Twisted at the Root
August 15th, 2019 by diane92345

Gideon is brutally murdered in his own home in Twisted at the Root.

The only person at home at the time is Gideon’s husband, Rashad. Rashad insists in his innocence but is found guilty at trial. When additional evidence is found four years later, Rashad is retried. He asks for his original attorney, Ray, to defend him again. After accepting, Ray hires his PI daughter, Jane, to find the real killer.

Twisted at the Root disappointed me. I didn’t find the characters engaging. The pacing seemed slow. It might be because this is the first I’ve read in this ongoing series. If so, I wouldn’t recommend this book as a good entry point. However, if you are already a series fan you will probably enjoy this one too. 3 stars.

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

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

Terns of Endearment
August 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Terns of Endearment brings the whole Meg Langslow crew aboard a cruise ship to Bermuda where both murder and secrets abound!

When called upon to be a wildlife lecturer, Meg’s grandfather Dr. Blake brings the whole family along on the questionably run Pastime cruise line. The ship’s crew is disorganized and unfriendly. The ship itself is falling apart. When Meg meets a group of authors, she learns they suspect another writer, Desiree, of plagiarism and causing a friend’s suicide. When Desiree disappears, presumed drowned, Meg and her family investigate. But there is more than one mystery aboard this cruise.

I can’t believe we are up to the 25th Meg Langslow mystery. Having read them all, I feel like part of the Langslow family now. My favorite character continues to be Meg’s curmudgeonly grandfather so it is nice to see him away from the house and spreading his large quantity of wildlife knowledge. While reading previous books in the series will increase your enjoyment, you can easily begin right here.

An enjoyable day or two joining the Langslow extended family on a cruise is a pleasant way to spend your time. It would be a perfect beach read. 4 stars!

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

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Labyrinth
July 31st, 2019 by diane92345

Two seemingly unrelated cases enliven Labyrinth, the 23rd entry in the FBI Thriller series.

Agent Sherlock hits a running man with her car while caroming around after being struck herself by an SUV running a red light. Waking up in the hospital, she can’t remember her name or recognize her family. Blood found on her car is linked to a missing CIA Analyst. Where did the obviously hurt man go after the accident? More importantly, who or what was he running from?

In rural Gaffer’s Ridge, FBI Agent Griffin Hammersmith is taking a vacation trying to forget his recent break-up with his fiancée Anna and a particularly bizarre recent case with Agent Savich. He hears someone’s thoughts, who is in danger. Carson DeSilva is trapped with a man who, she psychically believes, has already brutally killed three missing teenagers. Once free with the killer Rafer Bodine trapped, Griffin calls the police. But will he and Carson get justice when the Sheriff poo-poos their claim and states his nephew, Rafer, is an upstanding citizen—not a serial killer.

Agents Savich and Sherlock continue to bring original plots to their books. The amnesia throws a wrench into their relationship but you feel nothing could bring them down for long.

There is a lot going on here but the author does a good job keeping all the subplots boiling. Usually, one plot is the main one leaving the others as kind of a filler you have to rush through to get back to the interesting story. That didn’t happen in Labyrinth. All the plots were compelling. I read the book in one sitting. It is a great addition to the FBI Thriller series. 4 stars!

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

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Toxic Toffee
July 2nd, 2019 by diane92345

Bailey, Aiden, and the rest of the village of Harvest Ohio return in Toxic Toffee, the fourth in the Amish Candy Shop cozy mystery series.

It’s a week before Easter when the village’s self-appointed marketer, Margot, convinces chocolatier Bailey to make a six foot toffee bunny for the town square. Margot had also arranged for Stephen Raber to bring several rabbits to form a petting zoo. Stephen has a pet bunny named Puff that he treats like a child. When Stephen drops dead on the square, most assume it was his weak heart. However, the coroner determines he was poisoned by a piece of toffee that contained Lily of the Valley. When Stephen’s son Eli asks for Bailey to investigate, he also drops off Puff. How can she refuse either request?

It always seems like I’m catching up with old friends when I’m reading a book in this series. In Toxic Toffee, Bailey reaches even deeper into Amish culture by attending a quilting circle, talking to a matchmaker, and discovering how people who leave the faith survive in the modern world.

The mystery was great. The murderer’s identity was a complete surprise to me. Overall, another great book in an excellent series. 4.5 stars!

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

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The Sentence is Death
June 4th, 2019 by diane92345

Richard Pryce is killed with an expensive wine bottle. The killer writes 182 in green paint on the wall. Those are not the most extraordinary points in The Sentence is Death.

Anthony Horowitz, the fictional writer, written by the real Anthony Horowitz, the author of this book, is working with freelance Detective Daniel Hawthorne again. Horowitz does have a contractual obligation for two more books of 80,000 words each. His attitude is to get the book done so he can go back to working on (the real British television show) Foyle’s War.

Back to the murder. Pryce is a celebrity divorce lawyer working on a 10 million pound settlement. His client’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Akira Anno, threatens to kill Pryce with a wine bottle loudly in a restaurant. Awkward for her when he is found dead by the same method less than 24 hours later.

The Sentence is Murder is another riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma from bestselling author Anthony Horowitz. All I can say is don’t piss the real Mr. Horowitz off. He can obviously plot a murder that no one will solve.

I went into this book looking for the most unlikely suspect who had opportunity. However, I failed to identify the murderer before either Hawthorne or fictional Horowitz. There are really three mysteries here. I feel slightly better because I was able to solve the two smaller ones. For anyone who enjoys mysteries especially golden age or older stories, you can’t go wrong picking this book up. It has no spoilers for the first in the series so they can be read in any order. Highly recommended with a rating of 5 stars! I can’t wait for the third in the planned trilogy.

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

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

Night Window
May 15th, 2019 by diane92345

It’s time for Jane Hawk to finally get some payback for her husband’s death and so much more in Night Window.

The Techno-Arcadians have chased former FBI Agent Jane Hawk through four books already. Jane is trying to bring to light a massive conspiracy of billionaires. The Arcadians inserted a nanobot into Jane’s husband’s brain. When activated, he was forced to kill himself. In previous books, the nanobots were used to create both assassins and sex slaves.

Protecting her young son Travis is Jane’s highest priority as well proving her husband’s innocence. However, Jane’s ultimate goal is to expose the Arcadian’s evil plan to the public. This time she has some help from a former colleague, computer hacker Vikram.

I have been lucky enough to acquire the entire Jane Hawk series as Advanced Reader Copies. While Night Window can be read as a standalone, it is rather like reading the last chapter in a book. You would be cheating yourself out of a suspenseful ride. The conclusion is definitely worth the wait.

The author’s writing style is not for everyone. Mr. Koontz has never met an adjective he didn’t like. While effective in horror, it feels rather out of place in a thriller. It does rather slow down the pace. However, the use of such detailed imagery intensifies the atmosphere and allows a closer connection with the series’ characters. The plot, over the entire series, is engaging enough to compel the reader through each book.

Overall, an excellent conclusion to an outstanding series. 5 stars! Now, please Mr. Koontz, write another excellent paranormal thriller like Watchers.

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

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

Antiques Ravin
April 29th, 2019 by diane92345

Antiques Ravin’ is a humorous cozy mystery with unique characters.

Meet Brandy and her mother, Vivian. Vivian was elected County Sheriff in the preceding series entry when everyone else running was disqualified. Vivian has a revoked driver’s license for driving while not under the influence—of her bipolar medicine—so Brandy is her unpaid chauffeur.

Sheriff Vivian is called to the nearby town of Antiqua to investigate a series of burglaries. The surprising part is that nothing was stolen from the five antique stores. Was the burglar looking for the Poe prize? Part of an annual hunt for one valuable item tagged for a ridiculously low amount among all the town’s antique stores. The hunt begins tomorrow during the town’s Edgar Allen Poe Days celebration. When someone is murdered in the style of a famous Poe story, the story moves forward quickly.

Antiques Ravin’ is the thirteenth book in this series but my first. It is fine read as a standalone. I like the humor and the eccentric characters. However, my favorite part was that this book seems violent enough to almost be a thriller. Most cozy mysteries avoid violence but I think a bit is a welcome change. If you agree, this series will be a great addition to your cozy collection. 4 stars!

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

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

Soul Remains
April 22nd, 2019 by diane92345

In Soul Remains, the hapless and unlucky accountant, Sloot, is still trying to save his beloved city, Salzstadt, from everything bad. Everything bad now includes the walking dead and goblin multitudes plus the increasingly bizarre inability of city residents to see that anything is wrong.

You can’t keep Sloot down. Though he was killed at the end of the previous book in this series, he is back as a ghost. That doesn’t stop Sloot from being just as willing (and unfortunately incompetent) to save his city and the Dominator, long may he reign. The Dominator, in the meantime, has disappeared.

Readers will either laugh along with the puns and humor here and have a great time…or not. The best way to tell is by determining if you think Monty Python and/or A Fish Called Wanda is laugh-out-loud funny. If so, you will enjoy this deep dive into the creatively weird world of Sloot and the Old Country as much as I did. Soul Remains is highly recommended to those who enjoy something completely different. 4 stars!

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

Posted in Fantasy, Humor, New Books Tagged with: ,

Never Tell
March 25th, 2019 by diane92345

Another awesome entry in the Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren series. Both D.D. and Flora Dane have a past connection to a new murder case in Never Tell.

Evie is happily married to Conrad and four months pregnant with their first child. Coming home after work, she finds Conrad shot dead in his study. Something on his laptop disturbs her so much that she calmly picks up the murder weapon and shoots the computer twelve times. The police find her holding the gun and arrest her for murder.

Evie was D.D.’s first murder case sixteen years earlier. Evie had shot her father. Her only comment, “It was an accident. An unfortunate accident.” Evie was not charged.

Flora Dane, now working as D.D.’s confidential informant, recognizes the victim, Conrad, from her days with her abductor, Jacob. What secrets are hiding behind Evie’s and Conrad’s seemingly normal facade?

Never Tell is another gripping thriller by Lisa Gardner. Told from the viewpoint of Evie, D.D., and Flora, Flora’s sections were the ones I was racing toward. Flora describes more of what happened to her during her abduction. In addition, Flora shows almost a human side in this book, which is nice to see.

While this book is a highly recommended thriller, I would suggest strongly to read Find Her, where Flora Dane’s story is initially told, before reading this one. It will increase your understanding of Flora’s story (plus it’s a great book on its own).  With that sole caveat, Never Tell is highly recommended to all thriller lovers. You won’t be disappointed! 5 stars!

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

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A Beautiful Corpse
March 19th, 2019 by diane92345

The victim, a 24-year-old law student and part-time bartender, is A Beautiful Corpse in the second entry in the Harper McClain series.

Harper is a newspaper crime reporter working the night shift. She is covering a murder in the tourist area of Savannah when she thinks the victim looks familiar. Harper had just seen the victim, Naomi, a couple of hours earlier working in The Library Bar.

The police have three suspects:

  • Naomi’s boyfriend, who has a criminal record and no alibi
  • Her stalker, the District Attorney’s son, with a solid alibi
  • Naomi’s boss, who had a run in with another young female employee two years ago and has no alibi.

Harper is investigating for her newspaper but she also disagrees with the person the police suspect. As she investigates, she is also battling a stalker who may or may not want to help her with the case.

Even though this is the second book in this series, it can be read as a stand-alone. When you begin A Beautiful Corpse make sure you have enough time to finish it in one sitting.  I literally couldn’t put it down. I was reading it on my Kindle and I bought the audiobook so I could listen to it on my drive to and from work. That’s how addicting this book was. I loved the innovative point-of-view of an investigative reporter doing basically police procedures because the police don’t or won’t. Harper is a great character and I was extremely invested in her success both with the case, her job and her love life. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. 5 stars!

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

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Something Read Something Dead
March 13th, 2019 by diane92345

Lighthouse? Check. Library? Check. Library cat? Check. Wedding? Check. Amateur sleuth? Check. Murder? Of course, check. There is a little bit of everything cozy in Something Read, Something Dead.

Lucy is the assistant librarian at the Lighthouse Library in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She is helping her cousin Josie plan her nuptials with the two other bridesmaids, Stephanie and Grace. While they may not agree on the wedding colors, they do agree on this mantra: “small, simple, and perfect in every way.”

The mantra only lasts until Josie’s cousin, Mirabelle, and her grandmother, Gloria, appear. As Josie is her only granddaughter, Gloria insists on a more formal, and expensive, celebration. During the bridal shower at the library, Mirabelle sickens. After an ambulance ride to the hospital, she dies. Believing Mirabelle was poisoned, the police investigate. As Josie is the number one suspect, Lucy vows to clear her cousin’s name.

Some cozy series just feel like you’re catching up with old friends. The Lighthouse Mystery series gives that feeling to me. Do I care I guessed the murderer early in the book? No, because that’s not the main reason I read this series. Lucy, Steph, Josie and Aunt Ellen are genuine characters that I like to visit. I was disappointed that there were no gluten-free recipes included but after reading the book, it is easy to understand why. Overall, Something Read, Something Dead is an excellent way to pass an afternoon. 4 stars!

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

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A Dangerous Collaboration
March 12th, 2019 by diane92345

A Dangerous Collaboration between Veronica and Stoker’s brother, the Viscount, result in a much more gothic entry in the series.

Veronica Speedwell is not your typical Victorian woman. She doesn’t believe in marriage but does believe in male companionship. Veronica has a career as a lepidopterist, or butterfly researcher. She has a flirtatious relationship with her work partner, Stoker.

In Victorian London, Veronica Speedwell is leaving her partner, Stoker, behind to search for exotic butterflies on Madeira, a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean. Lady Cordelia agreed to travel with Veronica as a vacation of sorts.

When they return, Stoker’s brother has a task for Veronica to complete. The Viscount Tiberius asks Veronica to go with him and retrieve a rare butterfly’s larvae on St. Maddern’s Isle. On the way to the island, the Viscount states that their host on the island, Malcolm, is religious and they must pose as an engaged couple.

Once they arrive, Malcolm’s true motive becomes apparent. He wants them to solve the mystery of his bride’s disappearance three years earlier. To do so, they call on Stoker for help.

I adore this series. In, I missed the usual banter between Veronica and Stoker. I wasn’t feeling the Viscount’s flirtation. What happened to the bro code? I did enjoy the atmosphere on the island especially the gothic castle and its poison garden. All fans of the series must read A Dangerous Collaboration as it advances the overarching story plus it is great fun. 5 stars!

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

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Drawn and Buttered
March 8th, 2019 by diane92345

The third Lobster Shack mystery, Drawn and Buttered, is another great cozy mystery. It’s Halloween in Mystic Bay Connecticut. A giant Lobzilla goes missing! Houses are broken into but nothing is taken! A witch is afoot! Someone is murdered (of course)!

Allie is out of her ankle cast but cannot yet resume her ballerina life. She continues to help her Aunt Gully at her business, the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack, and solve murders in her spare time. This murder is no exception.

Though published in February, Drawn and Buttered is sure to get you in the mood for Halloween.  The setting, plots and sub-plots all revolve around a Halloween theme. The plot moves swiftly and the characters seem like family now. Plus who doesn’t enjoy picturing a three-foot long lobster in their heads! This book is highly recommended for all cozy fans. However, if you plan on reading the entire series, you should read them in order to avoid spoilers to earlier books. 4 stars!

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

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: , ,

Murder Pit
March 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

The Murder Pit is a witty take on Victorian London with frequent humorous potshots at the Holmes canon that also contains an intriguing mystery. If you ever wanted more humor in, say, the Hounds of the Baskervilles, this book is for you!

Arrowood is a consulting detective for the poorer residents of London. Perennially jealous of the money and fame of his contemporary, Sherlock Holmes, Arrowood insists his method of studying people—rather than footprints—is more effective. He just needs one big case to make him as well known as that other consulting detective.

The Barclays engage Arrowood’s services complaining that their daughter’s husband won’t let them see or talk with her. They are concerned that Birdie has been harmed or is being held against her will on the husband’s rural farm. Birdie is slow and her husband, Walter, has served time for blinding a man in a fit of rage. Despite Arrowood’s concern with the Barclay’s authenticity, Arrowood and Barnett, his scrappy Watson, investigate and find an unusual case indeed.

The Murder Pit is the second entry in the series but can be read as a standalone. It is an enjoyable and humorous dive into lower class London and the Holmes canon. Arrowood’s appetite and marital problems seem genuine. Barnett doesn’t always agree with Arrowood but continues to protect him from physical harm.

Overall, the unusual setting, superb characterizations and witty banter make the Murder Pit an excellent mystery choice. 4 stars!

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

Posted in New Books Tagged with: , ,

Chocolate Cream Pie Murder
March 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

How many books in this series am I going to read hoping they return to the interesting plots and non-stilted dialogue of the first few? It appears at least one more called the Chocolate Cream Pie Murder.

Hannah is once again being harassed by the annoying Ross. Usually I would describe the murder that Hannah must solve around now. However, this time it occurs so late in the book that it would be a major spoiler.

Without a murder, nothing much happens in the first 2/3 of the book. There is a chapter on the weather, cats chasing each other, and of course cooking dinner. There are more recipes here than usual too—and not just desserts.

I found the Chocolate Cream Pie Murder to be pedestrian and worse, boring, compared to other books in the series. I can’t recommend it except to hardcore fans, which is a shame. 2 stars.

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

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

Tear It Down
January 24th, 2019 by diane92345

Tear It Down is a rip-roaring adventure into the underbelly of Memphis with Peter Ash’s haunted military veteran taking down drug dealers with the help of his friends and girlfriend, June.

Peter gets antsy when he stays at home too much so June sends him to her friend, Wanda, in Tennessee whose house has been vandalized. While there, he gets involved with drug gangs, bandits and hidden treasure.

I can’t believe I have never heard of this series before and this is book four. Even though I received a copy from Edelweis+, I couldn’t stop reading it to drive to work so I bought the audiobook! The audiobook narrator uses his skills with accents to great effect, which makes it easy to tell the characters apart (even in heavy traffic). It made my hour long commute fly by.

Tear It Down is fantastic with both a great plot and great characters. This series is highly recommended for Jack Reacher fans as Peter is even more of a loose cannon. 5 stars!

Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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