Death in the Covenant
August 17th, 2019 by diane92345

Seamlessly blending the history of Mormonism with a present day police procedural, Death in the Covenant is a fascinating look inside a secret world.

Heber Bentsen is a beloved pillar of the Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormon) church. As a counselor to the church president, he is investigating a hidden church agenda. A loss of young men in the church has led to 1.5 young women for each young man. Could the perfect solution be reinstating polygamy?

When Heber is killed in an auto accident, foul play is not suspected. However, the autopsy reveals he was killed by a rock to the head and no rock was found at the scene. His longtime family friend, and former LDS member, Abbie Taylor, investigates the crime.

As someone who watches every special on plural wives, both modern and historical, I loved Death in the Covenant. I learned many details about the Latter Day Saints’ beliefs. But it was the mystery itself which will force me to read earlier episodes in this series. It is a twisty ride into an unfamiliar culture. Just when you think you have it figured out, pow, the plot shifts abruptly in another direction.

Overall, this is an excellent police procedural tackling a subject I’ve never seen in a mystery before. Please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong. I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars!

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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An Unsettled Grave
August 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

Monica was stopped by a policeman on a lonely country road late one night. Then she was raped by the policeman. Carrie, the sole female county detective, is dispatched to handle the case. When she ruffles the local police force by asking for “voluntary” DNA swabs, Carrie is reassigned to a new case by her politically motivated Chief in An Unsettled Grave.

Old bones of a child are dug up by a hunting dog in the rural Liston-Patterson, Pennsylvania. Hope was twelve years old in 1981 when she went missing. As the only child that age unaccounted for in the small town, the bones are likely hers. When Carrie finds evidence of the crime overlooked at the time in old case files, she decides to solve the crime. The town’s police chief just wants to provide closure for the parents—not reopen old wounds. Carrie also learns of the deaths of both of the town’s police chiefs within a day of Hope’s disappearance. Is it a coincidence? Carrie thinks not and so also investigates those deaths, labeled at the time as a suicide and a shooting by a motorcycle gang.

An Unsettled Grave is unsettling but it is also an exceptional police procedural. It flashes back to 1981 to show the reader what happened while alternating with how Carrie is using evidence to prove it today almost forty years later. You can tell it was written by a former police officer. Carrie is frustrated by politics and apathy making her job more difficult.

The story has larger themes too. Post-Traumatic Stress from the Vietnam War is almost another character in the novel. It impacts two major characters from 1981 resulting in divergent methods to handle it back in the “real world”. Bullying is described in both the present and 1981.

While the story ties into the previous book in the series, this book can easily be read as a standalone. If you love police procedurals, you must read An Unsettled Grave. It is not only my favorite police procedural this year but of all time! It is a gritty and authentic take on police work and a great mystery to boot. 5 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Murder at the British Museum
July 21st, 2019 by diane92345

In 1894, there is a Murder in the British Museum. Private Inquiry Agent Daniel Wilson and his live-in lover Abigail Fenton, a famous archaeologist, investigate at the request of the museum director.

Esteemed Professor Lance Pickering is most famous for his work on the new King Arthur exhibit and for his new book about Arthur’s uncle, Ambrosius. That is until he is stabbed in the museum’s restroom behind a locked cubicle door.

Daniel quickly guesses how the murder was done. Unfortunately, he must work even faster to discover the who before his nemesis, Superintendent Armstrong of Scotland Yard, beats him to it.

If you enjoy learning some Arthurian and 19th century London history while reading an engaging mystery, you will enjoy Murder at the British Museum. There is also a strong feminist as the detective’s side kick plus the almost obligatory bumbling Scotland Yard employee complicating the case. I liked the no-nonsense romance between Daniel and Abigail. The mystery was good too. Overall, I rate it at 3.5 stars!

Thanks to Allison & Busby and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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The Sleepwalker
July 17th, 2019 by diane92345

Definitely the best noir I’ve read this year! The Sleepwalker is the third dark thriller in the terrific Aidan Waits series.

Down these dark hospital corridors a man must go… Aidan and his shady partner Sutty are watching a serial killer called The Sleepwalker die. The Manchester Police are hoping that the prisoner will tell Sutty where he left the body of his last victim. Instead, he denies the killing immediately before both he and Sutty are bombed in the hospital room.

While this is only the beginning of the twisty tale, I can’t even begin to tell you more without it being a spoiler. What I can do is highly recommend this gritty British noir for its impeccably nuanced characters and impressive plotting. Every noir fan must read this book! Fans of thrillers and police procedurals (though Aidan is not one to follow many rules) will enjoy it also. 5 stars!

Thanks to Doubleday UK and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Truth or Die
July 14th, 2019 by diane92345

In Truth or Die, Detective Sergeant Imogen and her partner (and friend with benefits), DS Adrian are investigating a professor’s death. The philosophy professor’s head was bashed in with a glass paperweight. Their sleuthing uncovers an awful truth playing out at the university.

Both Imogen and Adrian are getting over recent relationships when this tale begins. While there is a mystery and some police procedures described, this seemed more an excuse to show Imogen and Adrian’s relationship moving forward rather than the other way round. There were also a lot of character names to juggle. I found myself frequently backtracking to determine who the character was that was speaking. I believe my problem was that I was trying to read this as a standalone. It would be much easier if I had the previous four books experience with many of the characters.

If you have read the previous books in this series and don’t mind some romance, frequent gore, and occasional twists in your police procedurals, you will already know whether you will enjoy Truth or Die or not. However, if you haven’t read the other books (at least the last one, The Promise), I think you will be as confused as I was while reading this one. I can only give my own review of course, so 3 stars for this character-driven thriller.

Thanks to Avon Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Stories You Tell
July 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Roxane is a complex, underworked private investigator trying to save her brother from a murder charge in the Stories You Tell.

When her brother Andrew calls Roxane in the middle of the night, she comes running. Andrew is worried about former co-worker and one-time (or maybe two time) lover, Addison. Addison arrived at his house earlier bloody and incoherent. She then ran off before he could get the whole story. Work has been slow for PI Roxane so she agrees to check on the girl.

Roxane discovers Addison really is missing and she worked at the nightclub across the street from Andrew’s home. When Addison’s father reports her missing, Andrew is the police’s number one suspect. Roxane decides she must solve the crime to prevent Andrew from being indicted for murder.

Stories You Tell is a character-driven police procedural where the winter setting in Ohio almost feels like a character too. Roxane’s relationships are the heart of the book with lover Catherine, ex-lover Tom who was also her dead policeman father’s partner, and her brother Andrew. There are many mysteries to solve within this book but the clues are carefully hidden making it a fun tale for armchair detectives.

Overall, the book received 4 stars from me. I’m looking forward to reading the earlier,  and subsequent, books in this series.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Suffering of Strangers
June 14th, 2019 by diane92345

“Clap clap. She ducked a minute too late as the coil of rope settled around her neck.” from the prologue of the Suffering of Strangers.

Roberta has had a day. Her six week old son will not stop crying. Her husband calls and wants her to pick up some champagne to celebrate his new job. When she reaches the store, her son is blessedly silent. She decides to just run into the shop quickly while leaving her son in the car. When she returns both her car and son are gone. After a frantic search, Roberta finds her car but the infant in the car seat is not her son. DI Costello investigates.

Meanwhile, DCI Anderson is investigating a 20 year old cold case. A young mother is out late buying milk when she is roped around the neck, raped, and tossed behind some rubbish bins. She can’t recall what happened. Could this be part of a series?

I enjoyed guessing how these cases were connected and whodunit. However, jumping into this series at the ninth book may not be wise. While it can be read as a standalone, the sheer number of characters—some important for this story and some obviously carryovers from previous books—makes a slow and confusing book at the start. However, the momentum quickly builds after about 20% into a twisty conclusion.

The Suffering of Strangers is a rip-roaring British police procedural highly recommended for armchair detectives. However, it might be best to read at least one other entry in the series before beginning this book. 4 stars!

Thanks to Black Thorn Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Just One Bite
June 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Timothy Blake tells himself it is Just One Bite and rips a chunk out of the relatively recent murder victim he found in the woods. Timothy is there to pick up a crime boss’ latest victim. But how can he fit two large bodies in his ancient Corolla’s trunk. The problems that cannibals have in modern society…

He makes it home and throws the body in his chest freezer before his boss’ hengemen come to get him. Timothy manages to explain his reason for leaving before picking up the body. A hengeman drives him home where he has to shove another body in his freezer. He barely finishes before his former co-worker, FBI agent Reese Thistle, insists he help her with a missing person case. After seeing the victim’s photo, he knows where he is—in his freezer with a large bite mark on his arm.

If Hannibal Lector and Dexter spawned an offspring, it would be Timothy Blake. He’s a cannibal with a conscious. He tries to only eat the guilty. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for the reader), he gets into absurd hilarious Serge Storm-level situations while doing it.

Despite the crazy premise, Just One Bite has believable characters that you want to succeed. This is the second in the series but can be read as a standalone. It does have many triggers like, uh, cannibalism, violence, and illusions to sexual assault. However, if you’re okay with that, I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a sense of humor and likes thrillers. 5 stars!

Thanks to Hanover Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Last Pirate of New York
June 6th, 2019 by diane92345

Albert Hicks was both the Last Pirate of New York and its first gangster in this amazingly true story set in 1860 New York City.

A ghost ship was found drifting near NYC harbor. Its crew of four were missing. However, traces of them were left behind. Copious blood, chunks of blond hair, and several severed fingers were found on board along with signs of a struggle in the captain’s quarters. The police were called in to investigate.

The Last Pirate of New York reads like an episode of Law & Order. First, a crime is committed. Then, the police investigate and arrest a suspect. Finally, the courts try the suspect for the crime. But it is much more difficult to solve a crime in the large and wild NYC with no computers, forensic tests, or DNA. Plus the US Civil War is heating up stretching an already thin police force’s ability to investigate.

This book is highly recommended for fans of Gangs of New York as the location and time period are comparable. Also, this true tale would be an excellent reference for anyone writing a historical mystery in the same environment. Plus, for any reader, it is an enjoyable Columbo type mystery of how the police catch a clever criminal. 4 stars!

Thanks to Spiegel & Grau and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Nothing to Hide
May 5th, 2019 by diane92345

FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid is working with County Investigator Jerry Walker on a serial killer case in Nothing to Hide. Unfortunately, Jerry has a distrust of FBI psychological profiles due to an earlier case.

The victims seem to have nothing in common besides being male, under 40 and married. The murder method is identical. Each victim stops while driving home at night, is tased, beaten including crushed hands, and finally shot in the head. The entire crime takes less than five minutes.

Concurrently, Lucy’s stepson, Jesse, is sucked into a situation while trying to help a friend. To resolve this issue, Lucy and her husband Sean must improve their communication and parenting skills.

I love police procedurals. I enjoyed the interactions between skeptical Jerry and thinker Lucy while they were investigating the serial killer case. However, my interest was not held by the family drama portion of the book. This issue was probably caused by my lack of reading any earlier entry in this now fifteen book series.

For series readers, Nothing to Hide probably will rate 4.5 stars. For others, who like me are jumping in here, this book rates 3.5 stars. It is definitely worth reading for the twisty mystery of the killer’s identity and motive. The writing style is fluid. The characters are well-written. Overall, the book rates 4 stars.

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Silent Footsteps
May 4th, 2019 by diane92345

In Silent Footsteps, Constable Hazel Best is deeply disappointed when her CID interview doesn’t result in her promotion. While working a case, Hazel begins receiving anonymous gifts of flowers, wine and candy on her doorstep. Is it an admirer or a stalker?

Trucker Watts was only out of prison three weeks when he was found bludgeoned to death behind a dumpster. His best friend, Rat, is convinced that a rival gang, the Canal Crew, is responsible. Rat and Trucker’s gang, the Maulers, agree.

Silent Footsteps is a great mix of excellent characterizations and a puzzling but fair mystery. Armchair detectives may be able to determine who the murderer is before Hazel, as I did. However, the characters make reading the rest of the book a pleasant journey. This book is highly recommended for police procedural and mystery fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to Severn House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Wedding Guest
March 1st, 2019 by diane92345

In the Wedding Guest, Alex Delaware and Milo are back in the 34th police procedural in their series.

A scantily clad woman is found garroted and posed on a toilet during a wedding reception. The venue is a seedy former strip club, which fits in with the reception’s theme of Saints and Sinners.

LAPD Lieutenant Milo calls his friend and LAPD consulting psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware to assist with interviewing the wedding party, guests and staff. The victim has no id and none of the wedding party or event staff recognize her. The bride seems more upset about ruining her special day that assisting the detectives. Assorted other weird family members from both sides of the wedding aisle are introduced. Could any of them have killed the victim? Or was she a former employee of the defunct strip club? Milo and Alex investigate.

As always, it is always pleasant to spend a few hours with Alex and Milo, along with their family and friends. My sole complaint was I missed the usual stories of Alex’s clinical patients. While not one of the best in the series, the Wedding Guest is still an enjoyable mystery well worth the reader’s time. 3 stars.

Thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Rule of Law
February 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Dismas Hardy is back in the 18th series entry in Rule of Law.

Dismas’ longtime secretary, Phyllis, is acting strangely. Perhaps it has something Phyllis’ brother, Adam, who has just been released from prison. After disappearing for a few days, Phyllis returns to work only to be arrested as an accessory to murder. The victim is Hector, who is a known human trafficker and pimp. Concurrently, Wes has lost his bid for reelection to District Attorney. The new DA has a grudge against Dismas due to his vocal support of Wes.

There is a lot going on here. In addition to the two plots described above, there is the reforming of the original Dismas law firm plus the story ties up two previous novels’ loose ends. I wanted more about Phyllis and her legal issues. For a legal thriller, there are only minimal courtroom scenes. It reads more like a police procedural. This would be a four star read for readers that have read every book in the series. However, as a standalone, Rule of Law only rates 3 stars.

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Stalker
February 9th, 2019 by diane92345

A Stalker is loose in Stockholm and Detective Joona Linna is hunting him before he can kill again.

A serial killer is sending YouTube links to the Swedish National Crime Unit showing peeping Tom video of women right before they are murdered. What connects the videos or woman? Who could the serial killer be? Detective Margot Silverman is put in charge of the case.  She recruits Detective Joona Linna who then recruits Maria Bark, a hypnotist, to assist. As the serial killer continues to kill, the killing method is linked to an old case that imprisoned a possibly innocent man.

There aren’t many clues to be found in this lengthy but enthralling thriller. However, it is fun just to follow the case work of the Swedish detectives. Even though this book clocks in at over 500 pages, it doesn’t seem that long as you are reading it. Stalker is highly recommended for readers looking for a dark intelligent Scandinavian noir. 4 stars!

Thanks to Knopf and NetGalley for a copy that I wished for in exchange for an honest review.

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Smiling Man
February 6th, 2019 by diane92345

The Smiling Man is a dark and compelling police procedural set during the night shift in a poor Manchester area.

Detective Aidan Waits has been stuck on the night shift by his superiors and partnered with Detective Inspector Sutty, who is not the most motivated of men. When a body is found in an abandoned hotel, with its teeth replaced, fingertips missing, and a smile on its face, only a patch helps determines who the victim is. Things just spiral further into disarray from there until the surprising conclusion.

Within the Smiling Man, the characters are so well written that they seem like real people. The gritty setting is perfect for a dark noir. There is graphic violence here but also dark humor to balance it out. Highly recommended to noir readers, this uses an innovative setting to tell a gripping tale. 4 stars!

Thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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The Boy
January 6th, 2019 by diane92345

With a masterful plot, unique characters and a pitch-perfect rural setting, there is nothing in The Boy that I didn’t love.

A woman awakens to a ghastly sound coming from 7-year-old son’s room. Racing to his room, she finds him stabbed multiple time and the killer next turns the knife on her. Fearing for her safety, she runs bloody and wounded to her neighbors for help.

Annie and Nick, married detectives in rural Partout Parish Louisiana, are assigned the case. If only they could stop the new grandstanding Sheriff, Kelvin Dutrow, from trying to “modernize” the detectives’ methods. When a second child disappears, panic runs high as the detectives race to see if the two cases are connected.

The plotting is done with such precision that the reader sees none of the machinery and can sit back and enjoy the twist-filled ride. The rural Louisiana setting seems like a character all by itself and the characters in The Boy are one of its greatest charms. There is hot-headed Cajun Nick’s frequent switches into French patois. There is level-headed Annie who tries to reel her husband in.

You rarely find a book with both good characters and fine plotting. I loved The Boy. 5 stars!

Thanks to Dutton Books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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