Category Archives: Mystery
A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate
by Susanna Calkins
Read: Jan. 18 - 22, 2013
Challenge: 2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge
Yearly count: 5
Blurb: For Lucy Campion, a seventeenth-century English chambermaid serving in the household of the local magistrate, life is an endless repetition of polishing pewter, emptying chamber pots, and dealing with other household chores until a fellow servant is ruthlessly killed, and Lucy’s brother is wrongly arrested for the crime. In a time where the accused are presumed guilty until proven innocent, lawyers aren’t permitted to defend their clients, and—if the plague doesn’t kill them first—public executions draw a large crowd of spectators, Lucy knows she may never see her brother alive again. Unless, that is, she can identify the true murderer.
Determined to do just that, Lucy finds herself venturing out of her expected station and into raucous printers’ shops, secretive gypsy camps, the foul streets of London, and even the bowels of Newgate prison on a trail that might lead her straight into the arms of the killer.
Review: I received this book via NetGalley. It was an impulse request, but I knew that it was a book that I really wanted to read.
I actually finished this book a few days ago, but for some reason I couldn’t immediately put my thoughts together on how to approach the review. But I’ve now gathered my thoughts and I hope that I am able to convey to my readers just how much I really did enjoy this book.
However, that’s not to say that it wasn’t without its faults. First of all, this is most definitely a historical mystery. But I was a little frustrated that it took 100 pages until we really got to the “mystery” part of it. The only reason I kept reading the book through all that was because Ms. Calkins really set the stage beautifully in my opinion. There was just something about the writing and the introduction to all the characters that really drew me farther into the story.
I really enjoyed Lucy’s character. She seemed so real to me. And I liked how Ms. Calkins made her more than just a servant – she was a young woman with thoughts and opinions of her own. It also helped that her household master was quite receptive to hearing the chambermaid’s opinions. I’m absolutely positive that this would have been almost unheard of during the time this book was set (London during the plague years).
The mystery part of the book was quite interesting to me. I will admit that I had no idea who the killer really was until he was revealed. That’s always something that I really appreciate out of a good book.
When the book reaches its conclusion the reader is left wondering where Lucy will go from there. I will admit that I was a little frustrated that it seemed to end so abruptly. I was left with a lot of questions that I wanted answers to immediately. Hopefully I will be able to meet Lucy again in another book in the future.
Either way, this is definitely a historical mystery not to be missed. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but when I do this is exactly the type of book that I’m looking for. I know this book will make a big splash in the book world – and it definitely deserves to. Highly recommended.
Evidence of Life
by Barbara Taylor Sissel
Read: March 29 – April 4, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 17
Source: Publicist for blog tour
On the last ordinary day of her life, Abby Bennett feels like the luckiest woman alive. But everyone knows that luck doesn’t last forever…
As her husband, Nick, and daughter, Lindsey, embark on a weekend camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, Abby looks forward to having some quiet time to herself. She braids Lindsey’s hair, reminds Nick to drive safely and kisses them both goodbye. For a brief moment, Abby thinks she has it all—a perfect marriage, a perfect life—until a devastating storm rips through the region, and her family vanishes without a trace.
When Nick and Lindsey are presumed dead, lost in the raging waters, Abby refuses to give up hope. Consumed by grief and clinging to her belief that her family is still alive, she sets out to fine them. But as disturbing clues begin to surface, Abby realizes that the truth may be far more sinister than she imagined. Soon she finds herself caught in a current of lies that threaten to unhinge her and challenge everything she once believed about her marriage and family.
With a voice that resonates with stunning clarity, Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers a taut and chilling mystery about a mother’s love, a wife’s obsession and the invisible fractures that can shatter a family.
Review: I do believe that 2013 is going to go down in the record books as the year I read the most awesome books, ever! Seriously. I just keep reading winner after winner!
So where do I start in the love-fest that will be this review? How about with this – go buy a copy and move it to the top of your to-read pile, ASAP!
For me this book started off and never let up. I was constantly wanting to know exactly what happened to Nick and Lindsey. Were they dead? Did Nick run off and take Lindsey with him? Personally I couldn’t get through the pages quick enough to find out what happened to half of Abby’s family.
Abby … oh, dear Abby. My heart broke for her character. I wanted her to have closure so badly. I know that there are a lot of families out there that never get closure, but I was really hoping that she would get it in the end. You had to pity her a little bit. But at the same time I wanted to shake her out of the funk she got in. I don’t really want to say that her character really got obnoxious, because it’s hard to tell how anyone would react in that situation – everyone grieves differently – but, at the same time it was difficult to believe that she was as naive as she was acting.
But Nick is really the character I want to talk about. I had an issue that we never really got to “know” him. He disappeared within like the first 10 pages and then everything regarding him was from other people’s perspectives, whether it was Abby, Kate, Abby’s mother or Nick’s co-workers. I understood why Ms. Sissel set the book up in the manner she did, but I felt as if Nick really never got to have his own say into what happened in his and Abby’s marriage. It would have been nice to have his perspective on a few things – was Abby really that naive or did she look the other way because it was easiest? I think it would have been interesting to see that perspective of the story. But it didn’t hurt my overall opinion of the book itself, I just think it would have been an interesting direction to have gone in.
But Kate is really the one character I did. not. like. Period. She was shady. And yet she wanted to be Abby’s best friend. She betrayed her. And yet she expected Abby to just forgive her for everything. And Abby did just that. It just irritated me, because I felt as if Kate really took advantage of Abby. I don’t know, there was just something about her that rubbed me wrong I guess.
Overall, the storyline was interesting. While the outcome was somewhat predictable, there was definitely one wild character that came out of left field in my opinion. It definitely added the twist that really helped the book to its exciting finish. The writing was excellent.
I can’t say enough about this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to anyone. It definitely makes me want to read Ms. Sissel’s previous books!
**I received a copy of this book to be part of a blog tour. I received no monetary compensation and all opinions expressed are my own.
by Judge Jeanine Pirro
Read: July 9 – July 22, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly Count: 18
Source: Review Copy from Hyperion Books
Blurb: In Westchester, New York, young assistant district attorney Dani Fox is investigating a series of brutal crimes against women and children, cases that male prosecutors don’t care about. It’s a man’s world in 1978, and as the only female prosecutor in the office, she’s shunned by her peers, dismissed by judges, and ignored by detectives. Using her legal acumen and razor-sharp wit, she outmaneuvers her critics both in and out of the courtroom.
Fox stumbles upon one of her most challenging cases when she goes after a successful businessman who has been secretly molesting his beautiful young daughter for years. While handling this politically tricky prosecution, she learns that the accused is hiding an even more sinister crime: the murder of his second wife. Her death was ruled a suicide at the time, but Fox uncovers evidence that suggests otherwise. Proving his guilt is tougher than she imagined, as even murderers have friends in unexpected places, and there are times when the legal system – her fellow prosecutors, judges, and the police – may not be on her side….
Review: I was contacted by Jonathan Bernstein, Social Media Manager of Hyperion Books, about the opportunity to read and review this book.
You know what I find to be the best part of being a book blogger? Being introduced to great books that I might never find on my own. This book fits that bill for me.
When this book was pitched to me, it was likened to Nancy Grace’s book, The Eleventh Victim. I enjoyed that book and was immediately intrigued by the description of this book. I honestly don’t read very many books with strong female protagonists, so I was definitely looking forward to giving this book a chance. And it definitely did not disappoint.
This book is set in 1970s New York. I honestly didn’t know what to expect with it being from this time period. But I was a little more than shocked, to say the least. I knew that a woman prosecutor in the 1970s would have trouble with the proverbial glass ceiling. And I also knew that the police department would be a boys club where everyone covered for everyone else. But what I didn’t know was that it was actually still legal for a man to beat his wife!! Say what?! I could see that law still being on the books in the 1950s, but the 1970s definitely surprised me.
I liked Dani Fox’s character. She felt very real to me. Of course that is probably due to the fact that the author, Judge Pirro, really drew upon her own personal experiences in the legal field. This fact also really helped develop the plot, in my opinion. I was finding myself getting increasingly frustrated With the kind of injustice that the victim was experiencing. It was quite disheartening, actually. It’s really good to know that there are so many victim advocates out there, because this book really illustrates the need for them, in my opinion.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were well developed, the plot was interesting to me, the writing was enjoyable. I think it will appeal to a wide variety of readers, but if you’re a fan of the legal fiction genre, I would definitely recommend giving this book a chance.
Under Cover of Daylight
by James W. Hall
Read: April 24 – May 4, 2012
Challenge: Off the Shelf 2012
Yearly Count: 11
Source: Personal Copy
Blurb: As a young child, Thorn survived the hit-and-run accident that killed both his parents. Years later, he settled the score his way – but never defeated the guilt. Now in Florida’s torrid, drug-ridden Keys, violence once again strikes too close to home. This time, Thorn finds himself with a passionate and angry woman at his side … and dope-dealing hit men at his back. This time, Thorn can leave vengeance to luck – or once again, against his conscience, become an avenging killer.
Review: I have to be completely honest in this review: this was not my favorite book. I will say that it was not necessarily a bad book. It just wasn’t one for me.
It started out quite interesting. But then something happened around the middle of the book and I just kind of found it to be boring after that.
As I said earlier, there’s nothing particularly bad about this book. It just didn’t appeal to me. I want to say that part of my problem with it is that as the reader I knew too much to early; there was no surprise/twist ending, and that’s what I love most about reading. I think the only reason that I kept reading it is because it actually read rather quickly when I sat down with the book.
But just because it wasn’t a book for me doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a book for someone else, so while I wouldn’t give it a glowing, raving review, I wouldn’t discourage others from trying it either.
The Empty Chair
by Jeffery Deaver
Read: Mar. 18– Mar. 28, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2012; Off the Shelf 2012 Challenge
Yearly Count: 8
Source: Personal Copy
Blurb: Lincoln Rhyme faces his ultimate opponent: a kidnapper and murderer dubbed the Insect Boy. But Rhyme is in for a surprise when he learns that catching a criminal is one thing … keeping him is another. Now Rhyme finds himself hunting a ruthless killer in the heart of a southern swampland – and going head-to-head with his protegé, Amelia Sachs, in a rivalry that tests the limits of both their expertise and their love.
Review: This is the third in the Lincoln Rhyme series. It’s been a while since I read a Deaver book. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I completely understood why Amelia felt that way she did toward Garrett (aka – Insect Boy). There were definitely some twists and turns that I never saw coming until they were halfway past me! That’s exactly how I like my books to be. I would highly recommend this read, and while it’s not necessarily required to read the first two in the series before you read this one, it will definitely help you understand the characters better if you do.
by Harlan Coben
Read: Jan. 8 – Jan. 15, 2012
Challenge: The Eclectic Reader 2012; Mystery & Suspense 2012; Off the Shelf 2012
Yearly Count: 2
Source: Personal Copy
Blurb: A young woman is shot in cold blood, her lifeless body dumped outside the stadium at the height of the US Open. Once her tennis career had skyrocketed. Now the headlines are being made by another young player form the wrong side of the tracks.
When Myron Bolitar investigates the killing he uncovers a connection between the two players and a six-year-old murder at an exclusive club. Suddenly Myron is in over his head. And with a dirty senator, a jealous mother, and the mob all drawn into the case, he finds himself playing the most dangerous game of all…
Review: So this is the second in the Myron Bolitar series. I read the first one (Deal Breaker) a long time ago. (And please excuse my terrible review, which was before I got very detailed in my reviews). I wasn’t too impressed, so naturally I wasn’t in very much of a hurry to get around to the second book. For whatever reason, I decided to give this series another shot. I’m glad I did. To be completely honest, having that big of a gap (3 years) in between reading the two books, I was a little lost. I didn’t remember the supporting characters. I didn’t remember some things that were mentioned. But that was okay for me; it didn’t hurt my opinion of the book at all.
What I continually kept asking myself while reading this book was this: was the first book this funny? I mean, I’m talking laugh out loud funny at times. Other times it was cheesy funny. But in all seriousness, I don’t recall Myron being humorous. I would assume that he was funny in the first book, that’s not something that is likely to change in a character; I just don’t remember that aspect of Myron’s character. Either way, I enjoyed the humor.
The big ah-ha moment came at a perfect time in my opinion. I hadn’t figured out what was really going on before the big reveal. That’s exactly how I like my books to be, I don’t want to figure it all out way too early and then have to finish the rest of the book. And to be completely honest, the person who ended up being the killer made perfect sense when I sat down and really thought about some of the clues left throughout the book.
Overall, I would recommend this book. I found it to be funny and enjoyable. And while I would recommend reading any series in order, this book stands relatively well on its own.
The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper
by Sally Carpenter
Read: Nov. 17– Nov.30, 2011
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly Count: 63
Source: Review Copy
Blurb: From 1975-79 teen idol Sandy Fairfax recorded 10 gold albums and starred in the hit TV series Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth. Now it’s 1993 and he’s a 38-year-old recovering alcoholic, forgotten and desperate for a comeback.
An easy gig – a guest appearance at a Beatles fan convention in Evansville, Ind. – turns deadly after a member of the Mersey Marvels tribute band is shot. When police suspect Sandy, and he fills in for the dead musician at a concert, the schoolboy shamus is back in action to find the killer.
Review: I was contacted directly by the author to review this book. While this is a little bit out of my comfort zone, I was immediately intrigued by this book when I found out that it was set in Evansville, Indiana. I grew up about an hour away from Evansville and actually lived in Evansville for my first semester in college (I transferred after one very unhappy semester).
I didn’t really know what to expect going into this book. The Beatles craze was before my time and I think that really affected how I felt about this book. It wasn’t bad, actually it was pretty funny in places. However, not being much of a Beatles fan (I’m only familiar with their most famous songs), I think most of the book missed the mark for me. However, I did like the references to a town that I am pretty familiar with, it made me remember some good times that I had when I was living there. The mystery part was good, and the characters were well-developed. While I would recommend this book to people, I honestly think this book would be best suited for Beatles fans.
Over the Edge
by Jonathan Kellerman
Read: Nov.. 8– Nov.27, 2011
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly Count: 62
Source: Personal Copy
Blurb: Brace yourself for shock -
when Alex Delaware gets a phone call from a former patient, a young, troubled genius who suffered a devastating mental collapse….
when he drives through the night to save his life and winds up in a morass of murder….
when he uncovers the secret life of one of California’s leading families, and is witness to an explosion of murderous passions and shattering revelations….
Review: It’s been entirely too long since I read the first two books in this series. But that didn’t stop me from diving right in with no problems. This book starts out strong and never really lets up in the suspense department.
I was bummed with how little Milo was included in this installment, but I also understood that the interaction between Alex and Milo had to be limited because they were both working the same case – on opposite sides. I mention this because after looking back through my review for the previous book (Blood Test) I had specifically mentioned how little character development there truly was. I understand that Alex is the main character, but the supporting characters are always important in my opinion and I enjoy getting to know them just as well as the main character. Maybe in the next book
Overall, this was an action packed adventure. Alex kept running into wall after wall, but he never stopped. And I can only imagine what it would be like to go up against the kinds of people he was dealing with. An affluent family hiding behind their attorney – that would be hard for anyone to deal with.
So I would definitely recommend this book. And I hope that I don’t wait as long to get to the next book in this series as I did to get this book!
The Keeper of Lost Causes
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Translated by: Lisa Hartford
Read: Oct. 3– Oct. 8, 2011
Challenge: TwentyEleven Challenge
Yearly Count: 59
Source: Library Copy
Blurb: The Keeper of Lost Causes, the first installment of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s international bestselling Department Q series, features the deeply flawed chief detective Carl Mørck, who used to be a good homicide detective – one of Copenhagen’s best. Then a bullet almost took his life. Two of his colleagues weren’t so lucky, and Carol, who didn’t draw his weapon, blames himself.
So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects.
But it all becomes clear when he sees his new office in the basement. Carl’s been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigation division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen’s coldest cases to keep him company, Carol has been put out to pasture. So he’s as surprised as anyone when a case actually captures his interest. A politician vanished without a trace five years earlier. The world assumes she’s dead. His colleagues snicker abou the time he’s wasting. But Carl may have the last laugh, and redeem himself in the process.
Because she isn’t dead … yet.
Review: I’m honestly torn on how to rate this book. I’m not really sure where to begin, so I’ll just start from the beginning and work my way to the end (with as few spoilers as possible, of course).
This book alternates between the perspective of Merete Lynggaard, the politician who disappeared and everyone assumes is dead, and Carl Mørck, a detective who has survivor’s guilt after being involved in a shooting where his two colleagues weren’t as lucky as he was. I must say that when I first met Carl, I was not impressed. I wanted to shake him and say, “snap out of it!” But at the same time, I understood why he was feeling like he was … one of his colleagues lost his life and the other one is permanently paralyzed after a shooting in which Carl didn’t even pull his gun. But his attitude is not very likeable and I struggled with that throughout the entire book.
The next thing Carl knows he’s getting a promotion! That would definitely be the last thing anyone would expect, but they put him in the basement with Assad as his assistant. Now, let me just say that I loved Assad’s character. There was so much to him that was so surprising! He’s definitely a good match with Carl … it was really Assad’s interest that got Carl’s interest going in the Merete Lynggaard disappearance. And as Carl continues to dig deeper (while looking like he’s not doing anything) he realizes that there’s something not quite right about the case.
So now I’m to the point where I need to explain why I’m so torn on my opinion of this book. First of all, I didn’t like Carl’s character. Not one bit. He’s a jerk, plain and simple. He doesn’t care about his job anymore. He has a major beef with one of the detectives upstairs. He practically blackmailed his superiors because he knows how much money his new department has been allocated … and he knows that his department isn’t seeing all that money. He’s just not a nice guy.
But then there’s Assad. He’s a very likeable guy. He’s intriguing because we don’t really know anything about him. Carl doesn’t even believe him when he tells him he’s from Syria; Carl thinks he might be from Iraq. He’s definitely not who he says he is, that much is very clear. And he’s not doing what Carl thinks he’s doing when he sends him up to talk to Hardy, Carl’s paralyzed colleague. But then again, it’s really Assad who pushes Carl to work hard on this case. It’s Assad who gets him interested. It’s Assad who really comes up with some great ideas to work the case with.
So I guess the next logical question would be: will I read more in this series? I’m honestly torn. I’m not sure I could stand another book of Carl’s attitude. But at the same time, I would love to know more about Assad and who he really is. Overall, I put this book at a 3.5 rating, which is somewhere between good and really good. If I had liked Carl’s character just a little bit more, I could have given it a 4, but I just can’t bring myself to do that. I think I could recommend this book to other readers, but I don’t think it would be a good fit for everybody.
The Blue Edge of Midnight
by Jonathon King
Read: Sept. 11– Sept. 13, 2011
Challenge: Take a Chance Challenge 3
Yearly Count: 54
Source: Personal Copy
Blurb: On a night that will haunt him forever, ex-cop Max Freeman killed a twelve-year-old child in self-defense in a Philadelphia shootout. Since then he has lived a solitary existence on the edge of the Florida Everglades, where he answers to no one save the demons tormenting his conscience. But when he finds the corpse of a child along a shadowy riverbank, he’s pulled back into the twisted maze of law and order – as a murder suspect. Now Freeman has no choice but to hunt down a killer who has committed the unthinkable – even if it takes him to the darkest places of the soul…
Review: I only picked up this book to fulfill a challenge requirement. While it would not be my favorite book, it wasn’t a bad book. There was just something about the book itself that bothered me. I don’t know if it was the (what I call) flowery dialogue. By this I mean that there were long, drawn-out descriptions in places where it (in my opinion) was unnecessary. But then again, I am not a fan of a lot of words, as I’ve said before here on my blog, I’m a “just the facts, ma’am” type of girl. Or if it was just the fact that I didn’t really get the main character, Max. He was a strange guy, there were a lot of unknowns about him and he just was … strange. That’s the only way I could describe it. Honestly, I’m not sure I will ever read any more in this series, I just didn’t get the book. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it definitely wasn’t great. In the words of Simon Cowell, it was utterly “forgettable.”