Whatever's Been Going On at Mumblesby?
August 15th, 2018 by diane92345

Trust the rich to make Whatever’s Been Going on at Mumblesby? an intricate braintwister of a cozy mystery.

It’s 1981 and Flaxborough’s upper class neighboring town, Mumblesby, is in an uproar. First, solicitor Richard installed Zoe Claypole, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, in his house as his common law wife. Second, Richard died leaving his estate to Zoe. Finally, someone hatched an elaborate plan to burn down Richard’s house with Zoe in it. What about the expensive antiques with questionable provenance throughout Richard’s house? If you thought Flaxborough had some bizarre crimes, wait until you see Whatever’s Been Going on at Mumblesby?

It’s sad to think this is the last book in the Flaxborough series. I’ll miss this zany take-off on the Miss Marple type British village cozy mystery. However, Whatever’s Been Going on at Mumblesby? is an excellent end to the series. It is an intriguing puzzle sure to enchant all armchair detectives, myself included. 4 stars!

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

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Feared
August 14th, 2018 by diane92345

In the sixth Rosato and DiNunzio book, the firm is sued directly by Mary’s archnemesis, Nick Machiavelli. Three male plantiffs are alleging gender hiring discrimination and using the words of the firm’s sole male attorney against them. Hiring Roger Vitez to defend them, the firm is shocked to discover a murder. Now rushing to save their firm and find a killer, Bennie, Mary and Judy makes some strange bedfellows in Feared.

Mary’s Tony-filled family is always a treat. Her pragnancy issues are played mostly for laughs. However, there are plenty of twists for thriller fans. A good entry to the series with no spoilers to earlier books, Feared is highly recommended to thriller and Lisa Scottoline fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Toucan Keep a Secret
August 13th, 2018 by diane92345

Toucan Keep a Secret about a thirty-year-old robbery and murder.

By all accounts, Junius Hagley was not a nice man. Frustrated by the paperwork to disintern his wife’s cremated remains, he took matters, and a crowbar, into his own hands to rectify the situation. When someone interrupts, and then murders him, Meg investigates for Pastor Robin, who is on pregnancy bedrest.

It’s always a pleasure to return to Meg’s world. After 23 books, her family and friends feel like my friends too. I would have liked more time with Michael and the boys—even with her ironwork—which were much more prevalent in the early entries in the series. Still Toucan Keep a Secret is a good cozy mystery worth 4 stars.

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Paradox
August 3rd, 2018 by diane92345

This time it’s personal for Sherlock and Savich in Paradox, the latest book in the FBI Thriller series.

Sherlock and Savich awake to an attempted kidnapping of their five-year-old son, Sean. Concurrently, Chief Ty witnesses a murder on a lake.  When the lake is dragged for the victim, many old bones are found along with the new body. A old belt buckle is found with the victims that links the case to another in Sherlock and Savich’s history. The three stories intertwine as the plot plays out.

Regardless of which series I’m reading, Catherine Coulter never fails to keep me entertained. Even in the 22nd book in this series, the suspense is kept at a fever pace. Paradox begins with a breathless adrenaline rush and finishes with a twisty but not ultimately surprising finale.  I liked Enigma, the immediately prior book in the series, more (review here) than this one but that was because of the science in that book. Still this book is highly recommended for thriller fans. 4 stars!

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

 

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Measure of Darkness
August 2nd, 2018 by diane92345

Five people are killed after a house party gets lethal in Measure of Darkness.

A confrontation between neighbors kills three including one of the combatants. A six-year-old is hit in his bed from crossfire. In the ensuing uproar, another party guest is run down in the street by a panicked young girl. But what of the girl found hidden in a shed strangled?

Coroner investigator, Clay Edison, is trying to determine the former name of the car victim to find her next of kin. Born a male and living on the street as female, the trans community shuts down Clay’s search for her parents. In the meantime, Clay hunts for the strangulation victim’s identity and the reason for her death.

Isaiah is targeted as the shooter when he goes to the hospital for a gunshot wound.  He, one of the dead and their childhood friends Tuan can be seen on the many YouTube videos showing the confrontation.  Tuan has fled. In the video, returning Tuan’s fire is Dane who is also in the wind.

Clay and Amy have their parents over for Christmas dinner. Luke, Clay’s just out of prison brother announces his engagement to surprise guest Andrea.

This is second book in the Clay Edison series after Crime Scene (review here). The books do not have to be read in order. The conclusion is twisty and satisfying. Giving a coroner investigator’s viewpoint within a traditional police procedural, Measure of Darkness is highly recommended to mystery fans. 4 stars!

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

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Against the Claw
July 31st, 2018 by diane92345

The second Lobster Shack mystery, after Curses, Boiled Again (reviewed here), is as good as the first!  Against the Claw starts with Allie pulling lobster traps with Bertha. The last trap also pulls up a dead girl.

With Aunt Gully’s Lobster Shack expected to host a huge number of customers on the Fourth of July, a catering opportunity that is too good to pass up appears. Catering the famous modeling agent Stellene’s annual party would be excellent publicity. When Allie and her sister Lorel get the opportunity to stay on Stellene’s massive yacht with only superstar singer Eden and her guitarist boyfriend on board, it seems like the perfect day. But when Lorel’s recently ex-boyfriend Patrick is found dead in the morning in a raft tied to the yacht, the party abruptly ends.

I love the characters in the Lobster Shack books. They feel like old friends who are stuck in bad circumstances whose wits will ultimately win out over evil. The mystery was good—not to easy or too difficult to figure out. You definitely do not need to read the first book in the series, Curses, Boiled Again, to enjoy this one. Even better, Against the Claw has no spoilers to the first book so they can be read out of order. Highly recommended to cozy mystery fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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In the Valley of the Devil
July 12th, 2018 by diane92345

“The world never ran out of monsters.” Earl Marcus is back fighting them In the Valley of the Devil.

In the rural Georgia mountain countryside, a new preacher has arrived. Jeb Walsh is running for the Senate, pushing his book and preaching his version of hate and intolerence at his town square rally. In the meantime, racist graffiti is turning up all over town. A rumor about Old Nathaniel, a hooded racist killer, has resurfaced after several African-Americans are reported missing.

Earl has recovered from the incidents in Heaven’s Crooked Finger (see my review). He is now a private detective. When his African-American Atlanta police officer girlfriend, Mary, is kidnapped, Earl pulls out all the stops to find her.

In the Valley of the Devil really lives up to the thriller label. It is an exhilarating pulse-pounding ride to the finish. Highly recommended but I cannot overemphasize the need to read Heaven’s Crooked Finger first. Events in the first book continue to impact the characters in this book plus there are major spoilers in here. Luckily, both the first book and this one are excellent and earn 5 stars!

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

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One Man's Meat
June 17th, 2018 by diane92345

One Man’s Meat is Gone Girl 60s style!

The ninth Flaxborough mystery was published in 1977 but is set in the “swinging” 60s. Motorcycle gang member Digger Tring falls from a carnival ride 100 feet to his death. Julia Harton’s husband wants a divorce to marry his mistress who is willing to play the waffle game with a tennis racket, butter and her bum. Con man Mr. Rothermer convinces Julia to use the “classic ploy of the vanished wife” to ensure she receives $20,000 in her divorce settlement. Inspector Purbright and Detective Love investigate.

Highly recommended for its dry wit and great mystery. Definitely one of the best in a series that just keeps improving. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Farrago Books, 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.

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Crooked Staircase
May 9th, 2018 by diane92345

Cabals be caballing. In The Crooked Staircase, Jane Hawk is hunting more of the cabal that used brain nanobots to force her husband to kill himself.

In this series entry, Simon Yegg is the so-mean-it-is-unbelievable type of villain. He tortures his ex-wives up to, and including, gang rape to get them to give him more than 50% of their money during the divorce.  Simon is independently wealthy so it appears he tortures just for fun.  Jane is coming for him as she works up the org structure of the cabal. In an alternate story arc, two twins are being chased through Northern Orange County California by the brain-controlled police and a NSA agent. The twins are young authors who have an unbelievable ability to drive and hide in plain sight almost as well as Jane.

This, the third book in the series, is beginning to wear me out. I don’t see a light at the end of Jane’s tunnel. How can one woman take on an entire cabal of rich men and their brain-controlled subordinates? The Crooked Staircase reads like a movie thriller. It is easy to picture the scenes up on a darkened movie screen. However, the characters’ motivations are increasingly murky. I still sympathize with Jane but at some point before this book’s end, I would have just taken my son and run away to Uruguay or someplace.  Move on, Jane!

The second in the Jane Hawk series was recommended with 4 stars. However, this one left me cold.  3 stars! Mr. Koontz, I know this is a bestselling series. I can see by the teaser at the end that there will be a fourth Jane Hawk book. But please write some more of those excellent horror/paranormal novels like Watchers and the Odd Thomas series.

Thanks to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Sixth Day
April 11th, 2018 by diane92345

A complicated and engaging thriller incorporating modern technology, a real-life unreadably manuscript and Romanian legends. The fifth in the Brit in the FBI series, The Sixth Day brings together a serial killer, drones, computer viruses, falconry and Dracula.

 Nicholas, Mike and the Covert Eyes team return in the latest Brit in the FBI series entry. Someone is killing powerful men in public with an unknown weapon. A rich and eccentric billionaire tech mogul is building a drone army against ISIS. A real 15th century manuscript may be decoded using twin speak. A serial killer, nicknamed Dracula, is moving across Europe killing and then removing the blood of his victims. As the novels moves to its conclusion, these disparate threads come together in a powerful conclusion.

I have never read any other book in this series. I selected The Sixth Day because it sounded like the DaVinci Code meets Dracula. It does contain true parts just manipulated enough to move the plot forward. The Voynich manuscript is real and has not yet been translated. Vlad III (Dracula) did exist but did not have twin sons. He did have a younger brother named Radu the Beautiful though. Overall, I enjoyed the many sub-plots within this book. Other readers who like overstuffed plots will also appreciate this book. 4 stars!

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

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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.

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Scot Free
April 6th, 2018 by diane92345

Cozy mystery Scot Free is my #FrugalFriday short review this week! 

Marriage counselor Lexy Campbell moves to California to marry and quickly divorce. The husband of her client, Visalia, is murdered by fireworks. Visalia is arrested. Lexy decides to solve the crime since she co-signed Visalia’s bail bond.

Born and living in California all my life, I hoped this series would be a Elmore Leonard/Tim Dorsey-type book about California. Unfortunately, it is neither zany nor California-specific enough. However, the characters, mystery and ending were good so 3 ½ stars.

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

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Lonelyheart 4122
April 5th, 2018 by diane92345

The fourth in the Flaxborough Mystery series is much better than the third. Lonelyheart 4122 is the anonymous number of the enigmatic man who possibly murdered two lonely women and may be working on his third.

Inspector Purbright and Sergeant Love are searching for two missing middle-aged ladies. Mrs. Bannister is a relatively wealthy widow. Miss Reckitt is a spinster with some savings too. Their only connection is a lonely hearts club (think 1960s match.com), where both were looking for love and companionship. There is a parallel story line of Miss Teatime’s meeting with the mysterious 4122, who got her name from the club.

I read the previous entry in the series and didn’t like the spy part of the plot. Here is my review of Hopjoy was Here. However, I liked the small village of Flaxborough and its citizens enough to read this one, the next book in the series. I’m glad I did. The mystery was much better especially the ending. People are still looking for love so this felt both modern and quaint in its methods.

“It would be quite in character for a latter-day courtship to be conducted by correspondence.”

I can’t imagine what the villagers would think of Tinder and sexting! Overall, Lonelyheart 4122 earns 4 stars.

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

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Tart of Darkness
April 2nd, 2018 by diane92345

The characters and romances are better than the mystery in Tart of Darkness.

Dani Sloan inherits a Victorian half-finished bed and breakfast. A former Human Resources executive, Dani really wants to be a chef. She decides to share her house with three college students: Ivy, Tippi and Starr. In return for reduced rent, all three promise to help Dani launch her new business, Chef-to-go.  The business offers catering, personal chef and lunch drive-thru service from her kitchen window.

When Dani is asked to cater queen bee Regina’s luau, she thinks it may be her ticket to more business from the area’s wealthy customer base. Instead both Dani and Ivy are suspected of murder. Ivy’s uncle Spencer is head of campus security. He and Dani decide to solve the case by looking into who had motive and opportunity. Bliss, Regina’s best friend, Laz, Regina’s boyfriend, and Vance, Regina’s ex and Bliss’ current boyfriend are all suspects.

I liked the interaction of Dani and Spencer better than the mystery within Tart of Darkness. The mystery threw a lot of information in the last few pages that was needed to solve the crime making it difficult for armchair detectives to solve. All of Dani’s meals sound delicious but where are the recipes? I will read the next in the series to see where Dani’s romance leads rather than expect a captivating mystery. 3 1/2 stars.

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

There is a giveaway for this book here through April 27, 2018.

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Hopjoy was Here
March 30th, 2018 by diane92345

Droll rather than humorous, Hopjoy was Here is definitely different from the standard English village cozy.

Inspector Purbright receives an anonymous letter from a neighbor of the male roommates Hopjoy and Periam about a fight in their bathroom. Hopjoy is working for a mysterious (CIAesque) agency. Was Hopjoy or Periam murdered using acid in their own bathtub?

Unusual murder method, spies, formal British language, and passé humor, the book is not for everyone. The village characters are the best part.  Difficult to rate but 3 stars–onto the next in the series.

Thanks to Farrago and NetGalley for a copy.

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