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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Summoned to Thirteenth Grave
January 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Charley Davidson, the Grim Reaper, and her husband, Reyes, former demon and son of Satan, have one more hellish situation to fix in Summoned to Thirteenth Grave.

Charley is finally released from her purgatory from the last book. While she was gone, a new hell dimension has opened in Albuquerque. A flu from within is turning people homocidal and eventually suicidal. And the hell dimension is getting larger. To say more will spoil the surprises.

I hate when book series end. However, this is a great conclusion to a great series. The “army” is all here: Uncle Bob, Cookie, Quentin, Donovan, Osh plus plenty more. The story is an action-packed corker of a finale.

If you have read this series before, even just one book, you have to read Summoned to Thirteenth Grave. I’m sure there will be a spin-off so we may see Charley and Reyes again. 5 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Guy Who Died Twice
January 7th, 2019 by diane92345

A man walks into a police station insisting he has been murdered. With a record of mental issues, he is sent home. Less than nine hours later, he is stabbed to death in the Guy Who Died Twice.

Detective D.D. Warren and her partner investigate the man’s murder. Arriving home that evening, D.D. walks her husband Alex, a police crime scene analyst, through the crime. Together, they solve the mystery.

There are plenty of suspects, means and motives here. The Guy Who Died Twice is a fun chance to play armchair detective with only an hour or so time invested. This is an easy way to see if the D.D. Warren series is for you as it can be read as a standalone and clocks in at less than 90 pages. 4 stars!

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

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Wrench in the Works
November 4th, 2018 by diane92345

Charming characters in a unique setting enliven A Wrench in the Works, the sixth Fixer-Upper Mystery.

Sisters Shannon and Chloe grew up working in their dad’s construction company. Shannon took over her dad’s company when he retired. Chloe moved to Hollywood and stars in a fixer-upper show.

Chloe decides to go back to her hometown to film a season of her show with the help of her sister’s construction team. When someone on the production is killed and Chloe is threatened, Shannon investigates.

Despite being part of a series, A Wrench in the Works works well as a stand-alone. The characters and their relationships are genuine. Setting the mystery behind the scenes on an HGTV-type show is innovative. I would have liked the puzzle to be slightly harder to solve. However, I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

A Wrench in the Works is recommended to cozy readers looking for endearing characters in an unusual setting. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Berkley Mystery, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Séances are for Suckers
October 29th, 2018 by diane92345

Séances are for Suckers is a humorous take on old school romantic mysteries like The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart.

Ellie is the youngest of a set of triplets. On her eighteenth birthday, her mother is killed and her sister descends into a vegetative state. Her brother is an elementary school gym teacher. To earn the money for her sister’s long-term care, Ellie works as a fake medium. Ridding families of their ghosts frequently means more psychological than psychic assistance.

When Nicholas approaches Ellie with a project, she can’t resist even though Nicholas knows she is a fake. He wants Ellie to prove to his elderly mother that her ghost, Xavier, is someone’s childish game.

Once at the family’s ancient estate, Ellie suspects everyone including Nicholas of causing the ghostly events. It doesn’t help that Nicholas is devilishly handsome and apparently rich too. Plus there is the man-of-all-work, Thomas, who is equally handsome but so much less complicated than Nicholas. When Ellie literally stumbles over a corpse who is gone before she returns with help, Ellie begins to believe that this particular ghost may be real.

I actually liked the romance more than the mystery. Like Ellie, I started to feel like part of the family and really wanted it not to be an intentional fake haunting for profit. Séances are for Suckers is a very enjoyable romantic read perfect for a cozy night in with only your cat (or dog, if you are one of those people) for company. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

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Read and Gone
September 14th, 2018 by diane92345

Where are the haunts in Read and Gone, the second book in the Haunted Library series?

Carrie has her life on track. She has a boyfriend, a job as a library events coordinator and a cute cottage where the rent is cheap. So she isn’t happy when her thieving ex-con father, John, reappears one night after breaking into her house.

Within 24 hours, John is a person of interest in both a murder and a million dollar jewel heist. When he gets left for dead in a parking lot, he is hospitalized with a concussion for a week. John asks Carrie to find both the murderer and the gems stolen by the victim.

Since this is the second in the Haunted Library series, I expected more interaction with the resident ghost. She has basically a walk-on part. Her frequent clothing and hair styles changes are discussed. She dispenses some obvious advice and vanishes. Not having read the first in this series made it difficult to understand the motivations of the multitude of characters. I would highly recommend reading this series in order.

The lack of a paranormal plotline and an overly familiar mystery plot made Read and Gone a miss for me. 2 stars.

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

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Forbidden Door
September 10th, 2018 by diane92345

The Jane Hawk series finally hits its stride with its fourth entry, The Forbidden Door.

The Techno Arcadians are upping their game by accusing Jane on a 60 Minutes-style show of murdering her beloved husband Matt and faking his suicide. The Arcadians set in motion a plan to kidnap or kill everyone dear to Jane. Ancel and Clare Hawk, Jane’s in-laws, must flee their farm. Jane and Matt’s five-year-old son, Travis, must flee across the desert. Even Jane is tracked by one of the Techno Arcadians as the net around Jane and all her loved ones is slowly tightened.

The villain this time is Egon Gottfrey. Egon believes in radical philosophical nihilism. Nothing is real. Only his mind exists guided by an Unknown Playwright. Why is he scarier than most villains? Because he has no fear of death. “Gottfrey has no objection to a shootout. His physical existence is an illusion; he can’t be killed.” Egon is also a vicious killer, who kills total strangers for fun. All without a nanobot implant. He is a world-class antagonist and the perfect foil to Jane’s over-the-top bada$$ery.

It is hard not to see the extremes of good and evil plus Jane’s incredible skills as a superhero tale. Finally, a Joker has been set against Jane’s Batman. This entry in the series is definitely the best so far. I would even recommend just reading this one rather than beginning with the first in the series. It is perfect for thriller fans. However, it would also work for superhero comic fans too. The Forbidden Door would make a great movie. Hopefully, it has already been optioned by someone. 5 stars!

Thanks to Bantam Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

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Die Me a River
September 8th, 2018 by diane92345

In Die Me a River, the small rural town of Scumble River is still recovering from the tornado in the last book in this cozy mystery series.

The town is abuzz with complaints about the shady practices of Homestead Insurance. Claims are being reduced, denied and seldom paid timely. When their insurance inspector turns up dead in a bombing, Police Chief Wally must investigate a plethora of suspects. Wally would much rather be at home with his school psychologist wife, Skye, and their still unnamed newborn twins. Skye is on maternity leave. She is seemingly being stalked by a new town resident, Millicent Rose, who just wants to go the twins’ baptism. According to their priest, Millicent has gone to both of the other baptisms since she arrived in town and gave each baby some type of verbal gift.

Die Me a River is the second in the rebooted Scumble River series. However, there were nineteen books in the original series too. Despite never reading any of those books, I had no trouble catching up with the character’s backstories. This works well as a stand-alone.

Most readers, and I include myself, read cozies more for the ambience and characters than for the puzzle. This book does a great job pulling the reader into small town Illinois life. While there are a lot of characters here, each has such a diverse personality it is is easy to keep them separated.

The two mysteries are well-presented. I actually liked the fairy godmother sub-plot better than the insurance main plot but that was just personal preference. I enjoyed the minor mystery around the naming of the babies too.

Die Me a River is a great, relaxing cozy mystery. It is recommended for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in someone else’s life for a day. 4 stars!

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

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Depth of Winter
September 4th, 2018 by diane92345

This time it’s personal in Depth of Winter, the 14th entry in the Longmire series.

Sheriff Longmire is a long way from his Wyoming home in Mexico. He is looking for his daughter Cady who was kidnapped by the head of a Mexican drug cartel, Tomas Bidarte. His only help is the infamous US Border Patrolman Buck Guzman, a blind Seer, driver Alonzo and tattoo artist Bianca. Posing as a famous football player and being chauffered around in a bright pink Caddy doesn’t seem the best way to sneak up on Bidarte but Longmire somehow makes it work.

The change of setting to the heat of the Mexican desert contrasts nicely with usual coldness of Wyoming. There is an introduction to Mexican culture and Mexico’s current crime issues. A (wo)manhunt for an ethical cause always makes a compelling read. However, some of the plot seems rather unlikely considering the ruthlessness of Mexican drug cartels.

Depth of Winter is recommended for long time Longmire fans. I think it would be difficult for new readers of the series to begin here because of the emphasis on prior book’s plots especially the immediately preceding entry, The Western Star. Unfortunately, though it resolves the cliffhanger from the previous book, it is not one of the better books in the series. 3 stars.

Thanks to Viking Books and Edelweiss+ for an advance copy.

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