. I would have liked the puzzle to be slightly harder to solve. However, I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
A Wrench in the Works is recommended to cozy readers looking for endearing characters in an unusual setting. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Berkley Mystery, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: cozy mystery, Nov 6 2018, series
Three novellas in bestselling cozy mystery series all involving yule logs and set in the Christmas season are told in the Yule Log Murder.
The Yule Log Murder is part of the Lucy Stone series. An assistant on a movie shoot is killed while transporting a yule log. It includes the recipe for the yule log at the end of the story.
In Death by Yule Log, the obnoxious boyfriend of the daughter of Hayley Powell is suspected of bludgeoning someone to death with a frozen yule log. The recipes included sound yummy. They are:
- Mom’s Christmas Morning Cocktail
- Dustin’s Christmas Morning Cinnamon Muffins
- Gemma’s Hot Chocolate
- Mom’s Special Hot Chocolate (adds vodka and peppermint schnapps to Gemma’s recipe above)
- Randy’s Crock-Pot Mulled Wine
- Hayley’s Christmas Yule Log
Logged On tells the story of elderly Mrs. St. Onge, whose complicated Buche de Noel (yule log in French), is suspected of poisoning multiple people in the town. This tale is part of the Maine Clambake Mystery series. It includes the recipe for the Buche de Noel plus a warning by the author to find a professional baker to make the complicated recipe. The author helpfully includes an easy recipe for Jewel Brooch Cookies for those of us that are not professional bakers.
While I enjoyed all three stories, Logged On was my favorite because of its unusual plot. I liked it so much that I am beginning to read the Maine Clambake mysteries beginning with Steamed Open to be published on December 18, 2018. Many people read cozy food mysteries for the recipes. The recipes in Death by Yule Log are much more likely to appear on my Christmas table. Lucy Stone is one of my favorite characters. I feel like I am growing up (or old?) with her family and friends.
The Yule Log Murder is an excellent way to get into the Christmas spirit. Despite all the tales using a yule log, each one had an entirely different spin on the plot. It is recommended to cozy readers looking for a few light evening reads. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Christmas, cozy mystery, Oct 30 2018
Séances are for Suckers is a humorous take on old school romantic mysteries like The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart.
Ellie is the youngest of a set of triplets. On her eighteenth birthday, her mother is killed and her sister descends into a vegetative state. Her brother is an elementary school gym teacher. To earn the money for her sister’s long-term care, Ellie works as a fake medium. Ridding families of their ghosts frequently means more psychological than psychic assistance.
When Nicholas approaches Ellie with a project, she can’t resist even though Nicholas knows she is a fake. He wants Ellie to prove to his elderly mother that her ghost, Xavier, is someone’s childish game.
Once at the family’s ancient estate, Ellie suspects everyone including Nicholas of causing the ghostly events. It doesn’t help that Nicholas is devilishly handsome and apparently rich too. Plus there is the man-of-all-work, Thomas, who is equally handsome but so much less complicated than Nicholas. When Ellie literally stumbles over a corpse who is gone before she returns with help, Ellie begins to believe that this particular ghost may be real.
I actually liked the romance more than the mystery. Like Ellie, I started to feel like part of the family and really wanted it not to be an intentional fake haunting for profit. Séances are for Suckers is a very enjoyable romantic read perfect for a cozy night in with only your cat (or dog, if you are one of those people) for company. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Paranormal, Romance Tagged with: family drama, Oct 30 2018, series
A long-dead body is found in the captivating, and true, Lady in the Cellar.
In London in 1879, many people were looking to make their fortune by living together in boarding houses. In one, at Number 4 Euston Square, a well-to-do older woman’s body is found in the coal cellar. Her putrefied skeletal remains are clothed partially in silk along with a clothesline tied roughly around her neck. Though her time of death is years before, the London constabulary discovers through extremely thorough detective work her identity. The victim was Matilda Hacker. She was a wealthy heiress that never married. Despite being in her sixties, she dressed as a young girl. When her sister died, she seemed to have increasing mental issues. Convinced people were stalking her, she frequently used assumed names and moved around England. One such place she moved was Number 4 Euston Square.
I loved the great descriptions of how police work was done in England in 1879. Victorian England was a time of significant change in policing. Investigations were beginning to use the scientific method rather than intuition to solve crimes. The setting in London is vivid and makes the reader feel that they are there. However, the plot takes many wrong turns following what the police probably did at the time. It is disconcerting to spend fifty pages on a potential suspect only to have him eliminated in a few paragraphs. Also, the resolution was not what I expected. Some of my hesitancy in recommending Lady in the Cellar for its plot is perhaps my issue with being used to clear conclusions in fiction. I do recommend this book for writers setting their story in the same location and time. 3 stars!
Thanks to White Lion Publishing and NetGalley for granting my wish for an advance copy.
Posted in Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: Oct 30 2018, true crime, Victorian
Accomplished dual mysteries wrapped in an artful gothic atmosphere. Go to My Grave tells the story of two parties that went horribly wrong.
“They were terrified. Every last one of them.”
Donna and her mother spent their last dime opening The Breakers, a bed and every meal (rather than just breakfast), on the Galloway coast. Kim decides to have a surprise tenth anniversary party there with her husband Sasha and his six cousins. Little does she know that Sasha and his cousins spent another harrowing weekend there 25 years earlier.
When someone begins leaving hints of what happened at the long ago birthday party, the cousins start to fall apart. Their pledge of keeping it in a box, stitching their lips and going to their grave with it clearly forgotten.
Alternating between telling the tales of the anniversary party and the birthday party 25 years before, Go to My Grave has some extremely creepy atmosphere. There are several possible endings for each tale making the mystery intriguing. Some of the slang used was unique. Neither my Kindle nor I could figure some of them out.
Overall, Go to My Grave is a first-rate gothic mystery for the windy fall days around Halloween. Perfect for mystery fans who want a touch of dread in their books. 4 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: family drama, gothic, Oct 23 2018
Whether you write mysteries, fantasy or science fiction, Putting the Science in Fiction is an exceptional way to avoid factual errors. But it is also just a great way to catch up with current technology trends.
When your spaceship dramatically explodes into a fiery cataclysm, scientists everywhere are screaming (with laughter). Of course, in space, no one can hear you scream. However, you should also know that without oxygen, you know like in outer space, fiery explosions can’t occur. To avoid giggling scientists, read this book.
The range of subject matter within Putting the Science in Fiction is impressive. From simple lab protocols to poisons, genetic engineering, mental health issues, disasters, rocket science, biology, computer science and more, this book has something for everyone. Each story is written by an expert in their field. Most are less than ten pages long.
Even for non-writers, some of the misconceptions exposed are fascinating. Walt Disney probably wasted his money freezing his head. Most of the Terminator series is impossible. However, the storm trooper’s pulse (really an intermittent laser) cannon has already been tested successfully by the US Navy. Unfortunately, Luke’s lightsaber is a non-starter as are all of the rebel’s ships. I guess we know who really would have won the (star) war.
Okay, I admit it: I am a total nerd. I absolutely loved this book. I am planning to use it at parties to debunk (okay, maybe ruin) popular movies. However, even as a non-writer, Putting the Science in Fiction gave me at least five great plots for a future bestselling novel. Unfortunately, it won’t be written by me. Perhaps you will write it so I can have the pleasure of seeing my idea in print. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Writer’s Digest, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers, Non-fiction, Science Fiction Tagged with: Oct 16 2018, science, writing guide