Revenge
October 14th, 2019 by diane92345

Detective Inspector Jemina Huxley is having problems with fertility and possibly her marriage while also investigating a body dump site in Revenge.

Called to investigate a body buried on a rural farming estate, Jemina has many personal issues to overcome. She can’t get pregnant. Her partner is a disheveled new father, who constantly complains about his new baby’s interruptions into his married life. When more bodies are uncovered in the same location, the police know that there is a serial killer in their midst. But what could be the motive? And why were none of the victims reported missing?

The suspects were well-characterized and the mystery was difficult to figure out. Jemina had flaws like most people but seemed very genuine. Overall, Revenge is a good solid British police procedural. 4 stars!

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

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Bloody Genius
October 7th, 2019 by diane92345

Virgil Flowers is back! His girlfriend Frankie is very pregnant with twins. He doesn’t appreciate having to bring in the hay on her farm. And, oh, he’s investigating a murder of a venerated Professor who likes to argue. The Professor is a genius who has been hit in the head—a Bloody Genius, get it?

The change of setting allows Virgil to be a fish out of water at the University of Minnesota. The reader shares his surprise about how seriously academics take small issues. Could one of the scuff-ups have led to the Professor’s murder? Or could it be his three former wives, his girlfriends, his estranged daughter, his drug dealing, his blackmailing, or something else? Truly, this guy is a winner!

I love that F*cking Flowers. His story is the best part of Bloody Genius. I also liked the pairing of Virgil with a police officer who actually appreciates his help. The mystery was good too. I totally missed the “hidden-in-plain-sight” clue that unravels the case. I like that in a book so I get to be as surprised as the author intended but can clearly see the hints in hindsight. If you like humorous police procedurals that use as little actual procedure as possible, you too will love that effing Flowers. 5 stars!

Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Their Last Breath
September 27th, 2019 by diane92345

Their Last Breath is an engrossing British police procedural where nothing is as you expect.

Gillian Lane is running for her life down a quiet English lane from a masked assailant when she is hit by a taxi and taken to hospital. When the police investigate, they find her husband and another woman tortured and strangled in her kitchen.

Meanwhile, retired detective Warren is called back to duty to investigate a mass death scene that appears to implicate one of the police’s own. An abandoned hospital is the site of a horrific fire where six women are found chained to their room’s wall. Five are dead when the firefighters arrive but one is clinging precariously to life. Could the name scratched on the floor, Hayat, be the same woman telling her tale of being a Syrian refugee in alternate chapters?

It doesn’t take a Mensa ID to figure out the dead woman is the refugee. But how the cases are connected and especially the thrilling twist at the end makes Their Last Breath a great read for police procedural fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Immortal Prudence Blackwood
September 12th, 2019 by diane92345

The Immortal Prudence Blackwood is a historical police procedural with a paranormal/fantasy twist.

Prudence Blackwood is a barren and abandoned twenty-six-year-old when she stumbles into a mysterious and ancient hall in 1785. After cutting her finger on the wall, Prudence dies. Two days later, she arises out of her grave and returns to her family home. Except for her ten-year-old niece, her family rejects her, calling her a demon. After learning she is an immortal, and not the only one, she vows to help her family and their descendants. When Jack the Ripper kills her last remaining descendant in 1888, Prudence decides her new mission is to kill serial killers beginning with Jack.

By 1947, Prudence has learned survival skills and killed at least two other killers. But a new serial killer is stalking Washington DC. When the junior detective on the case hears about Prudence, they work together to find the perpetrator.

I loved the strong female character of Prudence. However, she wasn’t in the book very much. Much more time was spent describing the real serial killers’ cases. I also want to know more about the other immortals and where their power comes from. Luckily, the book’s conclusion hints strongly at a future series. I will definitely read it when it is released. My rating for the Immortal Prudence Blackwood, mainly because of the loss of focus on Prudence, is 3 stars.

Thanks to BHC Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Ice Cold Heart
September 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Minneapolis during a freezing snowstorm is the setting for the serial killer police procedural Ice Cold Heart.

Kelly Ramage is stuck in a marriage with boring Todd, an accountant. Todd won’t satisfy her need for bondage play. So Kelly looks elsewhere for satisfaction. Unfortunately, she met James, who took it too far and she died of suffocation. Detective Leo Magozzi and his partner Gino Rolseth investigate.

Petra Juric is fighting PTSD after being victimized by Peter Praljik, a notorious serial killer last seen in Minnesota eleven years earlier. After taking her happy prescribed medication, she walks into the snowy evening. She is saved from freezing by a random neighbor, Roadrunner. Roadrunner works with Leo’s wife Grace at the Monkeewrench software firm.

Peter is holding seven victims hostage in a remote cabin. He decides to kill them when he realizes that an old acquaintance is watching him. When confronted, the man states he wants to set aside their differences and work together. Is Peter’s last name Praljik and who is his unnamed accomplice?

The ice cold setting was so realistic that it cooled me down on a hot September night as I was reading Ice Cold Heart. I haven’t read any other books in the series and it was fine read as a stand-alone. The mystery was relatively is to solve but characters were well-written and genuine. Most police procedural fans will enjoy this tale. 4 stars!

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

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Extinction Agenda
September 6th, 2019 by diane92345

Extinction Agenda opens with a bang when an explosion kills the majority of FBI Agent James Mason’s multi-jurisdictional team. They were hunting a more lethal mutation of the bird flu virus at the Arizona-Mexico border. The flames deactivated the virus. However, Mason begins a one-man vendetta to avenge his friend and partner, Kane’s death. The cartel leaders’ who brought the deadly virus to America were out there somewhere.

Mason and a new team are tasked with following the money to bring down the cartels. When another person near Mason is killed, no one will believe it is related to the first explosion. Except for Mason, who decides to investigate on his own and on the sly.

I confess that I was worried about the negative reviews for Extinction Agenda. People seemed polarized on whether it has too much action or too many details. I think the issue is that this book is a merging of an action thriller with a police procedural. I like the unusual approach. I’ve lowered rating for thrillers that had too much action because even that gets boring after a while. Let’s face it, we’ve all read police procedurals that work faster than Ambien for inducing sleep. Combining the two makes the book’s pacing perfect: ACTION, police work, ACTION, police work, etc. I also liked the characters especially the ones lurking in the gray areas of the law. If you like both action and procedurals, I think you will enjoy this intriguing action-packed blending f both. 4 stars!

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

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Chestnut Man
September 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

A current Danish murder is entwined with an earlier closed case by a child’s Chestnut Man.

Almost a year ago, a girl named Kristine disappeared. Her mother, Rosa, is high up in Danish politics. Police find a mentally ill man who confesses to the crime and is quickly convicted. However, Kristine’s body is never found.

In the present day, Laura is killed in a graphically violent way on a local playground. Suspicion immediately falls on her live-in boyfriend. Out of town for the day, his alibi is thin. If their relationship was perfect, why had Laura changed all the house’s locks while he was gone without telling him? Her autistic son can’t help explain and he was the only witness inside the family. However, when a Chestnut Man is found at the scene of Laura’s murder with the partial fingerprint of Kristine, the investigating detectives, Thulin and Hess, decide to dig into the earlier case too.

This enthralling police procedural contains a complex and challenging mystery. Despite the rather graphic murder scenes, it is not the typical dark Nordic Noir. I adored this twisty book. It is perfect for armchair detectives who want to challenge themselves.

Even though it is over 500 pages, I was disappointed when it ended. Now I guess I will have to watch The Killing on Netflix by the same author and pray for a sequel. 5 stars!

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: ,

Tin Badges
August 28th, 2019 by diane92345

Retired NYPD Detective Tank Rizzo is pulled back into duty to solve cold cases with a bunch of misfit (and criminal) friends in the action-filled police procedural, Tin Badges.

There are two parallel stories. The first is a (retired) police procedural of how Tank chases the scummy drug kingpin, Gonzo. The second is Tank’s personal story of his guardianship over his deceased, and disliked, brother’s son, Christopher. Christopher eventually joins Tank’s motley crew to use his computer hacking skills to investigate a home invasion of two prostitutes that were brutally assaulted.

Tin Badges is action-packed and has the feeling of a good caper movie like Ocean’s Eleven. However, many of the characters are not fully fleshed out. Hopefully, it is because this is the first book in the series. My bigger problem was that stereotypes, many not even from this century, were frequent. A gypsy fortune teller? Really? Also, sometimes the plot jumped the shark. Many of the tasks that Tank and his team did seemed beyond the scope of a civilian team. Maybe that was the point since Tank didn’t seem to rule-based even in his last day in the job where the book opens. However, it still pulled me abruptly out of the story.

Overall, this book would be good for action and caper movie fans. While I had problems suspending my disbelief, those less familiar with real police procedures may be fine with this book. 3 stars.

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

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Death in the Covenant
August 17th, 2019 by diane92345

Seamlessly blending the history of Mormonism with a present day police procedural, Death in the Covenant is a fascinating look inside a secret world.

Heber Bentsen is a beloved pillar of the Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormon) church. As a counselor to the church president, he is investigating a hidden church agenda. A loss of young men in the church has led to 1.5 young women for each young man. Could the perfect solution be reinstating polygamy?

When Heber is killed in an auto accident, foul play is not suspected. However, the autopsy reveals he was killed by a rock to the head and no rock was found at the scene. His longtime family friend, and former LDS member, Abbie Taylor, investigates the crime.

As someone who watches every special on plural wives, both modern and historical, I loved Death in the Covenant. I learned many details about the Latter Day Saints’ beliefs. But it was the mystery itself which will force me to read earlier episodes in this series. It is a twisty ride into an unfamiliar culture. Just when you think you have it figured out, pow, the plot shifts abruptly in another direction.

Overall, this is an excellent police procedural tackling a subject I’ve never seen in a mystery before. Please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong. I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars!

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

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An Unsettled Grave
August 3rd, 2019 by diane92345

Monica was stopped by a policeman on a lonely country road late one night. Then she was raped by the policeman. Carrie, the sole female county detective, is dispatched to handle the case. When she ruffles the local police force by asking for “voluntary” DNA swabs, Carrie is reassigned to a new case by her politically motivated Chief in An Unsettled Grave.

Old bones of a child are dug up by a hunting dog in the rural Liston-Patterson, Pennsylvania. Hope was twelve years old in 1981 when she went missing. As the only child that age unaccounted for in the small town, the bones are likely hers. When Carrie finds evidence of the crime overlooked at the time in old case files, she decides to solve the crime. The town’s police chief just wants to provide closure for the parents—not reopen old wounds. Carrie also learns of the deaths of both of the town’s police chiefs within a day of Hope’s disappearance. Is it a coincidence? Carrie thinks not and so also investigates those deaths, labeled at the time as a suicide and a shooting by a motorcycle gang.

An Unsettled Grave is unsettling but it is also an exceptional police procedural. It flashes back to 1981 to show the reader what happened while alternating with how Carrie is using evidence to prove it today almost forty years later. You can tell it was written by a former police officer. Carrie is frustrated by politics and apathy making her job more difficult.

The story has larger themes too. Post-Traumatic Stress from the Vietnam War is almost another character in the novel. It impacts two major characters from 1981 resulting in divergent methods to handle it back in the “real world”. Bullying is described in both the present and 1981.

While the story ties into the previous book in the series, this book can easily be read as a standalone. If you love police procedurals, you must read An Unsettled Grave. It is not only my favorite police procedural this year but of all time! It is a gritty and authentic take on police work and a great mystery to boot. 5 stars!

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

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Murder at the British Museum
July 21st, 2019 by diane92345

In 1894, there is a Murder in the British Museum. Private Inquiry Agent Daniel Wilson and his live-in lover Abigail Fenton, a famous archaeologist, investigate at the request of the museum director.

Esteemed Professor Lance Pickering is most famous for his work on the new King Arthur exhibit and for his new book about Arthur’s uncle, Ambrosius. That is until he is stabbed in the museum’s restroom behind a locked cubicle door.

Daniel quickly guesses how the murder was done. Unfortunately, he must work even faster to discover the who before his nemesis, Superintendent Armstrong of Scotland Yard, beats him to it.

If you enjoy learning some Arthurian and 19th century London history while reading an engaging mystery, you will enjoy Murder at the British Museum. There is also a strong feminist as the detective’s side kick plus the almost obligatory bumbling Scotland Yard employee complicating the case. I liked the no-nonsense romance between Daniel and Abigail. The mystery was good too. Overall, I rate it at 3.5 stars!

Thanks to Allison & Busby and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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The Sleepwalker
July 17th, 2019 by diane92345

Definitely the best noir I’ve read this year! The Sleepwalker is the third dark thriller in the terrific Aidan Waits series.

Down these dark hospital corridors a man must go… Aidan and his shady partner Sutty are watching a serial killer called The Sleepwalker die. The Manchester Police are hoping that the prisoner will tell Sutty where he left the body of his last victim. Instead, he denies the killing immediately before both he and Sutty are bombed in the hospital room.

While this is only the beginning of the twisty tale, I can’t even begin to tell you more without it being a spoiler. What I can do is highly recommend this gritty British noir for its impeccably nuanced characters and impressive plotting. Every noir fan must read this book! Fans of thrillers and police procedurals (though Aidan is not one to follow many rules) will enjoy it also. 5 stars!

Thanks to Doubleday UK and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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

Truth or Die
July 14th, 2019 by diane92345

In Truth or Die, Detective Sergeant Imogen and her partner (and friend with benefits), DS Adrian are investigating a professor’s death. The philosophy professor’s head was bashed in with a glass paperweight. Their sleuthing uncovers an awful truth playing out at the university.

Both Imogen and Adrian are getting over recent relationships when this tale begins. While there is a mystery and some police procedures described, this seemed more an excuse to show Imogen and Adrian’s relationship moving forward rather than the other way round. There were also a lot of character names to juggle. I found myself frequently backtracking to determine who the character was that was speaking. I believe my problem was that I was trying to read this as a standalone. It would be much easier if I had the previous four books experience with many of the characters.

If you have read the previous books in this series and don’t mind some romance, frequent gore, and occasional twists in your police procedurals, you will already know whether you will enjoy Truth or Die or not. However, if you haven’t read the other books (at least the last one, The Promise), I think you will be as confused as I was while reading this one. I can only give my own review of course, so 3 stars for this character-driven thriller.

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

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Stories You Tell
July 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Roxane is a complex, underworked private investigator trying to save her brother from a murder charge in the Stories You Tell.

When her brother Andrew calls Roxane in the middle of the night, she comes running. Andrew is worried about former co-worker and one-time (or maybe two time) lover, Addison. Addison arrived at his house earlier bloody and incoherent. She then ran off before he could get the whole story. Work has been slow for PI Roxane so she agrees to check on the girl.

Roxane discovers Addison really is missing and she worked at the nightclub across the street from Andrew’s home. When Addison’s father reports her missing, Andrew is the police’s number one suspect. Roxane decides she must solve the crime to prevent Andrew from being indicted for murder.

Stories You Tell is a character-driven police procedural where the winter setting in Ohio almost feels like a character too. Roxane’s relationships are the heart of the book with lover Catherine, ex-lover Tom who was also her dead policeman father’s partner, and her brother Andrew. There are many mysteries to solve within this book but the clues are carefully hidden making it a fun tale for armchair detectives.

Overall, the book received 4 stars from me. I’m looking forward to reading the earlier,  and subsequent, books in this series.

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

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Suffering of Strangers
June 14th, 2019 by diane92345

“Clap clap. She ducked a minute too late as the coil of rope settled around her neck.” from the prologue of the Suffering of Strangers.

Roberta has had a day. Her six week old son will not stop crying. Her husband calls and wants her to pick up some champagne to celebrate his new job. When she reaches the store, her son is blessedly silent. She decides to just run into the shop quickly while leaving her son in the car. When she returns both her car and son are gone. After a frantic search, Roberta finds her car but the infant in the car seat is not her son. DI Costello investigates.

Meanwhile, DCI Anderson is investigating a 20 year old cold case. A young mother is out late buying milk when she is roped around the neck, raped, and tossed behind some rubbish bins. She can’t recall what happened. Could this be part of a series?

I enjoyed guessing how these cases were connected and whodunit. However, jumping into this series at the ninth book may not be wise. While it can be read as a standalone, the sheer number of characters—some important for this story and some obviously carryovers from previous books—makes a slow and confusing book at the start. However, the momentum quickly builds after about 20% into a twisty conclusion.

The Suffering of Strangers is a rip-roaring British police procedural highly recommended for armchair detectives. However, it might be best to read at least one other entry in the series before beginning this book. 4 stars!

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

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Just One Bite
June 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Timothy Blake tells himself it is Just One Bite and rips a chunk out of the relatively recent murder victim he found in the woods. Timothy is there to pick up a crime boss’ latest victim. But how can he fit two large bodies in his ancient Corolla’s trunk. The problems that cannibals have in modern society…

He makes it home and throws the body in his chest freezer before his boss’ hengemen come to get him. Timothy manages to explain his reason for leaving before picking up the body. A hengeman drives him home where he has to shove another body in his freezer. He barely finishes before his former co-worker, FBI agent Reese Thistle, insists he help her with a missing person case. After seeing the victim’s photo, he knows where he is—in his freezer with a large bite mark on his arm.

If Hannibal Lector and Dexter spawned an offspring, it would be Timothy Blake. He’s a cannibal with a conscious. He tries to only eat the guilty. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for the reader), he gets into absurd hilarious Serge Storm-level situations while doing it.

Despite the crazy premise, Just One Bite has believable characters that you want to succeed. This is the second in the series but can be read as a standalone. It does have many triggers like, uh, cannibalism, violence, and illusions to sexual assault. However, if you’re okay with that, I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a sense of humor and likes thrillers. 5 stars!

Thanks to Hanover Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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