Into the Night
December 11th, 2018 by diane92345

Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is back in the absorbing Australian police procedural Into the Night.

Gemma has moved from her hometown and son, Ben, to Melbourne. Her relationship with Ben’s father, Simon, mutually ended after The Dark Lake. Gemma is falling into half-night stands with strangers picked up in bars despite having a nice man trying to be a part of her life. She is missing Ben but feels compelled to solve crimes regardless of the cost to her personal life.

Gemma’s first case with her new guarded partner, Nick Fleet, is a seemingly random stabbing of a homeless man. However, the murder of up-and-coming celebrity Sterling Wade while the cameras are rolling pulls all the police detectives into the high profile case. Sterling was making a zombie movie where extras were chasing and assaulting him when he is stabbed with a real knife later found at the scene. His girlfriend, Lizzie, realizes something is wrong and her screams bring help unfortunately too late. The camera footage is of little help as everyone around Sterling is dressed in masks as zombies. Who has a motive? Everyone and no one. Sterling is well-liked and respected. However, his wealth and fame present irresistible challenges to many of his co-workers, friends and family.

It is refreshing to see a female detective go through the same drinking and relationship issues so familiar to male detectives from Phillip Marlowe to Harry Bosch. Despite all her baggage, she is an excellent detective. All the clues are here for the conclusion but I didn’t guess whodunit. It was still nice to see the author twist together all the mystery’s strands into a surprising conclusion. I can’t wait for the next in the series! Into the Night is recommended for police procedural fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Newcomer
November 23rd, 2018 by diane92345

Like Columbo, Newcomer is a new approach to a police procedural. Eight stories each tell an investigative tale. By the last chapter, the detective has solved the crime.

Precinct Detective Sergeant Kaga is a new transfer to Tokyo’s police department investigating a murder. He is a self-effacing bumbler on the surface but in reality is as smart as a whip. Each of the eight individual stories are interesting for their captivating character studies. They show both the similarities and differences between life in Japan and in America. However, they also provide clues to the overall mystery, the murder of a recently divorced woman. For example, Kaga verifies a suspect’s alibi by whether the suspect was wearing his suit coat when he went to the rice cracker shop. In other stories, Kaga tracks down the sweet buns and kitchen scissors found at the scene of the murder.  In all the stories, the people Kaga is interviewing, and the reader, do not know what or why he is investigating seemingly unrelated items.

I adored this delightful Japanese take on a police procedural! The character studies were interesting enough on their own to read the book. There were definitely clues to the murderer’s identity for the observant reader, which unfortunately was not me.  However, I liked the challenge. Newcomer has my highest recommendation for anyone looking for something completely different that most mystery books. 5 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: , ,

A Shot in the Dark
November 9th, 2018 by diane92345

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: ,

Lost Lake
November 7th, 2018 by diane92345

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: ,

Nantucket Counterfeit
October 17th, 2018 by diane92345

A multitude of suspects fills Nantucket Counterfeit, an enjoyable merging of a cozy setting with a police procedural.

Horst Refn is the Artistic Director of the Nantucket Theater Lab. He is a ladies man and a possible blackmailer. Worse, he is found face down in his basement’s chest freezer—frostbitten and dead by strangulation.

Nantucket’s police chief Henry Kennis has no shortage of suspects. Even his girlfriend, Jane Stiles, is identified as running away from the crime or could it be her lookalike, Marcia Stoddard. Both had motive and no alibi. Or it could be Donald Harcourt who found the body and verbally fought with the victim recently. Or even Joey Little who had texted Harcourt to meet him at the victim’s house. Refn was both screwing his wife and blackmailing him.

When the police chief discovers that the first play of the season, Who Dun It?, appears to be based on real people’s stories, he investigates and finds even more motives for murder.

Nantucket Counterfeit is a fun dive into the backbiting world of community theater. The characterizations are great. Despite many more suspects than the usual cozy, it was easy to keep them straight.

This is the fifth book in the Chief Kennis series but can easily be read as a stand-alone. Recommended to both cozy and police procedural fans, Nantucket Counterfeit gets 4 stars from me.

Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

The Darkness
October 16th, 2018 by diane92345

An interesting character study of a lonely police detective forced to retire. The Darkness is another character as is the beautiful isolation of Iceland.

Hulda is 64. She is dreading retiring to her lonely apartment when her superior tells she has been replaced effectively in two weeks. He allows her to investigate one cold case. She selects a drowned Russian girl who was awaiting asylum in a remote hostel. Was her death an accident, suicide or murder?

Telling three alternating stories of an unwed mother forced to give up her daughter in the 1940s, Hulda’s investigation and a mysterious woman’s adventure in the Icelandic winter. The Darkness is a slow-simmering tale rather than a thriller. The mystery was extremely easy to solve. However, Hulda’s story is an interesting one. Plus the exceptional conclusion has to be read to be believed.

The Darkness is recommended for literary fiction fans rather than those readers looking for an exciting thriller or challenging mystery. This is a tale within a tale within a tale. 4 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Literary Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

Hangman's Hold
August 27th, 2018 by diane92345

Hangman’s Hold is a servicable British police procedural.

DCI Matilda Darke has a problem. Someone is killing ex-convicts on her patch. Adele, Sheffield’s pathologist and Matilda’s best friend, has a worse problem. She had her first date in 20 years with the first victim, Brian, the night he was murdered. Unfortunately, Matilda’s worst problem is someone is leaking confidential police information to a local reporter.

Although a back story from previous books in this series are alluded to within this book, the reader can start the series here. The main characters, Matilda and Adele, are convincingly portrayed as lonely middle-aged women. Most of the other detectives are not fully fleshed out and are introduced as new to Matilda too. This allows them to be suspects in the leaking mystery but it also makes it difficult to see their point of view.

For those looking for a good police procedural about a serial killer, Hangman’s Hold is recommended for an evening’s entertainment. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Killer Reads, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

Plaster Sinners
July 14th, 2018 by diane92345

Plaster Sinners is another fun Flaxborough romp!

Detective Sergeant Love is coshed on the head while inspecting a plaster cottage bas-relief. Later, the item is sold for an astonishingly high 370 pounds. Suspecting something shady, Inspector Purbright investigates.

This is the eleventh book in the series of twelve. The characters are well-defined and the plots just keep getting better. The humor is more apparent in this series entry. It is a good choice for readers looking for a village cozy mystery that moves at a rather slow pace. The characters are the star here. 4 stars!

Plaster Sinners is set in rural England in the 1970s. If you’re not British, I would recommend reading this on an eReader to make it easy to look up unusual words.

Thanks to the publisher, Farrago, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Naked Nuns
May 31st, 2018 by diane92345

More trouble for Flaxborough in the 8th book in the series.

A contentious boat race leads 2 of the town’s leaders almost to blows. Nighttime escapades show the naked frolicking of a town leader, his friend, and two working girls to the neighbors. A mysterious note from the states promises “naked nuns” and a paid “hit”. An old friend of the series welcomes an “olive oil importer” to town. Eventually, a brutal murder occurs. What is happening in this quaint and usually quiet British town?

The town characters are well-utilized in the Naked Nuns for those already familiar with the series. However, for newbies, this is not the place to start. One character shown is the answer to a previous book’s mystery-ruining the ending for anyone reading this first. There are many characters introduced in the first few chapters that will be confusing for newcomers. The trademark dark humor is not as obvious as in previous books. The murder occurs near the end. Overall, not one of the best books in the series. 3 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Farrago Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , , , , ,

The Fallen
May 18th, 2018 by diane92345

Another great police procedural, #4 in the Memory Man series.

Amos and his partner, Alex, are on vacation when Amos sees something in a nearby house and investigates. Two bodies are found and Amos and Alex join the local police in searching for the murderer. Soon the opioid crisis, an Amazon-like fulfillment center and rust belt deterioration are central to the investigation.

The characters in this series grow and change as time goes on so it is important to read the books in order. A compelling read with great plotting! 4 stars!

Thanks to my local library for a copy. #FrugalFriday short review!

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

Flaxborough Crab
May 12th, 2018 by diane92345

“Something or other is sending half the over-sixties round the twist” in the Flaxborough Crab.

A rash of panty theft, quick grope and runs, and window peeping has befallen Flaxborough. The perps are described as elderly men who scuttle away sideways like a crab. When an esteemed villager is accidentally killed while perpetrating an attack, the police rest easy. But hours later, two more incidents are reported. What is causing the disruption of the usual calmness of Flaxborough life?

This is the sixth book in the Flaxborough Mystery series but it can easily be read as a stand-alone. By using metaphors, the Flaxborough Crab successfully combines naughty details with a totally clean story line that is fine for all ages. Some of the metaphors, especially at the senior picnic using flowers, are laugh-out-loud funny. The mystery is more of a whydunnit than the traditional whodunnit.

The Flaxborough Crab is highly recommended for 20th century police procedural and British cozy mystery fans. It could be likened to a 1950’s precursor of the Stephanie Plum series with the elderly women of the village playing a clean version of Lula. Seriously, this book is funny! 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Farrago Books, and NetGalley for a copy. I can’t wait for the next in the series!

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

The Cutting Edge
April 9th, 2018 by diane92345

Any new Lincoln Rhyme book is a cause for celebration. However, too much information about diamonds makes The Cutting Edge one of the least interesting books in the long-running series.

Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are chasing a serial killer targeting engaged couples in The Cutting Edge, the 14th book in the series. A diamond cutter and the engaged couple in his shop are killed but only a few diamonds are stolen. The diamond cutter appears to have been tortured. In addition, there is evidence that someone walked in on the scene and was wounded by the killer and then left the scene. The novel just adds more and more plot twists and turns until its conclusion.

Usually I adore Mr. Deaver’s books. I was so happy to have received the digital ARC of The Cutting Edge. However, this particular book in the series left me shrugging my shoulders. Some of the motivations seemed contrived. I saw the final twist coming about 100 pages before it was revealed. The author obviously did a lot of research into diamond mining, cutting and grading. While that is great, I don’t need to read all of it. There was a large quantity of information that I just skimmed because it didn’t interest me. I realize that the author wouldn’t necessarily know what would interest me personally (like the US spends $40 billion on diamonds each year, which is a full 50% of the world’s sales). However, 30% of the book reads like a non-fiction book about the diamond trade and none of that information is needed to solve the mystery.

Without revealing any spoilers, there were several twists in the book that I was genuinely surprised by and the characters were different from the usual police procedural suspects. Overall, The Cutting Edge deserves 4 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Grand Central Publishing, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

Too Close to Breathe
April 3rd, 2018 by diane92345

Nothing is as it seems in the new top-notch thriller Too Close to Breathe by debut Irish novelist Olivia Kiernan.

Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan is back to work after being stabbed in the line of duty.  Frankie is placed in charge of a large team looking into the death of Professor Eleanor Costello. One small forensic finding makes Eleanor’s hanging not a suicide but a murder.  There are indications that Eleanor may have been a victim of physical abuse. Eleanor’s husband has also disappeared.  As the body count rises, it appears that a serial killer is at large in Dublin.  I won’t say more as the fun is trying to follow the twisty plot.

Frankie’s PTSD is almost another character in Too Close to Breathe. The case against her assailant is going to trial soon.  Frankie’s back story is slowly unveiled through flashbacks.

Too Close to Breathe was a thrilling read until the last 15%.  I wasn’t happy with the end.  It didn’t necessarily play fair with the amateur detective reader.  Or maybe I’m just upset because I didn’t guess who did it.  It was also rather abrupt. There were also many coincidences toward the end.  However, this book still deserves 4 stars for the innovative structure of a detective with PTSD and some of the other surprising aspects of the crime not often used in thrillers. I hope this is the start of a long and productive series.

Thanks to the publisher, Dutton, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

Look for Me
February 12th, 2018 by diane92345

Boston Sergeant D.D. Warren and her partner Phil are back at work in this excellent addition to the series.

A family of four are shot in their home while their teenage daughter is walking their dogs. D.D. and Phil are called in to investigate. Sixteen-year-old Roxanna never returns to the house. Is she guilty of the crime? Or is she running scared from the killer?

Flora Dane is an abduction survivor who runs an unofficial survivor group online. Roxanna had joined the group shortly before the murders. She seemed scared but of who or what? Flora decides to look for Roxanna on the dark side of the law while D.D. and Phil follow official channels.

Roxanna wrote a multi-part story of her “perfect” family. Her mother and step-father’s drinking lead the three children to be placed in foster care. Something happens to the two girls, then 11 and 8, that changes their personalities forever. Lola, the younger and prettier sister, begins to act flirtatious to older men. Roxanna acts even more protective of her sister. The family reunites after a year but that alone can’t save this fractured family.

The story structure of D.D.’s police procedural, Flora’s coloring outside the lines approach and Roxanna’s apparent fear merge well into a coherent and pulse-pounding plot. Look for Me is a thrilling look into how a family can be ripped apart by well-meaning government officials. Simple decisions can spiral into life altering results.

Look for Me is highly recommended for its mystery but also for its realistic characters and family dynamics. 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Dutton, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

Pretty Girls Dancing
February 5th, 2018 by diane92345

The underlying family dynamics of missing children wrapped within a compelling police procedural.

Pretty Girls Dancing tells the stories of two families that share the tragedy of a missing teenaged daughter. When Kelsey disappeared seven years ago her family was distraught. Now Kelsey’s father has moved on but her mother, Claire, has not. When another teenaged girl is reported missing from a nearby town, the police begin to see similarities between the two crimes. Both had recently stopped their dance lessons. There is an active serial killer leaving his victims in a nearby woods dressed in ballet clothes. Is there a true connection? Or is it just a fiction dreamed up by the local press to boost their ratings? As a new detective looks into the two cases, he realizes that everyone has secrets that may or may not relate to the kidnappings.

Pretty Girls Dancing was an enjoyable read. The family dynamics were the best part. All the characters and dialog were very authentic and believable. The mystery was not very difficult to solve.  However, the police procedures seemed realistic. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Thomas & Mercer, and NetGalley for a review copy.

Posted in Kindle Unlimited, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with:

January 8th, 2018 by diane92345

A deadly cat and mouse game between a bomber and the LAPD Bomb Squad.

Dick Stahl is the owner of a security company. He is famous for doing whatever it takes to rescue American business people from kidnappers in foreign lands. Dick was also a former head of the LAPD Bomb Squad. When a bomb kills the current leader and most of his senior staff, Dick accepts a temporary post as interim bomb squad chief.

The bomber is a loner skilled at creating explosives, blasting caps and detonators by hand. He is targeting the Bomb Squad. But why?

Alternating perspectives of The Bomb Maker and the squad trying to catch him makes for a compelling read. The bomb defusing scenes are particularly tense. The science of bomb creation is fascinating and well detailed. This reader is hopeful that at least one ingredient is left out of each explosive recipe.

Due to its nice mixture of science and suspense, The Bomb Maker is highly recommended for fans of Michael Crichton and Robin Cook. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Grove Atlantic, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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