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.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

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.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

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.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

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.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

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.

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

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 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 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 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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